Monday, June 28, 2010

Review wrap-up: The Dead Weather, The Black Keys, Eminem

Dead Weather- Sea of Cowards
If you enjoyed the first Dead Weather album, this one should make you very happy. The band has come together nicely and the tracks feel more like they belong together. If you enjoy your blues rocking with a shot of scotch and an unfiltered cigarette, this is the album to pick up.

Black Keys- Brothers
I’ve only just discovered the Black Keys thanks to a recommendation and I’m glad I did. These guys are phenomenal; mixing blues, jazz, rock and even a little electronic funk to create a unique sound that, while sometimes simplified, comes across super smoothe. Quickly becoming one of my favorite current bands.

Eminem- Recovery
Eminem is back and, while not “better than ever,” he’s definitely better than he’s been in a really long time. Encore was pretty rough, but even that was like listening to an angelic chorus when compared to the abysmal follow-up Relapse.

Rather than harp on the past, though, let’s look to the present. If you are a fan of the old Eminem, you should be pleased as punch with the massive 17 tracks Recovery has to offer, none of which are skits. He’s nixed the obnoxious accents from Relapse and even cut back on the comedy, but this is the best work he’s done in eight years.

While many of the beats fall a bit flat, half the album features hooks you’ll be hard-pressed not to get stuck in your head for days.

All of that comes secondary, though, to the lyrics. He apologizes quite a bit for the past decade of shenanigans and boasts a bit more than I like to listen to, but if that’s what it takes to get his confidence up and wipe the slate clean, so be it.

Eminem has once again established himself as one of (if not the) best wordsmiths working in music. He says a lot in these 17 tracks, reveals a lot about himself, and promises more is on the way.

Recovery is a perfect title for this album because, after a decade of dealing with drugs and then getting clean again, he’s let the world know he’s back in top form and ready to say what’s on his mind. I, for one, am more than happy to listen.

Read it: Mystery Society

Mystery Society is a new comic from co-creators Steve Niles and Ashley Wood with art done by the amazingly talented Fiona Staples.

Something like a cross between Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Warehouse 13, this book follows the tale of Nick and Anastasia Hammond, two super sexy mystical keepers of the peace (and thieves) who decided to put together a team to help them keep up with an ever-building workload.

When something goes wrong because an ancient artifact or magical item falls into the wrong hands, these folks are the ones who fix the boo-boo.

Book one follows Nick into Area 51 where he fights soldiers and robots to recruit a pair of twins with supernatural powers. Back home, Anastasia finds herself in a battle against a skull-mask-wearing zombie girl who heard about the Mystery Society and decided she wanted to join. Fun, right?

The stories are tied together by a humorously ordinary phone conversation between Nick and Anastasia as they each try to deal with their own batch of problems including flying bullets and undead kung-fu.

The first issue was a fun read and, like I said, the art is beautiful. I’ll definitely be sticking around for this one.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

E3 2010: Big Three wrap-up

Maybe I’ve been spoiled following a year of seemingly endless high caliber hits, but once E3 2010 wrapped up this year, I was left thinking one primary thing: I’m not excited about too many things shown this year.

There were loads of games shown, sure, and even some new hardware, but nothing got my blood pumping like the 2009 lineup.

E3 feels more like a weeklong Christmas to me. It’s four days of gaming announcements, trailers and surprises to make my fingers itchy for the next year. While the presents weren’t as good this year, I still had a blast hanging out under the tree, tearing through package after package to see what I’ll be playing in the months to come.

While loads of press conferences are held each E3, the “big three” are always the most talked about. This year, one stayed solid, one returned to greatness, and one fell flat on its face.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Ultimate Fighter 11 finale- Echo calls it

I missed out on calling the last proper UFC card, so even though things are still busy as all hell, I figured I better do something for this week’s free fights on Spike.

Yet another season of The Ultimate Fighter is draw-ing to a close and, from what I watched of the season, 11 featured some of the best athletes yet.

Let’s take a look at the main card.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Review: Darksiders

If someone would have told me a company was going to mix games like God of War, Zelda, Portal and Prince of Persia into a single package and somehow make it into a quality piece of software, I would have been skeptical. After finally sitting down with Darksiders, though, I have to admit the team at Vigil have pulled it off.

Darksiders is, quite simply, one of the most fun games I’ve played in quite a while. This is thanks to many factors, beginning the fantastic artwork of Joe Madureira. His char-acters and the world of Darksiders were well realized and loads of fun to gawk at. There’s the dark and gritty tones you would expect of a game called “Darksiders,” but there’s also plenty of lush environments, sweeping deserts and more.

The game features a great soundtrack, top-notch voice acting and sound design, and some of the most varied, fun gameplay elements to ever get mixed together.

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup 2010!

Just a reminder that the 2010 World Cup is officially underway.

For those living in the states, a schedule of events and listing for channels airing the matches can be found on ESPN's website right here.

