Blast http://blastmagazine.com Video Game Reviews, Music, Movies, TV, Gen-Y Issues Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:00:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Finally a Song Not About a Boy!: a review of 1989 http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/finally-song-boy-review-1989/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/finally-song-boy-review-1989/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:00:48 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93296 Were you looking for a T-Swift album without songs about her love life? Well, sorry to disappoint, but maybe synthesizers will help. Swift’s transition to pop was not exactly abrupt. With pop songs like “We Are Never Getting Back Together” coming from her last album, it seemed as if the country star had progressively been moving(...)

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Were you looking for a T-Swift album without songs about her love life? Well, sorry to disappoint, but maybe synthesizers will help.

Swift’s transition to pop was not exactly abrupt. With pop songs like “We Are Never Getting Back Together” coming from her last album, it seemed as if the country star had progressively been moving away from her beginnings. However, Swift has certainly never released something as synthesized and straight-up pop like her latest release. With the help of mega-pop producer Max Martin, Taylor Swift’s 1989 is supposedly the former country singer’s departure from her roots and a foray into the world of pop, but she may have traveled back more than few years to find the inspiration for her new sound. The heavily synthesized music in tracks “Welcome to New York” and “Out of the Woods” are reminiscent of 1980s bands such as Depeche Mode and A-ha. In fact, a guitar, usually a Swift staple, does not make an appearance until “How You Get The Girl,” the tenth track on the album. That said, it’s really not a bad thing.

Swift has been in a number of ads for the New York board of tourism, much to New Yorkers chagrin. Media credit to NYCGO.com

Swift has been in a number of ads for the New York board of tourism, much to New Yorkers chagrin. Media credit to NYCGO.com

Swift wanted to make a pop album and that she accomplished. Her first single “Shake It Off” is clearly the album’s hit, but is very different from the majority of the other tracks. Where “Shake It Off” makes you want to dance, tracks like “Style” and “Bad Blood” offer more relaxed, steady beats (almost straight out of the Drive soundtrack) and less resounding, but still catchy, choruses. Most of the songs, ten out of thirteen, are still about her love life— we’re looking at you, Mr. Styles. However, the lyrics are more mature compared to her other albums. Where “We Are Never Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble When You Walked In” off Swift’s last album Red were somewhat jeering and vengeful, Swift seems more introspective and ready to move on with this record. Tracks like “All You Had To Do Was Stay” look at her past relationship without malice and a hell of a catchy chorus— definitely a standout on the album. “Wildest Dreams” also offers a more mature Swift only wanting to be remembered by her lost love. This song is extremely reminiscent of Lana Del Rey, almost eerily so, but another standout on the album. Songs like “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space” offer a more unapologetic Swift defending her decisions in the her love life without caring whatever the media has to say.

Musically speaking, some songs on the album, “Welcome to New York” and “Out of the Woods,” feel one note with more-spoken-than-sang choruses that feel anti-climatic as compared to the verses that bookend them. Others like “Blank Space” boast a resounding beat without a solid catchy chorus to make the song memorable. All in all, the album is an interesting turn for Swift that contains several catchy songs, but no real hits other than “Shake It Off.”

1989, Swift's most recent album, was released Oct. 27 and is expected to reach 1 mill. sold copies in its debut week.

1989, Swift’s most recent album, was released Oct. 27 and is expected to reach 1 mill. sold copies in its debut week.

Although the album is a fairly big departure from Taylor Swift’s last albums, it works. Swift always seemed more like a pop star than a country star, but her melodic and songwriting sensibilities still ring strong on this record, minus her comfortable acoustic guitar. Swift blended the new, but old 1980s synth-pop sound well with modern influences like Lorde and Lana Del Rey and released a unique pop record leaving listeners interested in hearing more from Taylor Swift’s new musical direction.

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Big Gigantic Rocks UMass http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/movies/big-gigantic-rocks-umass/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/movies/big-gigantic-rocks-umass/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 16:59:38 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93291 By Bailey Knecht With music software readily available, new DJs are constantly emerging with hopes of becoming the next big producer. The problem that so many of these producers have is setting themselves apart from the crowd. With their distinct sound and live instruments, Jeremy Salken and Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic are forging a(...)

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By Bailey Knecht

With music software readily available, new DJs are constantly emerging with hopes of becoming the next big producer. The problem that so many of these producers have is setting themselves apart from the crowd. With their distinct sound and live instruments, Jeremy Salken and Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic are forging a unique path of EDM. The duo combines Salken’s drumming skills with Lalli’s saxophone prowess, along with smooth electronic beats to produce catchy, upbeat tracks.

Big Gigantic is currently on their Touch the Sky tour, making appearances with Skrillex, Bassnectar, Paper Diamond, Manic Focus and The Floozies.

Jeremy Salken, left, and Dominic Lalli, right, performing at a festival. Media Credit to BigGigantic.net

Jeremy Salken, left, and Dominic Lalli, right, performing at a festival. Media Credit to BigGigantic.net

On Oct. 23, they travelled to UMass Amherst to open for Skrillex at the Mullins Center, along with Nadastrom and Vindata. Sonny Moore, the 26-year-old from California better known as Skrillex, has become one of the most well known producers with his hard-hitting electro tracks. Recently, his style has evolved, including elements of jazz and soul on his newest album, Recess. Skrillex is currently on a 27-stop tour that will last until November.

Scott Fortunato, a chef from Boston, attended the UMass show, seeing Big Gigantic for his thirtieth time.

“This was my favorite show ever because I brought my 66-year-old mother with me to the show and my older sister,” Fortunato said. “[The] most memorable part was Dominic pointing and smiling at my mother.”

Despite being an avid Big G fan, Fortunato also said that he enjoyed Skrillex’s set. Another one of his favorite moments of the night was when Skrillex dropped the Lion King theme song remix.

“I hadn’t seen Skrillex in two years since Counterpoint 2012,” he said. “He was awesome in my mind, I loved his set.”

Media credit to MSO PR.

Media credit to MSO PR.

Prior to the show, Salken praised the energy of New England concertgoers.

“We love to kind of rage with our Massholes, absolutely,” Salken said, laughing. “The Northeast kind of goes hard- everybody kind of goes hard- but the Northeast does a different vibe, and it’s just maybe a little extra rowdier because they’re pent up in the city and stuff like that, so everybody goes a little bit crazier.”

Big Gigantic has come a long way since forming just a few years ago in 2008. They recently headlined their third show at the incredible Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado before hitting up Madison Square Garden in New York with Bassnectar.

“I feel like our music style has definitely changed, like Dom’s producing skills as he has learned more tricks of the trade,” Salken said. “The sound quality has gone up a lot, and the songs sound fuller, they hit harder. Everything is kind of more defined, and stylistically it’s definitely evolved, you know, as all electronic music has.”

Big G has a few more stops on the tour before returning to Colorado, this time to throw down on New Year’s Eve. It’s clear that the duo is not slowing down any time soon.

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The Blast Interview: Amaranthe http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/blast-interview-amaranth/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/blast-interview-amaranth/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 16:37:48 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93284      The Swedish metal band Amaranthe has just released their new album Massive Addictive. For the past month they have been hitting the roads in the US along with the Dutch band Within Temptation, dropping some new tunes from their latest release. Both bands absolutely killed their performance in Worcester on Oct. 11 at the(...)

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     The Swedish metal band Amaranthe has just released their new album Massive Addictive. For the past month they have been hitting the roads in the US along with the Dutch band Within Temptation, dropping some new tunes from their latest release. Both bands absolutely killed their performance in Worcester on Oct. 11 at the Palladium.

Amaranth released their newest album,  Massive Addiction, on Oct. 24. Media credit to spotlightreport.net

Amaranthe released their newest album, Massive Addiction, on Oct. 24. Media credit to spotlightreport.net

Amaranthe started their set with the track “Digital World” from Massive Addictive. The crowd erupted into cheers as the band made it to the stage. The show continued with some other tunes including “Hunger”, “Invincible” and one of the band’s most well known songs “1,000,000 Light years”. Amaranthe also played “Trinity” from their latest album before their self-titled track, and then finished the show off with their legendary song “Nexus”. The band had a great collaboration between their three vocalists.

Although the stage show was nothing out of the ordinary, it was still pretty good and enough. Elize Ryd’s interaction with the crowd brought a lot of energy to the venue. Probably one of the highlights of the show was guitarist Stefan Helleblad of Within Temptation coming on stage and playing along with Amaranth. Check out the Blast interview with Johan Andreassen and Morten Løwe Sørensen of Amaranthe below. 

  

Blast Magazine: So how was the tour? This is the last stop right?

Morten Løwe Sørensen: So for this part of the tour, this is the last stop. Then we go to Japan. It has totally been a [good] tour with Within Temptation. Every single show has been awesome, really.

Blast: Massive Addictive is coming up. Are you excited about it?

Johan Andreassen: We are curious how people will react to it. It has a big difference but it is still Amaranthe.

Blast: What can you say about the album? Is it going to be the Amaranthe sound fans are used to?

Sørensen: Not major changes but the overall sound, it lets the instruments and voices to be heard better. We still have some fast songs in the album but not in the way people are used to, I think. Every track has its own sound I think, in a different way.

Blast: What is your favorite memory from the recording process?

Andreassen: Coming home [laughs]. I think it is the whole course of recording, being in the studio, the guys, to hang[ing] out with Jacob Hansen.

Sørensen: For me its actually recording, I love to record. To listen to the result, being creative and stuff.

Blast: The Amaranthe sound is kind of out of the box, kind of different than what metal fans are used to. Is this caused by the different backgrounds of the members or is there more to it?

Andreassen: I think we just wanted to put as much of everything in there. I don’t think our differences have too much to do about it.

Sørensen: I think that certain songs [have] more of one of the vocalists. Before it was mostly equally divided. Certain songs, for example, have more of Elize and not much Jake or other way around. Even a lot of Henrik, the growler, the screamer.

 Blast: Who were your influences in this case?

Sørensen: Michael Jackson.

Andreassen: ABBA. I think we tried to put as much of different types of music. There is a wide range between ABBA, Jackson, Soilwork but…I think SoilWork is the big thing for all of us.

Blast: Your producer, Jacob, you have been with him for a long time. It’s not really usual for bands to stick with the same producer for a long time. What is it about him that makes the relationship work?

Andreassen: Before we got him, we just sat down and talked [about] who to work with and we all agreed on Jacob. We understand each other very well. I mean, he understands our music and what we are trying to do.

Sørensen: He is very involved with the whole process. And he has been with us since the first album, which [gave] him a good overview of the sound of the band. He is also changing along the path as we are. He understands where we are going. I wouldn’t be the same without him.

Johan Andreassen of Amaranthe performing the Prog Power USA X Festival. Media credit to Patrick Matthies.

Johan Andreassen of Amaranthe performing the Prog Power USA X Festival. Media credit to Patrick Matthies.

Blast: How does the song writing process go with you guys? Because the band is kind of crowded. It is easy to spear Henrik’s part as screams but how do you divide them between Elize and Jake?

Sørensen: No. Jake writes the lyrics like one day before recording [laughs]. No, no. He is the guy involved with the lyrics process but it differs in album.

Blast: What is the goal of the band at the moment?

Andreassen: World domination [laughs].

Sørensen: Yeah one step at a time [laughs]. Of course, we are hoping to have a headlining tour. We are gonna come back to US.

Blast: How would you compare the US to Europe?

Andreassen: This is a hard one. They both have their perks. Upsides and downsides. I mean it is really different. I think American audience is, they have been more open I guess. Open minded and more willing to take in more.

Sørensen: It was kind of a trial for us. You know, first time we did like 10 shows, not much. And it went pretty well. Now we had something to build on.

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Kina Grannis comes to Boston; Break Science to NYC http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/kina-grannis-comes-boston-break-science-nyc/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/kina-grannis-comes-boston-break-science-nyc/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 16:33:07 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93272 This week, Boston will be graced by singer-songwriter Kina Grannis, while Break Science will headline Bang On!’s Warehouse of Horrors in NYC. Grannis will be playing tonight at the Paradise Rock Club, one of her last North American tour dates before departing for Europe. Tickets are still available and can be purchased through her site or(...)

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This week, Boston will be graced by singer-songwriter Kina Grannis, while Break Science will headline Bang On!’s Warehouse of Horrors in NYC.

Grannis will be playing tonight at the Paradise Rock Club, one of her last North American tour dates before departing for Europe. Tickets are still available and can be purchased through her site or via Paradise. Although the LA singer will most likely showcase her sophomore album Elements, fans will surely call for tracks off of her earlier albums such as One More in the Attic (2006) or Stairwells (2011). If you’re new to Grannis, be sure to check out her extensive list of covers, such as The Neighbourhood’s “Sweater Weather” or Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence”. This all ages show will begin at 7 p.m..

If Grannis’ acoustic pop sound is too slow for your tastes, make a weekend trip down to New York to catch the electronic duo Break Science. The guys will be performing Friday night with Twin Shadow, Space Jesus and Zebra Katz, to name a few. You may recall our interview with Space Jesus–if not for Break Science, then grab tickets just for what will be a fantastic performance from Jasha Tull. Not only will there be three stages, Bang On! has a haunted house, Burning Man style art installations, 3D visuals and more planned for the night. Be sure to get your tickets, as Bang On!’s notorious parties sell out quickly. More info and tickets can be found at Bang On!’s NYC website–but be aware that the address won’t be released until the night of.

 

Media credit to Fansofkina.com

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Photos: Gerard Way plays Boston http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/music/photos-gerard-way-plays-boston/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/music/photos-gerard-way-plays-boston/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 15:49:00 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93271 Commonwealth Avenue and The Paradise Rock Club played host to Gerard Way and his band this past Sunday evening. In what was his first show in Boston since playing with former band My Chemical Romance, Way quickly sold the show out, along with a number of other dates on a short tour in support of(...)

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Commonwealth Avenue and The Paradise Rock Club played host to Gerard Way and his band this past Sunday evening. In what was his first show in Boston since playing with former band My Chemical Romance, Way quickly sold the show out, along with a number of other dates on a short tour in support of his recently released debut solo effort, Hesitant Alien. With a setlist that included a large majority of the album in addition to a few covers (“Snakedriver” by The Jesus and Mary Chain was his final song prior to an encore), Way rocked the crowd with his new Britpop-driven sound. With his initial US tour over, he will be touring outside of the country for the next few months, continuing to support the new record.

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The Blast Interview: Big Gigantic http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/blast-interview-big-gigantic/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/blast-interview-big-gigantic/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:54:11 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93260 Big Gigantic, the Colorado-based electronic duo, is coming to UMass Amherst tonight as part of its Touch the Sky tour. The livetronica group is teaming up with EDM powerhouses like Skrillex, Paper Diamond and Manic Focus throughout the tour. Blast’s Bailey Knecht got a chance to chat with Big Gigantic’s drummer Jeremy Salken before the show. Be sure(...)

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Big Gigantic, the Colorado-based electronic duo, is coming to UMass Amherst tonight as part of its Touch the Sky tour. The livetronica group is teaming up with EDM powerhouses like Skrillex, Paper Diamond and Manic Focus throughout the tour. Blast’s Bailey Knecht got a chance to chat with Big Gigantic’s drummer Jeremy Salken before the show. Be sure to catch them in Amherst with Skrillex, as the duo are headed to Pennsylvania, Michigan and then the southern states for the next few weeks.

 

Blast: What can we expect from you guys on this tour, and at the UMass show in particular?

Jeremy Salken: UMass obviously is gonna be little bit different because we’re with Sonny from Skrillex, so it’s gonna be like his production, and hopefully we can get him on stage with us. That show’s definitely gonna be a rager. We’ve actually been trying to do a show at the Mullins Center for a little bit cause we did Pearl Street and then we did Northampton. We’ve been trying to do an Amherst show for a while.

Blast: What’s it like collaborating with Skrillex?

Salken: It’s great, I mean we collabed with him at Bonnaroo and it was super epic getting to play, getting to work with him super close and then adding all these other musicians on top of it. It was pretty awesome.

Blast: Do your West Coast shows differ at all from the East Coast ones in terms of the atmosphere or the audience?

Salken: We love to kind of rage with our Massholes, absolutely (laughs). The Northeast kind of goes hard- everybody kind of goes hard- but the Northeast does a different vibe, and it’s just maybe a little extra rowdier because they’re pent up in the city and stuff like that, so everybody goes a little bit crazier. But yeah, we love coming out to Boston, Northampton and Amherst, and kind of hitting that whole area.

Dominic Lalli, left, and Jeremy Salken, right, of Big Gigantic

Dominic Lalli, left, and Jeremy Salken, right, of Big Gigantic. Media credit to MSO PR

 

Blast: There are a ton of fan groups on Facebook for you guys. Talk a little bit about your fans, and the Big Gigantic Family and the Lil G’s in particular.

Salken: We have the Big Gigantic Family Facebook group that one of our fans started, so it’s kind of all driven by the fans, and we’re just super psyched that people are that kind of involved with what we’re doing and it kind of pushes us further. So, yeah, we have the ABGF fan base, and then we have our Lil G program, which is kind of our volunteer program that we do at our bigger shows where we kind of have kids come out and just generally make sure everybody’s having a good time at the show, make sure people are hydrated, make sure that, you know, if somebody’s not doing well, they have a place they can go, or they have some help. So they don’t feel intimidated to go to the first-aid booth, or if police are gonna do whatever, they can kind of go to our guys first and get taken care of.

Blast: How has your music style evolved in general?

