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Electronic Arts are, as most people who take an interest in the medium of computer games are more or less aware, generally considered to be bad for the industry/art form/whatever it is, in the sense that their marketing division have apparently been beaten about the head regularly with a large blunt object, and their approach to making profits appears to be "buy up smaller development houses and ruin them". For this reason there are some people who decline to give EA any money; I'm not much for absolutes, though. In particular, EA's subscription service is a very rare sign of them doing something fairly new and getting it right - for a £20 annual fee it works out as access to a lot of EA's back catalogue, and various other games, including a lot of indies and the odd AA publisher (there's a lot of Paradox games there, for example) they've licensed for it. It works great, particularly since I wasn't really interested in, say, Bioware's archive to want to buy the games individually, but £20 for access to Andromeda, all the Dragon Age games and Jade Empire is clearly worth it (whether or not I renew this next year is another matter entirely). So now I have 150 or so games I'm trying out from time to time, and I find writing reviews fun, so here we go again...

This is by way of introduction to a series of "things what I played on Origin Access" review posts.

Mass Effect: Andromeda (Bioware/EA, 2016)

Read more... )

So there you have it - perfectly playable, some of the subplots and missions are even quite compelling, but your enjoyment of the game will be spoiled by a) the fact that you've got to spend a distressingly long amount of time driving a vehicle around a not-particularly-featureful landscape and b) the inability to prevent yourself from realising how dumb it all is while playing it.
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The last prompt is "a song that reminds you of yourself". This song gets pretty close to my love life...admittedly, in Cambridge "an apartment by the river road" could describe practically anywhere. The video is arguably NSFW but why are you playing music videos at work anyway?



Final list )
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The penultimate prompt is "a song you remember from your childhood", which can really only be one thing. My mother used to sing me to sleep with this; I can't remember not knowing the words:



The List )
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Having said I knew what my answers were to the remaining prompts, one supposes I'd best actually post them over the next three days. Today's is "a song by an artist with a voice you love", and this song is the first time I fell in love with an artist due to their voice. Shortly later, I fell in love with someone else in marginally awkward circumstances. She probably also remembers this song, which sadly I can't find a live version of:



The List )
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Today prompt, "A song that breaks your heart", is the last of the difficult ones - I already know what my responses for days 28, 29 and 30 are. I think my answer for this is going to be a copout, because the my best answer, Tall Ships (which I've already mentioned once, I think), is a medley of several songs and therefore probably disallowed.

So what I'm going for here is a song that mostly breaks my heart because of its associations:



In Evita, Another Suitcase in Another Hall is sung by Juan Peron's previous mistress, upon being displaced ("unemployed", according to the libretto) by the title character. It's a song of rejection, and that's the role it plays for me as well; it gets added to my mental playlist when something has just gone horribly wrong. So since I'm sort of used to listening to it when I'm desperately unhappy anyway, listening to it the rest of the time tends to make me feel down (I'm going to stop now). The song I really ought to find heartbreaking from Evita is A Waltz for Eva and Che, especially since I can't really disagree with its depressing fatalism, but for some reason it's never really resonated with me, possibly because the use of Ché Guevara in framing just seems weird.

The list )
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"A song that makes you want to fall in love", says the prompt. Err. I'm not sure a song can do that. In fact, I'm not sure that's a desire that even exists for me. I mean, yes, I want to meet people, have relationships, etc., but the desire is not "fall in love". Also, even if we say it is for the purposes of having something to here, that's not really going to help, because it's sort of my default state.

So let's go the other way around and have a song that frequently ends up in my head when I am falling in love:




