Robert Wm. Gomez's

January 2014

Here's to Shutting Up by Superchunk (7/10)

Format: 
CD

When this record arrived, you could sense the downward trajectory of this band. Not that this is a bad record—Here's to Shutting Up continues with the more interesting arrangements of its predecessor—it's just that Superchunk kinda lost that spark that made them fun to listen to. Maturity's a bitch. I think I own all the Superchunk records I need, and, even though they have since released much-loved albums, that's it for me.

Come Pick Me Up by Superchunk (8/10)

Format: 
CD

Mostly more of the same from Superchunk but with a lot more non-rock instrumentation like strings and woodwinds thrown in here and there. They haven't gone full Sgt. Peppers, but it's a nice change of pace. Oh, and finally a decent cover.

Max Payne 3 on PC (9/10)

Max Payne 3

Clocking in at 31 gigabytes of disk space needed, Max Payne 3 is a monster of a game. I would have bought it at launch, but my old computer just would not be able to run it. The Max Payne series has been one of my favorites for a long time. I love the cheesy noir narration, gritty environments and, of course, the insane slow motion gun battles. The third installment retains all of these elements and gives the game a beautiful audio-visual overhaul. Most notably, the comic panel storytelling device has been replaced with your standard in-game cut scenes. Lots and lots of cut scenes that, at times, interrupt the flow of the game play. You just want to burst through that door guns blazing but then you're forced to watch Max slowly creep his way into cover while explaining that the room was "full of goons."

Indoor Living by Superchunk (8/10)

Format: 
CD

These Superchunk reviews are going to get a bit repetitive from here on out. Another good collection of poppy rock songs that are drifting farther and farther from punk rock. There are a few questionable choices here ("Nu Bruises"?) but a good record for the mostpart.

Night Train Murders (7/10)

An Italian thriller (aka L'ultimo treno della notte) that leaves you feeling a bit icky not because of gore, but because it takes its time depicting horrible people generally being horrible. There are a few attempts to get all philosophical as the characters start conversations about the nature of democracy and violence but then it's immediately back to the sleaze. The sappy main theme is sung by Demis Roussos of Aphrodite's Child!

Surgeon Simulator 2013 on PC (7/10)

A Tricky Ambulance Brain Transplant

I had hoped that when they adapted the Web version of Surgeon Simulator into a full game they would have added a funny story line à la Trauma Center. Instead they have just expanded the original game by adding two more procedures and a couple more environments. It's still much the same game: purposely horrible game controls, inappropriate tools for the job, painfully hilarious physics interactions and general surgical mayhem.

Broken Age Act I on PC (9/10)

Broken Age Act I - The Girl at the Beach

Like a gazillion other people, Doublefine Adventure was the first Kickstarter that I bought into. It was scheduled to come out two years ago. During the delay I started playing many other more modern adventure games to get me in the groove again (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here). It's finally out (at least the first half of the game is out), but how does it stack up against other adventures?

The Laughter Guns by Superchunk (8/10)

Format: 
CD

Four pretty good songs and 45 minute long recording from a community radio program in which the hosts deconstruct the lyrics to "Hyper Enough." Worth one listen, but gets annoying after a while (especially if you suffered through an art school critique).

Bioshock Infinite on PC (10/10)

Bioshock Infinite

Infinite is a worthy successor to the original BioShock. It's not so much a sequel as it is a re-theming of the game with a new story, new environment but much of the same game play. The cloud city of Columbia is simply beautiful and filled with visual and sonic detail. There's something to look at around every corner.

Incidental Music 1991-95 by Superchunk (7/10)

Format: 
CD

The second singles collection from Superchunk is a bit more of a hodgepodge than the last. There are a few great songs but conspicuously missing is "Basement Life."

The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion by Virginia Postrel (7/10)

Virginia Postrel is a great, thoughtful writer and, although I am not terribly interested in the topic of glamour, I enjoyed this book for the most part. It kinda skirts awfully close to the kinda stuff I was forced to read in art school, so I am hesitant to give it a full endorsement.