Serj Tankian, Paramore & Black Tide DLC

Last week we hit you with stack of classic Grateful Dead; this week we jump back up to the present: Three tracks to satisfy your hunger for current rock with a current buzz band, a famous band member going solo, and a crew of young metal whippersnappers. It’s our package in honor of the South by Southwest festival in Austin TX, where all three bands, along with about three-quarters of the music industry, can be found this week.

Serj Tankian - “Beethoven’s C***”

Serj TankianWe’re sure you can figure out the real title to this song — If not, just think about things that Jane Fonda said on television last week. The title, of course, turns up nowhere in the song, which features one of his typically enigmatic lyrics. Indeed, fans of Tankian’s old band System of a Down would probably argue that searching the words for hidden meanings was a good part of the fun. (One chat board poster figured that “Beethoven’s C***” is about the Virgin Mary putting civilization on trial, which isn’t a bad guess). This track hails from Tankian’s first (so far only) solo album, and will give your band skills a workout with its drum flourishes and soft-to-loud shifts. If your full band is involved, you’ll have more players than Tankian did: He played everything on this track except the drums.

Paramore - “Crushcrushcrush”

Paramore“I am pretty simple. Music, make-up and fashion are what I’m into,” says Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams. Hey, at least her priorities are in the right order. Formed at a private school in Franklin, Tennessee, this teenage punk-pop band was one of the new sensations of 2007. We’ve had a soft spot for this band since last year, when they were one of the celebrity judges at MTV’s Total Request Live Rock Band competition. This was the third hit single from the band’s Riot! album and finds singer Hayley Williams doing what she does best: Getting all worked up about a failed romance while the band shouts back the chorus hook. But the song’s so darn catchy that you don’t have to be a lovestruck teen to relate. In fact, we’d love to know how many football jocks are singing Hayley’s part when nobody’s looking.

Black Tide - “Shockwave”

Black TideHere’s what happens when you let your little brother borrow your old Ynvwie Malmsteen albums. These teenaged Miami speed-metal dudes were lately on tour with Avenged Sevenfold and this track, which premiered on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball, leads off their just-released debut CD. Last summer the band had a misadventure on the Ozzfest tour: They had a prime slot on the second stage when the tour’s promoter realized that the stage was sponsored by an alcohol company, and the members were too young to be drinking the stuff (lead singer/rhythm guitarist Gabriel Garcia was all of 14). So they got dumped from the tour, only to have Ozzfest reinstate them two days later — this time on the main stage, where there was no sponsor and no controversy.

“I Want My, I Want My DLC!”

The songs in Rock Band are only the beginning. Each week we’ll be rolling out more downloadable songs, essential tracks (and sometimes whole albums) from every era of rock history. Check the Rock Band website to find out what’s new.

Tracks will usually sell for $1.99 each; with three-pack specials costing $5.49. (On the Xbox 360, that’s 160 Microsoft Points per track and 440 per three-pack). Occasional special or discounted tracks may cost a dollar more or less.

Downloadable content for the Xbox 360 is available through the XBOX LIVE marketplace. Downloads for the PLAYSTATION 3 version of Rock Band are available through the PLAYSTATION Network Store. In each case, the songs are downloaded onto your hard drive.

If you’re playing solo, you can start rocking right away. For head-to-head or multiplayer online, all players will need to download the song.