Imagine Flight of the Conchords being taken hostage by sea creatures and thrown into a holding facility to create a new form of music using elements of Weezer, Jimmy Eats World, and The White Stripes. They are then forced to consume the brains of Vanilla Ice for some stone cold hip hop flavor only a man with 8 arms could conceive.
Favorite track: Alien Invasion.
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We have a lot to thank Canada for: maple syrup, Arcade Fire and Scott Pilgrim being just a few of the nation’s finest exports. Now you can add another name to that list, that of the downright ridiculous boy-girl combo who go by the name of Brother Octopus. The eponymous vocalist/rapper Brother Octopus is joined by his lady friend, known only as Lady Friend, and in Tentacle Trauma, they have crafted a set of knowingly silly, yet unmistakably well-produced tracks about aliens, dinosaurs and an ‘alcoholic platypus’.
When calling yourself Brother Octopus, it’s probably a good idea to introduce yourself so that people have some idea of what the fuck you are talking about. So how about an opening track called ‘Introduction?‘ However ready you think you are, you are not ready enough. Introduction lulls you into a false sense of security with a slow build-up of overlapping synths and electric guitar gently lapping at your face, before you reach the 1-minute mark, and all hell breaks loose. The guitars turn nasty, the drums crash, and then Brother Octopus’s vocals enter the frame, as he introduces himself as a half-man, half-octopus hybrid with ‘tentacles that can reach out and grab your stuff’. It’s a fitting intro to an EP that is equal parts hilarious and deranged, and to top it all off, the song ends with Brother Octopus laughing, as if he can sense your confusion through the headphones.
‘Recreational Zoo‘ is a nonsensical day trip to the animal park, that throws creatures together whose names happen to rhyme, over a bass-heavy stomp and a CD of jungle sound effects that just has to be heard to be believed. It shouldn’t work, but it does, and Boogie Boogie further demonstrates just how good Brother Octopus are at getting your feet moving. Sounding like the B-52’s had they arrived in the early 21st century, it satirises every song that you hear in a nightclub while referencing Vanilla Ice. The duo show off their semi-serious side, at least musically, on ‘Alien Invasion‘, which combines bleeping electronic noises with a driving bassline, while the partnership of Brother Octopus and Lady Friend suddenly makes sense, their unique vocals complementing each other perfectly.
After returning to their comedic personas for ‘Jurassic Park‘, a tale of a man who has watched so many dinosaur films that he is scared he will meet one in the back alleys of Edmonton, Octopus and Friend decide to get meta for the surprisingly dark ‘The Electric Chair‘. Featuring lyrics such as ‘they might call us silly, they might say we’re nuts, but we know what we’re doing’ and ‘we can be funny, but we can be serious like this’, it’s a knowing nod that tells us that Octopus Brother don’t take themselves seriously, and neither should we. Finally, the album comes to a climax with the Bonus Track that isn’t actually a bonus track, but what it is, is bloody marvellous. Taking on the now-familiar guise of the gangsta rap parody track in the style of The Lonely Island’s Lazy Sunday, it’s an anti-drug message that hits hard and features the legendary line ‘breaking drugs like muffins’.
Tentacle Trauma then is not as traumatic an experience as you might think, and if the idea of a silly album with outdated references and nonsensical lyrics puts you off, then don’t let it. I haven’t had this much fun listening to an album for a long time, and if you fancy a break from the super-serious musicians out there, just relax and let Brother Octopus’ tentacles give you a big old friendly squeeze.