Salken: I feel like our music style has definitely changed, like Dom’s producing skills as he has learned more tricks of the trade. The sound quality has gone up a lot and the songs sound fuller, they hit harder. Everything is kind of more defined, and stylistically it’s definitely evolved, you know, as all electronic music has. And it kind of keeps evolving just because the way that we are as artists and people. So you make something for a little bit, and it’s cool, and then you want to figure out a way to challenge yourself and make something new that you’ve never done before. Or you hear a style that you’re influenced by and you try and take that style and put your spin on it. It’s something that we’ve done before Big Gigantic, that’s what we used to do in jazz group and funk group and whatever we were doing trying to take those styles and take it to the next level.

Blast: How hard is it to get that perfect balance of showing off your new stuff while still playing some of your classic older songs?

Salken: It’s tough because we definitely wanna, you know, play the stuff that’s kind of new and fresh for us, but we have the fan favorites and classics that we don’t want to ignore. We love playing all of it, so we try keep it as diverse as we can with that stuff. Just recently Dom found all the masters, the audio files for a lot of older stuff. It’s actually given him a chance to kind of rework it and make it sound better and make it sound fuller so that when we play that track, the old track next to a new track, the sound quality is the same, they hit as hard, all that stuff.

The duo performs with Skrillex tonight at UMass Amherst

The duo performs with Skrillex tonight at UMass Amherst. Media credit to MSO PR

 

Blast: You guys have been going pretty nonstop for the past few months, and it doesn’t look like you’ll be slowing down any time soon. How do you keep grinding and keep up the energy every single night?

Salken: We’re just constantly, constantly working. We actually maybe have some time off in November and December. Right now, we try and stay busy and stay focused, keep our eye on the prize.

Blast: Talk about your philosophy behind giving away your music for free.

Salken: That’s kind of a concept that’s evolved over the last few years and, originally, it was a way just to get our music out there, you know. We wanted to put it online as quick as possible when we were starting, just have a way for people to get our music and hear us and hopefully come see us live. So that was the original concept, and as things kind of progressed with the way that music is delivered to people, we accommodated that, and we started messing around with Pandora and Spotify and iTunes. Now we just want to make sure our music is everywhere that you can possibly get music. So if you go to iTunes for music, then you can find us there. If you only use Spotify, you can find us on Spotify. All of it is kind of there, accessible when you need it and hopefully everybody comes and sees us live.

Blast: Favorite track off The Night is Young?

Salken: My favorite track is probably Shooting Stars. That one is really fun to play, it’s kind of a different vibe than we’re used to, you know. We’ve been playing it live, and it’s kind of a moment to chill out and look around and enjoy where you are. So I like that one a lot.

Blast: Favorite song to play live?

Salken: Favorite song to play live…I like Blue Dream a lot. That one’s really fun, it always goes well.

 

 

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How to Pick a Payment Terminal for Your Business http://blastmagazine.com/the-news/business/pick-payment-terminal-business/ http://blastmagazine.com/the-news/business/pick-payment-terminal-business/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:21:55 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93256 Over the last few years, customers have stopped making cash payments because of security reasons. Credit card payments have become popular, because they are simple, easy and safe. There were more than 388.7 million credit card holders in the US and almost 90 percent of their credit card transactions were in retail stores, according to(...)

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Over the last few years, customers have stopped making cash payments because of security reasons. Credit card payments have become popular, because they are simple, easy and safe. There were more than 388.7 million credit card holders in the US and almost 90 percent of their credit card transactions were in retail stores, according to Statista. As a result, almost every business needs a credit card terminal to process card payments. If you do not have a credit card terminal, you will lose the customers who offer credit cards and lose their money as well, says Entrepreneur.

What Are The Key Features of Credit Card Terminals?

All of us have seen these squat rectangular boxes on store billing counters. The counter staff will swipe your card; the machine clears the payment, and then prints receipts for you to sign. That little grey box has now transformed itself into several new avatars that are much more popular and easy to use. POS systems now automatically offer credit card terminals that link to the POS system and clear payments in less than two seconds.

These terminals have more processing power and they can handle several different kinds of payment transactions. For example, POS vendors offer terminals that can also process e-vouchers, bill payments, gift cards, loyalty coupons, product discount vouchers and coupons. Older versions usually ran on dial-up connections but these models are not used nowadays. Modern POS payment terminals now contain more than 100 megabytes of memory. This is vastly different from the original 32K RAM models of yesteryear.

Modern payment terminals also connect through fixed broadband connection, wireless connections and/or GSM/GPRS connections. Newer versions also have touchscreen graphics to process payment faster. All credit card terminals have built in printers with a thermal paper roll. When payments clear, the thermal printer makes two receipts: one for the customer and one for the business. For additional security, some debit cards require a pin number to authorize payments.

These devices are referred to as PED devices. By inputting a specific pin number, the customer can authorize that specific payment. For businesses that are on the move, miniaturized credit card terminals are now available. These tiny plug-like devices are ideal to collect payments while on the move. They are attached to tablets and smartphones to be plugged in to the store POS system to process sales.

Choosing the Right Credit Card Terminal for Your Business

Types – Now that you know the basic types of credit card terminals available for your business, it is time to choose a model for your business. Most business owners prefer the traditional credit card terminal, as they are basic, economical, and very simple to use. The only problem with this type of card machine is that it is not portable. They require a phone line and an electricity line to charge the terminal. These types of terminals are perfect for businesses fixed in place like restaurants and retail stores. Wireless systems are much more popular nowadays. Almost every vendor offers these terminals nowadays and they are quite affordable. They do not require a phone line or an internet connection and they process payments very quickly. However, these systems too are not without their problems. Dead zones and poor Wi-Fi connections may slow down these systems and result in dropped transactions. This type of credit card system is perfect for deliverymen, small business owners working from home, or for processing payments at kiosks and stores.

Costs – Terminal costs usually vary from vendor to vendor. Along with an upfront payment, you may also have to pay a per-transaction fee, rental fees, bank charges, etc. You can also comparison shop online with several retailers to find an affordable credit card terminal. Make sure you read the service contract before you take the credit card system.

Reviews – Take the time to compare features of these terminals by reading online reviews. Customer reviews and technical reviews are available online and they provide an accurate idea of just how good the credit card reader is, states Essential Retail. The website also cautions readers to make their own decision regarding credit card readers.

The fastest way to get your own credit card terminal is by getting in touch with POS vendors like Shopify. These vendors sell state-of-the-art point of sale software and compatible, miniaturized credit card terminals. The systems are affordable and cheap and allow you to process sales anywhere inside your store or while on the move. Of course, you can also invest in ordinary size credit card terminals but these are not portable and require an electricity connection along with an internet connection. It’s a far better idea to invest in a portable POS system that comes with its own credit card terminal.

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Gallery: SKATERS at the Brighton Music Hall http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/music/gallery-skaters-brighton-music-hall/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/music/gallery-skaters-brighton-music-hall/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:38:20 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93245 Last Thursday evening, New York City’s SKATERS arrived in Boston in order to play a show opening for The Orwells at Brighton Music Hall. Despite only having been a band for a bit over two years, they have put together an impressive résumé thus far. In 2012 they put out their debut Schemers EP, signed(...)

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Last Thursday evening, New York City’s SKATERS arrived in Boston in order to play a show opening for The Orwells at Brighton Music Hall. Despite only having been a band for a bit over two years, they have put together an impressive résumé thus far. In 2012 they put out their debut Schemers EP, signed to Warner Brothers Records, and earlier this year, released their debut full length, Manhattan. The band identifies as a NYC act, but they’re actually from all over. Vocalist Michael Ian Cummings hails from from Boston and met guitarist Josh Hubbard (from England) in Los Angeles during 2011. The two ended up collaborating in New York not too long after, and SKATERS was formed along with drummer Noah Rubin and bassist Dan Burke. From then on, SKATERS has been bringing their garage-rock-inspired sound to clubs all over. With an impressive live show reminiscent of The Clash and solid skills on their instruments to back it up, the group of guys has a lot ahead of themselves. They just wrapped up their touring schedule, but look out for them the next time they hit the road.

Haven’t heard ‘em? Listen to: “Miss Teen Massachusetts”

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So close, yet so far: Alien Isolation review http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/gaming-news/close-yet-far-alien-isolation-review/ http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/gaming-news/close-yet-far-alien-isolation-review/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 19:26:23 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93224   If last year’s Alien’s Colonial Marines succeeded in anything, it was in making one of Hollywood’s most menacing monsters into little more than a joke.  The best that once gave kids the world over nightmares was reduced to little more than cannon fodder; oh, and it danced. It seemed like it would be the(...)

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If last year’s Alien’s Colonial Marines succeeded in anything, it was in making one of Hollywood’s most menacing monsters into little more than a joke.  The best that once gave kids the world over nightmares was reduced to little more than cannon fodder; oh, and it danced. It seemed like it would be the last nail in the coffin of what was one a horror movie icon. Fast forward to just over a year later and Alien: Isolation doesn’t have this problem; in fact it succeeds wildly at recreating the terrifying world established by Ridley Scott’s iconic 1979 film.  Isolation comes so close to becoming the Alien game that fans have clamored for, for decades but a lackluster mission structure and disappointing story hold the game down.  While Isolation is more than enough to make you forget the failures of past games, it’s transgressions hurt just as much because of how close it comes to being great.

Developed by: Creative Assembly
Published by:
Sega
Genre:
Action, survival horror
Platform:
PS4, PS3, PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360
What works:
Tense gameplay| Alien is terrifying| Great environments
What doesn’t work:
Missions structure is disappointing| Game is needlessly long, should have ended hours earlier
2.5 out of 5 stars

Set after the events of the first movie, Isolation puts you in the role of Amanda Ripley, who is looking for information on the whereabouts of her mother Ellen (played by Sigourney Weaver in the films) and the rest of the Nostromo crew. Her search takes her to the Sevastapol, a giant space station where the Nostromo’s flight recorder is being stored. It’s apparent right from docking at the Sevastapol that something isn’t right, and Ripley is tasked with surviving against hostile humans, malfunctioning androids and something worse – something much worse.

From the moment the game starts, it’s clear that Sega and Creative Assembly wanted to make a game that was faithful to the Alien franchise, and they’ve succeeded wildly here. There’s a remarkable level of detail here, from the DOS computer systems to the throwbacks to the world of the movies. Most impressive though is just how much all of that detail helps create an incredibly deep world. Everything from the condition of The Sevastapol to the audio diaries lying around helps create a fantastic back-story and reaches an almost BioShock level of detail. It’s obvious that someone at Sega did their homework this time around, and it shows, I tried to spend as much time as I could exploring every nook and cranny of the station.

Of course, that’s easier said than done due to what’s stalking you I the corridors of the space station. I was honestly surprised by how long it took for the game to bring the Xenomorph into play (unlike previous games, there’s only one in Isolation) but when it does, the game truly hits its stride. The Alien, referred to here, as simply The Beast is the clear star of the game. Featuring mostly unscripted AI, trying to evade the Alien is a truly tense and often terrifying experience. You can never really tell if the Alien is going to sprint down a corridor at you, sniff around a room or disappear into a crawlspace for minutes at a time.  Even then, there are moments where you think you’re safe, but the Alien changes course and comes at you out of nowhere.  There are moments where the Alien seems a bit too smart and manages to attack you even when you’re well hidden, which is cheap but forces you to think and strategize even more.

Most impressive is how all of these elements, the dynamic AI, the true to the franchise world and eerie production values combine to create a remarkably paced experience. The game puts its lighting system to great work and before long you’ll start questioning every shadow that you see. The audio is even more impressive, with a dynamically impressive score and incredible sound effects (it’s downright terrifying to hear the Alien scurrying around above you or clomping down the hallway), this is a game that understands what made the original movie so terrifying to begin with. It’s a game that deserves to be played alone, in the dark with surround sound headphones on.

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It’s a shame then that with how much Sega and Creative Assembly nailed the atmosphere of the Alien franchise, they botched pretty much the rest of the game. Isolation’s mission structure is by far the biggest letdown of the game, forcing you to do trivial fetch missions and far more backtracking than you should in a game like this. Most missions find you trying to sneak your way around the station, trying to get into one room or another or find some resource that you need. The problem with this is that you almost always feel like you’re doing the same thing, like how many times am I going to have to find a way to restore power to the ship?  How many times am I going to have to sneak into that same room?

There are also entire sections of the game where seemingly nothing of importance happens. The Alien franchise strived on how scary things were when nothing was happening, when you couldn’t see your enemy – and Isolation is no different, but there are stretches towards the middle of the game where the Alien is completely absent and you’re left to deal with the malfunctioning Working Joe androids, and the game becomes less of a strategic survival horror game and more of a brainless first-person-shooter.  Why you would almost completely take out the best thing about your game midway through the experience is beyond me, and Isolation struggles because of it.

Isolation is also a good three to four hours too long for it’s own good. While it may seem strange to complain about a game being too long in this day and age, Isolation seems to be heading towards a satisfying finale several times before the credits finally roll. The story is all about Amanda Ripley finding closure on the whereabouts of her mother, but Sega and Creative Assembly seem determined to not give it to her. It’s like the old adage says, leave them wanting more; not give them countless hours of pointless wandering around a space station.

Like most guys my age, Alien was more than just another movie; it was almost a right of passage. It was the first real horror movie I saw, and defined what terror could be growing up.  After so many disappointments and let downs, it’s great to see a game that understands what made the franchise so great and absolutely nails that tone and feeling in a video game. It’s equally disappointing though that the rest of the game is so incredibly disappointing and feels so rushed.  All that aside, Alien Isolation is more than worth a look to anyone who loves survival horror, or grew up living in fear of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece.

 

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WWE 2K15 gets a season pass, you get Paige http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/gaming-news/wwe-2k15-gets-season-pass-get-paige/ http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/gaming-news/wwe-2k15-gets-season-pass-get-paige/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 18:30:25 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93210 In news that you already knew, WWE 2K15 is getting a season pass, but hey — at least you’ll get exclusive access to WWE Diva Paige when the game launches next month. Though exact content, pricing and release dates haven’t been announced yet, 2K did confirm that the DLC will focus on the 2K showcase(...)

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In news that you already knew, WWE 2K15 is getting a season pass, but hey — at least you’ll get exclusive access to WWE Diva Paige when the game launches next month.

Though exact content, pricing and release dates haven’t been announced yet, 2K did confirm that the DLC will focus on the 2K showcase mode, the game’s single-player story mode.

WWE 2K15 releases on October 28 for Xbox 360 and PS3 but was recently delayed until November 18 for PS4 and Xbox One.

Also, CM Punk.

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Evolve’s Big Alpha begins Halloween weekend, here’s how you can get in http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/gaming-news/evolves-big-alpha-begins-halloween-weekend-heres-can-get/ http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/gaming-news/evolves-big-alpha-begins-halloween-weekend-heres-can-get/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 16:35:27 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93205 Evolve’s “Big Alpha”, will run from October 30- November 2, Turtle Rock Studios announced today. Xbox One owners will get to try their luck at slaying the Goliath before anyone else, as access on their console is exclusive for 24 hours, with other platforms opening up on the 31. Xbox One users will also have(...)

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Evolve’s “Big Alpha”, will run from October 30- November 2, Turtle Rock Studios announced today. Xbox One owners will get to try their luck at slaying the Goliath before anyone else, as access on their console is exclusive for 24 hours, with other platforms opening up on the 31. Xbox One users will also have access to an exclusive beta in January of next year.

“The incredible reactions from early Evolve players have exceeded our highest expectations, but we still have a lot of hard work ahead of us in the coming months,” said Chris Ashton, co-founder and design director at Turtle Rock Studios. “We need to stress test the servers and the matchmaking system, look at balance, unlock rates, etc. The alpha test is not fully representative of the final product, but it’s our chance to see what the game looks like in the real world, and we will test again in the open beta for Evolve exclusively for Xbox One in January 2015. The data gathered in the tests will help make Evolve the best that it can possibly be when it launches on February 10, 2015.”

Similar to Turtle Rock’s Left 4 Dead series, Evolve focuses heavily on multiplayer matches, pitting four human hunters against a series of monsters. Players can also play as the monsters, using the beast’s abilities to turn their hunters into their prey. We got our hands on the game at this year’s PAX and can’t wait to spend more time with it.

Players who pre-order Evolve will get access to the Big Alpha on the platform of their choice, along with those who are lucky enough to score a code in the open. Got a code? Register it here. You may even want to use this  invite and referral code:

08347-97365-66457

Enter Referral Code: EVOLVETOWIN

Stick with Blast for more info on Evolve, including streams of the upcoming Alpha leading up to the game’s February 10 2015 release date.

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Five Finger Death Punch at Tsongas Center, Interview with Jason Hook http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/five-finger-death-punch-tsongas-center-interview-jason-hook/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/five-finger-death-punch-tsongas-center-interview-jason-hook/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 18:43:28 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93195 On Sept. 26, Lowell, Mass. was filled with screams of dozens of Metal fans.  The small town hosted one of the greatest metal shows with Nothing More, Hell Yeah, Volbeat and the headlining gods Five Finger Death Punch. I must admit that a lot people, including myself, were expecting an amazing show with Five Finger(...)

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On Sept. 26, Lowell, Mass. was filled with screams of dozens of Metal fans.  The small town hosted one of the greatest metal shows with Nothing More, Hell Yeah, Volbeat and the headlining gods Five Finger Death Punch. I must admit that a lot people, including myself, were expecting an amazing show with Five Finger Death Punch headlining and Volbeat co-headlining, however, we did not expect Nothing More and Hell Yeah to rock the stage as hard as the two other bands.

The show started with Nothing More. Along with the great songs that started a giant head-bang wave, they fronted a great stage show with all the members playing drums simultaneously, or tapping a single guitar all together, creating a great harmony. Finishing their set, Nothing More left the stage to Hell Yeah. As Vinnie Paul entered, the crowd erupted into cheers. The crowd, already warmed up by Nothing More, was ready the heavier sound of Hell Yeah. At this point of the show, the frequency of the crowd surfing has reached its climax.

