It’s long been in the works, but this week we got our first glimpse at the Beatles Rock Band video game, at the E3 conference in LA. They are the latest in a long line of bands to have custom branded Guitar Hero or Rock Band games. Significantly, it’s the first time that the Beatles have finally realised it’s no longer 1995.
The trailer (after the jump) blows our mind. We’re not the biggest fan of these type of games, but this one looks great. Unlike AC/DC and Aerosmith, the Beatles were a band where every member shined. You’re not just fighting over the guitar. The graphics, all over the trailer, look great. From the Ed Sullivan show to the Rooftop Concert, they pick the right eras for each song.
The technology has also improved, with this edition of Rock Band the first to support harmonies. The graphics do justice to the band who had such a strong visual image. The song selection, 41 songs in all, is flawless. Best yet, you can buy custom Beatles Rock Band instruments, including Ludwig drums, a Hofner bass and an awesome looking Rickenbacker Guitar.
The Beatles are one of the most merchandise-d bands in the world. There will surely be a lot of people waiting to get their hands on this one, and they will no doubt love it. The game comes out 9th September, the same day as the Beatles reissues.
The Dead Weather certainly come with a decent pedigree. The most visible member of the band is Jack White. We love old Jack. We think people will still talk about him in 30 years time, unlike a lot of his contemporaries. It’s band number three for White since he broke into the public eye (not counting the Loretta Lynn collab or the Alicia Keys duet). We love the White Stripes but we’re probably in the small camp that loves the boys-club-prog of the Raconteurs even more.
Jack Lawrence of the Raconteurs joins this party on bass. Dean Fertita of Queens Of the Stone Age is on guitar. They are fronted by Alison Mosshart of the Kills, a band that has always threatened to break through in a major way. Maybe now is the time for her.
The traditional questions of ‘is this a side project or the real thing?‘ go right out the window when White is involved. He just makes his own rules up, doesn’t he?
Is the proof in the pudding? It’s growing on us. It’s hard not to compare to the members’ other bands – but it sounds most like the White Stripes. There is plenty of guitar riffery. That healthy wallop of blues and attitude mix it up with a huge, dark, menacing sound. And that album cover – looks very Goth-y to us.
We get pretty excited when we think about Aerosmith. Definitely one of the most decadent bands of all time, they turned it around in the 80s, cleaning up and became one of the biggest rock bands in the world – a promptly stayed there.
It was the first sign that these louts had some balls – and were willing to work hard and take risks for their music and their careers. It led to the groundbreaking ‘Walk This Way’ with Run DMC. We want to shed a tear and do the devil symbol just thinking about it.
The digital era has been funny to Aerosmith, but by no means bad. They signed onto the Guitar Hero franchise well before any other Johnny come lately. They have a new record due out, and rumours are they will follow the Eagles, AC/DC, Guns ‘n’ Roses and others with a retail exclusive (possibly with Wal-Mart).
But two things have really tickled us about Aerosmith lately.
First is the Aerosmith branded lottery scratchie. Yes, really.
The scratchies come with your standard chance of winning a million bucks, but some of the consolation prizes include tickets to shows and backstage passes. All tied in with Aerosmith‘s songs and images. Brilliant!
The second is lead singer Steve Tyler‘s futile attempt to sue anonymous bloggers. Apparently Fake Steve Tyler has gotten around, posting on forums, Facebook and Youtube, talking about Real Steve Tyler‘s private life. So Tyler decided to sue, as is the American way. Funny thing was, the anonymous bloggers decided to stay anonymous and the court day came with no one turning up.
This second bit is way more interesting than the lottery story. Fake celebs are everywhere, especially on Twitter. People like Tina Fey and Seth Rogen have to take a hard line to say they are not on Twitter, although you can find fakes of them on that service. Good on Tyler for trying something. Maybe Darth Vader will sue this site.
We bring all this up, not to poke fun at all the crazy things Aerosmith does, but to make a point that it must be confusing to be in a band these days. All these side deals, imposters, new technologies, games, retail exclusives… how can a bunch of rockers from Boston keep up?
The world is getting more and more confusing. We hope Aerosmith keep rocking right through the madness.
We are still pretty excited about Wilco (the Album), the seventh album by the Chicago outfit Wilco. Last week they released a stream of their album in response to the album leaking. They have a great track record for being proactive with fans. There’s usually entire gigs streaming off the site.
So it’s no surprise that Wilco are joining the iPhone app club. It’s a pretty basic app – a recreation of the band’s website essentially. Instead of bieing knocked out be the functionality or originality, we are struck by how standard this is.
EVERY BAND SHOULD BE DOING THIS.
We are expecting to see more of these. More and more mid level bands are getting into iPhone Apps. And there are now many companies who can build you something on the cheap. The flood is still on the way.
