Thursday, November 14 2013
Celebrating a brand new video and her very first solo single, Alfa Anderson reflects on CHIC, Luther Vandross, and all the other "good times" from her four-decade career.
Saved by the Bell ended in 1993, but now 20 years later, the teen sitcom is as charming as ever.
Eric Pulido, promoted to frontman and performing quite ably, works together with the other five members of the studio and live band to make an impression that he characterizes as "less folk and more rock; less nostalgic and more progressive."
With just enough self-consciousness to shape her stream-of-consciousness songs, it's when indie eccentric Courtney Barnett gets caught up in her own head that her music gets stuck in yours.
In Tony Allen's new autobiography, we get a glimpse into the life and times of the man behind the kit, as well as fascinating insights into the tumultuous rise of Fela Kuti & the Afrika 70 to stardom.
Luscious Jackson's first album in almost 15 years was part of a fan-driven campaign. Unfortunately, much of Magic Hour will have fans likely wanting more.
Birdy is attempting to make her mark on her own terms with second album Fire Within, her first release entirely composed of original material. The results are certainly better than you might expect.
Heart of Nowhere, Noah and the Whale’s fourth album, ambitiously takes us into the heart of the teenage dream.
The Vibrators gave us some of the greatest punk singles in history; unfortunately, this collection of re-recordings and lesser lights does them no favors.
Wednesday, November 13 2013
The mirror image Donald Rumsfeld creates, his inverted similarity to the villain he mocks, would be comical if the effects of his and the administration's lies weren't so devastating and ongoing.
Denson and company have provided a valuable 21st century service in delivering their ever dependable groovy dance jams, year after year, without fail.
Donna Tartt's third novel, The Goldfinch, asks "What do you do when you're saddled with a self you do not want?"
I love Inaki Miranda's cars. They're equal parts safety line and guide wire; laced with the kind of realism you can retreat into when the supernatural gets too much, but also a means for you to help suspend your disbelief.
Jethro Tull have always confounded critics, and despite albums sales, hit songs, influence and longevity, it is above all the brain of frontman Ian Anderson that ensures they will remain forever on the outside, looking in.
Much of the thrill of watching The Lone Ranger comes from its death-defying ability not to fall.
Counting Crows have never played things by the book, which is why the Oscar-nominated group's third live release is filled with covers, and Duritz talks to PopMatters about his process, his regrets, and what fans can expect next ...
For some, Robotech was (and is) a multi-generational Japanese animated space opera on par with the ambitious TV sagas like Star Trek, Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica.
As its title suggests, Chance of Rain hinges on contingencies.
Can was ask ourselves now, eight years after his death, is the sum of Pryor’s achievements, his eradication of sexual, social, racial, and economic barriers, greater than the sum of his misdeeds?
Swearin's best songcraft battles their derivative impulses on this sophomore record.
Fairy tales, children's poems and nursery rhymes. Wild Child adds conflict to innocence.
Sister, the third album from young Swedish heavy metal band In Solitude, captures the group as they step out of the shadows of their forebearers to stake a claim on their own patch of darkness.
Ry Cooder rarely plays in public these days, so this live set of 11 songs he’s recorded over his multi-decade career, plus one wild card, is a rare treat.
One cannot overstate the importance of that rhythm; makes one feel hongry, sexy and a little mean -- even when White’s singing about storms and kids, poverty and hard work and finding oneself hanging out in the graveyard.
Tuesday, November 12 2013
Death's voiceover doesn't so much shape The Book Thief as direct your reading of it, which is to say, it describes what you see and suggests what you might think about it.
John Carpenter presents Body Bags is Carpenter at his most playful and self-aware, even as his rare performance as an onscreen actor unashamedly apes the Crypt Keeper.
This tale concludes soberly, asking what will become of the Annas of the world, once their parents can no longer care for them. It is a fine question, a frightening question, and one she leaves unanswered.
With Guy Fawkes celebrated recently, hacktivists taking to the streets this past Friday for the Million Mask March, and Alan Moore's upcoming 60th birthday, maybe now's the time to take a look at V for Vendetta.
Sure, it's uncool to like the New Found Glorys or Brand News, but that wave of screaming, poppy, punky acts was a fun ride.
Whether we know it or not, our brain can pick up on the falseness of the 3D image if it’s not successfully tricked.
As it turns out, Girl Most Likely has plenty in common with Bridesmaids; that is, sharing that movie's sense of 30-something melancholy, rather than its big comic set pieces.
While this epic album/book combo borrows from all eras of the band's long history, it's got its own tense seething, its own structure, its own curiosities and, finally, its own impact.
