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‘Nocturnal Animals’ Is a Riveting Cinematic Mess

Though Tom Ford's follow-up to A Single Man derails at the end, getting there proves to be a thoroughly exhilarating experience.

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Joe Russo’s Almost Dead Doubletaps Oakland’s Fox Theater

Joe Russo and his bandmates are taking an aggressively electrifying approach to the Dead’s music not seen since Phil Lesh was pushing the boundaries with his cutting edge “Quintet” lineup from 2000-03.

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They Don’t Make ‘em Like ‘La La Land’, Anymore

Peppy, smart, and almost intolerably romantic, this is the finest movie musical since John Carney's Once.

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Where There’s a Will, There’s a Whalebone: An Interview with Islands

In celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Islands debut album, bandleader Nick Thorburn contemplates what he's getting out of the project and if this might just be the band's last hurrah.

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The 25 Best Album Re-Issues of 2016

The music world saw amazing reissues from all over the genre map, spanning rock titans to indie upstarts and soul to folk.

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Peter Doherty: Hamburg Demonstrations

Hamburg Demonstrations is exactly what we've come to expect from Doherty: tongue-in-cheek Brit-rock bristling with vernacular attitude and guitars reeking of booze and windowless bedrooms

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9 Dec 2016 // 2:20 AM

Garth Brooks: Gunslinger

Former king of country music returns with an album reminiscent of the Garth Brooks of old.

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9 Dec 2016 // 2:15 AM

Lil Durk: They Forgot

They Forgot highlights Lil Durk’s gift for creating momentum.

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Hans Christian Andersen Would Be Delighted With Sanna Annukka’s Illustrations

Annukka enhances the reading experience of The Snow Queen and The Fir Tree with her distinctive artistic approach.

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9 Dec 2016 // 2:10 AM

Aziza: Aziza

Aziza, a jazz supergroup featuring Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Lionel Loueke, and Eric Harland, mostly avoids supergroup pitfalls and plays strong on its eponymous new LP.

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Ramones: Ramones (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

Divided we stand four decades since this legendary masterpiece was born. Even from their graves, the Ramones’ timing remains impeccable.

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How About Some Noah Baumbach, Paul Thomas Anderson, Robert Altman & Akira Kurosawa for the Holidays?

If you ever wonder why certain elements get tossed into a movie, remember: beauty never needs to be justified. These and other thoughts on recent Blu-ray releases.

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In ‘Abattoir’, There’s No Place Like Home, Thankfully

Abattoir warns us of the mad terrors that lie at the borders of human company, that lurk on the verge of wilderness.

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“Church” Is the Most Awkward and Odd Episode of ‘Divorce’ Yet

Divorce suffers from an identity crisis as it shuffles towards its finale.

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Sun Ra: Astro Black, Cosmic Dark

Youngquist brings considerable skills to the life and work of the legendary but underappreciated and often misunderstood composer, keyboardist, and poet Sun Ra.

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At Long Last ‘Luna’, or, a Boy’s Worst Friend Is His Mother

Long missing in action, Bertolucci's alleged "incest" movie is gloriously restored.

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Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ Trumps Reality TV

Shakespeare's As You Like It employed every signature reality show convention three and a half centuries before television even existed.

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John Legend: Darkness and Light

John Legend's latest proves the adage that in soul music, darkness is always better than light.

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Burial: Young Death / Nightmarket

Burial experiments with his genre-defining sound to challenge expectations.

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Teddy Wayne Gives Readers a Disturbing Glimpse Into the Predatory Side of a Social Outcast

Thrilling, engrossing, and infuriating, Loner harks back -- in a completely contemporary timbre -- to literary classics that create compelling portraits of repellant characters.

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Fleetwood Mac: Mirage (Deluxe)

The album that kicked off the '80s for the soft-rock icons has, for the most part, aged like a fine wine, despite the inherently fractured relationship of its main creative minds.

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To the Sound of Music: Interview With ‘La La Land’s Damien Chazelle and Justin Hurwitz

In the thick of Awards season, director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz talk about their dazzling film, La La Land.

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The Best Indie Pop of 2016

In 2016, indie pop's highlights often went hand-in-hand with a general feeling of fading away, falling apart, saying goodbye.

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Convoluted “Weaponized Soul” Does Not Play Fair With the Viewer

No, Max Landis! You can't do that!

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Rage Plus Time Equals Prophecy: ‘I Am Not Your Negro’

James Baldwin’s requiem for three Civil Rights martyrs is also a letter addressed to future America and its “vast, unthinking, cruel white majority.”

