Call for Book Reviewers and Bloggers

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.

Monday, June 16 2014

‘Richard & Alice’: Quiet, Bleak, but Well Written

Richard & Alice spins out its morose themes with skill in a fittingly moody atmosphere. The drawback is the slow pace of the puzzles.


The Crazy Diamond Shines On in ‘The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story’

This re-release is a complete and balanced documentary about a rock genius whose contributions proved to be short-lived, yet resonate.


Some Semblance of the Truth Might Be Found in Todd Snider’s ‘I Never Met a Story I Didn’t Like’

Todd Snider's rollicking stories of his years in the music business might not be the whole truth, as he admits, but they're close enough.


The Rise Fall and Rise of Marvel Comics on Film Part 3: Our Universe(s) at War

Suddenly, movies from all walks of the Marvel Universe began to rage against the big screen with three distinct universes vying for control of box office gold.


Finding Some Shrink Dust in a Hedge with Chad VanGaalen

It starts with a dream about his own severed hands running away, and it only gets stranger from there. Welcome to Chad VanGaalen's world.


‘It Started in Naples’ and It Ended in Capri

Clark Gable plays the uptight American seduced by the supposedly looser ways of Italy.


Lana Del Rey: Ultraviolence

Occasionally uninspired lyrical content aside, Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence is a beautiful argument for her relevance and her potential longevity.


R.E.M.: Complete Rarities - I.R.S. 1982-1987

The legendary band allocates the oddities of their underdog years, shining a light on the scrappier side of R.E.M.


Sumo Cyco: Lost in Cyco City

Lost in Cyco City, aside from a theatrical and cheesy intro to opening track "The Ugly" is basically an album that is mostly killer, with little filler.


Marc Ribot Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard

The "downtown" guitarist works at the white-hot center of the jazz tradition in this swinging, out, tender, essential live recording from the jazz basement of legend.


Thee Oh Sees: Drop

Thee Oh Sees made a studio album. It's different in the right way.


Menace: Impact Velocity

Your new soundtrack to feeling sorry for yourself.


Sunday, June 15 2014

David Tennant Is a Brilliant Barrister in ‘The Escape Artist’

Will (David Tennant) may be his chambers' most promising barrister, but he's flamboyant and ruthless only in the courtroom.


Friday, June 13 2014

‘Emoticon ;)’ Wonders, Can 140 Characters Represent You?

Emoticon;)'s dilemma is that as it criticizes current lapses in communication, it also enacts them.


Toothless Is Brilliant Again in ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’

Relationships are the foundation of this franchise's central theme: everyone can get along, even species that seem so opposed as dragons and humans.


Imagine If Crass Was Funny: ‘Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables’

Told efficiently the veteran chronicler of punk, Alex Ogg, this story reveals that the American underground in the late '70s could match the best of the British punks.


Yann Tiersen Breaks Down ∞ Track-By-Track (video) (Premiere)

Following the release of Yann Tiersen's much-acclaimed new album, the atmospheric and enveloping , PopMatters has the exclusive track-by track breakdown of the LP by Tiersen himself.


More Story to Tell: “New Lone Wolf and Cub Volume 1”

In the first year of The Iconographies, we took an in-depth critical tour of the wonder that is Lone Wolf and Cub. Now, as creator Kazuo Koike returns to his magnum opus, so do we…


The Future of Work Looks Like an Agency-Free Hole That Goes Nowhere

A recent Planet Money episode about worker analytics provokes two things: a memory of a troubling past, and troubling vision of the future of work.


Truth Is Always the Same: An Interview with Gogol Bordello

While some may find it easy to classify them as "gypsy punk", Gogol Bordello's worldview is actually much more expansive than that.


Anathema: distant satellites

In light of the major achievement that is 2012's Weather Systems and 2013's live album Universal, distant satellites feels minor in comparison. But this is still Anathema, so bring some tissues.


Lee Fields and the Expressions: Emma Jean

With Emma Jean, Lee Fields and the Expressions deliver their best release yet, giving a master class in retro-soul that sets the bar very high for their like-minded contemporaries.


Tigers Jaw: Charmer

Adding new textures and the vocal talents of Brianna Collins, Tigers Jaw does the impossible, and that is evolve without leaving anything behind.


Dawn Golden: Still Life

This is quite enjoyable on its own terms, so long as you don’t mind the odd copycat moment or the fact that this moves at the speed of a car stuck in neutral.


Billie Holiday:The Essential Brunswick Collection

Fans and critics consider the music on these three discs, dated from 1935 to 1939 when she first signed to Brunswick Records, the cream of Holiday’s recordings.


