This week in Editors’ Picks: Traveling to nonexistent lands, by accident. Humble Indie Bundle V is vivid, vibrant, and invariably very valuable. And I just started hating some people today. Also the single entitled “I Just Started Hating Some People Today.”
James’ pick: Making sure the place you’re going to actually exists
As we noted in a previous Editors’ Picks, I’ve been having some issues with my PS3. I received one of Sony’s free FedEx shipping boxes yet again for what I believe is now a fifth return shipment, and was planning on dropping the box off at my local FedEx facility. It’s thirteen blocks away, and not near any subway. When you live in any big city or aren’t absurdly out of shape, walking anywhere isn’t too much of a problem, but it becomes quite an obnoxious task when your destination is extremely out of the way and you have to lug a very heavy and extremely unwieldy box. So, I decided to actually Internet around for a closer facility, and to my luck, my phone said there was one only five blocks away. Of course, I felt like an idiot for not doing this slight bit of research for the first four returns — that is, until I walked those five blocks and the FedEx shipping facility on 7th Avenue turned out to be some guy’s apartment instead. I called the number very clearly attached to the 7th Avenue address, and someone at a FedEx branch in another borough picked up. There was no 7th Avenue facility even though the iOS Maps app has it listed, complete with that other branch’s phone number.
So, I ended up having to walk back to my apartment lugging that huge box, for a total of ten blocks, a waste of time, and not shipping off my return, when I could’ve just walked thirteen blocks and have been done with it days ago. Now, over the weekend I have to walk those thirteen blocks with the box, and another 13 back after I drop it off. What I’m trying to say here, is that mapping technology still isn’t the best, and if you aren’t one hundred percent sure something exists where something or someone else says it does, you should call ahead so you don’t sweat all over that nice shirt you wore when you had to carry a huge box back and forth for no damn reason.
Eric’s pick: Humble Indie Bundle V
I’ve been recommending games a lot, so I saw this as an opportunity to kick it up a notch by recommending a whole bunch of games at once. You should get Humble Indie Bundle V. Like, right now. For the woefully unfamiliar, the Humble Indie Bundle is a package of DRM-free indie games you can purchase for whatever price you choose. Pay more than a dollar and they’ll give you Steam codes. Pay more than the average — typically seven dollars or so — and you get an extra game or two. It’s a great deal in general, Bundle V especially so.
The vanilla Bundle (that you can get for literally 1 cent if you’re a douche) contains Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery, Amnesia the Dark Descent, LIMBO, and the absolute classic Psychonauts. If you pay above the average (currently 8.20, arguably a fair price for most of these games on their own) you’ll be entitled not to just Bastion, not just Bastion and Braid, not just Bastion, Braid, and Lone Survivor, but Bastion, Braid, Lone Survivor, one of my favorite games of all time, Super Meat Boy. Seriously, go get it. It’s like a some kind of off-season Christmas miracle all up in here. And expect many indie game recommendations in the coming weeks; I’ve got a lot to play through.
Max’s pick: Beck’s Third Man Records Single “I Just Started Hating Some People Today”
If there’s two things I like, it’s Beck and Jack White III. It’s been a while since the last time the two were seen together on Beck’s album “Guero” where White provided backup vocals and bass accompaniment on “Go It Alone.” That changed on May 28th when White’s Third Man Records label released a new single recorded by Beck in 2011. It’s called “I Just Started Hating Some People Today” with the B-side “Blue Randy.” And it’s fantastic.
Beck is a challenging artist, as he’s managed to routinely put out dramatically different material. I’ve always been most attracted to the anti-folk ramblings of “Mellow Gold” and “One Foot in the Grave.” I’ve also deeply loved his rockier work on “Odelay,” and the over-sexed “Midnite Vultures” is inspired genius. His later work on “Sea Change” and “The Information” didn’t jibe with me as well. To me, they sound slick and soulless, with few memorable moments. 2008′s Danger Mouse produced “Modern Guilt” was an inspired album, but one that still sounded overthought compared to the wild lyrical madness of his earlier work.
According to the Third Man blog, this new single was written and arranged spontaneously, and the off-the-cuff style brings Beck back where he started. Both songs are heavily inspired by the Nashville setting, with the A-side sounding like a dead ringer for a cheap country song, before devolving into a white knuckles punk breakdown and then reforming into a straight-up lounge number. This was the same silliness that brought us “Debra,” and that I’ve long missed.
The B-side, conversely, has a classic strumming anti-folk drone and lyrics that sound like classic Beck. For example:
I was driving home in a Dodge Stratus
To the contaminated side of town
Where the shortwave radio playing songs of the century
And a big black cloud of asbestos
Was shadowing my demise
I work hard to avoid saying anything that sounds like criticizing artists for not “sounding like they used to.” It’s a cop-out argument, and denies artists the right to grow and change. Though I sometimes struggle with his output, Beck’s work is usually worth listening to even if I don’t personally care for it. It’s always fun to see where he goes. That said, this single shows us how far Beck has come as an artist. It’s a reminder that he could easily record a “Mellow Gold” ripoff if he wanted to, but he doesn’t because that would be boring. He’s grown up, and is perhaps giving more care and thought to his work. But it’s still fun to be silly for a minute.
- Hoarding extra cables, Braid, and the Kindle Touch
- SSDs, So.cl, and rats!
- Posts from The Trenches, Cold-brewed coffee, and Bell’s Brewery Oberon Ale