Let’s just get this out of the way: I’m a massive Coldplay fan. They were my favorite band throughout high school and the beginning of my college career; I own all of their albums on CD and vinyl, and I cried my eyes out the first time I saw them live in June of 2012. I love Coldplay.

It’s my love for the band that makes me feel even more disappointed by the fact that I’m not impressed by their new album, Ghost Stories, released in the States on May 19.

By this point, Coldplay fans and many non-Coldplay fans are aware of Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s recent “conscious uncoupling,” and that knowledge is important to keep in mind when sitting down with this album. It is undeniably a breakup album, and along with that label comes the mournful lyrics and melancholy sounds that are so characteristic of the genre (and of Coldplay’s sound in general).

At times, the album is a beautiful, heart-wrenching ode to a lost relationship; tracks like “Midnight,” “Another’s Arms,” and “O” are tracks that will join the ranks of Coldplay classics. Martin’s vocals remain as crystal-clear and effective as they have ever been, the rest of the band’s instrumental work is remarkable (guitarist Jonny Buckland in particular shines on “True Love”), and – at times – the lyrics are moving and emotional (“got to find yourself alone in this world,” “fly on, ride through; maybe one day I’ll fly next to you”).

There are many occasions, however, when the album just doesn’t feel…right.

Coldplay’s first release from this album was “Midnight,” debuting in late February in a move that surprised all but the most in-tune Coldplay fans (some had been tweeting rumors of the song’s release for several days before it happened). The song, characterized by a relaxed vibe and heavy synths, is a new direction for the band, and it’s striking, somehow uniquely Coldplay and simultaneously entirely different from anything they’ve released in the past.

However, in one of the more disappointing aspects of the album, the band abandons this sound for the rest of the tracks. The heavy studio production and synthesizers are still there, but at no point in the album do they reach the tasteful and captivating usage that they do in “Midnight.” Indeed, on multiple occasions, the production becomes far too heavy-handed and detracts from the album’s beauty. Coldplay is typically at their best when they scale back the studio tricks and depend on their skill with their instruments and their songwriting (“Shiver,” “Amsterdam,” “Swallowed in the Sea”). The album’s highlight in this regard is the gorgeous “O,” which features only Martin’s mournful vocals and the accompanying piano. It’s the most memorable and genuine track on Ghost Stories, and it serves as a fantastic closer and a reminder of just how good Coldplay can be when they forego the studio tricks.

It is, of course, worth noting Coldplay is capable of producing and has produced many beautiful tracks with a high level of production (“Talk,” “Cemeteries of London,” “Clocks”). The issue with Ghost Stories is that it offers far too many tracks that are muddled with production that distracts from the music’s raw emotion and skillful instrumentation, and this is perhaps never so evident than with “A Sky Full of Stars,” a song co-produced with EDM legend Tim Bergling, better known as Avicii. The song is the album’s one major misstep; as a whole, Ghost Stories is a mediocre effort, but “A Sky Full of Stars” is the one track on the record that can be described as cringe-worthy.

Ghost Stories is not a terrible album. At times, it offers genuinely emotional, memorable tracks; at others, it provides overproduced songs with weak lyrics. The album isn’t a tragedy, but, much like preceding album Mylo Xyloto, it doesn’t reach anywhere near the band’s previous heights and ends up being an underwhelming work. Coldplay is a band that has repeatedly affirmed that they are capable of great things. They just don’t quite reach them with Ghost Stories.

My advice? If you’re a Coldplay fan, buy it on iTunes and give it a couple of listens. It isn’t worth rushing out to buy on vinyl, but you’ll likely find a couple of songs worthy of your “faves” playlist. If you haven’t listened to Coldplay much, go back to their first two albums, Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head before judging them on Ghost Stories. And if you’re one of those people that hates Coldplay, skip the album entirely; it won’t change your mind.

How did you feel about ‘Ghost Stories’?

Cassandra Clare keeps expanding the Shadowhunters’ universe, with the first adult books of the chronicles just announced!

Clare announced via press release this morning that she’ll publish a trilogy about Magnus Bane, the fan-favorite warlock who’s appeared in every single one of her books and already received a collection of eleven spin-off novellas all about him (The Bane Chronicles). There is no word yet on whether the new books will tie in with the stories told in The Bane Chronicles.

Interestingly, this trilogy will be Clare’s first foray into adult literature, after writing extensively in the YA realm. She always pushed the boundaries of YA, though, with the inclusion of “Dirty Sexy Balcony Scenes” and the like. The first Shadowhunter book, City of Bones, was published in 2007, and the teens who picked it up back then will feel right at home in the adult section of a bookstore today.