Thursday, June 12 2014

Human Rights Watch Film Festival New York 2014: ‘First to Fall’

Libyans abroad learned about what was going on back home via media of diverse sorts; YouTube and news reports, videos sent by people still in the country.


The Effective Archetypes of “Afterlife With Archie”

With Afterlife With Archie you could change all the names and the location while keeping everything else the same, and it wouldn’t be any less powerful or impressive a series.


Governors Ball Music Festival 2014: Recap + Photos from Randall’s Island

Perfect weather and fantastic music lent Governors Ball 2014 the sensation of escaping from New York, even though the island itself sits snug atop the East River.


Benighted by Beauty: The Legacy of Opeth’s ‘Still Life’

Still Life's narrative borders on Shakespearean levels of romantic tragedy and social commentary, making it the most poetic and philosophical in Opeth’s catalogue.


‘Beheading the Virgin Mary’ Ambles Through Irish-to-Scot Emigration

From the legacy of The Troubles and Irish-Catholic assimilation, McLaughlin follows the way his early life has transpired, and plots his own direction.


This Lonely Life: An Interview with Max Collins of Eve 6

Eve 6's Max Collins is back, releasing his first-ever solo record, and learning valuable lessons from Soul Coughing's Mike Doughty.


Craft Spells: Nausea

On their sophomore album, Craft Spells leave the synth-pop behind and end up undergoing one of the most remarkable between-album evolutions in recent memory.


Clipping.: CLPPNG

They’re not monsters, they’re just ahead of the curve.


Camper Van Beethoven: El Camino Real

Camper Van Beethoven swiftly deliver a follow-up to La Costa Perdida. Even if they don't sound like their 1986 selves, they still manage to sound like no one else.


The MC Fats Collective: We Gotcha LP 1

Veteran UK drum 'n' beats man, MC Fats, in collaboration with an all-star line up of producers, delivers part three of his enduring legacy.


Screaming Females: Live at the Hideout

After five studio albums, the Screaming Females have finally distilled the essence of their sound into a single record.


Wednesday, June 11 2014

Human Rights Watch Film Festival NY 2014: ‘The Green Prince’

The process by which Shin Bet or US agencies or Hamas exploit and coerce, terrorize and rescue individuals, is The Green Prince's focus.


All Hell Breaks Loose: “Sovereign #3”

In Sovereign #3, a natural storytelling flow was replaced with methodical plotting and you can feel the writing happening.


LEGO The Hobbit

Thank God for the LEGO games.


Ai Weiwei on Truth, Beauty and Futility

Truths and beauties grapple throughout According to What?, a retrospective of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.


Eve Babitz, with Los Angeles at Her Feet

As the cynosure of the counterculture, Eve Babitz knew everybody worth knowing; slept with everybody worth sleeping with and better still, made herself felt in every encounter.


‘Seven Samurai’ Spawned a Subgenre All of Its Own

Celebrating its 60th birthday this year, Akira Kurosawa's superb and influential Japanese adventure film is still as impressive as ever.


Standing on Ceremony: An Interview with Wyrd Visions

The Microphones' Phil Elverum is re-releasing Wyrd Visions' haunting debut and Colin Bergh takes us through its genesis from beginning to end and well beyond.


The Fresh & Onlys: House of Spirits

The Fresh & Onlys continue a winning streak with the introspective House of Spirits.


Röyksopp and Robyn: Do It Again

On Röyksopp and Robyn's latest collaboration, the idea and the execution somehow didn’t quite find common ground.


First Aid Kit: Stay Gold

For all the dusty byways covered on Stay Gold, First Aid Kit appears to be wise beyond their years.


The Brian Jonestown Massacre: A Revelation

Relocated to Berlin, this new album finds the Brian Jonestown Massacre hearkening back to their fine full-length 1995 debut, Methodrone.


Ibibio Sound Machine: Ibibio Sound Machine

This is an album that came out of a language.


Jaco Pastorius: Modern American Music… Period! The Criteria Sessions

Recorded two years before his self-titled debut, these sessions hold, not just some of Jaco's best work, but some of the best jazz you'll hear all year.


Tuesday, June 10 2014

‘Manakamana’: Mysteries of Time and Cable Cars

If the human cable car riders are aware of the camera and then forget it, are aware of the camera and address it, are aware of the camera and ignore it, what can goats manage?


