Heroine Sheiks

*special introductory paragraph!
*The Heroine Sheiks 7"
*RAPE on the Installment Plan
*Best Enemies CD-single
*Siamese Pipe
*Out Of Aferica
*Journey To The End Of The Knife

Because I'm the most important music critic alive today, I'm on a first-name basis with a lot of the biggest names in rock and roll. They may not remember exactly where or how I impacted their life, but believe you me, I had a significant hand in the success of every last one of them. But no band owes more of a debt to the musical connections and business savvy of famous rock critic Mark Prindle than Minneapolis, MN's famed Cows.

When I first came into contact with The Cows, they were nowheresville, baby - sleeping on floors, living the gutted life of strangers, destitute with nothing but unacknowledged talent, a heaping helping of elbow grease and one of the sassiest ribticklers in the business. But by the time I finished sprinkling them with a healthy cup full of Mark Prindle Magic (patent pending), they had broken up.

Fast forward to 1999 with me, baby. Shannon Selberg, legendary vocalist and bugler for Minneapolis, MN's famed rock and roll combination The Cows had relocated to the only REAL city in this backwardass nation - I speak of course of my hometown, Nyny. I hear through the woodworks that he's formed a new band named "The Heroine Sheiks." Silly name - were they a comedy act? Did they sound like They Might Be Giants? Then I hear that they have a keyboardist - uh oh! Were they a retro-sixties act? A Moody Blues cover band? I was not soon to find out, because somebody promised me a single and never gave me one.

HOWEVER!!! Eventually I heard tell that this Heroine Sheiks band was playing a live show near parts of town with which I'm familiar at. And mister, was I excited. I mean, I didn't get a boner, but hey - how often do you get one? According to your wife, not too often.

So I went. I didn't really want to go, because I can't stand going to see bands play in clubs anymore - got burned out on that crap while pursuing a medical law degree in English. But it was worth it. The Heroin Chics were WONDER-WONDER-WONDERFUL. The guitarist (from the Swans!) looked like John Waters with half his body covered in tattoos - in other words, like a child molester! The bass player looked like the guitarist in Metallica or singer from Soundgarden -- slightly Hispanic-looking with a hip Van Dyke and beerbelly ahoy. Keyboardist? Huge burly dude with long hair, full beard and cowboy hat who danced hilariously back and forth when he wasn't playing. And of course the drummer - the everyman. The normal dude. The guy who might work on cars in a garage. The guy who farted as a joke about two minutes after I met him.

And play? HOW THEY PLAYED! I know I shouldn't make Cows comparison since that's the past and all, but this guitarist (Norman Westberg) played creepy slinky tinny hissy bits, as weird as or weirder than anything Thor used to play, the bass player (George Porfiris) rocked out with heavy distortion, the drummer (John Fell) pounded with funky danceable abandon, and to my heaviest glee of all, the keyboardist (Scott Hill) just made a bunch of damn noises!!!!! KEYBOARD? MORE LIKE NOISEBOARD, IF YOU ASK FAMED ROCK CRITIC MARK PRINDLE!!!! There was so much distortion going on that, even with the band right in front of me, I often couldn't discern exactly which instrument was making what noise. I like that. That's different! And the songs? Great songs. Hooky yet different. Ridiculous yet loud. I've never given Shannon any credit for being a singer, but when I think about it, he only sounds bad in like one or two songs on each album. On most of the tunes, he sounds fantastic, even when hitting notes! ("Hitting The Wall," for just one of what could be several examples -- great little vocal melody in that!). I never gave him credit til I saw him singing on stage. He's just a great lyricist and vocalist. He understands rhythm wonderfully, he has an interesting "speak-sing" style, he yells great, he always looks for interesting oral ways to present the material and regardless of any past drunken mistakes caught on tape for public consumption ("Mrs. Cancelled"), SHANNON SELBERG CAN SING!

But that's all in the past. Everyone I just described has been replaced now, so strike the last few paragraphs from your memory. Except the 'they're good' part.

The Heroine Sheiks 7" - Amphetamine Reptile 1999.
Rating = 8

I didn't pick this up until after I already owned the first two HS full-lengths, so my opinion might differ in quality from those who picked it up direct post-Cows meridian. I can see those folks not liking it! Because it seems kind of half-baked. And coming from a band as fully baked (NO PUN INTENDED - THIS IS NOT THE "HIGH TIMES" REVIEW OF THE HEROINE SHEIKS' FIRST SINGLE. IF THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE AFTER, PLEASE SEE www.hightimes.com/~reviewoftheheroinesheiks'firstsingle/markprindlewroteit.htm) as Minneapolis, Minnesota's The Cowsills, fans may have been expecting something more in-depth than a track of Shannon making funny little noises on his keyboard while the "demo" plays, and a lengthy theme song featuring one line repeated over and over again.

Luckily, they would get just such an in-depth track in the single's third offering (though only second chronologically - I don't want any filthy rumors getting started here!), "Let's Fight." That's a great song. Men and women alike should be into that one. It's a snappy sleazy pop song about the conundrums that arise due to Men being from Mars and Women being Lying Whores. Granted, it's on the album too.

So perhaps my focus should be on the two songs that AREN'T on the album. The Heroine Sheiks' theme song, amusingly titled "(We Are The)," swings and lurches madly with lots of Thor Eisentragery bent guitar notes and regular loping bass/bugle breaks. It's an enjoyable raucous good time, even though it sounds like it only took about 15 seconds to throw together. And "Swedish Fly," whose title joke I didn't even catch until like the fourth time I listened to the song (I think I was just reading it as "Spanish Fly"), is just Shannon having a grand old bouncy time with his Casio and/or Yamaha keyboard. Don't look for the drama of his dark tour-de-force "Dear Dad" from the last Cows album -- this one is just goofy homemade silliness. Catchy but inconsequential, it won 130 Grammys.

