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Malik (1/28/08)

This weekend held some good times for me.  Primarily it involved me attending Velveta's big annual post-holiday work party.  Normally I would see that as involving me being bored while drinking a few complimentary drinks, eating some free appetizers, and wondering (usually aloud) why I was not at home or enjoying some time to hang out with friends.  Afterall, I am not from that work place, and I know very few people.  Luckily, things were a hell of a lot better, and different, this year.

For one thing, the night involved a lot of rock.  It was at the EMP at Seattle Center.  That doesn't mean much on it's own, since the EMP has always struck me as a bit poser and overly artistic for the nature of being about rock.  I mean the building looks like ass on the outside, and this was done to make the building "look like music"...whatever that means.  However, it's a location that is well suited for big gatherings of people and to let some rock flow freely.

It also included a bit of time with the greatest Rock Band setup I've seen.  Basically, a small movie theater like room, filled with stadium style seating, with a big screen display of rock band.  All while the four gamers stand up front and rock out to a plasma display set up in front of them.  It's dorky in a lot of ways, but it's also damned good fun when you've had a few complimentary drinks.

So, Velveta (who's taken to being one of my two usual drummers), one of Velveta's coworkers (who has become one of the three usual expert bassists that I can count on to back me up while I'm on guitar), a random dude (on the mic), and I all had some fun laying down some expert (well, medium on drums and easy on the mic since the dude never played before) in a venue that included a lot of failure for other people playing on medium.  Since pictures speak better than words...

Thanks to someone who will probably never visit Geek-Asylum (a coworker of mine, at a holiday party for a different company...small world) for the picture.

Sadly, this doesn't capture my "rocking out" too well since it's during the fast part of Reptillia (right before the solo) on a plasma that was not properly lag-calibrated...but it still makes the point of what an awesome Rock Band set up can be and how damned sweet this party was.  Even better was our second run of the night...rocking out Here It Goes Again, complete with the strings moving and grooving with the music.

However, what really made the night that much more special was what immediately followed...a live concert of the Presidents of the United States of America.  I had never been able to see the Presidents live before, despite being from Washington and living here my whole life.  I missed out on their early shows because I was too young (read: poor).  I missed their first reunion show since I couldn't stand the opening acts and the one hour long set changes.  However, this time it was the Presidents and nothing else to muck up the event.

I can't really put to words how awesome they are live, but I'll just say this...if you like their music, even in the slightest, and you have a sense of humor (which I think is required for the first requirement), then they will rock your ass off.  Between how good they are live, how funny they get between songs, and doing some awesome covers of Video Killed The Radio Star and Satisfaction (more along the Devo lines of that song), The Presidents are probably now my favorite live show...or maybe tied for first with The Aquabats.

Also, it was sweet being able to hear some of their new stuff.  Their album comes out in the next two months, and they did play a couple of the songs off of it.  If the two or so songs from the album are any indication, it should be well worth a purchase.

I'm just glad I didn't do any major drinking until the Presidents were done with their show since I'd hate to have that part of my night be a blur like most of the stuff that followed.


Malik (1/28/08)

Let's call this round two.  I got some more pictures, and since this was just so damned fun, I feel the need to post some more.  This would be from our second round of rocking the socks off of the party people.

Also, since it's not a usual occurrence...ok, it's never happened before...I'll break the mystic and come clean...I would be the bearded punk above.


Malik (1/30/08)

I didn't get in any time to post anything yesterday.  On one hand, I was too caught up on trying out some different modes on Rock Band, and on the other hand I was busy trying to decide what I think of the new songs for this week.

On that first note, I decided to give a solo singing career a shot.  It's definitely not my cup of tea, for now, but I am making headway.  I probably feel like some of the people who enjoy this mode originally felt; like no matter what I did, the game would not accept my awesomeness.  In other words, I suck at singing so far and will probably get better with time.  For now, I can lay the easy songs to rest on easy mode, but I am still not good enough to try anything too crazy on anything above easy or medium.  Sadly, I just don't feel the control I have with the drums or guitar on singing.  I just feel more in charge of something like my timing on button pressing (or smacking with drums) than I do with something that should be so control of something entirely contained within my own body (my voice).  With time, I may start to get some skills, but more than anything, I feel right now like the only way to "sing" is to make noises that are not words and match the required tone/pitch (I always confuse the terms).

