Thursday, April 22, 2010

Book It!

Apparently it is shameless plug week here at Hipster, please! But then again, when is it not shameless plug week around here?

I plug things. Shamelessly. It is my only skill.

Please humor me whilst I ply my trade.

As those who follow the happenings over at my other primary project, the Wired GeekDad blog, already know, our fearless editor Ken Denmead has recently written a book. This book is slated for release early next month – May 4th, to be exact – but it's already available for something you kids call "pre-order."

Which involves ordering an item. Preemptively.

Essentially, it's a lengthy kid-centered project book with a nerdy slant, so if you have children of your own and are looking for some cool activities to bust out during the summer doldrums it may be advantageous to snag a copy. The current Amazon price is under $12, so it's not like a huge investment or anything.

Give the product page the once-over and peep its recent write-up in Wired proper to see if it's for you.

Oh, and if you're over there pre-ordering stuff anyway, you might also wanna peep this retro "red box" edition of the Dungeons & Dragons Essential Starter Set.

I never tire of helping you spend your money!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Under 18 Parsecs

It's Parsec Awards nomination season again, folks, and for the second year in a row the Parsec steering committee has elected to include a category for Best Speculative Fiction Music Podcast. This award exists to recognize excellence in podcasts "where original music with a speculative fiction theme is presented."

You may remember that last year I was not only nominated for this award, but made it all the way to the final selection process. Where I was unceremoniously crushed beneath the heel of the comedy/music juggernaut that is the mighty FuMP.

So yeah, I lost, but it was a bit of a boost for both the show and me, your humble host, to be recognized as a standout amongst my peers.

I'm honestly not sure what my chances are this year, but, should you feel inclined to nominate Radio Free Hipster, I would be most grateful.

Again, no pressure, but if you were to decide to give some love to RFH, you might want to use the following format on the nomination form: 

Name of Podcast: Radio Free Hipster
URL: or
RSS feed:
Author/Creator's Name: Z.
Podcast Contact Email:
Category: Best Speculative Fiction Music Podcast

There's also a comment field. Feel free to write your own little spiel about how RFH is a bi-weekly podcast that celebrates nerd culture and showcases fantastical musical storytelling or whatever the hell it is that I do that makes you think I may actually deserve a shot at this thing. Just be honest. And literate.

And while you're at it, maybe you'll wanna nominate some other great 'casts in this and the Parsecs various other categories. Just my opinion, of course, but I think shows like StarShipSofa and Pottercast both deserve some accolades. Not to mention last year's winner Brilliant Gameologists, though the Best Gaming Podcast category seems to have been rolled into Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast (General) this time around.

So there you go. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to nominate some people for some stuff. And things.

I can't make it any clearer than that.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


There was a time when that question was proposed to me almost daily. Now? Not so much.

I mean, between my two podcasts and the near constant stream of music-related nonsense I spout via Twitter, I reckon most of you know what I am digging at any given time. Of course the Cardinal app [plug] which is currently available for free [/plug] has streamlined that process by letting me tweet my song-of-the-moment directly from my iPod, but that's neither here nor there.

Because, you see, while I can very easily tell you what particular track or artist I am listening to/singing to myself in the can, it's a bit harder to elaborate on all the songs currently vying for my mental real estate.

I'm serious, kids; it's fuckin' nuts in there with all these albums vying for the prized position at the top of my dome!

So, in an effort to make the voices stop alleviate this particular problem, I'm going to give you a proper rundown of my current picks. Don't worry about taking notes, as everything is all hyper-linked for your convenience.

Zero Day
Obviously I am presently enthralled by Front's new release. My cohorts at Wired called it his nerdiest album yet, and I concur. If you've digested the long-ago leaked "Your Friend Wil" or sampled the current tour set (which includes new shit like "Jacquelyn Hyde" and "Spoiler Alert"), you've heard a little of what Zero Day has to offer. But there's more. Oh, so much more!

"Disaster" further refines the posse cut genius of his classic "Nerdcore Rising" while taking a cue from Dual Core's epic "Fantastic Four" and kicking the cross-MC-give-and-take up a notch and "First World Problem" puts a conscious spin on his own geeky brand of lyricism. And there's also "Better at Rapping," which boasts some of Frontalot's most fearless instrumentation to date. (Goddamn banjo!)

