the Horn Farm Paste Mob

MTV2 Pack 1 + Maximo Park

MTV Games owns Harmonix. If memory serves, this is the first real cross-pollination we’ve seen out in the open: MTV2 had a contest whose three winners got their songs in Rock Band this week.

Now that Activision is trying to scare people into waiting for Guitar Hero 4 rather than buying Rock Band*, there’s a whole political element to what songs are released as Rock Band downloads when. So it’s sort of inconvenient for old debts to come due at any particular time, and maybe they would rather not have had to give a whole precious week of the release schedule to unknown bands. But in the abstract, it’s a good idea.

Them Terribles – Bullets & Guns Rockabilly for Robert Smith. I feel like there’s some joke inherent in 80s alt-rock that these guys are Just Not Getting, which isn’t to say there’s no smiles in play– the stagy way the singer stutters “that’s why she moves so fa-a-a-ast” is obviously fun to sing and, well, NONE of it seems that serious. As for why they took a guitar sound straight out of “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, I have no idea. You’d hate for these guys to have beat a truly brilliant band in the contest, but a distribution channel that consistently delivered music at this interestingness level would get a thumbs-up from me.

Drums: Simple but fun. Kind of bashy, lots of bass pedal (the latter not really fun, but manageable). So simple, in fact, that just thumping straight through the drum fills with tiniest bits of embellishment sounded good! That doesn’t usually work. And there’s enough variation to keep the second half from feeling like a punishment for enjoying the first half (see “Roam”). The only song from the pack I immediately wanted to play twice.

The Myriad – A Clean Shot A badly smudged xerox of The Bravery, who already were not so original. If they weren’t murdering a genre I have some fondness for it would be forgettable, and in fact within a few minutes I will have forgotten my grudge against them. However: This sucked.

Drums: On verses, the same kind of ticky hi-hat rhythm as “Orange Crush”, which never mind that it’s a monster cliche for this kind of music, is a lot of fun to play when one can stand the music. So the jury’s out. Switches to extremely stupid and un-fun beat on the chorus, though a rest between jittery parts is quite welcome.

The Miracle – Moving To Seattle Female-fronted ??emo??, somewhere between the slightly overwrought pop of Paramore’s “Crushcrushcrush” and the deeply overwrought misogynistic bullshit pathos of Coheed & Cambria’s “Welcome Home”, both of which have been big hits on Rock Band. I guess we’ll find out soon enough whether RB players love Coheed & Cambria because they like the music or because they like violence against women. Musically harmless; the kind of thing I miiiight even grow to like despite myself if I play it enough.

Drums: Some pleasingly confusing patterns and syncopated bass drum. Not a lot of rockstar moments, but a fun way to be in the background, and definitely an unusual chart.

Maximo Park – Girls Who Play Guitar Paul Smith’s voice (especially, yeah, his accent) is nice even on so-so songs. This is… so-so+. None of the frantic energy that “Apply Some Pressure” or “Our Velocity” had, and they lay it on kind of thick for the chorus– no, not too thick, just too evenly.

Drums: Nearly all the bass kicks in the song, including the ones that appear at slightly tricky times, come in pairs, making it potentially good practice for clumping those mentally. It is notch more difficult than interesting, and I am now very curious whether the Maximo Park songs I think of as rhythmically livelier are in fact any more fun to play… my intuition about these things still isn’t very good, c.f. my totally wanting to play Police songs out of all proportion to any interest they hold for me as listening material.

Overall: The musical variety bodes well, as does the fact that even losers aparently now want to live in 1983. The omens for drummers and for corporate synergy are less clear. If “Bullets & Guns” is at all fun on guitar it will probably get played quite a lot.