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

6 Nov 2002 // 12:00 AM

Sexy Bastards Tindersticks came over from England to play three back-to-back shows here in NYC, their first and only U.S. appearances this year. These

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Low

6 Nov 2002 // 12:00 AM

Whenever the conversation shifts to a discussion of Low—which doesn’t happen that often, but anyway—my big-brotherly instincts always kick in. Most criticisms

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6 Nov 2002 // 12:00 AM

Ledward Kaapana Owana Salazar It’s not everyday you get the chance to see a princess perform. That’s partly because of the lack of

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6 Nov 2002 // 12:00 AM

Foo Fighters Red Hot Chili Peppers There are few concerts where the “show” around you is almost as interesting and entertaining as the show onstage.

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6 Nov 2002 // 12:00 AM

I didn’t catch much television this summer, but I caught about ten minutes on two separate occasions of Fox’s Gong Show-esque 30 Seconds to

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6 Nov 2002 // 12:00 AM

Ryan Adams Tegan and Sara Ryan Adams has been loud and grumpy in recent days, so on this last night of his solo acoustic tour

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This was a band that thrived despite being jeered and pissed on by critics, hipsters, jazzbos, even its own ex-members.

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6 Nov 2002 // 12:00 AM

He was a dupe, a fool, a brainless, clueless buffoon who'd been sold a bag of goods, and willingly sacrificed everything to gain nothing in a world that had quickly gone to garbage.

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He was seeking advice on how an unknown Yankee combo could approach the mysteries of this tiny island and not leave with their tail between their legs.

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She Bop II: The Definitive History of Women in Rock, Pop and Soul by Lucy O’Brien

A well-written and researched account of the actual going-ons.

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Rinzen Presents RMX EXTENDED PLAY  Concept + Project Coordination by Rinzen Edited by Rilla Alexande

Based on themes ranging from the relevant to the ridiculous.

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He Kills Coppers by Jake Arnott

Evidence of America's persistent Anglophilia abounds.

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6 Nov 2002 // 12:00 AM

First French Kiss (and other traumas) by Adam Bagdasarian

Cartoonish, exaggerated slices of life.

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e2ink-1:  The Best of the Online Journals 2002 by Guest Editor: Pam Houston, Series Editor: Melvin S

Are electronic magazines the salvation of the literary arts.

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Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and

I would say that physicists have known power.

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Aftershocks - The End of Style Culture by Steve Beard

The great strength of this book is its taut, crystal-clear style.

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	Various Artists: In the Pocket: A Taste of Blues Harmonica

The harmonica is to blues what the guitar is to rock and roll, namely the essential instrument of the genre. Old photographs of Sonny Boy

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	Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Raï

Raï, a music that simmered up and boiled over in Algeria despite two different governments’ attempts to force the lid back down on the roiling

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5 Nov 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Vinyl Kings: A Little Trip

Musical grazing is never so dangerous as when one treads the pastures of the sacred cows. You’ll never encounter more resistance and grumbling than

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	The Velvet Crush: Soft Sounds

The Velvet Crush have released many albums since signing to the Action Musik label, including early demos, rarities, and a singles collection. But the Sweet

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	Stereo Total: Musique Automatique

For the uninitiated, Berlin duo Stereo Total (that’s pronounced “toe-TAHL”, as opposed to the North American “toadle”) is comprised of a French female singer

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	Sting & The Police: The Very Best Of . . . Sting & The Police

When the Police broke up in the mid-‘80s, many thought that Sting would be successful, but not even come close to the heights of

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5 Nov 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Jimmy Cliff: We Are All One: The Best of Jimmy Cliff

The fact that teenaged Jimmy Cliff introduced teenaged Bob Marley to legendary Chinese-Jamaican producer Leslie Kong in 1961—hence, helping Marley get his first record made—

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	CKY: Infiltrate.Destroy.Rebuild

“It’s the start of a revolutionary band and revolutionary music lovers; people that are interested in entertainment. As miserable as we may seem, fans

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5 Nov 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Blue States: Man Mountain

“In the dark, distant and shimmering, is the place for us that no one knows.”—from “What We’ve Won” There’s no better way

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	Spring Heel Jack: Amassed

John Coxon and Ashley Wales, the talents behind Spring Heel Jack, have certainly thrown many of their listeners for a loop with their recent outings.

