Wednesday, July 16 2014
Ab-Soul's follow-up to Control System sees him forgetting all quality control.
Severed Heads' "Dead Eyes Opened" was an accidental critical success back in 1983. Relive this modest hit's moment in the sun on a vinyl reissue.
Fuzzed-out guitar riffs. Locked-in rhythm section. Emphasis on slow grooves. Yep, Comet Control is a stoner rock band. A pretty good one, too.
Tuesday, July 15 2014
Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, points out, "People who do things that have racial implications always say that race has nothing to do with it."
The spirit of Pete and Toshi Seeger permeated Clearwater Festival as this was the first year without the environmentally conscious folk musician and the filmmaker.
Overly elaborate plots rarely justify their complexity. But there are exceptions.
Laura Kasischke's tenth novel is a dark fairytale about the sacrifices of motherhood and of secrets so deep, we learn to keep them even from ourselves.
311 most definitely underscored its cannabis-friendly, mellow, laid-back facet, as more intense tracks were largely set aside. Yet again, though, 311 put on a top-notch, electric live show that few bands could touch.
Smoke Sessions Records is doing it old-school: recording the best musicians in New York playing mainstream jazz that cooks.
I wrote a piece wondering why OK Go's videos were so good but their songs seemed to be lacking. It generated a lot of great responses -- and then OK Go's Damian Kulash decided to give me a ring.
The simple yet transformative hat-trick of Under the Skin is that it is the humans who are alien.
With World Peace Is None of Your Business, Morrissey finds himself becoming lyrically divisive to the point of self-parody.
With the manic drive and creativity of the Dillinger Escape Plan at its best, the Vancouver-based JPNSGRLS craft a pop-punk gem in Circulation.
Hard Believer is about the immersive experience that a cohesive record can offer. It's a top-to-bottom, unhurried listen.
Lucky Peterson is the son of a bluesman. He has the blues in his blood. He says so himself, many times.
This is an album about diversity without intellectual compromises. It is how it is because this is the way it is. There is no re-elaboration or, worse, reinterpretation of the existing aesthetic principles.
Monday, July 14 2014
Masquerade is a means of survival in post-Hurricane Katrine New Orleans.
Jafar Panahi's Closed Curtain showcases the difficulties of making art and being an artist in a troubled world.
The obvious question is whether or not Dick Grayson can carry a book, minus his mask and superhero identity. The answer, at least in this first issue, is yes, yes he can.
Tesla Effect is B-grade fun that unfortunately soon turns into B-grade nonsense.
Black Sabbath, Faith No More, Soundgarden and more: a tale of music and Independence.
"So it all came from a point of view of nostalgia, of how India used to be when I still lived there," says Ritesh Batra of his film, The Lunchbox.
Sexual rights in America remain both provisional and cynical; we know everyone should have them, but we are beholden to cowardly, outmoded, theocratic institutions that are fearful of egalitarianism.
Legendary songwriter John Hiatt takes the hard road on Terms of My Surrender, a tough, modern blues contemplation which turns into an exciting heartland roar.
The way Landlady can explode with joy and strangeness puts them on some sort of a pedestal, right from their debut.
Tiphanie Yanique's debut novel is both a family saga and an unusual love story. It seems likely to become a classic of Caribbean American literature.
When your album highlights sound much like a previous rock incarnation and a pair of fast songs sound like fraternal twins, it’s probably not your best effort.
This is a streamlined collection of a standard sound with some sonic detours into pop territory, and it draws inspiration from both the classic and the contemporary styles of blues.
The second set of Northern Soul-flavored 7x7"-singles from the legendary soul label highlights just how tough it is to consider the Motown sound objectively these days.
Sunday, July 13 2014
People must make choices, dire, resonant, tragic, repeatedly in The Strain.
Friday, July 11 2014
Matt Reeves’ sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a tight, bleak, and dramatically lopsided tragedy wrapped inside a pummeling summer crowd-pleaser.
The song was "Flagpole Sitta", and it was everywhere in the late '90s. Nearly two decades later, it finally gets the vinyl treatment.
