Feb 032012
Rock Band DLC

Surprising no one, next week’s DLC will be a three-pack from English alt-rockers Bush (leaving only Huey Lewis & the News from the revealed artists in HMX’s Christmas livestream). The only song I actually remember from Bush is “Glycerine” – which I love but fully acknowledge would suck to play in Rock Band – so hearing all these again should be a thing.


The Songs

* Bush – “Everything Zen
* Bush – “Comedown
* Bush – “Machinehead^ +

+ = pro-guitar/bass upgrade available
^ = keyboard part charted


The Thoughts

“Everything Zen”, ahh yes. (I suspect “ahh yes” is going to be the theme for this week.) Well it’s tough to not immediately feel well-disposed to a song that tosses in a random “Life on Mars” lyric. I’ve not really heard this in an embarrassing number of years, so while it’s like a new song it’s also got that lingering whiff of nostalgia (by Veidt). That combination creates a sticky net that’s difficult to disentangle, but I really enjoyed this. It’s probably one of the purest examples of early post-grunge, having all the earmarks of its derivative genre (dark crunchy guitar, scratchy vocals, etc.), but replacing some of the abandon with a structure that I can’t deny has appeal. What I particularly like about this song is how it seems to be a musical sludge, but bubbles are constantly forming on the surface, and when they pop you steal a brief moment of clarity from each instrument. Binding it all together is a simple but effective vocal melody. Listening to it with an ear toward the game, I think it’ll make a nice addition. Vocals (mostly solo), guitar, bass and drums all have a lot to do, and it suggests several of those golden “band moments”, if everyone’s engaged enough. I’m not sure that it adds much new, however. It’s pretty straightforward, without any particular must-have hook, so if you’re on the fence about the song, you’re probably better served saving your money.

“Comedown”, ahh yes. This was the much bigger hit if I recall, but I don’t like it anywhere near as well. It’s got a slower tempo, feeling a little more like a ballad, and it has a rare dash of optimism, but it just doesn’t do much for me. Most grunge and early alternative lumps together in my memory; hearing this again all those years later, it still isn’t doing anything to stand out from that crowd. It has a plodding relentlessness to it, but never quite kicks out of the forced march. The chorus is mostly made of up power chords that are supposed to soar but just feel generic. For gameplay, I similarly don’t expect much. The verses are subdued, though should be some measure of fun for the bassist and vocalist, and the choruses are musically uninspired.

“Machinehead”, ahh yes. (see, told you.) This one sheds the generic film that coated “Comedown”, and is a much better song as a result. There are a few catchy riffs at play here too, as well as being a little less chord-dependant, which is probably what earned it the coveted pro-chart treatment this week. While I prefer “Everything Zen”, it’s really down to song preference. “Machinehead” should deliver an equally fulfilling experience in the game.


The Conclusion

Even taking into account my less than glowing comments for “Comedown”, this is a good pack. Each song is distinctly different and stands (or falls) on its own merits. I don’t think any one will bring anything especially new to the Rock Band party, but with as many songs as the game has at this point, it’s getting increasingly impossible to find something that really would. These are standard rock songs, sparse on harmonies and foregoing keys, and will play much as you expect they will.

While HMXHenry noted keys are charted in “Machinehead”, I’ll be damned if I could pick them out. I think, keys players, this simply is not the week for you. All other instruments, you really can’t go wrong with either “Machinehead” or “Everything Zen”. I’d probably edge drums more toward “Machinehead”, as would I guitarists purely on the presence of the pro-chart. I’m leaning more toward “Everything Zen” as I think it’s the better song, but neither would be a bad choice this week.


And because I missed them, here’s the DLC I didn’t talk about between the last post and this one:

Week of 17 January 2012
* The Edgar Winter Group – “Free Ride^
* The Edgar Winter Group – “Frankenstein^ +
* KoRn – “Freak on a Leash
* KoRn – “Falling Away From Me

Week of 24 January 2012
* Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Lodi
* Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?^ +
* Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Susie Q

Week of 31 January 2012
* Sum 41 – “Fat Lip+
* Sum 41 – “Still Waiting
* Tears for Fears – “Head Over Heels^

+ = pro-guitar/bass upgrade available
^ = keyboard part charted

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