Alice Jemima – Alice Jemima
This self-titled debut album from Alice Jemima is one of the joys of 2017 so far and features a collection of fabulously diverse compositions that help to showcase Jemima as a true talent to watch over the coming months.
For me there are so many stand out tracks but personal favourites are the moody cover of “No Diggity” and the infectious “Liquorice”. I’m also a big fan of the atmospheric track “So” that really demonstrates the full range of Jemima’s ability.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to already hear of Alice Jemima, then you’ll know why I am so enthusiastic about this new artist. If you haven’t, do yourself a favour and spend half an hour in the company of her music. You won’t be disappointed.
Alice Jemima is out now on CD, Vinyl and digital download.
Ed Sheeran – Divide
The third album release from British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran features a number of songs co-written with artists such as Steve Mac, Ryan Tedder and Jessie Ware.
Despite the collaborations, Sheeran manages to maintain his identity and there is a lot to enjoy on this collection, including the infectious single “Shape Of You” and the up-beat “Castle On The Hill” with its echoes (for me at least) of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”.
His style still divides opinion and there’s no question he won’t suit everyone’s taste but sometimes music doesn’t need to offend or break new ground to still be enjoyable and in that respect its very much job done for Sheeran and Divide.
Divide is out now on CD, Vinyl and digital download.
Doctor Strange (12)
Marvel superhero movies are now released with such alarming regularity that if a month goes by without one I’m left checking my calendar to find out what’s gone wrong!
In this latest release, we see Benedict Cumberbatch inhabiting the role of talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange, who suffers a tragic car accident that forces him to put his considerable ego to one side and explore the secret world of mysticism and alternate dimensions.
I must confess this was one superhero outing I had low expectations of so it was a welcome surprise to find that – thanks in no small part to its engaging lead and a number of talented supporting actors – it turns out to be another largely successful and entertaining fantasy. Any film that can name Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen and Chiwetel Ejiofor in its credits has to go a long way to mess things up.
The special effects – courtesy of the ubiquitous ILM - can be a little psychedelic at times but they reflect the world of our protagonist perfectly and in the main serve as a good platform for the film.
Keep an open mind and you’ll enjoy this film a lot more than you might expect.
Doctor Strange is out now on Blu Ray, DVD and digital download.
I, Daniel Blake (15)
Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, the latest film from legendary director Ken Loach is a gripping, human tale about the impact one man can make on the world around him.
The film is led by a strong central performance from Dave Johns as Daniel Blake, a widower who is out of his time, having never even owned a computer. After he suffers a heart attack that leaves him unable to work and the state and welfare system fails him, he decides to take a stand against a
Blake’s fight becomes driven by his empathy for struggling single mother, Katie (Hayley Squires) and her two children and when you make it to the final credits of this film, you will have been taken through a full spectrum of emotions, which is exactly what a film should do to you.
They don’t make them like they used to so thank you Ken Loach for reminding us that movies can be about much more than just mindless special effects and formulaic plot lines.
I, Daniel Blake is out now on Blu Ray, DVD and digital download.
This gem of a game may have gone missed by many people but even though it has been out for a few weeks it remains an essential purchase for PS4, Xbox One and PC users.
As a competitive third-person melee title which mixes speed, strategy and team play with close range combat, there is little else to compare this title to.
Set in a fantasy realm where brutality is a requirement for survival, you can choose to enjoy the experience either in single player mode or in the company of online companions. It features a rich and engaging combat system, which demands more than simple button mashing to make it through the increasingly difficult levels.
There’s also a great level of depth to For Honor that rewards the more you play and ensures that you keep coming back for one more try.
For Honor is out now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
For more information visit the Ubisoft website here.
The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
Without doubt the marquee title for the newly launched Nintendo Switch, The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, is already been spoken about as one of the defining games of not just this generation but any since the birth of console gaming.
Does it deserve the praise being lauded upon it or are these simply the excited words of gamers who remain desperate for Nintendo to recapture its former glories?
Having spent a good few hours in the company of the title I have to say for my money The Legend Of Zelda is a game that hooks you from the offset and represents one of the best launch titles of any era. And when one considers the other games available from day one on the Switch you realise just how much the console needs this release.
The open kingdom of Hyrule is yours to explore in this immersive adventure, without a prescriptive route or order. Instead you set your own pace and find your own path as you battle hostile enemies and forage for food through a changing landscape that is both beautiful and wild.
The control method is intuitive and well thought through, making good use of the new controllers and whether you have been a fan of this series or not, there is so much to like here that you cannot fail but to be seduced by what is a unique experience.
If you only buy one game for the Switch make sure it is this one. Not only does it stand head and shoulders above anything else from Nintendo, it also makes a good case to be better than almost anything else we have seen on the PS4 or Xbox One.
And a quick mention should go out to those of you who still have room for your much-maligned Wii U. There is a version available for this dying console too and what a swan song it makes. Not only does it hold up well against the Switch version, it will also remind you of just what could have been achieved on the outgoing Wii U if only people had given it the attention it deserved.
The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is out now on Nintendo Switch and Wii U.
Just Dance 2017 (Nintendo Switch)
The first thing you should remember with this release is that it is a port of last year’s Just Dance 2017 so if you were expecting something that was a Switch exclusive then you need to think again. If you already own it on the PS4 or Xbox One then you should think carefully.
The next question you have to ask yourself is whether – for a console that talks up its mobile capabilities – this is the type of title that really makes best use of the hardware and its concept.
Anyone who has played this game before will know what to expect and at its heart is a standard Just Dance mode that replicates what has come before. Dive in, rack up the points and aim for those elusive five stars!
Other returning modes include Dance Quests, which allows you to battle against AI dancers, Sweat mode to work off those calories and then a variety of online focused offerings for you to pit your wits against other gamers across the globe.
Just Dance 2017 doesn’t offer too much exclusive content for the new Switch but if you are looking for a co-operative gaming experience then this one does stand out in what is otherwise a rather sparse looking Day One list of launch titles.
My only concern would be around the price. You can pick last year’s release – essentially the same game on Sony and Microsoft machines – for a lot less than the £44.99 RRP on show here.
Still if this is your first foray into the dancing genere and the Switch is your only console then after Zelda this is probably one of the few titles we would recommend giving a try.
Just Dance 2017 is out now on the Nintendo Switch.
For more information visit the Ubisoft website here.
George R Vaughan