How old are you? And perhaps more importantly, does the question frighten you? It frightens Lynne Segal, author of Out of Time: The Pleasures and the Perils of Ageing.
Back to Land, the latest release from minimalist motorik four-piece Wooden Shjips, isn’t likely to be the album you were expecting. But it is one to prove that the band’s free spirit still reigns.
It’s a countrified album in the best sense of what was done in the mid-‘70s with records such as It’ll Shine When It Shines to a certain extent, just with more emphasis on the country end of the pop spectrum.
Except for a few cool production techniques and some interesting mid-song changes, it's just a collection of shallow, uninvolving tracks with plenty of distortion and eccentric singing.
Arriving sooner than anyone expected, #METIME improves on the 2 Chainz experience in almost every way while delivering exactly what fans have come to expect.
This is the kind of record that gives rise to lots of associations -- intentional, unintentional, whatever -- and while for some bands that kind of provocational association can be a good thing, it is bad news for Young Rebel Set.
Monday, November 11 2013
Five decades of X-men converge in a way that's thrilling, yet incomplete.
A Case of You fascinates as an experiment in directing the romcom to greater emotional authenticity, but only through a risky headfirst dive into the muck of overused tropes and too familiar character types.
Gotham is different, Gotham can be saved, so every minor villain you defeat and every random thug you knock out feels like taking a little step towards a safer world.
I can't think of another gathering of academics, practitioners, and fans that places comics alongside not just other pop media, but also science, math, and technology.
Max Bemis' new project is a collaboration with his wife Sherri, who fronts Eisley. Bemis talks balancing his family life with his recording one and how marriage has changed his music, but not in the way you think.
Hollywood royalty and old friends reminisce on the life and work of legendary producer/director Roger Corman, arguably the single most significant figure in the life of American genre movies.
Wikileaks’ Julian Assange noted that the East German secret police employed ten percent of the population as informants. The genius of Facebook is that it's an emoticon-besotted surveillance apparatus through which friends rat out friends routinely.
The last episode of Dexter tries to remind us of not only where the monsters come from, but also what can become of them and the people they try to love.
Lady Gaga can see all the smiling faces in the funhouse mirrors nodding in approval, but she refuses to believe that she's the only person in the room, the smiles all her own.
Boombastic instrumental grime from one of the rising talents in Bristol's new grime wave.
Fade Away is a presentation of more of the same music that Best Coast has already made. Whether or not that's bad news to you depends on how big of a fan you really are.
The debut solo project from Cherry Ghost vocalist Simon Aldred is sophisticated synth-pop for the incurable romantic.
Niger rock: Small country, big sound
Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura push up and out and up and out some more on their third, fourth and fifth release of the year.
Friday, November 8 2013
Shane Meadows's documentary of the improbable reunion of the Stone Roses comes complete with a few shortcomings and whole lot of Britpop alchemy.
While Loki's efforts at vengeance were mightily entertaining in The Avengers, his detainment is less delightful.
Shadow Warrior is a game that faces its racial past, acknowledges it, and embraces it -- mostly for the better. While it revels in its own nostalgia -- almost to a gratuitous level -- it still manages to straddle the line carefully enough to remain fresh.
The shift to digital distribution in the comics industry is having a significant impact. Today, comics is witnessing its very own Birth of the Cool.
In their short but concise oeuvre as co-creators, Bergman and Rossellini explored the subjects of cultural reappropriation, forced displacement, and the effects of war on human relationships.
Haggard and his songs managed to leave a far greater impression than the over-the-top venue.
In this Bayeux Tapestry-like method of storytelling, images segue from one to the next with imperceptible but inevitable shifts of perspective and events, much like war itself.
Controversial and somewhat enigmatic, Richard Pryor’s performances opened up a new world of possibilities, merging fantasy with angry reality in a way that wasn’t just new—it was heretofore unthinkable.
Ender’s Game, like much post-9/11 sci-fi, reimagines the future as a violated past. But the object of its nostalgia is a worryingly exclusive white ideal.
Eyes without A Face embodies the idea of existential terror rooted in the terrors of being human.
A London trio releases their first album in 19 years, and it's a noisy, beautiful masterpiece.
With 19 (full) albums in their catalogue, (the) Melvins may be eligible for stalwart "elder statesmen" status, at least in their own unique genre. But it's hard to imagine "King Buzzo" and the band ever taking themselves seriously enough to play that role.
The live album provides a good introduction for newbies, and a strong tease for long-time fans that there still might be more to come from the Chills.
