Spoken Nerd
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Spoken Nerd

| INDIE

| INDIE
Band Hip Hop Alternative

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With somewhat of his own take on nerdcore hip hop, Spoken Nerd has been making albums since 2005. He's been a part of independent crews like Hug Life and Killuh Sheep, but has primarily focused on his solo albums. He gained a little more popularity with his 2010 album, Apocalypse Awareness Day, and is now primed to independently release his latest work, OUR TEAM IS GOING TO WIN.

For those want to get down to labels, Spoken Nerd is a hip hop artist, but he's also an indie artist. It's impossible to label him as strictly one or the other, as you will certainly notice if you listen to his latest work. On the one hand, you get hip hop tracks like album highlight "Big Beards." It has almost a gangster rap feel in the music, with flows that aren't the most fluid, but are a great fit. The guest emcee, Ceschi, provides some classic lines as well, such as "I know some big words, sesquipedalian" (look up the word and see why it's a good line), and "I know some big puns, I'm not afraid to spit, I used to have a fear of hurdles but got over it." Classic. "Detective Novels" and "In the Lodge" are also good examples of his style of hip hop; there's a lot of singing involved, but the verses are done in the same style as older Listener material (and in "Detective Novels," with music that resembles something from the album Wooden Heart).

On the other hand, when Spoken Nerd isn't providing some fun hip hop, he's crafting some hip hop-esque indie music. Again, at the risk of sounding a little redundant, it's almost like the band Listener meets Death Cab For Cutie. Nerd's singing resembles Death Cab's Ben Gibbard; they don't necessarily sound alike, but Nerd uses a lot of melodies that sound like they could've come from Gibbard. The music itself is a little more rough around the edges than Death Cab, but it has some electronic elements and guitar sounds here and there that could fit on Death Cab's Codes and Keys. If that sounds like your kind of thing, but you're not too into hip hop, you may have an easier time with OUR TEAM IS GOING TO WIN than you may have thought, as most of the album is indie/alternative music.

A lot of the songs feature layered vocals, including several other than Nerd. Frequently throughout the album, you can hear a couple sets of female vocals. One of the main vocalists is a young lady named Karina Elizabeth, while the other set of female vocals are from Serai Zaffiro McAnulty, who also sings for the groups Paris Ontario, By Lightning and more. The girls' vocals combined in "I've got a friend in Money" and "Faith, Hope, UNITY and let's CRUSH those who stand against us" sound great and passionate. Admittedly, it may be a bit of an acquired taste, but they work very well for the songs.

Some interesting imagery is used in some of the songs, such as "Watermelon Heart." The opening line says "You've got this watermelon heart," and if you stopped there, you probably wouldn't understand what that means. But it's a metaphor I've not heard before this song. Nerd is talking to a person who has a tendency to hide his/her heart inside of a hardened shell (like the meat of a watermelon!). The song doesn't get too descriptive, but it's nice imagery, and it's a solid track. I'm also a fan of the perspective taken in "The Truth and the Lie." It's not 100% clear, but what I get out of it is that it's directed toward overbearing and really pushy Christians and the negative impact it has on non-Christians who may or may not be searching for something. Lyrics like "They were thirsty, you poisoned the water" point to the sour taste that gets put in peoples' mouths. I also like "We don't have to be enemies, what would that achieve, it's not a catalyst for anything, not even your very important beliefs that you claim set you free." It definitely makes you think, and it's a good reminder that we need to be more peaceful in our approach and the way we live our lives.

If you've never heard of Spoken Nerd before, this is a great time to get into him. OUR TEAM IS GOING TO WIN is a solid indie album. Again, this album can be somewhat of an acquired taste - not everyone who likes indie or hip hop will like this album - but it's worth taking the chance on it. Spoken Nerd is one of independent music's best kept secrets. Head on over to his Bandcamp to pick this one up, and while you're there, check out some of his previous work as well.

