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

The Moody Blues: Masters of the Mini Epic
While so many of their progressive rock contemporaries were writing novels in the form of side-long suites, the Moody Blues were masters of the short story. [21.Nov.14]
Worldbuilder: The Paul Duffield Interview
At a time when we failed to fully understand the implications of webcomics, Paul Duffield helped define the new medium, both as a cultural phenomenon and as a commercial vehicle for artists. [21.Nov.14]
Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity
By Robert Beachy
Robert Beachy's study of gay life in pre-Weimar Berlin reveals just how much influence that subculture had on our current understandings of sexuality. [21.Nov.14]
The Five Most Important Films of Mike Nichols' Career
He was more than just a filmmaker. With his passing at age 83, Mike Nichols leaves behind a legacy filled with awards and attitudes which influenced every medium he was involved in. [21.Nov.14]
Counterbalance: 'Violent Femmes'
When I'm a-walkin' I strut my stuff and I'm so strung out. I'm high as a kite and I just might stop to check out the 304th most acclaimed album of all time. A 1983 acoustopunk bellwether is this week's Counterbalance. [21.Nov.14]
Today's Articles
21.Nov.14
Captain Beefheart: Sun Zoom Spark: 1970-1972
Sun Zoom Spark gives us a chance to re-evaluate the post Trout Mask Replica-era of the Captain Beefheart story.
Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Deluxe Edition)
Angel Olsen expands her 2014 triumph with five bonus tracks that further exemplify her reliable talent for passionate, powerful songwriting.
Angaleena Presley: American Middle Class
Angaleena Presley steps away from the Pistol Annies for a solo album that cements her status as country music's great moralist.
The Who: Who Hits 50!
It's not a perfect intro nor a set for the hardcore, but this anniversary set shows the Who are still vital after 50 years.
Dana Stephens: Peace
A rare saxophonist who is comfortable playing baritone, tenor and soprano records an album that is, simply, beautiful.
I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness: Dust
I Love You's... attempts at wedding theatrical, celestial rock with low-down, pulsing post-rock is a miss in many ways.
The Moody Blues: Masters of the Mini Epic
While so many of their progressive rock contemporaries were writing novels in the form of side-long suites, the Moody Blues were masters of the short story.
In 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1', Propaganda Wins
This penultimate installment of The Hunger Games film saga is all about perception, the film frequently has you watch someone watching someone while being watched by someone.
In 'Extraterrestrial', Cliché Counts as Comedy
Extraterrestrial's "formula-as-purpose" style doesn't make it the "meta" movie it wants to be; instead, it's just grating and mired in cliché.
'Foxcatcher' Is Another Tale of Men Being Men
None of the men in this telling of John du Pont's murder of Dave Schultz are able to say what's going wrong -- they might not even know themselves.
The Five Most Important Films of Mike Nichols' Career
He was more than just a filmmaker. With his passing at age 83, Mike Nichols leaves behind a legacy filled with awards and attitudes which influenced every medium he was involved in.
'To the Ends of the Earth' Is a Metaphor for Benedict Cumberbatch's Career
The timeless adventure of Edmund Talbot, who undertakes a journey from England to Australia to find a new life is also part of the career adventure of the Benedict Cumberbatch.
'Crazy Rich Asians' Will Have You Seriously Considering That the Rich Really Should Be Eaten
'Crazy Rich Asians' takes pains to emphasise the difference between the crass newly-rich mainland Chinese (yay!) and the rich-for-like-forever distinguished Chinese families (boo!).
The Heavy Absence of Star Presence
If trying to grasp screen presence is like reaching for the stars, James Harvey shows noble reach in his book, Watching Them Be.
The Meaning and Power of Memory Are at the Heart of 'There Was and There Was Not'
As the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide approaches, a new generation struggles to understand its meaning, and role, in their lives
Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity
Robert Beachy's study of gay life in pre-Weimar Berlin reveals just how much influence that subculture had on our current understandings of sexuality.
