I’m aware that there’s a good chance that you only clicked on this link for the very same reason that I clicked on the press release in the first place: there’s a lot going on in the title. Hopefully, the fact that the album cover above (photographed by Scott Rudd) features an image by German fashion designer/high-collared enemy of sunlight (and PETA and people against bodyshaming), Karl Lagerfeld only dumps more butterscotch syrup onto your graham cracker, gummy bear, skittles, and Raisinet covered rainbow sherbert and salted caramel rice dream sundae. I’m also aware that, while a collaboration involving Yoko Ono, Miike Snow, and Rose McGowan — in a directorial role, no less — may seem a little bewildering at first, that’s likely just a reflection of a limited amount of knowledge we may have regarding the full scope of everything that each of these individual artists are involved with. And rest assured, it’s no more bewildering than the final product.
So… let’s break this down a bit.
In case you’re wondering, the Rose McGowan referenced here is definitely the same one that once dated Marilyn Manson and replaced Shannon Doherty on the show Charmed, joining a trio of sister witches armed with the “power of 3,” which apparently translates to teleporting into stale nightclubs for lukewarm open mic performances. While McGowan‘s documented directorial history on IMDB is limited to, Dawn, the 17 minute short that was, apparently, nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. What’s likely more surprising than her taking on a video project now, is knowing that she’s provided vocal contributions to albums like Manson‘s Mechanical Animals and the Grindhouse soundtrack, even expressing, at one point, that she wants to put out a full album of her own where she’s doing renditions of “older” tunes. Last year, she even released a single titled “RM486” (a reference to abortion drug, RU-486) that she created with a Parisian electro group called Punishment. The video for the track features a bald McGowan in various costumes ranging from a topless Powder/Nasferatu-looking figure to others that appear as if a bunch of daycare children were asked to replicate various Bjork and Lady Gaga ensembles out of their craft supplies. In a cringe-inducing interview with Rolling Stone about the project, the Encino Man and Biodome actress speaks out about how “dope” her music is and the shallowness of Hollywood, noting that she was “really good at” acting, but it wasn’t satisfying her creatively, as she is more interesting than the characters she was asked to portray. She also revealed that the rest of her family is in the fine art field, and “RM486” definitely comes across as the type of misguidedly pretentious “art” project someone would have smugly presented as a work-in-progress in one of the classes that I took at my liberal arts college. Not great. But, her desire to work with someone as accomplished as Ono, definitely makes a lot more sense. Especially, since she presently views herself as a champion of feminism.
For the multitude who hasn’t been following Yoko Ono‘s music career, the cultural icon represents a couple of things. First and foremost, she is probably still known best as the widow of the John Lennon that, for some, is also still responsible for “breaking up the Beatles.” A smaller percentage will also include the fact that she is a visual artist — a highly accomplished one. The truth of the matter is that Ono has put out a ton of music and not just the material she created with her late husband in the Seventies. Her latest release, Yes, I’m A Witch Too marks her 10th solo album since Lennon‘s tragic death 26 years ago, and is a continuation of her 2007 collaborative album, Yes, I’m A Witch, which featured contributions from an impressive array of artists including Hank Shocklee (The Bomb Squad), Peaches, Le Tigre, Cat Power, DJ Spooky, Jason Pierce (Spiritualized), and The Flaming Lips, whom she’s recorded with since. In the last handful of years, she’s released material with other notable artists such as Antony, John Zorn, and Thurston Moore & Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth. Based on its tracklist, this followup LP looks like a mixed bag, featuring remixes and/or collaborations featuring Sparks, her son Sean, and his former group Cibo Matto, but also the appearance of artists which are much less exciting to me, like Death Cab For Cutie.
The song “Catman,” which Miike Snow remixes for the video below, is a track that originally appeared on Ono‘s 1973 album, Approximately Infinite Universe. I saw Miike Snow back when they were supporting their first release and one thing that I like about them is that, although they’ve managed to make some waves in the indie world, much of the demographic who has embraced the trio through their recent work would likely turn their nose up at some of the material that members have been responsible for in the past. They may be fronted by American singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, Andrew Wyatt, but the other 2/3 of the group are made up of the Swedish duo of Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg (aka: Bloodshy and Avant). By the time that they formed the project with Wyatt in 2007, they had already achieved a ridiculous level of success, stacking up awards for their production work with pop acts like Brintey Spears, Kylie Monogue, Madonna, and J-Lo etc. In fact, these guys even produced and co-wrote the song “Toxic” which was credited by multiple publications as being one of the greatest songs of the Two-Thousands. What I’m saying is that, if you like Miike Snow and have been keeping your love of Brit-Brit under wraps as a guilty pleasure, it’s either time to start hating on both, or just except the facts for what they are. “Toxic” is a fucking jam, and Miike Snow clearly have the versatility to work with whoever they want. This time is just happens to be Yoko Ono, a figure who has inspired an endless number of people through her prolific career, and not just because she was married to another brilliant songwriter, 35 years ago.
When I saw Deerhoof earlier this year, I had an opportunity to speak briefly with their drummer, Greg Saunier, and ask him about if there were any plans to release any more material from Mystical Weapons, a shamefully overlooked instrumental project he put out with Sean Lennon, which ventures into everything from Bitches Brew and Pink Floyd territory to experimental compositions akin to Tyondai Braxton. He told me that, while he’d like to and had spoken to Sean about it recently, Lennon is just way too busy and is constantly working on multiple things at once. He then told me that the only person that’s more overwhelmed with projects than him is Yoko, who, apparently, regularly writes incredibly extensive, multi-page emails detailing what she’s up to and sends them to her son in the wee hours of the night. She might be 83 years old, but it doesn’t look like she’s slowing down anytime soon.
Check out the video for Miike Snow’s new frenetic remix below, followed by a full tracklist for Yes, I’m A Witch Too, which is available now.
1. “Walking On Thin Ice” ONO-Danny Tenaglia
2. “Forgive Me My Love” ONO-Death Cab For Cutie
3. “Mrs. Lennon” ONO-Peter Bjorn and John
4. “Give Me Something” ONO-Sparks
5. “She Gets Down on her Knees” ONO-Penguin Prison
6. “Dogtown” ONO-Sean Ono Lennon
7. “Wouldnit” ONO-Dave Audé
8. “Move On Fast” ONO-Jack Douglas
9. “Soul Got Out of the Box” ONO-Portugal. The Man
10. “Approximately Infinite Universe” ONO-Blow Up
11. “Yes, I’m Your Angel” ONO-Cibo Matto
12. “Warrior Woman” ONO-tUnE-yArDs
13. “Coffin Car” ONO-Automatique
14. “I Have A Woman Inside My Soul” ONO-John Palumbo
15. “Catman” ONO-Miike Snow
16. “No Bed For Beatle John” ONO-Ebony Bones!
17. “Hell In Paradise” ONO-Moby