29Feb2012 1000: Failure to Leap
Welp, that didn't work out. February was meant to be Monty's Video Game Month, with grand dreams of making my own point-and-click adventure by the end. That emphatically did not happen. I could try to blame the Diablo 3 Beta that I finally broke down and played, but that only accounts for half the month. I could point to the recent Spiral Knights patch that amped up the addictive factor tenfold...but I was already playing Spiral every night. I could excuse myself using the thrice-damned Triple Town, but... okay, so some of the blame lies there.
But I know deep down that I only failed myself. I may have started work on the wrong game; it turns out that point-and-click adventures, especially in Adventure Game Studio, require a lot of art work up front. Even to hook up a series of test rooms properly, you need to paint hotspots over the background and make a cursor and have a player character...it's just the wrong genre for me to dive into. Too much draw, not enough code. It also doesn't help that my job finally escaped the winter doldrums and started laying rubber towards the future. When work is stalled in design and meetings and bugfixes, making a game at home sounds like a great escape. When work is adding new features every day and I get to write dialogue for robots, making another game at home sounds like a second job.
If the problem is truly that I wan't writing enough code and seeing enough whiz-bang progress, maybe I should work on my other game concept instead...
No songs this week because leap year. Amazon is still bethump'd with S00p3r Partyz Covers and, Cthulhu save us, Honest Face. Any other year it would be March and we'd have a new crop of Rising Artists, but...leap year.
22Feb2012 0830: GUILD WARS 2
GUIIIILLLDDD WAAARRRRRSSSSS! TWO!
The hype train is leaving the station; don't be left behind! You don't need a (beta test) ticket! HYPE IS FREE! I'm still adhering to my main plan of playing the tiniest Asuran Guardian I can create, but these new videos have inserted into my mind a backup plan of me and everybody I know creating identical-looking Mesmers for the cloning lulz. Creating four illusions can annoy humans fighting you; having a group create forty illusions will destroy their minds. We'll settle on exactly what face/body we want after the game starts, but in my mind Clan Lolmerz becomes a feared powerhouse in a small corner of the PvP.
Somehow, from the morass of Extr3me Party C0verzzz that took over Amazon last year, three actual songs have clawed their way onto my list. [Aftermath - Airplanes and Airwaves] is a gratingly earnest sad guy who wants a girl to sleep with him. He wore a tie, he brought his acoustic guitar, and he's not leaving until you pick up the phone (or your voicemail is full).
Do you like the oon-ts oon-ts oon-ts? [Deadmau5 - Mr G (Original Mix)] is all like "brrm brrm brrm ZOW" for five point five minutes. If the numeral in his name didn't tip you off, the album cover certainly will; this is a man who likes to make his computers and keyboards make sounds. Electronic sounds.
15Feb2012 1800: A Failure of Imagination
Uh...I've had a cold. Nothing to report.
That's not entirely true. I've been trying to set aside time to work on my own video game this month, but between my surging interest in Magic and the sudden arrival of a Diablo III beta key that plan has failed.
[Tyler Lyle - The Golden Age and the Silver Girl] is simple, straining folk, the kind of sound that everybody associates with Bob Dylan even though he hasn't sounded like that in decades. The lyrics are a little twee, reaching too hard for that supposed golden age, but overall a pretty great song.
[Cloud Nothings - Stay Useless] evokes that shiny radio age in the 90s after grunge fell off the charts, when rock suddenly got super-processed and poppy. The Age of Banditos. It's not bad for all that, it just depends on your appetite for upbeat. The song seems to be about how much the singer wants to be lazy, so I'm on board.
The peppy momentum of Cloud Nothings ran headfirst into a brick wall called [Clemency - My Heart Is the Eastern Horizon]. Violins, piano, soft drumming, and guy harmonies rein in whatever good feelings I had and did their level best to put me to sleep. Do you like your love songs slow and moody? This is a love song for rainy days.