Five Finger Death Punch performing live. Media credit to Rob Lawrence.

Five Finger Death Punch performing live. Media credit to Rob Lawrence

To put the final touch on the crowd before Five Finger Death Punch, co-headliner Volbeat took the stage. They provided a great show, although their sound was significantly lighter compared to the other bands taking part in the show. It is important to point out that a significant part of their show included “Acoustic Guitar” and lighter sounds that came along with it. They even paid tribute to Jonny Cash with the song “Ring of Fire”.

After a brief set, Volbeat left the stage, and Five Finger Death Punch began. After vocalist Ivan Moody hit the stage with a baseball bat, the band started to show with a somewhat heavier set including “Under and Over It”, “Burn it Down”, “Hard to See” and “Lift me Up”. The crown accompanied the band by singing along, with tons of moshing.

At this point of the show, Moody took some time to talk about veterans and pointing out the sacrifices they are making to protect us and provide us with freedom. He asked the audience to thank all the veterans, to which the crowd show their support with screams and a great applause. Following the topic, the band began to play “Burn MF” and Moody invited the the young metal heads to the stage. In less than a minute the stage was filled with 10 to 15 kids. They stayed on stage throughout the song, trying to accompany the tempo with their hands in the shape of small devil horns and their head-bangs. I must say it was one of the cutest scenes I have seen.

One of the greatest highlights of the show was the drums solo of Jeremy Spencer. He was wearing a skull mask that resembles to the mascot of the band.

Five Finger Death Punch's iconic Knucklehead mask. Media credit to Jonathan Barkan of Bloody-disgusting.com

Five Finger Death Punch’s iconic Knucklehead mask. Media credit to Jonathan Barkan of Bloody-disgusting.com

You can find a link to the drum solo here. Unfortunately the video is just a tiny portion of the solo. The band is still on tour, so if you have the chance to catch any of the upcoming shows, I would say don’t miss it. Even the drum solo itself is a good reason to see these guys.

Following the drums solo, the band stepped into more of an acoustic set. The band played “Remember Everything”, “Battle Born”, “Coming Down” and then they switched back to their hardcore sound with “Never Enough” and “Here to Die” before going into a short encore.

Following the encore Moody came back to the stage alone, singing “Far From Home” a capella. The band returned to finish the show with “The Way of the First”, “The Bleeding” and a cover of the famous song “House of The Rising Sun”.

With Moody’s chaotic frontmanship, Jason Hook’s custom guitar that lit up and his awesome guitar solos, Chris Kael’s epic beard and bass lines, and Zoltan Bathory’s incredible riffs and his interaction with the crowd, the show was unique one of its kind. They knocked the crowd out with a true five finger death punch. Besides all, the band showed that they are much more than being just a metal band by showing their patriotism and awareness of the current issues in out world.

Below you can find the  interview Sinan had with the guitarist Jason Hook.

 

Blast: The tour has just kicked off. So far, so good?

Hook: Everything is perfect.

Blast: Well, there are a lot of people out there, in my generation, who get inspiration from 5FDP. Who were your inspirations? I know you have mentioned Dimebag in one of your interviews previously.

Hook: Well, when I was your age my favorite band was Kiss. I loved Kiss and I was looking into Ace Frehley. In the 80s I was really looking into, you know, Eddie Van Halen and stuff like that. I thought Eddie was just awesome. And when we got into 90s, early 90s it was Dimebag because he was just wild. And Zakk Wylde too, you know. These were aggressive and exciting.

BLAST: I think we can agree that the band made it to the top really fast. Debut album in 2007, in the blink of an eye, it’s 5FDP everywhere. How did this happen? It is just that people liked your songs or is there more to it?

Hook: Well, I think that our band has a lot of elements that are appealing. Not only the heavy-duty lyrics but there are performance from every single individual. Certainly, I am trying to deliver on the guitar, solo side. Jerry on the drums, Zoltan on the rhythm and stuff. I think there is a lot of connected development that other bands may not have. And I feel pretty lucky. If people like it, perfect.

Media credit to MSO PR.

Media credit to MSO PR.

BLAST: Did this cause any pressure on you? Like, I did something and people liked it. Now I need to do better.

Hook: I think we always like to feel like we are moving forward and moving up. Putting that pressure on yourself is tricky because you don’t want it to have a negative effect on your brain, being a little fear based. You just have to walk a little bit forward and remember that whatever you did that became successful in the beginning just came from your heart and feelings and it should still be there, regardless of the success, money and whatever is there happening to confuse you.

BLAST: Are there any artists out there that are active right now that you would like to collaborate with?

Hook: Certainly there is a fantasy list. We could sit here all day, talking about who I would like to work with. I think it would be great to get involved with Eminem or something like that. Because he is a super star.

BLAST: From the very beginning to today: was there any point where you were out of it and wanted to call it off and pulled yourself back together? Or maybe you just got bored with tours, the same set list etc.?

Hook: Not yet. It is still thrilling. We are still trying to take it all the way. We are not crusty yet. I think that if there was a band so big that they just forget how hard it was to get there. But we are still hungry for more.

BLAST: What is next for the band?

Hook: This tour will take us all the way up to end of October. Then we get a few weeks off and then we go to Japan [for] Knotfest, the Slipknot festival, and then I think we are off for the rest of the year.

BLAST: Working on album maybe?

Hook: Always, always.

Jason Hook performing with Five Finger Death Punch at the Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid. Media Credit to Víctor Roces

Jason Hook performing with Five Finger Death Punch at the Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid. Media Credit to Víctor Roces

BLAST: Can fans expect any changes on the sound?

Hook: I think it is too early to tell. We are always trying to be creative on the down time. It is low pressure part of the process. We are just tossing around ideas, when there is no pressure and I think it will be going on maybe until March.

BLAST: We don’t have the metal scene that you had in 80s. We just don’t have that crowd. Do you have anything to say about the metal scene today?

Hook: Well, I think I see a lot of repeated type formula from the newer bands. It seems like the same sound, cookie cutter vocals and then the melodic chorus and then the same guitar sound. Blast beat etc. We get demos in the meet-and-greet. I put the cd in to see if there is anything original.

BLAST: Is it because people are just trying to imitate their favorite band?

Hook: I think that is where it starts. You have a hero, you have a band that you admire and the first thing you try is to try to sound like that. As soon as you can try to come up with your own ideas, something different.

BLAST: Fan clubs are really popular nowadays. Are you thinking of starting one?

Hook: We have self-titled them the knuckleheads but we don’t have that pay-some-money-per-year-and-belong fan club. I am just curious, with all the internet today—and you know there was KISS army back in the 70s, where you would get a hand written letter, a package in mail—I am just curious what kind of things you can offer that you wouldn’t be able to get via social media. Cause everything now, you would pretty much be able to get for free. We kind of have the meet-and-greet right now. We try to give out things that you cannot find anywhere else.

BLAST: If the music thing didn’t work out, did you have a plan to do something else?

Hook: I would most probably be doing some sort of computer related work because I like computers, you know? Whether it was graphic design or web design. I am always in front of the computer.

BLAST: Any advice to the musicians?

Hook: Study song writing, you know? And always be creating. Always practice rhythms.

BLAST: Finally, any thing you want to say to your fans?

Hook: Let’s see what can I draw attention to. Well, we have the brand new single, just went to radio, that supports the charity PTSD—post traumatic stress disorder for all the troops. And we put together a fund and we have already raised $240,000 for a charity, to go to anyone who is suffering from PTSD and it has far exceeded our expectations so again just spreading the awareness, if you have anything, to help out.

On behalf of Five Finger Death Punch, please consider supporting American veterans via the band’s fundraising page. Be sure to check out their tribute video for Wrong Side of Heaven.

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The Blast Interview: Asaf Borger http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/blast-interview-asaf-borger/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/blast-interview-asaf-borger/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 15:18:52 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93189 This past Monday, Blast’s Madeline Knutson had the opportunity to speak to world-famous EDM artist Asaf Borger, better known by his stage name of Borgore. The Israeli-born producer is currently working on a collaboration EP with musicians from his label. This is one man who is definitely more than meets the eye. Known for his(...)

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This past Monday, Blast’s Madeline Knutson had the opportunity to speak to world-famous EDM artist Asaf Borger, better known by his stage name of Borgore. The Israeli-born producer is currently working on a collaboration EP with musicians from his label. This is one man who is definitely more than meets the eye. Known for his twitter hashtag, #BootyforBorgore, and his raunchy performances and music videos, Borger spoke professionally and honestly about his inspirations, his future plans, and the events that made him the man he is today.

 

Blast: Since you are Israeli, you served in the military at 18. How do you think that molded your personality?

Borger: The military shapes you from a teenager into an adult. That experience doesn’t have to be the army; it can be any type of service to society you do, whether helping the elderly or rescuing animals. When you contribute to your society and your country, it gives you responsibility. Because of the army, I have never missed a flight, a show, or submitted work late. The army put discipline in me.

Blast: What music and musical artists did you grow up listening to?

Borger: I grew up listening to everything. I love the Spice Girls, jazz music—Miles Davis and Dexter Gordon—and classical music, Mozart and Bach. Growing up, my musical taste was just all over the place.

Blast: You studied jazz and played the saxophone, then transitioned into playing in a metal band. Today, you are an EDM producer playing worldwide. Do you feel that was a natural transition for you? What do you see are the similarities, if any, in those styles?

Borger: I wouldn’t say it was a natural transition. Lots of jazz players become metal musicians and vice-versa because both genres are very complicated. They both give you a lot of room to try really unique harmonics and time signatures. Jazz, metal, and even classical music are parallel genres. As far as changing to EDM, I really wanted to feel the energy from the crowd when I played my music. If I had continued with jazz, the audience would have been a bunch of old dudes drinking whiskey and clapping their hands. If I was going to work so hard to produce my music, I wanted the same energy from the crowd. I liked metal because of the mosh pits, but with a band, sometimes you put in tons of effort and the other members don’t contribute as much. I decided to be a producer because I love that today I could wake up and create one tune and tomorrow it’s a different adventure. It fits my taste in music and my personality.

Asaf Borger plans to release a new EP this year. Media Credit to Jasmine Safaeian

Asaf Borger plans to release a new EP this year. Media Credit to Jasmine Safaeian

Blast: How did you first get introduced to EDM?

Borger: I was introduced to trance music at a very early age. By 13, I already had a full beard and would lie about my age to sneak into underground raves and see various gigs. About five or six years later, when I was very deep into drum, bass, trance, and house and going to electronic music events every week, I found out about dubstep. It changed my life and I decided that this was my future.

 

Blast: How would you define the term “success”? Do you think that as your career has progressed, that definition has changed?

Borger: Success is when a person is happy. If you are a teacher and you are actually helping children learn and you’re happy, you are successful. There are different definitions for each person. I never feel successful, that’s my OCD. Even at the point I am at right now, playing huge shows, all I want to do is work on more music. I don’t feel like I have gotten to the point I want to get to yet.

Blast: What inspires you?

Borger: Lots of things and people inspire me. It’s not just from music. Seeing a good movie, like with Leonardo DiCaprio, that’s f***ing amazing. Like every movie him and [Martin] Scorsese do. Seeing really talented non-EDM music inspires me. My mom inspires me. Inspiration really comes from everywhere.

Blast: Who do you want to collaborate with in the future/ what has been your best collaboration so far?

Borger: There are lots of people I want to collab with. I am actually collaborating with a lot of them right now. I am working on a collab album with all my team and my friends. Working with my friends makes the best music and the best vibes.

Blast: Who do you think are the top three up and coming producers right now?

Borger: I’m biased because I think two guys on my team, Don Farber and Jauz, have huge potential. They are both on my label and I love them to death. Another really nice dude, Must Die, is very talented as well.

Asaf Borger. Media Credit to Steven Pahel.

Asaf Borger. Media Credit to Steven Pahel.

Blast: How did being from Israel play a part in your musical journey?

Borgore: Israel is an amazing place for people to discover music. Every day of the week, you can go out and there will be five or six different bars in Tel Aviv all playing music that you have never heard before. It’s how I discovered music. On a Monday night, a bar is open until 5 and everyone is getting turnt up, animal house style. You can just hop between bars and listen to different music. Nothing is commercial.

Blast: What’s next for you as an artist and for your label?

Borgore: I am working on a collab EP that is going to be followed by a tour with all my friends. It is very exciting for me and I am looking forward to it.

Blast: If you could tell one message to any young people aspiring to be a producer, what would it be?

Borgore: Be Michael Phelps. Practice 12 hours a day.

 

Make sure to check out Borgore on twitter at @Borgore and listen to #NEWGOREORDER.

 

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Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor — The Blast review http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/reviews/middle-earth-shadow-mordor-blast-review/ http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/reviews/middle-earth-shadow-mordor-blast-review/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 02:33:07 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93178 Otha the Immovable. I’d hunted the bastard for days. Following his every move, interrogating his henchmen. I learned his fears and his weakness. There would be no more charging into battle; I learned my lesson at the wrong end of his sword too much to make that mistake again. Once one of his henchmen squealed(...)

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Otha the Immovable. I’d hunted the bastard for days. Following his every move, interrogating his henchmen. I learned his fears and his weakness. There would be no more charging into battle; I learned my lesson at the wrong end of his sword too much to make that mistake again. Once one of his henchmen squealed that he feared fire and was vulnerable to stealth attacks the plan was set. I stalked him until he arrived near a campsite for his men and made my move. I lit up the sky with explosions and gave him no where to hide. When he was trying to make his escape I dove from the top of a nearby canopy and plunged my dagger into his back. Watching him crumple to the ground lifeless was more satisfying than I could ever imagine; that was until he rose again and sent me to an early grave while I searched for my next target.  This, in essence is the genius of Shadow of Mordor.

4 out of 5 stars There’s a disturbing trend going through the game industry lately that promotes familiarity over risk and innovation. It’s the same trend that allows yearly game releases to overshadow those that set out to try something new. I thought that Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor would be just another to follow the trend, but much to my surprise (and delight), the game takes some very heavy risks, and though they don’t pay off, it makes this a must play. While some of those risks pay off more than others, Monolith Productions has crafted a love letter to the Tolkien universe that’s also wholly their own.

Set between the events of The Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring, Shadow of Mordor follows the story of Talion, a Ranger of Gandor — or at least he was one. Talion meets his untimely end in the game’s opening cinematic where him and his family are  ritually executed in incredibly brutal fashion. As you might have expected, Talion doesn’t stay too dead for too long and winds up being sent back to earth with some fancy new powers to wreck havoc and take revenge on Sauron’s forces. If you’ve got an extensive knowledge of the Tolkien universe, it’s pretty obvious that there are some glaring potholes that make this a hard to believe story but it’s entertaining enough to forgive. Besides, it pays homage to the source material with some great fan service while being brave enough try to tell it’s own unique story in a very much loved piece of fiction.         Gameplay wise, Shadow of Mordor has a lot in common with the Batman: Arkham series, much like a lot of the third-persona action games of the last few years but the catch here is that Monolith almost does it better than the original. You’ll sulk through Middle-Earth and either attack your enemies either head-on or via stealth and each one is equally satisfying. Combat is rhythmic in nature and flows quite well from enemy to enemy. The combat system is a bit more forgiving here than it was with the caped crusader, specifically with counters and reversals; I was almost always able to complete a counter move, where Arkham almost forced you to be perfect or fail.

Most importantly, the combat in Shadow of Mordor almost always feels incredibly satisfying. Whether you’re sneaky around trying to kill without being noticed or jumping head first into the fray, lessening the armies of Sauron always feels great, especially when you’re able to end it with a brutally violent finishing attack that often ends with your enemies losing a limb or worse. Combat lies at the heart of Shadow of Mordor and you’re going to do a lot of it, and thankfully it’s this fun and rewarding. To be fair, it can get a bit repetitive towards the end half of the game, but the game let’s you build up Talion’s skill tree pretty quickly, which allows you to experiment with much more powerful moves and combos as you progress through the game.

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Truth be told, it’s this upgrade system that kept me going through Shadow of Mordor, even when the story lulled and the combat got most repetitive. Killing an Uruk captain will drop a rune that you can use to attach to your weapons and abilities, often giving you very different results. Some of these rune’s give you invulnerability to certain attacks, while others modify your own attacks. Some of my favorite rune effects gave me the ability to string together longer combos , which made the game’s combat system that much more enjoyable. Later on in the game you gain the ability to control the mind’s of your enemies, which opens up a whole new world of gameplay. You can either force them to off themselves, tell their comrades about the terror you’ve instilled in them or even force them to try to assassinate leaders in their own armies. It’s a cool little system that adds a whole new level of depth to the game, but more importantly, it leads you into the game’s most intriguing feature — the Nemesis system.

Think of the Nemesis system as the beating heart that keeps Shadow of Mordor moving, or at least interesting. If you don’t kill certain enemies, they’ll remember you and either be scared of you next time they see you or seek revenge for the brutal attack they suffered at your hands. Some enemies will even come back disfigured as a result of your attacks. On the counter side, if an enemy kills you, they’ll level up, get cool new armor, get promoted and gloat about it next time they see you (you’re banished from death in the story, so it makes sense that you keep coming back). There’s a cool hierarchy of enemies that’s constantly evolving within the world of Shadow of Mordor and it’s incredibly cool to watch it change over time, but it’s even better when you realize that you can play with it and use it to your advantage.

Either by intimidation or by possessing your enemies and sicking them after their own leaders you can directly impact the lives and ranks of your enemies. It’s extremely cool to send a lowly enemy after to kill a general and then watch said lowly enemy assume the throne. More importantly the Nemesis system makes every battle matter and keeps Shadow of Mordor from being a grind-fest. The Nemesis system also adds a ton of depth and replay to a game that’s already packed with content.

