Call for Music Writers... Rock, Indie, Urban, Electronic, Americana, Metal, World and More

Marginal Utility
Image: Marginal Utility
When shopping nirvana shrivels away like the mega mall growing incrementally smaller behind you at the end of a long day, and buyer's remorse begins gnawing at your nerves, and you begin to fret the futility of it all, Rob Horning's blog, "Marginal Utility", steps in to stimulate your woefully neglected neocortex. Read, laugh, weep, but above all: realize. You'll feel smarter again in no time.

Friday, October 25 2013

The Trouble with Fandom and ‘The Elizabethans’

A.N Wilson's The Elizabethans is a very readable history, despite the author's inability to get out of his own way.


Friday, August 29 2014

‘Second Opinion: Laetrile at Sloan-Kettering’: Language Turned Inside Out

Eric Merola's documentary shows us what happens when our everyday language must be turned inside out.


Yet Another One Bites the Dust: ‘The Calling’

Ironically, this film also takes pains to point out the obvious pratfalls of making yet another serial killer film in the first place.


Thursday, August 28 2014

‘Love Is Strange’: Complicated Lives in Tight Spaces

The film reminds us of just how difficult it can be to find one's own tempo amidst radical changes caused by unjust circumstances.


The World(s) That Video Made

Video Revolutions is a brief, brilliant inquiry into the history of a complex, contested medium.


In ‘The Love Punch’, Money Does Buy Happiness

The troubling implicit moral at the end of The Love Punch encapsulates the film's insubstantial construction.


“It Never Happened Again” and Again and Again

In his book It Never Happened Again, Sam Alden uses two short comicbook stories to offer a slight twist on the old journey-vs.-destination philosophy.


The Gunman on the Unemployment Line: Masculinity, Professionalism, and Ethical Bankruptcy

Surely even Dirty Harry needs a break from cinematic violence, some time off at Walden Pond. Though I doubt its tranquility would deter him from picking off the sparrows.


Listening Ahead: Upcoming Releases for September 2014

September's slate of releases features numerous living legends and big names, but "Listening Ahead" is focusing its attention on artists whose time has come, like Hiss Golden Messenger and Perfume Genius.


‘The Wind Will Carry Us’ Is a Challenging Climb to the Top of the Hill

Abbas Kiarostami's film subverts viewer expectations of what makes a film satisfying, or even enjoyable.


Opeth: Pale Communion

Pale Communion is both the culmination of Opeth's journey toward classic progressive rock and its best work since Ghost Reveries.


Ty Segall: Manipulator

The often quick-working Segall took 14 months to make Manipulator, but it's not so much a wild departure sonically as it is a return to and refinement of tangents we've heard from him in the past.


‘The Temptation of Despair’ Is a Marvelous New Work on World War II-Era Germany

Werner Sollors' memories formed the basis for this book, but his research caused him to re-evaluate and re-imagine what he thought he knew about the time and the era.


Tinnarose: Tinnarose

Tinnarose is a singer-songwriter showcase of the highest order, and there’s plenty of material to keep coming back to.


Various Artists: Kompakt Total 14

After taking a year off to celebrate the label's 20th anniversary, Kompakt's annual Total compilation is back.


The Cleaners From Venus: Volume Three

This third volume of reissues from the Cleaners From Venus gives us another set of complications to consider in Martin Newell's work.


Centro-matic: Take Pride in Your Long Odds

Take Pride in Your Long Odds adds further talking points to Centro-matic’s esteemed canon.


Wednesday, August 27 2014

Quality Time and Honest Mistakes: “Wolverine Annual #1”

How an innocent camping trip can be ruined by a reasonable misunderstanding


Someone Is Missing in Elizabeth McCracken’s ‘Thunderstruck’

These stories, to borrow Carrie Fisher’s title, are postcards from the edge, a place McCracken’s creative heart has taken up residence.


Who Wants to Read Comics on a Computer?

However modest in scope, comiXology's new downloads signals the beginning of the end for strict DRM in digital comics -- and it will change how we view comics.


Tongue Firmly in Cheek: An Interview with Ace Frehley

Several years sober, KISS' Ace Frehley comes fresh off some time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to release his first solo album in over five years -- and definitely knows how to write a sexy song better than Robin Thicke.


‘The Railway Man’ Goes Off the Rails With Sentimentality

The movie wastes its impressive cast, choosing instead to drown itself in sentimentalism.


The New Pornographers: Brill Bruisers

Brill Bruisers, with its blaring, neon keyboards and deep hooks, is both a prototypical New Pornographers record and another variation on the band's established themes.


