BUDOKAN BOYS “Dad Is Bad” (Baba Vanga)

Budokan Boys, the long-distance love child of Vienna-based musician Jeff T Byrd and New Orleansbound writer Michael Jeffrey Lee, is the future of music. Not pop, not electronic, not rock, not new or no wave, but music. Listen here: when you’ve perfected a Nick Cave-by-way-of-Ween vibe (or vice versa, it’s hard to tell which came first), you’ve been in my wheelhouse loooong before the word “perfected” has even entered the conversation. Sometimes Budokan Boys sounds like an electronic version of Shudder to Think. Still, “perfected” remains the go-to word of choice here.

Dad Is Bad on Baba Vanga follows their 2018’s That’s How You Become a Clown on Tymbal Tapes, which I referred to as containing a healthy dose of “cockeyed playfulness,” even going so far as to comment, “Budokon Boys put the ‘fun’ back in ‘What in the fuck am I listening to?’ (trust me, those letters are all in there).” Dad Is Bad continues down the path of bizarro storytelling, with Lee’s just-off-enough narratives (and vocals) veering the whole shebang into an uncomfortable ditch where you may have hit a road sign or something. But Bird’s unrelentingly good-natured electro-on-quaaludes (even when he reaches for his guitar) leavens Lee’s oddities, especially when Lee’s getting really weird like relating a story of a prisoner’s dead body being sent around from city to city and worshiped as a hero’s would be (I’ll let you dig into “The Prisoner” on your own to get the whole story).

Budokan Boys make some of the most off-kilter, dare I say alternative (woops, I wasn’t going to dare to say it) music, even if it’s as experimental as it gets. It has me yearning for the greatest throwbacks of the genre even as it pushes forward with incredible tenacity. There’s not another duo like Bird and Lee out there, I’m just going to say it – they’ve cornered the market on making “weird” as listenable as possible, not to mention making “listenable” as weird and far-out as they can. It’s a pleasure to follow them down whatever twisted path they’re blazing. Just don’t lag too far behind – you never know what’s in the shadows waiting for you.