Friday, August 29, 2008

Nerd News in Brief

We're currently staring down the barrel of PAX weekend.

I'm not going, but I'm not jealous of those of you who are. Fuckers!

Okay, maybe I'm a little envious.

Still, since everyone else is in full-on PAX mode already, I'm gonna shy away from the subject a bit. I mean, y'all know the deal. But I just want to say if anyone comes around selling cookies while you're in line for an event, buy one. It's for a good cause.

  • How Did We Get Here?: In his continuing mission to educate and enlighten, Church has found the following: A Short Illustrated History of the Nerd. Take a gander, and relive the history of our tribe.
  • Risking His Life: A new video for Wordburglar's track "The Route" from his Burglaritis album has made its way onto YouTube. Check it out to get the skinny on the life of a Halifax paperboy. It ain't all sunshine and Arby’s coupons.
  • More Mainstream Nerd Fascination: mc chris recently announced that he will be filmed at his September 7th show for a 60 Minutes piece on "nerd culture and nerdcore." Given mc’s anti-nerdcore stance of late, it seems an odd pairing, but I don’t reckon we can expect a man to turn down an appearance on 60 Minutes!
  • HOLY FUCKING SHIT!: In what can only be described as great news, my pal Random‘s track "Granny Smith" (from his new release The 8th Day) was chosen as the underground track of the week at Hip-Hop Linguistics. In what can only be described as the new biggest news ever, Ran has also just announced that he will be opening for Common on September 13th at the Marquee Theater in Tempe, AZ. Yes, Common! And to sweeten the deal, Ran is pressing a limited edition Mega Ran 3.0 including new artwork and remixes that will be sold at the gig for $5.
  • "Would you like french fries with that?": Another artist revisiting his old material is Captain Spalding. Cap has parodied his own Team Fortress 2 anthem "I'm Your Medic" as "I'm Your Sandvich." Even with the added carbs, it's still a good time.
  • Number 1 with a Bullet: I have already spent some quality time with nYgel's newly released mixtape Free To Good Home. It is imminently enjoyable. So much so that I'll be reviewing it in the near future. In the meantime, check out the accompanying vid for his remix "Sugar, We're Slowin' Down." The delicate combination of deer people and mall-punk has never been more entertaining.
  • The Joys of Secrecy: The concept of the clanDestine project is simple: release a new track under an alias. It’s an interesting undertaking for those looking to experiment, or simply gauge to audience reaction to a song itself rather than the name attached to it. So what’s your pleasure? Grignak? Deemeetree? Inspector Madshit? Why not check ‘em all out?
  • Don’t Turn Your Back on the City: The Protomen have just released a demo for the recently leaked "Breaking Out." The song is described, in typical Protomen fashion, as "the opening track for side II of Act II (our upcoming sophomoric release). It debuts the second of the two themes of the album; the counterpoint to the whole of side 1. If side one is a Spaghetti Western gone Robocop, then side two is Streets of Fire gone Logan’s Run. A dirty 1980s future where Spandex is tough and an alleyway knife fight is the only justice a man needs." Uh... yeah.
  • Fucked Up… In a Good Way: Shael Riley and The Grammar Club recently got a little love from Destructoid (along with a number of other ReMixers). The entire post is actually really entertaining, and it spotlights a number of great tracks you may’ve missed. (djpretzel’s "Hillbilly Rodeo" anyone?) So take a look. Hopefully followed by a listen.
  • Wizards vs. Vampires: Last week Matt hipped me to this post at the ‘Pedia referencing an piece on the feud between the WRock and Twi-rock scenes. (Personally, it seemed a little half-baked to me, as the first Twi-rock band I ever heard was actually fronted by a WRocker, but I digress.) Church then countered with two more references to the fan rivalry that proved a bit more character-driven. All this cranking over the best nerd fic series on which to center one’s musical creativity brings up a number of interesting questions, but, unfortunately, Lords of the Rhymes were unavailable for comment. ;)
  • Trock You Like a Hurricane: In a quasi-related story, the answer to the question how could I love Wizard Rockers RiddleTM any more than I already do has been answered with the response if they started a Time Lord Rock band, you stupid bastard. Behold The Geek Chic Band (otherwise known as Victoria and Georgia) with "The Doctor." It makes my hearts skip a beat.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 51: End of Summer Clearance Sale

Where has the summer gone?

And consequently, when, exactly, will autumn arrive in earnest?

Don't get me wrong; it's cooling down here in the south, but the specter of sweltering days and clammy nights still skulks about our humble hills. It simply waits for us to become comfortable. So that it might catch us unaware.