Today's Thought: Every once in a while, I like to finish my reviews with a little thought. Something to take away with you and ruminate on later in the afternoon.

That was today's thought.

Well fuck you!

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RAPE on the Installment Plan - Reptilian Records 2000
Rating = 9

Shannon Selberg is a very, very smart and talented man. You may not expect that by watching his silly antics onstage or listening to him try to warble his way through "Can't Die", but he really is. It's always been easy to tell how smart he is by reading his lyrics. But it was never really clear how much he had to do with the musical side of the Cows. Ten seconds into this album, it's clear to any child or father to the man that Shannon Selberg either learned a heck of a lot about songwriting from his Cows partners or that he, in fact, had brought a lot of that melody and structure to the Cows in the first place. This CD is instantly Cows-like in feel, while being entirely different in presentation. Unlike the Cows albums, wherein the bass and guitar are separated from and battling each other with competitive notes, chords and often even keys, this CD hands you a glut of noise. A glut of noise that is always playing an incredibly catchy melody in a brilliantly non-traditional manner. What is all that noise? It's distorted bass, distorted synth noise and distorted guitar smashing and bashing as a semi-industrial, inseparable unit. The only sounds that escape the catchy din are the crisp, danceable (and I'm not kidding when I say that) drums of Mr. Fell and the clear, ALWAYS-ON-THE-NOTE, confident vocals of an older but wiser Shannon Selberg.

But that's not all! The songs actually develop -- with new guitar lines popping into the foreground out of nowhere, or an icky keyboard noise suddenly developing into an actual countermelody -- all when you least expect it but most desire it. So the songs never get boring. The only other band I can think of that pulls off this interweaving chaos/structure mixture so effectively is The Fall. So if you like The Fall (and a bunch of distorted noise), you'll LOVE The Heroine Sheiks!

By no means am I intending to slight the rest of the band by focusing on the singer. It's just that, like I said, I'm a huge Cows fan so he is the only reason I went to see the band in the first place. This band is terrific. Golden. On fire. And the stage presence is creepily wild. Check out that fucking Bob Seger-looking keyboardist boppin' to and fro! And don't let that weirdo guitarist near your little girl! All that visual erotica and Shannon throwing mic stands too. A hell of a show.

So in short: The CD has ten songs, some of which are acidic attacks on a no-good woman, others of which are hilarious little rants about this or that ("Effity Eff" is a Dylan-esque classic with its brilliant refrain: "Fuckity Fuckity Fuckity Fuck!"). But by far the most lyrically impressive song on here is the opener, "Wandering Mongrel." If you buy the CD, don't just read the lyrics and go "eww. icky." Play the CD and read along. Listen to how the words flow. Pay attention to the rhythms, the internal rhymes, the way he creates the creepiest sleazeball mood he can while still sounding like a boastful gangsta rapper. Yeesh.

This is one of the best albums I've heard in a long time. Melodies that won't leave my head, unpredictable noise blasts and asides that always keep me guessing, funky as goodness rock drumming, and effortlessly on-the-money vocalizing -- what a great new band! And the CD is mixed like nothing I’ve ever heard in my life. You’ll just stare at your speakers and go, “?”

At which point that guy who sang “96 Tears” will go, “Yeah, what do you need?”

Reader Comments

nat@tcbi.com (Tricia Brost)
Don't know how recent this review is but,I have bought the new cd rape on the... and cannot get it out of the player ,THIS IS AMAZING STUFF! Saw them in milwaukee with 12 other people present(shame!)all the ingredients of a great live punk show like the old days. Seen cows many many times and this IS evolution in the propper form! Heroine Sheiks should stay together,make many more discs and play live forever if this world is to be right!! Thanks for ending up in a yahoo search and writing about some great bands! Glad I've found you.

I am a die hard *Shannon* fan- I greatly admire his work. Sorry to hear about him and his girlfriend and the bookstore. In my opinion he is probably the most under-appreciated artistic genius in the world.. what a mind.. what a curveball he can throw.

When i heard about the Heroine Sheiks after hearing of the Cows demise, I smiled- I went and saw them an smiled again- I listen to the new CD and am glad there's a Shannon out there who speaks to me with his little rhymes.. one of these days, if he keeps on keeping on, his day will come. There will be the day when SHANNON and the WORLD collide.

PS- any chance of fwding me Shannon's email? I've seen him many many times but have never told him how much I admire his work- just didn't seem right- maybe email would be a better medium. I once drove nine hours from Phoenix to Santa Fe to see the Cows play a private college and it was worth every damn second on the road- never forget that one.. he just keeps getting better.

xerxestireirondada@breakthelaw.co.uk (Steve Reynolds)
Geez, oh Pete, let me tell you, that Effity Eff song is easily one of the most useful goddamn songs ever written. I haven't stopped quoting that daily for the last few weeks since I got this album. And the preceding material doesn't exactly disappoint, either. The first time I heard the intro to Jew Jitsu, I burst out laughing and thought aloud, "Ahh...no interest in stardom whatsoever." Pity this world doesn't reward where it's due.

