Hundreds is a simple name for what is essentially a simple game. But beating it is a far from simple business. The point of the game is to complete a hundred levels by pressing on small grey circles with numbers inside so making them expand (and the numbers increase) until the point is reached where one or more circles adds up to 100. The combined total of all the circles is shown in the middle of the screen for the arithmetically challenged. Sounds easy huh? Yeah, right.
Is Glasgow-born and raised Aaron Fyfe going to be the next big musical thing to come out of Scotland? If I were a betting man I'd put a few quid down on it being a very distinct possibility. As a rule we don't do a lot of single reviews here at My Dad Rocks but we were so taken with Fyfe's debut EP Closer to You when we heard it earlier in the year that when a copy of his new double A-side single landed on the desk we thought we'd give it a spin and let you have our thoughts.
Perhaps not the most inspired name for a duo Philip Henry and Hannah Martin consists of, well, Philip Henry and Hannah Martin. Henry who hails from Lancashire is one of the UK's top slide guitarists and harmonica players while Devon-raised Martin is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. As a folk duo they have been getting rave reviews for a few years now and their 2011 debut album Singing The Bones received heavy coverage on BBC Radio 2 and 3. If there is any justice in the world their new album Mynd (old English for memorial) should see their profile skyrocket because it is very good.
When Google launched the Asus-built Nexus 7 Android tablet back in August 2012 it put the cat among the budget tablet pigeons in a big way. Starting at only £160 the Nexus 7 offered power, style and build quality at a price that previously had bought you only no-name tat with a gutless chip and dodgy provenance. Now Google has released a Mark 2 Nexus 7, again made by Asus, so the question is, can lightning strike twice?
I was rather shocked when I discovered that Where You Stand is Travis' first new studio album in five years. Was it really all the way back in 1999 that they won a BRIT Best Album Award and Ivor Novellos for Best Songwriters and Best Contemporary Song? Yes it was. Now their seventh album is upon us, and it's perhaps suggestive of the decline in the band's public profile that its release has almost sneaked up on us at unawares.
It's no secret that Windows tablets have hardly set the world alight. To date they have been too expensive, even running the cut back and arguably useless Windows RT and too big, not one coming in below the 10.1-inch mark. But now Acer has addressed both those issues with its new W3. At £249 it's certainly affordable and with an 8-inch screen it's not too big or heavy. It even runs the full-fat Windows 8 which come October is due for an update to 8.1. So, could this be the Windows tablet you've been waiting for and at last a proper successor to the much-missed netbook? Read on.
Neill Blomkamp’s new film is another intense social allegory that follows a similar path to his highly regarded 2009 debut, District 9. Set 150 years in the future it's a science fiction action adventure but with a social subtext, this time the growing divide between rich and poor, haves and have-nots, rather than division along racial, or more accurately species, lines which was at the root of District 9. In the Elysium universe the super rich live on the eponymous orbiting space station enjoying the the good life while the bulk of humanity struggles for survival on a dust-blown, desiccated, dying Earth below.
If you want to know what Eufloria would be like if it was ever to made into a film imagine Monty Don as Commander Adama in Battlestar Galactica and the whole show rewritten with a very strong horticultural slant. Or to put it another way, think space opera as gardening. Part real-time strategy space adventure, part eco-fable and part relaxation aid this iOS-stalwart finally made it onto Android at the start of the year and is a strong contender for the award for the Best Mobile Game ever.
Paradise Valley is Mayer's sixth studio album in a career that to date has seen his musical talent often overshadowed by his uncanny ability to behave like a bit of a prat in public. As the title intimates (Paradise Valley is Mayer's new retreat near Bozeman in Montana) the new album presents an artist who, after successfully coming through two operations for granuloma in the throat (a condition that threatened to put an end to his singing career permanently) is starting grow up both as a man and as a singer and find his place in the world. And about time too.
Ocean's Eleven meets Inglourious Basterds sounds like a great idea for a movie and it's a pretty good way to describe the new George Clooney and Matt Damon vehicle about a group of American art historians and museum curators who join the US Army for D-Day in the hope of recovering renowned works of art stolen by the Nazis before Hitler's henchmen can destroy them.
