The 20 greatest geek albums
If the geeks are really set to inherit the earth (that's the saying, right?), then it's time we highlight the musical offerings they have on the table. With Jonathan Coulton's Artificial Heart being released last week at PAX, it seems as good a time as any to look at our favorite albums about dragons, robots, dystopias and so much more. From Middle-earth to transmutation, here are the best geek albums.
20. Dr. Octagonecologyst by Dr. Octagon Year: 1996 Label: MCA Records Geekiness: 7.0 Dr. Octagon is an extraterrestrial, time-traveling gynecologist and if that wasn't enough, he's also a lyricist who likes to toss in surreal non-sequiturs and dick jokes. Throw in the fact it's one of the best albums Keith Thornton ever put out and it's not just a solid geek album, it's a fantastic hip-hop album.
19. Nightfall in Middle-Earth by Blind Guardian Year: 1998 Label: Century Media Geekiness: 9.0 Sure, Led Zeppelin had some songs about J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, but Blind Guardian steps it up with an entire concept album about The Silmarillion, the book of tales about the First Age of Middle-earth. It also happened to be the first record released by Blind Guardian in the states.
18. Replicas by Tubeway Army Year: 1979 Label: Beggars Banquet Geekiness: 8.2 We're all well aware that Gary Numan is a bit of a geek, but Replicas takes it as far as possible. It's a bit of a concept album of loosely tied together short stories about a metropolis where androids keep the humans in check. Plus, it features the chart topper, "Are 'Friends' Electronic?" so that should be a clear indication of what's on here.
17. Crack the Skye by Mastodon Year: 2009 Label: Reprise Geekiness: 6.2 It's not the first Mastodon concept album and it certainly won't be the last, but Crack the Skye is easily the dorkiest. Instead of taking inspiration from classic works, the band has made its own this time and that apparently means the outfit wants to tell the story of a paraplegic capable of astral projection. What would a paraplegic do with these powers? Travel into outer space and eventually put his soul inside Rasputin's body, of course.
16. Operation: Doomsday by MF Doom Year: 1999 Label: Fondle 'Em Records Geekiness: 8.1 In case you can't tell from the album cover, this is pretty much a rap album that samples and talks about comic books. It's also Daniel Dumile's first solo record after KMD fell apart, making it historically important for fans of his slightly weird KMD lyrics. Of course, that didn't prepare anyone for MF Doom.
15. Diamond Dogs by David Bowie Year: 1974 Label: RCA Geekiness: 6.0 The second half of Diamond Dogs is a concept album based around George Orwell's 1984. That's really all you need here, it's just one of those things, Bowie plus Orwell equals awesome and geeky.
14. The Chronicles of the Black Sword by Hawkwind Year: 1985 Label: Flicknife Records Geekiness: 6.2 Hawkwind was undeniably geeky, but The Chronicle of the Black Sword took things above and beyond anything else they did. It's based on the adventures of Elric of Melniboné, a character in Michael Moorcock's fiction. Moorcock contributed lyrics to the album and often appeared on stage with the band in various costumes. Rock needs more capes nowadays if you ask us.
13. 2112 by Rush Year: 1976 Label: Anthem Geekiness: 6.8 We had to include at least one Rush record on here and while Moving Pictures has a few of the dorkiest tracks, 2112 wins out because of the whole Ayn Rand thing. We're not the biggest fans of Objectivism, but hell, if Neil Pert says he's into it and wants to dedicate the first half of an LP to Anthem, then so be it. As long as it has awesome drum parts.
12. Milo Goes to College by the Descendents Year: 1982 Label: New Alliance Geekiness: 6.1 On the surface, Milo Goes to College isn't particularly geeky, but the cheeky songs about love and growing up are going to appeal to everyone who has grown up a geek. As we all know, Milo Aukerman went on to get his PhD in biochemistry, so there is no denying the bands own geek-cred.
