3.23 - Elvis Costello "This Year's Model" pack
Let’s start with the obvious: Elvis Costello is a legend of music. But for most of us RB players, he’s mostly known as “the Pump It Up guy”. This pack has 5 more tunes from the same album. However, it’s my honest opinion that while “Pump it Up” is a good tune, it’s not even among the best on this album, let alone his career – I would rank all 5 songs here above it.
So if you liked Pump It Up, great! Here’s more and better. But if you didn’t – don’t go into conclusions and still give those tunes a shot. They’re easily among the most entertaining charts I’ve ever done – drums and bass especially.
So here we go!
“This Year’s Model is one of the most distinctively brilliant albums ever to be released. For fans of rock music bursting with wit and character, it really just doesn't get any better than this” – Pitchfork, 10/10.
Elvis Costello was always too much of a geek for punk. His voice is too high, his background is too high class, not to mention his affection for clever geeky word play. But that’s why he’s so interesting. “This Year’s Model” is the essential “angry geek” album, full of raw emotions and anger, but also cleverness and brilliance. It’s one of those unique album where every song is better than the other one. It’s a joy on all instruments, and I’ve loved every minute of working on it.
You can also say it’s fairly well regarded:
But Costello is only half (or really, a quarter) of the story – this is an album by Elvis Costello and the Attractions, so let’s talk a bit about those Attractions. AKA one of the best backing band in rock history. They are 3 incredible players: Pete Thomas and Bruce Thomas, are, in my humble opinion, the best rhythm section in rock and roll history. Yes, I’ve thought this through. Yes, I know Led Zeppelin and the Who and the rest. Those guys are better. I wish I could find a way to describe the genius of the drums and bass on those tracks, how absolutely tight and groovy they are, carrying the songs while never eclipsing them. But I can’t. You’ll have to play those yourself to find out.
Traditionally, the third player would be a guitarist, but here we have Steve Niece, whose brilliant organ and keys are all over this fucking record. It’s really the last twist in it’s brilliance, a completely unique sound – the tightest rhythm section imaginable, a genius songwriter at the front, and this unique, colorful, brilliant organ giving this record it’s unique vibe. And than there’s Costello’s guitar, which is mostly fairly basic and sits in the back – which is why I recommend vox-taring this album (playing guitar and singing at the same time), just like Costello himself.
And now, for the songs:
Video Preview: https://www.youtube....h?v=S02-PC-NKfw
“I don’t wanna kiss you, I don’t wanna touch.
I don’t wanna see you cause I don’t miss you that much”.
Could there possibly be a better way to open this album? With those timeless words of rage and contempt, Costello kicks off the record with an absolute bang. Not wasting any time on build up, the might Attractions come in with full power, Pete Thomas banging those drums, as Costello shoots one of his masterful creation, a song about conflicting emotions. Starting as a simple “fuck you” song to an ex, “No Action” slowly unmasks more, and evolves into a song of jealousy and burning emotion. In one of his most breathtaking verses, Costello moves from his “I don’t care about you” opening stance to something else entirely:
“Knowing you’re with him is driving me crazy,
Sometimes I call you when I know you’re not lonely,
But I always disconnect it in time”.
It’s one of those sprawling beautiful songs Costello is known for, while being an absolute banger and killer rock tune. It’s a perfect opening to a classic album, and now you can play it yourself.
Also, those drums!
This Year’s Girl
Video Preview: https://www.youtube....h?v=8UG_sWNHmkQ
After the blistering “No Action”, it’s time for this half-title-track (don’t worry, the other half of the title will appear too). Lead by a steady drum beat – a tribute to the Beatles “Ticket to Ride” – it is soon joined by a great synth line and beautiful melodic bass. This is another chance for the Attractions to shine, while this time the bass is the star of the show, with an absolute classic bass line, as Costello delivers another classic. A steady, brilliant tune, this is probably the easiest song from this pack, but it’s not one you want to miss!
Video Preview: https://www.youtube....h?v=NsNm7pv54FU
The title already says it all, doesn’t it?
Track 3 of this album is another masterful tune, once again brilliant drums and bass (seeing a pattern here?), this time with slight disco influences. Costello once again demonstrates his lyrical mastery, creating a complex, funny and clever tale with his lyrics. Instruments are all an absolute blast to play, the beat (see what I did there?) is infectious, and the song climaxes as Costello delivers an absolute classic verse over a naked drums and bass arrangement with one simple keyboard line:
“I keep thinking about your mother/No I don’t wanna lick them
I don’t wanna be your lover/I just wanna be your victim
I don’t go out much at night/I don’t go out much at all
Did you think you were the only one who was waiting for a call?”
