Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nerd News in Brief

You know it's a good week when the geekiest music news is coming from well outside of our little community!

Personally, I love Danger Mouse's idea to release his next album as a blank CD-R. It's a big "fuck you" to EMI and a well-placed warning shot across the bow of a sinking industry. Plus, the novelty of it is nothing short of delicious.

The pay-what-you-want business model is still an unsure bet, but, by packaging the album's visual narrative in the commercial release, DM is making sure that folks get something for their money. In the end, I'll be interested to see how many folks shell out for the album simply as a show of solidarity.
  • Change is Good: Church wanted me to remind you that if you're gonna change, change into something awesome.
  • The Doctor is In: Also from Church comes a link to this amazing chiptune WhoMix. Complete with video.
  • Boldly Go: Wasn't the new Star Trek kick-ass? Apparently it was even remarkable enough to continue to inspire the voice of fandom. In very unlikely ways.
  • Tucks His T-shirt Into His Pants: MisterB has just released a song about none other than Nerdapalooza founder Hex Warrior. As you can imagine, it's pretty hilarious.
  • Insert Name Here: And speaking of Hex, I've been informed that the Nerdapalooza crew has set up a travel fund to help in-demand artists get down to Orlando for this year's festival. Interestingly enough, this fundraiser will consist of a raffle competition, the rewards of which include a dinner date for two at a local restaurant and ample geeky merchandise donated by supporting artists, groups and organizations. Raffle tickets cost $10 for your first chance and $5 for each additional ticket, and the drawing will be held, not surprisingly, at Nerdapalooza. Details are sketchy at present, but I'll be providing links to relevant info in the near future.
  • The Future Soon: The epic Jonathan Coulton concert experience can now be, uh, experienced by everyone thanks to his new CD/DVD combo release BEST. CONCERT. EVER. This bad boy is available for pre-sale right now, so head to JoCo's site for full details.
  • Where's Waldo?: The mystery of Steffo's disappearance – or, rather, the mystery of what the great blue fuck is going on with My Parents' Favorite Music – deepened last week at Game Music For All. There are still more questions than answers, but now I'm pretty sure that Steffen, via his time-travelling shenanigans, accidentally created The Adventures of Lolo. Also, he's his own grandpa.
  • New Game in Town: And speaking of music of the gamer persuasion, there's a new VGM remix site on the block. RemixSite is a place "for video game music synergy" where artists can share their work with the world and get valuable feedback from their fellow composers. Peep the new hotness.
  • The 1 and Only: And on the subject of new hotness, there are a metric ton of amazing new releases from the nerdy hip-hop meta-community. The first is from my FLA-based brother Epic-1. It's his long-awaited full-length simply entitled 1, and it's available as a physical CD, 320kbs MP3 and FLAC file downloads for $10, MP3 and FLAC downloads for $5 and 128kbs MP3s for a buck. Get on that shit!
  • He Got It: From the land down under comes The Ranger's new EP Evolution, a release that "kinda sums up [his] life over the last 10 years." And apparently the last decade has been simply fucking amazing. Musically-speaking, at least. Grab this one from RT ASAP.
  • The Language of the Snake: KABUTO THE PYTHON's Scrub Club release PARSELTONGUE is also fresh off the virtual press. His full-length features a few joints you've heard and a whole lot you haven't, but you can be goddamn sure that all of it is gold! Head over to your favorite nerdcore label to snag it.
  • Level Up: And lest we forget that your boy Random has also dropped his new freebie TeacherRapperHero, his first foray into the realm of the mixtape. Featuring Burg, ZeaLouS1 and tons of other top-shelf talent, it's more of Ran at his best. Hit up his spiffy new site for the DL link.
  • Alive and Zombified: Thanks to Luzid for passing on an email he received from Eventful stating that ZeaLouS1 has a new gig lined up this summer. On Friday, July 24, he'll be hitting the stage at The Jumping Turtle in San Marcos. Z1's been quieter than usual lately, so it's great to hear him once again stirring from his California crypt.
  • The Battle Rages On: Also on the horizon is the premiere of a new video from Uncle Monsterface. UMF will unveil the vid for "Mashed Potato vs. Vampire" at The Tank in NY on June 6! Of course the band will also be playing their other epic songs all live and stuff, so come for the video and stay for the sock puppets.
  • This Diminutive Robot Stores Information: Help MC Lars pick the next single from This Gigantic Robot Kills and win a free 1 gig USB memory stick. That looks like a robot! 'Cause Lars is cool like that.
  • Roots: Earlier this month, Lars popped up at the Musical Families blog to answer some questions about how his own mom and pop influenced his musical development. It's a great piece from a really fun blog, and I highly recommend you give it a look.
  • Beware Canadia: Jesse Dangerously was profiled last week in the Ottawa Citizen. And while Ottawa may not yet love him as much as his native Halifax, it looks like they are coming around.
  • Join the Fight: Chicago chip rockers I Fight Dragons are actively recruiting fans to help them spread their musical message… even though they aren't entirely certain what that entails. Still, it's a good cause and they're a great band, so sign up already!
  • My Neck of the Woods: Any of my regional brothers and sisters looking to get their opensource on should hit up next month's SouthEast LinuxFest in Clemson, SC. It is important to note that my bro int eighty of Dual Core will be rocking the after party. So guess who else will be there? Yep; me.
  • Mad Skillz: Taking us out is the very same int eighty from episode 513 of Revision3's tech super-show Hak5. Hackers and code monkeys will enjoy watching eighty extract Windows executables from packet captures, but the rest of us will simply skip to the 30:20 mark to hear him perform a preview track from Dual Core's forthcoming (and as yet unnamed) album. Technology is a beautiful thing.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 66: Lovely and Talented

The title of this episode comes from my recent introduction (on that other podcast) of Marian Call, though frankly I use the same idiom around here fairly regularly. It's become a well-worn broadcast meme in itself, and, to be honest, I reckon it's almost a little demeaning if you look at it critically.

