Radio’s back and I’m coming out swinging! I’m making my World Cup Finals predictions right here, right now! Who cares if they’ve only just started playing qualifying matches? Who cares if I couldn’t name a single Footballer on either team and haven’t really watched a World Cup since Zidane tried to kill that guy? If a country’s soccer prowess can at all be measured by the quality of its citizens’ songs selected for Radio, then Spain and Italy should put on quite a show.
Though not in the Finals, Mexico is well represented by Proyecto T, a Salsa/Fusion group hailing from Jalisco. Spain sends the Alt-Rock trio Zooner, led by vocalist/guitarist Erwin Guttmann (whose name sounds more Germanic than Iberian). Last but not least, Antonio Bellantoni takes the stage for Italy with his groovy electrojazz.
I don’t know that I can predict a winner, guys. It might be a tie. There are ties in soccer, right? Wondering if I’ve flat out lost it in my weeklong hiatus? Read on to find out.
“I’m trying, I’m trying!” cries Erwin in the middle of “Dying.” He’s trying alright. Trying to navigate his way through the English language. “Bloodthirst for lust”? “Fragment of a past time”? I mean, I feel bad for the guy. I wouldn’t wish our awkward grammar – with its lack of gender and confusing conjugations – on anyone. But…if he’d have sung this in Spanish (or his [maybe] native German?) I would probably enjoyed it a lot more. That said, I did enjoy the ride, more so the second time through – after I’d already let his earnest attempt at English flood my ears. The track is great: it never does one thing for very long. No boring stretches of minibumps. No long final curve at the end. It’s a constant battle. You’ll hear some U2 in the music, as well as some other more recent alternative influences whose name’s escape me. Get past the accent and give this one a chance.
“Palm” is the shit that hip movie soundtracks are made of. Some blistering free jazz sax over a big fat bass line and a driving house beat. Oh wait, but then there’s more. Some electric rhythm guitars and soaring disco-era strings. Did I mention that while your ears are busy digesting the copious amounts of kickass streaming into them your eyes will be fighting not to glaze over in the face of all that traffic? This track’s brought me full circle. When I started playing Audiosurf, I wanted high traffic beasts all the time. Then I got really into this column and wanted slightly mellower songs so that I could break them down a bit easier. Well “Palm” is just on the upper cusp of my comfort range, challenging me to make it through the ride while my ears get distracted by the music. I’m off to go download this one. Then I’m going to boot up Audiosurf again and play this song.
“Noirswing” lands a little closer to traditional house territory, but I’m saying that in comparison to “Palm.” What makes “Noirswing” a track worth listening to are the big band, “Sing Sing Sing”-style drums. Unfortunately, they kind of get buried underneath the ambient singing and the strings as the piece goes on. I’d definitely recommend riding “Palm” first and perhaps only riding this one if you really dig Bellantoni’s music. “Quen La Quere” is some good old fashioned salsa music: joyous, full of horns, and catchy as hell. So catchy, in fact, that I’m not giving it a full recommendation because the hook got stuck in my brain for hours after I rode it. “El Modesto” did a similar thing, lodging itself firmly into my cerebellum, accordion and all. I’m being a bit dismissive of these last two, but only because I liked the “Dying” and “Palm” so much. This was actually a pretty solid week in Radio.
Having enjoyed each song (at least a little bit) this week, I feel bad ending up with only two recommendations. So to round out the list, I’m giving you an Extra Credit assignment. Now, I’m a huge fan of The Adventures of Duane and Brando, as is Andrew. We’ve recently become addicted to their “The Legend of Zelda” rap, just as we were addicted to the Mega Man one a few months ago. It rides surprisingly well, gradually climbing uphill with peaks and valleys along the way (quite an apt metaphor for the Hero’s quest, I must say). It’s mostly mild drum traffic, but this allows you to just sit back and enjoy the ill rhymes of the nerdy duo. I don’t want to spoil anything for you lyric-wise. Just know that there’s a subtle reference to one of my favorite catchphrases of videogame cartoon-dom.
So who wins the World Cup? I guess Italy, but if some team can sign Duane and Brando before the tournament they may become the dark horse. Amid all my insanity, I managed to ride each song at least twice on the Pro difficulty using either the Eraser or Vegas character. I think all of that E3 coverage last week may have driven me just a bit nuts.