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3:45 PM on 02.21.2011

Groundhog Day: Rock Cell Radio



Itís kind of hard for me to really pick one game for this. As someone who was raised up squeezing every last minute out of a game because you never knew when youíd get another, Iíve cherished quitw a few games that constantly seem to find their way back into my disc drive. As youíll read, sometimes itís not even the game Iím attracted to. Thereís some sentimentality or some small detail that I just canít let go of.

Letís dive in, shall we?

Music games (Rock Band, basically)



The first time I ever played a music game, like many other lads like myself, it was with PaRappa the Rapper on PS1. I never did buy that full game but I remember sitting in my cousins room in my grandmothers basement and frustratingly retrying that damn demo for hours. The concept had eluded me, the idea of gaming based on rhythm was just something that I couldnít fathom. It was frustrating as hell and, contrary to how most people get themselves attached to a genre, I ragequit after about a weekend. Everyone picked the game up with ease, in fact that was one of its many praiseworthy qualities (this was before making a game accessible became ďcasualĒ and therefore evil), but I just couldnít do it. It stung a little, and it hung over my head like a decisive vice.



Years would go by without me ever touching a music game again. The final straw that broke the camelís back came in the form of a Wal-Mart kiosk. On the way home from guitar practice mother decided to stop by this dingy little Wal-Mart on the side of the road and left my little brother and I to fend for ourselves amongst the magnitude of the electronics department. Leaving two little kids in the electronics department of a Wal-Mart is similar to leaving a lonely man in the red light district of Amsterdam. Itís dirty, really colorful, and you want everything you see. While my little brother and I tried to engage ourselves in the glorious and genius delight of a hulking gray Nintendo DS we were constantly distracted by this tall hairy man to our right clicketing away on some red plastic guitar. Once he finally finished butchering Smoke On the Water (a song Iím ashamed to admit I was once not ashamed to admit I liked) curiosity got the better of me and I finally tackled my vice to the tune of I Love Rock Ní Roll by my beautiful hero Joan Jett. The rest my dear reader, is history.

Why I keep coming back to music gaming recently became simple. Itís not that I enjoy the illusion of performing music. Iíve been a drummer since I was 12 and easily could learn and replicate the sound and composition of any song on guitar if I really wanted to. Itís not the scene that keeps me coming back, those color coordinating gods and goddesses who use songs like Evileís Thrasher and Yngwie Malmsteenís Caprici di Diablo as warm-up tunes. Really, if weíre being honest, itís not even the gameplay. While I would certainly praise Harmonixí recent Rock Band 3 for creating a videogame experience that crosses the threshold into the real world and creating the perfect party game UI at the end of the day none of that matters because (A) I donít even play Pro mode and (B) no matter how good the UI is thereís always gonna be that one guy who doesnít understand not to press any damn buttons before youíve made the setlist. What keeps me coming back is the music.



I love listening to music but even more than that I love interacting with the music. I love the connection I feel when I feel like Iím investing time solely to the track I love. It isnít often that I find myself just sitting down and enjoying a song purely for the song. Either Iím driving or cleaning or writing a blog. When I play Rock Band itís the music and I together as wholly as possible without absolute replication. I love that. I love it because in the same way sitting in my room playing an old Joan Baez vinyl on my turntable can open my ears to all her subtly and rich liveliness so too can a game of Rock Band alone at my plastic drum kit following along to the Pixiesí La La Love You.

For myself, Rock Band has become a practice in embracing the music, where for others it seems to be only a practice in color coordination. Which is not to say I criticize them but for myself even if Rock Band ever went the unfortunate route of the Hero franchise, I donít think Iíd ever stop coming back. Iíll keep coming back for the music long after I keep coming back for the game.

Tom Clancyís Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory



I love Splinter Cell. Always have, and always will. Ever since the original Iíve never been able to say no to a romp with Sam Fisher and the criminally underrated badass Anna Grimsdottir as they travel the world fucking shit up. Chaos Theory has always been, and probably will always be in my mind, the pinnacle of the Splinter Cell franchise. From the fantastic score to the absolutely ingenious level design everything about Chaos Theory is simply built to keep me coming back.

To this day some of the most fun Iíve ever had in a videogame has to be fooling with the open world structure of Chaos Theory. Itís never let me down, keeping every single theft, assassination, and bug plant fresh. Sometimes when Iím on the huge boat I like to screw with the lights when assassinating Lacerda. Especially the fridge. Oh man, and the bank robbery. It always starts off calm but I love upping the ante, setting the alarms off, and watching everyone turn the place upside down trying to find me.

Chaos Theory keeps me coming back because it is everything I want in a stealth game. Itís about stealth just as much as it is about completing the mission and it leaves the definition of stealth completely up to the player. Stealth doesnít necessarily mean staying invisible. One alarm and youíre out? BS. In Chaos Theory you are given a sandbox, a pale and a bucket, and how you make the castle is completely up to you. Thatís why after 6 years it is still getting constant play from me (just last weekend in fact).



Chaos Theory is also gorgeous. Probably one of the best looking games of its time and one of the few games of the era that actually looked prettier than any of its cinematics. Itís funny, it almost feels silly saying Chaos Theory looked good for its time because it still looks damn good today almost like it came out a year or two ago. And the music? It just ties everything together beautifully. It makes the whole experience feel good.

To date, Iíve yet to find the stealth game that makes me feel as truly stealthy as Chaos Theory does. Even the spectacular Conviction, which takes place as my second favorite Splinter Cell title, canít add up. It lacks the openness, the vagueness, and the suaveness of Chaos Theory. Chaos Theory took the signature Tom Clancy style of videogames and made it damn near sensual. Itís that unique vibe and broad take on stealth that constantly brings me back.



Jet Set Radio Future



JET SET RADIO FUTUUUURREE!!! JSRF stands very very high on my list of all-time favorite games. Much like Rock Band itís one of those games that I keep coming back to less for the gameplay and more for everything else. JSRF has a style and an attitude all its own, one that many can imitate but never replicate.

It all begins, probably against the unwritten Hardcoar Gamers Code, with graphics. So much of JSRFís style is ingrained in its visuals which until the debut of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was, in my opinion, the unmatched apex of stylized cel-shaded graphics. From the characters designs like the sleek Gum, the iconic Poison Jam, and the intimidating Rokkaku Gouji, to the delightfully asymmetrical environments and stunning graffiti. Everything about the visual style of JSRF just makes it a delight to return to and skate around in in awe at this universe.



Naturally, the music of Jet Set Radio Future is another draw that still receives constant praise. Hideki Naganuma has his finger so intimately on the pulse of the soul of Jet Set Radio Future that the music does more than complement the game, it threads the entire world together. I cannot imagine a Jet Set Radio Future without The Concept of Love, Fly Like A Butterfly, or Shape Da Future constantly playing on loop. Hell, just hearing it in my head right now is causing me to swoon. What Naganuma doesnít contribute, even it remains a constant reminder of the unique sound and spectacle that developer Smilebit created with Jet Set Radio Future. I donít know anyone who played JSRF and doesnít immediately glow when they hear Cibo Mattoís Birthday Cake.

