Tag Archives: music

X-Men’s Theme Song Faces Lawsuit Over Similarities to Hungarian Police Drama

X-Men: The Animated Series is accused of stealing its theme song from a Hungarian show in a new lawsuit.
Image: Fox Kids, Hungarian National Television

The theme song to X-Men: The Animated Series is undeniably amazing, but now there are accusations that it was stolen. A Hungarian man has filed a lawsuit against Marvel, Disney, Fox, Apple, Amazon, and others—along with folks from Saban Entertainment—claiming that the theme song was plagiarized.

io9 has looked over the lawsuit, which was filed Monday and first reported by TMZ. Zoltan Krisko, who claims to be managing the estate for Hungarian composer Gyorgy Vukan, says Vukan’s theme song for the 1980s crime drama Linda the Policewoman bears striking similarity to the one created for X-Men: The Animated Series, which debuted almost a decade later in 1992.


You can listen to the theme song below. It’s hard to deny how alike they sound.

Linda the Policewoman, which was created by György Gát and distributed by Hungarian National Television, is described in the lawsuit as a “household name.” That’s not inaccurate. Running from 1983 to 1989, Linda was a popular show that not only brought kung fu fighting styles to Eastern Europe television but also apparently contributed to reshaping gender norms during the Iron Curtain.

Even though Hungary was isolated from much of the Western world during this time, the lawsuit claims the folks behind X-Men’s theme song still associated with Hungarian animators, which could have exposed them to Linda. The suit includes:

During the 1980s, cooperation between film industry professionals from different countries, including from the “Eastern” and “Western” world, existed despite the still standing Iron Curtain. Based on information and belief, as professionals in the animation film industry, Defendants Ronald Wasserman, Haim Saban and Shuki Levy all came in contact with Hungarian professionals in the film industry, and were aware of the famous animation workshop at Pannonia Filmstudio in Hungary, where Hungarian film industry professionals, such as Gyorgy Vukan, were frequent visitors.


Along with the companies, Krisko is suing Ron Wasserman and Shuki Levy, two composers for X-Men: The Animated Series who have each at one point taken credit for the theme song. The suit accuses several companies and folks that produced, distributed, syndicated, or otherwise profited from the show of enabling the copyright infringement of Vukan’s work (a problem that could still continue, since Disney is reportedly considering putting the series on Disney+).

That said, Vukan’s composition wasn’t registered for copyright in the United States until 2017, which is when Krisko said he first learned about X-Men: The Animated Series. Krisko is asking for damages and to award any profits attributable to him, and asking the court to restrain them and others from infringing on the copyright further.


This isn’t the first time the X-Men theme song has been accused of borrowing from other works. Several folks have cited its similarity to Whitney Houston’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” which came out in 1990. But unlike this situation, it doesn’t look like that ever resulted in a lawsuit.

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Source: Kotaku.com

Twenty Years Later, Chrono Cross Remains A Musical Masterpiece

I’m playing Greedfall right now and enjoying myself in spite of some misgivings. One thing I miss at the moment—and it’s something crucial to role-playing games—is a solid musical score. There’s moments of rousing action music, but it’s very limited. That got me thinking: What RPG has the best music? The answer is simple: It’s Chrono Cross, and nothing else has ever come close.

Chrono Cross released in 1999 and was met with praise and confusion in equal measure. It was a good game, but this was the eagerly awaited sequel to Chrono Trigger? A game that only loosely related to the original? Yet Cross built an identity of its own with magical dragons, cerulean seas, a huge cast of characters, and fantastic music. Composer Yasunori Mitsuda had worked on Chrono Trigger alongside Nobuo Uematsu and Noriko Matsueda. Here, he took the reins into his own hands. The results are absolutely stunning. The opening theme, “Scars of Time,” remains unmatched and has really stood the test of time.

Mitsuda had previously worked on the similarly stunning (albeit somewhat incomplete) Xenogears and would go on to write music for games like Kid Icarus: Uprising and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. He’s one of the best composers that video games has ever seen. Just listen to Chrono Cross’ haunting and beautiful ending theme, “Radical Dreamers.” I’ve been listening to it for days now and every time, it stirs a deep reaction in my soul.

