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T Bone Burnett: Don’t Let the Form Distract You From the Content

Lloyd Sachs explores the life, times, and endless journeys of singer-songwriter-musician T Bone Burnett.

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‘The Cross’: A History of One of the World’s Most Iconic Symbols

The Cross manages to re-tell an old story comfortably and enjoyably, without getting dragged down into pedantry or the dry distractions of academic writing.

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Passing Masters of Jazz: Arthur Blythe and Larry Coryell

Jazz long ago lost its early geniuses of swing and bebop. Now masters from the '70s and onward are starting to pass, too. Remembering Arthur Blythe and Larry Coryell.

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The X-men’s Jean Grey Finally Gets a Chance to Forge Her Own Path

Despite all her overwhelming burdens, Jean Grey is all too human when it comes to matters of life, death, rebirth, and evil clones.

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‘Tomcat’ Paints an Intimate Portrait of How We Ride the Wave of Our Emotions

This is film beyond entertainment -- it's the observational curiosity of art to reflect back an intimate view of ourselves that bridges the literal and non-literal.

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‘Supernatural’: “Twigs and Twine and Tasha Banes” Recalls the Past, Suggests the Future

A dark and dreary chapter that ends up being one of the season's most memorable stand-alone episodes.

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Hard Fun in Gaming: On Finding the Sweet Spot in Anxiety

As gamers, we frequently contrive artificial difficulty to foster enjoyment.

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11 May 2017 // 8:26 AM

Mokoomba: Luyando

Mokoomba takes an acoustic turn on Luyando, a release that sees them leave pop behind for solid Zimbabwean traditions.

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Penguin Cafe: The Imperfect Sea

The Imperfect Sea is the third release of Penguin Café, and it sees the band crawling from out of the shadow of its namesake, Penguin Café Orchestra.

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Vinyl. Album. Cover. Art: A Definitive History and Showcase in a Genre-shattering Collective

Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey “Po” Powell of Hipgnosis could scarcely have imagined the ways their album art would impact culture.

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11 May 2017 // 2:30 AM

PWR BTTM: Pageant

PWR BTTM's Pageant is an excellent, varied collection of indie rock songs that explicate queerness in our current moment.

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Zac Brown Band: Welcome Home

The erstwhile country band returns to the style of their debut to explore their travels, where they make home, and taking the next steps forward.

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Each Song Is a Thought, Flying Across the Ocean for Do Make Say Think’s Charles Spearin

Charles Spearin discusses the themes and processes behind Do Make Say Think's latest album Stubborn Persistent Illusions.

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‘Prison Movies’ Is a Serious Attempt to Define a Genre and Identify Its Key Characteristics

While some historians classify prison films as offshoots of the gangster film, Kehrwald sees the prison film as relating more closely to social problem films and melodramas.

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‘Cardinal X’ Is a Bold, Seedy Take on University Wealth Gaps and Drug Culture

How is a working class outlier to thrive at an elite school she earned her way into, but clearly cannot afford?

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10 May 2017 // 10:04 AM

Zeshan B: Vetted

Rooted in protest, Vetted depicts life as a Muslim and Indian-American in the Trump era.

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‘Food City’ Will Challenge Your Appetite

From sugar to butchery to candy making, early food manufacture was crude, dangerous, and dirty.

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10 May 2017 // 6:34 AM

Clark: Death Peak

Death Peak is an album-length argument for Clark's assertion that the human voice is "the most perfect synth".

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10 May 2017 // 6:23 AM

Nite Jewel: Real High

Further refining her sound and losing the murk that made her previous releases blog favorites, Real High finds Nite Jewel’s Ramona Gonzalez easing just that much closer to the mainstream.

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Imaginary Interviews With !!! (Chk Chk Chk)

For the dance-rock titans, the grooves evolve but the dance remains the same. Rock's most consistent group hits another one out of the park.