This late August edition of RFH is similar. It waits for you to settle into a groove, and then it catches you with your guard down. BOOM crazy pop remix. BAM emo-prog-geek-rock. BLAMMO acoustic cover song.

But still, I hope you find this auditory pummeling to your liking.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 51: End of Summer Clearance Sale [hosting provided by Antisocial] Size: 42.5 MB Running Time: 46:25

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah"Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)"
This song is like a cool drink on a hot afternoon.

Track 1: DJ Mashup"Franchize Boys at Large"
Did you lean with it? Did you subsequently rock with it? No, I didn’t think so.

Z’s 1st interlude: "My end of summer spectacular."
Because, honestly, I reckon we all need more spectacular things in our lives.

Track 2: Beefy – "Olly Olly Oxen Free"
There’s a really simple charm to this track that I can’t help but dig. Word is, it’s actually got some age on it.

Track 3: Katy Perry – "Hot N Cold (feat. The Former Fat Boys) "
FFB do a lot of these bootleg rap remixes, and I’m actually a big fan of ‘em.

Track 4: Chef - "Simultaneous"
I, for one, was a lot more distressed over the loss of Isaac Hayes than the passing of Bernie Mac.

Track 5: Brad Sucks – "Fake It"
It looks like the fan video project for this track is complete, but Brad still wants more submissions.

Track 6: id obelus – "Unlucky"
This song really gets me excited about id’s new album.

Track 7: Kris Straub – "Paint the Line '88"
"Look into the dragon’s heart / Razor in the stingray spine / Ate a whole party sub / Paint the line."

Track 8: MC Router – "Greetings in Braille"
Apparently Router caught wind that I had misplaced my copy of "Unwired," so she sent me her entire discography, including this little gem.

Z's 2nd interlude: "They gave their lives for ping pong. They gave their lives for America!"
Honestly, I love when continuity makes its way into Penny Arcade. The results are always inspiring.

Track 9: Phoenix Jukebox – "We Goin' Down"
I tend to get a fair amount of hey-listen-to-this emails, and I'm glad I do. Otherwise I might miss cool shit like this.

Track 10: The Grammar Club – "Code Monkey"
If I'm not mistaken, this was the Club's last track with Glenn Case. It's a real beauty.

Track 11: Coheed and Cambria – "Blood Red Summer"
I know I'm gonna take a lot of shit from Coheed fans, but I really find a lot of their music rather pretentious. But hey, I ain't judging you. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. And besides, I find this to be a delightful little pop number.

Track 12: The Four Eyes – "Holiday Road"
Another delightful cover from our friends The Four Eyes! Don't it make you wanna head off on a road trip?

Track 13: Optimus Rhyme – "My Piroshky (reprise) (Remix)"
A moment of silence, if you please.

Z's final interlude: "The world is a dimmer place without Optimus."
And I mean it.

Track 14: YTCracker – "Summer Girls"
Having finally met YTCracker, I finally understand what folks like Beefy have been saying about him: amazingly nice guy.

With any luck I'll be recording my first ever Drunken Podcasting Month 'cast over the weekend. And, with a little more luck, I won't be doing it alone.

I've invited Matt and Church to sit in with me, and hopefully they'll both be able to play. Because, y'know, drinking alone ain't nearly as fun as doing it with friends.

In the meantime, thanks for checking out ep. 51. I hope you found a little something to help keep your spirits up as the days get shorter.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Farewell to Kings

Last month I said that I wouldn't believe that Optimus Rhyme had broken up until I heard it from Wheelie himself, and, sadly, two weeks ago I did. Apparently I wasn't the only fan in denial, as the guys have just released an official statement confirming their dissolution.
Dearest Autobeat Allies,

After 8 years of making music together, Optimus Rhyme is calling it quits. We have had a glorious time battling those evil Wackacon forces and now feel our mission is complete. Thank you for coming to the shows, buying our albums, spreading the Autobeat Gospel, and, again, coming to the shows. Meeting many of you in clubs across the country was unforgettable and we hope to cross paths again.

We have a final batch of songs that we will have out by year’s end. We’ll keep you posted on when and where you can find them. In the meantime, come celebrate the finale with us at the High Dive in Seattle (513 N 36th St G, Seattle, WA 98103 (206) 632-0212) this Thursday night, August 28th. We will be sharing the stage with longtime friends The Goondocks, the Godfather of Nerdcore MC Frontalot, and heir apparent Beefy. Doors at 8pm, music at 9pm.

grimROCK, Powerthighs, Stumblebee, & Wheelie Cyberman
Optimus Rhyme was and continue to be a primary musical inspiration for all of my projects here at Hipster, please!, and their presence will be sorely missed. Thankfully, as the guys part ways we are all but guaranteed no fewer than 4 distinct musical entities to arise from the ashes. Moreover, they have now officially willed their empire to my pal Beefy, and with Autobeat Allies The Goondocks and Ultraklystron still holding down the homestead, Seattle is in good hands.

