Jul 302010
Rock Band DLC

This week is Harmonix spring cleaning. Eight tracks, all singles with no common thread between them save “hi, I’m music in Rock Band this week”. But that list includes Blondie, and she’s rapping. So fuck it, that’s all the threading I need.

Blondie – “Rapture
dc Talk – “Jesus Freak
The Decemberists – “The Perfect Crime #2
Eagles of Death Metal – “I Only Want You” +
Eels – “Saturday Morning” +
Family Force 5 – “Love Addict
KMFDM – “Sturm & Drang
La Roux – “Bulletproof” +

+ = LEGO compatible

If you like anything about New Wave (and if not, I don’t want to know you) then “Rapture” by Blondie is probably not new to you. But if it is, you’re in for a rare treat. This song is like funk, pop and rap all got together and made glorious mutant babies in one pure night of … wait for it … wait for it … RAPTURE. Its historical significance aside however, this song isn’t necessarily one for the masses. Debbie Harry writes rap like I play Scrabble: elementary and embarrassing; I know words more complex than “cat” and “mop”, but sit me down with seven letter tiles in front of me and I’m a kindergartner in danger of being held back a year. You’d never confuse a Blondie rap with a Biggie rap is what I’m saying. But that aside it has an undeniable crack-laced charm about it. Debbie believes in her rap, and you can’t help but feel that maybe somewhere, somehow, in some life not our own it makes sense. Then there’s the part of the song that isn’t the rap at all, and that part is kind of awesome. A fairly sedate disco beat, a groovy bassline, and these crazy flat vocal slides that I am going to butcher the shit out of. While men from Mars get out of cars and eat some bars where the people meet.

Next on our bizarre DLC journey this week is “Jesus Freak” by Christian rockers dc Talk. I can’t deny that the song’s content is off-putting to me, to the point that I immediately knew I wouldn’t buy it. That instant rejection surprised me and it’s definitely given me something to think about. (I buy a song about rape without a moments hesitation, but a song about the singers’ devotion to Jesus doesn’t even get consideration?) That said, it’s really a pretty good song, blending grunge and hip hop into a catchy multi-layered sound. It’s worth a listen, regardless of your personal beliefs.

Portland Indie rockers The Decemberists are up next with “The Perfect Crime #2”. Their being local means both familiarity and some bias. I really like this song a lot, especially the way it isn’t in a rush to get to where its going; it feels like a road trip caravan, with each instrument taking its own car, maybe making a few detours along the way, but everyone’s headed in the same direction. Nothing here sounds overly challenging but very busy, and I suspect a lot of fun to play.

Despite the name, Eagles of Death Metal are alt/garage and not, in fact, death metal. “I Only Want You” is a three-minute burst of rock and roll energy made up of a steady rock beat, and I think all of three guitar chords. When you sound like you’re having this much fun, how much more do you need?

Eels brings another slice of indie rock with “Saturday Morning”. I do have to say that I appreciate the sentiment behind the song, and it very much captures the groggy headed but unquenchable enthusiasm that could only be a kid waking up at 6am on a Saturday morning. Musically speaking it’s not quite as appealing; this song doesn’t just sound dirty it sounds like it hasn’t washed in about three years, and I’m not sure I’m quite as into the singer’s falsetto as I think he wants me to be.

Another Christian music track is up next with “Love Addict” from Family Force 5. I feel much better this time around just straight up not liking the song for the song itself. Overdriven to the point of noise. I can’t quite shake the impression that they really deep down want to be Korn.

Slingshotting to the other end of the musical spectrum for some German industrial from KMFDM. “Sturm & Drang” If you don’t like this style of music then this isn’t going to do a thing to change your opinion – it’s intense, hard and angry. Otherwise though, this is a great pick for Rock Band. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s put together in a way that’s more cohesive than it sounds at first.

And finally with “Bulletproof” is British synthpop duo La Roux. Why the hell they didn’t hold this off for RB3 keyboards is utterly beyond me, and makes me wonder if they aren’t in fact coding current DLC for the upcoming game despite HMX’s claims to the contrary. On to the song itself – if you’re expecting to hear something in 80s-modern style then you are destined to not be disappointed. Seriously, this sounds like something I would’ve watched from my too-close position to the TV, sitting on the floor of my grandparent’s flat watching Top of the Pops. WHICH I LOVE, HELLO. It’s just what a pop song should be, full of bright verses and catchy hooks.

The very definition of an eclectic selection of songs this week, but some real winners in there. Blondie is a definite for me, and I’ll be pimping The Decemberists, Eagles of Death Metal, KMFDM and La Roux to the hubby.

  • Ultrace

    From what I understand from HMX, songs licensed for the modes available in RB2 would have to be re-licensed (possibly involving more money) to add harmonies, keyboards or pro-mode. It’s entirely likely that Bulletproof, along with any other number of songs, was licensed prior to keyboard coding being possible and now they release it as-is rather than go through the hassle of relicensing. Just a thought.

    • Jet Wolf

      Not entirely sure I’m following you? Oh, are you talking about how this stuff is licensed months in advance?

      • Ultrace

        Yep, that’s it exactly. This could have been licensed a year ago. I get the instinctive “gut” feeling that Harmonix is trying to clear out all of the “old-style” licensed songs before RB3 comes along, so that everything that they release post-RB3 can contain charting for harmonies, keyboards and pro instruments. But I’m guessing that they weren’t licensing for DLC like that until relatively recently.

  • Nova

    Rapture” is about it for me as far as the “I Can Name That Tune In …” list is concerned. However, the image of you with your nose mere inches from the telly while watching “Top of the Pops” is definitely chuckle-worthy. Reminds me somewhat of when I was breaking my neck to get out of Woolworth’s (where I worked as a “Saturday Girl”) in order to get home in time to see the first “Top of the Pops” appearance of The Beatles. As I recall, I had no breath left when I got home and was only thankful that the channel was already tuned in … not that there were many channels to choose from in those days!

    • Nova

      On second thought, I think the show may have been “Ready Steady Go!” and not “Top of the Pops” after all. Still, the sentiment (much like the song) remains the same!

      • Nova

        It WAS “Ready Steady Go!” after all. My curiosity made me seek out the information:

        “4 October 1963
        ‘Ready Steady Go!’ The Beatles first appearance, broadcast live, on Rediffusions’s ‘Ready Steady Go!’. They mimed ‘Twist and Shout’, ‘I’ll Get You’ and ‘She Loves You’.”

        It was apparently a Friday and must have been during my time at Woolworths when I was an “after school on Fridays girl” as well as a “Saturday girl.” My first employment promotion!

        • Jet Wolf

          You must’ve been so proud. ;)

          • Nova

            Nothing since has ever quite compared.