20 Sided Vice, the brand new full-length album from freshmen duo Megathruster, casts a wide net into nerd rock fandom, but can they pull in the big haul?
The album kicks off with a cultural commentary piece about the phenomenon of YouTube gaming popularity called “Other People Playing Minecraft.” Though the song – like much of the album – takes a silly approach to the subject of online entertainment, lead singer/songwriter Chris Waffle echoes the perspective of many older, pre-internet nerds who struggle to understand the attraction of some of YouTube’s most popular channels … and how often that struggle reaffirms in our own adult-nerd minds just how much things have changed.
The album continues with another highlight track titled “It’s Not Out Yet,” a winking, self-aware call-to-arms for the masses of “keyboard critics” populating the forums and comment threads of the internet who can’t help tearing down every mainstream film, fiction novel and creative work before it’s even been released.
A tribute to the classic educational game “The Oregon Trail” is next, followed by “Netflix and Chill,” a goofy, non-sexual interpretation of the popular phrase where Netflix wins Waffle’s attentions over his implied date. At one point in the song, Waffle even requests outright “Can you please keep your clothes on?/ We’re only half-way through the Wrath of Khan.”
Megathruster’s concepts shift between cultural commentary, specific fandoms (“Chewbacca” and “It’s Rough to be a Hufflepuff”), and a few original ideas like “Making Love Like A Geek,” a goofy 2-step country ballad in a style Hank Sr. would have been proud of. Occasionally, the humor even dips into the absurdly juvenile, with tracks like “Settlers Of My Pants” and “Fuck Mountain,” both of which are basically sold to the listener directly in the title, and neither disappoint.
As a singer, Waffle – a Portland, OR transplant by way of Los Angeles, CA – lacks the vocal athleticism of a Professor Shyguy or The Protomen’s Raul Panther III, but he makes up for it in charisma and solid song-writing mixed with a self-deprecating sense of humor and some solid bass work. An equally impressive performance on this album comes from Christian Lipski, one third of the Portland based folk group The PDX Broadsides, who lends a considerable amount of drums, guitar and backup vocal work.
Megathruster’s “20-Sided Vice” is a fun, funny first album that covers a wide range of interests. Described as “Jonathan Coulton meets Tenacious D,” this acoustic-rock duo has plenty to offer any nerd music fan that doesn’t mind a bit of blue-collar humor. The album is available via Bandcamp, iTunes, or CDBaby, all of which are linked at the band’s website megathruster.com.
In addition, readers can check out some of the tracks from the album as well as my interview with Megathruster’s Chris Waffle completely free at Radio Free Nerdcore.