The day I heard of the cows demise was truly depressing--thankfully there was jagermeister to turn to. To my relief, I discovered the bass player is currently a part of the melvins, another one of my favorites-->after seeing them at the black cat this past spring, I got to see in person that his addition to King Buzzos greatness is the dope. But I still missed shannon-->until hearing about the heroine sheiks, and their new album, which is nothing less than amphetamine reptile style meets Al Green. I am happy once again, but I would be even more at ease if I could see them live--why dont they come to DC--????I have not the time nor dough to get to NY. Oh well, I'll just have to continue to wonder if headstands and mind boggling stares are still part of the show.

nineinchgoth@hotmail.com (Adam Narowal)
The Sheiks ARE playing Baltimore on February 23rd. I went to Reptilian last night to buy the album. WOW! It's not the same as the Cows, but it's equally grand! I love the tracks "Wandering Mongrel" and "Jew Jitsu", and of COURSE "Effity Eff"!!!! I too would like to know how to contact Shannon Selberg. Hell, I've already contacted bands like Pere Ubu, Today is The Day, and Sigh; might as well add more good ones to the list!

The Heroine Sheiks kick dick!

yea, i went to see these guys in boston a few weeks ago. i'd say theyre the future of punk rock if they werent so damn old.

rreese79@hotmail.com (Roger Reese)
Rogg says.

Heroine sheiks are the best band out there and they are dickkicking. No words about the rythim section are too few. george Porfis and john fell are the best rock section ever. jesus lizard meets zeppelin to be sure. jujitsu is one of the best rocks ever to roll. seen em on tour and they kick and fell is cool too and he does fix cars too.

Colin T.
this album is a helluvalotta like the last cows record. SO GET IT. i'm listening to it right now and boy what a fucking record. yeah.

david@cteainc.com (David Torres)
When someone tells you this kicks ass they mean it kicks your assity-ass with a steel-tipped bootity-boot.

The drumming is so friggin loud and good and the grooves are massively chunky and catchy. Shannon sounds like he can and wants to kick my ass. What are you laughing at? He could kick your ass too. This album really has that type of outright aggressive feel to it. As well as some type of dirty-sexual, carnal, wet yet warm and loving sound to it. Fuck that - it ain't warm and loving - it's kill-kittens type warm.

The production's a little muddy between the guitar and bass but you won't even care. It's that good.

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Best Enemies CD-single - Rubric 2001.
Rating = 7

Only two songs, but one's pretty good and the other is hilarious. "Best Enemies" is an angry trudge rocker -- it appears in a different version on Siamese Pipe, but this is the version that starts with Shannon yelling out the final lines of our National Anthem (by Radiohead). Side two is your reason to buy, however: the only recorded version of "Oucha!" If music is your game and dumb is your name, "Oucha!" will deliver like a mailman delivers mail to your home.

In "Oucha!," the guitar player plays four ascending slop distorted grunge chords while Shannon yabbers off a bunch of German-sounding jibberish in an evil Storm Trooper voice. At least I assume it's jibberish because my half-German wife tells me that there is no "Ch" noise in Germany (or "Dutchland," as they call themselves because they think they're Dutch). She also tends to make rude comments whenever this song is playing -- for example, "Are you listening to this for PLEASURE?" and "Did I LIKE it? No." But as the man of the house, I think it's as funny as any episode of Hogan's Heroes (which reminds me -- do you think that the working-class skinhead band "Hogan's Heroes" are aware that they've named their band after a show starring a bisexual deviant?). Especially when all the music goes away and the fake-German narrator continues to acapellaly intone the extent of his physical pain. "Oucha! OUUUUCHA! Oh! Oh! Oh shit! Oh! OUCHA! etc." Then it ends with a multi-bugle/Army drum march, and you wonder if you've just laughed at some sort of neo-Nazi joke.

You probably haven't. The singer's name is "Selberg."

Last night I dreamt that I was on a trip with my wife and dog and we revisted a locale from an earlier dream of mine: a disgusting Mexican-run convenience store wherein (during the previous dream, from weeks earlier), the store owner had taken a shit all over an enemy's car to lower its value. I didn't want to go to the store, but since I was there, I related the tale to two of the young Mexican employees. They laughed and laughed and ran off to verify the story. Unfortunately, they verified it by asking the creepy old man himself. So he came up to me and my dog and said, "That dog's finished." I said, "Oops! Sorry." and started to remove him from the guy's property. The guy then said, "No, I mean HE'S FINISHED!" and tried to cut Henry's throat (my dog). I grabbed Henry and ran and ran to the veterinarian. I told him what had happened and he said that the creepy old man had been responsible for a lot of hurt animals that are brought in. So my wife and I went out to the car to get revenge. It took us forever to find the convenience store again, but when we did, we saw that the old man and HIS wife were on a bus. So we got on the bus too; I had a gun. I began to talk very loudly about what a creep the convenience store guy was, so he left his seat and came up to give me a piece of his mind. When he arrived at my seat, I said to him, "Hey - look at your wife." As he turned around to look at her, I pointed my gun and fired, blowing her head apart. As he shrieked, I said, "Now you know what it's like to lose somebody who's dear to you." Then I shot him several times in the head and heart, and got off the bus. We returned to pick up Henry, but the veterinarian gave us a little bag of bones and said, "This is all that's left." We knew he was lying, and that he was actually working for the now-dead convenience store guy. I can't remember how we found the real Henry, but I'm pretty sure I killed the veterinarian too.

Bottom line: Don't fuck with me in my dreams. I'll shoot ya!

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Siamese Pipe – Rubric 2002
Rating = 8



Last Saturday night, July 13th, 2002 (I remember the date clearly because it was four days before my 29th birthday – thanks for nothing, ASSHOLE), I picked up my Paul McCartney and Wings fanbook from 1977 and headed on down to Brownie’s, a soon-to-be closing NYC musical club. My goal was to enjoy a fine outing by what is probably NYC’s finest band (though I can’t say for sure, having only heard 1 or 2 other NYC bands), The Heroine Sheiks (the name of the band is a pun. Just like “Foghat” would be if it meant anything). I couldn’t wait to see this killer line-up of ex-Cows singer Shannon Selberg, ex-Swans guitarist Norman Westberg, ex-Replacements leader Paul Westerberg, late Mad Magazine cartoonist Dave Berg, legendary pimp Slim Iceberg and soft rock sensation Dan Fogelberg.


