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.
28.11 - "Emergency & I" by the Dismemberment Plan, and a Suede single!
The Dismemberment Plan - Emergency & I, full album release
With Nolan, GreenPanda and Meta123
I know for the big majority of you, your first reaction to this post was: "Who??". But really, trust me, I know everyone says this about their customs, but really, you absolutely want to check those guys out. And here's three reasons why:
-It's a masterpiece. That's not just me saying, that's pretty much the consensus. Here's just a few major opinions:
Pitchfork have given this album their ultra-rare perfect 10.0 rating (I'm pretty sure only 3 albums received this grade rating since 2000). Their review simply read: "If you consider yourself a fan of groundbreaking pop, go out and buy this album right now. Now. Get up. Go" (yep, that's the entire review). Rolling Stone magazine called it a "a game-changer for indie rock fans", Glide called it a "landmark masterstroke". PopMatters gave it a perfect 10, saying they "just can't get enough of it" and proposing to revise the rating system to give it a new rating: 11/10. Allmusic called it a 'firecracker' and gave it 4.5/5. Consequence of Sound gave it 5/5 and called it "music that first opened our eyes to worlds unseen".
I could go on and on, but you get the point: I'm yet to hear of somebody who heard this record and wasn't left astonished.
-There's nothing else like it. Usually, when describing smaller artists, you do it by comparing them to bigger bands. But here, I honestly have no idea. This record is unique, it seemed to exist in it's own vacuum. I have no idea what it was influenced by. It doesn't seem to belong to any genre or movement. I suppose it's alternative rock - well, it's rock because they use electric guitars and drums, and it's alternative because it's so damn weird, but it doesn't really sound like what you associate with 'alternative rock'. We have a lot of customs on this DB, but I'll easily bet this record is among the most unusual customs in the entire DB. It's fascinating.
-It's perfect for Rock Band. This is still a game after all, and not every masterpiece fits it - but this one does. Guitars are soaring and brilliant, bass is melodic and groovy, and drums - oh my god, those drums. If you're a drummer, prepare to discover your new favorite customs. I can't quite describe the absolutely unbelievable drumming on this record. They're extremely challenging, but not in the usual "let's abuse the double bass pedal" way, or Keith Moon's 'extremely fast messy fills' way. It's challenging because it's honestly original, unusual and super cool work. And if you want an example, just check out "Girl O'Clock" - the first 30 seconds will give you enough of an impression.
So yeah, just check it out. It's thanksgiving, it's weekend, you have some free time. Just download it, choose an instrument (I recommend drums, but they're all great) and give it a go. It starts off normally enough - opener "A Life of Possibilities" is probably the most orthodox song on the record - but it will reveal itself, it will surprise you and it will take you for a ride. Especially the second side - from the pure weirdness of "I Love a Magician", the disco groove of "The City", the complete, bat-shit insanity of "Girl O'Clock", the groovy apocalyptic vision of "8.5 Minutes", the emotional rock/rap fusion of "Back and Forth" - there's nothing like it.
So here you go:
And finally, here's a playlist I made of all the charts of the album, so you can conveniently preview it and get an impression:
Hope you love it!
Normally my charting choices are pretty methodical: choose a pack/artist and work with that. But once in a while there comes a song so special, that I like so much, I just decide to quit everything else and push it to the top of the queue. The release of “Life is Golden” was never planned. It was not on the schedule two weeks ago. I’ll do a Suede pack at some point, but I didn’t even want to wait for that. I just found myself so addicted and excited about this song, I charted it so quickly when I should have been studying, and added it to the nearest date I could find. So on the song itself: Suede are mostly known as a great 90’s brit-pop band, with hits such as “The Beautiful Ones”, “Animal Nitrate”, “Trash” and many more (shameless self promotion – I charted “Trash” and “The Drowners” before, look them up in the DB!), and for their absolutely amazing first two albums (seriously “Dog Man Star” is a top 20 album for me). Since their comeback in 2012, they’ve released three albums that are more ambitious, experimental and instrumentally varied than their old work.
Those are all great albums, but this tune – “Life is Golden” from 2018’s “The Blue Hour”, released just two months ago – is special. There’s just something about it – forgive the pun, but Suede have truly hit gold with that one. It’s been insanely well received (Clash Magazine has called it “arguably their best song in twenty-two years”), it’s only been out for a few months and it’s already used as the climatic closing songs to their concerts, chosen over their wide range of hits. It’s a huge, emotional, catchy anthem, and is already a huge favorite and among the band’s best songs. Rock Band wise, it’s not extremely challenging, but it’s fun on all instruments. Guitars and bass are melodic and ever changing through, with a variety of parts to play and a soaring guitar solo at the end. Drums are basic but fun, keys have some nice strings parts, and vocals, as always, rule them all – belting out this chorus is an absolute joy, and there’s some nice falsetto too! This song will probably never be as popular as it deserves too, but I’ve been fairly obsessed with it recently, and I’m very happy to bring it to you. Hope you give it a try.
Thanks, 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
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 – 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 - 9
David Bowie - 7
The Cure - 6
Neil Young - 6
Bruce Springsteen - 5
The Replacements - 5
PJ Harvey - 4
Wilco - 4
Nick Cave, Pulp, Suede, Manic Street Preachers - 3
Pavement - 2
Plus singles from 19 different artists.
If you're interested in full write-ups, visualizers and the rest, it's all in here: