Restore Review #1

(Hello there, gang. So I’ve decided to start a weekly series of posts outlining the things I’ve been watching, playing, listening to or reading in the past week. This allows for a broader range of things to discuss and if I feel that I need to say more on a game, movie or TV show then a separate post will follow. I’ve been wholeheartedly slacking with this thing recently so this is an attempt to actually get some words up on this here site. Without further ado, let the inaugural Restore Review commence.) 



Week commencing 8th August 2016.



The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt DLC – Blood & Wine (PS4)

So this has been occupying the majority of my time for the last week or so, having recently seen and heard a lot of buzz for this latest expansion pack. After a period away from the game, it took a little while to re-acclimatise to the controls, systems and menus, but once that was under control, it didn’t take long to get sucked back into the world of The Witcher once more. The new DLC adds another extraordinary layer to what is already a stunning game. The whimsical nature of The Witcher comes to the fore and feels right at home in the new environment of Touisannt – a luscious region filled with vineyards, glowing sunshine and idyllic rolling hills. It’s as if Geralt has ventured to Tuscany on a wine-tasting retreat. I haven’t had the chance to get too deep into the main quest yet, but the side quests I have played have been funny, focused and extensive – one involving the retrieval of a statues stolen genitals a highlight. More content for what I consider the game of the current generation can only be a good thing and I’m excited to play more.

Tricky Towers (PS4)

One of this month’s free PlayStation Plus offerings, Tricky Towers gives us a unique spin on Tetris. You utilise the now famous tetriminos to build towers and complete a number of different challenges. It’s fun, but a little lightweight. A good time killer.

Overcooked (Xbox One)

So, Overcooked is a couch co-op cooking game and genuinely some of the most fun I’ve had playing a local co-op game for years. My friends and I were yelling instructions and barking orders at each other with more vigour than if we were playing a hardcore, tactical first person shooter. I never thought I’d be yelling ‘Where are the potatoes?! Chop me some fucking potatoes!’ with wholehearted sincerity whilst playing a video game, but any game that gives me that opportunity is a good one in my books. 10/10 for allowing me to channel my inner Gordon Ramsay.



The Invitation (Netflix)

So this movie came to my attention via a tweet emploring folk to watch The Invitation, and watch it whilst knowing as little at all about it as possible. So sticking to that mindset , I’m not going to delve into why this film is so enjoyable, I’m just going to tell you to take a couple of hours, turn your phone off and enjoy it.

Stranger Things (Netflix)

So by now you’ve probably already heard all you need to know about Netflix’s latest original offering Stranger Things, but I’ve recently finished the show and feel the need to concur with the buzz which is currently surrounding it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show combine so many of the influences which it proudly wears upon its sleeve, yet feel so utterly fresh and new. Vintage Spielberg is the most obvious touchstone, yet there are notable traces of Stephen King, John Carpenter, Clive Barker and more than a shade of this years underrated Midnight Special. The performances are terrific, from the child actors to the manic despair of grieving mother Winona Ryder. If you’re looking for a new show to get stuck into, then look no further than Stranger Things, because it really is worthy of all the hype.



Saga (Image Comics)

I finally caught up on the last couple of trade issues of Saga and I’m happy to report it’s still the best thing in the world. The wait between issues is slowly killing me, as the action and the situations that the characters have found themselves in is as fraught and dangerous as it has ever been. I don’t keep up with comics as much as I would like to, and most certainly should, but a new issue of Saga is of huge import, and the latest couple have not disappointed.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanigihara (Doubleday)

I’m halfway through this extraordinarily dense yet intrinsically focused and in my opinion fundamentally important novel by Hanya Yanigihara. Her ability to capture the search for a true, adult identity in a post-collegiate world is incredibly poignant and resonates so much which me that it makes the initially ludicrous length all the more apt. Her treatment and handling of sensitive, often tumultuous topics are dealt with an adept touch. This novel is challenging, enlightening and wholeheartedly touching.



Joyce Manor – ‘Fake I.D’ (Epitaph Records)

So I’ve been waiting for new output from one of my favourite bands, Joyce Manor, for some time now and here it is, in the form of the lead track ‘Fake I.D’ from their fourth album Cody, out in October on Epitaph. Carrying on and expanding on what they brought to the table with 2014’s Never Hungover Again, ‘Fake I.D’ is Joyce Manor at their catchy best, with inimitable hooks and a Kanye West reference for good reference. I can’t wait for Cody, October can’t come soon enough.

Camp Cope – Self Titled (Poison City Records)

So this debut record from Australian band Camp Cope has been on constant rotation on my phone and in my car for weeks, if not months now. The record is full to the brim with hooks and jams perfect for the summer time, but the lyrical content is proving the most interesting to me. Tackling issues such as the mundanity of work life, the balance between being secure and being creatively fulfilled and most notably, in ‘Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams’, the problems that come from being a young woman living in a society that is unbelievably still riddled with sexism. It’s a fantastic record and easily my record of the year so far.



So there we have it. That was pretty damn fun to write. I hope you have a swell time if you do manage to check out any of these recommendations and be sure to leave a comment below and let me know what you thought. Like I said, I’m going to try to do one of these once a week so be sure to check back soon.



