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by Rob Horning

18 Aug 2009

Though it has a great hed, Daniel Radosh’s article on the new Beatles Rock Band game reads like a long infomercial, or like a textual equivalent of one of those fake-documentary shows that gets made to promote movies, with interviews with the stars and the director that can be clipped out for use on Entertainment Tonight or get thrown on the DVD as bonus “features.” (Though I can understand why Radosh took the assignment—who wouldn’t jump at the chance to interview the last living Beatles?) It did nothing to allay my confusion about music-based games. Changing radio stations in the stolen cars in Grand Theft Auto still seems a more meaningful musical gaming experience to me than playing Simon to the beat on plastic mini-guitars. I still think I may as well try to play guitar and suck, or simply play air guitar rather than try to master the irrelevant and counterproductive ersatz fretwork of Guitar Hero. (Guitar playing involves raising to the level of instinct the movement of your fingers up and down the fretboard along with the rise and fall of melody. Guitar Hero seems capable of thwarting that development.)

And I continue to think statements like this one—“Playing music games requires an intense focus on the separate elements of a song, which leads to a greater intuitive knowledge of musical composition”—are pretty ideological, wishful thinking asserted as nebulous fact by the game’s marketers. (“Knowledge of the alphabet leads to a greater intuitive knowledge of poetic composition.”) This tepid endorsement has the same hopeful vagueness: “Olivia Harrison, George Harrison’s widow, who stopped by Abbey Road while Martin was working, recalled her surprise upon first playing Rock Band a few years earlier. ‘You feel like you’re creating music,’ she marveled. ‘It must engage some creative part of your brain.’ ” Of course, you are not making music and are only simulating creativity vicariously. But if the game satisfies the brain’s creative impulses, why not just call it real creativity, the same way we might call crack-induced euphoria “true happiness”?

by Thomas Hauner

18 Aug 2009

by PopMatters Staff

17 Aug 2009

Headlights
Wildlife
(Polyvinyl)
Releasing: 6 October (US)

Indie band Headlights recorded their upcoming record live. Tristan Wraight says, “On this record we just sang, that’s the take, that’s the part, there’s the vocals, here’s the mic, sing the song, done.”

SONG LIST
01 Telephones
02 Secrets
03 You and Eye
04 Get Going
05 Love Song for Buddy
06 I Don’t Mind at All
07 Dead Ends
08 Wisconsin Beaches
09 We’re All Animals
10 Teenage Wonder
11 Slow Down Town

Headlights
“Get Going” [MP3]
     

by Bill Gibron

17 Aug 2009

We all complain about talking in today’s movie theater experience, a combination of lax living room viewing habits translating over to the big screen scenario as well as that most senseless of addictionas - the cellphone. We crow about texting and other forms of technological shorthand, kids incapable of leaving their portable video game consoles long enough to absorb a 70 to 90 minute movie. But there are worse affronts to the sensibilities of a faithful cinephile, acts of egregious insensitivity and inappropriate behavior that, 100 years ago, would probably mark the difference between a civilized and callously uncouth society. While by no means all inclusive, here’s a list of 10 things that happen almost regularly in Bijous around the country that warrant a little more than a passing criticism. Sadly, strict laws against homicide keep film fans from resorting to outright violence, even if light of such affronts as:

Catcalls and Wolf Whistles
While definitely sexist and reminiscent of a time when chauvinism battled feminism for the proper way of dealing with a fetching guy or gal, aurally expressing your sexual approval of a star or onscreen sequence is just pointless. Megan Fox doesn’t want your horndog howl. She’s quite content with the million dollar salary your blind sense of beauty provides her. Besides, the only person hearing your approval of Eric Bana’s naked bubble butt is the un-attentive teenager zombie out in front of you. Also, when was the last time anyone acquiesced to physical congress with you based on a bleated sound of sensual acknowledgment. Thought so.

by PopMatters Staff

17 Aug 2009

Hugh Cornwell
Hooverdam
(Invisible Hands Music)
Releasing: now (digital) / 8 September (physical)

Frontman of one of the original British punk bands, the Strangers, Hugh Cornwell is releasing a new solo album in early September that displays his life-long love of gritty rock and roll. But in a true punk twist, Cornwell is offering the album for free right now from his website www.hughcornwell.com. The head of Cornwell’s label, Charles Kennedy, explains the free offer as such: “Everything that’s ever been recorded or filmed is now online and free – whether the copyright owners like it or not, and any work of artists that is honest – either from decades ago or right now – has intellectual value that will always translate into monetary value.”

SONG LIST
01 Please Don’t Put Me on a Slow Boat to Trowbridge
02 Going to the City
03 Delightful Nightmare
04 Within You Or Without You
05 Rain on the River
06 Beat of My Heart
07 Philip K. Ridiculous
08 The Pleasure of Your Company
09 Wrong Side of the Tracks
10 Banging on the Same Old Beat

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Culture Belongs to the Alien in 'Spirits of Xanadu'

// Moving Pixels

"The symbols that the artifact in Spirits of Xanadu uses are esoteric -- at least for the average Western gamer. It is Chinese culture reflected back at us through the lens of alien understanding.

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