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

Waiting for the Rails to Rumble: The Cycles of Rock Music
By Benjamin Barrett
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. [20.Oct.14]
'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. [20.Oct.14]
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. [20.Oct.14]
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. [20.Oct.14]
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. [20.Oct.14]
Today's Articles
20.Oct.14
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.
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.
Jess Reimer: The Nightjar and the Garden
The Nightjar and the Garden is a highly literary effort, a testament to a woman's trying faith in a time and place where it is a commodity that is being continuously challenged.
Guilty Simpson: The Simpson Tape
Simpson's grumbling's gotten boring, but Oh-No's beats are as fresh as they've ever been (straight off the farm, we're talking).
Queen: Live at the Rainbow '74
This lost live record captures one of rock’s most unassailable giants, right when it was discovering how to really belt out its “fee-fi-fo-fums”.
Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen: Cold Spell
Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen are poised to become a lasting force in bluegrass and also demonstrate the potential for broader success.
moe. - Same Old Story (video) (Premiere)
The latest video from the longstanding jam group moe., "Same Old Story", directed by Jay Blakesberg, is a sprightly run through a graveyard.
The Jordan Patterson Band: The Back on Track Recording Project EP
Honestly, if you listen to this and don’t want to go to one this guy’s concerts, there is something seriously wrong with you.
United States of Rage and Love: Green Day - Wake Me Up When September Ends
The 11th song on American Idiot, "Wake Me Up When September Ends" is arguably the most multifaceted and emotionally powerful composition on the album.
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.
Mosaics: Of Colors
If you’re looking for something new and dare I say a little dubsteppy coming from an American source, Mosaics will certainly satisfy.
Jazz Funk Soul: Jazz Funk Soul
If you ever wished that supergroups could just keep the egos under control, try Jazz Funk Soul.
'Watchers of the Sky' and the Full Cruelty of Consciousness
Brutality can take many forms, from war making to banking.
'The Vincent Price Collection II' Is a B-Movie Lover's Dream
Vincent Price brought class to everything he did, a quality evident even in the B-movies of The Vincent Price Collection II.
The Waters Aren't Choppy Enough in 'Killer Fish'
There's hardly enough killer fish action in Killer Fish to keep the film afloat.
'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.
A Fitting (But Incomplete) End: Death of Wolverine #4
Wolverine's demise had just enough substance and not nearly enough style.
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.
London Film Festival 2014 Day 8: 'Mr. Turner'
We conclude our coverage of this year’s London Film Festival with Mike Leigh’s long-anticipated biopic of J.M.W. Turner: a languorous, immersive, richly detailed work that surpasses expectations.
Blake Mills w/ Fiona Apple + yMusic: 8 October 2014 - Rough Trade (Photos)
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Blake Mills is touring in support of his new album Heigh Ho with instrumental group yMusic backing him. Friend Fiona Apple joined in in New York.
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.
'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.
'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.
Culture
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.
Recent Articles
Friday, 17 October 2014
We Just Kinda Broke All the Rules: An Interview with Lucinda Williams
Throughout her long and legendary career, Lucinda Williams has garnered a reputation for dismissing any notions of rules, expectations, or boundaries.
The Persistence of Mockery: Garfield and Surrealism
Goofing around with Garfield on The Garfield Randomiser and Garfield Minus Garfield evokes the poetic Surrealism that arose from Dadism.
Theres No Beginning, There Be No End: The Last of the Greats
The Last of the Greats was published by Image in 2011-12, a five-issue mini-series that received deserved critical acclaim but ultimately flew under the radar, popularity-wise.
Counterbalance: 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan'
Well, I remember seein’ some ad so I turned on my Conelrad but I didn’t pay my Con Ed bill so the radio didn’t work so well. Turned on my record player—it was the 929th most acclaimed album of all time. Dylan's 1963 breakthrough is this week's Counterbalance.