The list )
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Day 25's prompt is "A song by an artist no longer living", which was always going to be a rock and roll piece because it's about the only major part of music that I really like I've not dropped in on yet. By "rock and roll" I am referring to the culuturally fusionist blending of boogie-woogie, country, and rhythm and blues which first appeared in the Southern US in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and not the wider genre of music that evolved from it in the 1960s and beyond. The problem is that while I wrote "fusionist" above I could equally well have written "appropriative"; quite a lot of early rock and roll represented the performance of black American music by white artists, sometimes to the extent of being the same pieces of music. Pat Boone pretty much made a career of covering Little Richard (to be fair to Boone, had he not done so, far fewer people would ever have heard of Little Richard or his music; it's a simple fact that music played by a White American could get wider distribution and airplay than that produced by a Black one). That's not to say there weren't "white" elements in rock and roll, because there were, but overall (like a lot of the 1950s) it's a somewhat problematic subgenre. The thing with this is, where do you stop? The music of the Beatles and similar groups which defined the early 1960s comes from a secondary fusion, that of the rock and roll of the late 1950s with the skiffle craze popular in England at the time, and from that starting point it's not particularly difficult to condemn the entire genre of rock music, which seems somewhat unreasonable.

All of which goes some way to explaining why it is I picked a Chuck Berry song out, despite weirdly feeling that Berry (who died in March of this year) is somehow 'less dead' than my original thought of Buddy Holly (who died in a plane crash in 1959...you've heard the song, right?)



The list )
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Today's prompt is "A Song by a Band you wish were still together". This raises interesting questions about "by", namely whether it means "written by" or "performed by" (which is very important in the case of Bellowhead, who did not perform entirely original material), and also "together" (are the Stone Roses together? Cryptic comments by Ian Brown suggest not, but no actual annoucement. Are Katzenjammer together, if by that I mean the original quartet rather than the remaining trio?).

In the end I decided it was perfectly reasonable to go for a Bellowhead number, since many of their versions of old folk tunes are sufficiently reinterpreted to not bear that much resemblance to the traditional songs. Like many fans of folk music, I definitely wish Bellowhead were still together due to their high-energy music and the atmosphere of their live performances. The following is a good example of both of the previous sentences:




This is a mashup of the quasi-patriotic march "Lillibulero", from which the tune and the nonsense words are preserved (the words that originally went with the nonsense date from the late 17th century and satirise the motivations of Catholic forces loyal to James II), and "The Devil and the Farmer's Wife", from whence the rest of the words come. Sufficient research reveals that this combination wasn't entirely original to them, being released by Barry Dransfield on a 1994 album, but Dransfield's version would (I assume, not having been able to locate it, but this is what he does) have been scored for solo guitar and probably been rather more ballad-like than the above.

The list )
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Today's prompt is "A song you think everybody should listen to". That's a bit pretentious; I'm not sure I think there even is such a thing. Different people like different styles of music and different types of voices; I have fairly demographically predictable tastes and so my list of songs here mostly contains artists who look like I do (or like I do but female). But if we interpret it more broadly as "A song from an artist you think should have a higher profile" then this is clearly an excuse to post more Jess Morgan, and what I'm going for here is this one, primarily for how much fun she's clearly having while playing it:




She clearly loves this song; I saw her play it at Relevant Records a few months back and she was just as obviously having a whale of a time then too. In retrospect, I should probably have asked her about it afterwards but didn't, maybe I'll remember next time I see her. My guess is that it's her repressed rock chick instincts coming out, this being about as rock as she gets.

The list )
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Today's prompt is "a song that moves you forward". I only ever had one song in mind for this:



Obstacles is the credits track, and, to some extent, Chloe's theme (or at least, it plays over her ending) from Life is Strange. Both the song and its use in the game are about how you can't always have what you want, and it was pretty cathartic for me while I was struggling to cope with the idea that things weren't going to work out for me and K despite everything having seemingly gone right for us.

The list )
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This time I don't have an excuse for missing a day, except that this morning's choice of song is better than last night's would have been. I think everyone who knows a lot about my musical tastes must have expected at least one Jess Morgan song and might be surprised that I've not done one already, so here we are:


I have a bit of a "no repeating artists" policy (if that wasn't obvious by now), but it might get ignored for Jess Morgan at some point, due to her very high levels of amazingness.

