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discover: The Residents

By Anthony Garone

Eyeballs, top hats, and the weirdest performance art you've never heard.

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Who are The Residents?

Actually, no one really knows. But, here’s a better answer: The Residents are an avant-garde art rock band that has been actively producing music, videos, and technology products since 1969. They have released several dozen albums and have never revealed their identities. Each release has been part of an “era” demonstrating some newly-developed form of musical terror. Honestly, I’ve never been scared listening to music except for a few songs by The Residents.

Nice Video

Here is a nice video I made about The Residents.

A Fantastic Article

In September 2015, Exclaim! Music published a fantastic, thorough article about The Residents that’s really much, much better than what I’ve seen anywhere else (especially here!). Find 20 minutes to read it. Here’s a relevant quote:

But the Residents’ point of view was more that each person has a type of music that is inside of them or approach to music and it is influenced by other music and life around you, but ultimately, it comes from inside and each person is unique. And anything you do like that is going to be “weird” from another person’s perspective because it isn’t theirs. The other thing that’s not weird is the one that is based on demographics, where you get a large number of people to say we’ll agree that this is not weird. But basically, all music is weird, it’s impossible for it not to be. It only not weird when it becomes part of demographics. Radio, which is advertising, makes sense economically, but it doesn’t always make sense artistically.

What Makes The Residents Weird?

They are most widely recognized by their signature eyeball heads with top hats.

Their music is, without a doubt, some of the strangest–and sometimes the most terrifying–music I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s like listening to a terrible car crash; some people look away, some people are transfixed. People visiting this site are likely the kinds of people who become transfixed.

Their music videos are incredibly “out there.” They’ve released computer games that are just so strange. Their live performances are eery and will give you the shivers. Their covers of familiar songs are nightmarish. There’s just nothing normal about them.

Whether there has ever been a consistent lineup in the band is unknown. They have too many releases for me to list my favorite songs, so I’ll just list some of my favorite albums of theirs.

What you should listen to

The first time I listened to Animal Lover, I literally sat with my jaw dropped and barely blinked. I remember playing the first track, On the Way to Oklahoma, and being absolutely stunned only to realize that my mouth had dried from my mouth hanging open for almost 40 minutes. Here’s that opening track:

I was fortunate to see both their Talking Light and Wonder of Weird tours. Talking Light had moments so intense and terrifying, I almost started crying. It was one of the weirdest experiences of my life.

What you should watch

Here’s my favorite video of theirs. It’s a song called Hello Skinny from the album Duck Stab. May it haunt you forever.

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Check our previous post: Discover Gentle Giant

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