The Bran Flakes are the newest addition to Illegal Art, the only record label with the balls to handle the legalities of Girl Talk and other like minded sample heavy mashup artists. They are pretty irreverent, though not in the way Girl Talk might joyfully desecrate two antithetical musics with one fell swoop. The Bran Flakes find samples that while pretty distant in origin share a similar penchant for zaniness. Zaniness is a tough thing to pull off (just ask the Flaming Lips). You either look like you're trying too hard, or you think you're being zany when in fact you just look stupid. I'm not totally sure where this record falls, I think I would have to see these idiots in concert to know for sure. Some of the mashups are really awkward, or just plain annoying in their saturday morning cartoon enthusiasm. Like how Dan Deacon was before he got spiritual, or the really self satisfied dork patrol that thinks it's enough just to retool old nintendo's and other 8 bit relics in order to make "retro!" tech fantasies. As if they're the first ones to find real interest in video game music. Some of the references feel too close to home to be reified. I think Girl Talk gets away with using the most ubiquitous songs ever, because he's trying to be as obvious as possible, he's actually attempting to reinvent or at least deconstruct the most popular songs in American culture. I get the feeling the Bran Flakes' mission, while still largely hospitable to the listener (their self description on their website reads like 'Blues Clues': "The Bran Flakes are ready to turn that frown upside down, put a beat in your step, and a twinkle in your eye"), is more akin to that of Negativland, where cultural references points are worked to a frenzy in the hopes (hopes that are far more political in the case of Negativland) that they are eviscerated. I invariably end up kind of deflecting at the frenzy. It's all too, I don't know, Canadian. I end up craving something with a deeper sense of intent, of identity. But...there's 31 tracks on the record so really who cares if some of them are clunkers, the prevailing mood is pretty hysterical and it all amounts to a genuinely liberating sense of media abstraction albeit one we've been hearing for some time now. The best tracks on I Have Hands do one basic thing well, instead of trying to nail 7 different collages in a minute and a half. I've posted these songs, but for your interest Illegal Art has a 'pay what you want' policy for all their releases, so by all means, the next time you're on your seventeenth cup of coffee and wearing a hot dog costume, check it out.

The Bran Flakes - Jump Up

The Bran Flakes - Singing Dogs

The Bran Flakes - Van Pop

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