Saturday, December 22, 2007

Friends like these

I make no secret that Hipster, please! wouldn’t be possible without the help of a very important group of supporters. Unfortunately, the majority of these men and women live well outside what you’d generally term “driving distance.” So, while I interact with each of them regularly via digital means, I seldom get to see them in real life. Tonight, thankfully, I finally had a chance to meet up with a pair of these fine souls.

Dennis and Denika, that dynamic duo from Vagrant who’ve done so much for me in the way of art for the site and its projects and never asked for a bit of compensation, recently relocated to Orlando, and they just so happened to be heading to Charlotte, NC – my back yard – to visit family this weekend. They actually drove well out of their way to share dinner with me and my fam at one of our favorite dives… er, I mean fine (semi)Japanese eateries. Not only did they trek well into the wilds of upstate South Carolina just to break bread with the Z. clan, but they even picked up the check!

Overcome by the holiday spirit, they also favored each of us with a delightful, handmade gift. My wife, Em, received a beautiful scarf and I added a custom-made ZeaLouS1 zombie to my growing collection of arcane and macabre plushies. Denika even spent her entire drive up here creating a special toy for Li’l X., an adorable robot that I have dubbed the Cuddletron 4000. (He’s the first automaton powered by love, and yes, I am aware that he bears a striking resemblance to the robot – I call him Geekotron 1337 – that Denika included in my new logo image.) And for all their trouble they received from me… a mixtape. Yeah. Pretty underwhelming. I know.

The Internet very often brings out the worst in people. It allows just enough anonymity for douchebaggery to run rampant. And yet, somehow, talented, interesting, genuinely nice people seem to convene here at Hipster, please! More than anything else I may have accomplished through my various hair-brained ventures, this is the thing I’m the most proud of; I’ve managed to carve out a tiny niche in which a few truly great people share their outlooks and ideas and talents.

I reckon I can sum the breadth of this post up in one simple declaration: Christmas is a time for friends, and mine are pretty kick-ass.

Also, Cuddletron 4000 needs your hugs. They are his food.

Love me!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Serious Fun

Nerdcore hip-hop is sort of an uneven medium, with an imprecise history that is only now being recorded. I’ve remarked before that nerdcore can be viewed – much like ska – in waves.

From as far back as Paul Barman brought his smart, sarcastic rhymes to the underground and Commodore 64 waxed poetic about their collective social inadequacies and overall dorkiness, the concept of nerd-as-rapper has taken many forms. Artists like MC Frontalot, who coined the phrase, MC Hawking, and Optimus Rhyme inspired not only a (somewhat) cohesive genre, but also helped to spark the musical arm of the current geek cultural revolution with the first legitimate wave of nerdcore.

Inspired by acts like Front and Optimus, artists like Beefy and Ultraklystron came together under the banner of nerdcore in the early days of the Rhyme Torrents project. And these second generation artists helped to bring many of the current crop of post-Rhyme Torrents MCs into the fold.

But even this is only half the story.

Behind each wave of rappers there are producers, DJs, support musicians, helpful friends. Those who craft beats and cobble together musical accompaniment are just as important to the nerdcore community as those who rock rhymes, but they seldom get the same level of press or praise.

One such artist is Tanner Brown, known to most as T-byte. Sandwiched in the middle ground between established names like Baddd Spellah and up-and-comers like nYgel, Tanner is very much the middle child of nerdcore hip-hop. He works just as hard as his fellows. He has just as impressive a list of collaborators and is just as creatively inclined. And yet you seldom, if ever, hear his name outside of the immediate community, and that’s a damn shame.

Motivated by the old adage that change begins at home, I sought to rectify this problem to the best of my meager abilities by taking some time to get to know Tanner. In the interview that followed, we talked about his musical pedigree, the recent success of his mash-up album Bad Apollo, and overall musical nerdiness. But mostly we had fun.


You make music under many names: Tanner4105, T-Byte, yatexas, and filipe bacon, just to name a few. Are these names interchangeable or do each of these "characters" make music within certain style constraints?

