Soundtracks: Stardew Valley

If you’re a gamer like me, you have your own unique standards that you use when evaluating a game.  For me its the whole package. But above all, the plot, the aesthetic, and the soundtrack.  There are so many video game classics with amazing soundtracks: Legend of Zelda, every Final Fantasy, Halo 3, just to name a few. Although there are many amazing video game soundtracks, its not like I’d ever listen to them other than while playing the game.

When I got Stardew Valley I was surprised to find that the game included a soundtrack. I’ve never purchased a video game that came with a soundtrack, I thought it was quite strange. I also was not too keen on playing the game as it was taking it back to the old school 8bit style.  Not that I have anything against this choice, I just made the assumption that the game would be a very simplistic version of other games like Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing.  I was so wrong, it was a unique combination of the two. After 10 minutes of playing this RPG, I realized its depth and was amazed at its detail, all the way down to the music.  Indie games are special in that they put the time and effort into details like these, and these skills are beautifully highlighted in this game.

At the beginning of the game you inherit your grandfather’s farm.  You are entrusted with his legacy. Where you go from there is your choice, the game has endless possibilities and opportunities.  Its addicting.  I think that what makes it most addicting is the music that keeps you going.  Each unique track creates soundscapes that perfectly compliment the aesthetic.  At one point I was totally immersed and forgot the game was 8bit.  After playing the game for so long I realized why one would want to own a soundtrack.  Each song is unique with its own flavor of synths and drum kits; above all they are deeply relaxing.

The general musical theme of the spring months are bright banjos and guitars.  The summer is tropical and hazy. The fall has warm synths with hints of a cold brightness that follows.  Winter is by far my favorite season of music.  It’s melancholy ethereal synths perfectly compliment the magic of a white winter.

But my favorite song on the whole entire album is the 2:05 minute track, “Spirit’s Eve Festival.” If you’re not into video game music thats fine, but just give this track a shot, you won’t be disappointed.  The track  plays while you are in town  for the festival having a fun ghoulish time playing games while skeletons walk around in a large cage.  The song’s syncopated synths are so dark, I would want to sample this song if I were a producer for sure.

Eric Barone, under the alias of Concerned Ape, created everything.  The music, art, programming, and design.  Not only did he do all these things, but he was teaching himself to do all of these things while making the game.  Four years later it released on February 16, 2016 and sold one million copies in only two months.  I am blown away that one man could develop this game.

I personally don’t listen to video game music other than when I’m playing the game. But when I’m feeling own I throw on Stardew Valley while I’m drinking my coffee, and feel a bit better.

Listen to “Spirit’s Eve Festival,” on YouTube.

Listen to the album on Spotify.

Sources:

“ConcernedApe.” Stardew Valley, Concerned Ape , stardewvalley.net/presskit/sheet.php?p=Stardew%2BValley.

 

Seemingly Unknown Artist: Fragrance

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Genre:  Synth pop, dark pop, dream pop, cold wave

Get lost in a dark dreamy world with French group Fragrance.  Their underwater sounding vocals lull you into a colorful world of airy and grimy synths. I’m really starting to get into dark pop and this is a good segue into the subgenre.

Songs you might like:

  • “Malibu” – L’An2000
  • “Into those woods” –  Bragolin
  • “Lust for Life” – Fragrance

Artists you might like: Liste Noire, HoRD, Black Nail Cabaret, Paradox Obscur, Antipole, Geometric Vision, ACTORS, L’An2000

Listen to my dark pop playlist here.

Visit their Spotify page here. 

 

Music History: Dub

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One of my favorite things about music is the way that music evolves with time.  As time passes music genres influence each other, sometimes changing the genre into something completely different.  This is interesting to observe with dub music.

In order to understand dub history, we must understand some of socioeconomic aspects that impacted Jamaican society in the early 70s.  During this time period Jamaicans were not able to spend their money on records, they did not have the financial means to do so. Thus when record producers made records, they were taking their chances.  Thus they found a solution, play the records in dancehalls in order to observe the audience’s reception. This practice would open the doors for a new Jamaican genre, dub.

One of the dub pioneers was Rudolph Redwood. He would produce instrumental versions of tracks, and thus dancehall DJs would add their own singing or rhymes over the music.  This was given the name “toasting,” which would eventually give rise to dancehall music. Using these sorts of instrumental tracks in this manner was commonplace in the Jamaican music industry.  

The focus of dub were the instrumentals, not the singers.  Sound engineers would remove or rearrange instrumentals, they would never add.   These sound engineers are the ones who laid the groundwork so many genres that would follow.  If it were not for dub we would not have so many genres: jungle, house, garage, grime, and essentially any music driven by technology. Dub sound engineers were the first  to utilize sound boards as musical instruments.

This was just a brief synopsis of the history.  If you want to read more, be sure to check out the sources. Stay tuned for future posts about all different varieties of Jamaican music,  rocksteady, ska, and reggae and dub-a-dub.

This playlist will give you the dub essentials, from the master himself, King Tubby, to others like his apprentice, Scientist.  Sit back and relax and let this dub playlist lead you into summer.

Listen to the playlist here. 

