2.14 - 11 Songs of Love… and One Song of Disappointment!
A Valentine’s Day pack… with a slight twist.
So let’s start with the songs of love… because of the wall of text, each one of those have a short description, along with a longer one if you’re interested.
Note: some preview videos show errors that were fixed in the final version.
TL;DR - A kickass, female-fronted rock tune, with strong 70’s vibes, brilliant vocals, great drum fills and a nice twin-guitars solo at the end.
If you liked indie music in 2016, you probably didn’t miss Angel Olsen’s album “My Woman”, one of the best and the most acclaimed records of that year. Olsen is influenced by 70’s rock and folk, the like of Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young, and she’s a great songwriter. “Shut Up Kiss Me” is pretty much pop-rock perfection - a kickass tune, a love song with a hint of aggression (as the title implies), it’s so cool and also emotional at the same time. Instruments are all pretty fun - lots of drum fills, cool guitar solo at the end - and it’s a great one to sing along to.
TL;DR - A romantic moment from the iconic indie slacker, “My Kind of Woman” is a touching love ballad that’s also really fun to play, featuring Mac’s signature guitar playing.
If you like indie music, you’ve definitely heard of Mac DeMarco. Combining a goofball public persona with a distinctive songwriting style and production sound, the Canadian rose to the higher reaches of indie fame unexpectedly quickly. While his image projected a charmingly laid-back slacker prone to occasional antics but never taking anything too seriously, his songs ironically often hid mature themes like aging, commitment, and morals under layers of chorus and reverb. “My Kind of Woman” is, in my humble opinion, his best song. A gentle, touching and ultra-relatable love ballad, that’s also brilliant to play in Rock Band and fun in all instruments
TL;DR - Dark alternative country masters 16 Horsepower offers a fresh and surprising take on a lost Bob Dylan tune.
16 Horsepower are one of those small, unknown gems that will blow your mind. The Denver-based alternative country band made its name with music that combined rural backwoods kitsch with edgy, off-kilter country-rock, often with a dark twist, similar to Nick Cave or the Gun Club. Certainly not an obvious fit for a Valentine Day’s pack. But nevertheless, their classic album “Secret South” includes, among all the dark country tales, this sweet gem - a brilliant cover of Bob Dylan’s “Nobody ‘Cept You”, which wasn’t included in any of his albums (but released as a part of the “bootleg series”).
16 Horsepower completely transformed this song, and made it into this huge, positive love anthem. Frontman David Eugene Edwards is also known as a devoted christian, which leaves the song open to interpretation - is it a love song to a woman, or to God/Jesus - but than again, that’s part of the charm. It’s a great addictive tune, I’ve had a lot of fun working on it and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too.
TL;DR - Brit-pop master Suede delivers an epic, grandiose and absolutely beautiful love ballad that’s an absolute joy to play on any instrument, with a particularly awesome guitar track.
In my humble and somewhat controversial opinion, Suede were the best britpop band of the 90’s. The brilliant British band fused glam decadence with dark romanticism, and left us with a few unforgettable albums. “Dog Man Star” probably sits on top of that list - it’s among my top 20 albums ever. And this is the first song to off this great album to be released in RB - and if it’s up to me, definitely not the last!
“The Wild Ones” is a particularly epic and beautiful love song from that record, and considered a favourite among fan. Singer Brett Anderson has said on numerous occasions that he regards this song as not only the high-water mark of his writing partnership with Bernard Butler, but his favourite of all Suede songs. It’s a song of absolute beauty.
But even more, it’s an amazing custom. My personal favorite of this pack - it’s really one of those “shine on every instrument” song. Just look at the preview video! Guitar has almost constant beautiful licks and riffs, bass is melodic and great, lots of drum fills, and the melody is amazing to sing. There’s even a great harmony voice too! Seriously, check this one out.
TL;DR - The beautiful baritone voice of Richard Hawley, reminiscent of Scott Walker and Frank Sinatra, delivers an upbeat, beautiful and uplifting romantic anthem.
With a melodic baritone anguish that falls somewhere in the neighborhood of Scott Walker and Frank Sinatra, Pulp touring guitarist and former Longpigs member Richard Hawley is a songwriter, guitarist, and producer whose responsible for a line of beautiful and critically acclaimed solo albums. He has been nominated several times for the Mercury Prize as well as a Brit Award, and collaborated with the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Manic Street Preachers, Elbow, and Paul Weller, among others.
‘Tonight the Streets are Ours” is among his finest moments, a beautiful, elegant and uplifting romantic anthem, with a slight Christmas-like feel. It was chosen as the title track for the Oscar nominated 2010 Banksy film “Exit Through the Gift Shop”, and now it marks Hawley’s RB debut - it’s a joy to sing and play on any instrument.
(Note: the video includes an issue with the harmonies in the chorus, it is fixed in the final version).
TL;DR - A beautiful piano ballad reminiscent of the Beach Boys, it was named “the most romantic song I’ve ever written” by singer Michael Stipe.
Legendary band R.E.M. surely needs no introducing. This particular song comes from their 1998 album “Up”. The chord progression reminded the band of the Beach Boys, and songwriter Michael Stipe, whose used to write more cynical or “clever” lyrics, has challenged himself to be “fearless” and write a straightforward, honest love song. It wasn’t an easy task - he came up with the opening line (“I found a way to make you smile” - another homage to the Beach Boys “Smile”), but it took him an entire year to write another lyric for the song, as he struggled to follow up the line.
Once he did, it was delightful - “At My Most Beautiful” is a honest, romantic and well, beautiful song - unlike anything he’s ever written. Musically, instead of shying away from the Beach Boys influenced, the band embraced it, by making a Pet Sounds style arrangement, including some famous harmonies. It’s just an absolutely lovely song, and while some of the charts are kinda basic, I’m sure key players, singers and anyone who likes R.E.M. will enjoy this custom.
TL;DR - a sweet britpop anthem about fate and the randomness of meeting your romantic partner.
Britpop legends Pulp with yet another hit from their legendary 1995 album “Different Class”. After “Common People”, “Mis-Shapes” and “Disco 2000” - “Something Changed” is a lovely, romantic tune about fate and how our life would be entirely different if not for random events. What would happen if you’ve never met the love of your life? “I could have stayed at home and gone to bed/
I could have gone to see a film instead/You might have changed your mind and seen your friend” - and everything would have been different.
Musically it’s just a sweet song, great strings charted to kiss, nice guitars and drums, and a joy to sing. A lovely tune and a great fit for Valentine’s Day.
TL;DR - Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner delivers a dramatic, old-school 50’s-style love ballad, with a brilliant vocal performance and great arrangement.
I don’t even like the Arctic Monkeys that much. I don’t listen to their albums, I’ve seen them live once and I was pretty bored. So Alex Turner doing a big, ambitious Sinatra-like 50’s love ballad? Sounds like exactly something I’ll hate. But this song is so damn good, it broke into my heart and stayed there.
The Last Shadow Puppets are the side project of Turner and Miles Kane - though in this particular track, Kane isn’t really doing much, it’s all Turner. In my opinion, they’re a hundred time better and more interesting than the Arctic Monkeys. “Sweet Dreams, T. N.” is the pineapple of their latest album, “Everything That You’ve Come to Expect”, and in my humble opinion, the best song Alex Turner ever wrote. And he delivers it with a huge vocal performance that shows his great singing qualities. Instruments are all great, maybe other than guitar which is repetitive - but drums are full of marching beats and snare rolls, bass is melodic and keys include an entire string arrangement. It’s a gem of a song and hopefully a great custom!
TL;DR - A huge festival anthem from Elbow, a bright, beautiful, optimistic love song with a tricky drums pattern and an Hey-Jude style singalong at the end.
