GregHorrorShow: The Music Of 2012

NikiDove

2012 has been a pretty stellar year for music and a wealth of new bands have broken through. With streaming on Spotify (among others) blossoming, there has never been an easier way to uncover great, new music.

Here’s my pick of the best albums from 2012:

  • M.Ward – ‘A Wasteland Companion’
  • Lana Del Rey – ‘Born To Die’
  • Jake Bugg – ‘Jake Bugg’
  • Frank Ocean – ‘Channel Orange’
  • Ellie Goulding – ‘Halcyon’
  • Of Monsters And Men – ‘My Head Is An Animal’
  • Niki And The Dove – ‘Instinct’
  • Ladyhawke – ‘Anxiety’
  • Citizens! – ‘Here We Are’
  • Gaggle – ‘From The Mouth Of The Cave’

I don’t think I could pick one favourite if I’m honest. M.Ward ‘A Wasteland Companion’ is a truly superb piece of work. Of Monsters And Men delivered a great set of tracks with an album that grabs you immediately.

Channel Orange‘, for me, is the best R&B album in years – this was one of the albums that soundtracked my summer in 2012. For something totally fresh and out of leftfield give the Gaggle album a spin. I saw them live earlier in the year and it was a great gig. The album does it’s best to convey that ‘live’ vibe and it’s a cool bunch of tracks.

JakeBugg

Many have said it’s over-produced but I loved the Lana Del Rey album, it’s pure pop and very well written. Jake Bugg is a stunning talent and still so young. He is getting the recognition he deserves and his album is one you should definitely check out.

Albums that didn’t make the top ten but deserve an honorable mention would be Django Django‘s ‘Django Django’ (wonderful Hot Chip-esque pop), The Maccabees ‘Given To The Wild’, Cast Of Cheers ‘Family’, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs ‘Trouble’ (worth checking out even if you don’t like electronic stuff), 2:54 ‘2:54’, ‘Give You Ghost’ Policia, Theme Park ‘Theme Park’ (I dare you to listen to this and not wish it was summer!), Two Door Cinema Club ‘Beacon’, Soundgarden ‘Been Away Too Long’ (a real return to form in my opinion) and Kindness ‘Kindness’ (barring a poor cover choice of ‘Anyone Can Fall In Love’ this is great).

It would be remiss of me, given the gaming content on this blog, not to mention a couple of outstanding game scores from 2012. I would highly recommend checking out Health‘s ‘Max Payne 3’ score (here) and also the awesome ‘Drive’-inspired ‘Hotline Miami‘ soundtrack (here). High quality stuff.

Spotify

Once again I’ve collated my favourite tracks into a Spotify playlist which can be found here if you’re interested:

GregHorrorShow: The Music Of 2012

My tracks of 2012 (in no order) are as follows:

  • ‘Family’ – Cast Of Cheers
  • ‘National Anthem’ – Lana Del Rey
  • ‘Black, White and Blue’ – Ladyhawke
  • ‘True Romance’ – Citizens!
  • ‘To Be The Best’ – Tenacious D
  • ‘Lightning Bolt’ – Jake Bugg
  • ‘Me and My Shadow’ – M.Ward
  • ‘Little Talks’ – Of Monsters and Men
  • ‘Somebody’ – Niki And The Dove
  • ‘American Dream Pt II’ – Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
  • ‘Boy’ (Hostage Remix) – Nina Nesbitt
  • ‘Default’ – Django Django
  • ‘Dark Star’ – Policia
  • ‘Super Rich Kids’ – Frank Ocean
  • ‘Jamaica’ – Theme Park
  • ‘Lovers Of The Light’ – Mumford And Sons
  • ‘Sleep Alone’ – Two Door Cinema Club
  • ‘Figure 8’ – Ellie Goulding
  • ‘House Of Balloons’ – Weeknd
  • ‘212’ – Azealia Banks
  • ‘Pickup Truck’ – Willy Mason

It’s even more difficult to pick your favourite track than it is album but the one that has bought me the most joy this year is definitely ‘Me and My Shadow‘ by M.Ward. It’s just such a great song – nice structure and the introduction of the female vocal in the chorus is a great touch.

MWard

I saw some really good gigs this year. I already mentioned Gaggle above and I was lucky enough to see Nina Nesbitt at Dingwall’s in Camden, I suspect she’ll have a big year ahead in 2013.

Some of my other favourites were Of Monsters And Men at Scala, which was brilliantly intimate and M.Ward who had a great, tight band with him and put on a great show at Koko.

I enjoyed Michael Kiwanuka at Sheperd’s Bush Empire but that night was stolen by support act Jake Bugg, who was the best artist I saw live in 2012. The sheer effortlessness of Bugg’s performance was insane as he rocketed his way the set. Amazing stuff.

So there we go – check out the playlist (link here again) and let me know what you think – and what you’ve been listening to/loving in 2012 – in the comments below.

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GregHorrorShow’s Top 100 Games: 40-31

Streets Of Rage

Another round of games as we get to the business end of the list.

You guys know the drill by now:

I decided, as so many games mean so many different things to me, I should come up with a fair way to judge them. This is what I came up with:

Time Spent Playing

Storyline

Difficulty

Fun

Ground Breaking?

A few provisos before we hit the next ten games…

Firstly this is my list of my Top 100 games. I certainly don’t expect you guys to agree with it (though hopefully you’ll agree with some of the choices) and would welcome any comments.

Secondly, I’m not planning on putting the scores or totals up, just listing the games in the order they came out in.

