Thursday, November 11, 2010


 Gaming has come a long way since Computer Space. The arid days of analog and Atari are long gone. In their place we have the wide world of MMORPGs and other multi-player platforms like PSN. Much like the essential staple of sugar soaked soda, the gamer's soundtrack can be equally as important as their selection of snacks. In this post, we'll listen to some choice cuts for a gamer play list, which are classified to a specific gamer genre.

Heads Up, Hearts Down by I Fight Dragons - from Cool Is Just A Number (2009)
For Role Playing Games; Especially Zelda

Hailing form the windy city, chiptune band I Fight Dragons incorporate sound effects made by Nintendo consoles into traditional guitar-based rock music. The band formed in 2008 and quickly achieved success around town by winning numerous band competitions. The Deli Chicago named the band "Best Emerging Chicago Artist of 2009." While their music is pop/geek and upbeat; vocalist Laura Trainor's head and heart may be down as the band revealed she is no longer a member as of October 2010. Their latest EP, Overcool, was released earlier this year.

Fall Behind Me by The Donnas - from Gold Medal (2004)
For Racing Games

Before The Donnas went all sludge and hair metal, with 2007's Bitchin', came their most accessible and polished album, Gold Medal. Fall Behind Me is a consummate companion to the competitive racing spirit.

Sonic Reducer by Dead Boys - from Young Loud and Snotty (1977)
For First Person Shooters, Sports

Dead Boys rose out of the ashes of Cleveland cult band Rocket From The Tomb's demise. Their popularity failed to peak in North America, however these CBGB regulars are credited with influencing a slew of modern acts including Pearl Jam. Sonic Reducer would later be sampled by Beastie Boys in An Open Letter to NYC.

Take You On by Peaches - from I Feel Cream (2009)
For Any Versus Game

The majority of Canadian electroclasher Peaches' music harmonizes competently with any gaming experience. Aggressive in nature and based in synthpop, Peaches' pulsating track Take You On matches perfectly with a classic kart game or any versus play.

Going Steady by Death From Above 1979 - from You're A Woman I'm A Machine (2004)
For Any Game

DFA 1979's pulsating music has been featured in various forms of media including games like Project Gotham Racing 3 and Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. See Musical Duos part I for the history behind DFA 1979.

Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones - from Ramones (1976)
For Sports Games, Racing 

A popular sports rallying cry, Blitzkrieg Bop was named "18th Best Guitar Song of All Time" by Rolling Stone and can motivate any gamer to get revved up and ready to go.

Broken Face by Pixies - from Surfer Rosa (1988)
For First Person Shooters, Survival Horror; Especially Zombie Games

Frank Black's screeching vocals and Joey Santiago's frantic guitar work on Broken Face exemplify the Pixies punk knockout punch. Perfect for pulverising perished people in games like Dead Rising 2 or hunting down hicks in Red Dead Redemption.

A Song to Sing When I'm Lonely by John Frusciante - from Shadows Collide With People (2004)
For MMORPGs; Especially World of Warcraft

The title of this gamer playlist entry says it all.

Hot Night Crash by Sahara Hotnights - from Kiss & Tell (2004)
For Racing Games, Sports

Hot Night Crash is played in Burnout 3: Takedown and Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam. This garage rock refrain by four Swedish ladies is apt for any game in which you try not to crash and burn. The band's latest album, Sparks, is a collection of covers and includes a rendition of Foo Fighters' Big Me.

Pacman by The Hextalls - from Get Smashed (2010)
For Arcade Games; Obviously Especially Pacman

The Hextalls' album Get Smashed is essential for any gamer who adores pop-punk. Many of their songs allude to gaming, yet their effervescent tracks also speak of relationships (I Met Her At The Ropetow), hockey (I Don't Wanna Be A New York Ranger), alcoholism (I'm Not An Alcoholic!) and one appears to be about pleasuring yourself to country music (My Dad vs. Shania Twain.) This Vancouver-based band is a new incarnation of the now defunct outfit Dr. Evil and much like crashing a castle, The Hextalls may soon be a favourite of Canuck gamers everywhere.

Horse Power by The Chemical Brothers - from Further (2010)
For Racing Games

Realistically any electronic music acts as an adequate addition to the gamer's experience. However some techno songs that feature vocals can distract the player. Horse Power is not only the title of the track but those two words are the only words spoken through out the song, keeping it simple. Further is the first Chemical Brothers album not to feature vocal collaborations. Furthering its pitch perfectness as an addition to a gamer play list.

Phantom by Justice - from Cross (2007)
For Any Game

Hugely popular French house duo Justice's music has been featured in games such as Grand Theft Auto IV and DJ Hero. Honestly any track from Cross fits well with gaming. My pick, Phantom, has the electronic pair doing their best distorted Daft Punk impersonation.

Threshold (8 bit) by Brian LeBarton - from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World Soundtrack (2010)
For Arcade 

L.A.'s Brian LeBarton enjoys incorporating odd instruments into his music. Skilled at manipulating the children's toy Speak & Spell, LeBarton was recruited by Beck to be his keyboardist/musical director in 2004. LeBarton also contributed this track for the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World Soundtrack, which is so retro you may be reduced to a pile of tokens.

