Wednesday, November 26 2014
The Invisible Hands have given us a glimpse of Alvarius B.'s (Alan Bishop) view of the world from the center of Cairo. It's not a happy perspective, but there's a hint of hope.
Zoë Howe's biography of the Jesus and Mary Chain opens with a look at the band's hometown of East Kilbride, Scotland, a "dull" and "antiseptic" place that wasn't the worst place in the world.
Featuring episodes from both Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel, this Turkey Day Collection is a feast for comedy fans.
Few bands ever had a year like the Velvet Underground did in 1969. Even fewer have a set that documents a year like that as beautifully as this one.
Filled with six charming tales about the American West in the 19th Century, Skidoo is an off-the-wall history lesson about the American Frontier most of us were never taught in school.
On The Endless Rivers, Pink Floyd sounds as strong as it did during some of its best years. On this almost entirely instrumental album, however, the lyrics are sorely missed.
No more head games: there are some true pop gems worth uncovering on Foreigner's first few albums, but a single-disc best-of would just as well satisfy anyone else.
Revealing the true horsepower behind the Swans’ "Oxygen", this four-song collection should be handled by a professional driver on a closed course.
Mark Van Hoen is not one-offing his Locust resurrection. Not by a long shot.
Game Theory's nervy debut album gets to baffle another generation of listeners with this bulky reissue.
Tuesday, November 25 2014
This is a complex and, perhaps, technically perfect comicbook. So why is it, I wonder, that I am unmoved?
It seems right that Werner Herzog narrates the start of Penguins of Madagascar, concerning the overwhelming cuddly cuteness of penguins and the absurd value humans attribute to them.
Rebel Souls tells how Walt Whitman and a cast of colorful characters helped define American culture from a dark, 19th century basement bar in Manhattan.
Grotesque, strange, and difficult, Rebirth offers a fantastic vision of what might be the ideal roguelike.
At its best, Maya serves as a window into an era of kids' adventure series with unusually authentic production values and undercurrents of thoughtful attention to cultural differences.
The Star Wars universe is a microcosmical example of the long-standing battle over the necessity of narrativity in shaping our lives.
Surprisingly, a bunch of sentimental laptop pop songs from ten years ago (Give Up) make for a dynamic and engaging live show.
With an astonishing lead single and an enveloping album besides, the Manchester producer offers the most vivid expression of his ghostly, brooding vision yet.
At its best, Gimme Indie Rock shows enough joy to remind its readers why books like these are made in the first place.
This collaboration between legendary producer the Bug (Kevin Martin) and legendary metal band Earth promises, fulfills, and then promises so much more.
In the age of too much information, Parkay Quarts (AKA Parquet Courts) harness the power of the enigma.
Let’s call Restorations what they are: an American rock band. And a damn fine one at that.
Stevie Nicks is back and she's still singing about angels, gypsies, and Lindsey Buckingham.
Working in Iceland pays off for the Oscar-winning piano player from Once, who takes a major sonic step forward on her second album.
Monday, November 24 2014
Two documentaries about surprising success stories: the men behind the National Enquirer and Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The sheer frustration of watching the nearly immobile Major Crimes is compounded by the glimmers it offers of alternative roles for women in primetime television.
Magneto's transformation gives form and substance to the concept of inversion.
The evil is both banal and terrifying in George Sluizer's 1988 labyrinthine thriller.
Absolute Recoil is less a "major philosophical intervention" and more a natural continuation of Žižek's decades-long project of interpreting the world through Hegelian and Lacanian analysis.
Force Majeure is a brutal film, and not just because of the avalanche. Johannes Kuhnke stretched himself for this awards season buzz pick, and often in very surprising ways.
When a band performs its best album at shows, over and over, it's like they're admitting that they'll never achieve that particular level of greatness again.
Veronica Roth's Divergent series undermines all that we try to teach our young women about self-worth and the importance of maintaining autonomy and control over one’s body and mind.
Val Guest's newsroom drama take on the apocalypse is a product of its nuclear war-obsessed times and a prescient commentary on the present day.
The reissue of the debut album from the band that would become the Shins showcases a raw indie rock sound that bridges that gap between '90s alternative and poignant post-millennial indie pop.
German rock band Can's masterpiece album is the subject of yet another thinly-veiled memoir in the 33 1/3 series, but the approach fits the enigmatic subject better than expected.
Segall's collection of cast-off numbers is a slow burn build to the single stand-out track.
Privacy is an album that makes us question our expectations of heavy music and, at the same time, our relationship to the scene around it, to social expectations, to people.
Future's latest mixtape proves to be the sonic equivalent of a 40-degree day.
The audio version of British producer Bonobo's latest concert video carries far less value than the DVD and fails to provide a worthwhile supplement to the studio albums.
Pinup banda provides forum for drinking stories and sex dreams; its brass lines tangle together like sweaty bodies.
