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

bunch.

 

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.

 

Tracklist:

 

1) Weezer - El Scorcho

Summarizes perfectly what it means to be a nerd, with a fantastic

singalong chorus.

 

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

non-mainstream act.

 

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.

 

http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&uid=CASS70305160439&sql=X1654208

 

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

that theme.

 

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

explain themselves.

 

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."