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.
More Recent Features
	Michel Petrucciani: So What: The Best of Michel Petrucciani

What does Steve Gadd play? What do Anthony Jackson, Bob Brookmeyer, George Mraz, play? The notes don’t say. Has the producer been rendered absent-minded

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8 Sep 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Alanis Morissette: So-Called Chaos

With age comes maturity—and dull songwriting? Nobody wants to think that as we age, we lose our inspiration or our muse. Maybe as the

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	Laura Love: You Ain’t Got No Easter Clothes

Laura Love has a book to coincide with this album of the same name. It’s a release that some people might suspect as being

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8 Sep 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Jolie Holland: Escondida

Jolie Holland’s Escondida positively reeks of authenticity. You can smell the draft beer seeping into the mahogany bar and see the hanging smoke go

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Bush's speech was designed to soft-pedal his ideological psychosis, recycle 'compassionate conservatism,' and excoriate what was his speechwriter's best turn, 'the soft bigotry of low expectations.'

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Zell Miller delivered this blustery bullshit with maximum venom, his mouth drawn tighter than a Crown Royal whiskey sack.

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8 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

The new Latin alternative sound is an interweaving of languages, styles, and rhythms that is nothing short of exciting.

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8 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

On a US-bound plane with Chinese girls being carried to their new homes by their adoptive parents, the author, recently barred from a worksite in China because she is a woman, reflects upon being an unwanted female in modern China.

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8 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

Space Channel 5: Special Edition

It's all very '60s-like in its undying optimistic themes of naiveté through pop tunes and dance.

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8 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

Far Cry

Far Cry was designed not just to look good; it actually aspires to beauty. Taking advantage of the technology to display more than the grotesque is a bit of a startling shift for the genre.

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DVision: Contraband

While DVision isn't exactly a news source, it's surely enlightening and brings many political issues to the table.

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Whispers in the Dark (1992)

What emerges here is a painfully generic potboiler briefly masquerading as softcore porn.

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The United States of Leland (2003)

Leland meets a teacher who's been tending to young hard cases for too long.

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8 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

7 Days in September (2003)

'I wasn't thinking about making a film,' says one documentary filmmaker. 'I just happened to be there and it was history in the making.'"

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8 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (2004)

If the film may not reveal all the tenets of the religion's philosophy, it provides a sensory experience of Buddhist principle and wisdom.

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Resident Evil: Deluxe Edition (2002)

Resident Evil opens at a moment that might be best described as mid-psychosis, that is, the titular evil is overtaking the 'residence'.

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8 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

The Ladykillers (2004)

Pious, earnest, and broadly drawn, Marva is the first black character in a Coen brothers movie to occupy center stage.

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8 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

Jersey Girl (2003)

Affleck and Smith talk lots about shooting details and feelings about their chosen fields, their mutual esteem and affection audible.

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6 Sep 2004 // 3:00 PM

	Various Artists: Legends of Rock ‘n’ Roll [DVD]

American rock ‘n’ roll suffers from a sad paradox. The very thing that made it great unto immortality when it first exploded into the world—

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	Medeski Martin and Wood: End of the World Party (Just in Case)

Medeski Martin and Wood have long occupied their own musical space. Taking as their original starting point the basic jazz organ trio and gradually adding

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	Bill Janovitz & Crown Victoria: Fireworks on TV!

It’s been 10 years since Buffalo Tom made its bid for some semblance of mainstream notoriety with Big Red Letter Day. Sadly, the band never

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6 Sep 2004 // 3:00 PM

	John Cale: HoboSapiens

What to make of poor John Cale? A man who might otherwise be cherished as a restless and fearless underground artist seems damned to be

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2 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

Music critics have been bemoaning the death of the album format ever since the heyday of Napster, and the subsequent dawn of music related digital technology in the late 1990s. The music staff at PopMatters have put their collective heads together and compiled a list of albums released since January 1, 2000 to illustrate the continued relevance of the long-play format. The death of the album has been greatly exaggerated.

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2 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

Music critics have been bemoaning the death of the album format ever since the heyday of Napster, and the subsequent dawn of music related digital technology in the late 1990s. The music staff at PopMatters have put their collective heads together and compiled a list of albums released since January 1, 2000 to illustrate the continued relevance of the long-play format. The death of the album has been greatly exaggerated.

READ more

2 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

Music critics have been bemoaning the death of the album format ever since the heyday of Napster, and the subsequent dawn of music related digital technology in the late 1990s. The music staff at PopMatters have put their collective heads together and compiled a list of albums released since January 1, 2000 to illustrate the continued relevance of the long-play format. The death of the album has been greatly exaggerated.