“Harry Potter for Grown-Ups” Grows Up

The third and final installment in Lev Grossman's 'Magicians' trilogy, The Magician's Land, is also its best.


Todd Snider: Cheatham Street Warehouse

Snider covers Kent Finlay on Cheatham Street Warehouse to raise funds for Finlay’s medical care.


The Rentals: Lost In Alphaville

Matt Sharp's side project-turned-band is back, and they sound just like most of you remember them. But is that really such a good thing?


Imelda May: Tribal

When May rants about a "Wild Woman", we know that it's the woman that lives inside her. She ferociously attacks the lyrics, growling and stuttering as needed.


Kindred the Family Soul: A Couple Friends

Soulful duo Kindred the Family Soul retain the refined persona of R&B on latest album A Couple Friends.


Tuesday, August 26 2014

The Walking Dead Season Two, Episode 4

With episode 4 of its second season, I feel as if the well is running dry on Telltale's ability to wring new meaning out of The Walking Dead franchise.


Not Just a Comicbook: “The Multiversity #1”

In this story of multiple worlds, fiction is fact and comicbooks are true.


Tracing the Mythos of Dylan, One Fan at a Time

The Dylanologists doesn't give up any answers about Dylan, but it does ask the right questions of people, on the trail through Dylan's America.


The Body Politic: Violence and Rebellion in the First Wave of Hardcore Punk

The value of violence in the hardcore punk movement is not what it fought against, but rather the new ground it forged.


There Is Only Now: An Interview with Adrian Younge

The acclaimed L.A. producer Adrian Younge talks about his new album with Souls of Mischief, why he hates ProTools, and about his slew of upcoming projects.


Kristen Wiig Sinks ‘Hateship Loveship’

Infusing Alice Munro's portrait of a lonely woman and her quest for happiness with deadpan comic beats, Kristen Wiig muddies the tone of "Hateship Loveship" and leaves it without a center.


Basement Jaxx: Junto

The UK progressive house duo is in transition on their latest full-length.


Cymbals Eat Guitars: Lose

For its themes of loss and longing, its wide-eyed sense of wistfulness, for all of its hopefulness in misfortune, Lose ends up being a win.


If You Can’t Take the Heat, Get Out of the (Restaurant) Kitchen

Popular Orangette blogger Molly Wizenberg loves to cook, as made clear in Delancey... just not in restaurants.


Liam Bailey: Definitely Now

Liam Bailey’s first full length album, Definitely Now , is so genre-defying that if not for the unmistakable voice of Bailey, it could seem like a mixtape of several artists.


The Gun Club: Fire of Love

A sawed-off, hard-bitten punk sensibility and a bluesy, drawn-out compulsion to sink deeper into cloudy depths. The Gun Club's debut from 1981 wallops on this reissue as exciting, entertaining and evil as ever.


Peter Gabriel: Back to Front

Peter Gabriel Live in London... So?


Monday, August 25 2014

Hohokum

The game plays like it belongs in a museum, one of those interactive displays that invites people to navigate the art rather than stare at it.


Not the Antidote You’re Looking For: “Trees #4”

What I’d hoped would happen is that Trees would be the natural antithesis to those gimmicky summer crossovers with anticlimactic events that seem to written in marketing departments.


Organized Murder and the Graphic Anthology, ‘To End All Wars’

This stark, chiaroscuro compilation promotes a humanitarian view of the First World War, as witnessed by an array of Earth's beleaguered creatures.


Is the Sadness Gone from Country Music?

Has country music lost its capacity for brutal, unshakeable loneliness? Or are we just experiencing some calm before the next, inevitable heartache?


“No Complaints”: An Interview with Pete Best, the Original Drummer of the Beatles

Despite missing out on being one of the Fab Four, Pete Best is as happy as ever: "I have no complaints, I’ve enjoyed life. Wouldn’t change anything."


‘Dream Deceivers: Heavy Metal on Trial’ Examines Culpability and Belief

Metal fans will remember this story in the lore of censorship and a dark moment in the history of Judas Priest. But this film is not about the band and is all the better for it.


‘The Legend of Hell House’ Is Cerebral Horror at Its Finest

Possibly the greatest haunted house film of all time is still as impactful as ever, a fact not reflected by this Blu-ray's paltry extras.


Ariana Grande: My Everything

In trying to sound like everything else on the charts, Ariana Grande continues to have one of pop music's most distinctive voices that has very little to say.


Which Is Better, Gorgeous Writing or a Gorgeous Blonde?

