Wednesday, February 4 2015
You may not know his name. You may not even know Daytrotter. But Sean Moeller has played an indispensable role in snatching many of your favorite groups from the clutches of obscurity.
Like a jazz performer playing a classic tune, Roman Polanski takes Shakespeare's classic text and offers slight but crucial emphases, inspired no doubt by his own personal turmoils.
Bob Dylan doesn’t try to compete with Sinatra -- he knows better than that. Shadows in the Night is clearly an act of love and honor.
The Australian rock band's second album is a reverential throwback to the glory days of iconoclastic jangle pop. It's nostalgia done right.
Charles Spooner Garrett, Harvard English degree in hand, has no particular talents, ambitions, or goals when he lands a teaching position at the Abbott School, in Abbottsford, Massachusetts.
With songs that literally seem to go from a whisper to a roar, Chadwick Stokes’ melodies inhabit a kind of netherworld where it’s never a certainty where they’ll end up next.
Sea Island offers some surprises, but also maintains the serene identity that Loscil has been sculpting like a bonsai tree for 15 years.
On his rich debut album, Hozier blends deep South R&B with mythical Celtic folk, slipping in a lick of Motown heartache when least expected.
Tuesday, February 3 2015
This book is a wonder. Oh boy, is it a wonder.
Peter Capaldi, the current Dr. Who, delivers an avant-garde bit of performance art that should be deconstructed just like da Vinci's notebooks.
It's no accident that country is considered a white genre; it became white over time, and minimizing issues of race has been a key component of maintaining this whiteness.
In the kulturkampf between India’s intelligentsia decrying the ‘cultural terrorism’ of extremists, a film like PK has me wondering, how long can secular liberals retain the moral high ground?
In the good-but-not-great Boxtrolls, it falls to the young characters to take care of business and save the day themselves.
From beginning to end, Sauna reads its map upside down, but finds the destination all the same.
Tompkins Square’s third major anthology of African-American gospel draws from the genre's earliest recorded sources to offer listeners evocative echoes of the nineteenth century.
Although the interesting model of Scarcity makes it worth a read, like too many behavioral economics texts, it tries to cram too many global phenomena under its framework.
Still trying to find purpose after surviving the suicidal Flame.Flicker.Die., American Aquarium deliver a confused and confusing album.
A pioneer of massed-guitar music still worth listening to.
Monday, February 2 2015
The aftermath of a major retcon can't be ignored, but it can't be rushed either.
Academy Award for Best Foreign Film nominee director Abderrahmane Sissako discusses working with non-professional actors, difficult technical shots, and the meaning of receiving Mauitania's first-ever Oscar nomination.
Rewriting the rules of Americana, the Lone Bellow are ready for their mainstream moment, working with Aaron Dessner of the National and releasing one of 2015's most anticipated albums.
Sometimes photographs tell stories that music cannot fully articulate, carrying in their grain long-gone atmospheres.
With a title like A Life in Dirty Movies you might not expect a love story, but that's what you get.
Love may be a many-splendored thing, but in the hands of Murder By Death, it’s also an instigator of pain and horror.
I Sell the Circus, Robert Pollard's first album with his new band, makes a convincing argument for Ricked Wicky as a powerful rock band.
Dr. Ayesha Jalal's thorough survey will remain the definitive history of Pakistan for decades to come.
Leanne Macomber and Joel Ford's second release as Young Ejecta is too morose and humorless to be really good pop music, and too upbeat and cheap to be taken very seriously.
Guster takes a decided turn in direction with Evermotion, due mainly to the album’s softer sound and songs that evoke gentler, less complicated constraints.
This time out, saxophonist Paul Shapiro refracts his Jewish heritage not only through jazz but also through raw rock sounds, with guitarist Marc Ribot utterly riveting throughout.
Friday, January 30 2015
With underdeveloped female characters and an emotional generic backstory, Project Almanac is trapped too much in formula for the youthful energy of its cast to rise to the fore.
In reducing the complexity of its characters, Black or White boils down complex racial dynamics to worn-out tropes, like the "well-meaning white guy".
Today the Iconographies proudly presents the magic of Eric Powell’s the Goon as it draws to a close. Maybe.
Armstrong's women opened the same forbidden doors as Agatha Christie and Patricia Wentworth's, but her characters also opened those doors for other, more pressing, reasons.
