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August in Review

I'm pretty sure I introduce each of these monthly review posts with the same dribble about how the month has flown over and how I've had some ups and downs but I'm going to say it again, August has flown past at lightning speed but on a whole, it was amazing for various reasons which I will tell you all about if you can stomach a wall of text in this post. If you manage to read it all, you're an absolute trooper. As always I've categorised stuff so if you're interested in video games stuff, shoot straight to the bottom as always!

The Personal
Okay the first thing I need to mention is *the best* thing and I've been bursting to write something about it but I want to have the right photos accompanying such an outburst (I'm *so* blogger ugh) but guess what? I got engaged! August saw Matt & I's 3 year anniversary but it also saw in a huge surprise I really did not see coming. I feel like it's a cliché thing all couples say at some point, but Matt & I have been through the ringer together in the last few months - not in a way where we argue etc. but in a "through some tough stuff" way - and it was amazing to just kind of have a lovely anniversary day celebrating each other and the fact that you know what, as cheesy as it is, we're invincible. That is possibly the corniest thing I'll ever have written on here, but we've come out the other side happier than ever and I've got a pretty damn sparkly ring to prove it! I will be posting a "proper" post all about engagement and marriage stuff soon (now that I have my ring back after it's resize) but I just needed to fill you in and let you all know how suuuper excited and elated I am.

I also headed home to the north east during August to see family and friends and to celebrate my little brother turning the big one five (yes, I feel ancient and yes, it's soul destroying). It was lovely to see my family especially because I only see them a few times a year and I miss them and the north east in general more and more each time I visit. I had a trip to the cinema to see Suicide Squad (which I'll talk about in a bit!), had a great trip to the beach, went to a couple of art gallery exhibitions and also ate far too much pizza. All in all, it was a great trip.

Films weren't a big thing for me this month, but I did watch a couple that are worth a wee mention. Paddington Bear was one of my favourite shows when I was a little girl but I wasn't that thrilled about seeing Paddington the movie when it came out as I was so worried that it would tarnish my fond memories of the little bear from darkest Peru. After seeing it listed on Amazon Prime one night though, Matt & I decided to just stick it on and see how it was because we figured it would be easy watching. If you're not familiar with Paddington Bear, he is a little talking bear from Peru who moves to London, usually unintentionally causes havoc under the roof of the Brown's family who he lives with, and he loves marmalade sandwiches and the film essentially follows those main parts of the original idea of Paddington. There's a few familiar faces in the cast (most notably Nicole Kidman) and although it's not an outstanding film by any means, it's a good family movie with some slap-stick comedy throughout that is bound to make all viewers chuckle even just a little bit.

This month was also the release of Suicide Squad which I went to see with my younger brother and mam (of all people!). Although there has been a lot of hype around this movie release I've got to be honest, I wasn't that fussed about seeing it and then when I saw and read all of the damning critic reviews basically saying it was shit, they kind of peeked my interest. He's not everyone's cup of tea when it comes to actors, but I really enjoy Jared Leto's style in films and overall the cast for Suicide Squad was great so I wanted to check it out eventually. Reviews seem to either celebrate how great the movie is or drag it through the mud but for me, it was okay! I feel like the story could have been a little more interesting, there should have been a lot more of the Joker on-screen time because the trailers made it seem like he was a main character, but it was still enjoyable to watch, I liked the humour in it and the soundtrack was pretty darn good too. Jared Leto has since had interviews in which he claims he shot a lot more scenes/footage than was actually used and has suggested that may be because they're going to do a Harley Quinn/Joker spin-off which I think would be a great idea as Suicide Squad didn't really portray their relationship the way the comics do. It was an alright movie but if you can wait until it's DVD release and you're not a die-hard fan of DC comics, I think it's worth saving your money and just waiting!