). I couldn’t wait to see this killer line-up of ex-Cows singer Shannon Selberg, ex-Swans guitarist Norman Westberg, ex-China Shop drummer John Fell (personally I can’t believe they let him drum in the shop as long as they did), ex-King County Queens bassist Eric Eble and ex-tra special keyboardist Scott “Scooter” Hill. But enough about the band that I’m purportedly talking about. Let’s get back to talking about me some more.

I arrived and took a standing position right by the fire exit so I could read my Paul McCartney and Wings book by the fading sunlight. Two opening acts played as I read like the wind and finally! I jumped up on top of the crowd and walked on everybody’s head until I was at the front of the stage. And out they came – Norman, looking like a creepy dirty old man with a mustache and more tattoos than an entire season of Fantasy Island (zinger?). Scott Scooter, still bulky with long hair, a full beard, denim jeans and denim jacket, challenging all laws of it being really really hot in the club. Then John, the ol’ grease monkey in his uproariously ironic Tide Detergent T-shirt, making the kids dance and laugh with his irony. The new bass player Eric was next, and a more normal looking young man you’re not going to meet. What on Earth is he doing in the Heroine Sheiks? (Answer: Riding their shirttails to MTV Freedom!). And finally, the spokesleader of the band himself, Shannon Selberg, carrying on his crazy stage performer tradition by walking on wearing a bicycle helmet and gauze on both shins. Or was it? No – it just looked like a bicycle helmet! It was actually a plastic bag with a rubber band around it. But it looked like a bicycle helmet! I know it sounds strange, but it’s true! I’m not the only one who thought so! Ask that guy that was standing next to me!

So the show began, and at 12:10 AM or so, the HS (Ham Sandwich) blasted into a brand new punk rock song called “Army Brat.” Built around John Fell’s fast-as-nails “skins” slammin’g’, Eric’s flippity-flop bass line and Norman’s “not-nearly-as-depressing-as-every-single-song-that-his-former-band-ever-recorded” woopy-up guitar slide, it TORE ME A NEW ASSHOLE! No – I should avoid hyperbole – I can’t actually pass waste through the hole. But it is there! Just lift up my balls and take a look! See it?

Look, I may not know gonorrhea when I see it, but I know ROCK AND ROLL. And these guys ROCKED. Next was the classic near- instrumental “Jew Jitsu” from their debut. Shannon struck poses, Mr. Denim danced a happy dance, Storming Norming cranked scratchy noises out of his axe-go-play and the crowd reeled and freeled (speaking of “freeling,” my ninth grade English teacher was named Mrs. Freels – I bet she got FREELED all the time, if you know what I mean!).

No wait, that's not what I meant. what is the – Ah yes! – “Fucked Up The Ass.”

Third you’d find “Nuclear Jeannie,” one of the best songs ever. Blue Oyster Cult sci-fi electric fuzzy buzz for the Oughts, with Scott’s noise-synth coming as close to playing actual musical NOTES as it ever will! And finally they rounded off the set with a cover of “Little Schoolgirl,” a standard by legendary bluesman Sonny Bono Williamson.

But they weren’t done yet! Because the crowd was so appreciative, they played more than just those four songs. Next was a goofy, out of tune new one called “Kiss It” with a great bass line. But don’t rest on your la I’m bored with this.

After the show, I went backstage and stole 500,000 copies of their freshly recorded album number two by the Heroine Sheiks, kind of their Led Zeppelin II in that it was their second album. Entitled Siamese Pipe, it features “a lot of murder and mayhem,” as some critic somewhere will undoubtedly say, as well as big-league late- period Cows-style production (!), ripping apart the Rape On The Installment Plan glut of incomprehensible noise into clear drums, crisp guitar, thundering bass, shiny bright cruddy keyboard noises and vocals so loud, you can actually make them out for a change. The songwriting is as magnificent as before, with speed demon punk rockers “Army Brat,” “My Boss” and the STUNNING “Mas Suicide” (a cowpunk “cuntery” song concerning the fatigue and depression of playing great songs to crowds of next to nobody for 15 years) bringing youthful slamdancey goodtimes to a record otherwise full of dark spy/blues intrigue (“Grab The Wheel,” “3-Banger,” “Little Schoolgirl” and “Best Enemies”), ridiculously funny joke songs (the sexy funk rock anthem “Open You Up,” which puts the “ball” in “canniballism,” if you spell “cannibalism” wrong; and “Kiss It,” a set of dopey lyrics probably about a penis, sung in tune with an atrociously WRONG keyboard line while a steady, dramatic bass line rolls away in the background – when you’re finally able to get a copy of this CD, take note of how many times Shannon does that hilarious “YyyyyOU’VE!” thing with his mouth. To what end? To what purpose is his “YyyyyOU’VE!”? Probably about the same purpose as the little bicycle bell he keeps tapping in “Little Schoolgirl”) and, just when you most expect it, a melancholy organ/bass duet called “Let It Die” – which they played in concert, by the way, right after Shannon kept trying to hit me in the eye with his damn bullwhip during “Wandering Mongrel.” So musically it’s great. Productionally it’s fantastic. But what about lyrically?

