Sounds like: The history of popular music and modern art as viewed through a funhouse mirror, with aspects coming into focus then warping out of proportion.
For fans of: Matmos, Negativland, Laurie Anderson, Andy Warhol, Moondog.
Latest release: 2011’s Coochie Brake, the band’s 47th full-length.
Why you care: Any attempts to pin
down the Residents are fruitless. For one, you have no idea who you’re
trying to capture: The art-rock group has remained completely anonymous
for nigh on 45 years, preferring to hide behind a series of costumes,
including its now-iconic eyeball masks. The band is responsible for some
of the slipperiest music ever recorded. The Residents’ first single,
“Santa Dog,” initially released in 1972, is a jagged chunk of denatured
surf guitar and stumblebum rhythms—which, legend has it, received its
first airplay on KBOO. From there, the group incorporated fusion jazz,
acid rock and space funk; wildly reinterpreted Elvis Presley classics
(1989’s The King & Eye); created a musical based on lesser-known stories from the Bible (1998’s Wormwood); and, on Coochie Brake,
created soupy New Age/ambient epics with Spanish narration. The
Residents return to Portland to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Santa
Dog,” and perhaps drum up some interest in its Ultimate Box Set:
all of the group’s 60-plus releases and your own eyeball mask packaged
in a refrigerator, and carrying a price tag of $100,000.
SEE IT: The Residents play the Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th Ave., on Friday, Feb. 22. 7 pm. $25 advance, $30 day of show. 21+.