Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: Coheed and Cambria- Year of the Black Rainbow

Coheed and Cambria’s latest offering, Year of the Black Rainbow, is a lot like the band itself- You either enjoy the progressive rock sound fronted by lead vocalist Claudio Sanchez’s often changing, high voice, or you don’t. YOTBR will not change your mind.

This is not to say YOTBR does not advance the group’s sound. Each of their four previous albums tell different chapters of an ongoing story, so each album has focused on a slightly different sound appropriate for what’s currently going on in the tale.

Similarly, Sanchez’s voice often changes as he delivers bits of dialogue from various characters.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review: Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass is one of those movies you can't help but enjoy. It never takes itself too seriously and openly borrows from its fellow "super hero" films while turning the genre on its ear.

From designing a costume, to the training montage, to the first fight with the bad guys, everything hints at the greatness of someone like Spider-Man while constantly reminding the viewer the world of Kick-Ass is more firmly rooted in our own and, therefore, everything must eventually go wrong in hilarious fashion.

The bad guys of Kick-Ass' world don't wear capes and spout evil catchphrases. They shoot people in the face. And when a do-gooder shows up in a mask to cause trouble, their approach to the situation is similarly violent.

While Kick-Ass (the character) is still living in his comic book dream land, a couple masked vigilantes by the name of Big Daddy and Hit Girl show up to make it clear real-world criminals require real-world solutions of the gleefully vicious variety.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review: Flogging Molly- Live at the Greek Theatre

I'm usually not too keen on live albums. I know it's the wrong way of thinking about it, but I usually feel like I'm paying for an inferior version of songs I already own. When a live album is as good as this recent package offered by Flogging Molly, however, I'll gladly shell out some extra cash.

The thing that sets FM apart from many bands is that their live show carries with it an energy you just can't get on a studio album. Maybe that's not fair. I think a better wording would be that the feel of their live shows somehow translates better to disc.

I don't know if it's Irish magic or the pints of Guinness flowing through band members' veins, but for whatever the reason, it's less an echo-filled collection of “the same old stuff” with fans cheering between numbers and more a revitalization of favorites new and old.

The Greek Theatre release has been masterfully mixed, bringing all the most important sounds to the foreground and making for a terrific sound. Front man Dave King provides some fun banter and, drawing on the energy from the crowd, the whole thing simply makes you feel like you are actually at the show. With a few acoustic numbers thrown in for good measure and a new spin on a few classics, it's easy to recommend this album. I'd go so far as to say several songs actually sound better than their studio counterparts.

This is all well and good, but what pushes Live at the Greek Theatre over the top as a must-own for fans is the fact this two-disc set containing 22 songs also comes with an HD recording of the actual show. Shot with several cameras and lovingly produced, fans can now see their favorite Irish-punk-rock-folk-etc. band in concert whenever they like. Even better is the fact the entire package goes for just ten bucks. That's less than most standard albums these days and, honestly, it's well worth twice that price.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday mini movies: Little Big Planet edition

I really enjoy Little Big Planet.

Even more than the game itself, though, I absolutely adore the level creator.

I spent well over 10 hours on my first level, which wasn't much to look at, and more than 30 hours apiece on my second and third levels.

I was proud of those levels...Until I came upon certain levels like the one showing above. Not to take anything away from this level that plays itself, but I've seen some that put even this amazing contraption to shame. There are quite a few players out there who have a promising career waiting for them in the videogame industry.

Honestly, I felt like that kid who spent weeks working on a soapbox car I had built up in my mind to be something resembling a supercharged sports car, only to arrive the day of the race to line up my poorly constructed, relatively unsafe pile of plywood and rusty nails alongside Timmy's aerodynamic, candy apple red street machine made entirely out of space age materials.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Shields- Echo calls it

Strikeforce and CBS continue to bring MMA to the masses this Saturday and once again prove that just because it’s free doesn’t mean it has to be mediocre. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the main card is made up of three fights any fan of the sport should be able to get behind.

Dan Henderson vs. Jake “Swords and” Shields
Oooh man. This should be a fun one to watch. Henderson is a true legend of the sport and his knockout power is no joke. The dude packs a mean, mean punch. Shields, though, is on a roll, and something has to be said for a young, confident fighter performing well and riding a wave of victories. The trick here is going to be “can Shields avoid Henderson’s hands?” So long as he doesn’t circle left, offering a Bisping-like target for three rounds, I see this one falling in Shields’ favor…Maybe.

Gegard Mousasi vs. Muhammed Lawal
Lawal is an impressive enough athlete, but I kind of feel like he’s being thrown to the wolves with this one. Mousasi is a top-tier athlete with a skill set a mile long and I don’t really see Lawal stacking up too well. I expect a pretty quick end to this one.

Gilbert Melendez vs. Shinya Aoki
Woot! I’m looking forward to Aoki’s debut here in the States, but Melendez isn’t exactly going to be a walk in the park. New fighters often get a tomato can thrown at them to help introduce them to a new audience but I don’t see that being the case here. Melendez should be a solid challenge for Aoki and I hope that equates to a great performance from both athletes. In the end, though, I think Aoki is going to earn the win.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Read it: American Vampire, Nemesis, Shuddertown

There are quite a few new comics hitting the shelves these days. Since many of these titles are quality work, I couldn't be happier to see such a resurgence in the industry.

