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The Best Jazz of 2014
By Will Layman and John Garratt
The skeptics who claim jazz is weaker than before simply aren't listening. As these 16 albums reveal, jazz remains on the cutting edge. [18.Dec.14]
The Best World Music of 2014
By Deanne Sole and George de Stefano
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. [18.Dec.14]
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. [18.Dec.14]
Why Sony Shouldn't Have Nuked Seth Rogen and James Franco's 'The Interview'
Following massive hacking and numerous attack threats, Sony has decided not the release the political comedy The Interview. Here's why that is a bad idea. [18.Dec.14]
Personalizing Race in 'Dragon Age: Inquisition'
Amid the game’s palatial estates and ancient ruins, I found a story that hit much more close to home than I expected. With remarkable subtlety, the world of Dragon Age creates a personalized experience of race. [18.Dec.14]
Today's Articles
18.Dec.14
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Tension of Art and Ego Drives the 'Monk With a Camera'
As Nicholas Vreeland's journey into Buddhist philosophy goes deeper, the tension between his photography and his role as a monk increases.
'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.
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.
Why Sony Shouldn't Have Nuked Seth Rogen and James Franco's 'The Interview'
Following massive hacking and numerous attack threats, Sony has decided not the release the political comedy The Interview. Here's why that is a bad idea.
'See You in Paradise' Casts a Shadow Over the Domestic Sphere
J. Robert Lennon's morbidly dark vision of American domesticity drains the light out of the human dream of domestic bliss to leave it shrouded in shadow.
'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.
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.
Personalizing Race in 'Dragon Age: Inquisition'
Amid the game’s palatial estates and ancient ruins, I found a story that hit much more close to home than I expected. With remarkable subtlety, the world of Dragon Age creates a personalized experience of race.
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.
Recent Articles
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.
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.
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.
'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.
'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.
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.
Friday, 12 December 2014
The Best Hip-Hop of 2014
This year's push of stylistic diversity, craft, and experimentation adds fuel to hip-hop's movement into the future.
The Years Work at the Zombie Research Center
The Year's Work at the Zombie Research Center answers any questions you might have about the burgeoning field of zombie studies.
Worldbuilder: The Paul Duffield Interview Concludes
Paul Duffield takes us back to the power of Frank Miller’s Daredevils, where the vertical sunless, steel-and-glass canyons of Manhattan, were always repurposed as horizontal spaces.
Counterbalance: Kanye West's 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'
No one man should have all that power. The 97th most acclaimed album of all time is living in that 21st century, doing something mean to it. Counterbalance has a listen.
In 'Lifeless Planet' We're Not Forced to Wander Aimlessly in Search of a Plot
Lifeless Planet uses minimal details to establish a compelling mystery, to subvert our expectations, to create dramatic tension, and to guide exploration.
In 'Top Five', Chris Rock Does More Than Tell Jokes
While it shows Chris Rock is still a bit shaky when it comes to his cinematic skill set, Top Five is a triumph. It is easily his best movie, as well as one of the best comedies of 2014.
The Context of 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' Is Out of Its Control
Just like Moses' task from God, the social and cultural context that surrounds Exodus: Gods and Kings shapes it in ways that these actors and filmmakers might not have wanted.
J. Cole: 2014 Forest Hills Drive
With 2014 Forest Hills Drive, J. Cole relies on on stimulating emotions by telling instead of evoking emotion by showing.
America's Existential Crises in Paul Thomas Anderson's Adaptation of 'Inherent Vice'
As in The Master, the ocean haunts the protagonist in this film adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel, but it’s a haunting of a different kind.
Philip Glass: The Complete Piano Etudes
Philip Glass' collection of 20 etudes, written over a span of 19 years, is given a moving performance by the virtuosic pianist Maki Namekawa.
'The Luminous Heart of Jonah S.' Reveals a Talent for Understatement
It's only in America that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
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