Wednesday, February 18 2015
How does Mino Cinélu tell stories with percussion? Just ask Sting, Kate Bush, or Herbie Hancock.
With his first great movie now in his pocket, Chris Rock has figured out how to transcend generations of fans with a signature combination of intelligence and contemporary comedy.
Where Jimi Hendrix’s music is a fireworks display, this film is rather grey and lifeless.
Terraplane pays homage to the Texas blues, with mixed results.
Picture You is too solid to float away and, at its finest moments, too lasting to fade.
While Six Organs of Admittance do an admirable job of crafting big walls of feedback and drones over which to jam, the tracks on Hexadic tend to meander and stumble around without really going anywhere.
Another inward-looking, yet inviting collection from Joseph O'Connell’s idiosyncratic DIY project Elephant Micah. Fans of introspective, late-night lo-fi should seek this out.
An all-grown-up Andrew McMahon forgets the appeal in keeping parts of himself forever young.
Tuesday, February 17 2015
What better way to spend Valentine’s Night than in the company of the amazing Barb Jungr, singing songs of love and loss?
So long as the Academy clings to a myopic definition of what an "original" score is, too many deserving composers will be left out come Oscar night.
The campy Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: 22 years, 22 seasons and two movies in (and a reboot on the way). Why do we love this show?
The Modern Library of Indonesia series offers unparalleled access to the cultural landscape of the world's fourth most populous country.
Felicity Jones' remarkable performance can't save The Theory of Everything, in large part because the film doesn't fully commit to her own point of view.
José González delivers a lovely and dreamy set of songs defined by their humble grace.
Paul Strohm's Chaucer's Tale tells how Chaucer's fall from political favor in London elevated his literary ambitions in rural retreat.
Wrinkle Neck Mules take their Southern pedigree seriously, mining a rural sound that's chock full of back porch sensibilities.
Feedback-laden '90s touchstones are in full effect here. Too bad strong songwriting is in shorter supply.
Little band, strange name, BIG sound.
The Voice rocker James Wolpert releases an astoundingly legit solo debut.
Monday, February 16 2015
Forget the prequels. Even when he's on the Emperor's bad side, this is the Darth Vader that everyone wants to see.
Walter Isaacson's The Innovators explores the history of the digital age as told through the intertwined lives of the men and women who created it.
As the debate rages over Charlie Hebdo’s controversial cartoons, Art Spiegelman offers sage advice on cartoons and free speech.
As a young professional in the entrepreneurial world of Silicon Valley, Ayori Selassie argues that technology's primary purpose should be to serve human needs first and foremost.
Part murder-mystery, part erotic fever dream, La Belle Captive is a sumptuous nightmare.
EarthEE, the duo's second album, creates its own singular space, one just as challenging, engaging, and revolutionary as its predecessor.
The Brooklyn-based noise-rock band try for a leaner, more focused sound, but they often find themselves missing the atmosphere of their earlier work.
The guitar playing is impressive, but the loose and self-indulgent nature of these compositions will test the listener's patience.
Cursive's much-loved rage cannon of a record has been remastered, allowing one to hear every mangled guitar chord, every abused organ note, every polyp in Kasher's throat. It's makes a legendarily bilious album even more so, like watching surgery in HD.
Nerina Pallot releases the last two EPs of her 12-EP project: a live EP and some final studio recordings.
Friday, February 13 2015
Kingsman is a cut above the usual winter flicks, but it's also flummoxed by its inability to maintain it subversive tone.
Despite its risqué reputation, this film, like the book it is adapted from, is a generic tale of male power that's been told many times before.
It wasn’t so long ago, 2011, but it felt momentous. It was only a matter of really, until our art would begin to make comment. And what better art than the decades old dystopian fiction of Judge Dredd?
Players of the Dreamfall Chapters may find that more than a little research is necessary to enjoy the game's finer points.
This unlikely combination of a translation and memoir offers as many telling insights into the preoccupations of Jonathan Franzen as it does into Karl Kraus' life and work.
What do evolutionary biology and its founding father, Charles Darwin, have to do with love songs? As it turns out, quite a lot.
