Friday, November 07, 2008

Nerd News in Brief

Yes we did!

Okay, that's admittedly not the most original of sentiments by this time, but it still rings true.

Obama won. I'm pretty pleased with that.

My more conservative friends and family members? Not so much.

They seem to believe that his impending presidency will somehow trigger the downfall of the western world. Seriously.

Let's be honest here; we talk about the presidency being the highest office in the land, but it's not like the guy at the big desk wields the full power of the nation. There are checks and there are balances and, even if you have similarly leaning majorities in the House and Senate, our system is such that real change, whether good or bad, is slow going.

Will Obama magically make the world a better place by simple virtue of his election? Nope. Likewise, will he drag America and its beloved "traditional family values" – whatever the fuck that means – to hell in a plume of smoke and brimstone? I'm afraid not.

Let's just give the guy a chance, okay. What's that thing that right-wingers have been spouting for the last 8 year? Something about supporting your president whether you agree with him or not.

Yeah, maybe you could try and do that.

I, for one, am just tired of being scared. I realize that fear has become an integral part of our national identity, but I'm pretty much done with it. The world is a dangerous place, of course, and there are threats at every turn, but letting your prime motivator be fear – be it on a personal or national level – is never a good idea.
  • You Know the Rules: MTV Europe, you have been RickRolled. Yes, Rick Astley was voted the Best Act Ever. I, for one, am never gonna give him up.
  • Game(wave) On!: In podcasting news, my friends Anthony and MisterB – hosts of Letters vs. Numbers – sit in on the latest edition of the Gamewave Podcast. With regular co-host Joe in Japan for a year, there is a standing offer for guest hosts on this always amazing VGM 'cast. The line forms to the left.
  • Ooooooooooohhh… On the VDiP Tip: In a related story, there's a new edition of Vagina Deep in Podcast. What kind of craziness do Nina and Sanny unleash on us this time around? Wouldn't you like to know!
  • Around the Corner: Have you seen the video for funky49's new single "Milk & Doo Doo?" It features attractive ladies, laughable lyrics, and funky mugging for the camera. In a word: delightful!
  • It's-a Me!: Justin, of J-rockers Hidari, recently sent me a link to this lovingly crafted musical tribute to Super Mario World. It is by Louie Armstrong. Or not.
  • I'd Like to Thank the Academy: Word from Devo Spice himself is that Sudden Death's Fatal Error is being considered for a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy Album. As even being nominated to be nominated is an honor, please join me in preemptively congratulating him.
  • Front the Most: My friend and constant Twitter companion Snipeyhead made the dangerous trek into New Jersey this Tuesday to catch the MC Frontalot/YTCracker/MC Lars gig featuring Jersey's own Sudden Death. This historic show marked the last time Front will ever perform "Special Delivery," and Snipe got tons of great pictures.
  • Fully Unembarrassing: MC Frontalot received a favorable review from the Onion AV Club, saying of his new release Final Boss "To a non-English-speaker, it would sound like a completely legit hip-hop package."
  • Elevation: The Frontalot documentary Nerdcore Rising was likewise positively reviewed by The Nerdiest Kids, going so far as to give it "a 5/5, two thumbs up, and maybe a loud wookie roar." Truly everything is coming up Milhouse.
  • Nontraditional, But in a Good Way: The Grammar Club is Digital Freedom artist of the month for November! Sure, the touted biographical information is a little dated, but this does nothing to diminish the utter coolness of seeing the Club get some press.
  • Random Videos: Johnie Tidwell (of Cartoon Mogul) sent me links to a ton of new vids featuring our boy Random. The first is a cleaner version of the video for "Fly," and the others are a freestyle, "One," and "Raze the Bar" from a recent in-store that Ran did in Vegas. JT also let slip that he is currently talking with Maja about working up a new video, so we all have that to look forward to.
  • County House: Snake Eyes recently reworked his Crate Digger Deathmatch submission into a proper release dubbed Golden Country Greats. It's a really thematic and slickly produced collection of reworked country that certainly warrants your attention.
  • Round 2: The next time you find yourself taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the RT BBS, swing by the Game Music 4 All section of the forums to get the scoop on the next GM4A compilation. It's going to be a sequel to the Here Comes a New Challenger comp, so it's sure to boast a ton of great nerdcore/VGM collabs.
  • Nose-picking and Thatcherism: Taking us out this week is a new entry into Front's "Wallflowers" video contest. It was skillfully edited by my good friend Church and it features my son Li'l X. There be cuteness. Beware.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Gimme a Beat!

Okay, technically, you’d be giving my pal Beefy a beat, so I imagine that title is somewhat misleading.

The quandary is this: Mr. Thompson needs a beat for a song he’s written for an awesome compilation, and, as he so eloquently put it, his beats well has run dry. Would anyone care to help nerdcore’s foremost Whitesican by providing a little instrumental backing?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

3 Albums You Need. Right Now.

It's a wonderful time to be a nerd!

