Butthole Surfers
Electriclarryland


4.0
excellent

Review

by Pechorin USER (23 Reviews)
January 29th, 2006 | 22 replies | 11,494 views


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist


2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Rarely does a band ever come along that can truly not be described as just one type of music. The Butthole Surfers is one of those very few bands that still fails to fit into only one specific genre. They have a unique way of making songs and blending genres that I still haven't seen in many other bands out there today. Their style can rance from punk to acoustic to scary, ambient music, to even pop (Dracula From Houston, anyone?). Electriclarryland was the Surfers' most famous record, and as such, it gained a reputation as a sellout record. It was, however, still an excellent album for the time, and is a great way to get into the weirdness of the band without being scared off by the aural assault that is Locust Abortion Technician.

As I stated above, the Butthole Surfers are known for being, well, weird as you can possibly get. They have some great, approachable songs, but they also have some sonic acid trips from Hell. They also have a very unique sense of humor, as is evident in such album titles as Hairway to Steven and Electriclarryland. For a general sound of this album, the easy answer would be quirky alternative rock. But it's still much more than that. You get punk, alt-rock, a couple weird acid-trips, and even a song that seems like it could fit as a '60's surf-rock song. The general sound changes from song to song, and it's almost impossible to find a single word or phrase to describe the album. Since the album is hard to describe as one, this review will be a TxT (sorry).

The album gets off to an energetic, fast start with the straightforward punk song, Birds. Things immediately set this apart from standard punk songs with Gibby's creepy laugh (almost a Surfers trademark) and the distinctive lead guitar's part and tone. A nice solo fills out this excellent opener quite well. Up next is probably my favorite song on the album, Cough Syrup. This is another song that's hard to describe with one label. A chugging, droning guitar drives the verses, then builds into an almost anthemic chorus. Gibby's almost nonsensical lyrics add more scary undertones on top of the droning guitar. Ending in a strange violin solo that slowly builds up is a perfect way to end the song.

This album is probably most famous for the creepy hit Pepper. With a droning guitar line, rapped verses, almost Beck-esque drums, and creepy background noises and vocals about injury and death, this song is what describes true alternative music. Add in the weird effects on the guitar, and you have an alt-rock classic. Up next is the chugging, plodding, Thermador. If anything, this reminds me of a half-tempo punk or metal song. Again, note the background noises the guitar makes and the simple, yet original soloing going on.

The Surfers return to more straight punk with Ulcer Breakout. It's probably the fastest song on the album, and it features, yet again, another simple, yet crazy solo on the guitar. However, this is in my opinion one of the weaker tracks on the album, and is usually skipped in leiu of the next song, Jingle of a Dog's Collar. The intro guitar riff is probably one of the creepiest, yet catchiest riffs I've heard in a long while. Towards the middle of the song, there's a breakdown that sounds like it belongs in a horror movie. Throw in some funky chords with strange background noises towards the end, and you have another unique, creepy, yet catchy as Hell song.

Now it's time for the almost country/surf rock song, TV Star. Filled with absurd lyrics about a celebrity crush and slide guitar, it is a strangely conventional-sounding song for the Surfers. However, they quickly shift gears to the acid-fueled My Brother's Wife. Filled with a repeating drum part, creepy ramblings, and meandering guitar lines, this song almost sounds as if it could fit on Locust Abortion Technician. Weird electronic blips and screechings fill out the song well -- if you like to be scared while listening to music, that is. Still, it's an excellent way to be introduced to the weirder Surfers music.

Next is another fast-paced song, Ah Ha. Another of my favorites, it blends a surf-rock drum beat with heavy punk guitars. It's a really straightforward song, but I still like it quite a bit. The Butthole Surfers again switch gears to the Pepper-esque The Lord is a Monkey. With rapped vocals and creepy background noises/instrumentation, it is another example of the Butthole Surfers' quirkiness and penchant for writing songs that are weird as Hell, yet still an enjoyable listen.

