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Audio File Friday 'Anamanaguchi'

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So the weekend fast approaches and you find yourself saying, "I can only listen to Ke$hney's new single so many times...I wish I had something else to listen to this weekend, something video game related even! Why...does such a thing exist?"

It does, and I'm bringing it to you each and every Audio File Friday.

Last week I brought you the incredibly talented Pokemon Reorchestrated, you can expect some follow up on them soon, and this week we're going from symphonic to 8-Bit with a group some of you might already be familiar with; Anamanaguchi.

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The moment you hear their name you think, "This is going to be fun." Or at the very least interesting. And you'd be right. As they put it,

Anamanaguchi makes loud, fast music with a hacked NES from 1985.

Anamanaguchi began in 2004 and since entering the game they've come to be synonymous with the chiptune punk genre. For the lame uninitiated, chiptune punk is a combination of punk and chiptune; synthetic music the likes of which you've heard in NES classics like Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man. Utilizing both a hacked NES and a hacked Gameboy to produce their synth tunes, the band takes the genre a step further by weaving in real life electric guitar, bass, and drums.

But don't think this New York based group is just an 8-bit cover band, far from it. Lead songwriter Peter Berkman, bassist James DeVito, guitarist Ary Warnaar, and drummer Luke Silas are writing all of their own music and are eager to break down the misconceptions most people have when they hear "chiptune." The obvious video game connection aside, Anamanaguchi just does their own thing. As Berkman said in a 2009 interview with A.V. Club:

It's like calling Christian music a genre when you have Christian metal and Christian rock. Yeah, it is an instrument. There are a million different ways to use it. You can make pop music with it. You can make rock music with it. You can make hip-hop with it, and people do. And that's why it's interesting. There's so much variety in such a limited palette.

Playing through Anamanaguchi's discography, that variety is undeniable.

Their first EP Power Supply showed the world what they could do, with stand out tracks like 'Helix Nebula.'

With the release of their first full album 'Dawn Metropolis' in 2009, the genre-defying group took their sound to the next level. Even the album's website is beyond impressive. Think less promotional website and more interactive experience. Just listen to a track like 'Tempest' and see for yourself. The song begins as enjoyably as any Weezer song might, a big influence on the group, before breaking down about two minutes in with a bridge so genius one can't help but go, "this was made with a what!?"

But that's what Anamanaguchi does: breaking down musical boundaries to create something truly unique, even if those musical boundaries are self-imposed. Even a gaming audiophile like me would give a quick side-eye to a band that pulls out a Gameboy on stage had I never heard them before. And boy would I be in for a surprise.

This past summer the group released several *free* singles featuring awesome .gif style cover art, and included tracks like the amazing 'Airbrushed'...


...as well as this awesome hip-hop remix of 'Rainbow in the Stars' featuring Das Racist, surprising me yet again with their versatility.

In 2010 the group made waves when they teamed up with Ubisoft to score the terrific Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game. The game, an incredibly tight throwback to sidescrolling fighters and a love letter to all things classic gaming, also happened to be one of the most gay friendly titles in recent memory. With three of the six playable characters being bisexual to varying degrees, one being the openly gay and super hot for a sprite Stephen Stills, having the incredible Wallace Wells as an NPC, and not shying away from some same-sex action by way of special attacks and cut scenes this game might as well be retitled Scott Pilgrim and His Many Queer Friends Vs. The World: The Game. But I guess that'd be too long.

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And of course, the game was made even more enjoyable thanks to Anamanaguchi's brilliantly infectious score. The score is decidedly more video game-y, that is cyclical and level themed, than the group's usual fare but that's entirely by design. This time they are making video game music after all. I guarantee each ditty will get stuck in your head at some point or another. Standout tracks include level one's 'Another Winter' and the title track 'Scott Pilgrim Anthem.' Here's the latter performed live at PAX East 2010 where they made the announcement.

Even better? The group is a lovable bunch of dudes who just enjoy doing what they do. Enjoying their music is so much more fun when they're so enjoyable themselves. Follow them on twitter or on tumblr, or hit up their official website sometime and just try not to smile. I dare you.

They're all pretty cute too.

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I can't wait to see what's next for Anamanaguchi. They've taken the video game influence and moved beyond it, creating a sound that's uniquely them and far away from gimmicky. At the end of the day, 8-bit beats or not they're just plain making good music.

If you're hankering to see them live, I know I am, you're in luck! The group is currently touring the US! All next week they'll be performing at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas, and after that they'll be going just about everywhere else. Check their official website for dates and details.

Be a bro and shoot 'em a paypal donation while downloading the free stuff, be sure to buy 'Dawn Metropolis' and the 'Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game' OST both available on iTunes, download the Scott Pilgrim game if you haven't already, and support this truly outstanding band that's making one of a kind music for people like us.

That wraps up this week's Audio File Friday. Sorry if I got a little embed-happy, but Anamaguchi is worth it. Will be back next week with yet more tunes to keep your weekend company.

Until then, rock on.

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4 Comments

wohdin said:

Stephen Stills wasn't "gay" (rather, didn't come out) until towards the end of the comic. He was portrayed as entirely straight in the movie, and I don't think they mentioned his sexuality at all in the game (unless it was in one of the end credits references that I somehow missed).

Just felt the need to clarify that. :3

On Anamanaguchi, I remember when they first hit the scene with Power Supply and fell in love. Unfortunately their three-year period of inactivity made me sort of fall out of the loop, and as a result I haven't listened to anything since Dawn Metropolis (not counting the SP OST, which is amazing, but it's not something I've listened to on its own).

Gogoedward said:

I dunno if I buy the "portrayed" as entirely straight. How does one act straight precisely? In the movie he was entirely in character and did nothing to suggest his sexuality being straight or gay.

Besides, mentioned or not in game the character is canonically gay AND fully playable. A rarity to be certain, and one worth mentioning.

mainstreamer said:

He was always shown as being somehow involved with Julie, so that's how he was portrayed as straight, Gogo.

mainstreamer said:

Never mind, I didn't see that was in reference to the movie.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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mainstreamer on Audio File Friday 'Anamanaguchi' : Never mind, I didn't see that was in reference to the movie....

mainstreamer on Audio File Friday 'Anamanaguchi' : He was always shown as being somehow involved with Julie, so that's how he was portrayed as straight, Gogo....

Gogoedward on Audio File Friday 'Anamanaguchi' : I dunno if I buy the "portrayed" as entirely straight. How does one act straight precisely? In the movie he...

wohdin on Audio File Friday 'Anamanaguchi' : Stephen Stills wasn't "gay" (rather, didn't come out) until towards the end of the comic. He was portrayed as entirely...

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