READ more

2 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

Music critics have been bemoaning the death of the album format ever since the heyday of Napster, and the subsequent dawn of music related digital technology in the late 1990s. The music staff at PopMatters have put their collective heads together and compiled a list of albums released since January 1, 2000 to illustrate the continued relevance of the long-play format. The death of the album has been greatly exaggerated.

READ more

2 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

Music critics have been bemoaning the death of the album format ever since the heyday of Napster, and the subsequent dawn of music related digital technology in the late 1990s. The music staff at PopMatters have put their collective heads together and compiled a list of albums released since January 1, 2000 to illustrate the continued relevance of the long-play format. The death of the album has been greatly exaggerated.

READ more

2 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

Music critics have been bemoaning the death of the album format ever since the heyday of Napster, and the subsequent dawn of music related digital technology in the late 1990s. The music staff at PopMatters have put their collective heads together and compiled a list of albums released since January 1, 2000 to illustrate the continued relevance of the long-play format. The death of the album has been greatly exaggerated.

READ more

1 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

While forcefully shattering the architecture of the superhero comic, each author has, in their most famous pieces, lovingly preserved the foundation from which to build upon.

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1 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

He tells simple stories in a way that is perfectly suited to the medium of sequential, illustrated narrative, known more commonly as 'the comic book'.

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1 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

If you are tired of too much reality in your life and enjoy unique characterization, classic tales and rich artwork, this is one for you to pick up.

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1 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

There are no heroes, no imagination, just characters and franchises; wonders are reduced to theme parks; everything is flattened in order to be sold.

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1 Sep 2004 // 12:00 AM

As long as you go into it knowing that the end drops like an axe, it's a lot of fun.

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Tuesday's show felt like one long lull, a string of clichés tepidly delivered. I kept chugging Starbuck's espresso-and-cream cans, wishing Jerry Falwell would come on to talk about how God hates fags and the ACLU.

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Steve Earle: The Revolution Starts… Now

The release of this record two and a half months before we have to enter the voting booths should offer solace and inspiration to those ready to act.

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The Zombies: Odessey & Oracle

Odessey & Oracle is the weekly record, a compiling of sentiment that’s comfortable enough for anytime, be it free weekend space or during mundane cubicle labor.

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	Venomous Concept: Retroactive Abortion

The mere prospect of a collaboration between hardcore legends Melvins and Napalm Death would have been enough to set the minds of metal and punk

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31 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Rush: Feedback

Last year around this time Alex Lifeson was a guy who was non-stop. His group Rush was rehearsing for its own gig of the year,

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31 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Royal City: Little Heart’s Ease

It is a known fact that Americans do not mix religion with much of anything at all. In fact, the only time we roll out

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	Radioinactive and Antimc: Free Kamal

On Free Kamal‘s opening track, rapper Radioinactive calls for his listeners to “have no genre.” Throughout the album, he and producer Antimc follow that

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	Neon Thrills: Sweet Cactus

What exactly is pop? A quick look back to the ‘60s will show that the genre was defined by the initial wave of British Invasion

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	The Jacksons: The Jacksons Story

With each day, the musical genius of Michael Jackson recedes from public consciousness, to the extent that the idea that Jackson was ever a relevant—

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	J.J. Cale: To Tulsa and Back

The problem with this album is not that everybody who worked on it is more than 60 years old; heck, it’s not even really a

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Ray Charles: Genius Loves Company

Genius Loves Company showcases a man who continued to challenge the definition of just who Ray Charles was.

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	Guillermo E. Brown: Black Dreams 1.0

Let’s get one thing absolutely clear from the outset: this is by no means a commercial record. There are no songs, let alone choruses.

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	Amp Fiddler: Waltz of a Ghetto Fly

If you ask me about modern R&B music, I don’t have much of an opinion. Most of it is satisfyingly below my

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The greatest feat of the Republican National Convention is to hide the GOP's true beliefs. It's a sign of great discipline that the party machinery would line up its most maligned moderates to speak during primetime, while shuffling the ghastly religious right off to the cold cut line, keeping its theocratic designs tucked under the Wonder Bread.

