There’s so much this week. There’s some really good stuff I’m not even mentioning. Check the lists. It’s nuts.

3 WOMEN (Criterion)


It’s Altman. It’s Criterion. Beyond that…well, how best to explain it…?

Professional weirdos Shelly Duvall and Sissy Spacek play professional weirdos Millie and Pinky – they become roomies, and things get extra special weird. Weird encounters with dudes who make fun of Millie…weird paintings…weird personality swaps/shifts/swings…weird dreams (within dreams – and is the movie a dream? It was based on Altman’s dream)…and a pile of tires (less weird – but in context, still weird).




Okay…lemme’ get this straight. Eva Green constantly loses her clothes, and the show gets cancelled? It’s like Joe Strummer dying before The Clash reunion – this is proof that there is no God. A lotta’ people won’t get no justice tonight…

I’m kidding. I’ve heard this isn’t the best thing ever…even if Eva Green is the best thing ever.



When whiny douchebags say this film is “boring,” I want to punch them in their faces. At the very least, I know their taste is suspect. Welles classic has gained its stuffy rep from classroom play – which could suck the life out of just about any film – but the film is acerbic and wise and perfectly acted and majestically shot – and just as thematically relevant today as it was the day of its release. Must own.




That’s what I got. The Exterminator is cool.



I truly adore this movie. I saw it multiple times theatrically, bought it on VHS (lenticular cover!), laserdisc, DVD –

And guess what I’m gonna’ go buy in a few hours…?



Not an awful cash-grab sequel as cash-grab sequels go, but Carpenter’s assertion that Michael Myers is the “boogeyman” – and is thus devoid of rhyme, reason, or backstory – means that Jamie Lee gets menaced in a new locale…and not much else.

But the reason this Blu Ray release is of merit is that Universal Pictures has seen fit to include the wonderful retrospective clip fest Terror in the Aisles, hosted by Nancy Allen and Donald Pleasance. Classic.



Not based on the Nickleback album of the same name. Interesting performances. Narratively inert. It’s like someone decided to remake Garden State with a dirthead from my town.



And they say horror doesn’t work on television. Sunny may just be the most consistently terrifying thing I’ve ever seen. It’s almost weep-inducing.



You know what it is and you love it ‘cause it’s great – or you don’t love it ‘cause you’re not.



Season six…

Kripke’s out, Gamble’s in, season’s unfocused – then Ben Edlund comes along and puts us back on the rails. Sure-sure, last season wasn’t perfect – but that just means that Supernatural’s last season was only slightly better than everything else on network TV instead of being substantially better than everything else on network TV.



I liked it a lot. I’m buying it.



Yet another film I’ve purchased too many times to count – especially since it was stolen more than once by girls. At least Kyla gave me my copy of SLC Punk back…




Michael Mann directs Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon to perfection. William Petersen is double-live gonzo and dangerous times ten in this flick, and Brian Cox IS Hannibal. The definitive Hannibal. As in “none better.” As in, “I’ll take my murderous sociopath as a sinister, cerebral coiled cobra – not a nostril-flaring, mugging-like-he’s-starring-with-The Dead-End Kids-goon.” Absolute perfection.


3 Women (Criterion)
35 and Ticking
The Amityville Horror
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season
Boggy Creek
Brand New Day
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Camelot: The Complete First Season
Circus Maximus
Citizen Kane Ultimate Collector’s Edition
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
The Count of Monte Cristo
Death ofthe Virgin
Don’t Say a Word
Dragon Ball Z Kai: Season 1, Part 6
The Exterminator
The Frighteners
Glee: The Complete Second Season
Halloween II 30th Anniversary Edition
Haunting at the Beacon
The Haunting of Molly Hartley
Hide and Seek
The Horror Within
Inspector Lewis: 4th Series
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 6
K-ON! Volume 3
Lake Placid 2
The Last House on the Left
Le Quattro Volte
Legend of El Diablo
Love, Wedding, Marriage
Meek’s Cutoff
Modern Family: The Complete Second Season
Mr. Write
My Life as a Dog (Criterion)
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Poltergeist II: The Other Side
Pretenders: Loose In L.A.
Queen’s Blade 2: Evil Eye
Sanctuary: The Complete Third Season
Silent Night, Zombie Night
Sounds & Silence: Travels with Manfred Eicher
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena
Supernatural: The Complete Sixth Season
The Tempest
The Tenth Victim
Tha Crib
True Legend


