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

The Ethics of Death-Defying Media
Furious 7's path to the screen is emblematic of the ways in which film and other media defy (and define) death as images develop lives of their own. [27.Apr.15]
A Response to Avengers: Age of Ultron, in Triptych
Even after Daredevil, especially after Daredevil, Avengers: Age of Ultron might be the finest realization of the Marvel Universe on screen. [27.Apr.15]
Kevin Barnes' Monolithic Egress: An Interview with of Montreal
By Ben Morrs
Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes explains why it's OK to make music that's ugly, why he loves Os Mutantes, and why he can't recreate his most hated song ever. [27.Apr.15]
Pop Unmuted Podcast: Brian Wilson's 'No Pier Pressure' and Veteran Pop Artists
The latest installment of Pop Unmuted talks about pop artists who are far into their careers, starting with the latest Brian Wilson album. No Pier Pressure. [27.Apr.15]
Moving Pixels Podcast: The Ghost of 'Murdered: Soul Suspect'
Generally regarded as a failure, we consider Murdered: Soul Suspect's effort to produce a game focused on investigation rather than on gunplay. [27.Apr.15]
Today's Articles
27.Apr.15
Blur: The Magic Whip
The Magic Whip is a goofy record, featuring a kind of scattershot energy that is usually only mustered by young bands just discovering their love of music for the first time.
Ava Luna: Infinite House
Ava Luna's latest is as multilayered and pleasantly bewildering as the "infinite house" where it was recorded.
The Late Call: Golden
Golden may be the one record to bring Johannes Mayer (The Late Call) to wider awareness.
Portico: Living Fields
The shift from Portico Quartet to Portico wasn't an evolution; it was a dismantling, a removal of so much of the soul that once made them vital.
Future Brown: Future Brown
Electronic supergroup Future Brown serve up a quietly evolutionary debut that blends multi-cultural styles without sacrificing mass appeal.
Man Without Country: Maximum Entropy
If you don't like music, then you'll adore Maximum Entropy.
Nai Harvest: Hairball
Hairball is a confident, exuberant semi-reset from the self-professed “pop scum” outfit Nai Harvest.
Jeen - Higher and Higher (audio) (Premiere)
Prime for clapping and singing along, "Higher and Higher" is one of the catchiest numbers from Toronto musician Jeen's new record, Tourist Deluxe Edition.
Flash Bang Band - Spooky Action at a Distance (video) (Premiere)
Pink-soaked absurdist visuals meet psychedelic rock in this delightful oddity from the Brighton, UK trio Flash Bang Band, "Spooky Action at a Distance".
Hanoi Masters: War Is a Wound, Peace Is a Scar
A haunting tribute to traditional Vietnamese music and the Vietnam War.
Trails and Ways - Say You Will (audio) (Premiere)
Trails and Ways' latest jam, a funky indie rock number with dreamy four-part harmonies, is "Say You Will", a tune from their forthcoming Pathology LP.
'The Boy Next Door' Is Wrong, but It Feels So Good
Like a musical, The Boy Next Door often asks us to suspend our disbelief and take a ridiculous ride to an absurd place -- in this case, a place where first editions of The Iliad actually exist.
The Potentially Great 'Mommy' Is Only Occasionally Good
Mommy has its memorable moments, but it's ultimately not worth the effort to watch obnoxious characters shout at each other for over two hours.
The Ethics of Death-Defying Media
Furious 7's path to the screen is emblematic of the ways in which film and other media defy (and define) death as images develop lives of their own.
In Irene, the Leads Are Upstaged by the Secondary Performers
Although Old Hollywood tried its darnedest to shoehorn great African-American performers as secondary players, in the otherwise blasé Irene, those players steal the show.
Culture
Kevin Barnes' Monolithic Egress: An Interview with of Montreal
Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes explains why it's OK to make music that's ugly, why he loves Os Mutantes, and why he can't recreate his most hated song ever.
Pop Unmuted Podcast: Brian Wilson's 'No Pier Pressure' and Veteran Pop Artists
The latest installment of Pop Unmuted talks about pop artists who are far into their careers, starting with the latest Brian Wilson album. No Pier Pressure.
Hubble's Greatest Hits
The Hubble Space Telescope “enhanced the very idea of what we call ‘culture'". See its some of its most popular offerings here.
James Wood on Why Fiction and Criticism Matter
James Wood is exactly the sort of champion of belles lettres we need, and this collection is proof of it.
