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
Hey everybody, Glenntai here again with another round ofhype and opinions loosely based on minor credibility and experience passing off as expertise album review! This time, we’re going to a subject very relevant to most of the internet forum subcultures as a dedication to the shenanigans of old and respectively new… or for those familiar with the term, old/newfa… arts. DAMN IT, those terms are just too offensive to innocent people. I can’t say it. We should be more careful of the words we use these days. After all, this is going on the internet, and the internet is…
Chiptunes = #SrsBsns (Serious Business) is a 22-track compilation comprised half of veterans and half of newcomers to the compilation series dedicating songs to a meme of their choice. That was the only guideline aside from no direct covers (an exception being made for one song in particular… you can most likely guess which one.)
We know you’ve been asking for every artist’s information, so we made sure to add all of their links to each specific song’s info section. If you dig the jam, you can…
Click on the track name on the bandcamp page!
Click on the lyrics/info link for each song to keep it all on the same page!
Google it if you’re too lazy to click links yet somehow not lazy enough to google it! <3
Now enough of my rambling, let’s get onto some reviews and opinions on each track!
Glenntai – FUUUUUUUUUUUU (Apple Day Surprise)
The smooth, alternating jazz chords at the beginning with the monologue seemed appropriately cheesy for a compilation based on memes. What he then brought was something completely different than what we would expect from this fan of funk and swing beats… he broke out his first attempt at chip thrash. wait wait wait, this is about Glenntai?
He gets the award for the only two references to SomethingAwful made throughout this album, though.
coda – PLS GO FAST
A highly-respected musical machine in his own right, as well as a veteran musician from the *chan pre-popularity-peak era (as well as the originator of the 8bit cover of Chocolate Rain… youtube it, you’ll thank him later;) Coda hardly needs an introduction to people who have known him from his soundtracks or some of the finer pieces now stored within the /f/ archive.
If you haven’t, be introduced to his very tempo and syncopation-shifting FM track based off of primarily Sonic-series instruments in only OpenMPT (and as he specifically states in the info section, “No VSTis.” Purists rejoice!) With elements of anything from funk to ragtime and your average four-bar EDM track, coda has proven almost timelessly that he can deliver even some of the hottest jams.
YZYX – I nyaned for hours ( ‘ w’)‼ YZYX has somehow managed to take the monotonous, almost droning earworm associated with Nyancat and made it actually listenable. Nyancat has been a tried, true and tired meme for a few years, and there are plenty of covers that take it towards an EDM route (ahem, guilty as charged, your honor;) but YZYX has offered enough variation to the song to make a tiring and repetitive track into something danceable, not repetitive in nature and playable in clubs that play more than Avicci’s “Levels” eight times in a row and try to bank their money off feigned-nerd clubber culture.
Here Between You and Me – Forever Alone HBYM has rhythm expected from the early 2000’s-era pop rock bands and made a song exceptionally fitting to both the mood and spirit of the Forever Alone meme. Plenty of us can relate to the feelings (not necessarily the tales) within the lyrics while feeling the encompassing NES pulse channels’ vibrato and pitch slides that make one reminiscent of older Anamanaguchi tracks.
Theory of N – Bow Chippa Wow Wow
This electronic slow jazz with two-step percussion by Theory of N will keep you nodding your head the whole way through, especially with that deep square channel bass. It almost sounds like it could be a solid original track until you realize that it shares the same key as Careless Whisper and Sunstroke Project’s Run Away (sigh, yes, the epic sax guy song,) leading into some humorously well-timed licks of the famous sax solos.
Fun fake facts: 89% of people don’t recognize Run Away is Moldova’s only publicly-recognized hit. 99% of the people that did don’t know its originating country is Moldova. However, 100% of the people surveyed could see why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I’m predicting 100% of you will also thoroughly enjoy this track.
SingkongBalado – IDOUBLEDAREU SingkongBalado starts off softer with a vocal sampling and duty-cycling arps providing a melody to soft chords right before SingkongBalado went full-force aboard the glitch/grime train to deliver a heavy, tension-focused track; appropriate for the meme. One could even imagine a dramatic scene, suspense building as you await the reaction to someone being double-dared.