The last few days have seen three very high profile music releases, each in a distinctly geeky vein. Moreover, each is also what you might term "affordable."

Oh, and they fuckin' rock too. Though I guess that went without saying.

The first is another compilation from my friends at Game Music 4 All. The GM4A crew cranks out these discs at a clip that, honestly, puts my meager efforts to shame, and I'm glad to say that this release is even better than the superlative efforts that have come before it.

LOSER: A Sega Genesis Tribute celebrates the music of those 16-bit masterpieces that graced so many of our dens/bedrooms in a 39 track monolith of Grade-A VGM. It features some fantastic work from old favorites like Spheres of Chaos, Videogame Orchestra, Elfonso, This Place is Haunted, Doctor Octoroc, Temp Sound Solutions, and many more. Of course, the highlights are many, with my early favorites being the smooth Jazz of The Runaway Five in their live reinterpretation of "Casino Night" from Sonic The Hedgehog 2, 8-Bit Duane (of The Adventures of Duane and Brondo) belting out a chippy cover of "Billie Jean" from Moonwalker, and NESMetal's blistering take on "Idaten" from the Shinobi III soundtrack. But in the end it's The Red Wing's punked up cover of the "Wilderness" theme from Golden Axe and Big Head Mode's unlikely "Here’s Johnny (John Madden Football)" that take the cake. And you can have all these amazing selections for free!

Sure, I would've like to have heard some tracks from favorites licensed games like Shadowrun and The Pirates of Dark Water, but, all things considered, it's an amazing effort from 32 fascinating artists with only one drawback: a relative dearth of nerdcore. With only a handful of MCs – MisterB, MC Cheshire Grin, HipHopMcDougal, and the aforementioned Duane and Brando – it's a little light on the hip-hop. Thankfully, there's an easy solution.

Inspired by YTCracker's pivotal Nerdrap Entertainment System, Entity created the 8Bit Boys: a perfect marriage of contemporary rap and classic NES-era chiptunes. In a community quickly filling up with supergroups, the Boys manage to hold their own by boasting an all-star lineup comprised of YT, T.y.T., The Ranger, and Entity himself. Their long-awaited debut 8-Bit Diagrams proves itself a near-perfect example of the all-too frequent and, sadly, often miscalculated nerdcore/VGM crossover. For those with the intention to launch a similar gamer rap concept album, this title joins N.E.S. and Mega Ran as an example of the right way to proceed.

Classic 8-bit fare like the infectious hook from Bad Dudes (in the song of the same name) has never sounded better, but it's on more understated joints like "1 Life" and the title track that the listener can't help but really fall into 8-Bit Diagrams. And even atypical tracks like "Gangster Gamers," which looks forward to the literal console wars of the future, prove that the 8Bit Boys can bring ample aggression without losing their clever edge. Hell, even a song like "Controller Hog," which I didn't feel at first, easily grew on me on a second listen.

The album excels on many levels, but it's easily at its best when it truly connects gaming nostalgia with sharp but relatable lyricism. "8-Bit Blisters," which aptly displays T.y.T.'s ever-improving and always distinct flow, is an easy high point that describes the folly of the non-ergonomic controllers of yore. "Faulty Controller" does the same by recalling the great lengths we sometimes had to go to keep our old cartridge-based systems functional, and tosses in an almost System of a Down-style chorus that both surprises and delights.

There's a 10-track freebie version of this album floating around that you simply must check-out, and I'd go so far as to say that dropping 10 bucks on the full version would be a wise investment.

And for those of you not yet content with the recent volley of other high-profile YTCRacker collaborations, the YT/MC Lars project The Digital Gangster LP is currently available for download. Released under the pay-what-you-like model, this album can be purchased for as little as $1, and uses a sliding scale of awesome for increments thereafter. Ten bucks nets you high quality .wavs, and $15 gets you the physical CD to boot. Thirty dollars scores you the disc, downloads, and a t-shirt; $50 bumps that up to three shirts; and $100 lands you the entire commercial catalog from both artists. Oh, and for $1200 they'll perform the LP live in your house.

Yes, that's a real offer.

The only thing more interesting than the manner in which the album is sold is its actual contents, as it's already proven itself a shoo-in for one of my top albums of 2008. From the opening bars of "We Have Arrived" to the closing strains of "Paul is Dead," The Digital Gangster LP represents what could accurately be described as the finest output thus far from both artists. It's fun, topical, and loaded with special guests like Beefy, int eighty, Schaffer the Darklord, and ZeaLouS1. It also formally introduced me to Oakland area rapper K.Flay, who punctuates some of the album's most amazing material.

But perhaps more important than its superlative cast of players and inspiring musical selections is the simple fact that The Digital Gangster LP is a perfectly constructed album; it starts gingerly enough, builds to and rolling boil, and then cools itself down without ever losing (or boring) the listener.