Also of note, the series will be co-written with Wesley Chu (author of The Lives of Tao). Clare seems to like having co-writers when dealing with Magnus Bane; The Bane Chronicles are the only other Shadowhunter books that have other authors attached.

The first Magnus Bane book is expected to be published in November 2017. This means that Cassandra Clare will have three Shadowhunters series being published concurrently… The Dark Artifices, The Last Hours, and this Magnus Bane series.

If various sources are to be believed, all three will have an installment published in 2017. The second Dark Artifices book, Lord of Shadows, is expected in April. The Magnus Bane book, as mentioned above, is due in November. And the official site of the Shadowhunter Chronicles still says that the first Last Hours book, Chain of Thorns, is expected in 2017. Clare has a sixth series planned after getting some of these finished, The Wicked Powers, so there’ll be more Shadowhunters coming to a bookstore near you at least through the early 2020s.

Perhaps the decision to publish the Magnus Bane trilogy was based on the character’s success on the Shadowhunters TV show, where the fan favorite is portrayed by Harry Shum Jr. Shadowhunters was renewed for a second season by ABC Family, and it looks like they may have many seasons ahead of them.

Clare said, “Over the years writing the Shadowhunter books, Magnus Bane has emerged as one of the most fun and fascinating characters for me to bring to life… There are so many things we don’t know about Magnus, from the story of his first love to the secrets of his parentage, to the beginning of his relationship with Alec. All those are things I was able to touch on in The Bane Chronicles, but I’m excited to dig in even more deeply in these three volumes devoted to Magnus, his past, his future, and his present.”

Are you excited for three books all about Magnus Bane, or is this Shadowhunter overkill?

The Boxcar Children are heading to the big screen for a new movie series.

Many of us grew up with the wonderful Boxcar Children book series when we were kids. The stories by Gertrude Chandler Warner follow Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny, who live in a train boxcar as they search for a home. As kids we all wanted to live in that boxcar (or at least I did — I thought it was so cool to live in a train car with friends!).

According to a press release from Shout! Factory Studios and Legacy Classics, work on a new Boxcar Children animated movie series is well underway, with the first movie aiming for a release in 2017 (which marks the 75th anniversary of Boxcar Children #1). Two more Boxcar Children stories are also in development.

If the animation quality is at the Sunday-morning-cartoon level I probably won’t be very excited about it, but if it’s a more mature animation style (like a Pixar or a Coraline) I can imagine myself loving it.

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The Boxcar Children movie series is poised to do well thanks to the overall success of the books they’re based on. The novels have collectively sold over 70 million copies worldwide, with over 160 books (?!) in its arsenal. The two most recent books are titled The Legend of the Irish Castle and The Celebrity Cat Caper, which were both published this year. Looking through the history of the series, roughly four Boxcar Children books have been published annually. The original author, Gertrude Chandler Warner, only wrote the first 19.

A low-budget animated Boxcar Children film debuted two years ago, but today’s announcement marks a reboot with a new studio at the helm.

Arrested Development‘s fourth season aired three years ago today. To celebrate its legacy (and to try to forget how much we’re missing it right now), let’s rank the best recurring Arrested Development jokes!

It’s really no secret that Arrested Development has some of the best recurring jokes and gags of all time. Even people who don’t watch the show are familiar with things like “There’s always money in the banana stand” and “I’ve made a huge mistake.” The jokes in this show are just so understated and catchy that it would’ve been crazy had they not have caught on. Thanks to Arrested Development‘s recurring jokes, pop culture has never been quite the same.

To celebrate our undying love for Arrested Development, we decided to forgo the banner (sorry, everyone) and instead put together a list of all of the gags and jokes that we think are the best ones the show’s ever done. Not only that, but we’re leaving it up to you to rank them!

How to play: Love a certain joke and think that it should be at the top of the list? Upvote it. Really hate another joke and don’t understand how it got on the list in the first place? Hit that little downward-facing arrow. Don’t care either way for some of these gags? Then you can just leave them untouched. It’s all good! We just want to know what YOU think! With everyone participating we’ll be able to build a definitive list of the best Arrested Development jokes!

So, grab your denim cut-offs and hot ham water, and maybe even do a little chicken dance to get yourself pumped up (but not with the hot ham water in your hand, please). If you’re an Arrested Development fan, you’re sure to love ranking these jokes.

(Just be careful about which arrow you hit. You don’t want to hit the wrong one and find yourself saying “I’ve made a huge mistake.”)

Are there any ‘Arrested Development’ jokes missing from the list? Add them below!

 
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