One last 2014 games wrap-up

Hello. I know we're ankle deep in 2015 already, but I really want to do another year wrap-up. I spent much more time writing about music in 2014, so I'm a bit behind. I love writing about new music even more than games, so if you're interested at all, please have a look at that stuff too. thanks :)


Like I've done for the past two years before, top tens have just become arbitrary. I'd rather just talk about what I loved and hated this year, then find some kind of package to wrap it all in. Maybe by the end of this, I'll find something in my (first to admit) gravely limited 2014 gaming experiences to call a Game of The Year.

With an unceremonious "here we go"... here we go.

"Bearer Seek Seek Lest"

"Greatly disappointed" were the words Patrick Klepek used to describe Dark Souls 2. He has a perfectly good argument. Dark Souls 2 lacked the cohesiveness and wow factor of the original. I can't help but think about how much the personal journey shapes your Dark Souls experience. Patrick played through Dark Souls with an audience, interacting with him the entire way. He played Dark Souls 2 on his couch alone.

I played Dark Souls 2 sharing a character with my girlfriend. We passed the controller after each death, figured out bosses and areas together, strategized, butted heads, and shared triumph. In effect, Dark Souls 2 was a much more memorable and fun experience for me than the first game. What game is better? I'm not so sure anymore, especially after the DLC managed to offer what was previously lacking compared to the original.

I don't know. You still can't kick. Maybe the first one is better.

Retro Rocks

Has it become comically outdated to say that "retro" gaming is just a nostalgia grab? I hope so. In the same way you can appreciate "No Country For Old Men" taking place in the 80s without resorting to Billy Idol hair and synth-pop, Shovel Knight is just a straight up fantastic game that happens to use the NES era platforming style. I don't even think of it as "Hey, remember DuckTales?!".

The Choice Provisions (creators of the Bit.Trip series) joint, Woah Dave!, has simple 80s arcade aesthetics. At first glance you'd call it a Mario Bros or Joust clone, but does things unique enough to stand on its own then or today. Also, dat theme.

Then there is the rougelike remake, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. I've already logged too many hours into this than I'd care to admit (and that's after 100%ing the original). It's got nothing to do with the Legend of Zelda references, or the SNES look. It's just an extremely addictive game.

Obligatory "Two Years Late Award"

And now a summary of my performance in Mark of The Ninja.

Except I'm diving into a forest of deadly lasers.

Mobile Gaming is still a thing

OK I won't call them "iPhone games" this year, sheesh.

Sad thing is this year I have a lot less to say about them. Last year, I played Year Walk and Device 6. They were serious GOTY contenders; for their story and atmosphere, no less! Even Ridiculous Fishing had a bit more of a hook (heh) than the usual fare. This year though, Crossy Road? eh. It never really grabbed me.

Threes still is a wonderful time waster (and with that amazing theme music), but it lacks both that carrot on a string (I've given up on that 1536 block), or the wow factor of Simogo's 2013 efforts.

"Let me tell you about WWE SuperCard!"

In case you haven't heard in one of many Jeff Gerstmann rants; the mobile "free to play" CCG, WWE SuperCard, is a bad game. I'd just like to go over one more match type that hasn't been covered: Road To Glory.

This is a game type built around keeping your high level cards, instead of feeding them to anything you've unlocked in the next tier (forcing you to keep grinding). Your 20 highest level cards compete in a series of matches to unlock a new deck. Obviously you start with the low level cards first. In order to finally collect a single card you actually want, you have to compete in at least 90-something matches. Here comes the ludicrous part. Literally none of these matches are competitive.

For 90 matches in a row, I'm randomly tapping my phone like a monkey; using no strategy, not even using power up cards. It's mathematically impossible to lose! That is until I hit a tier that pits me against cards where it's mathematically impossible to win. The disparity between "I can't lose if I try" to "I can't win no matter what" is instantaneous, like a line in the sand. Not once in the entire 3 or 4 day spanning tournament are you rewarded for deploying strategy. What a CCG!

Don't play WWE SuperCard.



I used to jokingly say that the greatest ending to a video game ever was Solitaire for Windows. Like most jokes, you say it enough times, and it just becomes routine and honest. Solitaire was the most perfect and rewarding ending for a video game. You slogged through busy work, and are treated to a little fireworks display.

