Posts Tagged ‘RBN Highlights’
A bumper week of releases this week, thanks to a skipped week for the Xbox 360 (give thanks to those pesky turkeys for that one!) What it does mean is that this week is jam-packed with excellent tracks, including returning favorites Dance for the Dying, The Trews, Anarchy Club and more. PS3 user have a great selection of genres – we dip into punk territory for our recommendation. More and more classic songs are hitting the RBN – next week is already shaping up to be a good one. Read on for more on three highlights that are worth a listen…
Xbox 360: Brian Kahanek – Gemini
Hmmm… this sounds familiar. Where do I know this from? Ah, of course! Brian Kahanek brings Gemini, one of the more enjoyable bonus songs from Guitar Hero II, to the Rock Band Network and it’s still as much fun as it was before. Taken from the 2004 album Real Life, it’s bluesy, fun and relaxing in a weird, zen kind of manner.
From that immediately identifiable opening riff you know it’s going to be a challenging but doable chart, primarily for guitarists. That’s not to say the other parts should be skipped – what it lacks in keyboards and vocals it more than makes up for with bass and drums. Both are treasure troves of interesting patterns including that rarest of beasts: a bass solo! Guitarists have the pleasure of two solos, one of which is blisteringly difficult with it’s fast trills that’ll see you scrambling over the frets.
The bridge is a welcome change of pace bringing to mind Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Lenny. At this point the drummer gets to change to the ride cymbal, although the rest of the song doesn’t exactly skimp on the pattern variety. Quick double kicks, neat fills and the diversity of rhythm goes a long way to making this interesting for the drummer as well as guitarists – a problem that could have arisen in any other blues song. Luckily, as long as you aren’t exclusively a singer or keyboard player then Gemini is a welcome piece of Harmonix nostalgia to add to your library!
Sounds like: Stevie Ray Vaughan
Perfect for: Guitarists, bassists, drummers
PlayStation 3: Counterparts – Jumping Ship
For something with a wholly different vibe, why not try Counterparts’ incredibly forceful punk song Jumping Ship. If you like your punk in the style of Green Day… well, best go download Oh Love. If you’re looking for something visceral, in-your-face and pretty damn tricky then you’ll want to check this song out.
Drummers have the hardest time here – some of the fills are positively ridiculous. Not Dragon Force ridiculous but enough to cause some flailing and failing. Quick snare rolls, movement across the toms and stamina-testing punk beats keep you on your toes although there are plenty of opportunities to catch your breath.
Guitar has a similar challenge of doable patterns played at difficult speed – there are many chord changes that wouldn’t usually be a problem but, played as quick as they are, could cause tangled fingers. Again, as the song progresses it becomes easier to play but even the sustained chords can be hard if you can’t strum at the right speed. Bass also has its fair share of alt-strumming, beginning at blistering speed before mellowing a little later in the track. Both guitar and bass aren’t especially complicated – just finding your place at the right time causing a few slip-ups.
Rounding out the track the vocals are entirely talkies but it’s entirely necessary to shout them with the utmost anger. There are a good number of swear words edited out but, if you’re performing correctly, it’s highly likely you’ll slip the right ones in thanks to the tone of the song.
Punk is still an under-represented genre in Rock Band, especially given the fact it has as many variants as most other genres. Jumping Ship goes some way to bolstering the hardcore punk offerings and for that reason alone deserves attention.
Sounds like: A lot of other Victory Records bands, which is not a bad thing at all
Perfect for: Angry vocalists, guitarists, drummers
Throwback Track: The Limousines – Very Busy People
Some fuzzy electro-pop to round out the choices this week, with a few witty lyrics to boot. Vocalists will be all over the sing-song melodies of Very Busy People, the track’s sardonic wit and pop culture referencing lyrics adding to the fun. It’s falls quite blatantly under the ‘hipster’ category – cool, quirky, self-deprecating and more.
