Thursday, February 05, 2009

Nerd News in Brief

Lux Interior died yesterday. I don’t imagine that means anything to many of you, but it comes as a bit of a shock to me. Lux, you see, was the frontman of psychobilly pioneers The Cramps. Founded with his wife, Poison Ivy, in the punk rock heyday of the 1970s, The Cramps combined sexuality, cheesy horror, and old school rhythm and blues to create a musical style that was as much shtick as substance. They never truly managed to crack the mainstream, and I’d argue they were all the better for it.

Whenever I think about nerdy music, whether it be VGM or nerdcore or what have you, I invariably link it with bands like The Cramps. Certainly not stylistically, of course, but conceptually, spiritually. The Cramps are one of a veritable myriad of examples of artists who managed to endure outside the norm. Moreover, their impeccable style and undeniable attitude helped to shape the music that came in their wake.

So the next time you wonder how mc chris manages to maintain a career without the aid of a label or radio airplay, or how Harry and the Potters keep on keeping on even as Wizard Rock is branded a dying concept by detractors after the final book’s release, think about The Cramps. Think about Lux. Still prowling the stage like some vinyl-clad nightmare. In his sixties.
  • Post-Punk Laptop Rap Defined: MC Lars’s new epic THIS GIGANTIC ROBOT KILLS is now available for pre-order from Oglio. In addition to receiving the album the day it drops, you'll also score both a free signed TGRK poster and a bonus Wesley Willis poster (in honor of the groundbreaking artist to whom the album is dedicated). With special guests including Weird Al Yankovic, The Aquabats, The Donnas, Nerf Herder, MC Frontalot, YTCracker, Jesse Dangerously, and K.Flay this album is sure to be a punk rock/geeky hip-hop extravaganza for the ages. 
  • Classically Trained: On the subject of albums, Ant has just hipped me to the fact that Florida VGM outfit Select Start have put their self-titled release up for free download via their site. Grab it now and instantly class up your music collection. I'm not kidding; download it now.
  • Psssst!: I have it on good authority that the new solo album from geek rock superman, chiptune maven, Grammar Club founder, and all around dashing lad Shael Riley is being produced by none other than Jake "virt" Kaufman. For those keeping score at home, this essentially guarantees that the project will be double-awesome
  • For the Cause: funky49 recently announced that his forthcoming EP will be specifically geared toward promoting Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry. It boasts tracks about both the "Body Worlds" exhibit and their IMAX theater, and lyrical samples of both are available for your perusal. 
  • Nerds as Far as the Eye Can See: Are you going to New York Comic-Con this weekend? So is MC Frontalot. You can even meet him at the Dumbrella booth (#1856), where, one can only assume, he’ll be masquerading as a webcomic artist.
  • Post Nerdapalooza Depression Relapse: My pal Hex has recently compiled some of his favorite pics from last summer’s Nerdapalooza festival into a fancy slide show. It features robots, zombies, pirates, ninjas, and me... slightly drunk and wholly terrified as I address the crowd.
  • Synchronicity: And speaking of Nerdapalooza, Church passed on this link to the blog of nerdtastic podcast Geektroika. Apparently Mattie discovered ‘Palooza via Hex’s new OpenZine interface. I love it when a plan comes together.
  • Live From and Undisclosed Location: High-C, of original Rhyme Torrents fame, recently popped up in the strangest of places. Namely AmigaWeb. Turns out High-C is an Amiga enthusiast, and he granted the site a rare interview. Inquiries regarding the goat in question can be directed at High-C c/o Rhyme Torrents. 
  • Erised: Paul DeGeorge, one half of Harry and the Potters, is auctioning off a one-of-a –kind copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with special commentary and notes written in the margins. It also features contributions from Melissa Anelli of the Leaky Cauldron, Frankie Franco III of the Pottercast, and, of course, Joe DeGeorge. Proceeds will, in typical WRock fashion, benefit First Book. Bid now!
  • She’s got Jayne by Her Side: Marian Call has a number of shows lined up in the coming weeks in both her native Alaska and the great state of Washington. They are as follows: Thursday Feb. 12th @ 5:30pm / The Anchor in Anchorage, AK; Saturday Feb. 14th @ 6pm or 8pm / The Tap Root Cafe in Anchorage, AK; Monday Feb. 16th @ 7pm / The Tap Root Cafe in Anchorage, AK; Saturday Feb. 28th @ 8pm / The Mandolin Cafe in Tacoma, WA; Friday Mar. 6th @ 8pm / House Concert in Seattle, WA; and Saturday Mar. 28th @ 8pm / Wayward Coffeehouse in Seattle, WA (this one being particularly Browncoat-friendly.) Check Marian’s site for full details.
  • Mourning the Fallen: At long last, Charlie and the rest of the crew from Mojo Tooth have released the third episode of tabletop-centric web sitcom Dice Jockies. And for the record, I’ve been told the jazz singer was a bit of a diva.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

8-Bit is Enough

Hot off the (virtual) press comes a brand new release from the Blue Bomber himself, Mega Ran 9. Inspired by the highly successful retro sequel and licensed by the fine folks at Capcom, this project is the direct successor to Random's fan-favorite 2007 concept album Mega Ran. And just like it's ascendant it's available for free download.

Of course, if you want the full story of Ran's latest 8-bit exploits you'll wanna pony up for the commercial release next month. Therein you'll hear an additional 3 tracks not available in the freebie version.

But in the meantime take a moment and cop the new hotness. Give it a listen, and share your thoughts with Random and your fellow fans at Ran's official message board.

It's an excellent way to remind yourself that true hip-hop can be as nerdy as it wants to be.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Secret of Geno's Maze

In case you missed it over the weekend, my pal Anthony (AKA: genoboost) from Game Music 4 All released the first of his free monthly downloadable VGM EPs. Hey! Listen! Volume 1 really sets the bar high for the other 11 installments of the series by taking a stripped down approach to geeky mixtapes.

Rather than spend months pouring over dozens of included submissions and trying to coordinate the release of another massive collection – which I can attest is an incredible pain in the ass – Ant is dropping these tracks 5 at a time.

This first mixtape opens with the trippy electro-glitch "woodman + bubbleman" by seal of quality before transitioning into "Take My Hand, Take My Heart," a mellow and romantic instrumental by Lumine Hall. It then kicks the energy back up with ChipTots' Spanish-language rocker "Galeno," a personal favorite, and the punky "Escape Pod" by Alex Atchley. Its final track, "Mega Man Master Spark Mandrill," is an amazing piece of VGM from Tanuki Suit Riot that incorporates driving guitars and bright horns in equal measure, thus ably wrapping up the project's first chapter.

Even the EP's cover art, a piece called "Haiku" by Sasha Palacio, serves as to add to the overall experience and make this mixtape an example of the mythical rock 'n' roll concept all killer, no filler. Should you be interested in contributing to this continuing series, rather as a musical or visual artist, hit Ant up for details, as I'm sure you're interest will be most appreciated.

And if that doesn't slake your thirst for videogame music, be sure to check out Ant's first article at game culture site The Start Screen. Also entitled "Hey! Listen!," this new feature expands on his mission to spotlight bands who are inspired by videogames. The inaugural edition features Brazilian game rockers 8 Bit Instrumental, whose eclecticism is only matched by their formidable talent.

Check out both and spread the word. And don't forget to peep Anthony's own personal blog; it's the only place you can get the scoop on these and the other exciting ventures he'll be undertaking in the coming year well before they make it out for mass consumption.