Year Old Girls
Zombies In Robots Out
Leading off the first music review at David's Video Game Insanity is a CD by the first self-proclaimed "Nintendo Punk" band, 14 Year Old Girls. The album has been out for over a year and they have a follow-up release on the way on September 28th of this year. At the time of this release they consisted of four members (Kimmy and Halfy did the vocals, Billy on guitar, and Honey on the bass and keyboards) however for their next CD they're expanding by one. They were featured on an episode of TechTV's (now G4TechTV) video game program X-Play and while the exposure was good, the notorious poor acoustics of the TechTV set (it's actually the original Techlive set from the very earliest TechTV days) left their music and lyrics sounding shaky and of poor quality. However recorded under proper conditions they're a modern new wave act like no other.. take Devo, Squeeze, and The Kinks and throw them all in a blender with a few NES cartridges and out would pour 14 Year Old Girls (the band, not the age and gender). The CD was somewhat hard to find, even surprisingly enough in the bay area, but thanks to online sales through Amazon.com and their label Retard Disco this album sold far more copies than I ever would have expected.
Let's be frank here, it's music about video games! Especially music about the culture and generation of the NES, why wouldn't I buy this? I did, after all, devote over two years now to working on an NES on Dreamcast release archive. While there are other video game themed bands, 14 Year Old Girls seems to come straight from the school of old.. from the generation that, oh, around 1997 or so looked around and realized how the video game industry had pretty much shoved our preverbal heads up our asses. Back when arcades were the only excuse to leave your house, when you wore your hands raw playing games non-stop fueled by endless caffeine and sugar, and every night is a sprite rendered party and everyone is still invited. However the realm of the music doesn't sit only on sugar benders and fond memories of 8 bit carnage but everything seems to come from that perspective. Most of the songs are less than minute long, but it's punk, so what do you expect? I'll go over each song in the order they appear on the CD...
Level 1: Galaga
A song about what is probably the most well known classic shooter, hell it's probably the best known arcade shooter. It's a good set up for the rest of the album, a fast paced new wave sounding anthem that actually comes across as a bit of how Blondie sounded during the early 80's.
Level 2: Big Grab
No, there's no game called Big Grab, this song is about potato chips. (you know, like the 99 cent bag of chips is called the big grab) Actually this is one of my favorite songs on the disc, it's like the bar anthem for the retrogamer! Strangely enough it could also work as a Pac-Man or Space Invaders song with lines like "I'm gonna eat you.. (and another and another) until your kind is gone.. (until your kind is gone) I'm gonna eat you.. (and another and another) nobody can eat just one... (nobody can eat just one)."
Level 3: 1-800-255-3700
This was pretty much their big single, back in the 8 bit era (and into the 16 bit age, but to a lesser extent) the Nintendo Game Hotline was the greatest resource for learning how to get around difficult parts of games. Surprisingly "255-3700" works really well in a song, and this new wave punk ballad will bring back fond memories of racking up huge weekly phone bills for our parents years ago.
Level 4: Castlevania Punk
The title is pretty much self explanatory but the rhythm of this song sounds like it was ripped out of one of the NES Castlevania games. It's a high speed (speed punk anyone?) review of some of the key points and mechanics that make the Castlevania games what they are. For instance "the candles are gone because everyone took heart" if you don't know is a play on words concerning how hearts are used for special weapon ammunition points in the Castlevania games, and most of them fall as powerups from destroying candles.
Level 5: Slush Puppy
An ode to slush puppy, a great song that would stand on it's own away from the rest of the album. However there are a ton of lyrics in the liner notes that are not contained in the actual song. As this album was produced on a limited budget and just barely made release, it's not tremendously surprising that the versions don't match up, it is somewhat disappointing however. Let's hope that on the next album such problems are taken care of, it would be nice if I could find an official comment on this - if anyone out there has any information please let me know!
Update! - I've actually received an e-mail from Honey (bass player for 14 Year Old Girls) concerning this song. Here are the contents of the entire e-mail.. "hello. this is honey, bass, for 14 year old girls. wow. i really liked the review. i just wanted to answer your question about slush puppy. the extra lyrics. they are from the original version of the song that we used to do live. but when we recorded the song we left them out because everyone in the band hates that song. we wanted slush puppy off the record but andy retard loved the song. whatever. but the new cd comes out this month. and our egm ep. its the best things ever made. seriously. thanks. -honey" ...that's just cool.
Level 6: Aminal Forest
Yeah, that's spelled right. An homage to Animal Forest (Animal Crossing in the states) it basically describes the entire game and the effect it has on the lives of those who play it. It's about time that the game that has become known as "Nintencrack" had a theme, some great wordsmithing in here and if this song got some heavy radio play this album would have done much better.
Level 7: Elevator Action
A classic simple game that gets no respect for how frenzied it can get finally receives some reparations. This got stuck in my head fairly quickly and I'm pretty sure that from this point forward every time I'm in an elevator I'll have to say "I'm a spy with the elevator action.. elevator action.. elevator action."
