Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Week on Audiosurf Radio – Open Call Edition

outside-1Audiosurf continues to feature user-submitted rides, and it appears to be working out.

Big ups to Loudcore for selecting a band name that might as well be a genre.  I mean, there’s screamcore, hardcore, and metalcore.  Why can’t you just declare yourself the most diligent purveyors of loudness?  Well, you can, and he did.

King Richard’s Sunday Best is, needless to say, an odd name for a band.   And they seem to know that.  Their website is full of tongue-in-cheek modesty: “If you hear King Richard's Sunday Best and consider it good music, you need to reconsider your taste. Hell, you probably also like The Beatles. Get a life.”  But I like The Beatles…

Find out what these peculiarly-titled acts are up to after the jump.

The Songs

audiosurf lost in placeHow do you name a song “Lost in Space” and not reference the 60’s sci-fi television show (not that awful movie thing) of the same name?  That’s like naming a book about space travel Star Trek and then being surprised when people demand to know where the Klingons are.  Or, to stay in the realm of science fiction, making a game named after combative solar entities and thinking the cease-and-desist letter from The Representatives of G. Lucas is fan mail.  Why don’t you include a “Danger, Will Robinson!” .WAV file?  Because you’re too busy crafting a bitchin’ little ride for the Audiosurf crowd.  “Lost in Space” is jittery, frenetic – it’s had a few too many lattes, if you know what I’m saying.  The aural ingredients are nothing revolutionary, but the sum of their parts (the energy, the playful drive) more than makes up for that.  Also, I love it when I hear parts in techno that sound vaguely like a real person’s creating them.  Sure, it eventually is looped and assimilate into the whole, but the noodling keyboard melody feels like the result of a man jamming out to the beat he laid down.  There’s pride in that experience, joy even.  Play this song, because that feeling carries throughout the entire track.

audiosurf reason“Reason” sounds like a handful of seemingly-disparate elements were jumbled together, dare I say, like jambalaya.  Mournful (okay, perhaps simply heavy-hearted) strings sway over a simple hip-hop drum beat.  Even a beat-boxing amateur could replicate this timekeeper (though they’d probably have trouble with this).  Adding to the incongruity are some soprano flights of fancy.  Wordless ululations float in the vocalists highest registers, lending a spacy, ethereal quality.  It’s not a perfect marriage of ideas, but it’s not on the fast track to divorce or anything. 

audiosurf motor vehicle utilizationIf the vibe I get from “Motor Vehicle Utilization” is to be believed, King Richard’s Sunday Best are those guys who played guitar in your high school just to get chicks.  They played sensitive music.  They led sing-alongs of “American Pie.”  They eschewed Van Halen and Nirvana for the Goo Goo Dolls and Barenaked Ladies.  “M.V.U.” is full of folksiness: tight harmonies, spare but bouncy guitar, string accompaniment, and a dash or two of corniness.  It’s a song about how universal driving a car is and how we should use that common ground to bridge all of the tiny little gaps that keep us from empathizing with everyone around us at any given moment.  Not a bad metaphor or sentiment, though it’s unfortunately undercut in the bridge when the singer plainly discusses how we all have different worldviews.  Thanks for spelling it out, boss.  That said, it’s a nice little ditty, and the Steep tag keeps the ride moving.  Have fun with it.  It’s not asking much more

audiosurf i know youWhen I said “a dash or two of corniness,” I hadn’t yet been exposed to the musical wit of King Richard’s Sunday Best.  The jukebox act they do on “I Know You, Reiter” is quite impressive.  At its core, it’s a simple song about wanting to be wanted.  Layers upon layers above that, it’s an opportunity for the band to showcase some versatility.  They switch genres on nearly every phrase.  Bluegrass, punk, singer/songwriter, metal, waltz, spoken word, country, and Gregorian chant are all covered (perhaps I even missed some?).  Not all of the jokes land completely, but the effort and range of styles outweigh any negatives one might muster.  Repeated listening does hurt the song, as most of the fun comes from its sense of surprise.  But if you saw this act at a bar or small concert (it’s a live recording), you’d assuredly be on the band’s website when you got home.

Author’s Note

All songs were played on the Pro difficulty using the Eraser character.  Most of the comments this week were extremely positive, and I tip my hat to the enthusiasm of user tinfoiltank, who exclaimed after riding “Motor Vehicle Utilization,” “My brother is the cellist!”