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Music Video Games & Opinions on The Gossip and The Flaming Lips

Jim and Greg explore the phenomenon of music video games with one of the brains behind Guitar Hero and Rock Band, Greg LoPiccolo.

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Music News

In the news this week is President Obama's appointment of Victoria Espinel as the new Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, or as she'll likely be known, IP Czar. Jim and Greg talk to Michael Bracy, the Policy Director at the Future of Music Coalition, about this appointment. Bracy gets the sense that Espinel stands pretty safely down the middle of copyright issues and believes the Obama administration is more concerned with access to internet and competition. He explains that until a legitimate digital media marketplace fully evolves, it remains to be seen how copyright laws should be changed and approached differently in the courts. Bracy and the folks at the FMC will be continuing discussions on this topic and more at their annual summit this weekend in Washington D.C.

One of the biggest music releases this year is actually not an album, but a video game. The Beatles: Rock Band was released to much hype and acclaim last month. Since the release of Guitar Hero in 2005, and then Rock Band in 2007, $3 billion worth of these games have been sold. It's a successful new revenue stream for an industry in dire need of a boost. Jim and Greg have been critical of games like this before on Sound Opinions. They wonder where the music fits in and suggest that perhaps music fans would be better off playing actual music. But there's a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that games like Rock Band encourage kids to learn music. Jim and Greg discuss these pros and cons with Greg LoPiccolo, one of the brains behind Guitar Hero and Rock Band. As the Vice President of Product Development at Harmonix, LoPiccolo was involved with bringing The Beatles on board.

reviewEmbryonicEmbryonic available on iTunes

The Flaming Lips Embryonic

The Flaming Lips are back with their 12th album, Embryonic. The band has been around for three decades now, which some people wouldn't expect from a bunch of psychedelic rockers from Oklahoma. Jim, who wrote about the band in his book Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips, has been waiting for them to return to their roots. They are rocking out again on Embryonic, and while they've done this sound before, and better, he gives the album a Buy It. Greg agrees that they are moving in the right direction. The fans may wonder where the pop songs are, but he's fascinated to hear them attempt the jazzier material. Greg applauds the ambition, but finds the execution lacking. He gives Embryonic a Burn It.

JimGreg
reviewMusic for Men (Deluxe Version)Music for Men available on iTunes

The Gossip Music for Men

Next up is a review of Music for Men, the major label debut from The Gossip. The underground trio is fronted by Beth Ditto, whom Jim describes as a feminist and gay activist, as well as a "Fat-Activist." Her onstage persona caught the attention of superstar producer Rick Rubin, who brought the band to Columbia. Unfortunately, as Greg relays, Rubin did the band no favors. The drumming sounds crisp and precise, but Ditto's voice has been stripped of its bluesy passion. A disheartened Jim agrees. If he weren‘t married, and Ditto weren’t gay, Jim says he'd want to marry her. But you get none of her life force on this album. Both critics give Music for Men a Trash It.

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Featured Songs

  1. After the Fire, Der Kommissar, ATF, Epic Records, 1982
  2. Boards of Canada, Happy Cycling, Music Has the Right to Children, Warp, 1998
  3. The Beatles, Revolution, The Beatles: Rock Band, Harmonix, 2009
  4. The Beatles, Rain, Paperback Writer (single), Capitol, 1966
  5. The Beatles, Here Comes the Sun, The Beatles: Rock Band, Harmonix, 2009
  6. The Beatles, Baby, You're A Rich Man, Magical Mystery Tour, Capitol, 1967
  7. The Flaming Lips, Convinced of a Hex, Embryonic, Warner Bros., 2009
  8. The Flaming Lips, I Can Be A Frog, Embryonic, Warner Bros., 2009
  9. The Flaming Lips, See the Leaves, Embryonic, Warner Bros., 2009
  10. The Gossip, Men In Love, Music for Men, Columbia, 2009
  11. The Gossip, 8th Wonder, Music for Men, Columbia, 2009
  12. Vitalic, Second Lives, Flashmob, PIAS, 2009
  13. Drive-By Truckers, George Jones Talkin' Cell Phone Blues, The Fine Print: A Collection of Oddities and Rarities 2003-2008, New West, 2009
  14. The Beatles, Paperback Writer, Paperback Writer (single), Capitol, 1966
  15. Lily Allen, Take What You Take, Alright, Still, 2006

Footnotes

variety.com More about IP Czar Victoria Espinel jimdero.com Jim's book on the Flaming Lips chicagotribune.com Greg's review of Music for Men in the Chicago Tribune