Psychostick's New Album, Sandwich : The Most Dedicated Musical Eaters Since Weird Al

The band Psychostick is somewhat devoted to metal, and seriously devoted to food. Their latest album, Sandwich, released on May 5, has about as many food songs than Weird Al Yankovic's Food Album and Talking Heads' More Songs About Buildings and Food combined. As the band explains on "Too Many Food": "Don't get me wrong, man. If food was a band, I'd be at every show."

They call their style "humorcore," and they're basically a more metal, less pop culture-centric version of the Bloodhound Gang. They have a good understanding of nu-metal melody, and use soaring vocals over power chords to great seriocomic effect in songs like "The Hunger Within" and "#1 Radio $ingle." "Hunger Within" is practically a power ballad, mourning an empty pantry: "Take away my suffering, I can't go on with things this way. There's only so much I can take... of eating ramen noodles."

"#1 Radio $ingle" is even more meta: "This is the part of the song where I talk about emotions. This is the part of the song where I sing how I feel so cold inside. And this is where my producer told me to say, 'Yeah!'"

The thing is, the music they're parodying is pretty terrible to begin with. The cliched chord changes, bloated 24 track and 75-minute length, and dumb lyrics are all satirical swipes at nu-metal, but they can also wear on a listener who doesn't have complete interest in a piss-take on the genre.

Obviously, it wouldn't work if it weren't catchy despite the relentlessly juvenile stupidity. Anthemic shouted nonsense gets stuck in your head, like "Have you had your V8 today? No way! You're just drinking a pizza!" in "Orange," or the Bloodhound Gang-like rapidfire patter in "This Is Not a Song, It's a Sandwich": "It couldn't be a tub 'cuz it doesn't have a ducky! It couldn't be a stoner 'cuz it doesn't have a joint! It couldn't be an egg 'cuz there is no Easter Bunny! It couldn't be a song 'cuz it doesn't have a point! Because... this is not a song, it's a sandwich!"

Maybe the best example of their ethos is in the longest song on the album, track 22, "373 Thank Yous." It is a 14-minute acknowledgements track, a veritable rock mini-opera where the band sings one name after another as verse, chorus, verse, bridge, and then moving to another melody entirely. On any other less lyrically insipid album -- an album that didn't devote multiple tracks to tacos, for instance -- this track might have been hard to swallow. But after a set of lyrics so relentlessly dumb that you either got the joke or threw the record away long before track 22, the phonebook parody of nu-metal seems like a brilliant stroke. (As they helpfully point out in "This is Not a Song": "You bought (or stole) this dumb CD, now you are suffering, driving home, working out, or at your job, at your house, or wherever, on your iPod.")

Interspersed between full songs are music-backed skits and half-songs, including one about a band member trying to write a serious song. Finally, after 14 minutes of thank yous, the serious song arrives, "We Ran Out of CD Space." It's an acoustic ballad, and its lyrics ponder such imponderables as, "What if your hands were made of Hot Pockets? You would be the first one to be eaten in survival situations."

The band manages to strike a consistent tone of determined, serious juvenilia backed by death growls and distorted guitars, and maintains it through a 75-minute album. They have put themselves on the map by aspiring to be heavy metal peers of Weird Al Yankovic and the Bloodhound Gang. They're still getting there, but it's certainly a worthwhile goal.