Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

The Commandments of Lenny Bruce
Lenny Bruce made the stage his pulpit, the audience his parishioners, and stand-up the sermons for his alternative secular faith. [24.Oct.14]
All Tomorrow's Progs: An Exclusive Preview of 2000AD: Winter Special '14
After an 18-year absence on the global stage of popculture, the 2000 AD Specials returned earlier this year. The Winter Special is a thematic return to the magazine's roots. [24.Oct.14]
Counterbalance: 'Franz Ferdinand'
And if you leave here, you leave me broken, shattered, I lie. I'm just a crosshair. I'm just a shot, then we can listen to the 192nd most acclaimed album of all time. Franz Ferdinand’s 2004 debut is this week’s Counterbalance. [24.Oct.14]
Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones
By Paul Trynka
Brian Jones was the golden boy of the Rolling Stones—the visionary who gave the band its name and its sound. Yet he was a haunted man, and much of his brief time with the band was volatile and tragic. [24.Oct.14]
Jazz May Be Reeling in Terms of Record Sales, But It's Thriving As an Art Form
What if today’s jazz is a little bit Bill Frisell and a little bit Ornette Coleman? [23.Oct.14]
Today's Articles
24.Oct.14
Underworld: Dubnobasswithmyheadman (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition)
This mammoth edition of a truly classic album is worth it for fans for the wealth of material and insight into the choices involved in its creation.
The Aislers Set: Terrible Things Happen and The Last Match
Many of the Aislers Set's moods prefer melancholy. They mass classic pop and post-punk behind a yearning woman's small, echoed voice that demands attention.
Jazzateers: Don't Let Your Son Grow Up to Be a Cowboy: Unreleased Recordings 1981-82
Cherry Red Records affords these Scottish jangle-poppers and perennial underdogs a second chance some 30 years later with an odds and sods collection of demos, aborted singles and an unreleased album.
The Posies: Failure
Over two decades on, Failure remains a rewarding listen, steeped in its time yet sweetly out of place.
High Ends: Super Class
This is a record to be entertained by, nothing more or nothing less.
Tre Mission: Stigmata
Tre Mission proves nonconformity pays off on debut Stigmata.
Counterbalance: 'Franz Ferdinand'
And if you leave here, you leave me broken, shattered, I lie. I'm just a crosshair. I'm just a shot, then we can listen to the 192nd most acclaimed album of all time. Franz Ferdinand’s 2004 debut is this week’s Counterbalance.
Musée Mécanique - From the Shores of Sleep (album stream) (Premiere)
With sonic brethren like Josh Ritter and Sufjan Stevens, the Portland, Oregon folk band Musée Mécanique offers up an instrumental version of its recent LP, the ornate and visionary From the Shores of Sleep.
Kye Kye - Her (Remix) (video) (Premiere)
Evocative and sensual, Kye Kye's remix of its own track "Her" reveals it to be a band always interested in reinventing itself.
'John Wick' Gets You to Root for Keanu Reeves
John Wick offers you a chance to feel smart about the revenge thriller genre, and to feel okay when you want John (Keanu Reeves) to survive.
In 'Stonehearst Asylum', the Inmates Are in Charge
Stonehearst Asylum is Interestingly positioned at the crossroads between conceding inmates as fearsome criminals and as victims.
'Ouija' Only Works in a Single Digit IQ World
As long as it avoids anything closely resembling the real world, Ouija works. Not as horror, but as a cautionary example as to why "gotchas" don't necessarily equal scares.
'Force Majeure' Is Gender-Biased Junk
That's some view... of modern marriage.
'The Battery' Is a First Act in Search of a Plot
Amounting to one feature-length inciting incident, the low-budget zombie film The Battery will test the limits of even the most devoted horror fans’ patience.
'The Affairs of Others' Is a Testament to the First-Person Narrative
Even when the voice of Amy Grace Loyd's narrator suffocates the reader, her excellent prose and perceptive observations continually bring the reader back into Celia's world.
Thomas Pynchon Is Still Doing What He Has Always Done, With Antic Humor and Utter Seriousnes
Is Pynchon suddenly relevant again? Has the culture's craziness finally just caught up to his penchant for conspiracy, paranoia, and crazy-named characters?
Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones
Brian Jones was the golden boy of the Rolling Stones—the visionary who gave the band its name and its sound. Yet he was a haunted man, and much of his brief time with the band was volatile and tragic.
Buster Poindexter's Cafe Carlyle Residency: 22 October 2014, New York (Photos)
Is Buster Poindexter an alter-ego or has the persona fully subsumed David Johansen? Either way, the lounge lizard leads an awesome evening of cabaret.