Apocryphal stories say that when when director Masato Kato and Mitsuda sat down to replay the game, this ending theme was enough to move Kato to tears. I don’t know if that’s true, but it really is a fantastic piece of music. Tracks like these cement Chrono Cross as a high watermark for video game scores, and while games like Octopath Traveler have sometimes come close to matching it, I’d suggest that Chrono Cross is a singular achievement in this regard. Even if you don’t like where the story went after Chrono Trigger, Mitsuda nailed it here, to the point that two decades later, there’s not really been anything else like it.

Source: Kotaku.com

Warframe’s Latest Update Adds Playable Guitars

Sometimes space ninjas want to take a break from shooting and killing. Instead, they want to create sweet music. The latest Warframe update gives players that ability, adding a fully playable guitar-like instrument into the game.

These new instruments are called Shawzin and they were added in the latest update that just hit PC this weekend. They appeared previously in the game as background items, but are now fully playable via an emote ability. Once purchased and equipped, players can start jamming almost anywhere in the game. Other players can hear your songs, or if you aren’t very good, they can be annoyed by your attempts to play music.

Already the Warframe community has embraced the new guitars and many players have released videos showcasing them playing popular songs, including Despactio and Through The Fire And The Flames.

The in-game controls for the instrument are more impressive than you might think, even allowing players to change scales or activate a metronome.

One crafty player has actually created a real-life guitar-shaped controller they can use to play the Shawzin in-game.

Players can also record songs and share song codes, which lets other players actually play though the custom song complete with Guitar Hero-like notes and scoring. So yes, this is basically becoming Guitar Hero in space.

Warframe has quietly become one of the most popular online games on the planet, thanks in large part to how often the game is updated with new features, modes, weapons, suits, and missions. The community is also active, often happily welcoming new features or items. Like filling their entire ships with robot vacuum cleaners after one was added into the game earlier this year.

Currently, the update and the sweet new guitar are only available on the PC version of the game.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Soundtrack Is Still A Blast

Gaming series known for their superior soundtracks often have one thing in common — a wide array of powerful or catchy music orchestrated to fit a specific environment. Though plenty of games (mostly annual sports series) have used popular prerecorded tunes as part of their soundtrack in the past, they rarely stand out from the crowd. But Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater did, and two decades later it remains one of the most iconic game soundtracks of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.

While the popularity of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games may have made it seem like the only decent skateboarding series in existence, the first entry was actually inspired by games such as EA’s Street Sk8er for the original PlayStation and Sega’s Top Skater arcade machines. Top Skater, which featured a full-sized mountable skateboard as a controller, was an especially big influence for the original Pro Skater team at the now-defunct Neversoft Entertainment.

When it came time to choose the music that would accompany each two minute skate session, the Pro Skater team decided to follow both Street Sk8er and Top Skater’s use of legitimate alternative and punk rock tracks. Straying away from any unnecessary applause or obnoxious announcers, their game would feature the two types of audio that truly mattered — realistic skating sound effects and funky fresh jams by bands like Primus and The Dead Kennedys.

Growing up in a strictly Nintendo household, Pro Skater was far off my radar when it launched in the August of 1999. Luckily, a neighborhood friend with access to a PlayStation and a copy of the Jampack Summer ‘99 demo disc was already hooked on its arcade-style gameplay. After he acquired a true copy of the game we spent an entire weekend catching sick air and tracking down VHS tapes. Pro Skater’s realistic physics and showy tricks wowed me, but it was the upbeat soundtrack (with just a few swears thrown in) that really embedded itself into my adolescent brain.

And look, the Pro Skater soundtrack isn’t as hardcore or punk or metal as rock gets. I’m well aware of that now. But for a nerdy kid growing up in the suburbs of Indiana, it was far more extreme than, say, Air Bud or Rocket Power. Maybe not Rocket Power… those kids could shred.

In my mind Pro Skater was the epitome of cool, and when word got out that the game was coming to the Nintendo 64 in March of the next year, I began scrounging around the house for loose change. Featuring one of the few blue cartridge casings, the game was soon added to my small N64 library with the help of my older brother (who had taken up actual skateboarding at the time).

