Friday, November 30, 2007

More Nerd News in Brief

When folks ask me if I make any money off this site, which happens occasionally, I laugh. I then go on to explain that to make money in ye olde blogosphere you need one of two things: A) enough regular traffic to court serious sponsors or B) a fanbase both expansive and dedicated enough to warrant some serious merch opportunities. In short, in order to sellout one must first have a brand worth selling.

That was my old answer.

My new answer is “None, and that’s why I can say and do pretty much what I want.”

As much as I’d love for writing to be my real job, I have certain freedoms, being the unapologetic amateur that I am, that more professional cats may not. Case in point.

If I don’t like something, I’m free to say so, but much more likely I’ll just ignore the offending product. That’s why my album reviews are so overwhelmingly positive, why my interviews are so unabashedly complementary. I have the liberty to focus only on stuff I like, and, all things considered, that’s a pretty good place to be.

  • What’s the Christmas equivalent of Skanksgiving?: In other game-related news, Kotaku stumbled across a pair of very interesting eBay auctions. The lucky winners will receive copies of the PS3 or 360 versions of Rock Band, hand-delivered Christmas day by one of two Suicide Girls. Let the lewd jokes commence!
  • Beefy’s Wii = best headline ever: If you’re looking for some love for the third major console, look no further than Beefy’s auction for a new Nintendo Wii and a copy of Wii Play. While he (probably) certainly won’t dress all tarty and deliver it to your house, he’ll be more than happy to include some Beefy swag and a pre-release copy of his forthcoming album Rolling Doubles, should a fan end up winning.
  • I am also an italics thinker: Therefore, I support the One DS Per Child program. Church, Matt, and I had a pretty good laugh at this one. Is the humor misplaced? Probably, but when has that ever stopped me from blogging about something?
  • ‘Tis the Season: And if gaming’s not your thing, how about scoring the rights to a Sufjan Stevens track for the holidays? No shit! As part of The Great Sufjan Song Xmas Xchange, you submit an original track of your own and, should you win, you and Mr. Stevens trade ownership of your songs. What would you do with the exclusive rights to a Christmas song by America’s foremost indie-folk superstar? If you answered “sell it to someone in the adult entertainment industry for use in holiday-themed pornography” you’re absolutely right!
  • Sounds like electro-clash hip-hop to me: In non-holiday news, FL nerdcore MC Benjamin Bear is (erroneously?) included in a recent hardcore/metal/punk compilation from Carbon Drum. You can score this or any of three other genre-specific (maybe!) promotional albums for 12 bones apiece.
  • My what?!: Comedy rap act Sudden Death just released a song about the Atari 2600 over at the Funny Music Project. If you weren’t planning on downloading it based solely on Sudden Death’s reputation for the delightfully ridiculous, allow me to state that it’s a Run DMC parody. Get to downloadin’!
  • From the desk of Doctor Popular: Doc Pop’s got his own suggestion for your listening pleasure. So says the Doc: “My friend, and beat-making hero, Bomarr released his new EP Scraps today. The album, which is a compendium to his recent album Freedom From Frightened Air, is available online for free. Click here for the official album info and file.” I am downloading it even as I type this.
  • The gig that was: Cali nerdcore scenester cupcake has a fairly expansive review of the Frontalot/STD show from earlier this month at the Knitting Factory. She speaks very complimentary of Schaff and of MC Frontalot, and apparently she was interviewed during the proceedings for a piece about nerdcore. Check out the full review at her MySpace blog, and don’t forget to peep this “fireside chat” with her and BOSSFIGHT’s IllGill concerning the show.
  • Good news/bad news: The good is that those of us who’ve not had the opportunity to attend in person will get a chance to see a nationally televised performance of Video Games Live! The bad is that it’s for the Spike TV Video Game Awards.
  • A new collectable: mc chris favored fans with a veritable fire sale on merch earlier this week. Unfortunately, some of it was slightly defective. Did any of you get one of these “mchris” messenger bags? I'd kinda like to see a better pic.
  • My apologies to the Wrock constituency: Church just hit me with this link to a set of tranny action figures used to advertise drag night at a Manila gay bar. Not bad custom figs. These folks are no Sucklord, but they’ve got potential!
  • BRB, OMG, LOL: And wrapping it all up today is another vid that Church turned me on to. It’s hexachordal with “Internet Love Song,” and I dig it the most.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Super Friends

There’s a lot of stress inherent in crafting a sophomore release.