If you are in Sea-town this week pre-PAX, it is imperative that you check out their final gig. I won't be there, so please cheer extra loud for me. And in the meantime, let's all take a moment to reflect on the impeccable musicianship that will forever be Optimus Rhyme.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Nerdcore Rising at PAX

In addition to Nerdcore For life, the MC Frontalot documentary Nerdcore Rising will also be screening at this year's Penny Arcade Expo. Sure, Front and Negin could've just announced this through mundane, terrestrial means, but instead they went big and filmed this earth-shattering promo. Enjoy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Better Than Monopoly

Beefy is what you might call a polarizing artist.

That being said, some folks have been anxiously awaiting his newest release since its official announcement so many months ago – a particularly vocal segment of these individuals have questioned me about its progress at every turn – while others probably wouldn't accept it for free.

And that's okay. Believe it or not, the world is big enough for both of these groups.

Most people, however, are just looking for interesting music. To these people I present my pre-review review. It goes a little something like this:

If you're looking for a well produced, fun, and sometimes challenging album with a sound that's cohesive but not tedious, Rolling Doubles is for you.

If you'd care to read my track-by-track breakdown, it's below.
  1. "Olly Olly Oxen Free"
    "Olly Olly Oxen Free" opens with a sharp guitar lick that all but defines the more rock-centered slant of the album. At less than a minute and a half you scarcely have time to get into the track before it's over, but it sets off the album in a fashion all its own, and has proven, at least for me, to be an easy favorite. It exists to let everyone know that Beefy has come out to play, and it certainly accomplishes that.
  2. "You Can Call Me Beef"
    Leaked ages ago, "You Can Call Me Beef" centers on a similar guitar hook to its predecessor. The call-back vocals could prove a bit much for some, but I think they work with Beefy's new rock star shtick. The guitar is coupled with hyperactive snare work that adds to the dynamism when layered against Beef's flow, which is as measured as ever.
  3. "Tilt"
    Songs about pinball are a bit of a rarity in modern music, and while no one will mistake this for The Who's "Pinball Wizard," it does a good job shifting the album's tone. Router's rasp and a number of Beef's trademark stream-of-consciousness one-liners punctuate the track nicely, though, in truth, I prefer Mr. Thompson when he's rapping in a lower register. The heavily compressed pre-chorus (before the "Tilt" chant), however, is very satisfying.
  4. "Table Top"
    From the lyrics to the flow to Tanner's expert production – boasting instrumentation that occupies an interesting space somewhere between guitar rock and old school chiptunes – this love song to game night is easily one of Beefy's best tracks. It manages to be both a sing-along anthem and to throw in enough verbal curveballs to keep the attentive listener interested. It's the kind of song that proves to be a highlight on this (or any other) nerdcore album.
  5. "Play With Me [f. Bethzilla]"
    While relatively solid on its own merits, "Play With Me" suffers by its position on the album. "Table Top" is simply a hard act to follow. Outside of that, it's another fun loser love anthem from the house of Beef. Bethany's contribution is interesting, as is the production, but the whole song seems a bit pale in comparison to some of the album's more vibrant selections. Truthfully, this song, with its unexpected female vocal accompaniment, is a bit reminiscent of Dual Core's "Take it Back" from their Lost Reality release.
  6. "Ball Pit"
    "Ball Pit," on the other hand, is perfectly placed as well as performed. Its glitchy intro belies its smooth verse beat and oddly poignant lyrics. Songs so steeped in nostalgia are often too syrupy and superficial, but Beefy manages to tap into a childhood slice of life that most fans, particularly those who came from less than rosy circumstances, can surely relate. There's some odd core of brutal truth that powers this understated number about a birthday at Chuck E. Cheese. It's cheer tempered with a touch of hopelessness as adulthood mourns the loss of innocence.
  7. "Disconnect [f. YTCracker & The Former Fat Boys]"
    Beefy's made a number of stellar contributions to other artists' albums of late, so it's nice to see him rewarded in kind. "Disconnect" turns the melancholy of "Ball Pit" into borderline nerd rage with the help of YTCracker and $ucksex of Former Fat Boys. It also namedrops Hipster, please!, making it the best goddamn song in the world.
  8. "Last Minute Gig"