Get a sneak peek of some of February's most intriguing releases, including albums by Father John Misty, José Gonzaléz, and Dan Deacon.
Nick Kroll and his gaggle of comedian friends clearly think themselves hilarious; from a viewer's perspective, however, that judgment is usually questionable in Kroll Show.
Grief, upheaval, and a creative exile serve as the backdrop for the latest from rising California singer-songwriter.
Following the conceit of the “versus” listed in the artists’ category (“Jim White vs. Packway Handle Band”) title, on Take It Like a Man, White and the band alternately offer songs with just one co-written between them.
The remote mountain villages of le Chambon and the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon were Protestant havens that opened their homes to shelter countless Jewish children during WWII.
Not only are these songs about crushes, they feel just like one: emotionally intense, completely beautiful, and above all, fleeting.
Black Star Elephant proves to be a pleasant, uplifting album, though by no means earth shattering.
Thursday, January 29 2015
The businessman bad guy is nothing new. Lex Luthor and Wilson Fisk (the Kingpin) both come to mind immediately as classic comicbook villains whose main source of power is their wealth. And they’re not the only examples…
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires is a blend of narrative genius with deep political philosophical significance, couched in a surreal blend of comic and prose.
The more closely I followed the Ebola coverage, the more the simulacra of contagion in fiction, film, and games seemed inextricably woven into the mainstream media.
Individ, the latest by this San Francisco duo, finds them coming back to the same place they started: two "total nerds just being excited" as a duo.
Legends of the Knight takes the cultural impact of Batman seriously by highlighting a few of his biggest fans, even though the hero worship gets a little redundant by its conclusion.
More than 50 years into her career, Bettye LaVette still has a voice for the ages.
Like that lady who dreams of an Oklahoma where Shirley Jones and Gordon McCrea dwell, we can fantasize of an England where our neighbors lead rich and eccentric lives and invite us over for a friendly spot of tea.
Gazing upon this vast collection of images with an abundance of rare and previously unseen stills, one cannot help but feel that Gottlieb-Walker captures the films' ontological identity.
If you like the sound of a saxophone flying solo, just wait until you hear it in a big-ass church.
The pop veins that Vance Joy mines so beautifully are unrequited and disbelieving love, and the songs’ appeal lie primarily in Joy’s voice, a voice that projects tremendous yearning.
Wednesday, January 28 2015
In the fictional film Princess and the documentary The Wolfpack, a child's resilience might thwart even the most determined of boogey men.
Wonder Woman is the ultimate feminine ideal, but even she deals with her share of insecurities.
There’s more of value in one Calvino essay about Roman pig sties than there is in a week’s worth of slop from the Huffington Post.
In 2014, former Semisonic frontman and "Someone Like You" scribe Dan Wilson released a solo album, re-released his pre-Semisonic band Trip Shakespeare's albums, and challenged his fans about the fact that a song, in fact, can be about anything.
Tom Cruise is the most consistent movie star Hollywood has, and when he stops making films, his absence will signify the end of an era.
Pawel Pawlikowski's frosty drama, although perhaps too simple for its own good, elevates strong emotional connections from an entirely chilly exterior.
The Lone Bellow knows how to nail a crescendo. The problem with Then Came the Morning is that it makes it seem like the band is only good at that.
Funny and direct, as well as useful and nurturing, Sane New World is a must read for anyone who has been up at night worrying about the future or regretting the past.
As Björk’s live shows become increasingly sprawling in their design and execution, less attention seems to be paid on the arrangements and the dynamics of her songs – or rather, their potential to be reworked into something entirely new onstage.
Live at the Lexington 13.11.13 documents a return and pulverizes a myth. This album proves that the band is terribly alive. But it shows at the same time how mortal they are.
Tuesday, January 27 2015
After the tour de force of last issue's Pax Americana, this issue demonstrates conclusively that Grant Morrison is a master of all the genres in the comicbook superhero playbook.
Just as Thomas Edison represented the America of his time, so too does he represents the America of our time in his try-and-succeed, try-and-fail methodology.
Headlining the first of six sold-out shows at New York's Jazz Standard, Lisa Fischer stirred the soul in a spellbinding 60-minute set.
Oddly enough, a remake of the original game, Resident Evil HD Remaster, actually feels like the next big evolutionary leap for the series.
A sweeping, mythological epic of dreams and nightmares, Alpha introduces one of Greek cinema's newest and most entrancing actresses.
