Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nerf Herder - Nerf Herder

Much like how everybody will eventually come to their senses regarding use of the terms "bloghouse" and "shitgaze," the notion that "geek rock" could ever have been seen as a legitimate genre of music hopefully now stands as a regrettable embarrassment to anyone who ever celebrated such a worthless non-culture of awful bedwetting taste. Ever since the guy from Weezer wore glasses and said pop culture references and had the bassist who invented the MOOG synthesizer, the public would never have to worry about the post-grunge landscape lacking in its share of real dorky shit like Ben Folds Five and Where Is My Mind: A Tribute To The Pixies. I dunno if sad ugly kids these days have their lives changed by Motion City Soundtrack videos or not, but believe it or not there was a time when Superdrag literally ruled the earth/used bins like the gods they were.

Put down that Ozma CD for one forkin' second, though! Back in the glory days of 1996, there was one band that put every last one of its fellow Buzz Bin titans to shame. Not only is their name an obscure reference to The Empire Strikes Back, their only sort of hit single an ode to the recorded output of David Lee Roth era Van Halen, and their most widely heard song the instrumental theme music to Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Nerf Herder possessed a raw pop-punk awkwardness that only made their "nerd" shtick seem more genuine, which works wonders towards helping their pretty basic power pop musical stylings to not devolve into dull repetitiveness over the course of a half hour long album.

That particular album is the band's self-titled debut and it sports some wholly non-descript playing and arrangements, as well as a handful of fairly horrendous CD packaging decisions. Singer Parry Gripp sounds and looks like your dad but doesn't let that stop him from rocking out, a philosophy that would be rode to the bank by Craig Finn a decade later (plug both gentlemen into Google Image Search and try to understand what I mean here.) Surely you gathered as much from exposure to the alternative rock classic "Van Halen," but does the rest of the album measure up to those heights?

Incredibly, yes. While displaying much of the Cars and Cheap Trick worship that Weezer made no attempts to hide on their debut LP, there's a primitiveness in their sound that brings to mind the more tolerable Lookout! Records acts such as the Mr. T Experience and Screeching Weasel. And like the MTX, Nerf Herder can't say no to a sickeningly catchy melody to carry their songs about girls and being a social outcast, even if it means disgracing whatever punk credentials they probably never even had in the first place. While no other song is a nonstop barrage of references like "Van Halen," Rush manages to get a shoutout in "Golfshirt," while the legendary middle section of "Nosering Girl" includes a virtual grocery list of vegan food items. Even a tragic love story such as "Diana" manages to include the line "She sat on his face and the rest is history!" and namedrop the band's drummer. Don't dismiss it as "joke rock," this was the alternative era when bands still took chances.

Rating: Balls out all killer no filler 10/10 classic.

Download Link: "Sorry"... the underappreciated second single. Catchy chorus, hysterical lyrics, a video starring Mark Hamill... this is what music is all about.

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