Media Picks of the Week: Rolling Stones, Pet Shop Boys, Afro Samurai and more

Every week, the editors and writers at iMore select media that really catches our attention. It doesn't have to be the latest release, but it's just stuff that we really love that we thought we'd share with you too.

The Rolling Stones: Hyde Park Live - Richard Devine

The Rolling Stones: Hyde Park Live

After headlining Glastonbury, the next stop for the legendary Rolling Stones was London's Hyde Park for a monster show in front of an enormous, adoring crowd. Now, those of us who didn't get to party in Hyde Park can enjoy the concert in full thanks to the exclusive iTunes album. Released just this past Monday, the turn around time from concert to release is astonishing, and a salute to the digital music age we live in.

The album itself is pretty special, and fans of live music and The Rolling Stones alike should take a lot of enjoyment from it. I'm not the biggest Stones fan myself, but I've been rocking out to this pretty much constantly since I bought it. And who doesn't like (I can't get no) Satisfaction?! Those old guys still got it!

Gossip Girl, Season 6 - Ally Kazmucha

Gossip Girl Season 6

Gossip Girl has been one of my girlfriend's and my guilty pleasures over the past several months. A friend turned us on to it and it was all downhill from there. We spent several nights watching the first five seasons on Netflix.

Unfortunately, the sixth and final season is not on Netflix. We were, however, able to find it on iTunes without a problem. Not only was it a good deal, it's probably one of the best seasons that we've watched so far. I won't post any spoilers though for anyone who hasn't made it completely through the series yet.

We've got about half way to go through this season still, so no spoilers in the comments either!

Fate Accelerated Edition - Joseph Keller

Fate Accelerated Edition

I'm a fairly recent entrant into the tabletop roleplaying world, having only been playing for a few years. From all that I've played so far, Fate is by far my favorite system. Evil Hat, the company behind Fate, recently published the most recent edition of Fate, Fate Core. Along with Fate Core, Evil Hat published Fate Accelerated Edition, or FAE, designed to get games set up and running in as short a time as possible. Players are encouraged to collaborate in all facets of the game, from character and setting creation to moving the story forward.

It's dead simple to get a game set up, and games can be set up from nothing fairly quickly. FAE is essentially Fate Core stripped down to its basic components. The core concept of Fate is the Aspect. Aspects are words or short phrases that describe everything from setting components to qualities of characters. Each character has at least three aspects to start. There are a couple of small tweaks to the Fate system in FAE. For instance, where Fate Core has skills that describes what a character can do, FAE has approaches, which describe how a character does something. This minimizes the time it takes to construct a character. So you create your aspects, give ratings to each of the six approaches, pick one or two stunts (special abilities), and create the basic outline of the setting, and you're ready to go. Fate Accelerated Edition is available as a pay-what-you-want PDF, though you can get a physical book that comes with a PDF download for $5. Check it out now.

Afro Samurai - Chris Parsons

Afro Samurai

If you're into manga and anime (or Japanimation), then I have something for you. Mind the warning though if you're against violence — it's not for you. In a feudal Japan, it is said that the one who wields the number 1 headband is the fiercest fighter in the world and shall possess god-like powers. The only way to obtain the number 1 headband is to challenge the current wearer of the headband and defeat him in combat. However, only the number 2 can challenge the number 1. Afro Samurai tells the tale of Afro, the current owner of the number 2 headband, who seeks to avenge his father's death by finding Justice, the owner of the number 1 headband. Starring the vocal talents of Samuel L. Jackson with music from WuTang Clan's RZA, Afro Samurai pushes limits and tells a great story with some amazing art.

Pet Shop Boys - Electric - Peter Cohen

Pet Shop Boys Electric

If your knowledge of Pet Shop Boys begins and ends with their 1984 hit "West End Girls," for shame! Wrongly regarded by some in the U.S. as a one-hit wonder, the musical duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have been making some of the best pop music around - 50 million albums sold and counting. Almost thirty years later, they show no signs of stopping, or even slowing down. In fact, they just released their twelfth studio album: Electric. It's only nine songs, but it's dynamite and it shows Pet Shop Boys at their best -lots of electronic dance pop, and considerably more upbeat than their last album, 2012's "Elysium."

Electric marks a major departure for the band, quite literally - after 28 years with London-based Parlophone, they parted company (amicably) and struck off on their own, forming a new independent music label called x2. The change in label seems to have reinvigorated Tennant and Lowe, who teamed up with producer and self-proclaimed PSB fan Stuart Price (Price records his own music under the nom de plume Jacques Lu Cont, a.k.a. Les Rythmes Digitales). The nine tracks on Electric show Pet Shop Boys' incredible range, imagination and flawless showmanship. There are some of PSB's trademark straight-up electropop numbers, along with some hard-charging bass heavy dance tunes, soft ballads and even a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "The Last to Die." It's a great collection and it's fantastic to see Pet Shop Boys with a renewed, reinvigorated sound that promises to carry them forward to the next 30 years.

Airplane Mode - Rene Ritchie

Airplane Mode

Dave Wiskus is a friend of mine, whom I'd always known as a designer, but who'd been working on music for longer even than he'd been painting pixels. So when he started to release songs last year, I was amazed. When they turned out to be some of the best songs I listened to last year, I was thrilled. And that he's continued doing it this year makes me ecstatic.

Dave's debut, Epilogue, was one of my most-played songs last year, and his latest releases are some of my most played songs this year. Maybe because I know him, I feel like I get what he's saying in his songs, and they resonate for me more than a stranger's would, no matter how famous that stranger is. Or maybe he's just that damn good.

Either way, Dave's music, under the name Airplane Mode, is absolutely worth a listen. I like almost every kind of music, but his kind of music is among the kind I like most. Check it out on his website, and if you like it, buy some on iTunes.

Your picks

We're always looking for great movies, TV shows, books, comics and other forms of entertainment as well, so make sure you add your media picks in the comments below!

Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

Media Picks of the Week: Rolling Stones, Pet Shop Boys, Afro Samurai and more

3 Comments

Rolling Stones? Really? … and the Pet Shop Boys? …. Really?
One group is over 30 years old, the other is more than 50!

In 1984, if we listened to 30 year old music it was on nostalgia night for a laugh. In 1964, no one in their right mind would still listen to music from 1914 (or even 1924, or even 1934, or even 1944). No one but Rene likes anything that's actually new? Lots of good music being made every day.

The Rolling Stones album is new, recorded this month in London, and they released a new album this year. So I'd say they're still pretty current!