There are SONY DVD ON-DEMAND titles that are supposed to be released today – including the Dolph Lundgren classic DARK ANGEL/I COME IN PEACE (!) and YOR: HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE (!!) – but I could find no proof of this. I’ll keep you posted.

1991: The Year Punk Broke
3 Women (Criterion)
Across The Wide Missouri
Algerian War 1954-1962: Roots of Counterinsurgency
Any Number Can Play
Arthur’s Music Jamboree
Avenging Eagle
Bad Dreams / Visiting Hours
Barbie Princess: Charm School
The Basement: Retro ’80s Collection
Best Moments of the Amazing Kreskin
Beverly Lewis’ The Shunning
Beyond The Dunwich Horror / Pretty Dead Things
Beyond the Light Switch
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season
Bill Cunningham New York
Blades of Blood
Blink 182: Never Miss A Beat
Blood Brothers
Blue Bloods: The First Season
Blue Mountain State: Season Two
Boggy Creek
Born of Earth
Brand New Day
C.O.P.S.: Volume 2
Cage of Evil
Camelot: The Complete First Season
Campus Rhythm
Carrie Fisher: Wishful Drinking
Child’s Play
A Christmas Romance
Circus Maximus
Citizen Kane
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
Consuming Passions
The Count Of Monte Cristo
The Crucible
D’myna Leagues: Season 1
Daniel O’Donnell: Live from Nashville Volume 1
Danny Phantom: Season 1
Dark Angel
Death of the Virgin
The Dog Who Saved Halloween
Don’t Say a Word
Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Enchanted Forest Adventures
Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Storybook Adventures
Dr. Who: Day of the Daleks
Dragon Ball Z Kai: Season 1
ER: Seasons 1-15
A Family Thanksgiving
Frankenstein Unbound
The Frighteners
Gidget Goes Hawaiian
The Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver
Glee: The Complete Second Season
Golden Swallow
Goosebumps: Attack of the Mutant
Goosebumps: Ghost Beach
Green Day: How It Came To Be
Grounded for Life: Season 1
Grounded for Life: Season 2
Guilty Of Innocence: The Lenell Geter Story
Guitar Artistry of Buster B. Jones
The Gundown
Halloween II
Haunting at the Beacon
The Haunting of Molly Hartley
He-Man & The Masters of the Universe: Season 2
A Holiday to Remember
The Horror Within
The House of Suh
How the Toys Saved Christmas
Hubert Sumlin: Hubert Sumlin Living the Blues
The Hucksters
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
In Search of Santa
In The French Style
Inspector Lewis: 4th Series
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 6
Jackie Evancho: Dream with Me In Concert
Jet Bombers Set
Jimi Hendrix: Blue Wild Angel Live at the Isle of Wight
Jimi Hendrix: The Dick Cavett Show
Johnny Test: Complete Seasons 3 & 4
Johnny Test: Saves the World
Journey To The Center Of The Earth
Just Peck
K-ON! Volume 3
Kekkaishi Set 2
Kidnap & Rescue
Killer Clan
Laid Off
Lake Placid 2
The Last Lullaby
Le Quattro Volte
Leading Ladies
Legend Of El Diablo
Live at Montreux 1994
Live at the Union Chapel
Lone Star
Love, Wedding, Marriage
Mad Dog Coll
Marvel Knights: Thor & Loki, Blood Brothers
Me and Orson Welles
Meek’s Cutoff
Miracle on the Mountain: The Kincaid Family Story
MM Complete Collection
Mobile Suit Gundam Complete Collection 1
Modern Family: The Complete Second Season
Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space
Motown Gold from the Ed Sullivan Show
Mr. Write
MST 3000: Manos, the Hands Of Fate
My Life As A Dog (Criterion Collection)
Nat. Geographic: Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West
Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown
Nick Kroll: Thank You Very Cool
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Olga Tanon: Olga Viva, Viva Olga
Outsourced: The Complete Series
The Passage
A Perfect Life
Poltergeist II: The Other Side
Pretenders: Loose In L.A.
The Putt Putt Syndrome
Queen’s Blade 2: Evil Eye The Complete Series
The Quick Gun
RAF at War 1918-1939
RAF at War 1940-1960
RAF at War 1960-2008
Reach For Me
Rescue Me: The Final Season
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky
RoboCop 2
Salon Massage
Sanctuary: The Complete Third Season
Scared Shrekless
Scotland Explored Weir’s Way: Set One
Secret World of Og
Should’ve Put a Ring On It
The Silent House
Silent Night, Zombie Night
Son of Morning
A Song for the Season
The Sons of Mistletoe
Sounds & Silence: Travels with Manfred Eicher
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena
Sporting Blood
Supernatural: The Complete Sixth Season
Superplanes Set
The Supremes: Best of the Supremes
Symphonic Live
The Tempest
The Temptations: Best of the Temptations on The Ed Sullivan
The Tenth Victim
Tha Crib
Top Banana
True Legend
UFC 132
Ultimate Guide: Dolphins
Vandread Ultimate Collection
Veggie Tales: Larry Learns To Listen
Viva La Lucha: Revolution
Wow Wow Wubbzy: & the Fire Engine
WWE: Summerslam 2011
Xenosaga Complete Collection
Yor, Hunter from the Future