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31 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Velvet Teen When faced with infinite possibility, some artists turn to self-imposed structure, restrictions and rules in an attempt to narrow their focus and amplify

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31 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Rush has never seemed to care much about fame. Neither have us fans, often a curious mix of former (or current) stoners, nerds and other

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31 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Folk the System Social and political movements rarely develop over night—rather, they sprout from the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The majority

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Little StevenPhoto credit: Buck Ennis This past Saturday I went to Little Steven’s “International Underground Garage Festival”, a curious name, because it took place

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Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas by Ken Foskett

The two most highly combustible issues in America -- race and sex -- had been doused with gasoline and set afire.

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31 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

I Dream of Microwaves by Imad Rahman

At best, such work is insightful; cross-breeding makes for more ingenious and unique prose. At its worse, bad multicultural literature is just bad writing.

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Ghosts of Vesuvius: A New Look at the Last Days of Pompeii, How Towers Fall, and Other Strange Conne

Before we pass judgment on the moral fiber of earlier societies, we must first examine our own regard for humanity, our propensity for cruelty, and our readiness to deal with future disasters.

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31 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Emily’s Reasons Why Not by Carrie Gerlach

Some of her discoveries are trite, but they work in the plastic, Hollywood world in which Emily inhabits.

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30 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Paul Westerberg: Folker

The easiest way to enjoy Folker is to try and forget all that you know about Paul Westerberg. Never mind that he’s the sanctified

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30 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Windsor for the Derby: We Fight Til Death

Windsor for the Derby are one of those groups that continue to contort and reassemble themselves over time, retaining elements of their former selves while

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30 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Sasha: Involver

Involver, Sasha’s latest album, comes two long years after the release of his first artist album, AirDrawnDagger. For those snorting and stamping their feet

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	The Saint: Grown Folk Music

Partners in crime Seven Heads Entertainment and Uncle Junior Records are a pair to keep an eye on, as their rosters collectively boast the likes

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	Charlotte Martin: On Your Shore

This is what we know about Charlotte Martin. She’s done television ads for McDonald’s in Spain, she’s survived anorexia, she writes setlists

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	Lynyrd Skynyrd: Lynyrd Skynyrd Lyve—The Vicious Cycle Tour

Three decades after exploding from humble southern confines with a unique blend of rock, blues, and redneck sensibilities, the Lynyrd Skynyrd machine rolls onward. Although

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30 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Fuck: Those Are Not My Bongos

One might expect a band called Fuck to showcase the talents of idealistically rebellious (and presumably intoxicated) 18-year-olds. (For that, you should perhaps look instead

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Twisted: Special Collector’s Edition (2004)

'I'd been wanting to make a film noir in San Francisco for many years,' says Philip Kaufman, 'And the closest I'd come was Invasion of the Body Snatchers.'"

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30 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Trekkies 2 (2004)

All the gravitas in the world, however, can't overcome the fact that 'fan' is short for 'fanatic', and a central question posed by Trekkies 2 is 'How much is too much?'"

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The Passion of the Christ (2004)

The sympathetic viewers are hard to watch, as Mary and Mary Magdalene repeatedly collapse against one another, trembling.

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30 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Lilith (1964)

It's tempting to read this mental-institution drama as some kind of political allegory.

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30 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Vol. 01 (2004)

What is consistent from episode to episode (besides the characters) is a multi-faceted investigation of the relationship between humans and machines.

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The Girl Next Door: Unrated Version (2004)

The film begins by introducing just how hard it is to be in high school -- a good and difficult thing for adults to remember.

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29 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Yes: YESSPEAK DVD

How can anyone but the most hard-hearted cynic hate Yes?"

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	Doc and Merle Watson: Sittin’ Here Pickin’ the Blues

Doc Watson has one of those baritones that sound so easy and natural. His phrasing and the way he easily brings forward the emotional center

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	Angela McCluskey: The Things We Do

Angela McCluskey, now known for that “Breathe” commercial for Mitsubishi with Telepopmusik, recently opened up a string of dates for Neil and Tim Finn in

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	Drive-By Truckers: The Dirty South

Watching Martin Scorsese’s 1978 film The Last Waltz on DVD, the sadness is inescapable. When you see the 1978 film, which documents The Band’s final

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	Carbon Leaf: Indian Summer

If you’re familiar with Richmond, Virginia’s Carbon Leaf and their albums spanning back to 1995, then you’re probably aware of their tours with

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29 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Comets on Fire: Blue Cathedral

The press release concerning Blue Cathedral, the latest release from Comets on Fire, refers to the band as the “flag bearers of modern psychedelia”, but

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29 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Buffseeds: The Picture Show

Listening to The Picture Show, the debut disc from British quartet the Buffseeds, proved something of a surreal experience for my wife and me. We

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27 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Hero (2002)

Had it been released five years ago, Hero's point might have seemed anachronistic, but today, it's hard to ignore its resonance with world events.