The Manchester-based alternative band is known for their socially relevant lyrics, steeped in the British experience, over atmospheric, epic rock. But “One Day Like This” is different - it’s one of those special, just plain beautiful and happy songs. It’s shamelessly huge and anthemic, it’s been made for stadium singalongs - and it just nails it. If you’ve been to an Elbow concert, you know this song is always a special moment.
It starts off as a beautiful, optimistic and uplifting tune, with dominant strings echoing Guy Garvey’s voice, who repeatedly sings “It’s going to be a beautiful day”. The song explodes and builds, with Garvey famous “Holy cow I love your eyes” line, before becoming a huge, Hey-Jude like repeated singalong of the outro. It’s fun to play and quite tricky on drums (no it’s not overcharted - check out live performances of the song to see the drums) and great on most instruments. And of course, to sing along!
TL;DR - Folk lost legend Nick Drake, possibly the man with the most beautiful voice in music history, with this beautiful romantic masterpiece, with some insane piano by John Cale.
Nick Drake is one of the saddest stories in musical history. The genius guitarist and songwriter, with an unbelievably beautiful voice, was also a shy, quite men who suffered from depression and possibly schizophrenia. He died at the age of 26 from an overdose of antidepressant, still unclear if by suicide or accident, a complete unknown with his 3 records all complete flops. His music was somehow discovered after his death, at first by other musicians (The Cure were actually named after one of his lyrics), and slowly gained popularity. He’s now regarded as a folk legend, and his three albums are all regarded as masterpieces - particularly his last, “Pink Moon”, which is my 4th favorite record of all time.
Most of Drake’s songs were solo acoustic pieces, sometimes with strings or a piano, and would not work in RB. However, his second record “Bryter Layter” was a full band effort, and this is where this gem is for. “Northern Sky” is an absolutely beautiful, heartwarming love song. It was described by NME’s magazine as the “greatest English love song of modern times”. Lead by Drake’s beautiful voice and guitar, it is produced by Velvet Underground legend John Cale, who also added a brilliant piano part - which means keys on this custom are brilliant (and were very difficult to chart!). Drums and bass are also entertaining and more complex than they seem.
Honestly, this is the one song that made me start this whole project. It’s a magical song from a magical artist that deserved to be in RB. Hopefully my custom does it justice.
TL;DR - A Springsteen classic, originally written by Tom Waits, and a beautiful love ballad with entertaining instruments by the legendary E-Street Band.
It’s weird when two of your favorite musicians collide, but sometimes it yields wonderful results. “Jersey Girl” was a Tom Waits song on his 1979 album “Heartattack and Vine”. But you’ll be forgiven if you didn’t know that - because Springsteen’s version has completely taken over the original, and with his association with New Jersey, many people are shocked to learn it’s not a Springsteen original. This, despite the fact that Springsteen never recorded it in the studio - it was only played live. The 1981 performance from New Jersey was chosen to close the live triple-album, “Live 1975-85”, is the only version Springsteen ever officially released, and is the one charted here (complete with crowd cheering for every mention of New Jersey).
The song is an absolutely beautiful romantic ballad. Springsteen’s version has added additional verses, where the love interest is revealed to be an hard-working single mother, which ties in to his usual interest in the working class. The E-Street Band performs it beautifully, and with 2 guitars and 2 key players, charts are varied and fun to play. And of course, enjoy singing this classic tune!
So that’s it! 21 beautiful, sweet and romantic love songs were performed. But I kept thinking… what about all the singles here? What about the ones who currently can’t relate to this sickeningly-sweet celebration of love? And besides, I promised one song of disappointment, didn’t I? So step forward…
TL;DR - Nick Cave’s noisier, garage side project deliver an amusing and yet relatable song of sexual frustration and rejection, with the most ridiculous guitar chart I’ve ever done.