Though the tracks sounded much less crisp on the Nintendo 64’s compressed cartridges, and some of the vocals had been completely removed, Pro Skater was still a monster hit in my household. The game was one of the few games my family owned that required a memory pak for saves, a fact we realized only after we had brought it home. Instead of buying one, my brother and I decided we would just sit and play through the game in its entirety whenever possible. From the warehouse to downtown to Roswell, we knew all the best combos and the location of every secret tape.

Of course, playing a game that much really ingrains the soundtrack into your subconscious. Today, as an adult, I still find myself humming many of the Pro Skater tunes I listened to for hours on end as a child. Sometimes I even boot up my worn N64 copy and skate around for old times’ sake.

Having played through every Tony Hawk game up through Underground 2, none have stuck with me quite like the very first. Even though other entries may have featured improved skaters, venues, and tricks over the years, it’s hard to top the the soundtrack that started it all.

The three tracks embedded in this article were my favorites growing up. The entirety of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack can be found here.

Source: Kotaku.com

By The Gods, I Just Want To Hang Out At Charon’s Shop In Hades

Escaping the House of Hades is no easy task. The ever-changing pathways through the Underworld are filled with danger—vicious specters prowl, eager for a kill, and traps are scattered everywhere. The music is a steady, pulsating rhythm to amplify that struggle. It can feel daunting. That’s why, whenever Charon’s shop appears, it’s a welcome respite.

I’ve played about eight hours of Supergiant Games’ latest game, Hades, available now in early access on PC via the Epic Games store, and headed to Steam Early Access on December 10, 2019. So far, it’s been a blast. The rogue-like dungeon crawling game is brimming with beautiful art and is a stylish romp through the world of Greek mythology. I’ve had lots of fun dying repeatedly, picking myself back up, and trying again.

In Hades, you play as Zagreus, son of Hades, and you’re trying to escape the Underworld. Some of the supporting cast are the Greek gods themselves, each with distinct personalities told through smart dialogue, as they aid Zagreus on his journey to Olympus. My time with the game has revealed a wealth of sharp writing, excellent character interactions (Zagreus, in particular, is a gem), and I’ve uncovered some hints at an intriguing story—all of these points are characteristic of Supergiant Games’ previous works, Pyre, Bastion, and Transistor. There’s still so much for me to discover, and I’m excited to see how Hades continues to grow and evolve in early access.

I’d be remiss to not mention how stellar Darren Korb’s compositions have been from what I’ve heard so far. Some of the tracks are quick-paced rock anthems that help to motivate and spur Zagreus’ fights through the dungeons of Tartarus and beyond. I made it as far as the game’s third biome, Elysium, where I was bested by two champions of Greek mythology who killed me quickly.

The first area is the one I’ve spent the most time in. There’s a song that plays right at the beginning of the journey. I love how it’s foreboding at the start—a reminder of the underlying tension, caused by the family strife between Hades and Zagreus, which fills the halls of the House of Hades—before low strumming gets interjected. It then goes into a cool beat with a bass line that carries Zagreus’ first steps into the uncertain world that lies beneath his bedroom window.

I don’t know how long I spent roaming the gorgeous yet gloomy halls of Tartarus, trying to figure out what the symbols over chamber doors meant. I also don’t know how many times I died in the first hour or so while attempting to unlock weapons and items, then testing them to see which one worked best for me. What I do know is that when I first entered the chamber with a symbol of a golden skull on a money bag, and heard the music that played, I wanted to return to that room on every subsequent run.

Charon, the Stygian boatman of Hades who transports souls of the dead, was behind the door. I didn’t know what to expect but there he was. Not a foe but an astute businessman, who communicated in gurgles. Charon’s shop carries items that fetch a fairly high price—usually health items, and a chance to get a power-up from an Olympian God. But what immediately struck me was how damned great Charon’s theme song was.

After spending a while getting beaten down in the dungeons as part of learning the flow of the game, Charon’s shop was calming. I was reeling from managing to scrape by in an exhausting battle when I first heard it—the first, short notes of the harpsichord were so pleasant, and different, from the rock-heavy, battle weary sounds that kept me on my toes moments before.