What I see as a weak point of the album is Let's Talk About Cars. It features a simple drum beat and organ while two people have a conversation (in French, I believe; correct me if I'm wrong) about cars. For some reason, this track seems a bit too repetitive. It isn't nearly as scary as My Brother's Wife, and it's almost a chore to listen to this one. Another punk song follows in the form of L.A. On this, Gibby's vocals are run through a lo-fi effects processor, as a driving guitar riff fills in the breaks. Some nice effects are added to the instruments as well, giving this otherwise conventional song a Surfers twist.

The Surfers gave a great opening with Birds, and they provide a great closer with Space. Another acid-fueled song, it features repeated arpeggios, loose soloing on top, and trademark sounds in the background. Again, though, Gibby adds his creepy laugh as the song slowly builds to a climax with almost tribal-sounding drums. Then, all Hell breaks loose with a punk style rhythm guitar complemented with bizarre electronic noises in the background. And then the album begins much the same way it began -- with Gibby Haynes laughing the album to a close. This is another of the must-hears on the album.

Though it is often scorned by many Butthole Surfers fans as a sellout album, I still think this is a great way to get into the band. It isn't their best, but that by no means says it's a bad album. If you want to delve deeper into '90's Alt-Rock or want something you can listen to that is still very different sounding, this is a good album to pick up.

Pros:

Quirky
Few weak tracks
Has a distinct sound without being too far out there

Cons:

Possibly too quirky for some people at points
Regarded as a sellout and as the weakest Butthole Surfers album
Seems a bit disjointed at times

Recommended Tracks:

Cough Syrup
Pepper
Jingle of a Dog's Collar
My Brother's Wife
The Lord is a Monkey
Space


The strength and originality leads me to give this a 4/5. It isn't the best Butthole Surfers album out there, but a bad Butthole Surfers album is still pretty damn good.



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user ratings (142)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Zebra
Moderator
January 30th 2006



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm glad that you reviewed this, because I love the Butthole Surfers. Your review was well written and detailed, this album would be hard to describe in an overall review since nothing sounds the same.
I'd give this a 3/5. While there are some classic songs like 'Pepper' and 'Ulcer Breakout' I think that the mid-end of the album is quite weak. Plus, I agree with your cons this is the weakest Butthole Surfers album, but it still is a solid album.

AlienEater
January 30th 2006



716 Comments


I agree with Zebra.
I was waiting for more Butthole surfers reviews. It a shame so few people have heard (of) them

Pechorin
January 30th 2006



160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the positive comments. The only other one I have is Independent Worm Saloon, and I may get that one reviewed shortly. I'd have more, but their stuff is really hard to find around here...

ocelot-05
January 30th 2006



807 Comments


Haven't heard this band...I don't understand the band name.

Cravinov13
January 30th 2006



3854 Comments


I don't like them taht much, and the band name is a turnoff.

Zebra
Moderator
January 30th 2006



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The music is exactly like the band name, it's strange and it turns most people off.

Simon Kent
April 11th 2006



58 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was the first Surfers album I bought and I loved it right away. However I agree that it is no their best album. My personal favorite is Independent Worm Salon.

my hands are tied
November 26th 2006



16 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Pepper" is one of my favorite songs! I agree, it is an alt-rock classic.

The Door Mouse
March 13th 2007



2092 Comments


They were all in love with dyin' they were doin' it in Texas. Yeah the only song I know off here and I love it.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2008



15727 Comments


Pepper's one of the best songs with a one note bass line ever

Digging: A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Sea When Absent

MrKite
December 4th 2008



5020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i like this album quite a lot.

Asiatic667
December 4th 2008



4647 Comments


Ewww, I remember seeing this album cover in the store when I was a kid. It provokes painful thoughts

pdbn
October 5th 2009



130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

underrated album. Love this!

BigHans
December 23rd 2009



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I hate Cough Syrup dont you!

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2010



14983 Comments


worst band + album name and album cover ever

EVedder27
May 13th 2010



6088 Comments


haha yeah. Album name has got to be a spoof of Electricladyland.

SCREAMorphine
November 13th 2010



1751 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I love the track Pepper

valentinosmoking
August 3rd 2012



15 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great Album of Butthole Surfers.

YankeeDudel
January 25th 2013



9305 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

pepper is a jam

Digging: Croatian Amor - Genitalia Garden

MosesMalone
April 25th 2013



1831 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lets Talk About Cars kicks ass.



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