At the risk of being anticlimactic, there are some killer (murderer) stories on here too. “3-Banger” subtly draws a comparison between an aging, disrespected assassin and… well, I didn’t catch it, but maybe you will. It’s clever! “Best Enemies” says what it has to say about a former friend. And boy does he burst the damgates wide open with the tense dark comedy of “Grab The Wheel,” which concerns the unpleasant evening of a man who (a) watches his lover make sex with another guy, (b) contemplates murder or suicide, (c) gets mugged, (d) watches the mugger tell a cop that the narrator had actually been robbing him and (e) grabs the cop’s gun and threatens to march them ALL into his lover’s room for a mass murder. Thanks for the mammaries!

I know the song doesn’t have any mention of breasts – but I feel it’s important to remind women of the importance of regular breast cancer checkups on my waterbed.

One thing you might notice though is that it's not quite as immediately hooky as the last album. The songs seem more like 'meant to be taken at least semi-somewhat seriously hard rock' whereas the debut sounded like the work of a group of homeless geniuses screwing around in a noise machine full of clowns.

Reader Comments

smashlight@lycos.com (Franklin Badger)
the new sheiks sorry, just aren't so crush. no more norman westberg and maybe even worse no more john fell. the band now is actually a great band but dosen't have the blood, sweat and tears that made them so crush. fell ws probably the best drummer to pick up sticks since i don't know when, but i heard that his ears gave up the ghost and he quit playing music. i used to see him with china shop all the time (with ex voidoids naux) and always wanted to see him in a different band. norman is a guy i've seen in other bands too and how the heroines can continue without these two is strange. to me, the retarded music fan these guys were the band as much as shannon, and i was a massive cows fan. i just saw the sheiks in new haven of all places and just missed the sex of those two in the mix. btw, your interviews are fucking excellent. keep up the high standard

Whoopers, I was disappointed with this one. I love the Sheiks albums up to here, but 'Shove your cock in my mouth' Shannon is flubbin up now. Fast songs aren't really fast, but just have boom chick boom chick boom chick drums. Lyrics are annoying in a 'boys are dumb, throw rocks at them' way. When he doesn't sound like a sour pussy janis joplin drag queen yippin democrat, he does Lou Reed! Berlin 2002 can Kiss it, Little Schoolgirl with a roped sausage curled penis curling behind a trenchcoat A song like 'Open You Up,' sounds like a could have been good, but it's predicktable. And the talkin' blues song with the orangutan hoopin? So fucking what! Boom chick boom chick boom chick it's the same beat all the fast songs have. So it's not annoying like the Boredoms, but annoying like Staind with in-your-face boom-chocalaca 'tude.

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* Out Of Aferica - Reptilian 2005 *
Rating = 10

Six years ago, former Cows vocalist Shannon Selberg founded NYC noise-rock-weird band Heroine Sheiks along with creepy-looking ex-Swans guitarist Norm Westberg, a grease monkey drummer, a Metallica guy bassist, and a Bob Seger-esque denim-clad man who danced back and forth while making weird noises on a keyboard. This line-up (more or less) put out two incredibly great, quirky albums (RAPE On The Installment Plan and Siamese Pipe) and then somehow completely fell apart. Every single original member went their separate ways, along with a replacement member or two! Most bandleaders would have cashed in their chips and walked away (only metaphorically however), but not Shannon Selberg. Instead, Shannon replaced the whole quitting lot and came back with the best Heroine Sheiks album yet. I will now briefly discuss each aspect of the release in such a manner that you will understand its many fine assets and therefore buy a copy when it becomes available in today's popular compact disc purchase points. (ex. Record Bar, Turtle's)


Because I mostly slept through Anthropology class like any SANE PERSON WOULD, I thought that the album title and its strange artwork concept of a screwball map with arrows leading from 'Aferica' into the deepest corridors of 'East Cock Asia' and "South Cock Asia' was some sort of joke about racism. Like maybe there's some white flight going on because of the rising African-American population in the U.S. NOPE! Turns out that in addition to being a hilarious teen comedy, "Out Of Africa" is some sort of fancy Anthropology concept. As it was explained to me, the theory says that modern man evolved in Africa about 100,000 years ago. They started out with the same exact tools and culture (or lack thereof) as other human species of the time (eg the Neanderthals of Europe ,or advanced homo erectus in Asia). But then about 60,000 years ago something happened (development of language? peer pressure?) that resulted in these early folks leaving Africa with an advanced culture, art, boats, beads and all kinds of 'bling-bling' as they called it at the time. And what they then did, according to said theory, was colonize Eurasia, Australia and the Americas, wiping out the older peoples. So basically, the album cover and title are intended as an anthropological/political joke about America spreading its culture all over the world.



Longtime fans will be thrilled to learn that the weird noise-making keyboard is back with a vengeance after taking a back seat to 'real' insttruments on the last album. This keyboard is a KEY component of the Heroine Sheiks' sound and should not be underestimated. Its tones sound cheap, fake and WRONG. I've never heard another keyboard like it and kinda wonder if it wasn't just created as a joke by a drunken Casio employee. Either way, it adds a feel of demented homemade glee to nearly every track on here.

But this isn't a return to the 'big mess of strange noises creating hooks' presentation of RAPE On The Installment Plan. Instead, the band has merged the lo-fi distorted keyboard hooks with the sound of extremely well-produced mean hard rock instruments. New guitarist Martin Ros alternates between noisy slide guitar, aggressive metallic riffs and painting the corners with two-note or chord-scratching ambience as Westberg used to do. Eric Robel's drum sound is crisp, tight and assertive, and bassist Rob Kimball does he thang, whether seconding the keyboard hook or travelling up and down the neck like a goat. And the album is DIVERSE! I mean, you start off with a dark mood piece that turns into Biblical gangsta rap, then hit two blasts of AmRep noise-rock in a row, then move on through some nostalgic cow-punk, a couple sleazy blues rockers (one with an ever-shifting time signature), a couple sick lounge jazz approximations (one with vocals by Dennis Hopper and Bruce Campbell. Sort of.), on through disturbing intrigue and hopeless sorrow before closing your day with distorted bass heartbeat pounding and a warped coda featuring S. Selberg and special guest Danielle Dowling dueting on "The Mah-Nah Mah-Nah Song." AND THAT WEIRDASS KEYBOARD IS EVERYWHICHWHERE!!!!

