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Taking stock of the past few months in gaming, it's easy to see that 2013 has been one of the most generous, star-studded, quality-packed years. The same can be said across a number of other media industries, whether it's film or music. But when you have so many different things to sort through and watch, play or listen to, it gets tough to find the real gems. Over the next few weeks I'll try to sift through 2013's massive releases and highlight some of my personal favorites that are worth checking out. Awesome Albums (Part 1) The Wonder Years: The Greatest Generation What does it take for an album to really stand out? How can a band truly define a genre and transcend norms to create something unique? These questions get harder and harder to answer as musical tastes evolve. For instance, when I was just a wee young lad, pop-punk was all the rage. I never subscribed to the genre but all of my friends seemed obsessed with bands like Yellow Card and blink-182. Now that I'm older I find myself going through each band's catalog, trying to recapture whatever magic I missed in my youth. Truth be told, I sometimes struggle to find what kids really liked about them. I guess it was the combo of raucous attitudes and a rebellious tone that really sold pop-punk's success. Fast forward to 2013 and there are barely any relevant pop-punk bands left. Those that remain have slowly lost ground and continue to lose relevance amidst the rise of alt-rock. Unless you're All Time Low (which seems to have an eternal fanbase), it's nigh impossible to try and resurrect the long-dormant pop-punk genre. That is, unless you're The Wonder Years. Few bands have had as meteoric a rise as The Wonder Years and they've rightly earned their new-found fame. Tackling themes of post-collegiate disillusionment and problems that adults who grew up with blink-182 now face, The Wonder Years have curated a rabid audience. From what I've experienced at their concert and other firsthand accounts, the fans know each and every lyric of the songs. I've even had the chance to join in on a number of the songs they've played, which speaks to the band's ability to resonate with the youth. The Wonder Years are nearly pitch-perfect for my generation and the previous one, but I can already see the younger listeners growing in numbers. The music is mature with all of the catchy pop-punk hooks and none of the filler. And as time goes by, The Wonder Years only get better. This leads me to my current Album of the Year, The Wonder Year's The Greatest Generation. Few records are as perfectly paced or written as well as The Greatest Generation. The Wonder Years really did a fantastic job with Suburbia and the Upsides, but their newest album is on a whole new plane. It makes pop-punk relevant again while redefining the typical lyrical content. The Greatest Generation is a deeply personal album for lead singer Dan 'Soupy' Campbell, tackling depression and anxiety. But these themes are interwoven and outed to highlight how common they are among the recent generations. Soupy wants to relate to you on an intimate level; The Greatest Generation does that at every chance it gets. Listen to the whole album for the best experience (especially to appreciate the last track), but if you have to pick a few tracks to give a quick spin, here are the album highlights: Passing Through A Screen Door, Dismantling Summer, The Devil In My Blood Stream, Chaser, Cul-De-Sac. Brick + Mortar: Bangs EP Brick + Mortar are an odd lot, to be sure. Founded by front-man Brandon Asraf and drummer John Tacon, the duo is a fusion of darkly-tinged electro-pop and lo-fi rock. They emerged from relative obscurity with hit single Bangs and have since played at Coachella and many other venues to acclaim. Their newest release, the Bangs EP, is the kind of album you'd have to hear at least once in your life. It's perfect for the end of summer or when you just feel like tripping out. While not every song on the Bangs EP is my favorite, few debuts are as strong or well-composed as this. Brick + Mortar have proven their ability to meld genres into a gritty, dark, seductive hybrid. A few of my album favorites include the titular Bangs, Keep This Place Beautiful and the heartfelt No I Won't Go. Like many songs from this EP, No I Won't Go has a fairly deep story behind it. Brandon rasps a fight against addiction against the backdrop of an insidious bass-and-drum combo. It's darkly beautiful and terrifying, a paradox that perfectly highlights how skilled John and Brandon are at creating meaningful pop. And in many ways, you feel the duo is speaking to your own faults and problems. Bangs EP is personal, tripped out, mechanical but smooth, and altogether chilling. You likely won't hear anything quite like it for a good while. Balance and Composure: The Things We Think We're Missing Balance and Composure wasn't a big favorite of mine for a long time. I didn't get why this gritty rock band was so popular. Their debut album, Separation, just wasn't doing it for me. A few years later the quintet comes out with the sophomore The Things We Think We're Missing. Somehow, Balance and Composure heard my feelings of discontent and produced one of my favorite rock albums of the last five years. Hitting the blunt force of a hammer, The Things We Think We're Missing has some of Balance and Composure's best writing and musical composition. Having listened to the whole thing front to back, I finally see what the buzz is about. The album opens with the hard-rocking Parachutes and seldom lets up from there. The album channels 90's grunge and elements of classic rock, as well as numerous contemporary influences. You can see the DNA of Nirvana in a fair few of the songs including Notice Me. The latter half of Balance and Composure's second effort is easily my favorite. It starts with the heavy Cut Me Open that leads into the stellar Reflection. Seriously, Reflection is darn near flawless. It's the reason you should give The Things We Think We're Missing a chance. I'm Swimming and Keepsake are great songs in their own right but lack the staying power and brilliance of Reflection. All that said, Balance and Composure have truly crafted a fantastic rock album that'll stand the test of time. This deserves a hallowed place on your shelf beside the top rock albums of the past few decades. That's it for Part 1 of my Awesome Albums of 2013 round-up! Stay tuned for more amazing musical pieces you need to snag. Part 2 Teaser: letlive, Haim, Artic Monkeys, CHVRCHES.
gaiages posted a article in FeaturesI know, it's been rough lately. Last month had only seven gaming music albums to satisfy your thirst for free and great music; it just wasn't enough! It's almost as if the composers are getting tired! Unfortunately, this month isn't looking to be better... with seven more free albums, will it really be enough to last through July? Well, given the quality, it certainly will! This month features a wide variety of tracks that are bursting from the seams given their track count... heck, they don't sound half bad, either! Let's dive into the six new (and one old) albums that were released this June. Perfection. Original Soundtrack Perfection. is a simple mobile game that involves cutting shapes down into... well, another shape. It's a very relaxing and addicting puzzle game, and the soundtrack helps to reflect that. All of the tracks (minus the two bonus ones) are very soothing, so if you need something to chill out to, this album is for you. Download here Sample Tracks: Tiny Barbarian DX: The Serpent Lord OST The original Tiny Barbarian was a free indie game with a retro fell and a pretty steep difficulty curve. Now, a bit of time and a Kickstarter later, Tiny Barbarian DX has been released, an episodic sequel to the fun original. The Serpent Lord OST is an album of the tracks from the first episode of the new game, and as expected is fill of hard rocking chiptunes. Download here Sample Tracks: Mighty Switch Force 2 Official Soundtrack Those into the game music scene know the name Jake Kaufman, or at least the man by his username "virt." Very much a fan favorite, he has composed the soundtracks of many of WayForward's games... and Mighty Switch Force 2 was no exception. This soundtrack continues the original's tradition of quirky, high-energy tracks that meld perfectly with the game and with your playlist. (Editor's note: Seriously, this album is fantastic. Definitely give it a listen! - Jason C.) Download here Sample Tracks: , Sonic After the Sequel Original Soundtrack Many fans may still think that Sonic Team is going the wrong way with the blue hedgehog, but with a strong community of people that make quality Sonic fans games and ROM hacks, fans don't have to look too far for some new classic Sonic goodness. Sonic: After the Sequel is a fan game that takes place, you guessed it, after Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and attempts to explain some of the events that happened in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. The soundtrack, as you would expect, is composed of all new tracks with that classic Sonic feel in mind, so if you're looking for something that sounds like the old Sonic tunes but is completely new, then this is worth a