'Never Alone': The Rise of the Docu-Platformer
Never Alone feels like an old Discovery channel special in game form.
Fairness Is Overrated
No one really wants to play a fair game. Video games are unfair, but in our favor, which is what makes them fun, right?
Worldbuilder: The Paul Duffield Interview
At a time when we failed to fully understand the implications of webcomics, Paul Duffield helped define the new medium, both as a cultural phenomenon and as a commercial vehicle for artists.
Houndmouth + The Drive-By Truckers: 30 October 2014 - Athens, GA
Houndmouth and the Drive-By Truckers brought a healthy dose of rock to a Halloween-captivated Athens, Georgia audience.
Culture
Counterbalance: 'Violent Femmes'
When I'm a-walkin' I strut my stuff and I'm so strung out. I'm high as a kite and I just might stop to check out the 304th most acclaimed album of all time. A 1983 acoustopunk bellwether is this week's Counterbalance.
Recent Articles
Thursday, 20 November 2014
New Riffs From Jazz Lips: From Eminem to Sun Ra
There's an unending flow of vocal jazz these days, which is a blessing and a curse. Beyond the glut of rehashed standards from 50 years ago, some original work shines.
There's Always a Streak of Cold in the Warm: An Interview with iamamiwhoami
In a rare interview, iamiwhoami's Jonna Lee opens up about the project's development, its future, and the two full-length albums she scrapped along the way to making the stunning blue.
Bryan Ferry: Avonmore
Bringing along a few old friends, Bryan Ferry returns to form, crafting a sophisti-pop masterpiece.
Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways
Sonic Highways is based around a high-concept idea, but the result is an affirmation of the Foo Fighters' core appeal.
Orson Welles: The Lion in Winter, and at Lunch
Taken from long-lost recordings and filled with Hollywood gossip and personal revelations, this collection of transcripts proves why Orson Welles was one of the great conversationalists of all time.
'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition' Is a Movie Outstripped by Its Extras
The extended edition of Desolation of Smaug turns the film into a flabby affair, but the ten-plus hours of bonus features could still make this purchase worthwhile for Tolkien fans.
Swingin' Utters: Fistful of Hollow
Fistful of Hollow doesn't retread the ground laid out on past records, but instead offers a new path through genres Swingin' Utters continue to explore and, yet again, renders the band's sound fresh and dynamic.
The Chills: BBC Sessions
These songs from New Zealand skim and dip, within waves of oceanic imagery, full of Pacific calm or pending storm.
Christopher Owens: A New Testament
In light of Christopher Owens' never-a-dull-moment backstory and back catalog, the last thing you'd expect is that A New Testament would be as monotonous as it is.
Jessie J: Sweet Talker
Jessie J fails to reach the glory of high-flying single "Bang Bang" on third album Sweet Talker.
'Jennifer' Isn't Exactly a Holy Terror
Sure, Jennifer is chock full of dimensionless characters, banal dialogue, and gratuitous nudity, but it's never boring.
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
Scott Walker and Sunn O))): If You Don't Beat Me, the Stasi Will
Soused’s trapped, bleating circus elephants are harbingers of the prison-planet drones and transhuman monstrosities yet to come. Prepare for heightened beatings, motherfuckers.
Modern Romance and Skype Sex: An Interview with Kate Lyn Sheil
Many films this year have dealt with how the internet and social media has changed the romantic landscape, and Kate Lyn Sheil, star of The Heart Machine, has more than a few thoughts of her own on the subject.
Films That Went from Bombs to Beloved: 10 - 1
We wrap up our cinematic overview of former flops that became movie masterworks with a tantalizing Top 10 including three efforts now considered the greatest of all time.
Salute the Piano Player: An Interview with Mark Springer
Mark Springer's Piano is an album to remind listeners of the possibilities on offer when one is open to chance and emotion.
