Greetings and salutations friends! It’s that time once again for a massive postmortem on PAX East. This year, I’m joined by bory of geekbeatradio who was the head of the MAGFest Jamspace this year and also responsible for booking all of our amazing acts. As this article does traditionally cover both the music and gaming portions of PAX East, bory will be covering the music and I will be covering the games – and as per usual, you can navarkigate to each portion by searching #MUSIC or #GAMES. This time around we’ve got a big article for ya, so don’t hesitate to use those to jump around.
By the time you read this, everyone should be home and happy, well rested, without the MAGFlu and otherwise readjusted to real life. While I’m WRITING it, however, I’m drowning in posts from people in transit back to the dark corners of the world they crawled from so that they can go heal themselves. While this year’s MAGFest might have been the biggest one so far, it also seems to have taken the most from us in terms of bodily health, but only because everyone was incapable of having any degree of chill. Everyone basically just kept going until they were physically unable to go anymore, and even then they just kinda propped their bodies up in chairs so they could at least look like they were still going like some kind of knock-off ‘Weekend at Bernie’s.’ It was amazing. But enough talk – let’s have at this highlight reel!
You might’ve heard of The Laohu through the grapevine, or via his track from ChipWIN: Volume 3, Bash of the Kaiju, or maybe you’ve just been a long-time fan of his since he started releasing music back in 2012. Regardless, it’s been almost three years since he last released an album through Bandcamp. In mid-March, he put out his latest musical endeavor through the Pxl-Bot label entitled ‘FROgs’, and the result is an eclectic mix of genres spanning progressive rock to electro. Without further ado, let’s take a look at The Laohu’s latest piece of work! (more…)
Hey, ChipWINners! You might recognize D&D Sluggers from their track on Chiptunes = #SrsBsns, ‘Slam Jam of the Year’, and if you live on the East Coast, you may have seen a live show on the Odds ‘n Ends Tour that featured SkyBlew, Mega Ran, and D&D Sluggers. I’m definitely one of the latest D&D Sluggers converts due to this tour; unbelievably, the Odds ‘n Ends Tour made a stop in little old Ithaca, and getting to see Tim White play live was definitely an amazing experience. This month, we’re going to run through his latest release, ‘Hot Banana’, a perfect blend of chip, pop, and rock.
The album opens with ‘Robot Girl’, telling a tale of impossible love between himself and a robot girl incapable of feeling emotion. Organic vocals and guitar strumming play over a drum machine and a chip-emulating program – both run on the Nintendo DS, might I add – to create the defining sound of D&D Sluggers. The melody is well written, and the lyrics that adorn this melody definitely fit the title and tone of the song; a few of the things that the robotic subject of the song states are “She says she can’t go against her programming” and “She says she ain’t got no time to waste with you on cute sentimental things”.
‘Villain of the Week’ is another downtempo song; while ‘Robot Girl’ takes on a slightly darker tone, the tone of ‘Villain of the Week’ could be interpreted as comedic. The song opens with two chip voices leading into vocals, bass, and percussion with each passing phrase. The lyrics and the title of the song might – just MIGHT – be allusions to spoilers of a television series, book, or other type of entertainment in progress. The first lyrics of the song are “Please don’t tell me how it ends/I will learn at my own pace”, with a later complaint in a verse being “You don’t know how far I need to go before I’m there”. D&D Sluggers creates another memorable melody with comical and entertaining lyrics to boot, and this song is sure to be a favorite for many listeners.
Having played shows with Math The Band in the past, I expected at least a few hyperactive chip-rock-pop fusion ballads on ‘Hot Banana’, and a number of songs on the album satisfied my hopes. ‘Fight’ is an autotuned, danceable track that tells the listener to stand up and fight in order to get the girl. No, really. Listen to the lyrics. Heavy kicks and claps, a major key, and a vast amount of autotuned goodness help make this one of chiptune’s HOTTEST SUMMER JAMS THIS YEAR. ‘Rock Wild R’, the fifth track on ‘Hot Banana’, might be my favorite track just due to its energetic vibe. So much is happening within the song that you’d almost expect it to burst at the seams. ‘Rock Wild R’ is fast with regards to tempo, has punchy percussion, awesome vocal work, and throws a Mega Man riff at the listener during its guitar solo, should they be familiar with the series.