Well, I "solved" FRACT OSC last night, and I can truly say this beats Solitaire. As frustrating as it was to navigate the landscape of FRACT, the puzzles were fun, and the rewards were plentiful. Solving FRACT as you go is like playing little games of Solitaire until you get to the very end, and are treated to a gigantic dance party.

Every game should end like this. I wanted the world of Dark Souls to come to life at the end of it, with Solaire body-popping across that dragon bridge.

Friends Make Everything Better

Most of my memorable gaming experiences of the year have been social. I love having my friends (of varying experience with video games) around to try new games with. The Yawhg turned out to be popular, especially with those who are too impatient to indulge in one of my complicated and lengthy board game sessions. The Yawhg is the world's easiest and laid back board game. It's great for people who aren't competitive, and just want to have something interesting and special happen to them.

The Yawhg is basically that fortune-telling paper flower girls make in school and pass along to their friends. We played this one just enough times not to start exploiting the format and taking the unpredictable fun out of each situation. A great game to play before you're too inebriated and impatient to read.

The Walking Dead: Season Two was a big dud. You don't need me to tell you that. It would have not even been worth writing about if not for a few six-packs, three of my friends, and Steam's newly added Broadcasting feature. Clumsily riffing and yelling our way through a marathon of disappointingly aimless chapters made my purchase of Season Two worthwhile. If you haven't played The Walking Dead: Season Two yet, save it for a big social drinking session. It won't even matter if you leave the room to be sick. Hardly anything important or interesting happens. It's a great replacement for bad movie night

"Retweet that zombie!"

Most nights were capped off with Nidhogg sessions. Nidhoogg is brilliant! It's in a sweet spot between Divekick and Super Smash Bros. Simple enough for anyone to pick up. Just enough strategy to keep the experienced engaged. A pace that allows for the occasional moment of randomness and dumb luck that sends the entire room (competitors and spectators alike) into a frenzy.

The biggest hit, and probably my game of the year, has to be the ridiculous Jazzpunk. Everyone wanted to get their hands on this for at least a few minutes. One of the great things about Jazzpunk is that it makes the player feel like they're the comedian. There are a lot of jokes thrown at you, but some manage to hit at just the moment you think "I want this to happen". There was a satisfaction of each person who steered the controls in the jokes that they personally discovered. It's a very "i did this" kind of rewarding experience. There are a lot of open world games out there, but none, including my days in college at the height of Grand Theft Auto III's popularity, made a crowded room shout "GO HERE, DO THIS, WHATS THAT?" like Jazzpunk has.

Playing Jazzpunk alone is a pleasure. With friends, it's my GOTY.

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2013's "GOTY is cancelled" awards


I don't need to tell you how much of a crazy or bummer year it's been. What better time than now to push that "let's stop rating and ranking video games!" agenda? The definitions of "video game" are only getting more blurred. I cannot compare ten games to each other anymore! How do you compare Gone Home, BattleBlock Theater, and Outlast? Completely different experiences! So here is a non-competitive look back at 2013.

Well… this will have to do for now, I guess.

I didn't exactly get everything I wanted out of games this year. I played a lot of good ones, but they left me wanting more. Shadow Complex was four years ago, and now I've got the Metroidvania shakes… BAD. The closest thing that came to appeasing that was Guacamelee! This lucha-themed Metroidvania didn't exactly quench my thirst, but had a pretty swell combat system. Batman: Arkham Origins was a game nobody asked for, and still far away from the wonderful Metroidvania that was Arkham Asylum. Despite that, it was entirely competent, with good performances, and still very fun to play.

Most glitched game of 2013: Batman: Arkham Origins (PC)

As a huge fan of the Bit.Trip series, I was actually turned off by how quickly Gaijin Games went back to the Runner well with BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien. I want to see the studio break new ground and really weird me out like they had with the original WiiWare series. It's more of the same, and also has a slightly detestable art style to boot.

..... well, I bought Runner 2, and got 99% of the achievements. Despite my transgressions, it's an addicting game.

Outlast and Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs were looking to be the jackpot for us survival horror fans. Amnesia turned out to be adopted by another studio while they worked on their spiritual successor, Soma. Which left me with Outlast, to play on my freshly assembled PC.

Best looking game of 2013: Outlast's camcorder mode

Outlast is a by the numbers jump-scare haunted house game with one hell of a gimmick - a found footage horror theme. They did an incredible job to make it look JUST LIKE A MOVIE when your play through a camcorder lens, especially when the night-vision is on. Just the right amount of head bob, and color saturation. Outlast didn't satisfy my survival horror wishes, but was a good thrill ride.

