After a short hiatus, Rock Band Network Highlights returns to help guide you through each week’s deluge of content. This week sees a massive selection of songs made available, spanning genres ranging from punk to alternative via metal and even a novelty song to boot! It was difficult choosing between the songs and this week’s choices are really the tip of the iceberg when it comes to worthwhile additions to your library. Bear in mind that any track not featured in its week of release can easily crop up later on as the throwback selection. For now, this week’s recommendations:
Xbox 360: Quiet Company – You, Me & the Boatman
This song is a real find – sounding like an upbeat Arcade Fire while also recalling artists like Sufjan Stevens, Jukebox the Ghost and more, Quiet Company are deservedly gaining critical momentum. Taken from their album We Are All Where We Belong, the song is a fine example of catchy, melody-driven alternative rock that wouldn’t seem out of place in an indie movie. While it might not seem complicated on first hearing the song has some hidden surprises on almost every instrument.
The drums don’t sound it but, when charted for Rock Band, have a surprisingly unique pattern. There’s constant movement around the kit, but not in an ‘Oh my God, my arms!’ style. With plenty of mellow bridges there are more than enough times to rest those aching limbs.
Guitar is probably the least interesting of the instruments. A lot of the chart is alt-strummed chord sections although the bridge has a pleasant few chords. Watch out for the rapid alt-strummed note section as the song builds to a crescendo! Bass, on the other hand, is absolutely fantastic fun with plenty of hammer-ons, a melody that is very dominant in the song and a great deal of variation. Meanwhile, the simple but very effective trumpet part is charted to keys (every so often changing to synth), which is perfect for the keys player looking for a part at the forefront that isn’t too complicated to mess up.
The whole song will liven up any Rock Band session thanks to the vocals – the melody is instantly identifiable, making picking it up very easy. Harmonies are beautifully integrated and the final, rousing chorus will have everyone in the room singing along, even if they don’t the words. All in all a brilliant song to pick up, especially thanks to the attractive 80MSP price point!
Sounds like: A little Arcade Fire with Sufjan Stevens trumpets and Jukebox the Ghost’s infectious positivity.
Perfect for: Full band
Playstation 3: Eiffel 65 – Move Your Body
Joining the slightly better known Blue (Da Ba Dee), this track from Eiffel 65 is still as cheesily awesome as their first Rock Band release. If you’re a fan of Eurobeat electronica or triggering a hefty nostalgia response then Move Your Body is definitely worth considering.
Given the distinct lack of ‘real’ instruments, it’s no surprise that the synth components are divvied up between guitar, bass and keys. Keys are given the bulk of the track – specifically the piano melody. It’s a repetitive but enjoyable part to attempt, aided by the fact that it sticks to the same location on the keyboard. The synth solo that mirrors the piano is charted to guitar, giving the guitarist more variety than support chords and sustains. Meanwhile, bassists have a continually moving track full of alternating gems, meaning a wide reach or quick movements are necessary on higher difficulties.
Drums revolve around a typical disco beat yet never become a strain, making them the least interesting chart yet vital all the same. Likewise, the robotic-tinged vocals sound like a broken record at times but it’s all part of the fun.
For something a little different to break up marathon rock sessions, Move Your Body is the perfect palate cleanser that hides a cheeky sense of fun. If you want to relive those heady days of the early 2000s, pick up the song and have a blast/cringe in embarrassment.
Sounds like: The pinnacle of Eurotrash pop, but brilliant all the same!
Perfect for: Keys, bass, guitar
Throwback Track: The Shins – Australia
The Shins were one of the first big-name bands to release on the RBN who already had a song as official Rock Band DLC. Whereas New Slang was a quiet, lo-fi track that was frankly a little dull to play, their RBN releases have shown off a wider range of their upbeat songs. Australia is just one – taken from their album Wincing the Night Away – and is a great example of their jaunty style, complete with intricate lyrics and pitch-perfect melodies.
The guitar part shines – a mixture of chords and individual notes, as well as a welcome solo that alters throughout the song, keeping you on your toes. It’s also one of those wonderful tracks where the mix makes audible some riffs that are slightly buried in the official single version. Likewise, the bass track is often low in the official mix, so it’s great to hear it more prominently in the RBN version. It’s also good fun to play, thanks to the style of the song – in a way it recalls the song Big Sur, with it’s combination of rollicking rhythm and plucked mandolin-esque strings,
As previously mentioned, the rhythm of the track keeps things moving at a brisk pace and the drum chart is exemplary. Being an RBN1.0 song there may well be a few Pro issues, but the track is more than worthy of a purchase despite this. The crowning glory are the vocals – odd rhythms, unpredictable lyrics and complex melodies make for a challenge but the vocals always fit perfectly within the song.
It’s a long shot but more songs by The Shins would be most welcome on the RBN. For now, Australia is a perfect addition to purchase for both newcomers and long term fans alike!
Sounds like: The Shins are pretty unique but safe to say you’ll have heard them in any number of films or TV shows before.
Perfect for: Vocalists, guitarists.
Tune in next week for more recommendations! Any personal favorites you have? Post ‘em below!