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The Best Progressive Rock of 2014
By Jordan Blum
From idiosyncratic tales of dastardly aliens to concept albums about a mysterious demon, prog maintained its reputation for eclecticism in 2014. [26.Dec.14]
The Best Bluegrass of 2014
This year's rich pickin's of traditional bluegrass, jamgrass, and newgrass make it the best year for recorded bluegrass music in quite some time. [25.Dec.14]
The Best Country Music of 2014
By Dave Heaton, Taylor Coe, and Steve Leftridge
Take more than a quick glance at country music in 2014 and you'll see a varied landscape -- in terms of gender, age, experience and song content. [24.Dec.14]
D'Angelo and the Vanguard: Black Messiah
The urgent Black Messiah proves that sometimes, life won’t let a cultural statement that’s chomping at the bit wait for a proper marketing campaign; [24.Dec.14]
The Best K-pop of 2014
By Scott Interrante
Due to current events, 2014 was largely a rough year for K-pop. Still, these 15 songs represent the best K-pop had to offer this year, both inside and outside the mainstream. [23.Dec.14]
Today's Articles
The Best Progressive Rock of 2014
From idiosyncratic tales of dastardly aliens to concept albums about a mysterious demon, prog maintained its reputation for eclecticism in 2014.
The Best Bluegrass of 2014
This year's rich pickin's of traditional bluegrass, jamgrass, and newgrass make it the best year for recorded bluegrass music in quite some time.
D'Angelo and the Vanguard: Black Messiah
The urgent Black Messiah proves that sometimes, life won’t let a cultural statement that’s chomping at the bit wait for a proper marketing campaign;
The Best Country Music of 2014
Take more than a quick glance at country music in 2014 and you'll see a varied landscape -- in terms of gender, age, experience and song content.
The Best K-pop of 2014
Due to current events, 2014 was largely a rough year for K-pop. Still, these 15 songs represent the best K-pop had to offer this year, both inside and outside the mainstream.
The Best Canadian Albums of 2014
From Steph Cameron to White Lung, these 15 releases showcase the very best of Canadian music in 2014, and illustrate that the Canadian music community is definitely thriving and maturing.
Bastille: VS. (Other People's Heartache Pt. 3)
VS. both affirms Bastille's successes up to this point and highlights the weaknesses that need to be remediated as the band moves forward.
Do You (Still) Know It's Christmas?: An Interview with Midge Ure
Midge Ure reflects on just how far his career has come since his days in the new wave pioneers Ultravox, including what he's realized 30 years after the release of the classic charity single he wrote with Bob Geldof, "Do You Know It's Christmas?"
The Best Albums of 2014
From Polish black metal to mind-blowing progressive R&B and electronic music, 2014's best albums certainly have something for everyone.
Counterbalance: The dB's' 'Stands for Decibels'
They say the 235th most acclaimed album of all time gets off on frustration, but I know you've got an explanation. The 1981 debut from a power-pop legend is this week's Counterbalance. Bad reputation? Not hardly.
Kate Miller-Heidke: O Vertigo!
The real attraction to a Miller-Heidke release lies in the pleasure given by her voice. She may sing about love and life and engage in some interesting wordplay, but her distinctive vocals and range merit the bulk of attention.
The Best New / Emerging Artists of 2014
There was no shortage of new and exciting music in 2014. From an avant-garde saxophone quartet to soul-inflected pop from the UK, this crop of artists gave us a lot of great music this year.
Diana Reyes: Mis Mejores Duranguenses
Heartbreaking melodies belted over Hi-NRG beats of endless momentum -- only the beats are polkas.
Kim Hiorthøy: Dogs
Scandinavian renaissance man's first album in seven years is glorious piano purity over sample-free glitch.
The 75 Best Songs of 2014
From electro to Americana... from R&B to metal... from hip-hop to rockin' and poppin' indie... 2014 had something great for everyone.
'American Interior': A Multimedia Tale of a Welsh Vision Quest
Gruff Rhys' innovative, multi-platform narrative unfolds the beguiling and intriguing narrative of an enigmatic Welshman seeking out his kind... in America.
Those Gulls: Forevermore
Music worth hearing forevermore? Perhaps, perhaps.
The Gallop: Tall Tale Tellers EP
The alliterative Tall Tale Tellers EP is wall to wall with catchy, hummable songs.
You're not going to believe this, but a group of Canadian teenagers just made a confident and mature EP of '80s style alterna punk rock.
