Monthly Archives: May 2011

E3 2011 Preview

It’s that time of year that’s guaranteed to leave avid gamers frothing impatiently at the mouth –  E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo to its parents) is less than a week away. All three major players in the console industry will be coming out to play alongside countless studios and publishers, but here’s my own, entirely biased list of what I’m looking forward to:

Nintendo’s New Console

The yet-to-be-named new Nintendo console is probably the company’s best chance to wrench my gaming time back from my Xbox. Rumours have been flying around concerning the console’s ability to stream games directly to a touch-screen controller, and Satoru Iwata has said that the system will offer “a new approach to home video game consoles.” We’ll find out what the hell is going on at Nintendo’s press conference, scheduled for 9am PST on the 7th June (that’s about 5pm UK time).

The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Of course, I’m already planning to dust off my Wii for what may be a last hurrah of sorts for Nintendo’s current console – but given the scarcity of information surrounding the title since its first appearance at last year’s E3, I’m keen to know more about it. Show me that the Motionplus controls actually work and throw me some new footage and information please – this is a title I definitely *want* to be excited for. For now, there’s always this trailer to look at again.

More 3DS Titles

I’ve had fun with my 3DS, although so far it hasn’t really grabbed me in the way I hoped it might have. I’ll probably end up picking up the Ocarina Of Time re-make, but I’d like to see the company pin down a release schedule for the raft of titles that have so far only really been teased. And hey, if you throw a few new surprises in there as well, I won’t be complaining.

Gears Of War 3 (and Microsoft in general)

For me, things are looking relatively quiet on the Microsoft front – Kinect looks like it’s going to be a big focus for the company this year, and seeing as it’d be a struggle to even use it properly in my living room, I’m not really that fussed about it at the moment. I wouldn’t bet against Microsoft having a couple of non-Kinect surprises up its sleeve, but so far the one big exclusive that stands out for me is Gears Of War 3. After the multiplayer beta blow-out, hopefully the focus will be on showing off a bit more of the campaign (as previewed in this trailer). Microsoft’s press conference is scheduled for 9am PST on the 6th June (again, that’s about 5pm UK time).

Assassin’s Creed Revelations

Game Informer’s massive information blowout on this game has got me well and truly stoked for it, and the teaser trailer that’s been released is intriguing to stay the least. No doubt the game will be front and centre of Ubisoft’s E3 presence.

Mass Effect 3

Unfortunately it’s been pushed back to a Q1 2012 release, but hopefully we’ll still get to see more of the conclusion to Bioware’s space-opera trilogy at E3 this year.

Sony

Sony isn’t really of as much interest to me personally as I don’t own a PS3. That said, the company’s new portable console (so far only known as the ‘NGP’) could potentially grab my attention, and the company’s ongoing response to the PSN debacle will be interesting to see. Sony fans will no doubt want to keep an eye on Sony’s press conference, at 5pm PST on June 6th (1am UK time, for the dedicated), for information on Uncharted 3, Resistance 3, and no doubt more besides.

Of course, there’s going to be much more besides that at the event, so why not let me know what you’re looking forward to?

E3 2011 will take place in Los Angeles between the 6th-9th of June.

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Any Good? Suck It And See: Arctic Monkeys Stream New Album

Arctic Monkeys - Suck It And See

As one of those groups who represent very different things to a variety of different people, Suck It And See seems like an appropriate title for the new Arctic Monkeys record. The album isn’t due out until next week, but the band are streaming it in full over at their website now – or you can listen to it using the player below, if that takes your fancy. You can rest assured that it’s well worth your time to do so – but then again I’m one of those people who thinks they can’t put a foot wrong, so I would say that.

You could look at this record as an attempt to re-capture the casual fans that were probably left a bit baffled by Humbug. But while it’s true that Suck It And See has a poppier feel to it, their previous album has clearly still been an influence – the dirty riffs on ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ and ‘Library Pictures’ are enough evidence of that. Turner’s lyricism, while a little less wilfully obtuse, is also as playful as ever – I could fill a page with cherry-picked lines from the record, but here’s just one that made me laugh “You’re rarer than a can of Dandelion And Burdock/and those other girls are just post-mix lemonade.”

…you can tell I’ve worked behind a bar for too long.

Suck It And See is released on Domino Recordings on the 6th June.

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Blanck Mass: New Music From Fuck Buttons’ Benjamin John Power

Blanck Mass - Blanck Mass

While we wait for a new album from Fuck Buttons, here’s something interesting – Blanck Mass, the solo project of Benjamin John Power (who is, of course, one half of the aforementioned band). The album, also entitled Blanck Mass, is far more relaxed and ambient than the work of Power’s main band – with the beats stripped out entirely and the noise toned down, the focus is on multi-layered soundscapes of looping guitar, calming synths, and environmental noise. The record is, according to the press release, “loosely themed around cerebral hypoxia and the beautiful complexity of the natural world.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I didn’t even know what cerebral hypoxia was until I looked it up on Wikipedia (it’s a reduced supply of oxygen to the brain, in case you were similarly baffled) – who said music can’t be educational? Anyway, if you want to get an idea of the kind of thing you can expect from the record, then you can listen to (and download) the track ‘Land Disasters’ below:

Blanck Mass – ‘Land Disasters’

Power also notes in the press release that “Soundtracking nature documentaries would work out pretty well for me” – and based on this evidence, I’d certainly agree. Although, to be honest, Blanck Mass seems like the perfect, blissed-out soundtrack to… well, just about anything really.

