Rock Band Gives Up The Funk (And Then Some)

You thought we already had every kind of music you loved in Rock Band? Not quite: We’re the first to admit we’ve been a little funk-impaired in the past, and we’ve remedied that with a killer three-pack this week. But before we get into that, we’ve got a solid rock package this week as well.

Yes, we’ve read all those “more metal” posts that have been all over the forums. And whenever possible, we like to sneak you brand-new music by a major band. So this week brings two tracks by northern California’s nu-metal kings Papa Roach. "Lifeline" hits Rock Band a full week before it's available on CD - it's the first single from the band’s sixth album Metamorphosis. The new album marks the debut of new drummer Tony Palermo and is said to be a return to the raw energy of 2000’s breakthrough Infest. The second Papa Roach track to be released as DLC this week is "Last Resort," the first single from that debut album. The band got some fresh momentum on the Cruefest tour last summer; Motley Crue’s Mick Mars plays elsewhere on the CD.

Adding a second track to their Rock Band repertoire is Florida’s neo-punk band Against Me!, who’ve been an underground fave since  their early days with the pioneering Fat Wreck Chords label. “Thrash Unreal” comes from their recent major-label debut New Wave, and it’s the kind of shout-along tune with a hook you’ll remember all week.

We haven’t left pure pop behind either: “Use It” and “All the Things That Go to Make Heaven & Earth” were easily the most requested New Pornographers songs to follow up “Electric Version”; download them and you’ll have a key track from three of the four New Pornos albums to date (and don’t forget our recent interview with leader Carl Newman).

And now, onto the funk: Earth Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star” and Average White Band’s “Pick Up the Pieces” are classics you’ve likely heard at half the parties you’ve ever been to. But if you’re a rhythm section player looking to master the groove, these tracks are for you. And that brings us to this week’s dilemma: How to settle on a single James Brown track. We went with “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” for a few reasons: It’s one of the true milestones of funk, a milestone of wicked rhythm. It was a key track in JB’s career, introducing key players (like bassman Bootsy Collins) into his band. And last but hardly least, the lyrics are really fun to sing.