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

The Voyage Impulse in the Music of Sting
By Scott Borchert
No matter what hat he wears as an artist, the impulse to voyage beyond defines Sting, as do the impulses that compel him to stay. [22.Oct.14]
Funny Faces on the Telly: Whose to Watch
Every few years there's a new batch of funny faces making the rounds on Britain's television panel shows. Here are a few faces worth watching. [22.Oct.14]
Music Requires a Journey Out of You: An Interview with John Cowan
New Grass Revival frontman John Cowan talks to PopMatters about the tricks of being a singing bass player, the new developments in folk music, and the career-spanning feel of his latest record, Sixty. [22.Oct.14]
The Problem With Current Sci-Fi Films and What We Should Learn From Watching 'Moon'
With the recent surge in popularity of sci-fi/action hybrid films in mind, it's clear that sci-fi needs to get back to its roots. [22.Oct.14]
The Power of the Reader in 'A History of Reading'
Alberto Manguel takes a thematic rather than linear approach to a history of reading, offering an entertaining and impassioned account of reading practices and readers' agency. [22.Oct.14]
Today's Articles
22.Oct.14
Jessie Ware: Tough Love
Jessie Ware supplies more late-night soul on her sophomore effort, an album that finds her subtly expanding her much-lauded R&B sound.
Stars: No One Is Lost
No One Is Lost is undoubtedly a fun album, but it very much gets lost in its own narrative.
Diana Krall: Wallflower
The jazz singer tackles a set of boomer pop "standards", kind of like she was the Perry Como of her generation, and sounds plastic doing it.
Inter Arma: The Cavern EP
“The Cavern”, the one 45-minute song that makes up this EP, is truly worthy of the word “epic” and is a welcome addition to the pantheon of metal music.
Julian Casablancas + The Voidz: Tyranny
Julian Casablancas + The Voidz get weird on Tyranny, but weird doesn't automatically mean quality.
Weedeater: ...And Justice for Y'all
Thirteen years on this seemingly-derivative piece of sludge metal differentiates itself from less interesting acts with one thing: pure sonic filth.
The Elwins: And I Thank You
This reissue of the Elwins' 2012 self-released album has multiple reference points in describing its sound, all leading to '70s-style pop.
CONTEST: OontZ Angle speaker + 'The Heir Chronicles' + Spotify
We have an amazing contest for our readers featuring Cinda Williams Chima's Heir Chronicles series and an OontZ Angle speakers, as well as a 3-month subscription to Spotify.
Act As If - Keep Me By Your Side (audio) (Premiere)
"Keep Me By Your Side" is an archetypal example of a West Coast anthem.
Swamp Dogg - The White Man Made Me Do It (audio) (Premiere)
"The White Man Made Me Do It" finds Swamp Dogg once again marrying humorous social commentary and groovy soul.
The Problem With Current Sci-Fi Films and What We Should Learn From Watching 'Moon'
With the recent surge in popularity of sci-fi/action hybrid films in mind, it's clear that sci-fi needs to get back to its roots.
'Ghost in the Shell 25th Anniversary Edition' Is a Classic Anime Given Paltry Extras Treatment
Ghost in the Shell remains an excellent milestone in anime, but this barebones release is devoid of the extras that would truly make this edition special.
Isao Takahata of Studio Ghibli Surfaces with Tale of Princess Kaguya
For many fans of Japanese animation, the name Studio Ghibli has become synonymous with the fantastic worlds and deeply felt emotions of…
Culture
The Voyage Impulse in the Music of Sting
No matter what hat he wears as an artist, the impulse to voyage beyond defines Sting, as do the impulses that compel him to stay.
Music Requires a Journey Out of You: An Interview with John Cowan
New Grass Revival frontman John Cowan talks to PopMatters about the tricks of being a singing bass player, the new developments in folk music, and the career-spanning feel of his latest record, Sixty.
The Power of the Reader in 'A History of Reading'
Alberto Manguel takes a thematic rather than linear approach to a history of reading, offering an entertaining and impassioned account of reading practices and readers' agency.
'The Mathematician's Shiva' Is Classically Middlebrow
There are secret plots, geopolitical rumblings, high-math technical language, and a parrot of interest, but as often as not these things wanly colorize an otherwise monochromatic narrative.
Funny Faces on the Telly: Whose to Watch
Every few years there's a new batch of funny faces making the rounds on Britain's television panel shows. Here are a few faces worth watching.
'Cosmochoria': The Good Kind of Grind
The game fails to properly equip the player for the challenges in the game. That sounds like a criticism, but it really works in its favor.
Recent Articles
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
What He Has Sown: A Conversation With Bruce Soord of the Pineapple Thief
The Pineapple Thief mastermind delves into the making of Magnolia, the [un]fair criticisms of fans, and the joys of modern Opeth, among many other topics.
The Tyranny of Aspiration Culture
Without room for doubt, uncertainty, and even self-hatred, the tyranny of Aspiration Culture prevails, and meaningful defiance is thrown out the window.
Mark Lanegan Band: Phantom Radio
Phantom Radio is the quintessential Mark Lanegan album, both a great starting point for those uninitiated to his world and a document that the most devoted members of his cult fanbase will cherish as one of his best.
Thurston Moore: The Best Day
Thurston Moore's most ambitious solo album and the best Sonic Youth-related release since 2004's Sonic Nurse.
'Queen: Live at the Rainbow '74': Still Killer Queen, After All These Years
Live at the Rainbow '74 doesn't contain all of Queen's biggest commercial hits, but features some of their heaviest rock from their amazing early days.
Eula Biss' 'On Immunity' Is a Beautiful Shot of Insight
This elegant, intelligent book addresses not only the infections caused by viruses, but also those caused by ideas.
Oh Susanna: Namedropper
American-Canadian singer-songwriter Suzie Ungerleider ropes in other Canadian musicians to write songs for her to wildly varying results.
ABBA: Live at Wembley Arena
On Live at Wembley Arena, ABBA deliver a tightly choreographed and wildly enjoyable performance during the height of their powers.
Pinkcourtesyphone: Description of Problem
Richard Chartier returns with another exploration of post-modernist exploration in detached existence of suburban pink-hued glamour.
Rowland S Howard: Pop Crimes
Reissue of the final solo album by the hugely overlooked Australian post-punk hero, Rowland S Howard.
Monday, 20 October 2014
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.
'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.
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.
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.
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.
A Fitting (But Incomplete) End: Death of Wolverine #4
Wolverine's demise had just enough substance and not nearly enough style.
'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.
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.
'Watchers of the Sky' and the Full Cruelty of Consciousness
Brutality can take many forms, from war making to banking.
'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.
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.
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.
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