Killer is Dead just plain creeped me out, so I turned to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon for my tonuge-in-cheek action parody romp. Blood Dragon nails dumb 80's cyber-future action, from the vocabulary to the synth music. Sadly, it doesn't do much more than that. it follows through on its intentions, but predictably so. No surprises or memorable "this is so dumb and insane, what is happening?!" moments.

A new generation of grind

Even if iPhone games are a fad, it's starting to feel like their mark has been made. Look at Ridiculous Fishing. That's your typical iPhone format. A simple concept. A little bit of humor, and a LOT of grinding. The same repetitive simple progression i got out of playing Ridiculous Fishing, is exactly what is making Rogue Legacy so addicting right now. There are a few more mechanics at play in Rogue Legacy than your typical iPhone game, but all I want to do is upgrade that manor. I don’t even care about the bosses. I just want to have “the run” so I can finally upgrade my death defy percentage.

Narrator of the year: Will Stamper (BattleBlock Theater)

Same thing goes for what I can safely say is my co-op game of the year, BattleBlock Theater. A well made platformer with hilarious characters and music, but what stood out the most was my addiction to collecting new prisoners. I need the gems to get the prisoners...

Want to play BattleBlock Theater? I NEED MORE GEMS!

The Highlander of HD

When you take indie games out of the equation because INDIE GAMES AREN'T REAL GAMES RAGHH, obviously the big heavyweight GOTY match of the year is Bioshock Infinite vs The Last of Us. Two titles that have been hyped to the moon, with the promise to usher in a glorious renaissance of video games that will prompt zombie Roger Ebert to beg NeoGAF for forgiveness!

That didn't exactly happen. It's been a surprisingly dull year for big budget titles. These are the only two on disk HD videogames I bought all year, and that feels like a sign of the times more than anything.

Lighthouse of the year: BioShock Infinite

Honestly, I feel both games still managed to be quite the showing. While they didn't turn the medium upside down, they still went beyond what I consider a good videogame to be. Bioshock Infinite was my showpiece of 2013 for people who don't play videogames. Everyone I tried it out on loved it, even played it for hours on end. The first 20 minutes of The Last of Us nearly made me cry. Yeah, I'll say it, I had to take some VERY deep breaths getting through that. These were two awesome games, with a few imperfections that stick out like eyesores.

Sequence of the Year: "Winter" (The Last of Us)

The Last of Us was mostly frustrating to play. The stealth was infuriating, the enemy AI was just plain wacky at times, and there were quite a few unnecessary "why do I even have to fight these guys?" moments. Bioshock Infinite, on the other hand was a blast to play. Great pacing, and a fun array of toys to play with as not to bog down all the combat. Unfortunately, a world that rich drew me in so much, that I just wasn't satisfied when the plot clumsily unraveled in the second half. As the Bioshock rabbit hole goes deeper, the concepts become more ridiculous, the tropes more evident, and the twists less impactful. What should have been a jaw-dropping finale just felt incomplete and contradictory to itself. The later released "Burial At Sea" DLC chapter further complicated things to the point where I am convinced the writers seem just as lost as the player.

Community of the year

SaltyBet . com

Who would have thought a nonsensical and sometimes generally offensive vomit of text would be so entertaining? But when presented alongside a stream of the most stupid and ridiculous fighting game you've ever seen, it's suddenly relevant and fun. SaltyBet is an asylum run by the inmates, and it's been a lot of stupid fun never turning the caps lock off as you cheer on the AI controlled monstrosity you put a lot of fake money on, only for it to just fly away and throw the match.

On the nation of Internetlandia, memes are funny until somebody points out that they are a meme, and suddenly we have to pretend we're too cool to play along anymore. SaltyBet seems to exist on a ship in international waters, where there is no law, no commonplace, only shouting.

Two years late award

Dark Souls


I'm not going to bore you by explaining what Dark Souls is or why it is beloved / hated. I'm just going to offer my brief personal perspective - I HAAAAAATE medieval / Tolkien esque "Middle Earth" fiction. Dragons, wizards, knights, gargoyles… all that stuff can go fuck off. I've had an aversion to it since childhood. I didn't even know what a drake was until i wandered into a VALLEY of them last week.