'The Light of the World' Explores How to Cope When a Light Goes Out
In April 2012, Ficremariam Ghebreyseus collapsed on the treadmill in the house he shared with wife Elizabeth Alexander. Yet her memoir stubbornly adheres to joy.
A Response to Avengers: Age of Ultron, in Triptych
Even after Daredevil, especially after Daredevil, Avengers: Age of Ultron might be the finest realization of the Marvel Universe on screen.
Moving Pixels Podcast: The Ghost of 'Murdered: Soul Suspect'
Generally regarded as a failure, we consider Murdered: Soul Suspect's effort to produce a game focused on investigation rather than on gunplay.
Recent Articles
Friday, 24 April 2015
Vinyl: The Analogue Record in the Digital Age
As a multifaceted cultural object, vinyl has remained a persistent force within our technologically accelerated culture -- although not without bumps in the road.
Status Flow: The Kingly Rhymes of Marracash
A household name in his native country, Italy has in Marracash one of its biggest contenders of hip-hop.
Counterbalance: XTCs 'Skylarking'
You might not hear of bands talking about XTC as a big influence, but they were certainly in the mix that became the music that was to come.
Scharpling & Wurster: The Best of the Best Show
Numero Group’s 16-disc box set of phone calls featuring Scharpling & Wurster is both the sort of product that might have been lampooned on The Best Show on WFMU as well as a great monument to their first, weird era together.
Leaders Shouldn't be Mute
Silent protagonists will always be awkward in video games, but there’s one easy way to avoid a lot of that awkwardness. Don’t make them a leader.
Harrison Ford Reminds You Why You Like Movies in 'The Age of Adaline'
Harrison Ford's performance in this film about a woman who doesn't age foregrounds the consideration of time and desire, how each shapes the other, and how both affect imaginative horizons.
Russell Crowe's War Drama 'The Water Diviner' Is Awards Season Sap
Instead of a potent post-war drama, first time director Russell Crowe gives us a jumbled, often incoherent attempt at an epic.
'Cries and Whispers' Is a Life-Affirming Film About Death
To call Ingmar Bergman's red-drenched masterpiece Cries and Whispers essential to any collection would be a serious understatement.
Squarepusher: Damogen Furies
Even when Damogen Furies starts to become overfamiliar in its spastic rhythmic explorations, Squarepusher finds a way to upset the listener's expectations.
Great Lake Swimmers: A Forest of Arms
A solid album with a number of beguiling songs and a lot of spirit, A Forest of Arms is the sound of a band well into their musical journey, with many more miles still to go.
By Confusing Religion With Reality, 'Little Boy' Fails Its Faith-Based Foundation
Because it is unsure whether it wants to push the Bible or a little boy's wavering faith, Little Boy ends up giving us neither.
Thursday, 23 April 2015
Diss-Illusioned! Magic and the Supernatural
A new breed of magicians are self-consciously aware that their toolbox of trickery enables them to wield the potential power to affect beliefs—and thus behavior.
Still Built to Spill: An Interview with Doug Martsch
Doug Martsch and Built to Spill march on. Despite a core lineup shift, they never plan to slow down.
Blood and Thunder: Anathema Falls and Rises at Roadburn 2015
For a moment, Anathema looked like they would close out the 2015 Roadburn Festival on a completely flat note. Then they pulled off a comeback for the ages.
'The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy' Is Something of a Duck-Rabbit Itself
The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy does more than introduce major themes and arguments in philosophy. It raises interesting questions about the visual nature of philosophy itself.
'Bloodborne' and Firewalking: Play As Social Ritual
Playing Bloodborne is like willingly partaking in a rite of passage, an individualized ritual imbued with social meaning.
'Helicopter Mom' Depicts an Overbearing Mom With Overbearing Stereotypes
Any potentially forward-thinking ideas Helicopter Mom has are drowned out in the labels the film puts on itself.
Tribeca Film Festival: Harold Lloyd's 'Speedy' With Live Soundtrack by Z-Trip
Criterion's new restoration of Harold Lloyd's Speedy was screened with a live score accompaniment from turntablist Z-Trip at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.
The Charming Half-Assedness of 'The Soup'
The Soup's charmingly lazy approach is more transparent than ever, and for that reason it's that much more honest.
'H Is for Hawk' and for Healing
This book about grief and hawks and T.H. White is so beautifully written that even readers unable to tell robins from parakeets will be entranced.