Grinderman are Nick Cave dirty, experimental and noisier side-project. With heavily noise-based, mostly improvised song, this is Cave recapturing his early wild trouble-maker self. They’ve released two brilliant albums, but “No Pussy Blues” is probably the single most representative tune of what they’re all about.
A noisy song about sexual frustration (as the title implies), it tells the tale of the narrator’s attempts to convince a girl to have sex with him - which includes, but aren’t limited to doing her dishes, writing her songs, cursing her and even “petting her revolting little chihuahua” - only to be told, time after time, that she “simply didn’t want to”. It’s a song full of humor, but also probably quite relatable to many. Musically, it’s lead by a bass and drums groove, before exploding into huge, noisy instrumental sections, with extreme guitar noise, here charted as a solo - which makes it quite a ridiculous, and extremely difficult, guitar chart. It’s probably the weirdest and most out-there custom I’ve done - and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
So that's it! We hope you've enjoyed tonight's show! Have a great Valentine's Day, and see you next time!
26.1 - Nick Cave 6-Pack!
So what do Arctic Monkeys, Metallica, Harry Potter and the rest from that hint have in common? That’s right, Nick Cave. The Australian legend, “the prince of darkness”, a master songwriter and performer, is already 61, but he’s at the heights of his power. His latest album, “Skeleton Tree”, influenced by the tragedy of losing his son, his regarded one of his best. He finished a big arena tour, played huge spots in festivals all over the world, to great response, and is currently at the middle of a “Conversations” tour – intimate solo shows where he answers questions from the audience.
This pack will follow him at three key albums through his career, chronologically, presenting two classics from each. Here we go:
Since we’ll do it chronologically, as an introduction of his early stuff, here’s the 1990 love anthem “The Ship Song
”, which I’ve charted a long time ago.
ALBUM ONE: Let Love In (1994)
This is my 5th favorite album of all time . It’s just a complete masterpiece. Those songs I’ve chosen here aren’t even the best in the album – neither would make my top 3 – but they were chosen because of the best fit to RB, and most well known. But honestly, just listen to that record, it’s special.
We’ll start with possibly the deepest cut in this pack. “Loverman” is Cave at his heaviest and darkest – but with a wry twist of black humor, as always. It was heavy enough to inspire Metallica to cover it – a nice gesture, even though their version is IMO nowhere near the original. Kicking from a classic opening declaration from Cave: “There’s a devil waiting outside your door”, the song unfolds the story of the “Loverman”, who is some kind of sexual predator, stalker, possibly a rapist: “I’ve got a masterplan, to take off your dress and be your man”… It’s simulantly a story of a terrible human being, and a cry for help: “Help me baby, I’ve got no choice… I am what I am”.
Musically, the Bad Seeds create a typically masterful atmosphere, before completely exploding in the chorus. Which then continues into a memorable recreation of the title’s letters: “V is for VIRTUE, I ain’t gonna hurt you – E is for EVEN if you want me to”. Instrument wise, the drum will definitely have a blast in this one, and the entire band switch between careful creepy atmosphere to rocking the fuck out (in a similarly creepy atmosphere). It’s a good one.
Speaking of masterful atmospheres, there’s a reason why “Red Right Hand” is featured in loads of movies and TV shows, including all 3 first "Scream" movies, and it’s also the title track of “Peaky Blinders”. The Bad Seeds really outdone themselves this time – based on a brilliant and sexy bass line, some brushed drums, and a huge bell – creating an unforgettable soundscape, as Cave unfolds his tale on the mystical tall figure.
One of Cave’s most well known tunes, it’s a highlight of his live shows, and been covered by countless artists: Arctic Monkeys, PJ Harvey, Jarvis Cocker and Iggy Pop, Laura Marling and more. A true classic, long overdue at RB.
