Rock Band Deuce!

Yes! Coming soon to the X-Box 360 (and then other platforms later, which I think is really kind of lame, even if I play the game on a 360), Rock Band 2!

I’m really into the drums on the game. I used to be a closet drummer when I was a kid. My parents bought me a couple of drums and a small drum kit when I was a kid. And I got some drumsticks from a musician friend. I beat the heck out of a pillow with them when I didn’t have the drums anymore. I was even one of the toy soldiers in a class Christmas play once, and got to march out drumming and singing:

“We are the toy soldiers, marching and drumming,
The sound of our drums mean Santa is coming.”

So playing drums in Rock Band is really kewl to me. Especially since you can almost get to the point where you are playing a totally real drum set. You could totally sit down at a real drumset and play, though, if you get good enough at the game.

I love the singing part, too. I just can’t imagine getting out of Medium difficulty in that because I can only kind of barely hold a tune, and there are just some rock songs in the game that aren’t really “singing” if you ask me. You really need to have a unique voice to try to match some of the vocal tracks in the game on Hard.

Oddly, I’m not as much into the guitar, even though I’ve been trying to learn how to play a real one. It’s fun, but it just doesn’t hold my interest as much as the drums or singing.

I’d still like to learn how to play guitar badly, though. =)

“Barenaked Ladies Are Me” Is I

Barenaked Ladies Are Me Cover Art

The Barenaked Ladies (BNL) just released a new album called, amusingly, Barenaked Ladies Are Me (which, evidently, is meant to be read “Army”, in reference to folks like me, who are part of their ever growing legions of fans).

Over the last couple of years, this band has really matured. In cooking terms, it’s like when you first make the hummus; if you eat it then, it’s good, but the flavors really haven’t had that chance to intermingle and become something other than individual ingredients. With this album, the hummus of the band has been in the fridge for a day or two, and all of the flavors have come together and become turbo hummus.

The band has gone from having two vocalists, Steve and Ed, to having pretty much everyone take a turn at the lead. (Well, except Tyler, but he’s too cool to sing, I think.) The mixture of different lead stylings allows the album to take some unique turns.

My favorite songs off the album?

  • Sound of Your Voice – a Steven Page sort of 50s-ish almost spiritual that really lifts me up
  • Take It Back – this is Natasha’s favorite too; she likes the sparkly piano and we both like the lyrics, more on that below
  • Fun & Games – an anti-lying politician song — the world needs more of these
  • Down to Earth – a fun, sort of poppy happy song

I’ve got a lot more I like, and there are also a bunch of great singles, like Easy, Wind It Up, and Bank Job (who wouldn’t like a job about a bank job foiled by a surprise case of angst caused by a mob of nuns?), which I didn’t mention, since I think you might be hearing them a bunch soon. 😉
I think Natasha’s favorite lyric, and one I really like as well, is from Take It Back:

Long lines and warning signs
Think of all the lives saved by plastic knives
It’s naive but make believe
We will never lose if we remove our shoes

A cute little snapshot of the era of fear we live in nowadays.

If you want to be REALLY geeky, I recommend picking up the CD the way I did, and grabbing the 27 track FLAC version of the CD. FLAC is a lossless audio format, so you get exactly the same quality you would get had you bought the CD in the store. (And you get more tracks — the physical CD release in most stores has 13 tracks.

Burning the tracks to CD is easy. First, download the FLAC codec (a codec is “translator” software to allow your computer to “speak” a specific format) from the FLAC site. If you’re using a Windows-based PC and the Nero Burining software, FLAC will integrate with Nero so you can burn directly to CD from Nero. You can then re-rerip the CD to MP3 or iTunes AAC format. For Mac users or people using other burning software, if you’re geeky enough to try this, there are lots of other options on the FLAC site.
If that all sounds too difficult, you can download MP3s from the BNL site, and probably be perfectly happy with the sound quality.

Kewl thing about BNL is, they are definitely a group on the forefront of the music industry in a positive way. Notice that the deluxe version of the album has a lot more tracks than most releases, and that if you buy the album directly from them, you can get lossless tracks with no DRM, or MP3 tracks, which also feature no Digital Rights Management (DRM). I’d like to see BNL succeed, as they are really taking the tack of trusting their fans. It’s a big leap to offer for sale things that could easily be offered on a P2P file sharing service and leave you with no compensation for your art. Of course, I think the band also does this because sharing music is a great method of promoting yourself, and generating new fans who might pay for your music.

There’s a great article in WIRED magazine this month on how BNL (and Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwerk Music Group) is leading the digital music revolution. If you’re interested in the future of the music industry, check it out.