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Tim Buckley: Lady, Give Me Your Key

These previously unheard demos reveal the legendary cult artist searching for, and, for the most part, finding his voice.

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7 Dec 2016 // 9:07 AM

Papa M: Highway Songs

Considering the circumstances, Papa M’s latest is an unexpectedly unburdened record.

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Miranda Lambert: The Weight of These Wings

After a prolonged silence in the wake of her very public divorce, Miranda Lambert opens up, takes the high road and harnesses her heartbreak to create one of the best country albums of 2016.

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Was George Carlin Right About Everything?

What the F explores the colorful, sophisticated science of cursing and why it feels so #$@&%* good to swear.

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How Britain Won the War: Two Propaganda Classics on Blu-ray

Leslie Howard's Pimpernel Smith and Michael Powell / Emeric Pressburger's One of Our Aircraft Is Missing take opposite approaches to credibility

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Critical Shortcomings in Cynthia Ozick’s ‘Critics, Monsters, Fanatics & Other Literary Essays’

It's so easy to be distracted by the powerful writing and insightful analysis that one misses Ozick's inability to deliver on the larger thematic promises of her latest collection.

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7 Dec 2016 // 2:00 AM

The Best Songs of 2016

From electronic to soul... from American to rock... from hip-hop to rockin' and poppin' indie... 2016 was a stellar year in popular music.

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Best Foreign Language Film Nominee ‘Sand Storm’ Swirls Around a Contentious International Debate

First time director Elite Zexer explores the tensions among what Bedouin women want, what they think they should be, and what restrictions they face.

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‘Scurvy’: Chronicling the Etiology of an Affliction

Jonathan Lamb's authoritative study affords an interesting perspective on one of history's most unpleasant afflictions.

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6 Dec 2016 // 3:00 AM

Robert Altman, the Blackguard of American Elections

At times it feels as if Altman is forcing us to drink drain cleaner in order for us to feel the gut wrenching pain of the farce that American democracy has become.

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Kate Bush: Before the Dawn

Kate Bush presents her Before the Dawn performances on a lavish new box set that should thrill fans.

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The Eye of Time: MYTH I: A Last Dance for the Things We Love

Marc Euvrie, aka the Eye of Time, bends all musical elements to his disquieting will on MYTH I: A Last Dance for the Things We Love.

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6 Dec 2016 // 2:15 AM

The Answer: Solas

Irish rockers return with a varied, resolute record meant to carry us out of the darkness and into the light.

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‘The End of Ownership’: The Digital Industry Wants You to Just Let It Go, Already

Millions of consumers are caught up in the streaming revolution, but what price are we paying in the realm of ownership?

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6 Dec 2016 // 2:10 AM

Eri Yamamoto Trio: Life

This long-standing piano trio is not breaking ground, but their sound is charming, skipping, and Guaraldi-esque.

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Muuy Biien: Age of Uncertainty

Looks like we have a contender for most prescient album title of the year.

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The Best Pop Albums of 2016

In a year when we lost too many music icons (and maybe even our minds in the process), the escapist power of pop music is needed more than ever.

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‘Miss Sloane’ Presents DC Corruption Lite

Lobbyists can only win or lose, no in-betweens, no moral victories.

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Various Artists: Boogie Breakdown: South African Synth Disco 1980-1984

Not much music got out of South Africa in the late apartheid era, but Hot Chocolate and Keith Sweat must have gotten in.

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Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen: Death’s Dateless Night

Two of Australia's most gifted musicians team up for a daring concept album

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‘This Is Us’: New Life, New Opportunities, and Loss are All Part of “The Game Plan”

You could try to resist This Is Us's particular brand of drama and schmaltz, but it's a pretty irresistible mix.

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Wayne Hancock: Slingin’ Rhythm

When it comes to a new Wayne Hancock record, you know exactly what you’re getting -- and that in itself can be a damn comforting notion.

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Dizzy Gillespie and Friends: Concert of the Century - A Tribute to Charlie Parker

This may not be the greatest performance of its time, but it's bristling with improvisatory energy and instrumental play that should leave jazz devotees more than satisfied.

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‘Bar Yarns and Manic-Depressive Mixtapes’, or, Music criticism, Minnesota-style

Jim Walsh’s writing combines heartfelt personal stories with knowledgeable music criticism. Reading this collection feels like having a conversation with an old friend.

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Pete Townshend Expands His Musical Explorations for All the World to See

Any time Townshend dances, which happens frequently and enthusiastically here, the preposterousness comes out.

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The Best Jazz of 2016

These are the 20 "best" jazz records of 2016 identified in stylistic diads, ranked loosely from most sublime to merely breathtaking.

