Up until recently, El Guapo was the weirdest band to come from the D.C. post-hardcore scene. Though The Dismemberment Plan and Q and Not U set the bar pretty high for weirdness in punk rock, El Guapo pretty much surpassed the punk rock part of it all together, opting for a strange mish-mash of new wave and odd sounds. But El Guapo’s been outdone, it seems, by one of its own members — Justin Moyers, a.k.a Edie Sedgwick.
In El Guapo, Justin is a mild-mannered, if bizarre, musician. But as Sedgwick, he’s a flamboyant, not even remotely feminine-looking drag queen who writes spastic electro-pop songs about celebrities. And if you hadn’t picked up on what I’m getting at here, I’ll put it straight — this is some really weird stuff. Just look at Justin, er, Edie’s picture on the cover of Her Love is Real But She is Not. He/she is clad in a silver, sparkly dress, a jet-black wig and metallic nail polish. And yet, it’s still very clear that he’s not a woman.
Regardless, this might lead you to believe that the contents of the CD are bad renditions of showtunes or disco standards. Not so. Sedgwick’s game is in frantic beats, buzzing keyboards and handclaps galore — more or less what one would expect from an El Guapo full-timer. But the fact that this is a “concept” album about celebrities and modern culture makes it even more mind-boggling, yet intriguing all the same. At first the gimmick is amusing in songs like “Martin Sheen” in which Sedgwick proclaims “I love living in the USA when Martin Sheen is president!” But the lyrics take a turn for the bizarrely erotic in “Sigourney Weaver”: “Where creatures destroy machines, a girl and a girl can celebrate machines.”
An immediate highlight among the tabloid satires on Her Love is Real is “Arnold Schwarzenegger II” (yes there are two of them). The song is a funky-assed disco-thon with plenty of references to the Terminator and the famed Austrian’s current stint as governor of our fine state (gasp). “Tom Hanks II,” of which there is only one, is a strange dance tune that sounds like an American, white, suburban Dizee Rascal. And “Sally Field” is a reasonably straightforward new wave tune, despite being surrounded by some of the most peculiar pop tunes ever committed to tape.
Edie Sedgwick is an odd lady, mainly because she’s really a dude. A dude who wrote an entire album about celebrities. And then some. You can’t make this stuff up. But gimmick or no gimmick, this album grooves. If only Haley Joel Osment’s parents knew what was being created in their little boy’s name.
El Guapo – Fake French
Brainiac – Hissing Prigs in Static Couture
Miracle Chosuke – The 7/8 Wonders of the World
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.