Even the characters, who for the most are silent, are always excuses to come back. The wonderful thing about voiceless characters is the personality you put to them. My little brothers and I have all chipped in to what we think each character is like based on their flourish styles. Itís hard not to. They just pop right at you immediately.



And of course, I owe much of my childhood to JSRF. It was one of the games that just put my little brothers and I in a state of awe and happiness. The bright colors all running together, the unique and bombastic music that we never heard anywhere else. I mean for us these things were exclusive to JSRF, they were contained in that universe and that exclusivity made it all feel that much more alive. It still does. I pop in JSRF for a quick weekend run through the campaign and even though now I blast the remix of Humming the Bassline every other day in my car something about hearing it in the game reminds me why I keep visiting that world. Itís a self-contained preservation of everything that I love in a good fictional setting. Great characters complemented by beautiful worlds that show enough to satisfy the right part of the brain while still letting it run wild.

  read


10:48 PM on 08.04.2010

Adopt Xzyliac for PAX Please



So last year I gave this a shot and no one adopted me. Probably because I was new and no one cared. Then at PAX East I gave this a shot and no one adopted me. Probably because it's the East coast and if moving to Texas has shown me anything, well, we're a bunch of unwelcoming fucks on the East coast. But with a new year I'm here again with big ol' puppy dog eyes to convince you, my reader (and future PAX mommy/daddy) why you should choose me above all these other losers.

1) I will provide epic tunes



It's a fact that I am a music nerd and as a music nerd I call dibs on the radio, the MP3 player, the other radio, the laptop iTunes, the hotel radio, the Rock Band setlist, and the portable radio. So know that as long as I am with you you will never have to stress over what to listen to. You just keep your sweet little booty planted wherever it is and let the delicious audible delicacies of my perfect music taste take you away to a land of badassery and sweet lovin'.

2) I'm wreckless and impulsive



If you've ever seen a comedy movie or a sitcom you know the wrecklessly impulsive are always the most fun people to hang with. Keenan & Kel, My Gym Partner's A Monkey, Brutal Legend, the wrecklessly impulsive are always buckets of lulz and kickass. When you're unsure about any situation I will thrust you into it head on. Oh look, it's that thing you always wanted to do! Let's go do it! That thing looks pretty, let's go to it! Dangerous you say? Sorry, I can't hear you, I'm running face first into it!

3) God told me I need to have autographs from Harmonix people

One night an angel came into my room and she charged me with a mission from God. To collect Harmonix autographs. "How?" I asked the angel. She gave God a call and he was like "PAX, bitch." After that we had a few drinks and prank called Gabriel. He's such a douche.

4) I suck at almost any videogame therefore making you look at least 10x better



Have you ever looked at a game and wanted to play it really badly but noticed how ace everyone who crowded the screen was and didn't want to embarass yourself in front of any of your peers or potential sexual partners? With me by your side you're sure to look at least 10 times better at any game! I promise! Sure you might be sucking, you can't aim for shit and you have one kill, but who's that team killing bastard who can't stay focused long enough to protect the damn flag? Why it's Xzyliac! You may be a spcial move spamming no good son of a bullbog but who's the cunt who keeps pressing the same damn attack button? Why it's Xzyliac! See with me around your suckiness (or God forbid awesomeness) is always overshadowed by my Xzyliacness which is essentially like suckiness but even worse!

5) My avatar is Ellie Jackson



Who the fuck doesn't want to walk around with a print out of Ellie Jackson?

6) Occams is taken



I know, I know. You wanted to take Occams. Look we all do. Who wouldn't want to take that hunk of manly manlitude to bed in such a romantic city like Seattle? Just imagining that beard nestling your head while he sings his own reggae inspired version of the Full House theme song. It's just as sensual as it is haunting. Also, maybe a little gay. But alas Occams is taken so it's time for your backup plan. Your #2 lover. That'd be me. Who did you think it was? Jerkface! I thought we had something special!

7) I know all the words to Bohemian Rhapsody



Trust me, in a long line (and there will be a line eventually), this is an essential survival tool. And with a buddy things could get awesome.

8) You can see Drunk Xzyliac

Drunk Xzyliac is a very rare animal indeed. In fact there has only ever been one documented sighting of Drunk Xzyliac. See, Xzyliac in general drinks a lot of everything. He drinks water, juice, soda, coolant, by the buckets. He drinks way more than he eats and drinks anything within arms distance almost purely out of instinct. So when said drinks are alcoholic things are bound to get...weird. And Xzyliac is a weird enough creature without alcohol. Drunk Xzyliac is extremely rare and occasionally admits to things that are totally untrue (i.e. You might hear something about Clay Aiken sex dreams. Ignore that.). However adopt Xzyliac for PAX and anything could happen.

9) I never sleep (WTF? All of a sudden I switch back to first person?)

I never sleep. Now sure this curse is great for parties, stalking, and making daring escapes off rooftoops but it also serves to benefit another cause: Ninjaing. Yes, like any good insomniac I am a skilled master in the art of Ninjaing. With you as my faithful lackey we can patrol the streets of Seattle avenging justice and throwing random things at guys crotches while hiding. It'll be totally awesome.

10) I'm a chick



Now it's an obvious fact that I'm a girl. And if you read my About Me you'll know it's a confirmed fact from a total stranger who's never met me that I'm an attractive girl. How does this benefit you? Because it's universally known that women are social swiss army knives. Any issue, be you my PAX daddy or mommy, can be solved by the power of womanhood. Say there's an attractive individual of the opposite gender (oh hell any gender) and you're looking to get some of that fabled PAX lovin'. As a woman I could totally prep you through the whole thing. You've seen the movies right? You're looking at your target across the room, you look at me, back and forth. Then I slap you/grab you/stare you down and I say something mega inspiring in a super assuring voice and then BAM! Sexual relations!

Or maybe your plan is to be the most badass of the badass on the PAX floor. It is universally accepted that nothing is more badass than an attractive woman who plays videogames and sings Bohemian Rhapsody in long lines. With me by your side we look totally badass. Everyone'll be like "Oh snap, they're badass." And we'll be all like "You bet your sweet lil' dick we are."

------

These are 10 reasons why you should adopt me. And if you don't then you can't blame me when you're walking down the street and a traffic cone gets thrown at your crotch outta nowhere. You were warned.

Here, have this sweet La Roux tune...

[embed]180678:31996[/embed]   read


11:08 AM on 06.29.2010

A couple of dudes Skype during E3; these are the recordings



So this E3 was a lil' different for me. Usually my E3s are a somewhat lonely affair seeing as I'm the only person I know within a 100 mile radius who cares. So I watch the conferences and join in on the blogs and forums to give my totally pointless two cents and continue with life as usual.

This year was different however because this year I have Dtoid. A community that absolutely refuses to let me go a day without reminding me of all the wonderful people I've met.