Unsurprisingly, Charon’s shop theme, “Final Expense,” also has an eerie quality to it. As it progresses, the harpsichord plays over the kind of music you may expect to find in a creepy, video game graveyard. That’s fitting, I guess, for the ferryman to souls. It’s a gorgeous song that puts me at ease—maybe I’m just weird like that. Take a listen:

Usually a song like this might make me feel like something bad is about to happen, and well, that’s not entirely untrue in the game. Sometimes, Charon’s shop is the last stop before a boss fight. In those cases, yes, there is something intense that will follow. But the bad thing doesn’t happen in Charon’s shop itself. It’s a cool way to use the Stygian boatman—this bringer of the dead—as a zombified creature who only wants to deal in shiny gold pieces.

Charon and his shop—filled with curiosities and sometimes, surrounded by the ghostly bloody hands of those committed to the torment of the Underworld—are the best. A peaceful moment in the battle-drenched depths of Hades thanks to a chill, macabre song that plays when you meet him. There are actual respite rooms, too, but Charon’s shop music that plays makes his chamber all the more inviting.

I’m always really sad when I don’t have enough coins to make a visit to Charon worthwhile. There are times I go into the shop anyway even if I can’t buy anything to aid my escape. Because sometimes, you just want to hang out with a person who doesn’t have too much to say but you can both just relax and take in the music, you know?

Source: Kotaku.com

The Chill YouTube Comments On Game Soundtracks Are A Pleasant Surprise

This hour-long video on YouTube, whose title roughly translates to “One hour corridor ‘Chrono Trigger,’” plays the same three-minute “Corridors of Time” track from the game over and over again. It has over 1 million views, and it also has one of the most pleasant comment sections I’ve seen, full of viewers devoted to celebrating the music and the game it’s from. Some people replay games, others watch replays on Twitch, and others—like me—enjoy collectively remensicing to a 16-bit tune.

“Am I butterfly dreaming I’m a man? Or a bowling ball dreaming I’m a plate of sashimi? Never assume what you see and feel is real,” reads one of the 759 comments currently under the video. It’s a quote from Doreen, one of the characters who lives in the Kingdom of Zeal where the Corridors of Time music plays. This line of dialogue is a reference to the writings of the Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi, and it perfectly captures the vibe of the music and the original location. Another person responded with the quote “All life begins with Nu and ends with Nu. This is the truth! This is my belief!…At least for now.”

Dozens of highly trafficked gaming music videos were taken off YouTube earlier this week following copyright claims by Nintendo. An entire channel, BrawlBRSTMs3, was taken down by its owner who cited concerns over Nintendo’s new crackdown. While a lot of video game music has moved to Spotify, where it’s officially distributed by the game publishers that own it, there’s no easy replacement for the experience of listening to beloved soundtracks on YouTube.

One of the special things about listening to video game music on YouTube is users’ ability to upload customized tracks, specifically looped versions of tracks that extend the listening experience uninterrupted (with the exception of the occasional rogue YouTube ad). Most video game music is designed to be played in perpetuity. Who knows whether you’re going to finish the dungeon or beat the boss in a few minutes or a few hours. In arcades, the music loops until the lights shut off. Even at home, with endless distractions only a few swipes or clicks away, video games provide soundtracks for more than just what’s happening on screen. More than once I’ve let the Persona 5 song “Tokyo Daylight” loop for hours after I’ve fallen asleep on my couch.

Game soundtracks on YouTube lend themselves well to late night study sessions, ambient background music for work, or in my case, falling asleep. But they’ve also become home to some of the loveliest gaming communities I’ve ever encountered. Far away from the snark on Twitter, the toxicity on Reddit, or the outrage across so much of the rest of gaming YouTube, soundtrack pages tend to be a place where you can fall in love with something all over again and share it with others simply by listening to a few tracks.

In the comments section under a 12-minute version of Silent Hill 2‘s “Promise Reprise,” people quote letters found in the game. Some share stories of their own losses that they’ve coped with while listening to this music.Others offer one-off lines of improvised poetry. Others just want more. “Make a 10 hour version,” asked one person.