This is a dinner party in book form, although with topics such as torture, group agency, hate speech, and the afterlife, it's not for the absent-minded.
Forthcoming releases from Steven Wilson, Neal Morse, and many others highlight what is bound to be an excellent year for progressive rock.
Patrick McGoohan's John Drake, superhero for the Cold War era, just might be the coolest hero of all time -- yes, even more than James Bond.
If 2013's Carrier was a meditation on loss, Indvid is a bold cry of life, with the duo returning to take inventory of themselves full of energy, poetry, and release.
Based on the detailed notes from the original Roman Inquisition investigation long buried in a Vatican archive, Wolf unravels a tale of religious madness and power trips.
On Fantastic Planet Noveller's Sara Lipstate spends the early parts of the record selling us on her potential, making us rethink how we hear and feel texture in music, how we understand musical structures.
A re-release of a Moby bonus disc shifts focus back to the one of the artist's neglected talents.
If you own a good chunk of Ball’s catalog, there is nothing essential here. If you don’t, it’s a fine introduction.
Jean Grae is deep in the no-fucks-to-give phase of her career, and it's kind of great.
Monday, January 26 2015
Both The Witch and Z for Zachariah point to the terrifying uselessness of religion in the face of the wilderness.
This loopy and stupid film promises eros and instead delivers an earache.
In Telltale's version of Game of Thrones, you play the parts of people who themselves are playing parts. Each one is not playing the game of thrones, they are pieces in the games of others.
In Anthony Doerr's richly romantic jewel quest of a war novel, a blind girl and an engineering prodigy pulse ever closer to each other across a ravaged Europe.
Feeling lucky, punk? The road from obscurity to legend wasn't easy for Clint Eastwood's iconic character Dirty Harry. Think you know the back story? Read on!
With the first intensely exhaustive box set of their career released, Robert Forster reflects on a first-time bass player, a film critic, and himself helped change the very face of rock music.
Better Off Ted was cancelled too early, and this truncated final season doesn't give any real closure. What it does give us, however, is more hi-jinks and zany creativity.
Björk's devastating ninth album Vulnicura, brutally chronicles the dissolution of her relationship with longtime partner, avant-garde NY filmmaker and sculptor Matthew Barney.
No matter how grandiose the Led Zeppelin legend gets, hearing the golden gods tell their tale is both astounding and more real than anything anyone could ever make up.
By escaping from her grandiose visions to dwell in her own head, Björk has made a stark and overwhelming record that proves she still has an abundance of ideas to explore, even at a detriment to herself.
Jan St.Werner's huge, vibrant Miscontinuum Album is spellbinding -- and could use fewer guests.
Intimations of mortality echo throughout this fifth solo release from the contemplative Los Angeles singer-songwriter, formerly of Uma and Show of Hands.
Friday, January 23 2015
As the eccentric art thief Charlie Mortdecai, Johnny Depp says things cleverly instead of saying clever things.
Mommy reminds you that mothers are not supposed to be sexual, and that children and everyone else need boundaries on mothers' behaviors.
Hinterkind focuses on characterization, developing its cast intelligently and deliberately so that everyone is fully formed and multi-faceted.
The world didn't just sit through the trials of both the tobacco industry and O.J. Simpson in 1995: it also welcomed in the sea changes that would shape the new millennium.
Fifteen years after its release, Dream Theater's fifth LP remains not only the quintet's truest masterpiece, but arguably the greatest progressive metal album ever made.
This isn't so much a comedy classic as it is passively amusing, but Drunk History's formula works damn well... especially after you've had a few of your own.
This uptown ain't so special; honestly, you're better off staying downtown.
Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers and Swells is a celebration of progress, of progressives, prophecy, and prescience.
The resurgent mod scene of the late 1970s gets its due.
Fall Out Boy version II makes a bid for the continued evolution of their sound. A mostly entertaining work emerges from this creative maelstrom.
It's high time that Pugwash and America got acquainted.
Thursday, January 22 2015
Marvel Comics takes its first step into a galaxy far, far away and offers plenty of reasons for more hope.
In this absorbing volume, Sally Potter provides an exploration of the director/actor relationship that teems with insight and intelligence, offering inspiration whatever your creative pursuits.
The dream of creating photorealistic video games seems odd to me when considering the medium itself, especially in contrast to other artistic mediums.