Marginal Utility
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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
Mad Love: The Films of Evgene Bauer: Vera Karall, Vitold Polonskii, Vera Dubovskaia - PopMatters Fil

Those who can see through the opulent décor, costumes, and chiaroscuro lighting will find some film-buffy delights.

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13 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

The Man on the Train (L’Homme du train) (2003)

This may be the first film in history in which a man trying on a pair of slippers carries emotional resonance.

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13 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary (2002)

Though she swears that she has come to believe in Hitler's inherent evil, she also uses the word 'love' several times to describe her one-time feelings for him.

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L’Auberge Espagnole (2002)

Like many 24-year-olds, Xavier has a jumble of ideas in his head.

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Various Artists: Festival in the Desert

More than anything else, the Festival in the Desert is a symbol of unity and peace between nomadic tribes. The Tamashek of northern Mali and

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	Mountaineers: Messy Century

Some of the best debut albums come from young artists who grow up in remote, soul-crushingly mundane settings, who spend all their time holed up

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12 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Ray Mason Band: Idiot Wisdom

Veteran roots-rocker Ray Mason is at it again. In a life rich with music (he’s also part of the alt-country band Lonesome Brothers), he

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	Branford Marsalis: Romare Bearden Revealed

Love him or hate him, it’s difficult to deny that Branford Marsalis is an excellent musician. From his PhD dissertations in Art Blakey’s

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	John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers: A Hard Road [remastered]

More an acquired taste than a mainstream sensation, John Mayall nonetheless merits mention in the annals of pop music’s most important artists. By dedicating

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	Lucky Boys Confusion: Commitment

No band in recent memory has matured more between its first and second albums than Lucky Boys Confusion. The group’s 2001 major label debut, Throwing

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12 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz: Part II

This here’s the sequel (that is, quickie cash-in followup) to Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz’s enormously successful Kings of Crunk album. It

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12 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Striptease: From Gaslight to Spotlight by Jessica Glasscock

With surprisingly little attention paid toward the concept of the 'male gaze,' Glasscock, instead, frames her retrospective around the impact that these women have had on culture, both selectively and in entirety.

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Paranoia by Joseph Finder

Reviewers should never reveal that critical plot pivot early in most suspense thrillers when the reader should stop and think about the protagonist's course of action. The 'give away point' you could call it.

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12 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Mailman by J. Robert Lennon

Mailman's double life offers a penetrating critique of American social hypocrisy, embroiled in its own weird narrative, reluctant to respond to much outside of itself, and forced, eventually, to go on the run in search of escape from itself and the world it has made.

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The Evening Crowd at Kirmser’s: A Gay Life in the 1940s by Ricardo J. Brown

Three men with little in common save their sexual preference for other men and, because of the times in which they came of age, the need to keep that a secret from most of society.

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Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light by Patrick McGilligan

Who but 'a manipulative egoist' could have created so much enthralling cinema? And who but 'a shriveled soul' would have wanted to?"

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	Various Artists: Blues From Up the Country

In celebrating their 50th year releasing jazz and blues, Delmark is offering a budget-priced series that is not to be missed. Blues From Up the

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10 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Pearlfishers: Sky Meadows

When Art Garfunkel released his 2002 album, Everything Waits to Be Noticed, a journalistic colleague of mine praised it to the heavens as a work of

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10 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Marvin Gaye: Let’s Get It On [SACD Hybrid]

Let’s get this straight: this is no review of Gaye’s classic 1973 classic homage to “sex between consenting anybodies”. As spiritual and compassionate as

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	Firewater: Songs We Should Have Written

There’s a circle of Hell reserved for music lovers that consists of nothing but bad covers of good songs. At first, seemingly harmless choices

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10 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Frantic Flattops: Hi-Fi Honey Revisited

Every few years since the Stray Cats made it cool back in the early ‘80s, rockabilly makes a big “comeback”. Everyone goes nuts and floods

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10 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Jesse Cook: Nomad

Jesse Cook and his flamenco guitar playing has been known in some parts of the world for a few years now, but he only seemed

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10 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Closure: self-titled

Tonic and Nickelback are just two of the bands Closure attempt to ape on their self-titled debut album, as they try to take bits of

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The movies were as dismal as the times. A year clouded by a slumping economy, lost jobs, broken alliances, a new war, reconstruction blues, SARS,

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If the films shown at the New Czech Film Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music are any indication, to this day Czechoslovakia is a country of dueling emotions and opposite impulses.

