Five Questions with Shaimus Guitarist Evan Brown

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yesterday I posted my review of the new Shaimus album, The Sad Thing Is, We Like It Here. Be sure to check it out. In my review I quoted guitarist Evan Brown. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for me as I wrote up the review, but I left out a few responses he gave me.

Brown believes that the new album is a big stepping stone for Shaimus as they have really come together and found their defining sound. For those wondering if Shaimus will be heard in a future video game though, Brown kept hush hush.

As this is the second Shaimus release, what do you feel is the biggest improvement over Paper Sun (Shaimus' debut album)?
Easily the biggest improvement over Paper Sun is that this was more of a full-band effort. We were still in our formative stages as a band while recording Paper Sun, and as a result we didn't quite have our sound together yet and much of the album sounds more like Phil [Beaudreau] and a backing band. This album is 100% Shaimus and really defines our true sound as a band.

When people listen to the album, what do you want them to think after hearing it?
Ideally, I'd like them to think it was the best album they've heard in a long time and that they'd like to immediately start listening again! More generally, though, I hope people feel like they've just been taken on a musical journey and experienced something more than just listening to 10 songs they hadn't heard before.

How has the feedback been so far since the release?
Feedback has been great. Many people are hearing that we're starting to come into our own as a band now, and that's encouraging. All you can hope for is that people "get" what you were going for and that listeners can at least partially appreciate the inordinate amount of work that goes into making an album. Actually, that's not totally true--all I really hope for is that people listen and say "this is good." The rest is just icing on the cake.

What is your favorite part of the album? Is there one song that sticks out to you?
My favorite song on the album is "While We're Young." We wrote and arranged that song while we were on tour in 2006, and the whole thing started coming together while we were rehearsing in Cam's garage in Seattle. The opening chord still makes me start sweating sometimes, remembering how humid it was in that little room. I was looking forward to hearing the recorded version of that song more than any other, and I wasn't disappointed. I think it turned into something really cool, and the song sets more of a mood than just about anything else we've done.

What's next for the group? Tour? Local gigs? Any video game news or early plans for the next album?
In our immediate future is the CD release party on March 4th in L.A. [link] We have some things in the pipeline for the rest of the year, but some goals include doing some more touring (most likely sticking to the West Coast) and continuing to shop ourselves around to labels and publishers and such. Our big goal for the year is to get heard by as many people as possible, so anything that helps us achieve that we are open to. As for video games, well I actually can't really talk about that. There may or may not be something in the near future.


The Not So Sad Thing Is, I Like It

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fans of Guitar Hero may be familiar with a Los Angeles based band by the name of Shaimus. All of This, off of their debut album (Paper Sun), was one of the unlockable songs in the early versions of the video game iteration of air guitar.

Wanna be musicians who spend their time playing Rock Band 2 will hear a familiar sound with Like A Fool in the form of a free download. The song is part of the latest release from the up and coming band from the west coast, The Sad Thing Is, We Like It Here. Truth is, there is nothing to be sad about with the second installment in the young band's discography.

The alternative rock band hails from Boston and has come a long way in a short amount of time. I have listened to Paper Sun numerous times since its release and have listened to The Sad Thing Is, We Like It Here enough times to have noticed the progression of the style of the group. When you listen to the songs you feel like you are listening to a band that has been around for a while, one that knows who they are and where they want to go.

"Easily the biggest improvement over Paper Sun is that this was more of a full-band effort," says Shaimus guitarist Evan Brown. "We were still in our formative stages as a band while recording Paper Sun, and as a result we didn't quite have our sound together yet and much of the album sounds more like Phil [Beaudreau] and a backing band."

There is something familiar about that sound, but at the same time it is refreshing in this world of pop music. Everything is catchy and you will find yourself humming Turn the Other Way as fast as you can actually turn the other way. I know I did.

Below is a music video for Turn the Other Way...

To say that Shaimus is everything that is right about music would be an understatement. These five guys love what they are doing and it shows. All of the songs were written by the group as a whole. The band also takes the credit for producing the album.

"This album is 100% Shaimus and really defines our true sound as a band," says Brown.

Do you have $10? If so and you are looking for a new band to check out, buy this album. Not only will you be adding a fine CD to your music library but when the final track finishes you might just find yourself cheering on for Shaimus at the end and hoping they stick around.

Artist: Shaimus (website)
Album: The Sad Thing Is, We Like It Here (link)
Where to Download: iTunes, Amazon


Before they Were CTU Agents; Chloe O'Brian

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chloe went on to become a tech geek and landed a job with the government once she moved to Los Angeles.


