Peter Gabriel continues to be innovative and inspirational on his latest album, I’ll Scratch Yours. A few of the voices from the Grammy 2014 Nominees will be familiar, but others will surprise even younger fans. The LEGO franchise is huge, and will continue to grow with recent releases like The LEGO Movie Videogame, touted as “a fun puzzler full of clever challenges and a lot of humor” by our teen reviewer.
And I’ll Scratch Yours, Peter Gabriel (Real World)
This album is the long-awaited sequel to Scratch My Back, a cover swap project which Gabriel initiated in 2010. That album featured his take on songs by other artists like Bon Iver, Lou Reed, and Arcade Fire. Now on And I’ll Scratch Yours, many of the same artists honor Gabriel with their takes on his songs, most from the peak of his career. What is really cool about both these albums is the combination of a new artist’s work and Gabriel’s influence which makes for an interesting mix. The experimental spirit of the production is great and demonstrates the risks many artists are willing to take. Arcade Fire’s retro-dance vibe on one of my favorite Gabriel songs “Games Without Frontiers” is amazing, as is Joseph Arthur’s haunting reworking of “Shock the Monkey.” Others to check out: Lou Reed’s “Solsbury Hill,” Bon Iver’s “Come Talk to Me,” and Paul Simon’s “Biko.”—Stephen E., grade 12, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
Grammy 2014 Nominees (Atlantic Records)
For the past 20 years The Recording Academy has been releasing the Grammy Nominees album prior to the ceremony. Each installment features the top-charting hits of the year’s Grammy-nominated artists and songwriters. The Recording Academy has made special arrangements with all the major music distribution companies and rotates the label from year to year. Not only is this a great compilation of diverse music, but a portion of the proceeds from this album goes to two charitable organizations—The Grammy Foundation and MusiCares Foundation. The 18-track album seems to equally represent this year’s music trends but it is always disappointing how many artists are not represented. With that said, the album is a great collection of music and even includes blended genres such as classic rock, pop, and country. My favorites are “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, “Roar” by Katy Perry, “Royals” by Lorde, and “Lego House” by Ed Sheeran.—Claire H., grade 11, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
The LEGO Movie Game (Traveller’s Tales)
The LEGO Movie is a new feature film that involves a cross-section of about 90 original and familiar LEGO characters. The LEGO Movie Game follows the feature’s storyline pretty closely. There is a showdown between the evil Lord Business and the wizard Vitruvius over a suspicious item called the Kragle. From there the game shifts its focus to an ordinary construction worker named Emmett Brickowski who ends up on a quest to save the world. As with previous LEGO games, there are a multitude of hub worlds to explore, side missions to undertake, and tons of collectibles to find. There are well-crafted levels full of puzzles that can only be solved using certain characters abilities. For example, Batman can pull items with his grapple gun and hit switches with his Batarang. One cool new feature is a “Master Build” ability. Characters can build new tools or vehicles when standing in glowing green circles and visualizing them. There is also a shape-matching mini-game where players need to find instruction pages for building, with the twist that only Emmett is able to understand the instructions to proceed. Overall The LEGO Movie Game is a fun puzzler full of clever challenges and a lot of humor. Rating: E for Everyone. Platform: Wii U, Xbox One, PS4.—Nick M., grade 10, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
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