Brutal, filled with content and incredibly fun to explore, Shadow of Mordor plays like a love letter to the Tolkein Universe that isn’t afraid to strike out on it’s own. I’ll admit that I didn’t expect a lot from Monolith Production’s foray into MiddleEarth, but I was completely surprised at how much fun I had with it. Fans of the Lord of the Rings universe finally have a game that’s worth their passion and those who just like a good action game can’t go wrong here

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Interview with Guardians of the Galaxy’s Michael Rooker http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/movies/interview-guardians-galaxys-michael-rooker/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/movies/interview-guardians-galaxys-michael-rooker/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 03:45:35 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93149 This article contains mild spoilers for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. When he isn’t traversing the galaxy or at war with zombies, Michael Rooker is still a pretty tough guy. The actor, biker, and shooting range extraordinaire, perhaps best known for playing Merle on AMC’s The Walking Dead, took on a different type of genre(...)

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This article contains mild spoilers for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

When he isn’t traversing the galaxy or at war with zombies, Michael Rooker is still a pretty tough guy. The actor, biker, and shooting range extraordinaire, perhaps best known for playing Merle on AMC’s The Walking Dead, took on a different type of genre fare this year in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

The film, a box-office smash in the same cinematic universe as The Avengers, centers around a band of outlaw heroes, the titular guardians. Rooker plays Yondu, a blue-skinned archer who adopts Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill into his band of thieves, only to be double-crossed. Naturally, drama ensues.

Blast Magazine’s Georgeanne Oliver spoke with Rooker about his new super gig, his time on The Walking Dead, and his upcoming projects.

Rooker was already familiar with the Guardians when he was cast, but still wanted to delve deeper. “When [Director James Gunn] told me I was going to play Yondu, I wanted to do a lot more research, but he told me to hold off on doing too much because his version of Yondu was a wee bit different from the original,” said Rooker. The character, who was one of the original Guardians in the comics, has been updated for the big screen. “Our script was kind of a brand new take on Yondu. There were still some elements from the older Yondu, but a lot of it was brand new and fresh.” Despite the new take, Rooker did try to add as much of the original comics as possible into his performance.

When asked where he’d like to see Yondu go in the future, Rooker’s answer was, “far-reaching places!” He added that he’d love to see the character flushed out even more and is open to playing Yondu in either the current story or in flashbacks. Fans of the films know that Peter Quill’s mysterious biological father will likely be revealed in an upcoming film, and when that happens, the unseen character’s rocky history with Yondu may come into play.

Rooker averaged five hours a day transforming into the alien character, most of which were spent in the makeup chair. When asked how he entertained himself during that time, he said “I try to sleep, but my head keeps bobbing up and down.” Regardless, the lengthy process wasn’t a deterrent for Rooker in taking the role. “It was not a big deal for me,” he said.

Yondu has a certain darkness in common with Merle and several other Rooker roles. The actor admitted that he’s often interested in meaty, dark roles. “I like that Yondu is a tough character, you know? You don’t want to mess with this guy. His weapon of choice is damn powerful!” The weapon in reference is an arrow that Yondu can operate, not with a bow, but simply by whistling. Take that, Hawkeye.

Rooker’s time on The Walking Dead has come to end, and, though he is open to the idea, he doesn’t see a reappearance in flashbacks happening. “Rick used up all those delusional flashbacks after you started seeing his wife!” Rooker joked. That’s alright, though, because he’s satisfied with Merle’s arc. “What we ended up doing was really amazing,” he said.  “If your gonna go out, you might as well go out like Merle did, because that was a killer way to go out!”

Coming up next, Rooker has a few films in the works, including a biopic about jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden. The first attempt at making the project a reality was almost seven years ago, but after almost a decade, Rooker is still attached and a version of the film is finally moving forward. “The script is fabulous and I think it’s going to be a beautiful, beautiful endeavor,” he said. Rooker was secretive about the project, but revealed that his character is an Irish-American named Pat. Rooker is also currently starring in an Illinois Department of Transportation commercial aimed at saving lives.

On a future with the Marvel films, Rooker was very enthusiastic. “I really enjoyed being involved with Marvel, and hence working with my friend, James Gunn. I think it’s a great project. Hell, I’m up for 10 more!” We can only hope the writers will give us more of the badass, heavily-accented anti-hero. One thing is for certain: Michael Rooker is in!

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Three adventure games that transform your smartphone to an entertainment magnet http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/three-adventure-games-transform-smartphone-entertainment-magnet/ http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/three-adventure-games-transform-smartphone-entertainment-magnet/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 20:13:31 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93139 Gone are the days when games with high end graphics could be enjoyed only on computer. You can now carry a whole big load of such high quality and optimal performance games right in your pocket. Turn your phone into a source of endless addictive entertainment with these best picks. Gem Miner The game combines(...)

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Gone are the days when games with high end graphics could be enjoyed only on computer. You can now carry a whole big load of such high quality and optimal performance games right in your pocket. Turn your phone into a source of endless addictive entertainment with these best picks.

Gem Miner

The game combines simplicity of playing strategy and interesting twists and surprises as you progress in the game. Purely addictive and adventurous, the game requires the player to be the miner who digs mines in order to get metal ores and gems. As you find more and more of these, you can upgrade your equipment which has the benefit of allowing you to dig deeper for more of such treasure. At the same time, you need to be cautious so as not to fall down, get stuck in a mine or worst of all- get crushed by rocks. There’s always something you can do about it- buy ladders, lifts and protective gear to avoid getting stuck. With lots of levels to cross, this game keeps you engrossed all the time.

Temple Run Brave

The Temple Run games are already favorites amongst many. The Brave version with its high quality graphics and amazing sound effects is all the more fascinating.  Since the game has been developed by Disney, you can set high expectation from the game as regards everything- the plot, theme, setting, graphics, etc. As you steal the cursed idol from the temple and run head over heels, you are chased by the demon, Outrun Mordu who wouldn’t allow you to live. Run for your life to earn points and unfurl many surprises in the game. The archery feature of the game is a pleasant addition to this Temple Run series and is definitely something so captivating that you can’t help getting addicted to the game.

The Simpsons: Tapped Out

Slot games like Slotomania free video slots games are running high on the popularity chart. It is highly rated by the players and one of the best ways to have fun, these cute games remind us of the Simpsons game which is most popular amongst those who prefer a different kind of game and experience.  Developed by EA Swiss Sarl, the game begins as a meltdown occurs in Springfield and your job is to rebuild and refurbish things starting from scratch. Just build the town as you’d like and wait for many freebies to come your way.

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The Blast Interview: Rudimental http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/blast-interview-rudimental/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/blast-interview-rudimental/#comments Sun, 28 Sep 2014 03:02:14 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93127 After traveling from Mansfield, Mass. and performing with Ed Sheeran, the guys of Rudimental got a chance to rest on their tour bus outside NAGA, a nightclub in Cambridge. The band was gearing up for a DJ set, their second performance of the night. Composed of four members from the UK—Amir Amor, Kesi Dryden, Piers(...)

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After traveling from Mansfield, Mass. and performing with Ed Sheeran, the guys of Rudimental got a chance to rest on their tour bus outside NAGA, a nightclub in Cambridge. The band was gearing up for a DJ set, their second performance of the night. Composed of four members from the UK—Amir Amor, Kesi Dryden, Piers Agget, and DJ Locksmith (Leon Rolle)—Rudimental is an EDM/Drum n’ Bass group touring the U.S. to promote their debut album Home, which was released in April of last year. Blast’s Cat Michaels sat down with Dryden, Agget, and Rolle before their second performance to learn more about the start of Rudimental, their influences, growing success, and their future aspirations.

 

Blast: Not being as well known in the US as in countries such as Europe and Australia, could you guys give a quick origin story about how you all met?

 Agget: We went to school together from the age of three and grew up on the same roads. We loved music from an early age, used to DJ in each other’s bedrooms and play football together, or “soccer.” We grew up, you know, making music from an early age doing Pirate Radio, which are illegal radio stations in the UK. We met Amir and started making music together about six years ago with him and here we are now with our album Home and a couple hit singles touring the world. It’s crazy, in a nutshell.

Rudimental, UK EDM sensation, performed both at the Xfinity Center and NAGA Sept. 9.

Rudimental, UK EDM sensation, performed both at the Xfinity Center and NAGA Sept. 9. Media Credit to Big Beat Press

Blast: Your music is labeled as EDM/Drum n’ Bass, but you have vocals on all of your tracks. What influenced to make that decision and who were your musical influences in general?

Dryden: I mean, I think we grew up listening to lots of different styles of music and the soul influence is quite a big part of growing up were we grew in London. Our parents were very into soul music like bluesy jazz created out of soul and emotion. We just felt like vocals suited a lot of our tracks and we always wanted the right vocalists for the right track. We sort of went around doing A&R ourselves find different vocalists we thought would suit the right song.

Rolle: Growing up on the streets of London, Hackney is where we’re from, which is in London, is a very multicultural place, very vibrant. You could walk on our streets and be influenced easily. Those are some of the biggest things that have influenced us. Some of the people, like artists, that have influenced us are like Lauryn Hill, Sly and the Family Stone, and Massive Attack. Like people say, we have a lot of old heads on our shoulders. And then you’ve got the rave culture in London as well. The underground scene, old school jungle, old school garage, and the UK-ness of it all, which has sort of fused all of our music together.

Blast: What is the process of choosing a vocalist for one of your tracks?

 Rolle: We are really stubborn about what kind of vocalist we want on our tracks. As you probably can tell, there is a similarity between all of them. They’ve got a soulfulness to them. For example, our first single “Feel the Love” was with John Newman, who was unsigned at the time, and we met him in a pub in the UK. He was playing his guitar doing an acoustic session and we thought he would sound wicked on that track. That kind of followed suit when we started hanging around with our friends that could sing and write songs. MNEK has a studio right next to ours and he is featured on some of our tracks. And then you’ve got Syron and Sinead Harnett, all coming to us in the same way. We’ve done the same thing so far with the second album, creating with some vocalists.

Agget: The second album is coming really soon. Not this year as of yet, but maybe 2015.

Blast: Do you guys assist in the lyric writing process?

 Agget: We get involved in everything.

Rolle: Yeah, everything, from the writing process to the producing. The thing is, we are musicians, you know, we come from playing instruments and therefore it’s easy to get into the studio and just jam out.

Blast: Speaking of collaborations, you guys just came from Mansfield, Mass. tonight with Ed Sheeran. How has it been working with him?

 Agget: Yeah, it’s been great! We did a studio session last year in LA and we did like four tracks with The Game and wrote “Bloodstream” with Ed Sheeran. We kind of developed a relationship because we are on the same label and we all kind of came up in the UK as well. He did loads of small pubs around the corner from us when he was starting out in London, so it’s like we’ve seen him grow and obviously he is huge out here. It’s great to see his show and see him hit the stage. We’ve got a good relationship with him and it’s great to be on tour with him, lots of fun.

Rolle: One of our tracks is featured on his album and he will be featured on our new album as well. So we are really excited and looking forward to getting it out to the public. It will be a new chapter in our lives.

 

Fans can expect the new album to drop in 2015. Media credit to Big Beat Press

Fans can expect the new album to drop in 2015. Media credit to Big Beat Press

Blast: What vocalist would you like to work with next, or ever, if you could?

 Rolle: Like I mentioned before, we would loved to work with Miss Lauryn Hill. We would love to revamp who she was in the past and bring her to some new stuff. We are big fans of The Fugees and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, that was great album.

Blast: What would you say to musicians who are starting out now? You guys all came from an underground scene, what advice do you have to offer to musicians starting from a similar point?

 Rolle: One thing I would say is don’t expect it to happen overnight because it doesn’t. Even though it may seem like that for some people, for us, for example, Rudimental hasn’t been going on for two years; it’s been going on for many decades and pretty much all our lives. You have to keep believing and finding people that you trust. Most of all, share your work. Let people listen to it. That is very important.

Blast: You already mentioned your last album, but are there any other plans for the future or goals you want to meet?

 Agget: Mostly the album next year and then going on a big world tour at the moment. We want to take the live show to the next level with the new album. In the future we want to deliver the same emotional quality of our music with soul, electronic music with soul. We want to look back in like ten years time with eight albums, or twenty albums, with lots of amazing gigs.

Rolle: Our main mission is just to spread the Rudimental message within our records whether it’s live, or whether it’s a DJ set. We’ve got a lot of spreading the love to do. This tour is helping, but there are still a lot of people that still don’t understand the Rudimental message. It’s not just about music, it’s a culture and vibe and we bring that when we perform live. For example, when we are live, there are nine of us on stage, sometimes ten. There is a brass section, a drummer, free vocalists rotating from live vocals and backing vocals, and us four. We all try to bring across that message.

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Gallery: The Gaslight Anthem plays Boston http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/music/gallery-gaslight-anthem-plays-boston/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/music/gallery-gaslight-anthem-plays-boston/#comments Sun, 21 Sep 2014 12:51:34 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93106 This past week, one of alternative-rock’s most popular acts The Gaslight Anthem brought their headlining tour in support of Get Hurt to Boston. The show was opened by Twopointeight, a punk/rock band from Sweden. The band has a similar sound to The Gaslight Anthem, which makes a bit of sense – Gaslight’s Brian Fallon produced(...)

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This past week, one of alternative-rock’s most popular acts The Gaslight Anthem brought their headlining tour in support of Get Hurt to Boston.

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The show was opened by Twopointeight, a punk/rock band from Sweden. The band has a similar sound to The Gaslight Anthem, which makes a bit of sense – Gaslight’s Brian Fallon produced their new record.

Against Me! was the next band to play. Fronted by Laura Jane Grace, the band has been one of the most important in the punk scene over the past decade. The band’s most recent record, Transgender Dysphoria Blues was their first since Grace came out as a transgender woman, which met support all throughout the music scene. Their set was nothing short of impressive.

To round out the evening, The Gaslight Anthem played a 20+ song set, featuring numerous songs from Get Hurt, opening with “Stay Vicious,” and “1,000 Years” soon after. The band didn’t neglect old songs either, from “We Came To Dance” and “1930” off of Sink or Swim to newer songs, with every one of their full lengths represented. Brian Fallon’s onstage ramblings, which are always entertaining made for a solid night in between songs. They rounded out their encore with a cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” which was quite electrifying.

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So let’s talk about Destiny… http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/reviews/lets-talk-destiny/ http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/reviews/lets-talk-destiny/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 02:00:15 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93165 Before you read this you should know that this is not a Destiny review; at least not in the sense you’d expect. Understand that I’m not even claiming to have come close to finishing what Destiny has to offer — and be wary of anyone who has. Instead, this is more of a commentary of(...)

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Before you read this you should know that this is not a Destiny review; at least not in the sense you’d expect. Understand that I’m not even claiming to have come close to finishing what Destiny has to offer — and be wary of anyone who has. Instead, this is more of a commentary of sorts, it’s me trying to sort out just how I feel about Destiny — one of the most polarizing games I’ve ever played. It’s a game full of complexities; it feels like a living, breathing, evolving entity of its own and while that’s a very unique idea, and one that allows the new franchise a lot of room to grow, it also becomes evident pretty early on that it gets in the way and not even Bungie seems to know where to take series. One things for sure, it’s a game everyone should at least experience — try to follow along.

Destiny is brainchild of Bungie, the creators of the mega popular Halo series and Activision; most well known for Call of Duty and being everyone’s favorite company to hate (well, maybe next to EA). The pedigree of both developers and their history with shooters is evident right away as the shooting mechanics are incredibly sound and feel ahead of many of the establisher first person shooter series. Weapons are weighted well and feel good in your virtual hands, what’s more the game is a bit like Borderlands in a way because there are so many guns to unlock. While they’re not nearly as fun as the weapons you’ll find in Borderlands (Destiny takes a much more serious tone when it comes to its weapons), I did find myself excited to check out what my newest weapons could do and take them into battle. Many of the weapons are just recolored or slightly different than the one before it, I had to keep checking the damage rating to make sure I was getting rid of the right one since they all looked so similar.

With Destiny, Bungie knows it’s bread and butter — creating remarkable action movie style gun battles. Each mission challenges players pretty fairly to their level and introduces new enemy types at a pretty steady rate. You’ll have to think on your feet for most of the missions, especially during the missions that don’t let you respawn. It’s not exactly permadeath for your character, but you’ll be second guessing many of your moves when failure means you’ll have to go back to the last checkpoint in a mission, and for many of Destiny’s longer missions, that means re-trekking over a lot of ground. That’s perhaps where I enjoyed Destiny the most though, when it takes me on a planet spanning mission and I’m trying to think my way out of it, and I’m often down to my last bit of health when it’s all over.

That being said though, Destiny takes few chances when it comes to it’s core game that it can get very repetitive, very fast. Each mission may have different objectives but it almost always comes down to you moving from area to are and shooting down waves of aliens until you move on to the next area…where you’ll shoot more waves of aliens. You’ll go on patrol and raid missions that will feel different early on, but eventually you’ll realize that they all feel incredibly similar. From the moment it was properly revealed to the world at E3 two years ago, Bungie promised something different with Destiny and at least on the surface, it seems like they failed to deliver. I would have loved if the game featured more action centered set pieces like games like Uncharted or Wolfenstein. To be fair, word is that Bungie is working on DLC that will completely change the way we play Destiny, including platforming and puzzle solving mechanics that haven’t been seen in the game so far.

That’s the big draw of Destiny though — the allure of the unknown. Throughout your time with Destiny you’ll travel to a number of planets and collect a ton of different loot. It’s a ton of fun to jet around the solar system and search out loot and adventure. I was a bit disappointed that much like the different guns, a lot of the loot ended up looking similar to other pieces with only minor variations but it’s still a lot of fun to seek out these rewards. It’s in this way that Destiny often feels like it’s own living, breathing and constantly evolving organism; I feel like regardless of how much of a planet I’ve seen and how many times I’ve shot aliens in the same location, it always feels like I’m going to find something new and that says a lot for the longevity of a game like Destiny.