It’s a start for Wilco. Now their fans (of which many are super-dedicated) now have another way to communicate directly with fans. Maybe it will follow on the great stuff Nine Inch Nails did with their iPhone app. The NIN one is loaded with music, videos and I can even find NIN fans near me right now. Shockingly cool.
That said, there is a now a NIN branded iPhone game, a version of Tap Tap Revenge. There is also Coldplay and Dave Matthews Band versions. What these do for anyone, we don’t know.
We recently wrote about how much we thought Coldplay were making all the right moves for a new modern huge rock band. So-called ‘hit’ albums by Springsteen, U2, Keane, Snow Patrol and Razorlight have all come and gone, but ‘Viva La Vida’ and Coldplay keep steaming on.
Now they have released a free live album – called LeftRightLeftRightLeft – as a thank you to the fans. All it costs is an email address, and for fans they have already signed up.
Can we just marvel that the biggest band in the world is giving stuff away? Puts lesser bands (every other band on the planet) to shame really.
And hey, some of you don’t like Coldplay and will never like Coldplay. That’s fine. We still think giving a live album away is cool.
Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse are releasing a new album – a blank CD.
Seems like their new collaboration, Dark Night Of the Soul got caught up in red tape and the label, EMI, has killed it.
Lucky for Danger Mouse, he is an inspired bugger. The full package, with 100 page book is coming out, with a blank CDR and the brilliant instructions “use it as you will”. The record company cannot stop them.
Danger Mouse is, of course, one of the most in-demand producers right now. Yet he’s had a mischievous, anarchist side. He’s a hit maker with Gnarls Barkley, but will take on producing a garage rock album with Beck. He famously made his name with a mash-up album of Jay-Z and the Beatles (the Grey Album). Sparklehorse is pretty much just Mark Linkous these days. Sparklehorse made a couple of fantastic albums in the late 90s but have been mainly quiet. Linkous’s last major project outside of Sparklehorse was a Daniel Johnston tribute.
The Dark Night Of the Soul has been on our list of things to check out, mainly due to the insane line-up of guests. Iggy Pop, Frank Black, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Vic Chesnutt, The Flaming Lips, Jason Lytle (of Grandaddy), James Mercer of The Shins, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals and Suzanne Vega.
Danger Mouse especially has a track record going off course. The Grey Album was a perfect example. A limited edition album, with no cleared samples, was all over the internet. It was the first time Mr Mouse clashed with EMI. Dark Night… was released as a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-stream. To be honest, we think Danger Mouse is more careless than clever with how he gets his music out there. We are still watching though.
So how will people use that blank CD? The crushing subtext is for people to download and burn their own copies. The finished record will no doubt hit the internet very soon. But who will actually burn it to disc? In the era of huge, affordable harddrives, is anyone backing up to CD? Will this experiment work? Will anyone actually buy a blank CD?
Use it as you will. As anachistic as all this is, we think most people will throw that blank CD in the bin, if not leave it in the shops.
Wilco are one of the finest bands going around right now. It’s not just their awesome recordings, the amazing live shows, or that brilliant voice. We love their approach. Case in point, this week when they discovered that their record, Wilco (the Album) had leaked. What to do? Well, might as well put it up on our website (as a stream). And ask for donations. to someone else.
Here’s what Wilco sent out to their mailing list:
Well, we made it nearly a month with copies of Wilco (the album) floating around out there before it leaked. Pretty impressive restraint in this day and age. But the inevitable happened last night. Since we know you’re curious and probably have better things to do than scour the internet for a download (though we do understand the attraction of the illicit), we’ve posted a stream of the full album at http://wilcoworld.net/records/thealbum/ . Feel free to refer to it as “wilco (the stream)” if you must.
We also have our usual guilt abatement plan for downloaders. If you have downloaded the record, we suggest you make a donation to one of the band’s favorite charities, the Inspiration Corporation — an organization we’ve supported in the past & who are doing great work in the city of Chicago. Information and donation button here: http://inspirationcorp.org/.
That’s all. Enjoy the stream.
They’ve backed it all up with a pretty fantastic album package. The vinyl with bonus CD for $20US.
Let’s face it, it’s the hardcore fans who love the band who will move mountains to hear the music. It’s those same fans that will go out and buy the awesome package when it’s out in a few weeks. And they love the band enough to support their charities as well. It’s not the first time Wilco have done this, and it seems like standard procedure for the band now. All this talk of new models for how bands can work – we think this is one of the best.
We never thought we would see the day. On June 1st, if everything goes according to plan, Neil Young will release the mammoth, 10 disc, £200+ box set called Archives. It’s been over 20 years in the making.