Time Out of Mind: The Lives of Bob Dylan
Ian Bell explores Dylan's unparalleled second act in a quintessentially American career. It's a tale of redemption, of an act of creative will against the odds, and of a writer who refused to fade away.
'The Book of Life' Is a Boy-Band Approach to Moviemaking
The commercial approach of The Book of Life is to draw on a wide range of celebrities to craft an entertainment that just about anyone could like.
Michael Keaton and Edward Norton Square Off in 'Birdman'
A onetime Hollywood superhero takes a stab at respectability by adapting Raymond Carver’s writings to Broadway in Iñárritu's hallucinogenic satire of the entertainment industry.
Indie Horror Month 2014: 'Claire'
Combine an already confusing maze of level design with the shifting planes and shifting angles of the game world, and Claire feels like it's purposefully trying to confuse you. Because it is.
Ry Cooder: Soundtracks
Rhino’s seven CD retrospective box set Soundtracks covers off the bulk of Ry Cooder’s ‘80s film work. Interesting and varied, this is a worthy re-issue.
'Into the War' Is Introspective, Poignant,  and Moralistic in All the Right Ways
Italo Calvino offers a rarely personal, and deeply insightful, glimpse of the adolescent experience of war.
The Aislers Set: How I Learned to Write Backwards
Even though How I Learned to Write Backwards is arguably the band's darkest hour, it's still affirming and affecting, the final piece in a wonderful trilogy of albums.
Thursday, 16 October 2014
A Dark Rapture: The Rise of Punk in Spain
Spanish punkers came swinging harder than ever, screaming not for the sake of inducing change, but screaming for the sake of screaming – because now they could.
Lucifer Is Free to Roam: (In)Justice and Retribution in 'Hannibal'
Hannibal, unlike much-hyped pulp revival shows like True Detective and Fargo, refuses to give its audience neat answers on matters of right and wrong.
El May Reclaims Her Confidence on the Introspective 'The Other Person Is You'
Lara Meyerratken, the Los Angeles-by way of-Australia indie pop musician, returns with her first new album in four years.
The Mundane and the Magical in 'The Vanishing of Ethan Carter'
Who knew that golden, verdant fields of wildflowers and ancient gods of unspeakable evil were so complementary?
Weezer and the Problem of Fan Expectation
Weezer's new album, Everything Will Be Alright in the End, walks the tenuous line between redressing the band's follies and giving in to banal fan service.
'Lilting' Is About the Ways We Assimilate
Lilting challenges what it means to assimilate into a culture, suggesting that blending in isn't necessary for shared experience.
Soap, Candles, and Even the Humble Ice Cube Make Appearances in 'How We Got to Now'
From the first selfie to the importance of jazz musicians, Steven Johnson puts a few surprises into How We Got To Now.
More Boy Than Witch: Klarion #1
Just keep moving, folks. There is nothing to see here, especially nothing scary. This Klarion, this Witch Boy, is a lot more boy than witch.
Kele: Trick
From the club to the bedroom, the Bloc Party frontman explores the empty sensuality of sleeping with complete strangers.
London Film Festival 2014 Day 6: 'Radiator' and 'My Old Lady'
Two films focused on ageing characters yield contrasting results. Tom Browne’s Radiator is an exquisite, intimate family portrait, but Israel Horovitz’s My Old Lady feels entirely fake.
'Surgeon General's Warning' Provides a Fascinating History on a Controversial Position
Written in vivid detail and expertly researched, Mike Stobbe's chronicle of the office of the Surgeon General parts the curtains on some surprising heroes and brings us to a surprising conclusion.
Wednesday, 15 October 2014
Will We Ever Come First? 'Vampire Academy' and Female (Mis)Representation
Though a surface reading of Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy suggests compelling depiction of women, underneath lies ages-old patriarchal myths.
The Magical Presence of Anna Karina: More Than Godard's Muse
It’s not that Anna Karina couldn’t act, but that she didn’t have to. Her physical presence was the art, and her beauty, in and of itself, was a significant contribution to the culture.