08Feb2012 0845: Auto(maton/cannibalism)
I've stated in the past that if you're going to sing like a robot, you need to go balls-out and just embrace the robot within. The Super Bowl halftime show informed me that American music still hasn't gotten there. Those two guys with that party song -- they know what's up. If you're going to be prerecorded and autotuned, you might as well sound like Robby the Robot. The rest of that medley was...illustrative? It exposed the black throbbing heart of what's wrong with pop music today. They had to dive all the way back into 1980s pop to find something palatable to a crowd -- okay, that's typical of the Super Bowl. They then dressed it up with guest "stars" of today -- makes sense, they're trying to sell a product. But they literally could not find six people in their portfolio that could behave themselves for fifteen goddamn minutes. Okay? This halftime show is one of the most produced and most choreographed musical entertainments of the year, still smarting from some highly-publicized "obscenity", and it is apparently impossible to find more than five entertainers that can friggin' keep it in their pants.
In my deepest dreams, this is the final inciting incident for American pop music to finally admit that pop singers are the weak link in the chain. From the faceless horde of corporate songwriters backing them, to the army of producers tweaking and robotizing the voices, to the choreographers filling the backgrounds of the music videos, to the computer artists that were projecting pretty graphics on the field Sunday...that is the polished production pipeline that spews silly teenage music onto your radio. It's time for them to admit that their fleshy mouthpieces are dragging them down and replace them with something better. It's time for them to hook their Lyrimatic 3000 directly up to a Divatron Mk VII and cut out the middleman. Japan has had this shit for literally years now; it's time for America to catch up. These singers will never OD, never get knocked up, never have a panic attack on stage, never crap up an interview or live performance. They are the shiny plastic ideal that the industry has always strived for. I was promised that pop will eat itself; it's time for them to start chewing.
For all that ranting, [The Big Pink - Stay Gold] is pretty good example of the new round of interpretation on 80s pop. Synth, electric drums, sad-sounding singer; it's the slow-tempo crooning future music I dimly recall from radios in my childhood.
[The Stepkids - Legend In My Own Mind] intrigued me with its title; surely this would some sort of humorous country parody? But no, this was a plodding Motownish torture machine, the saddest four seasons you've experienced in sixty years. Stick with the Rafael Saadiq.
Hooray, [Cate Le Bon - Puts Me To Work] is earnest guitar/piano girl folk, the kind where she seems to be singing right at you in a small coffee shop. There's nothing new here, but it's a solid safe riff on the old.
01Feb2012 1810: Army of the Damned
...is actually a card. In fact, it might have been my favorite card ever until this gem showed up last week. I am not, and have never been, a competitive Magic player. I am not, and have never been, interested in the collecting or money aspects of the cards. But I am always going to build stupid silly decks like All Zombies, and these horror-themed sets have been a godsend.
I didn't do badly at the release party last weekend, either. It was the inverse of my usual Magic experience; my cards weren't that great but I played like a champ. Most nights I can stack my deck with the "best" cards and get annihilated, but on Saturday I went 3-1 with average cards and won 5 more booster packs. So my tally for the night was 11 packs of cards, personal satisfaction, and a candy bar...not bad.
A new month means we finally have a new crop of free songs from new artists to sort through. Last month's didn't go so well, but maybe February will...
The first three songs all have arty album covers, two of them also continuing the "woman hiding behind hair" theme from last month. Not a great sign. [Rumer - Slow] started with a woman on piano, which I am in favor of, but quickly turns into a slow torch song. This falls out of my singer-songwriter comfort zone, evoking elevators and dentist offices.
[Hospitality - Eighth Avenue] is a step in the right direction. The tempo is higher and the vocaliste is...well, quite a bit waifier, but the song still has more energy than Rumer. It puts me squarely in mind of Camera Obscura.
[Sharon Van Etten - Serpents] has no discernible middle or end like every other song on the market does. For three minutes Sharon builds a dissonant wailing folk hymn with none of the formula that might put me off. It's a weird song but pleasant enough.