Saturday, October 21, 2006

Weekend update

There aren’t many things that will get me blogging on the weekend. Generally speaking, I have a lot of cereal to ingest, a lot of Noggin to watch with my boy, and a lot of housework to half-ass my way through while the wife’s at work. A man has to have his principles. But some things will make me break this particular taboo.

Today I will cover two such items. Afterwards I will resume my regularly scheduled sloth:

The Beefy/Snyder track that I mentioned in my previous post has made its way to Song Fight!, and I humbly suggest that you all vote for it in this round. As a rule, nerdcore generally triumphs in confrontations such as this, but don’t simply trust the outcome to the fates. For many of you this is, perhaps, the only vote that you’ll have the opportunity to cast that actually counts for something. Don’t squander.

Let me preface this next item by saying that I’ve never been one to root for the home team. I seldom let geographic proximity influence which pony I pick. Both Beefy and DJ Snyder, for example, live a fuck-zillion miles away in the hinterlands of Ye Olde West Coast, but I give them mad love because they deserve it.

Still, since the Carolinas have no nerdcore of which to speak; I do have a vested interest in my brothers and sisters from the state of Florida. In addition to being very talented they are also completely fucking insane, as demonstrated through the following clip. Observe as MC Wreckshin and Fanatical shoot an impromptu video for a cover of Mindless Self Indulgence’s “Faggot” in a local Wal-Mart. Pay close attention to their balls, which are apparently huge and made of cast-iron. (Oh, and Fanatical’s are figurative, not hidden beneath her Rainbow Brite dress.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Nerd news in brief

There are some things that are going on. Believe it. Even now things are occurring. Some of these things are nerd related. I shit you not! Here I will mention some of them briefly. Thus the title of this post.

  • This weekend, Optimus Rhyme and MC Frontalot begin their fall mini-tour. This is, of course, not to be confused with the dreaded "Fall Minotaur." The former takes place in Cambridge MA, NYC, and DC and features Shael Riley and Doug Powell. The latter roams the wilds of northwestern Washington state and eats children.
  • Beefy and DJ Snyder have once again joined forces in the name of a Song Fight! The track is a triumph of awesomeness. Don’t believe me? See (hear) for yourself!
  • This month marked the notable death of an American rock ‘n’ roll landmark. CBGBs, legendary Bowery rock ‘n’ roll club, closed its doors for real on the 15th. This should disturb you not merely as music lovers but also as nerds, as geeky art-rockers Talking Heads cut their teeth at the venue.
  • Another unfortunate passing this month is that of video game developer Clover Studios. Last week it was announced that Capcom will completely dissolve the studio early next year.
  • Good news for the non-athletes among us: it appears as though our ranks will swell in future generations, as age-old playground activities are being banned from schools nation-wide. This shouldn’t be a problem, as American youth are renowned for their level of physical activity and svelte physiques.
  • And lastly, in case you missed it, here’s last Friday’s Foxtrot comic. It is of particular relevance to our people:


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 9: It Was a Dork and Stormy Night

Modern life can be scary. Even perfectly natural things (like parenting) can send one spiraling into a pit of ultimate darkness. My beloved son, for example, has recently been relegated to the role of plague-bringer in our household. It seems like he introduces some new pathogen to our family nigh every week. Yes, daycare has turned him into our own little Outbreak monkey.
What I’m getting at here is that I am perpetually catching or recovering from some horrible disease. This week is no different. You may notice that, during my interludes in this particular podcast, I sound a bit phlegmy, a bit congested, a bit “snuffled up.” Of course, it’s much more likely that you’ll simply think I sound even more rural than usual. For this I apologize.
Musically, this episode is similar to the previous installment. This should come as no surprise. I had a lot of fun putting together song lists for both parts of this year’s Halloween Crap-tacular, and I can honestly say that I am giving serious thought to other seasonally-themed episodes. Of course, I’m not sure how well other holiday music will fit into the whole “nerd appeal” aesthetic of my podcast. Is Arbor Day nerdy? What about Flag Day?
Intro: The Damned – “Smash it Up (Parts 1 and 2)”
I think that punk rock is easily relatable to nerd music, and I’m not just talking Elvis Costello. Both speak to and for the marginalized masses. Goth, on the other, is just plain nerdy. I’m serious, people. Goths are just nerds with black nail polish.