The list )

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Apparently I forgot to do yesterday's meme, I blame Games Evening. The prompt is "a song that has many different meanings for you". This is quite difficult for me, that's not particularly how I usually think about songs. Ones I remember tend to have one strong association rather than several. After a bit of thought (and getting partway through a post using Bellowhead's version of Roll Alabama) I ended up here: 



There's a lot of different associations and memories jammed into this pretty short song. Some of them just twig off one or two lines - I can, for example, still remember the phone number that [personal profile] atreic had when she lived with her parents in North Notts, and that and a couple of other lines reminds me of the time in our lives when life was nice and simple; "We won't all be here this time next year, so while you can take a picture of us" made it the theme song for my last few weeks at Zeiss when I knew that R&D was being severely shrunk in size. Then there's the section about the loss of the London Astoria to build Crossrail, which always makes me contemplative and thoughtful about the relative value of art and music, and occasionally wonder how sad I would feel if we lost the Junction (very). Finally there's the chorus and the overall theme of the music, which is both hopeful and sad, a message to cherish your memories but not to get stuck in them, and also a reminder that I'm not great at mementos (I don't, for example, have a photograph of K - she didn't like them, and I kind of felt like we'd probably have forever so there wasn't a rush). 



 
The list )
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Today was Folk by the Oak (it was also the Evans Cycles Wimpole Hall cyclo-sportive, and at various points I was wondering if it was even possible to try both, but a side strain contracted by walking into a pillar and then going for a run earlier in the week put paid to that plan). Like most festivals, it was fun but exhausting; I saw Leveret (meh), This is the Kit (excellent), Kitty Macfarlane (excellent), Shake the Chains (this year's Nancy Kerr-based Folk by the Oak-sponsored collaboration, about protest songs - a lot of fun and also thought-provoking), Eric Bibb (blues singer is bluesy. Not my thing), Show of Hands (excellent as always, the highlight of the day), Kate Rusby (I like her, but she's not really festival music), Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys (looking increasingly like worthy successors to Bellowhead), and the Levellers (oddly flat by their standards, but still damn good and you can't really go wrong by closing out with What a Beautiful Day and fireworks).

Given that, it would seem sensible to have today's prompt be filled by something I heard today; the prompt is "A song that makes you think about life". There were a fair few of those, for one reason and another - I'd love to answer the prompt with Shake the Chains' There's More to Building Ships, but I can't, because there's no recording of that song publicly available at the moment (the album comes out in September, it's probably worth a look). Show of Hands opened up with Cuthroats, Crooks and Conmen which did make me think about things somewhat, but not really topics I'd normally put under the heading of "life". So I ended up here, a song about the value of life and the consequences of taking it:



(unlike at Folk by the Oak, in this video Mark Chadwick didn't have to interrupt his song to tell some idiots who were getting into a fight in the front rows to knock it off, a fact I mention due to the sheer irony involved).

The list )
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Today's prompt is "a song from the year of your birth", which was rather tricky, because while there's quite a lot of 80s music which I like, I have no idea when any of it was released. OK, not quite true, I know that Do They Know It's Christmas? was a 1984 release because I've got one of those "the year of your birth" things so I know what the Christmas #1 was. Still, not quite what I was going for. Some time on Wikipedia: Caetgory: 1984 Singles lead me to a short list of Wake Me Up (Before You Go-Go), (because Rock and Roll dancing, mostly), Don't Go Back to Rockville (R.E.M. are probably my favourite band who I don't regularly think of when ask to list my favourite bands...), Radio Ga-Ga, and this, which is kind of creepier in the age of social media:



The list )
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Day 17's prompt was "A song that you would sing as a duet on karaoke". This is not a thing I have actually done all that much, even if you count playing games like Singstar, but it is a thing which I do find fun so it's certainly not the case that I wouldn't sing anything as a duet on karaoke. It took me a while to think of a duet I might want to sing that would be plausible for karaoke, though (despite my recalling once having commented to [personal profile] atreic about the desirability of Singstar Gilbert & Sullivan, I don't think it's likely to happen any time soon). I'm not sure how much more plausible I'm required to get; does the song have to be from pop or rock music, such that it would actually exist in a karaoke machine somewhere? Assuming for the sake of sleep I'm allowed to create a conceptual karaoke machine which contains a variety of folk music and similar, I'm going for this: 



 