Dark Souls, in all its brutality, must be put down. It is my vision-quest. And so, Dark Souls isn't about some guy trying to escape this strange purgatory world (that is what this game is about, right?). It's instead this fish-out-of-water violent action comedy where I swear my way through dungeons, giving bullshit what's coming to them.

Hello Simogo

Song of the year: "Anna" (Device 6)

If I weren't a spineless wimp, right now you'd be getting near the top of my GOTY list, and seeing TWO iPHONE STORYBOOKS there. Simogo games made two incredible products this year. The first being the ghostly Nordic folklore adventure - Year Walk. I grew up in a neighborhood buttressed against a forest, occasionally terrified to look out my window and see the Jersey Devil going for a stroll. Shuffling through the snowy forest all alone in Year Walk brought that feeling right back. It also has an endgame mechanic that would be a spoiler just to mention what it is, but trust me, it's AMAZING, and made for the most ingenious gaming experiences of 2013.

Device 6 followed a few months later. A bit less of a game, but again, showed off brilliant interactive design. The Saul Bass intro, mysterious technology, a plot with shades of The Prisoner, addictive puzzles, great spy music. Can these guys make games any more FOR ME?

Honorary Ace Attorney Award

Ace Attorney V: Dual Destinies

Character of the year: Aura Blackquill (Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies)

No matter the format, I'm always grateful to have a localized Ace Attorney; and I think a long absence from the series did me well. The game has the same format as ever, but it felt more like a friend reunited than it did redundant. Almost every AA character is entertaining, from the sometimes-villainous prosecutors, to the dispensable witnesses and rogues gallery. Even a couple bland cases in the middle are still made fun with all the flavor text and shenanigans.

I'm 30 minutes into the extra case, and it's already my DLC of the year. Punk-rock pirates, and penguin named Rifle? This is why I can never truly hate Capcom.


The "I Only Played Nine New Games in 2012" Awards!

There is honestly no point in making a top ten of 2012 list this year. I haven't even played enough 2012 games to occupy a top ten list! I still want to write about the few experiences I had in 2012 though, because I feel they are relevant. So here is an arbitrary awards system entirely built around an excuse to write about games! Let’s face it, most end of year write-ups are. I’m just being transparent about it.

Futility of Life Award: FML err, I mean FTL


FTL is the perfect example for the argument that video games are a big waste of time. It’s a game that gives you nothing but grief, stress, and worry. Your fuel is running low, you’re out of missiles, you’re being boarded, and you’re not even out of the 2nd sector yet. There are many gadgets and perks spread across the universe, but you’ll never have enough currency or system power to acquire them all. Too bad you’ll need ALL OF THEM to defeat the final boss. So why have I played so many hours of a game that slaps me around for 30 minutes, while knowing full well the end result will be to be effortlessly disintegrated by the most unfair final boss in the history of impossibility? To answer that requires me to answer why I play video games at all. Why even write about them? Why do anything for entertainment and stimulation? Why live?! Oh no, I feel another nervous breakdown coming on...

Best Music: Lone Survivor

I’m not trying to sound like an outsider or anything, but the Journey soundtrack didn’t really stick out to me. I’m happy it’s grammy nominated, and the game will get its due later in this piece; but the Lone Survivior soundtrack is still with me by the end of the year. That Twin Peaks sleazy jazz, with a little bit of emotional shoegaze, made this game stand out as more than “retro indie” or survival horror.

Best Online Community of 2012: WWE 13

I didn’t play WWE 13. Frankly, it doesn’t even look that fun to play. But I have watched a ton of it online. From a live stream of a video game themed Create-A-Wrestler Royal Rumble, to tear-inducingly hilarious glitch videos on youtube, to mother fucking GHOST PROBLEMS. Mentalists on the internet turn this cheap, cost-cutting, lo-production video game about a profit-driven company that plays their audience for fools into what pro wrestling should be: pure insanity.

Best Reason To Own a XBOX 360 Headset: Syndicate

It was a very brief window, but at release, the mission-based co-op portion of Syndicate was a rare pleasurable experience to discover with others online. Before the limited amount of missions became easy enough to memorize and play without communication (and the quickly proceeding drop off of nobody playing it at all); I had a great time with complete strangers. We were hashing out tactics, helping each other up, and laughing when it all fell to pieces in the end.

