It’s a momentous week for Rock Band players with the release of Rock Band Blitz revitalizing their DLC libraries with a new style of play. While there isn’t a set of DLC per se, the 25 song strong Arcade title should satisfy most fans looking for official new content. Meanwhile, the Rock Band Network continues apace, releasing a great selection of tracks this week including a smorgasbord of prog for the PS3! So, tear your unblinking eyes away from Blitz for just one second as we present this week’s recommendations:
Xbox 360: Francisco Meza – The Restless Mind
A track from an outstanding guitarist, The Restless Mind manages to cover a wide range of styles, tempo and difficulty. From chugging metal to beautiful, quiet solo parts, this song has everything a Rock Band guitarist could need.
First and foremost this is predominantly guitar-focused. From the outset it’s the guitar chart that gets most of the solos although that doesn’t diminish the bass and drums part at all. Guitarists will find a song that has multiple solos, often with an entirely different feel to each. Although it sounds a tad metal near the beginning, a diversion into a contemplative, quiet solo midway through reveals the song is closer to prog than your typical fret-shredders. The solo soon evolves into a blistering run of trills, hammer-ons and wild alt-strumming but that’s all part of the fun. The dynamics of the song as a whole are a pleasure to discover and the sheer number of solos make this a must-buy for any guitarist.
The bass chart is surprisingly fun to play as well, including some tricky movement and a few occasions where the bassist is permitted a few seconds to show off. Again, the chart is unpredictable at times making it all the more fun to play. Bass can often be a bit of an exercise but The Restless Mind has a thoroughly entertaining part that merits a look. Perhaps the weakest part would be the drums but they are by no means a chore. Compared to other prog/metal songs they are a little on the easy side but there are enough fills and tempo changes that the chart remains interesting.
Francisco Meza is a brilliantly talented guitarist and Rock Band was made to highlight these skills. The Restless Mind, taken from the album of the same name, is a wonderful introduction to Meza (in addition to the track Rage and Pain already on the RBN) and we can only hope to see more, should our guitars withstand it!
Sounds like: A little like Metallica at times, minus James-ah Hetfield on vocals
Perfect for: Guitarists, bassists
Playstation 3: Eurobeat Brony – Discord (The Living Tombstone Remix)
The PS3 has a stunning week of releases, including previous recommendations from both Kaipa and Children of Nova, but this track is more of a leftfield choice. There’s a nice trend with remixes on the RBN – they tend to be awesome. (Consider the White Knuckles remix as previous evidence.) Not knowing anything to do with the band or remix artist, this track is catchy and sounds a little like Panic at the Disco spruced up with some upbeat rhythms. The band behind the music – Eurobeat Brony – are part of a record label almost solely focusing on tracks from said band. A ‘brony’, according to Urban Dictionary, is primarily an adult (usually male) fan of the G4 My Little Pony series which I haven’t seen myself but, hey, cool. If that means more catchy tunes like this one then I’m all for it!
There are a lot of fun charts with this particular song; the harmonies are nicely balanced, while the electronica means that keys and bass get fairly nifty parts to play. The drums have real punch to them, making up for the fact it’s a fairly standard beat throughout, while guitar focuses on chords buried in the mix. Meanwhile, the bass plays the lower synth melody while the main chiptune is charted to keys. It’s not hard on any instrument but the upbeat groove keeps things moving briskly along, meaning it isn’t a drag to play on the lower difficulty parts.
There are so many different genres and bands on the RBN that you can find almost anything, from novelty songs to the hardest metal. Eurobeat Brony’s song is another fantastic addition and that melody will hook into your brain like no other. It may not be to everybody’s taste but you might still find yourself humming it days later.
Sounds like: Panic at the Disco on speed
Perfect for: Harmonies, keys
Throwback Track: Iron & Wine – Flightless Bird, American Mouth
And finally, a track distinctly different to the others available this week. Iron & Wine were a much anticipated band to hit the RBN, back in the days when Subpop artists were lined up to add their music to the service. Unfortunately it looks like the Subpop ship has since sailed (although there’s been no official confirmation or denial…) but at least we have this gem.
With its lilting melody, nostalgic melancholy and poetic lyrics, Flightless Bird, American Mouth is the perfect song for a slightly gentler Rock Band session. Vocalists have a fairly easy tune to follow, although later phrases are a little harder to define, having to discern the sung part from the harmonies. You might also have to consider circular breathing due to the length and frequency of some of the held notes! Guitarists have a slow start but once the band enters there are plenty of chords with which to strum along.
Drums and bass have quite sedate contributions to the song – if there was ever a perfect song for the campfire it would be this. You’d need a generator or an extremely long extension cable but outdoor Rock Band could be the next rhythm gaming trend! Don’t let the easiness of the song dissuade you, though – this is well worth a look, especially for those looking for quieter songs. Also, this song was on a Twilight soundtrack, be that a plus or minus depending on your taste in movies.
Sounds like: Subpop is to alternative as Roadrunner is to metal
Perfect for: Vocalists, players looking for something a little more to listen to rather than play.
Three more songs to contemplate! Starting next week we’ll try and include a little note on how each song plays in Rock Band Blitz as well. Until then, add your suggestions and recommendations in the comments.