It's been in this spirit that Skype and Twitter have become such common staples in my life. All my Dtoid buddies and I have grown pretty damn close outside of things like videogames and such. It really is, how do the kids say, fuckin' awesome. But when E3 rolled around all the talk of our little digital neighborhood was focused on the event. I actually found myself getting more excited than any E3 before. Pretty much my entire week that week was spent on Skype chattin' it up and having some really great and insightful conversations about the common love that brought us all together.

So needless to say this E3 was anything but a lonely affair for me and for that I want to first thank all the guys and the girl (singular noun, a shame I know) who made Skypin' and Tweetin' such a blast during this E3.

Guncannon, Kraid, Mark Griffiths, Beverlynoelle, Scion of Mogo, Aurvantoid, FalconReaper, vApathyv, Trevkor, Antwahn, Daxelman, ArcticFox, power-glove, Monodi, and ALL THE REST many thanks. You guys are pretty damn cool. Someday I hope that we all will be able to get together and do whatever the hell those guys in my header are doing.

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE!

I actually recorded all of our Skypings, not intentionally actually, and after getting the proper permissions and doing some very quick and rough edits I am dumping them here for the raping of your ears. You can hear me swoon like a pussy, here Scion of Mogo do Scion of Mogo things, Kraid's awesome accent, Mark Griffiths' adorable accent, and Beverly telling us all to shut up (When will she learn she can't win?).


Skype recording link

It all started on Monday with Microsoft's event. I actually had no real intentions of hopping onto Skype but Guncannon invited me so I did.

MS' conference was a snoozefest for sure. It started off well enough. Actually I was surprised by how it began. Nothing new but decent enough. Some Halo: Reach, Gears (not my thing but cool), I was pretty comfortable. Then they brought out Kinect. I was scared at first, like meeting a girl who your friends can't shut up about. It wouldn't be so weird but your friends keep raving about her so now you're gonna sit there and judge her the whole time. When all was said and done I was actually impressed. Kinect has obvious flaws and it'll die in 2 years or so but I think I saw, and can forsee, enough decent software to warrant a purchase sometime post-release.

It was decent.


Download Skype recording

EA was actually pretty good. I liked it. The sports bits not so much but that was a given. Focusing on the parts aimed at me (i.e. everything else). It was a surprisingly decent show. They had more than I had originally realized. Need for Speed looked awesome, as did Bulletstorm, and oh hey another Vietnam placed Battlefield. I can dig it.


Skype recording link

Ubisoft's conference was so bad it was amazing. Seriously, the greatest conference ever. It topped Konami's by a mile. And it even had decent looking games like Shaun White's Skateboarding and Child of Eden along with the hilarious shit like that laser tag thing and the Michael Jackson game. That's why it's better.


Skype recording link

Next day was Nintendo. Now I was expecting Nintendo to be better than Microsoft but worse than Sony. I really didn't expect much from Nintendo. The 3DS, some tech demo for it, and a bunch of games I expected. What I was thinking was literally the stone cold opposite of what happened. It was awesome. A new Kirby (YARN!?!), Kid Icarus, Donkey Kong, it was amazing. Some would say it's Nintendo traversing familiar territory, and in a sense it is, but it's territory that for a long time has been totally ignored. So for that I think Nintendo deserves major props. Love 'em or hate 'em they did what the other of the Big 3 didn't and that was deliver what the fans wanted. Not go off on your own thing and hope the fans stick by you.

Double irony? I expected Zelda to be the high point of the show and it was actually the lowest point. Go figure.


Skype recording link

It was shit.

Note: My connection craps out about 3/4 through. It comes back but just so the elevator music doen't lose you.


Skype recording link

This one actually was intentional. We'd recorded all the others so we figured we might as well go on and record this one. No doubt you've heard enough about it via memes and such so I won't dwell on it. My memory is actually a bit different from others. If you nitpick it apart it was a hilarious meme factory filled with ridiculousness and lulz. However the last 30 minutes were absolutely boring. So while I did enjoy the funny bits and getting to see MGS: Rising again, the rest was pretty lame and didn't live up to the meme filled hype.

---------------------------------

And that's it! This is super late because real life tries to keep from doing things and I was overcomplicating things a bit but here you go. The E3 post to end all post, not because it's awesome, but because nobody cares anymore.   read


5:48 PM on 06.21.2010

Sympathy for the devil: A few words for the oppressed fanboy race...



Much like being a gangsta, or being Mexican, itís a hard life to lead being a fanboy. Spreading the truth when few want to hear it, preaching the gospel when so many intolerant and angry people want to silence you. As you walk the earth, your fellow gamers sinning in fornication with evil consoles that will only bring them grief and pain, you often ask yourself is it worth it? Is man even worthy of your strong back with which to hold the weight of all their sins upon? How can one such as you be asked to bear the pains of martyrism? Why? But whenever you entertain the thought of foregoing your burden fantasies of a true pure gaming world come into your eyes. Where the sins of the box which has poisoned your gaming world are washed away. With an eyeful of tears and a heavy heart in your chest you continue your journey.

I understand your pain. I see the suffering of fanboys all day long. The boy on the street being mocked for buying a PSP instead of a DS. The frustration of men when ignorant people just donít ďgetĒ the innovations of the Move. When will they learn itís not a blatant Wii rip-off? Isnít it obvious Sony had this planned all along? Perhaps to you and I but never to them. And so I write this today to bring to light your suffering for the better of gaming.

The fanboy is an oppressed race. Sometimes they are even forced into something of a digital nomadic life. Roaming from one forum/blog to the next. At the first sign of truth, a truth like how the PlayStation promotes homosexuality (Do we really need further proof than the Move after all?), the fanboy is swiftly silenced by the oppressive higher ups. There is little solace for the oppressed fanboy. How else will those fools realize that Nintendo makes the same games over and over? Ratchet & Clank, Final Fantasy, Killzone, now thereís some overlooked originality.

And these fools, oppressive and many, who wish to silence your reign of truth, call themselves the ďmaster race.Ē You know who else called themselves that? Thatís right, Naziís! When you look into their grimacing eyes, and you read the hate fueled drivel that spews from their minds, you know the true dangers of the sinful act of mutliplatformism. We have men who own glorious 360ís but bypass them for the black Asian devilboxes known as the PlayStation 3. Women with perfectly adept, sturdy, dare I say majestic, PCs but waste their time playing vile poisons of the industry like Farmville. And even worse? These are the same women who will leave these prime angelic machines of righteousness to play games like Dragon Age on their inferior and putrid 360s. What!? But itís better on PC because of mods! Some will say the game should come playable and enjoyable out of the box but what do they know? They are lesser men. You, oh oppressed fanboy, are the right one. All the time.

Fanboys are oppressed and taunted with the myth of ďopinions.Ē Opinions? Well while looking for a quote on opinions I found this:



And I think that can pretty much sum up how ďvalidĒ the opinion of one these fornicating multiplatformers really is. Who can trust a mind that has already been tainted by the disgusting and unholy act of multiplatformerism? Just as fish shit in water the mind of the multiplatformer is laden with the shit of an open mind. With no personal agenda who knows what nonsense can spew from their minds? Wii is better than PS3? Killzone is better than Halo? Some have even said these console wars are pointless and we should ďJust like get along, man.Ē These free thinking hippies of gaming are nothing but filth. They are vermin who must be saved by the glory and holiness of your respective fanboyism.

