For Fans Of
Many bands pride themselves on not utilising a gimmick to gain media and listener attention, on being just a handful of ordinary people, playing together and simply letting their music do all of the talking. However, some bands revel in the idea of upholding a certain gimmick or aesthetic. For these artists, it can be anything from a strong religious theme with coordinated outfits (Ghost), insane costumes, props, on-stage shenanigans (GWAR), wearing jumpsuits and masks (Slipknot, Terror Universal) and so forth. You get the idea.
Now enter Okilly Dokilly, a hardcore/metal band from Phoenix, Arizona, whose musical and aesthetic gimmick is that of a Ned Flanders-themed metal band. A “Nedal” band, if you will (That is the first and final time I will use that phrase in this review, for the sake of my own sanity). Okilly Dokilly are a five-piece band featuring lead vocalist, Head Ned, synth player and backup vocalist Red Ned, guitarist Stead Ned, bassist Thread Ned, and drummer Bled Ned. Now, with a band moniker like that, it’s perhaps no surprise that their 13-track debut album is called ‘Howdilly Doodilly‘. At least they’re fully owning this silly gimmick.
But sweet merciful Christ, the gimmick here of the lyrics being “Flanderisms” from The Simpsons and the members (quite accurately) portraying Flanders’ outfit wears thin extremely fucking quickly. Like many when I first heard news of this band being an actual thing that exists in real life, I wanted them to be amazing. Oh lord, how I truly wished for them to be good, right down to the core of my very being! Yet Okilly Dokilly aren’t, rather, they’re an amazingly weird and terribly amazing group. Their first few demos, while humorous and full of novelty, showed little promise for something great. Just like those previous demos, this debut full-length is far from being scrum-diddly-umptious.
To be fair, along with the Simpsons theme, these guys do have an interesting visual element, and they have a strong obscure vibe surrounding them as well as a sporadic musical DNA that could indeed see them finding a successful niche within the hardcore and metal realms. Yet the band forgot one key aspect in this process and that was to write good, engaging songs to begin with. These tracks are very hit or miss, with few standouts that one would listen to more than once on a curious whim. And when you’ve got 13 songs all up, that doesn’t bode well for your album overall. Musically, think of their brand of hardcore and metal as a far less intense, far less technical take on the sounds of The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Number 12 Looks Like You, and SikTh, with perhaps a closer friend to their sound being Totally Unicorn. This would be all fine, except that Okilly Dokilly are just nowhere near as musically interesting or as sonically tight as either of those aforementioned band’s – not even fucking close – and I’m not even that big of a fan of Totally Unicorn.
As some of you may have already guessed, the track listing of this record is a referential wet dream for any long time Simpsons fan worth their salt. Take song titles likes ‘White Wine Spritzer‘, ‘Vegetables‘, ‘Nothing At All, ‘They Warned Me‘ and ‘Godspeed Little Doodle‘. I shouldn’t have to tell you what classic moments and episodes of The Simpsons those titles relate to and don’t worry elitist fans, there are no quotes from the shows post-season 17 era, so you can all sleep easy. However, references aside, the lyrics are rather weak and their comedic value fails all too quickly. For instance, the first song, ‘White Wine Spritzer‘ has only “You only live once. Ah hell, give me a white wine spritzer” as its sole lyrical content. Yep, that’s it: 12 words. On ‘Press Destruct Button‘ there’s only “Press destruct button. Do it, do it, kill everyone. You stupid son of a…. I wonder if I could blow up heaven. Must kill best friend” to be found. Want more? “They warned me that the devil would be attractive” is all that you’ll hear on ‘They Warned Me‘, and ‘Godspeed Little Doodle‘ simply has “God speed little doodle. We’re done for. We’re done for/We’re done diddly done diddly done diddly done for“ as its lyrics. To say the lyrics repeat themselves a lot is an understatement. And that’s what you get when you base your band’s look, music and lyrical inspiration off a single character from one of the longest-running shows in the history of television, a show that’s nose-dived in quality over the years no less.