    Beefy shines at story songs, and "Last Minute Gig" is exactly that. It has a fun, techy groove and a simple premise that easily charms. There's a subtle mc chris reference in there for fans in the know, and the chorus is sure to be a crowd-pleaser in the northwest. Lyrically, it's not his most challenging work, but it's fun. And fun is its own reward.
  9. "Clueless"
    This song is not a musical tribute to the 1995 Alicia Silverstone film of the same name. Sorry to disappoint. It is, however, a one-minute monster that would sound perfect on your next nerdy mixtape. Beefy and Tanner are both in rare form, and it could easily be the thesis statement for this release.
  10. "Turn Your Radio Off"
    Another foray into the glitchier side, "Turn Your Radio Off" is a familiar – but accurate – damnation of radio culture. Hardcore heads will surely be none too pleased to hear a nerd from Pasco's treatise on the evils of pop-rap, but that doesn't make Beefy's argument unsound. It has a much harsher sound than has been heard up to this point on the release, but it's Tanner's subtle insinuation of those same cut-and-paste production tricks that Beefy warns against that truly gives it teeth.
  11. "Minimum Wage Slave [f. Shael Riley]"
    Despite it's flirtation with rock and electronica, Rolling Doubles is sorely lacking a danceable, poppy track. Until you hit "Minimum Wage Slave." The combined might of Beefy and Shael always yields interesting results, and this is no exception. While "work sucks" tracks are certainly not uncommon in the realm of nerdcore, this one has a nice give-and-take between its two lyrical contributors. Tanner delivers a great blend of both traditional and nontraditional backing. And again, my only real gripe is with Beefy rhyming in a manner slightly higher than is his comfort zone.
  12. "Dork Date"
    While the lyrics are a little fast-paced for Beef, the chorus of "Dork Date" is an anthem all its own. Cocky Beefy plays well against the awkward MC from cuts like "Play With Me," and a squeaky, creaky beat moves things along swimmingly. Old fans should keep their ears open for a brief reference to Tube Technology's "wonderfulamazing."
  13. "1337ology [f. MC Router]"
    Beefy's flow in this one is unique in that he blends both speed and smoothness in equal measure. Doc Pop and Tanner, who both contributed to the beat, manage to make an otherwise boastful track a little creepy and oddly surreal. And MC Router, in one of her final rap offerings, starts off on a high point but noticeably struggles mid-verse. Also, um, does anyone else hear a slight element of Missy Elliot's "Get Ur Freak On" in there, or is it just me?
  14. "Story Time"
    Thus far I have refrained from referring to tracks as "personal," as this element of lyric writing is all but synonymous with Beefy's style. Now, however, I will state the obvious; "Story Time" is the type of uber personal reminiscence that is no less than heart wrenching. If you have any questions about the changes in Beefy's personal life since Tube Tech, this song answers them. Musically, this one looms large and menacing, which fits it to a T. It ends the album proper, but, of course, there's more.
  15. "Table Top [tanner4105 Remix]"
    Tanner's remix of "Table Top" doesn't start off as strong as the original, but the rock accompaniment behind the verse is appropriately ferocious. It's a really interesting musical change of pace that fully embraces the album's rock leanings.
  16. "Play With Me [dj John Remix f. Bethzilla]"
    Yes. This remix features the talents of the dj John. And while I did feel the original was enjoyable (if slightly misplaced) this reinterpretation is simply phenomenal. Everything, from the beat to Bethzilla's sing-song chorus, seems brighter and more electric. It is, in short, a fantastic note on which to end.
While I didn't mark quite as much experimentation with flow as in some Beefy's other, more recent releases, there is much more focus on overall musical experimentation inherent in Rolling Doubles, and I really found that refreshing. Tanner's influence is felt throughout the album, and this, at least to my ears, is a very good thing. Tanner is a talented producer with a genuinely compelling feel for the uncommon, and, particularly at this stage in Beefy's artistic development, I think they're both helping to compound each other's musical creativity.

Admittedly, on some levels I think I may have actually enjoyed the ramshackle, mixtape appeal of Tube Technology a bit more, but there is surely a level of cohesion on Rolling Doubles that must be applauded. Moreover, it undoubtedly features a number of Beefy's best songs to date, which, even on its own merits, is a triumph.

In summation: good album, high production value, fun lyrics, a nice build-up, and a few extra surprises. It's tough not to recommend this one, especially at $8,.

That's my opinion. Do with it as you will.

"Gotta check out Hipster, please! goddamnit!"
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