Polanski's movies tend to be even-handed in their treatment of the sexes, at least in that both male and female characters can be conniving and power-mad.
In Quest for Infamy, you’ll spend more time looking for a story and puzzles than you do participating in a story and puzzles.
Women in jazz can sing about their same-sex experiences, while men tend to stay deeply in the closet. Odd, considering the genre once embraced such dalliances.
Should you indulge, I encourage you to pour your favorite tipple, settle into a comfortable chair, open the pages of Proof, and enjoy the "bar moment".
Artisanal chocolate. Mustaches. Locally sourced vegetables. Etsy. Birds. Flea markets. Cult films. Horn-rimmed glasses. Twee.
Walter Hill's talkiest action film boasts one of his best stories, but isn't the forgotten classic one might hope for.
The seminal bossa-nova record for American audiences still sounds perfect.
Now (Chicago XXXVI) will likely make moms across the land swoon, and that’s pretty much all you can ask from Chicago by this point.
They are Serge Gainsbourg's songs, but it's Harvey’s show, and he does a fine job as frontman throughout.
Watching Eric Elbogen's career has been like watching a turtle come out its shell in slow motion, and Endless Wonder is perhaps Say Hi's most fully realized album to date.
A mixed bag from Portland's folk-rock superstars.
Thursday, July 10 2014
With so many mainstream movie romances mired in clichés, it's up to the indie sector to offer more nuanced, more original versions of the movie romance.
Over the last couple of years IDW has collected the entirety of the Star Trek strips that ran from 1979 to 1983 into two large, coffee table style volumes in their Library of American Comics series.
Nothing goes unnoticed in Yelena Akhtiorskaya's satire of an immigrant family, and nothing is sacred.
In evaluating what makes a great film score, writers, composers, and listeners must ask themselves if the function of cinematic music limits the form it has to take.
Silly plot aside, the real attraction to A Hard Day’s Night is the music and the way it is presented.
Bassist for the Atlanta sludge metal monsters Troy Sanders discusses why Once More 'Round the Sun is simply the next logical step in the band's Go-Go's-loving journey.
The Clientele were one of the greatest triumphs of the fickle aughts, and also one of the most overlooked successes of indie pop.
Donovan Quinn and Glenn Donaldson took a straight ahead approach to making their latest, a record infused with immediate charm making its 33-minute running time feel breezy, even effortless.
Two masters play mostly love songs as if the night were coming to a close.
The Motherland shows that, at the age of 50, Dave Bidini shows no signs of slowing, and we can all celebrate the fact that he’s still making music.
Kris Delmhorst aims for a mature, minimalistic style on her seventh studio album Blood Test, a move which ultimately lacks punch and floats by in a puff of nothingness.
Wednesday, July 9 2014
While vengeance is surely a reliable dramatic device, its use here is also potentially more far-reaching.
The setting is not one hundred years after Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny were first exposed to cosmic rays but rather one hundred years after Jack and Stan kicked off the Marvel revolution with the introduction of “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.”
Comics Art demonstrates Gravett's deep passion for the world of panels, speech balloons, fine lines and grand colors, subtle shading and transformative images.
Parenthood comes with a lot of change, and a lot of decisions to be made, including this one: What’s your musical strategy?
The veritable Top 40 Country outsiders, Old Crow Medicine Show, are the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. But does that really matter?
For any a fan of The Who’s “Maximum R&B” music, this is as close to being there as you can possibly get without a time machine and a hefty ticket charge.
This is probably Boris’ most accessible record to date and the overall feeling is that it has, once again, managed to mould its inspiration while remaining quintessentially "Boris".
Tim Booth lost his mother and a friend. His band's aesthetic betrays his grief. But it all somehow comes out alright.
No collection could do justice to some of the diverse paths which Paul Weller has pursued over the last decade.
If this was the last day on Earth, Friedman would still go out and greet friends and celebrate the moment rather than cry in despair.
Tough and yet tender, sexy and yet seductive, All of Nothin’ appeals to all of your good senses, and it is a wonderful testament of an artist who is very quickly coming into her own.