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4 Nov 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Norfolk & Western: Winter Farewell

This is one of those albums that defies explanation. Why was it made? Who would want to listen to it regularly? What, in God’s

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	Quincy Jones: Ultimate Collection

It’s rare for a producer by trade to release a best-of collection, but when you have some 27 Grammy Awards with your name on them,

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4 Nov 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Ron House: Obsessed

There’s something about heartbreak, but when musicians get their hearts broken, they tend to pour out album-length expressions of their pain. Beck’s Sea

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4 Nov 2002 // 10:00 PM

	MC Paul Barman: Paullelujah!

It’s safe to say there’s never been an album like this one. MC Paul Barman is, first of all, a rapper who can’

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4 Nov 2002 // 10:00 PM

	BT: 10 Years in the Life

I’m going to try to write about this two-disc compilation without being mean or snarky about it. Believe me, there’s plenty to be

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4 Nov 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Bon Jovi: Bounce

As a self-proclaimed Bon Jovi obsessive, admitting that the band’s latest album, Bounce, is anything less than a complete thrill is monumentally difficult. Especially

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	Jane Bunnett, Stanley Cowell, Dewey Redman: Spirituals & Dedications

Soprano saxophonist-flautist Jane Bunnett and trumpeter Larry Cramer are probably best known for their erudite mapping of Afro-Cuban jazz territory. But this prolific husband-and-wife team

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4 Nov 2002 // 10:00 PM

Six years. That’s how long it’s taken Chris Dorn, frontman of the Beatifics, to follow up his magnificent debut How I Learned to

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4 Nov 2002 // 12:00 AM

Aside from the fact that Bill O'Reilly tells us he is right, why should we listen to him anyway?

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Jacques Becker's work features a moral neutrality that leaves viewers to judge for themselves, unlike many contemporary efforts.

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3 Nov 2002 // 12:00 AM

Two Friends (1986)

A poignant expression of a friendship past exhaustion.

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3 Nov 2002 // 12:00 AM

Tabu (1931)

Call it Paul Gaughin's Romeo and Juliet.

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3 Nov 2002 // 12:00 AM

Forbidden Relations (1982)

Forbidden Relations reminds us that empathy and aesthetics can be synonymous.

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3 Nov 2002 // 12:00 AM

The Collector (1965)

The claustrophobic dramatization of the troubling encounter between a quiet sociopath and the woman he has confined in his ornate basement.

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[W]ithin the context of hip-hop music and culture the killing of Jam Master Jay is comparable to someone walking up to Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin and shooting them in the head. It is cultural treason.

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31 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Simon and Garfunkel: Live in New York, 1967

Some music is an aural snapshot of a time and place. In it, I can hear, taste, feel, see a bygone age. Simon and Garfunkel

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	Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: Ooo Baby: The Anthology

Forget about The Big Chill for a minute; the songs of Motown are not considered classics just because of the nostalgia of baby boomers. I’

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31 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: The Last DJ

Tom Petty hates the record industry, Chuck D hates authority, and John Lydon hates just about everything. But while Public Enemy and Public Image Ltd.

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	Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars: Brotherhood of Brass

You’ve heard Frank London play trumpet. Even if you’ve never heard anything by the Klezmatics; even if you never heard his Klezmer Brass

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31 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Jacobites: The Ragged School

Back in the mid-1990s, when Pavement were the darling buds on the thriving indie rock azalea bush, one name that was tossed out as

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	Dave Hollister: Things in the Game Done Changed

Dave Hollister’s new disc is titled Things in the Game Done Changed and Hollister, for sure, changed the game when he dropped his solo

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31 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Guy Clark: The Dark

Guy Clark builds guitars in his basement. This hideaway beneath his Texas home is also where he crafts the dusty, country melodies revered (and covered)

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	Daniel Bedingfield: Gotta Get Thru This

On the liner notes inside Daniel Bedingfield’s debut release, Gotta Get Thru This, the singer writes, “The blazing beauty of a tree, or the

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	Badly Drawn Boy: Have You Fed the Fish?