Only getting into the sport a couple years ago, I truly feel like kids in the U.S. are missing out not having soccer be a bigger part of their lives. I, for one, feel cheated out of a childhood of goals, yellow cards and hooliganism.

Luckily, footy seems to be picking up steam in the good ole U.S. of A., so now is the perfect time to jump on board and see what all the fuss is about.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday mini-movies: Jumping cat edition

I spent a little time online today looking up videos of cats jumping because my interests are…unique?

Anyway, after seeing a cat launch itself from a thirty-foot telephone pole and another climb the side of a house and then leap from rooftop to rooftop, I wasn’t expecting much out of the above video.

“That jump’s nothing,” I thought, jaded by the super-feline feats I had already witnessed. “The title calls this the ‘best cat jump ever,’ and this thing is looking at a hop of like three feet. I dare you to impress me, cat.”

I spent the next three minutes laughing. Well played, cat. Well played indeed.

Read it: Turf

Turf is yet another example of how important a book’s cover art can be. I saw issue one sitting on the shelf, in all it’s edgy pulp glory, and knew I had to check it out.

The story is set in Manhattan during the 1920’s. Prohibition is in full swing and a plucky journalist finds herself out to grab the big story as rival gangs fight for control of the city. Political figures rub elbows with mob bosses in late night speakeasys as the police do all they can to stop the hooch from making its rounds.

To make matters more interesting, a clan of vampires has moved into town and a power struggle within the family could lead to Manhattan becoming the first city on American soil to fall to the bloodsuckers in their own quest for ever-expanding turf.

Taking things a step further, a spaceship belonging to intergalactic rum runners (I kid you not) has just crash landed outside of the city.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Movies to miss in June

Before I go any further, I would like you readers to take a look at that poster for The Killers.

Obviously, there are about a million things wrong with it, but is it me, or are they playing a game of opposite-face?

Shouldn’t the trigger-happy hunk with a license to “blah,” gun at the ready, be smiling like a goob while the scared, confused, betrayed wife who barely wants to touch the 50-calibur death dealer be making the obnoxious unhappy expression?

This might be the worst movie poster ever made. I dare you to find one more worthy of that title.

That being said, the summer months apparently have me in a good mood when it comes to bashing movies. Grown Ups, The A-Team and The Karate Kid almost made it on the list, but then I realized, deep down, I wouldn’t mind checking them out for a laugh. They, at least, have a chance of being entertaining (even if not for the right reasons).

The next two flicks, though, reek of craptacular pooptitude.

The Killers: I can’t decide if this or the upcoming Knight and Day, featuring Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruize, looks like the worse version of the same story, but suffice it to say both look utterly terrible. I think Kutcher and Heigl could be a good team, just not in this movie. I may have broken the record for most groans in two minutes while watching this one’s trailer.

The Twilight Saga- Eclipse: I keep telling myself there’s only two more of these and we’ll be done (since the final book is being made into two movies and all), but that doesn’t take away the annual sting from having to deal with Twitweens and Twimoms for another month. I’m fairly sure hardcore Trekies consider these folks over-the-top and obnoxious, and that’s saying something. I felt it unfair to keep judging without proper initiation, so I did sit down with the GF to watch the first movie. Unless vampires can perform miracles this time around, moviegoers can expect nothing of substance to come out of this melodramatic drivel.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Games to get in June

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m genuinely pleased to be saying these words: The summer gaming drought has begun.

Wallets everywhere may exhale a collective sigh of relief as only a handful of noteworthy titles will be shipping this July.

If you don’t see anything here that tickles your fancy, I’m sure something from the past six months of overflow can be found in a bargain bin or two.

8th- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP)
8th- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 (PS3, 360, Wii)
27th- Sin and Punishment: Star Successor (Wii)
29th- Singularity (PS3, 360)

Apparently Puzzle Quest 2 got pushed to July 22, so those who missed it in June now know where to find it.

Singularity is one of those “wait and see” titles that could either turn out to be an awesome FPS or something more akin to, say, Fracture or Haze. I have high hopes, though, so it made the list.

Anyone gaming on the Wii has access to the first Sin and Punishment, an N64 rail shooter that never made its way to the States, courtesy of the virtual console. Thankfully, us English speaking folks will get a crack at the sequel from the get-go. This one’s likely to become another cult favorite.

I’m sure there’s an inappropriate joke to be made about Tiger Woods here but, for the life of me, I can’t think one up. His game will likely be as good as ever, though, so you sports fans can be sure to check that one out.

Finally, who couldn’t do with a little more Metal Gear? My favorite series of all time returns to the PSP and this time it’s packing progressive stats, co-op, a canon story and more. While I’m a little bummed such an ambitious title is headed to the PSP rather than a console (the controls just aren’t ideal), I’m sure the countless hours of tactical espionage action on the go will help make up for cramped hands.