Level 8: Run Lolo Run
Obviously a play on the indie film classic "Run Lola Run" here we are given an old school punk anthem to the Adventures of Lolo games. Anyone that's ever played this game knows what happens when you press select in any of these classic puzzle titles, it causes suicide if you don't know (or "give up" but everyone calls it suicide) and is the last resort to restart a puzzle if you get stuck. ..which is pretty much what the song is about, Lolo just before he commits suicide by select being pressed.
Level 9: Rayden on Prom Night
It's a song about Rayden from Mortal Kombat... a homoerotic song about Rayden from Mortal Kombat. It really reminds me of another song but I can't seem to place it.. which is really pissing me off. Just remember kids, "life must suck if your name is Rayden."
Level 10: Pacman's in Egypt
Another 8 bit sounding song, this time about Pac-man being on vacation with Ms. Pac-man and getting chased and eaten by zombies and mummies. There will be a follow up to this song on their next album.
Level 11: This is a Devo Cover
They actually really sound a LOT like Devo here. The song is about releasing the namesake creatures from their tanks at Red Lobster or other similar restaurants. This really is the best homage to Devo since Weird Al did "Dare to be Stupid."
Level 12: Grand Theft Auto 3
Anyone that's played video games for at least the past 15 years can remember a time when the industry was heavily looked down upon by the mass media and common person. However over the past five years or so video games have continuously become the mainstream. This song both notes how a large amount of people that know nothing about the industry think it belongs to them (you know, the people I hate that are like "I wear an Atari shirt because Atari is so retro cool punk.. but I can't name a single first party Atari release") but also on the flipside how that now the industry is mainstream the next generation won't have the same problems to overcome with being involved with gaming. (unless you play D&D 'cause then I'm still going to kick your ass.. some things never change)
Level 13: Star World
A surreal punk song about Star World and Starman powerups from Super Mario Bros that strangely sounds like The Waitresses could be playing it. It's not a bad song but against the rest of the playlist it just seems weak.. maybe I'm just losing my taste for drifty new wave music. (say it ain't so)
Level 14: Renegade
Hell yes! It's about freaking time!! Renegade was basically the game that created the basic game mechanic for all those Nekketsu games (known as River City Ransom in the USA). The lyrics in the liner notes say "Get lost punk (play the game and you'll understand)" so if someone hasn't played this game, which is sad, I will explain. If you lose a life in the first stage (even the boss fight with Jack if I remember correctly) it says "Get lost punk!" Among the NES preservationists this is one of those things that somewhat sets you apart as an NES gamer. Compared to the rest of the album this song is a lot more rock and a lot less punk. This is one of my favorite NES games and I like it way more than River City Ransom, probably because I have fond memories of spending countless hours fighting through this unique beat em up. Yeah, there is a real song here, the get lost punk thing is just a wisecrack in the liner notes, the song pretty much explains the whole game.
Level 15: Veggie Sandwiches Are
the Best Sandwiches Ever
If there was a mass orgy of everything described on this entire CD, it would be the subject of this song. Now I seriously doubt anyone will ever have a retro Nintendo party, but I have been to a few video game parties (no, not LAN parties). Additionally back in high school we would have 7pm to 11pm VICA night out parties on the last saturday of every month in the engineering wing where we'd just screw around and play video games, eat, have big LAN games going, run a PlayStation (it was 1998~1999 remember) on a projector to have a 25' screen to play Gran Turismo and Ridge Racer Type 4 on, and just enjoy being part of a culture that wasn't mainstream quite yet. Not to mention the PlayStation version of the original Dead or Alive was quite humorous on such a big screen (especially when you turn breast bounce up to 99%).
Level 16: Tomb Raider UK Pop
Tomb Raider sucks... it really sucks.. it has always sucked.. it only sucks more with each game released.. Lara Croft is a crappy character that has never looked remotely attractive... the movies with Angelina Jolie have sucked ass.. why has no one else figured this out yet? I most certainly have since the first time I played the original title. This song starts out sounding like it's going to be some punk love ballad but it's really about how crappy the Tomb Raider franchise is. I'll admit that this is my favorite song on the entire CD, with lines like "Lara Croft, piss off.. Eidos, piss off.. England, piss off.. Tomb Raider, piss off.." how can you possibly go wrong?
Final Verdict: If you're really into the video game industry, especially the NES era, and you like new wave / punk (real punk, not that crap that passes for it now days) music then you simply must pick up this CD. It lists for only $9.99 (as will the next album, "Strategy Guide") and it really shouldn't be judged until you have a chance to listen to it. There are a lot of bad reviews circulating around but they are all based off their performance on X-Play, which as I said at the top of this review was going to sound bad no matter what because the former TechTV studios weren't designed for live music... they were designed to take live phone calls and talk back and forth with the cameras. Even when They Might Be Giants have been on The Screen Savers a few times over the years they have sounded really bad in nearly every appearance, again because of the poor acoustics of the studio. Even if you're not heavily into the video game industry of old, it's still a good CD to pick up for a fresh new wave sound and the next one is supposed to be 100 times better.
For more information check out http://www.14yearoldgirls.net/
or their label at http://www.retarddisco.com.
Written on 08-01-04 by David, email@example.com
Last amended 11-18-07 by David, firstname.lastname@example.org
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