Both of Badly Drawn Boy’s full-length albums begin the same way. There’s the rush of esotericism right away, the musical equivalent to gibberish,

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The Truth About Charlie (2002)

It conjures a perverse and giddy grace.

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31 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

The Santa Clause 2 (2002)

Given that it's a generically family/holiday film, The Santa Clause 2 has nothing new to say about anything.

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31 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

Russian Ark (Russkij kovcheg) (2002)

The film's high-tech artistic fantasies elide completely the historical roots and contemporary realities of global capitalism and terrorism.

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31 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

I Spy (2002)

The basic opposition between sheepish Alex and suave Kelly sets up a series of trivial conflicts, some less tedious than others.

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31 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

The Grey Zone (2002)

This crepuscular work offers the most realistic depiction of the infernal workings of a Nazi death camp ever seen in a fiction film.

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31 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

Frida (2002)

Julie Taymor's Frida pulses with color.

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31 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

Bowling for Columbine (2002)

Why are people scared? This question lies at the heart of Michael Moore's filmic essay on gun violence in the United States.

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30 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

America’s two most-slobbered-over-by-the-British-music-press rock locales met once again last Thursday when New York garage rockers the Yeahs Yeah Yeahs made their first appearance in

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30 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

DJ team 2 Many DJs are also known as a band called Soulwax, headed by two Belgian brothers who were known in their native Europe as

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30 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

The Marquee Club recently re-opened in its new north London surroundings with an opening night full of the usual tabloid celebs. Lucky for us, then,

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30 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

The cycles of reverent nostalgia keep getting smaller and smaller. In the ‘50s, post-war America dealt with its restlessness by projecting back a century to

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30 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

Beck The Flaming Lips The word “hip” is defined as “being aware or informed about current goings on.” In the world of popular music, the “

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. . . Manga is a perfect example of what the comic medium can become: it is as omnipresent as television in its home country and has been likened to air itself, in that it permeates every facet of contemporary cultural life.

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30 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

. . . improvisation with materials that represent throwaway elements of our day-to-day existence is par for the course, both visually and economically.

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30 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

. . . I've come across more than a few hip-hop generation artists and intellectuals who are beginning to show strains of gray in their locks, twists, beards, and fades.

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30 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

Sure enough, before the soup arrives the band of young, shaggy musicians is working hard to blow the breadbaskets off the dinner tables.

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30 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

The myths of the Summer of Love, Haight-Ashbury, and the cafes and bars of North Beach where the Beats proved that anyone incapable of rhyming poetry was cool, continuously lure thousands who cling to the nostalgia the city offers so readily.

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The Uncanny: Experiments in Cyborg Culture by Bruce Grenville, Editor

It's a lucid look at the fears that plague academics everywhere...Will I lose tenure to an intelligent toaster oven?"

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30 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

Three Daughters by Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Pogrebin shows a flair for characterization that many seasoned novelists can't match.

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30 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

In the Metro by Marc Augé

Riding the metro is...a journey taken in accompanied solitude, a voyage through space and through a kind of geographically mapped collective unconscious.

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30 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

Amazonia by James Rollins

. . . offers you escape, and more than that, you'll learn something new, which your Mama always told you to do every day . . .

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	Various Artists: The Blues White Album

The idea behind Telarc’s Beatles tribute The Blues White Album was a pretty good one. After all, The White Album was the most blues-tinged

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	Various Artists: Andrew Lloyd Webber: Gold - The Definitive Hits Collection

“So there He was on a waterbed / Drinking a cola of a mystery brand / Reading an airport novelette / Listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem /

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	10cc: The Best of 10cc (20th Century Masters)

That the group’s more offbeat tracks sound rather dated today is testament to their “art rock” credentials. A song like “Life Is a Minestrone”

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	Thievery Corporation: The Richest Man in Babylon

For guys who grew up on a steady diet of DC punk, the Pixies and music rougher than the type of stuff you might find

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	Mark Mallman: The Red Bedroom

Although from Milwaukee, it would appear that Mark Mallman has more Minneapolis blood in his veins than that of his Wisconsin hometown. Originally the lead

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29 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Metro Area: self-titled

One of the biggest beefs that both critics and the public seemed to have in the late 1970s was about the “processed” or “artificial” sounds

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	Blevin Blectum: Talon Slalom

“Come and take a trip in my rocketship,” goes a vocal sample used as a sort-of hook on one track on Talon Slalom, a solo

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28 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Plush: Fed

“You know, it’s not bad, but couldn’t he get someone else to sing?I like the horns a lot, but it’s kind

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28 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Andrea Perry: Two

Objectivity is a difficult task, made even more so when fondness for an artist might cloud one’s perspective. Still, I am compelled to gush

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28 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

Mansun: Six

This is inspired dementia from start to finish. Some would be tempted to call it a concept album, but, honestly, there’s too much going on for there to be a coherent concept.

