Chip Music, Game Music, Indie Music, Reviews

Good Music for a Good Cause: Songs for the Cure ’11 – Remedy (Review)

April 6, 2011 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook Good Music for a Good Cause: Songs for the Cure ’11 – Remedy (Review)on Twitter

We’ve seen Songs for the Cure in the past, but never like this. Three separate discs, 40 artists, and a ton of great music. The artist roster this year is mind-blowing, and organizer Josh Whelchel has made the music easier to digest by arranging the tracks into similarly-styled collections, the first of which we’ll be checking out is Remedy.

So, just who’s on Remedy? As Whelchel puts it, “The game people.” While you won’t get Alexander Brandon here (he’s on the vocal album, Esuna), nearly everyone else we mentioned in our news post a few weeks ago is here.

What do we think of the Remedy collection? Find out in our review after the jump.

To start off, there’s a lot of music here. It covers a vast array of genres, so it’s hard to even group tracks together. With 22 tracks, I’d love to cover them all, but I’ll try to hit just the highlights (although there are an awful lot of them).

The album opens with Disasterpiece swingy grunge rock track, “The Battle of Vyazma.” Most of my limited experience with Disasterpiece is with his chip music, so the twangy acoustic guitar and chugging bassline sort of surprised me. This is followed by “Roboflamenco” by virt, which I swore I read as “Roboflamingo” about a dozen times before realizing I had read it wrong. Snazzy flamenco guitar and heavy drum ‘n’ bass would have made this a great boss battle theme for a robo flamingo, but even as “Roboflamenco,” it will still knock you off your feet. I haven’t heard something this heavy from Jake since the Hellven days.

Mattias Häggström Gerdt follows this with his electronic oddity, “Healing Mutations.” Smooth ride cymbals push along with a distorted, wonky bassline and a playful bell melody. It sounds strange, yes, but it is somehow soothing, fitting perfectly with the track title. Jimmy Hinson’s “Cubic Zirconium” which appears later sports a similar vibe, coming as a slow and measured electronic track with some amazing production values.

We get some jazz flava’ with Joshua Morse’s “Kite in June” which features a funky slap bass and some lovely piano work that will make you weak in the knees. “Electrotherapy” by djpretzel sports a similar groove, taking a somewhat elegant electronic approach with a funky distorted bass paired with string stabs and highly reverberating piano notes that almost sounds like something out of Granado Espada.

C418 of Minecraft fame brings us “The Long-Winded and Painful Death of Sweeney S Greenville,” an appropriately lengthy title for the longest track on the album that almost reaches the 7-minute mark. Dreamy and contemplative, this almost feels like the long-winded life and death of Sweeney S Greenville. This is followed by one of the shortest tracks, but one of my favorites, “Skulltripper (feat. Random)” by Danny Barranowsky. I guess I’d call it trip hop with a sweet melody that is followed by the octave-jumping bass. I love it.

While I hadn’t heard of indie game composer Whitaker Blackall before, his track “Keep On,” has me wanting to hear more. What he has here is a poppy dance track with a catchy hook and lots of chip elements. It almost feels like there should be vocals here, but we instead get a synth lead that voices an incredibly catchy melody line. Likewise, I hadn’t heard of Chris Geehan or ambinate, but the former’s belltone-heavy “One Note Edit” had me thinking of a cross between Hiroki Kikuta and jazz band Hiroshima, while ambinate’s minimalistic “Eight Weeks” is quite beautiful despite its simplicity.

Kunal Majmudar takes a cinematic approach with “Lapis Lazuli,” which is actually an arrangement of one of Bill Brown’s demo tracks. This one will require you to focus your attention to catch all the intricate details, and it’s amazingly well produced. Equally impressive is stemage’s contribution, “Alba.” It opens with some contemplative acoustic guitar chords before a dreamy melody line comes in. Eventually electric guitar, bass, and rock percussion fade in to create a laid back alternative rock track that reminds me of my favorite bands from the 1990s… as well as Metroid Metal. There’s a solo tucked away towards the end, right when you thought there wasn’t going to be one.

Then it’s time to hit the road. FFMusic DJ gives us “Mind Eleven,” an 8-minute long techno track that is perfect for late night driving on the freeway. I love the chirpy electronic accents that add to the dreamy atmosphere of the track. Speaking about roads, it’s then on to my favorite track on the album, battlecake’s “Rainbow Road to the Moon.” Yes, it’s actually what it sounds like: a mashup between “Rainbow Road” from Mario Kart 64 and the moon stage from Ducktales, both of which are near and dear to my heart. Who would have thought to combine the two? The performance focuses mostly on “Rainbow Road” with the Ducktales moon stage arpeggio backing it up, although the Ducktales song acts as the piece’s bridge, which is brilliant. I still can’t get over how cool this track is.

The album closes with a short glitchy experiment by Jay Tholen titled “Flames Grew Higher,” a reflective and melancholy (and beautiful) chip track by souleye, and a driving electronic remix of A_Rival’s “8-Bit Pimp” dubbed the “Just Pimp ‘em Remix.” It would have been great to have heard more of A_Rival, as we just get snippets of his voice in this remix, but it’s a high-energy way to close out the album.

Now, I’ve thrown a lot of praise at the album, but I know not everything here will speak to everybody. There are a few tracks that I honestly can’t stand, but this is for such a great cause, I don’t see the point in stirring up negativity and calling them out. There’s a lot of music here, and most of it is incredible, and well worth the $10 asking price for the physical copy or $5 for the digital. You can also purchase combinations of the albums (all three CDs for $20, for example). Buy this album for the great music here, or buy it because proceeds support the American Cancer Society. Or buy it just for the battlecake track. Either way, you’ll feel good about yourself for doing it.

What do you think of this year’s lineup and separation of tracks into three distinct albums? What are some of your favorite songs from the collection?

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