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
Hungarian Cinema: From Coffee House to Multiplex by John Cunningham

Hungarian film has, until now, remained a 'specialist' subject, due variously to Hungary's political situation, a reluctance of the 'West' to translate and promote these films, and the notorious difficulty of the Hungarian language.

READ more
Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties by Marion Meade

Even before you're done reading that subtitle, about 'writers running wild,' the theme is already being stretched to fill out the book.

READ more
Baseballissimo: My Summer in the Italian Minor Leagues by Dave Bidini

Nettuno is painted as an almost mythical place, like Garcia Marquez's Macondo, where the only news of major league North American baseball comes via such quaint outlets as the newspaper and, occasionally, the radio.

READ more

5 Apr 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Usher: Confessions

Number of listed tracks on this album: 17.Number of these that are “intro” or “interlude” tracks: 3. * * * Songs that are full-fledged club über-crunk salacious but not

READ more
	Preservation Hall Jazz Band: The Best of the Early Years

One of my favourite errors in a jazz context came in an obituary of Willie Humphrey, a New Orleans clarinetist very well featured on this

READ more

5 Apr 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Doug Powell: Day for Night

Renaissance man and uber-DIY studio talent Doug Powell continues his foray into the more grandiose and progressive realms of power pop with his latest CD

READ more

5 Apr 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Minus 5: In Rock

The Minus 5 is a loose collective of musicians that’s been spearheaded by the Young Fresh Fellows’ Scott McCaughey since 1993. The main players on this

READ more
	Mary Lou Lord: Baby Blue

In the three years since her last album, Mary Lou Lord has had a little Lord. The new album, which once again features Lord’s

READ more

5 Apr 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Bill Haley and His Comets: Rock Around the Clock

Did rock and roll begin when Elvis Presley released his first record, a thrilling, evocative ride called “That’s All Right, Mama” way back in 1954?

READ more
	Leonard Bernstein: Leonard Bernstein—A Total Embrace: The Conductor

Leonard Bernstein—A Total Embrace: The Conductor comprises a three disc collection of Bernstein’s best conducting efforts. In roughly chronological order, the tracks span

READ more

5 Apr 2004 // 1:00 AM

What’s Happening!! - The Complete First Season

It's the kind of show that one catches in reruns, without need of directors' commentaries and loving digital transfers.

READ more
Secret Agent A.K.A. Danger Man Megaset

Patrick McGoohan's Drake is an intensely moral character, but never sanctimonious, a diehard cynic who nonetheless believes in what he does.

READ more
Just One of the Guys (1985)

Just One of the Guys is worth repeated viewing, especially for Hyser's hilarious and charismatic performance.

READ more

5 Apr 2004 // 1:00 AM

Hustle and Heat (2003)

Lisa's got what Rad calls 'more firepower than Waco,' in her garage.

READ more
Dirty Pretty Things (2002)

The title refers to many 'things,' most simultaneously dirty and pretty.

READ more
Dawn of the Dead (1979)

George Romero's apocalyptic vision looks more like prophecy than fiction.

READ more
	Various Artists: Non-Stop Hip Hop: The Videos [DVD]

In many ways, every mainstream hip-hop act is a singles act. Because the race among fans to find the latest hot rapper, producer, or label

READ more
	Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: Live in Barcelona [DVD]

This is a rock and roll show. This is a big, loud concert experience. This is Bruce Springsteen live. I’m sitting watching the Bruce

READ more
	Sanford Arms: The Twilight Era

An unfortunate fact about the music industry is that it is inexplicably grounded in the herd mentality. Once a particular image and/or sound successfully

READ more

4 Apr 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Earl Slick: Zig Zag

I think I’ve listened to my CD copy of Appetite for Destruction so many times that its grooves are wearing out; still, I’ve

READ more

4 Apr 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Robert Randolph and the Family Band: Unclassified

Not since Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble’s Couldn’t Stand the Weatherhas a guitar band surfaced that possessed such raw power and conviction.

READ more
	Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Shake That Thing

Like its companion volume drawn from the archives, only more so, this celebration of the New Orleans jazz refuge and recovery centre has a certain

READ more

4 Apr 2004 // 11:00 PM

	P:ano: The Den

Vancouver has its own little history of modern pop, and in the early days of post-Pavement humility, a generation of vulnerable, pale young singer-songwriters found

READ more

4 Apr 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Castle Oldchair: Sad Pants

Oh, the album that makes one wonder. One listens and one observes and one is still left wondering what, why, and whatever other “W” questions

READ more
	controller.controller: History

Call it what you will, death disco, dance punk, what have you, but the current revival of dance-oriented post punk is one of the more

READ more
	The Beatles with Tony Sheridan: The Beginnings in Hamburg: A Documentary [DVD]

This DVD purports to document the Beatles’ early years in Hamburg, Germany, when Allen Williams, the group’s first manager, booked them to play strip-bars-turned-beat-clubs

READ more

4 Apr 2004 // 1:00 AM

In Stoned and Dethroned, Slater Bradley's recent exhibit at Chelsea's Team Gallery, the photographer pays homage to Kurt Cobain on the 10 year anniversary of his untimely death.

