A never-ending stream of (the) Minibosses!

I’ve followed the Minibosses for years, since I first heard their covers back in 2001 or some other crazy long-gone year. Although there are some video-game cover bands who are better technically, and some who implement their own compositions, the Minibosses have always won me over with their charming spirit and unquestionably brilliant band name.

So I wandered over to their website the other day, where they have their latest album available for free download. It contains tracks they’ve become notable for: medleys of old NES (Nintendo) cartridge classics like Ninja Gaiden, Contra, Castlevania and Mega Man 2. However, this album contains their tightest playing and best recording to date. They also improved some of the arrangements of the songs this time around. Castlevania is now a lot more progressive, Contra begins with a (slightly monotonous) rendition of Blaster Master, and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out and Metroid are much clearer than any previous version.

Additionally they do a really faithful and successful cover of Super Mario Bros. 2 . (Although, my favorite covers of the jazzy swing tunes from this one are done on hollow-body electrics, just like Django would’ve done it!) The boss and ending themes from Mario 2 are given excellent treatment here. Only now do I notice how ominous and heavy the boss theme is!

By now the Minibosses have secured a distinct aesthetic. It’s funny because the extra trebly tone of their single-coil-pickup electric guitars almost limits their music to the retro-game music crowd. I mean, it doesn’t really, but their sound is occasionally abrasive and I think it would be interesting if they gave the lead guitars a slightly “meatier” tone. As it is, the guitars sound a tad bit “low-fi” — almost as if an Indie Rock-ish reference to video game music. Is it a hipster thing? Nah, I don’t think they do it intentionally. I think they really love the music. They basically learned to play their instruments in order to play these songs!

As per usual, the walking bass-lines sound really excellent with an electric bass and the performance is pretty tight. The drums sound better than usual, and suffer slightly from the problems I mentioned with the guitar. But this is all snobbish tomfoolery — their tracks are severely rocking renditions of old-school video game tunes. This is how it’s done right!

The tracks that hit me the hardest are some of the aforementioned: Castlevania, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out and Metroid. Metroid really gives me the willies — when I hear this stuff I keep seeing an 8-bit Samus descending into the fiery hells of Kraid! Yikes!

Get it here.


~ by chaosrexmachinae on August 26, 2008.

5 Responses to “A never-ending stream of (the) Minibosses!”

  1. Hmm…these versions don’t really cut through like their older versions. I can’t place it? The snare drum sounds shitty…but oh damn! They added Heat MAN! I don’t know though…i think I prefer the older ones.

  2. Well, the novelty of a band covering old-school VG tunes has worn off by now. But I feel this collection holds some of their finest work. The problem for you and me is that it’s nothing new, because the pinnacle of their body of work can only be better produced covers of the same songs they’ve been working on for years. And if you don’t like better quality recording/playing to begin with…

    But yeah, the drums are a bit trebly. As I mentioned, I think that (unintentionally? unnecessarily?) references the original NES sound card pretty strongly.

  3. Yeah. Speaking of the novelty of VG bands wearing off…there was a VG music festival in Bmore a week or two ago. I didn’t know until the day before, but probably wouldn’t have gone anyway. That dude JD from Entertainment System put it together. I hadn’t heard of any of the other bands…I thought that shit would go away, especially once all the well known songs had been covered. At this point, I can only take your aforementioned Mario 2 cover in the jazz style, the classical guitar Link tune, and that Asian kid on YouTube who does the really rich piano versions. But Minibosses did the metal-ish, “these are how the songs are supposed to sound” thing well – and now what? You feel me?

  4. Hee hee, you jealous!

    But seriously, I don’t find covering video game tunes all that fulfilling on its own. Once in a while it’s nice, but I also tend to go for more “obscure” tunes. I think the music should speak for itself and not be limited in accessibility to people who “get” the retro reference.

    Besides, there’s a bunch of kick-ass music that has come out really recently on GBA or DS. And not to mention, Konami, Sega and Falcom have been doing professional studio “metal” interpretations of their own series’ music for decades. It just hasn’t been available or noticeable on North American shores until the last five years or so.

    Most of these cover bands probably don’t know that, but I think the more serious ones wouldn’t care and just are doing their own thing. But the aesthetic of some of these bands (i.e. The Advantage) makes it clear that the movement has a hipster, Indie-rock vibe to it.

    Still, it’s no surprise that this stuff (these bands) would still be around considering the wide array of popular video-game networking sites and discussion boards (like 1-up.com) around the ‘net these days.

    Hey, didn’t you want to do a Mega Man 3 cover band once upon a time?

  5. Once upon a time…Rockman.

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