T-byte and mc chris.Haha! Well I guess my last album was a little confusing; yatexas is actually my friend's screenname but edited. The (Bad Appolo) album's tracklist is a chat-log between me and him on AIM. Felipe Bacon is my AIM screen name, but I've never made music under that name really; I just use because I registered it a while back. I mainly make music under T-Byte or tanner4105. T-Byte is the name I mainly use for nerdcore-type stuff and tanner4105 is everything else, but I also use Tanner Brown, which is my real name.

Ah, that makes a bit more sense. :)

You're probably best known as one half of nerdcore hip-hop duo 1337 g33k b3at. How did you come to work with MC Router?

We started out as friends in high school and then she joined me and my friend's band Cowsponge. But back to Router, after she left Cowsponge we didn’t really talk a lot until a couple of years ago, then I got her interested in hip hop and it just kinda happened. She goes by MC Router now and not 1337 g33k b3at, but that was a decision we both made since she doesn't just use my beats anymore.

Uh… what, exactly, is a Cowsponge?

It's a band me and my friend Aaron started in high school. We started out just making some songs where we just came up with a bunch of random stuff off the top of our heads. Now it's more organized and we're trying to finish an album, even though we live about 90 miles away from each other. We just send each other stuff online and kinda build upon it, but it's become a very long process. Check out our MySpace if you wanna hear some stuff, and, if you wanna see more on our history, our old bassist made a documentary about the band. And this is also a good video to check out if you wanna see what me and Aaron are like in the "studio"

You work in a myriad of musical styles from rap to mash-ups to punk rock. Is there an underlying theme or concept, some unseen common thread, that ties these disparate projects together?

Not really, besides just having fun with it. I like making all types of music (obviously) but I just always try and have fun. If I'm ever working on something and I'm just sitting there racking my brain on how it could be better, that's when I know I'm trying too hard and it's time to stop until I can come back to it later and not be so intense about it. It's only happened a few times, but every time I realized that if I try and finish a project and I'm not having fun with it, the result is awful.

That’s a pretty profound statement, and one that I think most musicians would do well to remember. Do you think that’s what draws people to your music? Do you think that the fact that you genuinely enjoy what you’re doing shines through?

It's possible, because I think I can tell whether or not a band is in it for the money or if they're in it for fun when I hear an album. For example, a band like Simple Plan: the music and lyrics are just so awfully generic it's hard to listen to unless you're a 14-year-old girl who doesn't know anything about music. When I listen to a band like They Might Be Giants, I feel they are doing it because they just love making music. That’s a band that’s been doing it for over 20 years, and they keep on doing it even if they aren't selling out huge, 20,000 seat stadiums.

How long have you been making music, and where did you get your start?

Since 2002 or 2003, and that was with Cowsponge. Me and Aaron learned everything about music together and that's why we can jam so well together and just have a great time making songs.

Your most recent mash-up collection, the very eclectic Bad Apollo – I'm a Burning Fart IV – Volume Two No Butts for LMAO, was a runaway success. Were you expecting the album to get such a warm reception?

Bad ApolloNot at all. I sent it to some friends in an IRC channel (PPP, what up!) and as a joke they suggested I post it in GBS on the Something Awful forums. I was expecting people to hate it, but it was really the exact opposite.

I think the artwork for the “cover” helped too. I pitched an idea to my cousin Liza and she made my dream a reality.

Do you have plans for a follow-up?

Absolutely, but I just started working and have school too, so I haven't had a ton of time to work on it. I've got about 4 or 5 finished songs for it, but my goal is 15 at least. Over winter break I'm sure I'll finish it, so I'm excited about that. It's just getting hard to find different stuff to throw in since I used about 57 different songs on my last album and it's only 25 minutes long. Here's a sneak peak at the next album. I'm not sure if I'm gonna have a theme for the track listing this time or not.

