The Blessed Unrest is the fourth studio album from American singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles and follows up 2010′s Kaleidoscope Heart. Bareilles is perhaps still best known for her 2007 single ‘Love Song’ but on Blessed Unrest she is clearly trying to flex her musical muscles. The new album sees her evolving from her frankly rather generic singer/songwriter roots in some rather unexpected ways and suggests there is far more to Ms Bareilles - musically at least - than her previous albums have suggested.
Electric cars - too slow, too range-limited, too much hassle, right? Actually you’re not far wrong, but what about a hugely fast, 4WD electric estate car with a range of 500 miles? That’s the new Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid in a nutshell. You see under the bonnet of this V60 us 215bhp 2.4L 5-cylinder turbodiesel engine while at the back is a 11.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a 20kW (50kW peak) electric motor that generates 324lb-ft of torque.
Few remakes are created with input from, and the blessings of, those who played significant roles in the original. 2013's Evil Dead is one of the lucky few. This franchise reboot, remake, re-imagining, whatever you want to call it of the classic Evil Dead was produced, and its director chosen, by the trio of Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and Rob Tapert, the star, director, and producer, respectively, of the original film.
Electric is the Pet Shop Boys 12th album in a thirty year recording career. That's a fact many people will find surprising in itself. The fact that fiftysomethings Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have in Electric punched out the best mass market dance album I've heard for many a year may strain credulity to breaking point but so be bit because whether it’s a reaction to last year's ethereal (and underrated) album Elysium or due to leaving Parlophone and going independent or working with new producer Stuart Price (Killers, Madonna, Kylie etc) on Electric PSB sound like a band reborn.
Last week at a press event in New York City Nokia announced a new Windows 8 smartphone that added the PureView 808's massive 41-megapixel camera sensor into the WP8 equation. By way of background most people - including me - who used the 808 though the camera was absolutely spectacular. Yes, the phone was a bit clunky thanks to it running the old and now abandoned Symbian operating system but for taking pictures and recording video the 808 was as good, if not better, than many mid-range 35mm digital compacts. That alone was no mean achievement.
The last time TomTom made a major upgrade to its range of stand-alone satnav devices was with the introduction of the GO 1000 LIVE nearly two years ago. In that time the free satnav apps installed many smartphones have taken a big chunk out of the market with TomTom now making more money from licensing its map data to the likes of Apple and BlackBerry and from selling navigation apps on iOS than from the sales of dedicated devices. Just as well then that the GO 500 heralds in a change in physical appearance and a redesigned menu system with some new interactive features.
Eight years ago rapper Jay-Z uttered the bon mot “I’m not a businessman...I’m a business, man.” Ho ho, very clever. But BP and Tesco are businesses too and I don’t feel a burning need to dash out and buy albums from either of them. When an singer defines himself as a business rather than artist, does that make everyone who buys his albums a customer rather than a fan? Quite probably, but then the biggest buyer of the pompously titled Magna Carta...Holy Grail was indeed a customer.
BlackBerry has always had a reputation for designing and building the best smartphone Qwerty keyboards. Now it also has a reputation for building the only ones but it’s a shame most are fitted to handsets running the horribly out of date BB7 OS. The Q10 aims to revive the breed and BB’s fortunes by offering the combination of a top notch keyboard and the new BlackBerry 10 operating system first seen on the Z10.
At the beginning of Guillermo del Toro's summer blockbuster Pacific Rim the audience is presented with the definition of two words that may be new to many film goers. The first is "Kaiju" which apparently means giant beast in Japanese, and the second is "Jaeger" which I know for a fact is the German word for hunter. The following two and quarter hours consists mainly of the Kaijus and Jaegers beating the living daylights out of each other while wrecking significant parts of Planet Earth in the process.
If you own an iPhone or iPad or an Android smartphone or tablet the chances are it has rapidly become your main portal for checking on the news, sport and the weather. There are a lot of good apps to help you do this but three stand out: the BBC's News, Sport and Weather apps. Apart from sharing one obvious advantage, that they pull their information from what is arguably the world’s least-biased mass media organisation they also benefit from being free and (thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded) they don’t carry any advertising.
In an era where a light leaf-fall can bring Britain’s rail network to a standstill, this book tells the story of an era when 40 tons of TNT turned a stream train into a large hole in the landscape but triggered only a small delay and when Kings Cross station after being partly flattened by the Luftwaffe only closed for three days.
The ideal Bluetooth portable speaker should be small, easy to use, cheap to buy, waterproof (or at least water resistant) and capable of producing an excellent sound. That's a very tall order but the new Boom from Ultimate Ears (now a subsidiary of Logitech) comes close to ticking every box. Ladies and gentlemen, let me present to you the best portable Bluetooth speaker...in the world.
Even five years ago the answer to that question would have been "not very much". Maybe an entry level Korean hatchback like the Hyundai Atoz or a ghastly Perodua - something tiny, tinny, wretched and altogether hopeless. Times have changed though with the likes of Hyundai, Kia and Skoda abandoning the super-budget market as their cars have improved and their corporate ambitions have expanded.
When it comes to smartphones Samsung has done a good job of talking the war to Apple's doorstep with its Galaxy S3 and S4 Android devices. But when it comes to tablets Apple still reigns supreme. The iPad 4 and iPad mini continue to sell like hot cakes despite them being in some people's view a little overpriced and under-specified. How that musk irk the big cheeses at Samsung HQ. Now in an attempt to take a serious bite out the iPad's market share Samsung has released the Note 8.0, a device aimed straight at Apple's tablet jugular.
Judy Dyble’s new album is a tough one to review because in someways it's a shameless throwback to the British folk scene of the late 60s and 70s. As such you could write it off as an album out of time and lacking in relevancy, maybe even twee. But I think that would be an overly harsh and narrow-minded view. As a body of work Flow and Change is not without its charm and beauty and its very anachronism has an appeal.
“I’m a lump of meat with a heartbeat”. Those are among the opening lines of the first track (called the Weight) from the new Editors’ album, The Weight of Your Love. As far as sentiments go it sets the scene for an album that at times can be heavy going though I have to say from the outset is not without its moments of grandeur.
Phablets, or very big smartphones that are half phone and half tablet are the current darlings of most gadget makers. The majority of them like the current Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the forthcoming Sony Xperia Ultra are flipping expensive but spotting a potential gap in the market Chinese handset maker Huawei has launched the Ascend Mate, a phablet with a 6.1-inch 1280 x 800 screen which can be picked up for under £340. It’s also the first device fitted with Huawei’s own chipset that I've been able to have a prolonged fiddle with.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Scottish folk-rockers Runrig Chrysalis has rustled up a six CD set that contains pretty much everything the band released while signed to the EMI imprint. In terms of long-players that means the classic studio albums The Cutter And The Clan, Searchlight, The Big Wheel, Amazing Things, The Greatest Flame and Mara, plus associated singles and EPs. That's what many people would call the band's classic era though personally I wouldn't want to be without 1984's Heartland.
I doubt anyone reading this will have seen a documentary like The Act of Killing. While dealing with Indonesia’s horrific past - a subject many in the West remain woefully ill-informed about - the film shows nothing in way of violence. What it does to - even more disturbing ends than the most graphic brutality - is to ask the perpetrators of some truly horrific acts to demonstrate what they did and how.
Undercover: The True Story of Britain's Secret Police to give the book its full title has been written and researched by two Guardian journalists: Rob Evans and Paul Lewis and the story it tells should be genuinely, shockingly disturbing no matter how cynical you are about what the British state gets up to in your name. It shocked me, and I regard myself as cynical in the extreme.