READ more

3 Apr 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The dB’s: Stands for deciBels

It’s well-established by now that rock snobs love to talk about bands that you’ve never heard of, and it’s almost as widely

READ more
	Various Artists: Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945-1970

It’s a shame that when most people think of Nashville, Tennessee, what comes to mind most readily are images of Garth Brooks in that

READ more
	The Who: Then and Now: Maximum Who

Four remarkable decades have passed since a scruffy quartet from Shepherd’s Bush, London first took the stage with their aggressive brand of power pop.

READ more

1 Apr 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Trans Am: Liberation

Like most other Trans Am records, Liberation is a soundtrack. Washington, DC, the war on terror, a Krautrock prelude to an election year—take your

READ more
	Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Hot 4 - with Harold “Duke” Dejan

It’s not so certain that the real merits of this CD were wholly intended. It’s all the better for its diverging from the

READ more

1 Apr 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Elvis Presley: Ultimate Gospel

Elvis Presley shook, rattled and rolled his way into our world by rocking his hips in uncontrolled abandon to the music that seemed to possess

READ more

1 Apr 2004 // 11:00 PM

	N.E.R.D.: Fly or Die

The wallpaper’s moving. My arms and my legs leave a blur when I swipe. —N.E.R.D., ““Wonderful Place” I want my live

READ more
	Dead Kennedys: Live at the Deaf Club

Imagine it’s 1979. There’s a revolution going on across the country, in all manner of tiny clubs and bars. It is a revolution of

READ more
Blockhead: Music by Cavelight

A couple of Blockhead’s experiments on Music by Cavelight are indicators of the producer’s tendency to never allow the piece to move in one consistent direction.

READ more

1 Apr 2004 // 1:00 AM

Walking Tall (2004)

Charming and correct, a savvy media star and self-incorporating product, The Rock embodies our own cynical moment, when the show is what matters.

READ more
The United States of Leland (2003)

Leland will come to be instructive and redemptive for others, just as he has tried to find instruction and redemption in others.

READ more

1 Apr 2004 // 1:00 AM

Hellboy (2004)

The latest hero for our time is red. Fire engine red. Looming over the city from a rooftop, he puffs his cigar and glowers.

READ more

1 Apr 2004 // 1:00 AM

Good Bye, Lenin! (2003)

In Good Bye, Lenin! the world is awakened to new possibilities but Alex forces a social blindness on his mother.

READ more

31 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Statistics: Leave Your Name

Let’s summarize for a moment. Nebraska is a flat, landlocked, farming state. The state’s principle crops are corn, soybeans, and winter wheat. Throw

READ more
	Mike Stern: These Times

While versatility is no alternative to being able to do some specific things extremely well, I’m not so sure it’s quite the right

READ more

31 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Edward Rogers: Sunday Fables

Edward Rogers is known to most on the New York scene as the producer of “The Beat Goes On” series at the legendary Bottom Line,

READ more
	Carrie Newcomer: Betty’s Diner: The Best of Carrie Newcomer

In what must be one of the most off-putting recommendations ever, Barbara Kingsolver of the Oprah-approved The Poisonwood Bible says that “Carrie Newcomer is much

READ more
Iron & Wine: Our Endless Numbered Days

Beam’s triumphs are not limited to individual moments, however; Our Endless Numbered Days stuns, sedates, and fills from beginning to end. Iron and Wine (in any combination) have produced an understated of excessive beauty and lyricism.

READ more

31 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Hepcat: Out of Nowhere

In 1993, I was a gangly, awkward son of a bitch, like most 13-year-olds. Without my parents’ knowledge, dubiously my first act of teenage rebellion, I

READ more

31 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Album Leaf: Seal Beach

There’s pretty music (a sort of pleasant but ultimately bland endeavor) and then there’s really pretty music (music that immediately changes the environment,

READ more

31 Mar 2004 // 1:00 AM

Pieter-Dirk Uys and his Mbeki puppet poke South African leadership in its tender spots.

READ more

31 Mar 2004 // 1:00 AM

Is pop as ephemeral as a cherry blossom... like youth, so quick to burst with beauty and excitement, so quick to fade? Or is it a perpetually regenerating force, like the magnificent and tenacious sakura that hosts the blossom?

READ more

31 Mar 2004 // 1:00 AM

Culture clash is a healthy thing. 'Consider a vacation in a potential war zone,' writes Fowler, 'you'll be helping the local economy and we'll be glad to see you.'

READ more

What happens when high culture meets low, high art meets popular, establishment meets street, funded meets fundless? At Fuse, it's a culture clash.

READ more
	Various Artists: Klubbjazz 5

Dance compilations with the word “Jazz” in the title are always dubious propositions. One is never sure whether they’re going to get something that’

READ more

30 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Finley Quaye: Much More than Much Love

It’s hard to believe Finley Quaye‘s debut album Maverick a Strike once went triple platinum in the UK. It’s harder still to

READ more
	Essra Mohawk: You’re Not Alone

Just mention her name, and everyone’s pretty sure they’ve heard of Essra Mohawk. Though she’s gained a much higher profile throughout the ‘9

READ more
	Nellie McKay: Get Away From Me

I am about to say some very churlish things about a very good record by an incredibly talented young woman. I am not going to

READ more

30 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Hiss: Panic Movement

I remember where I was when I heard the news, that April afternoon in 1994. My friends Katie, Sarah, Steve and I were driving across town,

READ more

30 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Tony C: Hawaiian Passion

It’s not often that you can go back and relive an experience. Life just doesn’t work out that way. Or does it? Ask

READ more

30 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Bexar Bexar: Haralambos

Noted astronomer-mystic and unapologetic marijuana smoker the late Carl Sagan once remarked on our home planet’s surprising smoothness in this footnote from his 1994 book

READ more
	Jimmy Thackery and Tab Benoit: Whiskey Store Live

Tab Benoit and Jimmy Thackery, two long time blues musicians, joined forces in 2002 for an album entitled Whiskey Store. The record garnered praise in blues

READ more

29 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Lushy: self-titled

Somewhere between 12 and 1:30 PM I went down to the Sharp Edge Brewery and had a great lunch and slogged down a draft of Kasteel (at 11%

READ more

29 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Elected: Me First

There’s no better indicator of the niche-oriented state of the post-Napster music industry than Me First, the debut record by the Elected. It’s

READ more
	Cascade Folk Trio: Old Street

What sort of image comes to mind when you hear the name “Cascade Folk Trio”? Earthquakes, blockades, and warfare are what the group left far

READ more
	Butterfly Boucher: Flutterby

A lot of Butterfly Boucher profiles will probably focus on her hippie upbringing (as if the name “Butterfly” wasn’t enough of a tip-off), about

READ more

29 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	David Byrne: Grown Backwards

Anyone rooting for David Byrne to finally fall into self-parody were sensing irony-drenched blood in the water after 1997’s Feelings. His practice of mocking the

READ more

29 Mar 2004 // 3:00 PM

	Soulfly: Prophecy

Over the past six years, Max Cavalera’s post-Sepultura project Soulfly has been a challenge to devoted fans of his old band. After his very

READ more

29 Mar 2004 // 3:00 PM

	Raul Malo: The Nashville Acoustic Sessions

Fans of Raul Malo will, no doubt, appreciate this effort, however, those individuals led to believe by the title of the album, The Nashville Acoustic

READ more

29 Mar 2004 // 1:00 AM

Xena Warrior Princess: Season Three

Xena depicts the most fully realized and evolving lesbian relationship on television.

READ more

29 Mar 2004 // 1:00 AM

The Vampire Effect (Chin gei bin) (2003)

The device aptly serves as metaphor for the risk currently facing Hong Kong cinema, namely, the pursuit of the global mainstream.

READ more

29 Mar 2004 // 1:00 AM

Underworld Beauty (Ankokugai no Bijo) (1958)

Seijun Suzuki knew that, in order to say great things, sometimes an artist needs to work small.

READ more
The Spook Who Sat By the Door (1973)

It remains one of the few uncompromised representations of black armed resistance in the United States.

READ more

28 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Vanity Set: Little Stabs of Happiness

Upon first listen, and most especially on the opening track, “The Big Bang”, you get the impression this is the sort of album destined for

READ more
	Tabla Beat Science: Talamanam Sound Clash: Further Adventures in Hypercussion [DVD]

This DVD is basically everything I thought I wanted: a visual representation of one of my favorite live albums ever, 2002’s Live at Stern Grove

READ more
	The Special Goodness: Land Air Sea

Granted, the Special Goodness aren’t a math rock band, but let’s do a little math rock anyway. What do you get when you

READ more

28 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Limbeck: Hi, Everything’s Great

This is a summer record—appropriately released in the summer of 2003—but more than inspiring images of sun-baked fields and clear blue skies, Limbeck‘s

READ more
	Loch Lomond: When We Were Mountains

This band contains members of the Standard, a fine rock band whose latest release, Wire Post to Wire, would have fans of Placebo salivating immediately.

