Today’s throwback comes to us from the soundtrack of Life is Strange 2, Milk & Bone’s “Natalie”.
Today’s throwback is a calming alternative tune by the name of “Natalie” by Milk & Bone. While going through my music library today and reorganizing it, cleaning my house, generally bustling about, as soon as this song came on, I froze in place, sat down, and just began to feel.
“Natalie” was used as the ending theme in Square Enix’s choice-based adventure game Life is Strange 2. Without spoiling too much, it’s usage in the game comes right after one of its most chaotic scenes, save for the ending. The Life is Strange (LiS) series has always been well known for it’s soundtrack, often using songs that heavily correlate or allude to in game occurrences. Both games are coming of age tales of young teens just trying to survive in today’s modern world, both also featuring strange weird supernatural events that play into the story lines. The series has won several awards for it’s story telling, voice acting and music.
The first entry in the series, set at a hip art school in Oregon showcased a lot of soft alternative indie rock, perfect for the mood it was trying to set. The second game in the series was a little less pronounced with its musical choices but was still solid, mixing songs like this one with “On Melancholy Hill” by the Gorillaz.
If you like video games and are a fan of good stories, I highly suggest checking out the original Life is Strange or Life is Strange 2. Both are available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC and both let you play the first tale of their episodic journeys for free.
Grasscut’s “Pieces” is a delightfully unique offering in the electronic genre-sphere. Fresh from the Ninja Tune label, this “alternative electronic” track has elements of dance-pop collide with alternative rock/indie music that is reminiscent of bands like Death Cab for Cutie or Velveteen.
Beginning with sultry, subdued warped vocals, the song quickly begins an entrancing xylophone-like synth along bass and a steady beat. The accompanying video uses what looks like tripped out stock footage, in vintage 480p, adding to that underground/indie feel.
Appearing in an [adult swim] bump, the intermissions between their own shows and commercials, the network often promotes underground rap, hip-hop and electronic music. The network and Ninja Tune label are also closely associated with Big Dada records, Brainfeeder (Flying Lotus’ record label), and WARP records.
It is partly thanks to [adult swim], the network designed for 18-34 year olds, that eclectic acts such as Flying Lotus and Tycho and many more underground hip-hop acts (through label Definitive Jux) have been discovered, such as Aesop Rock, Cage, Despot, El-P, Murs, RJ-D2, and more received more widespread recognition.
The Ninja Tune and WARP records labels were radio stations in Square Enix’s Hong-Kong “GTA” video game, “Sleeping Dogs.” Within the game, playing the station would bring up underground EDM and ambient hits like Bonobo’s “Kiara,” artists like Stateless, Coldcut, UK rap/grime act Two Fingers, Emika & Lorn. It’s sister station “WARP records” played jams from artists such as Rustie, Flying Lotus and Hudson Mohawke. Truly revolutionary for it’s time (Sleeping Dogs was released in 2012).
More from Ninja Tune & Warp Records, Definitive Jux:
[Transcendent Ambient as seen in Sleeping Dogs]
[Hauntingly Deep Bass:]
[Underground, Thought-Provoking Alternative Hip-Hop:]
We are dogs unleashed,
Out of control
Full of dreams, nobody knows
Unleashed, time to escape
We don’t wanna suffocate…
Today’s throwback highlight is to German alternative rock band, Tokio Hotel. The band took the world by storm quietly after the release of their 2007 album, Scream. “Dogs Unleashed” continues their melodic foray into dark, but still light rock and has a nice catchy hook/chorus.
“Dogs Unleashed” comes from their 2009 album, Humanoid. Fun fact: I was on a school trip in Rome, Italy when I heard one of the band’s most popular singles, “Monsoon.” It played on the Italian equivalent of MTV, with it’s accompanying video. I also was introduced to Mika’s “Relax, Take It Easy,” a light-hearted dance-disco EDM cut, also released in 2007.
When I returned to the States, I found Tokio Hotel had become very popular and was beginning to make waves in the US. Select singles became available in the US iTunes store. “Monsoon” was also featured in Guitar Hero: World Tour (the international themed iteration of the popular game).