In addition to 1GB, your solo work, and projects like Cowsponge, you also do a lot of production within the nerdcore community – specifically with Nerdy South artists YTCracker and Beefy. Who else have you worked with?

I helped a friend mix an album that we just finished a couple weeks ago; you can listen to his stuff at his MySpace. I added a second guitar, bass, and programmed drums for the song “The Fallout” on that page. I'm really excited about how that track turned out, and we're gonna work together in the future for sure. I'm also recording a guy from school right now, but I don't have a link for his stuff.

Are there any other artists or groups with which you'd like to collaborate?

I'm willing to work with anyone. I love collaborating with people and trying new styles of music. Hit me up, y’all!

Your music incorporates everything from pitch-altered samples to live instrumentation. How do you go about piecing your tracks together?

When I'm making mash-ups, I find a song I like. Then, most of the time, I think of what other songs sound similar to it, or try to throw in a beat over it to change it up a little. Sometimes it'll be trial and error when I can't think of anything and I'll just go through 5 or so songs until I hit gold. When I'm recording Cowsponge stuff, me and Aaron will usually just jam until we come up with something that sounds good, and then record a demo, and turn that into a full song. When I'm recording a live band, we'll lay down the drum tracks, then go with guitar or bass, and then vocals, and then add whatever else they want to. If I'm making a beat I start with the drums/percussion tracks as well, then jam on my piano until I find something I like.

Personally, I've always seen bastard pop like mash-ups and cut-ups as uniquely geeky music. What are your thoughts on mash-ups as an extension of nerd culture?

I think that most everyone likes mash-ups or remixes or whatever you wanna call it. I saw Girl Talk live a couple weeks ago and there were nerds and college frat guys and sorority girls in the audience. It was a beautiful time. I'd say it's an extension of nerd culture but really, all types of people are into it and it's just fun party music. I get a little nerdy with my stuff though. The first track after the intro (on Bad Appolo) has a Pokemon album sample.

I remember that. It was an interesting place to start.

Who are your musical influences?

That's hard to say. I feel like I'm influenced a little by every band I listen to. Spoon, They Might Be Giants, Nine Inch Nails, Eminem, Slipknot, Cake, CKY, Franz Ferdinand, and more! I feel influenced at least a little bit by everything.

Are you also influenced by music you don’t like? Is there ever a song or artist that you hear that demonstrates what not to do musically?

Not really. When I hear a song that is horrible I just have to stop listening and clear my mind with something good. Kinda like how the first time someone showed me 2girls1cup I just had to watch normal porn immediately afterwards. Haha!

I've already made numerous allusions to the fact that you, as an artist, have your hands in many different styles of music. Is there a particular genre that you feel most comfortable working with?

I'd have to say my home is just plain old rock. That's what I grew up with, and that's what Cowsponge started with. It's just in my blood.

Do you consider yourself more a DJ, a producer, a beatsmith, a musician, a songwriter, or some combination of several of these elements?

I won't consider myself a real producer until I learn a lot more about music theory; that term gets thrown around too much. If I were calling myself a DJ I should probably be spinning songs at a club. I think musician works well.

What kind of nerd is T-Byte?

I'd have to say music and computer. My dad brought home our first computer when I was two, and I went to my first concert when I was 5. (It was Steve Miller Band). I can't say videogame nerd because I only have one game installed on my computer right now and that's Counter Strike Source, and I only play that when the people from PPP (What up again!) are on, but I have played quite a few games in the past.Tanner in action.
You’re really starting to gather quite a following, what with the success of Bad Apollo and your work within nerdcore hip-hop circles. As being an independent musician is a daunting and very often frustrating task, what would be one piece of advice you’d give other artists?

Keep going, and don't give up if you really want to do it. If you just wanna make a quick buck, forget about it. If you wanna build a career from music, just keep at it. It takes a long time, but once you start getting really good at what you wanna do and you've been around for a few years, it'll start to show that you're serious.