The disco beat will keep drummers motoring through the song while bass and guitar have a peppy few patterns that suit the jaunty atmosphere. Keys has a continual set of patterns to play – even through the bridge devoid of instruments – and is simple enough for unconfident keyboardists to attempt. The end of the bridge throws up some interesting drum patterns, with quick snare and hi-hat combinations that could catch you out. As the song is predominantly synth, guitar and bass tend to play a mixture of electronic sounds with the guitar mainly featuring sustains while the bass has its carnival-esque lightness.
Above all else it’s the harmonies and clever lyrics that will resonate with a certain generation. Anyone who admire Donnie Darko, plays videogames all day (that’s pretty much a given!) and enjoys a fine pizza will appreciate the oh-so-true lyrics, even though there’s a bitter kernel of guilt in there too.
Definitely worth picking up, Very Busy People is simple yet fun – hopefully more to come from The Limousines!
Sounds like: MGMT? Mixed with Foster the People.
Perfect for: Vocals, keys
Another week, another great selection of tracks! Quiet Company follow up You, Me & the Boatman with a track from their previous album, there are a couple of metal tracks to keep you on your toes as well as even more! This week’s RBN recommendations include classic rock, southern rock and Mexican rock as we move further south across the border. Strap in and get ready for a rock-y ride!
Xbox 360: Sin Dirección – Para Ti
The Rock Band Network not only opens the gateway for smaller and lesser known bands to reach a wider audience, it also offers a fantastic opportunity to get songs in different languages into the Rock Band library. Sin Dirección are one such band – if you can’t speak Spanish then this song will be a crash course in pronunciation and unfamiliar punctuation – and bring their song Para Ti, courtesy of AGL Solutions, for only 80MSP.
The song starts as it means to go on – expect a fair amount of alt-strumming and disco-beat on the drums. Later parts of the song mix things up with a less intensive drum pattern, but the intro gives a good indication of the overall style. The alt-strum can often be the bane of note-streak chasers and FC (Full Combo) completionists, so there might be an added layer of challenge despite not reaching the pinnacle of complexity.
Guitar focuses on alt-strumming, throwing in chords amongst the single-note streams. The chorus has a tricky triple-chord pattern that requires nimble fingerwork. The bridge is significantly easier, slowing down and relying on powerful chords before segueing into a wonderful solo that isn’t impossible but still has intricate HOPOs. Bass, on the other hand, does feature a lot of single-note alt-strumming, but it sounds crisp and resonant making it a vital part of the song.
Drums, as mentioned before, offer a disco beat to contend with – including some snare placement that may throw you off – but, as with guitar, the bridge slows proceedings down enough that the kick/tom pattern will feel like blessed relief. Vocals, meanwhile, have a melody strong enough to carry even the most stubbornly terrible Spanish speaker. Harmonies look as though they will simply be of the ‘dual lead vocals’ type, but later phrases diverge the pitch-tubes making for some satisfying singing.
It’s great to see non-English songs available through the RBN. Spanish seems to be the most dominant language although songs in German, French and even Japanese are already or soon to be available. For 80MSP, Para Ti esta bueno!
Sounds like: Fellow RB bands Don Tetto and Finley.
Perfect for: Vocalists, drummers.
Playstation 3: John Parr – Under a Raging Moon
Originally written by John Parr for Roger Daltrey, Under a Raging Moon is a profound tribute to the late Keith Moon, drummer for The Who. The song doesn’t just refer to Keith Moon in the lyrics, the sound of the song is as close as you can get to a Who song without Pete Townshend windmilling his way through the guitar solo. Taken from the album Letters to America, this version of the song is a 2011 re-record but sounds just as powerful as it did when sung by Daltrey.
Beginning with an organ part straight out of Who’s Next, a mournful bass joins in alongside understated cymbals. Not before too long Parr’s vocals enter, building up to the explosive chorus. Perhaps the most impressive feat of the song would be the drums that feel distinctly similar to the style of the legendary drummer, all crazy fills and ‘wall of sound’ cymbals. The solo and last fill/outro are typical Moon, flying off the handle in terms of craziness yet remaining a viable drum pattern all the same.