Blanck Mass is released on Rock Action records on the 20th June.

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Gloss Drop Drops Early: New Battles Album Streaming Now

Battles - Gloss Drop

I’m not sure if this was supposed to happen today (as the stream is currently marked as ‘private’), but I couldn’t resist checking out a re-tweeted link to Battles’ new album Gloss Drop on Soundcloud. NME have gone and dumped the stream online as well, so I guess the cat’s well and truly out of the bag – click here to have a listen. Rather than boring you by blathering and gushing on about the album, I’ll just stay that it sounds pretty fantastic on first listen. There are definite echoes of 2007’s excellent Mirrored, and despite the difficult process that lead to the creation of the album, it’s a very fun, playful-sounding record.

Battles also start an extensive tour tomorrow at Primavera Sound in Barcelona (not that I’m at all jealous that I’m not there or anything). They’ll be hitting the UK in early June with the brilliant Thank You in tow, before returning later in the month for a few dates around Glastonbury and Wireless festivals. They’ve also got many more dates in Europe, the US and Canada lined up – check out the full list here.

Gloss Drop is released on Warp Records on the 6th June.

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Sky(ing)’s The Limit: The Horrors Announce New Album, Stream New Single

The critically acclaimed, Mercury nominated success of Primary Colours proved to sneering naysayers that there was far more to The Horrors than snarling garage-punk, and now they’re back to consolidate their huge leap forward on that record with a new album, Skying. It will be released on XL Recordings on the 11th July, and the first single from it will be ‘Still Life’, which I just so happened to catch Zane Lowe playing on my drive home. If you missed it, the band have already stuck it up on Youtube, so you can have a listen below:

It’s spacious, calm, and the furthest yet that the band have ended up from the sounds of Strange House – but thanks to Faris’ commanding vocal, it’s still unmistakably The Horrors. Here’s hoping that this is but the tip of a glorious iceberg.

The Horrors

The Horrors have a trio of sold-out UK dates lined up in July, as well as a few festival appearances later in the summer – including Reading and Leeds, Wireless, Field Day, and Rock En Seine. All the details can be found on the band’s website here.

Skying is due out on XL Recordings on the 11th July.

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Whoo! Alright – Yeah… Uh Huh: The Rapture Are Back (Two Days Late)

Presumably they were just waiting a couple of days to make sure that, y’know, the whole biblical Rapture thing hadn’t actually happened, but in 100% true and verifiable news, NY dance-punk forefathers The Rapture have announced their return.

The Rapture

Their new album will be entitled In The Grace Of Your Love and will be released in the UK on September 5th, and on September 6th in the US and the rest of the world. The new album sees them returning to DFA Records, and according to NME.com, the tracklisting looks a bit like this:

‘Sail Away’
‘Miss You’
‘Blue Bird’
‘Come Back To Me’
‘In the Grace of Your Love’
‘Never Gonna Die Again’
‘Roller Coaster’
‘Children’
‘Can You Find A Way?’
‘How Deep Is Your Love?’
‘It Takes Time To Be A Man’

I’m going to assume that ‘How Deep Is Your Love?’ isn’t a Bee Gees cover. Also, Artrocker has listed some European shows for the band, conveniently happening around the release of the album. The dates are as follows:

August 2011:

27th – FRANCE, Cabaret Vert Festival, Charleville Meziere
28th – SWITZERLAND, Vevey, Rocking Chair
30th – HOLLAND, Amsterdam, Melkweg
31st – BELGIUM, Antwerp, Trix

September 2011:

4th – JERSEY, Jersey Live Festival, St.Helens
5th – FRANCE, Paris, Maroquinerie
7th – UK, Manchester, Club Academy
8th – UK, London, XOYO
9th – GERMANY, Berlin Festival, Berlin

Tickets will be going on sale on the 27th May, which is this Friday. Stick it in your diaries.

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Apocalypse Please: A Playlist For The End Of The World

So, today’s the day. According to nutjob US preacher Harold Camping, today marks the beginning of the end of the world. At 6pm, to be exact, regardless of timezone – that’s one very well co-ordinated apocalypse. Of course, this got me thinking about songs that would thematically fit in with our apparent, impending doom, and I came up with this lot:

1. ‘Apocalypse Please’ – Muse
2. ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ – The Hives
3. ‘The End And Everything After’ – Johnny Foreigner
4. ‘Get Myself Into It’ – The Rapture
5. ‘Baptism’ – Crystal Castles
6. ‘Commotion’ – The Hundred In The Hands
7. ‘Murderer’- Grammatics
8. ‘Neon Bible’ – Arcade Fire
9. ‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’ – Los Campesinos!
10. ‘Numbskull’ – Ash
11. ‘OUCH’ – Be Your Own Pet
12. ‘I’m Not Afraid’ – Howling Bells

Spotify playlist is here. Feel free to make your own suggestions in the comments.

Of course, the deadline for The Rapture has apparently passed without event for much of the eastern world already… so, see you tomorrow, I guess?

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