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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Indie Rock Karaoke Is Getting Better All The Time

So a little over a month ago I finally got with the times and bought a set-up for Rock Band, the up-to-four-player rock and roll karaoke video game with plastic guitars and drums. Among the first things I did was browse the lineup of the weekly-updated Rock Band Store. Rock Band's song selection tends to skew a bit more towards the indie rock while Guitar Hero's aims for the head-banging arena rock crowd, and Rock Band also tends to add at least twice as many tracks a week as Guitar Hero, so I was looking forward to a lot of good stuff. Sadly, I didn't spend more than a few bucks, downloading only a few tracks from TV On The Radio, Elvis Costello, the Von Bondies, the Zombies and Blondie. It makes sense, they want to make money so they focus more on mainstream crowd-pleasers like Pearl Jam and Green Day, but I really don't care about those at all.

Earlier this week, Harmonix, the studio behind Rock Band and the first two Guitar Heros, among others, unveiled their user-generated music platform, Rock Band Network:

Basically, any musician with access to the program (entering beta soon) can take their own master recordings, program the beat layouts for the guitar, bass and drum tracks, even the vocals, and then upload them to the Rock Band Network where they can then be sold to players around the world with the profit going right back to the musician. Awesomesauce, but that's a whole extra level of complicated work, making the playable patterns for the game. Surely only dedicated bedroom musicians will do this, no bands you've actually heard of, right?

Wrong, because IGN just reported that Sub Pop records plans to release its entire catalog of music on Rock Band Network after they've learned the technology. Its entire catalog! The big'uns in there include Nirvana's Bleach and the Postal Service's Give Up, but that also means we could soon see an influx of tracks and albums from the Thermals, Sunny Day Real Estate, CSS, the Go! Team, Wolf Parade, Flight of the Conchords, Fleet Foxes, Low, Hot Hot Heat, No Age, Foals, the Jesus and Mary Chain and a ton of others. I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally hope somebody at Sub Pop learns how to program those tracks with great quality and frequency, because this is going to be awesome.

11:00 AM
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