Poseidon Invictus: “Swamp Thing #32”

Charles Soule does an excellent job with the Swamp Thing/Aquaman conflict, managing to make them both seem menacing as they battle, not only against their common enemy, but also over the watery “turf”.


It’s No Longer a Man’s World in ‘Ms. 45’

This bone-chilling story of a young, violated woman who has been pushed too far gets a much deserved re-release.


Pronounced Dead: The Art of Cultural Assassination

Two critical catfights are claiming to have buried art-forms which have shaped our civilisation for decades and centuries apiece. Are they entitled to do that?


How Can You Make Money from Social Media?

In A Social Strategy, Piskorski sets out to make sense of a social media culture where videos of cats garner 100,000 views but serious news stories sometimes go unwatched.


Dead Men Dancing: An Interview with Michael J. Sheehy

Capturing the cinematic sweep of a lounging troubadour on his last dime and meal, Michael J. Sheehy's cold romantic fables are the stuff of Tony Richardson films.


Man-Sized Hamsters Haunt London’s Tube in ‘Doctor Who: The Web of Fear’

“The Web of Fear” illustrates why mostly unseen monsters work much better than their fully-formed cousins.


Jack White: Lazaretto

Let’s push past the fake tabloid feuds and authenticity battles and call Lazaretto what it really is: an exceptional rock album.


Quantic: Magnetica

Quantic's journey into Tropicália continues with another fine slice of mellow grooves, zesty vocals and full-bodied percussion. It's a well-rounded platter, fresh from around the globe.


Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: Only Run

Only Run, both in form and function, is CYHSY's return to relevance, excellence even, and one of the best independent rock records of 2014.


Antwon: Heavy Hearted in Doldrums

Antwon's newest release is sex-obsessed, messy and often excellent.


Mudhoney: On Top: KEXP Presents Mudhoney Live on Top of the Space Needle

Seminal Seattle band Mudhoney celebrate their 25-year existence by playing at the top of the city's iconic Space Needle. I guess that makes sense.


Steve Cardenas: Melody in a Dream

A versatile jazz guitarist with his trio (and occasionally trumpet) works within the tradition and also, subtly, outside it. Everything is beautiful and balanced.


Monday, June 9 2014

‘Remembering the Artist, Robert De Niro, Sr.’: The Actor on His Father

A contemplation of how art might be valued, how eras might be defined, and how artists survive adversity.


Mom in the Movies: The Iconic Screen Mothers You Love (and a Few You Love to Hate)

This coffee table overview of how matrons have been treated in cinema offers up some stellar insights and some obvious narrative gaps.


Radical Concepts In Lovability: “Ms. Marvel #4”

As new Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan struggles on her path to become a hero, she finds a way to make herself more lovable.


Forget Boy Scout; Jack Ryan Is an Eagle Scout to the Extreme

In his latest incarnation, Jack Ryan is always the most observant, most competent, most morally upstanding guy in the room.


The Rise Fall and Rise of Marvel Comics on Film Part 2: The Road Out of Development Hell

The story is far from over for The Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, but what of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? What of the incredible saga of all of those also-ran comic book films?


There’s No Reason This Band Couldn’t Last Forever: An Interview with Old 97s

The Old 97s' Murry Hammond talks about longevity, adversity, honesty and the ass-thumping new album, Most Messed Up, that is setting them off on the road once again.


It’s Out with the Old, in with the Older in ‘Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor’

With the Doctor's many regenerations, we see our Time Lord reincarnated with different mannerisms and taste in just about everything but the almost universally garish clothing.


Andrew Bird: Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…

With his latest release, Andrew Bird pays homage to the Handsome Family in that achingly beautiful way only he can.


Half-handed Cloud: Flying Scroll Flight Control

If you were to listen to this 18 song album, which clocks in at less than 30 minutes, you could play a drinking game with every time that God, Jesus or Moses, or other religious elements, are namechecked.


Kool Keith: Demolition Crash

It’s never been more obvious that Kool Keith needs the stabilizing influence and instincts of a quality producer. Now more than ever, he’s Magneto without his helmet.


Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Psychedelic Cambodia

The first high profile compilation to spotlight the blending that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s when traditional Cambodian music began to be filtered through the lens of garage rock, surf rock, and psychedelia.


Chris Brokaw: Now, Forager OST

A surprisingly good album that happens to make a fine soundtrack.


Withered Hand: New Gods

A collection of sometimes jaunty, often introspective tunes.


‘Among the Sleep’: So Much Promise, So Little Payoff

Horror is evoked in games by making the player feel helpless, and who is more helpless than a toddler?