READ more
	Just Jack: The Outer Marker

On the face of it, this debut album by former breakdancer and hip-hop enthusiast Jack Allsop is supposed to be the bastard Xerox of Mike

READ more
	Jason Darling: Night Like My Head

Jason Darling started out with working in a studio, but it’s not what you might think. It was basically making sure that the floors

READ more

28 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Calexico: Convict Pool

Calexico‘s last full-length effort, 2003’s Feast of Wire, found them merging their established Southwestern sounds with more pop-oriented material, showing most of the world

READ more
	Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin: Nine Hundred Nights [DVD]

Big Brother, good or bad, were caught in some remarkable crosswinds, and the tension of occupying their position makes compelling drama.

READ more

28 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Boyz II Men: 20th Century Masters - DVD Collection

Nothing says ‘90s R&B like Boyz II Men. The clichéd turn of phrase, the idiosyncratic spelling, the romantic suggestion of manhood, all

READ more

28 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Beatles: Revolver

The story is legend. Brian Wilson hears Rubber Soul, and is so blown away that he gets his Beach Boys together and makes Pet Sounds.

READ more
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)

In the sequel no one needs to see, the Scooby Gang grapples with the stress of stardom.

READ more

26 Mar 2004 // 1:00 AM

Never Die Alone (2004)

King's funeral opens Never Die Alone, but his throbbing self-consciousness drives it.

READ more

26 Mar 2004 // 1:00 AM

The Ladykillers (2004)

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

READ more
James’ Journey to Jerusalem (2003)

Fashions a satire that skewers not only the hypocrisy of global capitalism but also the mores of contemporary Israel.

READ more

26 Mar 2004 // 1:00 AM

Jersey Girl (2003)

Early in Jersey Girl, Ben Affleck cries. It's a grim and alarming moment.

READ more
	Various Artists: Planet of the Popboomerang: A Global Pop Compilation

This shimmering Australian label knows what makes glorious pop, er, glorious. The home to such acts as the Richies and the Windmills, this label issued

READ more
	Various Artists: Best of British Blues, Volumes 1 and 2

Forty years ago as Beatlemania was engulfing the planet, and the British Invasion was gearing up to cross the Atlantic, a powerful undercurrent of alternative

READ more

25 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Voodoo Child: Baby Monkey

When Moby isn’t dishing out three or four of his daily musings on his official web site, he’s making music under a horde

READ more

25 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	The Vines: Winning Days

When the Australian garagesters the Vines landed in America in the summer of 2002, they arrived with a degree of hype that they couldn’t possibly

READ more

25 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

The Streets: A Grand Don’t Come for Free

A Grand Don’t Come for Free is a masterpiece that makes other albums—the gray multitude of discs that fit neatly into a single genre or slap together a dozen thematically unrelated songs—seem like so many broken TVs.

READ more
	Preston School of Industry: Monsoon

Poor Scott Kannberg. During his days in the seminal ‘90s band Pavement his tunes were overshadowed by those of his bandmate, Stephen Malkmus. Pavement called

READ more

25 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Minus: Halldor Laxness

Maturity usually insinuates a weakening of energy, a loss of urgency, and a failing sense of youthful exuberance. And in the case of Minus’ sophomore

READ more

25 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Myracle Brah: Treblemaker

Name your band Myracle Brah, and you’re asking for trouble, brah. Andy Bopp, the band’s progenitor, says that the intentional misspelling of “miracle”

READ more
	Sondre Lerche: Two Way Monologue

I’m listening to Sondre Lerche and drinking tea on an unseasonably cold spring evening. It’s been a rather shit season so far. A

READ more
Indigo Girls: All That We Let In

All That We Let In isn’t an earth-shaking album—it doesn’t even shake up the Indigo Girls catalog. But it’s certainly a comfortable continuation of the band’s work, and shouldn’t lose any of its appeal over time.

READ more

25 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Hiroshima: The Bridge

Back in the mid-‘80s, local island television offered strange advertising crossovers: A Hawaiian songstress spun a bingo tank so folks could fill in the

READ more

25 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	Happy Mondays: Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches

Standing in the pre-soundcheck emptiness of New York City’s Mercury Lounge, without even my first drink in hand, setting up an amplifier and trying

READ more

25 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

Cloud Cult: Aurora Borealis

Like Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Aurora Borealis is the rare album that has the musical merit to match its great making-of story.

READ more

25 Mar 2004 // 11:00 PM

	cLOUDDEAD: Ten

You ever hear the one about how the world is just a battleground, a chessboard in a larger conflict between powers far beyond our comprehension,

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

Saul Williams Commands Attention at Summerstage (Photos + Video)

// Notes from the Road

"Saul Williams played a free, powerful Summerstage show ahead of his appearance at Afropunk this weekend.

READ the article