Pryor Stroud: Laura Mvula sings in concentrated whirlwinds of sorrows and dreamscapes and untempered howls of poetic revelation, a fact that is never more present than in the rushing-through-the-bloodstream chorus of “Phenomenal Woman.” It’s a chorus that seems to knock the air out of your lungs, only for you to realize that it is Mvula who is belting toward breathlessness, not you. But her artistry seeps through the track as a whole. The production is a rich nu-soul mosaic of hopscotch R&B and Janelle Monáe-esque afrofuturist funk, and the verse showcases Mvula’s vocal versatility. In short, “Phenomenal Woman” should increase anticipation for The Dreaming Room tenfold. [9/10]
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At the conclusion of the last episode of Supernatural, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester unsuccessfully attempted to both exorcise Lucifer out of Castiel (Misha Collins) and kill Amara (Emily Swallow), only to see her abduct Castiel/Lucifer, whom she referred to as “God’s favorite son”.
Kansas trio Moreland & Arbuckle plays a smokin’ bluesy brand of roots rock that’s so hot it could burn the house down. Harmonica lines intertwine between gloriously visceral guitar lead parts and everything is underpinned by a heavy rocking beat. This stellar band has a new album on tap releasing on May 6th, Promised Land Or Bust, their first for influential Chicago blues label Alligator Records. “Mean and Evil”, the record’s first single, will have you chasing down this release, which Dustin Arbuckle says is their best yet. Moreland & Arbuckle bring it on every album, but Promised Land Or Bust does indeed up the ante for one of America’s finest blues groups.
Pryor Stroud: Egyptian Lover was a perpetual staple of the L.A. dance scene in the early and mid-‘80s, and “I Cry (Night After Night)” demonstrates why he captured this subcultural imagination with such force. Gilded with a twirling, nocturnal synth-bass motif and vocoded back-up singers, the whole track smacks of the multi-genre pop savvy and creative eccentricity of Prince, yet still emphatically radiates the uniqueness of Egyptian Lover’s personal aesthetic. He asks you, just as Prince once did, to dig a picture that he paints before you: he is the lover from “When Doves Cry”—“How can you just leave me standing / Alone in a world that’s so cold?”—but this lover now walks the desolate streets of this world without direction, a world that is ice-cold solely for him, and cries endlessly for a lover that isn’t there, his teardrops now rivulets of ice on his cheeks. [7/10]
My palms were soaked when I faced Hyper Light Drifter‘s final boss for the fourth or fifth time. I kept sending my player character—an unnamed, gender-ambiguous cloaked figure known only as the Drifter—to his/her death. The boss was similarly unnamed; it looked both synthetic and organic, emerging from a sickly pink core and emitting a robotic scream. I threw bombs. I blasted it with my shotgun. I reflected bullets with the slice of my sword. But no matter how many health packs I carried or how skillfully I dodged its attacks, I would die and retry and die again.
I’m certainly not the first person to observe that Hyper Light Drifter is a difficult game. On the game’s release date, John Walker of Rock Paper Shotgun wrote that the game’s first boss was so difficult that he had basically given up: “I know, I know very well, that others will breeze through it and be snarky and entirely without empathy for others who aren’t them, But there goes my time with Hyper Light Drifter, a completely gorgeous game I was utterly loving. It apparently doesn’t want me to play it any more” (“Impressions: Hyper Light Drifter”, Rock Paper Shotgun, 31 March 2016). Walker amended his review a week later when he realized that the player could tackle the bosses in any order, but his original point still stands. Where do we draw the line between challenging and punishing, and should games accommodate players who find an experience to be too difficult?
// Channel Surfing
"Another stand-alone episode, but there's still plenty to discuss in the Supernatural world.READ the article