ALBUM TWO: Murder Ballads (1996)
Nick Cave wasn’t kidding with the title to this one. The album tells 9 murder ballads, with an overall body count of 76 deaths (that’s not including ambiguous lines like “he’s done many many more”), before concluding with an all-star cover of Bob Dylan’s “Death Is Not the End”. It’s also one of Cave’s funniest albums, and includes two high-profile duets with PJ Harvey and Kylie Minogue (which, of course, both end in murder). Cave’s certainly an interesting guy.
The PJ Harvey duet, “Henry Lee
”, was already released in her pack back in September. It’s time for two more:
A note of caution: this song, and this description, includes a lot of curse words and a few, hmm, not-very-subtle sexual and violent descriptions. So if this kind of thing offends you, feel free to skip to the next song.
I just had to include that one, didn’t I? I mean, I think Nick Cave has written some absolute, heartfelt, touching and deep masterpieces. So sometimes I get a bit annoyed when people focus on what is essentially a meme song – even though it’s a fucking excellent one.
But on the other hand: this song has inspired a whole community of Stagger Lee and Billy Dilly memes (like the one above), it made shirts that simply say “good pussy” legit Nick Cave merchandise, was the climax of countless shows, with Cave crowd surfing and shouting “SUCK MY DICK!” into the eyes of some terrified audience member, and recently lots of stage invasions too. It’s just a legendary tune, and it has to be here.
Technically, a cover of a popular 1895 folk song – even though personally, I’ve never heard any variation that sounded even remotely like Cave’s version, lyrically or musically – so I’m pretty sure it’s in practice an original tune. This is Cave’s take on gangster rap, taking the classic story of mass murdered Stagger Lee, with yet another badass bassline, and giving it a classic Cave twist - this is Nick at his absolute most badass.
Cave drops classic, profanity filled one liners (“She sees the barkeeper, says ‘Oh god he can’t be dead!’. Stag says, ‘well, just count the holes in the motherfucker’s head”) – too many more to mention, really – before the song takes a surprising homosexual twist, as Stagger Lee rejects a hooker in favor of her boyfriend (or in Cave’s colorful language, “I’ll crawl over 50 good pussies just to get to one fat boy’s asshole” – hence the “good pussy” shirts). Oh and, let’s not forget the classic rhyming – “I’m gonna sit right here till time comes to pass, and furthermore I’ll fuck Billy Dilly in his motherfucking ass”.
This song becomes an even huger monster live, often spanning 10 minutes with the Devil himself being introduced – and shot by Stagger Lee, of course. On a personal note, here's one of those performances
, where I was lucky enough to be on stage with Nick as a part of the stage invasion - so see if you can spot me
And it's quite a brilliant performance anyway!
I could go on forever – but really, this song has to be heard to be believed. And now you can not only hear it, but play it, and try to sing those lyrics yourself. Just make sure there’s no kids around before you do.
It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely pair than Cave and Kylie Minogue. Both are Australians, but they don’t really share much else in common – he’s an alternative rocker whose made a name of dark and disturbing tunes, she’s a mainstream pop artist who writes catchy, light tunes. The story of how this song came to life, is almost as disturbing as the song itself, as Cave himself recalls: “I had a quiet obsession with Kylie for about six years. I wrote several songs for her, none of which I felt was appropriate to give her.” Until he wrote this one, which was finally appropriate – a romantic duet which ends, of course, with Cave murdering Kylie. We’re still on “Murder Ballads”, after all.
Cave sent her the tape, and – against the advice of pretty much all her advisors – Kylie decided to do it. The result was a huge success – even gaining them a nomination for MTV awards (which Cave refused – “music is not an horse race”, according to him). It’s a gentle, beautiful song, with a great strings arrangement. There’s also this great, recent live performance of this song
– with Cave and Kylie dancing together, smiling and looking almost in love, and this lovely song of murder. And now you can recreate this murder duet with your loved one. And if your girlfriend gets annoyed that you gets to kill her – don’t worry, you can follow it with “Henry Lee”, where the girl character kills the boy…
ALBUM THREE: Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (2004)
So we’re taking quite a leap forward in time, and Cave now is almost unrecognizable. From the dark depths of “Let Love In”, and murder tales of “Murder Ballads”, Cave has since recorded two beautiful, personal album of mostly piano-based love songs (“The Boatman’s Call” and “No More Shall We Part”) – and also “Nocturama”, but it’s best to ignore that one, so I won't even bold it – before being back with this huge, bloated, full band double album, that was the one thing we’ve almost never seen from Cave before: the music was, well, almost happy!
“Abattoir Blues” is a proper rock album, full of hooks, rhythms, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable and upbeat to listen to, while “Orpheus” is a ballads album, but also lighter than his earlier stuff. Oh, and the entire thing includes a full church choir! This album proved that even without the darkness and devastation, Cave is just a brilliant songwriter who can do anything. So you’ll get the first and the last song of this collection.
There’s only one word to describe this “Abattoir” opener – rocking. Cave just takes his band, and simply rocks, like he never did before, and yes, with a choir, and it’s fucking awesome. Full of merciless guitars (usually about 3 at a time, so I had to make some charting decisions…), rousing drums, epic choir harmonies (“Get ready! Get ready!”) as Cave leads the band: “Calling every boy and girl, calling all around the world… get ready for love!”. This is Nick Cave doing rock and roll, and he’s great at it.
About 70 minutes later, the last song of this double collection, is the angelic ballad “O Children
”. A slow, remorseful ballad with a huge climax, this song was relatively unknown, until it found some unexpected mainstream success when in 2010, six years after the song’s release, it was used in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1”
. In fact, it’s the only piece of music used in the entire Harry Potter series, that wasn’t written specifically for it.
The filmmakers were looking for a song that will fit the magical atmosphere, one that was never used in any other movie/TV show ever, and Cave’s otherworldly persona was a perfect fit (and he does look a bit like a vampire, doesn’t he?). The song choice, used in a Harry/Hermione dance scene, was well received and was happily adopted within the Harry Potter fanbase (I’ve even heard some weird theories about how the lyrics are actually about Harry Potter, and “Frank and Jim” actually refer to Neville’s and Harry’s fathers… not sure about that part, personally).
Regardless of Harry Potter, this is just a beautiful song in it’s own right. Lead by acoustic guitar and a distinct drum beat, it has some beautiful piano, as several verses leads to an unforgettable, bitter-sweet, call-and-response climax with the choir: “Hey, little train, wait for me, I once was blind but now I see, I’m hanging in there, don’t you see, at this process of elimination… We’re happy, ma, we’re having fun – it’s beyond my wildest expectations”… It’s an absolute gem.
So that’s all for now! You now have 9 Nick Cave classics available to play with, which is still nothing for his huge discography, but hey, can’t do them all… and if this isn’t enough for you, there might just be another Cave related tune coming sometime soon. But that’s for some other time.
See you next time!
If you haven't already, I highly recommend reading the original thread to enjoy the full Primavera experience:
Once again, many thanks to everyone who was involved!
For your convenience, I've collected all the full band songs I was involved in, to one simple list with direct download links:
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead - Relative Ways
16 Horsepower - Nobody 'Cept You
Angel Olsen - Shut Up Kiss Me
Arcade Fire - Intervention
Arcade Fire - In the Backseat
Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels). Collab with egead
Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
Big Star - September Gurls
Blur - Beetlebum
Bruce Springsteen – Badlands. Collab with Spindoctor and MrBurpler.
Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town (YouTube)
Bruce Springsteen - Jersey Girl
Bruce Springsteen – Prove it All Night
Bruce Springsteen – The River. Collab with bsbloom.
