What not to miss in Music, Books, Games, and more -- Why we're crazy about Neth creatures, Duke Spirit, My Chemical Romance, and more

By EW Staff
Updated December 29, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

What not to miss in Music, Books, Games, and more


LIFE ON THE MURDER SCENE Goth-punks with a penchant for Smashing Pumpkins theatrics, My Chemical Romance inject some welcome gravitas into the emo scene with this three-disc set. The CD captures live tracks, demos, and other rarities. Meanwhile, the two DVDs feature an intimate rockumentary tracing the Jersey upstarts’ angsty roots, inside peeks at their video spectaculars (like ”Helena”), and two-plus hours of thundering concert footage. (Out March 21)


THE GODFATHER: THE GAME (EA; PS2, Xbox, PC; Mature) We’re still not sure what to make of this Grand Theft Auto-style adaptation of one of the best movies of all time. While film purists will scoff at how it mucks with the story line by adding you as a Corleone foot soldier, gamers will revel in the open-world environment where you snuff out rivals and extort the local barber. And frankly, we get chills listening to the new bits of dialogue the late Marlon Brando recorded shortly before his death. (Out March 21)


WALLPAPER Putting a pic of your cat on your cell phone is precious. But reduce your cheese intake by downloading some of this wallpaper, featuring artists like Andre the Giant graffiti dude Shepard Fairey. Because your phone should say something other than ”My house smells like kitty litter.” (startmobile.com)


LAGOS ALL ROUTES and LAGOS CHOP UP Gorillaz/Blur frontman Damon Albarn has managed to squeeze a third career into his schedule: ethnomusicologist. Albarn is a co-owner of Honest Jons Records, which releases consistently cool world music, the latest being a pair of Nigerian-centric compilations. Gathering highlife, juju, and Afrobeat from the ’60s through the ’80s, these discs serve up jittery percussion volleys, elegant dance grooves, and loads of call-and-response chants. Like Albarn once sang, ”Whooo-hooo!” (Both out now)

AS TEMPLAR NITES Moonlighting from destructo-metallers the Icarus Line, Souls She Said singer Joe Cardamone and guitarist Don Devore explore their inner funkiness with a full-length debut that’s as toe-tapping as it is darkly malevolent. So when Cardamone howls, ”Everybody get on the floor!” you’re not sure if he’s encouraging people to dance or to rob a bank. (Out now)

Tour + CD

TAKE ACTION! TOUR Emo means more than wearing a black-logo T-shirt and a tear, my friend. Emo means buying the fifth volume of the Take Action! CD series (out now), featuring Hawthorne Heights, Panic! at the Disco, Dropkick Murphys, and about 497 other bands. It also means attending TA’s tour — headlined by Matchbook Romance — which is trekking across the country through April. And did we mention that 10 percent of the tour gross goes to suicide-prevention groups? (takeactiontour.com)


24: THE GAME (2K Games; PS2; Mature) For a show slavishly obsessed with haste, 24 has been painfully deliberate in its arrival on the videogame scene — about 38,000 Jack Bauer hours by our count. Despite some clunky gameplay elements, true fans won’t be let down by this effort, which manages to shoehorn in an ample supply of favorite cast members (like President Palmer), plenty of cell-phone calls, and gratifying twists worthy of, yes, a TV plot. (Out now)


CUTS ACROSS THE LAND Just in time to keep us from slashing our retro wrists on one more angular ’80s riff, Brit five-piece the Duke Spirit sink into the jangly sludge of ’90s indie rock. All signs point to PJ Harvey, Mazzy Star, and My Bloody Valentine’s ultimate valentine, Loveless. (dukespirit.com, out now)

Art Toys

NETH CREATURES That’s right: art toys. We borrowed that term from http://www.plasticandplush.com, one of our favorite action-figure blogs, which was loath to undermine the gorgeously austere aesthetic that drives J. Neth’s designs. No, they don’t have a backstory, and they don’t do anything — except, it seems, invite lots of questions. So why not use a Neth as an excuse to cue up something ethereal — may we suggest the Cocteau Twins’ 1984 masterpiece Treasure — and debate the place of function in art? (nethcreatures.com)


PUT THE BOOK BACK ON THE SHELF: A BELLE & SEBASTIAN ANTHOLOGY Kiss had a comic book. Ditto Courtney Love. Now for twee fanboys come Scot popsters Belle & Sebastian. Inspired by frontman Stuart Murdoch’s lyrics, a dream team of writers and artists adapt 25 classic B&S songs. Just like its soundtrack, the storytelling is, by turns, precious (”Legal Man”), goofy (”Me and the Major”), and, in the case of ”The Fox in the Snow,” simply sublime. (imagecomics.com, out now)

Visual Aid

MAP The London Underground map has been retooled as a guide to 20th-century music. Take the borough of Vauxhall: It’s replaced by the funktastic Rick James, which, as anyone who’s ever been there knows, is a vast improvement… (blogs.guardian.co.uk/culturevulture/archives/2006/02/03/going_ underground.html)


ISLAND JAMS Like a Dancehall for Dummies, DJ Small Change’s Soundclash (turntablelab.com, out now) crams three decades and 66 tracks of prime Jamaican toasting, hip-twisting beats, and gut-rumbling bass into an easy-to-digest primer. To slow things down for the after-party, Future Pigeon’s second album, The Echodelic Sounds of Future Pigeon (futurepigeon.com, out April 11) is a sunbaked, smoked-out, L.A. take on classic dub reggae — the bass is deep, but the hooks are pure pop.