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10 May 2017 // 2:30 AM

Slowdive: Slowdive

Beneath all the stylish and escapist waves of sound and texture on Slowdive's return, there is a profoundly human core waiting to be sought out and unearthed.

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‘Twin Peaks’: Flame Wars, Walk With Me

On 22 May, Twin Peaks returns; unfortunately, so does everything else that surrounds any significant pop culture text. This is how it will go.

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‘The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness’: A Collection of Self-help Fails

Brilliant career comedian Paula Poundstone is ripe for the ultimate self-reflexive comedic conceit: trying various ways of improving upon her own happiness.

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‘Sense8’: “Who Am I?” Puts Will and Whispers Front and Center

Despite the show's lingering issues with character development, "Who Am I?" adeptly sets the stakes for season two and provides plenty of intrigue.

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Performing Bestiality: Beauties and Beasts in Tamil Cinema

Middle of the road Kollywood’s strange obsession with bestiality through the ‘Stockholm syndrome’ demands attention.

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The New Pornographers and Waxahatchee Offer Houston Set Filled with Gems

The New Pornographers recently played Houston for the first time in nine years. They did not disappoint.

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Resist, Artfully: On the Subversive but Compromised Role of Art

In a world stripped of enjoyment -- a fractured existence broken on the wheel of pointless progress, determined domination, and wasteful and wasted work -- pleasure becomes the most determinate form of rebellion and liberation.

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9 May 2017 // 7:55 AM

Sam Outlaw: Tenderheart

Southern Californian singer-songwriter returns with a solid set of somber and rockin’ tunes, but without the support his first record enjoyed in producer Ry Cooder.

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9 May 2017 // 7:53 AM

Bombadil: Fences

Something subtle this way comes: Veteran bands release a mostly quiet affair that provides a genuinely avant-garde notion: Close listening.

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Sign of the Times: An Interview With Miami Horror

Emerging from the Australian electronic-pop revival with the likes of Neon Indian and Kimbra, Miami Horror move from the personal to the imaginative in pastel-bright fashion.

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9 May 2017 // 7:35 AM

Sevdaliza: Ison

After two otherworldly EPs and a handful of surreal videos, Sevdaliza lets loose with Ison, a captivating dive into darkness, humanity, and downtempo beats.

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Moon Duo: Occult Architecture, Vol. 2

The flip side to the first volume, Occult Architecture, Vol. 2 is a brighter and suitably trippy yang to its predecessor’s yin.

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Beauty in the Abstract: ‘Visual Music 1947-1986’

These films present pure sensual pleasure unfettered by story, character and other left-brain constructs. In other words, this stuff is beautiful.

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Savage Revenge Film ‘Behind the Door’ Resonates in 21st Century America

This strange and troubling film suits America's current ruminations over social and political identity all too well.

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Liv Brings the Pain in ‘iZombie’: “Spanking the Zombie”

This is a terrific episode, that in true iZombie fashion, moves the plot while reinforcing the emotional bonds that ultimately make the series special.

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The Black Watch: The Gospel According to John

The Gospel According to John preaches assertive vocals over intense guitars.

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Rolling Blackouts C.F.: French Press EP

Rolling Blackout C.F.'s new EP is for indie rock fans alone and can’t stretch past the borders of the genre.

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Tom Armstrong: The Sky Is an Empty Eye

Another worthwhile entry in Tompkins Square’s ongoing archeology of unheralded outsider artists, Armstrong’s catchy, new age-inflected playing offers solace for late nights.

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Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s Stories Resonate Despite the Terrors of Her Childhood

Many chapters in The Girl from the Metropol Hotel are brief snippets of memory: you could call them snapshots if they didn't resonate viscerally in so many ways.

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John Darnielle’s ‘Universal Harvester’ Holds a Mystery Within a Mystery

Universal Harvester isn't what it looks like, but part of the fun and force come in finding out what it really, maybe is.

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8 May 2017 // 2:30 AM

Midnight Oil’s Time Has Come Again

Midnight Oil taught me that citizens not only need a soundtrack for resistance, but we also need to resist.

