2011 has been one fantastic and interesting year for geek music: we’ve seen some great releases over the past couple of months, referencing everything from physics to superheroes to novels to the general geeky livelihood that we all enjoy. Picking out the top notable albums of the year was pretty easy, but picking the best from that list was a bit harder. Here’s what rocked our speakers this year:
7: Jim Guthrie, Sword & Sworcery LP – The Ballad of the Space Babies
This is a bit of an odd entry: it’s a soundtrack, but it stands alone on its own as an album. Back in March, Superbrothers released an outstanding game, Sword & Sworcery, designed specifically for the iPad. It’s a great game and cleverly designed. What’s most interesting, however, is how music is integrated into the game. The soundtrack, written by singer/songwriter Jim Guthrie, plays out like an ambient album. It’s great mood music, interesting throughout, and a great accompaniment for the game, but it stands alone by itself very, very well. It’s great writing music.
Buy the album here.
6: Weird Al Yankovic, Alpocalypse
Geek Music and Weird Al really go hand in hand. Much of this album has actually already been heard before: Yankovic has released at least half of the album already on the internet, and included them on this release. It’s a fun one, even if there isn’t as much new material, but it continues to show that Weird Al has a great formula that continues to work despite the changes to the music industry since he started in the early 80s. Plus? Alpocalypse earned Al two Grammy nominations: one for Best Comedy Album, and the other for Perform This Way’s video.
Buy the Album here.
5: M.C. Frontalot, Solved
This is one awesome album, with a number of songs that really stand out for me: Critical Hit, Captains of Industry, and a couple of others. M.C. Frontalot has quite a bit more competition now in the nerdcore genre, but with albums and songs like this, it’s clear that he’s still one of the best out there. There’s some great cameos from comedians Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman and Wyatt Cenac throughout the album as well, as an added bonus to the music.
Buy Solved here.
[UPDATE] 4.5: Kirby Krackle, Super Powered Love
I made a mistake with this list, leaving off Kirby Krackle’s 2011 album. Somewhere between my first and second drafts, it vanished from the list, and it didn’t make it onto the final list, where it should have.
Super Powered Love is a fantastic bit of fun, and continues a lot of the things that I liked about their last album. There are some great tracks off of this effort, such as the title track, Super Powered Love, Comic Shop, and Nerd Money, all which bounce along as some of their best tracks.
4: John Anealio, Various
John didn’t release a full album this year, but he has released a bunch of new songs this year, including his Angry Robot EP, GeekDad and Undead Love Song, all of which completely rocked. He’s certainly an artist to watch in the next couple of years, as his music has been on an upward trend. Watch for Steampunk Girl and some type of Geek Rock Opera to come out in the 2012.
Get his music here.
3: Jonathan Coulton, Artificial Heart
One of the best geek artists out there, Coulton has returned from a long hiatus with his latest album, Artificial Heart, his most polished and professional album to date. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve heard a whole lot of new material from Coulton, and this album succeeds on all levels: musically, geekily, and lyrically. He manages a nice balance between overly geeky songs like Nemesis (the best track off of the album), and others, like Today With Your Wife. Produced by John Flansburgh, (and the album certainly has his fingerprints), it’s a slick, well engineered affair. Buy the album here.
2: Marian Call, Something Fierce
Call has returned home from a long tour across the country in 2009, where she hit up every state, and her next project was something that she had talked about while on tour: a new album. This double-CD album is a work of love, sweat and tears, and it shows. Easily showcasing some of her best efforts to date, Something Fierce blends from the subtly geeky to just plain, fantastic folk-rock. She’s written some of my favorite songs to date, from Good Morning Moon, Whistle While You Wait, and Temporal Dominoes, amongst others. It’s a great album, hands down.
Buy it here.
1: Fiction, The Science of Fiction
This album came out of nowhere to completely steal my heart. Completely inspired by Lev Grossman’s fantastic novel, The Magicians, this album is an astounding concept album, one that recounts the high points of the novel, but strays out to some other topics here and there.
Above all of the geeky references to The Magicians or zombies and magic, these guys have put together an album that sound brilliant. It’s tight, unique and a great blend of sound that doesn’t sound like it’s a project that was thrown together with a couple of guys in a garage. There’s a lot of passion that went into this project, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
You can buy the album here by naming your own price. I strongly recommend checking it out.