I’ve always thought that Blondie was the most transgressive, and in some ways the most important band, to come out of the New York CBGB’s scene. That’s not to say I don’t love Television, Talking Heads, and The Ramones, but they were an insular bunch of (mostly) guys, who seemed to be interesting in writing and singing about pretty much everything except actual sex… which just happened to be a favorite topic for Debbie Harry. In all the glorious guitar madness of Marquee Moon, or the herky-jerky heebie-jeebies of Talking Heads ’77, there’s nothing as blatantly seductive as “We sat in the dark with my hands cuffed /  You had to admit you wanted the love / Of a sex offender” or “I could give you some head / And shoulders / To lie on.” And as if that weren’t enough, Blondie survived a second album with indifferent reception from both critics and the public to take the “New Wave” movement onto the charts and into American car radios with classic singles like “Heart of Glass” and “Call Me,” bringing a fresh voice to a stale Top 40 scene. “Rapture” might seem charmingly awkward today, but it was first-hand reportage from the New York streets at the time.

But things get tricky for pioneers when the pop music scene moves on; you could argue that the emergence of bands like the B-52’s and Pretenders cemented everything that Harry and company had promised, and each passing year has brought more and more opportunities for strong-willed female rock and pop performers. In 2011, what exactly does a 65-year-old Debbie Harry have to offer that makes her as vital as the 30-year-old version was?

Well, fortunately, Harry’s in strong voice: her pop instincts remain formidable, even as she approaches sex more like a responsible grownup these days (after all, we really don’t need any [more?] rockin’ grandmas posing as sex kittens). She and original bandmates Chris Stein and Clem Burke dip into the wide range of sounds their band rode to the top, with nods to their dance-floor days, but only tiny hints of the surf-guitar-and-farfisa trash rock that characterized the first album. Instead, the focus is largely on shimmering mid-tempo pop (“China Shoes,” “Words in My Mouth”) and a healthy (over?) dose of the reggae-lite that propelled “The Tide Is High” (“The End The End,” “Sunday Smile,” “Girlie Girlie”). There’s lashings of contemporary commentary in the synth-driven opener, “D-Day,” which casts a jaundiced eye on current politics, technology, and finance (“Transfer your love to me“). “Mother” is more synth-pop, a memoir of Harry’s days as the face of the CBGB’s scene; “Wipe Off My Sweat” has the best dance groove, with Harry singing largely in Spanish (though her French still gets a workout on the torchy “Le Bleu”), and throughout the album the cooing harmony blend caresses the ear with familiar Blondie hooks. While Burke’s drumming is solid throughout, Stein’s guitar is sorely missed, usually buried in the mix or absent altogether. I admire their New York aesthetic, with its omnivorous appetite for ethnic musical styles, but given my druthers, I’d have tossed out a couple of the reggae-ish bits in exchange for some of the refreshing trashiness of “Rip Her To Shreds” or “Little Girl Lies.” But, as I say, even sex kittens gotta grow up someday.