Kristin Andreassen - The New Ground (audio) (Premiere)
Folk musician Kristin Andreassen's new album, Gondolier, out in February, features contributions from Aoife O'Donovan and members of Punch Brothers. Stream the delicate "The New Ground" here first.
The Dirty Sheep: Sleep Under the Lights
While Sleep Under the Lights may not be the end all and be all of roots music, fans of this sort of thing should like it immensely.
Clint Eastwood's Legacy of Hunters: 'American Sniper'
In American Sniper, military sharpshooter Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) comes to see that delineations among wolves, dogs, and sheep are rarely obvious.
Martin Luther King Jr the Tactician: 'Selma'
The Martin Luther King Jr. in Ava DuVernay’s film is a preacher of vision, but he’s also a tactician willing to let blood be shed in order to advance the cause.
In 'Unbroken', Angelina Jolie Stages a War Movie, Not a War of the Real World
The story of the Olympian athlete Louis Zamperini story is ideal for the epic scale of Angelina Jolie's film, yet it's also too complicated to be reduced to such notorious generic confines.
The Woods Are Crawling With Metaphors in Sondheim's 'Into the Woods'
Disney’s film of Stephen Sondheim’s ironic fairy tale musical keeps the master’s gorgeous melodies, knowing lyrics, and finger wagging intact.
'Mr. Turner' Is Mike Leigh's Portrait of an Artist
This film makes J.M.W. Turner's story fascinating, his personal failings and artistic innovations seemingly inevitable, throbbing, propulsive and painful.
'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Is a Solid, not Sublime, Send-off
If all you care about is action, of witnessing outstanding special F/X and genre fantasy fashioned by a true master of such material, then this will satisfy your needs to no end.
The 10 Worst Holiday Movies of All Time
Holiday horrors come in all cinematic shapes and sizes. Here are ten terrible titles destined to put the "Oh No No," not the "Ho Ho Ho" into your yuletide season.
'Big Eyes' Celebrates the Right to Self-Expression
Tim Burton’s sweet little film about art and identity doesn’t demand enjoyment of Margaret Keane's big-eyed waifs, but instead an appreciation of her sincerity and expression.
A (Somewhat) Class-Conscious 'Annie'
This is a new Annie, decidedly anti-nostalgic and only clumsily cynical, but at the same time it tries too hard to both be and not be the previous Annie.
In 'Werewolf Woman', the True Horror Is Psychological
The Italian oddity Werewolf Woman has all the lunacy and nudity you'd want from such a title, plus a little meat on its bones.
'World Film Locations: Athens' Is Equal Parts Film Scholarship and Travel Guide
These essays provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of Athens, its relationship with the cinema, and how that relationship has evolved.
One of Ireland's Greatest Living Writers Hits Another Home Run With 'Nora Webster'
Colm Toibin's latest literary outing is like a complex Persian rug: the reader must work to notice and appreciate the patterns.
'Green: The History of a Color' Is a Monochrome of Multiplicities
Green: A History is a broad-spanning visualization of this multifaceted color, one that reveals the value of seeing different shades of meaning in the color of historical artworks.
Edward St. Aubyn's 'On the Edge' Brings Some Humor to Life's Fathomless Oddness
Here's another reasonably entertaining novel of ideas from this internationally-celebrated satirist.
'London: A Literary Anthology' Captures the City's Candelit Circles and Foggy Shadows
This wide-spanning anthology is a mélange of London experiences, encapsulating rich and poor, native and immigrant.
'Hate Crimes in Cyberspace' Shows Us the Steps to Overcome Online Bullying and Terror
From revenge porn to cyber mobs to trolls, Hate Crimes in Cyberspace shows the ugly side of the Internet and, most importantly, what people can do about it.
The Grandmother Is Gone: Janna Gur's 'Jewish Soul Food'
With Jewish Soul Food Israeli Food Writer Janna Gur tries to create a "greatest hits from our Jewish Grandmothers." Only the grandmothers aren't around to help.
The Best Part: Ringing in the New with Dark Horses Mike Richardson
Who better to talk about the future of the comics industry than someone who’s been inventing the future of comics for nearly four decades now? To wrap up this year, we sit down for a full session with Dark Horse Publisher and President Mike Richardson.
Look at the Women: Bitch Planet #1
Bitch Planet gives us naked bodies and bloody violence. (Naked bodies and bloody violence in space, no less!) It's called Bitch Planet for God's sake. And it gives us something more.
