Friday, June 04, 2010

With Special Guest Star: Me

Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to serve as a special guest on The Functional Nerds podcast with John Anealio and Patrick Hester. As such, I am now a duly recognized member of their Third Nerd Army, with all the privileges and rights associated with such an illustrious position. Recording the podcast itself was a blast, as Patrick and John are both fascinating and engaging cats with which to shoot the proverbial shit, and being able to count myself among the ranks of the show's other illustrious guests is an honor.

My only complaint is, unlike the Kiss Army, the Third Nerd Army doesn't provide its members with wicked-awesome patches to sew on their denim jackets. I'm just sayin'.

In all seriousness, though, The Functional Nerds is a damn fine podcast, and it's one of only a handful of projects that promotes nerdy culture as a cohesive whole. The guys're heavily focused on sci-fi and fantasy, of course, but everything from gaming and comics to music and con life get proper representation. It's truly an equal opportunity geek out.

Theoretically I was invited on to talk about nerd music, and we certainly covered that subject, but it was far more your typical soulless Q&A session. Instead John, Patrick and I drifted between subjects like the importance of Doctor Demento, mash-ups, Yngwie Malmsteen's leather pants, Gandalf the Grey Syndrome, 4-tracks and tales of convention woe.

Suffice it to say the conversation was organic.

As I said, I had a great time recording with the guys, and I totally plan to take them up on their offer to return at a later date. Give episode 12 of The Funcitonal Nerds, which features little ol' me, a listen if you feel so inclined. I think you'll find it entertaining, enlightening and, most importantly, dork as fuck.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Playing With Power

Ever since my boys MadHatter and Tha Mike started singing their praises last month, I've entertained a number of inquiries regarding my thoughts on Wichita-based synth-punkers POWERLIFTER. But since that ain't exactly the kind of thing I can properly explain in 140 characters, I've held my full comments until I had time to put together a proper blog post on the subject.

In case you missed the obvious, this is such a post.

For those of you unfamiliar with the band, let me first explain what POWERLIFTER is not. They aren't an 8-bit metal act (like Norrin Radd), nor are they a chip-rock outfit (a la I Fight Dragons). Hell, they aren't even a part of the intriguing but poorly named "Nintendocore" movement. In fact, though POWERLIFTER could both easily and accurately be showcased alongside the LSDJ-driven aggression of HORSE the Band, they actually share little more than superficial earmarks with the aforementioned.

Instead, think of them as an unholy amalgam of the hardcore sleaze of Fear and the industrial grind of 90s-era Ministry. Now add to that the performance energy of Andrew W.K., replace the guitars with DMGs and melt it all together under a strobe light.

It's an elaborate equation, but a fairly apt deconstruction of the trio's overall sound, if I do say so myself.

Since I've gone to such great lengths to describe the guys, it probably goes without saying that I am, as they say, buying what they're selling. And I am. What POWERLIFTER is doing with chip music certainly isn't stylistically unheard-of, but there's an underlying element of their specific approach that genuinely speaks to me.

You see, while the music of videogames itself is moving toward the concert hall, POWERLIFTER seem intent on dragging it back to the basement. Kicking and screaming if need be. Their music seems less about exploring the minimalist sonic palate of an 8-bit sound source, and more about shoving that sound source right down your fucking throat.

It's body music with poor impulse control. Party music that only gets louder after the cops show up. The overall sound is noticeably hostile, occasionally crude and a far cry from the universal appeal of a Super Mario medley.

In short, it's a gamble. It's a niche. But it's a good niche.

Since hearing is believing, I all but insist that you head on over to Scrub Club and cop POWERLIFTER's new freebie 1 ("Arctic Submarine"). And pay close attention to the opening track, "DOOM__GIVER." It's pretty indicative of the ride ahead, so if you don't feel that then simply back away from your iPod. Slowly.

If, however, you find yourself intrigued, continue on through the subsequent levels. But may I suggest drinking a beer and a shot and taking a Powerglove punch to the scrote before proceeding. You know, for the full effect.