When I first listened to Bad Apollo, I was immediately struck with one thought. The album, from start to finish, sounded almost effortless. That’s not to say that the remixes seemed half-finished or of poor quality, in fact the release is solidly my favorite bastard pop album of 2007. What I’m getting at is that each track seemed so expertly crafted as to sound natural, unforced.

My curiosity piqued, I laboriously scoured my (admittedly expansive) music collection for other projects involving T-byte. I found, of course, his early tracks with Router, his work with YTCracker, and a number of recent songs with Beefy. The commonality between each of these – between works as disparate as “Hutzumi” and “You Can Call Me Beef” – was obvious; it was that same sense of grace and movement.

Tanner may consider himself a musician, but in my mind he will always be a songwriter. Whether he’s belting out a punk rock Christmas track with Cowsponge or mashing up The Beatles and Randy Savage, his songs always sound pure, honest, and surprisingly organic. While so much of remixing and production is trying to find the right place to put the wrong sound, Tanner always manages to craft a cohesive whole rather than a simple collection of forced-together parts. Whether rock or electronica, there’s no doubt that what T-byte creates are distinct, attractive, interesting songs. While others see music as a science or an art, he approaches the craft as an exercise as natural as breathing.

Music’s where he lives and music’s how he communicates.

And the fun that he’s having really does shine through.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nerd News in Brief

Anyone with reproductive organs and an interminable need to seem profound is apt to tell you that having kids changes you. This is, of course, true, as I, a breeder, can attest. But what these arm chair philosophers don’t tell you is how having children changes you.

While I can’t speak for the whole of humanity, I can tell you in which magical and oh-so subtle ways fatherhood transformed me. In short, it made me a pussy.

Within weeks of Li’l X’s, birth I found my CD collection suddenly home to a warren of proto-shoegazer wimp pop (most of the Cure and early Smiths variety). I’m not sure how it got there, but I confess that I was singing him to sleep with “Ask” before we’d had him home a week.

Considering that our second child is on the way, I can’t help but wonder if my continued pussification will be incremental or exponential. As this one’s a girl, I fear the worse.
  • A fighting chance: This week marks the release of New Liver, New Life: The Tim Jackson Liver Fund. This disk is a labor of love from the folks at the Rhyme Torrents community that exists purely to help generate more money for T.Y.T.’s father’s forthcoming organ transplant. It features id obelus, funky49, LogicOne, Myf, and scores of other talented artists, and, at fifteen bucks, it’s both a wise investment and a charitable contribution.
  • I love that line: Speaking of id, here are a couple of reviews of his latest release flyourfavorite. Exclaim! and Insomniac Magazine both have really nice things to say about the album, and I can’t help but concur.
  • These ill-bred people's gillslits showed: In his continuing mission to delight (and confuse) me, Church found this sample track from the H.P. Lovecraft-themed holiday album A Very Scary Solstice. It’s a keeper. (Look, ma, I made a fish-people pun!)
  • The Young Stunna: T-byte recently dropped some demos over at RT that you must check out. The first is a phenomenal live set he’s working on, with perhaps the greatest lead-in in the history of live music. The second is a mash that incorporates the themes from both Doug and Growing Pains. Tanner is your master now.
  • Don’t say anything!: T-byte isn’t the only nerdy producer with new teaser tracks out this week. killsaly also dropped this little jewel that takes his eerie, surreal sound the next level. Download “Look At Me” to understand what, exactly, I’m talking about.
  • Super-Ultra: Since his regular host is currently down, Ultraklystron has thrown a couple of hot new tracks on his MySpace player. Head over to his profile to peep “Duplicate” and “Fashionable.” Then, immediately thereafter, go buy his new album.
  • The wrath of Mallow: I recently received word from my man Anthony from Game Music 4 All that’s he’s putting together a vanity project of sorts. Anyone who’s ever exchanged more than a couple words with Anthony knows of his deep affection for Super Mario RPG, and, in celebration of that epic title, he’s currently soliciting submissions for the Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars Compilation. Several high-profile VGM acts have already signed up and space is limited, but I happen to know he’s quite interested in getting some hip-hop on there as well. If you’re a fan of the title and think you have what it takes to make the cut, check out the GM4A MySpace for details.
  • On pirate satellite: Five years ago this Monday, the world lost, perhaps, the greatest songwriter of my lifetime and I lost my first musical hero. To commemorate the life and music of Joe Strummer, Tim from the Radio Clash podcast has assembled This One’s for Joe, an amazing collection of tracks from the bastard pop community that celebrate Strummer’s legacy. With contributions from Celebrity Murder Party, World Famous Audio Hacker, and, of course, Instamatic, this one is not to be missed!
  • She’s a pinball wizard: Rather than leave you with another seasonal vid, today I’ll wrap things up with the latest submission from our friends at PBC Productions. Here’s the first part of a two-part episode of Little Miss Gamer in which Z learns the finer points of pinball, as well as a little history lesson. Just because we’ve all ceased working in anticipation of the looming holidays is no need to stop learning!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I before E