Sunday, November 23 2014
This tale takes pains to emphasise the difference between the crass newly-rich mainland Chinese (yay!) and the rich-for-like-forever distinguished Chinese families (boo!).
Saturday, November 22 2014
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.
If trying to grasp screen presence is like reaching for the stars, James Harvey shows noble reach in his book, Watching Them Be.
Friday, November 21 2014
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.
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.
Never Alone feels like an old Discovery channel special in game form.
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.
As the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide approaches, a new generation struggles to understand its meaning, and role, in their lives
Houndmouth and the Drive-By Truckers brought a healthy dose of rock to a Halloween-captivated Athens, Georgia audience.
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.
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.
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.
Sun Zoom Spark gives us a chance to re-evaluate the post Trout Mask Replica-era of the Captain Beefheart story.
Angel Olsen expands her 2014 triumph with five bonus tracks that further exemplify her reliable talent for passionate, powerful songwriting.
Angaleena Presley steps away from the Pistol Annies for a solo album that cements her status as country music's great moralist.
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.
A rare saxophonist who is comfortable playing baritone, tenor and soprano records an album that is, simply, beautiful.
I Love You's... attempts at wedding theatrical, celestial rock with low-down, pulsing post-rock is a miss in many ways.
Thursday, November 20 2014
These two excellent documentaries examine failed state systems: an unresponsive police department and a negligent oil safety regime.
Unlike Sundance Channel or IFC, Turner Classic Movies' original manifesto remains as solid as Gibraltar.
There is a corner of the British comics industry that is forever devoted to the portrayal of warfare.
A line in one of the stories here neatly summarizes Oates’ works: “In private, a nervous collapse is an illness. In public, it can be a career.”
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.
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.
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.
Bringing along a few old friends, Bryan Ferry returns to form, crafting a sophisti-pop masterpiece.
Sonic Highways is based around a high-concept idea, but the result is an affirmation of the Foo Fighters' core appeal.
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.
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.
These songs from New Zealand skim and dip, within waves of oceanic imagery, full of Pacific calm or pending storm.
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 fails to reach the glory of high-flying single "Bang Bang" on third album Sweet Talker.
Wednesday, November 19 2014
Citizenfour is exquisitely filmed and carefully reported, but its greatest effects have to do with what you don't see, such as the plans and ambitions that underlie surveillance.
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.
Loisel’s retelling is a gorgeous one. But it’s a contribution to a troubled tale. Is Neverland about rejecting adults – or just women?
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.
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.
Soused’s trapped, bleating circus elephants are harbingers of the prison-planet drones and transhuman monstrosities yet to come. Prepare for heightened beatings, motherfuckers.
The painful loss of their friend and collaborator haunts TV on the Radio's newest album. However, the tortured and torturous love of Seeds are all products of a grieving band refusing to recede into themselves, brazenly choosing to affirm life.
Football. According to author Mark Edmundson, it's a pharmakon.
Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James and Marcus Mumford add music to Bob Dylan’s lyrics for The New Basement Tapes: Lost on the River.
Though the individual tracks stand strong, The Hum's corner-cutting arrangement obscures and frustrates its most important asset: momentum.
Sam Hunt records his first full-length LP, makes an argument about genre, and is still problematic about women.
In lieu of issuing an album proper, Jens Lekman lovingly wraps three new compositions in a mixtape that plays like a gift to the listener, showing off his personal sources of inspiration.
NSYNC's songs never really defined their era so much as were merely a product of them.
Tuesday, November 18 2014
Workers at a Manhattan deli fight for their most basic rights, and a woman who believed herself to be Jewish discovers a shocking truth about her paternity.
Iron Man finds a way to be arrogant, shallow, and superior in all the right (and a few wrong) ways.
pom pom is up there with Ariel Pink's very best work, even if there’s nothing as insanely hooky as “Round and Round".
Brian Jones, founder of the Rolling Stones, had the vision and musical intuition which helped make the band a vital force in the '60s.
John Darnielle's debut novel is an exploration of self-reliance, pain, and acceptance. Isn't that enough?
Hozier's back to back, sold-out nights at Irving Plaza, proved to the audience that the Irish singer-songwriter's recent buzz, post-SNL, is well deserved.
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.
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.
"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.
Deliberate artificiality and horror based in human psychology make this horror classic, first released in 1920, feel remarkably fresh today.
Like George Harrison, whose career and influence only grew after his death, Gibb’s final efforts reveal that he too deserves a re-evaluation of his solo offerings.
When Hyponotized succeeds, it feels like a fresh start and a new direction that could worm its way into Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi's other band, the Men, or wander down its own weird path for quite a while.
A 1985 bestseller re-issue which fails miserably to stand the test of time to put it mildly.
With Motion, Calvin Harris delivers a pleasant album, not without flaws.
Some interesting questions, and some worthy answers from bluegrass country rockers Greensky.