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Amanda Palmer and Edward Ka-Spel: I Can Spin a Rainbow

I Can Spin a Rainbow is a slow parade of gothic vaudeville, but what at first seems a tolerable novelty quickly becomes insufferable.

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Anna Domino: East and West + Singles

This expanded reissue of Domino's debut EP begs the question, Why wasn't she as big as Kate Bush or even Julee Cruise?

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The Reluctant Superhero: The Guilty Walk of David Banner

The Incredible Hulk offered a number of metaphors for both post-war guilt and issues of white masculinity.

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‘Atlantic’: A Nautical Dirge for a Dying Ocean

'Atlantic' is an urgent and visually moving lament against corporate privatization of the ocean.

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The Human Face in Poetic Motion: William Oldroyd’s ‘Lady Macbeth’

A film of genuine force, Lady Macbeth strikes you in the gut with a clenched fist, simultaneously seduced by its beauty while recoiling at the moral abyss.

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‘13 Reasons Why’ Is a Thorny, Thought-Provoking Reworking of the “Dead Girl” Trope

Netflix's 13 Reasons Why offers up a powerful, if problematic, spin on the teenage melodrama.

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‘Farewell to Europe’: An Interview With Director Maria Schrader

Understated, unorthodox, and effortlessly multicultural, Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe is a must-see for anyone interested in the intersections of politics and film.

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Coheed and Cambria Impress As They Perform ‘Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV’ in Full

Coheed and Cambria put on a stellar show as they ran through a performance of their stellar 2005 album Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV

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Jay Farrar Talks Pedal Steel Guitar, Open Tunings, and Jerry Garcia

Son Volt's Jay Farrar opens up about the impetus of the new album, another new record about a half a year out, and how Tom Brumley and Ralph Mooney are probably his favorites on the pedal steel guitar.

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5 May 2017 // 8:57 AM

Forest Swords: Compassion

Forest Swords offers a dazzling, evocative album that acts as the perfect soundtrack to the precarious times we live in.

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‘Freddie Mercury’: The Stories, Fables, Parables, and Odysseys of the Man and the Band

Nearly anyone who picks up An Illustrated Life will have a predefined idea of Freddie Mercury; Blake's book is a marvelous document of how we came to accept that idea as truth.

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5 May 2017 // 2:30 AM

Mac DeMarco: This Old Dog

Don't let its modest exterior fool you: DeMarco's latest has a rich emotional life that will reveal itself over time. This Old Dog indeed has some new tricks in it.

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The Creators of ‘Secret Empire #1’ Take a Huge Risk With This Issue

Hydra may be fascist, but those who buy into it gain a level of security and certainty that doesn't require mind control to appreciate.

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‘#MyEscape’ Employs Innovative Filmmaking Techniques to Cover the Middle Eastern Refugee Crisis

Director Elke Sasse doesn't need to embellish the refugees’ stories; their own cell phone filmmaking and interviews provide plenty of narrative depth.

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‘The Leftovers’ “The Book of Kevin” Subverts Expectations in a Near-Perfect Episode

"The Book of Kevin" subverts its own narrative to offer a profound meditation on its own intelligent design.

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The New Pornographers Bring Siren Songs and a Monkey’s Paw to Oakland’s Fox Theater

Their siren sound draws indie rock fans like the sailors who would shipwreck after being enchanted by the sirens’ voices of mythological lore.

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So It’s About Time I Asked, Who Is Susan Sontag?

Susan Sontag: Essays of the 1960s & 70s and reflections on being under the influence of Camille Paglia.

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Avery*Sunshine: Twenty Sixty Four

Avery*Sunshine focuses on the power of love and relationships on Twenty Sixty Four, her sophomore project for Shanachie.

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Christopher Paul Stelling: Itinerant Arias

On Itinerant Arias, a masterful collection of songs, Christopher Paul Stelling is willing to take his listeners into dark places, but he never loses faith in the light.