So do not fret fanboys. I know your walk seems tired, your soul seems tried, and your mission seems hard. They will say ignorant things. Theyíll question the validity of your opinion of Halo when you donít own an Xbox. Theyíll ignore the cold hard facts like 9.6 is more than 9.7. Hell, theyíll even ask you how you can be a fanboy and then turn around and be enraged at bias. Itís not that you have a bias, itís that you know the truth. Truth is fact, undeniable and without argument. And the truth is [insert convenient truth here].

Now take this bread, take this water, and continue your journey, oh wanderer.

Oh who am I you ask? Well, itís funny really. I was one of you. Yes, I was. I was a fanboy, one of the purest and strongest of them all. But then I was dealt with a devastating blow, drawn in by the lust of a she-devil who gripped onto me and wouldnít let me go until I submit. And when my strength finally waned I did and I have not been able to return since. Who was she? Her name, three letters long, and as potent as a venomous serpent, still rings in me today. It sickens me to say she guides my life, directs my every move, and even disgustingly holds over the games I play. No longer do I seek innovation, or originality, as a true gamer should. Are you ready to hear the name of the she-devil?

Fun.   read


12:17 PM on 06.14.2010

33 Random Songs for Rock Band 3

33 Random Songs for Rock Band 3



This is gonna be quick (sorta). The EA conference is in 4 hours and in 4 hours this blog becomes irrelevant. Let's go!

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1. Where Itís At by Beck

Genre: Alternative
Release: 1996
On the album: Odelay

With the addition of keyboard thereís a lot of ridiculously awesome riffs Harmonix just canít ignore and Beckís classic Where Itís At is the epitome of amazing keyboard riff. Those drums ainít half bad either.

[embed]176296:30617[/embed]

2. Good Day by Dresden Dolls

Genre: Cabaret
Release: 2003
On the album: The Dresden Dolls

Iíve been calling for this one since RB2 and with keyboard you know Iím pushiní Dresden Dolls like a bitch. This one in particular has it all. Keyboard, bass, drums, and guitar (the last one being extremely rare for the Dresden Dolls).

[embed]176296:30618[/embed]

3. 21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson

Genre: Progressive rock
Release: 1969
On the album: In the Court of the Crimson King

Prog rock is no doubt riddled with fantastic songs that could take advantage of the newest addition to Rock Bandís gameplay but few of them are as classic as the í69 hit 21st Century Schizoid Man. Itís just the right kind of insanity and challenge that will make everybody in the room want to take 5 for a bit.

[embed]176296:30619[/embed]

4. Some Kind of Nature (ft.Lou Reed) by Gorillaz

Genre: Alternative
Released: 2010
On the album: Plastic Beach

Definitely one of my favorite tracks from this great album.

[embed]176296:30620[/embed]

5. Sleep Alone by Bat for Lashes

Genre: Dream pop
Release: 2008
On the album: Two Suns

I like this song. Now from what I can tell Harmonix wants to push the weird little indie genres with this outing so letís get some dream pop up in here.

[embed]176296:30621[/embed]

6. Wanderlust by Nightwish

Genre: Power metal
Release: 2000
On the album: Wishmaster

Symphonic power metal is a love of mine. Granted there arenít many good symphonic power metal bands out there but Nightwish is top notch. Wanderlust has an incredible keyboard bit right there in the chorus that synchs with the guitar. So good.

[embed]176296:30622[/embed]

7. Little Girls by Oingo Boingo

Genre: New wave
Release: 1981
On the album: Only a Lad

MmmmmÖ

[embed]176296:30623[/embed]

8. Roundabout by Yes

Genre: Progressive rock
Release: 1971
On the album: Fragile

This is another classic prog song. It sweeps along through various suites. The bassline alone definitely makes it memorable.

[embed]176296:30624[/embed]

9. The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid by The Decemberist

Genre: Indie
Release: 2009
On the album: The Hazards of Love

Love the dulcimer in this (thatíd be that one twangy instrument) song. Between that, the riff, and the awesome vocal changes and the choir this one is a given.

[embed]176296:30625[/embed]

10. Sympathy for Devil by The Rolling Stones

Genre: Rock
Release: 1970
On the album: Beggarís Banquet

Yes! This one is easily a big one for me. Itís got everything! Great piano, great vocals, great drums (there was so much Neversoft didnít chart in GH5), sweet guitar solo, GIMMEH!!!

[embed]176296:30626[/embed]

11. Psychotic Girl by The Black Keys

Genre: Blues
Released: 2008
On the album: Attack & Release

I love the rhythm of The Black Keys. Everything they do just has so much zazz. Theyíre absolutely perfect for Rock Band 3 in every way but if I had to ask for one itíd probably be this one. Donít get me wrong, probably all their songs deserve a spot. But this one has got that soul that just takes you away while youíre singiní to it. Especially if you can relate to it, this is one powerful song.

[embed]176296:30627[/embed]

12. A Touch of Evil by Judas Priest

Genre: Heavy metal
Released: 1990
On the album: Painkiller

Great keyboard, great guitar, great vocals, it might not be a as great the title track but still a great Judas Priest song.

[embed]176296:30628[/embed]

13. D.A.N.C.E. by Justice

Genre: House
Released: 2007
On the album: Cross

Another awesome thing about keyboards is the addition of more ďdance-yĒ music. I love this song and while the keyboard(s) may be awesome, and the choir of chilluns may be awesome, but the bass (itís string bass, not synth) is amazing.

[embed]176296:30629[/embed]

14. Woman by The Zombies

Genre: Rock
Released: 1965
On the album: The Zombies (UK)

Ah, The Zombies. Great 60ís keyboard, great harmonies, great mellow British vibe, love it. And yes, I did purposely avoid Odyssey & Oracles. Because itís meh.

[embed]176296:30630[/embed]

15. Anxiety (Get Nervous) by Pat Benatar

Genre: Pop
Released: 1982
On the album: Get Nervous

I just found this song 2 minutes ago and what is this I donít even?

[embed]176296:30631[/embed]

16. Dr. John by Mika

Genre: Pop
Released: 2009
On the album: The Boy Who Knew Too Much

The reincarnation of Freddie Mercury, Mika makes just as much as including Queen. That is to say, it makes complete sense.

[embed]176296:30632[/embed]

17. Love, Reign Oíer Me by The Who

Genre: Rock
Released: 1973
On the album: Quadrophenia

One of the best tracks from an incredible rock opera epic. Didnít translate too well onto film though. Wouldnít recommend it.

[embed]176296:30633[/embed]

18. Zero by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Genre: Indie
Released: 2009
On the album: Itís Blitz!

I LOVEZZZ THIS SONGZZZ!!!!! Oh and itís got good things for RB gameplay too.