Commodore 64 on Wii

Monday, February 23, 2009

Today Nintendo added a new system to the Virtal Console library in North America; the Commodore 64.

Only three games are available this week; International Karate, Pitstop II, and The Last Ninja. Personally I never played any of these games and for 500 Wii points I am not about to try any of them out. Now, when The Oregon Trial becomes available, if it does, I may have to consider parting with some of my saved up Wii points.


How To Subscribe to the Blog

My friend who is now down under asked me how to subscribe to this blog. In response I decided to post about it for the entire internet community.

The easiest way to subscribe to the blog would be to enter your e-mail address in the box over on the right. I promise you that no spam will come out of it and to be honest I will never know your address as a result. It is all work done behind the scenes by FeedBurner. By doing this you will receive an e-mail every time a post is made. Sometimes, if I have more than a single post, you will get a couple posts in one e-mail. I rarely post more than once a day here anyway though.

Facebook users who are friends with me will actually receive my blog's feed in their news feed by default. If you have opted to receive less news about me than you will not see my new posts. My feed will still show up on my Facebook page, although when I include pictures or video in a post, only the text will show up on Facebook.

If you haven't noticed, you can view my Facebook page using the widget on the right side of the page.

If you take your blog reading to the next level with RSS readers (I use Google Reader personally) then you can view the RSS feed for the posts (and comments if so inclined) by clicking the link at the top of the page that says "Posts RSS". Once that page loads you can click on subscribe to add the feed to your favorite RSS reader or whatever platform you use.

What are the benefits of subscribing? Well, for starters you won't have to visit the page every day to see what is new. Rather the newest content will come straight to you!

Hopefully you decide to subscribe to the site and return in the future. If you have any questions or problems about subscribing, please let me know. I will try to help you out as much as possible.


Friday Links

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I totally forgot to post Mario Monday. I should have scheduled it instead of leaving it as a draft. It will be up Monday.

Just a few links to share today.

Construction of the Eiffel Tower - Cool photos of the construction of the iconic structure in France. I once went to the top.

Touchscreen Rubik's Cube - Includes a video!

Video Game Myths - Contrary to what you may think, blowing in the NES cartrdige does not work!

Ten of the Coolest Super Mario Hacks - I would love to get my hands on any of these hacks.

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games - It is official now.

Orion's Belt - Not the cat.

Guy Films Shuttle Launch from Airliner - Unique video of a shuttle launch from the sky!


Happy Birthday Kristi!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Today is my sister's birthday. She won't be able to read this for another couple of days because she is down in Disney World, where they have apparently named the park in her honor.

What's more is while she was down there she got engaged to Mark, who surprised her with an extra day down in Florida. We're all waiting for her to come home to congratulate them in person now.

In honor of my sister's birthday I share with you this video, which more than likely only she and I will understand.

Now play ball!

Happy birthday Kristi!


Pancake Krimpet

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I love krimpets. I love pancakes. Naturally you would think that when I saw the Tastycake Pancake Krimpet on sale at the grocery store a week ago that I would be jumping with excitement.

You would be correct, however I did not buy them as they were not on the grocery list on this trip. I would love to try them though so if anybody wants to send some free samples my way feel free!

What I did not know is that these have been around for almost a year! Has anybody tried these? Are they as good as I imagine they would be?

I must know!


Friday Links

Friday, February 06, 2009

Call it another week. This week was a cold one around these parts and while there were some stumbles along the way my week does end with some good news; my sister is engaged. More on that at another time perhaps...

For now, your Friday Links to kill some time!

Top 10 Moments Caught on Google Maps Street View - Needs no further explanation.

The 11 Most Unnecessary 'How To' Guides on the Web - How to change television channels? Really?

If Everyday Objects Were Designed by MC Escher - This world would be very strange, that is for sure.

L'il O'Reilly (Obama's First Week) - Kinda creepy, but I found it funny.

Nintendo Training Video (1991) - Sad thing is I watched very similar videos to this while working at Staples.

A Look at Five Video Game Franchises Then and Now - Mario, Metroid, Madden, Final Fantasy, and Zelda.

Contra Jungle Jam (on Guitar) - How long until somebody posts a comment with the Konami Code (or the Contra code)?