On the page for an extended version of “The Opened Way” from Shadow of the Colossus, people share stories about listening to this music as they waited for school to be over so they could go home and play the game. On the page for a 10-hour version of “Zora’s Domain” from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, people share stories about the passage of time. “This brought a tear to my eye. All the sad memories of being a child. Loving my parents. Enjoying the serenity of the game, while not having a care in the world,” writes one person. “Played this game as a kid. Zara’s domain was always my favorite song. Now it’s my 8-month-old’s lullaby. Amazing,” writes another.

The hour-long cut of Corridors of Time video is still my favorite. The looping graphics of a city floating in the sky, the music, and the people who have converged there are one of the more beautiful social happenstances I’ve ever witnessed. Some of the commenters have been around long enough to remember posting on earlier uploads of the video that were subsequently taken down. Hopefully they will always keep coming back. 

Source: Kotaku.com

Buy Committee: Can I Still Buy a Good, Dedicated Media Player?

Buy CommitteeLet us know what products you keep putting in your cart, only to "Save For Later." We’ll offer our take, and ask readers who own the product to weigh in.  

While streaming music services like Apple Music and Spotify have eclipsed the use of iPods, some users would still like to have a dedicated, offline media player in their pockets. And, Buy Committee, reader John Wao wants a few recommendations.

Now that Apple no longer makes iPods, is there an alternative for those of us who still like to carry their music with them?

So, Buy Committee (that’s you), scroll down to the comments to share your experiences with your personal, offline media players. Help John decide which one he should invest in.

I think there’s a misconception about Apple abandoning iPods. They still make ‘em, but they just don’t get the annual update treatment that the iPads and iPhones do. And for my money, the iPod touch is still a solid option.

While there are plenty of other media players out there, no company will provide the same support that Apple can and no device would have access to the apps an iOS device would have.

But if you truly want to venture out of Apple’s garden, the FiiO M7 music player might be a solid option, as well. It supports lossless audio, uses a touchscreen, and you can expand the storage with a microSD card.

Of course, we’re looking to help you decide on more purchases. So, if you’re still agonizing over something, email [email protected] with the subject line “Buy Committee” or tweet us at @ItsTheInventory.

Source: Kotaku.com

Wolfenstein’s Best Hidden Feature Is All The Facist-Friendly Pop Songs

Image: Bethesda Softworks

It’s kind of funny that video games still have collectibles. As their worlds become more detailed and awe-inspiring, it can seem tedious to still be reminded to turn around so you can gather more digital widgets. But the Wolfenstein series does collectibles well, using them to flesh out the game’s worlds in deft ways.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the games take place in an alternate history where Nazi Germany won World War II and achieved world domination. That domination largely happens off-screen—The New Order begins in 1946 and then places protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz in a coma for 14 years—so players slowly discover, alongside the games’ protagonist, just how completely the Nazis control everything.

A lot of this is delivered the way most games deliver ancillary lore: newspaper articles that chronicle how America surrendered, journal entries from resistance fighters, and audio diaries of characters recounting significant experiences. But Wolfenstein’s collectibles also reimagine what pop culture in the Nazi-controlled world would look like, going so far as to record extremely corny German propaganda versions of rock hits.

These are my favorite kind of collectible. They’re wholly unnecessary for any kind of plot, but they develop a part of the world that the game is otherwise unconcerned with. Instead of simply mocking up a record cover, developer MachineGames actually recorded the songs. When you listen to them from the game’s collectibles menu, familiar tunes are rendered ridiculous with allusions to the new authoritarian state. Love songs talk about being home by curfew; a version of The Beatles sings about blue U-boats instead of yellow submarines.

The latest Wolfenstein game,Youngblood, is set in the ‘80s. It changes the medium of the series’ musical collectibles from vinyl to cassette tapes and adds a few artists contemporary to its setting—one of the first tracks you might hear is reminiscent of David Bowie. Youngblood also includes loads of mock-up VHS (or, in the fiction of Youngblood, UVK) tapes for German movies that parody other famous films, like Das Luftschiff, a zeppelin-fueled take on Das Boot.

I love how corny these bits of pop culture can be. I mentioned this in my review, but one of the recurring themes in MachineGames’ Wolfenstein series is facism’s lack of substance. It’s the ideology of losers, perpetuating itself by stoking existing fears and ginning up new ones when they run out of mileage.