John Moreland: High on Tulsa Heat
John Moreland proves there's nothing sanctimonious about singing the truth on High on Tulsa Heat.
'Cult of the Damned' Leaps Directly Into the Camp Camp
This cult obscurity remains bright and bewildering, chock full of silly dialogue and dangerous, ungrateful youths.
Wednesday, 22 April 2015
Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis Talks Self-Acceptance, Feminism, and Inclusivity in Rock Music
Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz talks with PopMatters about a growing progressive movement in rock music, her new record, and more.
Beyond Record Store Day: Digging Up Some Choice Used Americana Vinyl
There are plenty of good reasons to visit an actual record store besides that one hyped day in April.
The 15 Best Chris Claremont X-Men Stories
The X-Men's greatest adventures came from the mind of their greatest writer. We narrow down 53 years' worth of X-Men stories to the 15 best ones.
Ever Expanding Rather than Moving Forward: The Narrative Experiment of 'The Charnel House'
The Charnel House is a fascinating narrative experiment in video game storytelling, attempting to tell a story not by moving from point A to point B, but by starting at the center of a story and moving outwards.
'Batman v Superman' vs. 'Star Wars VII'
This past week, two trailers dropped for a pair of the most highly anticipated films of the next year. In the end, only one truly triumphed.
Michel Onfray's Philosophers Guide to Good Food
From Nietzsche's 'Sausages of the Anti-Christ' to Kant's 'Ethical Alcoholism', the French celebrity philosopher serves up a sumptuous smorgasbord of philosophical plates.
Alabama Shakes: Sound and Color
What makes the Alabama Shakes sound new is that they’re evidently devoted to their musical forebears -- everyone from Etta James and Aretha to Bowie and Zeppelin -- yet also coquettishly unfaithful to each one of them.
Cross Culture Convergence in 'Ms. Marvel #14'
It's easy to root for Kamala Khan, but that also means it's easy to feel the impact when her emotions get the better of her.
Summer Camp Slashers and Greek Myths in 'The Roommates' and 'A Woman for All Men'
A former Perry Mason director takes on the exploitation format in this pristine Blu-ray reissue and double feature.
'The Wild Angels' Lays Out the Rules of the Biker Film
Roger Corman's 1966 film is the storytelling legacy that works of cinema and television such as Sons of Anarchy draw from.
Wire: WIRE
Eponymous albums aren't for amateurs, and Wire's 13th chunk of full-length steel proves it.
Tuesday, 21 April 2015
Great Movies With Terrible Sequels: Laughable Sequels in Action
Not even the combined might of Superman, Batman, Predator and James Bond can save their respective series from sinking like an ocean liner into the Bay of Pigs!
Burning Bridges With Wire
Colin Newman is a rock legend. Wire have been churning out great self-released LPs for years, and their new one is no exception.
10 Terrific Films With Alternate Endings
With the birth of home video, filmmakers have been able to tinker with their vision. Here are ten examples, however, of where their original endings were changed before said movies were released.
Going Forward and Looking Back with Taking Back Sunday
The original lineup is still back, and Taking Back Sunday happily tell us about their Long Island origins and the real subject of "There's No 'I' in Team".
Country Fried Rock: Mic Harrison and the High Score
Knoxville, Tennessee country legend Con Hunley, collaborated with roots rock regional favorites, Mic Harrison and the High Score, on a special 7" for charity with Waynestock.
Big Time Fun in 'Chrononauts #2'
Chrononauts is a thrill ride that embraces the time travel genre while turning it on its head. It is big time fun.
'Preaching on Wax' Is an Introduction to a Neglected Subset of Early Black Pop and Its Biggest Star
Rev. J.M. Gates was a hit from his 1926 debut, worlds apart from his stodgy predecessors. His best work can still really get the goosebumps going.
Dreamfall Chapters, Book Two: Rebels
Dreamfall Chapters is about power and its abuse.
Built to Spill: Untethered Moon
Built to Spill's guitar-driven sound is the indie-rock equivalent of comfort food, indulgent and satisfying in how familiar it is.
A Vampire Falls in Love in Iran in 'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night'
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the most exciting debut feature film of the decade thus far, showing a prodigious talent in director Ana Lily Amirpour.
Crossing the Troll Bridge With 'Marvel Comics in the 1980s'
It’s almost as if Pierre Comtois is trolling the reader, treating the printed page as a message board on which to make fans go crazy.
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