The past few weeks have been a great time for fans of nerdy music, especially if you’re from Ontario, Canada. The alt-rock trio of Pulled from Panels released their 6 song EP, VS. – A celebration of Marvel’s anti-hero characters – on Easter weekend. Multi-genre songstress Leslie Hudson unleashed the power of The Redhead League upon us at the beginning of April. And now, just last week, we got Borken Telephone, the latest nerd rock album from Peter Chiykowski, better know as Rock, Paper, Cynic.
Crowdfunded last summer through Kickstarter, Borken Telephone was originally sold on the idea of a social experiment involving numerous bands contributing to a crazy game of broken telephone. Peter would record a 1 minute song about a game of broken telephone gone awry and then the multitude of artists who signed on would get to hear the song only once and record their own version of it from memory. The end result would be Peter recording a version of the last band’s take on the piece (now with a 2 minute running time….it’s amazing how things expand when you’re playing broken telephone…..or borken telephone as it were). Both the original and the final versions are featured on the album and it’s surprising just how much the song changes. But while the experiment is interesting (especially if you get to hear the 18 minute version showcasing ALL the different takes performed by the many great artists involved), it really pales in comparison to the album itself.
Borken Telephone is a solid indie rock album full of songs about love and loss and passion and personal journeys. These journeys and feelings explored also happen to have a very nerdy narrative. Instead of a standard love song about a guy falling for a girl, Zeroes and Ones tells the story of an artificial intelligence falling in love with its maker but having no direct way to tell them because they don’t have a mouth or a body or even a standard language to convey their thoughts. Instead of a classic protest song talking about hot button issues ripped from the headlines, One Shell, Two Shell, Red Shell, Blue Shell (featuring Kirby Krackle and Adam WarRock) is a tongue-in-cheek protest of the escalating violence among the racers in Mario Cart. Instead of a song about starting a new relationship after a breakup, I Don’t Need You (I’ve Got Netflix) is a self-explanatory premise of finding a meaningful connection with the streaming service. The concepts are very geeky but are delivered in a laid back, melodic style that even the not-so-geeky can find enjoyment. It welcomes you in like a warm hug.
Of the many enjoyable tracks on the album, there are two that stand out for me: This Will Never End and Geeks In Love. This Will Never End is a celebration of friendship looking back on a collection of roommates and their time together. Everyone’s had that moment in their life when they felt they had the perfect group to hang with where you weren’t thinking about the future. You were just enjoying the moment of being with these people. They made you happy. That feeling is perfectly captured in this song. At his CD Release show in Toronto this past weekend, Peter said that when he wrote the song, it was about his college roommates and the fun they had. Now, he sees the song being about the friends he has now through the nerd music community.
Geeks In Love (featuring the Doubleclicks) is a duet about, you guessed it, two geeks meeting and falling in love. Using some clever wordplay and a few nerdy puns, the chorus and verses stick in your brain in a good way. The song feels like it could be the closing credits song to a lost indie film from the mid-nineties. It’s the right mix of sentiment and comedy (complete with some very cheesy, geek-centric pick up lines).
If you’re looking for a fun and relaxing album that covers some classic song fodder from a unique perspective, I highly recommend giving Borken Telephone by Rock, Paper, Cynic a listen. It’s available now on bandcamp, amazon, CD Baby and more. You can also stream it at borkentelephone.com.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!