LOOOVEZZZ!!!!

[embed]176296:30634[/embed]

19. Cherry Lips by Garbage

Genre: Alternative
Released: 2001
On the album: beautifulgarbage

It always surprises me that this song hasnít reappeared in the music gaming universe after Amplitude (or Frequency or whatever). Such a great simple little song. I would love to play that synth.

[embed]176296:30635[/embed]

20. Gratitude by Beastie Boys

Genre: Alternative hip-hop
Released: 1992
On the album: Check Your Head

Obviously.

[embed]176296:30636[/embed]

21. Get Off the Internet by Le Tigre

Genre: Dance punk
Released: 2001
From the album: From the Desk of Mr. Lady EP

Kathleen Hanna is one of my lifetime heroes. Sheís totally awesome both as a punk and as a musician plus I totally lived near where she was raised. That makes us, like, soulmates and shit.

[embed]176296:30637[/embed]

22. Heart of Glass by Blondie

Genre: New wave
Released: 1978
From the album: Parallel Lines

This is one of my all time favorite songs of all times ever. Itís soulful, catchy, and totally dance-y.

[embed]176296:30638[/embed]
Sorry for the creepiness. Couldn't find another video of the full song.

23. The Bomb by New Young Pony Club

Genre: New wave
Released: 2007
On the album: Fantastic Playroom

Absolutely perfect. Great drums, cool synth, good party vibe, just scream Rock Band to me. Hell for my money get all their songs in there.

[embed]176296:30639[/embed]

24. Will You Remember by The Cranberries

Genre: Alternative
Released: 1996
On the album: To the Faithful Departed

Itís getting down to the wire and Iím tryiní to make sure I havenít forgotten anyone. How could I almost forget The Cranberries!? The greatest rock band of all time! This one was crazy hard to decide but I really like the carnival-esque riff going through this one.

[embed]176296:30641[/embed]

24.5 October by Dolores OíRiordan

Genre: Pop
Released: 2007
One the album: Are You Listening?

I always like to throw a little ďhoweverĒ when talking about The Cranberries and Rock Band just as much as I want more of The Cranberries (see: a fuckton) I would love to see some stuff from lead singer Dolores OíRiordanís solo career. This comes from one of those albums that would absolutely perfect in Rock Band but weíll probably never get due to a lack of popularity. Truly a spectacularly made album.

[embed]176296:30642[/embed]

25. Rock Lobster by The B-52s

Genre: New wave
Released: 1978
On the album: The B-52ís

ROCK LOBSTER!!!

[embed]176296:30643[/embed]

26. Burning Down the House by Talking Heads

Genre: New wave
Released: 1983
On the album: Speaking in Tongues

They tell me I need to include this or my list is invalidated.

[embed]176296:30644[/embed]

27. Letís Make Love and Listen to Death from Above by CSS

Genre: Indie
Released: 2005
On the album: Cansei de Ser Sexy

I like this song and stuff.

[embed]176296:30646[/embed]

28. Better by Regina Spektor

Genre: Anti-folk
Released: 2006
On the album: Begin to Hope

I love Regina Spektor. So much so that I think even after recognizing 70% of her songs are piano and vocals I still wish she would get her own full game. We canít get too much Spektor. Ever. As it stands this is the only song that I can recall that uses a full band and piano. Which is good because itís awesome.

[embed]176296:30648[/embed]

29. Learning to Live by Dream Theater

Genre: Progressive metal
Released: 1992
On the album: Images and Words

Thereís a lot of great keyboard to choose when talking about Dream Theater. Almost anything off of Images and Words, Metropolis Pt. 2:Scenes from a Memory, or Octavarium just oozes epic prog keyboarding. However one of my favorite tracks, and keyboard performances, is Learning to Live. Itís hard to ignore how many shifts the song goes through. I mean it doesnít beat the Octavarium title track but do you want to play a 20 minute song? Yeah me too but thatís only like two of us.

[embed]176296:30650[/embed]

30. Doorway by IO Echo

Genre: Alternative
Released: 2009
On the album: Doorway (single)

They still donít have a full album (or 5 songs) but IO Echo is so one of my favorite bands. Theyíre a really cool group of people, they opened for La Roux that one time she came to the states, they have a synth cover of I Want You (Sheís So Heavy), and this one song thatíll be on their album (2010 release hopefully *crosses fingers*) is totally kickass.

[embed]176296:30651[/embed]

31. Misty Mountain Hop by Led Zeppelin

Genre: Rock
Released: 1971
On the album: Led Zeppelin IV

One of my personal favorite LedZep tracks, especially for the piano riff. I know I always say I donít include LedZep in my list because itís a pipedream but I figured this was appropriate. Also, Iím tired and donít quite give a fuck.

[embed]176296:30652[/embed]

32. Mickey by Toni Basil

Genre: Pop
Released: 1982
On the album: Word of Mouth

Awmigod I love this song. I just realized it has some heavy synth alongside extra doses of awesomeness. You canít fight me on this one.

[embed]176296:30653[/embed]

33. Jerk It Out by Caesers

Genre: Indie
Released: 2003
On the album: Love for the Streets

Much like All I Want was to Crazy Taxi Jerk It Out always takes me back to SSX 3. Every time it came on, shit got real. This just feels like such a natural fit considering all of the indie already announced for RB3. And that piano riff is somethiní else.

[embed]176296:30654[/embed]

Oh wait I forgot Through the Fire and Flames by DragonForce

Genre: WTF speed metal
Released: 2006
On the album: Inhuman Rampage

BWAHAHAHA! You fools! You complained about this song because it used guitar to play keyboard! Well now you have a keyboard so let's see you go! The only difficulty is Pro, there are no pauses or restarts, and failure kills your HDD! GO!

[embed]176296:30660[/embed]

--------------------------   read


8:09 PM on 04.28.2010

The Myth Of Innovation



Gamers are a passionate people. Like any fandom we follow our passion of choice with vigor and loyalty. We want the best for her. We are diverse, we are everchanging and as time goes on we are maturing (despite what some downers will say).

But in our passion have we forgotten the point of video games?

You see gamers, in their love and devotion, have fallen into a trap. This trap is what I have labeled the myth of innovation. The myth claims innovation will breed fun. This is the myth that corporia (corporate culture) sold to us so long ago.

"With this innovative technology we will deliver fun in a new way."

We're really innovating with this game and the result is a fun new experience."

"When publishers allow developers to create original content what you get is an innovative product which is more fun for the consumer."

Eventually we fell into the trap. We began to associate innovation with fun until we ranked innovation even higher. We began to seek out innovation under the assumption that fun would be the result.



Now we blast anything that doesn't satisfy our lust for buzzwords. If it isn't innovative, groundbreaking, original, or some other PR bullshit it's already lost appeal to those "real gamers" who, despite all the factors that amount to a fun game, are turned off by how unoriginal the title is.