Most Unopened Game of 2012: SSX

“Aw Shucks, You Shouldn’t Have” Award: Alan Wake: American Nightmare

Alan Wake was my favorite game of 2010, and one of my favorites of this generation. I don’t live in a bubble though. I know some people didn’t like the storytelling, the combat, or the character models. I also know it didn’t sell as much as Remedy or Microsoft hoped. The very existence of another Alan Wake game (big or small) is enough to make my heart swell. Every little scrap of the Alan Wake franchise I get, I cherish.

Most Dissociative Experience of 2012: Dishonored


As much as I’d love to praise Dishonored for what it tries to be (SteamPunk Deus Ex? YES PLEASE), never have I been given mixed signals so strongly before. Is there such thing as an uncanny valley for gameplay? The AI lives only in the moment, and can go from scared to rabid animal, or friendly to ravenous in a split second with no context. The characters lecture me when I kill anyone, but the screen prompts, tutorials, and unlockables all tell me to do so. When I am discovered and have to fight my way back to safety, I am greeted back at my headquarters as if I’m a cold-blooded serial killer. Also, why can I still do the spyglass zoom when my mask is off?!?

Most Despicable Villain of 2012: The Cops of Need For Speed Most Wanted

I have a lot of gripes with NFS:MW’s design; but the mostly useless cops that chase you are at the top of that list. If you are driving to an event in the open world, and are spotted by the cops speeding (it may surprise you, but speeding is very easy to do) they chase you, and you cannot do anything until you ditch them. They are psychic, and know every little alley way you hide in. They teleport in front of you just when your pursuit meter is about to empty. If they catch you, you are sent back to a remote area of the map far away from where you wanted to get to in the first place. If I wanted to drive responsibly, I’d play Desert Bus!

The Fourth Annual “Two Years Late” Award: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

After MGS4 left me feeling like I never wanted to play a MGS game again, the simplicity and bit-by-bit gameplay was exactly what I needed. Also, let it be known - it was the first time I ever successfully hid in a cardboard box.

Most Innovative Game of 2012: The Unfinished Swan


While Portal is definitely a big deal, First-person video games where you don’t shoot people in the face is still a novel concept. The Unfinished Swan isn’t just a pretty looking puzzle game. Its use of environments and introducing new puzzle mechanics based entirely on them are thrilling, fun, charming, stimulating, everything I want video games to be. I don’t want to spoil anything here. You should try it yourself.

Most Regret Missing Out on: Spec Ops: The Line

As a Suda51 fan, I NEED to know just how crazy this game gets.

Best Game For Non-Gamers: The Walking Dead

I really want to finish this damn game. But I entered in a pact. I invited some friends over to play Episode 1, and it has now become a monthly tradition. The Walking Dead is getting a lot of well deserved praise, but one aspect that isn’t getting enough attention is how compelling it is to people who don’t play games. No controls to struggle with. No ridiculous mechanics. A concept and story anyone can grasp. Free from typical video game confusion, The Walking Dead tells an engrossing tale of violence and fear that (for once) makes gamers proud of their medium, not ashamed.

The Most Important Game of 2012: Journey

Like I said, I’m not gonna do GOTY, but if I was, this would be it. Journey did something with the multiplayer medium that everyone in the industry needs to pay attention to. It offered a deep significant experience with a stranger without the baggage of griefing, oppressive competition, or anything else that takes you out of the universe. I’ll never forget the journey I shared with another random PSN user; and it was all done without spotty garbled voice chat, annoying gamer tags, and needless customization (like avatars or phrases). This is what Nintendo wants to do, and always misses the mark entirely. This is what Microsoft ignores wholesale, because they know SmokexMadBluntz420 is their target market. This is relevant multiplayer gameplay that is troll-free. I never thought it was possible before.

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"I Was Losing You All Along" - R.I.P. Lookout! Records

A significant chunk of my youth has curled up and died for good this week. I just read this from, which they read from Ted Leo, that the iconic California pop-punk record label, Lookout! Records is out of business.

Lookout! is probably best known for being the first home to a bunch of nobodies called Green Day. In the early ninetees, Green Day sold copies of their two Lookout! albums out of a van, and played at 924 Gilman Street, along with two of the first bands I ever got into, Operation Ivy and The Mr. T Experience (also on Lookout! Records).

