Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Media (Page 2 of 43)

This is a container category for media reviews and related drivel.

Hoyt Arboretum Trip – June 2023

I’m on vacation this week. One of my goals for this block of time off was to get out of the apartment for a bit and point my (actual, not phone) camera at some (actual, not virtual) trees and such for a couple of hours. It was too hot the last couple of days to do it, and Monday I had an appointment to keep, so today was my first chance. I got the camera charged up, threw it into the camera bag, and off I went. My chosen destination? The arboretum up at Washington Park. My chosen project? To see if the “burst mode” of my camera (a Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80) would allow me to do hand-held photography and still get usable results better than half of the time.

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Satisfactory – Right Turn, Clyde

I wonder if anyone is going to clock that reference. Hmm.

At any rate, I said a few days ago that I intended to come back once I had the process worked out for right-turn bypasses at railway roundabouts in Satisfactory. The idea being that there’s no point in sending the train through 270 degrees of cornering and eating up all pathway vectors if all it needs to do is “hang a right at the junction.” Minimizing the time spent in the roundabout block is good for any train which needs to utilize it.

Let’s show off the finished product right at the start. Including the slightly janky bit just back from the center caused by (once again) siting the roundabout too close to my paired support pillars.

So here’s how I make that happen, more or less. (Circumstances sometimes require some creative fudging. That’s the game in a nutshell though, isn’t it?)

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Battle Tapes – Texture

2023 has, no joke, been a great year so far for new music. We got new material from some of my favorite current acts, such as Mono Inc and VNV Nation. We even get a new Garbage EP. (I might cover that at a later date.) Never mind Peter Gabriel and his “one new song per full moon all year” thing, because he’s such an utter nerd.

This, though. This album. I’ve anticipated this release the most since singles started dropping for it last year: “If Only” in July, “In Too Deep” in September, and “One Night in Burbank” just a couple months ago. Not a dud among ’em.

So obviously one of my first tasks this morning was to pick up the full album (oh 7Digital, I like your service but hate that you’re PayPal-only) and dive in. Right away I noticed a couple of things, though.

“Weight of the World” is here, and that single dropped in 2019. It was used in the first season of the gen:LOCK animated series and appears on that show’s soundtrack as well, along with “Syntax,” which is… also here.

So out of ten songs total, two are a few years old and three more are lead-off singles. That’s not a bad thing! I’m glad those two particular songs have escaped cartoon-soundtrack obscurity if nothing else. It just leaves me only half a record of new material to dig into, that’s all. (Not that I avoided the singles and older material while listening to all of Texture, because they’re all very good.)

Luckily the first brand new song to get my attention was, ah, “Brand New.” Right at the start of the album, how convenient! As for the rest, not all of them are as strong as the singles but only one (“Back In The Game”) actively annoyed me. (Look, even Daft Punk could only barely get away with using one short string of words as the entire repeating lyric for a dance song.)

Is Texture going to be my top album of 2023? Hard to say, honestly. I feel like being made up half of songs I already liked from months (and years) ago is a bit of a handicap, but on the other hand… I really like those songs. It’s a solid contender if nothing else.

But we’re not even halfway into the year. Have we already heard all the good new records we’re going to get? (I mean, other than Peter Gabriel’s slow-drip album release project.) I couldn’t tell ya; I’m infamously bad at predictions. I look forward to finding out, though.

VNV Nation – Electric Sun

After a two-week delay (I originally thought this album was due on the 14th, but when I bought it on 7Digital they said it was a preorder and I could download on the 28th), I finally have my hands (virtually speaking) on the new VNV Nation album, Electric Sun.

And it’s pretty good!

Look, I’ll keep this brief: There are no bad songs here, and a few really good songs. This is a very iterative album, which is to say it’s building solidly & steadily upon the records which came before it, with no wild departures or groundbreaking experimentation. And that’s fine! Sometimes a band just wants to show up, do their thing, and speak their mind. (VNV Nation in particular has always been a band with things to say, after all.)

Highlights? My favorite songs so far are “Artifice” and “Wait,” with honorable mention for “The Game,” “Invictus,” and “Sunflare.”

Electric Sun has a good chance of being my favorite album of the year… though one should keep in mind that the new Battle Tapes is due next week…

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