I guess the difference is I actually mean it. Whether it's Marian or Switchblade Kittens or Zombies! Organize!!, I really do find their musical contributions exquisite (lovely) and their aptitude notable (talented).

Still, perhaps this simply serves to underscore the unique brand of misogyny that runs rampant in our subculture. Just as women are often marginalized in the mainstream, so do they receive a similar disservice within geekdom. Perhaps worst of all, these geek girls must also cope with the mock surprise associated with being a female adherent to the stereotypical male discipline of nerdery.

I talk a bit about this in this edition of the show, but mostly I just attempt spotlight the female voice – both literal and figuratively – in nerd music.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 66: Lovely and Talented (hosting provided by Antisoc) Size: 45.3 MB Running Time: 49:30

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – "Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)"
If Baddd Spellah was a woman, he'd be sassy dame!

Track 1: I Fight Dragons vs. Imogen Heap – "The Process"
Imogen Heap is, despite her Grammy nods and mainstream accolades, a supporter of nerdy endeavors. Don't believe me? Ask Pixelh8.

Z's 1st interlude: "Yet another mash-up, albeit with a totally different feel."
There are a lot of bootlegs in this ep, but I tried to incorporate examples that used female vocals in different ways.

Track 2: Danzig vs. Missy Elliot – "Wicked Missycat"
Unlike "The Process," which layers vocals, "Wicked Missycat" instead juxtaposes Elliot's rhymes over some melancholy metal. I find the results pleasing.

Track 3: Nursehella – "Keep It Real (Represent My Nuts)"
Sadly, Nursehella has a relatively meager back catalog, but, as scant as it may be, it's truly impressive.

Track 4: 1337 Geek Beat – "Hutzumi"
I haven't played track since episode 16, and oh how I've missed it!

Track 5: 8 Bit Weapon – "Closer (Bitpop Mix)"
I recently reviewed the previous 8 Bit Weapon full-length. As I recall, I said some really nice things. Those also apply to their new Electric High EP.

Track 6: Switchblade Kittens – "She Has a Rep"
Only the Kittens could get away with a concept album based on the works of Meg Cabot. Though the references are lost on me, the songs themselves are pop perfection.

Track 7: Lauren Fairweather – "I Want You to Whomp Me"
Wizard Rock is renowned for its female-friendly slant, and because of that I actively limited the amount of WRock in this episode. I didn't want my selections to be too predictable.

Track 8: K.Flay – "I Rap Nice (UM Stream mix)"
While certainly not nerdcore, K.Flay made her presence known to dorks everywhere via some stellar contributions to The Digital Gangster LP. Since that time I have played a lot of her work around the house, both for my own enjoyment and in the hopes that it will inspire my daughter to become a suburban rap queen!

Z's 2nd interlude: "Interspersed throughout that set you also heard snippets of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry."
Because of this ep's proximity to the release of the new Star Trek re-imagining, this seemed like a obvious choice.

Track 9: Wendy Carlos – "Two Part Invention in D Minor"
Thanks again to Krys for this suggestion. I think it fit perfectly!

Track 10: Little Red Car Wreck – "Static Cling"
LRCW's Motor Like a Mother was the original inspiration for this episode. Thanks, Doc!

Track 11: Zombies! Organize!! – "Crunk in the Mall"
My love of Z!O!! is well established. I find there fusion of nerdcore, art rock and minimalist synth arrangements intoxicating.

Track 12: Echo Slightly – "Echo Slightly"
This one was a last minute addition to the show. Captain Dan sent me a copy of their release Birds Fly South, and I have to say that it's some wonderful downtempo.

Track 13: Marian Call – "I'll Still Be a Geek"
Marian Call is an amazingly talented songwriter, and her voice is hauntingly beautiful. It's not exactly standard fare for RFH, but I hope y'all enjoy it.

Z's final interlude: "I think we should know better."
I am as guilty as anybody when it comes to playing into old gender stereotypes with regard to nerds. Still, I promise to work on it if you will.

Track 14: The Reborn Identity – "Ladykillers"
Ladyhawke? Not so nerdy, but I think there's some geek appeal to her work. Plus, her grocery list of medical ailments (everything from sever drug allergies to Asperger's) should make for a sympathetic case to frail dorks everywhere.

My pal Jason is fond of saying that one manifestation of nerd culture is a flagrant disregard for gender roles. But while it's true that geeky guys may reject traditionally macho endeavors, that doesn't somehow make us immune to sexism. Women are an important part of our culture, and until we can let go of this outdated notion that nerdery is a boys club, then we are just as narrow-minded as our one-time tormentors.

When the mainstream media is seemingly startled by the notion that there are female gamers, comic fans or geeky musicians, it's a little silly. When we on the inside react the same way, it's actually rather insulting.

Again, I know I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but I do think it's time we reexamined how we perceive the ladies in our midst. They are not oddities or conversation pieces; they are our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. And they are every bit as important to our culture as their male counterparts.