There is not a single piece of filler or cliche'd songwriting on this record. It's eleven original tracks of creative, hooky, diverse and loud rock music.


Possibly Shannon's finest performance ever. Not only does he continue to come up with some of the silliest and catchiest vocal hooks you'll ever hear ("Brooklyntown Romeo-whoa-whoa. Whoa whoa!"; "Cock! Asi-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah Cock! Asi-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah~"), but he continues to experiment with his delivery, this time round throwing in a couple performed in a lower voice, one sung like a melancholy crooner, a couple that are almost rapped like a rapper guy, and even one in which he plays three different characters! (!!!!) !!!! And one of them is a woman person!!!!! (!!!!!)


My favorites include "Stabbed By An Angel," "you d'etat," "Obscenery" and "Harmonic Fix."


Examples might include:

"I don't care what or who your ass is
I am the opium of the masses"

"Her: He shaves his balls and taint, he calls his boss 'that Jew'
And you don't wanna hear the fucking shit he's saying about you!
Him: My dough like crack she smokes it, she's got hairy nipples-ew!
And I ain't had a blowjob since 9-11 neither, too!

"Both model and actress
look good on my mattress"

"It seems my life is just a dream that's turned to shit"


Buy every Heroine Sheiks album, but especially this one. Even if you somehow happen upon a portion that doesn't thrill you, there's always so much oddness going on or coming right around the bend that you'd be an assdumb dumbass to not wind up loving the whole farfarruggin thing. I'd give ROTIP a 9/5/10, SP an 8.5/10, and OOA the much-coveted perfectly rounded 9.9999999999999859449593399999999999999997954133345255/10.

So keep on Heroineing, Sheiks!

Reader Comments

WORD ~ Just saw the Sheiks on Halloween…The new songs sounded great…Brooklyn Romeo, Through, Jaws of Life…The closest thing I have ever heard that even resembled their Keyboard sound was on a Wu Tang record. Very Low-Fi & Creepy…and that is a good thing! Hope they publish the lyrics on their WebSite…by the way Mark…The Heroine Sheiks are now on Myspace.com…the party won’t get started until you join.

Good review. Al though I disagree about the grade. This album deserves a high nine, but not a ten. Simply because the new Selberg's band sound exactly like the Cows in some tracks (Break up, Brooklyn Romeo) though less noisy. I think that you should've left the ten where it belonged, "Rape on..." sounds so original and fresh and this album doesn't, nevertheless it's a hell of a lot better than Siamese pipe. I guess that your point is that this album is an excellent mixture between the the previous two albums. In that case, you're totally right...but I really prefer the atmosphere and the catchiness of the first one... nuclear jeannie or jew-jitsu are too damn good...

By the way...What with the changing of ratings? Fugazi, The strokes, Neil Hamburger have been affected. Maybe you should reconsider your rule about only one ten per band... don't you think? See ya!

If you listen to the end of the interminable hidden track you get the answer to the question "why 'cock asia'" when he's reciting the phrase over and over then says it in an asian accent, upon which it becomes 'caucasian' - isn't that just super super clever?? What a guy, I do love a good concept, and I mean that very very sincerely.

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Journey To The End Of The Knife - Amphetamine Reptile 2008
Rating = 8

If you've ever heard The Cows, you know why they've been one of my absolute favorite bands since I saw them years ago on the Peacetika tour. They were geniuseses! But they never earned the money or critical respect they deserved, and although they do have a rabid posthumous following, it's obviously limited to (a) the few people who've actually heard them, and (b) the few people who are willing to wade through the noise to hear the intelligence and hookiness buried underneath. While youngsters read Our Band Could Be Your Life and get into (admittedly very good) '80s indie bands like Big Black, Butthole Surfers and Black Flag, The Cows get the historical SHAFT UP THE ASS.

As such, when Cows guitarist Thor Eisentrager suddenly announced "I'm too old for this shit" in 1998, the other members were forced to start their careers all over again, as if the previous 13 years were nothing more than a fly buzzing through a barn. Drummer Freddy Votel returned to playing in trusty 'local' Minneapolis bands like his original outfit T.V.B.C. Bassist Kevin Rutmanis joined the Melvins (good career move!) but got himself thrown out (less good career move!) and now plays in a band called Hepatitis that you'll probably never hear outside of MySpace. Singer Shannon Selberg took the riskiest move of all - to NYC and the formation of an entirely new band. Against every single odd in the world, this band - The Heroine Sheiks - produced music just as original, noise-ridden and catchy as The Cows. But even fewer people heard them! Not surprisingly, the other members grew tired of eating stale beans and playing to one person per city, so Selberg was forced to replace each of them about 4,000 times.

And this brings us to today. After the 18th or 19th Heroine Sheiks line-up quit like a bunch of quitters, Shannon 'Mark E. Smith' Selberg said "Fuck you, Big Apple" and returned to Minneapolis to find some less quit-happy musicians. These he found in ex-Hammerhead guitarist Paul Sanders, ex-Ouija Radio keyboardist Sarah Huska, ex-STNNNG bassist Jesse Kwakenat and ex-THEMES/Vox Vermillion/Tin Horns/The Stereo/Kill Sadie/Animal Chin/KT88/Apollo Kings/Gods Date/Thunder Chicken drummer Bruce J. Wuollet. Theoretically I suppose you could call these people 'quitters' too since they clearly aren't members of their former bands anymore, but frankly anybody who is granted the opportunity to play in a band with an ex-Cow SHOULD TAKE IT.