Bass and guitar are understated in comparison to the drums and vocals but are entertaining nonetheless. Guitar focuses on chords and the occasional triplet (as well as a few Townshend-esque quick strums) while bass isn’t showy but remains technically impressive, similar to John Entwistle’s trademark input.
Harmonies and an impressive keys part round out this exceptional song, perfect for fans of The Who, classic rock or good songs in general. You cannot miss out on this one!
Sounds like: The Who
Perfect for: Drummers, vocalists, keys
Throwback Track: Maylene & The Sons of Disaster – (Step Up) I’m On It
Pure southern rock, sounding like ZZ Top on amphetamines, this track from Maylene & The Sons of Disaster is a short blast of adrenaline, all fuzzy guitars and belting vocals.
The wailing guitar track, infused with the country-tinged slide prevalent in southern rock, kicks things off to a raucous start. The kick pedal counts things before the simple yet awesome drum pattern maintains the driving rhythm. A banjo provides complicated fret-work for the guitarist while the vocalist must move from a growled verse to a screamed chorus.
It’s a challenge for everyone, but it’s a whole lot of fun at the same time. Add in a bridge and solo section that really puts the guitarist through their paces, as well as fiendish fills and a catchy chorus. Combined you have a song that’ll wake up everyone in the near vicinity. Make sure you have extra drumsticks, reinforce the floor and gargle some whiskey – this one needs to be played loud!
Sounds like: ZZ Top + 100 cups of coffee.
Perfect for: Guitarists, vocalists.
As usual, keep your suggestions coming in for RBN Highlights – there’ll be plenty more on the way too!
There was exciting news from That Authoring Group this week, with a group of high profile bands coming down the pipeline. From a Minecraft related novelty song to some well-known RBN supporters on the PS3, this week was up to a high standard as usual. The choices are a little leftfield but there’s always something worthwhile to pick up on the Rock Band Network.
Xbox 360: Minotaur Project – Rampage of Kronos
A stunning piece of composition, Rampage of Kronos could be the soundtrack to a hard-edged sci-fi film (perhaps starring Jason Statham?) There are moments of oppressive noise, retro-tinged synths and some expert basslines – thanks to Minotaur Project founder Matt Gabnai being a bassist himself. With so much technical variation crammed into six minutes, there genuinely is something for every instrument (except vocals) – as long as you can bring the right set of skills.
Explosive is the word when it comes to the song. Drummer Matt Hekker pulls of some insane rhythms during the six minute odyssey. There are some really satisfying parts where the rhythm is complex but just about achievable but more than once you might hit against a particularly devious pattern. Guitar is rather more achievable, thanks largely to some slower chord sections. There are still some finger-wrangling parts scattered throughout – every so often there’ll be a new HOPO pattern to throw you off.
The bass part is expertly charted and actually one of the first instruments to get a solo (a mood-building piece during a build-up). As you round the fourth minute of the song things become truly demonic. The keys part is hard throughout but the synths at this mark will need as much concentration as you can afford. There are many moments where the separate parts feel like they may come apart from one another, throwing the track into confusion but it always retains the cohesion that makes for the best prog metal tracks.
For 80MSP, those looking for an instrumental to put them through their paces would be served well by Rampage of Kronos. It’s an infernal sounding song that keeps you enraptured throughout.
Sounds like: Prog metal with a touch of sci-fi (isn’t that all prog metal?)
Perfect for: Keys, bassists, drummers
Playstation 3: Ghost Brigade – Clawmaster
Another track from the TAG stable, Clawmaster joins Into the Black Light as Ghost Brigade hits the Playstation Network. I must confess, I’m not a fan of vocals that are shouted or screamed but, in certain cases, they can really help a song achieve an atmosphere. Clawmaster is one such song, with the ‘Cookie Monster’ vocals working well with the dark, brooding sung parts.
