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
	Various Artists: Casey Kasem’s Rock & Roll Goldmine [DVD]

Casey Kasem may make Dick Clark look like Alan Freed, but simply by virtue of being in the industry for so long, Kasem deserves at

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2 Aug 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Tanya Donelly: Whiskey Tango Ghosts

By now you would think the music world would awaken from its slumber land, rub its drowsy eyes, and begin to acknowledge to extensive musical

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You may not fully appreciate Steve Buscemi's abilities as an actor until you see him in person.

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30 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

Thunderbirds (2004)

The only possible reason I can see for this screen version is the marketing opportunities embodied by the Thunderbirds themselves and their 'super-advanced technology' ships and gadgets.

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30 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

She Hate Me (2004)

Spike Lee's She Hate Me begins with money.

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The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

The Manchurian Candidate draws a line between the corporation and the government, sustaining a hope that the U.S. system might be salvaged by an honestly free election.

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30 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)

Harold and Kumar isn't pushing a political polemic, yet it still manages to be an odd achievement.

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	The Sunshine Fix: Green Imagination

Nearly a decade after the original Elephant 6 collective began to make a name for itself by reinvigorating the world of psychedelic pop, the collective’s

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	The Red Krayola: Singles 1968-2002

Don’t let the fact that this is a “singles” collection fool you into thinking that you’ll hear a bunch of three-minute pop songs

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	Courtney Pine: Devotion

Courtney Pine belongs to a generation of jazz musicians born in England (in his case in 1964) to parents born in the Caribbean. The great immigration

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29 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Guapo: Five Suns

When a band breaks out the gong and uses it (with nary a hint of irony) numerous times throughout the first four minutes of a 4

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29 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Fastball: Keep Your Wig On

Austin, Texas, trio Fastball fell victim to bad timing in the late ‘90s. Their 1998 gem of a single, “The Way”, was the decade’s best

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	8 Ball and MJG: Living Legends (Chopped and Screwed)

I had heard some screw before, but I don’t think I was really prepared for the overwhelming, unbelievable coolness contained on this one slim

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29 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	The Eternals: Rawar Style

There’s something makeshift about the Eternals. Their songs erupt like a game of pick-up baseball on an empty street where nobody’s got a

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29 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Patsy Cline: The Definitive Collection

For those keeping score at home, this is the umpteenth compilation of Cline’s songs. It’s good, too, better than the standard Patsy Cline

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29 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	The Concretes: self-titled

The antiseptic rows of apartment buildings lining the streets of Stockholm illustrate a knack for synthesis, but the clean lines too easily overwhelm a lone

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29 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

Wife Swap

Wife Swap reinforces the idea of competition between women: whose house, kids, husband, and techniques for coping with daily life are better?

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Things I Hate About You

Things I Hate About You may reinforce gender stereotypes, but in a less offensive and vindictive manner than most of its peers.

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28 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	The Waxwings: Let’s Make Our Descent

Always reverent but often delusional, the musicians of Detroit derive their energy from a backdrop rich in musical history and stark decay. They toil in

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	Rhythm of Black Lines: Human Hand, Animal Band

With a stack of CDs beside my computer waiting to be listened to and reviewed, I can usually glean an idea of what the band

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28 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Pearl Jam: Lost Dogs

It’s the summer of ‘92. The nation is preparing to oust the first President Bush from the White House, the saga of Amy Fisher and

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	The Orb: Bicycles & Tricycles

The Orb recorded and released their inarguable masterpiece, The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld, in 1991. This was followed in short order by 1992’s U

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	Nanook of the North: The Täby Tapes

The effectiveness of the summertime pop song hinges on matters of geography. When one lives far from the equator, summer represents a brief interval of

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	Li’l Cap’n Travis: ...In All Their Splendor

Neil Young is often a catch-reference for hundreds, if not thousands, of bands who toe the line between a folk-country-rock milieu and popularity. Yet for

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28 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	William Galison & Madeleine Peyroux: Got You on My Mind

Remember Madeleine Peyroux? Sure you do—she came out with a great debut record, Dreamland, back in 1996 and was heralded as the second coming of

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	Brian Eno: Here Come the Warm Jets [reissue]

The difference between high art and low art is that low art is unafraid to appeal to the senses, and high art is suspicious of

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	Approach: Ultra-Proteus

On the album cover sits a lovely black lady with a luxuriant afro, dolled up in early disco hotpants and top, perched forwards with a

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‘Waking Beauty’ Is a Book That Should Not Be Judged by Its Cover

Friedman spends a great deal of the book inverting common clichés and stereotypes when it comes to femininity and even human sexual power relationships.

