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Rock Band 4 DLC Week of 11/23: Amy Winehouse and Grade 2

Amy Winehouse “Rehab” and Grade 2 “Brassic” occupy different spaces in the musical landscape – hardscrabble punk rock and sultry neo-soul, respectively – but each deliver energy, passion, and hooks in equal measure! Both are available this Thursday as DLC in the Rock Band Music Store.

Her brand was chaos, her talent limitless. Amy Winehouse – powerhouse singer, gifted songwriter, tabloid fixture – cemented her legend status when the single “Rehab” was released in October, 2006. Lifted from the acclaimed Back to Black LP, the track is a retro-soul tour de force, full of jazz and R&B touches, the jubilant sound of ‘60s Motown, and lyrically dark humor.

Kicking off with the song’s chorus by way of an intro, “Rehab” is all sashaying beats and Winehouse’s sultry croon over a repeating keyboard line (hard-panned left on the recording) that, in many ways, guides the entirety of the song. Back to those beats: the drums in the recording are truly complicated, though perhaps deceptively so until you get to the creative fills at nearly every major transition, accompanied by some appropriate girl-group-esque hand-claps. At :27 we reach the first verse, and with it full instrumentation, which includes tubular bells(!), horns, and a meaty bass line. Famed producer Mark Ronson is in lockstep with Winehouse’s aesthetic, conjuring up the soundscapes of the past, but with a cheekily modern spin. At 1:09 we get the second take on the chorus, this time with long, drawn-out horns and a supportive background choir. The second verse builds on the ever-more-instrumentation theme by adding a string section, providing tasty melodic counterpoint. All the while, Winehouse’s impressively bluesy pipes are on full display, weaving in and out of the rhythmic accents and coyly sliding up to target pitches. After refrain #3, there’s another satisfyingly sassy romp through verse/chorus before “Rehab” concludes at 3:34.

The London diva’s lyrics (Winehouse penned “Rehab”) may have taken on a darker tone in present-day context, given the artist’s inclusion in the unfortunate “27 club” a mere five years after the song’s release, but taken on their own merits the words are self-aware, funny, and bitingly clever. Winehouse’s father, Mitch, recalls that Amy had mentioned to Ronson, “You know, they tried to make me go to rehab and I said, ‘No, no, no…’” To which the producer replied, “That’s quite gimmicky. It sounds hooky. You should go back to the studio and we should turn that into a song.” As the story goes, three hours later Winehouse had finished writing “Rehab” – ultimately a global smash and a U.S. platinum-certified single.

If you don’t already know this legendary cut, settle in for what’s sure to be your new “song of the month” (or, just as likely, year)!

Released in 2022 as a teaser for their self-titled fourth album that dropped in early 2023, “Brassic” finds Grade 2 at the top of their game, delivering an impossibly infectious punk rock scorcher. This trio – Sid Ryan (vocals and bass), Jacob Hull (drums), and Jack Chatfield (guitar and vocals) – conjure up a joyful bombast that speaks to their history as childhood friends growing up on the Isle of Wight on a steady diet of classic Brit-punk and American skate-punk.

Kicking off with furiously strummed, distorted power chords soon joined by a descending bass line, the single wastes no time in establishing the band’s chosen genre. This is raw, frayed-edge melodic punk simply oozing confidence, swagger, and energy. At six seconds in, Hull’s drums join the party and when Ryan’s vocals are added a few moments later the sonic picture is complete. At the :26 mark, Grade 2 straightens out the busy-busy bass work, cardiac drum beat, and rapid-fire singing somewhat to showcase the hooky chorus – and deservedly so! Good luck not having this refrain stuck in your head for a while (not a bad thing!). From there, the next verse/chorus transition follows the pattern established in the first, but at 1:09 these three throw audiences a curveball, with all but the guitar pulling back and leaning into a ska-ish, off-beat delivery. Soon enough the potent rhythm section rejoins and things settle back into familiar territory, allowing Chatfield to bust out a cleverly composed guitar lead at 1:21. Take that, all you “There are no guitar solos in punk rock” naysayers! After this break, Grade 2 serves up a double-dose of the sing-along chorus – this time literally so, as there’s a bit of call-and-response going on with some female background vocalists. 

But now for the answer to the question that’s no doubt been on every listener’s mind (every *American* listener, at least) since reading the title: What the heck does “brassic” mean, anyway? "Brassic. Skint. Broke. On the bones of your arse," Grade 2 explained upon the single’s release. "The feeling too many of us feel day in day out. When you're put on house arrest by your own bank balance, you have nothing to do but watch the world move while you stand still."

Fair enough! That theme certainly matches the overall vibe of this attitude-heavy track. All in all, “Brassic” boasts plenty that’s familiar to fans of punk rock (or pop-punk, skate-punk, street-punk – whatever you wanna call it), but with a lot more under the hood than might be immediately apparent. This is a track worth more than a few repeat listens!

Amy Winehouse “Rehab” and Grade 2 “Brassic” are now available as DLC. Both can now be yours for $1.99 each.

  • Amy Winehouse – “Rehab”
  • Grade 2 – “Brassic”

VIDEO: Rock Band 4 DLC Week of 11/23: Grade 2 “Brassic” and Amy Winehouse “Rehab”



*Please note that this week’s DLC tracks will be available for purchase on Thursday, November 23rd.