Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hey Cyber Boy, LIfe is a High Speed Joy: The Simple Pleasure of Little Cow

I'm a little past getting excited when I hear that such and such a band is the biggest thing in their home country because, well, working at the Cedar all these years, I've heard it before and sometimes it just makes one wonder about the state of the music in that home country. But believe the Little Cow hype as in "the best Hungarian export since goulash" etc, etc. These guys are fun and September 11 is going to be a party, provided enough people find out about this show.

[Just in case, here is some history and recipes for Hungarian Goulash..hey, why not?]

Just put all your preconceived notions about Balkan music or gypsy music or E
astern Euro music aside. Little Cow is not Balkan Beat Box, they are not Gogol Bordello, or Devotchka or Beruit or any of the other American "Balkan" bands. (Yeah, yeah, I know BBB is from Israel and Eugene Hutz is from Ukraine, etc. But they are American bands now, yeah?)

Little Cow doesn't have the dancing girls, (not that I don't enjoy dancing girls as much as the next person...) or the cabaret style onstage hijinks, they are not pals with Johnny Depp. No hipster attitude or Clockwork Orange namechecking. (I mean, they're named after a cartoon and the band got started writing music to accompany said cartoon. Not exactly hipster material...)

What they do have is "
a truly wonderful and infectious mix of Hungarian and English lyrics wrapped in Gypsy-tinged ska-funk pop songs," according to the Songlines magazine, published by the folks who put out those Rough Guides to various world music. They are just a bunch of regular guys from Budapest with their guitars and accordians and horns who are playing fun tunes, some of which could be described as Balkan or gypsy or Eastern ska, but many of which you would simply call pop, while you sing along in a language that you really don't know.Hooks, choruses, all that poppy stuff. But I don't really like pop music, you say. Me neither, but trust me on this one. Who else who write a sexy waltz about eating chocolate?("Chocky is Melting") Or a catchy tune about somebody stealing your coat (Feri Took My Blazer") C'mon, who knows some Hungarian out there? Anybody? Here's the Hungarian website for ya. For the rest of us, "welcome" is "isten hozott! " The only Hungarian word I know is "rege", pronounced like reggae, which means tale or story.

Here is a video for "I'm in Love with Every Lady" but this must be the Hungarian version because the chorus is not in English like on the album.

I would totally go to that party. (But what are they doing with that outhouse in the beginning?)

I'm not sure what I think of the actual "Little Yellow Cow" videos. My three year old was cracking up. There are some weird slightly psychedelic elements to some of them. Like what is going on here? Looks like they used some of the tamer ones for the Pepsi commercials for the Sziget Festival a few years back.

Little Cow is the opposite of hype, of glitz , of hipster cool. They are named after a little yellow cow character, fer cryin' out loud. One of their videos , "If I Ever" is a simple film of little kids at school lip synching to the not cool. If you told me about this video, I would normally gag...I hate that kids singing stuff. And I have a kid! Once again, however, there is something rather charming going on here. It reminds me somehow of that French film about the one room school from a few years back, To Be and To Have. Check out the kid with the bow tie, anyway.

Or here's a black and white vid they made together with the band Romano Drom. It does really make me want to go there, but it's not super slick, is it? If you look up their videos in English, they have only a couple hundred or thousand hits. But if you check them in Hungarian, they have hundred of thousands of views. These guys are big back home; the Cyber Boy ringtone broke some kind of record there in 2006. ( You can watch that video at, so I won't put it here, OK?)

As quoted above, Songlines magazine picked "I'm in Love with Every Lady" as one of their top ten new releases last June. Scroll down on this link to their review. Or how about this one from a promo for their upcoming show at Joe's Pub in New York "Little Cow is a wonderful mix of joy and melancholy, humour and lyricism. Gypsy-tinged ska/rock/funk pop songs performed by charismatic musicians. Little Cow creates real party music that makes your feet move and keeps your mind at work."

Come for the music, stay for the party. Learn a little Hungarian, or if not, hey it's world pop music. You'll get pretty far with La la la la la...and you will be singing and dancing along.

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If you're a fan of the Eastern music, Little Cow album was released by the mighty East Blok records, of the amazing BalkanBeats collections. I get their web update and follow some of their other bands. Wish they would send me a free t shirt! Really, I'll promote your stuff!!

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For fans of all things Eastern, I just have to do a shout out here to the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis. If you live around these parts, you need to get yourself down there before September 14 to the the "Lost Empire" exhibit. It's color photos from circa 1915, just prior to the Russian Revolution. But what color! The world of the giant Russian Empire was not a black and white black almost 100 years ago. I very much recommend this exhibit and it's only $5 admission. Here is link to a nice blog posting a friend of mine wrote about the exhibit.

Back again next week with things you never knew about Baba Zula!

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