This week in Editors’ Picks: What is poutine and why does it look like worms? Fez! Are you sick of hearing about it yet? If so, tough luck. And is Jack White a secret wizard building a vicious army of electric organs? More as the story develops.
James’ pick: Poutine
This week, I’ve been playing with my new Nintendo 3DS and Kid Icarus: Uprising, but considering the former requires one’s head to literally never move — even slightly — in order to see the 3D effect, and the latter is more or less impossible to control, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for recommending those things to you. So, I am recommending poutine, half because some of you may not have ever heard of it and I feel I’m doing you a service by making you aware, and half because, dude, it is french fries covered in gravy which is then covered in cheese curds. The dish is of French-Canadian origin, so you may not be too familiar with it. In Brooklyn, the place I’ve built some defense towers, turtled up and call home base, I only know of one place that has the dish, and it has a bunch of varieties, some of which border on “fries with whatever they could think of on it.”
If you’re wondering what separates poutine from, say, chili cheese fries, if made correctly poutine feels more like a single dish, rather than fries with topping. You eat it with a fork, everything is stuck together, and you rarely pull up one whole french fry. If you don’t mind feeling awful about your level of health after eating french fries, gravy, and cheese curds, I’d highly recommend you put some in your body.
Eric’s pick: Fez
So, if you haven’t already heard from a million different sources, Fez is a spectacular game. On its face, it’s just a cute pixelated platformer with a neat 2.5D perspective gimmick, a bunch of collectables, and some really forgiving puzzles. If that’s all you want it to be, it’s a decent game. But Fez will give you back what you put in, and if you put in some serious effort, you might be surprised how much Fez has to offer.
It’s hard to describe this adequately without ruining the experience, but I’m going to give it a shot. Fez is less a platformer and more of an archaeological dig. When Fez first came out, the entire Internet teamed up and took days to uncover its mysteries. If you were to go through Fez making careful note of every piece of imagery on the walls, that wouldn’t be a waste of time. Fez is remarkable in that it has a crazy amount of fascinating and challenging gameplay that you’ll only find if you’re looking for it. It’s a well-made ditty, and man, it sure has balls to do what it does. Ten bucks on XBLA and worth every penny. Oh, and if you can find someone who’s happy to watch you play and occasionally chime in with their two cents, you’re in for a treat; Fez is great for asynchronous one-of-us-isn’t-actually-playing coop.
Max’s pick: Blunderbuss
I really didn’t want to recommend another record this week, but Jack White’s solo debut Blunderbuss dropped recently and I finally got my copy. The thing is, I’m not really sure that I like it just yet. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, one of my favorite albums — took me a while to warm up to.
Blunderbuss starts out with a sizzling series of tracks on its A-side (and this is Jack White we’re talking about so you can be sure that he thought the album through with vinyl in mind) that are aggressive and angry, showing off the blues-rock chops that he honed with The White Stripes and bringing in some of the electric organ sound and multi-instrumentalism from his later projects like The Dead Weather. Side A concludes with two slower, bittersweet numbers that wind up the side nicely.
Then you flip it and things are a bit all over the place. There’s a rockabilly cover, and some folkier tunes, but the tight cohesion and intensity of the A-side is gone. It’s not bad, but I had a much harder time concentrating on it. It sounds a lot like a mix tape of (very good) Jack White material, but it doesn’t hold together as well.
If there is one thing that ties the album up, it’s the themes of bitter resentment and betrayal that run throughout the record. Recorded and released in the wake of The White Stripe’s break up and Jack White’s (apparently amicable) divorce from model Karen Elson, it’s hard not to read into these lyrics. Of course, as something of an eccentric autuer obsessed with colors and personal mythology, I wonder if Jack white meant for this to be picked over and decoded. Or maybe I should be striving to just take it at face value.
Whatever the reason, I can’t get this album off my mind.
In case you’re curious, AMEX will be streaming a concert by Jack White later tonight which is (somehow) directed by Gary Oldman. Here’s a preview, in which Jack White makes Gary Oldman bleed: