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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mixtape Volume XX: Massive Head Trauma
Conceptualized in January, finally finished today.

If my fictional life were a movie, this album would be the soundtrack to a montage of me losing fights in slow-motion.

Click here to download (53MB zip archive, MP3 format)

9:04 PM
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Chiptune Friday: Spring Into Spring

Cross-posted from 61 Frames Per Second

Though it's been feeling like Spring here in NYC for a couple of weeks (global warming has its occassional perks), the vernal equinox actually hits us at 11:44 am today. As the ice stages thaw, making way for beautiful fire flowers, should you happen to feel the urge to go outside and enjoy the world, we here at 61FPS are of course enouraging. However, since you're clearly somewhere with internet access, let's make this just a bit brighter and sunnier to get us all in the mood for months of sunshine and gaming. I can't think of a better way to kick the season off than with the theme to Spring Yard Zone from the original Sonic The Hedgehog:

(this loops for ten minutes, so feel free to hit play, jack up the volume and go for a good solid strut)

Oh yeah, that's the groove right there. You can practically hear the robot sunflowers in bloom.

Have a happy Equinox, everybody!

Editor's Note: It's actually SNOWING in NYC right now. MADNESS!!!

10:00 AM
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Look at this. This was my lunch today: a junior bacon cheeseburger, crispy chicken sandwich, value fries and a small Dr. Pepper from Wendy's.

That's what a small soda looks like.

It TOWERS over my dinky little food. Normally I go for the value soda (16 oz.) and wind up with just too little to be satisfied, but i barely got halfway through this behemoth of a "small."

Come on, America, learn your portion sizes.

10:00 PM
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Get Ready to Think About Life Again

Hey, do me a favor real quick and scroll down, like, five posts. Yeah, remember when Think About Life's self-titled debut was my favorite album of 2005? Good times, right? Well they're friggin' back, son.

Think About Life's second disc Family hits Canada May 26th (and probably the internet a week or two before that). They're spending the end of this month touring the midwest US with Ratatat, and I'm kind of sad I'm missing that. Awesome news, though, is that they'll be playing in Brooklyn April 25th with Ponytail and Marnie Stern! That's kind of super rad!

Here's the homemade music video for Family's "Wizzzard". Catchy song, vibrant change from the sound of the first album:

To keep the hype going for that sweet Brooklyn show, here's a kickass session Ponytail did with my buddies at

And here's a decidedly rockin' live video of Marnie Stern the PFTV crew shot this past fall during CMJ (if memory serves, one of only three worthwhile shows all week):

So yes, I will be attending this show in all likelihood. And I will be extraordinarily satisfied at the end of the night.

1:00 AM
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Alternate Soundtrack: Donkey Kong '94 vs. Les Savy Fav

The following originally ran on 61 Frames Per Second on May 27th, 2008. Making this video was the very first thing I did once I got my new iMac up and running last year.

The original Donkey Kong is justly considered one of the great landmarks in video game history. It popularized the now all-too familiar concept of platforming and introduced two of the most memorable video game characters of all time: the titular villainous ape and the overalls-clad carpenter named Jumpman, soon rebranded as the lovable plumber known Galaxy-wide as Mario. Even though the game was only four stages long, it demonstrated a clear story - ape abducts pretty lady, climbs up skyscraper, hero gives chase, avoiding obstacles - that resonated in the hearts of millions.

After thirteen years, Donkey Kong was starting to feel a bit restricted and, as all teenagers do, decided to branch out to seem more exciting and relevant. The result was 1994's Donkey Kong for the Game Boy. It starts off with the original four stages but then continues for an astounding ninety-seven more that see Mario struggle across cityscapes, jungles, icebergs, valleys, and more outrageous environments. The soundtrack is sparse, with only a few sound effects for your actions and gentle musical clues to make you aware of time constraints. It is so elegantly simple that it induces a zen-like state; it invites a calm focus on the tasks ahead so you can rationally solve the puzzles before you. The only problem with this is that it’s completely unrealistic to be calm and rational when jumping across one-hundred-and-one stages in pursuit of your girlfriend and an enormous ape! Thankfully, this minimal soundtrack allows me to choose my own mood music without having to eliminate those all-important sound effects like I do with other games.

Les Savy Fav are a lot like Donkey Kong, and not because their lead singer is a wild, hairy ape who climbs scaffolding (see Coachella 2008). Les Savy Fav are genre pioneers themselves, credited with creating the Brooklyn dance-punk sound that made bands like Liars and The Rapture famous years before their respective breakthroughs. While they are best known for their frenetic live shows and for 2004's Inches, it is 2001's Go Forth that is their best music for alternate soundtracking. Go Forth actually manages to take the innocently bizarre narrative scenario of Donkey Kong '94 and transform it into beautifully desperate drama.