As for the new DLC for this week...I am just not feeling it.  I decided to check out some expert guitar videos online before settling on a purchase or deciding to skip.  All three songs just didn't do it for me.

The Coheed song felt a little uninspired.  The note chart was scattered and just didn't look too exciting to play.  Maybe if I was a Coheed fan, then I'd pick up the track.  As for me, since I'm anything but a Coheed fan (despite feeling that Welcome Home has some damned sweet guitar work), I just cannot justify spending money on the Ten Speed song of theirs.  On the bright side, for people who dislike the voice of the singer at least, the cover has a far deeper and less grating voice.  Also, despite the confusing rumors that keep conflicting on the net, the version on Rock Band of Ten Speed is a cover (I think it's tied into how the guitar was recorded for the masters).

As for the Rush song...I don't care for Rush.  I do think they pack some awesome instrument work into their songs, but the singing and the lyrics always annoy the shit out of me.  I always figured the whole "feel the spirit, feel the spit" was about them trying to get people to groove to their lyrics and then they felt the spit on their faces as the audience turned on them for such lame lyrics.  As for Working Man (the new DLC); it's long and I'm getting jaded on overly long songs.  Also, it includes some very repetitive guitar work.  The sole exception is the long string of repetition is that there are three solos.  Two of them don't look too bad, but then there's one of the Flirting With Disaster technical level.  That's another thing I just don't feel the need for unless I am getting a song I really enjoy when it comes on the radio.

Siva, the new Smashing Pumpkins song on Rock Band also left me uninspired when I saw the guitar note chart.  It looks a bit frantic, but mainly it looks annoying.  It also seems quite repetitive.  Like with what I said about Working Man, I only want repetition and frantic notes if it's for a song I really enjoy.  It's not that I don't like the Pumpkins, but I just don't go for Siva.  If Harmonix threw in some Bullet With Butterfly Wings, Zero, Tarantula, 1979, Tonight, Tonight, or Today I would be good.  Siva and even Cherub Rock to a smaller degree are just not what I personally think of when I think of the Pumpkins.

As for what I said when talking about Working Man with solos, I feel the need to elaborate.  I like a good technical solo, but I just don't feel it when it's pure hammer-on/pull-off hell like you find with Highway Star, Flirting, or the dreaded second solo of Green Grass.  My ideal solo is one that breaks it down for the audience.  No matter how much I enjoy Metallica (and I am one hell of a Metallica least of their stuff before Load), I think I like the simplicity of the solo in Jet's Are You Gonna Be My Girl far more than the technical solo of something like Ride the Lightning.  RtL does have a frantic and energy pumping solo, but I think I prefer the way that Jet's solo just breaks the song down and almost summarizes the whole song, but with a heavy guitar influence.  That's not just my idea of what's a good solo for Rock Band (and Guitar Hero), but also my idea of what makes an enjoyable to listen to solo when a song comes on the radio.  The complex and technical solos like in an average metal song just feels like too much showboating, while something more like (to name examples from Rock Band) the solos from Here It Goes Again, Jet (don't want to write the whole title again), In Bloom, Say It Ain't So, and even Wave of Mutilation shows a higher degree of creativity.  It's not about "here's what our lead guitar can do that you all wish you could do" as much as it's almost "we're going to show you another level of this song and maybe break it down into a new sound while we're at it".

Anyway, I think I'm just rambling now.  I'll wrap it up with one last thought on solos, more from the perspective of being a Rock Band fan; I like the less technical solos since they are easy to rock out on.  I can smoke almost all of the songs on expert, but my solos on songs like Run To The Hills (another technical one) just turn into a bad sound with overdrive saving my sorry ass.  Doing the rocking out aspect just feels better to me than surviving off of star power (or in band mode, letting myself fall and telling my band to wait until the solo ends to bring me back) and bad sounds.


