Friday, June 05, 2009

Nerd News in Brief

Believe it or not, I actually managed to miss every bit of this week’s live E3 coverage. I’m not even sure how it happened. I guess between sick kids, workplace content filters and satellite reception problems I was amidst the proverbial perfect storm.

But I still had Twitter.

Thanks to my tweeps I managed to get all my E3 news kind of live, more-or-less as it happened. In predigested chunks. Not unlike a baby bird.

My final verdict about the big three’s performance at this year’s expo was ultimately mixed. Everyone managed to speak directly to me as a core consumer with Nintendo talking up new installments of Metroid and Golden Sun, Sony finally showing some support for the PSP (although the current design of the PSP Go! is, as they say, ass) and Microsoft integrating some more new, if novel, functionality to the dashboard. Unfortunately, these titans of industry also disappointed me with talk of "innovative controllers" that amount to little more than ill-conceived novelties.

Seriously, guys, we all know that Wii Fit sold a shit-ton of copies, but let’s not beat that horse any further, okay?
  • Original Gamer: While I can’t imagine any of you aren’t already avid readers of The Escapist, allow me to point you toward Nathan Meunier’s excellent piece on nerdcore in the most recent edition. It’s a fairly robust exploration of the gamer element in geeky music, and quite an enjoyable read to boot.
  • Interview with Monsterface = Interface?: My friends from Uncle Monsterface stopped by for a sit-down on the virtual couch on this week’s edition of GeekDad HipTrax, and therein managed to drop some knowledge. Said knowledge concerns a new EP they’re working on. Isn’t that exciting?!
  • Dracula Meets Mr. Potato Head: NYC-area nerds are again encouraged to catch that very same Uncle Monsterface’s performance tomorrow night at the Tank. The band will be unveiling their new video/stage production of This is An Adventure’s "Mashed Potato vs. Vampire." There will be blood. There will be butter. It will be epic.
  • Hot Topic is Not Hip-Hop: A bit further down the line, June 12th to be exact, Tampa- area nerdcore adherents are encouraged to catch funky49, MC Wreckshin and Krondor Krew as they perform live at the Hot Topic in University Mall. Professor Oak is on the flyer, but I don’t know if he’ll be in attendance.
  • Sam Francisco: Have you tired of Elvish? Has Klingon left you cold? Then why not learn Tenctonese? Seriously, that space ship is gonna crash in the desert any day now!
  • LOLmageddon: Jason of Geek Studies would like to remind you that WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE! Thanks a lot, Anonymous! (Totally cribbed that title from Church, by the way.)
  • Quant-um Leap: And while some nerds are intent on destroying the Earth, Church points out that others are actively working to save the economy. Embrace the power of maths!
  • Dungeons, Dragons and You: Thanks to a fellow GeekDad, I’ve been informed that Wizards of the Coast is looking for "some really solid B&W artists - line art only - no grayscale. Send samples to" Get on that shit, artsy-types!
  • Art for Art’s Sake: If you enjoyed the newly revealed premiere edition of the Hipster-Free Singles Club, and we sincerely hope you did, perhaps you might also like a look into the design process for the project’s cover. Dave the Knave takes you from brainstorming to the final product in this handy post.
  • Goes to 11: And speaking of new singles, comedy rockers Spinal Tap have a new track free for the taking. You want "Saucy Jack." You need "Saucy Jack."
  • Gold Teef: Thanks to the kindness of Quartz Relic and Thugmasta J, I received a pre-release copy of Magitek's new EP Odd Entities earlier this week. This 9-track downloadable will be made available this very weekend, so use the next few hours to prepare for the magic. And also the technology. And also the awesome.
  • Nameless: Doctor Octoroc is still looking for a name for his new collection of 80s/90s TV themes and cartoon music. Tweet him a title that properly encapsulates the concept of his juxtaposition of video games and television and get a free copy of album!
  • The Sum of Its Parts: Glenn Case has been making the recording of his new album Throw Money an utterly transparent affair by passing updates to his fans via Twitter as each individual song track is recorded. You can check out the components of his re-done version of the classic "Pencil Me In" at his site, but be sure to follow him to stay abreast of new developments as they happen.
  • Role 1 Chromatic for Damage: My pal Nate recently turned me on to these amazing 12-sided dice with musical notes on 'em. It’s a die! It’s a scale! It’s an ingenious way to randomize songwriting!
  • Let the Beat Drop: VGM composer zircon is currently offering his new vintage drum library Groove Bias at a special $10 discount. Plus, for every copy sold, Impact Soundworks will donate an additional $10 to our friends at OverClocked ReMix. Hit up this OCR thread for further info and purchase links.
  • Fuck Wal-Mart!: And speaking of fine purchase opportunities, you can now purchase 8 Bit Weapon’s newest EP Electric High from This serves as just one more example of why I love Target.
  • Tag Team: We'll close out this week with an amazing performance vid from aforementioned chiptune duo extraordinaire 8 Bit Weapon and ComputeHer. It's a live rendition of their new track "Fallout in the Wasteland" from the aforementioned E3 2009.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Hipster-Free Singles Club Vol. 1