The List )
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Day 16's prompt is "one of your favourite classical songs". I'm probably not really able to be particularly picky about this, since if we define "classical" to mean "before the Romantic era and after the Baroque one" and song to mean "a piece of music with a vocal component" then I don't think I have any favourite classical songs (there are certainly parts of Mozart, Haydn etc. that I like, but none of them are sung). So we'll head off to the Romantic era and go for some Verdi (even here I'm cheating; my favourite part of this is the entirely instrumental second movement):



The list )
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Day 15's prompt is "a song that is a cover by another artist". I've already done two of these, and in general I don't feel that the original author of a song has any particular claim on producing the definitive performance of it (though any performance of it remains a performance of their song; you don't get to claim authorship by making a derivative work either). So there's quite a lot of covers I like and I'll often listen to several different versions of a song one after another. I initially thought I should pick out a Show of Hands song here, since they've done a lot of pretty clever covers. Originally I was going for their version of Don Henley's Boys of Summer, but Youtube doesn't have a version of it with decent sound quality that's pre-2012, after which they started playing it a bit faster and I don't like it so much. I appear to be too lazy to upload the version of it I do have to somewhere the rest of you could hear it... Then I was thinking about The Devil's Right Hand, but as I was making my way to finding a decent video of it I remembered something pretty special from a Cambridge Folk Festival two years ago, and thought that probably fewer of the people who might see this would be familiar with this one than a Show of Hands song (and that's got to be at least part of the point, right?). There's not a live version of it I like, but here's the studio one...



The list )
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Today's prompt is "a song that you would love played at your wedding." This makes me sad, because it feels like the odds of me ever having a wedding to play music at are diminishing rapidly as the years go by. Particularly so this year perhaps since this year's failed relationship had much more potential than the previous ones. Ah well...

Anyway, I've always thought this would be an excellent song to play while people file out following the ceremony (though it's a bit uncharitable about the bride...also I probably won't ever be First Lord of the Admiralty, particularly since the position doesn't exist any more):



The list )
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Today's prompt is "one of your favourite 70s songs". The 1970s is somewhat the decade that music forgot; countercultural movements became mainstream and didn't know what to do next and so we largely end up with a lot of pointless excess and not much in the way of actually interesting music, and things pick up again in the 80s as people start experimenting with synthesizers and electric music makes an impact on things. Still, it'd be pretty hard for ten years to go by without anything decent being written. Still, the only actual favourite song that comes to mind from the decade is this (and it's mostly for the bass solo, in defiance of most musical stereotypes): 

Sadly there aren't any really good live video performances of this on Youtube (partly because of the fact that TV outside broadcast quality in the 1970s was kind of bad in the first place, and Fleetwood Mac's more recent performances don't sound quite right to me), so the video is just the music. 


The list )
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Today's prompt is "a song from your pre-teen years". I turned 13 in 1997, so I assume I've got any time between my birth and then to go for, which was a particularly good era in British popular music and in fact I've already picked three songs (Waterfall, Champagne Supernova and Six Underground) from it. But there's a few songs I particularly recall hearing on the radio or similar in my fairly early childhood, before I went to secondary school in 1994. Some of them are disco tracks which are memorable but I don't really like as such (Rhythm is a Dancer, One Night in Heaven), one is a song that the person who wrote it is a bit embarrassed by (Shiny Happy People), and one is a song that the people who bought it are a bit embarrassed by (The One and Only).

And then there's two others, both of which have subsequently become overlaid with rather more meaning than I was capable of providing them with at the time I first heard them. Pipping Kiss from a Rose by virtue of being released when I was seven, rather than ten and about to start secondary school (I was accelerated): 


This is the 1991 version, which I can remember watching on Top of the Pops and hearing on the radio (trivia: it was at Number 2 in the charts for four weeks, kept off the top by the aforementioned The One and Only in an excellent demonstration of the difference between commercial success and being actually any good). I did not know at the time that this song was a re-release (I would only learn this by reading the album insert for James's Best Of album released some years later); I think that I actually prefer the 1989 version, having heard it (which didn't happen until 2014, I think). Amongst other things, the words are in a different order, arguably making less sense but doing a much better job of conveying the singer's emotional state.


  The list )
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