Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mic Snatched

Lock up your daughters and hide the good silver, because the invasion has begun!

Invasion of the Mic Snatchers, the long awaited debut by nerdcore supergroup The Sinister Six has just been released. It's freely available from your friends at Scrub Club Records, so why not stop by and give it a listen?

It'll make you feel good.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Nerd News in Brief

Last week ComputerWorld’s John Brandon published his list of the top 10 best written blogs. Oddly enough, GeekDad made the cut.

How cool is that?

What’s more, a post I wrote concerning Doctor Octoroc’s bead sprites was linked as an example!

I know it may seem like the other GeekDads and I were possibly a little too flattered by the nod, but you have to understand our position. Within the past month our site has seen a huge surge in traffic. And along with such increased popularity comes a lot more snide comments and unconstructive criticism – something about the greater dickwad theory, if I’m not mistaken. So having someone outside our circle acknowledge that the blog is well-written was just the pat on the back we needed.

GeekDad is a fun project, and I’m proud to be a part of it, but I’m also really thrilled to still be doing my own thing here at Hipster, please! It ain’t exactly acclaimed and it sure as hell ain’t as popular, but it’s mine. And you guys are my kind of people.
  • Free Zombies: Anyone who's read this blog since my return from Nerdapalooza last July has surely realized that I love me some Zombies! Organize!! Sadly, they have had no legitimate releases save a handful of compilation contributions and a demo. Until now. The new Z!O!! album Before It's Too Late is available for purchase. But wait! It's also available for free download. The choice is yours.
  • Kills Zeds Dead(er): If you’re like me, you live in constant fear of the inevitable zombie apocalypse. To that end: Zombies Tools. Yes, at long last we finally have a legitimate supplier for anti-zombie weaponry. The line forms to the left.
  • Full Ride Here I Come!: And speaking of hardfought legitimacy, Church has reminded me that this Sunday, October 26th, Middlebury College will host the first large Intercollegiate Quidditch Tournament in history. Yep, Muggle Quidditch on a large scale. And it’s free!
  • Shit-tie: Also on the Potter front comes this link from my home-skillet Matt of free_geek. The lovely Lena (of The Butterbeer Experience) has just previewed a new track via YouTube. And since she's unable to speak due to a vocal cord ailment, she found an interesting way to intro the vid.
  • Processed Beef: mc chris recently posted his take on nerdcore and feuds. If you haven't given it a look yet, you might wanna check it out. Interesting stuff.
  • Utah Taints: And speaking of nerdcore, it seems to have grown in popularity in one of our most angular states. Check out for some wise words from MC Frontalot and to read the fascinating phrase "For anyone who thinks Nerdcore and other forms of independent hiphop are too dumb to catch on in Utah, think again." Ah, such forward thinking!
  • The Dragon Awakes: Guess who's back in the muthafuckin' house? Super Dragon X! Yes, SDX gave me a shout yesterday to let me know that's he's got some amazing new tracks in the works. He's also made an acappella of his classic joint "Heliopolis " available for remixing. Y'all get on that!
  • Pixel Perfect: While you tend to associate Game Music 4 All with the musical side of gamer culture, Anthony recently reminded us that the site fervently supports of the visual arts as well via an interview with the amazing 8 Bit Artist. You saw his work at 32 Bit Genocide, now get to know the man behind them.
  • Midwest Represent: Another interview that warrants your attention is Legendary Wizard's recent piece on MadHatter. It's got all the inside info on the Sinister Six, as well as the skinny on Scrub Club and Midwest Nerdfest.
  • Across the Pond: I'm a big fan of our nerdy European brothers, particularly those from the UK. Therefore I am excited to direct you toward new full-lengths from both Category and MisterB! Cat's uk.geek.core blends nerdcore and punk rock in a manner most sublime, and MisterB's SNOGS is a sloppy musical goodnight kiss. Grab 'em both.
  • The Will of One: Word from the Resistance is that those game rocking musical revolutionaries The Protomen are releasing a limited edition 7 inch. This is the first officially released single from the upcoming second act of their Mega Man rock opera, and will feature a never-before-heard b-side. It’ll also be given away for fuckin' free to attendees of the release celebration at 12th and Porter in Nashville on November 8th!
  • Wild, Wild West: And speaking of singles, MC Lars and YTCracker – the latter of which may have helped to prove that Apple Genius is racist – have a new video single for the track "Manifest Destiny." Skillfully produced by Irina Slutsky and Nick Iannone of GETV, it is a wonder to behold. So please do so.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Carry That Weight

Earlier this year I decided to devote more of my energies to doing album reviews. Artists were asking for it. Readers were asking for it. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

It also became a decision I immediately regretted.

You see, no matter how many of these fuckers I do, the process doesn't get any easier. It's lengthy, at times even laborious. Not because the albums I receive are bad, mind you: actually quite to the contrary. It's simply that the whole listen-write-listen-write-reread-listen-write-post thing is time consuming, and the more you set out to do the more things fall by the wayside.

