However, there are certain common musical traits that many geek rock artists share, although a good number of the bands described as such may display a sound far removed from the considered standard. Such elements include heavy use of synthesisers and electronic keyboards, harmonic vocals (and, sometimes, extensive use of female-led backing vocals) and idiosyncratic use of instruments not usually associated with alt-rock, such as accordions. Some mainstream bands that exemplify the geek rock "sound" include DEVO, Weezer, They Might Be Giants, Fountains of Wayne, The Aquabats!, and Barenaked Ladies.
In addition, a number of lyrical themes are quite common to the genre - these include themes of isolation, loneliness and failing love lives, and a fascination with "geek" pop culture such as video games, comic books, science fiction and fantasy. In addition, significant doses of irony and humour can be found in many geek rock lyrics. The average age of a geek rock band, meanwhile, is demonstrated by the recurring preoccupation with pop culture of the 1980s. Bands like Ozma, The Minibosses, Nerf Herder, The Franchise and hellogoodbye are indicative of this trend.
Bands that are considered in the geek rock genre have been almost exclusively American or Canadian, but there have been a few bands from other countries as well. One noteworthy band is Wir Sind Helden (We are heroes) from Germany. Wir Sind Helden earned their title as "German Geek Rock" with their music videos for "Guten Tag" and "Nur ein Wort," both of which deal with geek pop culture, dictionaries, and comic books. The song "The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth" from their third album makes this inclination explicit.
It is worth pointing out that the term "geek rock" as we know it is a relatively recent development, but it has been retrospectively applied in a number of cases. The early progenitors of the genre are generally considered to be certain experimental and intellectual proponents of new wave music from the late 1970s and early 1980s, most notably Oingo Boingo, Devo, XTC and Talking Heads. While these bands all carry undoubted musical influence down to the current geek rock bands, however, it is the somewhat nerdish demeanor of their (in all cases bespectacled) front men that is also seen to qualify them. Indeed, the tendency to label as "geek rock" music that is performed by geeks (as opposed to music that simply sounds "geeky") has led to figures as far back as Buddy Holly being described as geek rock "icons".citation needed In addition, artists including Pixies, Ween, Grandaddy, The Decemberists, OK Go, Nada Surf, Beck, Moxy Früvous, and The Young Knives have found themselves labeled as "geek rock" on occasion.