Between an even more refined sound and a number of standout guests stars, it's not an album to be missed.

Oh, and for the record "A Little Bit Broad" pretty much answers all questions/criticism concerning nerdcore as a style. So there.

E for Everyone
In my GeekDad review, I called the new Kirby Krackle album the year's first must-buy, and I stand by that statement.

While painting themselves as a comic book rock band, Kirby Krackle are actually more broadly defined as all-purpose geek rockers. With an album that kicks off with a highly groovable joint about Fallout 3 and closes with a touching ode to con life, it's sort of hard not to love them.

From broad conceptual pieces that deconstruct notable archetypes ("Henchman" and "Secret Identity") to good natured lampooning of everyone's favorite loser superhero team ("Great Lakes Avengers"), E for Everyone is 11-tracks of awesome wrapped up in a Jim Mahfood cover.

And you just can't fuck with that.

News from the Scrub Club tends to come out in these veritable eruptions. I mean, there's the odd solitary happening now and again, but more often than not it is one bombshell after another in brilliant succession. A recent trio of big items from the Club includes news of a shift in ZeaLouS1's stylistic direction, the recent acquisition of Florida ninjas Krondor Krew and the release of Dr. Awkward's first full-length.

While the former are interesting developments, the latter is what's really grabbed my attention. Awk's Next Gen was the perfect hip-hop EP; it satisfied without overstaying its welcome. It was, at the risk of getting all cliché, all killer and no filler.

At 15 tracks, Unlimited isn't quite so cleanly pruned as its predecessor. Still, it amazes start-to-finish.

Even on those rare occasion when I found minor faults, Unlimited sounds amazing, and Doc takes his entire aesthetic, from his unique blend of sharp flow and smooth sing-alongs to his soulful musical presentation, to the aforementioned next level.

Pound for pound, "DualShAwks" is the track most indicative of the strength inherent in the good Doctor's newly polished release – and I'm not just saying that because I inspired a tiny bit of it – but the whole thing is required listening for studious hip-hoppers.

It's free, and cheap at twice the price.

And while I'm talking about cats breaking new ground, Norrin Radd's recent Pause release Anomaly is a fucking beast. While there are a number of important acts integrating the spirit of thrash and death metal into VGM (Year 200X and NESMETAL to name but two), Radd's new album emulates the style to a tee.

A chiptune opus concerning an unfortunate protagonist who finds himself face-to-face with the existential horror of infinite space, Anomaly apes everything from the downtuned leads and double bass to the guttural lyrical delivery.

Okay, admittedly that's not gonna appeal to everyone, but I urge readers with the slightest inclination toward heavy music to give it a go.

It's really the kind of thing that needs to be experienced to be believed, so head over to Pause Music for a free download. And maybe consider ponying up the ten bones for a physical copy if the spirit moves you.

Shit That Ain't Even Out Yet
I try not to tease y'all with stuff you don't yet have access to, but the final pair of albums in my current rotation are pre-release goodies from some friends of mine.

You've already heard a new selection from Antisocial's forthcoming Future Hop release – assuming, of course, that you've downloaded my recent Doctor Who tribute – but he was nice enough to give me the whole thing early.

Antisoc is an artist that I've been fortunate enough to follow since his most tentative steps into nerdcore hip-hop, and as a result I've seen him evolve firsthand. This album is different, however, in that it at long last fully realizes his musical potential. Antisocial is a guy doing geeky rap who comes from a very industrial/futurepop background, and, while his previous efforts have seen a mix of dark instrumentals scattered amid more typical nerdcore fare, the aptly named Future Hop finally combines them into a genuinely amazing sonic soufflé.

Look for it this Towel Day.

And lastly, a copy of Beefy's long-awaited With Sprinkles also recently made its way into my inbox and… well… DAY-YUM!

Beefy's another guy that I've been following for a long time, and between his recent work with The Grammar Club and some amazing guest spots on other artists' albums it's become apparent that he is mining a pretty powerful musical vein at present.

With Sprinkles exploits this issue to the fullest. With some new tricks (as yet unheard-of flows, sharper lyricism and some dazzlingly bright production from cats like Mustin and c64) and all the stuff you've come to love (hijacked samples and smart-assery abound), it's easily my most anticipated release of the coming year!

And now you know that.