[Alt. Indie Rock] Alt-J (∆) – Something Good (as featured in Life is Strange)
[Music Video “Something Good”]
Get high, hit the floor.
Before you go…
you’re my blood sport.
This alternative indie-rock song is perfect for chilling out and hits you right in the feels. Whether you just happened across the song by chance or were like me, and heard it on the highly popular, play-as-you-go, “Choose Your Adventure” style video game, Life is Strange, Alt-J (∆)‘s calming soft-spoken, yet powerfully moving “Something Good” is a great song for these upcoming colder months. With relaxing guitar chords and keyboard arpeggios the abstract, and also very concrete lyrics create a warming, joyful ambiance.
Appearing in the game as the typical Pacific-Northwestern alternative-rock cut your main character, Max, just be chillin’ to. Its delivery (at the start of a brand new day the song plays as an “alarm” to wake you up) comes at a perfect time in the game’s story arch and really draws you into as the misfit archetypal high-school senior just trying to fit in.
Life is Strange is a downloadable video-game available on Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The game revolves around an angsty 18-year-old teenager named Max, who has moved to Oregon to attend a private art-school for photographers. A place where her interactions with her teachers, peers, parents and others are determined by your choices alone. Decisions made during the games dialogues have lasting effects down the line; like whether you make fun of the class bully or help her during her bad day, or leave a window open to save a bird’s life or simply lament the sight of its dead body.
The twist which takes this beyond a game of storytelling and essentially a visual virtual graphic novel is the fact that Max learns one fateful day, when an off-kilter jock brandishes a gun in the school bathroom and shoots one of Max’s friends, that with the thrust of her hand and enough effort she can reverse time.
After the shooting Max awakens in class, about 10 minutes before she first walked into the bathroom and watched a student get shot. All the conversations, from the teacher’s lecture on Daguerreo-type photography, to class bully Veronica’s verbal jabs at Max play out exactly the same way as during the game’s intro with Max realizing she’s not dreaming. From there on out Max is faced with situations typical of young adult life; going to parties with the popular kids, rekindling a relationship with her stoner best-friend and the like, but with major ramifications and consequences for seemingly benign decisions.
Life is Strange is a refreshing breath of air in what technically could be called a role-playing or Adventure game, but pulls it off in a way never fully explored before in a video game. The result is like playing a movie or a TV show that you have control over, or if you’re real old-school, exactly like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books except the book is presented in 3D graphics right in front of you. So far I’m loving it.
Joe battles with an inner issue in this song. Is there something deeper in this song that what’s on the surface? Maybe. To me, it seems like his old friend depression is the cause behind his lack of focus and flip-flop of things.
At times he’s pumped, he’s motivated, he’s ready to hit the studio but then there’s days where he doesn’t want to do that. He sees it as pointless. It’s a waste of time.
This throwback post recalls one of Joe Budden‘s “unreleased” tracks from his 2009 mixtape Halfway House, an EP many speculate, Budden wrote while depressed. As someone who has dealt with bouts of the ailment myself I can relate in parts of his “Sidetracked” song [Sometimes I wanna make music/sometimes I feel it’s just useless…]a deep recollection of the darker side to fame over hip-hop beats (and a sick Coldplay sample).
In general, I try to avoid depressing music but there are times when it feels right to me (especially during the colder months). Sometimes the raps can hit close to home and stir emotions, at other times (to me) these songs may be sonically great, or have a sick beat/sample but the depressing lyrics turn the would-be banger into a “pity-party” that I probably wouldn’t play around other people at least not for cranking round the city or getting ready to hit the club. I feel neutral as this music certainly has it’s place; some of Kid Cudi’s greatest tracks are fairly sad. But, Cudi balances it pretty well.
This mixtape of Budden’s, a lot of Charles Hamilton’s music, almost all of Cinos‘ songs I’ve heard (apart from Rain Zone) and even some from Lil B squarely fit this bill. How do you feel about songs that are sad?