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Jeffrey Foucault: Salt As Wolves

Jeffrey Foucault never disappoints but especially not on this recording which finds him joined by former Morphine drummer Billy Conway, who co-produces with Foucault and guitarist Bo Ramsey.

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20 Jan 2016 // 2:00 AM

White Jumpsuits: Sci-Fi TV of the Disco Era

Despite skin-tight jumpsuits, dodgy special effects, and silly plots, "disco-era" sci-fi helped US TV became comfortable with ideas too big, too strange, or too disturbing for a "mundane" context.

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The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret: Season Three

It is impossible to know where the stupidity ends and the narcissism begins with the titular Todd Margaret.

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Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real + Insects vs Robots

What really puts Lukas Nelson at a higher level is how he’s just as good a soulful songwriter as he is a guitar player, a rare and special combination.

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The Blacklist: Season 3, Episode 10 - “The Director (No. 24): Conclusion”

The Blacklist closes two of the season story arcs and offers up a ho-hum heel turn.

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Spend the Night with the Characters of ‘Oxenfree’

Oxenfree is a small game, set in a small game universe, that offers some of the most authentic human drama that I've seen in any medium.

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Night Riders and Matinee Movies: The Relationship Between the KKK and American Film

This book could not be timelier, given the nativist and racist rhetoric inflaming discourse among America's Republican Party presidential hopefuls.

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Lewis Carroll’s Alice Goes Digital in the Ambitious New Musical ‘wonder.land’

Damon Albarn and Moira Buffini’s musical is set in the contemporary world of social media, RPGs, and mean-girls, with results that veer from ingenious to awkward.

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Ty Segall: Emotional Mugger

Ty Segall has always reliably subscribed to rockist orthodoxy, but he’s left room enough on his new album for noisy evolution.

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Celestial Sound: Thoughts on Mahler’s Third Symphony

To listen to Mahler is to claim your soul hasn’t been splintered by postmodernity -- even if you hate Mahler and disbelieve in the soul.

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The High Llamas: Here Come the Rattling Trees

Life in the town portrayed in Here Come the Rattling Trees continues as it has, with little change, much like the High Llamas’ music. This can be comforting, but also a little dull.

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Honeymoon Disease: The Transcendence

Honeymoon Disease's eerily precise recreation of '70s hard rock works due to their command of riffs and melody. And their strong lead singer.

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John Carpenter: Lost Themes Remixed

Carpenter's first non-film score gets the remix treatment courtesy some of the best electronic musicians working today

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‘Little Sister’ Keeps it All in the Family

Arguably a far more demented cousin of Cocteau’s Les Enfants Terribles, Little Sister manages an insightful revelation through the contentious moment of familial destruction.

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19 Jan 2016 // 2:00 AM

The Tortoise Wins: An Interview with Dan Bitney

Tortoise's Dan Bitney talks about 25 years in post-rock, the band's latest collaboration with Chicago's free-jazz community and why it made sense to add vocals after all these years.

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The Magicians: Season 1, Episode 1 - “Unauthorized Magic”

Good ideas and great effects are marred by poor narrative execution in the pilot episode of SyFy's latest offering.

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American Horror Story - Hotel: Season 5, Episode 12 - “Be Our Guest”

In the season finale, the series-long question of, "Is love worse than loneliness?" finally gets a definitive answer, along with several fitting ends for our leads.

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iZombie: Season 2, Episode 10 - “Method Head”

“Method Head” gets meta, gets funny, while skillfully pushing forward the series' increasingly complex storylines.

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18 Jan 2016 // 2:45 AM

The Black Panther’s Pulp Epic

The pulpiness of Black Panther stories is precisely what enables them to comment brilliantly on a variety of social issues, particularly the politics of race.

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Eleanor Friedberger: New View

New View is best appreciated with a deep and unhurried engagement, as the full album in full fidelity offers many distinctive pleasures.

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The Besnard Lakes: A Coliseum Complex Museum

A deep love for texture and amplification is what gives Besnard Lakes' records their distinctive flair, manifesting a capacity to engage with a kaleidoscopic resonance.

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Jason Boland and the Stragglers: Squelch

Red Dirt veteran Jason Boland turns in his most introspective (and rowdy) LP yet.

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We Hunt Buffalo: Living Ghosts

Big riffs and catchy choruses and fuzz. We Hunt Buffalo provides something for fans across the hard rock and metal genres.

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What Happens After Happily Ever After?

Whimsical, poignant, and unmistakably magical, The 10th Kingdom has a grand scale yet an intimate and relatable story that is enchanting for viewers of all ages.