I'll be honest with you - being a non-Minneapolitan, the only one of these 'former bands' I've heard is Hammerhead. But Hammerhead made some great music (and Sanders' ex-bandmates continue to do so with their current band Vaz), so I knew that Sanders' involvement could be nothing but good. Now that I'm about to start the fifth paragraph, let's get to the album.

Journey To The End Of The Knife is short. Granted, back in olden times The Beatles and their direct competitors The Ramones could put out 30-minute albums and nobody would bat a ball, but the Children of the Today Generation(TM) have grown accustomed to gigantic double-CD rock operas based on the life of Nostradamus and hold nothing but contempt for a mere 8-song half-hour musical document. "That's an EP!" they whinge. "What is this, a maxi-single?" they continue. "The Red Hot Chili Peppers could've recorded a triple-CD of great, great, original songs in the time it took the Heroine Sheiks to record this mere inkling of a spot! You hear me? The Red Hot Chili Peppers are GREAT!" they conclude, incorrectly.

And it is disappointing that the new Heroine Sheiks CD is only a half-hour long, but it's also understandable, and here's why: A Minneapolis-based MarkPrindle.com reader informs me that the Heroine Sheiks have been playing several other new songs in concert in addition to the eight featured here. "Why the dick aren't they on here?" you may wonder, crudely. Well I'm no brain surgery janitor, but studio time costs money. This is why so many bands release live albums -- because they're cheap. I'm merely surmising, but if the Heroine Sheiks honestly do have more new songs than these eight, then there's no reason other than economic why they wouldn't have included them here. Further supporting this conclusion is the fact that one of the eight is a GOD-FUCKING-AWFUL live recording; surely if they'd had studio time, they would've re-recorded this one in the studio. And I ask you -- what kind of world in which are we living in when Shannon Selberg, after 22 years of producing ONLY "very good" to "astonishingly great" music, has to pinch pennies to get new songs out to the people? I guess that's the nature of the entertainment world (pop culture is called "lowest common denominator" for a reason), but I find it morally offensive.

Unless I'm wrong and they just got lazy, recorded some songs real quick and called it an album, in which case FUCKK YOU HERBOEINE SNAKES!!!!!

Now that I'm beginning the ninth paragraph, perhaps I should discuss what the new record actually sounds like, in terms of musical notes and things. Hey, a BUMBLEBEE!

Now that I'm beginning the tenth paragraph, perhaps I should stop looking out the window and defakjlf

If you'll excuse a quick digression, I just got an email from my wife about her annual bonus and it's so astonishing that I feel the need to brag about her to you. I personally received no bonus this year because business has been slow. You know how much my wife got?


For you UK-ers, that's equal to 500 trillion pounds. So good work, wife! Keep on wifin'!

In some ways, Journey To The End Of The Knife flirts with 'normal music' the same way that Siamese Pipe did: the keyboards only play a major role in three songs; a couple of riffs recall earlier AmRep fare; and the live track is basically a simplified funk/grunge/rocker. But in other aspects, it's just as fucked-up as the other Sheiks releases - just in a different way. For example, both "Be A Man" and "4-F" could almost pass for normal rock compositions, except that it sounds like the guitar strings have purposely been loosened to sound bendy and off-key every time they're hit. Another track, "Muerte Vous," presents itself as an excellent dark jazzy smoker before suddenly converting into ugly, tuneless noise-with-a-beat for a full ninety seconds until the song ends. Most noticeably, Selberg is experimenting with his vocals more than ever before, as if he wants each song to clearly have its own distinct narrator.

Because Jann Wenner has promised me that he has no plans to do so, I will now take the initiative to briefly discuss each of the eight songs. In this manner, I ache to convince you to purchase a copy from AmRep or directly from the band, who likely have a web site or MySpace page on the computer, or word processor.

"Be A Man" - Goodtime boogie-rock with a hilariously wrong first note. Occasional keyboard frapps and female backup shouts add to the off-kilter charm. Lyrically, the burden of masculinity is explored through the comparative study of Early Man, Jesus Christ and Adolf Hitler. Best lyric: "Back in the caveman days, giant creatures roamed through the land/But he was a peace-loving ape; killing mammoths, it weren't in his plans!"

"Hank's Pimp" - With its boisterous punk beat, distorted slide bass and sloppy high-end bottleneck lead, this song sounds more like The Cows than Shannon has ever allowed the Heroine Sheiks to be. Fortunately, it's also catchy, super-energetic and lyrically hilarious. Best lyric: "He writes me poems, he sings me love ballads/He calls me 'Daddy,' and I toss his salad." Incidentally, I forgot to mention this in my Suicidal Tendencies reviews, but there's a lyric in their tune "Pop Songs" that makes it vomitously obvious Mike Muir doesn't quite understand the slang term "tossing a salad."

"4-F" - Mean driving rocker with sick guitar tone playing a brief but vindictive note riff in the verse, and warped jazz chords in the chorus. The vocals are doubled, hushed and seething. Best lyric: I'll be honest; it's more in the delivery than the lyrics with this one.