download. Download here Sample Tracks: Fist Puncher Soundtrack Fist Puncher is another Kickstarter success... but it's not quite released yet. This old-school inspired brawler is still in its alpha state, but that doesn't stop its soundtrack from being complete and free to listen to! These twelve tracks fit the brawling game nicely, with tense tracks that will get the blood flowing. Download here Sample Tracks: You'll have to go to the download link! Banjo Kazooie Beta's This is... kind of a weird album. Kirk Granthope found some betas of some of the tracks he was writing for... and just decided to release them. Not even he knows what the tracks were for (at least the ones that aren't recognizable), or even why some are named the way they are. Regardless, they're all there to download and listen to. It's pretty interesting to see how Granthope's music develops, in the least. Download here Sample Tracks: You have to check the Bandcamp page! Oldie but Still a Freebie! Harmony of a Hunter: 101% Run 2011 was the Metroid series' 25th anniversary. Unfortunately, the series didn't give much love to the famous bounty hunter and her exploits... thankfully, fans did. Composers got together and created Harmony of a Hunter, filled with remixes of tracks from the Metroid series. About a year later, the 101% Run was released, a bit of an 'expansion' of the first, offering some new tracks on previously forgotten tracks. If you're a Metroid fan, this album is part of a perfect collection. Download here Sample Tracks: , That's all for June's free albums! There seem to be a few regulars missing (though understandable after Shiryu's massive release last month), but hopefully the summer will inspire more musicians to create some gaming music for us all to enjoy! Which album was your favorite? Any remixes or musicians you're hoping to see in July? Let me know in the comments below!
gaiages posted a article in FeaturesI know you've been counting the days until the end of the month. "I need my fix!", you proclaimed loudly at the Game Podunk homepage. "Where is it!? It's been a whole month already!" Well, worry no more. I've come to help you. It's hard waiting a whole month for your monthly music fix, but don't worry... you've made it. That's right, April is over, and that means twelve new albums (and one old) to download and get your music mojo on! April had two particular themes going on, actually: Love for Sonic and awesome mainstream composers giving their hit tracks out for free. Even so, though, it's a great month to be a gaming music fan! If you need even more gaming music, check out these posts for releases earlier in the year. Now grab your headphones and click away! Banjo Kazooie Complete Game Soundtrack Grant Kirkhope is a generous man. Over the past month, he has released three of his albums from Rare games into the wild, free for everyone to download. This is the first. The Banjo Kazooie soundtrack gives us 17 tracks of the iconic music. It may have been a while since you've played the game, but this album might give you the urge to give the N64 game another go! Download here Sample Tracks: , Banjo Tooie CD Soundtrack The second of Kirkhope's gifts to us this month is, unsurprisingly, the soundtrack to Banjo Tooie. Being Banjo-Kazooie's sequel, we can expect more of great sounds from the original in this 14 track compilation. It's almost as if Kirkhope wants us to delve into these classics again! Download here Sample Tracks: Perfect Dark Dual CD Soundtrack The final of Kirkhope's releases April comes to us on the final day... it's almost like a farewell to a month of fantastic music releases! These Perfect Dark tracks, while no longer on a CD, are sure to give fans another great Rare-flavored nostalgia trip. Download here Sample Tracks: , The Sonic Stadium Music Adventure 2012 Of all the Sonic album you're about the see, this one is the most massive. The year-long efforts of a entire community of Sega fans, The Sonic Stadium Music Adventure 2012 is a gigantic album that is essentially the group's love letter to the company. While the 157 tracks are mostly Sonic remixes, other Sega franchises are represented as well, such as Ristar and NiGHTS. If you're looking for only one album this month (why would you?), this is the best bang for your download. Download here Sample Tracks: , Sonic Classic 2: Original Soundtrack Before we get started, it's worth noting that Sonic Classic 2 isn't the name of the album: It's the name of a Sonic fan game. As you might expect from the name, Sonic Classic 2 is more in the vein of the classic Genesis games, and this 32 track album helps reflect that image. For those aching