Will it live up to the expectations of fans? Exactly how far can an artist stylistically depart from his premiere effort without seeming insincere or reactionary? Will it be a creative step forward that spreads the musical message further, or an aural disappointment that alienates the core audience?

Undeterred by such speculation, international hip-hop twosome Dual Core recently released the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Zero One. Never afraid to monkey with the formula, int eighty and c64 elected to make this effort, the heroically-themed Super Powers, more of a mixtape and invited nerdcore staples YTCracker, Beefy, ZeaLouS1, and MC Wreckshin to participate.

I’ve already shared with you my overall impression of the album, so, rather than linger over the details of the creation process, Dual Core agreed to participate in a less-than conventional interview. As this is their second album, Dual Core is still very much a new group. Though eighty and 64 have known each other for a while, Dual Core itself is a relatively fresh venture. They are, indeed, in what we might term their honeymoon period. As such, this seemed like as good an opportunity as any to get my Bob Eubanks on.

As such, this interview will be conducted Newlywed Game-style, with int eighty answering for c64 and c64 answering for int eighty. How well does this happy couple really know each other? Let’s find out, shall we?


Image by Matt Radel[int eighty]

You live in the Cincinnati. Where does c64 live?

Westhoughton, Bolton, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom.

What is his day job and does he enjoy it?

Graphic designer. I think he enjoys it, at least the paycheck part.

Could you describe c64's recording setup?

It's a vibrant room with a poster of the little green dragon from Bubble Bobble. He also has a computer, MPC 1000, CD-turntable(s?), record turntable, mixer, and studio speakers.

Who are his major musical influences?

Based on his beats, I would have guessed mid-90s underground hip hop from the east coast and midwest. However, I know he likes several east coast hip hop artists as well as some of the great drum & bass acts from the UK and Europe.

What did he have for breakfast this morning?

Cereal? I would say tea and strumpets, but that's later in the day I think.

Um, I think you mean crumpets. A strumpet is actually an immoral woman, and those are almost always best enjoyed after dark. ;)

But moving on, what was the first record (or cassette or CD) that c64 ever purchased?

Hmm... I would guess Ready To Die by Notorious B.I.G. Either that or something by the Beach Boys.

How long has he been making music?

Just a couple years; he's a fast learner.

Zero One is characterized by uniformly slick production, but also by a myriad of aural textures. What is c64's favorite track from the album?

He did particularly enjoy "War Games", as well as "Rule Them All." I'll go with "War Games."

In the future, with whom would c64 like to collaborate?

I know he likes Optimus Rhyme, as well as other artists we've worked with such as Beefy, YTCracker, and ZeaLouS1.

BTW, kudos on not ending the sentence with a preposition.

Thanks. I try.

If the choice was his and his alone, what would he call the next Dual Core album?

"c64 Presents: Dual Core! A c64 production starring c64, with music by c64. Never before heard c64 beat wizardry and c64 wax manipulation. New c64! Also int eighty."

The title of your newest release is Super Powers. Does c64 have any super powers of his own that fans should be aware of?

He has the powers of Iceman and the Human Torch. But both of his powers are always on at the same time, so they cancel out and he walks around like a regular person.

A hero is nothing without a villain. Who is 64's arch nemesis?

Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo, an extremely short-lived character from The Simpsons who was a patron of Moe's Tavern. One night, a stormy night at that, Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo was caught selling imitation c64 beats in a law enforcement sting operation (codename: Codename Operation Codename Usually There's Only One Codename But This Operation Is Just That Special, or COCUTOOCBTOIJTS for short). Joey Joe Joe pleaded not guilty in federal district court, and ended up being acquitted on a technicality. Following the trial, he disappeared; and to this day, nobody knows the origins of the haunted bridge at Mystery Lake. What was the question again?

It was actually “How many haunted bridges are their in the greater Mystery Lake area?,” but I’m afraid we have to move on.

