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Malik (4/22/08)

No post yesterday since I was pretty busy with a certain something...

Anyway, Velveta and I now have a puppy! Being the geeks we are, there was only one appropriate name; Ein.

Having a new puppy is pretty exhausting on it's own, but getting the puppy was a trip out into the other end of our county and that kept me from the computer yesterday.

Anyway, to get back in gear, the new full album DLC should be out by the time I post this. I'll be glancing at note charts on youtube to make my decision on which to purchase, but at least a great new day is dawning on Rock Band. The day of the full albums is here.

Sadly, I don't like the look of the other side of the spectrum. That would be how Guitar Hero is going to add new instruments and vocals in the future. Something about this seems wrong.

Maybe it's the fact that GH is obviously trying to follow it's younger sibling (RB) into the full band experience. Maybe it's the fact that the G in GH is guitar and I don't see that changing. What I mean is that Activision will keep the focus on guitars and the other instruments will be half assed.

Or it could be that Neversoft is obsessed with false difficulty. In fact, that would be it in a nut shell. It's bad enough seeing false challenges (excessive three note chords and playing some notes for no sounds) on the guitar. But when it's added to drums, or vocals, or keyboards, or whatever else they want to throw in to the first GH with new instruments, it frightens me.

A false note on drums would be bad, since drums can already be a challenge at expert on RB, but false challenge on vocals will only be destructive to the song, the player, and the bands involved. Do you want to see extra sounds being voiced on a song? I sure as hell don't. It would tarnish the quality of the experience in ways that make GH3 look honest to it's source...and GH3 sure as f$#@ isn't honest to the music or the genre of rock rhythm games.

In all honesty, I really wish Neversoft and Activision would just drop the GH name and genre before they make the entire genre look bad. Between the Aerosmith centered game and the sad looking DS game both coming in the next couple of months, the franchise is being milked far worse than EA has ever done (and that's counting their milking of something I call Madden)...and that's saying something.

Tomorrow I'll have some thoughts on the new RB DLC for Judas Priest. Until then...I have a puppy to wear me out.


Malik (4/23/08)

Last night I was set to download some Judas Priest for Rock Band. At the very least, I was aiming to get a couple of songs. However, after I watched the youtube expert guitar videos, I just don't feel it.

I was always a JP fan, but not so much that I ever bought a CD of theirs. Yes, I would blast them if they came on the local rock station, but I never made a financial plunge. I figured that would change with Screaming for Vengeance on Rock Band.

Nothing changed. The songs are still fun to blast on a stereo, but the note charts just don't do it for me. For one thing, they are relatively boring during the bulk of the song, but then erupt into a massive storm of colors during the solos. Each of the JP songs are more in tuned with this style than even Enter Sandman or Welcome Home. Both of those songs, on the core set list, have simply note progressions, but a hard solo. The difference is that these two base game songs are fun to play with some interesting chord shifts. That cannot be said about the versus and choruses of the Priest songs.

In other words, the majority of each song is a very repetitive rhythm that requires only mastering about five seconds of the song to master 4 minutes of each songs. This is not my idea of fun.

What's more not my idea of fun is what comes in any solo. I'm talking about massive hammer-on progressions across the entire fret board, and then some. I just grow tired of these solos from hell. If it wasn't for the solos, I'd have a blast with Highway Star, to name one song. However, solos are just not my idea of fun when they are more about rapid note progressions than about a cool sound that breaks down the feel of a song. If a song is slow (on the guitar, at least), I don't want a massive change in tempo for the solo.

A great example is You Got Another Thing Coming. This song is slow on the guitar, with a lot of long held notes (check out youtube or even think of how the song actually sounds). The speed and strength of the song is found in the vocals. However, when the vocals cut out for the solo, then the guitar becomes a rapid mess of notes.

So, if I don't like that, then I must hate all solos, right? Wrong. I think some really do capture the feeling of the song really well. Welcome Home does this, Enter Sandman does this, The Hand That Feeds does this. None of these solos are easier than the song their in, but they all match. My favorite example, even if the solo is easier than the song itself, would be Are You Gonna Be My Girl. Now that solo is awesome. Not because it's easier than the rest of the song, and not because it's repetitive. Not, it's awesome because it breaks down the song and gives an awesome sound to, more or less, summarize what the song was about.

Some other great solos that capture this same feeling are any of the Oasis DLC solos, Say It Ain't So, and any Boston DLC song that doesn't map the keyboard to the guitar (I'm looking at songs like More Than a Feeling and Piece of Mind). So, when it comes to the classic metal sound, I'm just not digging the solos. Hell, even though I cannot beat them on solo play (I only count expert guitar, and not hard or easier), Flirting With Disaster and Green Grass have awesome solos that really capture the feeling of the songs. Unfortunately, and this comes from a definite certified head-banging metal-head, metal has one flaw...the unnecessarily technical solo.

So, I'm skipping the DLC this week. I could handle a few of the songs, but I just wouldn't get enough fun to satisfy my need for value (money versus fun). Next week, I'm hoping for some more laid back music of another (non-metal) genre. Also, I'm all over The Cars when their album drops next month.

On a final note before I head out for today, I just have to say one thing; about mother f#@$ing time! I have been waiting for this news ever since early last year, and I'm glad to see that the Seahawks are finally rid of the albatross known as Alexander.

