Reviews

David Bowie Record Store Day 2017 Vinyl Reviews

This Record Store Day saw two “exclusive” David Bowie releases. One is a five-sided, three LP live album entitled Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles ’74), while the other is Bowpromo, a re-issue of a promo-only LP from 1971.

Both of these are releases are limited editions. The live album got a pressing of 17,000 worldwide, while Bowpromo received a one-time pressing of 15,000. This will no doubt lead to them commanding a hefty price on the secondary market. As I write this in Tokyo, the record stores are just opening their doors in the UK, with the US soon to follow. Copies of both records are already flooding eBay, and I expect even more to show up on the site very soon. And if the stock at my local Tokyo stores was any indication, those who didn’t snag one in the stores within the first hour of doors opening will probably have to go to eBay if they want one.

But should you even bother? Continue reading

David Bowie Is Rare Vinyl

 

David Bowie Is was originally an exhibition at the V&A in England. It was massively successful, and since then it has gone on the road around the world. Now, it has made its way to Tokyo. I went there just the other day. It was amazing, breathtaking and at times nearly reduced me to tears. It’s the end all be all experience for any David Bowie fan, an audio/visual smorgasbord of memorabilia, rare video, behind-the-scenes footage and various Bowie ephemera from his birth to now.

You should go. That’s all I really have to say about that. Besides, photos weren’t allowed inside so writing anymore about it would be rather pointless. So instead, let’s talk about the records you can buy there, because vinyl. Continue reading

Trials Of The Blood Dragon Review (And Narrative Analysis)

 

When a game is announced at the giant gaming convention known as E3, its release date is usually months, if not years away. But Ubisoft bucked the trend this year with Trials Of The Blood Dragon, which was announced at the press conference last week and then immediately released following its conclusion.

An odd release strategy for sure, but it is by far not the oddest thing about the game, a strange amalgamation of the Far Cry: Blood Dragon franchise and the long-running and extremely popular Trials motorbike game series. By taking the VHS B-movie aesthetic of the Blood Dragon universe and combining it with the always off-kilter Trials sense of humor and style, the creators of Trials Of The Blood Dragon have made an interesting thing, even if it whole doesn’t match the sum of its parts.

Oh, and also the game might just be a stark social commentary and allegory for America’s war on terror, criticizing how the media twists the will of the people to fit the machinations of an evil and uncaring military-industrial complex.

Or maybe that’s just me seeing that. But we’ll get there. Continue reading

Vinyl Review: Fright Night Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Night Fever Music Edition)

20160303_213233

Someone out there decided that there weren’t enough labels going after the (apparently surprisingly lucrative) vinyl horror soundtrack collector market, because adding to the already crowded field that features labels like Death Waltz, Mondo (who bought Death Waltz), Waxworks, Silva Screen, One Way Static, Invada and probably a few more labels that I’m forgetting at the moment comes Night Fever Music with their debut release, the soundtrack to the cult-classic 80s horror comedy Fright Night. Continue reading

Game Music Revue: 8-Bit Music Power

8bitcover

So this is a weird thing. Continue reading

Vinyl/CD Review: Game Theory – Lolita Nation

20160216_200516

One of my favorite movies is As Good As It Gets, the 1997 romantic comedy/drama with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. It’s a great movie for a lot of reasons, and every time I watch it I notice something else fantastic about it. But one part that always stuck with me is the scene where Jack’s character, having thoroughly pissed off Helen Hunt on yet another occasion, is ordered by Hunt to pay her a compliment to keep her from walking out on him. Flustered and desperate, Jack launches into a somewhat rambling story about how, after she told him off a few nights prior, he finally listened his doctor’s orders and began taking some anti-depressants to help curtail his more unpleasant behaviors. His rationale, he explained, is that she made him want to be a better man. Hunt’s character is visibly taken aback, and declares it to be the best compliment she ever received.