Professor Shyguy – Helix Prophecy Any fan of Clipstream (</shamelessplug>) might be familiar with this fantastic artist’s performances both on our web series and at our live showcase at MAGFest, leaving those uninitiated to Professor Shyguy’s golden voice and expertise on the simple pop song (as well as more complicated, not-as-pop songs) to enjoy this fantastic song giving tribute to Lord Helix and the prophecies within.
Maxo – Top Doge
Such Maxo. So doge. Much top. Wow.
On top of using chip elements to comprise the majority of the song, Maxo incorporated a similarly avant-garde and equally-painstaking practice of the K.K. Slider soundfont. In fact, the incorporation of K.K. genuinely puts the meme theme to the song, which is an otherwise light and bouncy, staccato-filled happy jam.
James Landino – lol, Chiptunes
A delightful reference to the only thing that people remember from YTMND except for its constant ripping-off of /gif/, James Landino brought Running in the 90’s back to life by keeping the Running in the 90’s rhythm and incorporating lyrics to replace the verse melody, returning to a simple and pure Running in the 90’s chorus. Although short, it was a fantastic moment to reminisce to times I almost received speeding tickets to this song.
Urizen – Ask Not for Whom the Jimmies Rustle (They Rustle for Thee)
When originally approached, it was expected that one member of Urizen was to do a track. Then I was presented with this track with the entire band portraying the dramatic tale of a valiant hero’s quest to prevent his Jimmies from rustling. The entire track is very reminiscent of a NES era action game, but the part I feel that really takes off in the song is once the rest of the band starts accompanying in lyrics, then immediately everything drops into the trollapalooza known as Guile’s Theme.
Rustle in peace, little jimmies. 4/1/2014 – 4/1/2014. There was no need to be upset.
Also, on a personal note, thanks for the free remaining handle of whiskey at NatsuCon, Urizen. If we cross paths again I’ll try to return the favor. I still don’t know why they scheduled me after you guys. <3
An0va – President Hoodie’s Theme
If you need an introduction to one of Philadelphia’s finest and busiest in the American chiptune scene, go find any of his tracks and prepare to feel silly for being left in the dark.
This track is a delightful little ditty depicting the light-hearted, adventurous follies of a mid-1900’s cartoon character opening tune. A notable difference is that, unlike the rest of the tracks, an0va specifically recorded his track to be at a lower quality. In addition, this track has no specific meme referenced to it, unless you count Hoodie’s typing language to be a walking meme in itself. I could almost imagine Hoodie himself replacing everyone in Steam Boat Willie, if it weren’t for the immediate anxiety of the idea of having more than one of that crazy man around in this world.
Watashimo – tfw no gf
For those of you who knew watashimo under his previous alias, shanebro, you’re in for a wild ride through the inner-workings of LSDJ. A two-channel chorused pulse echo leads the introduction and takes a step back to let the wav channel take lead, interchanging at different points. The song overall brings a reflective, sometimes nearly sad and nearly dreamy atmosphere, as if one was lost in thought absorbed over their own loneliness.
1000 Needles – Lost Lobos
When I was told this was about Insanity Wolf, I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately for all, 1000 Needles doesn’t disappoint. Period. I was pleasantly surprised by a lyrical verse encompassed by heavy guitars and noise that almost felt like it could keep you from being able to concentrate if you let it. The lyrics were humorous in nature by asking about Insanity Wolf’s child-stage history as if he was being evaluated.
K.O.M.H. – Y U NO PLAY 128 BPM Kitty on My Head is a great example of playing with typical electronic music forms and putting them where he sees fit, all while maintaining a smooth transition from one to the other. This is a track filled with deep bass kicks and an infectious sliding WAV channel bass while the two pulse channels compete for which is the catchier melody. Once again a solid track from KOMH! Sam Mulligan – The Coolest Story Bro Sam Mulligan’s delightfully bouncy chip rock has taken on a life of its own in the last few years, but you can hear the polished results of his efforts in this song about a story that went nowhere. The sarcasm may have been lost on him, but his use of other popularized ironic phrases weren’t lost on me nor did they ever lose their charm coming from Boston’s resident Nerd Rock expert.
