Thursday, December 31, 2009

Finishing all the songs with DMan

Last night we had a very special guest, as Maca "Hall of Famer" DMan made a surprise appearance. With only 46 songs left to enter a score for (out of 1021), we decided to finish the year in style by completing every song in the game. We also played a special request from DMan ("Conventional Lover") and our worst ranked song.

The 1021st song we played was Wolfmother's "Pilgrim", and the past year's journey to play all the songs was indeed a very interesting musical pilgrimage. From SpongeBob SquarePants to Cannibal Corpse, we played almost every music style imaginable. 2010 will be even more interesting with the release of the Rock Band Network, provided the PS3 gets a decent selection of tracks.

From now on we'll always start our sessions by playing the new DLC, followed by the worst ranked songs. That way we'll continue to climb the "All Songs" Leaderboards. We have a ton of songs that were played with 1 to 3 instruments, so there is a lot to catch up on.

- Stars breakdown for the 48 songs: Gold stars (11), 5 stars (35), 4 stars (2, for "World Turning" and "Woman")
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (28), followed by Sylvie (13), DMan (12), and then Pheonix (6)
- Bongoo had the most FCs (9), followed by DMan (6), and then Sylvie (2)
- We barely survive "White Unicorn", which has an intense drum section near the end
- Sylvive complains that she doesn't have much to do on bass during "Club Foot", and then it suddenly becomes very intense with some rapid-fire notes (as Trapper says, "careful what you wish for")
- We end the year and DMan's special visit with a late night trip to Perkins, which has now become one of the band's regular joints (with "Pub Italia")
- Happy New Year to all! :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More holiday fun

Tonight we'll have another holiday Rock Band 2 session, once again without Raikan. We'll probably play 32 unranked songs, moving us up the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "Build a Bridge", by Limp Bizkit: You might not recognize Limp Bizkit when playing this song, as they are more thoughtful and mellow than usual. A good track that is lots of fun on guitar.

2. "A Lot Like Me", by The Offspring: Not as difficult as some other Offspring songs, but the triple chord changes made me think I was back playing Guitar Hero 80's... :) It's a great sounding song from their last album, especially the chorus starting with "And the rain comes...".

1. "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To", by Weezer: This song is groovy. It has a great rhythm, being a bit tricky but always fun on all instruments. The lyrics are great, progressing nicely throughout the song (gotta love the "Slayer" reference).

Honorable mention. "Ocean Avenue", by Yellowcard: I love the drum chart on this one. Keeping a note streak during some of those fast rolls is a great feeling. A fun song overall from a pretty good band I had not heard before.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays from the Macas!

Last night we had a lot of fun, playing 24 songs with a new line-up, including 2 weeks of new DLC. We didn't get many gold stars (just one), but it didn't matter as it was all in holiday fun. We wish everyone some Happy Holidays! Stay safe and be merry!

We gained 15M points (new total of 824M), helping us climb the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

- Stars breakdown for the 24 songs: Gold stars (1), 5 stars (10), 4 stars (9), 3 stars (4)
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (18), followed by Phoenix (6), and then Sylvie (1)
- Bongoo had the single FC of the night
- Phoenix drops his drum sticks during a song, continues to play with his hands, and recovers them nicely during a drum fill section
- Bongoo more than doubles his previous Q*bert record while the new DLC was downloading, getting more than 100,000 points
- Phoenix does a great job translating the "Take Me to the River" vocals to French in real-time while drumming :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A pre-Christmas jam with some Rochefort 10

Tonight we'll have a special pre-Christmas session, with the Trapper replacing Raikan as he is traveling home for the Holidays. Sylvie will move to vocals and the Trapper will play bass. I've finally received the special order of the best beer in the world, Rochefort 10, so we'll be enjoying that as well. :)

We'll likely play between 24 and 32 unranked songs, including two weeks of new DLC (this week's DLC was early on the PS3), moving us up the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "¡Viva la Gloria!", by Green Day: If you haven't heard already, "Green Day: Rock Band" will be the next game released by Harmonix. This would not have been my first choice for a band-based game, but the fact that the songs will be exportable is great news (their early songs should be a blast to play). Hopefully all future band-based games will have that feature. Now last week saw the release of the 2nd 3-pack from Green Day's latest album. To be honest the songs from that album have been fairly bland to hear and play, but "¡Viva la Gloria!" stands out from the group for its interesting transitions. The vocal intro is accompanied by some neat orchestrations, and if the drummer has fallen asleep, he's in for a rude awakening, especially at the end. :)

2. "This is War", by 30 Seconds To Mars: It's about time that we get more songs from this group. Their last DLC was released almost 2 years ago ("The Kill" and "Attack"), and it had some very interesting charts (especially on drums). What stands out for me from this group is their ability to create great build-ups (see the end of "The Kill" for example). These build-ups are also present in their 2 new songs, but an interesting addition is the great crowd sing-alongs, making the tracks even more epic.