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In a year of blockbuster sequels, self-important prestige pics, and uninspired indies, the real film finds were few and far between. Here are the unexpected

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The year’s cinematic output had everything to do with the complex cultural climate. Fearing mortality, yearning for connection, and lusting for vengeance appeared again

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9 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

I love making lists, especially wish lists. And so I relish the opportunity to make a Top 10 of 2003 films as it will remind me to

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It’s curious that something as seemingly random as a year’s worth of movies can somehow take on its own semi-coherent themes. Following 2001 (the

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Judging by the horror films released in theaters and on video in the U.S. during 2003, the genre is undergoing yet another renaissance.

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With the nearest cinema more than half an hour from my house, I have to really want to see a movie to make the journey. Who wants to add the waste of gas and good hour or so on the road to the money already spent on tickets and popcorn? My limited time at the movies, though, means I enjoy the experience more than if I took it for granted.

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8 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Raekwon: The Lex Diamond Story

Oh, it kicks off something lovely, no doubt. On the blade-concise “Pit Bull Fights”, over a frenetic bassline and itchy trigger horns, the Chef stakes

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	Paula Kelley: The Trouble with Success or How You Fit into the World

Imagine grandiose, baroque pop, fully orchestrated with strings, horns, and a choir fronted by what sounds like a little girl’s voice. It’s actually

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8 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Kill Hannah: For Never & Ever

Androgyny sells! Tight pants, tight shirts, snazzy scarves, wristbands, shoes, and of course, lots and lots of eyeliner. Boys who imitate girls attract more girls.

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	Jimi Hendrix: Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Jimi Hendrix

Recently, Rolling Stone ran a feature on the one-hundred greatest guitarists of all time, and though it was worth flipping through to see who made

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8 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Terry Hall & Mushtaq: The Hour of Two Lights

Terry Hall’s a man who’s not afraid to flirt with different musical genres, or to stay in any one musical incarnation for too

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	Howie Day: Stop All the World Now

I had Australia for weeks—months maybe—before it struck me. The first few listens, I just wasn’t impressed; but when that one listen

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8 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Dakona: Perfect Change

Vancouver’s Dakona have taken the typical route to releasing a major-label debut—I only hope they don’t end up like the majority of

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	Thad Cockrell: Warmth & Beauty

Yep Roc have has some of the best Americana artists coming out from its roster, including Caitlin Cary. Thad Cockrell, while not exactly in the

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	The Bevis Frond: New River Head

With the preponderance of ‘60s-rock influences on current indie music, it’s hard to remember how irrelevant the whole tradition was held to be in

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8 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Paycheck (2003)

Michael (Ben Affleck) doesn't set out to control anything: he just wants to get paid.

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8 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Power Trip (2003)

The real villain, as Power Trip portrays it, is the corrupt Georgian government, led at the time by Eduard Shevardnadze.

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8 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Monster (2003)

Aileen is a terrifying specter, precisely because she's neither only a victim nor only monstrous. As Theron plays her, she swaggers and rationalizes, trusts and fumes.

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8 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)

Nothing drains the life from great art like a well-intentioned attempt to explain away its mysteries.

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Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)

The actors are left with little to do but hustle from scene to scene: pratfall, pathos, hug, repeat.

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8 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Chasing Liberty (2004)

Chasing Liberty is another vehicle made to fit Mandy Moore's development as an artist.

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8 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Big Fish (2003)

Edward is less obviously an outsider than Burton's other Edwards (Scissorhands and Wood), but equally filled with a winning sense of wonder.

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What's most notable about the top stories in the world of sports for 2003 is how much they have in common with the controversies of years past. Racism, homophobia, and sexism all bubbled to the surface this year, just as they have done and will lamentably continue to do in the future.

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7 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Then, at Christmas, I received my first video game . . . Suddenly I wasn't watching Harrison Ford act out Han Solo or playing with a tiny plastic doll of Han Solo: I was Han Solo.

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You don't have to dress up, watch your weight, or worry about that zit on your chin, and you get paid a great chunk of change.

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Has anyone the right to take an existing document and resurrect it in this manner?

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7 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

NCAA March Madness 2004

As the game embodies the hoopla and excitement of college sports, it equally reflects its cultural politics.

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7 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

While some would say that all art is political, and video games, as an art form, must then also be political, they would have to dig awfully deep in Double Dash!! to find politics worth discussing.

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7 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Karaoke Revolution

It was only a matter of time before the likes of such a game was created. Something about getting to make an ass out of oneself in front of a crowd really thrills people.