My fellow gamers video games are not all SRS BIZNSS. Video games are about fun first and foremost. This paranoia that unoriginality will somehow lead to a dystopian future of Halo clones and Guitar Hero spin-offs is pure fantasy. Our industry is too large to not house new and exsciting ideas. My back catalog, and chances are yours as well, could keep us amused for weeks or even months.

One of the great flaws of the myth of innovation is that it is near impossible for there to be a time where unoriginality runs rampant. It is your duty, if you truly want something original, to go out and find it. Nevermind that it's not the industries job to spoon feed you whatever you're looking for, it's really not that difficult to find innovation or originality.

Even still let's not forget fun first and whether you disagree with the majority or not sales never reflect unhappy gamers. Nobody is telling their family and friends to buy bad games. I say this because a large part of the cult of personality this myth carries almost always involves striking down the market as some unholy bastion of all that is wrong with gaming. I won't defend the creativity or lack thereof but rather rebuttal with "Who the fuck cares as long as the people playing the games are happy?"



Remember fun? It existed before you even knew what innovation was and you bought whatever had kickass boxart.

The myth of innovation, a myth that I must confess seemed at its height to me in the hype leading up to the Wii, is a myth that detracts from what gaming sould be: fun. Fuck buzzwords like experience, epic, and emotion. Give me fun. It's simple (in theory). It doesn't neccesarily ask for grand adventures, tear jerking storylines, or even believable characters. All fun ask for is some dedication and love from it's creators.

Because anyone can pull originality out of their ass. Few can do the same for fun. I've been in the film community, and as everyone knows my first and truest love is music, but no entertainment industry promotes fun nearly as well as video games.

The myth of innovation is nothing but a distraction. Cast off the chackles, lift up your blindfold, and see that fun can be the most unoriginal and uninspired game you've ever played.

  read


9:45 PM on 04.05.2010

Chocolate/Vanilla Vanilla/Chocolate: To RonBurgandy2010 With Love Edition



A while back (on my birthday no less) my good friend RonBurgandy2010 demanded I make a new mash-up blog. Well...here ya go.

1. Walk Close To Me

Artist: The Bangles vs. The Cure

Let's start things off smooth shall we? I love this mash-up. It never ceases in making me feel good all over and even better you can't really ask for much better quality.

Enjoy:
[embed]169528:28817[/embed]

2. Sandopolis Inc.

Artist: Gorillaz vs. Hiroshi Kubota

I never saw this coming in a million years. The first time I wasn't too impressed but it really has grown on me. Especially after Plastic Beach came out and I started drawing similarities to the the 16-bit tunes of Sonic and the crew with the direction Plastic Beach went into.

Apprťcier:
[embed]169528:28818[/embed]

3. Get It On My Mind

Artist: Marvin Gaye vs. The Pixies

How can you not like this!? I swear! Okay, so maybe the quality if a little iffy and the drums are a little awkward but it just sounds so good and infectious. This is another that I hated, mainly because the sound quality is so bleh, but I braced it once and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since.

genieŖen:
[embed]169528:28819[/embed]

4. Back to Life

Artist: Amy Winehouse vs. Stevie Wonder

Oh, Amy Winehouse. I'm so legitimately scared of you, yet I admire you so. And there's another guy in this mash-up too. He's okay too, I guess. Seriously, though this mash-up is awesome. Back to Black has been put to a lot of blues and old R&B but for my money this is the best thus far.

Disfrutar:
[embed]169528:28820[/embed]

5. Go It Alone Mercedes

Artist: Beck vs. Janis Joplin

You read that right. A mash-up with Janis F. Joplin. You're welcome.

Gustare:
[embed]169528:28821[/embed]


6. Somebody Told Me Hollaback

Artist: The Killers vs. Gwen Stefani

Wow, how did this slip past the DJ Hero Hollaback Girl lovefest? It's actually really good. Apart the songs are okay but together I can learn to love them both.

Njuta av:
[embed]169528:28822[/embed]

7. Shout "I'm Not Your Toy"

Artist: La Roux vs. Tears for Fears

I was soo close to featuring this the first time and now here it is. Some people say La Roux sounds 80s-ish. I still don't see it.

Njouy
[embed]169528:28823[/embed]

8. The Good, The Bad, Erase, Rewind

Artist: The Cardigans vs. Ennio Morricone

This mix is a bit subtle (if you ask me, others have said different) but I think it really works well.

Genieten:
[embed]169528:28824[/embed]

9. 99 Scar Tissue Problems

Artist: Jay-Z vs. Red Hot Chili Peppers

First I will put the rumours to rest. Yes, I like Jay-Z. Not all of Jay-Z but a lot of his songs definitely stick out in mainstream hip-hop even if the radio tries to kill them by playing them every other song. I urge everyone though to give this mash-up a listen. It's such a clean mash-up with some high caliber quality as well.

Ham:
[embed]169528:28825[/embed]

10. I'm Only Happy In The Ring

Artist: Garbage vs.Jurassic 5

Why is it that every time J5 get remixed with something I never know what J5 song it is? Aw, fuck it. Garbage gets a lot of mash-up action but in my opinion it usually has very bad results. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard bad I Think I'm Paranoid mash-ups. This one I think ispretty damn good though. It's certainly not as unique or special as a good mash-up can be but I like it.

3nj0y:
[embed]169528:28826[/embed]

Bonus track: The Joker's 21 Guns

Artist: Steve Miller Band vs. Green Day

Let's go out on a good note. Not a big fan of either band but it sounds too good to ignore.

In joi:
[embed]169528:28816[/embed]

---------
The best thing about the last track? You can download it right from the player. I might actually start using that player next time I do a mash-up blog.   read


7:59 PM on 03.22.2010

The Greatest Awful Film; Or The Film That Taught Me How To Love: Gracie's Choice



There comes a time in every human being's life when everything is changed radically. Everything you ever once knew has been blown into bits, the bits have been smashed into dust, the dust particles have been radiated into oblivion, and what now stands before you is a beautiful work of art. A painting painted with the brush strokes of brillance and the paints of epiphany. You never really know what it is that will set off this chain of events. It could be something as somber as the death of a loved one, as dangerous and brutal as a violent act thrusted upon you, or as moving and captivating as knowing you've found your true love. And of course all that lies in between. It can happen as a child, a teen, an adult, even as a babe. It can happen anywhere as well. On a bus, in your home, in your dreams, in a crowd, or all alone. For a second, for an hour, for years, or for a lifetime. Somewhere, someplace, somehow, your life will change forever.

That day, for me, was today. At 12:00 PM on the dot, in the San Jacinto building of the downtown Houston Community College campus Rm. 327 where I watched, nay experienced, the cinematic epic Gracie's Choice.

Not unlike Mr. Sterling's obsession with Deadly Premonition Gracie's Choice is a film so incredibly bad it's fucking adorable. However unlike Deadly Premonition Gracie's Choice totally expects you take it seriously which is just makes it that much more absurd. I'm getting ahead of myself though.