The overall experience of Destiny may feel like it’s living and breathing but the world that inhabit it feel like almost the exact opposite. There’s a distinct lack of voice chat options in Destiny that take away from the experience immensely. You’re really only able to talk to another player if they make the commitment to join your strike team, which spoiler alert — no one but your friends will want to. How was this a good idea? Destiny is a game about the journey, hell; the tagline is even “Become Legend;” but the game’s inability to let me talk to other players makes it a boring journey at times. The game’s hub world is The Tower, which brings together all of the Guardians to equip loot, collect bounties and form Strike Teams; it would be so much fun to be able to meet up with different Guardians and chat them up in the Tower area, maybe ask them where they got their cool loot, or share stories of missions they were just on.

It’s a bit ridiculous that you can’t just voice chat with someone else in the game. Like a lot of recent games, Destiny blurs the line between single player on online multiplayer by having everything take place on one persistent world and for the most part, it’s very successful at it. It’s very cool to be having trouble with a mission and suddenly a group of silent guardians swoop in and help you out but it’s a bit frustrating when you can’t even help each other out by strategizing in any way. Take for example one of the missions I played on the moon stage of the game where I played the entire thing with a player I’ve never met before. We played literally the entire hour and a half mission together but couldn’t communicate because we hadn’t made some sort of weird team commitment to each other. It would have been great to be able to tell my mysterious partner what I was seeing, or let him or her know what that I had discovered the weakness of a boss character we were trying to fight. I found myself yelling it at my TV, but of course they couldn’t hear me.

Bungie also hasn’t been clear as to what Destiny really is, and it suffers a bit as a result. It’s core DNA is no doubt born from shooters before it, but Destiny also shares a lot of its core gameplay with MMORPGs. You’ll play Destiny mostly like a shooter, but enemies tend to attack in packs, more like an MMORPG, but interestingly enough the enemies feature very smart AI, much like the enemies of Halo before it. Bigger enemies can be bullet sponges — it took myself and my partner nearly thirty minutes to defeat a mid-level boss in the mission mentioned above and while the feeling was incredibly rewarding when we finally did beat it, it was bait ridiculous, especially for a mid-boss. There’s nothing wrong with mixing genres in games, but Destiny doesn’t seem ready to commit to to either of it’s ideas.

The story in Destiny leaves a lot to be desired, at least it seems so. There are a lot of fan theories floating around the internet that all point to Bungie holding their cards close to their chest with Destiny, but what’s here is a bit boring. The story only really interjects itself into small portions of the game, and there’s very little in the way of exposition to build on. Just know that you’re a Guardian and your job is to shoot the Darkness. Got it? I actually have been having a lot more fun with Destiny when I don’t pay attention to the story, and make up my own backstory; I’m an assassin, I’m a treasure hunter, I’m a freelance mercenary ala Guardians of the Galaxy. I just really didn’t want to be just another Guardian — especially when there were a lot of other, more powerful Guardians around me.

dest2 destiny-gameplay-screenshot-alien-bumrush Destiny-Screenshot-1 Destiny-Screenshot-10 destiny-screenshot-5 Destiny_32 images Screenshot_venus02

Bungie also doesn’t really explain much beyond the basic ideas of the game at all. Sure, you’ll get the normal tutorial on how to run, shoot and summon your speeder vehicle but beyond that you’re just left to kind of figure everything out on your own. You’ll collect items called Engrams, what the hell you do with them and what they are is only hinted at when you first start finding them. You can also collect mail and bounties from the Tower but you’re not given much of an explanation as to what you have to do to complete a lot of these extra missions, you just kind of stumble into them. I don’t need to be led by the hand in a game, but I do want at least an explanation to the rules of the world, especially when it’s a brand new franchise.

It wouldn’t be much of a Bungie game without competitive multiplayer and Destiny delivers with it’s crucible mode, which delivers fast, fun and frenetic PvP action that you’d expect from the team behind the legendary Halo 2 multiplayer. It’s a lot of fun to use all of your leveled up skills and weapons to test your skills against other Guardians. Be warned, just like other multiplier shooters, there are people who are already really friggin’ good at the game and you’re likely to lose a lot, at least at first. For what it’s worth though, Destiny has a great sense of progression to it and you’ll feel like you’re getting better at it before too long at all.

Destiny is a game that I expect to spend a lot of time with in the coming year. Just how much time depends on just how much Bungie and Activision are planning on adding to experience over the coming months. I’m having a lot of fun with the game, but it often feels like I’m doing it despite it’s best efforts for me not to.  It’s an interesting and unique first person shooter with the potential to become a massive franchise — if it develops its fan base and universe the right way. Are you playing Destiny? I’m curious to know what you think of it so far, comment below and let us know!

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Sarah Jaffe comes to Great Scott 9/11 http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/sarah-jaffe-comes-great-scott-911/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/sarah-jaffe-comes-great-scott-911/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 18:32:13 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93087 Indie singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe will be continuing her national tour at Allston’s Great Scott on Sept. 11. The Texas native just released her third studio album, Don’t Disconnect, on Aug. 19 and has been touring since July with The Polyphonic Spree. The second leg of her tour will be with hip-hop artists Astronautalis, Stage, and Transit. Don’t Disconnect, Jaffe’s latest album, was produced(...)

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Indie singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe will be continuing her national tour at Allston’s Great Scott on Sept. 11. The Texas native just released her third studio album, Don’t Disconnect, on Aug. 19 and has been touring since July with The Polyphonic Spree. The second leg of her tour will be with hip-hop artists Astronautalis, Stage, and Transit.

Sarah Jaffe continues her USA Tour at Great Scott.

Sarah Jaffe continues her USA Tour at Great Scott.

Don’t Disconnect, Jaffe’s latest album, was produced by Kirtland Records and marks a distinct shift in Jaffe’s sound. While her prior albums were noted for their folksy, acoustic sounds, Don’t Disconnect is far more electric than her previous work.  Jaffe has received rave reviews for the album; NPR’s First Listen called her “…a ferociously intelligent artist who never stops inventing, reinventing, exploring…” while The Portland Mercury wrote that “Sarah Jaffe is a musical wonder evolving at warp speed.”

Be sure to catch Jaffe Sept. 11 for what is sure to be a fantastic combination of hip-hop and indie. Tickets are available through Great Scott for $14. The show is 18+ and starts at 8:30 p.m.

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MisterWives Headlines Sinclair 8/29 http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/misterwives-headlines-sinclair-829/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/misterwives-headlines-sinclair-829/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:23:31 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93079 New York trio MisterWives will be headlining a show at the Sinclair Friday, August 29th with supporting acts Young Rising Sons and Prelow. Although the band has only been around for two years, they dropped their first EP “Reflections” in early 2014 and their song “Vagabond” is the theme song on MTV’s hit show Finding Carter. With their(...)

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New York trio MisterWives will be headlining a show at the Sinclair Friday, August 29th with supporting acts Young Rising Sons and Prelow.

Misterwives' Mandy Lee, William Hehir, and Etienne Bowler. Media credit to Shervin Lanez.

Misterwives’ Mandy Lee, William Hehir, and Etienne Bowler. Media credit to Shervin Lanez.

Although the band has only been around for two years, they dropped their first EP “Reflections” in early 2014 and their song “Vagabond” is the theme song on MTV’s hit show Finding Carter. With their fun, catchy indie-pop, Misterwives is simply a dance-party waiting to happen. Buzzfeed premiered the band’s newest music video for the title track off of “Reflections” this week. Check it out here.

Doors open at 7:30 pm and the show begins at 8:30. Get your tickets here through the Sinclair.

 

 

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Discovery’s MythBusters Says Goodbye to Kari Byron, Tony Belleci, and Grant Imahara http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/discoverys-mythbusters-says-goodbye-kari-byron-tony-belleci-grant-imahara/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/discoverys-mythbusters-says-goodbye-kari-byron-tony-belleci-grant-imahara/#comments Sat, 23 Aug 2014 16:58:35 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93075 MythBusters will look a little different when The Discovery Channel airs new episodes of the hit show. On Thursday, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman announced that the episode that aired on August 21 would be the last for familiar faces Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Grant Imahara. Both Byron and Imahara reached out to their(...)

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MythBusters will look a little different when The Discovery Channel airs new episodes of the hit show. On Thursday, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman announced that the episode that aired on August 21 would be the last for familiar faces Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Grant Imahara.

Both Byron and Imahara reached out to their fans via Twitter to talk about the change and leave some parting words about the show.

“Thank you to all the fans who have supported us. The show is taking a new direction. It was an amazing run. I learned so much about myself and the world,” Byron tweeted. “I love you all @MythBusters. I am sad for an ending but there will be exciting new adventures for us.”

Imahara wrote, “Thanks @MythBusters for allowing us to teach science in a whole new way. Also, explosions. Now, on to the next adventure!”

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman will return as the sole hosts for the show when it starts back up with new episodes.

At the end of an interview with Blast’s Danielle VIsco, Kari Byron left with these parting words of wisdom, “don’t have time to waste time.” Hopefully she, Belleci, and Imahara will still subscribe to that sentiment as they move on to their next endeavors.

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Graphic: What to do after a car accident http://blastmagazine.com/features/graphic-car-accident/ http://blastmagazine.com/features/graphic-car-accident/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 15:03:32 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93071 OK so you’ve been in a car accident. Do you know what to do now? First make sure nobody got hurt, in any of the vehicles. Don’t panic, and see the tips below! Via: Lambergoodnow.com

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OK so you’ve been in a car accident. Do you know what to do now? First make sure nobody got hurt, in any of the vehicles. Don’t panic, and see the tips below! Via: Lambergoodnow.com

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Preview: Keys N’ Krates Announces New EP and Fall Tour With Gladiator http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/preview-keys-n-krates-announces-new-ep-fall-tour-gladiator/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/preview-keys-n-krates-announces-new-ep-fall-tour-gladiator/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 17:45:01 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93050 Every so often I come across an artist that I think really nails their genre. Keys N’ Krates is one of those artsts, bringing a unique live element to the world of trap and hip-hop beats. Keys N’ Krates performs live as a three piece band: drummer Adam Tune, keyboardist David Matisse, and turntablist Jr.(...)

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Every so often I come across an artist that I think really nails their genre. Keys N’ Krates is one of those artsts, bringing a unique live element to the world of trap and hip-hop beats. Keys N’ Krates performs live as a three piece band: drummer Adam Tune, keyboardist David Matisse, and turntablist Jr. Flo. After seeing them live at the Hudson Music Project, I jumped onto Keys N’ Krates’ soundcloud and was impressed with their sound. Two of my favorites are the Tove Lo Flip of their track “High All the Time” and
“Dum De Dum”.

In anticipation of their new EP, Every Nite, Keys N’ Krates has announced a huge fall tour featuring Gladiator and Thugli. This tour will have them see over 30 shows over three months with stops in LA, Denver, Boston, Philadelphia, and Pheonix.

Be sure to check out Keys N’ Krates in Boston 10/30 at the Middle East. Tickets here.

a838bc1c edd7 4bdb aed1 db3a1cd19202 Keys N Krates Announces Upcoming EP and Huge Fall Tour with Gladiator

Every Nite Tracklist:

1. Understand Why
2. Hypnotik 
3. Are We Faded
4. Yes We Faded
5. Your Love 
6. She’s So High

Keys N Krates & Gladiator Every Nite Tour Dates:

9/18 – Phoenix, AZ – Monarch Theatre
9/19 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues++
9/20 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre++
9/24 – Seattle, WA – Showbox Theatre @ SoDo (Decibel Festival)
9/27 – COMING SOON
9/28 – Fairburn, GA – Tomorrowworld**
9/30 – Whistler, BC – Garfinkles
10/1 – Revelstroke, BC – Treverse
10/3 – Edmonton, AB – Encore
10/4 – Sacramento, CA – Launch Festival**
10/5 – Calgary, AB – Commonwealth
10/7 – Boise, ID – Revolution Center
10/8 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
10/9 – Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre
10/10 – Ft. Collins, CO – Aggie Theatre
10/11 – Colorado Springs, CO – Rawkus
10/14 – Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom
10/15 – Austin, TX – Empire
10/16 – Baton Rouge, LA – Varsity Theatre
10/17 – Biloxi, MS – Kress Live
10/18 – New Orleans, LA – House of Blues
10/19 – Birmingham, AL – Workplay Theatre
10/21 – Murfreesboro, TN – Tempt
10/22 – Chattanooga, TN – Track 29
10/23 – Asheville, NC – Orange Peel
10/24 – Charlotte, NC – Chop Shop
10/26 – Buffalo, NY – Waiting Room
10/28 – Syracuse, NY – Westcott Theater
10/29 – COMING SOON
10/30 – Boston, MA – Middle East
10/31 – COMING SOON
11/1 – COMING SOON
11/5 – Pittsburgh, PA – Rex Theater
11/6 – COMING SOON
11/7 – COMING SOON
11/8 – COMING SOON
11/9 – Carborro, NC – Cat’s Cradle 

**KEYS N KRATES ONLY
++ KEYS N KRATES W/ SPECIAL GUEST & THUGLI

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My Sit Down with Space Jesus http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/sit-space-jesus/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/sit-space-jesus/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 17:40:25 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93034 Space Jesus is exactly who you would expect him to be. I had the chance to get an hour with music producer Jasha Tull, a.k.a. Space Jesus. His usual routine includes creating psychedelic bass music, touring around festivals, sacrificing himself for humanity’s sins, and other space-related activities. While taking to Space Jesus, I was reminded of(...)

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Space Jesus is exactly who you would expect him to be. I had the chance to get an hour with music producer Jasha Tull, a.k.a. Space Jesus. His usual routine includes creating psychedelic bass music, touring around festivals, sacrificing himself for humanity’s sins, and other space-related activities. While taking to Space Jesus, I was reminded of “The Big Lebowski” – the long hair, the laid back style – yet rather than a dedication to bowling, this man is dedicated to producing future tunes.

Q&A 

Blast: Why “Space Jesus”? What inspired you to invent the concept of Space Jesus, grow your hair out, and produce psychedelic bass music?

Space Jesus: I walked into a bar one night and some dude saw my long hair and was like, you look like Jesus from space.

Blast: At what point did you decide to drop whatever you were doing and commit to producing music?

SJ: Probably three or for years ago. I went to college for a bit but that didn’t work out, then I got a job in construction. I make music full time now.

Blast: I really like the track HMU Can you describe the process of creating the song?

SJ: I found this old song from my dad and sampled it. I had trouble at first coming up with the part after the breakdown, but I threw in some live drums.

Blast: What kind of vibe do you generally go for in your live shows?

SJ: A fun one.

Blast: Are there any artists that you would really like to collaborate with?

SJ: Yeah there are a ton – Bassnectar, Excision. Dillon Francis is pretty great.

Blast: You recently worked with #$ on their debut album – How has this experience affected you as a producer?

SJ: I’ve been hanging out with GDP for awhile, and I’ve always been into hip-hop beats and instrumentals.

Blast: How do you create and process your sounds? Which DAW do you prefer? Do you have specific plugins or synths that you like to use?

SJ: I use Ableton. The sound in HMU is mostly massive, I think I used some sylenth in there. I try to make a lot of my sounds from scratch so my sounds are original.

Blast: How do you master your tracks? I know a lot of producers prefer to master on their own these days, but some still hand off their music to the engineers before it gets released.

SJ: I have this engineer I’ve been working with for awhile now and he’s great.

At the end of the interview, Space Jesus offered advice for aspiring producers: “Just get your music out there”.

I think this guy has everything down. The look, the attitude, the music. I can see him blowing up in the next year or so, so stay tuned for more from SPACE JESUS.

Check him out on soundcloud.

SPACE JESUS

 

 

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Debunked: Video Games Don’t Make People More Violent http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/gaming-news/debunked-video-games-dont-make-people-violent/ http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/gaming-news/debunked-video-games-dont-make-people-violent/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 14:39:18 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93056 Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, a psychiatrist named Thomas Radecki served as president of the National Coalition on Television Violence. He preached about the evils of games like Dungeons & Dragons and television shows like “Ren and Stimpy.” He continued until 1992, offering expert testimony at court trials and blaming D&D when teenagers committed violent(...)

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Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, a psychiatrist named Thomas Radecki served as president of the National Coalition on Television Violence. He preached about the evils of games like Dungeons & Dragons and television shows like “Ren and Stimpy.”

He continued until 1992, offering expert testimony at court trials and blaming D&D when teenagers committed violent crimes. “There is no doubt in my mind that the game Dungeons & Dragons is causing young men to kill themselves and others,” Radecki stated in a press release.

Radecki’s reign lasted until 1992, when he was stripped of his psychiatry license by the State of Illinois after committing unspecified misconduct with a patient. He became licensed in Pennsylvania but voluntarily surrendered his license after continued misconduct. In August 2013, Radecki was arrested for trading opioid addiction treatment drug prescriptions to patients in exchange for sex.

Despite his shredded reputation, Radecki’s misinformed opinions about the evils of television, role-playing and video games still cling to the brains of many parents, politicians and policymakers. Legitimate research has completely debunked Radecki’s assertions, specifically about video game violence.

Youth Violence Has Declined Since Video Games Were Invented

In 2007, after the Virginia Tech shootings, scores of scholars and public figures like Dr. Phil bemoaned the effects of violent video games. Fox News publicized interviews with Jack Thompson, an attorney and violent video game opponent who was later disbarred, claiming that the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, played “Counter-strike.” Thompson’s claims were later proven false. No video games were found among Cho’s possessions.

