Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chris, Lars and Darklord In Brooklyn

Last week at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn MC Chris had a show, with Schafer the Darklord opening, and MC Lars (preview video coming tomorrow) and YTCracker doing a double set. I dragged a friend along with me into the middle of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, THE HIPSTER MECCA!!!

We came out unscathed, although now I have a better appreciation for music you've never heard of and I want to take up smoki- OH GOD. I am of course, saying that ironically.

And, unlike those mentioned in Daryl Hall's follow-up about nerdcore, everyone was actually talented.

First up was Schafer the Darklord. He dressed like he just got out of work from his job as an investment banker, but HOLY CRAP this guy got into it!

He has songs like "Boo! I'm A Ghost" (I'ma haunt your shit) and "Cat People" (meow meow). That's really all I have to say. I respect both his conviction and his ability to work with a backing track so well.

Funny stuff, will look up.

Next was the MC Lars/YTCracker set. It was more Lars than Cracker, but I didn't mind at all! One thing to note was that they're the only act that had a live band: a drummer and a guitarist who'd switch off guitar/bass. I thought the songs would sound weaker, but I didn't notice much of a drop off. It felt more, "loud", I guess.

They still had to sync themselves up with the videos playing in the background, though. I guess rap doesn't lend itself very well to messing around. MC Lars previewed a couple songs from his new album "Lars Attacks!", including a song about "Mad Men" and the title track. Also of note was the fact that this was the only venue where he played "Hipster Girl", so clearly he and my friend are on the same wavelength.

But seriously, people don't fucking lie about Williamsburg. SO MANY WOOL HATS!!!

The Lars took up the guitar and played "Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock".

At long last, MC Chris took the stage, and like he was last year, was funny, awesome, and some son of a bitch had to bring the show to a screeching halt.

If MC Chris every finds himself having to put away the laptop and give up music (which won't happen with a children's album coming out later this year, and his new album Race Wars coming out next year) the man can still make a killing with stand up. Long story short, I've avoided Fallout: New Vegas and found new sources of baking grease thanks to him.

"Fette's Vette" and "Wiid", the standbys were played, as well one that I can't seem to bring myself to enjoy, "Drunk Asshole Stops Show". There's always some guy who has way too much, and it gets on Chris's nerves a lot.

PROTIP: If you hang toward the back, you drink all you damn well please. It took ten minutes for Cracker and Schaffer to escort some people out.

As for my friend, who the most he's heard of "nerd influenced rap" was when I showed him "This Gigantic Robot Kills" on Rock Band Network?

"At first I was like, 'not bad', and then I was like 'This is awesome!'"

Yes it was, buddy. Yes it was.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

REVIEW: Guitar Hero 5


Yeah, the website named after Rock Band is reviewing Guitar Hero. I got an Xbox 360 not too long ago, and I needed a guitar controller. Luckily I was able to get the bundle for $45.

Obviously a review for a year old game in a major franchise that everybody got is very fucking pointless, but I'll give it a shot.

OK, so Guitar Hero 5 is the game where Neversoft FINALLY got all their shit together.

Guitar Hero 3 was a double assault of difficulty. The developer, being new at making charts, and a game company as opposed to a collective of musicians, didn't know what they were doing. That's why you see things like power chords charted with three notes, and Drop D tuning charted like power chords. Also, it feels like for the first half of the set list, they did a good job, but for the last two tiers, they listened to Score Hero and picked ridiculously hard metal.

Guitar Hero: World Tour suffered from trying to copy the Rock Band formula of having all four parts. A lot of the songs were taken from Rock Band 2, and the engine looked worse than 3 somehow. It was them starting all over again, basically. Any game using that engine (Smash Hits, Van Halen) looked weird and felt a little off timing wise.

Metallica I didn't play, but Smash Hits I did, and the demo for GH: VH.

Guitar Hero 5 is the 7th(?) effort from Neversoft, 3rd main game, and while it does have some problems, they've gotten so much right it's the only one I've enjoyed since 2.

Graphics wise, the character models are a lot smoother and more muted. The camerawork isn't as sophisticated or as diverse in Rock Band, but there's still enough to go on, and the characters animate appropriately, especially in songs such as "Sweating Bullets" where the singer sings right into the camera, in that whole "linear motion capture" thing I talked about.