The rubric that I follow to determine which albums I share my impressions of is complex to the point of ultimate convolution. Like the dance of the honey bee, it is a strange and mysterious phenomenon that not even I totally understand.

Still, I awoke last week to find I had – almost subconsciously, mind you – left one final review slot open for this year, and that was for the debut album from nerdcore supergroup The Grammar Club.

Of course, being that I am what may easily be called “chummy” with 80% of the group, I felt it in my best interest to take a very hardline stance concerning their assessment. I vowed to be relentless, an unshakable force of journalistic integrity, a surgeon of criticism who would excise the respect and warm feelings that I have for these gents and coldly cut to the very artistic core of their endeavor.

And yet, even after detaching myself from the individuals involved, I couldn’t seem to find any legitimate flaws of note within Bremelanotide. And with that, my dreams of launching a scathing critique of the album were crushed. Even from the most objective of viewpoints, The Grammar Club has created a musical tour de force that both amuses and entertains.

So please, continue reading. In the meantime, I’ll be in the corner. Nursing my man-crush.
  1. “Balloon Flight”: The first-song-on-an-album concept used to be an institution; it was where a group or musician came out guns-a-blazin’ and grabbed you by the eardrums. Are You Experienced lead off with “Purple Haze.” Rush’s Moving Pictures started with “Tom Sawyer.” Shit, Straight Outta Compton kicked off with the title track, and didn’t really let up until half-way through the album. Still, modern musicians (on both the rock and hip-hop sides of the fence) seem to have abandoned this concept in favor of the slow burn, either starting with a short filler song or, worse yet, with an intro track simply dubbed “Intro.” The Grammar Club, however, decided to start on a high note, and “Balloon Fight” is easily the best track 1 of the year. It teases you for ten seconds or so with a few heavily-compressed, chippy bars, and then explodes into a bit-pop masterpiece. Beefy and Shael boast phenomenal vocal interplay that is only outdone by their understated harmony. Sharp (if only occasional) scratching from Snyder and moving instrumentation from Adam and Glenn make this track instantly memorable.
  2. “Bank Holiday”: The closest thing to a disappointment on this album is “Bank Holiday.” It’s not that the song is a letdown, mind you. In fact it’s quite the opposite, but as competent and dynamic as this track is, with Shael’s creepy and commanding vocals, its hooky guitar lead, and a beat that’s anything but traditional, the truth is I’ve already heard it. It’s wrong to deduct points for something as arbitrary as that, mind you, so I won’t. Suffice it to say that this track is different enough from the version offered in the band’s premiere video to keep you interested, with various musical tweaks, the addition of Snyder’s contribution behind Beefy’s verse, and Glenn’s double-time rhyming – my favorite part – much more texturally appealing in this final mix. If you enjoyed the song its first time around you’ll no doubt dig this one even more, but, for me, it was more a calming repose in familiar territory before journeying farther into the unknown.
  3. “Girl Trouble”: The album thus far has played delicately with aural combinations and subtle layering, so when “Girl Trouble” charges ahead behind DJ Snyder’s commanding scratching it’s a little hard not to be startled. It is equally hard not to bob your fuckin’ head. Beefy’s almost monotone rhymes and the subtle key trains that back it up lead you into the groove, and then Shael’s pitch-perfect 80’s synth-pop chorus ensures you stay there. Glenn Case makes another unscheduled appearance on the third verse, which bisects the song nicely and leads to more of Shael’s savvy vocal pop in the bridge. All the boys really bring it on this one, and, try as I might, even I can’t find anything to bitch about.