Pure perfection, this one is.
(I Don’t Want To) Go to Chelsea
Video Preview: https://www.youtube....h?v=o7Em0kH4e4c
One of the most famous tracks from this record, Costello brings in a reggae influenced vibe (but in the coolest way possible!) as he delivers yet another brilliant tune. I know I’ve been hailing the drums and bass this whole time, but for those last two tracks, they’ve really are unbelievable. The drum track on this one is absolutely amazing – not devil tiered difficult, but it’s so clever, and has an unbelievable amount of small changes and variations, as the beat seems to change almost every line. While the bass line is absolutely groovy and fun to play. Oh, and did I mention this song has 3 keyboard solos? Because it absolutely does.
The song itself is unsurprisingly great as well, and it also includes the second half of the title (“She’s last year’s model”), as Costello rejects the over romanticism of the Chelsea area (“Oh no, it does not move me/Even though I’ve seen the movie”). It’s catchy, cool, classic and fun.
Video Preview: https://www.youtube....h?v=3UMdUpdhBpE
Last but not least, a Costello classic, straight from this genius drum pattern, to the ultra-tight (even more than usual!) drums and bass. This is one of the Attractions hardest rocking tunes, and it’s pure virtuoso – from this epic bass line, to the drums solo, to everything in between. According to AllMusic, this song "serves as a showcase for the new group's extraordinary energy and impressive skill, while Costello plays the role of the scornful cynic, spitting bitter words of one who has suffered third-degree burns at the hands of love”.
Costello is indeed in top form – shooting gems like “Sometimes I think that love is just a tumor – you’ve got to cut it out”, “You say I have no feelings – this is a good way to kill them”, and the classic “Sometimes I almost feel just like a human being”. Instruments wise, it’s probably the best in the pack. And it’s always been one of my favorite Costello songs. I wanted to chart it for ages, but took me a while to believe I was good enough to do so! So here it is, and hopefully you’ll love it as much as I do.
3.1 - Singles from Teenage Fanclub and Andrew Bird!
DOWNLOAD / PREVIEW ***
Teenage Fanclub, the brilliant power pop band that Kurt Cobain called “the best band in the world”, finally make their Rock Band debut! Initially lauded for the sonically dense, guitar-driven anthems that heralded them as unexpected stars of the alternative rock era, the perception of Scotland's Teenage Fanclub transformed over time, eventually earning the group a reputation as pop craftsmen famous for a distinctive brand of classicist '60s- and '70s-style power pop and folk-rock. Originally centered on the talents of three singer/songwriters -- Norman Blake, Gerard Love, and Raymond McGinley -- Teenage Fanclub emerged in the late '80s mixing sludgy guitar riffs and memorably hooky choruses that drew inspiration from iconic guitar rock bands like Big Star, Badfinger, and the Byrds.
“The Concept” is the opening song of their 1991 masterpiece “Bandwagonesque”, and it’s one of the band’s finest moment and a brilliant showcase of their talent. It’s filled with the beautiful, catchy melodies the band are known for, with brilliant harmonies and several guitar solos – making it a great fit for Rock Band.
( *** note that the drum animations have been fixed from the preview )
Since the turn of the millennium, few pop artists have established such a distinctive aural identity as Andrew Bird. A virtuosic violinist, singer, songwriter, composer, and expert whistler, his career has undergone a wide variety of stylistic shifts from his early days playing jazz and swing music to his mid-2000s reinvention as a savvy pop sophisticate and instrumental looping pioneer.
“Two Way Action”, the opening track of his brilliant record “The Swimming Hour” with his band Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire, is one of his rockier tracks, full of guitar and violin riffs. The song is sang almost entirely in unison with singer Nora O'Connor, the melody is complex and changes scales and yet very catchy, and it’s a perfect demonstration of Bird’s abilities as a songwriter, and the magic of his band.
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!
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
Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire - Two Way Action
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, Elvis Costello - 5
PJ Harvey, Wilco, Pulp, Suede - 4
Manic Street Preachers - 3
Pavement - 2
Plus singles from 29 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!