Despite some vocal similarities between them, the Laura Marling-Joni Mitchell comparisons are a bit facile: Mitchell was a trailblazer, and her vocal and compositional abilities, and searing honesty, will always be measured by her decades of influence on virtually every female singer/songwriter since; by the same token, no one else will ever have her pioneering opportunities. Having said that, Marling’s third album is every bit as involving and inescapable a listening experience as Blue or Court and Spark, and even more musically varied and rewarding.

Most of the new album was written in the wake of Marling losing beau Marcus Mumford to Carey Mulligan, making it sort of an answer to Noah and the Whale’s The First Days of Spring, which recalled Marling throwing over Charlie Fink for Mumford. And as if that’s not enough to keep track of, Marling’s suggested that none of this material is autobiographical… but we’ll choose to trust the art over the artist. “Why can’t I live and just be? / I’m full of guilt” is the ache at the center of “My Friends”; while “Don’t Ask Me Why” suggests the impossibility of answers:  “Those of you who are lost and low / I know how you feel / I know it’s not right / But it’s real.” If we hear in “Sophia” that “…where I’ve been is no concern of yours,” does it matter whether this is Marling herself, or an expertly-observed version of herself as narrator?

For a self-professed “folkie,” Marling’s got an excellent ear for matching varied instrumentation to the material, like the brisk shuffle and quirky, offhand vocal of “The Muse,” the dreamy banjo-and-choral counterpoint of “Rest in the Bed,” and the skewed shanty of “All My Rage,” with its cheerful “Stole my children / Left my son / Of all of them / He’s the only one / That did not mean that much to me / I tip my cap / To the raging sea.”   Particularly effective is the transition from the elegant waltz of “Salinas” (“My mother, she’s the savior / Of six foot of bad behavior”) to the ominously quiet opening of “The Beast” (“Tonight he lies with me / Put your eyes away if you can’t bear to see / Your old lady lie down next to the beast“), resolving itself in pounding drums and dark, slashing guitar. If this is Marling baring her soul, it’s riveting stuff… and if not, then it’s the work of a (still very young) woman of rare insight and evocative power. Or, as they say, win-win.




The tease of the possibility of a Sleater-Kinney reunion continues (Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss? almost there, folks!), but it’s the other puzzle pieces that help invigorate this album: singer-guitarist Mary Timony of Helium and keyboardist Rebecca Cole of the Minders add just the right touch of 60’s AM radio trash and slashing guitar: think something like the Cocktail Slippers or the sadly missed Les Hell on Heels, with the punch, precision, and intelligence of S-K.

“Romance” opens with a rush, vocals stepping breathlessly all over the drum-and-keyboard intro, and call-and-response guitar from Timony; when the chorus joins in, it’s like Richard Lloyd backing the Shangri-La’s. “Something Came Over Me” is more sly girl-group subversion to a rhythm track out of vintage Talking Heads; “Boom” is a heady, Patti Smith-style intimation of disaster (“If you a want a pretty picture / You better look away“), and “Glass Tambourine” is a twisted hymn to music and romance that builds from a “Radar Love” opening to a sleek vision of the fragility of relationships: “A glass tambourine / Don’t shake it like you mean /A glass tambourine / Don’t break it on the scene.” The simple truisms of 60’s pop are second-generation-removed from these women, and the snarl of “Future Crimes” (“I’m so hard-wired to be alone“) or the slamming bass-and-drums and sighing wail of “Short Version” (“Inside this stillness is a wave / A force from which we won’t be saved“) are a tad more existential than, say, “My Boyfriend’s Back.” The yelping vocals are a matter of taste, but there’s no denying the tight band work, and the glorious guitar interplay, with Brownstein laying down the Stonesy rhythm, and Timony weaving in and around, all shredding and fuzz. If Wild Flag isn’t as introspective as Corin Tucker’s recent album, it’s catchier, rocks harder, and would sound amazing on the radio.