The Xbox Ones Struggles in Three Acts
If the Xbox One’s launch were a movie, it would fit very neatly into a three-act structure, and we would be witnessing right now the console’s final, biggest moment of crisis.
'Walesa: Man of Hope' Is a Beacon of Hope for Future Conflicts
Wałęsa: Man of Hope is a reminder that out of the Soviet shadow emerged a heroic and powerful story of the individual capable of being a force of change to reshape the future.
'Costume Quest 2' Is a Light-Hearted, Breezy Take on Halloween
Why the plot of Costume Quest 2 doesn’t really matter is simple enough. We know the bad guy can never succeed; Halloween can never be truly destroyed. Any kid could have told you that.
Tuesday, 18 November 2014
Jumping the Shark and Surviving: A Reappraisal of the Fifth Season of 'Happy Days'
"Jumping the shark" may be a fun and lingering trope in popular culture, but its truth in relation to the Happy Days episode from which it gets its name is questionable.
Jonas Åkerlund's Take on Upwardly Immobile Lowlifes in Los Angeles
If The Great Gatsby is a peep through a keyhole at the dirty underbelly of extreme wealth from a bygone era, Small Apartments kicks the door down and lays bare a grotesque characterization of today’s urban lower middle class.
Jean-Luc Godard and the 3D Dog: An Actress' Tale
Starring in a film directed by Jean-Luc Godard is an intimidating prospect (especially when it's in 3D), but not only did Héloise Godet rise to the challenge, she's starting to get rave reviews of her own.
'Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones' Serves as a Crucial Corrective
Brian Jones, founder of the Rolling Stones, had the vision and musical intuition which helped make the band a vital force in the '60s.
The Best of the 7DFPS Game Jam
There were 145 entries in the 7DFS game jam this year, and I played a lot of them. Here’s a list of a few great prototypes that were created during this jam that are worth your time.
Aura of Superiority: Superior Iron Man #1
Iron Man finds a way to be arrogant, shallow, and superior in all the right (and a few wrong) ways.
Monday, 17 November 2014
The Interpreters: In Another Voice, Another Song
In reinterpreting the words and music of their male peers, songwriters like Tori Amos and Joan Baez create whole new works of art.
Pussy Riot Is a Mask: The Prison Letters of Nadya Tolokonnikova and Slavoj Zizek
The prison correspondence of Tolokonnikova and Zizek might not change the world, but it ought to be required reading for those with such aspirations.
How Doctor Who Got Good Again (in Two Easy Steps)
How did Doctor Who go from grasping at straws to having one of the best seasons in years? Amazingly, in just two simple steps.
Fall 2014 New Music Playlist (audio)
PopMatters has 17 new songs plus notes to add to your fall soundtrack.
Travel the Steampunk Way in '80 Days'
Whereas Jules Verne's novel consisted of only one trip around the world, 80 Days contains multitudes.
DOC NYC 2014: 'Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere' + 'A Murder in the Park'
A lyrically surreal investigation into the mysterious disappearance of a professor in Nebraska and an exposé on the case an innocent man that might have been a huge mistake.
The Spiderversity: Spider-Verse #1
The Spider-Verse has no one author, no omnipotent guiding hand. It is organic, connecting and reconnecting like the strands of a web, like the strands of life.
Wilco: Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014
Alpha Mike Foxtrot's 77 tracks suggest that Wilco didn't have an experimental period. Instead, we see Wilco as an ever-changing, constant experiment in and of itself.
Buzzcocks: The Way
This leans towards hard rock rather than punk, back to the type of music prevalent when punk burst out, and which after all most punks grew up hearing.
A Rural Youth is Curated in John Updike's 'Olinger Stories'
John Updike is able to highlight the details of domestic life in a way that turns the mundane into something sacred and significant.
All of the Citizens of 'Nuclear Nation' Are Forced to Be Expats
Like spent fuel rods, refugees of the Fukushima nuclear disaster are handled delicately, considered toxic, and unwelcome anywhere they go.
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