  4. “Heart Tits”: Musically, this track is a bit similar to “Girl Trouble,” and I’d have no trouble believing that this was by design. Shael’s vocals are knowingly repetitive and at times intentionally strained, while Beefy’s rhymes are both quicker and a bit higher than most might expect. The instrumentation relies heavily on a bass line that is no more or less “fat” than necessary (Glenn, is that you?), and that, combined with Beefy’s brief question-and-answer delivery and the song’s undeniably ingenious title/concept, make this a geek rock classic.
  5. “My Gay Shirt”: Is it wrong that, from the intro, I expected this to be a cover of Quiet Riot’s cover of Slade’s seminal rock anthem “Cum on Feel the Noize?” It wasn’t, and I’m totally cool with that, but I’m just sayin’. A mid-tempo rocker that manages to integrate a ridiculously speedy synthy-chippy hook, “My Gay Shirt” also boasts some really fun guitar accompaniment. (With licks that hit on the “upbeat” for half the verse, giving it almost a ska-core feel.) Lyrically, this one is well-written, but a bit drier than the rest of the album. Still, if you find Shael and Beefy aren’t doing it for you, there’s more than enough going on in the instrumentation to keep you interested. On a personal note, Shael’s laboriously detailed description of the shirt alone makes me lament the fact that he doesn’t do more rapping.
  6. “Post-Collegiate Shuffle”: Nothing strikes a chord with me quite like a meditation on the generally fruitless nature of higher education. In an album full of tits and professional wrestling, a semi-serious track like this may leave a bad taste in the mouths of some fans, but I have to say that this was a really unexpected surprise that I genuinely believe deepens the overall project. Shael Riley has this uncanny ability to sound emotionally vested in even the most ludicrous subjects, and it’s nice to hear him leverage that to a topic relevant to many of his listeners (even if I do generally prefer him waxing poetic about the surreal and hypersexual.) The musical changeup that accompanies Beefy’s vocal contribution is every bit as biting as his lyrics, and, for some strange reason, puts me immediately in mind of the music from the Castlevania series. With everyone handling production duties I’m a little unsure whose hand to shake on this, but the subtle way the song degrades and gradually trails off at the end was a brilliant choice both mechanically and thematically.
  7. “Alternate Ending”: Again, Shael and company remind us that there’s more to The Grammar Club than dry-cleaning, animal husbandry, and dick jokes. The marriage of Snyder’s scratching and the intro beat strikes me as a bit odd as the music swells and then recedes, but it works, and Shael’s delicate, almost pained vocalizing fits perfectly. Beefy’s rhymes start a little shaky, but he manages to pull it together despite the fact that he is, quite literally, rapping a goddamn waltz! Wait, is that Bach?! Funny and touching on the lyrical front and impeccably orchestrated, “Alternate Ending” is the most unexpectedly beautiful song I’ve heard in ages.
When you put a team of brilliant artists together, often the musical yield is far less intense than one might expect. Perhaps this is due to an inherent clash of egos. Maybe it’s simply that, with so many brilliant ideas generated, some of the best are lost to the artistic ether. Hell, it could be just because they try and save all the really good tracks for their individual efforts.

But sometimes, a team of solo artists are able to come together and make something that is – at the risk of sounding contrived – greater than the sum of its parts.

The Grammar Club is the nerd world’s answer to the Traveling Wilburys, taking the best of what each contributor has to offer and supplementing it with the kind of musical magic that can only happen when all parties involved have a deep, genuine respect for each other’s ideas and abilities. (The ‘Club is, of course, both more handsome and more alive than the Wilbury’s, but that’s neither here nor there.)