I often like to think of myself as walking a line between classicist and modernist. I try and pattern my writing in the style of the archetypal fanzine – like Legs McNeil's Punk, although if SPACE wants to cast a parallel with the far more recognized/reviled Lester Bangs I ain't gonna stop 'em – but I do so with the implicit caveat that I am at best an "Internet journalist" and at worst a digitally-insulated pretender. Likewise, I pattern my podcast after the mixtapes of my youth and the pirate radio that has always been, for me at least, only a sort of divine myth, a mere slip of enlightened hearsay. But this I also do through a distinctly digital, undeniable contemporary avenue.

This is simply to say that the old ways, which we as nerds often bypass, are not all purely passé. In spirit if not execution, we are all moving forward in the footprints of those who came before.

A fitting example of a great idea that has fallen out of favor is the single, those surgically precise excerpts from new albums that were once a staple of that grand and toothy dinosaur we call the recording industry. Back in the day these releases – in the form of 45s, CDs or even the dreaded "cassingle" – were the driving force of popular music. But, much like print media and paying for pornography, the very existence of the Internet has all but killed this once noble creature. In an era where anyone can preview an album and purchase just the songs they like for a buck a pop, this inexpensive refuge of the youthful music lover of days gone by has become a clearly antiquated concept.

Or has it?

With the wealth of entertainment options available via your broadband connection, the bulk of it free, do you ever feel a tad overwhelmed? With so many songs by so very many artists a mere click away, are you ever shocked to find your library flooded with more new content than you could possibly digest? And wouldn't it be nice if someone could point you toward a single track by a single group that stands out as one of their best and most indicative pieces? Better still, if it were the artists themselves doing the pointing?

The time has come, my friends, for us to resurrect the single. And, moreover, to claim it as our own.

With a nod to this idea of putting novel twists on the old ways, I introduce a new project. It is called the Hipster-Free Singles Club, and it is, just as the title implies, an ongoing collection of virtual singles from new and upcoming albums released across various (geeky) musical strata. But unlike the earliest singles, those tiny slips of vinyl that still enchant me so, the HFSC will not serve to simply promote a solitary artist or project. Instead it will spotlight exemplary work from a number of acts.

Consider it a split, double a-side single that highlights new work from some of the best musicians our meta-community has to offer. Plus an exclusive remix – the b-side – from a talented producer that blends the two together. All wrapped up in a charming package provided by a gifted visual artist.

Oh, and available for free!

This first volume splotlights Hidari, a J-rock outfit that blends guitars and warm vocals with skillful, chirpy keys, and their good-natured nemesis, Chicago's own titanic chip-poppers I Fight Dragons. Lead singles from their new releases – Wine and Chocolate and Cool is Just a Number, respectively – are supplemented by a mash-up from my Canadian brother Snake Eyes, and all of this is given a proper face by Web comic artist Dave "The Knave" White, whose images have perfectly captured the eclectic spirit of the project.

I honestly couldn't be prouder of the way this volume came together, and I hope to make this a recurring project that pops up every 3 or 4 months to highlight more of the amazing work being done in our midst. So take a listen, see what piques your interest, and follow up at your leisure. This four-headed beast is something that can't easily exist in the real world, but on the Web, where we reign supreme, it is a viable option.

Unleash its power below, and take your iTunes back. One song at a time.

Download Hipster-Free Singles Club Vol. 1: East Meets West

In its entirety (RAR format)

Single file downloads:

Front Cover by Dave "The Knave" White

Back Cover by Dave "The Knave" White

Printable CD Cover by Dave "The Knave" White

Track 1: Hidari – "ChocolaTommy"

Track 2: I Fight Dragons – "The Faster the Treadmill..."

Track 3: Snake Eyes – "Chocolate Treadmill"

Playlist File

Liner Notes