Written Word

Bored to Death – blink-182 Review

Blink-182’s return with California is a great balance of not straying too far from their roots, while also avoiding stagnation. In what I would call their best album since 1999’s Enima of the State, Blink takes advantage of their new lineup and increased lifetime experience to craft a unique album that straddles the line of preserving a nearly 30 year old sound without ignoring what has happened in the music industry since the band formed in 1992.

Lyrically Blink-182’s 7th studio album starts off immediately in a way that directly addresses the controversy surrounding the band, namely the loss of Tom DeLonge. You can read everywhere about different sides and opinions on this exit, but the past is past and for better or worse, Matt Skiba has now taken the role of guitarist and co-lead singer of the band. As the opening song (Cynical) speeds up and Barker’s wild drumming kicks in, the stance of the remaining members seems to come out loud and clear with the lines “What’s the point of saying sorry now (not sorry, not sorry, not sorry, I’m not sorry)”

Notably, the loss of DeLonge does seem to have changed the band’s sound from that of their previous full length album, Neighborhoods. When DeLonge began releasing albums with his side project Angels & Airwaves, he explored a more moody and spacey sound. I think the beginnings of that sound can even be heard on Blink’s self titled album, but in Neighborhoods they came across loud and clear. California retains none of that influence and instead chooses to operate at a different frequency that allows them to operate in familiar territory without cloning their previous work.

Though this year seems like it may be shaking out to be a revival of the second wave genre, it has long since been out of the spotlight and to lose this sound that was so influential in my growing years would be a bit of an artistic tragedy, and yes, I do realize that is a funny sentence to use when describing a genre known for its sophomoric outlook on life. Nevertheless, it feels a sort of poetic justice that some of the largest progenitors of this genre in the mainstream would be influential in its revival the second time around.

Their first single, Bored to Death, is a great example of what 2nd wave pop/punk sounds like in 2016. While the genre tropes do exist in full force, the sound is not that of the early 00’s. Blink-182 manages on this track to remind people who they are without aping who they have been. With its darker tone, and subject matter, I think it also addresses the idea of aging rockers returning to the scene of their younger lives. It is a cynical look at their endeavor that reeks of honesty. The repeated chorus lines, “Back on earth, I’m broken, Lost and cold and fading fast ,Life is too short to last long” are a bleak outlook that works with the genre and the band’s age without simply posing the angst of their younger years.

Many of the other tracks on the album seem pensive in their chase for nostalgia, both in their harmonies which invoke a feeling of familiarity without feeling lazy and also lyrically and tonally with their longing for old relationships and places obviously full of memories. Part of my enjoyment of the album stems from the melding of the band’s nostalgic tracks and the listener’s nostalgic reaction to this band and their music. This wistful longing for things past is something Blink leans heavily on which in turn leaves the listener with the type of bittersweet emotions that stick with you even after the music stops playing.

Thankfully, not every track of the album is dependent on sadness as “She’s Out of Her Mind” proves. A fast and fun ditty about being in love with a girl who is a little bit crazy has one of those choruses that will get stuck in your head for days. The sarcasm of lines like, “She’s not complicated at all” feel more comedic than mean-spirited. This track and others such as “Sober” and “California” that prove that the Blink-182 humorous perspective is still represented in the current lineup. Speaking of humor, it has been years since Blink-182 has put out joke tracks an on LP and along with the humor in the previously mentioned tracks, two songs, “Built This Pool” and “Brohemian Rhapsody” exist as the stupidity you deserve for listening to a Blink album–this I say with all due respect as a fan of the genre.

I keep coming back to this album even after a week of constantly listening to this album multiple times every day. Something about the skillful blend of old and new somehow invokes freshness and old memories at the same time. This is an album that will stick in my head for a good long while and will invoke happiness and sadness in my heart with each listen.

ULTIMATE SCORE: 5/5 Stars

5 stars

XBox Live Gold Games for November 2015

This months games for gold games have been revealed. Here is what is up starting November 1st. 

  • (XBone) Pneuma: Breath of Life (November 1-30)
  • (XBone) Knight Squad (November 16-December 15)
  • (X360) Dirt 3 (November 1-15)
  • (X360) Dungeon Siege III (November 15-30)
I haven’t touched any of these games, but the 360 options are at least pretty solid with Dirt 3 having been well enjoyed by fans of the series and Dungeon Siege III at least being a passable RPG. Time will tell if those XBone indies are any good or not.

Playstation Plus Games for November 2015

Here is this months lineup of Playstation Plus games. They will be available November 3rd. 