The Nazi-approved versions of pop songs we recognize in these games—they aren’t really covers, since the songs we know technically don’t exist in Wolfenstein’s world—try to make an oppressive regime seem fun and human. It’s a slap-dash paint job on a rotten surface, and it’s ultimately unsuccessful. If you pay attention to the in-game lore (or browse a good wiki), , you’ll know that by the end of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Neumond Records, the fictional record company producing this music, is forced to shutter its business and abandon America as the Second American Revolution takes place and the country tires of facist propaganda (and catches on to subversive artists also recording at the same time).

Wolfenstein’s collectibles capture some of the corniness of real-life propaganda—frog memes and snowflake jokes are not deft expressions of humor—but there are people who find them seductive. The Wolfenstein games are, by necessity, primarily concerned with ideological struggles waged through violence, but these recordings hint at the cultural side of the struggle. You spend the entirety of the Wolfenstein games staring down the barrel of a gun, but you’re fighting for a world full of people, and that world is teeming with ideological struggles in art, at work, and people’s daily lives—things you’d only know if you stopped and poked at a few collectibles.

Source: Kotaku.com

5 new releases we love: David Berman returns, Bleached sobers up, and more

David Berman, a.k.a. Purple Mountains
Photo: David Berman

There’s a lot of music out there. To help you cut through all the noise, every week The A.V. Club is rounding up A-Sides, five recent releases we think are worth your time. You can listen to these and more on Spotify.

Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains

[Drag City, July 12]

One of the great pleasures of David Berman’s music has always been his ability to marry extreme pathos with ironic distance—the pain all the more convincing when trying to mask itself. A decade since the Silver Jews’ dissolve, and recording under a new name, Berman is still Berman, but with some of the veneer chipped away. On “That’s Just The Way I Feel” and “Maybe I’m The Only One For Me,” he threads the needle between self-acceptance and resignation, boogie-woogie piano and an outlaw-country shrug lifting up lines like the former’s “You see the life I live is sickening / I spent a decade playing chicken with oblivion.” Later, the song winkingly devolves into a list of place names and the misfortune that has befallen the speaker in each. In “I Loved Being My Mother’s Son” and “Nights That Won’t Happen,” Berman’s lyrics and instrumentation are barer and more vulnerable. Death and dying, loneliness and isolation—it’s not always the kind of thing you can two-step to, but it’s still a fine time feeling miserable with David Berman. [Laura Adamczyk]

Westside Gunn, Flygod Is An Awesome God 

[Griselda, July 5]

To understand the appeal of Westside Gunn, he may be better heard than described. The Buffalo, New York rapper decorates sleepy sampled cuts with grunts and howls, imitates gunshots, and rhymes in a nasally, high-pitched voice. He rhymes almost exclusively about street-life clichés: slanging drugs, posing in designer threads, and enjoying the company of multiple women. And yes, there are plenty of wrestling metaphors, too. At his best—and Flygod Is An Awesome God may be his best project since 2016’s Flygod—he constructs the equivalent of an ’80s Hong Kong crime flick, all stylized camera angles, grizzled mean-mugs, and fashionable surfaces. It’s remarkable how Westside Gunn seamlessly blends lumpy, thuggish sentiments with sonic elegance on standout tracks like “Lunchin” (with an excellent cameo from poet and frequent collaborator Keisha Plum) and “Ferragamo Funeral.” Meanwhile the bleary-sounding “Lakers Vs Rockets” is as ugly-beautiful as a wet tenement corner. Great production from Madlib (“Gunnlib”), the Alchemist (“Sensational Sherri”), Daringer, and other dusty-loop excavators certainly help. [Mosi Reeves]

Bleached, Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough?

[Dead Oceans, July 12]

Sobriety sounds good on Bleached. Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough?, the group’s third full-length, is its first since sisters Jessie and Jennifer Clavin quit drinking, and that newfound sense of promise saturates the album both musically and lyrically. The repetitive failings of 2016’s Welcome The Worms are gone, replaced by an adventurous and diverse collection of songs that may nod at the group’s garage-rock beginnings, but largely casts off the dirty guitar riffs for shimmering ’80s pop-rock. Songs like “Awkward Phase” and “Daydream” may retain the bold crunch and dance rhythms of years past, but these moments are exceptions to the glossy, groovy new rule. “Somebody Dial 911” is the best track Duran Duran never wrote, and single “Hard To Kill” showcases a dance-beat through-line to the record that’s as much disco rave as it is angular Madchester bounce. The evolution from raw to polished is a common one for rock bands, but on Bleached, it sounds positively inspired. [Alex McLevy]

We’re collecting our A-Sides recommendations over on a Spotify playlist updated every Friday. Tune in and subscribe here.