The point I’m trying to make is that Bremelanotide is an album I came away from with but two regrets. The first is that, unlike his bandmates, I don’t know guitarist/producer Adam, so I can’t tell him personally what a truly inspiring experience listening to this project really was. And secondly, it was just over too soon; I could've easily done with another 7 tracks of this caliber.

While no album is perfect, this one is so expertly crafted that even my nitpicky ass couldn’t find a flaw worth exploiting. Each contributor not only pulled his own weight, but obviously inspired those around him to expand the scope of their musicality. That being said, there’s no reason this one shouldn’t make its way into your collection.

As the final days of 2007 tick away, you owe it to yourself to experience one of the best albums of the year. Take a listen and spread the word.

“Ghost brontosauruses sung out in chorus sayin’, ‘Son, what am I s’posed to do?’”

Monday, December 17, 2007

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 36: Oh, Holy Shite!

Season’s greetings from Hipster, please!

Yeah, you heard me; I’m greeting you for the whole damn season! So don’t expect further greeting until… Spring? Whatever.

This year’s holiday episode is a little light on the hip-hop, but that’s only because I wanted to make extra room for some of that super-geeky rock that I’ve been neglecting of late. I did a fine job choosing the handful of rap songs that did make the cut, though, if I do say so myself.

You also get some nice mash-ups and remixes, which I think make for a pretty good variety. Just think of this as a little musical stocking stuffer from your old pal Z.

Now break out the eggnog and enjoy the show!

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 36: Oh, Holy Shite! [hosting provided by Antisocial] Size: 47.3 MB Running Time 51:42

Show Notes

Intro: Baddd Spellah – “Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)”
The RFH theme is the gift that keeps on giving.

Track 1: Christmas in the Stars – “What Do You Get a Wookie for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)”
Like I said: a bowcaster.

Z’s 1st interlude: “Well, I’ll be damned, I got it right that time!”
With no more than I have to remember on a daily basis, you’d think I could keep my episode numbers straight!

Track 2: RUN DMC – “Christmas in Hollis”
“But each and every year we bust Christmas carols.”

Track 3: Cale Parks – “Drummer Boy (Kingston Edit)” / Peter Griffin dialogue / DJ Flack “Hanukkah in Dub”
Man, Hanukkah came early this year!

Track 4: mc chris – “Evergreen”
Everyone loves a Christmas song about getting high, right?

Track 5: id obelus – “1991 1987
id gets a lot of comparisons to mc chris, but I don’t really get it. I mean, sure they’re white rappers with high voices and an obvious lack of capitalization, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

Track 6: Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg – “Dick in a Box”
Let’s be honest here; you all knew I was gonna play this.

Track 7: Loo and Placido – “Horny Christmas
If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and head over to L&P’s for some more mash-up goodness.

Z’s 2nd interlude: “A thing of beauty.”
This year’s Santastic comp is just as good as the previous two. Download it or I’ll eviscerate an elf.

Track 8: The Parselmouths – “Voldy Baby
Yeah, I’m still thinking this song sounds kinda dirty.

Track 9: DJ C – “Jungle Bells” / Talladega Nights dialogue
We need more jungle. It’s one of the few things from the 1990’s I actually miss.

Track 10: Former Fat Boys – “I Want It (Gimme, Gimme) ((Toys))
FFB and id obelis will be playing a big show in Indiana early next year with a number of other geeky rockers and hip-hoppers. I reckon it’ll be a helluva show.

Track 11: Friendly Foes – “The Ghost of Christmas Soul
This is probably my favorite track from the Suburban Sprawl Xmas 2007 comp.

Track 12: The One-Ups – “Super Mario’s Sleigh Ride”
The One-Ups play a unique brand of VGM that I find really refreshing. I’d go so far as to say they set the bar for jazz-based videogame music.

