Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fun flash games

Not music related but still fun.

Spotted this in the Guardian here.

This has been a staggering year for freebie Flash games. If, for example, you miss out on Valve's Orange Box collection, which includes the brilliant mind-bending puzzler Portal, check out Portal: The Flash Version ( - a lovely 2D take on the game by two indie coders. If it's shooting action you're lacking, try The Last Stand (, a relentless zombie blaster with decent visuals and a generous stocking-full of deadly weapons. Even music games like Guitar Hero have their browser equivalents. Super Crazy Guitar Maniac Deluxe 2 ( is a keyboard-based rhythm action romp with 14 songs and a huge online following.

The Flash scene has also propagated its own fads and genres, often based around gameplay found in larger retail releases. This year saw dozens of "tower defence" titles, in which the player protects a citadel from encroaching invaders. This would be a mere snippet of a major real-time strategy title such as Warcraft, but in the Flash realm, coders have modified the idea into a style in its own right. My favourite is Onslaught (

Elsewhere, one of last year's big Flash titles, Line Rider - a snowy level design challenge in which you drew ski slopes then let a physics-enhanced sledge plummet down them - has started a new craze for sandbox experiences. Free Rider is an utterly enthralling BMX version where you design a track then race along it collecting stars. An even better sequel has just been released, and can be found at

The visually accomplished Stackopolis, where you place blocks on an isometric grid according to an increasingly complicated blueprint, is much more fun than it sounds. I also love another physics-based challenge, Ramps ( If none of these do it for you, check out aggregation sites like and, or play any of Ferry Halim's beautiful relaxing experiences on

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Interpol free live tracks

Check out these tracks from Interpol's LIVE EP (out now.) They were recorded live at London's Astoria.

Mammoth (live)

Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down (live)

You can find a list of indie stores where you can purchase the EP at

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hate sprouts at Christmas? You'll love this

For everyone who sees Brussels sprouts as a necessary evil at your Christmas dinner and push them around your plate, then this game is for you.

Defend your plate from attacking hordes of sprouts!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

2007 - end of year top records

I've enjoyed plenty of records of 2007, and as the curtains close on this year it's customary for about the music to list it's favourites. I should add that there are plenty of records I believe are good but haven't heard this year, but the list below reflects the ones I loved from the ones I heard.

In the order they occurred:

Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger

I count this as a return of a great Ryan Adams record. Really it's a Cardinals record but with quality control. Every track is great, some fantastic and because the filler is omitted, even though it's a shorter album than previous Cardinals releases, it feels like a better one. Old classics emerge like "Off Broadway" and new ones are born like "Everybody Knows". Still haven't tired of it.

Beirut - The Flying Club Cup

This record rather snuck up behind me and burrowed into my iPod. Inspired by a 100 year old photograph and travelling eastern europeans in Paris, but recorded in America, this short album is something of a gem. Horns abound but above all is the strength of the melodies - rock solid.

A Fine Frenzy- One Cell In The Sea

Ever since I heard a demo record I've been a fan. Seattle born 22 year-old Alison Sudol has an amazing voice and her piano led songs are astounding. Ranging from incredibly intimate "Almost Lover" to Amy Mann style "Ashes and Wine" she has hints of Coldplay, Bjork, Motown. I haven't enjoyed many albums as much as this in a while. A real find.

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky.

Eagerly anticipated (at least by me) and it didn't let down. Some were dissapointed by a more accessible record without some of the noise of A Ghost is Born and certainly not the curve ball that YHF was, but it sounds like a band comfortable in its skin. Nels Cline adds beauty to every song with perfect guitar playing and for once, Jeff Tweedy sounds happy.

The National - Boxer

Following on from the slow-burning success of Alligator, Boxer delivers another solid punch. Some were dissapointed that the rockier moments of Lit Up and Mr November weren't replicated but what is present is more strong songwriting.

Band Of Horses - Cease to Begin

I was late to discover Everything all the Time but when I did I loved it. Cease to Begin follows on and progresses what Everything started. Not quite the Shins/My Morning Jacket cross over of the previous record and more their own band, but still throuoghly enjoyable.

Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter

Josh probably did the right thing by opting not to write another Animal Years, instead going the other way with a relaxed, jamming big band sound. Gone is the earnestness and back is the fun, resembling more of his live performances than previous albums.

Bright Eyes - Cassadaga

I was initially disappointed with this, but found myself listening to it all the time. As obvious as it may be, it sounds like a cross between Lifted and I'm Wide Awake It's Morning. "Four Winds" is great and it doesn't really drop from there.

John Mayer - Continuum

I dismissed him as too poppy for a long time, but on hearing this album had to reevaluate my opinion. My only criticism is it's almost too perfectly produced, sounding too smooth for its own good, but he writes the sexiest music of any white man alive.

Horse Feathers - Words Are Dead

This album blew me away when I heard it early in the year. Think Iron & Wine, but with the murmurs of early R.E.M. Great banjo playing, hushed lyrics leading to some almighty cacophonies. One I constantly return to.

If I was allowed another 3 they would be Iron & Wine's "The Shepherd Dog", The Shins' "Wincing the Night Away" and Kings of Leon - Because Of The Times deserve an honourable mention