Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Just Try To Find The Special Weapon To Beat This 'Final Boss'

It takes a rare breed of man who can write rap lyrics that range from references to Ralph Macchio to Star Wars convention golden showers and while I certainly don't want to be privy to the details that spawned these songs, I can't help but listen when MC Frontalot starts singing about them.

Front's latest album, 'Final Boss'(released November 2008) follows the titular singles placement during the closing credits of Penny Arcade Adventures Episode One. Despite being hyped by it's involvement in the Penny Arcade game, this album(aside from a few small quibbles) hits all the right notes.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way, two of the albums twelve musical tracks are remixes of older Frontalot songs. 'A Very Unlikely Occurance' and 'Listen Close' make their return here. It's hard not to feel like the original cuts of these songs were catchier and just generally better. One can presume that these new remixes were included perhaps to document the songs without the use of licensed sample music, but nonetheless it's hard not to feel cheated by their inclusion here.

With that out of the way, let me say that 'Final Boss' is an absolute blast of nerdy goodness. From the opening song 'Wallflowers'(about a new dance called the Margaret Thatcher) to the actual 'Final Boss' track the album takes very few missteps. The weakest track, 'Black Box', is an attempt to broach a political topic in this case the fallacy of computerized voting machines. The song's message is that voting doesn't work, so don't do it. It seems childish and petulant in it's complaints about voting and government, which is a shame because Front's last major attempt at a political song 'Special Delivery' worked fairly well.

Even 'Black Box' can be forgiven when it is preceded by the sublime 'Scare Goat' a song about the internet viral videos of fainting goats. With lyrics like:
Go back in time, find Scully and Mulder.
Don't ask, just grab their zoology folder,
then bring it back to me now, if I'm still around;
I might be mingling with mole people underground
or up in the sky on a hippogryph,
flying through this abyss (it's in my syllabus).
It's a great song, probably the strongest on the album. It is also accompanied by a spoken skit that sets up the improbability of people denying the existence of the scare goat. Both skit and song are well done and very funny.

Near the end of the album there is a mostly spoken skit starring Star Trek: The Next Generation's Wil Wheaton. At the risk of spoiling the joke, let me just say there is rapping. Just let that sink in for a moment.

In addition to Wheaton, Front is joined by other guests for assistance on these tracks, most notably to me is indie geek-rock sensation Jonathan Coulton famed for his songs Re: Your Brains, Flickr and Still Alive(which lit the video gaming world on fire with it's inclusion in Valve Software's Portal). His work on the song 'Diseases of Yore' moves the song into a hip hop/acoustic rock mash up that works surprisingly well.

All in all 'Final Boss' is an impressive effort that should be in any nerd's musical collection regardless of whether you normally enjoy hip hop or not.

'Final Boss' is currently available from in both physical and digital formats.

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