Both Keith Urban and Nine Inch Nails are stretching their musical wings in new releases. On Fuse, listeners will hear more than a classic country sound from Urban. Hesitation Marks doesn’t include a single scream from Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor. Splinter Cell Blacklist relies on its classic formula—”seek and destroy while staying out of sight.”
Fuse, Keith Urban (Hit Red/Capitol)
I never was a big Keith Urban fan, but when he joined the American Idol team I decided to pay closer attention to his music. I have to say that I liked what I heard from this veteran country star. On his new album Fuse, Urban continues to work with longtime studio partner Dann Huff, but has branched out to collaborate with musicians from different genres such as Butch Walker, Mike Elizondo, Miranda Lambert, and Norwegian duo Stargate. The result is an album that combines traditional country instrumentation with a modern flare, and which mixes in classic rock, pop, soul, and some contemporary rock. While this could be a recipe for disaster, these tracks are anything but. Granted, not everything works on Fuse, especially the tracks “Love’s Poster Child,” and “We Were Us.” But overall this is a solid album, and I applaud Urban’s effort to branch out and experiment. Tracks to check out: “Shame,” “Something In My Car,” “Gonna Be Good,” and “Even The Stars Fall 4 U.”—Amalie T., grade 9, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
Hesitation Marks, Nine Inch Nails (Columbia)
Nine Inch Nails (NIN) certainly has had time to reexamine their music and rethink their style. After a five-year hiatus, industrial rocker Trent Reznor is back, a changed man. Reznor has spent his entire career reinventing himself, going from synth pop and big time guitar acoustics to now a more mellow approach. Gone from this album is the famous Reznor screaming. His delivery is more subdued, full of crooning and intimacy that is not usually associated with NIN. While his vocals are as strong as ever, some of the tracks need a more solid foundation, especially midway into the album. Hesitation Marks does end strong with the track “Black Noise” and will please loyal NIN fans. Tracks to check out: “Everything,” “Copy of a,” and “While I’m Still Here/Black Noise.”—Stephen E., grade 12, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist (Ubisoft)
The plot of Splinter Cell Blacklist is right out of a Tom Clancy novel. The main character, Sam Fisher, is a highly trained assassin and commando whose job is to rid the world of terrorist threats. He works for a top secret U. S. military organization called Third Echelon, but if he is discovered, he is on his own. Stealth is the name of the game for Fisher as he takes on the Russians and the Chinese. Players learns the basics for commando work in a preliminary training scenario, but this is not something you master in one go around. Fisher’s quick and silent moves make him seem invisible while he kicks out glass windows, vaults off walls, zips across ropes and wires, shoots around corners, and make undetectable landings.
This game is all about using deadly force, and Fisher has an awesome arsenal of weapons at his disposal to get the job done. Although the missions vary, the approach is pretty similar—seek and destroy while staying out of sight. As great as the campaign is, the multiplayer feature really takes it up a notch. The popular Spies vs Mercs mode is probably the best part of the game. It is all about completing tasks as a team, and this one keeps you entertained for hours on end. Splinter Cell Blacklist is a worthy addition, but not for those who are easily frustrated. Rating: M for Mature. Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3.—Will P., grade 12, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
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