Mar 112010
Rock Band Network

Not new news by any stretch. Certainly not if you follow me on Twitter. But in case you didn’t know (or didn’t care, hi) the Rock Band Network opened a week ago today. It did so with 105 brand new tracks. And then I drooled. Like, a lot.

[Sidenote for the above mentioned uninformed: The Rock Band Network is a place for artists and labels to offer their own downloadable songs for the game. You can read more about it on Wikipedia or]

One of the coolest parts of the RBN is that each song has a demo that you can download and try before you buy. The demo is the first 60 seconds (or 30% if the song is short) and can be invaluable in giving you an idea if you want to pick up this song-you’ve-never-heard-but-it-sounds-cool.

So this past Thursday I took some time (quite an alarming chunk of it in fact) and downloaded all the demos available in the Rock Band Network store. Then that Friday and Saturday, Mike and I played through them all. All 105. And I live-Tweeted it.

Which, to my surprise, turned out to be pretty popular.

I reproduce those Tweets here, enhancing them with links to charts if I’m able to find them, as well as its price [in brackets, listed in Microsoft points]. What’s more, we’re going to make this (the Tweeting then posting) a weekly feature. There’s seriously a hell of a lot of great stuff to be found in RBN, and you shouldn’t miss it. I’m hoping that this will encourage fellow Rock Band players into checking out something they might have just skipped past otherwise.

What My Crap Means
Twitter gives you a whole 140 characters to work with. Once you’ve included the song title and artist, space is pretty limited. So there’s a lot of abbreviating here, as well as a ranking system that probably doesn’t make as much immediate sense to anyone not-me. Here it is explained:

  • BUY. An instant purchase. No further research necessary.

  • UND+. Undecided, but positive. We want to see and/or hear more but the first 60 seconds intrigued us.
  • UND-. Undecided, but negative. We’re not ready to dismiss the song completely yet but it didn’t really grab us.
  • DELETE. No thanks, it’s just not for us.

Also it’s important to note that we tested these with myself playing expert guitar and Mike on expert bass (our “default” positions).

And Now, The Songs

  • A Drug Against War” by KMFDM – DELETE. Not my favourite by them and what we tried wasn’t that fun to play. [160]