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28 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Tommy Lee: Never a Dull Moment

In the recent best-selling, tell-all Mötley Crüe biography The Dirt, vocalist Vince Neil said of his former bandmate Tommy Lee: “Whatever is in,

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28 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Kansas: The Ultimate Kansas

At first glance, it’s hard to take the title of this two-disc compilation, The Ultimate Kansas, very seriously. Particularly when it’s a matter

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28 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Ben Folds: Ben Folds Live

October 1997, Vic Theatre, Chicago. I’m in the balcony with my two best friends and wife-to-be, watching Ben Folds Five positively tear the place down. “

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28 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	The Extra Glenns: Martial Arts Weekend

One thing you can say about John Darnielle is that he’s done things his own way. Aside from his work as one half of

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28 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	EchoBrain: self-titled

I’m probably one of the few remaining fans from Metallica’s relatively early days who still liked the band three years ago. True, Metallica

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	Dave Matthews Band: Busted Stuff

Seems the small Pennsylvania town of Hershey is not only famous for its chocolate. It’s also got its fair share of Dave Matthews Band

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	Conya Doss: Poem About Ms. Doss

Though the folks at corporate don’t seem to know it yet, neo-soul is out and real soul music is in again. This is not

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28 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

This past weekend's TV (25-27 Oct 2002) has been rife with efforts to describe, reframe, and sensationalize the sniper story.

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	Matthew Sweet: To Understand: The Early Recordings of Matthew Sweet

Matthew Sweet fans are of the rabidly devoted type. Ask the typical Matthew Sweet fan about their collection of his material, and they’re likely

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	Supreme Beings of Leisure: Divine Operating System

The Supreme Beings of Leisure take the sophomore slump and drop-kick it into last week on Divine Operating System, the follow-up to the self-titled debut

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24 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Orwell: Following Days

Bonjour monsieurs y madamoiselles and pardon the intrusion, but there’s another French revolution afoot—a subtle one in the world of popular music. Unobtrusively

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24 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	NON: Children of the Black Sun

The story of ambient music’s genesis begins with egg-domed musical dilettante/mentor Brian Eno being struck by a taxi in January 1975. While recuperating in

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24 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Matthew: Everybody Down

Let’s be frank, shall we? Everybody Down is an entirely bland release with no glimmers of individual personality at all. That Matthew is a

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24 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Iron Maiden: Rock in Rio

Earlier this year, I wrote a review of Iron Maiden’s CD release of Rock in Rio, their January, 2001 performance which was recorded for both

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	Herbie Hancock: The Herbie Hancock Box

Herbie Hancock may just be the most comfortable performer ever with the jazz dichotomy between the funky, earthy, gospel-influenced and the lyrical, abstract. He’s

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24 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Charlie Christian: Genius of the Electric Guitar

Just before the Conner McCloud lopped off the bad guys’ head at the end of The Highlander he managed to grunt, “there can be only

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24 Oct 2002 // 10:00 PM

	Beck: Sea Change

I admit I was one of those people who didn’t “get” Beck when he first appeared on the scene in the early ‘90s. I

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24 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

Take Care of My Cat (2002)

If it breaks no new aesthetic or structural ground, 'Take Care of My Cat' is honest and tender, remarkably specific about girls' experiences.

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24 Oct 2002 // 12:00 AM

Paid in Full (2002)

As familiar as this story sounds (and is), Ace is hardly your usual somebody.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

FKA twigs Outdoes Herself with 'Congregata' (Photos)

// Notes from the Road

"A regular FKA twigs performance is exciting. But her 'Congregata' event amps up the fervor ten fold, with more wild dancers, powerful lights and costumes.

READ the article