  1. “Inna Mi Yard”- King Tubby
  2. “Root Man Party ” – Don Carlos
  3. “Your Teeth in My Neck” – Scientist
  4. “Overseas Posse” – Toya
  5. “Love and Unity” – Michael Prophet
  6. “Act of Affection” – Wailing Souls
  7. “A Who” – Michigan and Smiley
  8. “Seek King Ras Tafari” – Jah Melodie
  9. “Mount Zion Medley” – Morgan Heritage
  10. “Janet Sinclair”- Little John and Billy Boyo
  11. “Fattie Boom Boom” – Ranking Dread
  12. “Work On Mr. Farmer” – Edi Fitzroy

Sources:

Bush , John. “THE DREAD LIBRARY.” Debate Central – Since 1994, debate.uvm.edu/dreadlibrary/bush.htm
Gil

l, Pablo. “Reggae – Origins Of Dub.” UDiscoverMusic, 10 May 2018, http://www.udiscovermusic.com/in-depth-features/reggae-origins-of-dub/.

REVIEW “Letting Go” – Wild Nothing

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Genre: dreampop, shoegaze, post-punk revival

Jack Tatum’s stylistically driven work caught everyone’s attention in 2009 when he started his own music project under the name Wild Nothing.  In 2009 bands like The Pains of Being Pure At Heart were dominating the scene with the fuzzy shoegaze and sweet pop undercurrents.  Tatum came in with his own unique brand of this, but he made himself distinct in  the scene with his mellow glittery synths and buttery vocals.

The  new single “Letting Go,”  highlights the care Tatum has taken in crafting his unique brand of work influenced by the sounds of synth-pop, alternative dance, dance-rock, post-punk, and new wave–all frameworks spawned out of the 80s and early 90s.  Tatum acknowledges that the tradition and pays homage to these artists with his up beat melody driven track.

As melancholy lyrics describe a jilted lover dreaming of happiness, and attempting to overcome his despair of being betrayed by a lover.

I want to be happier now
I want to be more than closed
Surreal, the way you made me out
The way you crashed me down

Yet, “Letting Go,” isn’t the typical break up ballad.  The lyrics describe a monumental life changing heart break, but the upbeat guitar melodies emote an hope for happiness in the future.

It is a fine line artists tread, should they shy away from traditional frameworks for their genre? Some reject the groundworks for fear of being repetitive and cliche.  Instead Tatum embraces the aspects of what made legends like Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, New Order so unique and memorable.  These are the types of bands that are still part of the shoegaze/ dream pop consciousness, they are what defines tradition, and Tatum respects that.  Tatum acknowledges that tradition is important when crafting music that will remain relevant and venerated in the future.  He elaborates,

“I wanted it to sound like a classic studio record, as close as I could get it there. It just boils down to me wanting to fit into some larger narrative, musically, in terms of these artists I love… I think about how my music will age. Ideas of ‘timeless’ are going to be different—so if Indigo is not timeless then it’s at least ‘out of time.’”

I’m looking forward to listening the rest of the album and seeing where I can place Wild Nothing in the larger musical narrative.  It will be interesting to hear what Tatum’s interpretation of “timeless” entails.  We will have to wait for hazy August for the new album “Indigo” to be released. If “Letting Go, ” is any clue to what is to come, I’m hopeful that Wild Nothing will be a band I’m still listening to in 30 years.

Songs you might like:

  • “Allison” – Slowdive
  • “Pulling Our Weight” – The Radio Dept.
  • “Kaleidoscope” – Ringo Deathstarr
  • “Cherry-coloured Funk” – Cocteau Twins

Artists you might like: New Order, The Radio Dept. , Beach Fossils, Beach House, DIIV, Real Estate, Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Ringo Deathstarr

Sources:

Kenneally, Cerys. “Wild Nothing Returns with News of Fourth Album Indigo and Lead Single ‘Letting Go.’” The Line of Best Fit, 5 June 2018, www.thelineofbestfit.com/news/latest-news/wild-nothing-new-album-indigo-new-single-letting-go.

 

Seemingly Unknown Artist: Bad Business

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Genre: Yacht Rock

Don’t be fooled by the name “Bad Business,” listening to this funky new group is good news for you if you love Yacht Rock like me. The EP “Day Job Guys,” is a perfect execution of what Yacht Rock should be—rich melodies and sensual saxophones, a perfect amalgam of jazz, pop, and rock. Each track has a melodious funky beat with a sense of urgency, but with a smooth rhythmic pop. By far my favorite track was “Ride Along,” laden with nostalgia, it felt like I was listening to Steely Dan’s “Peg” for the first time.
Bad Business knows their music history, and they honor that legacy with their creativity and attention to detail. Bravo, Bad Business, Walter Becker would be proud.
Songs you might like:

Artists you might like: Ambrosia, Chicago, Hall & Oates , Robbie Dupree, Spandau Ballet

International Artists Spotlight: Spain

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I’ll be visiting in France in a few short weeks and its the closest I’ve ever been to the land of my ancestors, Spain.  That being said, I decided to start another spotlight segment, international artists. I love a lot of international music, this is just a taste.  Stay tuned for a bunch of international segments like this one!

On this playlist you’ll hear a array of genres and influences: synth pop, synth rock, post-punk revival, dream pop, folk pop (with emphasis on the pop) funk synth and more! Even if you don’t speak Spanish you’ll love these melody driven tracks.

Click here to find the playlist on Spotify.

  1. “Girls”- Lost Tapes
  2. “Tu Casa Nueva” – El Ultimo Vecino
  3. “El Extraño Viaje” – Murciano Total
  4. “Tortura en los Bares” Trepát
  5. “Morado” – Sr. Chinarro
  6. “Dejame Entrar” Trajano!
  7. “Mató al Fary” – Anntona
  8. ” Mi Patria en Mis Gayumbos” -Anntona
  9. “Flor de Luz” – Joe Crepuscúlo
  10. “Chill Aqui” – Extraperlo
  11. “Peor Que Las Demas” – La Bien Querida

What do you think of the music scene going on in Spain?