Friday, June 6 2014

‘Night Moves’ Is Kelly Reichardt’s Latest Portrait of Americans Lost

Political disaffection and engagement, personal dedication and distrust.


All Salvation is Temporary in ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

The Fault in Our Stars provides a showcase for the protagonist's honest openness, her capacity to radiate and inspire empathy.


Monomythography of an Art Form: A Prelude to Considering “The Only Living Boy”

The Greil Marcus-edited A New Literary History of America offers insight into the deeper cultural DNA of David Gallaher and Steve Ellis's The Only Living Boy.


The Walking Dead Season Two, Episode 3

This season of The Walking Dead is not satisfied with establishing a status quo, nor with simply playing to expectations. It doesn't care how we think things should go. It isn't that kind of world anymore.


Invisible Factory Billionaire: The Minting of a New Post-Colonial Literary Darling Tash Aw

With the publication of his third novel, Tash Aw's celebrity status is now assured. But do the books equal the hype?


“The Pressure Is Different Now”: An Interview with Fred Armisen

When not working on Portlandia or leading the band on Late Night with Seth Meyers, SNL album Fred Armisen is releasing his "Hometown Heroes" series of singles under the guises of fake bands.


There’s a ‘TINY’ Rebellion Going on in America

TINY: A Story About Living Small is a suitably modest documentary that explores whether home is really what you make it or if there’s a minimum size requirement.


Blondie: Blondie 4(0) Ever

At 68 legendary Blondie front woman Debbie Harry just wants to dance. And what's wrong with that? The ghost in the machine has a good ear.


They Might Be Giants: Idlewild: A Compilation

They Might Be Giants seem to have a very good grasp on what their best material is, and have included a whole bunch of it right here in this self-curated collection.


Duran Duran’s ‘Beautiful Colors’ in Posters

This is a weighty tome, independently released, but with the high-end quality one might expect to have found at the recently shuttered Rizzoli flagship store.


Sage Francis: Copper Gone

The overall impression of Copper Gone is that of a man alone in his room, pummeling the pillows in an impotent rage, a "hurtin' hot mess" struggling to find his way to stability.


Fear of Men: Loom

Fear of Men's music works on a mix of comfort and discomfort; the instruments play both sweetly and ominously.


Marvin Gaye: The Soul Legend

A few sweet lessons in life and love from a soul legend.


Thursday, June 5 2014

‘Citizen Koch’ and the Enduring Effects of Citizens United

What happens when corporate and private monies are allowed to come into a public system of electioneering and propaganda?


Art and the Art of Sport in ‘This is Not a Ball’

This offers many individuals' stories of the game, the mechanics, the beauty, the promise and hope offered by soccer, but only a glimpse at the politics or the industry.


Frost is Literal and Literary in ‘The Alp’

A combination of detail and distance creates a hermetic feel within these stoic Swiss scenes.


Taking the Art Out of ‘The Art of the Steal’

This rises somewhat above its heist flick clichés, due mostly to its stellar cast, but also the clever structure of the story, courtesy of writer/director Jonathan Sobol.


‘Anchorman’s’ Ron Burgundy: The Man, The Myth, the Media

Anchorman 2 is bigger, bolder, brasher and more bizarre than its antecedent, but it also gives a pertinent critique of the medium it has chosen to satirise.


Miley Cyrus: The Anti-Lorde

We cannot understand Lorde’s success without recognizing that it happened in the context of Miley Cyrus’ disgrace.


‘Delicious!’ Can Be Like Having a Bit of Fun with a Bit of Fluff, If That’s Your Taste

After Gourmet was abruptly shut down, editor Ruth Reichl parlayed a lifetime’s worth of foodie gossip into a confection of a first novel.


Echo and the Bunnymen: Meteorites

This is not a "return to form". Some of the tracks are a bit boring and ponderous. But there are still just about enough chunks of Meteorites to compare with the Bunnymen's illustrious heyday.


Meshell Ndegeocello: Comet, Come to Me

Ndegeocello returns with her 11th studio album, which is a minimalist album that will leave you wondering what could have been if more was layered onto these fairly bare bones.


Chris Schlarb: Making the Saint

An unrushed, introspective album -- perfect for a Sunday during a meditation retreat in a haunted monastery.


Cheap Girls: Famous Graves

Lovers of guitar-driven rock music looking for a smoother Two Cow Garage or more stripped down the Hold Steady would do well to visit Famous Graves.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements
Win a 15-CD Pack of Brazilian Music CDs from Six Degrees Records! in PopMatters Contests on LockerDome

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

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.