Ms Nina, “Te Doy”

[Mad Decent, July 3]

Few other new releases capture the steaminess and gloom of summer ’19 as well as Ms Nina’s mixtape, Perreando Por Fuera, Llorando Por Dentro. As the title suggests, the reggaetonera and neoperreo proponent juggles depression, lust, insecurity, and creativity on tracks as varied as the staccato “Resaca” and the sex-positive “Gata Fina.” Although Perreando Por Fuera could fuel a whole night of grinding, Ms Nina also takes the time to explore consent and reciprocity. Her latest release, “Te Doy,” is a booty-shaking perreo jam with a message—Ms Nina makes it very clear what she’s looking to share, but she’s even more explicit about the fact that you’re only getting culo if and when she deems you worthy. [Danette Chavez]

Mal Blum, Pity Boy

[Don Giovanni, July 12]

Mal Blum’s first new album in four years is clear-eyed and confident, its 12 slices of probing, emphatic pop-rock chronicling a history of self-sabotage through a therapeutic lens. That’s not to say they have all the answers, though—what’s so striking about Pity Boy is how in process it feels, with Blum often dealing in conversation with their own thoughts and doubts. “Do you think that we are friends?” they thoughtfully ask on fiery opener “Things Still Left To Say,” punctuating it with a more desperate, straightforward “Are we friends?” Moments like these give Pity Boy an anxious tension that pairs well with its loose, loud riffs, the likes of which serve to elevate the album’s moments of catharsis. “See Me,” for example, oscillates between timidness and anger as it grapples with the anxieties of coming out as nonbinary and transgender, its explosive chorus resonating as an expression of both self-affirmation and frustration. [Randall Colburn]

Source: Kotaku.com

I Love When Video Game Music Is So Good I Forget To Actually Play The Game

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

One of my favorite games of the last several years is Facepalm Games’ The Swapper. I like it for a lot of reasons: it’s got this beautiful stop-motion clay art style, an immediately compelling hook in the titular Swapper, a gun that lets you clone yourself and zap your consciousness between those clones, and a disconcerting story.

But the primary reason The Swapper has long been a favorite is the Recreation area. In The Swapper, you’re mostly alone in an empty research lab and the desert planet it is built on after an unexplained disaster. . You spend the game trying to figure out what has gone wrong, and contemplating the existential dread that comes with using your weird gun that lets you clone yourself and zap your consciousness around. It’s an eerie, quiet game. And then you get to the Recreation area, and you hear this music:

It’s immediately arresting. You hear this elegiac, bittersweet piano piece when you’re not expecting it, in a space meant for people to enjoy themselves and be at ease, now abandoned. When I first reached the Recreation area, I stayed there, doing nothing, for 10 minutes, letting the music loop. I’ve never forgotten this game, and I think about it all the time. And a big part of that is thanks to composer Carlo Castellano’s beautiful, tender composition.

Stopping and listening to the music is one of gaming’s quieter pleasures. Sitting around and taking in the score was the unquestionable highlight of Destiny’s early days, and it has consistently been one of the best things about Final Fantasy XIV, a game that is just dripping with music that makes you want to stop and listen.

I have endlessly looped the menus of Final Fantasy X-2 and Persona 3 FES, my colleagues have let the Final Fantasy XI opening theme and the Threads of Fate score play over and over, and Kotaku video producer Paul Tamayo recalls being so enthralled by the opening to Chrono Cross that he looped a demo disc with no actual gameplay, just to listen and watch over and over.

The bigness of many games is sometimes intimidating, but more often I’ve found it to be a source of delight. Delight at the sheer possibility of what may be waiting for you in the next village, in the next room, and what sounds may greet you when you get there. I love the way they linger, letting my mind stay in this world even after I leave it to do something else.

Source: Kotaku.com