In The Black-Eyed Blond, Benjamin Black provides such a satisfying incarnation of Raymond Chandler's sensibility, it's almost possible to pretend Chandler is back among the living.


Cold Specks: Neuroplasticity

With its smorgasbord of texture and tones, Neuroplasticity is a real contender for Canadian Album of the Year.


Mirel Wagner: When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day

There's a coffin-like closeness and aloneness to each and every song on Mirel Wagner's Sub Pop debut. It's a fitting feel for a record so focused on death.


Eric Clapton and Friends: The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale

It’s safe, which only gets The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale so far, but, this record will undoubtedly get a lot of people to revisit, or discover JJ Cale, which is a win in itself.


Various Artists: 1970’s Algerian Folk and Pop / 1970’s Proto-Rai Underground

Both of these compilations provide interesting ways into a time and sound all too overlooked in certain circles, at least (hopefully) until now.


Friday, August 22 2014

‘When the Game Stands Tall’: Faith-Based High School Football

It's hard to think of a scene in this movie you haven't seen in another.


Somewhere in Dimension Mek: “Our Heroes” and the Superhero Funny Book

Our Heroes is like a Saturday morning cartoon, only better. It perfectly captures the spirit of the funny superhero. (The Human Mallet Lives!)


Knots Untie and Tie Again in ‘Boardwalk Empire: Season Four’

If previous seasons gave us glimpses of the evil that men do, then this penultimate season of HBO's best current series gives us an extreme closeup.


Our Protagonist Is a Passenger of Clichés in ‘If I Stay’

This film urges you to believe that the protagonist is as special as anyone at the center of a YA saga, which is to say, so very special.


Long Live the Beastie Boys: Their Five Most Underappreciated Songs

PopMatters looks at five Beastie Boys songs that are not only underappreciated, but some of their best.


What a Quart of Whiskey Might Assuage, but Never Alleviate

Guitar music gave John Fahey a bridge to the subconscious, and his subconscious evidently was a scary realm.


Southbound: An Illustrated History of Southern Rock

Southbound profiles the musicians, producers, record labels, and movers and shakers that defined Southern rock, including the Allmans, Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band and here, the Charlie Daniels Band.


Disney’s ‘Tarzan’ Is a Visual Thrill Ride

Disney’s Tarzan is more than the last film in the “Disney Renaissance”; it’s also the best Tarzan film ever made.


Jenny Hval and Susanna: Meshes of Voice

With Meshes of Voice, Norwegians Jenny Hval and Susanna Wallumrød come together to craft an avant garde masterpiece.


Literature: Chorus

This is a huge step forward for the band, while preserving all of the most attractive qualities of the debut.


Richard Thompson: Acoustic Classics

Folk troubadour Richard Thompson commits an intimate solo studio performance of his classics to tape, highlighting both his skills as a guitarist and exceptional songwriter.


Bishop Allen: Lights Out

At their best, Bishop Allen develop a time and a place through memorable hooks and high craft, but they just can't sustain it for the whole album.


Plastikman: Ex: Performed Live at the Guggenheim NYC

Richie Hawtin returns to the name that made him a godfather of minimal techno.


Rathborne: Soft

Soft is the opposite to what the title suggests. Instead this is an album of quick, jagged rock and roll, New York style. Take it or leave it.


Thursday, August 21 2014

‘Expedition to the End of the World’: Scientists and Artists Find Beginnings

Daniel Dencik's film helps you to look at the Earth, so majestic, so superb, and to want more than ever to be aware.


‘Transcendence’ Is a High-Tech Mess of Subplots

Like Dr. Caster's (Johnny Depp) experiments, Transcendence is much smarter in theory than it is in practice.


‘The Answer to Everything’ Questions the Veracity of Truth

If this doesn’t get shortlisted for the Giller Prize, well, that would be just proof that the world is an unjust place.


From the Soul to the Hills: The Music of the Caucasus

The music of the Caucasus is powered by national ardour and ritual. All that's needed is an open and willing audience to accept the undisclosed gifts it brings.


‘I’m Not a Teacher, But I Play One in the Movies’: The Movie Teacher Myths

Movies create iconic, mythical teacher figures who, in two or so hours, do both more harm and more good than any actual human could achieve in a lifetime.


‘Ginger Snaps’ Is Freshly Female-Centric Horror

Watching the movie now, it seems to anticipate its own cult.


Roddy Frame: Seven Dials

There's much to like about Roddy Frame, and much to admire about this album. Shame it lacks a killer tune.