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SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004)

Today's so-called 'family entertainment' will go to pathetic exploitative depths to make a buck.

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27 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Orwell Rolls in His Grave (2003)

To lack political power -- as Robert Kane Pappas submits the American people at large do, living in a post-democratic society where the media function in collusion with government -- is also to lack the ability to prove.

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27 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Mean Creek (2003)

The crisis doesn't produce good and bad behaviors, so much as it challenges such moralistic definitions, exploring the pressures that lead to kids' seeming deviance.

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Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)

Father Merrin, action hero. Who could have imagined it?"

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Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004)

There's some odd cosmic poetry in the fact that Dwight Little, director of Anacondas, also directed Free Willy 2.

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27 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Alien vs. Predator (2004)

King of the video game movies, director Paul W.S. Anderson continues to meet and resist expectations with his latest, Alien vs. Predator.

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26 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Various Artists: Warped Tour 2004 Compilation

Anyone who thought that the ill-fated monstrosity Woodstock ‘99 signaled the death of the ‘90s as surely as Altamont shuttered the ‘60s hasn’t been paying

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	Triple Seis: Only Time’ll Tell

There are many reasons to love this album by New York rapper Triple Seis. Here, we list those reasons. There will also be occasional asides

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	The Meat Purveyors: Pain by Numbers

Humor and music, for some, may be chocolate and peanut butter (or hazelnut, for our European friends). For most of us though, it’s chocolate

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	Nana Mouskouri: Nana Mouskouri in New York

It was the summer of 1962 when Nana Mouskouri first journeyed from her home in Greece to the United States. She had been beckoned by a

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	The Libertines: self-titled

The Libertines are one of those bands who are impossible to hate when they’re at their best, but are also a band so out

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	David Kilgour: Frozen Orange

David Kilgour’s been making pop music for over 25 years, starting with his brother Hamish in the Clean, one of New Zealand’s most influential

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26 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Bitter Bitter Weeks: Revenge

On the title track of the new Bitter Bitter Weeks album, Brian McTear sounds a note of weary protest. He no longer wants revenge. He

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26 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Thief: Deadly Shadows

There have always been developers interested in alternatives. Not just to develop alternative genres, such as puzzle games, but alternatives within the mainstream brands identified with excessive gore.

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26 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Sega Bass Fishing Duel

Sega Bass Fishing Duel brings all the thrills of the sometimes laid back, sometimes furious sport of bass fishing right to the PlayStation 2. Plus there's no muss and no fuss.

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25 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Various Artists: Location is Everything, Vol. 2

It’s hard to say exactly when one of the acceptable dreams for America’s youth was to start a record label, but it’s

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	Bobby Watson and Horizon: Horizon Reassembled

Watson is one of the major soloists of the day, an alto saxophonist of exceptional range whose early career included membership in Art Blakey’s

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	Sahara Hotnights: Kiss & Tell

When Sahara Hotnights dropped their incendiary Jennie Bomb on an unsuspecting public two years ago, it was not only a reaffirmation of just how good

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	Sluts of Trust: We Are All Sluts of Trust

The critical narrative regarding the recent rock renaissance has already become a cohesive and continuous entity. The nature of our music press in the new

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	Billy Joe Shaver: Billy and the Kid

“God only knows why I’m still livin’,” Billy Joe Shaver sings in Billy and the Kid‘s weightless “Window Rock”, and you can’t

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25 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	[Minmae]: Ya Te Vas?

Most bands these days include a press sheet with advance copies of their new album, in hopes of helping poor reviewers like myself to a

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	Clair De Lune: Marionettes

Youth is both a blessing and a curse. Youthful vigor can elevate even the most average material into something sublime. However, youth will also betray

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25 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

Donny Hathaway and Laura Nyro were both products of an era when Soul music had a transformative power and These Songs for You, Live! and Spread Your Wings and Fly capture their singular talents in the context most befitting of their power as artists and spiritual beings.

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25 Aug 2004 // 12:00 AM

For thoughtful liberals and libertarians such cases are tricky ones to manoeuvre without tying ourselves in knots of hyperbole, and allowing our democracy to be jeopardized.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

The Romantic Nightmare in Alfred Döblin's 'Bright Magic'

// Re:Print

"The stories in this collection are circular, puzzling; they often end as cruelly as they do quietly, the characters and their journeys extinguished with poisonous calm.

READ the article