Warning: Parameter 1 to wp_default_scripts() expected to be a reference, value given in /home2/rba/public_html/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 601
RBN Highlights: RIBS, Free Spirit, Barefoot Truth
Warning: Parameter 1 to wp_default_styles() expected to be a reference, value given in /home2/rba/public_html/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 601

RBN Highlights: RIBS, Free Spirit, Barefoot Truth

The Rock Band Network is an invaluable source of new music but, perhaps because of the quantity of songs or the unfamiliar nature of the artists, it can be a little hard to find the type of music you want. As a tester and charter for the Rock Band Network, I get a lot of exposure to songs coming through the pipeline and there are definitely songs that deserve more recognition. This feature will help you discover new favourites, find a new challenge, and support the independent Rock Band scene. Each week I’ll highlight one new Xbox 360 song, one new PS3 song, and even a song released awhile back – all of them worthy of a listen!

Xbox 360: RIBS – Brains Out

A high-energy slice of rock awesomeness, Brains Out starts out deceptively simple but soon tests the mettle of any band member. Pounding drumbeats, harmonies that hit the stratosphere and a crystal clear guitar riff combine to form a song more than worth a look.

Guitarists will need to be au fait with the mechanics of alt-strumming to truly succeed – there’s an awkward riff that could pose a challenge for those who have mastered the technique. A distortion heavy solo isn’t too difficult but throws the spotlight on the guitarist for a few seconds. Alt-strumming will also come in handy for the chord dominant final sections to the song. This isn’t a guitar focused song but what guitar there is proves satisfying enough. Bass again requires a good deal of alt-strumming but would serve well as a warm-up song.

The kick-pedal skills of your drummer will definitely get a workout (as will the drummer as well) with a rather quick kick-pedal pattern underscoring the main beat. There are no tricky rhythms – just a near constant pounding beat that will have your calf muscles burning at the end. Your arms will also get a fitness wake-up; the stamina-proving ride cymbal tempo is quick enough to build up a sweat.

Vocals and harmonies really shine – the rather odd lyrics juxtaposed with the alt-rock feel to the song lend it a strangely alluring quality. Couple that with an amazing three-part communion of different melodies at the end and you’ve got something that is immediately singable but requires co-ordination aplenty. The lead vocals often jump from low to high in the space of a phrase, so put your strongest vocalist up front for this one.

I’d never heard of the band, album (British Brains) or song before this was released on RBN – evidence of the Aladdin’s Cave of new music that the RBN has turned out to be. For the bargain price of 80 MSP this demands attention!

Sounds like: A dash of Mute Math, a touch of Muse perhaps
Perfect for: Stamina-busting drummers, co-ordinated harmonies

PS3: Free Spirit – Far Away From Heaven (RB3 Version)

Brrrrring. Brrrrring. Is that the 80s calling? Thank God… because Free Spirit is amazing! Bringing the power ballads, stadium-ready riffs and tight harmonies to the RBN with their full album Pale Sister of Light, Free Spirit recall the best 80s hair metal bands despite releasing their work in 2009. Far Away From Heaven, released alongside Preacher Man in this PS3 update, is an RB3 version so includes all the synthy goodness and masterful harmonies.

Guitarists who ignore these songs are missing a treat – nearly every Free Spirit song has some kind of solo and this one is no different. The main riff is a mix of power chords and echoing melodies that wind their way up and down the fretboard. Sure enough, a solo enters about three-quarters of the way in and it’s one of those short but sweet solos that isn’t too difficult but includes plenty of hammer-ons to nail down. Bass tends towards the root note type but should not be disparaged – this song just exudes leather-pants and big hair so use the fairly easy bass line as an opportunity to show off, run around the room, whatever!

Drums revolve around a steady but standard rock beat – there’s a portion post-solo that sounds amazing with the sound amplified to really give the drums a boost. There are a few flourishes but nothing approaching difficult – use it to get into the mood and just rock out.

The vocalist(s) really get to bring out the big guns – the vocals soar and the harmonies are near enough to kind of work out mid-song but will take practice. These are lyrics meant to be sung from the bottom of your lungs, from your heart and with a fist thrust in the air.

