When it comes to nerdy music, it appears that Song Parodies might be king. Many bands with a geeky vibe have turned to the parody to showcase their love of the Trek, the Wars, D+D, you name it. The fact is that while it may be a popular trend, there are not very many ones that are all that good. So imagine my surprise to see a full E.P. that not only offers a plethora of interesting and well put together song parodies but also sports the musical talent to back it up. I am referring to CTRL+ALT+Duets, the recent release from the Toronto-based duo of Debs and Errol. If you go to their website it reads, “She has Class. He has Geek“, but after listening to what can only be described as a nerdy detour down pop culture lane, I’d have to say that both of these cats are pretty classy when it comes to their musical abilities.
What’s most impressive about this album is the wide variety of content covered in the many verses presented. Whether it’s classic PC gaming, zombies or big name sci fi franchises, no nerdy stone is left unturned. Taking the tune of Falling Slowly and re-purposing it to be Falling Quickly, it becomes a very heart felt song about the game of Tetris. The Cyndi Lauper classic Time after Time gets a Star Wars facelift as TIE after TIE, a reliving of the ups and downs of the Rebellion’s long battle with the Empire. And the land of online RPGs and MMOs is spoofed in A Virtual World, a take on A Whole New World from Disney’s Aladdin. Bob Seger (Commodore 64) and The BareNaked Ladies (If I were an Undead Crawler) are not safe either as they succumb to the parody powers of this dynamic duo. Through it all, Debs and Errol are gregarious wordsmiths. There’s a level referencing going on that is above your casual name dropping in a song. Full stories of geeky-ness unfold before your ears, all with high production values and pretty harmonies.
When it comes to parody bands, the ability to sing is sometimes an afterthought. Many feel that the re-referencing of the lyrics is enough to make people want to listen. This usually leaves the actual singing abilities of the band much to be desired. Not so with Debs and Errol. They both have very enjoyable voices that are both soothing and inviting. Being able to sing seems like a no-brainer when making music but it’s definitely worth mentioning that musical talent is not lacking here.
The only problem that faces this album is the fact that parody songs carry the baggage of the actual songs that are being parodied. I personally can’t stand Bob Seger. The same goes for BNL. And when it comes to early 90s Disney tunes, I am brought back to my teenage days of babysitting my little syblings, something I wish to not relive any time soon. While I can appreciate the re-purposing of these songs into something that I find more entertaining, I can’t always shake the effects of the source material. Thankfully the aforementioned musical prowess and entertaining lyrics are there to help distract me from the latter day sins of pop music.
If you’re a fan of nerd culture, CTRL+ALT+Duets is worth a listen. Debs and Errol show immense amounts of talent on this album and I look forward to see what’s next for them. Pick up the album a listen on bandcamp and purchase it for your nerd music collection.