Nintendo DSi out in spring - One final piece of Nintendo news, the new version of the DS, which is the descendant of the Game Boy, is coming with two digital cameras installed in it. It is already out in Japan and will be released in Europe in the spring. The US won't get the thing until much later this year (which means Christmas time I am sure).

Strange cloud formations - Above the state of Washington

650 Million Years in 1:20 - You know, if you believe that Earth is older than 6,000 years.


Domino Rally

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Yesterday's post got me thinking about Domino Rally. Did you ever have them? I had one set, the basic set.

There were a number of more elaborate sets but I guess that I never caught on to the fad enough to warrant my parents spending another dollar on the colored plastic dominoes. That is fine with me as I much preferred my parents' hard earned money to be spent on Nintendo games and LEGOs.

They were fun while it lasted but Domino Rally had flaws that would make them inferior to real dominos, and I'm not talking about the pizza delivery specialists. One thing that always bugged me was the fact that the domino pieces were lightweight and not a solid piece. What I mean was that the domino piece was hollowed out on one side. I never understood the reasoning behind that (I suupose it had something to do with cheapening the manufacturing and production of the pieces) and I always felt that that was the reason the pieces did not "work" all the time.

When I would set up dominos in my basic set many of my pieces would fall over. I usually set up my track on the kitchen table or floor because it was too difficult to stand up dominoes on the plush carpet throughout the house. My other complaint was the loop in the basic set. Setting that stunt piece up was a pain in the neck and I often refused to include it in my tracks. I do not remember what the problem was now. Was it a rubber band issue that I could never fix on the cheap plastic loop? I was seemed to have to point my finger at the loop and nudge it to get it going. It was just a nuisance.

The piece consisting of the two mini hills was the only piece I had that worked that I liked. Granted I only had two pieces to choose from but still. I loved the idea of that piece. It was a genius move to create that piece because as a younger person I can imagine I would get frustrated trying to set up a hill using books, or video tapes, or...I don't know...Nintendo games. The makers of Domino Rally took away that frustration and replaced it with a colorful contraption of their own. Thank you Domino Rally creators. Thank you.

Domino Rally survived into the early 90's but can still be found on the internet at various places.

Did you have any Domino Rally sets? Did you stack up regular dominos? Did you combine them? Feel free to share your domino stacking memories in the comments section.


24: 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

As U.S. troops remain in position outside of Sangala, Dubaku seeks another high-value target using the CIP module.

This was not the best episode of the season and with this episode I started to really be turned off by Janeane Garofolo's character, Janis Gold. But I remember being rather annoyed with Chole O'Brian when she was a new character and now I can not imagine watching 24 without Mary Lyn Rajskub, so who knows. I will give Janis some more time.


Amazing Trick Shot

Just when you think it is over, it keeps going!

Quick! Somebody break out the old Domino Rally and get the protractors ready!


Super Bowl Recap

Monday, February 02, 2009

That was the best ending to a Super Bowl I have ever watched. If you thought last year's ending as the New York Giants knocked off the undefeated New England Patriots was good, this was far better. I am still confused as to why the NFL officials decided that it was not worth taking an extra look on Kurt Warner's fumble at the end of the game.

David Tyree's catch may be legendary, but this was perhaps the best Super Bowl catch of all time...

(Photo source)

As for the commercials, ugh. Last year I posted my favorite Super Bowl commercials, but I feel no need to share them with you again this year. I feel that Budweiser/Bud Lite mailed it in this year. Pepsi had a good one, E*Trade tried duplicating their shocking success with a talking baby, GoDaddy was at it again with more college guy humor, and a lot of movies gave their first looks (G.I. Joe, Land of the Lost, Up, Fast and Furious and Star Trek to name a few).

You can use this widget below to view any of the Super Bowl commercials you would like.

What commercials did you like or dislike? What were your thoughts on the game? Why is it that in Philadelphia all the radio can talk about is how Donovan McNabb couldn't do what Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger did last night? What about Jennifer Hudson's National Anthem or Bruce Springsteen's halftime (and his crotch in your living room sliding into the camera guy - that was funny)? Let me know what you were thinking about last night's festivities.


Mario Monday - Mario Brothers

Again, I apologize for missing this last week, but it's back now to get your Monday off on the right foot!

Today we take a look at Mario's third appearance in the arcades, as well as the introduction to Mario's brother Luigi. The game of course is the appropriately named Mario Brothers.

Mario Brothers was the first time that Mario was referred to as a plumber and the new job description fit well in the game. In Mario Brothers Mario must rid the playing field of baddies they enter and exit the four pipes on the screen. Get it? The plumber has to clean the pipes. Zing!

