Nerds Are Cool
Mixed by Aman - 5/18/2003
This mix was my attempt to assemble something that would pleasantly
evoke with minimal embarrassment the genre known as 'nerd-rock.' Now
this is a broad term that can encompass as much or as little rock as
you want it to. It's further problematic for me because I don't
really listen to rock, as such, much. In other words, not a whole
In general, the music spans the ultra-nerdy stars whose lights shine
brightest in the eyes of true nerds (Weezer, TMBG, Dead Milkmen),
to acts that are just kinda goofy and nerdy in the way things come out
(Flaming Lips, Four Postmen, Black Velvet Flag, B52's), to
misanthropic society-hating outcast nerdiness rock (Descendents, Black
Flag), to awkward outcast nerdiness (Bunk9, The Modern Lovers), to
self-conscious artsy-nerdiness (Momus, Dismemberment Plan). And
everything in between and at the peripheries. I guess really all the
songs just relate in some way back to me being a nerd, which is I
guess what nerd rock is all about.
With the exception of classic rock, this collection just about rounds
out all the music I listen to with guitars. In the future, I don't
think I'll be able to assemble many more purely rock compilations. In
fact I had to struggle to keep some electronic stuff off of here, but
all that stuff will turn up later, I figure.
1) Weezer - El Scorcho
Summarizes perfectly what it means to be a nerd, with a fantastic
2) The Modern Lovers - I'm Straight
I guess this usage of the term has "straight" has grown a bit archaic,
but no matter. Still a good old-fashioned song about the difficulties
of trying to get laid when you're competing against hippies.
3) Bunk9 - A.D.D.
Bunk9 is an excellent college band (from Tufts) that formed around the
lead of a band my friend used to be in (Army of Linus). Both of these
bands basically kept the spirit of Weezer alive, long after Weezer
disappeared off the map and returned covered in shit and shlock. If
Weezer continued to mature, I think they would be covering the
excellent territory Bunk9 is in now.
4) Ozma - Natalie Portman
Another Weezer knock-off, with a less original sound. Cute little
song, though. Especially if you were born (like myself and Natalie
Portman) in 1981.
5) Dead Milkmen - Punk Rock Girl
Hilarious account of a wayward relationship with a troubled girl.
Makes me smile every time.
6) Blur - Coffee & TV
A somewhat uplifting look at depression. Ingratiatingly catchy.
7) Papas Fritas - Passion Play
A wonderful little love song... or is it? What is the passion play?
Is he singing about a girl, or a game of basketball?
8) Wilco - Heavy Metal Drummer
Nice little piece of heady nostalgia with some interesting analog
instrumentation thrown in them mix (as in analog electronics).
9) Flaming Lips - She Don't Use Jelly
Extremely bizarre piece of radio-friendly rock from an otherwise
10) Yura Yura Teikoku - Yurayurateikoku de kangaechu
I have no idea where I came across this act, but I love them! These
guys fucking ROCK, in that Japanese-surf-rockabilly-punk-hyphenated
way. I just wish I could find their CD's somewhere...
11) The Four Postmen - Rabbit Valley
A bit cheesy perhaps, but some nice harmonies and instrumentation on
this wacky tune. Kind of like the Barenaked Ladies, except, you know,
good. (Best moment: "... and sometimes Y...")
12) B52's - Rock Lobster
Quirk, eccentricity and flamboyance long before Love Shack. Not that
Love Shack's a bad song, but Rock Lobster's waaaay better, and much
more menacing. There's an excellent review of this song on AllMusic,
it's totally worth reading.
My, that's an obscenely long link. I'll post this link somewhere you
can just click on it. Or you can find the song review yourself.
13) Agent Orange - Get Smart Theme
What a nerdy (and tremendously good) show "Get Smart" was. I mean,
Don Adams. And ooh, 99. And the shoe-phone! And the cone of
silence! Anyway, it had a great theme, and this is a great cover of
14) The Descendents - Hope
I only heard this song in the first place because Sublime covered it
on their first album... but, whatever. I'm all about covers. I like
the tone of this song, non-offensive outsider punk. Which, if I
remember my textbooks correctly, is what the punk movement was all
about in the first place. Now the guitars on the radio all sound the
same, and well, I won't get started.
15) Catch-22 - Day in Day Out
A formerly amazing punk-ska outfit from East Brunswick, NJ who used to
play free shows at the Rutgers Student Center all the time. We used
to run into the lead singer at the Best Buy and play him at Super
Mario Kart once in a while. Excellent excellent misanthropic
sentiments here, contrasted against the punchy horns and bouncy
guitar/drums. Check out the lyrics and tell me no one ever said it
better: "I don't need anyone/I don't need anyone/I don't need
anyone/to tell me what to feel/I don't need anyone/I don't need
anyone/I don't need anyone/to hate the world with me."
16) Black Flag - Fix Me
Classic pre-Henry Rollins Black Flag. 56 seconds that pretty much
17) Black Velvet Flag - Institutionalized
A band whose name is a play on the previous act, but who turn up the
nerdiness in their schmaltzy interpretations of punk-hardcore songs.
Actually, they're really horrible. But this cover is worth hearing
compared to the original Suicidal Tendencies version because you can
understand the words, which are important here.
18) The (English) Beat - Tears of a Clown
Another great cover (I'm all about covers, I claim), this time of a
Smokey Robinson tune, by a great 2nd wave ska act.
19) They Might Be Giants - Hearing Aid
Not too much of a rock tune, but definitely the king of all nerd-rock
acts. "More coffee for me boss... 'cause I'm not as MESSED UP as I
want to be..."
20) Jim White - God Was Drunk When He Made Me
Cleverest little song I've heard in a long time. If I ever make a
movie this will be playing in all the seedy bars the anti-hero
protagonist walks into while searching for all the answers to his
ultimately unanswerable questions.
21) Momus - MC Escher
The viceroy of too-smart pomo self-consciously indulgent nerd music,
Momus. I love this guy. But you kind of have to be a little punk
like me to love him. This song is so clever (and smug) it will make
you want to scream. In the course of a few minutes, he puns all over
the place, references all of Escher's best known works, references
Satie, Biz Markie, Poe, Marx, and Kafka. I mean, if your name is
'MC,' you're pretty much asking for it.
"But if we imagine a world where every MC / really is badder and
fresher than every other, / it just gets madder and madder / One of
those rooftop salmon ladders drawn by..."
22) The Dismemberment Plan - Tonight We Mean It
Definitely my favorite rock band in the world, just making a plea for
the impossible: dropping all the ironic self-aware bullshit that
surrounds us and just doing and saying what we all mean, for once.
Probably the best rock lyric ever:
"I know everybody here would love to get down
And to wipe the slate clean --
do what they want and say what they mean
and uh, eliminate the, uh, existential, uh,
quandaries of, uh, modern, uh, post-modern, uh,
reality... ya dig? No issues! No motives!
No problems! No questions! Just sexy people
and purity of intention. Sounds so good that
I can barely bring myself to mention... it's just
my sad sad invention."