Annabelle pales in the shadow of its predecessor, the far superior The Conjuring.
The Tame Impala-affiliated rock band bring psychedelia into the 21st century with lush textures, acid funk grooves, and huge infectious riffs.
Treats for collectors of obscure Latin groove, but still appealing to more casual listeners.
King Crimson continue to march to the beat of their own drummers. All three of them.
If anything, the remixes on Neneh Cherry's deluxe release of Blank Project are essentially exercises in demonstrating the versatility and the loose and improvised constructs of the original versions' rhythms.
Iranian-French trio makes ancient Persian music new.
Thursday, February 12 2015
Artist Riley Rossmo’s aesthetic energy is a big part of what makes Rasputin click as a comic, a major factor in its unique personality and tone, so any scene as strong and effective as this one must be attributed to him at least to some degree.
For every apparent innovation, one-man movies are as conventional as they come.
The young MC Bang On! may play dumb, but he's sharp as a tack.
Much like the Duracell bunny, Life of Crime has no brain; it has no anima.
With her third release, Anglo-Pakistani singer-songwriter Rumer fully embraces the influences she’s merely hinted at on previous releases. The results are near-perfect.
A very, very rare effort, You, Whom I Have Always Hated, is as close to perfect an album as Thou and The Body have ever put out and nearly as perfect an album to emerge in years.
Letter to a Future Lover tries to make sense of the world through the flotsam and jetsam of things left in books.
Heavy Love, the fourth album to date by this London-based multi-instrumentalist, is comprised mainly of hushed, harrowing soundscapes that are frequently as subversive as they are subdued.
Celebrated singer-songwriter John Grant collaborates with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, in what proves to be one of the most incendiary live albums in recent memory.
This is chance over method: a real post-industrial display of art born out of an immediate flow of ideas, immortalised onto a disk, assembled by the very negation of art that is genuine calculus and roughly adjusted by man
Wednesday, February 11 2015
Old World meets New World once again at the final Transatlantic Sessions show of 2015: an evening to give the so-called “Special Relationship” a good name, after all.
A provocative and insightful new book challenges us to rethink our obsession with brunch, and to critically consider what this overpriced, messy meal really says about shifting class identities in today’s world.
In the world of comic book continuity, if everything is true, anything can happen.
Featuring a story filled with wonderful characterizations, genuine excitement, and a perfectly earned ending, 101 Dalmatians is one of Disney's best.
Natalie Prass is technically a self-titled singer-songwriter debut. It's just that it doesn't sound like any of those things.
At one point, Thomas gave up his teaching job because the desire to finish his writing had outweighed the desire to achieve financial security. Such passion is evident in the pages of his novel.
A "micro opera" involving a Mark E Smith impersonator, caravan holidays, and British fascist punks upholds Haines's reputation as a singular songwriter.
Blackberry Smoke is one of those groups that fiercely adheres to past precepts. Indeed, if its sound recalls the aforementioned standard bearers -- and it does -- then it’s just as true that the members have learned those lessons well.
Has the quirky, DIY indie-pop album become a cliche? How about the psychedelic collage album, then?
Denver’s image was wrapped in sincerity and disarming, if sometimes hokey, charm. On one hand these were his weaknesses – he was an easy target for the critics – but they were also his strengths, as he came across as genuine and honest.
Tuesday, February 10 2015
You might think that it is easy to be confident when you are, after all, UNBEATABLE, but it really isn't. Unbeatable or not, a crush can still be pretty embarrassing.
Veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn provides exceptional analysis of the Islamic State and the broader conflict in Syria and Iraq.
Although the Wachowski siblings' latest film has taken a critical beating, it merits a closer examination for its clever playing with narrative tropes from science fiction and fairy tales.
Gia Coppola's film illustrates the paradox of the young and the old: each want wants what the other has. Neither can ever live in the moment.
Everything works on Tomorrow Is My Turn, an album that heralds the arrival of a major American artist.
There's a lot to admire about this graphic-fiction account of the complicated and controversial evidence surrounding the Kennedy assassination
Winterborn isn't particularly original, but the songwriting is strong and the riffs are a nice combination of heavy and catchy.