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If it is to stand any chance of representing a people, then hip-hop must be allowed that most fundamental of human compulsions: to grow, to transcend its own limitations, to change.

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28 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

Gillian WelchPhoto credit: Glen Rose Old Crow Medicine ShowPhoto credit: Tony Baker Old-Time Music For President The boys from Old Crow Medicine Show don’t

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Roots Manuva It doesn’t matter what we call it, it’s how it’s perceived—does it affect people and does it resonate? —David

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28 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

As my ticket was scanned, my secret shame wasn’t that I lacked intimate familiarity with Prince’s catalog, or even that I expected to

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The Hives Sahara Hotnights The Reigning Sound When I first started going to shows in the late ‘80s (at Trenton’s late and lamented City

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28 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

I went merely to find out if Benzos sounded better live than on the recorded material on the group’s website and came away truly

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28 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

It's time the morning after pill was taken out of the pharmacist's closet.

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28 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

Is it necessary that Latinos represent Latinos? Or is it sufficient that Latinos be represented regardless of who plays them? How does one judge the quality of the representations on offer?

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28 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

In comedy, wherein nothing is sacred, where do we draw the line between witty repartee and savage satire?

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28 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

The Ur-Quan Masters

The thing about playing classic games is that, for most of us, the real appeal is in recapturing a piece of earlier days.

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28 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow

It is commonplace within all war games to see an erasure of death, blood, or the violent consequences of smart bombs on humanity. Pandora Tomorrow takes this to a new level by encouraging critical thought and creativity while battling terrorists.

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The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World by Alister McGrath

Notice is paid to the corruption in theist organizations, but the slightest public indiscretion committed by anyone claiming to be an atheist is used to illustrate the innate failure of atheism.

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28 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

The Devil’s Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea

The book follows these men on their unlucky journey through the desert, and how each one is drained of their money, water, hopes, and for some, life.

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A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa by Howard W. French

What sets this account apart from so many others is French's sense of solidarity with those who are suffering under some of the most appalling conditions in the world.

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27 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Gina Villalobos: Rock ‘N’ Roll Pony

Forget the parallels that have been made between Gina Villalobos and the best in alt-country music—Villalobos is the unquestionably the finest voice in the

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	Glenn Tilbrook: Transatlantic Ping Pong

Glenn Tilbrook is that rare breed of consummate musician, ultimate professional and all around stand-up guy. He frequently meets up with fans after his concerts

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	Martina Topley-Bird: Anything

The new album from Martina Topley-Bird is tricky. Which is not to suggest that it’s Tricky. Although Tricky does feature. On two tracks. The

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	Pastor Troy: By Any Means Necessary

1.0 Pastor Troy might be the most insecure rap artist of our time. This is what makes him interesting, but it’s also what keeps this

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27 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Nina Sky: self-titled

Nina Sky are the easy-on-the-eye Albino (surname, not skin tint) twins, who have had a sizeable radio hit worldwide with “Move Ya Body”, a fairly

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27 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Ministry: Houses of the Molé

Few bands have a more compelling history than Ministry, who evolved over two decades from a bitchy, new wave synth-pop act into a burnt-out beast

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	Kate Jacobs: You Call That Dark

I have this romanticized notion of who Kate Jacobs is: a mild-mannered civilian, living with her family on a farm in upstate New York, eyes

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	The Electric: Degenerotic Doses

The Electric are from St. Louis and sound well-read on groups like Judas Priest, the Stooges and New York Dolls. This album, which took over

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	Bumblebeez 81: The Printz

For a brief time, it looked like Bumblebeez 81 were about to be the next big thing. The Australian duo’s first two EPs, White Printz

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26 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

Radiohead: Kid A

On Kid A, Thom Yorke uses his voice more as an instrument than as a vehicle for his lyrics. And it’s a beautiful instrument—mournful and keening one minute, pissed off the next, jubilant the song after that.

