24Aug2016 1900: Popped Space Collars
Okay so listen. No Man's Sky needs a little help to be a game. But as an increasingly odd experience No Man's Sky is tops. Over the weekend I ran into Brotatns. He is real and he is my friend.
I mean. I mean...okay. I listened to Smashmouth near the end of high school. I am not unfamiliar with the whole ska/punk/raprock aesthetic. But have you ever seen such a Zebrahead-looking motherfucker in a game before? A squat maroon frog Ferengi somehow evokes the totality of bro-culture for which he is named, from the top of his frosted tips to his designation as "ToilGek". His spaceship is a beige Volvoid econobox that he has somehow affixed four hood scoops to. And keep in mind that this is all algorithmically generated, an unbiased computer creating the platonic ideal of a 2000-era fresh frat grad. Look him up for the hookup if you're ever in the Befuktivtje-Bit system.
[Elysia Crampton - The Demon City] is amazing as a follow-up to The Mystery Lights. Mystery Light's song seems to finish one chord too early and Elysia picks up exactly where they leave off, except in spooky synth instead of rock organ. Aside from that one brilliant accident, this song is a 25-cent Halloween effects CD.
Wait, now there are mummies. Is it Halloween? [Hieroglyphic Being - The Disco's Of Imhotep] has a concept and by Ra they are going to exploit that concept. Egypt name, Egypt song titles, hieroglyphicish shapes on the album art, and a song for an Egypt level in Banjo Kazooie. It can't fail, guys! It's the perfect crime! It's criminal that the title promises discos but a bass beat doesn't show up for two and a half minutes.
Okay, here we go. Okay. A lady singing about how hard it is to live in a man's world is just what I need this month. I assume that's what [Charlotte Cardin - Big Boy] is going to be about?...I was close. She's singing a torch song, with lovely jazz-age vocals over some minimalist R&B thumps. I don't think I like the subject matter, the music, the bridge, or really anything about it other than Charlotte's voice; but in the deep morass of August music this stands head and shoulders above the rest.
17Aug2016 1700: Harvest the Police
No Man's Sky is still out and still the only game I play. It's a mostly zen experience, a vast empty galaxy of rocks to harvest while listening to podcasts. But very occasionally you run afoul of (a) the robot cops or (b) pirates inexplicably ignored by the robot cops.
Okay here we go. A lady singing under her real name is a good sign that I might find something here worth keeping. That's how desperate August's list has made me. Unfortunately [Amy Klein - American City] is an overly breathy trite coulda-been-love song. It sounds like any time the love interest would get to "sing" at the end of an 80s movie. Like they're reading the lyrics phonetically and not aspirating quite right.
[The Mystery Lights - Follow Me Home] fires up the rock organ and relives their best acid flashback. It's actually kind of impressive that August's music is still at 0% success. Ten songs usually contain one gem...
10Aug2016 1930: Complex Thoughts
(De)Construction on the fabled Sheyenne Plaza has finally begun, a mere month behind schedule! Due to asbestos!
I don't know why I'm surprised there's still asbestos about. Yes yes, it does a good job as a fire retardant. Yes yes, it's fine as long as you don't touch it. But there are entire generations of buildings out there that will need to come down eventually. Buildings built by generations that also thought leaded gasoline was a good idea. This new Plaza will probably be full of a health crisis of 2070, Acrylic Liver Scourge or something.
[Waxahatchee - Home Game] didn't make a goddamn lick of sense until I looked at the album title: "Early Recordings". This is some rough 4-track shit from an album full of rough scrapings. The video I linked is the far better way to consume this song, a song with a young lady on a guitar singing about high school nonsense. Oh, did I say nonsense? I meant "incredibly important romances and friendships".
[Stephen Steinbrink - Building Machines] brings a real Simon & Garfunkel vibe to his self-harmonies. This is a side of the 80s invasion that doesn't get a lot of attention, the parts of the 80s that softly rocked their way into dentist offices. It's not 70s soft rock with this little kiss of guitar distortion. Chris Cross is mellowing out the crowd while Black Flag warms up backstage.
Continuing the mellow vibes is [Trash Boat - Strangers], coming with some pretty and sparse guitar chords to set the stage for SUPRISE SCREAMO. Leaving aside the intro, this is a pretty standard Tony Hawk song. I remember a lot of the 2000s sounding like this.
So far, August is batting 0.000. There has to be a song out there I can stand!
03Aug2016 1900: Holiday Midseason
Oh shit it's August already aaaaaaaaaaa
The last bits of summer vacation and state fairing happen in August, before I really buckle down and get to the business of autumn family gatherings. It's a full slate this year! Weddings and birthdays and seafood combine to give this season a little more heft than usual. It's a good problem to have, even in the face of two recent games that make a good case for staying in my condo indefinitely.
You'll be happy to hear that I decided to keep both of the N64s. Gave them a thorough dusting, of course, and now they're in a plastic tote that I won't have to look at for another decade. I think I like my suddenly-denuded living room; by cramming all my current bookcases into the corners of rooms I barely use, I can now start filling up the living room with more bookcases!
Google is back from holiday, getting its Antenna list up early in the month and with a fuller playlist than July. This week's collection made me wish they had taken a little more time to get it right.
[Will Butler - Sun Comes Up] has a tale to tell, a tale with a piano and very little variation. Some videos have him playing live but it might as well be a steady agglomeration of prerecorded loops. Will comes this short of naming names in five minutes of not-vague-enough metaphors and ends up saying nothing.
[Con Brio - Free and Brave] is here to bust a funk. I'd never before heard a poverty-protest song in the style of bombastic 70s horn funk. Con Brio slathers on the patriotism and optimism and possibly some sarcasm in this take on modern living through ancient singing.
I feel like I should be able to think of a soundalike for [Hockey Dad - So Tired]. Slight radio pop rock slides through my ears -- if you weren't on during my high school years, I won't remember you. Sure enough, I don't remember this song already. I'll bet it had a bridge!
Kevin Hussein gets top billing and a feat, which doesn't seem fair. [Kevin Hussein - Dos Puertas (feat. Kevin Hussein)] is another of that style of dance-rap, a Bollywood bass fusion that throbs at your temples while stabbing your ears with an azan. It's so focussed on slowly ramping the tempo on its beat that Kevin forgets to rap a verse until ninety seconds in. One verse is all they asked for in this mercifully short club banger.