Tuesday, September 1, 2009

This Week on Audiosurf Radio – 9/1 – Where Ya Been All This Time? Edition

Where've you been?  I've been alone on this dock for HOURS. Don’t be scared by the new layout – Audiosurf Radio still lives.  We may be venturing into other pop culture territory, but everyone’s still letting me rant and rave about each week’s rides. 

I’d like to start this week off by asking, How come no one told me I should be listening to The Dada Weatherman?  It’s an odd mix of blues, indie rock, and 90s rock guitar that just happens to click with me.  Three of the tracks come from their most recent album The Green Waltz.  Balancing out the week’s selection is another Speedsound track from their Prisma compilation. 

I’m back from my Radio hiatus and ready to rate some new songs.  Hit the jump if you’re ready, too.


Heaven is near, Paul Bettany.  And it's full of...Angels. Were I to adopt a 1-10 scale for techno songs on Radio (which I will for the purposes of this sentence), I’d have to give “Heaven is Near” a 7.  Is it mind-blowing?  Not really.  Is it mind numbing?  Not in the least.  Few of the sections stay past their welcome, instead switching off to a new variation on the beat and incorporation a different melodic riff.  However, the uphill section disappointed.  There was a rather wide turn with absolutely no traffic, giving me plenty of time to sip from the whisky/Sprite on my desk.  I don’t normally drink and surf, but it’d been a long day.  Anyway…then some chick started moaning about flying, which reminded me that the song was called “Heaven is Near” and may or may not have wanted to be about angels (which got me thinking about Paul Bettany’s next straight-to-DVD release).  I could have done without the awkward vocals that sounded just a little too sexual for my taste, but the song still managed to engage me for seven whole minutes.  A rare feat, indeed.

Looks pretty bland, right?  NOT! My first reaction to “Whirlwind” was the question I asked above.  Why have I never listened to this group before?  I swear I’ve heard of them but never actually had their stuff in my ears.  I’m immediately struck by the walking bass.  Who builds a pop song on a walking bass line?  Even cooler than this choice for bass accompaniment is how the bass evens out underneath the chorus, helping contribute to the steady, slick curves created by the vocal lines.  I’ve encountered this before, but it really stood out in this ride how a sustained pitch (usually in the vocals) can cause a turbulent track to flatten out – like in cartoons when a set of stairs get turned into a steep ramp.  I’m a big fan of the bluesy guitar and electric piano solos towards the end.  But don’t expect them to be conducive to high scores.  I had a hell of a time making matches in this one.  The variations in the instrumentation spawned fewer instances of single-color streams, a trait commonly found on high-traffic techno tracks.  A little bit of a challenge, but definitely worth telling you to play this song.

Not to be confused with Autumn Leaves... “Autumn Night” impresses me with its ability to squeeze a lot of traffic out of a fairly low key song.  The general vibe is folky with a dash of Guns N’ Roses.  No wait, I’m serious.  The solo guitar reminds me a lot of Slash’s work in the 90s, particularly from Sweet Child O’ Mine and November Rain.  It’s not just mindless shredding.  It’s melodic, occasionally uplifting.  After a few times through these Weatherman tracks you’d think I’d have a good idea of what the vocalist was singing about.  I don’t.  I was too busy listening to the guitar while I scavenged for red traffic.

Other Selections
I left “What Gandhi Said” out of the Recommendations section mostly just to give you the option of riding it.  The singer’s voice gets a little whiny, but the blues groove is wonderful and makes for some excellent bumps and hills in the track.  If you enjoy The Dada Weatherman and end up picking up his CD or something, definitely come back and ride this one.

Author’s Note
All songs were played on the Pro difficulty at least twice using the Eraser and Vegas characters.  Were it not for Eraser, there’s no way I would’ve made it through some of the less match-friendly sections of The Dada Weatherman tracks.