Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You Might Also Like...

Far be it from me to suggest that folks stop dropping kick-ass albums, but Christ-on-a-cracker, people, could you at least slow down?! I mean, 2009 has been positively packed with the new hotness! So much so, in fact, that it's been tough to keep up. I've had trouble finding the time to listen to all of these new releases, much less review 'em!

Instead, I've found myself relegated to giving these goddamn Reader's Digest condensed album reviews just to keep my head above the proverbial water.

But today, rather than rehash this familiar and restrictive format, I have instead elected to use what I like to call the "Amazon recommends" method. You see, in addition to giving you a little rundown of the following titles, I'll also talk up each new album by relating it to other releases of similar awesomtude… I mean awesomosity … I mean…. Fuck it, let's move on.

Dale Chase is one of those cats I discovered thanks to Twitter, which, as we all know, is my social network of choice. More specifically, I really got hipped to his stuff after the release of Absodefilutely's debut single "Coder Girl." For those familiar with that joint, the album very much follows suit. Dale's got a tightly metered flow and a genuinely intelligent voice that should speak to nerdcore fanboys and more traditional heads alike. Tracks like "That's So Meta" and "A Walk in the Park" inject a comparable level of smooth soul to the aforementioned "Coder Girl," and "Ganon's Revenge" is a gamer-friendly geek-out that should play well with the typical Hipster, please! reader.

If you're down with the smart, techy hip-hop of Dual Core or the silky-smooth delivery of otaku MC Maja, then you should surely give Dale a listen. The Absodefilutely EP retails for around 5 bones, so it's an easy recommendation based on both price and quality.

My affection for folksy UK game rockers Elfonso is well known. Sadly, as I long ago exhausted the meager song selection of their debut EP Tako wa Chikyi o Suko, I haven't gotten much of a chance to play them on the podcast of late. Thankfully, they've seen fit to remedy this with the release of their new self-titled album. Weighing in at a strong 11 tracks, only one of those being a re-tread from the previous EP, Elfonso is simple, sweet and charming while still managing to achieve a considerable level of unbridled geekitude. Songs like "Retirement from Hyrule" and "The Journey Here Was Long…" manage a palpable level of poignancy while remaining rooted in their respective in-game worlds, and "Parody Us" and "Sixteen Bit" reflect on things equally eloquently from the other side of the controller.

Existing in this odd space somewhere between The Megas and The Pogues, it's tough to compare Elfonso to any singular act. Still, if you're down with the more eclectic side of VGM – the rock opera that is The Protomen or the more classical styling of Select Start – then give Elfonso a try. This new album hasn't yet made international release, but I've been promised that its appearance on iTunes is shortly forthcoming.

Danny's Incredible 8-Bit Voyage
The unbridled originality of Elfonso is the perfect lead-in to this segment's final featured album, Danny's Incredible 8-Bit Voyage. Certainly not your typical work, this piece is an avant-garde musical adventure story wrapped in well-worn videogame tropes. Centered on the exploits of our titular man-child, it follows Danny's journey through a wondrous video game world, with some genuine character development along the way. This trippy, chippy epic is written and performed by songwriter/chip artist/mad genius Jay Tholen and skillfully narrated by Andres Williams, and it boasts alternating moments of traditional exposition and groundbreaking music to power the narrative. I could say more, but it's truly the kind of thing that needs to be experienced to be genuinely appreciated.

Fans of thematic videogame music and original chiptunes will find lots to love about the musical end Danny's Incredible 8-Bit Voyage, but just as inspired is the album's narrative arc. While it's easy to compare Jay's brand of chip music to the best that communities like 8bitcollective have to offer, this album should suit anyone who enjoys a good story and who understands that art can be high concept without being pretentious. Plus, this one's also a freebie, so definitely snag a copy.