Wow, another great week of RBN goodness hits the store! Releases are back to being both numerous and great, with highlights including the return of Free Spirit (rounding off their album), a dose of Jerry Naylor and Honest Bob for the PS3 and more eclecticism than Hall H at Comic Con. So strap in, get ready and hold on to your butts – it’s another rundown of three of the best RBN highlights!
Xbox 360: Children of Nova – Moments of Clarity
Children of Nova return to the RBN with a track from their newest album, Impossible Landscape, joining a host of amazing tracks already released from their previous record. Like any good prog song there are tricky guitar parts, powerful yet unpredictable vocals and enough craziness on the other instruments to keep anyone interested.
An echoing guitar riff opens the song before the band joins, already offering unique rhythms to challenge any player. The vocals are a real highlight, piercing through the wall of noise while sounding both intensively structured yet somewhat improvisational. There isn’t a hook or catchy melody that’s discernible from a first listen, however further plays will reveal all of the intricacies that make vocals a rewarding challenge. Watch out for the soaring (and occasionally piercing) highs that’ll test the mettle of any vocalist. Add in subtle yet fundamental harmonies and vocals are the immediate strongpoint of the song.
The lead singer doesn’t get all the fun, though! Guitar is interesting throughout, with the occasional solo moving focus away from the singer. Drums are, like any prog song, all over the place but in the best possible way. Anyone who has played any other Children of Nova songs will know that their drummer has skills, so brace yourself if you’re picking up the sticks for this one. With so much going on with the other instruments bass and keys could get buried in the mix but both are well worth playing – bass because it’s a lively chart and keys to appreciate it’s place in the song, like studying a single brushstroke in a painting.
Well worth a look, it’s great to see Children of Nova continuing their support of the RBN!
Sounds like: Not wanting to invoke that band, but Muse (?)
Perfect for: Vocalists, guitarists, drummers
Playstation 3: Jerry Naylor – Mystery Train
We’ve featured Jerry Naylor as a highlight before but, as a true rock legend and pioneer, he deserves repeated mentions. Coming down the rails on to the Playstation Network this week is Mystery Train, a classic throwback to the era of rockabilly. Of the Jerry Naylor songs available this is one of the earliest sounding tracks, recalling the deeper cuts from the Roy Orbison or Johnny Cash packs.
Guitar is suitably twangy, with a pattern that looks doable but requires adept finger movement. Chords interspersed with hammer-ons and a loose repetition result in a track that’s bound to catch you out. Drums, mirroring the clackety sound of a train for obvious reasons, are a little repetitive with a focus on a snare/hi-hat string that some might find too arduous or dull. In terms of this particular song they move things along at a regular pace, stopping the jangly guitar from losing tempo. A resoundingly deep bass track rounds the instruments out, providing a bouncy bassline that’ll have toes tapping and shoulders jerking.
The vocals over the top are a real blast from the past but enjoyably so – they won’t stretch the lead singer by any means, but prepare for some terrible Elvis impersonations.
Jerry Naylor’s music deserves a place in anybody’s library – it might not be riddled with electronic beats or lush orchestral production but there are still noodly solos and a real charm to the songs. More importantly, they are a real glimpse into music history.
Perfect for: Singers, guitarists
Sounds like: Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash
Throwback Track: Kaipa – In the Wake of Evolution
Oh dear God! A prog song to give Yes a run for their money, Kaipa debut on the RBN with a song that’s epic in every way. Although the song was released last week, it was too much to overlook this song for much longer. Every instrument has an amazing, challenging, complicated, technical chart (the list of adjectives could go on forever). It’s a limit-scratching ten minute monster – a quality that almost makes it a must-buy from the off.
Instantly the keyboard track proves to be a dominant force within the song, continuing its intricate patterns throughout the song. Jumping from synths to strings and all in between, the patterns approach attemptable at times but will require a hefty amount of practice during more technical sections. Guitar matches keyboards for crazy skittles – there are solos and tricky chord parts (although there are more available places to rest). The bass chart is roughly the same – slightly slower, but with hammer-on patterns that are slow enough to hit but tricky enough to potentially cause note streaks to fall. Drums are varied and exceptionally difficult at times – there are snare rolls, very fast fills and skillful combinations that can come out of the blue. On the other hand, there are parts which aren’t too hard but feel satisfying thanks to the sheer difference of the pattern – it’s rare to find a standard rock beat in this song!
Vocals are an interesting beast as well – there is a female and male vocalist, immediately opening the song up to harmonies. At times it feels more like a duet, although the parts are often quite distanced from one another, but it’s still something that only a few songs on the RBN can say they have.
With its quirky instrumental parts this song really feels like something we’d usually hear from a band like Yes. That a song of this calibre has hit the RBN speaks volumes about the quality you can find on the service.
Sounds like: Yes? Yes!
Perfect for: Keyboards, guitarists, drummers.
We’ll be back next week with more recommendations. Without giving anything away, let’s just say that there is some sheer awesomeness coming down the RBN pipe!