Who is c64's favorite super hero?

Thomas Edison

He did invent the phonograph.

BONUS: Who would win in a fight between c64 and proto-nerdcore rap outfit Commodore 64?

Seeing as how Commodore 64 only released one album, and we are working on our 3rd, I'll go with c64 of Dual Core. Plus, it's c64; he is pretty much indestructible from what I've heard.

 Image by Matt Radel[c64]

Dual Core is an international duo with you located in the Manchester area. What city does int eighty call home?

Cincinnati, Ohio.

How many languages does he speak fluently?

I'd say 2 for definite - English and Nerd (if it isn't classed as an official language then it should be!). And possibly Spanish.

Throughout your debut album Zero One, int eighty demonstrates a careful, calculated flow and a truly solid grasp of songwriting. Which track from that album is his least favorite?

Least favourite is a difficult one, as the album is full of nothing but great songs. Maybe “Give Me Wings.” We initially weren't sure about putting it on the album as it deals with the subject of Red Bull and Vodka, which can of course be enjoyed responsibly by anyone over 18 in the UK or over 21 in the US. We didn't want to influence our younger fans and lead them into a world of alcohol, guns and drugs. But then we thought "don't be silly, it's a great song", and put it on the album.

Who are int eighty's favorite MCs?

Probably Jay-Z, Joe Budden, some underground hip hop guys, and MC Hammer.

Please, eighty, don't hurt 'em!

How long has he been rapping?

Our official answer would be 'Since a hotel party a year or two back where he got coaxed into freestyling, and did really well'.

Does he play any musical instruments?

He's amazing on the computer, and that is used to make music. So technically, yes.

How does int eighty feel about the designation of "nerdcore?" Does he apply the label to his music?

Indifferent? As Dual Core we just make music about whatever we feel, and if it falls under the definition of 'nerdcore' then that's cool!

What color are his eyes?

Brown, I think.

Does int eighty participate in any musical projects or collaborations outside of Dual Core?

Some. If I told you about them I would have to kill you.

When he performs publicly without you does he still bill himself as Dual Core?

That's what he tells me. So unless he's a dirty cheat then I'd say yes.

What would be int eighty's ideal super hero codename?

I think he'd keep it as 'int eighty', as you will hear on the song “Day's Work” on our new album! It's a fun song about a day in the life of an incompetent super hero.

Excellent plug.

In the halcyon days of his youth, what was eighty's favorite cartoon?

Probably Thundercats, He-Man or BraveStarr. For a better idea, listen to the song “80s” on our new album (another shameless plug)!

Indeed. Well played!

Spider-Man gained his powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider and Green Lantern's spectacular abilities come from his ring. How did int eighty acquire the ability to flow so effortlessly?

I'm guessing his most spectacular flows also come from his ring...

BONUS: How tall is int eighty?

Shorter than me (like most people). Maybe around 5' 9”?


A sizable portion of my favorite modern hip-hop is crafted through the combined efforts of artists with little or no actual physical contact.

The masterful collaborations of Baddd Spellah and MC Frontalot for Front's seminal release Nerdcore Rising were crafted virtually, across the expansive breadth of North America. Likewise, the three-man powerhouse known as Metamystiks, Incorporated consists of Myf and Super Dragon X (who live on the east coast) and DJ Snyder (who lives on the west).

Still, pound-for-pound, it’s hard to outdo Dual Core. With MC int eighty living in Cincinnati and producer c64 calling Manchester home, their output is instantly impressive given the logistical concerns they must overcome just to get a track together. But when one considers the superlative artistic merit of that output, it’s nothing short of awe-inspiring.

This exercise, as ridiculous as it seems, really serves to prove a simple point: that the artistic prowess of this duo is not hindered in the slightest by their utter lack of geographic proximity. eighty and 64 are bandmates, but, more than that, they’re friends, and they share the same commonality as any friends, despite their physical distance.

The Dual Core experience isn’t fascinating simply because it represents the gestalt of two very different, very talented individuals. It isn’t enjoyable simply because they work so well together, but because of how they work so well together.