While I at first balked at the soundtrack, there were a lot of songs I ended up liking. "They Say" by Scars On Broadway, "In The Meantime" by Spacehog, "Streamline Woman" by Gov't Mule, and "Six Days A Week" by The Bronx are a couple I've grown to love. I've even grown to disagree with Yahtzee's take on GH5, saying that aren't any epic classics. I point you to "Spirit Of The Radio" and "Do You Feel Like We Do?" While they aren't on the scale of "Freebird" and "Bark At The Moon", I still love 'em.

The difficulty curve is scizophrenic, where on the first tier I have "Sympathy For The Devil" that I almost failed out on, and on the sixth tier is Weezer's "Why Bother?" which is like "Song 2"-lite.
Other than that, it's basically the same thing. I was happy with the avatar I was able to set up from square one, so the challenges didn't really appeal to me that much. They did get me to switch over to bass every so often, which is really simple to do, at least in solo career.

While it's a bitch to setup since I'm playing on a non-CRT TV, the guitar I'm starting to get into. It's got a nice big, strum bar, slidey parts I don't have to use, and all the buttons are out of the way. The only thing I don't like about it is the whammy bar. It's not as loose as the RB Stratocaster's, and while we're on the subject, going from the Rock Band guitars to this brand was all CLICKITY CLICK CLICK CLICK. However, it does recognize up-strumming, so I was able to get the "Flawless Groove" achievement in RB2. Although I can't use the slide bar as solo buttons, so fuck that noise.

Party Play is a nice addition. It's NaNoWriMo, so I'd let the thing run in the background, work on the novel, and then pick it up whenever a song comes on.

What it seems to be my problem with Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, other than whole ManBearPig Rocker transformations, is that while the core elements are retained, it seems like they went back to the Guitar Hero 3 way of doing things: listening to ScoreHero and picking the uberhard metal. While GHWOR's soundtrack still has some easy, recognizable songs, but the last two stages are just so jam packed with MACHINEGUNSKITTLEZ metal (also known as 'Sperg Metal for short), that I can't get into it.

Guitar Hero 3 was arguably the most popular one, because it was in the right place at the right time: GH2 just started to generate some buzz about the franchise, and by 3 people were eagerly awaiting the newest

GH5's final tier has a nice mix of prog, metal and blues, so even if I don't like one song, I can just skip over it and try harder on the others, since it has the "Earn X Stars" rubric that every game since GH: Metallica had. And yes, challenges do count toward your overall total. (1* for completeing them on the lowest level, +2* for the next highest, with the highest level granting you 3 extra stars)

FINAL VERDICT: Well, it's a year old so don't expect anyone to play with you (except for me). For the people who have been Rock Band purists this whole time, it's a lot of fun, and a pretty good change of pace. Also, consider it the only way you'll be able to play:
-"Sympathy For The Devil" by The Rolling Stones
-"All Along The Watchtower" by Bob Dylan
-"Spirit of the Radio" by Rush
-Anything by Muse other than "Hysteria"
-"Bullet With Butterfly Wings" by The Smashing Pumpkins
-and Kevin Bacon

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November Follies!

Yeah, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has taken up a lot of my time, so don't expect many update. I'll work on a song later today if I manage to catch up.

Some quick news:
1. Tried out this website "Sonicbids"where you can find gigs. Got one response, but I needed to buy tickets in advance. Will post about later.
2. FINALLY got "This Gigantic Robot Kills" in working order. Will video soon.
3. "Steven Wells" is ready for PrimeTime, but I'm having trouble uploading it.
4. Got Guitar Hero 5. Yeah, I'm cheap. At least I have a guitar for the 360.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Belated AND Spooktackular?

Haven't had a song lesson in a while, so here goes:

A great song from a cult classic!

The song itself is pretty simple, but you do need to perfect this one move:


It's similar to the blues riff in A:


Preserve that same motion going to the following chords in the verse:
A (6th string, 5th fret)
It's astounding
B (6th string, 7th fret)
Time is fleeting
G (6th string, 3rd fret)
D (5th string, 5th fret)
Takes its toll...
Then return to A position

And here's the riff for that line we all know and love (at least how I play)



You know what else is SPOOKTACULAR?


I thought I had a song about this...