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Les Amazones d’Afrique: République Amazone

When a dozen of West Africa's most talented women hit the studio for a good cause, the result is a potent brew of musical skill and fighting spirit.

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American Gun Culture and the Political Aesthetics of Keith Maitland’s ‘Tower’

Tower seeks to awake us from our ideological slumber by returning us to the first mass school shooting in modern US history. Are we awake, yet?

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Laughing Through the Pain With Kamau Bell

Why The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell is the book we need to get through these times we don’t want to be in.

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Van Morrison: The Authorized Bang Collection

Van Morrison's Bang sessions have been bootlegged and shamelessly repackaged for 50 years. This collection brings it all together the right way.

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Fyre Festival Is an Argument for Higher Taxes—on the Rich

Every day elite policymakers throughout America make the same arrogant blunders as the Fyre Festival organizers did, and their mistakes can be seen in a drive through most inner cities.

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‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Might Be the Schlockiest Blockbuster of All Time

James Gunn has made an obscenely fun superhero movie packed with amazing visuals, groovy tunes, and unapologetic schmaltz.

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Leo Kottke and Keller Williams Transcend Fear and Loathing in Phoenix

The best treat occurs when Williams joins Kottke onstage for several songs to close out the set -- the interaction is infectious with the dynamic duo trading licks and complimenting each other in virtuoso fashion.

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A Spoked-wheel View of America by an Award-winning Comics Artist

Eleanor Davis documents her up-hill struggle with America and her weak-kneed self in 'You & a Bike & a Road.

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Lone: Ambivert Tools Volume One EP

If artists like Jon Hopkins or even Burial have crafted odes to the club scene that depict it as a meaningful and beautiful experience, Ambivert Tools too often sounds like a hollow caricature.

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Gary Clark Jr.: Live/North America 2016

Gary Clark Jr. continually sharpens the core of what he does without losing the musical curiosity that makes him an engaging artist.

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Black Lips: Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art?

New band members help resurrect a classic Black Lips sound. Rock 'n' roll is safe and sound for now.

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Phil Marcade’s Story Is an Allegory for the ‘70s-era New York Punk Scene

The true story of a naïve young man looking for fun who accidentally fumbles through a music revolution and becomes a symbol for the rise and fall of a scene.

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On Wanting Sly Stone to Take Us Higher Yet Again

Sly Stone was one of the first audacious badasses of modern black pop music, a hero and then an anti-hero to millions.

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John Moreland: Big Bad Luv

Big Bad Luv might just turn 2017 into the Year of John Moreland.

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The Graduate’s Alienation, Anger, and Uncertainty Resonates for College Kids Today

This is a film about impressions, suggestions, passive-aggressive bitterness and anger that never shows its face until the last scene.

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New York Minute, Hollywood Moment: An Interview With Actor David Labiosa

"In 1980, I was a Hispanic in a lead role on television. It was a big deal." The veteran of the acting business for 40 years relates a wealth of memories working in the Hollywood industry.

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‘iZombie’: “Wag the Tongue Slowly” Brings the Funny, Moves the Season Forward

Liv gossips, Peyton goes all in on Blaine, and Major gives into his hero complex in "Wag the Tongue Slowly".

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Visually Mesmerizing, ‘The Love Witch’ Could Use More Fire Power Behind Its Spell

Prescient feminist issues are brought together with problematic cinephilia to expand upon horror nostalgia.

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‘Saturday Night Fever’ Casts Disco-Ball Light into America’s Dark Corners

Much like All in the Family -- which also addressed sexuality, gender roles, and race in a brutally honest manner -- Saturday Night Fever uncovers ugly truths.

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Rahim AlHaj: Letters from Iraq

Oud and chamber strings bring to life eight poignant stories of love, loss, and life in post-Hussein Iraq.