Many researchers and people in MSCMHC programs (visit this page to learn about careers in mental health counseling) have discredited claims that video games cause violent behavior. Texas A&M International University assistant professor Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson has performed extensive research on video games and youth violence. He also once served as editor of an American Psychological Association special issue on video games.

“I find no evidence that video games or television contribute to youth violence, dating violence, bullying or adult arrests,” Ferguson wrote in a blog post for the Chronicle of Higher Education. “Youth violence has declined to 40-year lows during the video-game epoch.”

What Research Has to Say

Henry Jenkins, director of comparative studies at MIT, also challenges the myth that video games cause violent behavior. In an article written for PBS, Jenkins makes a few key points:

  • Video games haven’t been shown to cause desensitization to violence. Play fighting enters what Eric Zimmerman, a game designer and play theorist, calls “the magic circle.” If a child responded to video games the same way he or she responded to a real tragedy, then the child would actually exhibit evidence of emotional disturbance.
  • Video game play doesn’t isolate people socially. According to Jenkins, 25 percent of gamers play video games with a spouse or a parent. Additionally, 33 percent play with a sibling, and 60 percent play with friends.
  • Video games can enhance learning. The process of playing games causes kids to constantly form and test hypotheses. Instead of seeing mistakes as errors, they learn to try again and to form new solutions.
  • Kids aren’t the biggest players of video games. At the time Jenkins wrote his article, 66 percent of computer game players are over 18, as are 62 percent of console game players. Video games are never mentioned in connection with adults who commit violent crime despite evidence showing that adults play the most video games.
  • The majority of kids who play video games do not commit violent acts. Over time, researchers have found that people serving sentences for violent crime actually consume less media than the general population.A 2001 U.S. Surgeon General’s report found that mental instability and quality of home life are the biggest predictors of future violent behavior.

Final Thoughts

Instead of answering difficult questions about why violence happens, many people prefer to blame it on violent television shows and video games. In truth, parents who worry about their kids’ video game play should worry less about whether games make kids violent and more about whether games are impacting family time and school performance. In many cases, video games enhance learning and help students to cope with stress. Instead of taking away the game controller, maybe parents should play along.

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Review – Oddworld: New n’ Tasty http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/reviews/review-oddworld-new-n-tasty/ http://blastmagazine.com/gaming/reviews/review-oddworld-new-n-tasty/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 18:02:10 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93024 More than just a re-release, Oddworld: New ’n Tasty is a complete reimagining of the original Abe’s Odyssey and the result is the absolute best version of the game to date. Long time fans of the series will appreciate the love given to the aging formula while those new to Oddworld get the game we imagined we would so long ago. Some of the controls have been changed, and not for the better but don’t let that stop you — those new to the series and those who have experienced the game before should check out this love letter to the Oddworld series.

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I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the original Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey. You see, there was a time during high school where I stopped playing video games altogether. That is until I got an original Xbox as a gift and Abe’s journey came along with it. I poured hours into that game and have frequent memories of saving the Mudokons from the grinders, and yes…virtually farting away. Now, almost 20-years later the game is getting the HD treatment, though be warned, labeling it a simple re-release would be cutting it short. More of a complete re-imagining, Abe’s Odyssey has been completely rebuilt from the ground up and the result is the absolute best version of the game released to date. Some of the controls have been questionably changed, which leads to frustration in some of the puzzles that require precise controls but don’t let that sway you — fans of the original and those who may have been too young to experience the game the first go-round should jump right in.

Developed by: Oddworld Inhabitants
Published by:
Sony
Genre:
Adventure
Platform:
PS4, PS3, PC, PS Vita
What works:
Fun gameplay| completely remade worlds are gorgeous| new difficulty levels
What doesn’t work:
New control scheme can be frustrating|
3.5 out of 5 stars

For the uninitiated, New n’ Tasty tells the story of Abe, a Mudokon who works at Rupture farms as a janitor. He thinks he has a great job but that all changes when he discovers that the company’s newest snack is made up of his own people. The majority of the game has you trying to escape the Rupture Farms compound, bringing as many Mudokons with you as possible. It’s a dark but yet light hearted adventure that’s incredibly imaginative and unique. The world of Oddworld and Rupture farms is incredibly fleshed out and fun (if not even a bit depressing) to explore, even more so in this new version.
Calling New n’ Tasty just another simple re-release would be cutting the efforts of the developers incredibly short; this is a completely rebuilt Oddworld. Everything from the backgrounds to the character models has been completely rebuilt from the ground up, resulting in a mostly incredibly looking game. Though some of the smaller background details seem to have not made the jump to HD yet, but the majority of the world looks fantastic. Gone are the one screen environments of the original in favor of large, sweeping and continuous worlds that really give Rupture Farms a sense of being and depth. They say hindsight is twenty-twenty and though I know this isn;t the Oddworld I ever got, it’s the Oddworld I somehow always imagined.

Most of the gameplay feels untouched from the original release and everything from the humor to the stealth gameplay and yes, the difficulty is still here. Throughout the majority of the game you’ll be trying to outwit your enemies by creating distractions and sneaking past them using clever traps rather than facing them head on. There’s a great mix of puzzle and platforming elements that’ll usually keep you thinking throughout the majority of the experience. The original Abe’s Odyssey was known for it’s difficulty, mainly with Abe dying after one hit but new difficulty levels make the game much more accessible for the new era of gamers that didn’t get a chance to experience the original release. Don’t worry old guys like me, you can still turn the difficulty way up to get the original Oddworld experience.

For some reason though, the developers have chosen to change a small, yet important part of the original game’s controls for this new HD era. In the original game you could controls Abe’s speed by using the shoulder buttons and while you cans till sneak with the same method, running is now controlled directly by the thumbstick. Like most 3D action games, you’ll tilt the thumbstick just a bit to have Abe walk normal and tilt it further to have him run. It seems like a small change but it makes a huge difference, especially in some of the bigger platforming sections. Often Abe’s fate is determined by mere inches and it’s incredibly frustrating to have to try a section over just because the thumbstick was pushed just a bit too much. Thankfully this new re-release has a pretty generous quick save feature so if you remember to use it, you shouldn’t be put too far back.

More than just a re-release, Oddworld: New ’n Tasty is a complete reimagining of the original Abe’s Odyssey and the result is the absolute best version of the game to date. Long time fans of the series will appreciate the love given to the aging formula while those new to Oddworld get the game we imagined we would so long ago. Some of the controls have been changed, and not for the better but don’t let that stop you — those new to the series and those who have experienced the game before should check out this love letter to the Oddworld series.

This review was based on an early review code provided by the developer. It was played on the PS4 on the normal difficulty.

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Come watch the Batman V Superman teaser before its taken down http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/come-watch-batman-v-superman-teaser-taken/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/come-watch-batman-v-superman-teaser-taken/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 14:47:29 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=93019 If you would have asked me a week ago, I would have told you that due to Man of Steel, I wasn’t very excited for the upcoming Batman V Superman movie but come on, what nerd can resist this? The thought of Batman, and a Batman who is more or less ripped from the pages(...)

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If you would have asked me a week ago, I would have told you that due to Man of Steel, I wasn’t very excited for the upcoming Batman V Superman movie but come on, what nerd can resist this? The thought of Batman, and a Batman who is more or less ripped from the pages of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns giving the stink eye to Superman on the big screen is too much to not get at least a little excited about. Consider me cautiously excited for now. Your move Snyder.

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The Hudson Project Showcases Future Music, Mud Parties, and Unprotected Sax http://blastmagazine.com/features/hudson-project-showcases-future-music-mud-parties-unprotected-sax/ http://blastmagazine.com/features/hudson-project-showcases-future-music-mud-parties-unprotected-sax/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 21:19:41 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=92964 As I walk around the back of the media tent, I see Griz standing with a photographer finishing a cup of iced Kuerig saying, “I love coffee.” I ask him where the VIP set with Exmag will be later tonight to which he responds “I have no idea.” I laugh, take a photograph with my friends(...)

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As I walk around the back of the media tent, I see Griz standing with a photographer finishing a cup of iced Kuerig saying, “I love coffee.” I ask him where the VIP set with Exmag will be later tonight to which he responds “I have no idea.” I laugh, take a photograph with my friends and him, and prepare some questions for my interview with Big Gigantic. Around me there are radio hosts checking their iPhones, managers scrambling to set up interviews, photographers chatting with each other about who got the best shots of Flying Lotus the night before. Big G’s manager Bari strolls over to us and tells me I have five minutes before the interview. I give up trying to formulate questions; interviews are usually more fun when you wing it.

Check out all the photos we took HERE

I think back over the festival’s first day. Friday morning I checked out the Catskill Cave tent to see, Tauk, a funky four piece band from New York City which reminded me how macbooks aren’t the only way to make awesome music. Then I traveled across the festival grounds to the Circus Tent for Lindsay Lowend’s set, which consisted mostly of Jersey Club and Cashmere Cat-esque music. I really liked the Circus Tent – at any time of the day or night you could enter this massive tent for dazzling lightshows and bass music. The scale of this festival was amazing considering the amount of people set to show up. The grounds could have easily hosted twice the amount of people they did this year. After a dose of dance music, I went back to my tent to prepare for my interview with Tauk. On the way I passed groups performing yoga in the New York Tent, vendors selling wild tapestries and trinkets, and an onslaught of non-sober festival attendees staring in amazement at the new world of sights and sounds they had just entered.

After my talk with Tauk, I returned to the Circus Tent and camped the front railing for Keys N’ Krates and Bro Safari. Keys N’ Krates is a great act – their combination of live drums, midi performance, and scratching really opened me up to what kind of sounds a band can bring to the world of bass music. STS9 was on the Explorer Stage next, set up nicely so that viewers could enjoy the music sitting on the adjacent hill. I took this time to appreciate the sights around me – the ferris wheel twirled fluorescently in front of a full sky of stars. The moon that weekend was sized in epic proportions. STS9 was a good act to relax to before Excision. I met up with a few friends and braced myself as I entered the tent. There’s no doubt that Excision brought on one of the most energetic and insane sets at the festival. The set was not short of dirty basslines, raw harmonic bass wobbles, and countless remixes and VIP mixes from Excision’s massive musical library. Heaviness has a new name: Excision.

After a short break, I returned to the Circus stage to see the light and sound crews setting up a massive projector backdrop. I camped out right behind the light guys to get the best possible view of the lasers and lights that Flying Lotus was about to bring on. Flying Lotus plays the role of a mysterious, multiple-identity figure who hides beneath the shadows of his music and visual effects. He was undoubtedly on the same level as his audience that night, entering the stage saying, “I’m so high right now and my monitors aren’t working so I can’t hear myself, but f*** it I’m going to play music anyways.” As a performer, Flylo was self-aware and always present, toying with the crowd’s mind, building them up, knocking them back down, throwing everything they thought about music upside down. His projections would often mask him and his DJ booth entirely, as if there were nobody there. Flashing strobes would reveal him for a second, only for Flying Lotus to disappear a moment later. He rapped a few songs as his alter ego Captain Murphy, a digital projection which reminded me a lot of the Gorillaz, bearing mechanical laughter and mind-bending voice pitches and effects.

FLYLO

Flying Lotus hiding behind his projections.

As the lights went down and the people filed back to their tents, I had a strange feeling creeping through my body. I felt as if I had been graced by the future of music – sounds I could never imagine had washed over and cleansed my being. Flying Lotus was no doubt the highlight of the night. His music was what I can only describe as invigorating, metallic, sharp, future sounds which challenged my mind. Along with Keys N’ Krates, Flying Lotus seems to be setting the tone for what the future of hip hop, trap, and EDM will be.

The second day of The Hudson Project seemed to dominated by music’s sexiest instrument: the saxaphone. My morning started out front row for Exmag, a funkadelic EDM band from the distant future. Exmag mans the beats alongside a guitarist and a keyboardist/synth controller; the result is groovy. Next I dipped over to the media tent to sit down with Big Gigantic before their set. I’m a huge fan of Big G and meeting them had me a bit starstruck. Nonetheless, it was great to chat with the artists and hear what they had to say about music.

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Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic tries on our refraction glasses. 

Here are a few of the questions I asked them:

I asked them if they ever went in the crowd at festivals:

“I’ve been going to festivals since I’ve been like 18, camping and, way before we were playing music. We’re avid music fans – we’ll go see our homies play, we’ll go out in the crowd and watch, that’s where the real vibe is happening”

I asked them about Flying Lotus, to which they said:

“The dude is on some next level shit – his stuff is so psychological. It’s like the jazz of electronic music.”

I only had a few minutes with them, but during the time I realized how relaxed these guys were considering they were about to play in front of thousands of people, but hey, I’m sure they’re used to it by now.

On my way to Bonobo I strolled past the mainstage while Rebelution, a top-charting reggae band, played on the mainstage. Bonobo was the relaxing talent I needed before the dancing that was about to come. Donning my Hello Kitty totem, I hit the mainstage for Big Gigantic’s set. I’ve seen the band two other times before and was not disappointed in the slightest. Big Gigantic perfectly brings together the aspects of production and live performance and kills it onstage every time. The other highlight from Saturday was Griz’s set. Griz really know how to work a crowd between his saxophone skills and his live remixing and mashing up of his own music. Saxaphone trap? You bet Griz pulled it off.

Earlier Saturday I got a response from Griz’s PR agent declining an interview, but she did hint that there might be a secret VIP set of Exmag and friends at 1:15 am, so after Griz’s set I wandered off in search of the very important people. Some friends and I managed to wander in the area behind the mainstage, and lo and behold we stumbled across the VIP temt where some equipment and speakers were set up. A few other people knew about this secret set, so I lounged out on one of the “very important” couches. Soon enough, Griz poked his head into the tent along with the members of Exmag and set up equipment. Seeing Griz and the guys jam up close was a treat; I was reassured there is a lot of talent in the EDM industry. Dance music is not just some fool pressing play, it’s humans creating music. The variety of sounds and styles that come with the digital age is boundless and artists have just really begun to tap into that potential.

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Exmag secret set ft. GRiZ

Sunday morning I decided to sleep in a little bit. I had to save up energy for some of the huge artists that were set to play that day. Lunice, 12th Planet, Tipper, STRFKR, Infected Mushroom, Paper Diamond, Oliver, and of course, Bassnectar were all acts I was extremely excited to check out that day. Unfortunately, I was awoken from my nap by a festival employee telling my neighbors and I to evacuate the campgrounds. Most people didn’t blink an eye; a young man attempting to give me a bag of melted butter claimed he looked at the radar and the storm was due to pass in fifteen minutes (I didn’t trust him anyways). Luckily, my group was sober and we acted swiftly, bringing our belongings to the car before the onslaught of rain and mud began. I heard a few staff saying they would never cancel any acts, and that they would just push everyone back, so I hung out in the charging tent and chatted for a bit while the rain passed. To my despair, a few people walked in with pouting faces bearing the bad news: the festival was cancelled.

So what happens when you tell 5000 intoxicated people there’s no music for the rest of the day? Apparently they make their own, muddy party and sing White Stripes:

While a lot of the festival-goers complained about the event’s management and organization of the rainstorm, I didn’t think there was much they could do about it. The Red Cross set up a site to handle all the campers whose cars were stuck and staff stayed to manage the safe closing of the sites. Since MCP Presents and SFX Entertainment apparently hold five-year contract over the grounds at Winston Farm, I wouldn’t be surprised to see The Hudson Project back next year and in greater numbers.

That’s it for this. Stay posted for more EDM stuff – I have coverage of DADA LIFE and FEED ME coming up in the next few months, so stay tuned!

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Could Apple’s HealthKit Succeed Where Other Health Trackers Have Failed? http://blastmagazine.com/technology/health-and-fitness/apples-healthkit-succeed-health-trackers-failed/ http://blastmagazine.com/technology/health-and-fitness/apples-healthkit-succeed-health-trackers-failed/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 16:08:27 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=92978 During its annual “big reveal” at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference  (WWDC) in San Francisco, Apple introduced iOS 8 and its HealthKit APIs. HealthKit is designed to allow iOS 8 health apps communicate with one another and read one another’s information. For example, an app designed to track blood pressure and an app designed to chart(...)

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During its annual “big reveal” at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference  (WWDC) in San Francisco, Apple introduced iOS 8 and its HealthKit APIs. HealthKit is designed to allow iOS 8 health apps communicate with one another and read one another’s information. For example, an app designed to track blood pressure and an app designed to chart blood glucose could both easily communicate with a physician app like Mayo Clinic.

The HealthKit platform will power an app called Health, which will aggregate data from both health apps and third-party devices, like Nike’s FuelBand. Apple also mentioned a partnership with a company called Epic, which is one of the country’s largest platforms for electronic medical records (EMR). After the unremarkable performance of Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health, the emergence of HealthKit seems tepid at best. However, some industry insiders think that Apple’s offering will succeed where other health trackers have failed.

The Quantified Self

Gary Wolf, co-founder of the website “Quantified Self,” wrote a New York Times article about the growing phenomenon of people using their smartphones, Fitbits and other devices to track their movements, their moods, their health indicators and other personal patterns. Some people track themselves to solve life problems; others record their data and hope to uncover surprising truths.

HealthKit and the Health app appeal to people who are obsessed with documenting their health. Some argue that Apple’s tools might not fare well long-term since most people who purchase a health tracking device stop using it after six months. However, although people might not stick with open-ended self-tracking, they are willing to track behavior for specific purposes.

trackerMIT Technology Review recently reported on the success of a Mayo Clinic cardiac rehabilitation app. Patients who’d suffered heart attacks saved information such as daily weight measurements, blood pressure readings and journals of physical activity. After recording their information, the app gave them information on how to stay healthy. Sixty percent of patients who didn’t use the app were readmitted to the hospital within 90 days of discharge. Only 20 percent of app users had to return to acute care. Mayo Clinic has already identified itself as one of Apple’s primary partners.