Terrace is a Vancouver-based electronic dance/pop who according to their debut album's press release have the ambition of, and I quote, "breaking the world-wide dance-pop mould". That's a bold ambition to say the least, especially from a group just about to launch its first album. Of course dance is a genre where false pretenders come thick and fast and ephemera is one of the few constants but perhaps Terrace has what it takes to make good on its boast because as debut albums go As Far As The Night Can See is a rather fine body of work.
Back in the day Peugeot made a truly great motorcar called the 205 1.9 GTi. I owned one and loved it. For blasting down narrow B-roads few things on four wheels were faster. Along with the Volkswagen Golf GTi the 205 GTi created a whole new class of car, the iconic Hot Hatchback. Both VW and Peugeot had trouble replacing their first and greatest hot hatches though in Peugeot's case the failure was the greater - after 1995 the hot versions of the 206 and 207 got flabbier, softer and more and more wretched. The 207 never actually carried the GTi badge in the UK, that’s how bad it was.
For their sixth album, Bell X1 have moved away from the Talking Heads-like electronics that flavoured their previous albums Blue Lights on the Highway and Bloodless Coup as part of a deliberate attempt to strip their songwriting and production back to its simplest components. It’s a bold move that ran the risk of revealing weakness in the trio’s creative process and presentation but luckily they have pulled it off and with some style. The end result of the one of most musically interesting rock albums of the year.
A few weeks ago we reviewed the Ultimate Ears Boom Bluetooth speaker and came away suitably impressed though we'd be the first to agree that its sticker price of £170 is still at bit on the high side for a device designed for occasional or casual use. Now British Hi-Fi stalwart Cambridge Audio has jumped into the Bluetooth travel speaker ring with its new Minx Go unit which promises tip top sound quality for only £100. Granted the Minx doesn't have the Boom's funky, robust styling or its Coke-can size convenience, nor its waterproof credentials, but those features may not be needed by everyone.
When it comes to smartphone/tablet hybrids Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 has had the market pretty much all to itself for nigh on a year but the competition is hotting up. Sony’s 6.4-inch Xperia Ultra and the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 3 are both due to be launched soon as are similar devices from the likes of LG and Asus. Being range-topping flagships all four will doubtless cost a pretty penny (meaning £500 or more for an unlocked example) which leaves space for cheaper alternatives like Huawei’s Ascend Mate 6.1 and the new Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3.
Kick-Ass was without doubt one of the motion picture highlights of 2010. Based on the comic book of the same name by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. it captured the spirit of the graphic novel perfectly and featured stand-out performances from Aaron Johnson as the eponymous hero as well as a scene-stealing turn from Chloë Grace Moretz as the teen assassin Hit-Girl. Some quality support from Mark Strong and Nicolas Cage sealed the deal.
Emmylou Harris is no stranger to partnerships. From the first Gram Parsons duets through her work with Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton as one third of Trio to her collaboration with Daniel Lanois on the career-redefining Wrecking Ball, Harris has over the years worked with a hugely diverse range of musical partners. This has allowed her to raise harmony singing to new heights with appearances on record with artists including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith and Mark Knopfler to name but a few. Now it’s the turn of country troubadour par excellence Rodney Crowell.
The arrival of lightweight machines like the MacBook Air and the various Windows/Intel Ultrabooks have given sales of traditional, portly, heavy but affordable laptops a bit of a kicking. There are still plenty about but most are bulky, cheap affairs that you’d only buy for reasons of price. Acer’s latest Aspire though seeks to inject a bit of style into the traditional laptop by combining a reasonably thin body with a touchscreen and an affordable price tag of just under £600 . In other words it looks a bit like an Ultrabook but costs the same as a traditional laptop.
At the start of the year Spotify was the preeminent on-demand music streaming service but now the big boys from Google and Apple have crashed the party. Google’s All Access service has been available in the US for a few months now while iTunes Radio is due to launch very soon. Google has also beaten Apple to the punch in the UK by making All Access available here in Blighty. At the moment there’s still no news as to when and in what form Apple’s offering will cross the pond.
To date Huawei’s smartphone offering has concentrated on budget and lower-mid range devices but the arrival of the Ascend Mate phablet heralded a change in the wind. Now with the P6 Huawei has launched a phone that it hopes will appeal to potential buyers on the grounds of style, performance and quality as much as value. That’s a tough trick to pull off because it puts Huawei in direct competition with the likes of HTC, Samsung and even Apple: big boys with established brand loyalties and a track record of making popular, quality devices.