  • Another California Song” by Zack Wilson : BUY Playtested full version in closed beta. Good solid song. [80]
  • Arigato” by Gandhi : UND+ Spanish rock. Didn’t hate it. [160]
  • “Backyard Buildyard” by Steve and Lindley Band : UND- May pick up with full song, but nothing great in first 60 secs. [80]
  • Battles and Brotherhood” by 3 Inches of Blood : UND- Metal, but not unplayable. Might catch me on further playing. [160]
  • Buried Cold” by Rose of Jericho : UND- Was hopeful w/female vocals but nothing to really grab you here. [80]
  • Burn it Down” by Five Finger Death Punch : DELETE. Pity as I’m a sucker for extended ho/po but we both tanked. Never bodes well. [160]
  • California” by The Kimberly Trip : UND+ Really interesting sound, very varied charting, and female vocals! [80]
  • “Can I Stay” by Stephanie Hatfield and Hot Mess : BUY. I was UND+ on this but Mike loved outright. Southern rock sound, fem vocals. [80]
  • Cease and Desist” by The Main Drag : UND+ Sounded good but only guitar/vocal for first minute, need to see full chart to get feel. [80]
  • Children of December” by The Slip : BUY. Love The Slip’s sound. Not as melancholy as “Even Rats” too, nice offset. Fun g&b chart. [80]
  • Creepy Doll” by Jonathan Coulton : [Do we even need to demo this first?] BUY. Durr. [160]
  • Crushed Beyond Dust” by Skeletonwitch : DELETE. Little too heavily unfun to play for our tastes. [160]
  • Day of Mourning” by Despised Icon : DELETE. I was actually having a lot of fun playing it on guitar, but Mike not so much a fan. [160]
  • Disengage” by Suicide Silence : DELETE. Not as fun on guitar on the former and the vocals… He was very angry. I think maybe at me. [160]
  • Don’t Let Me Down (Slowly)” by The Main Drag : UND+. Quirky and different. Want to hear more of this. (Drums sound a bitch though.) [80]
  • Dove Nets” by The Main Drag : UND+ Charting really fun, though didn’t click as quickly as the previous Main Drag song. [80]
  • Drunken Lullabies (Live)” by Flogging Molly : BUY. Holy shit SO FUN on guitar! That was awesome! [80]
  • End Quote” by Full-Source : UND- Moody and unusual but not sure yet if in a good way. Definitely need to hear the whole thing first. [80]
  • Even Rats” by The Slip : BUY. More like BOUGHT. Was an instant purchase. One of my most-missed from Guitar Hero. [160]
  • “Fade Away” by Of Last Resort : UND-. I liked the sound but not sure about actually playing it. Will need to see a full chart first. [160]
  • Far Away From Heaven” by Free Spirit : UND+ Beginning reminded me of “Animal” by Def Leppard and that can only be a good thing. [80]
  • Fight Back” by Ron Wasserman : UND+ Need to hear where the song goes. Intro interesting but demo too short to get a strong opinion. [160]
  • For the Love of God (Live)” by Steve Vai : UND+ It’s Steve Vai but … It’s Steve Vai. There is no way that demo was devil horns. [160]
  • Fortune” by Kristin Hersh : UND+ Started getting interesting riiiight when the demo ended. (Female) vocalist has interesting voice. [80]
  • Get the Hell Out of Here” by Steve Vai : UND+ Want to see where it goes before buying. Fun but not killer (yet). [160]
  • Give” by The Cold Goodnight : UND+ Remember this one from closed beta. Not insta-buy but prob top of “rainy day” list. (fem vocals) [80]
  • Goth Girls” by MC Frontalot : UND+ But let’s face it, gotta demo on vocals later. You don’t get Frontalot for instrument stylings. [160]
  • Grumpytown” by Speck : UND+. Never got the chance go anywhere. Positive end of undecided on strength of “Conventional Lover”. [80]
  • He Sleeps in a Grove” by Amberian Dawn : UND+ Hella fun guitar & operatic female vocals? Hell yeah, lemme learn more about that shit. [160]
  • Heimdalsgate..” by Of Montreal : UND+ I would’ve gone UND- but it resonated w/Mike. Me I’m still not sure what the heck I just heard. [160]
  • Homosuperior” by The Main Drag : BUY. *Love* the harmonies & overall trippy sound. Drums still sound like a bitch though. (Draaake!!) [80]
  • Horses in Heaven” by Fake Shark-Real Zombie! : UND- Lots of styles so fast. Need to hear the whole thing to see how comes together. [80]
  • How We’d Look on Paper” by The Main Drag : UND- Bit repetitive on guitar, didn’t quite grab me. Other instruments might be more fun. [80]
  • Hyperbole” by Glass Hammer : UND+ Wasn’t anywhere near long enough to say for sure but got me interested to see/hear more. Good hook. [160]
  • Icarus’ Song” by Furly : UND+ Energetic start that could go to awesome or cheese. Keen to know which. [80]
  • If Not Now When” by Color Theory : UND- Repetative to play and a little too easy listening for my tastes. [80]
  • If Trucks Drank Beer” by Error 404 : UND+ I was set to dismiss but it was actually fun to play and more Weird Al than country. Kudos. [80]
  • IKEA” by Jonathan Coulton : BUY. As in, If you don’t have a home you can buy one there. [160]
  • In Memories” by Giant Target : DELETE. The gallop was fun but vocals not so much. Mostly one note and not so pleasing when he left it. [80]
  • Inside Out” by Nick Gallant : UND- Sounds a little empty, like something’s missing. [160]
  • It’s Good” by The Humans : UND+ I only got to play one riff, but it was a FUN riff. [160]
  • “It’s Not You, It’s Everyone” by Full-Source : UND+ Quirky, sort of like Freezepop’s little brother. Enjoyed the xylophone(?I think?) [80]
  • Juke Joint Jezebel” by KMFDM : BUY. Despite only getting to play like four chords, I know I love the song so a no brainer for me. [160]
  • Kick Some Ass ’09” by Stroke 9 : BUY. The song’s catchy, it’s funny, and the guitar was really fun to play. [160]
  • Lady in a Blue Dress” by Senses Fail : UND- Plays like a lot of tracks we already have and didn’t sound different enough from them. [160]
  • Lemon Juice” by Scratching the Itch : UND+ I didn’t get to do much but the synth was pretty cool. Even if it bothered the dog. [80]
  • Lilith in Libra” by You Shriek : UND+ I *really* liked the song, but would want to see how it plays. [160]
  • Limousine” by Stars of Boulevard : UND+ Great 80s sound and tons of fun to play. I don’t think it’ll take much to push this to BUY. [80]
  • Liquid Smog” by Wavegroup : UND+ Riff was cool but didn’t really get to hear much BUT that. Female vocals always a potential plus. [160]
  • Little Black Backpack ’09” by Stroke 9 : BUY. Again very catchy song and fun to play. Really well charted on these Stroke 9 tracks. [160]
  • Liverpool Judies” by The Fisticuffs : UND+ I want to get into a bar fight SO BAD right now. [80]
