In this column, I will review various geek-oriented albums as well as write editorial commentaries on great nerdcore or geek music podcasts and websites. There’s certainly a lot of geek music out there, from old-school geek rock like They Might Be Giants to nerdcore hip-hop artists like MC Frontalot. I have tons of ideas for columns, but if anyone has any suggestions, I’m always open to them, particularly if they are more obscure or not so obvious.
I thought I would start with a review of Zero Day, the newest album by the creator of nerdcore (or at least the originator of the term), MC Frontalot. It seemed appropriate since he was recently a headliner at Nerdapalooza in Orlando, FL. Look for my review of the concert coming soon.
I first became aware of this album when Wil Wheaton played one of the songs from it on his podcast, Radio Free Burrito. The song? “Your Friend Wil,” about Wil’s 2007 PAX keynote with his famous line, “Don’t be a Dick!” The song also features Mike Doughty from Soul Coughing. Frontalot + Wil Wheaton + Mike Doughty = EPIC WIN! And there are other guests, too: fellow nerdcore rappers Schaffer the Darklord, YTCracker, and Int80; Jonathan Coulton and John Hodgman; and chaphop artist Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer, complete with banjolele.
With a group like that, you’d expect some pretty awesome music. And you’d be right, of course, although there are a couple of tracks that are just okay. “The Council of Loathing,” for example has good music (the chorus sticks in my head for days after listening to it), but since I don’t play Kingdom of Loathing, the song falls a little flat for me. Similarly, the title track contains multiple references that I just don’t get (although I do understand the general concept of Zero Day). It certainly doesn’t detract from my enjoyment, though!
The rest of the tracks, on the other hand, I can appreciate for the music as well as the lyrics. “Charisma Potion” is definitely one I can identify with; I, too, was not blessed with a high CHA score despite having a high INT. There are the obligatory songs about rapping (it is, after all, hip hop): “A Little Broad,” about the content of Front’s music; “Better at Rapping,” in which Front wishes he were; and “Front the Most,” in which he tells us why he’s so awesome.
This album also contains some social commentary in the form of “First World Problem,” about problems that only those of us in the “first world” can even think about such as our GPS running out of batteries. It definitely puts my own troubles with computers into perspective! And there’s even a first world problem on the album in the form of a “Painstakingly Concealed Secret Track.” I won’t give away too much, but suffice it to say it is not just the silence that it appears to be on first listen. And the forums on Frontalot’s web page are extremely helpful (and, yes, I have solved it. But no, I won’t walk you through it. It’s definitely worth doing on your own, trust me).
I could go on and on about every track on the album, but I’ll leave some of the discovery to you. Suffice it to say that MC Frontalot has a strong command of the English language as well as double meanings. He’s certainly put his degrees in English and Electronic Music to good use! If you are a geek of any kind, go buy this album now!
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
(Images from frontalot.com)