Friday, April 03, 2009

Nerd News in Brief

The Internet has fostered many changes in the life of contemporary man, but perhaps none as stark as his observance of April Fools' Day. Let's face it; that shit was a lot less complicated when we only had to worry about crank calls and TPed lawns.

Interestingly, Church pointed out that a couple of this year's most industrious pranks were perpetrated before April 1st.

Oh, Internet, you so crazy!
  • An Odd Brand of Legitimacy: Also from Church comes news that Wizard Rock is now an official subject heading in the Library of Congress. A pair of dedicated librarians were able to navigate the all-too treacherous red tape to have the term officially adopted. Of course, probably the coolest part of this is realization that there are actually WRock CDs cataloged in the Library of Congress!
  • The Same Coin: Also on the WRock tip comes this post from the 'Pedia about the rivalry/bleed-over between Wizard Rock and Twilight Rock. Give it a read to discover the unlikely vampire-wizard collaboration that is this year's AccioCon.
  • What's Your Anti-Nerd?: You know what I'm sick of? The nerd vs. geek debate. Still, I am not so sick of it as to let this link pass by. The folks at io9 want to know if it's time to retire the word "nerd." Feel free to resume your regularly scheduled semantic nitpicking over there.
  • The Roster: Arguably the biggest news in nerdy music circles this week was Hex's announcement of the first round of acts to be featured at this year's Nerdapalooza. The list includes festival alumni Schaffer the Darklord, Krondor Krew, mCRT, Rocket Propelled Geeks, and marc with a c, as well as newcomer My Parents' Favorite Music. Rock!
  • Case in Point: And since I stole that closing interjection from my pal Glenn Case, let me point out that he's recently launched a new podcast. Case No Point is 24 minutes of musical awesomeness that occurs at random intervals. Hit up the show's site for an episode list and the all-important RSS feed.
  • Dope Rhymes for Smart People: You should also peep the new project from my Aussie brother The Ranger, who has assembled an amazingly skilled cabal of nerdy MCs under the banner Nerdy Rotten Scoundrels. The site exists to "showcase a stable of underground hiphop artists, some who identify themselves as part of the Nerdcore genre and some who do not, but all producing quality music." The site will be updated with weekly playlists and tons of free downloads, so check back often.
  • Psssssssssst!: Did you know that volume 3 of Game Music 4 All's Hey! Listen! Monthly mixtape project dropped last week? Did you know it is fucking awesome? See for yourself.
  • Gameboys! Music! Interesting Hair!: Thanks got out to Zen Albatross for letting me know that the playlist from WFMU's recent chiptune event Solar Bits on the River is now available for download. Explore the chippy goodness.
  • Classically Trained: You can also score some live audio from the University of Maryland's Gamer Symphony Orchestra via their site. Seriously, dude, you kind of need to class up that tired-ass iTunes playlist of yours anyway.
  • Slayer!: And rounding out this triad of live game music, you can hear I Fight Dragons' semi-acoustic set from their recent Live in Studio 11 show here. They are unplugged… and yet still plugged in.
  • Guitar tab is not Punk Rock: MC Lars has assembled a collection of guitar tabs for a number of his songs. He is sharing them freely via his site, as Lars is always about sharing things freely.
  • Gruesome Twosome: Lars is also great about freely sharing information. (See what I did there?) He even let me know that he and fellow MC Jesse Dangerously have recently begun work on their new album. In fact, they've already seen to the important task of "picking beats and stuff." If you loved the two-pronged approach of The Digital Gangster LP – and I know you did – then this one will surely not disappoint.
  • Touching is Good: This weekend I will finally receive my new DSi, and to that end I have already had to order a replacement flash cart. If you too are rocking the homebrew, Doc Pop has a suggestion for you; the DS Kama Sutra.
  • The Same in French: Canadian hip-hopper the Wordburglar has dropped a new pair of videos at YouTube. The first is for the posse cut "We Have Come for Your Children" featuring More or Les, Ghettosocks and several other high-octane contributors. The second is a live version of "Yo Canada" from CBC Radio's GO, which, being that I am a wannabe Canadian, will close out this week's NNIB. With true patriot love.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Brilliant Gameologists Podswap Bonus Sode 11: Clip Show 01

There comes a time in a man's life when he must step back and take stock of where he is, where he has come from and where he is to go. This is such a time.

Radio Free Hipster episode 64 is a look back at some of my favorite tracks from previous podcasts, but it is also a restatement of my core purpose – to promote nerdy culture through music – as well as a slightly off-kilter primer for the kinds of artists the show exists to support.

Essentially, this edition again explores nerd music as I define it: by content, intent and origin. Of course, I don't exactly go about it the easy way. So you won't hear any "Nerdcore Rising," any "Fett's Vette" or any "Skullcrusher Mountain." Instead, I elected to ramp up the difficulty number by limiting myself to the kinds of songs you won't likely hear anywhere else. But it's okay; I have a +10 to podcast.

Your quandary, my friends, is where to find this delightful retrospective. For, you see, it ain't here.

