You’ve got to hand it to Harmonix - not many music games put in the effort to represent the breadth of the (popular) music spectrum quite like they do; whether it’s metal, pop-rock, indie (alternative for our US cousins), punk, classic rock, glam - they try to cover it. Funk, jazz and soul have been a tiny bit underrepresented, mostly turning up in bands that are really rock setups who wove some of these elements into their music (such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against the Machine) but it looks like they’re trying to go someway to addressing the situation next week:
I recently took my electric guitar into our local shop to get it adjusted by the resident luthiers, since I’d noticed lately that it was tending to go sharp on higher frets even when tuned correctly. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was just me, since learning for a year on an acoustic meant I often tended to use too much force on the fretboard of the electric and introduced accidental bending (since the string gauges on the electric are lighter, and steel rather than bronze).
Microsoft Songsmith is a research project that generates accompanying music to a singer’s voice (and optionally instruments), presumably using the same approach a chromatic tuner uses to identify notes. Some genius decided to feed Radiohead’s classic song “Creep” into it, to see what it would do. This is the simultaneously horrifying and incredibly funny result: Jump to 1:55 for the ultimate effect. Oh, the humanity. Edit: click here for more musical attrocities.
Rock Band has come through again for introducing me to music I might not have otherwise have come across; this week’s DLC included ‘Typical’ by Mute Math: It’s a great track, and I’m definitely buying it - the drum chart in particular is really interesting, very Reni-like. The video was deservedly nominated for a Grammy, but I totally missed it at the time and I don’t remember hearing it on the radio.
I read in the news today that Motown is 50 years old this week. They have plenty to celebrate, being (of course) the label that launched Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye. It was also the spiritual centre of the soul & funk movement in the 60’s and 70’s (as well as having a political civil rights angle), that produced so many classics that I remember hearing a lot while I was growing up - even though that was at the tail-end of the golden years.
Via CrispyGamer, Harmonix have confirmed what I pretty much suspected, that there will be no Rock Band 3 in 2009. I’m not surprised, they already have the Beatles game in the making for 2009, and unlike Activision, Harmonix aren’t in the business of spamming the world with as many rushed sequels as they can manage before the general public gets bored. To be honest, I don’t think there’s much they could do to improve Rock Band 2 anyway, it’s a highly polished game and DLC keeps it fresh (and to be honest, I have so many tracks that we already have almost too much choice when we play - not that it will stop me buying more).
The MacWorld Expo 2009 is on at the moment, and yesterday was the keynote, which was interesting despite the absence of the turtle-necked wonder (get well soon Steve). By far the best news was that the entire iTunes library is going DRM-free by the end of March 09. As of yesterday, 80% of the songs are DRM-free, and the remaining 20% will have their DRM removed in the next 3 months.
Yay, I can tick another artist off my wish list for Rock Band DLC, since it’s been leaked that during January Lenny Kravitz will finally be appearing. Despite petering out a bit around the ‘Baptism’ album (which I thought was a bit weak and self-indulgent), and something of a bounce back with last year’s ‘It Is Time For A Love Revolution’, his 90’s classics are still the best, and that’s where the upcoming RB tracks are picked from.
I had a nice surprise from my wife this Christmas, a spangly red kidney-shaped surprise in fact - a POD 2.0. I’d been recommended one of these some time ago, but had put it on my ‘future purchases’ list since I didn’t think I was really good enough to justify buying myself one yet. I wasn’t expecting anyone to buy it for me, so it was a pleasant surprise to unwrap it.
Yay, almost as if they read my last post on the subject, Harmonix have stopped overlooking Snow Patrol! Next week on DLC we’ll get ‘Take Back The City’ from their new album, A Hundred Million Suns. I’d post a video of it here, except that YouTube says that it’s ‘not available in your country’. You know, that same country the damn thing originated from. Grr, getting really irritated by that message these days.