Just like Red Bull and vodka, when you mix them together you’ve got a good thing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 35: The Precarious Adventures of Fair-Use Man

This is one of those episodes where I can't help but look back and think about all the songs that I didn’t play.

Superheroes and comic books mark fertile creative ground both within the bounds of expressly nerdy music and without. These topics can be approached seriously or with a distinctly playful air, nostalgically or with a more contemporary mindset. All things considered, it's pretty unique subject matter.

Whether you’re just some average joe on the street or a hardcore comic book guy, you recognize the logos. You know the powers. You appreciate their symbolism.

I probably take my funny books too seriously on a lot of levels, but in a world that’s bereft of the supernatural wonder of simpler times, don’t we need men who can fly?

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 35: The Precarious Adventures of Fair-Use Man (hosting provided by Antisocial) Size: 47.3 MB Running Time: 51:40

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – “Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)”
Baddd Spellah has laser vision, and Beefy can bend steel with his taint.

Track 1: Dual Core – “Day’s Work”
I could have simply played Super Powers start-to-finish and called it a day, but I didn’t. I did the hard work for you, of faithful listener.

Z’s 1st interlude: “Radio Free Hipster episode 34.”
I lied. This is episode 35. I just totally flaked for a minute there.

Track 2: LogicOne – “Paging Mr. F.”
There are few songs I can say this about, but there isn’t a single line in “Paging Mr. F.” that isn’t pure gold.

Track 3: Cars Can Be Blue – “Dating Batman”
This track comes to you compliments of my pal Matt from Stop Standing Still. I really should’ve credited him in-show. :(

Track 4: The AdvantageBatman: Return of the Joker
I feel I’ve been going a little light on the game rock of late, so I thought this track would make a welcome addition.

Track 5: Regurgitator – “Fat Cop”
Grandmaster Pink turned me on to Gurge and I have to say they’ve become a staple in my musical diet.

Track 6: Beatnik Turtle – “I.T. Department (Super Heroes of I.T.)
Church suggested this track way back when I did my work-themed episode, but I decided to save it for this one.

Track 7: Shael Riley – “Captain S Theme (Blue Pigs in Heaven Remix)
Don’t forget to support our friends at PBC Productions, the makers of The New Adventures of Captain S and other fine shows.

Track 8: Dr. Strangelove – “Superman… Is Dead.”
If Kenny sounds a little nervous in this piece, allow me to point out that this was recorded live at WOW Hall when he shared the stage for his first major gig with mc chris. You could say the pressure was on.

Track 9: Lazlo Bane – “Superman”
Lazloe Bane’s cover of the Men At Work classic “Overkill” really should make its way into your collection.

Track 10: Beefy – “I’m No Superman”
I can’t recall if it was Church or Matt that said it first, but Beefy is at this weird stage in his career where each new song he releases becomes the best Beefy song. It’s not a bad place to be, artistically-speaking.

Z’s 2nd interlude: “The Scott Pilgrim series.”
I know comparing it to The Watchmen may seem like a stretch to some, but Scott Pilgrim really is a modern classic, even if the videogame allusions remain jarring within the overall narrative.

Track 11: Stephen Lynch – “Superhero”
I’m not a huge fan of Lynch (or of musical comedy in general), but I thought this one fit in well.

Track 12: The Aquabats! – “Danger Woman”
I've always taken issue with the use of the word ska to describe the music of the ‘Bats, but that’s because I’m both a purist and a crotchety old bastard.

Track 13: YTCracker – “Super Super Hero”
There's something about the sound of this track that puts it miles away from most of YT’s other work, and I applaud him taking such a chance. It certainly worked out, as this song is brilliant.

Track 14: Felt – “The Two”
Felt’s another group that Pinky got me interested in. Slug and MURS really are fascinating cats, and I think they warrant your attention.

Track 15: Schaffer the Dark Lord – “Supervillian”
This one’s from Schaffer’s newest release Mark of the Beast. You should buy it.

Z’s final interlude: “I didn’t watch the last Spider-Man flick.”
I actually don’t watch most superhero films. I just find my quality of life is far superior that way.

Track 16: How it Should Have Ended – “He’s a Spiderman
I hope you’ll find this at one least half as funny as I do.