A lengthy song, Ghost Brigade sound a little like a slower Opeth – harsh, demonic parts set against slow tempo melodic death metal. Hailing from Finland, Ghost Brigade work well as a companion piece to Opeth’s Ghost of Perdition but, with the chugging tempo, would suit those looking for something a little less difficult.
Vocals are stunning – grab a friend who smokes 60-a-day to handle the growled harmony – with long, resonant notes that allow for a little theatricality. The extended notes also make it easier to hit the sung harmonies, allowing you to lock in to the right pitch. Guitar and bass can fall into the autopilot monotony that sometimes afflicts certain metal songs, but the guitar part is spruced up by a tricky hammer-on pattern that occurs a few times. There is also a wide selection of chords to master, including the dreaded green-orange duo. Drums aren’t too difficult – again, the slow tempo makes for a lot of easy to hit kicks and crashes – but the atmosphere really encourages the rhythm. Keys are understated and involve a lot of sustained notes but it’s always good to see that every detail is charted, even instruments without a great deal to do.
If you enjoyed some of the newer Alice In Chains songs available (ie. Check My Brain) or other bands from the same region, then Ghost Brigade could slot in to your RB library with ease. Again, the song is half price – for the length it’s a bargain!
Sounds like: Opeth, non-symphonic power metal from Finland
Perfect for: Schizophrenically-voiced singers, drummers
Throwback Track: The Kimberly Trip – California
A suggestion from one of our commenters – keep the recommendations coming in, people – California is a song surprisingly not glorifying how awesome it is to live on the West Coast. It’s actually a spiky, clever song with a punk sound.
Being a retro track, there aren’t any harmonies which is a shame given the wonderful singing during the chorus. Verses are quick and emphatic compared to the choruses which have a greater range. The bridge of the song even strips away the instruments, allowing the singer a greater spotlight moment than usual. Drums are a selection of typical rock and punk beats, peppered with some interesting and achievable fills especially as the song nears its end.
Guitar shows its hand from the off, with HOPOs, quick chord changes and triple-chords making full use of the fretboard. Bass lies more on the traditional side of things, acting as root notes with a good amount of alt-strumming required. However, if a song plays around with dynamics and has such an infectious amount of energy then no instrument is boring, as is the case with California.
Being RBN1.0 there may be some issues regarding Pro notes on drums but, for a kick-ass song with a female vocalist, Kimberly Trip deserve a mention!
Sounds like: Pop punk with a great vocalist
Perfect for: Singers, guitarists, drummers
We’ll be back next week with even more RBN awesomesauce. Keep your recommendations coming in!
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!
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.
It was a quieter week on the Rock Band Network due to some server shenanigans, but that doesn’t mean there’s a drop in quality. Amberian Dawn lead the charge in terms of Playstation releases while the Xbox 360 had a pair of gems to choose from. With Rock Band Blitz coming over the hill it’s time to stock up on DLC and there’s no place better to look than the RBN!
Xbox 360: Vargas – Hoy
This song is unique in so many ways that it begs to be in your Rock Band collection, even if you can’t speak a lick of Spanish. Combining a swing style, potentially even ‘big band’ sound with breathy, raw vocals, Hoy immediately sounds different than most other Rock Band tracks. Couple that with the fact it’s in Spanish – complete with some brilliant harmonies – and you’ve got a song that’s fun to play, lively and just plain cool.
Keys take precedent throughout the song, with a jaunty feel that translates well into the Rock Band charting style. Anyone brave or talented enough to attempt it on Pro Keys mode will find a challenge that is especially rewarding – there’s so much to play that you simultaneously feel like the root and focus of the band as a whole. Chords, fiddly melodies and even a brief change in keyboard type make the keys track numero uno for fun.