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Final Fantasy X-2

If FFX-2's consideration of feminine identity is schizophrenic, so too is its game play.

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7 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Conflict: Desert Storm II: Back to Baghdad

While creators of war simulations often strive for painstaking realism and historical accuracy, their earnest efforts inevitably come up short. Conflict: Desert Storm II is no different.

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6 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Wellwater Conspiracy: self-titled

In a year in which releases from Broken Social Scene and the Postal Service garnered much deserved attention and admiration, it isn’t difficult suspending

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6 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Underworld: Underworld 1992 - 2002

Perhaps one of the most influential British music acts to ever hit the global dance scene, Underworld‘s long-awaited double disc anthology Underworld 1992 - 2002 contains 16

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6 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	T-Love: Long Way Back

The most pathetic branding exercise in the history of hip-hop was the low rent Hatfield and McCoys of the East Coast/West Coast divide. Sadly,

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	Small Brown Bike: The River Bed

When I first discovered punk rock as an awkward teenage kid, there would be no limit to the shows I would attend. In the summer,

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6 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Slackers: Close My Eyes

The axis of numerically ascending street and avenue. A Sabrett’s hotdog and a Coke stolen from a Manhattan cart. Christmas drinks in a Queens

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6 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Smash Mouth: Get the Picture?

It’s very hard to dislike Smash Mouth. Unless, of course, you listen to the radio in any capacity whatsoever, in which case you may

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	Caribbean Jazz Project: Birds of a Feather

Celebrating the tenth anniversary of its formation from a special concert at New York City’s Central Park Zoo a decade ago, the Caribbean Jazz

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From film and TV to Bush and Madonna, our very own intrepid Terry Sawyer breaks down 2003's worst media moments.

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	Ying Yang Twins: Me and My Brother

Crunk is all the rage right now, but it’s kind of hard to define it. It’s more an aesthetic than a style, but

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5 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Robin Williamson: Skirting the River Road

With their delicate, acoustic arrangements, they don’t sound like the Doors, but, in theory, Robin Williamson and company are trying to do what the

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5 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Travis: 12 Memories

Back in 1999, at the end of Travis‘s breakthrough album The Man Who, is a curious bonus track. Hidden amongst such charmingly self-deprecating, puppydog-eyed songs

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	The Three 4 Tens: Taking Northern Liberties

Enthusiasm is terribly underrated. With bands preening themselves for appearances on magazines covers, the music is often given second billing, usually assigned a wide-sweeping genre

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5 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Trolleyvox: Leap of Folly

The Trolleyvox are a musical anachronism, creating chiming, guitar-based folk pop with female vocals that seem of another time entirely. It’s different from what

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5 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Frifot: Sluring

Lena Willemark, Per Gudmundsen, and Ale Möller are three extraordinarily talented musicians from Sweden who not only play together as the trio Frifot, but

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5 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Fabulous Thunderbirds: Tacos Deluxe

The Fabulous Thunderbirds sound really good on the first listen, merely good on the second, and continue declining from there. Eventually, they stop at being

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Visions of the Apocalypse: Spectacles of Destruction in American Cinema by Wheeler Winston Dixon

At once a meditation on all that is wrong with contemporary cinema and a comment on the political climate, the book argues that we have always been fascinated with our own destruction and it is only now that we can realise it on screen.

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5 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

True Enough by Stephen McCauley

Through McCauley's eyes, even the white lies used in social discourse become indicative of humanity's almost pathological inability to be frank.

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The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, & Consciousne

Critics who deem the adornment of a person, place or object as inauthentic, something that merely adds disguise and trickery, fail to recognize what a tap of the pretty stick adds to the 'function' of something.

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A Quaint & Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore: The Mythology & History of Classic Horror Films by Fran

Stritto would probably agree with those who feel that what keeps these old favorites alive -- as opposed to dusty museum pieces -- is that they are capable of reinterpretation.

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5 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

This is the crux of the novel: Slavery pollutes everyone who participates in it and warps their concepts of justice and humanity.

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Beckham, Both Feet on the Ground: An Autobiography by David Beckham with Tom Watt

David Beckham is not the pink nail-polished, panty-wearing metrosexual husband of Posh Spice. He is the average bloke who is living the sports fantasy through hard work and training.