An interesting pairing, as both of these musicians have fallen in and out of critical favor in their careers: often criticized as technically-brilliant, but musically conservative, popularizers of the most facile, easily-digested elements of African-American popular music. Though the criticism is too dismissive of what both have accomplished, there’s a hint of truth about it: Marsalis makes the tradeoff for the opportunity to preserve those aspects of jazz culture that need to exist alongside, not in place of, the post-bop, free jazz and hip-hop influenced culture of today. For Clapton, it was simply a matter of survival: he became a pop smoothy and old blues dude because the rock and roll life damn near killed him. But if his almost offhand relaxation has proved stultifying for much of his solo career, it’s the perfect groove to slide in with Marsalis’ big band.

The sound of the album will be unsurprising to Marsalis fans, possibly a bit baffling for Clapton acolytes: this is a big band built specifically on the model of King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, and while us post-Yardbirds rockers tend to picture Chicago, Memphis, or Mississippi when we think “blues,” this is, more than anything else, Dixieland: a swaggering, joyous New Orleans raveup. “Ice Cream,” with guest singer Taj Mahal, kicks things off with Victor Goines’ clarinet wildly underpinning the vocal, while Chris Crenshaw and Marcus Printup alternate sassy trombone and trumpet solos. We’re in somewhat more familiar Clapton territory with Howlin’ Wolf’s “Forty-Four,” treated here as a minor-key dirge with echoes of Cab Calloway. Though Clapton makes a few concessions to his surroundings (a Gibson 335 replaces his familiar Strat), he wisely doesn’t attempt to “jazz things up” too much, keeping the angles on his solos, employing his usual chromatics, and acquitting himself well in the face of men who have this music in their blood; while Marsalis’ band are jazz musicians of the highest order, on tracks like the aching “Careless Love” and the shuffling “Joliet Bound,” Clapton acquits himself beautifully.

If there’s a misstep, I think it’s the inclusion of “Layla” (evidently at the request of bassist Carlos Henrquez,): for better or worse, the pain-wracked original remains Clapton’s greatest recorded statement, and turning the song into a blues shuffle (as he did on the Unplugged album), or a New Orleans funeral march, as he does here, just reaffirms the impossibility of recapturing that moment; it also runs awfully long at nine minutes, though Clapton’s solo is worth the time, one of his best of recent years. Taj rejoins the band for the final two tracks: a slow, stately “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” that builds, over twelve minutes, into an almost Santana-like drum-and-guitar showdown, followed by a wild and wailing “Corinne, Corinna.” Last year’s Clapton was a marginally successful attempt for Clapton to find his place in a blues environment that pre-dated or side-stepped the likes of Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. But he’s always been better as a sideman or partner than bandleader, and much of the promise of what Clapton was reaching for is achieved here. There’s also a “Deluxe” version with a DVD of the concert, which I wasn’t able to preview.


(This was a huge release week, and I just didn’t have the time or, in some cases, the opportunity, to listen to all of these albums in advance)

Lady Antebellum – Own The Night There seems to be some vigorous debate in country circles as to whether these folks, Sugarland, or The Band Perry are the “genuine article.” But you genuinely don’t care, do you? Can’t say as I blame you.

Jimi Hendrix – Winterland Not much to say here– a five-CD orgy of guitar goodness, much of it previously unreleased, drawn from three October 1968 performances at the historic venue that is now a Honda dealership– save to add that the exclusive Amazon version has an additional disk with an amateur bootleg recording of a complete February ’68 show. Move over, Rover.

Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare As if to deflect “old man” jokes coming his way, Alice decides to populate this album with other AARP members, including original bandmates Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce and Neal Smith, guest guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner, songwriting from Desmond Child, production from even-older-guy Bob Ezrin, while tossing in some Ke$ha for the kiddies (the somewhat bizarre duet, “What Baby Wants”). I always thought that what kept Alice from being kind of boring was that he got his outrageousness on the radio, which thirty or so years ago was an act of subversion. Today, it’s nostalgia.

Anthrax – Worship Music The return of lead singer Joey Belladonna perks up the energy levels for the band’s first new album in eight years.

Primus – Green Naugahyde Eight years? Ha– try a dozen or so since the last Primus. No advance preview on this one, though.

Sonny Rollins – Road Shows, Vol. 2 Pound for pound, the most jazz for your money this week. Dream team live matchup including Roy Hargrove, Jim Hall, Christian McBride, Roy Haynes… and Rollins’ first collaboration ever with Ornette Coleman, on the twenty stunning minutes of “Sonnymoon for Two.”

The Drums – Portomento I still think a band called The Drums ought to have more interesting ideas about rhythm, but it’s a nice melodic step up from the last one, and the harmonies show imagination. “Money” is at least the third song I’ve heard this year about spending cash you don’t have, which is at least a meme, and possibly a movement.

Todd Rundgren – [Re]Production Todd’s second-weirdest idea for an album ever (no one could have topped side 1 of Faithful for sheer WTF?) finds him cutting dance grooves to songs he produced, but didn’t write or perform on. I don’t know that, say, “Dear God” benefits much from this, and Todd’s choice to remind me how much I can’t stand Meat Loaf isn’t particularly welcome either. Good party album, though, as long as you wait till everyone’s pretty well baked.

Nick Lowe – The Old Magic Lowe’s gleeful advance into geezerhood (“I’m sixty-one years old now / I never thought I’d make thirty“) has produced albums both classic (The Impossible Bird) and soporific (The Convincer). The Old Magic is somewhere in between: “I Read A Lot” is a brilliant inversion of the Sinatra-era saloon song, and his cover of Elvis Costello’s “Poisoned Rose” subsumes its histrionics beneath gritty soul. Musically, though, the album could use more of the briskness of the nicely grooved “Somebody Cares For Me,” or the rich twang of “Checkout Time.” In other words, maybe a few too many slow ones, even for an old dude.

Trombone Shorty – For True Sheer, glorious funk that feels and sounds effortless and organic, with guests like Jeff Beck and Lenny Kravitz, and songwriting contributions from Lamont Dozier. I just hope Shorty’s not too broken up about the impending dissolution of the “Big 12.”

Bush – Sea of Memories Yet another long-time-gone return this week: it’s been ten years since Bush’s last studio album. It says here that Bush doesn’t plan to “rework 1994’s Sixteen Stone over and over.” Fair enough. But I can’t help but think that this is pretty much what the band would sound like if they had done exactly that.

Staind – Staind According to the band, Staind is “…”the heaviest thing we have recorded in a long time…” “…one of the heaviest collections of songs that we have put together…” and “…a modern-sounding version of a heavy Staind record.” I get it. Heavy. So noted.

Girls, Father, Son, Holy Ghost I have to admit that I’d sort of hoped that a duo with this kind of real-life backstory (drug-fueled escape from a sexually-exploitive hippie cult whose members included Fleetwood Mac founder Jeremy Green) would have something more insightful to offer than “sensitive-boy-seeks-love” songs (“Nothing’s gonna get any better / If you don’t have a little hope / If you don’t have a little love / In your soul“), but the glorious pop stylings (glockenspiel to surf guitar to swirling proggy madness to mass choir) make even the feyest lyrics go down smooth.