Drums feature a swing beat that’s rarely seen in other tracks, meaning drummers will find something that isn’t necessarily tough but remains fresh to play. Meanwhile, bass offers a subtle yet pleasantly complicated accompaniment, with a few hammer-on patterns that’ll catch you out. Given the relative lack of guitar in the song, trumpets and sax are charted to guitar – something that always seems giddily silly but never fails to be guiltily enjoyable. Hoy can occasionally sound like a mash-up between a Bugsy Malone getaway chase and the Casino Night Zone track from Sonic, but that’s wholly a compliment to how awesome it sounds.
Vocals are tricky for non-speakers of Spanish but the harmonies are too good to ignore – the highlight being the bridge section with its extended and intricate sustains. Round up a couple of friends and you’ll be replicating the luscious sound in no time!
Sounds like: Closest RB approximation could be Brian Setzer, but it’s a little different.
Perfect for: Harmonies, keys, full band
Playstation 3: Amberian Dawn – Circus Black
The long-awaited release of a Nightwish track through official Rock Band channels should hopefully boost interest in Amberian Dawn this week. Three tracks coming to PS3 will undoubtedly help increase the band’s exposure and, being the most prevalent supporter of the RBN in terms of song quantity, Amberian Dawn are well worth your time. We’ve already had their song Talisman as a previous recommendation but Circus Black, from their latest album, is equally mentionable. Taking everything that makes Amberian Dawn awesome and then multiplying that by ten, Circus Black is a track of pure symphonic metal with all the trimmings.
Guitar and vocals are the main highlights here, although the other instruments also have outstanding charts as well. Operatic vocals are tough to replicate at the best of times and Circus Black features a stunning lead, in addition to demonic choirs, for singers to attempt. It’s all about range so gargle some magic Daltrey-brand mouthwash and put those vocal chords to good use. Meanwhile, guitar is varied in difficulty – there are downtimes where a slow alt-strum will get you through but the solo near the end adds a degree of challenge to the mix. Playing guitar with such an over-the-top orchestral accompaniment always feels special and Circus Black does not disappoint in this respect.
Drums are a relentless barrage of bass pedal and tom rolls. Steel those leg muscles for the challenge ahead – it’s a good selection of different patterns but that pedal will be a nightmare for most players. Bass and keys round out the track with charts that are equally difficult, especially the keys part that gives the song its demented circus atmosphere. For those looking for even more bass pedal punishment a 2x Bass Pedal version is available as well!
Sounds like: Recognisably Amberian Dawn, just on steroids
Perfect for: Vocals, guitar, keys
Throwback Track: Stan Bush – The Touch
With the buzz surrounding Transformers: Fall of Cybertron at peak levels, there’s no better time to remind people that Stan Bush’s classic track The Touch is available through the RBN! The song initially featured on the soundtrack to the 1986 Transformers: The Movie, although the version in game is a fantastic sounding re-record. If you hate the new direction Transformers finds itself going in, or are a fan of the series looking for a little history, then check out this slice of 80’s cheese. If you couldn’t care less for fighting robots then the track is still a contender for your digital bucks, given that it rocks!
Dripping in glorious eighties positivity, The Touch has everything: a no holds barred vocal anthem, soaring guitar solos and that special nostalgic feel, even for those who have never heard the song before. While the instruments aren’t always difficult to play – bass and drums aren’t particularly challenging – it still manages to feel fun, especially as part of a band. For some it might be a tongue-in-cheek piece of silliness, for others it has all the same ingredients that make Journey songs iconic.
The song was previously featured in Guitar Hero: World Tour as downloadable content but made its way to Rock Band with the help of fans and charting group The Authority. With two solos that are difficult but not impossible, solid charts for bass and drums as well as a vocal part that has been subsumed into popular culture, The Touch is a great song to have and now is as good a time as any to buy in!
Sounds like: Your childhood
Perfect for: Guitarists, vocals
Another week, another awesome batch of tracks! Will you be picking up any tracks this week? Are there any you’re looking forward to playing that have been announced?