  • Love During Wartime” by The Main Drag : BUY. Loved the song in The Guild. (Hey @FeliciaDay how about “Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?”) [80]
  • Mechanical Love” by In This Moment : UND+ Sounds like I should be gearing up for a boss fight. (female vocals) [160]
  • Megatron” by The Main Drag : UND+ I was going to go UND- until the ho/po sequence then it’s all, “Mama like.” [80]
  • Mississippi Kite” by Kristin Hersh : UND- Bit boring from demo on these instruments, might be better on vocals? (female vocals) [80]
  • Moonboy” by The Dirty Love Band : UND+ Energetic and enjoyable to play on guitar, keeps the fingers moving. [80]
  • Nancy Drew” by Pink Flag : UND+ Would’ve instabought if it hadn’t been so short. How long is this song? Awesome though. (fem vox) [80]
  • No Direction” by Longwave : BUY. Mike was taken with it a bit more than me. Will probably enjoy listening more than playing it. [80]
  • No Heroes” by You Shriek : UND+ Want to see full chart on this one too but again love the sound. May have to snag mp3s/album here. [80]
  • Not My Fault” by Ultra Saturday : BUY. I heart punk. Awesome chart. “Girlfriend!” backing brought Brutal Legend flashbacks! [80]
  • Ox” by Zack Wilson : UND- Played in closed beta. Don’t remember specifics but do recall not being too taken with it. [160]
  • Paper Valentines” by James William Roy : UND+ Liked the song a lot, liked lyric flow. Curious for full version to see where it goes. [80]
  • Parhelia” by Heaven Ablaze : Heheh, not for me. I definitely like listening to metal more than fake playing it. [80]
  • Persistence of Vision” by Matter in the Medium : UND+ Gotta hear more, song didn’t even get a chance to start. (Oh prog…) [80]
  • Race the Hourglass” by Audio Fiction : BUY. Suspect may not be more to it than what I heard but I like what I heard a lot. (fem vox) [80]
  • “Red Sky at Morn” by Full-Source : UND+ I had a lot of fun playing what I played there. [80]
  • Requiem for a Dying Song” by Flogging Molly : UND+ Song didn’t catch me quite like I expected, but played well. [80]
  • Rip’er” by Lead the Dead : DELETE. Yeah, I’ll pass. :) [80]
  • River of Tuoni” by Amberian Dawn : BUY. Damn I love this group. How have I not heard them before now? Awesome sound & chart. (femvox) [160]
  • Running for the Razors” by Fake Shark-Real Zombie: UND- I enjoyed playing it more than listening to it, but full song may be better. [80]
  • Rx” by Wounded Soul : UND+ Charted really well. Fem vox w/ male death growl, shades of Epica. [80]
  • Sequestered in Memphis” by The Hold Steady : UND- Nothing quite leapt out at me in this one, unfortunately. [160]
  • Sestri Levante” by Fake Shark-Real Zombie : UND- More true neutral here would need a full listen to make decision one way or other. [80]
  • Sick” by Bif Naked : BUY. I love Bif Naked. More please? Pretty please? (female vocals) [160]
  • Signs” by Giant Target : UND- I liked it okay in a general sense but nothing specific stuck with me. [80]
  • Sissyfuss” by Surprise Me Mr. Davis : UND+ I liked this a lot (Mike a little less). Great charting, fun riff and greek mythology ftw! [160]
  • Sleep On” by Glass Hammer : UND+ Dug the two guitar sounds. Interested to see where it goes, felt like building to something. (femvox) [160]
  • Stand for Something” by Skindred : UND+ Charting was fun, really enjoying the riff. [80]
  • Still There” by Bojibian : BUY. I am a crazy bitch for shit that sounds 80s. I am so a product of my time. [80]
  • Superhero!” by Ultra Saturday : UND- Said this earlier about another song but too much like other tracks we already have for me. [80]
  • Survive” by Lacuna Coil : BUY. Pretty much a done deal, love the (female) vocals. [160]
  • Tadpole…” by Chaunce Deleon : UND+ Really had fun playing but unconvinced it can walk the silly/serious line it’s trying to balance. [80]
  • Talk About” by Dear and the Headlights : UND+ Had a blast playing it. Not sure if I like the song quite as much as the chart yet. [80]
  • Talk Them Down” by The Main Drag : UND+ Want to hear more not so much for the guitar on this one as the vocals. Loved the harmonies. [80]
  • Teeth, Face, Outerspace” by The Main Drag : UND+ The demo just didn’t give it a chance to go anywhere at all. [80]
  • The Attitude Song” by Steve Vai : UND+ Again so much fun on guitar (no surprise there) but definitely want to see full before buying. [160]
  • The Buddy Disease” by Scratching the Itch : UND+ Heh, another song that made us laugh playing. Fun chart too. [80]
  • Complexity of Light” by Children of Nova : UND+ If you go “Arg it was just getting started!” when it cuts out it deserves more listen. [160]
  • The Future Soon” by Jonathan Coulton : BUY. I’m going to type this one up and THEN go play it. A personal favourite. [160]
  • The Heist” by DNA’S Evolution : BUY. Sounds like surf music with a modern twist. Hella fun on guitar. I’m in. [80]
  • Tongue Twister Typo” by Blackmarket : UND+ Not much to guitar yet but promising. Loved “talking like a Mad Lib”, heh. Drums sound fun. [80]
  • Top Back” by Alias Unknown : UND+ That was actually a lot more enjoyable than I thought it’d be. [80]
  • Tricky Girl” by The Main Drag : UND- Give props for not sounding like any other song in the game just not sure I like how it sounds. [80]
  • Trippolette” by Andrew Buch : UND+ It’s charted unlike any other song, and given 1000+ songs, that’s saying something. [160]
  • Turn Yourself Around” by Nick Gallant : UND+ Little bit funky, little bit awesome. Definitely want to hear more. [160]
  • “VP of Booty Reports” by Speck : UND- Tried in closed beta & didn’t quite click. I’ll try to find full chart though, refresh memory. [80]
  • Watch it All Go Down” by Foreword : UND+ Pleasant song, feels anthemic. Chart varied enough to keep repetition from being too boring. [80]
  • We Are The Best” by C&O : UND- This one feels like it’s trying just a little too hard. May pick up later, wasn’t much to play here. [80]
  • What’s Your Favorite Dinosaur?” by The Main Drag : UND+ Seriously enjoyed the guitar chart, and the Jurassic Park theme nod rocked. [80]
  • Whatever is Wrong With You” by Marillion : UND- The vocals weren’t gelling with me. Two extremes of repetition on guitar. [80]
  • You Got That” by The Everybody : UND- Nothing really here to grab me. Are there actual vocals or just vocalizing guitar? A mystery! [80]
  • You’re My Everything” by Scratching the Itch : UND+ I really liked this. Fun guitar, and it sounded awesome. [80]

