Using vintage video game sounds in rock music isn't necessarily a new concept, but it's safe to say few have done it as effectively or enthusiastically as up and coming Chicago band I Fight Dragons. The self-proclaimed "NES-rock band" recently released their debut EP, "Cool Is Just a Number," which matches Fountains of Wayne-esque sing-along rock with sound effects that will make you all nostalgic for the days when you rushed home from school to spend some quality time with your Nintendo Power Pad before dinner was ready.
It would be easy for I Fight Dragons to sound like nothing more than a novelty act, but the band manages to keep their video game indulgences from dominating the basic elements of the songs. Instead, they use the sound effects to enhance well-written, extremely catchy material. If the 8-bit flourishes were stripped from "The Faster the Treadmill," for example, it would still be a power pop anthem worth shouting along to, while "Money" is a solid rocker that's given even more life with bubbly, synthetic NES blips skittering throughout.
While the EP is worth checking out based on the songs alone, the band is as much of a visual act as one to listen to in the car, playing controllers, a Power Pad and other NES gear real-time during their gigs (check out this video to see how they do it). Even their MySpace page is more attention-grabbing than most, featuring 8-bit renditions of each band member and enough bright colors to make you feel like you've warped into Super Mario Bros. and should start stomping Goombas.
With infectious tunes and no shortage of entertainment value, I Fight Dragons is a Windy City act that's bound to attract a lot of attention. You can currently get a free digital download of "Cool Is Just a Number" by signing up for the I Fight Dragons mailing list here. You can also pick up a hard copy, or download it via iTunes. Catch the band live April 17 at Cubby Bear.