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Telefon Tel Aviv: Fahrenheit Fair Enough

With a bonus disc of unreleased electronic experimentations, the reissue of Fahrenheit Fair Enough is a document of forward-thinking genre wars that will fascinate one's faculties and promote a still, meditative awareness.

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‘The Subsidiary’ Is a Chilling Experimental and Fragmented Tale About the Evils of Corporate Power

The lights go off in a subsidiary office; the phone lines go down and the exits are closed off. What happens next is told by an employee keeping records via rubber stamps.

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George Harrison’s “Savoy Truffle”: Holiday Reflections on Sweets and the Beatles

George Harrison knew that in the time and space that get between us and our food, there's a sense of longing.

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“Dissonance Theory” Both Reveals and Conceals Westworld’s Purpose

Westworld goes beyond HBO's usual visual spectacle and raunchy window dressing to offer philosophical meditations on both narrative and character.

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‘Loving’, An Urgent Work of Compelling Quietude

Loving is particularly resonant at a time when many in America may feel as if their own inherent rights are on shaky ground.

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‘Man Down’ Has the Dubious Distinction of Going Nowhere in Three Different Directions

Director Dito Montiel’s lack of subtlety cheapens a subject that calls for thoughtful examination.

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‘Dirk Gently’ Picks Up Steam in the Best Episode Yet

"Fix Everything" highlights The Big Showdown, captivity and a fired detective to great effect.

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Ted Rall’s Bernie Bio Has Extra Relevance in the Wake of the Democrats’ Presidential Defeat

While clearly endorsing Bernie Sanders’ politics, Rall offers an interesting and balanced portrait of the man behind the politics.

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Confronting Evil, Determinism, and Death in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

Exploring the darker core of a Christmas classic reveals just what is so wonderful about life.

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2 Dec 2016 // 2:25 AM

Justice: Woman

Justice's third album finally finds them picking a solid theme, but it doesn't conjure as much magic as expected.

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Queen: Queen on Air - The Complete BBC Radio Sessions (Deluxe 6-CD Edition)

These leaner versions of well-known tracks showcase a version of Queen with less pomp but plenty of circumstance.

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2 Dec 2016 // 2:15 AM

Tove Lo: Lady Wood

The sophomore effort from Swedish pop artist Tove Lo immediately announced itself as a much darker, more sinister version of its hit 2014 predecessor Queen of the Clouds.

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‘Nietzsche’s Journey to Sorrento’: Wherein Nietzsche Finds His Voice

Paolo D'Iorio writes of the costs and rewards of a man in the midst of transformation.

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Soundgarden: Badmotorfinger (Deluxe Edition)

Twenty-five years on, the populace gets a renewed look at Soundgarden’s contribution to the year punk broke with a fully loaded reissue of their career-changing Badmotorfinger.

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Hedvig Mollestad Trio: Black Stabat Mater / Evil in Oslo

On a pair of recent releases, Norwegian guitarist Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen continues to evolve into a thrilling modern guitarist informed equally by jazz and hard rock.

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The Best Metal of 2016

Adrien Begrand celebrates the best heavy metal of the year in all of its thrilling diversity.

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“The Pool” Pulls at Some of the Dramatic Threads in ‘This Is Us’

As an encapsulation of what's great about the show "The Pool" is representative of the complex, challenging, smart, and lovely things This Is Us has to offer.

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‘A Wild Swan and Other Tales’: A Twist on Fairy Tales for a More Sober Time

Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cunningham gives a compelling demonstration of how to reimagine magic while retaining a literary legacy.

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Ready For “Change”: Cindy Wilson Talks Upcoming Album, Stage Show, and New Collaborators

Ryan Monahan had no idea that taking a birthday party gig would change his musical life. Neither did the B-52's Cindy Wilson, who tapped the musician to help her create her first-ever solo release.

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Queering the Sponge: The Transcendent Queerness of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’

Despite being rooted in nostalgia, the reemergence of SpongeBob could very well be linked to a longing for a yet-to-be-realized queer future.

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Minutia Fuels the Masterful ‘Boyhood’

Richard Linklater's bold cinematic experiment pays off in ways that the more brash family dramas fail to.

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An Italian in New York: Mondo Marcio Gets Fresh

Italy's favourite rapper mines the crates of American '90s hip-hop on his latest work.

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Tad: God’s Balls / Salt Lick / 8-Way Santa

Heavier than heavy, Tad is back with a trio of deluxe editions of their first three Sub Pop releases.

