There’s just enough on Josh Groban’s new release, All That Echoes, to keep his groupies happy, though he may be stretching it. Fans of Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers can add the “breakout rock band of 2012″ Imagine Dragons to this sound canon. The popular Japanese role-playing game (RPG) Emblem: Awakening makes an impressive debut here in the States, with our reviewer promising “countless hours of serious entertainment.”
All That Echoes, Josh Groban (Reprise)
All That Echoes is Groban’s sixth studio album and while his impressive vocals still dominate, he has teamed with producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls, My Chemical Romance) for a more pop, alternative-rock sound. While it’s always good to reinvent oneself and dabble in different musical styles, it seems a little forced here. Groban delivers a great sound, but lacks the strength and intensity he’s known for. Of course, All That Echoes has a lot to offer, and it’s certainly worth listening to. The best tracks are where the old Josh Groban shines through, especially “E Ti Promettero,” “Sincera,” “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress,” “Falling Slowly,” and “ I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever).”— Stephen E., grade 11, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
Night Visions, Imagine Dragons (Interscope, Deluxe Edition)
The Las Vegas–based rock band Imagine Dragons has recently released a Deluxe Album version of Night Visions that includes five bonus tracks not previously released. This alternative rock band has captivated fans worldwide and spent weeks on the Billboard chart with its debut album hitting the number-one spot. Along with a massive tour, the band decided to release a special deluxe edition that would include songs that have only been performed at live concerts. Many of the songs were specifically requested by the fans themselves. The tracks include “America,” “Selene,” “The River,” “Round and Round,” and “My Fault.” The Night Visions Deluxe edition, sold exclusively at Target stores, will also feature two additional bonus tracks, “Cover Up” and “I Don’t Mind.” Imagine Dragons has been called the breakout rock band of 2012 and with its great vocals and sound it’s sure to continue to go places.—Geena G., grade 10, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
Fire Emblem: Awakening (Intelligent Systems/Nintendo)
Fire Emblem, a tactical RPG (role playing game) that’s extremely popular in Japan, has just been released in the United States. This classic strategy-driven gameplay is brilliantly executed on the Nintendo 3DS system. Awakening sticks to its core mechanics and charm, but it’s more user-friendly and accessible to those who aren’t familiar with the franchise. There are three difficulty levels and a hefty cast of characters to work with. The game begins with your customized protagonists awakening in a field and suffering from amnesia. Mysterious creatures called Risen are dropping from the sky as armies are invading the Fire Emblem world. The basic grid-and-turn-style combat is an essential part of this game, which also follows the rock-paper-scissors model for weapons: swords, lances, and axes. Building relationships is also an integral part of Fire Emblem. Pairing allies and having “support conversation” can affect battle chemistry and offers insights into the characters’ strengths and weaknesses. There are also side missions with optional StreetPass features. The battle animations provide an edge-of-your-seat experience, and the soundtrack is really incredible—right down to the closing credits. There’s so much content in Fire Emblem: Awakening that gamers will have countless hours of serious entertainment in front of them. There’s also the promise of downloadable content that’s coming soon. Definitely a thumbs-up and worth checking out. Rated: T for Teen. Platform: Nintendo 3DS.—Nick M.,grade 9, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
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