All Get Out – Movement EP Review

In 2011, South Carolina’s All Get Out dropped one of the most under-appreciated and quite frankly brilliant indie rock albums of recent years. With a sound echoing but not aping their label mates in Manchester Orchestra, The Season is a record which is as aggressive and hard-hitting as it is emotionally resonate. After an intensive touring period, the band took a hiatus. This was the perfect time for frontman and songwriter Nathan Hussey to branch off and focus on his intelligent, cutting lyricism, the proof of which is evident in the haunting, intimate solo album Ground Me released in 2013. Now, they’re recharged, and present us with their latest offering in Movement, a brisk romp, a sweet little reminder of what a special band All Get Out is.

The EP starts off in typical All Get Out fashion with ‘Sans’; quick, intricate verses backed by concise, focused drumming before evolving into soaring choruses and culminating in a fierce minute long breakdown. If there ever was a song that says “We’re back”, it’s this one. Next is ‘Orchestra’, with the shouted vocal hook of the chorus eerily reminiscent of Brand New’s ‘Bought A Bride’ and although probably the weakest of all the tracks here, ‘Orchestra’ showcases the range of Nathan Hussey’s voice and proves he’s as comfortable screaming his words as he is softly singing them. ‘Balance’ is a track which is heavily reminiscent of Manchester Orchestra, and I think that comparison is one which has possibly hindered the band in finding their own feet and identity. These comparisons are always going to rear their heads given the bands proximity to Manchester Orchestra, but there’s no harm in being compared to one of the biggest and best bands in indie rock. Hussey’s voice splinters and fragments at just the right times here, adding an extra dimension of emotional resonance to the thumping percussion and sweeping, soaring guitars. Every time I come back to AGO after a long time having not listened to them, I’m instantly reminded of what a talent Nathan Hussey, his vulnerability, lyricism and vocal nuance forever pushing him to the top of my imaginary ‘Favourite Frontmen’ list. The self-titled track goes further to prove this, proving Hussey is just as good performing catchy, chorus driven indie songs as he is performing heavier, rock infused hard-hitters.

The record culminates in ‘All My Friends Are Dead’, in which Hussey softly muses “I’ve got time to kill. All my work is done.” For all our sakes, I hope his and AGO’s work isn’t done, because in Movement they’ve put together group of songs which bring with them promise for the future, all the while whilst ruminating on troubles past. We never really grow out of the ‘coming-of-age’ stage of our lives, we’re always evolving and meandering through life, and Movement is a testament and a celebration of that.

Brand New – “Mene”

Back in April, Brand New released their first song in six years. This was a huge deal. Brand New have been my favourite band since the release of The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me back in 2006, a record that comfortably slots in my top 5 of all-time. I appreciated them before, really liking their previous work Deja Entendu and Your Favorite Weapon, but it was TDAGARIM that made an impression on me, made them a band that was worth paying attention to. So when they released Mene, their first music since 2009’s Daisy, the internet went into meltdown and the unpacking of the title, cover art and lyrical content began. I liked the song upon first listen, but now with a couple of months having passed by and a whole lot of time spent listening to the song, I think I can safely say that I’m damn excited for whatever Brand New have in store for us next.

Mene is a greatest hits album of a song. Sonically, the band seem to chart every stylistic change they’ve been through over the years in the course of 2 minutes 30 seconds, but the end result is something entirely new. It has the chorus hooks of Your Favorite Weapon, the relentless, soaring energy of Deja Entendu, the complex lyrically intricacy of The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me and the sheer electricity of Daisy. Jesse Lacey’s voice is on point, showcasing his unique ability to soothe you and scare you in equal measure. All in all, Mene leaves a sweet taste in the mouth, a feeling that whatever Brand New have in the pipeline is going to be well worth the wait.

Apple Music: Sink or Swim?

Tomorrow marks the launch of Apple’s foray into the crowded world of music streaming services. Controversial before it has even been released (thanks to a certain Miss Swift), Apple Music is Apple’s attempt to take the reigns of music consumption on the internet back from the hands of its competitors, most notably the king of music streaming Spotify. Others have tried and failed to go toe to toe with Spotify. The most notable failure is Tidal, the Jay-Z backed service aimed to distinguish itself from its competitors with a promise to pay its artists more for the streaming of their songs. This philosophy was comprised and rather proved void when Tidal was announced by a stage full of the most famous pop stars and music moguls in the industry, people whom one wouldn’t imagine are hard up for cash. This ill-judged launch and a higher subscription fee combined to spell the premature end of Tidal – the iPhone app has now dropped out of the top 700 apps on the App Store, the 21st century equivalent of being hung drawn and quartered.

Apple, however, is a different kettle of fish. Despite the Taylor Swift furore, Apple Music is poised to become the service most likely to pop Spotify’s lime green bubble. They have the experience, they have the know-how, and they vast knowledge in the music industry. They already changed the face of the music industry with the success of iTunes, who would bet against them to do the same in regards to music streaming. With big names onboard, those such as the aforementioned Swift, Pharell, Dr. Dre and a 24-hour radio channel helmed by Zane Lowe, Apple stands as the only realistic competitor to Spotify. The service comes built into the new iOS update 8.4, which drops tomorrow, and I’m eager to see if it can do enough to sway me from the comfy grasp of Spotify.