Our teens from Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School give high ratings to Sara Bareilles’s and the Goo Goo Dolls’s latest albums, while our game reviewer assures us that the gridiron giants in summer training camps can look forward to chillaxing with the new NCAA Football 14.
Magnetic, Goo Goo Dolls (Warner Bros)
The Goo Goo Dolls have been around for over 25 years and certainly possess the accolades to prove it. The trio made up of Johnny Rzeznik, Robby Takac, and Mike Malinin recently released their tenth studio album—Magnetic. Fans of the group will be delighted with it. At its core, it is a light, summer-type album with 11 pop-rock songs that make for great listening. There are no themes or statements here; or any political or social messages. Anyone who has enjoyed the band’s prior music will find plenty of reasons to just sit back and be impressed by the band’s ability to continue to produce great and upbeat music. The wonderful acoustics, driving groove sound and solid vocals from front man Rzeznik is exactly what one would expect from a Goo Goo Dolls album. To help them, the band enlisted the help of some of the best producers, Rob Cavallo (Green Day), John Shanks (Van Halen), Greg Wattenberg (Train), etc. All this collaboration made for an impeccably executed album with strong momentum throughout. It will be nice to see what else this band has in store for the future. Definite tracks to check out— “When the World Breaks Your Heart,” “Bullet-proof Angel,” “Rebel Beat,” “Come to Me,” and “Slow It Down.”—Stephen E., Grade 12, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
The Blessed Unrest, Sara Bareilles (Epic)
On The Blessed Unrest, Bareilles deviates from the pop mainstream approach she has produced in the past and has taken some risks. Bareilles continues to craft great music as she boldly bounces from one music genre to another. The album’s 12 tracks contain Motown-flavored rhythms, EDM-inspired sounds, ghostly love songs, hushed and jazzy piano ballads, and of course the inspirational pop song. Not every tracks works, but Bareilles is such a strong melodic songwriter that she doesn’t risk isolating herself. Fans will have more than enough to grab onto here and many will applaud her daring to venture out of her comfort zone. Tracks to check out are “Brave,” “Little Black Dress,” “Chasing the Sun,” and “1000 Times.”—Geena G., grade 11, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
NCAA Football 14 (EA Tiburon)
Can you believe it’s that time again? Football season is almost upon us and the next installment in college football is here with NCAA Football 14. The burning question is what’s new with this edition, and fans will be happy to know that much has been overhauled to make the experience even better.
First is the new Infinity Engine 2 which aids the mechanics by giving a realistic feeling to players’ movements on the field. This refinement called Force Impact System calculates speed, momentum, and mass allowing for subtle movements, accelerations, and nimble navigation on the field. Option Play has been emphasized with 30 new Option types including a Playbook devoted to plays. The Ultimate Team element that is very popular in other EA games makes its debut. Now gamers can build their own dream teams across the decades. The biggest changes are in the Dynasty mode that allows you to choose special coaching skills through experience points. More points lead to upgrades. There is also Power Recruiting to help across the board recruitment based on a point based system. Little was done to improve the graphics and sound, but since PS4 is just around the corner I am sure that this will be addressed with the next addition. NCAA Football 14 is great fun with lots to offer but probably won’t appeal to a hugely new fan base. Rating: E for Everyone, Platform PlayStation 3, Xbox 360.—Andrew B., grade 12, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
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