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Mary Halvorson Octet: Away With You

The quirky guitarist expands her septet to include pedal steel and creates landscapes that push the players to real invention.

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‘Reading the Silver Screen’ From a Man Who Really Knows How to Teach

Thomas C. Foster’s little narrative method is a smart bit of teaching in a book that’s filled with great teaching techniques.

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1 Dec 2016 // 2:15 AM

E: E

This noisy rocker opens in the midst of doom and fights its way forward.

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Avenged Sevenfold: The Stage

Does Avenged Sevenfold's first concept album find the band going all prog-metal? Nope.

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1 Dec 2016 // 2:05 AM

Paul Cauthen: My Gospel

Paul Cauthen’s personal gospel comes off as a belief in youthful innocence corrupted by the passage of time. His songs are rooted in the past.

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Thom Sonny Green: High Anxiety

Drummer of Alt-J struggles to engage listeners on overlong electronic solo debut.

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Setting Up An Ominous (and Overdue) Conflict in ‘Inhumans vs. X-men #0’

A clash between the Inhumans and X-men is inevitable, but it can still be compelling.

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Grunge Fans Pay Homage to Temple of the Dog in San Francisco

It’s moments like these where music fans can rightfully feel genuine hope for humanity at a time when the world seems to be going mad.

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‘Dirk Gently’ Gets Dramatic and Deadly in “Very Erectus”

The season's most dramatic episode so far says goodbye to a character and sets up showdowns leading to the finale.

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The Painful Beauty in ‘Moonlight’

In his sophomore effort, writer-director Barry Jenkins' exacting calibration results in an experience that is deeply moving.

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‘This Is Us’: Only Three Episodes In, “Kyle” Establishes the Series as a Lovely, Lyrical Delight

"Kyle" continues the series' trend of focusing on the moments that affect one's entire life, small as they may be.

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Naomi Duguid’s ‘Taste of Persia’ Demystifies and Enchants

Duguid is particularly well-qualified to address the jewels in Persian cuisine's crown: exquisite rice cookery and a vast array of flatbreads.

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The Moral Morass of Playing ‘Beholder’

Beholder shows the disasters that can come from, perhaps, being too compassionate within the context of a totalitarian state.

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Was Your iPhone Produced by Slaves? Has It Made You One, As Well?

Media scholar Jack Linchuan Qiu argues that slavery-like conditions, which define digital media workers, mirror the slavery-like obsessions of consumers.

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Instead of a Black Comedy, ‘The Executioner’ Offers Varying Shades of Gray

Instead of hitting us in the gut with it themes, this Spanish gem plays a more subtle and satisfying game.

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Otis Redding: Live at the Whisky a Go Go: The Complete Recordings

Three historic nights spread out over six discs makes for an unprecedented, essential Otis Redding listening experience.

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30 Nov 2016 // 2:20 AM

6LACK: FREE 6LACK

6LACK has carved out a niche in Atlanta by drawing from the Soundcloud production aesthetic and combining his rapping ability with a smooth, if at sometimes disaffected, voice.

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30 Nov 2016 // 2:15 AM

Loscil: Monument Builders

Monument Builders is a tribute to those who have sought to make grand artistic statements in their medium of choice, and Scott Morgan subverts this concept by adhering to a minimalist script.

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Hawkwind: The Charisma Years 1976-1979

The Charisma Years captures a band constantly on the verge of transition, willing to explore more commercial-leaning avenues without fully sacrificing their underground bona fides.

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Immersion: Analogue Creatures Living on an Island

Electronic duo Immersion combine two EPs to make an album that is better than the individual parts.

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You Can Go Home Again: An Interview with R.E.M.‘s Mike Mills

Mike Mills of R.E.M. tells PopMatters about his new "Concerto for Violin, Rock Band, and Orchestra" project.

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Phish and the Spiders From Mars Take Las Vegas

Phish has personally transformed Halloween into the holy high holiday of the rock world due to their legendary musical costume performances...

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‘Divorce’ Gets a Lot Wrong in Its Seventh Episode, but Ends With an Emotional Gut Punch

Frances and Robert unearth even more secrets, personal and financial, that drive them further apart.

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Zadie Smith’s ‘Swing Time’ Does a Difficult Dance

Learning from the past is not as simple as pressing rewind: it's a dance that's quite difficult to execute.

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‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’: “The Good Samaritan” Leans Too Heavily on the Supernatural

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets a little too magical for a science fiction series, with decidedly mixed results.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

Exposition Dumps Don't Need Dialogue in 'Virginia'

// Moving Pixels

"Virginia manages to have an exposition dump without wordy exposition.

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