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‘The Autobiography of James T. Kirk’: Backstories for Everyone!

Filled with in-jokes and subtle references to the show, uber-fans will love this "auto" biography of Star Trek's Captain Kirk and the stories of the people in his life.

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Shawn Mullins: My Stupid Heart

With his new album, Mullins draws ever closer to a breakthrough, thanks to some of the strongest songs he’s ever written.

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Heroes and Politics in ‘13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’

The world in this version of Benghazi is both awful and glorious, outsized and shrinking, poignant and repetitive.

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Billy Gibbons and the BFG’s: Perfectamundo

A Latin-tinged misfire from flame-maned ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons

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Igor Stravinsky’s Music Will Long Outlast the Chatter it Begat

True to form for Critical Lives, Jonathan Cross packs a rich life into a lean yet bountiful biography in Igor Stravinsky.

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15 Jan 2016 // 2:30 AM

Ulver: ATGCLVLSSCAP

A stellar collection of material from a collective that pushes more boundaries and buttons than it often gets credit for. An early contender for Album of the Year.

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‘Steven Universe’: Cartoon Network’s Avant-Garde Animation

Steven Universe's brightly colored world offers nuanced characters and complex plots by doing everything "wrong" by the outmoded standards of typical animated programs.

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The Moon, the Marquise and Other Sad Romantics

Eric Rohmer and Heinrich Von Kleist converge in a parallax of misguided literary loves.

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The Kamasi Washington Phenomenon

PopMatters' jazz critics didn't include Kamasi Washington's The Epic on their "Best of 2015" list, despite its huge acclaim by mainstream critics. Here's why.

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It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 11, Episode 2 - “Frank Falls Out the Window”

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia doubles down on their delightfully meta, Oulipian 11th season with an episode designed to satisfy the show's long-time fans.

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American Crime: Season 2, Episode 1

The second season of ABC's American Crime starts off with a demonstration of both the benefits and the limitations of the anthology series format.

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And: Phenomenology of the End by Franco Berardi

Imagine orienting yourself on a map, scratching a red "X" to mark your location, and then realizing how precarious your position is, how perilously far you are from where you want to be.

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14 Jan 2016 // 6:29 AM

In Defense of Board Games

Board games show us a path out of our addiction to the on-screen desert of gaming by making the real world a tactile oasis for entertainment. You’re playing against people, not code, and you might even learn some history, biology, or economics while you're at it.

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Not This Again… ‘Sinister 2’

Take the advice of the kids being forced to watch horror scenes in this film. You won't want to watch any more, either.

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Shearwater: Jet Plane and Oxbow

Jet Plane and Oxbow is a remarkably polished, alluring, and dignified accomplishment.

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Luke Haines: British Nuclear Bunkers

British Nuclear Bunkers is as stubborn, singular and compelling as its creator.

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Donnie Fritts: Oh My Goodness

As a true Southerner, Donnie Fritts understands the finer things in life. He sings about the power of food and sex.

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Alison Brown: The Song of the Banjo

The Song of the Banjo may be Alison Brown's most mainstream effort yet.

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Jodie Landau: You of All Things

You of All Things re-elaborates without overturning or, worse, overdoing.

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Downton Abbey: Season 6, Episode 2

As the series nears its end, it's the women of Downton Abbey who get to shine.

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The Good Wife: Season 7, Episode 11 - “Iowa”

The Good Wife hits the reset button for the second half of its seventh season: how else could it avoid one of those dreaded cliffs?

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American Horror Story - Hotel: Season 5, Episode 11 - “Battle Royale”

The dirty, stinky, gross side of rock 'n' roll throws up Sally's back-story, and all the characters are united in their aim to off the Countess once and for all in this episode.

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13 Jan 2016 // 8:10 AM

The Expanse: Season 1, Episode 2 - “The Big Empty”

The Expanse remains a work in progress, but some excellent performances and interesting developments help it avoid common sci-fi plot pitfalls.

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Sarah Vowell Explores American History With One Foot Firmly in the Land of Humor

Part travelogue, part historical narrative, and every bit a statement on post-Obama politics, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is an interesting work that serves multiple purposes.

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13 Jan 2016 // 2:30 AM

Secrets of the Moon: Sun

The German metal unit takes black metal and progressive metal to new extremes on their latest release.

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Pinkish Black: Bottom of the Morning

Fort Worth duo forges through tragedy to make their uniquely compelling heavy, dark music.

