I was at work the other day, managing some recordings, and I had a very potent thought. “I have really good taste in music,” I said with satisfaction, to myself. I also quite enjoy music games, and my anticipation for Rock Band 3 is palpable.
Ten more tracks were announced for the game yesterday, leaving just about half of the tracks unannounced. Ever since the lead-up to Guitar Hero II, I’ve formulated a list of songs I’d like to play in music games. With Rock Band 3 adding keys and vocal harmonies, there are even greater possibilities for the songs on my list to get their due.
What follows is a list of seven songs I’d like to see in the game. Will they make it in? Maybe not, but I will provide a brief justification for each. Most of the videos will be from live versions of the songs, because those work really well.
“For Real” by Okkervil River
This is the big daddy of them all. Okkervil River is an indie band from Austin, TX, which you probably don’t know about. “For Real” is the single from their seminal album Black Sheep Boy, and its explosive energy can hardly be contained. There’s plenty here for everyone, with huge guitars, keys, drums, and passionate vocals. It plays with dynamics, and ends with a batshit insane breakdown. Will Sheff, the lead singer for the band, throws everything he has into the track, making it one of my favorite songs of all time, and a killer prospect for Rock Band inclusion.
“The Snow Leopard” by Shearwater
Shearwater is another Austin indie band, and an offshoot from Okkervil River itself. “The Snow Leopard” is the haunting single from the album Rook, and everyone I show this song to says it’s like if Radiohead grew a spine. The keys are featured here, along with Jon Meiburg’s chilling falsetto. Like “For Real,” it builds to an explosive conclusion.
Forgive the video and audio quality of this video. Very few live recordings of Shearwater exist.
“Tangled Up in Plaid” by Queens of the Stone Age
The Queens of the Stone Age are no strangers to Rock Band, but that doesn’t mean there’s nearly enough of their songs in the game. Lullabies to Paralyze is an underrated album, and “Tangled Up in Plaid” is its standout track. Josh Homme is the king of sleazy weirdness, and “Tangled” stomps around the city like a perverted robot that runs on synth and dirty guitar.
“Hey Hey, My My” by Neil Young and Crazy Horse
The team at Harmonix loves to put classic rock in their games, treating Rock Band as a music history lesson for younger generations. Given this fact, it’s inexplicable that we don’t have ANY Neil Young to play. Young was the original everything-man, creating genres every time he picked up his old black Les Paul. “Hey Hey, My My,” from Rust Never Sleeps, is one of the most influential tracks of all time, with loud guitars and Neil Young’s distinctive voice singing about how it’s better to burn out than fade away.
“Doin’ the Cockroach” by Modest Mouse
Modest Mouse has achieved a great deal of commercial success, but forgive my snobbiness in saying that they did their best work when nobody knew about them. There’s some disagreement, but The Lonesome Crowded West stands as their magnum opus, and “Doin’ the Cockroach” is still a favorite at live shows today. Isaac Brock’s lyrics about the alienation of modern life are set to a creeping, skittering background of guitars that shift from lull to frenzy with abandon. With all of the time signature changes, this would be a killer song on drums as well.
“Jesus, Etc.” by Wilco
Let’s turn the volume down for a little bit, and get to know a little song by Chicago band Wilco. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot should be required listening. Blast it from speakers on street corners, play it every morning at high schools around the nation. “Jesus, Etc.” won’t blow anyone’s mind with its loudness, but when you dig into its intricacies, you’ll find a chill, enjoyable song for everyone involved.
“Novocaine for the Soul” by Eels
This isn’t the best Eels song, but the best Eels songs wouldn’t work in a Rock Band game. This track from Beautiful Freak, however, would be a great time on keys with its toy piano part, and the guitar isn’t half bad as well. The song may cause you to float around, so exercise caution if your ceiling is decorated with especially sharp chandeliers.
That concludes our tour of my iTunes library. Do you think my songs suck? Then suggest your own in the comments!