Review: The Minibosses Extended Play Compact Disc
by brandon sheffield

The Minibosses have this official recording thing now. The deal is as follows: you go to their website, give them six dollars, and then they send you the CD “the weekend after your payment comes in.” This of course, really means “whenever we feel like going to the post office,” but $6 is not a lot of money, so it’s hard to complain.

But hey look, I did it anyway!

It arrived last week in a tiny CD-sized cardboard box. The CD was actually vacuum sealed in plastic, which I was not expecting. I was impressed with that more than I was impressed with the “Tempe Mesa Chandler Represent” scrawled across the front. As some of you no doubt know, Mesa Arizona is an odd thing to want to represent. But represent it they do, apparently.

The cover art, while excellent, is misleading. You’ve got megaman, alucard, and samus all frantically playing an NES. The couch is merely implied. This might lead you to believe things that are not true. You see, only two games are covered here in these 17 tracks; Castlevania 3 and Megaman 2. So yes, slightly misleading. But pretty.

Box art aside, the CD itself is quite excellent, for what it is. The opening track is really well done, starting in immediately with a bright and fuzzy kinetic energy. It really took me by surprise. This is far and away the best recorded material from these guys. I have largely been less impressed with their MP3s than with their concert performance thus far…but they clean up real nice. This whole CD is possessed of production values you could shear a sheep with; great mixing, well paced entries, and overall less sloppiness on the part of the players.

I’ve said before that I find The Minibosses to be a bit heavier on heart than they are on skill, while The Advantage is the other way round (and this is a slight degree here, friends – try not to take any offence).

So this kinetic energy I spoke of – it’s a very good thing, if you can carry it for the duration of the album. Unfortunately, with this album it only lasts until track 5, then you have to find your way to getting it back.

You see, of the included 17 tracks, two are audio montages from The Minibosses road trip to LA for Raina’s 1up zine 3rd issue release party. Witness (aurally) as the ‘bosses badmouth the Beach Boys, get pulled over by the cops for not wearing seatbelts, and run into a curb with their van. The tracks are kind of funny, and certainly worth listening to once. But there’s a problem when one of them is the fifth track in the CD, breaking up the flow that was working so nicely in their favor.

I understand why they did it – it’s a little rest between the Castlevania 3 and Megaman 2 tracks to clear your palate. The difficulty is that the Megaman tracks are much more common – we’ve heard them done countless times by not-as-countless artists (Project X, The Advantage, Chris Stewart). They don’t really pick up where the listener’s high of Castlevania 3 left off. The fact of the matter is that after hearing the first audio montage once, you’ll probably want to skip it every time thereafter. And it’s in the middle of the CD, which means some frequent work on your part.

The Megaman 2 songs are good, to be sure. But they don’t have the ferocity of the first four tracks on the album. And indeed, it’s a bit disheartening to hear that The Minibosses are still fudging that difficult part in Airman.

Were the Megaman 2 tracks carried straight through from the CV3, there might’ve been enough energy to take us along to the peaks of that section (Flashman, Boss, Wiley stage one). In music as in sex – don’t interrupt the flow – good things don’t come from that.

There are a couple of other gripes; a slight discordance in track 2 (cancelled out by the brilliant modulations earlier in the song), an odd stylistic choice here or there, but the main thing is the decision to use only two games for the CD. I think we’ve really all heard the Megaman 2 soundtrack to death by now – if any game is played out in the NES rock ‘genre’, this is the one.

If there had been some Metroid in here perhaps, as the cover indicated, it might’ve helped a bit. I really would have liked to get some games that were heretofore unheard of in Minibosses rock format…this would’ve been a good venue for it.

Eventually though, I have to bring myself back to reality. What we have here is a fully illustrated CD with a nice silk-screened face, shipped to you at a total cost of six dollars. There are 17 tracks, 15 of which are musical, making for a total of 18 minutes of music. That makes 33.3 cents per minute, which is a fine bargain, I’d say.

And while the flow may not be consistent, the production is. Really painfully solid all the way through, without compromising the band’s excellent flare for performance. That is to say, it feels very much alive, and is perfectly orchestrated to catch you up in the excitement. If only the track order were as perfectly orchestrated as the mix, this CD might be near-perfect.

As it stands, there could have been more to this release, but I still cannot think of a single reason for anyone even remotely interested in NES rock not to purchase it. If I have $6 to spend on a CD, I know you do, cocky bastards.

So get to.

brandon sheffield used to play an instrument, so shut up.

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[Edit] the minibastards are out of CDs, making this review completely useless to you, and making me a jerk for flaunting what I've got. Way to go, fools!

[Edit the Second!] There are videos on here. Trust me to not stick things into my computer - that place is like a wasteland where everything good goes to die. Regardless - videos. They are quicktimes, to the shock of...well me, at least. They're shot a bit cheesily, but they work - nice dual-camera action. You've got a 2 minute rendition of Goonies 2, then the full 12 minute Megaman 2 medly. There's also a shirtless man standing atop a tall building. In other news I've totally been in that parking lot before. These videos are already on the 'bosses website, so you might have seen them, but yes. They are here.


The Minibosses website