September 30, 2012 by Daniel
Newly minted from being featured on Critical Distance this week – here’s my newest Progress Report for y’all:
1. Seriously, that last post got featured on Critical Distance. I’m so frickin’ happy about that. That place is just full of smart games criticism and to be included on there is a huge honour for me. Hopefully I’ll have more stuff up there soon.
2. Speaking of Critical Distance, Nick Dinicola at PopMatters wrote a piece about the theology of Asura’s Wrath. Bastard stole my idea! I guess that’s why you’re supposed to finish your pieces as soon as possible. I might still put mine out because I’m already a few paragraphs deep and what I have to say about it is similar, but somewhat different. His piece is much more comprehensive than mine was gonna be, so we’ll see.
3. At the constant nagging of a friend of mine, as well as my own passing interest in it and the fact that I was going to be in a car for about 10 hours this weekend, I checked out Pokemon Conquest on the Nintendo DS. I’m almost halfway through it, and it’s a pretty fun little strategy game. It’s fairly simple, but the Pokemon hooks within it are smart. They also make the game a bit grind-heavy for my tastes, and I can’t say whether I’ll stick with it until the end, because I really only play my DS on trips. In fact, I can’t even think of the last time I actually finished a DS game. I think it was Ghost Trick a couple years back.
4. Got a little further into Midnight’s Children – the main character is now a child of nine or ten years old. I’ve finally settled my month-long backlog of podcasts so my bus time can now be devoted to reading, which means I’ll start getting through it faster.
5. After more listening, I’ve decided that besides being a really good album in it’s own right, More or Les’s Mastication is actually way smarter than just about anyone is giving it credit for. Expect an in-depth review of that soon.
6. Finally got to listening to Hospice by The Antlers. That album is absolutely beautiful but it’s also just plain crushing – like if you listen to it all the way through and read the lyrics along with it, you will be sad. It’s pretty much unavoidable. So…jeez, I don’t know how much I’ll be listening to it, but damn. Damn.
7. Checked out Caribou’s 2010 album Swim. I’ve only listened to it once all the way through, but I’m pretty ambivalent towards it. Just didn’t do a whole a lot for me. I hear his earlier stuff is better, so maybe I should be checking that out instead – Swim just happened to be on a friend’s iPod for me to grab at the moment.
8. I listened to Alligator by The National, which, along with their two most recent records, is one of those indie albums that everyone on the internet talks about all the time. At first, I didn’t love it, but then I read a review of it that put the album into context for me and made me appreciate it more. Continued listening required.
9. Switching back to games for a second (though also music-y), the Rocksmith “career mode” is longer than I thought it was – seems like I still have a fairly long way to go. The game is now making me do much better on the songs than before if I want to progress. It’s good actually – it’s definitely a bit repetitive from a gameplay perspective, but there’s a couple songs that I’ve learnt thanks to that game that I’m fairly confident I can play in real life now, including “I Got Mine” by the Black Keys and “Surf Hell” by Little Barrie. So that’s pretty cool. Still think that game has some messed up ways of teaching, but I actually do feel I’m getting better at guitar by playing it – or maybe I’m just getting better at reacting to their visual system. Can’t quite tell.
10. Speaking of the Black Keys, Rocksmith has a lot of Black Keys songs in it, which is putting me into a Black Keys mood. I checked out Brothers a little while ago and thought it was good but too long. Think I’m gonna give Attack & Release a listen.
11. FINALLY listened to ILLmatic by Nas, which is probably the one “classic” hip-hop album I had never listened to, other than The Chronic which I don’t really care about. No surprise, then, that it’s pretty damn good. Nas is an excellent storyteller and has great flow, and the beats on the album still sound pretty modern despite being over 15 years old. I would even go so far as to say that ILLmatic influenced the general sound of modern mainstream hip-hop more than just about any other 90s hip-hop record. Whether you consider this a good thing or not is up to you.
12. Finally, this isn’t new, but at work the other day I was listening to Paul’s Boutique, and that album is just a frickin’ party. It’s absolutely hilarious, and the way that the Dust Brothers were able to match the quirky, referential style of the Beastie Boys’ raps with their own really weird and heavily referential beats is mindblowing. The fact that the record was both a) made in 1989 and b) only the Beasties’ second album is crazy.
Alright, time to do some Psych readings. There probably won’t be any big updates for a few days because I’ve got an essay due on Thursday. However, expect one or two smaller things to whet your appetites until then. Also, because Sundays are boring, even on the internet, I’ve got a weekly Sunday feature that I’ll be debuting next weekend, so stay tuned.
And hey, did you know you can use that beautiful orange button on the right to subscribe to my RSS feed? ‘Cuz you can totally do that.