Geeks usually dig unique and eccentric things, especially when it comes to music albums. In fact, a whole sub-culture was created around the music that geeks listen to. But nothing quite says “geek” like all things retro, especially vinyls. The only thing geekier is perhaps listening to vinyl records specifically geared towards geeks. We created this list of the best music for geeks with that in mind.
11 of the Best Music Albums for Geeks
1. Planets (2010) by One Ring Zero
Inspired by The Planets by Gustav Holst, this album takes you on a trip around the solar system. It even includes Pluto. In fact, the band was so mad when Pluto was demoted to a “dwarf planet” by the International Astronomical Union they decided to kickstart this album. We are certainly glad they did.
This album features all kinds of unusual instrumentation including claviolas, accordions, a theremin, old drum machines, and even toy instruments. The album even includes a recording from the Phoenix probe landing on Mars. Not only will you enjoy the music on this album, you will also get an re-education on all the planets of the solar system as the artists spent a lot of time researching, watching NASA television, and talking to astronauts in order to have all the right information for this album.
(Unfortunately we could not find this album on vinyl but here it is on CD).
2. We Like It Here (2014) by Snarky Puppy
With its roots in both gospel and jazz, Snarky Puppy is a hard band to define. To say precisely why this band appeals to geeks is even harder. Besides the fact that its lead composer, Michael League, can be seen regularly wearing geeky t-shirts, like one with a golden spiral on it and another with a NASA logo, geeky themes are buried deep within the music.
We Like It Here’s geekiness is at least due in part to its simple, catchy melodies and bass lines which are often very reminiscent of retro video games. Keyboardist Shaun Martin also throws in melodies directly from video games during live performances where you can hear him playing lines from Mario Bros. Check out the song Lingus off the album in which someone commented, “This sounds like the theme song to the final boss of jazz.” Well said.
We think video game geeks and music geeks alike will enjoy the unique sounds of Snarky Puppy and We Like It Here is the perfect introduction to this band’s incredible sound. There is something for everyone in this album and its nostalgic je nais se quoi quality keeps bringing you back again and again.
Check out We Like It Here on vinyl.
3. Samurai Math Beats (1999) by Bogdan Raczynski
If you thought it was difficult to define One Ring Zero and Snarky Puppy, Bogdan Raczynski’s music almost defies the whole idea of genres. Some people refer to his music as electronic avant-garde, but we are not sure that quite captures it. Using life as his only inspiration, Bogdan comes up with some of the most unique and quirky sounds you will ever feed into your eardrums. And truthfully, listening to his music is really the only way to sort of get your finger on the pulse of exactly what makes Bogdan’s music Bogdan’s music.
Bogdan recorded Samurai Math Beats using only an old Fujitsu Lifebook T2010 and some software. Geeks will love Samurai Math Beats as the entire album sounds like a broken Nintendo system, but in a good way. The music is punctuated by strange voices, screaming and odd singing, which somehow fits the music to a T. This album includes so many great melodies and beats it is almost depressing that it never found its way into any video games.
Check out Samurai Math Beats on vinyl.
4. Dawn Metropolis (2009) by Anamanaguchi
If you are a fan of the songs in any of the old 8-bit games (and what geek isn’t?) you will definitely be a fan of Anamanaguchi’s album Dawn Metropolis. Defined as “chiptune,” this type of electronic music is made by synthesizing vintage computers, arcade machines and old video game consoles. This particular album features hacked Nintendos and GameBoys mixed with drum beats and guitar. This album is sure to jam your head full of retro gaming sounds and beats that will echo on for days and days. There’s even an underlying punk vibe to the album.
Unlike the cold sounds coming out many old Nintendo games, Dawn Metropolis has songs which are full of emotion. There is as much simplicity as there is complexity behind the 8-bit sounding songs on the album. Many of the songs seem to tell stories of love, loss, and even longing. There is even a bit of anger behind the music, perhaps from hurt. Listen to the album and let us know what you think in the comments.
Dawn Metropolis is available on vinyl but it is extremely rare so it does fetch a hefty price tag.
5. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972) by David Bowie
The story of the rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust is an absolute classic. The tale itself is quite tragic. (Spoiler alert for those who haven’t listened to the album). Humanity is doomed and only has enough resources left for “Five Years.” Ziggy comes to bring the message that they will be saved by a “Starman.” However, in the process Ziggy himself becomes doomed and ultimately suffers the tragic fate of dying on stage.
Not only is the music absolutely phenomenal, there is so much packed inside this album lyrically, perhaps that is why it is so timeless. There is an allegory about humanity’s fate in the somewhere, a lot of Bowie’s own psychology is buried in there too (which even Bowie admitted he had trouble separating his Ziggy persona from his real life), and there is even a larger spiritual or religious dimension to this album.
Although it was created in 1972, Ziggy Stardust never seems to feel old. In fact, like a fine wine it seems to grow better with age.
Listening to this record on vinyl really enhances the otherworldly quality of this album.
6. The Planets (1914-1916) by Gustav Holst
This orchestral suite by Gustav Holst inspired legendary composer John Williams’ Star Wars theme and, as mentioned above, the members of the band One Ring Zero when making Planets. This suite includes seven movements for seven different planets: Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Unlike One Ring Zero’s album Planets which was entirely astronomical, The Planets is entirely astrological. Each movement is said to convey how each planet influences the psyche. While Holst felt that this was not his best work, it is hard to say whether or not that is true considering how influential his Planets has been.
