Last year, we said of Liz Longley’s debut album, “Longley’s clearly ready to seize on stardom, and this album provides all the proof that’s needed.” Fast forward to 2016 and Longley is back with her sophomore effort Weightless, which is packed to the gills with instantly memorable pop rock songs, many of which could be chartbound. Longley’s songwriting is top notch, full of relatable tales of life and relationships and Weightless is the sort of Lilith Fair inspired album that speaks to Longley’s love of ‘90s music. “I grew up listening to music of the ‘90s, and this record feels more like the Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morissette in me,” Longley says. “All those powerful chick singer-songwriters I grew up loving.”
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Tech giants Oculus and Valve have declared 2016 the year of Virtual Reality (VR). In the past six months, both companies stormed into the consumer marketplace, offering the first two high-quality—and highly functional—mass-market virtual reality devices: the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Although VR sits poised for a mainstream explosion, it’s far from the new kid on the block; inadequate technology has thwarted the ever-pending VR revolution for 25 years.
When it comes to placing VR in homes all around North America, The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive do raise some red flags. Both pieces of hardware are prohibitively expensive, require high-end computers to run efficiently, and nobody looks cool stumbling around in a VR headset. VR’s high cost of entry and outright physical dorkiness mean it will be a while before VR has its Pokémon Go moment. Even with the proliferation of cheaper, more accessible options (The Gear VR and Google Cardboard), VR still has the potential to tumble back into obscurity.
William Sutton: “Bang Bang” is close to a return to form for Green Day following their disappointing trio of 2012 albums, Uno!, Dos! and Tre!. A searing pop punk number driven by thundering drums and bass, this track is, like much of their recent back catalogue, politically charged, as it addresses the prevalence of mass shootings in the US and how this interacts with an ever growing dominance of social media. Whilst “Bang Bang” is a good track and much better than most of their output since the release of American Idiot in 2004, the track struggles with the feeling that this is a band in their fourth decade and we have heard it all before and often heard it done better. Nonetheless it is a welcome return from the band and provides positive signs ahead of the release of Revolution Rock in October. [7/10]
The concept behind The Deed is a fairly simple one. It is a murder mystery in reverse. In other words, the player takes on the role, not of a detective trying to solve a crime, but instead the role of a murderer who must plan and then execute the perfect murder. Put simply, in The Deed, you need to kill someone and then pin it on someone else.
The core of this idea does correspond in some way to the clearly cerebral qualities of investigation. Like the detective, the murderer does need to think about motive and how motives are expressed through evidence, as well as things like how a murder weapon might best be connected to a perpetrator. However, the fascinating thing for me about playing The Deed is in recognizing how very much more concerned with morality I am when playing as a killer by contrast to how objective and distant taking on the role of the detective so often feels.
New York’s Hollis Brown is masterful in their approach to American roots music, with the band drawing from rock ‘n’ roll, soul, country, and a bit of blues. Hollis Brown inhabits these musical forms with a surprising degree of naturalness given their youth and they look to become a seminal figure in the thriving and growing Americana scene. The band’s latest release, Cluster of Pearls, released last Record Store Day and now they have a brand new single to share, the uber soulful, deeply moving “Don’t Want to Miss You”, which channels some Otis Redding and Gram Parsons, as well as the heartbreak from a painful breakup.