Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A beautiful iOS game, a Simpsons-infused play, and a bit of the Manchester sound

A scene from Alto's Adventure

Alto’s Adventure

This iOS endless runner game—or, in this case, endless snowboarder game—has already gotten a lot of love in the enthusiast press for its visuals. And it earns those plaudits: Playing as a snowboarder who’s trying to catch a bunch of escaped llamas, you cruise through an atmospheric landscape that features bucolic villages, breathtaking sunsets, and stirring weather effects. (Boarding through a rainstorm has never been such a pleasure.) But Alto’s Adventure deserves as much praise for the way it moves. Although it takes a bit of time to get its particular rhythm of sliding, jumping, and grinding into your muscle memory, the effort is worth it, because with a little practice you’ll find yourself conducting mini-symphonies of snowboard tricks with a seemingly effortless flow. Danger: You might think you’ll just play Alto’s Adventure for a few minutes, but then you’ll look up to find an hour has gone by. It’s one of those games. [John Teti]


Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play

Last Friday, a group of fellow A.V. Club staffers and I ventured out to Chicago’s Theater Wit to see a play called Mr. Burns. None of us knew much about the show, save that it took place in a “post-electric” world and involved characters sitting around a fire, trying to recite lines from an old episode of The Simpsons. I can’t speak for the others, but I certainly wasn’t expecting such a sharp, moving study of the way episodic television—and specifically, Matt Groening’s undying magnum opus—has wormed its way into our collective imagination. Written by Anne Washburn, and first performed in D.C. three years ago, the play expands outward in surprising directions, each of its three acts building on the author’s vision of desperate survivors clinging to their memories of a shared cultural text. By the end, which I wouldn’t dream of spoiling, Mr. Burns has reached a musical-theater crescendo of unexpected resonance. The Chicago show, brought to life by a versatile ensemble of actors, has been extended until April 11. Those outside the Windy City will have to keep their eyes peeled for a closer production, maybe one performed in Ogdenville or North Haverbrook. [A.A. Dowd]

Martin Hannett & Steve Hopkins: The Invisible Girls

The Factory Records fetishizing that took place around the turn of the millennium has left fans with little to rediscover, as the post-punk canonization that happened around 24 Hour Party People ensured no Crispy Ambulance single went un-reissued. So in recent years, that scavenging has moved behind-the-scenes, turning from bands like Joy Division and Happy Mondays to the man who ran the boards for so many of them: eccentric producer Martin Hannett. The architect of the “Manchester sound” has been celebrated in books, best-ofs, and a documentary film, but it’s taken until the release of Martin Hannett & Steve Hopkins: The Invisible Girls for the posthumous tributes to get around to digging up something that hasn’t been rehashed a million times. The Factory Benelux compilation collects tracks Hannett and keyboardist Hopkins recorded with the band they first put together as a backing group for “punk poet” John Cooper Clarke, later doing the same for artists like Nico and Pauline Murray. And while it won’t do much for Unknown Pleasures diehards, the album is a fascinating testament to Hannett’s skills and broad sonic palette, running the gamut from cold, proto-industrial echoes to warm cosmic funk to the pleasant library music created for the score of the animated film, All Sorts Of Heroes. There are the shards of a half-dozen musical genres spread across these 22 tracks, all rendered with Hannett’s expert ear. It’s crazy to say, but somehow 2015 managed to kick up another essential Factory release. [Sean O’Neal]


Share This Story

Get our newsletter