MY FUCKED-UP EYES, I think, are what ended my videogame career. From the ages of six to nine I spent a good 10 hours a day—20 hours on weekends—sitting Indian-style, gape-mouthed, wide-eyed, a foot from the TV screen, playing the living HELL out of my Nintendo games. But all that glowing TV flash, all those hours not blinking—or trying not to blink, I didn't wanna miss anything—ruined me. Left me with an astigmatism, a flinch-y tic, and aching fucking eyes well into junior high.
Now, it's been said that anything you do in mass quantities leaves a deeper memory brand on you, that your memories of the thing—no matter how removed you get from it—are more vivid and intense and long-lasting than most. This is where I'm at with Nintendo—or, more so, with its songs. Those clunky, blurping, techno robot jams are sizzled like charbroil marks somewhere deep in my psyche, and when I hear Nevada City, California's the Advantage I fucking lose my shit. The Advantage, which features dudes from Hella, Arctic Boyz, and Holy Smokes, formed under the daunting, Herculean—albeit weirdly worded—goal to "have recorded every Nintendo song by the time each member lie dead."
Backed by their no-BS experimental rock pedigree, they cover Nintendo soundtrack songs as hulking prog behemoths, sci-fi spaz outs, and joyous fantasy metal—some of which are amalgams of all three. But here's the kicker, they're faithful. Sure the songs sound more like a live band than primitive electronica, but it's note perfect in tone, tempo, and mood; whoever transcribed it all must've smoked a small fortune in meth, because it's grossly precise, obsessively precise, right down to the last doodoo doodoo doodoo bass line from Super Mario Bros 2's underground world.
The Advantage's first record, a self-titled 5RC release from April 2004, showcased rock remakes of scores like Zelda's fortress scene, the intro to Ghosts 'n Goblins, Ninja Gaiden's mineshaft level, and the theme from Goonies 2. Their new one, then, goes even deeper. Recorded at Portland's Jackpot! Studios, Elf-Titled throws down amped-up guitar, bass, and drums versions of soundtracks like the moon scene from Ducktales, Castlevania's intro and stage one, and the Egypt section from Double Dragon III.
Like their debut, the only comedy is on the CD cover, which shows a buncha cartoon "hot chicks" soaping down a classic, gray NES box on the beach—sexy bikini carwash style. Regardless of the hokey wrappings, its 16 tracks are pious in their worship of holy Nintendo music, both popular and obscure. (Seriously, what the hell is Solar Jetman? I think that one slid under my radar.) Of course, it's a gimmick—you can't escape that. But as gimmicks go, this is the finest, most dead serious shit I've seen in years. If you want a solid preview of this one, go to www.theadvantageband.com and listen to the live Mario 3 track they have up. If that doesn't kick your ass with a six-ton Nike, I will.