Tuesday, July 8 2014
Flashbacks appear first as if in her mind (via circular mirrors and quaint iris transitions) and then as if on digital recording (on a tablet), neither obviously accurate.
Sex Criminals fits into a category all its own. Is it a book about sex? It is certainly dirty, but it doesn’t exploit its characters.
Young Adult literature is not just for kids, and it fills an important niche left vacant by much of contemporary "adult" fiction.
PopMatters catches up with singer and wordsmith Tim Bowness to talk about the creative process behind Together We're Stranger, its lyrical influences, and how it fits into the band's diverse career.
I Spy is filled with revolutionary diversity, exotic filming locations, and a textbook example of on screen chemistry.
What happens when one of the most successful and prolific songwriters of the past few years decides to return to the career that debilitated her emotionally and physically?
And Man Created God is an impressively detailed and panoramic survey of how power and piety interacted with one another in the increasingly globalized classical world.
Savage Gold proves extreme metal to be a race to the bottom that no one wins.
This wholly unique dream-pop band returns with an album that takes their ambient, dreamy sound to new and interesting places.
Before this night is through, White Sea wants to do real bad things with you.
While it sometimes sticks too close to home, most of Givin' Up on Free Jazz is an open and welcome invitation to join the band there and get lost in the feeling of good rock 'n roll.
Monday, July 7 2014
As it follows Paralympians en route to London 2102, this documentary makes clear the arbitrary dividing line between what's "normal" and what's not.
Beck really knocked it out of the park with his show at Summerstage.
Disorganization and ineptitude somehow come together in a wonderfully meaningful story.
Marvel owns characters and its profits come from comics sales, film tickets, lunch boxes, etc. As such, character identification fluctuates easily between media.
Though the video game industry bases itself on forward progression, the rich history of the medium is being underserved by the lack of preservation for older, essential games.
There’s no scenery chewing in All That Heaven Allows, just very eloquent décor.
This is Judas Priest as they haven't been heard in nearly 25 years. Not since Painkiller has the band had this much power, energy, or hooks.
Hardly original, but always something of quality, Wooden Head is a record you’ll be glad to hear, and, by the end, leaves you wanting more.
Famous Baby is fun and funny and a bit flawed, just like its two main characters.
The Pretenders vocalist delivers first solo album with a little help from her friends. Results may vary.
Elusive would imply that she's hiding from us. The irony is that this album serves Mariah Carey in droves.
Music of the earth, emotion and community, Handsome and Gretyl talk love, hope, optimism, and life.
Wednesday, July 2 2014
Bonnaroo's four-course, farm-to-table "Bonnaroots" dinner showed the locavore food culture's vibrancy crossing into pop culture.
War is bad, demons are bad, walking on human skulls is bad. And then what?
The middle day of the festival on Saturday featured a strong draw for the rock ‘n' roll crowd.
A furious mix of hip-hop beats, Arabic primal screams and punk-rock guitars, Taha brilliantly battles against the ideologies of both Western and Arab traditions.
We take another trip to a certain simian world, we have another experience with an annual government authorized night of lawlessness, and we get our second sighting of a mythic Greek muscleman.
It’s nearly impossible to not get roped in by the easy banter of the dialogue, the epic drama, and the luminous images of this quintessential Western.
The Bats are a crucial part of the Flying Nun story, as well as the story of New Zealand music.
There is nothing hidden about the world of these stories, and Yu Hua’s writing is defined by its plainspoken voice and depiction of quotidian lives.
Willie Nelson still makes records that are smart, funny, sexy, and heartbreaking.
The Hunting Party is a decent record on its own, but it feels too repetitive, uninspired, and generic to equal its immediate predecessors.
“The Ballad of Stinky Penis”. “I’m Gonna Fuck You Up!". “Big Bloody Booger on the Bathroom Wall”. If those song titles seem even remotely appealing to you, boy, have I got the record for you!
As the title implies, this is nothing but drum solos from one of the greatest drummers of all time. Even if the notion turns you off, the album itself will prove mesmerizing.