"Manifest Destiny," which I'm sure you've already checked out, serves as a perfect example of the project's straight-forward charms, but it's the tracks of the album's robust middle third that make this a must-own. The smoothed out "Nerdcore Players," which is the geeky lover's anthem the genre's been missing, and it's follow-up "Guinevere," in which YTCracker raps with an accent, represent the epitome of its subtle strengths.

The powerful "911 AM (Rudy Giuliani)" featuring the incomparable Doctor Popular, however, is the single to beat. An outright damnation of American fear-culture, it seems all the more poignant after last night's political housecleaning.

Album of the Year? Probably. Song of the Year? Definitely.

In short: Buy The Digital Gangster LP now. Or the terrorists win.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Week in Swag

We all have a lot of shit on our minds today. Specifically election shit.

There' just no changing that. But at least I can get my mind off the forthcoming results by showing off some of my latest acquisitions. Behold.

Dan of Nerdcore For Life was nice enough to hit me up with this t-shirt for submitting one of the winning entries into his recent sticker contest, and Dan Plus Add sent me this personalized copy of his latest release Matters of Great Importance all the way from t'other side of the pond. The other t-shirt is one of the limited run of beige Protoman shirts that Michigan metal mavens Year 200X are selling to celebrate the release of their new album We Are Error, and it was so fucking cool that I did the unthinable; I actually paid for it!!! Tim did hook me up with a free copy of the album, though, and you'll be hearing a lot of it on upcoming editions of the podcast.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 55: Z. for Vendetta

Asking who wants to be president at this point in our nation's history is akin to saying "Alright, folks, the Titanic needs a new captain. Any takers?"

And yet still we have no shortage of folks vying for the post. The allure of the big desk is that strong.

Yes, this is an Election Day episode. Therefore the songs are of a political nature. This will turn some of you off, but such is the nature of the beast.

I can all but guarantee that you won't agree with the content within some of these tracks. You may find the ideas espoused and the positions assumed by the featured artists to be objectionable, incendiary, or just plain ridiculous.

Consequently, you might just find them amusing.

We walk a thin line.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 55: Z. for Vendetta [hosting provided by Antisocial] Size: 34.6 MB Running Time: 50:27

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – "Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)"
Spellah/Thompson '08!

Track 1: V for Vendetta dialog / Uncle Monsterface – "Derockracy"
"It's totally wicked hard to run our nation."

Z's 1st interlude: "Remember, remember the 4th of November."
How else was I gonna start this ep?

Track 2: MC Frontalot – "Black Box (feat. Random)"
It's not everyday you come across a nerdcore track about voting scandal.

Track 3: Jonathan Coulton – "The Presidents"
This is the type of song that the magic of Wikipedia affords!

Track 4: Category – "Adventures in Paranoia"
Cat fulfils the vital role of this episode's raving conspiracy hound. It's a post he takes very seriously.

Track 5: V for Vendetta dialog / Lemon Demon – "123456 Pokemon"
"Don’t worry. Bill Murray."

Track 6: AJP Productions – "Bomb Iran (Ron Paul 2008 Mix)"
Poor Ron Paul.

Track 7: John Brown – "Sarah Palin (I Wanna Lay Pipe)"
For all of you Palin lovers out there, here's some advice: go to the supermarket on a weekday afternoon. Road-worn 40-something ex-beauty queens as far as the eye can see.

Track 8: Rhett and Link – "Economy Bailout Song"
Is "Internet comedian" a real job?

Z's 2nd interlude: "Maybe that’s just my preference talking."
Part of me really expected a McCain/Palin song from Former Fat Boys.

Track 9: Obamatat – "We Can not Walk Alone"
Should any diehard Obama supporters be in the market for some free music, check out this mixtape.

Track 10: MC Lars and YTCracker – "Manifest Destiny"
As I mentioned previously, The Digital Gangster LP is the shit.

Track 11: Zombies! Organize!! – "Zombie Manifesto"
This marks the third consecutive episode to prominently feature Z!O!! Just thought I'd point that out.

Track 12: V for Vendetta dialog / Frazier Chorus – "Anarchy in the UK"
Yes, Tim Freeman is Martin Freeman's brother. I reckon that's exactly the type of quasi-geeky trivia that you turn to RFH for.

Z's final interlude: "Mostly, I just support the power of thought, the power of words."
Of course it's words that got us into this mess, as it seems like we no longer concern ourselves with who is right and who is wrong: only with who can express his or her blustery indignation the loudest.

Track 13: Rx – "Imagine/Walk on the Wild Side"
I am a card carrying member of The Party Party.

Just to be clear, I do not recommend blowing up the Houses of Parliament. Given all the Fawkes-ery of this edition, I just figured that needed to be said.

Keen ears may notice that this episode sounds a bit different than those that came before. This is because I tried a little experiment this time around. This ep. is encoded at 96 kbps as opposed to my regular 128.

Honestly, I find the sound quality to be noticeably shittier, but let me know what you think. While I have every intention of returning to the original bitrate with episode 56, if you guys don't notice a difference I may reconsider.