- Review date: 3/27/12, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com - Jesusfreakhideout.com


Discography

2005: Too Real for Vision- Independent

2007: The Lion, The Fish, and The Mustache- MLA Records

2008: 24 Carrot Dreams- End of the Earth Records

2009: Live From the Neighborhood of Make Believe- End of the Earth Records

2010: Apocalypse Awareness Day- Monk Rock

2012: Our Team is Going to Win!!- Independent

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Bio


Spoken Nerd, the Nashville based Hip Hop/Indie Pop project of Nathan Conrad and his associates is not your typical juvenile rap project, nor is it a collection of songs mechanically written to make you feel good. That being said, Spoken Nerd songs do make you feel good, but they do it with thought provoking, intelligent lyrics. Conrad's lyrics are not only intricately cunning, but they are tongue in cheek in all the right ways. They trick you into smiling and reflecting on the same sore subjects that leave you arguing with friends and family, like politics, love, conspiracies, and religion. Though the song concepts often point out the negative's in the human thought process, they will question ones beliefs with just the right kind of sing song melodies that make everyone want to sing along. These melodies and lyrics combined with the production power of Joel J Dahl “The Phantom Farmer,” create a new entity. One that is much a Trickster like Loki or Anansi, but who possesses the might of He-Man and the power of Greyskull, and is using it to create Rube Goldberg-esque machines out of every song.

Born in Paducah Kentucky, Nathan spent most of his younger years in Lawrenceburg Tennessee. Raised in a traditional home, little Nathan was strictly not allowed to listen to rap music, and though his childhood was enjoyable, when he finally got his hands on a cassette-tape of the “2 Live Crew” the walls came tumbling down. There was no stopping young Nathan as he wore the tape out, listening to it everyday and sharing it with his friends.

The novelty of Rap quickly died off as Nathan grew out of Hip Hop. After learning to play bass, Nathan joined up with some grunge bands in high school and became part of the local scene. But his passion for rap was not gone, just dormant, and every thing began to change when out at “The Farm,” he saw the Hip Hop Jam band the G.F.E. (Granola Funk Express). G.F.E.'s non-traditional take on the genre really appealed to Nathan. He became more interested in Indie Hip Hop and after moving to The Farm he began to play bass for a group called Verbal Kief. Verbal Kief was a funky Rock group that's main vocalist was a rapper. Nathan began to rap some in the group, and when the lead singer left the band, Nathan stepped up and they renamed the group the After-hours Hip Hop Project.

Besides the After-hours Project, Nathan became involved in a variety of different musical acts and grew as an artist, all the while becoming more and more interested in a world of underground Hip Hop on the local and national scene. After moving from The Farm to Florence, Alabama, Nathan made a trip to Nashville to see “A Perfect Circle”. While walking past “Windows on the Cumberland,” he heard the familiar voice of one of his favorite local rappers/producers, toofor7. Nathan decided to go in and introduce himself and ask toofor7 if he would be interested in producing his solo album. He said he was , wrote his address on a piece of paper, and told Nathan to come over sometime and he would record his songs. So in 2005 after talking with toofor7 via Kapsole, Nathan set a date and they recorded the first full length Spoken Nerd effort called “Too Real for Vision.”

Too Real for Vision had good success and got Nathans foot in the door as he began to play more shows around the area. Coming off this success Nathan began to work on his second solo venture. This one was also mostly produced by toofor7 and was released on MLA Records in 2007, titled “The Lion, the Fish, and the Mustache.” Gaining more and more momentum as an artist, and beginning to find his niche, Nathan released his next two albums on Ends of the Earth Records. The first one in 2008 produced by Rick Saxby called “24 Carrot Dreams” which featured good success and was anchored by a strong singles in the songs “I Love the Police” and “Lying Here on the Floor.” The second album on Ends of the Earth was entitled “Live from the Neighborhood of Make Believe,” and came out in 2009. LNMB, also produced by toofor7, and began to showcase more of Nathans skills as a songwriter. The album featured more melodies and sing song arrangements than his early hip hop albums. With strong catchy rap ballads like “Greg's Pool” and the “Ode to W,” it was clear that Nathan was beginning to hone his craft.

Nathan started to find his identity as an artist with Live From the Neighborhood of Make Believe, but in 2010 he aced it with the release of his 5th full length album “Apocalypse Awareness Day.” Produced by DJ Orig and released on Monkrock/MLA Records, Apocalypse was the album that set Spoken Nerd apart. With electronic synth pop beats coupled with real instrumentation and a consistently catchy songs throughout, Apocalypse was Nathan's most demanding album. The songs demanded your attention, and the opportunities to tour and play live became more frequent as Nathan played over 75 Spoken Nerd shows that year and was able to sha