For those unfamiliar with the Oogle, let me explain. The Oogle is a North American phenomenon characterised by a shoddy attire, a disregard for authority, a strong love of beer and cigarettes, and is basically homeless (or close to being so) by choice rather than necessity.
The Oogle loves folk-punk, anarcho-punk, and gutter punk music, which celebrates all the things they love, such as beer, eating from the trash, being wasted, hitchhiking, train jumping, and generally bumming around the place shunning society as much as it shuns them.
Over the last decade or so, Oogle musicians have achieved a modicum of success. This has been facilitated by dubiously recorded demos on Bandcamp and poorly made YouTube videos exhibiting the Oogle musicians in their element: either busking on the pavement or playing music around a campfire under a highway.
Over time the Oogle evolved and today there are even Oogle bands that have teamed up with independent record labels and are producing music worth listening to. Here is a list of Oogle bands worth checking out:
1. Blackbird Raum
Hailing from Santa Cruz, California, Blackbird Raum are one the most well-known Oogle bands out there. They have been writing and performing together since 2004 and have released seven records.
The band features all the classic Oogle instruments: the banjo, the washboard, the accordion, a washtub bass, and a guitar. While the band’s vocal style switches between melodic folk singing and punky screaming.
Best Song: Honey in the Hair
2. Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains
Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains was the brainchild of anarcho-punk mini-legend, Pat “the bunny” Schneeweis. The songs focused on depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, capitalism, modern society, and Oogle life (sleeping under bridges, drinking whisky, etc.).
The songs are full of teenage angst, which is perfect for Oogles as many of them appear to be living through an extended period of puberty. For Pat it is understandable, however, since he was a teenager at the time. The group – consisting mostly just of Pat – ‘split’ when he was 20, at which point he formed a new band: the Wingnut Dishwashers Union.
With an extensive list of members and relationships with four independent record lables, the Wingnut Dishwashers Union released three albums and toured constantly. The group disbanded in 2009 when Pat checked into rehab for alcohol and heroin addiction.
In the end, Pat the Bunny quit being an Oogle saying, “I have grown into a basically ordinary person, albeit a somewhat strange one…I am not really an anarchist or a punk anymore.” He released a few more records after getting clean, with a new act called Ramshackle Glory. It wasn’t very good…
Best Song: Whiskey is my Kind of Lullaby
3. Days N’ Daze
Perhaps the Oogliest of the Oogles, Days N’ Daze sing about the usual things: drinking, living under bridges, hating things, and so on. Along with the typical Oogle instruments, Days N’ Daze add a trumpet which, along with the cute harmonies and call and response moments between the male and female lead singers, certainly gives them a certain je ne sais quoi.
On top of that, Days N’ Daze put on one hell of a show. Being able to perform well live is very important for Oogles as busking for pennies on street corners if often their primary source of income.
And if you ever wondered what an Oogle musician is supposed to look like then just check these guys out:
Best Song: Misanthropic Drunken Loner
5. Jesse Stewart
Jesse Stewart is something of an Oogle one-hit-wonder. A few of his songs have circulated on the internet, but none as far and as wide as Cold Beer. The song is an ode to beer and discusses, at length, his personal infatuation with the substance. One could not get more Oogle.
Best Song: Cold Beer
6. The Bucket Boyz
And Oogles aren’t just in America, they’ve spread far and wide. In Amsterdam, American Oogles make up two-thirds of the band, The Bucket Boyz. Equipped with banjo, washtub bass, and drums played on — you guessed it — buckets, the band has been entertaining the Amsterdam squatting scene for a decade or more. Their slogan: “Maximum music, minimal means.”
Best Song: You Are Wanted
On Bandcamp, Dishlicker describe themselves as follows, “We’re two traveling humans, one akkordeon and one banjo. We love Trash, busking and we hate cops, prisons and some other stuff (too much to write it all down).”
Hailing from Germany, Disklicker are one of a growing number of Oogle bands who are actually from Europe. Perhaps more so than their American counterparts, this group of bands is closely aligned with an activist scene that focuses on environmental issues and individualist anarchist politics. As such, their lyrics focus less on drinking and homelessness and more on the evils of capitalism.
Best Song: Down In Your Mines
Do love anarcho-folk-gutter-oogle-punk as much as us? Share your favourite songs and artists in the comments section below. We’re sure there are plenty of undiscovered gems we’ve not heard yet.