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by Sarah Zupko

15 Jan 2010

The Blur documentary No Distance Left to Run had its London premiere last night in Leicester Square. British fans can catch the film in theatres now and pick up a copy of the DVD on 15 February. Those of us on this side of the pond will either have to switch our computers to PAL format to play the import DVD or wait until some underdetermined date for the US release. Me, I’m not waiting and will opt for PAL. It’s an easy change in your computer settings.

by PopMatters Staff

15 Jan 2010

Bomb the Bass
Back to Light
(!K7)
Releasing: 1 March

Perennial PopMatters fave Gui Boratto produces the new album due shortly from Bomb the Bass. Martin L. Gore (Depeche Mode) drops by to lend his synth chops to Milakia, while Kelley Polar, Richard Davis, and Paul Conboy guest on the album’s other tracks.

SONG LIST
01 Boy Girl [ft. Paul Conboy]
02 X Rays Eyes [ft. Kelley Polar]
03 The Infinites [ft. Paul Conboy]
04 Price on Your Head [ft. Richard Davis]
05 Blindspot [ft. Paul Conboy]
06 Start [ft. Kelley Polar]
07 Burn Less Brighter [ft. Paul Conboy]
08 Happy To Be Cold [ft. Richard Davis]
09 Up the Mountain [ft. The Battle of Land and Sea]
10 Milakia [ft. Martin Gore]

by Nick Dinicola

15 Jan 2010

Role-playing games have changed greatly over the years. They’ve become more accessible, more forgiving, and more popular. One of the more radical changes to the genre has been the elimination of random battles. In most modern RPGs, players can see their enemies, monsters exist in the actual game world instead of an imaginary battlefield, and the genre is better for it. In retrospect, the random battle was a terrible mechanic, frustrating, relentless, and ever-present; they were a chore. So, it’s surprising that they play such a major role in Dragon Age: Origins, many gamers’ pick for the best RPG of 2009. Instead of just removing this annoying mechanic, Dragon Age: Origins twists it into something new and better, something that improves the RPG experience rather than breaking it.

Random battles never happen when you’re in control of your character, only on the world map. You get your first look at the world map a few hours into the game. It’s a literal map, with places of interest highlighted, and when you select a destination, a trail of blood droplets fall onto the paper that mark your progress across the country. This is the only time a random battle can occur: the drops stop, you hear swords clash, and you enter the battlefield. By confining these fights to the world map, Dragon Age ensures that they never become the annoying interruption that most people remember. They only happen when we’re inactive, when we’re watching instead of playing. This also encourages exploration, since we’re free to run around any environment as much as we like without fearing a constant barrage of unseen enemies.

by PopMatters Staff

15 Jan 2010

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Dirty Shirt Rock ‘N’ Roll: The First Ten Years
(Shout! Factory/Majordomo)
Releasing: 30 March

A career retrospective is on the way this spring from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. This is just the opening volley in an extensive re-issue campaign which will see the re-release of all the band’s records in deluxe, expanded, and remastered form. The sets will include copious extras, including previously unreleased and rare songs.

by Thomas Britt

15 Jan 2010

Jazz drummer Ed Thigpen died in Copenhagen on Wednesday, January 13. His death at age 79 followed his struggles with Parkinson’s disease and a late-2009 hospitalization for other “heart and lung problems”. Widely recognized as an exceptionally tasteful and versatile drummer, Thigpen played with Oscar Peterson, Billy Taylor and Ella Fitzgerald, among others.

Read his detailed obituary from the Los Angeles Times.

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