Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Video Game Music

Have you ever played Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on a white iPhone 4 with the breeze of one of the five Great Lakes blowing through your hair? I have, but this isn't a tech blog and I haven't read Apple's Terms of Service.

Today we're actually talking about the music that soundtracks our favorite video games. So if you've ever hit Pause in the middle of a game just to sit in front of a glowing TV screen listening with your ears while giving your button-mashing fingers a break, read on.

Sonic turns 20 tomorrow so, in honor, M-OM is presenting this introduction to the game's soundtrack and the minds behind it including Michael Jackson, who would later have a connection to Sonic 3 (post coming soon).

Sonic 2 was a best-selling action/adventure game for the Sega Genesis. Rivaling Nintendo's star plumber, Sonic was like a cocaine-paced version of Super Mario. Released in November of 1992, the game brought manufacture SEGA's market share up 50% within six months. It was fun as hell and visually dazzling for that console's era of 16-bit pixelations and uninspired side-scrollers.

Adding to its luster was its soundtrack: eight glorious levels of computerized and repeated loops that eerily mimicked the upbeat and bouncy pop, soul and New Wave music of the time. Composed by first-time 16-bit musician Masato Nakamura, the Atari computers used to make the music only allowed for four sounds to be played at once. "I had a sound limitation and I had to make it work anyway," said Nakamura in an interview.

Although this was Nakamura's first foray into video game music, he was already making waves as a bassist in Dreams Come True, a j-pop band who would go on to sell 50 million records worldwide.

"I wanted Sonic to come across as cinematic," Nakamura continued. "I wanted melodies that the player would hum along with as they were playing, dramatic music for when the scenes were intense, climactic music for when bosses would show up and then tie it all together with an uplifting theme for the end credits. That was what I knew I wanted it all to be like. Nowadays, RPGs use this sort of musical technique a lot, but at the time, action games like Sonic didn't."

With the first two games under his belt, Nakamura left the series soon thereafter, but the music lives on years later. In 2003 Akon remixed ending theme, "Sweet Dream," for a PS3/Xbox release.

The sounds may have been cheesy, but the arrangements were addicting. My favorite level music is below. Post yours in the comments and download Sonic 2 for your Mac/PC here.

...or you could just get an iPhone.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Young Rebellion

Last summer Canadian indie pop trio, Young Empires, helped me out with my Internet marketing skills. This month the Internet darlings are back with a remix for "Rain of Gold." This is where I'd usually say they have an exciting new album on the way out on an exciting new label, but to tell you the truth, these guys still aren't signed... and I think that's how they like it.

One look at their MySpace reveals that this is a band made for the Internet age. High quality music videos adorn the site with newsletter sign-ups that lead to "MP3 bundles."

There's a lot to see and hear from Young Empires -- from the dark 808 State grooves in "Glory of the Night," to the dance-punk "Against the Wall" and the popular "Rain of Gold," today's featured track (below) remixed by Brooklyn's French Horn Rebellion, who recently played Toledo.

Although it may seem as if Young Empires is in a perpetual Demo mode, an LP is highly anticipated by both Entertainment Weekly and NME so look for it -- along with a possible interview with yours truly -- soon. Also, someone give these guys a deal. Kitsune?

Sunday, March 13, 2011


In the summer or fall of 2005 United State of Electronica (better known as U.S.E.) rolled into Cleveland's Beachland Tavern. They sort of took over the place -- with their opener of choice, Seattle's The Sleepers, and a merch table sponsored by KEXP, a Seattle mecca of indie rock.

I had been bumpin this album for a few months in my iPod. Songs included "It Is On!", "Emerald City" and "Open Your Eyes" -- they were punk, indie but retro, glam but genuine, indie with a sound that booms to stadiums. Cathy, a collecrive tightly knit with a neon-tinged yarn. Adorable -- the two guitarist, the two broads, the robot crooner and the beat man -- playing to a huge beat that doesn't indulge in drum machines and plays a mean snare/high-hat combo. Cosmic. A Daft Punk lovechild? All band members hyped in a hype-drug induced anthemic sex pots while clean R&B guitars take things to epic heights -- all resulting in one party them one right after another.

Well, they seem to be back in the news -- some six years later -- with the recently released "Dance With Me," a joint-shaking, over-the-top epic anthem for a generation perhaps we have yet to see. I'm talking about in the future where robot crooners broadcast to masses of rainbow-clad aliens across the universe.

Make-Out Music is VERY excited for LP2.

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Top 25 Songs of 2010

Well, here we are on the last day of 2010. Another year, another buzzband, another blog's year-end list all come and gone.

2010's big hitters like Kanye West, The Arcade Fire and Beach House delivered as expected, but what I particularly found interesting about this year were two things: the lo-fi aesthetic and electronics that continued to reign over independent music and the renaissance, which has been brewing for a while, in underground hip-hop.

Releases by Caribou, Ariel Pink, Mac Miller and the LA hip-hop collective, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, proved to be worthy contenders of defining this year's sound. Each was a little familiar, but also really fucking weird. So without spoiling my #1 selection, read on to see what these, and the rest of the tracks on this list, did for my ears this year.

And here's to you, 2011 ... another year of blog abandonment? I think not. Follow Make-Out Music on Twitter or comment down below to let me know what you thought of the music released this year.

25. Glasser – “Home”

I first saw Glasser's name on a bill with Delorean this summer and then seemingly saw the name everywhere one day later. Without a doubt, LA native Cameron Mesirow blew up this year with her debut LP, Ring, and while it was an interesting first listen, Glasser's songs lacked the structure/catchiness of which I felt were lost opportunities. But that wasn't the case with "Home," which perfectly summarizes what Glasser is all about: songs that build to a blissful climax in world drums, cinematic synths and Mesirow's sweeping vocals.

24. Big Boi – “Daddy Fat Sax”

Outkast's Big Boi finally got his due this year. As the less notable half of the soon-to-be legendary Atlanta hip-hop duo, it was hard to pick just one track from his debut, Sir Lucious Left Foot...The Son of Chico Dusty, but "Daddy Fat Sax" nails it: "With my ears to the streets and my eyes to the sky / I'm on another planet my nigga and you just fly"

23. Flight Facilities – “Crave You” (Bxentric Remix)

22. Jamiroquai - "White Knuckle Ride"

"White Knuckle Ride" was a grand return from Britain's Jamiroquai, who had seemingly went into hiding after their 2005 spacey disco LP, Dynamite. It's hard to believe that most Americans only know Jay Kay and Co. for 1996's "Virtual Insanity" when this track marks the band's quadrilogy of consistently funky and immaculately produced string of albums.

21. Mecanico - "Barcelona"