Seth Jabour's skyscraper-tall guitar arpeggios look down on you with contempt and disdain. Syd Butler's crunchy, angular bass lines brim with the steady virulent aggression of an ape carrying away your lady friend. Harrison Haynes' drums are a pendulum, swinging between the steady march of a man at war and the rebellious rat-a-tat-tat of a thinking man taking action. Maybe I'm just reading into this, but Tim Harrington's lyrics paint the portrait of a man on the verge of desperation, battling for his livelihood against seemingly insurmountable odds. Sound familiar yet? This is most apparent in the mantra-like lyrics that Harrington uses to close his songs. "Reprobate's Resume" closes with the repeated pleading, "Please, go easy on me." "Pills" ends with a few aching refrains of, "You and I, we were meant to be together. You and I, we are gonna hang together. You and I, we are going down together." And "Bloom On Demand", the album's final proper song brings it all home with two minutes of Harrington worrying, “This giving in is wearing thin." It’s repeated as he, along with the rest of the band, are slowly washed away by the cold, unfeeling rain clouds of synth keyboards. At the close, despite the previous thirty-seven minutes of flexing their muscles and proving their might, the environment is just more powerful than the band had imagined. Les Savy Fav have become Mario, trying desperately to evade the obstacles in their path that only increase in breadth the further they travel.

Or I could totally just be projecting here.

10:00 PM
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Alternate Soundtrack: Super Street Fighter II vs. The Go! Team

What follows is the very first piece I ever wrote for 61 Frames Per Second during the blog's first week. It was originally published on May 18th, 2008, with the video to follow on July 15th, 2008.

I've developed a nasty habit that I like to call "Alternate Soundtracking". I think it stems from my wanton desire to multi-task as much as possible. Most of my gaming these days is on handhelds while I ride the train and when I've got an iPod full of new and classic tunes vying for my attention, the games' soundtracks just become redundant.

This is a slightly different beast, though. Alternate soundtracking, for me, involves sitting down with a familiar game, turning down its volume, and queuing up my music library to find music that actually enhances the gaming experience.

For the first entry, I'm going to keep things simple. This one's all about the raw youthful energy. Super Street Fighter II is one of the most popular fighting games of all time, but its popularity isn't thanks to violence. There were plenty of louder, bloodier, more extreme fighters around when it released sixteen years back. Super Street Fighter II's claims to fame are its lightning-fast speed, precision controls, and its bright cartoony cast. More than any other fighting game franchise, the Street Fighter games are legendary for their charming characters and their respective special moves. And nothing aurally compliments SSFII quite like The Go! Team.

There's something inexplicably gratifying about pulling off Dee Jay's Double Rolling Sobat to "Doing It Right"'s handclaps and xylophone bridge. And the victory-dance horn section of "Titanic Vandalism" demands an endless barrage of Hurricane Kicks (or whatever the crap you kids are calling that flying kick move that Ryu and Ken do these days). "Grip Like A Vice"'s relentlessly sharp drums and female empowerment lyrics are practically an anthem for Cammy crushing every muscle-bound martial artist in her path! Public Enemy's Chuck D makes "Flashlight Fight" ideal for the final battles against Sagat and M. Bison. With horn blasts and Chuck D at your back, you'll feel like you are truly leading a revolution with your joypad.

Of course, that's just my experience, and we all know that games and music are both subjective art forms. Let me know what your alternate soundtracks are!

1:00 AM
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Monday, March 16, 2009

And Now, A Letter From The Editor...

Well, it's been over two years since I last wrote here. Life got busy and complicated and blogging just didn't seem worthwhile for a long stretch of time. Now that I'm busier than ever, though, the time feels right.

First, a bit of history. When last I wrote here, I was working a terrible web advertising job that made me hate waking up every morning. Bad place to be fresh out of college and I was glad to leave when I did as the office shut down shortly thereafter. Spent a year soul-searching, working on pet projects and going on interviews at awesome companies I never would have thought would let me in the front door, let alone humor me with multiple interviews. Finally, just over a year ago I started simultaneous indefinite design internships with the as-yet-unannounced independent music video channel and popular web magazine Nerve and its sister site Babble. Both have been great fun and life finally feels good, if still experimental.

Lately I've been doing a bit of writing for Nerve, primarily for their video game blog, 61 Frames Per Second. It's somewhat fulfilling, but sometimes I get the urge to write about things that have nothing to do with video games, which is why I'm coming back home to my own original blog.

I started this blog back in 2003 – before the media figured out what a blog was and how to exploit it and before many of the most popular blogs on the interweb got their start – as an experiment in social communication. The goals have shifted with whatever its participants have needed it to be in the time since, but the general idea hasn't changed. So I'm back.

First, I'm going to start archiving my favored work from elsewhere on here, then I'm going to keep it going when I can. Thanks for your time and I hope you enjoy.

10:30 AM
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