Red Red Meat were one of the purest American bands, pushing boundaries of music to the breaking point and incorporating diverse styles to create their own unique vision of America.
Howlin' Rain strikes an unbalanced chord between calm and cacophony on fourth studio release.
Dark Entries' compilation of early '80s underground bands from the Bay Area offers an exciting glimpse into a powerfully creative era.
Monday, February 9 2015
The elements of glorification and exploitation in The Jinx are enough to make one wonder if it supports accused murderer Robert Durst.
AC/DC opened the telecast with a song called "Rock or Bust", a prophetic ultimatum that was answered all too quickly by a cavalcade of performers who seemed to be tripping over themselves to see who could be the most uninspiring of them all.
The X-men and the Guardians of the Galaxy come together again in a story that's as volatile as it is fun.
Several jokes in Citizens of Earth expose the Vice President of the Worlds’s exaggerated love of bureaucracy. Too bad the game is sometimes as much fun as cutting through red tape.
The focus on the dark side of Pryor's life gives this documentary the feel of an epitaph rather than a celebration.
In 1983, road-weary Texan Joe Ely hovers over gadgets and wires, entering a brave new world of technology. Is he creating science-fiction country music?
The start of 2015 found a bevy of roots music's best artists taking to the open ocean for a week of concerts, social gatherings, and hi-jinks. (Spoiler: watch out for Kacey Musgraves if she's on a scooter.)
Religion and science, two of the great cathedrals of knowledge, are often perceived as being in a state of conflict with one another. Gingerich is of the mind that the two cannot be separated.
As Nightcrawler compellingly depicts, every member of society is one rent payment away from tapping into their dark side.
Josh Tillman leaves the depression that triggered his beloved debut behind. In its place is the subject of love in all its beauty and messiness.
Just because their dad produced Transformers, it doesn't make Wardell bad people.
The guitarist takes his acoustic band (guitar trio plus vibes) for a spin on some classic fusion tunes from the 1970s.
The Notwist follow up last year's Close to the Glass with this collection of unreleased instrumental material.
With Dark Side of the Mule, Haynes and company’s faithful recitations do little to breathe life into already tired songs for those new to the Mule.
Friday, February 6 2015
There was a bit of cognitive dissonance in the air with the concept of Denson being 58 years old, because onlookers would be hard pressed to make such a guess.
Jeff Bridges, being very Dude-like, summarizes the motto of Seventh Son: "When you deal with dark, dark gets in you."
There's little subtext in this tale of the pineapple under the sea, but there is plenty of clever humor and scenery-chewing to rile up audiences of all ages.
At this point in the Wachowskis’ career, another hyped-up science-fiction saga about fate and humanity-as-cattle feels like less of a recurring theme and more like a lack of imagination.
On the cusp of “Convergence”, which ties together all DC comics ever published, have Fawkes and Templesmith finally found the character’s quintessential magic?
While it's definitely a bit more difficult than I was expecting, the difficulty of Satellina is fair when the game is behaving itself.
This film's ability to balance character-driven stories with didactic critiques against the racist practices that haunt our daily lives speaks to a sophisticated outlook rare among first-time directors.
Jill Lepore's hit new book on Wonder Woman sheds light not only on the astonishing origins of this iconic character, but also on the fascinating social and political strands of history which gave rise to her.
The go-for-broke inspiration Bruce Springsteen became legendary for providing in his songs initially sprang from the most authentic source: himself.
This Christian "blockbuster" thriller is a movie that looks and sounds significantly lower-rent than even the other low-rent thrillers Nicolas Cage has been doing lately.
Lupe Fiasco ends his troubled relationship with Atlantic Records with a thrillingly ambitious sendoff.
The year 1965 saw many musical developments, a significant one of which is Brian Wilson's development from poet laureate of high school to baroque visionary.
John Carpenter's non-soundtrack album is engrossing and dark, bringing to mind images from his best works both audio and visual.
Part of this Dogg's appeal always could be found in his strange sense of humor and gritty look at reality. He's not above being vulgar or afraid to be saintly.
Born, Raised & LIVE from Flint is a primer on how honky tonk’s done, demonstrating no new spin is required.