This time around, our featured music reviews are bicoastal—The Gaslight Anthem hails from New Jersey, and has just released its first album with a major label, while California-based Linkin Park can claim Living Things as their fifth studio album. And after reading the game reviews, I was envisioning a mash-up of The Amazing Spider-Man and Just Dance Greatest Hits—players would swing from building to building, incorporating dance moves!
Handwritten, The Gaslight Anthem (Mercury)
Handwritten is the New Jersey-based band’s fourth album and the first with a major label. It’s the band’s most versatile work, combining indie punk, raw rock and roll and soulfulness, all in a high-energy sound. It’s easy to hear the influences of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, Tom Petty, and others in these tracks, but Gaslight has reinvented itself enough that they feel fresh and new. The lead single, “45,” gets the listener’s immediate attention and never lets go. Fallon’s voice never wavers, and he sings with such passion and gusto that you almost think he’s singing just for you. Coupled with Rosamilia’s slashing guitar work, this album will speak volumes to a wide audience. Other tracks to check out include “Handwritten,” “Howl,” “Mulholland Drive,” and “National Anthem.”—Will P., grade 11, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
Living Things, Linkin Park (Warner)
Living Things is Linkin Park’s fifth studio album, co-produced by Mike Shinoda and Rick Rubin. This album is full of style, tempo, and mood shifts that set Linkin Park apart and showcases their nonconformity. Living Things is full of noteworthy experimental tracks that demonstrate the constant state of transition of this band and its ability to successfully reinvent itself. Full of bubbling synthesizers, crisp lyrics, buzzing guitar riffs, and the legendary rap-rock interplay between Bennington and Shinoda, this album recalls ’90s rock with a fresh and vibrant twist. The only disappointment here is the length of the album—a mere 36 minutes, with most tracks under the three-minute mark. That said, Living Things is a great album that fans of the band will crave. Check out “Burn It Down,” “Castle of Glass,” “Victimized,” and “Lost in the Echo.”—Maureen L., grade 12, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
The Amazing Spider-Man (Activision)
The Amazing Spider-Man game is almost a continuation of the movie version: Peter Parker must save Oscorp employees from a new strain of the cross-species virus that they’ve been infected with. There are more than 20 missions to execute in which Spidey can confront enemies head on or attack from the shadows. He has stealth takedowns using web cocoons, and his signature spider-sense intuition. One of the game’s best features is the webslinging. Being able to move between the skyscrapers of New York is awesome and the game allows Spidey to twist and turn through the air, creating great visual effects. There’s also Web Rush which allows you to see all of the places to send Spidey, in a slow-motion setting. The bottom line? The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t the greatest game out there and the action is very repetitive, but it still provides hours of just plain-old superhero fun. Rating T for Teen. Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Nintendo DS.— James M., grade 10, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
Just Dance Greatest Hits (Ubisoft)
Just Dance franchise is at the top of its game. To keep the momentum going, Ubisoft has just released Just Dance Greatest Hits, which features more than 30 of the most popular titles from Just Dance 1–3. Players can choose from “Just Dance” or “Just Create” modes. With the Just Dance option, players can find songs and follow the dances as well as create personal playlists. You can also enjoy some Medley Solo/Duos and Simon Says. With Just Create, players have a dance-off against the original performance and can develop their own choreography for others to perform—definitely loads of fun! Just Dance Greatest Hits will provide hours of great entertainment from the latest chart toppers to the classics from the ’70s and ’80s while satisfying anyone’s need to boogie. Rated: E for Everyone. Platform: Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 3.—Geena G., Grade 10, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
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