In honor of April Fools' Day the Brilliant Gameologists and I have podswapped, meaning that to hear my show you must explore their site (and vice versa). But this is a good thing.

You see, the BGs create one of my very favorite podcasts, and I think you'll like it too. Head over there to snag RFH 64, but be sure to check their stuff out as well. You won't be disappointed.

While there are anime nerds and Trek nerds and computer nerds, any geek worth his salt has surely served a season as the devotee of at least one board, card or roleplaying game. Gaming is very much at the core of the nerdy experience, and no type of gaming is more unabashedly social or more blissfully open-ended than the tabletop experience. It is a tie that binds. 

The BGs celebrate such gaming in all its forms, but the show is seldom explicitly instructional. More often, they simply invite you into their own private chat session wherein they dispense humor and knowledge like so much honeyed mead.

Whether you are an avid boardgamer, a backslider who has recently returned to the fold or even an RPG virgin, Brilliant Gameologists will surely prove a valuable tool.

With that in mind, please enjoy the following clip show. It will give you an idea of what kinds of gaming-related (and distinctly non-game-related) issues the series covers, as well as shed some light on the delightfully profane way in which Zeke, Meg, and Josh do their thing.

Trust me; it's a keeper.

Download Brilliant Gameologists Podswap Bonus Sode: Clip Show 01 Size: 13 MB Running Time: 18:57

EDIT: And don't forget to subscribe to their feed! They will love you long time.

EDIT AGAIN: Because you demanded it (Matt!) here’s the track list from RFH 64:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – "Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)"
For those keeping score at home, I've been rocking this bad boys since RFH episode 15.

Track 1: MC Frontalot – "Gonna be Your Man
Originally included in RFH episode 10.

Z's 1st interlude: "I tend to cast a wide net."
The reason I tend to have such a loose definition for what constitutes nerdy music is that our culture is amazingly malleable. Nerds, despite the often narrow constraints of the outside world, are delightfully varied.

Track 2: Optimus Rhyme – "Train in Vain (Live)"
Originally included in RFH episode 6, and available free on the Nerdcore Under Cover compilation.

Track 3: The Fine Print – "Strawberry Jam" 
Originally included in RFH episode 29.

Track 4: Totally Radd!! – "Shark Attack Day Camp"
Originally included in RFH episode 12.

Track 5: Cheapy D – "Ass & Tetris"
Originally included in RFH episode 30.

Track 6: Southside – "Vibrate"
Originally included in RFH episode 52.

Track 7: The Sprites – "George Romero"
Originally included in RFH episode 32.

Track 8: The Weasel King – "Luna"
Originally included in RFH episode 40, and available free on the Old Nerdy Bastard compilation.

Z's 2nd interlude: "My favorite songs are often those that mix a lot of these elements together."
It's one thing for a song to be nerdy because it's created by nerds or because it references cultural touchstones or even because it employs a tech-heavy means of creation, but it's quite another thing for a song to be nerdy for all those reasons.

Track 10: e. gibby and slackmaster d – "10 year Old (Lullaby Dub)"
Originally included in RFH episode 33.

Track 11: Harry and the Potters – "Blood of Prince"
Originally included in RFH episode 48.

Track 12: Computerization – "1.14me"
Originally included in RFH episode 45.

Track 13: Jonathan Coulton – "First of May"
Originally included in RFH episode 43.

Track 14: Elsonso – "The Geomancer"
Originally included in RFH episode 37.

Track 15: The Grammar Club – "Balloon Flight"
Also originally included in RFH episode 37.

Z's final interlude: "A look at the cultural manifestation of nerdy music from the proverbial trenches."
Which are much tidier than the actual trenches.

Track 16: Jay-Zeezer – "Bonnie and Clyde and El Scorcho"
Originally included in RFH episode 1.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hey Zealousy

Most days my penchant for checking my various inboxes first thing in the morning is a veritable gateway to mediocrity:

Spam. Spam. Facebook message. Email from a PR lackey that hasn't even read my blog about "a hot new band" I'll "surely love." Spam. Play Asia affiliate report that shows I've earned absolutely no money. You get the idea.

This morning, however, I received a most pleasant surprise.

ZEAL, an Australian indie-pop songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, hit me up with some information regarding a track he had made using a game console. The strange part is the console in question was a PS2.

ZEAL's found a handy exploit that allows him to sample directly into MTV Music Generator 2 using nothing but a Singstar microphone. Though the USB sampling kits originally intended for use with the game are hard to come by, the title handily mistakes the mic for its own tech. One can then manipulate the imported sounds via Music Generator's sequencer.

There's a small, dedicated group of artists already making music with this game, but how many of you have a well-worn PS2 and a Singstar mic array in your collection? As used copies of this title are both easily available and laughably affordable, this could open up some interesting creative avenues.

Peep the video below for ZEAL's sampling primer, and then check out his site for step-by-step instructions and a snazzy ringtone crafted from his demo project.

Oh, MTV, you may redeem yourself yet!