Gracie's Choice is a Lifetime original movie which should already preface how low budget this film is. And like most Lifetime movie's it stars a respected actress long before she actually deserved it. Enter, playing the role of main character Gracie Thompson, Kristen Bell. Bell stars alongside a laundry list of actors and actresses who I can't really say are "bad" but I can definitely say certainly aren't trying. In every "emotional" scene all I could see in the expressions on their faces were "I'm not getting paid nearly enough for this farce." Bell is accompanied by several B-level actors (and people who I swear they just picked off the street) including Shedrack Anderson III of Hook fame, and that chick from that terrible 90s flick we like to pretend was memorable I Know What You Did Last Summer, Anne Heche as the mother. I can say this much about the cast though: everybody is smokin' hot. Seriously I think the casting director easily said "Screw it. Just hire whoever's hot," because with maybe the exception of Grandma and the kids (the kids are cute but I'm not a pedo) I'd probably do everybody in this movie. Fuckin' A!

10/10 for eye candy.

The actually plot of the movie is simple enough Lifetime fodder with a twist. The movie follows the true life story of Gracie (names have been changed) as she fights to keep her brothers and sisters together while protecting them from the dangers her drug addict mother brings into their lives. Eeventually the mother is jailed and it's up to Gracie to raise her little brothers and sisters all while juggling grades, a job, and the heart of her love interest Tommy. Of course Gracie is a independent womenz so she can do anything, and everything, at the some time. Probably while performing heart surgery too. Oh, and the twist? FUCKING EVERYBODY IN THIS MOVIE IS EVIL! With the exception of Gracie and the kids everybody in this film is a bitch out to ruin Gracie. I'm not gonna ruin any plot twist (and there are some...okay one) but everybody in this movie is fucking evil. It's like the writers took the "All men are evil," template Lifetime gave them and cranked it up to 11. This movie is proof that nobody can be trusted. Not even Grandma!


One of these people is an ass. The answer? ALL OF THEM!

The actual writing of the movie is pretty cheesy as well. Every once in a while you get a good burn but really it's just a lot of overly dramatic bullshit. I swear this movie is so poorly acted and so unneccessarily intense you will punch all of your loved ones before the credits roll. From beginning to end there's nothing but girls crying, girls screaming, girls beating up each other, girls calling each other names, I never knew there was so much tension in the female jungle! Everything is a moment with these ladies! Is life supposed to be this dramatic!? Clearly I'm doing it wrong!

Which isn't to say the script writing doesn't have it's holes to let the light shine through which is one of the reasons I love it. When the script shines it shines. Some of those one liners? Classy as fuck.

Example: Rowena [mother]: I should send you to hell! | Gracie: I was born in hell!

DDDAAAYYYUUUMMNNN!!!

Almost everything about Gracie's Choice glows F-A-I-L. The acting (especially), the music, the writing everything. So why do I love it? I don't know! It's just so bad it's good and as it continues to dig itself deeper and deeper I love it more and more. As Gracie and her love interest grow closer and the lines get more and more teeth grinding the more I want to watch to see just how bad it can truly get.


Before you ask; yes. Every adult male in this movie does is in fact a sex driven douche.

Which isn't to say it doesn't have it's positives. If you've ever taken a film analysis class you will finally find a film worth your analytical eye. There is a ton of symbolism, alliteration, and foreshadowing in this movie. At least one of these writers was trying to make a good movie because the literary techniques are excellent. For example, a constant theme throughout the movie is an affinity for stray animals both dogs and cats. It's obvious the animals represent the children, never painfully obvious, but always playfully obvious. They sneak little bits in that hint at it. For example when Gracie and her little sister are talking about the abuse they've been through they mention the abuse one of the dogs they leave behind in the beginning of the film had been through at the hands of one of their former fathers. It's not a segue though. It's kind of just thrown at you in the blink of an eye. Little bits of literary techniques like that actually make the film really fucking cool. Whoever put that stuff in there is a genious and almost carried anything positive the movie has going for it all by themselves.

And the movie does mix things up I have to say. In between all the drama are happy moments that really will put a smile on your face and halfway through you have to be a real heartless bitch to not be rotting for Gracie. I don't know why but I found myself totally into it. Maybe it's me but I was captivated.


Seriously the best predictable ending ever.

All in all Gracie's Choice is a terrible, terrible, terrible, movie even by Lifetime movie standards. The acting will frustrate you, the writing will haunt you, the plot will make a mockery of your intelligence, and the environment the film puts on will jerk your heart from depression to joy and back down again with no in bewteen. It will rape your idea of how bad a movie can be and the only thing that will keep your eyes from bleeding is that Kristen Bell is actually pretty hot (short hair FTW).

And somehow in the midst of all this I found myself loving every second of it. The film, unlike most good bad movies, actually does take itself seriously but that doesn't ruin it somehow and for that I applaud whoever the hell directed this wonderfully polished turd of a film. If you enjoy lovably terrible movies, can laugh off exagerrated drama and crying women, and you're a sucker for film analysis this film is right up your alley. It's a niche audience for sure but it's a rabid audience nonetheless.

The movie cut up in parts on YouTube.   read


9:51 PM on 03.20.2010

The PAX East Contest Entry That Wasn't: A Journalism Song

Hey oh! So remember that PAX East contest we had? Man, I had epic plans for that. For cocktease purposes I'm not gonna go into detail but I did write a song, and I did collaborate with one RenegadePanda, and I did promise to post the remnants of that failed project right here.

It's an okay song, I think there's a hiccup in the guitar work around the third chorus. I used my little brothers guitar and mini-amp which didn't have nearly the quality I wanted but it did okay. No real complex or rich sounds but it's quick and got the job done.

The real reason I'm uploading it is because Panda's artwork is brilliant as always. Funny, smart without being self-indulgent, and full of fun little details. Keep doin' whatchu do Panda.

[embed]168432:28443[/embed]

The story is basically technology refused to work with me. I had borrowed a camera which stopped reading SD cards and my cell phone was being really buggy whenever I tried to upload the video. It's pretty much in line with my history with technology.   read


2:13 PM on 03.16.2010

Happy Birthday Niero & Destructoid!

What kind of loyal DToid community member would I be if I didn't show some birthday love?



Unlike a lot of the really well known DToiders I actually haven't been here that long. I've known about DToid for about 2 years. I made my first post last July and I officially considered myself a "member" in October when I began blogging fo' realz. However in that time I've managed to make some really good friends here, have some ridiculously awesome conversations, and generally found myself enjoying video games again.

When I joined Destructoid it was because I wanted to get back into the hobby I left almost 6 years ago. DToid has made the process of getting back in even more memorable then when I first got into gaming in the first place. Seriously all of you guys, all of the editors included, have made me feel so welcomed I really can't imagine myself anywhere else.

Thank you all you sexy studs and studesses! Happy 4th Destructoid! All you bitches is timeless!








And now a question I've been wanting answered forever:

WHO THE FUCK IS WIISUCKS!?!   read


2:53 PM on 03.12.2010

Final Fantasy fans boo chance to win free 360 bundle

Now I don't normally news post, and I am quite enjoying watching Memetoid, but I thought this was...interesting...so why the hell not?