The Universal EMR

Although the ACA standardized what EMRs should accomplish according to its Meaningful Use Requirements, it didn’t require clinics to use specific EMR platforms. As a result, clinics operate a wide range of software, and much of the software is incompatible.

EMRs are still a fantastic idea; to learn about how EMRs are improving patient care according to one university that offers RN-BSN and other healthcare degrees, visit this page. However, poor interoperability keeps doctors from effectively using EMRs to coordinate care.

With the HealthKit platform integrating with multiple applications and the Health app aggregating patient data that includes not only vital signs but also lab tests results, imaging studies and other information, Apple has created a way for patients to transmit information between doctors regardless of which EMR platform their doctors currently use. Instead of continuing to rely on fax technology for record sharing, patients can authorize their iPhones to share information. Also, when patients are unconscious and can’t provide information to a treating physician, the iPhone would store critical data that could enable doctors to save their lives. A universal EMR mechanism could have powerful real-world results.

The Chance to Control Patient Data

A major concern about mobile health apps involves how much data they collect and what they do with that data. Many app developers share data with third parties or sell it to data aggregation companies. Health Kit requires user permission before sharing data with other apps and devices, giving patients a higher degree of control over their own data. No app can automatically acquire data from Health if the iPhone user doesn’t authorize it.

Companies like Google collect reams of data, and they monetize that data in exchange for allowing users to enjoy free search and other Google services. Apple’s HealthKit will manage patient data, but the patient decides who gets to see it.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs, but he’s tapping a lucrative market by involving Apple in healthcare. The innovative and consumer-focused HealthKit proves that Apple still knows how to think different.

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Skye Wireless Technology from Auris Finds New Purpose for Old Docking Stations http://blastmagazine.com/technology/skye-wireless-technology-auris-finds-new-purpose-old-docking-stations/ http://blastmagazine.com/technology/skye-wireless-technology-auris-finds-new-purpose-old-docking-stations/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 23:47:44 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=92973 Is your old iPod dock sitting in a corner collecting dust and looking lonely as you utilize Bluetooth and other technological advancements that allow you to play your music wirelessly? Thanks to an innovative new product called skye from tech powerhouse Auris, you can utilize wireless technology to use your old docks and get more(...)

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Is your old iPod dock sitting in a corner collecting dust and looking lonely as you utilize Bluetooth and other technological advancements that allow you to play your music wirelessly? Thanks to an innovative new product called skye from tech powerhouse Auris, you can utilize wireless technology to use your old docks and get more streaming power than ever before.

Auris founder and CEO Jay Shah wanted to give his customers the ability to bring this older technology into the modern world without the need to replace it. He came up with a product that allows you to use your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Windows Phone, or even iTunes on a wireless network that lets you play on AirPlay with DLNA support.a78e17eb74c28f741f6801fd44461163_large

Just place the product onto your docking station and you can connect to a WiFi signal that gives you an even greater range than Bluetooth products. With skye, you can steam music through rooms and even continue to get a transmission through a wall or furniture.

For just $79.99 you can find a new purpose for your docking station.

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The Definitive Ranking of the Game of Thrones Houses http://blastmagazine.com/features/definitive-ranking-game-thrones-houses/ http://blastmagazine.com/features/definitive-ranking-game-thrones-houses/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 20:54:02 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=92937 Every Game of Thrones fan out there has their favorite house. Some prefer the noble Starks, while others love the strong Targaryens, and still others like the Greyjoys. I kid. No one likes the Greyjoys. However, with respect to all of your varied opinions, there is only one correct way to rank these houses. So, on(...)

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Every Game of Thrones fan out there has their favorite house. Some prefer the noble Starks, while others love the strong Targaryens, and still others like the Greyjoys.

I kid. No one likes the Greyjoys.

However, with respect to all of your varied opinions, there is only one correct way to rank these houses. So, on that note, I give you the Definitive Ranking of the Game of Thrones Houses, as of season 4. To keep it simple, I’ve only included the commonly recognized Great Houses from the start of the series, so you won’t find Baelish or Bolton on here. Spoilers abound.

9. House Greyjoy

There is absolutely nothing to like about the Greyjoys. Yes, yes, I know Asha was lovely in the books, and I’m very happy for her. But it’s time for book readers to admit that “Yara” doesn’t get to do very much except be tough and have uncomfortable incest scenes with her brother. Speaking of her brother, he is somehow insufferable as not one, but two different characters, going from bothersome and annoying as Theon to bothersome and sad as Reek. Their father is terrible, the Iron Islands are boring and gross, and between costuming and color correction everything associated with the Greyjoys just seems…well, grey. No one like them.

8. House Arryn

I have to be honest with you guys. I forgot this house existed for, like, two seasons. Literally. There was the whole Jon Arryn thing and then they didn’t mention him or his family for a very long time and it completely slipped my mind that there was another Great House until Petyr moved in with Lysa and that terrible, terrible child. Lysa’s really only introduced because of her Tully lineage, and while we hear good things about Jon Arryn, all we’ve gotten from him is a whole lot of pain for the Starks because of his death. If the Greyjoys are in the negative for their lack of redeemable qualities, than the Arryns are stuck at zero for their lack of qualities period.

7. House Tully

Maybe it’s just my personal loathing of fish, but House Tully seems like a very blah house. Catelyn is wonderful, of course, but when we meet her she’s already a Stark and spends the series living with her Stark family. House Tully gets important for a handful of episodes and then get promptly shut down by the disaster that is the Red Wedding. However, they’re genuinely decent people, with only the occasional exception (Yes, I’m looking at you, Lysa. Crazypants.).

6. House Baratheon

As Houses go, the Baratheons are all over the map in terms of whether or not they suck. That’s probably because there are so many branches of House Baratheon. There’s Robert Baratheon, who was so stupid that he ran his country into massive debt and didn’t notice that his wife was sleeping with her brother and giving birth to crazy incest babies. There’s also Stannis, who has some very legitimate grievances considering he’s been screwed out of a crown that he was technically next in line for, but he lets Melisandre manipulate him constantly and his storyline is extremely boring. On the flip side, they also had Renly, who was interesting, intelligent, and fair, and whose death I still haven’t recovered from. So the bad and the good equal out to a very middle-of-the-road house.

5. House Targaryen

Some might cry foul that these silver-haired dragon lovers only got fifth place, and I know we all love our Khaleesi, but one really cool woman a whole house does not make. Sure, the last remaining member of House Targaryen is powerful, motivated, and a snappy dresser if there ever was one, but she comes from a long, long line of incest-loving crazies, the most recent of which literally sold his sister in exchange for an army and whined so much that Drogo killed him just so he’d stop talking. Considering Viserys Targaryen is a whopping 50% of the Targaryen family present on the show, it takes all of Daenerys’ coolness to even get House Targaryen to the number five slot. Plus, though I know it’s GoT blasphemy to insult the Mother of Dragons,  I think it’s time we admit that she’s kind of an immature teenager who wants to conquer a country she’s never been to because she can. Sometimes I seriously expect her to break into the chorus of “I Want It Now” from Willy Wonka when Jorah is explaining why they can’t go to Westeros yet. Still, she has dragons, and she takes what is hers with fire and blood.

4. House Martell

Last year, House Martell would have ranked even lower than House Arryn in lack of qualities. However, in a surprise play by an extreme underdog, Oberyn happened and managed to shoot his family up the list to the top five. We don’t get to see many of the Martells, but from what Oberyn says about their home Dorne and what we learn by his example, they are fun people. Things in King’s Landing were getting far too drab when, suddenly, Oberyn emerged onto the scene in all his sexily accented, sexually liberated, justice-craving glory. We see that House Martell and their people are accepting and loving to bastard children, something the rest of Westeros certainly can’t say (ehem Joffrey ehem Catelyn). With their playful and sexy clothes and attitudes, the Martells (or, at least, Oberyn) are definitely the house you’d want to party with.

3. House Stark

Arguably the protagonist house, if you can say there is such a thing on Game of Thrones, they have a set of values and morals that most of the other houses don’t. There isn’t a bad one in the bunch. They’re realistically flawed and nuanced, but they have a respect for family and a devotion to the truth that makes them admirable. They’re perhaps not the cleverest of the Houses (seriously, Ned, it’s like you wanted to get yourself executed), but for the most part, all these people want to do is be fair leaders in an unfair world. While we might all love to hate the other houses, we can just plain love the Starks.

2. House Lannister

Yah, alright, you can pretend to hate the Lannisters as much as you want. No one believes you. Yes, after four years, they still find creative ways to shock the audience with just how awful they are. There’s the cruel, heartless father, the twins who had three children…together, the “nice” one, who recently murdered his Dad and ex-girlfriend, and Joffrey, whose horror needs no explanation. But you know what? They are really good at being horrible, and they’re the most intelligent of the houses. I mean, they’ve managed to maintain control over the Iron Throne for basically the whole run of the series with no legitimate claim to it whatsoever! Meanwhile, many great Houses with fewer skeletons in their closets have collapsed as the Lannisters watched from their big ass castle. You may think they’re monsters, but they don’t care what you think, because they are richer, prettier, and far more powerful than you are.

1. House Tyrell

Not quite as dumb as the Starks. Not quite as evil as the Lannisters. Not nearly as unlikable as the Greyjoys. It’s a poorly kept secret that the Tyrells are the only functional human beings in Westeros. In fact, the Greyjoys and the Tyrells are the only houses that haven’t lost a member during the show’s run, and considering how Theon’s made out thus far, we’re going to have to give this one to the Tyrells. They are powerful, rich, and have strong armies and talented warriors among them (see: Loras), but they are also intelligent, charming, and adaptable. They ‘re one of the most progressive houses, containing the show’s most prominent LGBT character. And, let’s be honest: no one even pretends that the men wear the pants in that house. If you’re still not convinced that they’re the perfect blend of ambition and restraint, just remember this: they killed Joffrey.

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The Hudson Music Project Canceled http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/hudson-music-project-canceled/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/hudson-music-project-canceled/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 20:04:56 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=92930 SAUGERTIES, NY – On Friday, campers arrived for what was argued to be one of the best east coast festivals this year, The Hudson Music Project. This festival was intended to bring three days of exciting music from a variety of genres and artists, including EDM, jam bands, rappers, and reggae. The legendary Bassnectar will be headlining, along(...)

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SAUGERTIES, NY – On Friday, campers arrived for what was argued to be one of the best east coast festivals this year, The Hudson Music Project. This festival was intended to bring three days of exciting music from a variety of genres and artists, including EDM, jam bands, rappers, and reggae. The legendary Bassnectar will be headlining, along with artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Big Gigantic, and Excision. Check out the lineup video for the festival here:

However, on Sunday festival organizers announced that the festival was canceled, due to inclement weather conditions. Festival-goers were evacuated Sunday afternoon following intense storms. Blast’s Hal Hyatt attended the festival and will be following up with coverage and Blast-exclusive artist interviews.

via hudsonmusicproject.com

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ESPN releases new SportsCenter video with Metallica http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/espn-releases-new-sportscenter-video-metallica/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/espn-releases-new-sportscenter-video-metallica/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 19:39:49 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=92953 In “This is SportsCenter – Metallica”, ESPN and Metallica team up to inform fans on what the band will do now that Mariano Rivera has retired. The former Yankees pitcher, who retired in 2013, was known for walking onto the field to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”.

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In “This is SportsCenter – Metallica”, ESPN and Metallica team up to inform fans on what the band will do now that Mariano Rivera has retired. The former Yankees pitcher, who retired in 2013, was known for walking onto the field to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”.

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WWE Should Bring Back Steve Blackman, and here’s how (Hint, it involves Heath Slater!) http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/tv/wwe-bring-back-steve-blackman-heres-hint-involves-heath-slater/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/tv/wwe-bring-back-steve-blackman-heres-hint-involves-heath-slater/#comments Sun, 13 Jul 2014 16:06:32 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=92943 Guilty. I’m diving into the world of “hey, WWE should TOTALLY do this, and it would be so rad” blog posts. But as I’ve said before, this is my website, so I can do these kinds of things. I’m a fan of WWE. I was in the 80s and early 90s; I backed off during(...)

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Steve_Blackman_14Guilty. I’m diving into the world of “hey, WWE should TOTALLY do this, and it would be so rad” blog posts. But as I’ve said before, this is my website, so I can do these kinds of things.

I’m a fan of WWE. I was in the 80s and early 90s; I backed off during the Attitude Era (but since began to appreciate it on the WWE Network) and returned about four years ago.

As I’ve reviewed what I missed by not following the action during the Attitude Era, I’ve started to appreciate what teams like the Dudley Boyz and Stone Cold Steve Austin did for the company.

Another Attitude Era player struck me: Steve Blackman. Simple entrance, catchy music, lots of weapons, martial arts, and not much charisma with the microphone.

He got a push in 2000 when he battled Shane McMahon at SummerSlam for the now-defunct Hardcore Championship, with a hugely memorable moment in which Shane gets “knocked 50 feet” off a piece of staging equipment, and Blackman follows him with a leg drop to win the title.

It was a classic scene and a top 50 “OMG Moment” in WWE history, but Blackman was forgotten in all of that. He was pushed as a hardcore wrestler, but he wasn’t a tables/ladders/chairs or “bag O thumbtacks” guy. WWE didn’t know what to do with a martial artist in 2000, and Blackman never got enough of a push. (He also lost half of his career in the 90s due to a freak illness from a mosquito bite in South Africa…)

There’s been some speculation that Blackman could come back. Although he’s 50, reports like the one below show that he’s in fantastic shape.

But I’m not suggesting he come back as a full-time wrestler and try to make a run at it. Here’s what I propose.

Rebrand Heath Slater

OK, bear with me. Heath Slater hasn’t exactly blown everyone away with his 3MB posse (two of which recently got fired…) and his country western schtick. Heath Slater, however, is a serious WWE talent and a three-time tag team champion.

There’s a reason why WWE has kept him on the roster.

Here’s what I do.

Cue the country music. Bring Slater out to do his one man band stuff. Same old Slater, right?

Cut the lights.

The Wyatt Family (or some other heels) come out and start to beat Slater to a pulp. We’ve seen this before — Slater is a bit of a punching bag.

Cue Blackman’s music. But instead of his usual, slow and steady appearance, walking out with karate sticks and raising his hands in the air, have Blackman run to the ring and martial art the bad guys right out of there, saving Slater and saving the day.

Then Blackman gives Slater a “pep talk” later, downplaying the need for “showmanship” and “gimmicks” and such. Rebrand Slater as a technical wrestler with a few good kicks and other tricks that Blackman can “teach” Slater, and you have Blackman in a managerial, paternal role as a no-nonsense overseer.

Slater_display_image

Or take it a step farther — have Blackman re-introduce Slater to Justin Gabriel, who hasn’t had a storyline in more than a year. Slater and Gabriel are former tag team champions. Re-introduce them, with Blackman managing, as tag-team specialists who can fly or ground-and-pound with the best of them. Give them a set of moves and tag team chemistry similar to The Rockers, and I think WWE could have something special. Plus, it brings back someone that will be more appreciated in 2014 while breathing new life into two stale characters.

Thoughts?

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Feed Me’s Psychedelic Journey Comes to Boston http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/feed-mes-psychedelic-journey-comes-boston/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/feed-mes-psychedelic-journey-comes-boston/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 20:30:35 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=92910 Feed Me has been one of my favorite artists ever since his 2010 release of Feed Me’s Big Adventure. After his rise to prominence over the next year, he announced his first tour featuring TEETH, Feed Me’s audio/visual experience. Feed Me, known in human form as Jon Gooch, originally invented and designed TEETH himself, wanting(...)

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Feed Me has been one of my favorite artists ever since his 2010 release of Feed Me’s Big Adventure. After his rise to prominence over the next year, he announced his first tour featuring TEETH, Feed Me’s audio/visual experience. Feed Me, known in human form as Jon Gooch, originally invented and designed TEETH himself, wanting to bring a pure, innovative experience to his live shows. Now, Feed Me is dropping a new EP and TEETH tour titled “Feed Me’s Psychedelic Journey”. This tour kicks off August 2nd in New York City and features 23 tour dates across the U.S, as well as supporting artists such as Delta Heavy, Le Castle Vania, Treasure Fingers, Tjani, and Zeroes.  The EP is set to come out this friday, so be sure to tune in soon for some new music.

Over Facebook, Feed me has revealed a few photos of his new stage, revamped for TEETH 2.0:

Photo: Rebuild fully underway...

via Facebook

I really appreciate Feed Me’s dedication to stand out in the EDM industry, bringing his multiple talents and ambition to the table with TEETH and his new label, Sotto Voce. I’m excited to see what the new TEETH stage has to offer, since I missed out on the previous tour.  For more Feed Me, read my song-by-song review on Feed Me’s most recent album release Calamari Tuesday. 

Follow Feed Me on Soundcloud to hear Feed Me’s Psychadelic Journey out July 11.

Catch Feed Me at the Boston House of Blues on August 14th or check out his other tour dates:

feed me north american tour psychedelic journey

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#$ – The Bass Hop EP Produced by Space Jesus http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/bass-hop-ep-produced-space-jesus/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/bass-hop-ep-produced-space-jesus/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 18:28:08 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=92851   Last month I put out a review for Space Jesus on his first ep “Atom and Eve”, and now the producer is back, except this time he’s a part of up-and-coming hip hop group #$ (Hash Money) with rap emcee GDP. This self-titled album called “#$” is filled with fresh instrumentals and gritty hip hop vocals.(...)