Sweetback in the Cosmos: An Interview with Melvin Van Peebles
He's almost single-handedly invented the Blaxploitation film genre, but as his recent collaboration with Heliocentrics proves, Melvin Van Peebles is so much more than simply a filmmaker in command of his craft.
We're in a Very Gray Area: Looking Back on 'House of Cards', Chapter One
House of Cards might be gearing up for its third season, but the very first episode of the series is the most telling indication of how Netflix is helping television break new ground.
'Spec Ops: The Line' Denies the Player the Pleasure of Play
Spec Ops: The Line isn't a criticism of mediocre shooters, but of the romanticism that has so often gone hand-in-hand with the modern shooter genre.
In 'The Zero Theorem', Terry Gilliam Is Still Looking for the Meaning of Life
Terry Gilliam's quest for life's biggest answers finds a new formulation in The Zero Theorem: perhaps, the film suggests, there is no meaning to it all.
A (Not Quite) Epic Onslaught: Avengers and X-men: AXIS #1
A high concept that's high on potential and low on refinement.
Clint Eastwood Took to His Role in 'A Fistful of Dollars' as Though It Was His Destiny
Clint Eastwood may not have been a star when A Fistful of Dollars was released, but everything changed for him not long after that.
Foxygen: ...And Star Power
Try as you might to take Foxygen's ...And Star Power at face value, it's hard to because the mischievous duo does everything but play it straight on the 82-minute double LP.
The Acacia Strain: Coma Witch
Coma Witch is a bracing, unapologetic, mesmerizing album. And it could very well be easily one of the best metal albums of the year.
'The End of Absence' Is an Argument to Turn Off and Tune In
These days there's so much technodread floating around that you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a thinkpiece about how smartphones are ruining our minds.
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
Songs of Simulation and Discouragement: Bowie, Bono, and Authenticity
With its Apple-sponsored free public release, U2's Songs of Innocence betrays just how far the band has come from their past, despite its attempts to bring back a Dublinesque vision.
What More Is Mankind Than Nature's Parasite? Reflections on 'Herzog: The Collection'
For Werner Herzog, man’s tug-of-war with nature is not a present imbalance but a lost cause, the barbarous beauty of nature made mere barbarism by humankind.
The 10 Best New Breed Horror Filmmakers Working Today
They are the contemporary voices of an ages old ideal, the new fear masters in a genre sometimes stunted by its own lack of (critical) legitimacy.
The Afterparty: An Interview with Bloc Party's Kele
Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke talks his new solo album, Trick, and explains how the album pushed him to make music in an entirely fresh way.
Star Wars Battle Pod Shows That Arcades Arent Dead, Theyre Just Different
Star Wars Battle Pod is a single-player flight combat game that uses an array of high-tech gadgets packed into a gaming pod to drop players into the action of some of Star Wars’ key space fight moments.
Mainstream Economists Are Leading America to Ruin
The challenges for Americans and other countries to grapple with are not economic ones, and they are not narrow, technically ‘scientific’ ones. They are moral and philosophical ones.
Roald Dahl, But for Adults: Wytches #1
"It’s not the greatest #1 I’ve ever read by a long shot but…"
Gazelle Twin: Unflesh
Gazelle Twin's Unflesh is as immaculate as a hotel in a JG Ballard novel, and just as bloody scary.
London Film Festival 2014 Day 5: 'The Imitation Game' and 'X Plus Y'
Two well-made, humane films focus on the lives of maths prodigies: Morgan Matthews’ modestly-scaled X Plus Y and Morten Tyldum’s epic Alan Turing biopic, The Imitation Game.
Why You Have No Idea What Your Favorite Characters Look Like
Celebrated book designer Peter Mendelsund considers how readers construct (or fail to construct) visual images in their minds in What We See When We Read.
Revocation: Deathless
Deathless should cement Revocation as one of the top metal bands in the world, if they haven’t already reached such lofty heights on previous releases.
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