1. "Kings and Queens", by 30 Seconds To Mars: A great song with some very tough drum sections. I particularly like the variety of the guitar chart. The build-up at the end is very powerful, having a kind of ethereal quality. In my opinion, the songs from this group are much more interesting and complex than most songs by the week's feature group, Green Day.

Honorable mention. "Gives You Hell", by The All-American Rejects: When I first heard this song at the 2008 VGAs, I found it pretty annoying. But playing it in Rock Band is surprisingly fun, especially the somewhat unique drum chart and the section at the end on guitar.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Back to playing 32 songs

Last night was lots of fun. We started earlier than usual, which allowed us to play 32 songs for the first time in a while. If we contine at this pace, we'll have played all the songs pretty soon.

We downloaded last week's DLC at the start of the session, giving time during the download for Bongoo's traditional Q*bert session. After lots of hair-rising moves and untimely deaths at the hands of red balls, coiled serpents and crazy-sounding purple aliens, it was time to start rockin'.

Our first 8-song set included last week's DLC, starting with Bongoo's top 3 (see last post). We'll do that every week from now on. After that we randomly picked some unranked DLC, which naturally included lots of now classic Lego Rock Band songs.

We gained 31M points (close to our goal of getting an average of at least 1M per song), our total going up from 778M to 809M points, which will help us in our climb of the "All Songs" Leaderboards. We're now getting closer to 16th place "Sè+ùà Àssàù+ Sòfà", a band with one of the oddest names in the Leaderboards.

- Stars breakdown for the 32 songs: Gold stars (13), 5 stars (14), 4 stars (5, for "Sulfur", "Duality", "One Vision", "Aces High (Live)" and "You're Gonna Hear from Me")
- Sylvie had a great night as she was the "Top Performer" for almost every song (22), followed by Bongoo (8), Phoenix (7), and then Raikan (5)
- Sylvie had the most FCs (8), followed by Phoenix (4), and then Bongoo (3)
- Phoenix did an amazing job on drums on "Two Princes" and "Aces High (Live)"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Sounds of Slipknot

Last week there was a very interesting clash of genres released as DLC. Perhaps even more of a contrast than the "Disturbed/Jimmy Buffett" week we had in early June 2008, we got great tracks from both Simon & Garfunkel and Slipknot! :) Add to that a pretty good free song and it becomes a classic DLC week.

Tonight we'll likely play between 24 and 32 unranked songs, moving us up the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "Psychosocial", by Slipknot: I remember going to see Machine Head" in 1999 in Montréal. They were the 2nd band of 3, with "Coal Chamber" headlining (didn't care much for them). What I had not anticipated was the amazing raw energy of the opening band, Slipknot. They were fairly unknown then, but they easily stole the show that night with their aggressive style, heavy riffs, pounding rhythm, and unique visual style. There were rumors that they didn't want to be included in rhythm games, their last song coming way back in GH3. I'm glad they changed their mind, as tracks like "Psychosocial" are a blast to play. They may have become more mainstream as years went by, but this song in parts is as heavy as they've ever been. I love the main guitar riff, plus the chorus sounds great.

2. "Sulfur", by Slipknot: Amazing song on all instruments. On bass its constant movement makes it one of the funnest songs in a long time. It has some crazy drum sections, especially at the beginning, but if you survive, you'll be treated with some amazingly fun beats in the second half of the song. If you've followed these posts, you'll notice that I like complex drum beats that are fast but not impossible (think "Funk #49" and "Science Genius Girl"), and this one delivers in spades. Let's hope for some more Slipnot in the future ("Wait and Bleed" would be great).

1. "The Sounds of Silence", by Simon & Garfunkel: A classic song, made even more popular by its inclusion in the movie "The Graduate". This would have been awesome with the harmonies feature. This song is fairly simple and easy on all instruments, but it's such a great-sounding song on vocals that it becomes great to hear and play.

Honorable mention. "Dreaming of Love", by Lights Resolve: I usually play songs on bass first, so on first listen I thought it would be a very easy song on guitar and drums. While not overly complex, I was happily suprised to discover that it does have some interesting beats and chord changes. Part of the chorus reminded me a bit of Coldplay in terms of singing style. Keep those free tracks coming! :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A little snow won't stop the Macas...