Anti-Thesis: A Night Showcasing Anti- Records' Diversity, Daniel Lanois Style
The mainstream appeal of Daniel Lanois' Anti-Thesis show may not have been huge, but the creativity level of the performances ranks among the highest of all shows in 2014.
Road Recovery Benefit with Tits of Clay, Stephen Trask + Guests (Photos)
Stephen Trask, co-creator of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Tits of Clay and some special guests played a benefit for Road Recovery, that doubled as a celebration for the reopening of Don Hill's venue.
The Bright Knight Rises: 'Batman: The Complete Television Series'
The 1966 live-action series still mesmerizes today as a deft Pop Art confectionary satire on '50s squares that wanted its viewers to have their cake and eat it too.
'The Interview' and Free Speech: A Plausible Alternative
Sony’s cancellation of the 25 December screening of The Interview may not be the free speech catastrophe that it's being made out to be.
'The Masterplan' Is All About Control
The Masterplan is about a heist gone right.
Recent Articles
Thursday, 18 December 2014
The Best Jazz of 2014
The skeptics who claim jazz is weaker than before simply aren't listening. As these 16 albums reveal, jazz remains on the cutting edge.
The Best World Music of 2014
The best world music albums of 2014 often possessed some element of exaggeration or extremeness that seemed too unlikely to be fully true, and made you listen to them again and again.
How Digital Comics Changed the Way I Think About Print
There is no cloud storage for print, making the decision to recycle a bunch of my print comics qualitatively different from my decision to delete a book or title from my tablet.
Charli XCX: Sucker
More often than not, Sucker just ends up being too clever for its own good, despite Charli XCX's attempts to be the smartest student at the Pop Music Academy.
Spank Rock: The Upside EP
“Do you want a spanking or do you want to go to bed?” This EP is meant for those who want it both ways.
'The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress' Is a Historical Mystery With Panache
The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is all about speakeasies, gangsters, glamour, and mystery. Best of all? The mystery is a true story.
Dwayne Johnson Bulks Up for Nothing in 'Hercules'
One day, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will land a role in a film that’s fitting of his charisma, physique, and on-screen likability, but Hercules is not that film.
Homewrecker: Circle of Death
Circle of Death works best when things become subtle and a big part of that is slowing stuff down.
Various Artists: Palo Alto (Music From the Motion Picture)
Devonte Hynes and Robert Schwartzman head up this synthy, très indie companion piece to Gia Coppola's film.
Pianist Jacky Terrasson and His Quartet Heat Things Up at Smoke Jazz and Supper Club
As always, Jacky Terrasson's trio of shows in New York City's Smoke Jazz and Supper Club highlight his catch-all creativity and energy as a performer.
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
The Best Avant-Garde and Experimental Albums of 2014
With new albums from icons like Swans, the continued proliferation of vaporwave, and a bevy of exciting new acts, 2014 has been a wonderful year for experimental and avant-garde music.
Continuism: The One Interview with Scott Snyder
With a mind as encyclopedic as Scott Snyder’s all interviews seem to become a single interview. And talking about Wytches #3 (released today) also means talking about parental love, childhood fears and the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA.
When Kendrick Lamar Hits NPR, We All Win
When everyone feels they can be an expert, how do you reassert your ownership over a topic? By waiting for its crossover moment.
'The Imaginary App' Shows How Real Apps Have Become to Us
Apps changed everything. The Imaginary App explains how.
Unwound: No Energy
The No Energy boxset provides a valuable opportunity to place the unsung Unwound in a proper context, both offering nostalgia-tinged appreciation of a band at the height of its powers, as well as putting the music of the '90s Kill Rock Stars stalwarts in a new light.
'Foxcatcher' Is a True Story About a False World
For his third film based on true material, Bennett Miller tells a tale of how when wealth and Olympian athleticism mix together, those living in those worlds become increasingly insulated.
Faust: j US t
Ostensibly a grand experiment, Faust's latest is just another pretentious excuse to avoid the most difficult step in all art: finishing it.
'The Strange Library' Is Classic, Opaque Murakami
Whimsical and frustrating, Murakami's latest may alienate some readers, but fans will want to add this oddity to their collection.
Nikki Yanofsky: Little Secret
She started as a pre-teen Ella Fitzgerald clone, flirted with being Norah Jones, and now (at 20) finally sounds like the young pop singer she is...despite some lingering belief that she needs to "give jazz new life".