[embed]166765:28197[/embed]

From Kotaku:
"At the big Final Fantasy XIII launch at the HMV store in London, fans show their disapproval of the prospect of winning a free Xbox 360 bundle. Really guys?

Gary from The Koalition was on hand at the big London Final Fantasy launch, where hardcore Final Fantasy fans nearly booed presenter Alex Zane off the stage as he announced a prize that, in my opinion at least, anyone would be happy to receive.

Is a multi-platform Final Fantasy really that bad?

I mean hell, Square Enix has been working on the game for what, five years? When you put that much time, effort, and money into one game, you have every right to release it on as many platforms as humanly possible. I suppose you have the right to boo the company's decision, but treating it as some sort of betrayal is just silly."

From the original source The Koalition:
"This past Tuesday I was present at the Final Fantasy XIII launch party in London Oxford Circus, in which the producer Yoshinori Kitase and art director Isamu Kamikokuryo were present. Before the signings were held from the producer and art director, they held a competition on stage. When the presenter Alex Zane announced that the prize was an Xbox 360 Final Fantasy bundle, the whole crowd erupted with booís. Keep in mind that the crowd was full of nothing but hardcore Final Fantasy fans."

-----
Ridiculous.

  read


7:12 PM on 03.05.2010

I Review Them In Stereo: Tourist History, Tunng, but no Gorillaz...



I Review Them In Stereo is a feature where I review albums, typically new releases, sometimes oldies, not many compilations, across just about any genre you can name.



Album: Tourist History
Artist: Two Door Cinema Club
Label: Kitsune Music (Europe), Glassnote Records (US)
Released: February 26, 2010 (Ireland), March 1, 2010 (UK), TBD Spring (US)
Genre: Indie
*Sub-genres Electropop, Indie pop, New rave
Sounds like: Owl City, early New Young Pony Club

Tourist History is one of those albums that has been catching more and more steam as itís come down the pipeline. Magazines, polls, and blogs have been hyping it up, snazzy music videos have been making their way around the web, and it seemed like the boys from Ireland who call themselves Two Door Cinema Club may be joining the ranks of Franz Ferdinand in electropop glory.

Before we address that we have to get to the nitty gritty first. Tourist History is not the most challenging album in the world. It doesnít ask you to join it on a symphony of grandeur. The 30-minute long album is composed entirely of quick tracks that play it safe. Youíve got your indie guitar, your catchy bass, your heavy drums, synth, and your high pitched singer. Thereís really not much more to elaborate on. Thatís the first thing I personally noticed. The tracks were blazing by in pretty rapid pace. It doesnít work against the album at all but I can see how it could be easily criticized as lazy.

The actual composition of every track is also pretty by the books. Youíre not gonna find many complicated hooks or layers here. What you are gonna find is a hell of a lot of atmosphere and personality crammed into every song. Say what you will about these snippets of music but they are composed extremely well. While some tracks do bog themselves down with repetition the sound is very electropop and the occasional tempo break is made all the more memorable for it.

The biggest fault of the album is the lyrical content and it gave me quite a few chuckles. Theyíre just really cheesy. They donít say much and frankly theyíre not remotely good. I mean not even passable for pop. I facepalmed quite a few times. Granted on an album like this lyrical content is not the biggest selling point but itís hard to ignore the lyrics when your singer is trying so hard to deliver the message of your music.

However the music is delivered pretty well. Overall the album succeeds at what it tries to do. My problem is it only succeeds at that. It doesnít really deliver much more than Saturday night background noise. I canít think of anyone who I would recommend it to as an album to just sit in your car and jam to. Itís a decent enough album but it just canít serve up the musical gold like Ferdinand or NYPC. It is a shame too because the hype was really behind it if thatís your scene.

Personal favorite tracks: Come Back Home, Do You Want It All, Undercover Martyn

Summary for lazy people: A lot of hype for a mediocre album with decent composition but little ambition.



Album: ÖAnd Then We Saw Land
Artist: Tunng
Label: Full Time Hobby (UK)
Released: March 1, 2010 (UK)
Genre: Folk
*Sub-genres Folktronica
Sounds like: Where The Wild Things Are soundtrack, Simon & Garfunkel, Bat for Lashes

This week I was biting at the bit for some good music. After the disappointment that was Tourist History I began looking around for something to lift my spirits and keep me occupied until next weekís onslaught of amazing albums. In my search I found Tunngís latest release, ÖAnd Then We Saw Land.

First things first, as always, weíre gonna delve into first impressions. The first track, Hustle, is probably the most appropriate opening track I have heard for any album in a long time. It perfectly sets the mood for the entire album with an incredible array of strings, synth, African percussion, and a choir of smooth voices that paint a wonderful palette of emotions. Words cannot express how good I felt about the rest of the album after hearing that first track. Thatís one of the first things I noticed.

Every individual track on the album is composed just as well as the first with special usage of electronica elements sprinkled in to add an extra bit of kick to each song. It really helps bring out a unique flavor in every track and doesnít ever feel unnecessary or overplayed like some electronic experiments do. Thatís something I have to commend the artists for doing in particular. In an album like Couples by The Long Blondes for example the group, in my opinion, often fell into the trap of using special electronica elements where the typical four-man rock setup wouldíve done just fine. The result was they would drown their fantastic pop style with pointless bits of fluff. It was like having a delicious basket of fries with just a little too much salt. What Tunng does to their advantage with their special brand of folk is they make it so the sounds are so subtle, and yet so flavorful, that itís difficult to imagine the songs without those little synth or loop bits. Itís such a tiny detail with such a powerful effect.

Helping to make an already incredible album all the better, the lyrics of Tunng are the stuff poets dream of. Hereís a taste:

A trick of the light, a turn of the tide
A rift in a valley, full moon in July
Red summer sun mourning, a cold April sky,
That lonely October, so cruel to deny.

A Wish for a fountain lost in the wind
A kick from a new life about to begin
A south facing island that floods in the spring
Will call to October new life, it will bring
-October

Every track on ÖAnd Then We Saw Land is filled with this beautiful poetry. The imagery, allegory, and drama that each piece brings with it reminds folk listeners why they enjoy the genre to begin with. Even if the music doesnít interest you I cannot imagine anyone who could read some of these lyrics and not be impressed at the least.

So finally does the album do justice to the parts that construct it? Yes. A boldfaced yes. Tunngís ÖAnd Then We Saw Land recaptures one of the great lost arts of music: consistency. The album is consistently taking you on new journeys without tugging you around or demanding some harsh change of pace. However it isnít repetitive either. Like any journey the album is full of tempo changes and sound changes that recapture your attention every time. With this consistency behind itís already magnificent composition and a strong presentation Tunngís ÖAnd Then We Saw Land cannot do wrong to anyone who will appreciate it.

Personal favorite tracks: October, With Wiskey, These Winds

Summary for lazy people: A consistently beautiful piece of art. Iíd go so far as to say one of the best albums of this year.

----------

Plastic Beach needs to hurry it's ass up. Happy Friday everyone!   read


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