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There Are No Accidents on ‘Mulholland Drive’

David Lynch's film unfolds in a series of desires, warnings, and deals that are often made under duress by unseen malevolent forces, or motivated by darkness within.

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A Great Big World: When the Morning Comes

A Great Big World's versatility as musicians will carry them through accusations of mediocrity and sameness.

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Doc Watson: Live at the Bottom Line

There may be too many Doc Watson albums for one person to hear, but it is difficult to think of a more pleasurable musical experience. In the meantime, this concert from 2002 provides an excellent place to start.

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An Impressive Look at the Evolution of the British TV Documentary

Most of the films in Visions of Change: Volume 1 - BBC 1951-1967 consists of writerly texts that challenge viewers to conceive of their meaning in new and unexpected ways.

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13 Jan 2016 // 2:05 AM

Beer Is a Funny Thing

The Comic Book Story of Beer shows how the evolution of beer parallels the evolution of civilization. Bottoms up to civilization!

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‘Silicon Valley’s’ Humor Is Smart, and Assumes Its Viewers Are Too

Unlike the other "geek-themed" series, The Big Bang Theory, Silicon Valley finds its humor in its geeky characters, rather than at their expense.

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‘Chuck Norris vs. Communism’ and the End of Television

Unable to find food to eat, working long hours for precious little compensation, living in cramped, cold quarters, Romanians sought hope in "video nights".

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Shades of Blue: Season 1, Episode 1 - “Pilot”

Have we gotten to the point in television where moral ambiguity is the norm?

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Steven Universe: Season 2, Episode 29 - “Log Date 7 15 2”

The conclusion to this week’s "StevenBomb" is a quiet episode that offers greater insight into Peridot.

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The Blacklist: Season 3, Episode 9 - “The Director”

In the latest episode of The Blacklist, the sides are set between Team Red and the Cabal.

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Steven Universe: Season 2, Episode 28 - “Message Received”

Peridot, in her own unique way, finally makes a decision about her place in the world.

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‘Like Family’ Unfortunately, Is a Story as Lifeless as Its Central Subject

Like Family is full of worthwhile scattered sentiments, but there isn’t enough appeal or momentum between them to make enduring the entire work worthwhile.

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Mourning the Alien: The Many Lives and Powerful Death of David Bowie

In remembering David Bowie, we ask that you remember him two ways: through the eyes of so many others who saw so many different things in him, and through the biggest lie that he ever told us.

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Lee Hazlewood: The Very Special World of / Hazlewoodism: Its Cause and Cure / Something Special

These records tell a fascinating story of a compellingly eccentric artist given the chance to shine and experiment with his craft.

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John Lennon’s ‘Working Class Hero’: Boundaries, Mobility and Honesty

The working class song has to speak of boundaries and ambition, but it also has to say where the performer stands among the people, among the classes—or where he thinks he stands, or wants to stand.

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Judy Dyble: Anthology Part One

Judy Dyble sang with the Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention and Giles, Giles Fripp. Then she disappeared...

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Martin Courtney: Many Moons

While Many Moons doesn’t veer from the band’s template, its lush arrangements and baroque influences make every track a joy to listen to.

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Igor Levit: Bach, Beethoven, Rzewski

Igor Levit's triple album of variants runs the gamut from preservation to interpretation.

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Silent Film Speaks Up: This Newly Restored Chaplin Comedies Elicit New Laughs

Flicker Alley’s recent release of 15 newly restored comedies from Chaplin’s time at Essanay Studios is another priceless intervention in the decay of Hollywood history.

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Paper Your Walls With Rock’s Most Beloved, Most Surprising Poster Artist, Todd Slater

There were two people whose music poster hobbies interested me in graduate school. One of them was a local guitarist who did the publicity flyers

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Riverdale and Our Discontents: Bart Beaty’s ‘Twelve-Cent Archie’

The secret of Archie is that neither its characters nor its readers desire any kind of truth at all. What we love most about comics is the balance of the art with story.

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Steven Universe: Season 2, Episode 27 - “It Could’ve Been Great”

Peridot's the focus of an episode with an ominous cliffhanger that could spell large-scale changes for the character.

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Steven Universe: Season 2, Episode 26 - “Steven’s Birthday”

Low on action, "Steven's Birthday" still manages to infuse a darker, more elegiac thread into the episode.

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Sherlock Special: ‘The Abominable Bride’

The cinematic screening of "The Abominable Bride" illustrates the audience within an audience for whom this episode was made.

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The Terror Has Settled in, in ‘Fear the Walking Dead’

In The Walking Dead, it’s all about picking up the pieces. In Fear the Walking Dead, it’s trying to hold them together.

