In the meantime, check out this review written by none other than Carrie Brownstein, Sleater-Kinney's guitarist.
For my money, I think she nails it when she remarks that it "puts you inside the guts of a song." I've been playing a lot of Guitar Hero III this week with tpratt and I'm starting to think about these songs a lot more than I ever have before.
When I was growing up, the first bands I remember really, really liking were Kraftwerk, Abba, Neil Diamond, XTC, and Herbie Hancock. But what's more interesting than that is the fact that I was subject to piano lessons from about the time I was five years old - and I hated, hated, HATED them and stopped playing piano the day I graduated from high school (I had won the Louis Armstrong award for jazz band - and I hated, hated, HATED playing piano in jazz band - and had played a few musicals as well at that point). Because I spent so much time being forced to practice music that was boring and ugly to me (Für Elise and all of the other classic lite stuff they teach you), I found myself permanently put off of the notion of ever playing music. Instead, I ran away into the realm which I suppose I could call strictly theoretical: music that's just way out there in terms of how it's created (Einstürzende Neubauten comes to mind, as did tape loop music such as early Severed Heads) appealing to me terrifically because it was clear that it wasn't created by physical performance in the classic sense of that word. I was excited to find out about the world of music that didn't require a human to create it note-for-note in real time - I had been asked to do that for years, and had played in contests etc. starting in late elementary school and REALLY hated that; there's nothing more embarrassing to me than having to play boring, shitty music that I hated in front of judges who would grade me on it. I especially remember having to memorize Joplin rags on the piano and then trot them out at will to impress strangers when my Mom asked me - ugh. Fuck The Sting. Really. I think that's what led me to appreciate Conlon Nancarrow instead (that, and Adam Mars-Jones's influence, but that's another story for another time). But anyhow...
Playing Guitar Hero is the first thing that's gotten me to truly appreciate music that is physically performed. No, it isn't like playing a real instrument (I did play bass guitar in high school jazz band whenever the much better piano player Xandy Janko (composer of MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING's score, incidentally) got a turn, which really should have been EVERY time, but Robert Klevan, the awesome musical director, was sadly insistent on equal turns so that we could both learn (I don't think Xandy needed to - he was a fanatic in the best sense of the word and truly gifted)). But yes, there is a certain amount of skill involved, and - more importantly - it really forces you to listen carefully to the music, which I had never done before (I refused to listen to any guitar-based stuff for years, succumbing only when tpratt took me to a Melvins show with cbertsch fifteen or so years ago. And you know what I've learned?
1. Slayer are underappreciated. I swear: listening to Raining Blood a few times, it strikes me as being worth of Alban Berg, Schoenberg, or György Ligeti. It's hugely weird, technically extremely difficult, and highly original. And I always thought they sucked because of their ghey name.
2. Thanks to Cliffs of Dover, I'm never allowed to make fun of star guitarists again. No more shouting "Yngwie!!!" or whatever - this kind of playing can be awesome. Plus, Steve Vai was super awesome at that Zappa show last December.
3. I'll always hate Pearl Jam just because they seemed so lame compared to Nirvana, but Evenflow is a good song. There, I've finally admitted it.
4. Same goes for Zwan, or whatever Billy Corgan's band was called when he recorded Cherub Rock. Stupid title, but it's got that same lovely awesome huge fuzzy guitar sound that reminds me a little bit of Morton Subotnick's Buchla crap from the late 60s.
5. Metallica are total bastards for allowing One to be used in GH3. Why? Simple: I still can't fucking beat it on Hard. It's the only thing between me and finishing the damn game already.
Over and out.