We first heard about this box set in a Mojo interview from 1995 (issue 25, those playing at home). That issue explains that Archives started life as Decade II (the follow-up to the almost flawless 3 LP compilation of Young’s early works), but quickly ballooned to a 20 CD set. Also in that article, Young claims “confidently” that the first volume would be out in…1996.
Years of waiting ensued. Every few years, and in just about every interview, Young would claim a release date. But nothing ever saw the light of day. Until now.
A year back, however, the biggest controversy of the project hit – there would be no CD version. Initially, it was to be only two versions, either 10 DVDs or 10 Bu-Rays.
Fans went into an uproar. Was Young being elitist? Who even had an expensive Blu-Ray player? On one hand, it seemed like Young was making a set for his baby boomer crowd only. On the other, he stands by the quality of Blu-Ray. He’s always been a stickler for sound quality, and the interface is supposed to be mind-blowing.
We were mainly worried about how we were going to rip the 10 Blu-Ray discs, but we’re sure some clever person will do it and put it all over the internet. This is what will inevitably happen when you don’t give people what they want. But in the end, Young relented, and a third, 8 CD version is also due. Mp3s will come with the DVD and BR versions.
So what is on this thing? No less than Young‘s entire career up to 1972, up to and including tracks from his blockbuster album, Harvest. 3 previously released live albums as well as all the great tracks and singles from those 70s albums, various collaborations from the era (CSN, Buffalo Springfield). Plus a full disc of teenage Neil in high school bands and a DVD of the unreleased concert film, Journey to the Past.The packaging looks amazing, and mad. The booklet reports to have lots of home photos and notes, and every bit of the blu-ray and DVD is packed with photos, info, posters and a lifetime of memorabilia.
So, we love this because it’s so ambitious. Has anyone even remotely tried something on this scale? We love Mr Young, he’s a true artist, and by that we mean he just doesn’t give a fuck about us. He follows his heart.
Yet – we are torn. We have so many of these tracks. We don’t listen to music on DVD, we don’t own a Blu-Ray (only just beginning to believe in it), and it seems almost worthless on CD. It’s also very expensive. And there’s 3 more volumes to come!
Finally, as is our way of thinking here – is this the future? We hope not. Few artists could pull it off (Dylan? Springsteen? Paul Simon?). Plus, we could not afford it. We waited so long – now we’re almost dreading the day.
Everyone is quick to proclaim the death of the album artwork these days. The CD gave artwork a good kneecapping. Cassettes were a humiliation not worth remembering. The digital era – it’s been left to rot. That’s not to say that people don’t love a good sleeve, and the people behind them take any less care or thought into their design.
Enter Sleevage, a humble little art site about album art.
It’s run by album art heads, and they write and talk about artwork that they’ve worked on, or just random famous sleeves with a story.
Just looking at the wall of album covers at the bottom of the homepage makes us feel good. Click through and find some amazing stories and thoughts.
What is the painting that covers Viva La Vida? Who is the boy on the cover of Nevermind? All answers are here.
Above that, there is the stories behind the banned Cannibal Corpse covers. And really fascinating, how album artwork elements are reused for singles, merchandise and more.
It’s all written with love. We only wish that there was hundreds more. A whole searchable database of album cover stories. It’s slowly starting – they take submissions. If you know album artwork people, please get them to get in touch with these guys.
Microsoft is really gunning for Apple. And their weapon of choice is price. It’s almost scare tactics. A series of ‘Laptop Hunter’ ads have been floating around, pitting PC laptops against Macs. Now, the fight is being taken to the Ipod/Zune arena.
(You know Zune, right? Craig Ferguson put it best. “Bill Gates is trying to break the iPod‘s Stranglehold on the iPod market.”)
Some crazy accounting here. I like how this guy, ‘Wes Moss’, is a certified financial planner.
OK. Let’s stop here. This is not a Microsoft bash. Although – they make it so easy.
Our problem is that this ad, and Microsoft‘s whole schtick at the moment, is misleading.
This whole price, price, price scare is – well, scary.
Putting on some dude from the Apprentice as a Financial planner, playing into families fears of the economy to stomp their wares. It reminds me of when politicians yell higher taxes into the sky in hopes of making people vote with their wallets.
And the mathematics just ain’t true. In dire economic times, does anyone want to add a new monthly bill to the burden? Who doesn’t already carry at least some music library with them? Don’t I need a new, not terribly cheap Zune to take advantage of this? And once I cancel my subscription, I can only keep 10 tracks a month. As Zune only reaches Canada and the US, if a customer moves, they have lost most of their library and have paid far more than a buck a song.
Zune is not here in Europe yet and everyone knows why. They are already struggling at home, and they don’t have what it takes to get out into the world. They really have to lift their game if they want to survive.