Archive for September, 2012

Album Review: North – Matchbox Twenty

I’ve waited a long time for this one… It came out on the last day of August.

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Released:
August 2012
Label:
Atlantic
Genre: Rock
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Finally...

Their first album cover showing their whole faces

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TRACK LISTING

1. Parade
2. She’s So Mean
3. Overjoyed
4. Put Your Hands Up
5. Our Song
6. I Will
7. English Town
8. How Long
9. Radio
10. The Way
11. Like Sugar
12. Sleeping at the Wheel
13. I Believe in Everything (Deluxe edition only)
14. Straight For This Life (Deluxe edition only)
15. Waiting on a Train (Deluxe edition only)

A decade. That’s how long it has been since my one-time favourite band last released a full album. That album, 2002’s More Than You Think You Are, happens to rank firmly amongst my all-time top five. The band’s two prior works, released during the height of their popularity, certainly aren’t too shabby either. 2007’s singles compilation Exile on Mainstream packed six new tracks, and lead singer Rob Thomas has released two solo albums in the last ten years, but a full band release is certainly something of an event to Matchbox Twenty fans like myself.

The thing is, a lot changes in ten years. The pop and rock music landscapes are very different now from what they were all that time ago, when great tracks like Disease, Unwell and Bright Lights were able to get extended airplay on mainstream radio stations. So in 2012 Matchbox Twenty face the same question all other ageing bands have to eventually confront: how to stay true to what made them who they are while mixing things up enough to keep them “relevant”. With one glaring exception, they have achieved a more than admirable balance that positions North as a very worthy addition to Matchbox Twenty’s discography.

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Game Review: Sleeping Dogs

Well we are now mere hours away from the Australian launch of Borderlands 2, which I can reasonably expect to try to take up as much of my free time as it can. So I rushed to finish this surprising gem to get it out of the way. I finished it yesterday, about a month after its August 16 release.

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Platform:
PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Developer:
United Front
Rating: MA15+
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Violence!

Just let them lie.

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Been to Hong Kong?

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The last time I was there I was seven years old. Just about the only memories I have of it are a lot of glaring lights and a bout of food poisoning, but now, after playing Sleeping Dogs, I can say that my feelings towards it are a bit more favourable. I’ll be honest; I only picked the game up out of sheer curiosity, but it ended up keeping me away from my beloved portable consoles for the better part of a month, and that says something.

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What I Think of the Wii U

I’ve been asked this question too many times to count in recent months, but since there just wasn’t enough information on the console before today, I could never consider any answer truly reasonable. Well, Nintendo’s simultaneous American/European broadcast has just wrapped up and now most of that information gap has been filled, so I thought I’d commit my knee-jerk reaction here.
I’m not going to cover all of the freshly announced news because that isn’t what Vagrant Rant is about, but I will lay down my opinions as always. It’s just past 1am in the morning and I can’t promise this will be terribly coherent. It’ll probably be my “rantiest” post yet.

This colour is apparently now considered “premium”.

Well here we are, closer than we’ve ever been to the latest Nintendo home console, knowing more information than we ever have. As a gamer who once devoted a sizeable chunk of his childhood to the revered Japanese corporation, I have always expected big things from Nintendo, and I certainly am not alone. Of course, recent years have not provided the greatest signs that Nintendo is looking out for fans such as myself. Though I have some amazing memories of playing the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube, the Wii just didn’t provide quite as many great gaming moments. They were there, for sure, but they were so spaced out due to the company’s newfound focus on the casual market that the console left a bit of a sour taste in many a fan’s mouth. 2008 and 2009 were so infamously dry of Nintendo quality that I barely played any games in the former and branched out to Xbox 360 and PS3 in the latter.

I may be an all-console owner and lover of shiny new things now, but part of me still wants to return to the days where all I needed was one console to provide for my gaming needs. Now, that just flat-out isn’t going to happen, because I doubt the Xbox 360 is going to suddenly stop its stranglehold on a superior online experience, as much as I doubt that the PS3 will stop coming out with brilliant exclusive titles. But it sure would be nice to have a reason to think about which console to turn on during my free time and have a Nintendo product as a legitimate option. That’s all I ask for.

So, is what I’ve seen enough to convince me to buy a Wii U on launch day (November 30th in Aus)?

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Movie Review: The Expendables 2

I hadn’t seen either Expendables movie two nights ago, but now I’ve seen them both. It’s certainly quite a lot to take in over 48 hours. The Expendables 2 came out in Australia last Thursday.

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Starring:
Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger
Director:
Simon West (Con Air, The Mechanic)
Rating: MA15+
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Wow. No matter how you look at it, the fact that The Expendables 2 is even a movie at all is pretty cool. Sylvester Stallone, who directed the first movie, deserves some fairly raucous applause for bringing together all those action heroes the first time around, crafting a rather enjoyable, if openly cheesy, movie in which to fit them. But his achievement as producer of the sequel is arguably greater. The Expendables 2 streamlines the action formula from the first film, cutting out the unnecessary and packing in more of the ridiculous. The result is a movie that knows just how stupid it looks and runs with this self-awareness in a startlingly effective way. Continue reading