Starting out this month, we have just a couple of artists, one new to me and one with new versions of his songs. So, pretty much just like usual. Have I mentioned lately that coming up with introductions isn’t always easy to do? Because it’s not. Anyway… On to the music!
Bolonium – Bolonium
I have no idea how this group flew under my radar last year because their music reminds me of the kinds of stuff I grew up listening to in the ’80s. Combine Devo with The B-52s and “Weird Al,” and probably some other influences I’m forgetting, and you get the wonderful self-titled debut from Bolonium (which is also available as a limited edition CD / DVD).
Right from the first track, “Blast Off,” I knew I was going to love this band. The chorus reminds me of The Karate Kid, but instead of waxing on and off, they’re blasting off and on. And how can you not love it when a band deliberately avoids the obvious rhyme for “famous” when describing planets? Nostalgia is a running theme on several tracks, like “Can’t Afford It” (a song I think most geeks can identify with), “Happy Go Lucky Me” (one I think most adults can identify with), and “Banana Peels Are Slippery” (a fact that we learned from cartoons as kids). And just to get ultra-nostalgic, they even have a “cover” of the children’s song “Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?” (“Kookie Jar”) that’s probably darker than any version you’ve ever heard before. I definitely wouldn’t want them accusing me of stealing cookies!
And it’s not just the music that hearkens back to the ’80s. Every single track has a music video reminiscent of the time when MTV actually played music videos (some of which are a bit risqué, but nothing worth an explicit tag). Take “Rock and Bowl” as a great example. Just see how many ’80s music video clichés you can spot; there’s even a sexy woman writhing around on the hood of a car. So great! I particularly love the video for “Side Kick,” though, a track about the relationship between a certain unnamed (but obvious, both musically and visually) “dynamic duo.” As if the innuendos weren’t obvious enough in the lyrics, the video really emphasizes them to the fullest. It might be a bit much, but that’s what makes it so fun.
If you, like me, are a child of the ’80s, you really owe it to yourself to check out Bolonium. Give in to the weirdness!
Rock, Paper, Cynic – Borken Telephone
With the release of his first full length album, Rock, Paper, Cynic really takes his music to a whole new level. Although most of the songs have been released before, the new versions show the obvious benefits of being able to afford a full studio and musicians (thanks to a highly successful Kickstarter).
Take “Geeks in Love” as an example. The addition of piano to the track brings out the adorableness of the lyrics, and then you get The Doubleclicks as well. Angela sings, giving the song a new dimension, while Aubrey plays cello, which also enhances the overall melody and meaning. Speaking of guests, both Kirby Krackle and Adam WarRock join the Mario Kart-inspired track “One Shell, Two Shell, Red Shell, Blue Shell.” I’ve somehow never actually played the game, but I know the concept well enough to get most of the lyrics. And anything that has both Kirby Krackle and Adam WarRock is, of course, going to be awesome.
I always liked “The Philosophical Zombie Slayer,” but this studio version adds in even more philosophy-based puns. It’s truly epic now! And speaking of truly epic, there’s also one of my favorite tracks, “Hello NSA,” which is already a great song. I love the idea of someone trying to get the attention of the NSA, with whom he is falling in love for some reason, by using words from the terrorist watch list, often as puns. It’s such a funny idea, and Peter handles it in a quite clever way.
Now, you may be wondering about the oddness of the title. That’s one of the most genius things about the album. Peter wrote a track called “Broken Telephone” (which opens the album), then sent the track to Professor Shyguy who listened just once and then created his own version of the track. Then the track went to another artist, going through The Doubleclicks, Kirby Krackle, Sarah Donner, Alter Ego, Nerds with Guitars, Kari Maaren, Zach Sherwin, Alpha Riff, Adam WarRock, Ask Lovecraft with Tico Souza, Debs & Errol (yes, they reunited for one more [all too brief] song!), Jason Anarchy, MC Lars, and MC Frontalot, before returning back to Peter who then finished out with a second version. Hence the title — by the time it gets back to Peter, the track is completely different from the original (like a game of Telephone). And this eighteen-minute track with everyone’s version of the song is the closer for the album, taking it full circle.
The official release date for Borken Telephone is April 19, and you should really pre-order it now. It’s just such a great album!