Lookout! was the first label I ever really noticed, let alone payed attention to. I would be more inclined to buy punk albums if they had that logo on the back of their CD. They seemed to take more risks with their pop-punk roster, like Green Day, MTX, The Hi-Fives, and The Queers (who were at the time, a bit subversive to the punk scene by not fitting the tough and/or political attitude). I loved these bands as a kid, and was so into their cartoony and snarky approach to Ramones style punk. I take a little bit of pride on growing up in with Lookout! rather than the next generation (Drive-thru records / Vagrant) of pop punk.

Lookout! probably also played a bit role in my discovery of Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (one of my favorite bands ever, and the first band that got me out of my "punk bands only, everyone else GTFO" music mentality.) Ted's first two (AMAZING) LPs were on Lookout! According to Ted, he now owns the rights to those releases. Which may be a good thing in the end, because here's the shitty thing about Lookout! After managent changes, the record industry changing, and perhaps pop-punk changing so much that production finally started to matter, Lookout! went into money troubles. So much to the point that they weren't even paying artists their share of record sales. That sucks. No defending that kind of dickery. They got their comeuppance though. Artist and fan backlash left them to shut everything down except digital distobution in 2006. And now, in 2012, they have given up the ghost.

Thanks to the past ten years of shitty shenanigans, Lookout! won't be missed, but to me, won't be forgotten either. Fuck, I have no idea what my life would be like today if I never had those copies of Energy and Love is Dead to get me through high school. So why am I posting this here? Well, Giant Bomb is San Fansisco based. Ryan Davis has mentioned a few times he remembers the Berkeley punk scene (not sure if it was fondly or not though). Maybe some other member here quietly went "fuck yeah" during those moments too.

Goodbye Lookout!


New music pickups (April + May)

Hello again.  Let's share what cool new music has come out in the past two months!


Songs from each release listed can be heard here      


   Architecture in Helsinki - Moment Bends

OK, wow.  What an incredible disappointment this is.  I know this band lost a lot of fans with their Tom Tom Club inspired Places Like This (2007), but I just fell in love with them even more.  They released the song "That Beep" in 2008, and I was convinced the next album would knock my socks off.  Well, it's finally here, and the bloody thing only has three good songs (one of them being "That Beep" again!).  I don't know what happened to them in the past three years, but that have lost their mojo.  This is bland synthpop.

     TV on The Radio - Nine Types of Light

Probably my favorite album of the year so far.  I usually find love songs corny, but these songs are so mature and grounded; even my heart was warmed.  Wonderful indie blues and soul.  The variety, the energy, the singing, performances, production, everything is top notch.

      Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

Classic Beasties.  There is a little bit of every era on here.  If you love them, this will slot right alongside your favorite of theirs.  They still sound young and energetic, and I love the synth beats.  Their delivery is still very old school and formulaic, but if that has never bothered you, you should love this.

      Pontiacs - Cold Finger Girl

The latest Kenichi Asai project slipped under my radar last year.  Asai is a rock demon.  Aside from four great solo albums, he's fronted Jude, Blankey Jet City, Ajico, and Sherbets.  All amazing rock bands.  "Cold Finger Girl" is a song he wrote for Chiaki Kuriyama (Go Go Yubari from Kill Bill), who apparently is making music now, I guess.  Now we get the original songwriter's version of the song, along with some b-sides, such as a cover of The Clash's "Brand New Cadillac"

      Aperture Science Psychoacoustics Laboratory - Portal 2: Songs To Test By

Volume one of the Portal 2 Soundtrack, free to download from Valve.  Aside from "Science is Fun" this soundtrack is only good for background music and nostalgia for your favorite moments in the game.  Well done.  Fits the game perfectly; but its oppressive sterility is too depressing on its own.

      Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

Musically, the best Foo album since The Colour And The Shape (1997).  Lyrically, a complete embarrassment.  Grohl shouts every lyrical cliche in the book as if they are the most well crafted battle-cries ever.  "Rope" and "White Limo" are still killer tracks though.  It's awesome to hear this band rock again.  Too bad it was at such a great sacrifice.

      Maritime - Human Hearts

We, The Vehicles (2006) is one of the best indie pop albums ever.  Unfortunately, it's sounding like a fluke,  Human Hearts is very mediocre, just like the other two albums they have that aren't called We, The Vehicles.