for some classic Sonic sounds that are, at the same time, new and unique, look no further than this album. Download here Sample Tracks: , Blue Skies, Green Hills Musicians sure have a love for Sonic this month, don't they? This 10 track tribute album takes tracks from Sonic games across many years, and the remixes are made by a variety of artists... heck, there's even a hip-hop track in there! If you're looking for some Sonic remixes that are a little more offbeat, give this a listen. Download here Sample Tracks: Second Adventure, Everything Was Green Biohazard EP Don't get too excited, Resident Evil fans; this isn't a remix of tracks from the survivor horror series... rather, it's (yet another) Sonic album! This four track album is a bit... weird, though. While the first two tracks are DjjD's original works, the second two are remixes of the Chemical Plant music from Sonic 2. Very short, but sweet. Download here Sample Tracks: Check the download page! Mayhem Triple Official Soundtrack Mayhem Triple is an odd game... apparently one about bunny invaders. I'm not quite sure what to think of the game itself... but the soundtrack is top notch. Mr. Podunkian (Editor's note: Hey, nice name!) said that he was inspired musically by another game of a similar vein: Earth Defense Force 2017. If that isn't making you frantically clicking the download link, I'm not sure what will. Download here Sample Tracks: The blog post has playable links to all the tracks; check the download link! The Adventures of Dash Advance Preview EP The Adventures of Dash isn't quite out yet, but Danny Baranowsky (well known for his work on the Super Meat Boy soundtrack) decided to share some of the music from this game ahead of time! The music seems to encompass a happy, cheerful game... and carries Baranowsky's awesome and unique signature. What a great way to build hype for the game! Download here Sample Tracks: Check the download link! Complete Composer Edition of Kameo: Elements of Power While Kirk Granthope shared three albums of his work this month, he wasn't the only mainstream artist to share his work for free this month. Ex-Rare composer Steve Burke also shared one of his works this month--the complete edition to the Xbox game Kameo: Elements of Power. Yet another generous gift from a more mainstream musician! Download here Sample Tracks: The file names are a little funky, so I had trouble finding the right matchups. Give it a download! Mystery Gift: An Original Pokemon Tribute This album isn't a remix or re-imagining of some of Pokemon's tracks; rather, it's a tribute to the series using original tracks they convey what the musician feels about the series at hand. Sounds a bit like musical art interpretation, right? Anyway, this eight track album certainly sounds like it came out out of a Pokemon game... any Pokemon fan should give it a download. Download here Sample Tracks: Another bandcamp album, another time to tell you to click the download link! Fire Emblem: War Memories Shiryu pumps out a gaming album almost every month... a very impressive feat seeing as he's only one man! This month he gives us a massive tribute to the Fire Emblem series. Shiryu covers tracks in both the newer and older games, and is a great listen for any Fire Emblem fan. It's also worth noting that this album's pretty big--spanning all the games, it round out at 30 tracks. That's a lot of listening potential! Download here Sample Tracks: Oldie But Still a Freebie The Legend of Zelda: The Essence of Lime This month's oldie as actually quite old, at least by internet standards; this Oracles of Ages remix album came out way back in June of 2010. This project had one goal in mind: Showing the world how awesome the Game Boy Color game's music was, and doing so with imaginings by various artists for many of Oracle of Ages' tracks. This shows in the 42 tracks that The Essence of Lime spans. Whether you played the original game or not, this is worth a listen just by the quality of the tracks alone. Download here Sample Tracks: That's all for April's musical offerings. Despite the general overload of Sonic, there's quite a bit of variety (and nostalgia!) hidden away in these albums. There's something for most fans to find here. Which albums are your favorite? Any singles you want to share? Let me know in the comments below!
I might be having a brain fart... but I can't seem to find a way to make another new album for myself. Is the max for normal users five or something? I really can't find the 'create new album' option anywhere. If not, could someone tell me how to create a new album? I seriously can't remember how I did it the other three times.