You should all know what I *need* to talk about first: Stranger Things. Holy shit, this show was so good Matt & I watched all eight episodes in a matter of a couple of days. From the theme music, to the story, to the cast, the whole thing was gripping from start to finish. This show was seriously hyped up but it's totally understandable why. Although the internet is no doubt riddled with spoilers due to the show's popularity, I don't want to add to the neverending list of said spoilers so I'll just say its basically a show that is reminiscent of The Goonies movie but mixed with a great deal of sci-fi and the paranormal and a whole lot of weird. And the kid who plays Dustin? I have fallen in love with him and must adopt him immediately. Even if you're not usually into sci-fi flicks, I'd recommend Stranger Things so highly as it just ticks so many boxes. Make sure to check it out!

Other than Stranger Things, Matt & I have watched the latest series of BoJack Horseman on Netflix which is an animated "mature" cartoon which has a voice cast list of those from the likes of Bob's Burgers and Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad. The show follows the main character, BoJack Horseman, who is yep, you guessed it, a horse man, through his life as an actor who is kind of on a downward spiral from once being famous to now not so much. Sometimes this show can make me laugh out loud (not to mention the opening credits song is the funkiest shit I've ever heard; I love it) but this season just wasn't *quite* up there for me. Some of the episodes were just a little bit too weird and I found myself letting it just play in the background as I got on with other things. We also watched a lot of stand-up comedy from the likes of Louis CK, Jim Gaffigan, Kevin Hart and Eddie Murphy but honestly? All of their stuff is good so I just suggest you watch anything these guys have done and it won't disappoint. One more show I need to mention is The Tick. Remember the cartoon show, The Tick, which was about a superhero who was well, a tick? It's seems to be making a revamped appearance on Amazon Prime as a live-action TV show and the first episode was as ridiculous as the cartoon and really enjoyable to watch. Keep an eye out for it if you've got Amazon because it looks like it's going to be a good watch!

Music this month was a slow start for me but boy oh boy has it turned out to be yet another good month for my earbuds. Grouplove are the first mention who are the guys who do the "back in the 90s I was in a very famous teeeeevee showww" end credit song from BoJack Horseman. Every time Matt & I watch the show we end up sitting singing the tune at the end of each episode so out of curiosity we had a little google to see who sung it. The band Grouplove were responsible and after watching their "Ways to Go" music video on YouTube (check it out - the song and video are both equally weird and fantastic) I was hooked. They're your typical indie rock band but with a slightly more unique sound that will make you want to get up and dance.

The Mud Howlers also released their album, Timeliness, which is your classic alternative rock, chart-friendly sound. I like this band but they are a little interchangeable with the likes of Kings of Leon and Biffy Clyro. If you like those sorts of long-haired, 4-piece male rock indie with a slight touch of American country vibe types though, these guys and their new album will be a sure winner with you. Another album drop worth a mention which is in the same genre/vein is Andrew Leahey & The Homestead's Skyline in Central Time. I've had this playing on and off since the start of August and it's a nice easy listening alt rock slightly country sounding album if you're into that sort of thang and like a little acoustic too (not to mention Andrew Leahey is a fiiine 70s-style specimen of a man).

If you're a fan of Blink 182's latest album or if you used to be in love with bands like Alkaline Trio or Taking Back Sunday *back in the day*, I'd highly recommend checking out Moose Blood - Blush. Moose Blood are another easy listening alt rock band (there seems to be a theme this month) but they have a slightly more "loud" sound and remind me of the bands I loved as a teenager. Blush is a great album and I'm definitely going to devote some more time to it this September as I certainly haven't listened to its goodness enough this month! If you remember way back in my May in Review post I mentioned how much I was looking forward to Russian Circles new album, Guidance, to drop and it finally did in early August. Russian Circles are one of my all-time favourite bands and are a 3-piece instrumental post-rock/post-metal band who never fail to deliver. Guidance is true to their sound but not too samey samey when compared to their other albums so it's been a big hit with me this month and no doubt will end up becoming overplayed in my flat in the coming months.