As I stated at the end there, next episode will be the second annual holiday spectacular. My only regret is that I used “Give the Jew-Girl Toys” already. There are few songs that feel me with as much joy.

After that, I’m planning to wrap up 2007 with a big, geeky party music episode. So if you’ve got suggestions or requests for either, feel free to hit me up with ‘em.

Thanks, as always, for your time and attention. As you were, ladies and gentlemen, as you were.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nerd News in Brief

Oh, the joy of the holidays! When we buy too much and think too little. ‘Tis the Season!

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. On my end, the family Z. overate, drove three counties away, and then overate again.

I’m neither proud nor ashamed of this dubious accomplishment.

Thankfully, the post-Turkey Day downtime afforded me the opportunity to do a little housework, pick up a number of new videogames on the cheap, and catch up on my movie watching.

Idiocracy – which I watched at JMIC’s insistence – comes highly recommended.

  • Santa, baby: Dear Mr. Kringle, this X-mas I need more weird-ass, import videogame accessories. You know what I’m talking about.
  • Stop with all that standing still!!!: My comrade-in-arms Matt has recently let me demo some of the second-tier features for his newest venture Stop Standing Still. While they are not yet available to the public (and while I’m unsure how much I’m at liberty to divulge), suffice it to say that band, genre, and location filtering are in the works, as well as some very interesting community features.
  • SF Weakly: On the nerdcore tip, Church recently came across a review from MC Frontalot’s own native SF Weekly. While I didn’t dig Front’s recent Secrets from the Future with quite the fervor as his previous effort, this reviewer just didn’t get it. And that, apparently, is somehow Front’s fault.
  • The creature stirs!: According to Shael Riley, the forthcoming album from geeky super-group The Grammar Club “is completely recorded and in post production.” Said album is slated to be released before December 14th, and, in preparation, the band’s Web site has recently been upgraded to include things like information. Sadly, there’s no word on Glenn Case’s proposed 24-hour dry-cleaning chain as of yet.
  • The sneakiest otaku: While I was fighting off old ladies for $10 copies of Cooking Mama, Ultraklystron went and released his new album under the ol’ radar! Yep, Opensource Lyricist has gone gold and copies are available for purchase even as I type these words.
  • The thunder from: The Ranger himself recently dropped a “grossly slept onDown Underdogs track over at Rhyme Torrents. “Nerd Herders (Empire Mix)” is a sci-fi tour de force that is neither, half witted nor scruffy-looking.
  • Like so much mana from heaven: In an answer to my earlier prayer, Random and Maja also dropped “The Halo Above Your Head (Metamystiks Remix).” Production for this cut was handled by another Sedgwick Avenue Alliance member, my man Myf. This release also marks the first track from the nerdcore super-group project dubbed The Cartridge Family. Life, as they say, is good.
  • What I (don’t) like about you: Old school Michigan power-pop outfit The Romantics are suing Activision. Apparently, when the group gave Activision permission to make a cover version of their big hit song for inclusion in the game Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the '80s, the band didn’t know the song would sound so much like their original. Say it with me now: what the fuck?!
  • The shadows breathe: killsaly, a DJ/producer that is, in my own opinion, totally underappreciated, recently released a demo of his remix of “Burn” by mopey dorks The Cure. Those of you looking for a little geeky electronica with which to pass the time are encouraged to check it out. (And while you’re over there, be sure to ask why his superlative remix of “Super Shiny Metal” is conspicuously absent from his SoundClick.)
  • Go ask Alice: While not nerdcore in the strictest sense, free-thinking heads might wanna check our MC Mega’s latest (free) release Escape From Wonderland. It’s a surreal hip-hop journey of alienation and braggadocio from a cat who’s vocally somewhere between mc chris and LogicOne and lyrically just left of center. I’d recommend it.
  • Two-for-one: In the spirit of Black Friday, I’ll offer you a special: two closing vids for the price of one. The first is a how-to from my pal micomusician balmyjoey that tells you how to use your Rock Band drum kit as a MIDI controller. The second is a new project from my boy Church that exposes the underlying angst of … um… a… Cylon.