Connections: Into Sixes

Connections' Into Sixes is the band truly hitting its stride while also testing its limits in exciting ways.


Jon Gnarr Is Changing the World One Laugh at a Time

The unlikely, improbable, unbelievable – and totally true – story of Iceland’s anarchist comedian turned politician.


Ruthie Foster: Promise of a Brand New Day

They say that misery loves company, which is why blues music remains so popular.


Chris Smither: Still on the Levee

It all comes down to the songs, and that weathered 'n' warm voice and guitar.


Paloma Faith: A Perfect Contradiction

Throwback chameleon Paloma Faith changes skin again, appointing herself the Queen of Retro Soul Disco and infusing every track with her irrepressible melodrama and charm.


Wednesday, August 20 2014

Hello, New World (#Ferguson): “Batgirl #34”

In her final issue, writer Gail Simone provides the space for Batgirl to start over in a new world.


‘Falling Out of Time’ Is a Profound Dissection of Grief

Woven like a colorful tapestry of many characters, all of whom share the misfortune of having lost a child, this is structured like an epic poem which, despite its short length, feels fully realized.


‘Toy Story of Terror!’ Delivers on Halloween and the Toy Story Name

This holiday special perfectly balances the recognizable elements found in horror movies and the elements of the Toy Story universe.


Philip K. Dick’s ‘Radio Free Albemuth’ Finally Reaches the Silver Screen

Like the book that inspired it, Radio Free Albemuth works as a vindicating love letter to spiritual seekers who feel that humanity is capable of more than the Orwellian rat race of the modern era.


In Defense Of ... A Second Season for ‘Halt and Catch Fire’

Women are the alpha-characters in Halt and Catch Fire. There may be no better dynamic duo of smart leading females on TV today than Donna and Cameron.


Deeper, Not Softer: An Interview with Princess Superstar

She influenced too many off-beat divas to count, but was struggling for her own record deal. Now, Princess Superstar is back, and she means business.


A Small Sampling of Disney: ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad’ and ‘Fun and Fancy Free’

For the most part, the shorts are some of Disney's strongest, and taken as a whole they offer a variety of animation styles, characters and tones.


Kimbra: The Golden Echo

With the help of Gotye, you can't help but feel like Kimbra's follow up to her magnificent debut squanders her undeniable talent.


What’s Happening to College Education in the Digital Era?

From MOOCs to Second Life to chairs that move, Elizabeth Losh discusses all things technological in The War on Learning.


Cory Branan: The No-Hit Wonder

Like all good country music, Cory Branan is hard, if not impossible, to define.


Castanets: Decimation Blues

On Ray Raposa's first Castanets record in five years, the elements of the formula haven't changed very much, though the album works best when the balance between those elements shift in fresh ways.


Mark Lanegan Band: No Bells on Sunday EP

The Mark Lanegan Band's first official release since 2012 is, unfortunately, a lackluster and unfocused affair.


The Who: Quadrophenia Live in London

The Who, however it survives, repeats that that youthful concerns and ideals matter, no matter how long the band or we endure.


Tuesday, August 19 2014

‘The Expendables 3’: More Action, Less Sequence

As a movie, The Expendables 3 is kind of a shambles. As part of a never-ending retirement party, it's kind of a gas.


Sex Police Future: “Sex Criminals 7”

Not many readers have put themselves in the headspace of a caped vigilante, but Jon and Suzie, the dynamic duo of deviant thoughts and sexcapades, embody our deepest desires, shame, regrets, and fears.


Johnnyswim Love Their Place in the World

The duo Amber Sudano Ramirez and Abner Ramirez live, die, and make music with the overarching theme of gratefulness.


Arguable Merits: Young Adult Fiction and Its Rabid Discontents

The YA crowd is full of articulate, well-read, hungry hyenas. They'll rip my lungs out for this. They'll crucify me. They'll leave my corpse in a ditch.


The Blissful Simplicity of Indie Rock

The goal of indie rock is to make something real, even at the expense of decades of music tradition.


‘Hercules’ Lives in the Netherworld of Good Enough

Hercules is a Disney animated film that shows the studio riding the wave of its '90's renaissance, but not reaching the heights of earlier classics.


Pallbearer: Foundations of Burden

Little Rock's Pallbearer add some studio sheen with their sophomore release while maintaining the mudslide-like heaviness of their acclaimed debut.


The Impossible Reach of History Is Made Possible in ‘The Hundred Year House’

In one of the best books of 2014, Rebecca Makkai tells a story of time, ghosts, fate, unrequited love, requited love unconsummated, and art.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.