Grails further defines their midnight-movie aesthetic on this compilation.
Some of Jack Johnson's most beautiful songs can be found on this album, if you can stomach the endless romantic references and the abundance of similar-sounding guitar melodies.
Alive Naturalsound reissues a lost album of political soul.
Thursday, November 7 2013
Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son is witty, compassionate, sensitive, and deeply honest.
White House Down never had a chance, given that the film shares its primary plot of bad guys infiltrating and then seizing control of the presidential residence, with the superior Olympus Fallen.
When it comes to character death, it’s necessary to split the discussion into two parts: mainstream superhero books and everything else.
Sheila Heti (author of the brilliant, convention-defying novel How Should a Person Be) wrote a play over a decade ago, but no one could figure out how to stage it. Until now.
It is to Orson Welles’ eternal credit that he is one of the few filmmakers — perhaps the only one — who actually got Kafka right.
Like jazz or vaudeville, rock 'n' roll faces significant cultural and technological challenges—true epochal shifts of the kind that always seem to mark turning points in history.
"Charm" is the operative word when describing I Married a Witch: it has screwball pacing but is more whimsical and daffy than outright hilarious.
Wig-outs, freak-outs, and tripped-and-fuzzed-out rock 'n' roll is accepted from French trio Aqua Nebula Oscillator. But, in keeping with the band's enigmatic persona, it's pulled a sinister swerve on its latest album, Spiritus Mundi.
The Kronos Quartet perform the work of a composer who wasn't even alive when they first started playing together.
In My American Revolution, author Robert Sullivan searches for traces of the past amongst the strip malls and suburbs of contemporary America.
Trance Percussion Masters of South Sudan is a valuable ethno musicological document and the spirited and highly skilled playing and performing allows a glimpse into an otherwise rarely seen world.
Yoko Ono and the reformed Plastic Ono Band have the ability to take you on a trip you've probably never taken before. Handbasket not included.
Grave Miasma's debut full-length, Odori Sepulcrorum, speaks of ages past, but not with any sense of love or fondness. The band is here to prove that quintessentially evil death metal has never gone out of fashion.
No Malice is a changed man. Don't expect this Christian Rap album to sound like a Clipse album.
Wednesday, November 6 2013
Nothing needs to be learned. There is no message or moral. Just two people meeting to have a beautiful experience in one another's company.
A recent stop on the trio's reunion tour yielded a streamlined, subtly triumphant show.
Beware the Batman makes a radically different argument for the Batman as an idea.
At its dark core, Mad Men is an epic poem to rapacious capitalism.
Do you think NBC's flagship, iconic series is racist for not having any African-American women in its cast this season? Think again.
After losing one of their founding members, Los Campesinos! were at a turning point, wondering whether to go on. Good news for us, they did (in the form of new album No Blues), and sonic architect Tom Campesinos! tells PopMatters all about it ...
Bruce Pavitt, co-founder of Sub Pop Records, talks about the early days of Sub Pop, indie culture in the 1980s, and his new book about breaking the most legendary band of the '90s in Europe, Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe, 1989.
For all its occasional predictability and melodrama, when Under the Dome is good, it's very good. When it falls flat, it's still good enough to stay tuned for the next installment.
Although Cut Copy has from its beginning been dedicated to dance-rock, one might think of this album as the one where rock is left sitting on the curb outside the club.
The pianist and producer generates the follow-up to his Grammy winning Black Radio, again featuring a host of guest vocalists: ten amazing new songs with a foot in the best of the past.
Levels of Life is also an exercise in form, an exemplar of the inadequacy of any one literary form for expressing certain sentiments and theses.
Although a pleasant listen, James Blunt’s latest album Moon Landing isn’t a particularly innovative one.
Former Elefant frontman Diego Garcia returns with his sophomore album Paradise. The summery vibe of the album might seem jarring at first in comparison to his melancholy debut, but it's a testament to his talent as a songwriter that the album doesn't sink under the blithesome weight of it all.
Breach does a lovely job of sounding both murky and ethereal.
Kompakt's golden boy represents his label at Art Cologne.
Tuesday, November 5 2013
These scientists are figuring out how to make an alchemist’s dream come true, changing one element into another two. Energy released 70,000,000 times bigger than fire. There’s a war with the Nazis to be won.
Perhaps more than any other sitcom, Boy Meets World totally captures what it feels like to grow up.
In Former People, Douglas Smith follows the fates of two families during the revolutions and Civil War that played out across Russia between 1917 and 1922, and he continues to track the fates of those who chose to remain in the Soviet Union.