And The First Update
We also demoed the store’s first update of 11 songs:

  • “Bleeder” by Alchemilla : UND+ Hard but not too heavy, fun on guitar, and female vocals. Potentially winning combo. [80]

  • Cali Girl” by Ballyhoo! : UND- Could be a little too tired at this point to appreciate the reggae, but didn’t really click. [80]
  • Code Monkey” by Jonathan Coulton : BUY. But I’ll go play the demo anyway. [160]
  • Gave it Up” by Pollyn : UND- Well there was nothing in the demo for guitar. Mike’s bass looked a bit more fun? (female vocals) [80]
  • Genius” by The B.O.L.T. : UND+ Almost a folk rock sound. Tons of fun on guitar. [80]
  • Makeup/Breakup” by Super Gravity : UND- But I think my reaction time is way down which made it not fun. I’ll try again after sleep. [80]
  • Minnesota” by Voodoo Pharmacology : UND- D’oh, cut out right at solo. Nothing really stuck with me on this one though. [80]
  • Packet Flier” by Terrorhorse : DELETE. RBN is slowly teaching me just how much metal is too much metal for my tastes. [80]
  • Push Push (Lady Lighning)” by Bang Camaro : BUY. But will once more demo for the fun of it. [80]
  • “Stegosaurus Song” by Eric Harm : UND+ Wasn’t much to it but was cheerful and like..a love song to Stegosaurus? I dunno. But I want to! [80]
  • White Heat” by Cetan Clawson : UND+ Played in closed beta. Guitar lots of fun on this one, pretty much the selling point. [160]

Again, if you have Rock Band, you really owe it to yourself to check some of these out. RBN is a great vehicle, not just for more gameplay but for truly awesome music that you probably wouldn’t have heard otherwise.

Edited to Add: So how does it all break down?

23 immediate purchases
58 strong maybes
25 weak maybes
10 deletions

I suspect that a lot of the “strong maybes” will wind up being what Mike and I call “rainy day DLC” – tracks that we keep in a list for when the regular DLC goes through its inevitable phases where we’re not interested but are hankering for something new to play. But every week we’ll update with what, if any, tracks moved to either BUY or DELETE. Maybe I’ll also keep a running tally of which songs we’ve actually bought for a quick and easy reference to those with similar musical and playing tastes as myself … which is to say AWESOME TASTES.

  • Stephanie Jane

    So out of the 150, how does it break down, BUY UND+/- DELETE ? You have very few deletes, which must make all your rockstar twitter friends very happy. ;)

    • Jet Wolf

      Good point, I’ll edit the post with a breakdown.

      We had very few immediate deletes true, anything that’s UND+/- could go that way. The demos are great, but as “regular” DLC or even disc songs show us, how songs and charts start isn’t always how they finish.

  • Ultrace

    Not that Nikki’s stuff didn’t sum it up well enough, but I also had a number of comments (mostly off-beat, but some of actual gameplay substance) on my Twitter. After a day at work, though, I lack the will to copy and paste them all. One can search for ultrace_v1 and #rbn, I think that works…