I bring this up because the first time I listened to Game Theory’s Lolita Nation, it blew my mind in such a way that I began to seek out more music, expand my tastes and read as much as criticism as possible.  It’s so good that it made me want to be a better writer so I would do a better job of describing what at the time I felt to be its impossible-to-define brilliance.

I don’t know if I’m there yet, but now’s the time to try, as the album is finally back in print thanks to the remarkable efforts of Omnivore Recordings, who have brought the album back to store shelves in both a deluxe 2CD package and a beautiful colored 2LP release as well. Continue reading

The Witness Review: A Witness to Disaster

CaSJsb6UkAAri5q

I feel that over the years I’ve gradually slid out of step with the mainstream when it comes to games. Whenever I glance over at “Best Of” lists at various gaming sites, I inevitably find a list of games that I either have no interest in playing or have played and didn’t like.

For example, I absolutely abhorred The Last Of Us. Bad controls, horrible story that’s been told a billion times over. Fallout? Hate it. Buggy mess. Ditto for The Elder Scrolls games (a Bethesda logo is a kiss of death to me). The original Dragon Age? Ugly, shitty characters, couldn’t make it for more than a few hours. The Batman Arkham games? Pretty vacant, with repetitive (and unresponsive) combat coupled with the pathetically heavy-handed writing. Dark Souls, Metal Gear (any of them), Undertale, The Witcher, The Walking Dead, I either hated them or couldn’t even be bothered to start them because they looked so boring, derivative or just not something I’d be into.

My point is that I am more than used to not being in jive with the critical consensus, and with rare exception I caulk it up to being an outlier. I hate a lot of popular games, but I realize that in many cases the issue is with me, not the game.

That being said, even I was surprised by the gulf between the critical consensus of and my personal views on The Witness, a game that many critics are lauding as one of the greatest of all time, and a game that I feel is a worthless exploration into just how little a game developer can care about his audience. Continue reading

New Order: Music Complete Box Review

IMG_2354

This is not a review of a box set. This is not a music review. This is not even an audiophile review judging the audio quality of a product.

This is a review of a box.

Yes. Just a box. Nothing else. Because I feel this box is a box worth talking about.

Now, for an object like a box to merit a full-length review, it must obviously be exceptional in some way. Either it’s exceptionally good, or exceptionally bad.

I am not known for being a positive person, so I can assume you know where this is going. Continue reading

Vinyl Review: Nirvana

004

Nearly 15 years removed from its original release, Nirvana still seems like a pointless record. With bands like Yes, Deep Purple or Aerosmith, greatest hits compilations can be vital. Their discographies are so vast (and of radically varying quality) the repackaged budget collection can be key into helping new fans, who might be otherwise overwhelmed and not know where to begin, discover the band.

But Nirvana only released three studio albums, one compilation of singles, and an an Unplugged live album during their short time together. All of these are not just great, but widely regarded as some of the most important music of its era. There’s no “bad” jumping on point for Nirvana, and kids today who are discovering the group for the first time are probably seeking out all the band’s actual albums and not this needless collection of “hits.” Continue reading

Game Music Revue: iam8bit Vinyl Review Roundup

077

Late last year, iam8bit jumped into the video game vinyl ring with their release of the soundtrack to Hohokum, a quirky indie title available on PSN. They followed that up big with their release of the soundtrack to Hotline Miami 2, a massive affair that came with the soundtrack spread across three colored discs as well as download codes to both the soundtrack and the game itself. It was a huge success, leading to three printings that have all sold out.

Now iam8bit is following that up with a new slate of releases. Three, Banjo Kazooie, Battletoads and Perfect Dark, are culled from the Rare back catalog, while the fourth, Journey, is the score to a relatively new game that was first released for the PS3 and later updated for the PS4. It’s really good by the way, you should buy it.

It’s ambitious for a company new to the vinyl game to ramp up their production so quickly, and with such big name titles. But thankfully it seems that they’ve done each title justice from an audio standpoint, albeit with a few notable presentation caveats and concerns that hopefully will get addressed with future releases. Continue reading

Subscribe