This was the first time that Mario faced enemies that would later become recurring characters, such as the turtle (who would develop into the infamous Koopa Troopa). Of course the fireball makes a return from Donkey Kong, although with a new attack and role. Instead of being the primary obstacle the fireball appears at random and floats across the screen and dissappears. Fireballs of course would remain in the Mario games for years to come.

This is one of the few Mario games without a big boss. Where Donkey Kong was the arch nemesis in the first arcade game (Mario was the nemesis in the sequel), King Koopa would later become the main bad guy later on. In Mario Brothers the foe was stamina. How many boards could you clear? How many points could you rack up? How many coins could you collect? Could you outperform player two, playing as Luigi?

For the first time in Mario's history player two had a unique character to play as, Luigi. Luigi was nothing more than a color palette swap of Mario. Originally his mechanics and physics were an exact replica of Mario's. Nowadays Luigi tends to be a higher jumper and a slower stopper when running. Not the case in 1983. Luigi's character would develop in future years. So would Mario's attack abilities.

Stomping the bad guys and hurling fireballs was not an option yet. While in Donkey Kong the only way to take out a firey barrel was with a hammer, the only way to knock out bad guys in Mario Brothers was from below. The way to kill the enemies was by hitting the floor they walked on from below. This technique would carry over to Super Mario Brothers but in Mario Brothers this was the standard. Mario and Luigi would have to hit the ground from below and then run up and kick the belly up enemines. What was difficult was the crabs...or lobsters. They required two hits from below before being vulnerable. One hit would simply anger them and make them run faster, presenting a higher level of difficulty.

Also introduced in Mario Brothers was the POW block. Too many the POW block was first used in the American version of Super Mario Brothers 2, where you would pick it up and throw it on the ground, defeating all enemies on the screen. In its debut in Mario Brothers the POW block would stand in the air towards the bottom of the screen, where Mario would have to hit it from below to cause an earthquake and startling all the bad guys, sending them on their backs. It could also be used three times. I rarely used the POW block for its intended purpose. Instead I would use it as an emergency platform, keeping me safe from numerous roaming bad guys if things got too hectic for me.

The game also was one of the first games to utilize a real song as part of its soundtrack. Not that Mario Brothers had much of a soundtrack to offer but it did feature intro music using Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik. I am sure Mozart would be flattered to know his classical piece was incorporated into a quarter sucking arcade machine.

As with all early arcade games Mario Brothers was ported to the early home video game systems with mixed success. As it was 1983 at the time of the arcade release the video game consoles were catching up with their ability to port arcade games, but it was far from perfect of course.

First, how about a retro commercial for the Atari port of Mario Brothers. It is interesting to see that even from the early stages of Luigi's character he was known to be a wussier version of Mario...

Luigi has not changed much has he?

And bring on the various ports!

Atari 2600

Atari 800 XL

Of course the NES version was the finest port of the arcade game, although even that was not perfect. Some of the music came out nicer on the ears than the arcade version but it was still missing something during the game play.

Mario Brothers has never gone away though. It made an appearance in Super Mario Brothers 3 in which it was slightly modified to battle mode of sorts. I got a kick out of stealing my sister's Star cards using this mode and taking her turn as a result. It has also been a staple in the Super Mario Advance series for Nintendo Game Boy Advance in which up to four players can play off of one cartridge.

Perhaps the least known version of the game came on Nintendo's most notable failure in the gaming industry, the Virtual Boy. Imagine Mario Brothers in a 3D environment and imagine you are viewing it through red tinted glasses. You get this...

Commercial for Mario Clash on Virtual Boy

Mario Brothers is not a pretty game but it is solid platforming arcade action at some of its finest. It is often compared to Joust as the premise and the play control is similar. I would imagine that if Mario Brothers was made today it would be more like Joust, using a flying Yoshi as Mario's mode of transportation. You heard that idea here first!

Next week's edition takes a look at Mario's biggest industry changing adventure. It should be no surprise to anyone what game that may be.


Super Bowl XLIII Preview

Sunday, February 01, 2009

You probably have heard about the Madden '09 simulation that forecasts that the Steelers will defeat the Cardinals by a score of 28-24 to claim their sixth Super Bowl championship. To that I say hogwash! Give me a Tecmo Super Bowl preview any day over Madden!

There you have it football fans! The Arizona Cardinals will defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers later today and hoist their first Lombardi Trophy, much to the dismay of many.


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