11. Best. Concert. Ever. by Jonathan Coulton Year: 2009 Label: Self-released Geekiness: 9.9 It's pretty much impossible to get any geekier than Jonathan Coulton's absolutely fantastic live album. That's partially because Coulton himself works his geek cred into his live set and his fans, as rabid as they are, support him the whole way. They sing along when they're supposed to, they're quiet when they need to be, and they always have so much god damn fun. It's hard not to love this record.
10. The Protomen by The Protomen Year: 2003 Label: Sound Machine Geekiness: 9.8 Where do we even start here -- let's just say both Protomen album's are inspired by the first six Mega-Man games, and they're essentially a reinvention of the world presented in the game. It also has members who go by names like Panther, Reanimator and Turbo Lover.
9. A Society of People Named Elihu by Atom and his Package Year: 2002 Label: Mountain/Revolver Geekiness: 8.4 Atom and his Package is one of the dorkier groups out there and on each of his albums, he took the dork factor to a whole new level. But A Society of People Named Elihu is our favorite of the bunch. He sings about math, history, Sting and reading 'zines. Just imagine the same sort of content you'd find in a Descedents song and then amplify that with three parts Dungeons and Dragons and two part snarky punk.
8. More of Tom Lehrer by Tom Lehrer Year: 1959 Label: Reprise Records Geekiness: 7.2 A large amount of Tom Lehrer's catalog would eventually end up on the Dr. Demento show, so that should give you a good idea of the content at play here. When he wasn't recording goofy satire songs, Lehrer was lecturing at Harvard, so, yes, geek is bleeding out of all of these tracks.
7. SuperMercado by 2 Skinnee J's Year: 1998 Label: Capricorn Geekiness: 8.0 Before nerdcore was really a thing, there was 2 Skinnee J's. They were busy rapping about planets and science and everything else that would become a staple of the genre in the years to come well before the term came around.
6. Dawn Metropolis by Anamanaguchi Year: 2009 Label: Self-released Geekiness: 8.8 If there is a geekier way to describe a band than chiptune indie rock, we haven't heard it. Combining NES and Gameboy sounds with guitars and drums, the band went on to score Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, so that should give you a pretty good idea of its credibility.
5. Dare to Be Stupid by Weird Al Yankovic Year: 1985 Label: Rock 'n' Roll Records Geekiness: 9.8 Oh goodness, where do we even start with this one? Weird Al is essentially the biggest of all the geeks, but Dare to Be Stupid seemed to have everything that would go on to define his career. "Like a Surgeon," "One More Minute," and "I Want a New Duck" all make appearances alongside the title track, which had a memorable appearance in Transformers: The Movie.
4. Are We Not Men? We Are Devo! by Devo Year: 1978 Label: Warner Bros. Geekiness: 7.4 This Brian Eno produced masterpiece is a calling card for geek culture, with "Jocko Homo" being the battle cry of geek's everywhere. It also helped define what geekish music would go on to sound like, even if they had no idea it would do that at the time.
3. Computer World by Kraftwerk Year: 1981 Label: EMI Geekiness: 8.2 Like Devo, Kraftwerk's influence was long lasting. It wasn't just the sound, but the presentation -- although it's hard to get any geekier than "Pocket Calculator." It's one of those records that would go on to be universally loved by many, but absolutely adored by geeks and nerds everywhere.
2. Deltron 3030 by Deltron Year: 2000 Label: 75 Ark Geekiness: 9.6 Del tha Funkee Homosapien is no stranger to geek, but this dystopian space opera takes the cake. Casting himself as Deltron Zero, a mech soldier and interplanetary computer prodigy rebelling against the new world order, the record follows his battles on his journey to become the Galactic Rhyme Federation Champion. It comes packaged with enough humor to make the whole thing a blast to listen to and Dan the Automator's production will often blow your mind.
1. Lincoln by They Might Be Giants Year: 1988 Label: Bar/None Geekiness: 9.2 It wasn't hard to put They Might Be Giants at the top of this list, but it was hard to pick which album would end up here. Lincoln seems like the best fit, as it manages to touch on all the different themes that would run through TMBGs songs over the years. Plus, "Ana Ng" is an amazing song.
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