Malik (1/31/08)

I'll be very disappointed if the rumors are confirmed as being real.  I'm talking about the rumors of what DLC will be out there for Rock Band in the month of March.  These new songs, supposedly, came from a new issue of OXM (there's a supposed picture off of the previous wikipedia link...but it seems to be a broken link as I type this).  On one hand, I am still waiting for certain groups and genres to be properly introduced to the Rock Band world.  On the other hand, like I said last week (or it might have been two weeks ago)...

Enough with the same bands coming to DLC multiple times.

Police?  We have a damned three song pack already and adding another song is just not needed...yet. 

Iron Maiden?  I f#@$ing love Maiden, so that might explain my mind when I say that there's enough Maiden already.  Come back in a few months, and we could discuss the Maiden inclusion again, but for now the subject should be closed.  Most of all for Wrath Child...Harmonix, I bought you damned waste of money called Guitar Hero Encore (which was made, from what I understand, only to fulfill your contract with Red Octane/Activision) and I sure as f#@$ don't need any song (even Iron Maiden) to remind me of that pile of shit.

Black Sabbath?  We have a three pack already and a song included on the game...this is the same as the Police coming back for another song.  Too soon...especially when so many bands are still not being given their time to shine.

Metallica?  On one hand, nothing from after Load (and even Load is stretching it a bit) should be on this game.  Nothing.  Fuel is not a bad choice for a post-haircut song, but it' Metallica.  Also, I know there is already plans for something like 15 or 18 Metallica songs in total, but maybe we can wait a bit while some other bands get some love.

As for the rest of these songs...actually, as for all of these songs; this list is very one dimensional in sound.  I would expect this from Guitar Hero, not Rock Band.  These are all songs that would, except for The Police, be found on one radio station in any given large metropolitan area.  It's all what would be found on a heavy/hard rock station.  There is simply no true variety in the sounds beyond the difference in metal versus industrial.  In other words, there's no cheesy songs, no upbeat songs, no songs that would interest an audience that just doesn't go for harsh sounding music.

If Harmonix is wanting to really attract a large audience, then they need to supply more sound variations in any given month.  Most of these songs are just going to appeal to a singular audience type and will not help to reward people who bought Rock Band with a love for The Killers, The Strokes, Jet, Nirvana (where's Nevermind already?), rock-n-roll like The Monkees, Garbage, Beasty Boys, Foreigner, Foo Fighters, The Stones, Kiss, or even RHCP.  I'm not even naming music I normally listen to in this (I like some of those bands, but I tend to skip others if they pop on the radio).  I'm just naming some music being generally dismissed by Harmonix.

I honestly hope that OXM got this information wrong.  I am sadly thinking it's real, and this may make some people quite happy.  As for me, I love most of this music, but I just don't feel like I want to drown my DLC in the same general sounds.  I love variety in Rock Band.  I mean I hate the All American Rejects, but I enjoy seeing their songs pop up when I'm playing a random set list.  Why?  Because it's not the same old songs that I've heard and played to death.  It's something to break up the sounds I keep hearing and that just appeals to me.  I can only take so many overly technical metal songs, for example, before I just need a break for both my fingers and my ears.  It's like that saying "all work and no play...", but instead it's "all metal/industrial/thrash and no upbeat music makes Malik a bored Rock Band player".

At least there's still hope for February.  I really hope we finally see Nevermind and Who's Next next month.  At least that will give me a large enough dose of fun to keep things fresh through March.  I also do hope this OXM list is bullshit.  Afterall, didn't Harmonix state that they were going to wait until the Monday of a week before announcing the new content to be found the next day?  Didn't Harmonix get a bit pissy when they saw that last week's content was leaked so far in advance?  If those rumors of Harmonix's feelings on this were true, then I don't see why they'd leak a list like this to OXM so far in advance.

Ok.  Enough of that.  I just have one other thing to say for today...the new batch of written TV shows are coming along about now.  In particular, Jericho returns on the 12th with new episodes and Lost is back for it's premier tonight.  At least the effects, on the viewers, of the writers strike can be delayed a little longer.  Man, I am already missing good scripted TV and am getting pretty damned sick of the idea of reality TV until the studios get their act together with rewarding the writers with a proper contract.


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