Today was the first big snowstorm of the season, and it caused havok on the roads. It took me 2 hours to get home from work, plus I had more than an hour of shoveling to do. Although our session started late because of this, we still managed to squeeze in a session with 18 unranked DLC.

The "All Songs" Leaderboards will be refreshed on Friday or Saturday, and I can see from the new totals that tonight's increase from 759M to 778M would technically move us up to 17th place past "Cobra Kai Dojo" and "Cøølsville Killers".

I can also confirm that "Mary G0 Round" will move up to 9th place, becoming the 10th band to join the billion point club. Congrats!

- Stars breakdown for the 18 songs: Gold stars (10), 5 stars (7), 4 stars (1, for "Under My Wheels (Live)")
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (8), followed by Sylvie (7), Raikan (4), and then Phoenix (2)
- Bongoo had the most FCs (3), followed by Sylvie and Raikan (2 each), and then Phoenix (1)
- It was neat that we gold-starred more than half the songs tonight, plus we got more than 1M points per song on average. It helps that we played all songs with our optimal line-up.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Smells Like Maca Spirit!

Tomorrow we'll continue our DLC journey, including playing some great new DLC like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. This song was announced ages ago, so it's nice to finally have it as part of the game.

We'll probably play between 24 and 32 songs, moving us up the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "You're Gonna Hear It From Me", by Night Ranger: This 80's stadium rock band was unknown to me until their DLC 3-pack was released. Their songs are great on all instruments, but what stands out are their amazing guitar solos. This song has the easiest solo out of the three songs, but that also makes it the funnest.

2. "Don't Tell Me You Love Me", by Night Ranger: This is their best song in my opinion. It has some crazy hard guitar solos, but the highlight is a surprisingly fun drum chart. The beats are unique, varied, and pretty fast but never impossible (always a good combination).

1. "Smells Like Teen Spirit", by Nirvana: The anthem of a generation, what a classic song! I started high school in 1991 (yeah, I'm old...), so I can't count the number of times I jumped around to that song. It's great on all instruments, but I particularly like playing it on drums.

Honorable mention. "New Fang", by Them Crooked Vultures: If it wasn't for a somewhat bland guitar chart, it probably would have made my top 3. The song's unique rhythm makes it fun on drums and bass. You can really tell that it's a blend of members of Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age. Watch out for that ending on drums! I had to keep a steady beat, omitting the extra notes, otherwise I might have failed.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Back in the RB2 groove

Tonight we got back into our normal routine of playing some unranked DLC in RB2. We played 24 songs and gained about 27M points.

Out of the approximately 1000 songs released so far for the RB platform, we have 95 that are still unranked in RB2. If we assume that there are about 8 new DLC per week, we will have a score for each song in 4-6 weeks. At that point we'll play some of our lowest scored songs, including some whose score was obtained by playing with only 1 instrument.

With our total score increasing to 759M this week, this moves us past "Cobra Kai Dojo" for 18th place in the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

- Stars breakdown for the 24 songs: Gold stars (11), 5 stars (11), 4 stars (2, for "666" and "School")
- Sylvie was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (13), followed by Bongoo (12), Phoenix (3), and then Raikan (1)
- Bongoo had the most FCs (2), followed by Sylvie and Raikan (1 each)
- Phoenix did a great job on "Fire" from Jimi Hendrix, a pretty tricky drum song

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A DLC explosion

Tomorrow we go back to playing Rock Band 2 for the first time in a month. We have a ton of DLC to catch up on (6 weeks), including all the exported Lego Rock Band songs. We will likely play between 24 and 32 songs, which will move us up the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "American Girl", by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: As for most songs from this group, this song has some great guitar solos, but this one takes the cake in terms of complexity. I was quite impressed with the quality of these Live selections. Usually I prefer studio tracks, but when they are of this quality, it can actually enhance the experience. It helps that the "Live Anthology" spans their whole career, increasing the number of quality recordings and performances.

2. "Mary Jane's Last Dance", by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: A well-written tune that has a great vibe, especially the feel of the sections with the harmonica. The song is not overly complex, but it certainly is fun to play and hear.

1. "Refugee", by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: The song has a steady beat and is fun on all instruments, plus it has a pretty catchy chorus. If I remember correctly, some of the Tom Petty songs have crowd singalongs, and this one is no exception. Whether it's the real crowd or if it was added to the recording, what matters is that it sounds great.

Honorable mention. "Here Comes My Girl", by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: No relation to the Pixies song as far as I know. It deserves a mention for the neat buildups leading up to the choruses. If the rumors about RB3 having a keyboard are true, those choruses will be fun to play. Like some other songs from this pack, it is pretty simple, but it has a great feel.