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	McCoy Tyner: Illuminations

McCoy Tyner’s been one of jazz top pianists for the last forty-plus years, but his career as a bandleader has never produced the kind

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	The Smugglers: Mutiny in Stereo

Okay, maybe the pirate vibe is so last summer (Smugglers? Mutiny? Sounds pretty Pirates of the Caribbean to me), but let’s cut the Vancouver,

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The Mountain Goats: We Shall All Be Healed

Mountain Goats have just added a further chapter in an ongoing saga of (micro) relationships examined against a backdrop of (macro) global concern, We Shall All Be Healed being the most explicit yet.

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26 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Lit: self-titled

This review of the new Lit album could start off like the trailer for virtually every summer blockbuster ever released. The voiceover begins, “IN A

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	Coffin Lids: Rock ‘N’ Roll

One of the main purposes of album-reviewing is to pinpoint who exactly would want to buy a particular album—if anyone—and why they should,

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	Badly Drawn Boy: One Plus One Is One

The opening title track to Badly Drawn Boy’s fourth album One Plus One Is One is so expansive, so inclusive, so across-the-board appealing, that

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26 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Big Satan: Souls Saved Hear

Frank Zappa once said about America’s least appreciated and most influential musical form, “Jazz isn’t dead; it just smells funny”. Zappa was full

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26 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

Animal Collective: Who Could Win a Rabbit EP

This release carries on the growing legacy of an important new American band who have made it safe for us all to return to the woods.

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26 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Asobi Seksu: self-titled

Raise your hand if you caught Asobi Seksu the first go round. Meaning you own and/or enjoy a copy of their self-titled debut from 2002,

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26 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

Star Trek: Voyager, Season Three

Kate Mulgrew's Janeway is a true TV original, probably one of the strongest women ever to exist on the small screen.

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Playmakers: The Complete Series

Much as creator John Eisendrath asserts that sports is 'colorblind,' Playmakers reveals the many ways that race creates bonds and divisions, expectations and loyalties.

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Homicide Life on the Street: The Complete Season 4

Unlike most TV fare, especially cop shows, Homicide concerns itself with details and asides that don't always come together into thematic wholes.

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26 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

Gilmore Girls: The Complete First Season

Lorelai is written to challenge as well as entertain, her dialogue filled with pop culture references delivered at top speed.

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26 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

How’s Your News? (1999)

It's impossible not to do a little genuine soul-searching while watching, How's Your News? because it reframes disability in terms that aren't super-heroic, but ordinarily virtuous.

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Hellboy: 2-Disc Special Edition (2004)

Speaking in his commentary track, del Toro is keenly passionate about the film, the character, and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola.

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26 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

Bukowski at Bellevue (2004)

The man had a soul, and the contribution of this lonely fact to American art is worth remembering when all the other nonsense is rightfully forgotten.

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25 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Various Artists: Buy Indie Music Compilation, Vol. 1

Always intrigued by anything containing the word “Indie” in its title, I eagerly anticipated reviewing Buy Indie Music Compilation, Vol.1. But as soon as the

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25 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Scissor Sisters: self-titled

The formula for a successful record in 2004 is as follows: imitate a series of unfashionable yet perennially popular artists from British pop/rock history, preferably

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	Reverend Horton Heat: Revival

Old age and responsibility have finally caught up to Reverend Horton Heat. As fine a rockabilly trio as you’ll find, the band—guitarist Reverend

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25 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Phosphorescent: The Weight of Flight

There’s a track entitled “When We Fall” on Phosphorescent’s new EP The Weight of Flight that exposes a forgotten intention of folk music.

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	Essra Mohawk: Best of Essra: The First Millennium

Essra Mohawk has been in the margins of the music world for the last 40 years. Frank Zappa discovered her, and she soon became the first

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25 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Rodney Hunter: Hunter Files

G-Stone doesn’t release very many records. I’d almost be tempted to call it a boutique label, but for the fact that it also

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	Count Basie: Jazz Moods—Hot

The German language has picked up the word “Sampler” and misuses it to refer to any anthology, a point missed by the translator of Thomas

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	Brother Danielson: Brother Is to Son

Late one night I found myself flipping through the channels and landed on PAX-TV, “family-oriented” programming with a none-too-subtle conservative Christian bent. The show in-progress

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	The Burden Brothers: Buried in Your Black Heart

The Burden Brothers are not a burden to anyone. The group, whose members have had stretches in various bands from the Toadies to Izzy Stradlin

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	Various Artists: Trax Records: The Next Generation

