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MUSIC REVIEW

The Dead Bands Society

Throw That Beat in the Garbagecan!

By Jacob Schwartz

The Dead Bands Society is series of articles documenting some of the best bands of the 90’s which are sadly no longer with us. We’re talking demised, kicked the bucket, shuffled off the mortal coil, rung down the curtain and joined the bleeding Choir Invisible. This is the first installment of the series.

BjÖrk, Lightning Seeds, KLF, Pet Shop Boys, They Might Be Giants, and ... Throw That Beat! These are bands that appeared on a web page I came across while doing research for this article. When I first read the list, it struck me as an interesting collection of bands -- almost without a common link. Most of you probably read the list and wondered, “Who the hell is Throw That Beat!?” They’re the common link.

Throw That Beat in the Garbagecan! (named after a B52’s song, although the exclamation point is their own touch) are a quirky, alternative, pop band from Germany. One web site from the UK goes so far as to call them “Germany’s top pop band.” They did win MTV Europe’s award for best new band in 1993. But they’re impossible to find in the US, even though the band sings totally in English (with the exception of one of my favorite songs, “Je Pense Toujours À Toi”). I stumbled across one of the few albums of theirs that you can buy here, The Cool Album, and fell in love immediately. Throw That Beat! is what I thought The Cure sounded like until I actually listened to a Cure album. That’s not to say that they don’t sound similar, but -- and I’m sure I’ll get a lot of flack for this -- Throw That Beat! is so much better.

The band has three singers. The first two are female vocalists, Iwie Candy and Lotsi Lapislazuli, whose voices are so unbelievably adorable that I melt when I hear them. The third belongs to the genius behind the band, songwriter Klaus Cornfield, whose cartoonish voice is also so soft and fuzzy that you can’t help feeling warm and happy when you listen to his songs. There’s also a hefty helping of geek in his voice -- almost as if he’s the illegitimate love-child of John Linnell and Robert Smith.

This geekiness manifests itself in the lyrics as well, and is probably part of the attraction for me. I can identify with a lot of the band’s themes. Many of Throw That Beat!’s songs are about childhood, from the seemingly innocent “Chocolate Bar for Breakfast” (which bears a striking resemblance to “Cake for Breakfast” from the second Carmen Sandiego soundtrack, perhaps my all-time favorite kid’s album) to “Mummy Mummy,” a song about being picked on at school. Even the band’s love songs are often just about innocent, hearts-and-lollipops crushes. One of Throw That Beat!’s most kid-inspired albums, with songs about Superman and Mickey Mouse, is called Large Marge Sent Us! How can you go wrong with a band that makes PeeWee Herman references? It’s all part of the bubblegum image, and the band admits that they make music that’s fun.

Throw That Beat in the Garbagecan! officially shortened their name to Throw That Beat! when they released their last album, Sex Tiger, in 1996. This album was a serious departure from their previous albums, which -- along with the name change -- gave critics a reason to think that Throw That Beat! was on its way out and struggling to recapture its popularity. About this time, the band played a New Year’s Eve show in Japan with Shonen Knife. Now that must have been one hell of a show! Shortly after, the band broke up. Klaus still has a solo career but has also returned to drawing comics; you can see his work at <http://www.klaus-cornfield.de>. No news on the rest of the band, but it’s not like I heard much about them when they were around.