Denver-based The Fray’s latest album, Helios, proves that a band doesn’t have to be from one of the coasts to achieve commercial success. Foster the People had already gained a huge international following with their debut album Torches, hitting the top of the charts in Australia, Slovakia, Poland and Canada, and their new album, Supermodel, seems to be set to continue that trajectory. Donkey Kong fans have some new places and bad guys to conquer as the franchise moves into the Arctic with Tropical Freeze.
Helios, The Fray (Epic Records)
Helios is The Fray’s fourth studio album and continues to demonstrate how real and unique this band is. They have a diverse style in music that is catchy and upbeat that goes from pop to rock to punk and back again. Coupled with distinctive melodies, the riffs and drum beats make them an all-round success. Their fresh and original sound continues to keep the album interesting with great soulful vocals full of emotion. Fans of The Fray will not be disappointed with Helios, which at times sounds a little Coldplay, Paul Simon, and Peter Gabriel. Check out these tracks—“Hold My Hand,” “Give It Away,” “Shadow and a Dancer,” and “Hurricane.”—Stephen E., grade 12, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
Supermodel, Foster the People (Columbia)
Foster the People’s debut album Torches was a smash success with hit song after hit song. Certainly that is hard to top, but Supermodel does just that. Foster the People moves forward with this album, with a mature sound that matches the deeper themes and feelings explored here. Known for their upbeat, dance floor ready music, the 11 tracks on Supermodel veer in a different direction. Foster incorporates new wave, alternative/indie rock, pop/rock and indie electronics in a variety of combinations that possess an energetic and edgy vibe while dealing with dark issues such as PTSD, corruption, and addiction. Foster’s vocals are so powerful, and perfectly convey the heartache and anguish of many of the tracks. Foster the People not only are making statements here but doing it in a very effective and engaging manner. Check out “Fire Escape,” “Coming of Age,” “Best Friend,” and “The Truth.”— Jessica D., grade 12, Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Nintendo)
A group of villainous Vikings called Snomeds have attacked Donkey Kong’s island, putting it in a deep freeze. Donkey Kong, who is celebrating his birthday, is determined to send the Snomeds back to the Arctic. Kong faces off against owls, penguins, and walruses and uses his classic barrel-throwing, jumping and pummel the ground maneuvers to thwart the enemy. While the graphics are incredible in HD, the mechanics of the game are similar to previous installments. The play is challenging and you definitely will lose often. Support characters (Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky) extend life lines and provide extra abilities that Kong needs. Diddy has a special jetpack, Dixie can increase jumps with her ponytail, and Cranky can pogo jump with his walking stick. They assist Donkey Kong in advancing, and to find collectibles and puzzle pieces, hidden areas, and secret entrances. They also possess a unique Kong Pow ability that can recharge. Playing co-op is more nerve-racking, chaotic, and challenging, but loads of fun too. This is a great game that will provide players with hours of Donkey Kong entertainment. Rated: E for Everyone. Platform: Wii U.— Ameer K., grade 9, Floral Park (NJ) Memorial High School
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