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Last month I put out a review for Space Jesus on his first ep “Atom and Eve”, and now the producer is back, except this time he’s a part of up-and-coming hip hop group #$ (Hash Money) with rap emcee GDP. This self-titled album called “#$” is filled with fresh instrumentals and gritty hip hop vocals. Space Jesus’s influence on this album is obvious, featuring psychedelic and future bass aspects. Listeners won’t be shorted on references to hash oil and marijuana strains.RECRELEASEPOSTER

 

I think my favorite from this album is “Magic Wand (Feat. Hot Sugar and Froyo)”, because of the simplicity of its beat and the perfect laziness to the lyrics and vocals. #$ will be dropping a music video for “Magic Wand” in a few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for that addition. Another interesting track is “Apathy”, which in my opinion perfectly blends the best aspects of both #$’s duo and Space Jesus. The song has an almost Arabian feel to it.

Listen to “#$” and download it here:

 

Plus, check out this promo for the EP below.

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“Transformers 4: Age of Extinction” Falls Shorter than The First Three Movies http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/movies/transformers-4-age-extinction-falls-shorter-first-three-movies/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/movies/transformers-4-age-extinction-falls-shorter-first-three-movies/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 01:32:16 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=92892 Transformers 4: Age of Extinction serves as a finale that oddly parallels the tear-jerking ending in The Iron Giant. ?A 50-foot robot blasts off from Earth never to be seen again. Unlike that wonderful movie, Michael Bay left me tasting metal with how many pieces of robot flew into the theater. And if there were(...)

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Transformers 4: Age of Extinction serves as a finale that oddly parallels the tear-jerking ending in The Iron Giant. ?A 50-foot robot blasts off from Earth never to be seen again. Unlike that wonderful movie, Michael Bay left me tasting metal with how many pieces of robot flew into the theater. And if there were any tears shed, it was that after 3 hours of oversized sock’em boppers tearing each other apart for the fourth time, it was because they were told there will be another sequel.

Let me spare you the torment of giving Michael Bay another chance. Three years after Transformers: Dark of the Moon concluded, an all-out war in Chicago has outlawed Autobots bastardized by the US Government and hunted by Decepticons under CIA employment. Maybe they weren’t Decepticons? I’m confused. Imagine robots that look like the orcs from Lord of the Rings.

Bay ditches Shia LaBeouf for Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager, a low-class inventor who is too disorganized and too overprotective to save his daughter Tessa (Nicole Peltz). After buying an abandoned truck that unknowingly is a disguised Optimus Prime, his chatty assistant, Lucas (TJ Miller) tips off the CIA for a reward and all hell breaks loose.

So now you have Marky Mark pissed and hunting down whoever is helping the CIA kill the Autobots. Optimus Prime enlists four extra Autobots and if any good comes out of this half of the movie, it is seeing John Goodman’s Big Lebowski alter ego embodied as an autobot and the reflecting contemporary political times—how much of your freedoms are you willing to give up for security? When Titus Welliver as a CIA agent forces his way onto the Yeager property and threatens to shoot Tessa (by order of CIA guy Kelsey Grammer), its actually a chilling moment, but it gets undermined by absurd dialogue, “My face … is my warrant” … no comment.

Even with this dialogue, a Michael Bay movie means a multi­million-dollar paycheck. That’s too good to pass up, but I still wonder whether or not any of these actors know the dialogue they are reciting is bad. Or how much shameless product placement happens between the opening and closing credits (i.e. when Cade crashes a Decepticon shuttle into a Bud Light truck, he gets out, cracks open a bottle and chugs this beer that is usually only appealing to broke college kids).

It is obvious that turning over a profit runs Hollywood, otherwise we would never call it the movie INDUSTRY, but what bothers me is this onslaught of not just sequels and remakes: it is this addiction to the big budget summer blockbuster. These carbon copy plots where the world is facing destruction and all of society is at war in a not-so-distant future. Sure, they may be entertaining, but we see practically the same movie with a different title every summer. Have you seen Tom Cruise’s filmography lately?

Who asked for another sequel, anyway? I know Michael Bay doesn’t need the money, and it should go without saying that other three weren’t very good. Why would Michael Bay continue this mediocre franchise? He should continue churning out more quality work like Pain & Gain … Oh hell no!!

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“Begin Again” Delivers with a Solid Plot and Rocking Music http://blastmagazine.com/features/begin-delivers-solid-plot-rocking-music/ http://blastmagazine.com/features/begin-delivers-solid-plot-rocking-music/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 01:21:14 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=92888 When a drunk record label exec walks into a bar, he catches an earful of his latest East Village muse. No. This isn’t me shamelessly trying out a joke; it’s a scene from John Carney’s new movie Begin Again starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. Begin Again’s premise is a lot like that of the(...)

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When a drunk record label exec walks into a bar, he catches an earful of his latest East Village muse. No. This isn’t me shamelessly trying out a joke; it’s a scene from John Carney’s new movie Begin Again starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo.

Begin Again’s premise is a lot like that of the movie Lost in Translation. A chance meeting leads to the spiritual revival of two strangers. This time, however, instead of bonding over sushi and old movies, these characters find their way by their mutual love of music.

Dan Mulligan (Ruffalo) is divorced and an estranged father. He can’t even hold a conversation with his 14-year­old-daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) without pre­gaming. Greta (Knightley), is a snobbish Brit who comes to New York to support her college sweetheart Dave (Adam Levine). Heartbroken after discovering he stole her song and has a hard on for a girl at the record label, her friend Stephen (James Corden) drags her onstage in a bar to play a song she scribbled on a napkin. The whole audience seems tone deaf to the appeal of the song—except for Dan’s. His drunken perception kick-starts his creative juices and he pitches an album deal.

What follows are jam sessions in the spots around town and freestyles by Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine that sound better than any songs Maroon 5 ever recorded.

At first glance, I’d say that these moments are Begin Again’s greatest achievement, but really it is the fact that it managed to attach music giants to such an indie script. It feels like a throwback to the 1970s. The improv on 42nd street would make John Cassavetes proud and Greta’s costume design looks as if she raided Diane Keaton’s closet. Carney’s study of music’s influence in American culture as it happens in East Village makes New York every bit a character here as it was in Manhattan.

There is no denying that fashions have a way of circling back in style (war, vinyl, aviator shades). But what I think stays the same is how music has remained an essential quality to American culture. This is Carney’s second film about music. The first was his 2006 debut Once, which told the story of two Irish musicians falling in love with one another as they wrote songs together. This time he realizes how music helps wash away past mistakes and allow people to begin life renewed. It can’t fix all mistakes and create a happy ending, but it can at least create a second chance.

Overall, I was delighted by the freshness Begin Again brought to the world of indie cinema. Ruffalo and Knightley have sensational chemistry and Adam Levine contributes to a gnarly soundtrack. The plot is rock solid as the script dips into naturalism instead of the Hollywood dreamland fabricated by the onslaught of C-class romcoms that give boyfriends a bad feeling in the pit of their wallets.

4 stars

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My Dream Emmy Ballot: Drama http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/tv/dream-emmy-ballot-drama/ http://blastmagazine.com/entertainment/tv/dream-emmy-ballot-drama/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 00:33:23 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=92873 Drama is where things begin to get a little tricky for me. Considering the genre jumping of Shameless and Orange is the New Black-two shows I considered being some of my favorite drama series-I had a harder time thinking up shows that would end up in my top five without slipping into my sillier, light(...)

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Emmys

Drama is where things begin to get a little tricky for me. Considering the genre jumping of Shameless and Orange is the New Black-two shows I considered being some of my favorite drama series-I had a harder time thinking up shows that would end up in my top five without slipping into my sillier, light hearted series such as Sleepy Hollow and Arrow. So, again, with the help of Chris, we’ve come up with a better, well rounded list of nominees we’d like to see on July 10th. It seems like there’s a lot less wishful thinking for the drama section then comedy but we’ll see how it all turns out.

Breaking Bad

Best Drama Series:

Breaking Bad

True Detective

Hannibal

Mad Men

Masters of Sex

Best Drama Series was maybe the easiest considering the names are for the most part high profile. The two that will have seemingly no problem are Breaking Bad and True Detective. The former finished its final season on a high note with stories being wrapped up in a blaze of glory and will go down as one of the best television shows of all time. The latter broke through as the surprise hit of the season and allowed for a show to mix philosophical inquiry with typical action, buddy cop moments allowing it to be unlike many genre heavy shows. There’s Mad Men which seems like less and less of a likely pick but who knows, fans and critics have praised the following season. Masters of Sex is the new player on the field with its heavily stylized atmosphere but it perhaps may be too clinical for the average voter. And then, over in the never, ever, ever going to happen category is poor Hannibal, one of the best shows on television right now with some of the most inventive directing but due to its horror leanings and low ratings doesn’t stand a chance-fans will just have to be happy if it continues to be picked up.

Should Win: Breaking Bad

Will Win: True Detective

Matthew McConaughey

 

Best Drama Actor:

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)

Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)

Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)

Woody Harrelson (True Detective)

Matthew Rhys (The Americans)

Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex)

What happens when two of the actors who are likely locks for best actor nominations are being nominated for roles of a life time? I don’t know about you, but to me the likelihood of Bryan Cranston or Matthew McConaughey getting roles again that match the magnitude of Walter White of Rust seem pretty slim to me. Both actors gave tour de force performances. Cranston as a man who had lost everything, Rust as a man trying to find meaning in anything, they were very particular characters and I’d be happy to see either of them win. Very few performances will touch those two in upcoming years. My praise for McConaughey shouldn’t take away from his costars though because Woody Harrelson put in admirable work as well as the less showy and less sympathetic character. Then there’s Matthew Rhys from The Americans who has been putting in steady but unnoticed work and Michael Sheen who brought empathy to a character who could have easily been a caricature or seen as too cold (although he might still be to most Emmy voters-his costar may have an easier chance) and then, again, in my not a shot in hell category, is Hugh Dancy for Hannibal. He again is doing stellar work which isn’t being seen so wont’ be rewarded. Such a shame.

Should Win: Matthew McConaughey or Bryan Cranston (I refuse to choose!)

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey

Tatiana Maslany

Best Drama Actress:

Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)

Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex)

Keri Russell (The Americans)

Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men)

Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow)

Claire Danes (Homeland)

For some reason, to my great disappointment, this is the category that was the most difficult to fill. Despite this there are some amazing performances worth talking about. The most obvious to me is Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black who for two seasons now has been giving one of the most impressive performances on television as she plays up to five different characters each week, all with their own distinct personality traits and distinguishable characteristics. It could have seemed gimmicky but Maslany never allows it to become so and without question she is the only actress on television doing what she’s doing. For a prime example compare her performance as Helena juxtaposed next to her Allison.

As much as I’d like to just talk about Maslany for this entire piece that would be wasting time so on to the others. Keri Russell is having a moment on The Americans that no one is seeing and she’s a definite long shot despite doing better work than an old favorite Claire Danes who I only really added to this list because I needed a sixth spot. Elizabeth Moss was allowed a range of emotions this season as Peggy and it’s a shame that she’ll likely never win an Emmy for this role. Lizzy Caplan was my favorite part of Masters of Sex as she played against type and brought a warm, sensitivity as well as a necessary toughness to a role that could have been overlooked. And then, in my wishful thinking, I love fantasy shows slot is Nicole Beharie from Sleepy Hollow. I am not naïve enough to think she’s giving a fantastic performance but she is giving a great one for the role she’s in. Fantasy and science fiction shows need more love!

Should Win: Tatiana Maslany

Will Win: Julianne Margulies

Peter Dinklage

Best Supporting Actor Drama:

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)

Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)

Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones)

Laurence Fishborne (Hannibal)

Jordan Garvaris (Orphan Black)

Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)

It seems that this year the award is really Peter Dinklage’s to loose. Tyrion was given a phenomenal arc this season and Dinklage gave a series best performance. Moments such as his speech at his trial come to mind but also the quieter moments such as when Oberyon announced himself as Tyrion’s champion. Dinklage is a pretty fantastic actor and when he’s given material he’ll always deliver. But then there’s his co-star Alfie Allen who has been tremendous the past three seasons and hasn’t seen a hint of recognition. As Theon he was heartbreaking this year and he deserves some praise for his performance. Over in Breaking Bad there’s Dean Norris and Aaron Paul. Paul has been awarded in the past for seasons that offered him greater material and Norris was given a fantastic exit. Jordan Garvaris does great work as Felix on Orphan Black but is often overlooked due to Tatiana Maslany’s impressive performance as the multiple clones each week. Laurence Fishborne was maybe the surprise high point of season two of Orphan Black where Jack had to deal with the fallout of his relationship with Will.

Should Win: Peter Dinklage

Will Win: Peter Dinklage

 Anna Gunn

Best Supporting Actress Drama:

Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)

Mae Whitman (Parenthood)

Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones)

Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)

Michelle Monoghan (True Detective)

Emily Bett Rickards (Arrow)

With the Best Supporting Actress nods again I’m kind of behind on the times but I’ve been told by my editor that most of these names are worthy so I’ll talk about the ones I don’t know as well first. Mae Whitman is a name I know of and has been doing some wonderful work on the family drama Parenthood and Christina Hendricks is a staple on Mad Men. Now on to the names that I know very well like Anna Gunn who was perfect, perfect I tell you, in the last season of Breaking Bad outshining nearly everyone around her. In Ozymandias she played broken, enraged, and devastated and she did all effortlessly. Michelle Monaghan was often given the thankless role on True Detective but towards the end you can’t tell me she wasn’t doing as good or better work than many on this list. To add to my genre/campy tv loving lit is Emily Bett Rickards who plays Felicity on Arrow and gives the show a welcome, necessary heart. I just love her.

Should Win: Anna Gunn

Will Win: Anna Gunn

true detective

Best Writing for a Drama:

 

Echo (The Americans)

Ozymandias (Breaking Bad)

The Children (Game of Thrones)

Waterloo (Mad Men)

The Secret Fate of All Life (True Detective)

Your friendly neighborhood TV section editor Chris Peck here! TV dramas are my kind of my thing. Nothing riles me up quite like discussing the merits of well-executed long form narratives. And this year’s crop was exceptionally stirring. It was difficult to narrow down the pool to just five when there six shows that I felt deserved a spot (deepest apologies Masters of Sex), for those shows with multiple episodes on the ballot, the elimination process was harder still. Struggles aside, I’m confident this list captures not only the best these shows produced over the past year, but the best drama television had to offer.

True Detective was that rare new show that had the blogosphere and the viewing public buzzing from the beginning. A rare breed of Southern gothic meets buddy cop gold. While questions were raised about the conventionality of the center mystery, there was nothing typical about the two main characters. Written with striking specificity in their character philosophies, demeanor and speech, the marriage between Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey’s performances and Nic Pizzolatto’s scripts was harmonious and thrilling. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Academy, considering how it showered the new kid on the block (Showtime’s Homeland) back in 2012 with accolades, that HBO’s new hit will ensnare voters with its grim, star-powered vibe.

But this would be a mistake. While all of these episodes exhibited excellence on a craft level—crisp dialogue, authentic emotion, high-stakes drama and compelling characters—only one of them accomplished the culmination of arguably the best tragic arc in television history. That was Breaking Bad. I realize that last year may have been the show’s Emmy swan song. Riding high off the press from its final half-season, the fifth season’s first half got its first Drama Series Emmy and Anna Gunn snagged a well-deserved Supporting Actress Emmy. “Ozymandias” though, is Bad’s crescendo. Without spoiling (because everyone should experience the show for themselves), Walter White hits his rock bottom, realizing the true impact of all his choices and the fallout reaches nuclear proportions. The execution is beyond brilliant and I admire the entire Breaking Bad writing staff for their conviction in bringing this story to its grueling conclusion. While the essence of the award is episodic, the potential of TV drama hit its peak in “Ozymandias.”

Should Win: Breaking Bad

Will Win: True Detective

felina

Best Directing for a Drama:

Comrades (The Americans)

Felina (Breaking Bad)

Ozymandias (Breaking Bad)

The Watchers on the Wall (Game of Thrones)

Who Goes There (True Detective)

Big Bad Editor’s back! Each of these episodes made it on the list because I immediately thought of the stylistic brashness they displayed in particular sequences. Whether it’s shocking set pieces like the grisly murders in The Americans’  “Comrades,” or the epic-scale battle in Game of Thrones’ “The Watchers on the Wall,” all these directors showed admirable technical skill. The last six minutes of True Detective’s “Who Goes There,” however, was the talk of the town. An unedited, sweeping take of a heist gone awry was a chaotic masterpiece. It’s exactly the sort of pins-and-needles scene that would make voters go gaga.

And I’m not hating on True Detective or the episode’s director Cary Joji Fukunaga. The show and that sequence had my eyeballs bulging and gums flapping for days. If this was the award for Rookie of the Year or Most Outstanding Six Minutes I would be sold, but it’s called “Directing in a Drama Series.” Nominations are based on a episode so the voters can evaluate the show’s directing based on what the creative team feels was their very best. But again, I feel the award should go to the show who over the course of a season displayed the best directing chops. And for its final eight installments, Breaking Bad delivered the kind of scintillating cinematography that set it apart for six seasons. Whether it was breathtaking location shots or playing with unprecedented POV takes, Vince Gilligan’s vision was a grand and unique one. And never was that made more apparent or more masterfully than in the series finale, “Felina.” I could walk you through the scene-by-scene breakdown of the visual storytelling genius Gilligan was able to capture, but nobody has that kind of time. Let me just say that when that camera held on the wounded Walter White embracing his true love for the last time, I almost lost it. The emotional heft was carried with grace by the show’s creator and his vision was completed. That’s something to celebrate.

Should Win: Breaking Bad

Will Win: True Detective

So television fanatics-who are your picks? Who do you cross your fingers for and who do you think actually have a shot? Agree or disagree with anything we’ve said? Let us know in the comment section!

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