Still, I'm not going to do these artists a disservice by simply neglecting to live up to my end of the bargain. (Even if I'm coming through a little later than anticipated.) So expect a lot more reviews over the next quarter. So many that you might just get sick of 'em! ;)

The albums, on the other hand, tend to hold up a good bit better than my occasionally minced words. Today's subject is Ultraklystron's Opensource Lyricist. It marks an interesting new stage in Karl's musical development, yet it also hearkens back to his earlier works.

Interested? You should be.
  1. "Opensource Lyricist"
    The album kicks off with the title track, which seems to be Karl's thesis statement. It's also one of his best songs to date. After honing his craft over the previous years, Ultraklystron seems to have at last mastered the crazy-difficult Jesse Dangerously/Wheelie Cyberman style of lightening fast rapping. He couples these speedy rhymes with sharp keys and smooth D&B. Not to mention a few well placed comp sci references.
  2. "Earn It"
    "Earn It" slows down the tempo a bit and serves as a nice counterpoint to the lead-in. Karl's flow is steady and rehearsed, but still fast enough to impress even diehard Ultraklystron fans. He comes off as the "nerdcore renegade" with this dynamic and slightly glitchy number, which also seems to further explain the ideas behind the album as a whole.
  3. "So Long Kids"
    This is a polished version of an old classic, and, while it's very anime-specific, it's also sharp and biting enough (both vocally and musically) to appeal to those outside otaku circles. It stands as a stark warning to 4Kids Entertainment from an expert voice and an excellent call to arms for his fellow fanboys, even if the chorus is still the tiniest bit awkward.
  4. "Eighty Three"
    As silky as it is chippy, "Eighty Three" displays Karl's smoothness as he waxes poetic about his life and the year of his birth. It boasts rapid-fire pop culture references and more than a few of his most cleverly turned phrases – "unintentional teenage harem" being the chief among them. Whereas the album to this point has mostly been an intro to the work itself, this is an intro to Karl the man.
  5. "Internet"
    With its chirpy (and decidedly eastern sounding) backing and odd vocal cadence in the intro, "Internet" is sort of a musical gamble that, thankfully, pays off. It's a nice change of pace, if a tad thin in places. Still, it's an interesting diversion that explores the "infinite wasteland" of the WWW.
  6. "Decisions"
    Another deviation from expected beat blends well with Ultraklystron's sing-rapping. I found it interesting that it mentions Karl's faith, a subject he seldom references explicitly. But mostly this is a meditation on regret and missed chances, as well as the lingering fear of letting oneself down. In light of his decision to depart from the nerdcore scene last year, it's a bit of an eye-opener: a window into Karl's mind as well as a pontification concerning difficult decisions.
  7. "PAeXpo"
    This is a solid and upbeat exploration of what makes PAX so great: games, tech, music, community, and the mighty Omegathon! It pairs crazy-fast rapping with an ultra-slow chorus for a theme song just waiting to happen.
  8. "Mahou Shonen Theme"
    Where else but on an Ultraklystron record would I be called upon to review a song that I don't even understand the title of?! This is a comic-book interpretation of a day in the life of the artist with the only drawback being that that chorus is a little weak on the call-back. Still, it doesn't sully this fun track.
  9. "MC Urban Planner"
    Chippy and immediately interesting, this song features the oddest braggadocio in nerdcore. It is of particular note because it spotlights Karl's greatest personal strength: that he is comfortable in his own skin. It seems to espouse that he's clean-liver who's unafraid of his patent geekiness, even if he's admittedly a little scatterbrained. There's also a nice use of multi-tracked overlapping vocals, which may be a clever reference to the duality of man. Or simply skillful mixing.
  10. "Void Function"
    Sparse and airy in instrumentation, "Void Function" seems to compliment "MC Urban Planner" by pointing out that Karl, almost oxymoronically, ain't your average nerd! A low-key nerdcore late night driving jam, this song combines reflections on gaming and programming and plain ol' geeking out to form a functional musical mission statement.
  11. "Priceless"
    Ultraklystron's flow is a little off on this one, but his storytelling is top notch. There's an obvious tendency here to try and include a few too many words within each verse couplet, but the song overall still manages a great feel. Its true power is the fantastic chorus that blends warm vocals and thematic keys. It may be a little too j-culture for me, but it's awfully hard to ignore.
  12. "Fashionable"
    This is an excellent follow-up to "Priceless" that boasts a great intro keyboard riffs, not to mention an oddly precognitive reference to the curent crop of stock market woes (as well as an all-too rare verbal conceit to O Brother, Where Art Thou?). It could be construed as a song about fashion without substance, but Karl brings both in equal measure, particularly in the slowed down chorus vocals, which are both creepy and striking.
  13. "Hit Reply"
    Another great stylistic change-up, "Hit Reply" is a track made for Therein Ultraklystron manages a great vocal quality that's snarky and a bit higher toned than usual. It's a minimalist joint that expertly displays his skills. Sure, it's about anime, but that's what he does best!
  14. "Hikikomori"
    This is a wonderful D&B track that pounds into your skull, aided by an assortment of breaks, bloops, and blips. Along with this otaku confessional, we also get a great call-response chorus that's simple but not too. It ably explores the solitary life of a fanboy and leads to a dazzling musical ending.
  15. "Script Kiddie Blues"
    From its sinister sounding opening bars, this song is an unlikely hacker anthem that's confessional, approachable, and enjoyable. With only a few dropped syllables, it's also tight enough to make even Nerd King and DG YTCracker proud.
  16. "Full Disclosure"
    This haunting and funky joint seemingly comes across as condemnation of the lower echelons of nerd culture, which is a little odd for Karl. It's directed firmly at those who are simply posturing, and exemplifies what real nerd life is all about. It's not only a celebration of the nice guy, but also a defense of the atypical nerd who refuses to fall in line with the trappings of "geek chic."
  17. "Coin Figure"
    Okay, the beat for this track is a little pedestrian, but it's hard to ignore the excellent vocal delivery (complete with some more of that nice vocal doubling.) It details the travails of the obsessive collector, and reminds us of the folly of too much stuff. Interestingly, it also has a lot going on under the surface, most obviously a reflection on self-doubt and self-worth.
  18. "Cuteness"
    A remix of this song appeared on Romance Language, and thus should be known to long-time fans. This take is much mellower, but still striking. I can't help but note that Karl sounds a little like T.y.T. on this one with regard to his delivery style. As for the song itself, it's boastful but not obnoxious, and, while I'm not sure about the highly sung chorus, it is certainly a standout track with an amazing beat and backing instrumentation.
  19. "It's the Beat"
    This one can't help but make you smile. It's a little bit Beck, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. All in all, "It's the Beat" is slightly surreal and totally fun: a club-tastic otaku rap from the heart of Seattle. Not your typical nerdcore, but certainly masterfully executed.
  20. "Five to Nine"
    Taking us home is my old favorite Ultraklystron track, and, after another listen, it actually might be my curent fave to boot. It certainly sounds as sweet as it did back in the RT era, and it really ends things on a high note. Despite its heavy anime convention focus, it's still easily relatable even for those of us who don't run the con circuit. It's one of the greatest geek anthems of all time, and Opensource Lyricist couldn't have ended on a better note.
Opensource Lyricist is currently in that odd stage where it's not yet old enough to be a classic, but it's also too old to be a new release. Still, that shouldn't keep you from investing in a copy. It's a solid project. Rock solid. And boasts some of Ultraklystron's best vocal and production work to date.