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4 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Various Artists: Blue Series Continuum: Sorcerer Sessions

Few modern pianists can rival Matthew Shipp’s industry, let alone his skill. Just look at the last three years: bouncing between flowing lines of

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4 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	ZZ Top: Mescalero

As I write this, the sky is a weird shade of purplish orange, and chunks of burning lasagne are falling from the sky. Beelzebub has

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4 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Suzanne Vega: Retrospective: The Best of Suzanne Vega

Although many artists have been “cursed” with achieving a Top 10 hit and have spent the rest of their career trying desperately to recapture the magic

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	Voltaire Brothers: I Sing the Booty Electric

Somewhere between porn soundtracks and ‘70s funk fit the Voltaire Brothers, who have left just enough room for you to shake it to their long-delayed

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4 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Viza-Noir: No Record

So here we are with yet another band from Chicago doing yet another math rock/post-punk sound that manages to bore the pants off anyone

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	Elbow: Cast of Thousands

In the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of bands that marry a traditional rock grounding with ambient and impressionist influences. The problem

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4 Jan 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Da Lata: Serious

Chalk it up to a good idea gone dull along the way because Da Lata’s latest album is a brandy-Xanax pillow mint. It’s

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1. Fruit Bats, Mouthfuls (Sub Pop)Eric Johnson and Gillian Lisee produced one of the most enjoyable records of the year, full of charm and wonder

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1. The Decemberists, Castaways and Cutouts (Kill Rock Stars)First released by Hush Records in 2002, the Kill Rock Stars reissue of Castaways and Cutouts managed to

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1. The Blood Brothers, Burn Piano Island, Burn (Artist Direct)Earlier this year, my friend gave me a piece of blank paper with the instructions, “I

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Booty Hops, Bionic Rappers and New Music from Planet Soul Brotha from the Lost Planet of Soul Anthony Hamilton, Comin’ From Where I’m From

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1 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Can't figure out what to listen to? Listen to us. Once again, PopMatters' music team presents a highly opinionated, undoubtedly superlative but ultimately revelatory examination of 18 artists that demand your attention. NOW.

READ more

1 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Can't figure out what to listen to? Listen to us. Once again, PopMatters' music team presents a highly opinionated, undoubtedly superlative but ultimately revelatory examination of 18 artists that demand your attention. NOW.

READ more

1 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Can't figure out what to listen to? Listen to us. Once again, PopMatters' music team presents a highly opinionated, undoubtedly superlative but ultimately revelatory examination of 18 artists that demand your attention. NOW.

READ more

1 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Can't figure out what to listen to? Listen to us. Once again, PopMatters' music team presents a highly opinionated, undoubtedly superlative but ultimately revelatory examination of 18 artists that demand your attention. NOW.

READ more

1 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Can't figure out what to listen to? Listen to us. Once again, PopMatters' music team presents a highly opinionated, undoubtedly superlative but ultimately revelatory examination of 18 artists that demand your attention. NOW.

READ more

1 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Can't figure out what to listen to? Listen to us. Once again, PopMatters' music team presents a highly opinionated, undoubtedly superlative but ultimately revelatory examination of 18 artists that demand your attention. NOW.

READ more

1 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Can't figure out what to listen to? Listen to us. Once again, PopMatters' music team presents a highly opinionated, undoubtedly superlative but ultimately revelatory examination of 18 artists that demand your attention. NOW.

READ more

1 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Can't figure out what to listen to? Listen to us. Once again, PopMatters' music team presents a highly opinionated, undoubtedly superlative but ultimately revelatory examination of 18 artists that demand your attention. NOW.

READ more

1 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Can't figure out what to listen to? Listen to us. Once again, PopMatters' music team presents a highly opinionated, undoubtedly superlative but ultimately revelatory examination of 18 artists that demand your attention. NOW.

READ more

1 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Can't figure out what to listen to? Listen to us. Once again, PopMatters' music team presents a highly opinionated, undoubtedly superlative but ultimately revelatory examination of 18 artists that demand your attention. NOW.

READ more

1 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Can't figure out what to listen to? Listen to us. Once again, PopMatters' music team presents a highly opinionated, undoubtedly superlative but ultimately revelatory examination of 18 artists that demand your attention. NOW.

READ more

1 Jan 2004 // 1:00 AM

Can't figure out what to listen to? Listen to us. Once again, PopMatters' music team presents a highly opinionated, undoubtedly superlative but ultimately revelatory examination of 18 artists that demand your attention. NOW.

READ more
More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

Hitchcock's 'Suspicion', 'I Confess' and 'The Wrong Man' Return in Blu-ray

// Short Ends and Leader

"These three films on DVD from Warner Archives showcase different facets of Alfred Hitchcock's brilliance.

READ the article