Although not as geeky as an album inspired by astronomy, it is still a wonderful music suite and one of the few great classical works inspired by the planets of our solar system.
This album sounds absolutely incredible on vinyl.
7. OK Computer (1997) by Radiohead
It is impossible to talk about geek albums without mentioning OK Computer by Radiohead. Thom Yorke even crafted much of the album based on science fiction books he was reading. In fact, The Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy was the inspiration for the album title as well as the song Paranoid Android. Yorke even called the album “geeky” himself in a Rolling Strongs interview. It was even created using the voice of “Fred” from old Macintosh software.
With themes of modern life, technology, and transportation, as well as sounds reminiscent of the same, this album feels incredibly “now” even though it was written in 1997. In fact, it will probably be even more timely as the future continues to unfold. Although there is not one single narrative at work, the album itself is about embracing the future all the while being incredibly afraid.
As geeks perhaps we should heed the caution that the album suggests. So let’s embrace the future all the while trying to avoid the catastrophe that could erupt from our endless pursuit of more and more tech.
One incredibly ironic way to listen to this album about the future is by getting it on vinyl.
8. Intergalactic Touring Band (1977) by Intergalactic Touring Band (IGTB)
The Intergalactic Touring Band was not so much a band as it was a loose confederation of star performers coming together to make an album. These star performers include such names as Ben E. King, Meat Loaf, Dave Cousins, Larry Fast, Percy Jones, Annie Haslam and many more. Their attempt at space opera should be applauded as it does a great job appealing to both prog rock fans as well as science fiction aficionados.
The songs themselves all fall under the umbrella of space travel and human space colonization. They talk about the struggles and triumphs of these endeavors, all the while keeping in mind the larger question of “why?” Most of the songs touch on our human foibles and failings but the story itself ultimately leaves you feeling hopeful.
This album is also one of the cheapest you will find on vinyl.
9. The Songs of Distant Earth (1994) by Mike Oldfield
The Songs of Distant Earth is inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s book of the same name. The album is entirely instrumental and is great to listen to while relaxing, unlike most prog rock music. In fact, the music itself feels something more along the lines of Enya at times than prog rock. It is hopeful, light, and simplistic. Apart from being inspired by a science fiction novel this music is perhaps most appealing to geeks because of its space-like, intergalactic and cosmic sounds as well as the radio chatter which echoes from time to time in the background.
Find it here on vinyl.
10. Mothership Connection (1975) by Parliament
Morthership Connection is one of the best funk albums by one of the best funk bands, Parliament. You are just as likely to geek out over this album as you are to start busting out some dance moves or start singing along.
This album features George Clinton (who started both Funkadelic and Parliament) on vocals, Bootsy Collins on bass, and Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker on horn and sax. Its quirky, and at times downright strange, lyrics add to the charm and geekiness of this album. It also includes some great and memorable grooves as well as some off the wall sounds coming out of the synthesizer.
This is definitely an album to add to your geek collection as there probably are not too many albums that fit the geek mold that you can also dance too. And be sure to grab Mothership Connection on vinyl.
11. Deep Breakfast (1984) by Ray Lynch
A mixture of electronic and classical, Deep Breakfast is one of those albums that seems to be flying under the radar for no particularly good reason. This album is spiritual, uplifting and contemplative. With ethereal sounds which appear to be coming from another dimension this album will take you to places limited only by your imagination.
This album appeals to geeks because the sounds which emanate from it seem like they came straight out of some intergalactic video game made by space aliens. Very few albums can evoke such emotion and nostalgia through such simple (and strange) melodies and sounds, yet somehow Ray Lynch pulls it off with Deep Breakfast. This is a fine addition to any geek music collection.
Grab it on vinyl for the best possible listening experience.
Earth Rocker (2013) by Clutch
Although Earth Rocker did not make the main list, this is also a great album for your geek collection. With songs such as “Cyborg Bette,” about having a robot girlfriend, and “The Face,” about a dystopian future without rock and roll, this album is sure to delight geeks and hard rocks fans alike.
Get it here on vinyl.
In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 (2003) by Coheed and Cambria
A prog rock album that tells the same story as Armory Wars, a comic written by the frontman of the group, Claudio Sanchez, and comic book writer Peter Allen David, must be included in any self-respecting geek’s album collection. In Keeping Secrets of the Silent Earth: 3 has memorable riffs and the type of complexity you would expect from a prog rock album. It also has some of the best songs in Coheed and Cambria’s entire catalogue including, “A Favor House Atlantic,” “The Crowning,” “Blood Red Summer,” and “In Keeping Secrets of the Silent Earth: 3.”
The vinyl can be found here.
Solid State (2017) by Jonathan Coulton
From the same guy who brought the song “Code Monkey” to the geek world, Jonathon Coulton’s album Solid State proves to be a significant upgrade to his musical catalogue. This album has more of a serious feel compared to his older albums and can even be quite emotional at times. There are also songs on this album with names like “Robots.txt” and “Don’t Feed the Trolls” which are sure to resonate with any computer geek out there.
Here it is on vinyl.