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Linda May Han Oh: Walk Against Wind

On her fourth album as a leader, one of the best young bass players in music provides equally superb compositions that use silence and texture with the wisdom of an elder.

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‘Til Death Do You Part: And Other Thoughts About Family

Annabelle Gurwitch's humorous memoir, Wherever You Go, There They Are, captures how one is forever in the thralls of the family -- no matter the form that family takes.

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Cinema Cinema: Man Bites Dog

Brooklyn duo makes loud, angry music that reminds us that there is no escape from the inevitable.

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2 May 2017 // 7:49 AM

Fazerdaze: Morningside

The balance between poppy and grungy make Morningside a fine debut, despite its all-too clean appearance.

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Sing Like a Thunderstorm: An Interview with Eisley’s Sherri Dupree-Bemis

Her kids can sleep on a tour bus like pros, her new album comes after two other songwriters (amicably) left the band. Yes, Eisley's Sherri Dupree-Bemis proves you really can have it all.

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Sound Machine: The Evolutionary Vocabulary of the Human Voice

Amplification and voice technologies are bringing a broader palate of sounds to the singer. It’s not all beautiful, but it's very human.

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On Georgette Heyer’s Debonair, Polished Butchery

Heyer perfected the art of banter and her social engagements on the page often read like David Campton and Edward Albee plays -- sans the existential subversions.

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Perfume Genius: No Shape

As its title suggests, No Shape is playfully elusive, and the album is often content simply to create beauty while remaining agnostic about what lies beneath its surface.

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Beware the Superhero Fallacy

Heroes in thrillers, war films, sci-fi and horror films have been known to accidentally kill the wrong person. Why doesn't this happen in the superhero genre?

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1 May 2017 // 9:50 AM

Miles Okazaki: Trickster

The jazz guitarist has made his best record, marrying the Steve Coleman sensibility with so many other influences and serving up songs for an ideal quartet featuring Craig Taborn, Sean Rickman, and Anthony Tidd.

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Relics and Replicas: A Retrospective Reimagining of ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Disney's latest rendition misses a kaleidoscope of potentialities: to revise and ruminate, to subvert and distort, to complicate and transcend.

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Helado Negro: Private Energy (Expanded)

Floating electronics and strong social messages make an exquisite combination on the latest dynamic update from Helado Negro.

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Alexander Theroux’s ‘Einstein’s Beets’ Is an Acquired Taste

Einstein's Beets digs up animal and spiritual drives that lure us to gorge and stir us to gag.

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The Afghan Whigs: In Spades

On their second reunion album, the Afghan Whigs craft a layered exploration of the fluid nature of memory and how experiences shape us as individuals.

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Why Wasn’t This Band Massive?: A Conversation with Six By Seven’s Chris Olley

"Under virtually all YouTube video of ours, there's a comment that says, 'Why wasn't this band massive?' This thing has followed me around all my life," says Chris Olley.

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Maxïmo Park: Risk to Exist

On their sixth release, the Newcastle post-punk band lay out an impassioned cry of protest with a danceable disposition.

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The Cathartic Expansion of One’s Tribe: An Interview With Director Angie Wang of ‘Cardinal X’

"I was a kid that grew up longing for a sense of community, acceptance and belonging, and that's really the most beautiful thing that I've found through making this film."

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Can an Illustrator Capture One Man’s Descent into a Void?

Imagine sitting, chained in place, watching the light from a window move across the wall. Guy Delisle imagines and renders it in Hostage.

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Bridget Kearney: Won’t Let You Down

Won’t Let You Down is an album that stays true to its name.

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Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives: Way Out West

Musical preservationist and staunch traditionalist Marty Stuart returns with his Fabulous Superlatives for a musical exploration of the myriad sounds and styles indicative of the mythic West.

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More Recent Features

//Mixed media
//Blogs

'Full Throttle: Remastered' Is Both Updated and Dated

// Moving Pixels

"Full Throttle: Remastered is a game made for people who don't mind pixel hunting -- like we used to play.

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