Shyabeetus – Chiptune Poop
I don’t care what anybody says, Shyabeetus is Philadelphia’s LSDJ WAV channel wizard, and if anyone tries to prove him wrong they’ll be smote by the barrage of custom kit instruments he has put into his tribute to the popular concept Youtube Poop.
Whether you’re all about Japanese Ronald McDonald, Pingas, Spaghetti, Gentlemen, Octagons or countless other YTP references, Shyabeetus has managed to put them all in there and manipulate each sound as if you were watching the video directly on youtube, itself.
Together We Are Robots – Pools Closed A subject closely tied to several good memories of mine, Together We Are Robots manages to take the Habbo Hotel Raids and depict the story of many men’s struggles against MOD-Cleo and her band of (allegedly) racist moderators preventing their enjoyment of the pool, and later on protest due to the high levels of AIDS.
The use of a raspy voice to go along with guitar, wav channel bass, arp pulse chords and a highly effective hybrid between wav sample kits and the noise channel produce a very clean third wave ska element. The track itself is one of the few attempts of Chip Ska that have been made publicly available, period. I certainly wouldn’t mind more of this existing, friends, let’s get on this. 8BitJin – Click Here!
I only wonder what this could be, employing the tactic of click-baiting to reveal– DAMN IT. RICKROLLED AGAIN.
The evolution of the Duckroll, the Rickroll consisted of clicking a youtube link that promised one thing and then led you to the music video of Rick Astley’s pop hit “Never Gonna Give you Up.” This was highly over-popularized after it became not funny, as with every example the mass media has pretended to be “hip” with the “new crazy fads.” However, 8BitJin uses a wah lead that really takes precedence over the remainder of the track, much akin to how Rick Astley’s voice became a bigger focus of the song back in the 80’s. Very well-done cover, would click there again!
DJ McGranaman – Don’t Say His Name! DJ McGranaman has made a hauntingly catchy track out of the famous Freakazoid skit, managing to incorporate custom cricket noises and the noise channel to introduce the track with a deeply syncopated hip-hop rhythm. While this occurs, the melody slowly evolves into an ominous overshadowing of the dire consequences should you utter his name. The end is sure to remind you of a childhood nightmare, and it felt so uncomfortably good.
Michael Zucker – Unstoppable
The one thing I can say, without a doubt, is that Michael Zucker has channeled the spirit of a T-Rex with grabby-claws and put it into music. May it have mercy on your flesh-snack of a body once it finds you.
Extent of the Ham – You Spin Me Around Extent of the Ham (Jam) most certainly gets the award for the most challenging topic to spin a song from. Using VOPMex to bring in the tonal synths and a very funky bass line, it’s easy to get the feeling of an 80’s era pop song that was intentionally created to be too “weird” for audiences to follow. Regardless, Extent of the Ham did a fantastic job singing the stressed pleas of the misunderstood spider. However I will admit, much like the spider, I misunderstood the lyrics of the chorus for the first listen-through. At first I thought he was singing about Meatspin.
I’m incredibly glad I didn’t have to write about an ode to Meatspin. Thank you, Extent of the H/Jam. <3 D&D Sluggers – Slam Jam (of the Year) D&D Sluggers manages to take a tried-and-true Quad City DJs track and throw into it various references from the secretly-required Guiles Theme to Jam of the Year, Storm Blooper’s “Somebody Stole All the Icecream!”, another reference to Epic Sax Guy, to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, to Trolololololing until halted by President Hoodie in the “production” booth.
Final Thoughts This compilation is surprisingly delightful to all of those who would roll their eyes to all the abundant overusage of memes, a fantastic 22-track soundtrack to cause some shenanigans to, and a delight to all of us reliving days when the internet was a simpler (and easily much more offensive) time. Download it for free off of the Chiptunes = WIN Bandcamp, and make sure you have stairs in your household.
…DAMN IT HOODIE. I DIDN’T ADD THIS PICTURE. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.
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!!