‘Hot Banana’ is definitely not an album to be missed. While more organic instruments are used than are present in most chipmusic, the blend of instruments in addition to D&D Sluggers’ vocal style are both phenomenal. Try something new. You’ll love it. I promise.
Rather than write about my personal experience at the Ithaca stop of the Odds ‘n Ends Tour, I’ll leave you winners with a link to the playlist showcasing many of the shows that the Ithaca Underground has hosted, starting at D&D Sluggers’ set. Check the links! <3
Hello everyone! It is I, Danny Pryor, here to take you on another random adventure!
As you may or may not know, I am a co-host on a show called geekbeatradio (*cough* Mondays 10pm-12am EST on geekbeatradio and wemfradio*cough*), where we talk about everything geek and nerd.
I am very lucky to be able to host some fine events in the wonderful city of Boston and this month has been no exception. Three great events happened in the area and after I tell you a bit about them you will most likely want to live here FOREVER…or at least want to come and visit!
The month of July started off right with an event hosted by geekbeatradio, leaguepodcast, and WEMF’s own Dave Crespo at McGann’s Irish Pub. Now you might ask, “Danny, why do you need THAT many people to host one event?” I’d answer you that when you have Skyblew, D&D Sluggers, AND Mega Ran come to your city, you better call in the cavalry. With the help of some of the best talent you can find in the city, we helped to make the Boston stop of the Odds ‘N’ Ends Tour a total success!
The night started off strong with a force..of Will (Sorry, Force of Will) a nerdcore rapper out of Salem, MA. His music spoke about what is like growing up a nerd and how the people in the nerdcore rap scene have influenced him. One of my favorite songs he performed used a beat by K-Murdock and Mega Ran called Forever which he called “RPGography” which is about his first experiences with tabletop games and RPGs.
As soon as his intro song went out over the speakers, his coveted luchador mask was donned. In full character, he blasted into his first track, “Robot Man“.The crowd moved to the front to join into the festivities once he started “Power Walking the Agro Crag“. He is the only man who can get through “The Legends of the Hidden Temple” with 60 seconds still on the clock.
Sam Mulligan was next in line, who is one of those guys you need for literally EVERY show. He always makes me smile with his catchy, funny tunes about hunting for Sasquatch or getting abducted by aliens. One song, even though it was a cover, was my personal favorite of the night, asking the audience, “What is your Fantasy?” In true to life Sammy Sam form, he nailed every single verse, top to bottom (head to toes?). Don’t forget, he is one of the founding members of HYPE$QUAD, so this is just another one of many talents he is capable of performing in almost any situation.
It was my first time seeing SkyBlew take the stage, and I was not disappointed. Forging a connection with the gamers in the crowd through songs like HM 2, a Pokemon reference to the Hidden Move called “Fly”, while still remaining loyal to his campaign of bringing substance back to hip-hop with tracks like “The Theory of C.O.L.O.R.S.“. It is only a matter of time before this lyrical genius becomes a major player in the hip hop scene, with his heartfelt yet true to life words of wisdom.
D&D Sluggers, to put it bluntly, brings the party. After getting the chance to talk to Soultronand learning a bit about how he uses a Nintendo DS and guitar to make the people move, I was instantly hooked. The song that really got me moving was, “I Will Not Be There“, which brought together this amazing combination of chip and rock that kept me hyperventilating throughout the entire performance.