Z’s 1st Interlude: “I doubt it’ll take.”
I go out of my way to pull in not only music that is blatantly nerdy, but also stuff that is more furtively so. I think a lot of the songs featured in this episode qualify as the latter.
Track 1: Sesame Street dialogue / virt – “What a Horrible Night” / DJ Chrono “Simon’s Symphony
What better way to start a subset of orchestral ReMixes than with a clip from “Monsterpiece Theatre?”
Track 2: Lost Boys dialogue / Shelley Stuart and the Five Stars – “Vampire Husband
In the 1950’s and 60’s, you could pay a nominal fee to have your poem set to music by “professional” musicians. This is a surviving relic of our nerdy, creepy past.
Track 3: Dracula dialogue / Pilchard – “Belalugarage is Dead” / more Dracula dialogue
I’ve been looking for a mash-up of “Bela Lugosi is Dead” by Bauhaus for ages. Little did I realize I already had one, compliments of Son of Monster Mash-up.
Track 4: Shael Riley – “Technomancy
I failed to remind you that Shael will be opening for MC Frontalot and Optimus Rhyme this Saturday at Crash Mansion. Shame on me!
Z’s 2nd Interlude: “Naked, septuagenarian Satanists”
I understand that Rosemary’s Baby is supposed to be scary, but naked, devil-worshipping retirees are just so non-threatening. And wrinkly.
Track 5: MCeeP – “Somebody’s Watching Me” / X-files Theme
I sometimes feel I don’t do enough to promote newer nerdcore acts on my podcast. MCeeP managed to take a notably crappy song by Berry Gordy’s kid and make it fun. Major props to him for that.
Track 6: Ghostbusters dialogue / Don loves you – “Don't cross tehstreams!!11
Ray Parker Jr. vs. Skee-lo. Thanks again, Son of Monster Mash-up!
Track 7: Fanatical – “Mad Science” / Oingo Boingo – “Weird Science” / Goofy science film strip
Fanatical is another excellent nerdcore up-and-comer. I would like to formally apologize to her for what I did to her song with this mix. Sorry, Fanatical. :(
Track 8: essexboy – “Freaky Teethbusters
I hope this wasn’t Ghostbusters mash-up overkill.
Track 9: Nightmare on Elm Street dialogue / DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince – “Nightmare on My Street”
Listen closely as a Will Smith exposes us to those paltry acting chops that have had us all disinterested in everything he’s done that wasn’t “Six Degrees of Separation.” On a side not, why does Will’s alarm clock go off at three in the morning? It’s a mystery!
Z’s Final Interlude: “Except for MCDJ.”
MCDJ was nice enough to remind me about the Bride of Monster Mash-up compilation. We both downloaded it and talked a bit about our favorite tracks. He did not approve of “Highway Reaper.”
Track 10: Divide & Kreate – “Highway Reaper
Marit Bergman is the Swedish songstress covering “Highway to Hell.” Just in case you were wondering.
Bonus: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Once More, with Feeling OST – “What You Feel Reprise”
I was a big fan of Buffy. Even the weird episodes where folks spontaneously burst into song or didn’t speak at all.

That’s it for the Halloween Crap-tacular. I hope you had at least half as much fun listening to it as I did putting it together. A quarter of the fun? Fuck it! I hope that listening to this podcast did not cause you physical pain and bowel incontinence. Sometimes it pays to aim low. Feel free to share your thoughts, song suggestions, and costume ideas. Have a safe, enjoyable, and liquor-soaked Halloween, everybody!

Monday, October 16, 2006

When life gives you turds

While I’m sure it’s a memory that most would just as soon forget, the subject of Wired magazine’s less than stellar article on nerdcore has again become a topic of discussion. Though the community as a whole was (characteristically) divided as to exactly how offended to be at Wired’s lackadaisical coverage of the Rhyme Torrents compilation and the genre in general, it was commonly agreed that the magazine A) had a skewed perspective concerning nerdcore from the get-go and B) did nothing in the way of research (read: listening to the songs and reading the abundant artist info already provided) to rectify that pre-conceived notion. Worst of all was the simple fact that the item really did nothing but cast caricatures, both literally and figuratively, of most of that handful of artists it chose to spotlight.

Never one to let her objections go unnoticed, MC Router was at the forefront of those who most fervently criticized the piece. And now, some four months later, Router has elected to restate her arguments in verse.

I downloaded “Unwired” from her MySpace and listened to it a few times. I immediately liked it, but there was something about it that struck me as – to pin a name on it – odd. The fact that, rather than working solely with her 1GB band-mate Tbyte, Router had chosen another pair of coconspirators was interesting, but certainly not unheard of. And even the fact that this duo consisted of Beefy and Benjamin Bear, artists who have exchanged unfriendly words on a number of occasions, was fascinating in itself, but still not the true peculiarity of the song.

It wasn’t until my fifth or sixth listen that I realized what was so amazing about the track had less to do with who made it and more to do with what was made.

“Unwired” is so drenched in emotion that it is (whether you agree with the sentiment or not) undeniable. Benjamin Bear’s production is an eerie stew of nearly harsh glitch-hop and comically sarcastic voiceovers that seems to simultaneously compliment and play against both MCs. Beefy, for the first time to my recollection, manages to sound legitimately, fiercely angry – and this, I would like to remind you, is a man who once ended a diss track with the phrase “have a wonderful day.” And Router, no stranger to anger and angst, sounds positively indignant and utterly self-indulgent. Her writing is acrid and her flow is quick and careening. Even the quality of her multi-tracked vocals gives the indication that there is not one but dozens of individuals MC Routers on the mic; all of them pissed!

In the end, it’s the fact that this song is a high-water mark for all the artists involved that speaks to me. It’s that irritation and disappointment and, yes, maybe even a little egotism are so sharply honed that makes me, as a listener, take note. Rather than continue simply complaining about something they disliked, each of these three musicians harnessed their emotions into song, because that’s what they do best, and I commend them all.

For me, at least, this song stands out as a prime example of not only harnessing one’s feelings into music, but of taking a negative and making out of it something remarkable.

What’s that old saying? Something about how if life gives you turds you make… poop juice? Something like that. I forget.