Thursday, August 12, 2010

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 93: Elegant Mess

This is another one of those shows that kind of came together on its own. That means, for the uninitiated, that I am now wholly mortified because it was just too easy.

Normally assembling a podcast is all about trial and error. It's kind of like Tetris; I have to find the right place to put each song so as to achieve proper cohesion.

But this time I just took my list of prospective tracks, split it in half and then started building all off-the-cuff and shit in one continuous action. So either A) the songs in this show fit together so effortlessly that you have no choice to enjoy the finished product or B) I totally fucked up.

Either way, please let me know what you think.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 93: Elegant Mess [hosting provided by Antisoc] Size: 47.8 MB Running Time: 52:13
Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – "Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)"
Ah, the noble theme song! 

Track 1: Shael Riley and the Double Ice Backfire – "Creep"
Shael and company released this track to celebrate reaching the first financial benchmark of their new Kickstarter campaign. Feel free to contribute if you haven't yet passed them some dough. 

Z's 1st interlude: "Being an independent musician is expensive hobby."
And I love each and every one of you, you poor, destitute bastards! 

Track 2: Illbotz – "It's Illbotic (Super Mario Remix)"
Illbotz's Big Perm proves a point: you can make a great rap name by simply adding the word "big" to any noun. 

Track 3: Insane Ian – "MvL (feat. Odd Austin and TV's Kyle)"
This track is the new single from Insane Ian and the MusicIAN's recently released The Last Arcade. It's one of my favorite Dementia Music releases of late. 

Track 4: King Pheenix – "Anarchitype Rush (feat. Thunderball and MadHatter)"
KPX straight killed it at Nerdapalooza! If you haven't already, peep his Hero vs. Villain album over at Scrub Club. 

Track 5: Disney Pulp Fiction dialog / Mega Ran Zero – "The Resistance"
The incongruity of a Mega Man Zero song and a comedic redub of Pulp Fiction is readily apparent. And yet I couldn't help but combine the two. 

Track 6: The White Licorice – "The Birds and the Beedrills"
For anyone who may've missed this when it made the rounds last week, the original YouTube vid can be found here. 

Track 7: Pokemon dialog / krhym3.574r.0n3 and Doc Awkward – "Pokemon PIMP"
As featured on Scrub Club's Noncents Vol. 11. 

Z's 2nd interlude: "Pokemon-themed debauchery."
I find the fact that there are two totally different songs that rely on the names of Pokemon as sexual innuendo to be both horrifying and delightful. 

Track 8: virt – "10th"
This take on the Doctor Who theme may prove to be your new favorite. 

Track 9: Glenn Case – "Here Comes Your Man (feat. Rachael Layne)"
Glenn's recently started extracting the audio from his continuing Acoustic Song a Day video project. He's passing the tracks on to me, and I, in turn, plan to play them for you. It's a pretty sweet little system we have worked out here. 

Track 10: Bazuuka Joe – "Keep Flyyin' (feat. Jod1)"
In case you missed it, I reviewed Joe's new Roll A Twenty release The Red Pill  last month. 

Track 11: Kabuto The Python – "Rap Loogies (feat. Fatty Goodness)"
A pocket-sized serving of musical awesome from Kabuto's Ill Ron Hubbard. 

Track 12: Dale Chase – "Mississippi Mud (feat. Billy Fee)"
I'll be including more info regarding Dale's new album Limit Break in a write-up later this month, but for the time being just consider this reason enough to download a copy of your own. 

Track 13: DJ TOPCAT – "Folsom Prison Gangstaz (Eazy-E vs. Johnny Cash)"
The best Johnny Cash mash-up since "Johnny Cash Rules Everything Around Me." 

Z's final interlude: "The energy in this show has been all over the place."
I think that's my favorite thing about this edition of RFH. It really is quite eclectic. 

Track 14: Lou Reed – "Walk on the Wild Side (Holtoug bootleg)"
Typically I restrict my included bootlegs to the oddly ironic or the inherently nerdy, but I think this one succeeds be just being an amazingly chill interpretation of a classic rock radio standard by Denmark's Holtoug.

I've been talking a lot about my upcoming 100th episode. More specifically, I've been stressing over what to do with it.