CMJ 2014 Night 1: Kiwis & More at Webster Hall + Jukebox the Ghost (Photos)
CMJ Night 1 photos including Chelsea Jade and Doprah from the New Zealand Showcase, Jukebox the Ghost, Stone Cold Fox, Tiny Victories and Little Daylight.
All Tomorrow's Progs: An Exclusive Preview of 2000AD: Winter Special '14
After an 18-year absence on the global stage of popculture, the 2000 AD Specials returned earlier this year. The Winter Special is a thematic return to the magazine's roots.
'30 for 30: When the Garden Was Eden' Challenges the Narrative of the Melting Pot
30 for 30 shows how black men are expected to respond to limits and hopes, to contain, channel or otherwise cope with their frustrations.
Culture
The Commandments of Lenny Bruce
Lenny Bruce made the stage his pulpit, the audience his parishioners, and stand-up the sermons for his alternative secular faith.
Gods Will Be Watching
This game wants to be a work about sacrifice and hardship, the greater good, and moral integrity. However, I wish it could have reached the heights it was aiming for.
Recent Articles
Thursday, 23 October 2014
Jazz May Be Reeling in Terms of Record Sales, But It's Thriving As an Art Form
What if today’s jazz is a little bit Bill Frisell and a little bit Ornette Coleman?
Subverting the Rules: An Interview with Cory Branan
Cory Branan's brand of rocking country doesn't fit very well into music industry slots, but the Nashville-based songwriter is carving an idiosyncratic niche for himself regardless.
Allo Darlin': We Come From the Same Place
On their third album, Allo Darlin’ turn down the twee ever-so-slightly to craft a less precious, more grown-up version of that at which they’ve excelled over their previous releases.
'Books That Cook' Is for the Literary Foodie Whose Reading Tastes Are of a Scholarly Bent
As food studies enters academia, texts are required to populate the curricula. That doesn't mean lay readers can't enjoy them, too.
Primus: And the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble
Primus covers Willy Wonka, playing up your fuzzy memories of the film's dark heart while subverting the original arrangements.
'Gorky Park' Is a Cold War Film That Avoids National Stereotypes
This violent murder mystery is atypical among Cold War era films and stands up well today, but this Blu-ray could use a little more "special" in its "features".
Gary Clark Jr.: Live
This disc marks the official arrival of a major talent: clearly steeped in the blues tradition who can shift seamlessly between feedback-frenzied rawness and cool, old school soul and funk.
CAVE: Release
This collection of the Chicago psych rock band's previously released non-album tracks adds up to more than the usual rarities compilation.
Sam Amidon: Lily-O
Singer, guitarist, fiddler, banjo player, Sam Amidon's sixth album is a patchwork of delights.
Walter Salas-Humara: Curve and Shake
Another collection of evocative songs, deceptive in their carefully woven simplicity.
Match & Fuse Festival: 3 October 2014 - London (Photos)
Did I know the No Hay Banda Trio before I stepped into Rich Mix in sadly up-and-coming Shoreditch? Yes. Was I at all aware that Clare Savage and Bellatrix were hiding a monstrous talent in their minute figures? I do now.
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
The Voyage Impulse in the Music of Sting
No matter what hat he wears as an artist, the impulse to voyage beyond defines Sting, as do the impulses that compel him to stay.
Funny Faces on the Telly: Whose to Watch
Every few years there's a new batch of funny faces making the rounds on Britain's television panel shows. Here are a few faces worth watching.
The Problem With Current Sci-Fi Films and What We Should Learn From Watching 'Moon'
With the recent surge in popularity of sci-fi/action hybrid films in mind, it's clear that sci-fi needs to get back to its roots.
Music Requires a Journey Out of You: An Interview with John Cowan
New Grass Revival frontman John Cowan talks to PopMatters about the tricks of being a singing bass player, the new developments in folk music, and the career-spanning feel of his latest record, Sixty.
The Power of the Reader in 'A History of Reading'
Alberto Manguel takes a thematic rather than linear approach to a history of reading, offering an entertaining and impassioned account of reading practices and readers' agency.
'Cosmochoria': The Good Kind of Grind
The game fails to properly equip the player for the challenges in the game. That sounds like a criticism, but it really works in its favor.
Jessie Ware: Tough Love
Jessie Ware supplies more late-night soul on her sophomore effort, an album that finds her subtly expanding her much-lauded R&B sound.
Stars: No One Is Lost
No One Is Lost is undoubtedly a fun album, but it very much gets lost in its own narrative.
'The Mathematician's Shiva' Is Classically Middlebrow
There are secret plots, geopolitical rumblings, high-math technical language, and a parrot of interest, but as often as not these things wanly colorize an otherwise monochromatic narrative.
'Ghost in the Shell 25th Anniversary Edition' Is a Classic Anime Given Paltry Extras Treatment
Ghost in the Shell remains an excellent milestone in anime, but this barebones release is devoid of the extras that would truly make this edition special.
Diana Krall: Wallflower
The jazz singer tackles a set of boomer pop "standards", kind of like she was the Perry Como of her generation, and sounds plastic doing it.
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
What He Has Sown: A Conversation With Bruce Soord of the Pineapple Thief
The Pineapple Thief mastermind delves into the making of Magnolia, the [un]fair criticisms of fans, and the joys of modern Opeth, among many other topics.
The Tyranny of Aspiration Culture
Without room for doubt, uncertainty, and even self-hatred, the tyranny of Aspiration Culture prevails, and meaningful defiance is thrown out the window.
Cynicism, Recession, and the Resurgence of Cyberpunk
"Human nature might be augmented and highly channeled by technology, but human nature stays the same. And that tech might actually amplify all the worst things about us too."
The 10 Weirdest Horror Movies of All Time
Not all scary movies are horrifying. Sometimes, they're downright deranged. Watch these and you'll never look at your furniture, your appliances, your parents or anything the same way again.
Maya Angelou Meets Funk and Hip-Hop in On Aging (audio) (Premiere)
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more creative way to celebrate the legacy of Maya Angelou than to put some slap bass behind her evocative spoken word poetry.
Oil Boom - Red Metal (album stream) (Premiere)
Dallas, Texas rock outfit Oil Boom writes rock and roll that sounds like classic rock right out of the gate.
A Parable of Faith on a Desert Planet
As in Faber's previous fiction, the situation the protagonist meets in The Book of Strange New Things appears to be more complex than what this idealistic but flawed Everyman can fully comprehend.
It All Comes Back to Haunt You: Cutter #3
Artist Christian DiBari's black-and-white panels feel more than a little like a woodcut – roughly done with a pocket knife, all slash marks and scars, as if the killer herself is carving out this story with her bloody blade.
Mark Lanegan Band: Phantom Radio
Phantom Radio is the quintessential Mark Lanegan album, both a great starting point for those uninitiated to his world and a document that the most devoted members of his cult fanbase will cherish as one of his best.
'The World Atlas of Street Photography' Is a Commanding Overview
Readers familiar with these artists will be happy with this representative selection, while newcomers such as myself will find much to pore over, much to enjoy and much to provoke thought.
Thurston Moore: The Best Day
Thurston Moore's most ambitious solo album and possibly the best Sonic Youth-related release since 2004's Sonic Nurse.
Monday, 20 October 2014
Waiting for the Rails to Rumble: The Cycles of Rock Music
The romantic sentiment that rock was better in the past and has, as they say, given up the ghost, is a charming but misguided notion.
'The Mack Sennett Collection, Volume One' Attests to Risk-Taking in Creativity and Innovation
This collection of films is significant in illustrating the development of Mack Sennett's contributions to early film comedy and the lasting effects of Sennett and his troupe.
It's Back to the Future with William Gibson's 'The Peripheral'
When Flynne Fisher witnesses a murder, a contract is taken on her life. The contract holders are from the future.
Short As a Boat Ride with the Mafia: Exclusive Preview of Dead Boy Detectives #10
If you came through reading comics in the '90s (and we all did, even those of us born long after), Dead Boy Detectives #10 feels like coming home after the longest of journeys outwards.
England in 1819 - 'Summer Lightning EP' (audio) (Premiere)
A vibrant collection of '80s-inspired indie rock, Summer Lightning EP is another step forward for this Baton Rouge duo.
A Fitting (But Incomplete) End: Death of Wolverine #4
Wolverine's demise had just enough substance and not nearly enough style.
'Neverending Nightmares' Is More Tedious Than Terrifying
While it looks quite amazing, the problem with Neverending Nightmares is that there is a real lack of a bigger picture, either strategically or narratively, to motivate the play itself.
Scott Walker and Sunn O))): Soused
Twin titans of the underground come together to craft essentially what you'd expect a collaboration of this nature to sound like, for better or worse.
'Watchers of the Sky' and the Full Cruelty of Consciousness
Brutality can take many forms, from war making to banking.
'Voyaging in Strange Seas' Tells of the Deep, Wide Roots of Modern Science
The history of the Scientific Revolution, retold: Clear, detailed, and as overwhelming as drinking from a fire hose.
Jukebox the Ghost: Jukebox the Ghost
In overemphasizing the pure pop side of its style, Jukebox the Ghost oversimplifies and dumbs down its songwriting smarts.
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