      The Birthday -  なぜか今日は

This single is the band's first release since the departure of their incredible guitar player and his endless solos.  This song is a bit of cleaner, more modern style, as opposed as their usual classic rock sound.  It's a welcome departure, so the song is novel; but it doesn't quell any concerns I have about the forthcoming album, out next month.

      capsule - World of Fantasy

This album was supposed to come out in March, with the title Killer Wave.  Not the kind of title you want to throw around in Japan these days!  It was delayed until last week.  Capsule used to be a Shibuya-kei outfit (think Katamari Damacy kind of music), but ever since 2006, they've taken a jarring tilt into electro-disco.  I honestly have no idea why I listen to them anymore.  I guess old habits die hard.  This sounds like mixtape club music.  Not my scene at all, so I have no idea what the quality of these beats are; if they are phat, tight, fresh, I don't even know what I am saying anymore.  Gonna stop.


February + March music pickups

Hello again, citizens of Giant Bomb.

In January, I did a music roundup post, and had fun with it, so I want to try and do it every month.  Unluckily, February was rather barren, so I've combined it with March, which was an overload.  A whole bunch of stuff came out this month, and this is only what I personally found…

[first off, you can listen to a samples from all of these albums HERE!]


 Peter Bjorn And John - Gimme Some

This Swedish trio already had a good reputation for having indie pop talent, but it wasn't until their last album that I felt they really proved themselves.  This new album isn't as wacky as Living Thing, but it's just as crazy good catchy.  Just straight up guitar rock partying.

Radiohead - The King of Limbs

I'm doubt I need to explain Radiohead to anyone here.  If not for its surprise announcement, this is a pretty unremarkable album.  There isn't much of a central motif or flow found in every other release.  It feels just 8 b-sides.  A couple damn good b-sides, but not so much meat as I expect from these guys.

Parts & Labor - Constant Future

This group was on to something by breaking up their typical noise rock with a few power ballads on their last album, Mapmaker.  They took that idea and went way too far with it here.  The songs sound epic at first, but get repetitive and tiring fast.  They don't have as much range with this genre as they did with noise rock.

 Polysics - Oh! No! It's Heavy Polysick!!!

Alright, this is my favorite band, so I may be slightly biased; but this album kicks ass.  They are short one synth player now, and have thrown a robot army of sequencers into the mix to fill the void.  This is their most innovative album in years, and works all three members of the band into the songs in very clever ways.  The whole album is an electric shock, start to finish.  

The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts

This may be my favorite album of the year so far.  This album sounds like the punk rock episode of Schoolhouse Rock, or a high energy Jackson Five.  It's nothing new for the third album, it's just all done better.  Lots of range.  Every song is unique, positive, and fun.

 Elbow - Build A Rocket Boys!

This is a slow moody band from Manchester.  Not to the liking of most of GB, I'd imagine.  Still, I thought I'd give it a mention because they do what they do really well.  Their singer has an amazing strong voice, and they know how to craft a tune with swells and epic moments without dragging.

 Obits - Moody Standard And Poor

Again, a bit biased, because Rick Froberg is one of my idols.  Strong second effort by this garage rock band.  They tightened up their songwriting process.  The songs are sharp and to the point now.  This is just no frills smoky bar rock and roll, which is my favorite kind of music.

 Bit.Trip Flux Soundtrack

The music of these games is a huge reason why I love them so much.  I bought the soundtracks to all six games.  Since this is the finale, the music is longer and more euphoric, with lots of clever medleys of previous songs.  Also, a brand new track by chiptune artist, Bit Shifter.

Ancient Astronauts - Into Bass And Time

I hated Plastic Beach.  Grolliaz just aren't that good anymore.  Ancient Astronauts take their place handily.  Same thing as Gorillaz here.  Damn good beats, and lots of guest performances.  It takes a lot for me to get into a hip-hop album, and I love this, if that means anything.

tsushimamire - GIVING BLOOD

Crazy absolutely bonkers relentless all girl punk trio.  Their usual shtick is to coat their songs with a overload of cute and pop then trap you with an all out noise attack.  This album just guns straight for the noise.  If you like distortion, you'll love this.

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Belong

I've only listened to this twice, and am not digging it.  I thought their debut was alright.  It was like No Age, but good!  This on the other hand, makes me feel like I'm listening to a John Hughes film.  It's too coated with sappy teenage love.  A lot of the songs feel hammy and overproduced… I don't know… maybe it's a grower.

Welp, that's all I got.  You guys get anything this month?


New music pickups of Januaray 2011

It's so hard to keep track of new releases, even for bands I like.  Maybe the community can do this monthly thing where we discuss what got our attention.    