The games are as follows:

  • The Walking Dead: Season 2 (PS4)
  • Magicka 2 (PS4)
  • Mass Effect 2 (PS3)
  • Beyond Good & Evil (PS3)
  • Dragon Fin Soup (PS4|PS Vita|PS3)
  • Invisimals (PS Vita)
A weak lineup in my opinion, but some may be interested in The Walking Dead: Season 2 as the first season was nearly universally critically acclaimed, and Mass Effect 2 is a very, very solid and enjoyable sci-fi American RPG, but feels a little bit weak considering it is years old and has been released in trilogy form at this point.

Steam Suprises with “The Steam Stealth Game Sale”

Steam has suprised everyone today with an unexpected sale on select “stealthy” games through the 16th. This may be a good time to pick up some games that we’ve praised on this site before: 

Notable mentions: 
Mark of the Ninja $3.74
A 2d side scrolling platformer more traditional platformer game. This Klei joint has a great art style and tight mechanics that boil stealth down to nothing but the best essentials. The game is generally pretty forgiving, but includes challenges to aim for the more Ninja like among you. 

Deus Ex Human Revolution $3.99
A great first-person RPG with a fun tech tree and interesting looks at a potential future for humanity (based on biological augmentations) this game approaches the future PMC controlled political scene and the Illuminati in a way that is enjoyable all the way through. 

Splinter Cell Conviction $4.99
This game is my personal favorite stealth game of all time. With a single player campaign that is fast paced and a stealth/action/third-person shooter that works nearly flawlessly all the time, the full length separate co-op campaign just pushes the value and fun of this game off the charts. For 5$? A no brainer. 

Check it out over HERE

Playstation Plus Games for October 2015

The Playstation blog has announced the newest games that will be available for download to Playstation Plus subscribers during the month of October starting on October 6th

The games are as follows: 
  • Super Meat Boy (PS4|PS Vita)
  • Broken Age (PS4|PS Vita)
  • Unmechanical: Extended (PS4|PS3)
  • Chariot (PS3)
  • KickBeat (PS3|PS Vita)
  • Kung Fu Rabbit (PS3|PS Vita)

Super Meat Boy is The Culture of My People’s greatest platformer of last generation and in Michael’s opinion, the greatest platformer since Super Mario World. The idea of playing this again on Vita is enticing. 

Broken Age is a great point and click adventure game that Michael praised the first half of during the 2014 extravaganza podcast. Having more people able to get this game is also pretty cool. 

Fallout 4 Annouced

Fallout 4 has been annouced via trailer this morning June 3rd. It is set to be released for the Playstation 4, the Xbox One, and the PC.

The website for the game is located at fallout4.com where Bethesda says they will speak of the game more June 14th at their E3 showing. 

I’ve never partaken in a Fallout game firsthand, but they interest me greatly as I enjoyed Skyrim immensely. Looking forward to finding out more about the game at E3 this year.

Mysterious Countdown on Fallout Page

A mysterious countdown has appeared on the fallout.bethsoft.com page. Obviously people are speculating that this could be the Fallout 4 announcement. This would only be suprising in that most people expected Bethesda to wait until their e3 Press Conference to announce the highly anticipated and expected game. If this ends up being the announcement, maybe we will actually get to see more of the game at e3. 

We’ll let you know what happens when we find out! 

Right now the timer is set to end at 8:40 Central time June 3 if I am correct. 

XCOM 2 Announcement

The sequel to the Giantbomb’s 2012 GOTY was announced today.  XCOM 2 will be release in November of this year, a specific date is not known at this time.  This is a sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a tactical strategy game where you (the player) are task with defending the Earth from invading alien forces.  

Both Michael an I have played the Enemy Unknown, though Michael has completed more of the game then myself.  I keep this game in a “Playing” list in my Steam library cause I should go back to it, and I think I would like to, I just haven’t gotten to it yet.  Michael’s thoughts on Enemy Unknown are that the game is “Freaking rad”, and he is looking forward to playing playing the sequel.

Here is a link to the announcement from IGN.

Playstation Plus Games for June 2015

The Playstation blog has announced the newest games that will be available for download to Playstation Plus subscribers during the month of June starting on June 2nd. 

The games are as follows: 
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4)
  • Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition (PS4)
  • Super Exploding Zoo (PS Vita | PS4)
  • Futuridium EP Deluxe (PS Vita | PS4)
  • Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (PS3)
  • Cloudberry Kingdom (PS3)

Having played through Ground Zeroes, both Drewby and I thought it was pretty good. If you are interested at all in The Phantom Pain, this is the prequel/setup/demo for that scenario. It is a stealth third person shooter with great graphics. 

I haven’t played any of the other listed games, but will give them a shot.