I had their "Music To Strip By" tape in high school, which I'd ordered from a catalog that was in some way connected to either The Residents or They Might Be Giants. I hadn't considered it anything special, but after seeing this movie, I've been converted. This documentary has convinced (brainwashed?) me that they are the single most important band of the century. Jad Fair's voice and lyrics mesmerized me.
Don and I agreed that his sound falls somewhere between Lou Reed and Syd Barrett (or, as Don said, he sounds like Lou Reed is controlling his mouth and Syd is controlling his brain).
Many of Half Japanese's albums were released under Penn Jillette's 50 Skidillian Watts label, and the tale Penn told of buying the rights to their songs was so tall and so elaborate and told so earnestly that we didn't know what to make of it.
I recommend joining the cult of Half Japanese as soon as possible. If you can't watch this film, maybe you ought to download as many of their songs as possible and listen to them consecutively.
(I forgot to give it to Peter to return to Matt this evening - oops! So I hope I'll see one of them before the Half Japanese show on April 18.)