As we wind down the year, let’s take a look at a few recent releases that I’ve been meaning to review for some time. Now that I’m finally caught up (it’s amazing how much one extremely unproductive weekend can do to the amount of work I have to do!), I can finally get to a few really cool new albums.
Debs & Errol – Ctrl-Alt-Duets
As a follow-up to last year’s Songs in the Key of Geek, Debs & Errol return with a parody album. They’ve done a nice job of choosing songs that showcase their vocal talents as well as their influences. On the musicals side, there are two Disney songs that get parodied: “A Whole New World” from Aladdin (“A Virtual World”), and “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid (“My Partner’s a Nerd”). There’s also a parody of “Falling Slowly” from the musical movie Once, this one titled “Falling Quickly,” about everyone’s favorite Russian block-based game, Tetris.
There are also a couple of pop songs: Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” becomes “Tribbles” (probably my favorite track since that’s my favorite ST:TOS episode. It says something about the quality of Debs’s vocals and the lyrics that I enjoy the song since I’m no fan of Taylor Swift) and “Time After Time” by Cindy Lauper rather brilliantly becomes “TIE After TIE,” a song about X-Wing battles.
It’s a short album at only seven tracks, but it’s well worth the download.
9K1 – 9K1 (slightly NSFW)
When I saw 9K1 at Nerdapalooza, I knew I wanted to grab their album. They really know how to make fun, danceable music. The album begins with “Know What I’m Sayin’,” a track which plays on the homophones “sayin’” and “saiyan,” and thus also explain the band’s name (“We’re over 9000 like a super saiyan / Know what I’m sayin’.” And I’ll freely admit that I did have to look up the exact reference since I’ve only seen one or two Dragon Ball Z episodes).
While the opening track is the geekiest of the bunch, it really doesn’t matter because the rest of the tracks make you want to get up and boogie. Two standout tracks are “Let Go (Let’s Go)” and “DANCE.” The latter is the heaviest track on the album, while the former has a really cool chorus. Both celebrate the idea of letting go and just dancing, a highly appropriate topic for songs by 9K1.
Only a couple of tracks are currently available on 9K1’s Bandcamp page, but the full CD can be ordered directly via email, with details on their Facebook page. If you like the two tracks on Bandcamp, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll enjoy the rest of the album. Sadly, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (“Michelangelo”) and Hello Kitty (“Hello Kitty Swag”) tracks they performed at Nerdapalooza are not on the album, but they can be found at the links in their titles (and there’s even a video for “Hello Kitty Swag”).
Death*Star – The Prequel (NSFW)
After a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, Death*Star has released their third album, called The Prequel. Obviously this is a take-off of the Star Wars movie prequels (given that their first two albums are called The Fandom Menace and A New Dope, plus their actual name, this should come as no surprise), which they reference on the opening skit (“It’s like everything I knew before has improved special effects, but a worse plot!”).
As usual, Death*Star brings their comedic sensibilities to nerdcore. As I mentioned in my review of their set at Nerdapalooza, my favorite track is “Hard Roll,” a song about sandwiches (after a sketch about not making a song about sandwiches). I love how they take something so clearly ridiculous and play it completely seriously. Speaking of sketches, there’s also “Comptroller C0splay,” in which C0splay wants to run for “controller,” because he want to be in control (especially of the blimps). I love the completely straight delivery of the ridiculous things he says, especially his reading of a Shannon Flowers review which calls him “vague and possibly learning disabled.” And the line about Obama… Wow… Very funny!
Another favorite track is “Villain of the Day: Episode III” which features Adam WarRock. Like Episodes I and II, each verse describes a different villain. In this case, each one could have been a good guy, but chose a different path. I think one big reason I like it so much is because they actually include Macbeth, a play I’ve taught many times (as an aside, let me be a nitpicky English teacher for a second and point out that they mispronounce Glamis. Not that anyone cares, I’m sure…).
Sure, Death*Star is a bit crude and rude, but they are definitely funny. They’re probably not for everyone, but if you’ve liked their other albums, this one actually ups the quality. And if you haven’t checked them out before, and you’re not easily offended, this is a great introduction to their brand of comedy nerdcore rap.