The good news is I think I've settled on a concept. The bad news is I'm gonna need your help. But I'll save that for another day.

For now, friends and neighbors, let us simply relax and ride out the waning summer. I think we deserve a dash of relaxation after all the nerdy work we've done in recent months.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Fine Art of Gimmickry

Just call me Mr. Gimmick.
I spent a lot of time over this past weekend listening to Kabuto the Python's Ill Ron Hubbard. As I said before, it's a really enjoyable effort, despite some obvious stitching. But the thing that stood out to me on these post-review (read: casual and relaxed) listenings had much more to do with a recurring lyrical motif.

You see, throughout the album, Kabuto and company speak out against the notion that the Python is merely a gimmick. This admonition struck an immediate chord with me, and, unfortunately for you, precipitated the following sermon.

Gimmick is a word that's tossed around a lot in my "line of work." Wizard Rock, for example, is blasted by outsiders for employing a simple gimmick of overzealous fandom, and Beefy once felt motivated to quip that nerdcore itself is "not a fake genre or a parody." More to the point, California hip-hopper Satellite High once called out the whole of nerd rap on a track entitled – wait for it – "Working a Gimmick."

So, in summation for those of you with short attention spans, gimmicks are bad. When we hear the word we think of the publicity stunt. The ruse. The bait and switch.

We typically see a gimmick as a crutch for weak flows or sketchy songwriting, an easy excuse that insulates an act or artist against the rigors of otherwise mandated quality control. To put it bluntly, we tend to view it as a fucking cop-out.

But we're wrong.

In professional wrestling, a gimmick is an athlete's persona, his distinguishing traits, and it's the most important tool in helping the wrestler get "over," or accepted by fans.

What – wrestling talk not good enough for you? Fine then, let's get esoteric.

A gimmick isn't a moat that protects your castle from attack. A gimmick is an open gate. It's an in-road. It invites company into your antechamber.

Wow. That metaphor was dense.

All I'm saying is that a gimmick in and of itself isn't a bad thing. In fact, every artist has a gimmick. Some may have exceedingly clever ways of concealing this, but, at its core, it's all simple gimmickry.

Maybe your gimmick is that you wear iconic glasses or have weird hair. Perhaps it's that you smoke lots of weed or have been shot a whole fucking bunch of times. Maybe it's a reliance on a particular vocal motif or an emphasis on a continued lyrical theme. Maybe your gimmick is an attachment to a particular style or artistic subset. Either way, your gimmick is important because it's yours. It may make you easily attached to or paralleled with others who share a similar slant, but it provides an easy jumping-off point for your own creativity and, more importantly, an easy point of entry for fans.

If your gimmick is your whole act, then, yes, you have a serious problem with creativity and an obvious deficit with regard to credibility. But if you have the chops to back that gimmick up, to surpass your own obvious niche – like Kabuto or Kirby Krackle or 8 Bit Weapon – then you've truly succeeded as an artist.

In an oft-cited scene from MC Frontalot's own documentary Nerdcore Rising, Jello Biafra warns "Be careful with your own stereotype; it could become a prison." And he would know, because he too has a gimmick.

Jello was the poster boy for an entire generation of anarcho-punk thinkers and thus a man firmly rooted in an easily recognized stylistic box, but he has managed to channel the energy of the purposefully limited genre of hardcore punk into a number of disparately stylized projects over his 30+ year career. He's an artist with a gimmick, sure, but he has leveraged his gimmick. He has made the most of it.

In closing I'd just like to say, all honest-like, that I have a gimmick, and I'll gladly admit it. I am a diminutive southerner that is very obviously overly focused on his own inherent nerdery. I'm a smart-ass writer who channels the things I absorbed throughout my formative years from studious cats like Bill Hicks and have spent the larger chunk of my adult life leaching from geek luminaries like Jerry Holkins through a distinctly rural filter.

My hope is that I manage to properly convey this particular device across a number of projects and mediums in ways that you may not completely expect. Because if you can use your gimmick to divert the audience's attention slightly, and then surprise them with even more stellar (if still specialized) output, well then, my friend, everybody wins.

"I used to be a somebody in this town. Now, everybody has a gimmick. I was going to show them all. And I did."
The Riddler, Batman: Hush