Chicago’s Trax Records is one of the most influential and important labels in the history of electronic dance music. They’ve been called “the

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	Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter: Oh, My Girl

The signs are everywhere: “You Are Now Leaving Alt-Country”. For the last several miles, you’ve seen fewer tumbleweeds blowing across the plains, less plaid

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	Schneider TM: Reconfigures

Schneider TM is a mysterious gentleman living in Berlin who makes strange glitch-country hybrid songs that play with the contradictions implicit in singing lackadaisical, direct

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	Billie Holiday: Jazz Moods—‘Round Midnight

OR: Billie Holiday in her absolute prime sings only high quality standards. Lovers of gloom looking for anything Stygian or depressive on this issue in

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	The Good Life: Lovers Need Lawyers

Tonight the drinks are on Tim Kasher. On one condition, of course: that you listen to what he has to say, keeping in mind he

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22 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

Dirty Projectors: Slaves’ Graves & Ballads

Longstreth doesn’t make it easy on us, he sings with the drama of classical crooner rather than the shy simplicity of a true folkie. This fact combined with his pension for nebulous song structure will continue to keep the unsuspecting at bay.

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22 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	The Cure: self-titled

Jason Cooper joined the Cure in 1995. Although he plays all the drum parts of the band’s extensive catalog spectacularly and adds plenty of energy

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22 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Alabama 3: Last Train to Mashville Vol. 2

Greatest hits albums are strange beasts. They can be a stellar introduction to an artist whose catalogue is huge. Don’t know that much about

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22 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Aroah: The Last Laugh

There was a time when singers like Cat Power and Fiona Apple were the talk of the town. Their fragile vocals and hushed stage presence

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22 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

Fly has a gift, and that gift is the ability to draw the most mundane, splayed-out meth addict in such a way as to make them look like an alien fairy superhero.

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22 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

The contrast of the occasional darkness of the story was compelling and there was always humor right around the corner.

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22 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

Imagine, if you will, the literary genre of high fantasy existing in the middle of a rather crowded meadow -- one with deep trench now running through the middle of it. The trench would naturally mark the place where J.R.R. Tolkien struck gold with his Lord of the Rings trilogy in the 1950s.

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A Home at the End of the World (2004)

Unfortunately, Bobby's (Colin Farrell) vagueness tends to be more tiresome than inspiring.

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22 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

Garden State (2003)

'As far back as I can remember,' Large sighs, 'I've been medicated.'"

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22 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

Catwoman (2004)

The women on either side of the film's imaginary moral divide are both gorgeous and potent, both capable of cruel violence, and both dedicated to their own desires.

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22 Jul 2004 // 12:00 AM

The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

Embodying the ruthlessness of the eat-its-own CIA (as well as the entertainment industry), Bourne isn't seeking revenge in the usual sense.

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21 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Tyko: A Long Way from One to Zero

Rising atop the release schedule on the increasingly more prolific Blisscent Records, Tyko’s A Long Way from One to Zero harkens back to many

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21 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Senor Happy: I’m Sorry

Never mind that it’s been six years since Senor Happy’s debut—it’s a wonder that the band even had time to contemplate

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21 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Roosevelt Sykes: Chicago Boogie

If it’s understandable that Leroy Carr isn’t in the current blues pantheon, it’s even less understandable—if not necessarily less unjust—that

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21 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	Rachel Z: Everlasting

Rachel Nicolazzo, or Rachel Z, emerged in the 1990s as a talented “Young Lion” pianist. Having graduated from the New England Conservatory in 1984, she has

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	The Firebird Suite / The Firebird Project: Archives 1996-1998

The Firebird Suite, in addition to being a Stravinsky symphony, is also a band, or at least, is sort of a band. The elaborate story,

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21 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	The Fiery Furnaces: Blueberry Boat

Somehow the Fiery Furnaces have been able to avoid the imbroglio facing other like-minded duos—the daunting comparison to the charisma and musical muscle of

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21 Jul 2004 // 10:00 PM

	The Flatlanders: Live ‘72

Perhaps it’s sheer accident that club owner and amateur recording aficionado Gary Oliver didn’t tape over this set he captured of a then-unknown

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

That Ribbon of Highway: Sharon Jones Re-shapes Woody Guthrie's Song

// Sound Affects

"Sharon Jones and Woodie Guthrie knew: great songs belong to everybody.

READ the article