CoS Exclusive FeaturesList 'Em Carefully

The Greatest Nerd Rock Records of All Time

on March 14, 2014, 10:30am
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When your childhood is molded by incessant teasing, unrequited love, and awkward moments of always being chosen last in kickball, the least likely career path to choose is that of rock stardom. However, fortunately for us, some of those unassuming geeks elevated their oddball status to rock mythos, turning out gloriously nerdy records that only a true underdog can appreciate. Some of these albums were amazing, and some were just… well, let’s just say they carried the goofball torch with honor. In any case, this misfit band of outsiders gave us someone relatable to idolize — and the following 10 albums gave us enough geeky material to make us feel like we weren’t totally alone.

–Christina Salgado
Staff Writer

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Enrique
September 22, 2014 at 5:31 pm

I know this website offers quality depending articles or reviews and extra stuff, is there any other site which provides these kinds of things in quality?

James
September 3, 2014 at 8:04 pm

I’d also throw in The Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I

Stefan
August 7, 2014 at 2:48 pm

I was suggested this website by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my trouble. You’re amazing! Thanks!

Airdick
July 31, 2014 at 3:36 pm

You missed…NOTHING; you listed exactly the artists you felt worthy of your list.

Matthew Bates
July 31, 2014 at 3:00 am

Missing: The Residents, Negativland, and Longmont Potion Castle. But awesome list nonetheless.

angelmozaik
July 31, 2014 at 1:23 am

No Trout Mask Replica?!

movedtoportland
March 24, 2014 at 6:57 pm

No Mc Chris!?

marco agnoldo
March 23, 2014 at 3:28 pm

you missed Frank Zappa. fix it please

Anonymous
March 21, 2014 at 11:31 pm

Deathpod comes from the sky!

empresstrudy
March 21, 2014 at 4:17 pm

MC Frontalot?

Anonymous
March 21, 2014 at 2:18 am

No Ziltoid?!

Chris
March 20, 2014 at 5:59 pm

You forgot the lillingtons death by television. I’d put it at number 2. Considering every song is about alien invasions, comic books, comic book vigilantes, being lost in space, x ray specs…etc…. You failed me. If you haven’t heard it give it a listen.

Tim
March 20, 2014 at 7:11 am

Coheed and Cambria? Might be past their use by date…. but definitely nerdy

Dennis Bauer
March 20, 2014 at 1:10 am

No dread zeppelin, Primus, Bloodhound gang?

switters
March 20, 2014 at 12:27 am

Dear god I hope the author was being sarcastic stating that Thomas Dolby was a member of The Flat Earth Society. Either that or he did absolutely no research on his subject. Dolby’s second album was called The Flat Earth, and when his official fan club was established some time later, it took the name The Flat Earth Society. It has nothing to do with that group of silly science deniers. That is all.

Also, this list leaves off the ultimate musical nerd, Elvis Costello.

Nick Freed
March 20, 2014 at 9:42 am

Au contraire dear reader! From the Flat Earth Society wikipedia: “Moreover, the society began accepting new members for the first time since 2001, with musician Thomas Dolby becoming the first member to join the newly reconvened society.”

Also, from Thomas Dolby’s wiki: “Dolby is member No. 00001 of the current incarnation of the Flat Earth Society.” and “English musician Thomas Dolby released an album called The Flat Earth, has used the name Flat Earth Society for his website forums, and has linked to information relating to the flat earth myth. Thomas Dolby also holds the place as the first member since the Flat Earth Society reopened membership.”

Whether he does it for the laughs or because he believes it [this interview he doesn’t necessarily say yes or no: http://www.examiner.com/article/interview-with-thomas-dolby-part-1%5D, is iffy at times. This forum (http://theflatearthsociety.org/forum/index.php?topic=33875.0#.UyrvG4XY-uM) says it was mostly out of tribute to his album The Flat Earth, which inspired Daniel Shenton to reopen the society.

Is that enough research?

Devin Cönnörs
March 19, 2014 at 4:57 pm

I agree with every album and I’ll raise you Chocolate & Cheese or The Mollusk by Ween.

Nick Freed
March 19, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Ween! Yes. That is a great call. They were tossed around as well.

SpeciesZero
March 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm

No Rush or Nerf Herder?

Nick Freed
March 19, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Nerf Herder was on the list, and, while a great band, they didn’t quite have the reach like these guys on the list. Or the longevity at least. Rush, though, yeah an argument could be made for them definitely.

Chris
March 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Nick Freed – If you haven’t heard any of The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets albums, I recommend checking them out as they would definitely be a contender for this list. GWAR as #1 is perfect.

Cap
March 19, 2014 at 5:28 pm

It was challenging balancing general nerd records with specific conceptual intent. Obviously The Protomen and Andrew WK skated in, but much like DotHT we also considered Metroid Metal, Chamber Band, and other acts with very focused thematic music. Hopefully more nerd music lists will follow on CoS. In the meantime, there’s always Nerdy.FM where all nerd genre music comes out to play.