There is a wealth of Free Spirit songs to choose from on the RBN – this is just one example of the production quality and excellent charting that they all feature. Without a doubt at least one Free Spirit song deserves to be in your collection. Crack out the mic stands, turn it up to 11 and rock!

Sounds like: Amazing 80s rock!
Perfect for: Guitarists, vocalists, harmonies

Throwback: Barefoot Truth – Threads

The evenings are starting to draw out and the dawn of summer lends the horizon a burnished orange glow. Barefoot Truth, with their bluesy laid-back sound, seems a perfect fit to match those mellow summer prospects. The title track from their 2010 album, Threads mixes blues with acoustic rock – a mix of genres that provides Rock Band players with unique note patterns to master. Although not really that difficult, Threads has enough tempo variance and fill differentiation to get in the way of perfect note streaks. It’s never frustrating though. The mellow groove of the song is both relaxing and toe-tappingly catchy. If you run Rock Band bar nights, this would be the perfect alternative to crowd-pleasing sing-alongs – something mellow to play in the downtime, something inherently classy. It’s a song of two halves – the first allows the singer to shine with jazzy rhythms while the second half moves into a repeated refrain accompanied by guitar improvisation.

Guitar, focusing on the acoustic parts, constantly evolves especially in the second half where a more improvisational quality takes over the song. The main melody tends to be played on brass – not charted – but the guitar support is revealed to be equally captivating. There’s a solo in there for good measure, adding up to a solid guitar part. It’s not fast enough that it’s chock full of hammer-ons, but the chord slides and jazz rhythms mix it up a little.

Vocals are immensely fun, requiring a few listens or practices to master thanks to the hard-to-predict rhythms and note changes. There are parts where you’ll need to be a fast reader, or have prior lyrical knowledge, to avoid coming across as a serial mumbler. Master it and throw in some seductive intonation and this could make for the musical equivalent of bedroom eyes. The last part of the song is easier to grasp, thanks to repeated lines and a catchy refrain.

Bass, or rather double bass (I think), is fairly simple bar the ending wherein it begins to jump around the fretboard a little. Despite its simplicity it is well worth choosing, if only to listen to the smooth sound.

Drums are again really fun to play, with playful rhythms, quick fills and a note pattern quite unlike anything in RB at the moment. Despite being a RBN1.0 track, a lot of the Pro Drum notation is accurate which is a bonus! Fills come along at a regular clip and the cymbal work is fantastic.

Definitely a gem within the RBN catalogue, anyone looking for a jazz-infused rock song should look no further!

Sounds like: Jazz, Blues
Perfect for: Those looking for a change of pace, vocalists, and drummers

7 Responses to “RBN Highlights: RIBS, Free Spirit, Barefoot Truth”

  • Rockox says:

    Jeezuz, I just realized I never picked up that Free Spirit song. Such a good tune. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Andre says:

    Not many comments here but this is an amazing section of the site. I love the RBN song highlights, what a splendid way to get to know new songs! Thank you!

  • Croq says:

    I have all of the Free Spirit songs (there are 3 songs that have both the original and RB3 versions available). Initially, the non-RB3 versions were 80 MSP ($0.99) each, but on re-release to RB3 versions, they got bumped up to 160 MSP ($1.99). I haven’t yet pulled the trigger on the RB3 versions, but may at some point…

    I can recommend any or all of the tracks by Free Spirit if you’re a fan of that genre of music. You won’t be disappointed!

  • Toad3000 says:

    I think I found the “touch of Muse” in RIBS. Is it the fact that you can clearly hear every. single. breath the vocalist takes? I hope it’s not as prevalent in the whole song as it is in the preview, that’s really distracting. :/ Otherwise, the song sounds decent.

  • Croq says:

    I picked up Threads by Barefoot Truth. Really liked that song.

    Thanks RBA/James for this weekly look at the RBN offerings. Every week, I have either found something I downloaded or got to read a review of a song I’ve been enjoying for a while.

  • Sid Kafizz says:

    Just queued up the two songs that I didn’t already have (I’m already a Free Spirit junkie). You owe me $2.