The movies, music and games to test your system

Music

BELLE AND SEBASTIAN The Third Eye Centre

Download, CD, vinyl

Out now ★★★★

Some bands’ collections of B-sides, remixes and ‘rarities’ are overt barrel-scraping affairs, an exercise in contract fulfilment or an admission of creative bankruptcy. Belle and Sebastian do things rather differently.

After all, this is the band that didn’t include a single on an album until their sixth LP (Dear Catastrophe Waitress) — prior to that all the band’s singles and EPs were stand-alone.

So in the manner of 2005’s Push Barman To Open Old Wounds (which rounded up B-sides and what-have-you from the first five albums), here’s The Third Eye Centre to do the same for the period since.

The 19 songs collected here are variously remixes (by luminaries such as The Avalanches, Miaoux Miaoux and Richard X), single and EP-only songs (Heaven in the Afternoon, Mr Richard) and recordings for compilation albums (The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House from War Child’s Help). And despite years separating the first of these recordings from the most recent, they’re all identifiably Belle and Sebastian tunes. Which is certainly a good thing.

You’ll need a fine midrange

While there’s an inevitable lack of unity to collections like this, of course, The Third Eye Centre presents a reasonably consistent set of challenges to your system. These centre around the midrange, where space and detail is essential, but staging, dynamics and tonal variation all get a work-out too.

Specifications

Duration 68m 40s

Standout track I’m a Cuckoo

The sound of Scotland transplanted to the Southern hemisphere.

Listen to it this way

The system

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon £300 ★★★★★

Quite possibly the best pound-for-pound source in the pages of this magazine

Rotel RA-10 £480 ★★★★★

A quality phono stage makes a big difference, and the Rotel’s equally capable everywhere else

Neat Iota £695 ★★★★★

Pricey alongside the electronics, but not too proud to slum it a bit. Thrillingly musical performers

DRENGE Drenge

Out now

★★★★

What do you want from your new favourite rock’n’roll band? Youth? Attitude? Scorchingly corrosive, pell-mell tunes? Of course you do.

And if your youthful, attitudinal, abrasive rock’n’roll band happens to be a two-piece of guitar and drums, and happens to be a pair of brothers called Loveless, well, that can’t do any harm either.

Drenge (Danish for ‘boys’) are a couple of Peak District indie-kids who have gained a degree of fame and/or notoriety thanks in part to some spirited, occasionally extremely brief, live performances and, bizarrely, for being mentioned in Labour MP Tom Watson’s resignation letter to Ed Miliband.

It’s a two-song trick

This eponymous debut album isn’t about to break any significantly new ground, but it’s all good scuzzy fun. Fundamentally, at this stage in their fledgling careers Drenge have two songs. There’s the wildly attacking, fast and flailing one in the manner of early singles Bloodsports and Face Like a Skull (both included here) — these two-minutes-or-so airbursts of distortion open the album and sustain it until well over halfway. Then the second song -more down-tempo, more reflective, only mildly overdriven — constitutes the last three or four tracks.

Brilliantly produced (inasmuch as it sounds big and full without really containing much at all), Drenge will (at the very least) expose a set-up that can’t move beyond ‘polite’.

Specifications

Duration 37m 21s

Standout track Fuckabout «Every time I put the kettle on, you put heavy metal on.»

Listen to it this way

The system

Cambridge Audio 351C £300 ★★★★★

The Cambridge delivers exactly the sort of crunch and attack this record demands

Rega Brio-R £480 ★★★★★

A nice match for the CD player and an amplifier of rare adaptability at this sort of money

JBL Studio 530 £650 ★★★★★

Never mind the oddball looks, marvel at the size of the soundstage and the out-and-out attack

On-screen

The Little Mermaid Blu-ray

Out 2nd September ★★★★★

The Little Mermaid is one of the most important films in Disney’s archives. It renewed public and critical interest in animations, and the Mouse House went on to produce its biggest successes throughout the 1990s.

We can only guess why it’s taken so long to hit HD. The wait was worth it though: this animation looks and sounds fantastic. The picture has been beautifully restored and enhanced. Colours are bright, lines are clean and sharp, while maintaining enough grit and grain to retain its hand-painted charm.

Songs, meanwhile, are as magical as ever, given new life with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

It never feels remotely dated — as entertaining and appropriate for kids now as it was in 1989. Adults can have fun too: some of the darker elements from Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale have seeped through the candyfloss filter.

If you’re into your animations, you need to see this Blu-ray.

Watch it this way

The system

Panasonic TX-P55VT65 £2400 ★★★★★

Panasonic’s on a hell of a roll just now

Sony BDP-S790 £200 ★★★★★

It’s never wrong to big-up this player

Yamaha RX-A1020 £1000 ★★★★★

You can’t spend a grand more wisely

B&W MT-60D £1945 ★★★★★

Massively accomplished in all areas

Games

Pikmin 3

Wii U Out now ★★★★★

It’s no secret that the Wii U is struggling, which is a shame as it means lots of people are going to miss out on Pikmin 3’s mad and charming horticultural strategy and puzzle-solving. It looks lovely and after a slow start warms to addictive levels.

Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons

Xbox 360/PS3 Out now ★★★★

In a world of identikit shooters and sequels, it’s nice to see something unusual turn up, especially for just 1200MSP (£10.20). Here you control two brothers simultaneously, with half of the controller each, and while the puzzles are a little pedestrian it’s all worth it for a brilliant ending.

Payday2

Xbox 360/PS3 Out now ★★★★★

Left4Dead for bank robberies was what the original Payday promised. Sadly it fell some way short. Good news, then, that the sequel hits the nail on the head. Four players team up to pull off heists using stealth if you’re sneaky or guns if you’re not. It’s brilliantly tense and brilliantly fun

Splinter Cell Blacklist

Xbox 360/PS3 Out now ★★★★

Sam Fisher’s back! Yes, again. Neither he nor the core game have changed a great deal, but that doesn’t stop this being an extremely entertaining and polished stealth-’em-up romp with an engaging story. Co-operative and competitive multiplayer also give it good longevity.

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