As a slightly random aside brought on solely by my love for the book, I will say that if you are still not reading Joe the Barbarian, there’s something bad wrong with you. This one is something truly special. Daytripper, too, has remained pretty dang fantastic.

That being said, here’s a batch of newbies (American Vampire, Nemesis and Shuddertown) that might be worth your time...Or not.

Friday, April 9, 2010

UFC 112: Invincible- Echo calls it

This month's PPV card might have one of my favorite posters of all time. Not a huge feat, considering how terrible most of the posters are, but I really dig this old school look.

But we're not here to talk about promotional material, are we? No. We're here to talk about the actual fights...FIRST, though, I will also mention this is the first subtitle to a card I've been okay with in a long time. Silva and Penn are both defending their belts and, chances are, they will both live up to that catchphrase.

And with that, NOW we'll talk about the fights.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Review: God of War III

I came to the God of War party a little later than some. When the second game of the series was building up buzz pre-release, I finally decided to pick up the original and see what all the fuss was about.

I distinctly remember my first time playing the game and that speaks louder than any other praise I can give it. GOW was more violent and more visceral than anything I had ever experienced and the polish and fun factor was through the roof.

I smiled with evil glee as I murdered a hydra with a broken ship mast. I was dumbfounded by a plot point that quite literally required me to roast an innocent man trapped in a cage. The puzzles teased my brain and the combat continued to wow me as I watched Kratos evolve from a character controlled by simple button mashing to a precise instrument of destruction guided by a surprisingly deep combo system.

Then came God of War II, pushing everything I loved about the first game even further and tightening up an already well-oiled machine of gameplay. Chains of Olympus for the PSP, too, remains one of the best games on the portable system.

It’s not often that a series manages to maintain such a high level of quality this far into its lifecycle, but still, my expectations for God of War III were set pretty damn high.

While not managing to improve on the formula by as large a margin as the first two games, GOIII is still a big leap forward for the franchise and one of the best reasons to pick up a controller.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday mini-movies: Trololololo cat edition

I have discovered it is basically a physical impossibility for me to watch this and not become overrun with giddiness.

If you have no idea where this song comes from, check out the super-creepy-yet-somehow-cool video right over here.

See...I told you it was creepy. This cat, though, took that song and made it his own. Glorious stuff.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Movies to miss in April

Continuing my quest to steer you clear of craptastic films, I give you April’s list of movies to miss. Enjoy! Well, actually, DON’T enjoy. Stay far, far away.

Why Did I Get Married Too?: For the love of God, Tyler Perry, find a new hobby. As if your usual schlock wasn’t shallow and self-masturbatory enough, you manage to crank out a sequel to one of your lesser known films that didn’t even break 50 percent on a metascore? The fact that the original came out like a year ago just goes to show how much effort must be going into creating your films. Thanks for the effort! Way to totally take advantage of your target audience, a group of people your own films encourage to break away from such terrible practices. “Don’t let The Man take advantage of you…Unless that man is me.” Bravo, ya jerk.

The Back-Up Plan: It’s a movie about a woman who, fed up with falling for losers and desperate for motherhood, decides to go the solo route and get’s knocked up in a lab. At this point, I’m game. A strong woman is unwilling to just settle with some undeserving slob and proves you don’t need a man to be a mommy. Great. Fantastic. Waitaminute! She then falls for the perfect guy and decides to hide her little secret long enough for their love to kindle and then expects him to be cool with the whole thing because, you know, they’re in love now and she’s really super sorry and all. You lying, manipulative…Next!

Furry Vengeance: At this point, Brendan Fraser, I think you’re more or less doing this to yourself. I’m sure your role as a real estate developer moving into a new house only to be attacked by the wildlife whose homes you are destroying is cute and all but, really? I mean…Really? What’s next? Encino Man 2? (For the record, I would actually be all for that one so long as it’s a full cast reunion. I’m serious. Make it happen.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010 is proud to announce its sister site,, is finally live.

I’ve been a gecko enthusiast my whole life and now my love for our lizardy friends has a home on the interwebs.

From care tips to aquarium design, activities to a frequent update on the lives of my two current geckos, Starsky and Hutch (both of the European leaf-toed variety), will be your one-stop-shop for all things gecko!

Be sure to check it out at

Games to get in April

Hallelujah! After half a year of months jam-packed with big titles, we’re finally starting to see a little slowdown in April. Wallets everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief.

Don’t get me wrong, though. This month is still seeing quite a few offerings likely well worth your time and money. For those who still (somehow) have a little extra cash to spend on games, here’s this month’s lineup.

13th- GTA: Episodes from Liberty City (PS3)
13th- Splinter Cell: Conviction (360)
20th- Monster Hunter Tri (Wii)
27th- Super Street Fighter IV (PS3, 360)
27th- Nier (360, PS3)
27th- Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake (PSP)

Not the longest list, but still a nice variety of games to keep everyone busy. The big title this month is the long awaited, grittier take on the Splinter Cell franchise, Conviction.

Those who enjoyed Grand Theft Auto IV on the PS3 can finally get their hands on The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony chapters as either a standalone disc or downloaded individually off PSN.

Monster Hunter fans everywhere can rejoice as the third title in the series proper drops later in the month, just before Square Enix’s latest dark fantasy RPG, Nier, prepares to (likely) confuse the hell out of everybody with its bizarre storyline and oddball cast of characters.

The enhanced version of Street Fighter IV is sure to make fighting fans happy while players on the go have the PSP version of Fat Princess to whet their appetite.