Joey Pizza Slice, sometimes known as Son of Salami, embodies everything it means to be an underground weirdo musician. No, really– if you’re into lo-fi weirdo pop music, homegrown in the moldy basements of New England (mainly Burlington, Vermont), this guy is your idol. His music is bizarre but brilliant, much of it having been produced via “eraser headless tape recording,” which is a method where the eraser head from a cassette recorder is removed so sounds can be dubbed over one another. It’s crude, and maybe it wouldn’t be so compelling if Joey wasn’t such a generally mysterious human and brilliant songwriter. “Pretty Girls,” from A Study in Eraser Headless Tape Recording, was created using this method and is, almost conclusively, his piece de resistance. He laments, to a catchy-as-hell pop beat, “pretty girls are a waste of time/’cause they’re boring, and they don’t have to try . . . pretty girls are a motherfucker! Happiness is a motherfucker!”
“Pretty Girls” is so definitively Joey Pizza Slice that it almost seems strange that any other band would try to cover it. But Parquet Courts (indie rockers who hail from Austin but have been known to inhabit some of the same clubs and basements as Joey on occasion) nail it on this split single. Maybe it’s a little strange to hear a guitar line for this song instead of fuzzy bleep-bloops, but it really works, and so do the calculatedly apathetic vocals.
On the flip side, Joey Pizza Slice puts his own strange, occasionally barely intelligible spin on Parquet Courts’ “Picture of Health.” It’s a surprisingly rocking track for Joey – he uses guitar samples, seemingly from the original song – but it’s a great foil for his distinctive, nasal falsetto.
Pretty Girls/Picture of Health has been getting some attention, likely because Parquet Courts, who have gained a healthy national following, haven’t released any new music in a while. But for us appreciators of the weird music scene here in New England, it’s thrilling to see an underground icon get some recognition. Let’s watch Joey Pizza Slice take over the world.
Stream the songs below. Pretty Girls/Picture of Health gets a physical release from Wharf Cat on Aug. 11.