While it lacks the utter cohesion of a concept work like Romance Language, it's still very much an album of some weight and consistency, and Karl's at his best when he's contrasting the arc of the album with the personal elements he intersperses throughout on a regular basis. It alternates between reflecting on nerdcore and reinventing it, between praising the regular nerd and urging him to evolve, and it touches on each with equal sincerity and skill.

It's not an album that's overly intimate, but it still manages to have that great Ultraklystron musical charm that you've come to expect. His flow is certainly not flawless and he does continue to dwell on the otaku lifestyle, which may be off-putting to some, but these elements also serve as a reminder that Karl is a man just like you or me. A man with hopes and dreams, hang-ups and obsessions and struggles. A man with a story to tell just like the rest of us. Only a fuck of a lot more talented.

Reading Is Fundamental

I pop up in the strangest places. Like that episode where the Doctor keeps showing up in DVD Easter Eggs. You know the one.

This week, for example, you can hear my dulcet tones on the most recent episode of Canadian children's literature podcast Just One More Book!! Hosts Andrea and Mark have a regular feature in which listeners call in to talk about their favorite kid's books, and I made the cut. They actually invited several GeekDad contributors to drop some knowledge re: kiddie lit, so I imagine you'll be hearing from some more of us in the near future.

At the end of the ep. I do a spiel about one of X's favorite books, Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney. It's sort of a classic in our household, so I figured it was deserving of a little love.

Here's hoping anyone who finds their way to Hipster, please! via this endeavor doesn't spontaneously combust as a result of all my f-bombs and allusions to carnal acts. Ah, the double life of a legitimate family-friendly blogger and foulmouthed chronicler of nerdy culture!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Church hit me up yesterday with this link to "34 Geeky Pumpkin Faces" over at walyou. There are your requisite Yodas, Vaders, and Marios, but there are also some surprises. While certainly not the most technically impressive, the Space Invader and Death Star are two of my favorites, and the Optimus Prime is, of course, awe-inspiring.

My jack-o-lantern design for this year began as a Lovecraftian concept, but I feared a Cthulhu gourd was a bit beyond my skill level. Instead I've elected to carve one based on X's favorite TV show. So this time next week I should have some pics of either a Brobee or Muno pumpkin. In the meantime, feel free to share your own carved creations, as I'd love to see 'em.