As for new music to my ears in terms of new artist/band discoveries, there's been quite a few in August! My fave of the bunch has to be Steel Cranes and their album, Tango. I think Steel Cranes are a two woman job and their sound is incredibly nostalgic for me as they have that 90s alt girl band vibe that I'm an absolute sucker for. They only have a couple of albums out right now but give them a listen if you are inclined to listen to the likes of The Kills, Alanis Morisette or Bjork. Another great instrumental band I've stumbled across is These Hidden Hands, unlike Russian Circles, this band are a little more electro/techno as appose to alt metal/rock, but they're still very very much up my street. Their new album Vicarious Memories was released in August and it is slowly being played in my wee ears more and more as time goes on. Now lastly, these guys might not be a new band to me but they've been a real rediscovery this month. Who remembers Crystal Castles? These guys were played on loop when I was 14/15 and I loved their overly noisy electronic and synth sound but in recent years, I haven't really paid them much attention until I saw their album, Amnesty was released this month. It has their classic noisy sound but I don't know, it's somehow different. It's still distinctively Crystal Castles but the best way to describe this album would be that they sound like they've grown up a little and matured. Most bands do and I still really like how they sound (I possibly like this more "mature" sound compared to their old noise) but if you're a die-hard fan for their old sound, I'd love to know your thoughts on this new release! Before I wrap up this lengthy music section, I'm going to list some honourable mentions below otherwise I'm just going to say the same thing over and over, but these albums have been super great this month too:

- Tall Heights: Neptune
- Young the Giant: Home of the Strange
- Medicine Boy: Kinda Like Electricity
- JEFF the Brotherhood: Zone
- Black Foxxes - I'm Not Well
- Dead Gaze - Easy Travels

Video Games
August has been a mixed ball for me on the video games front as there's been a few hits and misses. First of all, I finally got around to playing King's Quest Chapters 2 & 3 and enjoyed them thoroughly. Although these two chapters weren't as funny, or as full of story and adventure as the first one (chapter 3 is particularly short!) I still enjoyed ploughing through them in a couple of days to earn my 100% trophies on PSN. Another hit for me has been Gone Home. This game was free to download on the PSN and has been nominated and has gone on to win numerous awards and it's clear why. This game is incredibly short to play and the graphics aren't anything amazing, but the idea of it is fantastically unique and is such a gripping game to play. You basically play as a first person character who has arrived back at her parents/family house and you need to "collect" journal/diary inserts to discover what has happened. If you're easily spooked, this game will definitely tip you over the edge as the suspense it creates is so impressive considering the actual story of the game doesn't really have a reason for the suspense. I'd 100% spoil it if I said anything more about it, but if you've literally got only 10 minutes to spare, fill it with this game and I promise you you'll be pleased you did.

Now for the disappointment. No Man's Sky has been a game people (including Matt) have been eagerly anticipating for what feels like eternity but it finally hit the shelves this month and despite my zero interest in it before, the soundtrack - performed by 65 Days of Static - and the graphics grabbed my interest eventually. The game would best be described as Minecraft in space. You play a first person character who can wander multiple galaxies and you will scan the flora and fauna around you until your hearts content. Unlike many RPG type games, No Man's Sky doesn't have a back story nor does it have explicit missions or quests for you to complete, you can just roam around various planets and areas discovering well, stuff. I literally played it for no more than 10 minutes and turned it off because I found the controls clunky and I guess I just found it boring almost instantly. Matt is loving it though so I'd definitely say it was a marmite game. Whilst I might find it boring, the creation process behind it is so interesting as the guys who designed created it in a way that's not too dissimilar to how own universe was created. Every player gets an individual experience as you're placed in a random spot on a random planet and have to discover everything from scratch. The game is vast and it can take you hours to travel to and from somewhere and there's very little to no chance you'll run into another player or even reach areas other players have. It seems like a game you can certainly get lost in and suddenly 7 hours of your life has gone by but for me, it was just missing a lot of what I like a game to have!

- A.
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