'Lord of Illusions' Is Clive Barker's Horror Style Filtered Through a Noir Lens
Lord of Illusions is at its best when it balances noir mystery with supernatural elements without veering too far to one side or another.
The Society Islands: The Big Sleep
There’s strong production value here, as alt rock and indie rock sensibilities are mixed in with dreamy psychedelic ambience.
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The Best Electronic Music of 2014
The most compelling electronic music of 2014 could be found in thoughtful experimentation and dancefloor-ready fun. But the ones who led the way tended to be pioneers who made their reputations doing just that.
A Healthy Dose of Darkness: The Best Film Scores of 2014
The year 2014 saw classic composer/director teams hit new highs, as well as a considerable dark streak take over the world of film scoring.
Considering the Two Seasons of 'The Walking Dead' Video Game
The first season of Telltale's The Walking Dead earned widespread critical praise, mainstream public appreciation, and a bevy of game of the year awards in 2012. Two years later, The Walking Dead Season Two has received a somewhat more muted reception.
Grading on a Curve: Spider-Man and the X-men #1
Spider-Man's first teaching experience with mutants has some new twists, but misses out on important lessons.
Buddhism Wins and Crack Loses in 'Herbie Hancock: Possibilities'
Herbie Hancock's memoir shows us how possibilities in and of themselves can be fleeting, but their ripple effects can go on nearly forever.
Joni Mitchell: Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, a Ballet, Waiting to Be Danced
Love Has Many Faces is a great box set, but make no mistake: while it does tell Joni Mitchell's story, it may not be the exact one you've been wanting to hear.
'National Gallery': Frederick Wiseman Looks at How We Look at Art
Within three minutes, the film connects stories across time as told by painters and observers and those who work in London's National Gallery.
Rancid: Honor Is All We Know
...Honor is All We Know is a solid but ultimately inessential addition to the Rancid catalogue that finds Rancid back where they belong, crafting straightforward punk anthems without pretense.
Alice Munros 'Family Furnishings' Is Deep and Surprising
Munro vividly portrays people whose lives are a series of crossroads.
'I Am Santa Claus' Shows That Santa's Life Isn't All Candy Canes and Cheery Smiles
After watching I Am Santa Claus, you'll never think of Santa the same way, whether you like it or not.
Nerina Pallot: Small Things / Spirit Walks
EPs nine and 10 in Pallot’s 2014 song-writing project are polar opposites of each other; from the cheery to despondent.
Monday, 15 December 2014
The Best Album Re-Issues of 2014
The music world saw reissues from all over the genre map, spanning classic rock titans to electronic music legends.
The Best Norteño and Banda Music of 2014
Beware: what follows may contain tubas. Also accordions, clarinets, canned gunfire, protest songs, dance songs, songs about roosters, songs about drug cartels, songs using drug cartels as metaphors to make the singers seem intimidating and/or awesome and/or "authentic", songs using roosters the same way, and amor.
Free Speech Came of Age in 'The Great Dissent'
Thomas Healy offers up a masterful psychological portrait of one of America’s great thinkers, one whose legal opinion would eventually shape free speech in America.
The Story of Glyn Johns' Life in 'Sound Man' Is Refreshingly Unpretentious
Sound Man gives you a look through 50 years behind the studio glass with the premier engineer/producer of the classic rock era, without any obsession over fame or status.
'Approaching the Elephant' Lets the Students Speak for Themselves
Amanda Wilder's remarkable "free school" documentary shows all sorts of pleasures and tensions among the kids and adults as they figure out how to manage such an experiment.
Potently Poetic Adaptation: ODC-Y #1
Fraction’s writing, which dips in and out of epic verse with a casual mastery, demands a close attention to rhythm and meter, but retains his unique voice.
'The Marvelous Miss Take,' a Red Headed Robin Hood
Very simply put, Miss Take is an exceptionally executed game, advancing a kind of minimalist, arcade-style form of stealth that never wears out its welcome.
Old 97s: Hitchhike to Rhome
Twenty years on, the Old 97’s see their indie debut re-released in deluxe packaging by Omnivore. It’s worth the plunge.
Cretin: Stranger
If you're looking for a pretty sick and twisted metal record, here you go.
'The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher' Is White-Hot Storytelling by a Mind Possessed
These stories are as delightful and fizzy as Hilary Mantel's many awe-inspiring historical novels.
'Union Station' Reminds Us of a Pre-Automobile America
Rudolf Maté's Union Station tells a noir story from a time when passenger rail travel was central to American life.
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