Track 13: Cowsponge – “Christmas in the Future”
I had a hard time picking just one track to play from the Cowsponge Christmas album. Download the whole thing to hear what you missed.

Z’s final interlude: “Some trains you just gotta ride out.”
I made it a point not to edit down any of the songs I played in this episode, as the year-end show’s playlist has already begun to swell and I know I’m gonna have to pare tracks down for it.

Track 14: The Mudbloods – “An Epic Christmas Tale, Chapter One: How the Thestrals Saved Christmas
This tracks a little loose, with regard to recording quality, but I dig the Arlo Guthrie feel of it. I hope you do too.

Each year there seems to be more and more seasonal compilations and projects, and that’s quite a boon for me. The only problem is figuring out which tracks to include I this podcast.

I’ve one more episode to go in 2007, and I think it’s gonna be a fun one. Meet me back in a couple of weeks to hear for yourself. In the meantime, happy shopping and happy holidays.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Of site redesigns, podcasts, and kids

Last year around this time, I began posting about the kinds of things I’d like to see from the nerd music community in 2007. Without dwelling too much on whether or not my exercise in wishful thinking and prognostication was effective, today I’d simply like to use that as more of a jumping-off point. Last time around, I spent many-a word enumerating what I’d like to see from you in the coming year, but today I’d like to tell you a bit of what you can expect from me both in the waning weeks of ’07 and in the early months of ’08.

First and foremost, you can expect a site redesign. Assuming you’re reading this yourself – as opposed to, say, someone relating it to you via telephone – you’ve already noticed that things look a bit different. As, Hipster, please! has pretty much looked the same from its inception, I felt it was time to switch shit up a bit. The new layout boasts not only a new color scheme and a swanky new logo courtesy of my friend Denika, but also some bells and whistles. I’ve dropped an abridged version of the feed for RFH right into the sidebar, and I’ve also enabled Digg buttons for each individual post. (That’s not to say I’m gonna beg you to subscribe to the podcast or Digg what you read here, but the options are there should you feel so moved.)

Unfortunately, this changeover hasn’t been without its hiccups. My grand new logo, for example, seems to want to display 25% smaller than it should despite my best efforts to rectify that, and the Sites and Sounds links are, as always, in constant flux. I reckon what I’m saying is this is a work in progress. Don’t freak out too much if things change from day to day for the next few weeks, and feel free to hit me up with any suggestions.

On the subject of the podcast, you’ll notice that the full back catalog of Radio Free Hipster episodes is now available through the feed. Well, except for episode 12, but even that elusive bastard has been recovered (Thanks, Church!), and it should be in there tomorrow. Let me warn you, though, that the first few eps are dreadful, production-wise, but most of you old schoolers doubtlessly remember that.

Concerning more tangible issues, you should get two more podcasts this year. The holiday-themed ep will, hopefully, be up tomorrow, and the year-end wrap-up should drop shortly thereafter. I’ve also got another feature interview and a final set of album impressions that should trickle out this December as well.

Next year – probably around late February – I’m hoping to drop a second Hipster, please! compilation. This one will be vastly different than the last, and, though I can’t divulge all my secrets, I will make it a point to leak the occasional nugget of info as the release draws nigh.

I’m hoping this comp will really blow folks away, as I anticipate a pretty sharp drop-off in my productivity come March. This is due to the pending arrival of a new baby in the Z. family. Yes, Li’l X. will have a baby sister, and Em and I will have another mouth to feed/arse to wipe. Truthfully, I’m pretty excited, despite the fact that my childrearing skills are rudimentary at best. I can’t fully anticipate how much this new bundle of joy will affect my writing schedule, but I suppose posts will be few and far-between for a while there, so be forewarned.

In the meantime, feel free to poke around the new digs. Help yourself to whatever’s in the fridge and don’t sweat putting your feet on the sofa. This will be the shape of HP for the foreseeable future, so it’s best if we all break it in as quick as possible. And if you hear any hammering, that’s just me trying to gussy the joint up a bit more.