Bret Yager (@b_yager)
March 19, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Maybe not as famous as most on this list, but I think the 2 Skinnee J’s album “Supermercado” would go on any nerd rock list.

Julie Stout
March 19, 2014 at 10:52 am

I’m pretty incredibly nerdy about GWAR, so any list with them as #1 like this…I’m in all kinds of agreement with. Another name I thought of though, for the spooky gothy flavor of convention geek, is Voltaire. He’s a convention staple, not only with his Cartoon Network fare and gothy folk-songs, sea chanties and such, but no less than 2 releases of Sci-Fi snark, “Banned on Vulcan” and “BiTrektual.” Also he does art and comics and stop motion film and writes books and all kinds of sweet shit like that.

Kiko Cortez
March 19, 2014 at 1:07 am

Scared me with Rize of the Fenix, I think The Pick of Destiny or Tenacious D would have been better choices, but any top list that puts Gwar’s Discography in the first spot is always a winner.

Tim the Slipperman
March 18, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Some excellent artists and CDs on here, especially Andrew W.K., The Protomen, Ben Folds and Devo.

Wouldn’t progressive rock and many of the genre’s artists (Yes, Jethro Tull, earlier Genesis, etc) be considered nerd rock as well, though?

Cap
March 19, 2014 at 5:29 pm

There is a very good case to be made for nerdy prog, but it’s such a specific collection of work in many ways it deserves its own list.

Topper
March 18, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Great list but I’d add two more artists choose an album of your liking:

(1) MC Chris
(2) Atom and his Package

Keep it up!

Cap
March 19, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Atom is amazing. Not many musicians who openly rock about the social anxieties and funny situations of being a nerd.

Luke
March 17, 2014 at 10:22 am

One of the best lists I’ve seen on CoS recently. Every singly act was a “YES” for me. GWAR as #1? Priceless. Time to go listen to TMBG’s cover of “Instanbul (not Constantinople)”…

Jacob Birney
March 18, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Aw I wish Dinosaurchestra by Lemon Demon was on here, for sure the best nerd rock album I’ve ever heard.

Mark Anthony DiSessa
March 15, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Reel Big Fish is good one I think

Hamburger Reynolds, Esq.
March 15, 2014 at 1:58 am

Huh. Either the authors didn’t put a lot of research into The Aquabats, or I just don’t get the criteria for their choice of album.

For one, for an article about “nerd rock”, it seems weird to pick one of their early ska albums, especially since The Aquabats haven’t been a ska band for about 15 years…even the band wants to forget that period of their career.

And two, considering The Bats’ most recent press photo was used as the header image, I’m really quite surprised the album picked wasn’t their critically acclaimed comeback ‘Charge!!’, as that whole album is literally about geek culture and pop cultural satire. After all, one of their most popular songs is “Nerd Alert!”, a literal geek pride anthem. I thought that alone would seal the deal.

Other than that, a fine list, though the exclusion of The Phenomenauts and “Weird Al” Yankovic is disconcerting.

Nick Freed
March 15, 2014 at 11:42 am

Weird Al was initially on the list, but didn’t make the cut because then that’d open up the gates for a much longer list to include satirical acts as well. But don’t think we don’t love us some Weird Al. Still in top 10 best concerts I’ve ever seen. Thanks for the comments!

Cap
March 17, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Yo Hamburger! I’m in some part responsible for the team leaning towards Fury of the Aquabats – here’s why:

Though I agree, Charge!! is awesome, and indeed ever Aquabats album has nerdy content on it – Fury has the highest concentration of nerdy content by volume of any of their records. Lots of classic 50s sci-fi tropes, pirates, and of course “Playdough”, one of the greatest songs of nerd nostalgia out there.

Hamburger Reynolds, Esq.
March 19, 2014 at 2:09 pm

I guess it just depends on how you’d look at it, whether you’d want to go for the album which directly addresses being a nerd and being part of nerd culture, or just featuring the tropes of nerd-based pop culture, such as comic books and monster movies. Me, I’d go with the former, but I guess there’s merit in choosing the latter, as well.

Nick Freed
March 19, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Oh absolutely yes. That’s what we went back and forth on. There is way more of a slippery slope/wormhole if you jump in to the “being a nerd” or directly to nerd culture. That then pulls in MC Frontalot, MC Chris, and that whole Nerdcore scene, etc. I feel like we found a happy medium. Thanks for the comments!

Andy Shmushkin
March 15, 2014 at 12:39 am

“…the release of their widely popular debut album, Flood, in 1990″

Who wrote this???

Ahem:

They Might Be Giants (1986)
Lincoln (1988)

Dumbasses.

Nick Freed
March 15, 2014 at 12:52 am

You’re absolutely right. My apologies. My fingers moved faster than my brain on that one. Thanks for the upbeat constructive criticism!

Anonymous
March 22, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Grrr. . . I wanted to point out that mistake first! “Birdhouse in your soul” wasn’t even their first hit, but you certainly could have missed the first two albums if you weren’t too attentive.

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