Yes, I do have a special place in my football loving heart for the man who did so much for the 2005 Super Bowl run. However, there's a time when a player needs to be let go. It's best if a person like Alexander leaves when he's still hot (go out with a bang and be forever missed), and not when he's become a joke. At least he still did have a great place in Seahawks history...being a key figure to the run for Super Bowl XL. With that said, I will still remember Shaun for what he did...and try to drink to forget (when the next season starts up) what he failed to do.


Malik (4/24/08)

Tired doesn't even begin to describe how I've felt this last week. I think I'm turning a bit towards happiness in terms of how I just didn't feel the vibe from the Rock Band DLC for this week. I don't think I would have had the energy to play the new songs...nor the time. At least my time and energy are balancing out, but trying to keep an eye on a new puppy is not something for the faint of heart.

At least now that I'm coming back to having some energy, it's good to see that Rock Band is looking better for me (thanks for the link, dLee). That is to say that the wireless Rock Band Strats are finally hitting stores in real numbers.

I cannot even begin to explain the adventures I've had trying to find one of these. I have spent a few times walking around downtown Seattle looking for these items which were due in stores a few weeks ago. I won't even get into the XBox Live news item that said they were in stores...that came along a week before they were even released for pre-orders. Hell...the weirdest part is I didn't even think that there would be a pre-order list for this type of thing. It's a fun new item, but it's not really new in the sense that it hasn't been done before. I guess, however, that if you wanted a second RB guitar and didn't dig the clicking strum or raised buttons of a Guitar Hero Gibson, then this was your only option.

I still want to pick one up, since I'm a fan of wireless. I especially want one now that wires are a "chew toy" for Ein. However, at the same time, I'm hoping more people start to use and abuse them before I consider picking one up. Why? After how many problems the original Strat had at Rock Bands launch, I want to see what the odds are of me going through another couple rounds of returning my guitar to EA for replacement.

On the note of Rock Band, GTA4 is due out next week...and yes, these are related in my mind. RB has been a constant source of entertainment for the last half year (ok...five months), and GTA games always become time killers for me. However, in all honesty, I don't see my desire to play Rock Band decreasing. Yes, I will be obsessively playing GTA4 starting next week, but I will have about six days a week to play that game. On the other hand, I have a standing gig with my Friday band for Rock Band, and this is not something I want to ignore.

Yes, it's a lot of the same. This is why I still feel Rock Band news a big update/expansion to make something new to experience within our reach, but not limited to random and make-a-set set lists. However, there is something in RB that I just cannot get from GTA4. Rock Band on Fridays are something that bring about a sense of camaraderie that doesn't rely on having any real foe. It's co-op on the most pure and basic level; you and some friends versus nothing more than what you want out of the game.

It's like when I used to work with some guitar players in a past job and we would take over a college auditorium for a night to just jam. I wasn't any good (and still have less than awesome guitar skills), but that didn't matter. What mattered was the feeling of just rocking out to the music and cracking a few jokes. RB ups that a little with the fun of having some good food (or fast food), a few too many beers, and a good sense that nothing matters outside the world beyond what we are experiencing in The Dungeon (the nick name given to the basement in the house most of the "band" lives in).

I bring this up for a couple of reasons. The first being that I need to just say how this game really feels on a set show/concert. For my group of friends in the Doctor Philosophers, it's our Friday night gig. It has happened, in some form, since the Friday after Thanksgiving. Even when some people were sick or The Dungeon was considered a breeding ground for a cold that was going around, it still happened. A few weeks ago, it moved to Saturday so it could be another venue (with members of the Doctors playing in Zombie Euphoria), but it still went on. As Queen once said, the show must go on!

On the other hand, I'm sad to see that some of the Doctors are thinking that GTA4 is going to take Fridays away from Rock Band. I hate to see this. After all, despite work, a new puppy, and other obligations, I know I'll be playing six days a week (for the band, who also plays D&D with me on Saturdays, I know I'll be playing GTA4 until the party shows up on Saturday afternoon, so that would be a sixth day of the week for GTA4) of GTA4. So, I still feel the need for Rock Band Fridays. Yes, there will be GTA, but there is not the same feeling of getting the gang/band together and drinking some while letting the world slip away. It may sound silly in a sense, but I honestly know of no better form of escapism after a hard week at work than some friends, some beer, some food, and some good old rocking out!

Oh well. If the Doctors do end up disbanding or whatever, I guess I'll just have to try to pressure Velveta into making Fridays the night for the Ghost Cowboys to get some fans and to get out the jams. It definitely will not be the same, but I've seen one band rise and fall a little too much as it was (Full Metal Hemorrhoids hasn't played a gig in a while and hasn't spent a good amount of time rocking together for well over a month). It's not a good thing to see and it's sucks to let go of that pure innocence of rock.

Ok. I've rambled enough as it is. At least the gig is still on for tomorrow, and so should be the next DLC announcement. Once more, for the sake of the song playing on my iPod right now...

Show must go on!


Malik (4/25/08)

I don't know The Mother Hips, except for Time We Had on the bonus songs of Rock Bands base game.  However, I know I enjoyed that sound.  As for Zero...I so f$#%ing know and need that song.  Hell, it's on my iPod almost every work day just because of the pure energy it brings to a slow day in the lab.  So, with that in mind, this week will be seeing some Mother Hips ("Red Tandy" and "Time Sick Son of a Grizzly Bear") and Zero from the Pumpkins for Rock Band DLC.

My only complaint, before I hear the songs and see the charts for The Mother Hip's two songs, is that the $2 asking price seems steep for a band that is a bonus song band.  Oh well.  It's not offered in a pack, so it's not like I lose anything for not buying songs ala cart.


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