*BREATH IN, BREATH OUT*
And of course, I can’t go without mentioning the headliner, Random AKA Mega Ran. Since I first heard Mega Ran’s song “Grow Up” I have been following his every move. His brilliant insight into the minds of video game characters, clean lyrics, and all around fun mentality, makes him an amazing act to see live. Some of his instrumentals were played from an original Famicom system and with a custom cart which only added to the nostalgic feelings filling the room. He played a great combination of songs we all know and love, to new tracks that were just recently released, specifically “Infinite Lives” featuring Soultron of D&D Sluggers. Getting the chance to hear the two of them play this live was a sure fire way to get the song stuck in my head for the rest of my life! I even fell victim to his freestyle majesty when I handed him my Legend of Zelda wallet and was called out for not having any money in it. Obviously, chants for an encore ensued so he sat us all down for story time. The fact that he got everyone to sit down on a dirty bar room floor because we all wanted to be good listeners just proves that he is one of the best hip-hop artists around!
A huge thank you to all the artists for coming out and giving it your all, you were all truly inspirational in your performance!
BUT WAIT! THAT’S NOT ALL!
On July 4th geekbeatradio was fortunate enough to help run our first ever BBQ at the HorrorHaus here in Boston. Hosted by the magnificent Mega Mega, we set up a projection screen with Super Nintendo games, speakers for live musicians, and even held a costume contest judged by Cosplay aficionados Harley Bean and Knives Jones.
Live acts that included the multi-talented duo of Seventh Gear, playing solo sets as Best Defense and Robotsexmusic, Diamond Machine (who me?), and of course the super sonata songster, Bifflecup! Between the sweet jams playing from geekbeatradio.com, amazing burgers, fantastic friends and a glass of whiskey (neat), made it one of the best 4th of July celebrations I have had in a long time.
YES! THERE’S MORE!!!
July 12th was another big first for geekbeatradio, as we held our first ever video game tournament at Comicazi! We held a Super Smash Brothers Melee tournament, as it was the game being played at EVO 2014 that day, and we had plenty of dedicated players there to compete. We handed out cash prizes to the first and second place winners, had live chiptune music playing, and Mega Mega even brought cookies and brownies for everyone. What a guy!
Although it was a bit more of a casual tournament there was still a hunger to win from the competitors as it was a single elimination tournament. The final battle for first was a Captain Falcon mirror match which was a great surprise to me as I usually expect a Fox or Falco to end up being at the end. The game was played on a CRT TV and projected onto a screen for everyone to watch!
The always loyal crew of chip artists came out to perform and keep a fun atmosphere the entire night. Diamond Machine started off the night, followed by Bifflecup, Best Defense, and Robotsexmusic. Everyone played their heart out that night, and we even got a visit from our good friend James Johnson, local entrepreneur and one of the creators of the game “Thief Town“. Go and vote for it on Greenlight since local multiplayer is the future of gaming!!!!
Whew! That is a lot of stuff going on in just a couple of weeks, but we are NOT stopping there!! We still have some AMAZING guests coming on the radio show in the next few weeks, a couple more shows to plan and a few tricks up our sleeves. Make sure to tune in so you are not left in the dark!!!!
MAGFest 12 has come and gone, leaving in its wake the usual horde of happily exhausted nerdy folk (my newly engaged self included of course! ♥).Tho I’ll be damned if I fall prey to PMD (Post-MAGFest Depression)! Got WAAAAY too much awesome to do this year!! =D
And on that note, time to rock on with today’s most excellent beer & chip pairing:
Young’s Double Chocolate Stout &
While admittedly few in number, most of the “chocolate” brews I’ve sampled have not been much to my liking (generally a bit too chocolately, sweet and/or rich). That said there’s something about Young’s Double Chocolate Stout that gets it just right for me.
I am totes a fan. *TOTES*. #Totes
It’s a genuinely smooth, flavorful stout with just enough chocolate added to give it a bit of extra magic. The chocolate isn’t overpowering though; it’s present, sure, but it doesn’t take over the entire brew (the “Double Chocolate” part of the name is derived from the mix of chocolate malt & actual dark chocolate added to the brew). Honestly, the chocolate is more apparent in the aroma than it is the actual flavor, which is fortunate because it smells just a tad too sweet, chocolately, and rich for my tastes. When it hits the tongue, though, you get a really fair balance of pretty much all of the elements that make up this positively delightful brew.