Lastly, I never owned a Nintendo or Microsoft console so my experiences on these games were limited to friend’s houses etc – bite me 🙂

 

40. ASSASSIN’S CREED (Playstation 3)

AssassinsCreed

At one stage I stopped playing this as I was bored of the whole ‘climb up a tall building to unlock more of the map’ gameplay. I came back to it months later and boy am I glad I did. When I finally got to the actual proper assassinations the game took off. This was like a medieval version of Hitman, only with less choice of how to kill your victim. Nevertheless as you gain more weapons/skills Assassin’s Creed comes on leaps and bounds. Not to mention the parkour style gameplay. The complex story was really enjoyable and I look forward to the sequel later this year.

 

39. ROADBLASTERS (Arcade)

An old arcade favourite of mine – getting behind that futuristic steering wheel in the arcade cabinet… Oh man, it wasn’t hard to believe it was actually the future. 🙂 You were driving a really cool car but fuel is low and you have to pick up fuel orbs to keep going. But the absolute reason this game ruled? An aeroplane floated above you and dropped weapon based power ups that attached themselves to the top of you car 😎

 

38. STREETS OF RAGE (Sega Mega Drive)

StreetsOfRage

“What was once a happy, peaceful, productive city, full of life and activity, has fallen into the hands of a secret criminal syndicate…” 🙂 Streets Of Rage was the Sega Mega Drive’s ‘Final Fight.’ A brilliant side scrolling beat ’em up you could take on the role of Adam Hunter, Axel Stone or Blaze Fielding (Blaze ftw) – three former cops who set up their own strike force as the police network crumbles. The co-op play was brilliant as you crunched and punched your way through wave after wave of thugs. And if it all got too much a tap of the ‘A’ button would activate one of the coolest special moves in gaming history. A sleek police sports car would arrive as back up, with an officer firing a shot from a rocket launcher to kill all the enemies onscreen 😎

 

37. SENSIBLE SOCCER (Sega Mega Drive)

SensibleSoccer

Well I certainly love a football game don’t I? Sensible Soccer was all about having fun. 4-4 draws, 10-1 wins – it was all fair game as the concept of a ‘banana shot’ was taken to the extreme. For me though it was also the flexibility of the editing mode. You could edit any of the teams or players – literally hundreds of teams. It was possible to recreate the lower leagues of English football yay! I managed to near enough perfect the lob shot from just inside your own half – lethal from either side of the pitch, if you timed it right the ball would bounce over the stranded keeper and into the net. Good times.

 

36. PREMIER MANAGER  (Sega Mega Drive)

PremManager

After Football Manager on the ZX this was my next dalliance with management. This had a great two player option and me and my brother both tried to take third division teams to glory (me Wigan, him Preston). This was a good game with a solid management base that allowed you not only control of the playing side of things but also the corporate side. You could sell advertising hoarding space within the ground, hell you could even build a new ground. A really nice console management sim that I played a lot of.

 

35. MANHUNT (Playstation 2)

Manhunt

Can you say controversy? Manhunt is one of those games that people who have never played it seem to have the strongest opinion on it. You play as James Earl Cash, a death row inmate who awakes to find himself not dead but being offered a shot at freedom by a voice in his ear. Effectively this ‘director’ wants Cash to take part in a cross between The Running Man and a snuff film. There are several ways to kill opponents with various implements that are shown in context of how the finished film will look. It’s a nasty game but the way the story plays out – it has you committing these acts to try to survive… It’s brutal but ultimately very very clever.

 

34. THE WARRIORS (Playstation 2)

TheWarriors

I was pretty excited when I heard there was a Warriors game coming. That excitement went through the roof when I found our Rockstar (makers of GTA) were doing it. While it didn’t break any barriers in the game world and the spray can bits were a chore this was a very enjoyable game. Fleshing out a bit of backstory and some of the other gangs. 3/4’s of the story takes place before the events of the film and then you play through the film’s plot in the last quarter of the game. Ah, the Baseball Furies!!!!

 

33. HITMAN: BLOOD MONEY 

HitmanBM

Well I mentioned him earlier and now everyone’s favourite bald hitman makes his own appearance on the charts. The thing that got me about this game was the wealth of options you could use to kill the victim. I know of two other people who played this game and often when discussing missions the three of us all had done it a different way: “oh I shot him from the opposite balcony”, “really I snuck in and poisoned his drink” or “I dropped it from the roof and strangled him.” It really was versatile.

 

32. THEME PARK (Sega Mega Drive)

ThemePark

Ever wanted to run a Theme Park? Of course you have, choosing the rides – building a rollercoaster. It’s all here in this classic along with the more sinister side of business. Workers striking over pay? You seemingly extending the hand of a wage rise then retracting it at the last minute so they get a minimal increase 🙂 Adding tons of salt to the meals on the food stand then hiking up the price of the drinks next door 😆 A very fun lesson in taking advantage of your staff/customers 😉 but also it’s hard to match that feeling of pride when you completed your park, opened it to the public and they all loved it!

 

31. FAHRENHEIT (Playstation 2)

FahrenheitScreen

This was one I played recently (see my review for full details) – another Oggy recommendation so cheers for that mate. 🙂 This is more than just a game, it’s an interactive film that you control. Having control over more than one character was excellent and led to some great situations. For example you control Lucas Kane after a murder and getting away, then you controlling the cops investigating the murder. The story lost it’s way toward the end but I still thoroughly enjoyed this title. Every gamer should try it.

The Top 30 is up next!

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