TV, music, movies, and books we're into this week

Whether you're looking to stay inside where it's cool or hang around outside, lounging in the sun, you're probably looking for an interesting book to read, catchy album to listen to, or a great movie or TV show to watch. Need a recommendation? Read on!

Movies and TV

Here are some of the movies and TV shows Windows Central is enjoying this week.

The Secret Life of Pets

Recommended by Richard Devine, reviews editor

A lot of the movies I watch nowadays are ones that my children enjoy, and The Secret Life of Pets is no exception. I'm happy to admit, too, that the opening track (Welcome to New York by Taylor Swift) is something of a guilty pleasure. But this animated tale of two dogs, their friends, their enemies and their adventures in the Big Apple is something for kids and grownups alike to enjoy. It's well written, has plenty of humorous moments and you'll probably enjoy it more than you'd like to admit.

180° South: Conquerors of the Useless

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

If you're a fan of outdoor adventuring, mountain climbing, surfing or excellent alternative tunes, you're gonna appreciate 180° South: Conquerors of the Useless.

The movie follows a life-long wanderer who attempts to recreate a journey two of his childhood heroes made to Patagonia, and then scale a massive mountain for no other reason than to prove he can. It sounds like a simple concept — and it is — but the film is really about the planet Earth, the world's last truly wild places, how the human race is slowly but methodically eliminating them, and the people who are doing everything they can to resist that outcome.

Oh, and there's some gnarly surfing and tunage. (The film's soundtrack, curated by Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse fame, is just as good as the movie.)

It's an aesthetically beautiful film, with a very real, and honestly quite frightening, message every one of us would do well to consider. It is well worth a watch.

Kenny vs. Spenny

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

It's been years since I checked out this Canadian gem, a TV show where two "best friends" compete in a different competition each episode. On one hand, you have Spenny, the kind-hearted one who hates cheating and who gives each challenge a rightful shot, and on the other hand, you have Kenny, the devious cheater who wins most competitions by pulling a fast one.

The humor is mostly infantile and gross, but there's just something about it that I love. It's hard not to laugh at these two as they bare their lives on screen for the rest of us to enjoy.

Music

Here's some of the music the Windows Central team is listening to this week.

Age of Empires Definitive Edition (Original Soundtrack)

Recommended by Rich Edmonds, staff reviewer

Age of Empires was an incredible PC game that revolutionized the strategy genre. What made this Microsoft and Ensemble title even more amazing was the soundtrack, which you can listen to right now. And you totally should, even if you've never played the game. It's absolutely fantastic.


Halo 2 Anniversary (Original Soundtrack)

Recommended by Brendan Lowry, writer

The Halo 2 soundtrack is a fan-favorite among Halo fans, including myself, but for many the soundtrack featured in Halo 2 Anniversary was even better. Taking the iconic music of the original game and experimenting with the sound to create something fresh was something the various authors behind this soundtrack did very well.

Is Satan Real? — Church of the Cosmic Skull

Recommended by Dan Thorp-Lancaster, staff writer

Church of the Cosmic Skull is one of my favorite finds from the last week. And while the title of this album may sound like the existential scrawlings you'd find in a bored, angsty teen's notebook, it's anything but.

Church of the Cosmic Skull wholeheartedly embraces a 1970s vibe and aesthetic. "Evil in Your Eye", the first track I heard off of this album, is full of the same sort of epic organ flourishes and guitar riffs you might expect out of that era, but the band uses that as more of a base to create something wholly new.

This album definitely won't sit well with everyone. But, frankly, it struck me at the right time, as I was on the search for something unique — and it's been running through my head ever since.


Crosby, Stills & Nash (Self-titled)

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

It'd been awhile since I listened to the 1969 self-titled album from Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and jumping back in it's just as good as it always was. Though I probably prefer the band when Neil Young joins, this first album is downright impressive in regards to vocal harmony, arrangement, and instrumental talent.

If you're a fan of folk-rock and haven't heard this album, you might be doing it wrong.


Books

Here are the books we're reading this week!

The Driver — Hart Hanson

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

The Driver is a crime novel set in modern day LA. But it's so much more than that too. It's hilarious, for one thing. The author's sense of humor is somewhat … strange, but it's also sharp as a shard of glass. This book literally had me giggling to myself like a madman, and that doesn't happen very often when I read.

It's the story of a former U.S. military special forces sergeant who retired to LA after his tours of duty and starts a limo driving service that employs other vets, some of whom would be otherwise unemployable. The protagonist get hired by a local skateboard star and music mogul, who winds up getting him caught up in a web of deceit that includes psychopathic bikers, skateboarding hitmen, and beautiful and entitled divas.

That description doesn't do the book justice, though, because it's largely the writing that makes it all work. It's a light, fast read (I finished it in two nights), but I can honestly say I loved The Driver. It's my favorite book I've read in recent memory. Anyone who doesn't appreciate it has a severe funny bone disorder.


Your favorites?

What have you been watching, reading, and listening to this week? We want to know, so drop a comment and share your recommendations.

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If none of these recommendations strike your fancy, check out a list of all of our past recommendations. We promise you'll find something you'll like.

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