The intertoobz are overwhelmingly approving of this tasty stout as well; Ratebeer.com gives it an astoundingly high 98 overall. For a notoriously picky group of beer nerds (and on the internet for that matter) that’s one helluva consensus!
While Young’s Double Chocolate Stout isn’t a brew that I’d want to drink everyday (would be the fast track to a solid beer gut!), it’s a sincere pleasure when I’m in the mood for it.
On the other hand, today’s equally delicious & chocolate chiptune counterpart, D&D Sluggers, is always a pleasure. #AWYEAHBBY 8) In fact, I’d go so far as to label them as one of my favorite combos of chip (LSDj & DS-10), soulful vox, guitar, & keys yet!
Bringing the aforementioned array of instruments, D&D Sluggers merges numerous musical genres with fun, solid songwriting, and an engaging & entertaining live performance. This chipact is definitely a party. See their most recent full length release ‘This Album is a Party‘ for evidence of such.
Recorded at Red Room Recording in Leland, NC, this 10 track release from mid 2011 is a mix of interactive party anthems (‘Jam of the Year’, ‘Alive’, ‘She’s Got a Job’, ‘Johnny Depp’) soulfully funky joints (‘Gloria’ [DAT HARMONICA], ‘Walk’, ‘Very Direct’) and all around danceable jams (‘Wicked Touch’, ‘I Will Not Be There’, ‘Brodown’); overall, it’s a quality set of extraordinarily catchy tunes. While I didn’t stumble across it until mid 2012, it has quickly become one of my go-to albums, period. Particularly on craptastic days; it always brings me out of a funk. It’s just too damn fun to stay bummed while jamming.
If I had to pick a favorite track, it would easily be ‘Very Direct’. Such a damn groovy, chill jam. I HIT REPEAT EVERY TIEM. Specifically at 3 o’clock.
Also, I REALLY LOVE the handful of various VGM motifs that are carefully worked into several of the songs in various forms and fashions (chiptune taboos be damned!!); sometimes very subtly, sometimes not so subtly. I’d point them out, but I really don’t want to ruin the fun. Listen closely (sometimes not so closely) and you’ll surely catch ’em. ;)
Although to clarify once and for all (or not, lulz~), where D&D was once two crazy cats (Dustin Overcash & Tim “soultron” White), the current iteration is purely the soultron show (Dustin left the act mid-summer 2013 for work related stuffs, taking his keys & LSDj with him :*( ). And to be honest, it’s this version of D&D Sluggers that I’ve personally become the most familiar with; particularly the live aspect.
I caught Tim performing live a good handful of times in 2013 (at PAX East Jamspace, twice on the “This Tour is a Party” tour, at MAGFest: Game Over Durham, and, of course, at the recent craziness of MAGFest 12’s Chipspace party). Tim’s level of hilarious banter, tongue-in-cheek humor, & general interactivity with the crowd is levels beyond that of the typical chiptune perfromer. He brings an energy, and maybe even additional level of accessibility (the ability to sing along is always a plus there), that isn’t always found at a chiptune show. & I LOVE IT.
#REALTALK: I love Tim’s soulful singing voice a whole gorram lot. Everything about D&D Sluggers is super swell, but I could totes listen to him sing all damn day long (in fact, I did today while writing this article! -swoons- ). How often does one say that about a chiptune act? ;)
Regarding new jams, don’t be surprised to see a new EP and/or full length release from the now one man party sometime this year (hopefully? Tim? TIM???). It’ll no doubt be comprised of finalized versions of some/all of the demos found via thisSoundcloud set, which is fine with me as they’re some damn good jams. Most of them I’ve heard live performances of (‘About Time’ & ‘XX demo” in particular), and they’re some of Tim’s strongest compositions yet.
To summarize, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, BEYOTCH. 8)
And thus ends my first chip & beer write-up of 2014! It’s a pretty damn good combo of tasty chocolate chiptune & beer to start the year off right if you ask me. Which you didn’t. But I don’t care. 8) Until next month, cheers y’all!!