So with the lyrics out of the way, let’s get to these 13 songs and goddamn is it a mixed bag! But thankfully, most of these songs clock in under three minutes, so your endurance and tolerance levels won’t be stretched to their absolute breaking points, something that I Prevail should have picked up on when writing ‘Lifelines‘.
There are some solid grooves to be found within ‘Donut Hell’, and the gang vocals of “More!” were definitely worth a chuckle, but that’s about as much satisfaction as you’ll find there. As for ‘More Animal Than Flan‘, the guitar solo towards the end was a nice addition to what was sadly a very forgettable song. The quiet acoustic beginnings of ‘Sacrifice‘ showed promise but that gave way to a dull breakdown section that then became a snowballing bridge section complete with angelic, falsetto vocals (which was a real high point for the track, actually), but resulting in it being a roller coaster of quality overall. Remember how I said it’s a mixed bag? Well, ‘Sacrifice‘ is perhaps the best example of this inconsistency. The exact same can be said about ‘Nothing At All‘, save for the hard rock lead vocals midway through, which showcase the most musically infectious moment of the entire record. It’s just a shame that that part was so short lived.
To throw Okilly Dokilly a meaty bone, the build-up of the surprisingly dark and melancholic ‘They Warned Me’ is actually really enjoyable and apart from the synth, is one the best songs on offer here. Now, I’m going to bring it up again very shortly but these songs would all be better off without the goddamn irritating synth parts littering each and every song, (sorry not sorry Red Ned). Eventually, by the final song, ‘All That Is Left‘, the synth parts had grated my ears to no end (told ya), the repetitive throaty screams had lost all impact and the inoffensively uninteresting distorted guitars and drumming left me waiting in anticipation for this album to finally fucking end. I’d leave the review there and move on with my life but I cannot in good conscious end this review without mentioning one particular song, and that song is ‘Panic Room‘.
The cheesy synth, the heavy guitar riffs and the rhythmic shuffle here are actually a well-used sleight of hand for the upbeat, country shindig the song suddenly rips into after a minute in. Yes, this song does feel like two completely different songs being merged into one musical Frankenstein just for the sake of contrast and shattering listener expectations, but it kinda works. However, most important to note here is that ‘Panic Room‘ ends with riotous laughter from the band members recording in the studio and its here that you’ll realise (if you somehow haven’t by this point) that these guys are just taking the piss, having a good ol’ laugh and are enjoying the ride their band has gotten itself onto as they go about writing heavy music about one of Springfield’s finest. Which is all well and good, and I can dig that in theory, but just like movies that are purposefully bad or purposefully campy, this does not absolve your content from criticism because it’s “satire, man”. For at the end of the day, ‘Howdilly Doodilly’ and Okilly Dokilly are mere musical novelty. And novelty is fleeting.
A record like ‘Howdilly Doodilly’ is the monster that that our ironically unironic, nostalgic-driven, meme-centric society deserves right now. ‘Howdilly Doodilly’ is the latest and greatest example of how a gimmick can run dry very quickly. If you consider yourself a neighborino, and if you’re a fan of bands that wear their humour and satirical nature on not just their sleeves, but their whole damn body, then you may get a good kick out of this record. Even then, I’d be truly surprised if anyone genuinely loves this release. ‘Howdilly Doodilly‘, and Okilly Dokilly as a band in general, are really only good for a quick laugh and not much else.
[Also, it’s a bit of shame that Dr. Collosus somewhat beat Okilly Dokilly to the gimmicky punch with their song, ‘Stupid Sexy Flanders’. Maybe try a Futurama-themed band next time, OD? For instance, you could call yourselves Bender And The Planet Express Crew, The Zoidbergs, or my personal favourite, Death By Snoo-Snoo.]
- White Wine Spritzer
- Nothing At All
- You’re A Jerk
- Press Destruct Button
- More Animal Than Flan
- They Warned Me
- Donut Hell
- Panic Room
- Godspeed Little Doodle
- All That Is Left
‘Howdilly Doodilly’ is out now, stream it here, neighborinos. Or don’t, and spare yourself the weirdilly doodilly horror. Also, what the fuck? I Just wrote a 1,000+ word review of a band called Okilly Dokilly. This is it, this is where I am right now; this is how far my life has come.