Wednesday, October 29, 2008

5 Halloween Treats

As we find ourselves mere days away from Halloween, I feel it is my duty to remind you that there are sinister forces at work. Yes, there are shadowed figures in dark and furtive corners who would seek to sully this geekiest of holidays, to bend it to their own will. Our enemy is varied, they represent a veritable hodgepodge of social, religious, and political elements with but one common goal: to ruin our fun.

While some prefer to subscribe spiritual significance to October 31st, I, personally, like to see it as the last great bastion of immaturity. You see, each of our other major Western holidays – your Thanksgivings and Christmases, your Valentine's and Independence Days – are resplendent with responsibility. You are expected to buy gifts, cook food, visit family, etc. Halloween, comparatively, asks for very little. You simply need to buy some candy and cut some eye-holes in a sheet.

Shit, you can even avoid that by simply putting off your porch light and refusing to open your door!

What I'm getting at is that Halloween is about tricks and treats, candy and booze, silly costumes and scary movies. It is, in short, dedicated to the things we already hold dear in our glorious state of retarded adolescence. All it takes is a little motivation to get your average nerd into the swing of things. And perhaps the best motivator is music.

To that end, here are my picks for your seasonal soundtrack. Each is delightfully dorky and hot off the press. Check the out. If you dare!

The Triple Six Mixtape:
The Triple Six Mixtape isn't without its rough spots, but it gets extra credit for being the first nerdcore Halloween album out of the gate. The brainchild of Rhyme Torrents regular Mad DPS, this project boasts some fun, creepy, and just plain weird work from YTCracker (who celebrates the dastardly pastime of candy snatching in "Bag Snatcher"), T.y.T. (whose "Hypmotized" is a disturbingly chipper recount of fratricide), and Epic 1 (who takes us on a supernatural killing spree in "Talk 2 The Reaper"). Also of note is Ham-STAR's "Nevermore," which helps to reinvent the artist as well as much of Poe's best source material. Probably the comp's best work comes in the form of DPS's own "Vicious Attack" that features 3rror and The Ranger. It's a Halloween anthem that combines great rhymes and a totally seasonal-appropriate beat.

This one is still available for free download over at RT.

Invasion of the Mic Snatchers:
While not exactly Halloween-themed, The Sinister Six's Invasion of the Mic Snatchers weaves a plot of terror and otherworldly domination amidst a number of epic cuts from this nerdcore supergroup. The thematic elements – in this case spoken-word or sample-based bumpers that tie together the overall narrative arc of the album – seem almost overly abundant, but the polished production and unique musicality of each lends itself well to the cohesion of the work.

The real meat of Invasion of the Mic Snatchers is, of course, the songs themselves. From the skillful blending of Ben's frantic braying and the amazing scratches that punctuate "Break Down" to YTCracker's motor-mouthed musings in "Rise Up," this is an album that's nothing short of inspired. The lyrical wealth is equally spread amongst YT, BBear, ZeaLouS1, MadHatter, Chester, and Loki, as well as a few high-profile guest MCs. And on subjects as varied as gaming ("Roll the Dice") and the power of the underground ("Deeper"), the Six take things to another level in the most Sinister manner possible.

Pledge your allegiance to the Six at the Scrub Club Records site and snag this one for the meager price of your immortal soul.

Before It's Too Late:
Zombies! Organize!! easily won me over at this summer's Nerdapalooza festival, and their demo has been in heavy rotation ever since. Thankfully, this month saw the release of the final product: Before It's Too Late. Including everything I loved about the demo plus a handful of fresh cuts, it's an album not to be missed (even if some of the newer material isn't quite as inspired as I'd hoped). Tracks like "Trioxin" and "Sycophantic Drudgery" are still as creepily charming as they ever were, and a few even feature a little added polish. Blending politics with pop culture, Z!O!! paints a world where zombies are both brave iconoclasts and mindless political pawns, heroes and villains. It's a world where the mall is cast as the high temple of the church of consumerism and the Nike Swoosh is the exploitative angel on your shoulder. In a word: brilliant.

This is album is for sale via the Zombies! Organize!! MySpace. It's also available for free at the Zombies! Organize!! MySpace. The choice is yours.

Halloween 3.0:
The Rhyme Torrents compilations are, by nature, a mixed bag, and this one is no exception. Still, it offers an amazing selection of styles for every taste. Antisocial blends hip-hop and futurepop in "Emergency Evacuation," Sudden Death brings the funny in "PC Halloween," and Wholemilk's "Colonel in the Study with a Pipe" manages to make Clue fun again. There are a couple of interesting covers (MC D20's take on "Sleepwalker" and High-C's spoken-word retelling of "Mind of a Lunatic)," but it's new originals by the likes of Myf and MC Loki that make this an easy sell. It's noteworthy that The Ranger also has a song on this comp called "Trioxin" which is not a Zombies! Organize!! cover. Trust me. Just as well, it's hard to bitch about more great songs thematically centered on Return of the Living Dead.

Like those that came before, Halloween 3.0 is a free release from your friends at Rhyme Torrents.

Zombie Emergency Defense:
Perhaps the most surprising of this year's crop of Halloween releases is this zombie-themed project from Orlando's Emergency Pizza Party. Though EPP made no secret that it had something big planned for 2008, they were fairly tight-lipped about the specifics, and Z.E.D. comes through as an interesting blend of disparate elements. Part concept album, part radio play, part b-movie, and part promotional tie-in for A Comic Shop's proactive zombie response program of the same name, it manages to inject some much need charm into the undead apocalypse. By blending good music with (intentionally) bad acting, Z.E.D. stalks the line between the frightening and the fun, the sublime and the silly, and along the way it boasts some of Emergency Pizza Party's best work to date.

While it opens with a pair of retreads ("Lost in the Woods" and "Necronomicon Ex Robotis" from RT's original Halloween EP), it quickly blossoms into "Safety Cabin," an early highpoint that features some great rhymes from Fanatical and guest rapper funk49 Dr. BassWave. Speaking of, this album marks the return of both Fanatical and Benjamin Bear to the EPP fold, which helps to take the sting out of the fact that Betty Rebel is missing from much of the action. MC Wreckshin and Sir-Up, who act as hero and villain respectively, are in abundance, and really help to power the story on, all the while redefining the zombie epic.

Touching on everything from zombie preparedness ("The Escape") to undead homophobia ("Phone Frantic Panic") to surprise guest stars ("Journey Ongoing!!!!"), Zombie Emergency Defense is a fun ride that succeeds more often than it flounders. Sure, the dialog and narration can get a little cheesy, but that's sort of the genius of it.

For a very limited time you can check this one out for free, so grab it while it's hot… or cold… or whatever sort of clever corpse reference floats your proverbial boat.


funky49 said...

first post!

DPS said...

Wow, thanks for featuring the mixtape!

Denika said...

I can't wait to hear the new EPP album live tomorrow night at the Zombie Dance.