Here's the haul I bought in the past month… 

Mixtape of songs from the releases 
and some quick blurbs....

Cake - Showroom of Compassion

Remember being young and ironically singing "The Distance" in that deadpan voice and thinking "what a randomly 90s band this Cake is, with their lame songs that totally don't rock."?  Well, now you're older, and should take this opportunity to listen to Cake again.  Their songs are very clever.  If you've always loved Cake, it's probably been a while since you last heard them as well, since their last release was in 2004!


Fujiya & Miyagi - Ventriloquizzing 

 3rd release by this strange group that excels at dark/moody/sexy instrumentals.  The lyrics are still quite vague and repetitive, but the music is still this cool cocktail of krautrock, dub, R&B, and other genres of music that juxtapose their pasty white UK hides.


 the pillows - Horn Again

If you haven't paid attention to this band over the past 5 years, you haven't missed much.  They write filler like nobody's business.  I think Pied Piper (2008) was their only accomplished release in recent memory.  What's frustrating is that the songs on this album are good, but entirely forgettable.   Also, after knocking about for 20 years, the engrish is getting kind of inexcusable.  "Horn Again"?  really?  Doesn't anybody inform these guys that they're just combining random words?

  The Get Up Kids - There Are Rules

Once emo poster children (back when emo was Rivers Coumo, not alterna-goth), this indie band has been running from their high-school romance fanbase since their 1998 album Something To Write Home About put them on the map.  Two albums, one breakup, and a five year gap later; the band has something they can truly call a reboot.  Good old fashioned post-punk indie fuzz-rock.  I love this album.  


Mademoiselle K -  Jouer dehors

French indie band, who seems to be at their height of popularity right now.  That or this is a major label debut out on the hunt for a radio push.  Not being a French speaker, I'm inferring all this from the production quality, which is very smoothed out and mellowed compared to their first two albums.  Anyway, this is a kinda like Metric thing.  I like this kind of music, but much prefer a more abrasive touch, which was left out this time around.


Deerhoof vs Evil

This is the worst Deerhoof album in a long time.  Let me tell you why its so great…  Nobody is like Deerhoof.  They write what are basically pop songs, but inside out.  On the surface, this band is nothing but rough edges; but between the lines, they're cuddly teddy bears.  I guess they're like the Super Meat Boy of bands.  Your ears will bleed love.  This particular album is just a bit too short, and didn't have as many great songs on it as others.  Maybe it will grow on me though.

  Lemuria - Pebble

Growing up in New Jersey in the 90s, I was witness to quite a large indie/emo scene.  The music has a larger fanbase than a thought, because this band is from Buffalo.  They're getting a lot of buzz right now, so I checked the new album out.  Not my kind of music, but it hits all the right notes for what its trying to do.  If you dig bands like Latterman or The Ergs, this is for you.  Hell if you even know who those bands are, you'll at least get where this is coming from.



  The Radio Dept. - Passive Aggressive

Listen to The Radio Dept.  I am serious.  If there is anything to take away from this thread it is to go find some Radio Dept. releases and listen to them!  This is a good place to start.  It's a singles collection.  They've got all the best parts of shoegaze, ambience, and dream pop.  They're like this generation's Joy Division.

GlassJAw - Our Color Green

I hate hardcore music, but love the album Worship & Tribute (2002).  This band hasn't done anything since then, except for a few singles which are all bundled into this package.  They've got a sort of bro mentality to them, but do a lot of cool interactions with their fanbase, and know how to put together a song well enough to still show up on my radar after all these years.

Please feel free to add what you grabbed this month and/or ad your opinions to these albums.

Also, what's coming out in February?  All I know is a new Go! Team album (which arrived this week, i I'm not mistaken.  Gotta grab myself a copy…)


Best of bombcast - New Releases!

I've noticed a few "fav quotes from the bombcast" threads in the forum, and thought I'd share this compilation with the community.  Semi-inspired by Joystiq's "Podcast Zero", I made of collection of my favorite moments over the last year of "New Releases!" on the bombcast.  This was intended just for my co-workers and I, who frequently share podcasts to ease the 8 hour daily desk jobs we have, but you'll most likely enjoy it too.   Included are a whole bunch of DSi rants, "I have a wii", (POW block anyone?), and of course Mommy Daddy Sarah and Billy. 
Link right here ----------------> 
backup link in case megaupload sucks -------->