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There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky: Remembering David Bowie

Artists too numerous to count have been influenced by David Bowie’s music, style, and various personas. He will never be forgotten.

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As Long as There’s Fire: David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ to ‘The Next Day’

Forty years after "Heroes", we discover the doomed couple wasn’t so doomed after all, those declarations of love weren’t as futile as we thought, and there are indeed heroes to be found.

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The Great I Am: Magic, Fascism, and Race in David Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’

Blackstar addresses the tension between David Bowie’s avowed attraction to ideologies of blood and soil, and his equally committed obsession with African American musical forms and tropes.

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‘Dreams Rewired’ Provides a Poetic Gloss on a Well-known Story

Dreams Rewired isn't in the business of recovery or even analysis. Instead, it gestures, it implies, it signifies.

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‘Just Cause 3’: Fighting to Have Fun

A people's liberation has rarely come to feel like such a hassle.

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Where Is the Truth in Our Romance of Popular Physics?

If all the truth of physics is in the math, what kind of storytelling are we lay persons getting when we read popular accounts of physics that are completely stripped of it?

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Tortoise: The Catastrophist

Seven years since their last LP, the revered post-rock band return with a familiar but ultimately fulfilling album.

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Neil Finn + Paul Kelly: Goin’ Your Way

Two-disc document of the Kiwi/Aussie legends' 2013 joint tour gets a belated worldwide release. Expect many good tunes and few surprises.

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All Them Witches: Dying Surfer Meets His Maker

For all its variety, this is a damn fine rock album, plain and simple.

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Sexual Climates in ‘Black Angel’

Primarily a story of excessive sexual leisure, a story of genuine passion emerges in Tinto Brass' Black Angel.

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11 Jan 2016 // 2:10 AM

Romain Collin: Press Enter

Romain Collin makes crossover music sound easy on Press Enter.

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‘Cruising the Movies’ Is as Entertaining as the Movies That It Looks At

Cruising the Movies is film writing that delivers that magic with verve, wit, and self-deprecation.

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Au Pair: One Armed Candy Bear

Gary Louris and Django Haskins have produced an album that fully integrates the sounds that each have forged on their own.

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The Best Musical Hopes to Break Out in 2016

This vibrant gang of musicians is approaching 2016 from all different angles.

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‘Uncanny X-men #1’ Is Twisted, Uncanny, Yet Intriguing

Brutal circumstances breed a harsh, yet compelling, narrative.

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‘Heroin: Cape Cod, USA’: Systems of Addiction

Pain is costly, and treating it, profitable; Heroin: Cape Cod, USA reveals that 80% of heroin users start with prescription painkillers.

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The Real Draw of ‘Jessica Jones’ Is Its Complex, Flawed, and Nuanced Characters

The stark, urban beauty of Jessica Jones draws the viewer into the world and the stories of broken people that’s nearly impossible to stop watching.

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8 Jan 2016 // 2:30 AM

David Bowie: Blackstar

Blackstar is Bowie’s most unconventional album since his dual '70s masterpieces Low and ”Heroes”, and is a breathtaking and relentlessly fascinating piece of work.

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Alternative TV: Viva La Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Complete Deptford Fun City Recordings 1977-1980

There are experimental acts that can't touch Mark Perry's otherworldliness, punk bands that can't capture his pop fury, and we're all the better for it.

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Grupo Fantasma: Problemas

Yeah, there's a Beatles cover on this record, and that's a good hook, but the other stuff will blow you away too.

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Jacques Rivette’s ‘Out 1’: If You Come, They Will Build It

A conspiracy of realities, perceptions and put-ons.

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8 Jan 2016 // 2:05 AM

Problems at the Zoo

While revealing the complex social ecology of zoos, David Grazian's ethnographic safari ends up defending moral twilight zones.

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8 Jan 2016 // 2:00 AM

The Best TV of 2015

Female leads, streaming TV, robots and zombies? 2015 may go down as the year when the much-anticipated but rarely actualized changes in TV actually started to happen, as the best TV of 2015 offers an embarrassment of riches.

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7 Jan 2016 // 10:00 AM

Steven Universe: Season 2, Episode 25 - “The Answer”

The first episode of the new year doesn’t provide answers so much as clarification and a deeper understanding of both the characters and the sociopolitical aspects of the Gem Homeworld.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

In Motion: On the Emptiness of Progress

// Moving Pixels

"Nils Pihl calls it, "Newtonian engagement", that is, when "an engaged player will remain engaged until acted upon by an outside force". That's "progress".

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