Reckless Kelly – Good Luck & True Love If you need any proof that today’s “country” music scene is basically just cornpone diva pop and hair metal, it might be the fact that this sturdy band of guitar-slinging rowdies somehow manages to avoid the avalanche of awards that the industry gives itself every year, evidently satisfied to just keep churning out tough, tight, catchy songs that bring you up short with a shared memory or wry observation (“When I was young there were no car seats / So I’m lucky just to be alive“). Recommended to Joe Ely: “I Never Liked Saint Valentine.”

A.A. Bondy – Believers Expanding the sound, widening the focus, damping down the self-pity.

Roy Haynes – Roy-alty If Haynes’ appearance on the new Sonny Rollins is your introduction to this veteran traps man, grab this one up. Old friends on the album include Roy Hargrove and Chick Corea, and what Haynes and Corea make of Monk’s “Off Minor” has to be heard to be believed.

St. Vincent – Strange Mercy Annie Clark’s the latest entry in the female guitar goddess sweepstakes: more visionary than Marnie Stern, looser and funnier than Anna Calvi.

The Kooks – Junk of the Heart It’s a busy release week, and this one was also unavailable for preview. But Luke Pritchard describes it as “an album to play in the sun,” so there’s that.

The Devil Wears Prada – Dead Throne Haven’t heard this one either, but since it says here that I should “forget everything I know about The Devil Wears Prada,” maybe it’s best I take some time to do that first.

Levin Torn White – Levin Torn White Prog fan’s wet dream: Tony Levin, David Torn, and Alan White. Another one I haven’t heard yet, but I think we all know pretty much what to expect.

Ladytron – Gravity The Seducer Did not get a chance to preview the fifth studio album from the electro-indie faves.

Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events Why is it all the prog stuff was unavailable for preview? I mean, it’s not my favorite genre, but I like to keep up on things.


NHL ’12 (PS3; 360)

EA’s NHL games are the rare sports title that actually improve year to year. I don’t know what’s in store this year, but the fact remains that hockey makes for some great party gaming. I couldn’t tell you what the hell is happening on the ice ninety five percent of the time, but it’s fun as hell with four friends who know just as little. Apparently, people who enjoy hockey also enjoy this game. So there is that too. Pick of the week. EA needs your charity.


Supposedly these PSP games are some of the best on the system. The collection has a nice assortment of goodies and the games are given the full HD treatment, but they are still God of War games. Expect lots of brutal, shirtless button mashing and sex mini-games. Personally, I don’t think the genre has been worth evolving since Streets of Rage 2. Good thing, since it really hasn’t.


Twisted Pixel are the weird XBLA success story. Although their previous games have been hampered by frustrating balance issues and inconsistent gameplay they have quickly become gamer favorties because of their irreverent style and humor. Now they have graduated to full retail (although originally produced and announced for download) with The Gunstringer. It may be the first budget Kinect title that has a chance to be good. Or even playable by grown adults.  The story sounds quirky and ripe for FMV sequences, two trademarks of Twisted Pixel, and the marionette controls sound intriguing and hard to pull off. Hopefully the folks at Twisted Pixel actually pull out some concrete design and balanced gameplay this go-round. I’m optimistic, but it’ll take a lot for me to completely redesign my living room so I can play Kinect games.


Being able to play all five (utterly fantastic) Bit Trip games in 3D is worth the ridiculous purchase of a 3DS alone. All of the games are visually stunning, simple, and addictive, which is why 3D gaming exists. It might actually be time to stop bitching about Nintendo’s fuckups and look at what this thing can do for games. If any (non-1st party) game can sell a 3DS, it’s Bit Trip. At least to stoners.

The games are also coming out on disc for Wii for those Wii owners who didn’t do the correct thing and download them already.


White Knight Chronicles was awful and now it has a sequel that is supposedly better. It also includes a reworked version of the first game, which is pretty much admitting the first one sucked. MLB Nicktoons is out now for kids and confused baseball fans everywhere. Radiant Silvergun on XBLA would be my pick of the week if I was even half a man and could finish it. PC guys are lucky this week and get the batshit insane Hard Reset. And Trackmania 2 is actually coming out, at least part of it. Who else lost a bet?

So there you have it. See you guys next week.