Friday, November 5, 2010


 Thanks to the institution that is Major League Baseball, the Simpsons Halloween special is always shown the following week in November (this year includes a Twilight spoof, yawn.) So every year I seem to have Halloween on the brain long after the holiday is over. If I close my eyes, I can still taste poisoned candy and hear the soft thuds of toilet paper enveloping your house. As horror movie marathons are a staple of the season, in this post I'll run down some morbid movie marathon essentials. These films are paired with a corresponding song, ready to be heard during bathroom breaks. Alternatively you can put them on your iPod as you chase after the kids who just smashed your decaying jack-o-lantern.

Scary Movie: Halloween (John Carpenter's 1978 original or Rob Zombie's 2007 reboot)

 The original was an anomaly of it's time. Produced for under $400 000, it grossed $60 million worldwide. Producer Debra Hill admits Jamie Lee Curtis was cast simply for the fact that she is Janet Leigh's, of Psycho shower scene fame, daughter. Tame by today's standards, at the time critics blasted the film for encouraging sadism and misogyny. I can only imagine what those critics would say had they seen Rob Zombie's 2007 reboot. Ultra-violent is an understatement for Halloween version 2.0. Zombie envisioned Michale Myers as a dog-eating psychopath and Scout Taylor-Compton's Laurie Strode is a fragile victim in the first film. By 2009's Halloween II she becomes as unhinged as her murdering brother. If Zombie does make a Halloween III, prepare for Laurie to don the William Shatner mask.

Accompanying Song: Halloween by Sonic Youth

Scary Movie: Rosemary's Baby

 Understated and slow paced, 1968's Rosemary's Baby doesn't rely on buckets of blood or gallons of gore to terrify the audience. Instead Roman Polanksi's adaptation of Ira Levin's novel is a study in psychological horror. What woman wouldn't be repulsed to learn they have conceived the devil's baby? Look for Ruth Gordon's standout, Oscar-winning performance as a naughty neighbour.

Accompanying Song: Devil Baby by The Demonics (there are a few minutes of dead air after the song)

Scary Movie: Pet Sematary

 The death of a pet is always a somber occasion. In Mary Lambert's 1989 pic, pet death goes from somber to spooky. Personally, I enjoyed the Edward Furlong-starring sequel over this installment. Don't get scared, but a remake is in the works! Paramount Pictures has tapped Matthew Greenberg to pen the screenplay.

Accompanying Song: Pet Sematary by The Ramones

Scary Movie: The Descent

 Easily one of  my favourite horror movies ever. Neil Marshall's 2005 claustrophobic epic stars six femme fatales and a horde of subterranean scares. One thing that sets The Descent apart from other horror movies is the writing- you actually begin to care about the characters. It may start slowly but as the story builds so does the dread. The drama that precedes the darkness makes for a sort of terrifying telenovela. See The Descent Part II  for the return of Sarah and Juno.

Accompanying Song: Underground by Moist

Scary Movie: Scream (Series)

 In 1996, Scream re-invigorated the horror genre. Smart and self-aware, the original grossed over $100 million on a budget of $10 million. The movie also introduced the mainstream movie going public to Rose McGowan's nipples. While 2000's Scream 3 saw the departure of writer Kevin Williamson and with him a dip in quality, the upcoming Scream 4 has Williamson returning for what will hopefully be the best installment in this legendary slasher series.

Accompanying Song: Scream by Michael & Janet Jackson

Scream 4 trailer

Scary Movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street (The 2010 remake)

 Looking back at the original it now seems schlocky and lame. Thankfully we have the recent reboot to stir us in our sleep. While not an amazing re-imagining, music video maven Samuel Bayer's 2010 version is definitely more disturbing. Mostly because of the molestation plot line. After his Oscar-nominated turn in Little Children,I wonder if Jackie Earle Haley will be pigeon holed as a child abuser- an abhorrent fate for any actor. As for the song paired with this movie; the tempo may not cut as sharply as Freddy's faux-fingers, but who else is creepier than that "witchy woman" Stevie Nicks?

Accompanying Song: Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

Scary Movie: Dawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder's 2004 remake)

 Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead is my favourite zombie movie of all time. George Romero's original is a solid scare fest; for it's time. I mistakenly rented Romero's version once and honestly it now plays out as dated and more comedic than it was meant to be. The message of "consumers are mindless zombies" is more prevalent in the first film- yet for real petrification, I need zombies that can run as fast as blood spurting from a jugular wound.

Accompanying Song: Zombie Dance by The Cramps

Scary Movie: Natural Born Killers

 Named the "8th most controversial movie" of all time by Entertainment Weekly, movie goers either loved or hated Oliver Stone's 1994 tale of mass murder. As a whole it is not so much scary as it is simply sick. NBK is memorable not only for the violence, but for its unique style. The film contains over 3000 cuts (mostly films have around 650) and utilizes black and white, unconventional colour schemes and bizarre camera lenses to create an unparalleled package. Released before reality TV was all the rage; NBK remains a prophetic and divisive celluloid chronicle nearly two decades after its release.

 Accompanying songs: I Wanna Kill by Crocodiles

Got Love to Kill by Juliette & the Licks

Scary Movie: It

This movie terrified a pre-pubescent version of myself. Tim Curry is a true chameleon. He can play a sweet transvestite, a bungling butler and a blood thirsty monster without missing a beat. This TV movie does digress from Stephen King's novel but it's hard not to when the source material is over 1000 pages. Watch for a 2011 remake that will hopefully improve on this morbid masterpiece. Now here's Krusty, who I'll be looking for at the Treehouse of Horror this Sunday.

Accompanying Song: Send in the Clowns by Krusty the Clown