"Muerte Vous" - Dark smoky jazz mood created through minor-key organ chords and light guitar embellishment - until it all turns into a monolithic ball of rhythmic racket for the last minute and a half. To be honest, if I were a Playboy centerfold - and this could happen, with today's scientific advances - I'd have to list this noisesection as one of my 'Turn-Offs.' I think I understand the conceptual reason behind it (the lyrics of the jazz portion discuss missed friends and lovers, and the noise section reveals that they all went "to Heaven" - i.e. they've died), but in execution it just sounds like the recurring 'growly stereophonic rhythm" portion of Out Of Aferica's "Mr. Innocent" with the backing vocals of The Cows' "Bum In The Alley" thrown in. I do enjoy the Funkadelic vocals (they remind me of Sylvester Stallone's popular "Rocky" character!), but to Hell with the rest of the 'to Heaven' section. Best lyric: This song is too sad to quote.

"Co-Angle Phenomenon" - When the Sheiks (Heroine) posted this on their MySpace page, I immediately got really drunk and sent a rude email to them about how lazy it sounded. This is because I'm an asshole. Why, you should have seen all the emails I sent out a few days ago while in an alcoholic stupor! In fact, you will because I'm going to post them right here: To Krista:
"do you love animals?
if onot,you shld.
LO DR Bksald;jdfsafdsafdsafgdsafdafds"

To Shelley:
"what tefuck is yourpoblam, shelY/
come n"

To Gene:
"thank you for shaving
i don't buy the bullshit 'oh i hate shaving'
you're either a bearded Mike Love asshole, or you're ashaved good person like Brian wilson."

To Load Records:
"fuck you, you shitty label."

But I was WAY wrong about "Co-Angle Phenomenon." It sounds TONS better on an actual stereo, and is now one of my favorite tracks on the record. The keyboard is the star of this one: a weird muffled keyboard playing a strange but insanely catchy rising riff of wind noise as Selberg repeats two sentences over and over in a nerdy robot voice that I guess is how he feels Jesus Christ might have sounded. Best lyric: "Oh yes, and women too!"

"J. Edgar" - This song threw me at first because it's more traditionally 'rock' than most Heroine Sheiks material. I grew to like it though, when I realized how much it sounds like Hammerhead! Maybe Sanders wrote the music? Three nervous chords and a big rockin' chorus set the stage for Selberg's Mexican accent (remember that hilarious voice he used in the middle of "Cartoon Corral" about eighty years ago? It's BACK!) and a series of lyrics about... well, something or other. Best lyric: "It seems like it's always something/No matter who I'm humping"

"Let Me Out" - This wonderful song is driven by sad, questioning keyboard notes set against three moody bass notes and a grunge rockin' beat. Oh - and Shannon shouting all the lyrics in a great 'wheezy old man' voice for God knows what reason. The lyrics discuss drug-using roommates, religious fanatics, and obnoxious music scenesters -- and how the narrator wants to be 'let out' from them. Best lyric: "She says that I'm talking smack/She's too fat to do crack/Let me out!"

"You Don't Want Me? (Live)" - I have to assume this was thrown on just to make the CD a little longer, because there's just nothing here. The 'riff' sounds like the first two notes of "39 Lashes" played over and over, the drums shuffle along with a funky beat more appropriate for the Spin Doctors, and Selberg only write one line! I get the feeling that the song made sense in its live context; I know that a while back a rumor was flying around that a Cows reunion was imminent, and this may have been Selberg's response to those who showed up expecting one. However, at least in this poorly recorded document, the song itself doesn't appear to have any qualities worth releasing on disc. Best (and only) lyric: "You don't want me? FUCK YOU!"

In conclusion, don't download it - buy it. What artist deserves your entertainment dollar more than Shannon "Never Say Die" Selberg and his Heroine Sheiks?

Well okay, Mark E. "Never Die, Apparently" Smith and his Fall. But Shannon "Technical Ecstacy" Selberg and his Heroine Sheiks are a close second!

Reader Comments

The new album is great, if it just had two or 3 more tracks I imagine it would have easily gotten a 9. I got the same impression as you that Sanders wrote some of the music on this album. I feel like he has had alot of influence on the sheiks sound. The new songs seem to have a lot more energy than previously. What really made this album for me though was "co-angle phenomenon" and "let me out" just because the creepy, catoonish, keyboard songs are my favorite thing about the heroine sheiks. I'm surprised you didn't like Muerte Vous. It has some of the creepiest lyrics shelberg has ever written and the way he sings it kind of reminds me of Gibby Haynes.

I saw them last a few nights ago in Austin and it was the first time I've seen Shannon Shelberg Live. I completely get what you were talking about when you said he was really funny and intimidating at the same time. They played at least 3 or 4 new songs so I'm guessing it won't be too long before i new album is out.

Also have you listened to Triclops yet? They released their first album on Alternative Tentacles a few months ago and it's great! Reminds me of some of the old touch and go and amprep bands.

I wonder if the 'wheezy old man voice' might not be an Al Johnson impression?
Another reason to buy this cd is that there are only 1000 copies and it will shortly be worth 3 or 4 annual bonuses put together.

This is so much better!! That last album sounded awful. The singer dude was like 'Hheyy EHooYeaooOORomeo' and that's all you could clearly hear unless you cranked the volume. But right here right now, it's spot on!! Is that a steel guitar? On the first three songs it sounds like they let the Looner out of his cage to front a heavy rockabilly group. But they change it up, and then a giant insect joins the party. SHANNON SOUNDS SOOO GOOD. 'Let Me Out' is super intense, lovin the his cool voice through and through. Man I got on here to talk some shit about the Shieks, but upon hearing this for the first time, I'm totally down. Really good, best album by far if you think the rest of their albums stink to high heaven. Like I do. There's something really uncool about songs like Cock Asia and Nuclear Jeannie. None of that, just fun and sometimes intense jams with some really cool keyboard tones and shuffling rhythms.

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