It’s E3 week, but don’t let that distract you from a well-rounded set of releases for the RBN! This week sees a mixture of genres and styles (as is pretty much always the case) that deserve a look. Aside from a few tracks that are already RBN recommendations (Riddle Me This, Impulse) there’s enough variety here to satiate any musical leaning. So, without further ado, peel yourself away from all the E3 shenanigans and spend a moment perusing this week’s highlights.
Xbox 360: Emerald – On The Run
A slice of hard rock from England which, given the Queen’s Jubilee this week, is more than appropriate. Emerald’s track features blistering guitar, thumping drums and a chorus so catchy all it takes is one listen to sing along. Every instrument has something interesting to contend with during this track, although standouts include the solo-laden guitar track and the blasting harmonies.
Like any good hard rock song this one starts out as it means to go on – with a meaty riff. Guitar maintains this power and variety throughout the track – you’ll find the verses tend to stick to chords while the melody is mirrored during the chorus. Add in a solo that’s lengthy and pretty challenging and you’ve got a guitar chart that it’d be criminal to pass up. Meanwhile, bass remains solid and steady for most of the song but features the occasional chord or hammer-on run to keep things interesting.
Drums are powerful, starting with a hi-hat intro before running with a driving beat that incorporates all parts of the kit. While kick pedal can often be resigned to a straightforward beat it’s more complicated within On The Run, often throwing in a double hit or irregular occurrence to keep you on your toes. There are also plenty of fills, adding even more variety, while the ending is a classic example of an alternating kick/snare rhythm building up to a sudden stop. Watch out for the slightly early crash hits near the end as well – they’ll catch you out!
The final spoken phrases of the song – seemingly describing a riot – is pertinent, given the recent London riots and the vocals notch up the intensity. It all works really well within the song and right from the start the harmonies are used to full extent. Over the course of the track there are dual phrases (the same phrase sung at different pitches), gang vocals (where the same phrase is sung at the same pitch) and parts where the lead vocalist does his own thing (including rising up to an ear-drum splitting high note).
Combined, these parts form a fantastic song with a driving beat that’s more than worth a look. Emerald is a rather unassuming name for a band with such a heavy debut on the RBN but this track shines.
Sounds like: Almost like an English Airbourne
Perfect for: Guitarists, multiple vocalists
Summer is pretty much already upon us, so what better than a song about a hurricane. Luckily, it’s got that cheerily happy composure that works so well at this time of year.
An infectious guitar riff opens the song before drums reminiscent of the already available Kula Shaker tracks enter, forming a toe-tappingly jaunty beat. A wonderful bass track slides all over the place while the beautiful harmonies – all ooh’s-‘n-aah’s and synchronous choruses – moves things along. The slow bridge halfway through the song is blissfully produced, allowing acoustic guitar to take centre stage before the drums enter with a staccato snare rhythm. It all leads into a resurgence of all the instruments, including a short but sweet guitar solo. Things culminate with a fantastic bit of chorus repetition, replete with tricky but rewarding harmonies, before the song ends with a satisfying co-ordinated hit.
The whole song drips with carefree fun – the lyrics describing singing the tune in a hurricane seem apt as the track will hopefully cheer even the most miserable soul up. The Harmonix Community Team recently discussed summer jams on their podcast and this track will be the first one my playlist for beaches, barbecues and beers. Don’t miss it!
Sounds Like: Not Ringo, but there’s more than a little Kula Shaker in here
Perfect for: Harmonies, drummers, bassists
With E3 well underway I think it’s relevant enough to highlight this piece of pop-rock sweetness. Parry Gripp has a handful of songs available on the RBN, ranging from the weird-but-catchy to the downright bizarre. The Girl in the Video Game Store remains the most accessible, at least in terms of song structure, and would be more than appropriate as an anthem to our favourite pastime.
For anyone who has worked in, frequented, walked past or generally come into contact with mass market video game stores this song will undoubtedly ring a few bells. Beyond that, the song’s central subject – the girl working at the game store – rings true through so many of the lyrics. There’s the mix of awe and respect mixed with the attraction borne from a mutual affinity for gaming. There are the brief spoken parts where membership cards are foisted on the buyer (with a free magazine subscription!).
The upbeat humor adds a frisson of satire to the song but it bounces along with all the verve of a great Weezer song. Guitar and bass sticks to a tried and true chord/note progression, although a fantastic 8-bit bridge sees the guitar come alive with a brief but entertaining riff. Meanwhile, drums are a real highlight among the charts; there are lots of fills and the tempo is fast enough that you won’t become complacent. Vocals tie the song together with witty lyrics and a catchy, shout out chorus – it’s also fun to spot all of the video game references sprinkled throughout. The key change as the song reaches its end really pushes it into the realms of awesomeness, solidifying its rightful place in the Rock Band Party Pantheon* (*might not be a real thing). On top of that, the music video features Olivia Munn. Enough said.
Sounds like: Even geekier Weezer
Perfect for: Drummers, vocalists
What tracks do you thing we should feature here? Any bands you’re hoping join the RBN crew?