The National - The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
The Dismemberment Plan - 10
Arcade Fire, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - 9
David Bowie - 7
The Cure, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen - 6
The Replacements - 5
PJ Harvey, Wilco, Pulp, Suede - 4
Manic Street Preachers - 3
Pavement - 2
Plus singles from 27 different artists.
If you're interested in full write-ups, visualizers and the rest, it's all in here:
Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more!
20.1 - Four new tunes! 90's Alternative Rock pack!
A track from the iconic 90s britpop band Blur - known for having a bit of a feud with a certain other britpop heavyweight - and whose frontman later went on to start Gorillaz. This track, the lead single from their 1997 self-titled album, was released as a cover version during the early days of Rock Band DLC (and was a bonus track on the European version of the game). Now you can finally play the original studio version of the song!
Mark Kozelek is a strange dude. An indie cult figure, and now well known as the frontman of Sun Kil Moon, his 2014 album Benjieven got some mainstream success (even though IMO, it’s very far from his best album). And he generally quite lost it, including being involved in a one-sided public row with indie band The War on Drugs, which included him releasing a special song with the delicate title “War On Drugs: Suck My Cock."
But before all that, he was the frontman of one of the best, and most underappreciated bands of the 90’s – Red House Painters. Their music was usually slow, extremely emotional, personal and hard-hitting, and they had a golden run of records in the 90’s, including my favorite one, a self-titled album usually referred to as Rollercoaster because of the album cover. I’m very happy and excited to bring this band to Rock Band for the first time.
“Grace Cathedral Park” is the opening to this album, and it provides a great introduction to the album and this band. It’s fairly upbeat – by their standards, anyway - and includes interesting parts for all instruments, so it’s fun to play. And it’s also an extremely beautiful song, that’s widely regarded as one of the band’s classics, and just an amazing song.
The Beta Band are also quite a strange breed. Their style is described in Wikipedia as "'folktronica,' a blend of folk, Scottish, electronic, rock, trip hop, and experimental jamming” – and yes, this is as weird as it sounds. Through their career they’ve made several strange and wonderful records and songs, all extremely curious and creative. But really, one tune stands above them all.
“Dry the Rain” is one of those once-in-a-lifetime tunes. For me it’s a strong contender for the “best song of the 90’s." It starts of as a chilly, beautiful, folky tune with acoustic and slide guitars, than slowly evolves into a true epic. The song truly takes it up a gear around the 3:18 mark, where my favorite bassline in music history kicks in – and I’m not just saying that, I spent a solid 10 minutes looking for a bassline I liked better, and couldn’t find any. The bassline leads the song into an amazing climax, with horns, harmony vocals, and overall it’s just a beautiful thing.
The song gained a bit more attention after featuring in the 2000 movie High Fidelity – where John Cusack’s character announces “I will now sell five copies of The Three EPs by The Beta Band, before playing the climax of the song in his record store. The filmmakers knew why they chose that song – it’s a brilliant gem that’s still fairly unknown, and an absolutely brilliant piece of music.
When looking for a fit opening band for Radiohead, really I couldn’t come up with a better fit than Grandaddy. IMO, they’re the real “American Radiohead” – an alternative rock band with an experimental edge, falsetto vocals, and lyrics about technology and the anxiety of modern life. In that case, The Sophtware Slump would be their answer to OK Computer, or some sort of the sequel Radiohead never made – as Pitchfork wrote, “If Radiohead captured a feeling of pre-millenial tension, The Sophtware Slumpcaptured the feeling of disappointment that came afterward."
Despite the similarities, The Sophtware Slump is a brilliant album on its own account – described upon release as “a work of rare and precious qualities, a collection of emotional, richly melodic songs” (from the Daily Telegraph review). “The Crystal Lake” is the lead single, and it’s one of the catchiest songs on the band’s repertoire. Kicking off with a catchy guitar line, it’s beautiful to sing along to, fun to play, and builds into the anxious chorus statement: “I’ve got to get out of here." It’s a great rock song and a great introduction to this fantastic band.