May 062011
Rock Band DLC

I’ve been largely offline for the past few weeks, but Rock Band DLC is ever my blogging carrot. We know a lot about upcoming DLC in May; coming our way will be new tracks from Lady Gaga, Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera and the full 13-minute version of “Do You Feel Like We Do” from Frampton Comes Alive. Which sounds like it’ll be awesome to play in the game so it’s a real shame that I loathe the song.

But first we have next week. Settle in for the Foo Fighters, Run-DMC, and Lordi.

* Foo Fighters – “Long Road to Ruin
* Foo Fighters – “Rope+
* Foo Fighters – “Stacked Actors
* Foo Fighters – “Walk
* Lordi – “Hard Rock Hallelujah
* Run-DMC – “King of Rock

+ = pro-guitar/bass chart available

First the Foo Fighters, which we all knew was coming eventually for Dave Grohl Band. A nice mix here of new stuff and old, and an amazing assortment of different styles. “Long Road to Ruin” is a prime example of the classic Foos, which is to say it’s a totally solid (if also totally standard) rock song. By now there’s enough Foos in Rock Band that you know what that’s like. If you want more of the same then here it is, but the converse of that is we functionally have this song in the game already. That said I do happen to enjoy just about all the Foo Fighters songs we’ve got (and we have quite a few), so with the added excitement of harmonies this is a very solid pick for me.

Quite by contrast we have “Rope”, the lead single off the new album. This is a much richer song and extremely different from their other tracks in the game (the verses anyway, that chorus plants you solidly back into familiar territory). Layered harmonies and three guitars assaulting you throughout led by interesting tempo changes makes this one of the more complex Foos songs Rock Band has offered. The thing has an actual guitar solo, folks! No surprise whatsoever that this is our pro-chart pick for the week. Way stoked for this one.

“Stacked Actors” takes us back a decade and is another style switch, this one loaded with overdriven guitars and grunge/alternative sound. I know this is a Foos staple, but I confess it’s not one of my favourites; I prefer their music when it’s cleaner. It should be a killer workout on drums though, which do sound crazy fun. Guitarists, you’ve got a lot of rapid alt-strumming ahead of you.

Finally we have “Walk”, an anthemic burst of energy and optimism. It’s less a song and more a mood for me – think “Learn to Fly” but with better lyrics. It’s got a great melody and the use of harmonies is just about perfect. Overall the song is pretty simple, easily the easiest of the Foos pack this week, but that simplicity makes the package that much more poignant. As a song it’s just fantastic, but as a-song-in-Rock-Band, it wouldn’t be top recommendation for the pack. I make the “Learn to Fly” comparison and I think that will hold up for gameplay too. Don’t overlook the harmonies adding another dimension that “Learn to Fly” can’t match (not to mention just how overplayed and burned out all of us Rock Band 1 World Tour players still remain on those lower tiered songs; RB1 has utterly destroyed “Here It Goes Again” for me for all time), but it’s not going to bring much to the game that long-time players haven’t already played. It’s a gorgeous song though, one that manages to make me feel lighter just by hearing it.

Also of note with the Foo Fighters, there are two catalogue tracks that are getting pro-chart upgrades: Guitar Hero 2 staple “Monkey Wrench” and the ever-popular “The Pretender”. Neither one a surprise (they were my top guesses when hearing that a pro-update was coming), but both welcome. I look forward to picking them up, and having them kick my arse. Seriously, those chord changes in “Monkey Wrench” holy crap.

Next up is a real treat: “Hard Rock Hallelujah” by Finnish hard rockers and 2006 Eurovision winners Lordi. I’ve had exactly one exposure to this song, and that was back when they won Eurovision. My friends and regular Rock Banders Amy and Scott showed us the video and said “Wouldn’t this be awesome in [the game]?” (I think we were gearing up for Rock Band by that point, but at minimum we were playing the hell out of Guitar Hero, so it was one game or the other or both.) Upon hearing the song and watching the video, I immediately agreed. But then I forgot what the song was or who sang it or even most of the context around it. So it is that until this morning, I didn’t know that this was that song. My excitement for it is now astronomical. This. Will. Be. Amazing. It is no less than everything you’ve ever loved about cheesy over-the-top metal coalesced into a railroad spike of truth and plunged through your eye socket to pierce your brain. If you don’t know it, listen. Then pick it up on Tuesday because if you don’t you are an enemy of all that is awesome in the world and will be destroyed on THE DAY OF ROCKENING.

Last, and sort of weirdly organized in the list but whatever, is “King of Rock” by Run-DMC. This too is going to be awesome in Rock Band, though on a totally different level than “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. The appeal here is 100% the vocals. There’s the beat and the guitar and all sure, but hey, remember how fun those were to play in “So What’cha Want”? Yeah. Now imagine playing that song on vocals with three separate charted parts? EXACTLY. I remember when we were psyching up for Rock Band 1 after HMX took the game on tour (if you can find the video they released from the Portland leg, we’re in it! [which oh, hey, here it is – Mike talks like a lot]) so we picked up several different SingStar iterations for the PS2. By far one of the best songs in it was Run-DMC’s “Tricky”. “King of Rock” is a must-have addition to any party library. Even people who usually shy away from singing should have a ton of fun getting up for a little old school group rap.

A really great, solid week of DLC, and with enough artists and styles to theoretically make everyone happy (though we all know that won’t happen). Picking just one song this week is nearly impossible. Drummers, guitarists and bassists, your best best is probably something by Foo Fighters, with “Rope” rising to the top. Vocalists, it’s all about your style choice. If you sing alone, then probably Foos and probably “Walk”. If you have a partner though, Run-DMC is a solid fun choice. And if you’re looking at a full band? Lordi’s “Hard Rock Hallelujah” without question.

And since I was busy and didn’t post last week’s announcement, here’s the list for those who missed it. LOVERBOY! As always, + means a pro-chart.

DLC for 3 May 2011

* Culture Club – “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me
* Faith No More – “From Out of Nowhere
* Loverboy – “Working for the Weekend+
* Phish – “Stash+
* Phish – “Tweezer” (can’t seem to find a studio version)
* Stone Temple Pilots – “Big Bang Baby+

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