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‘Assassin’s Creed’ Is Full of Elaborate Illogic

As the movie spirals into the elaborate illogic of the videogame on which it's based, the hero Cal is resurrected and tormented, again and again.

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X-men 92 #10: Xtreme Satisfaction From a Most Xtreme Era

X-men 92 comes to a premature end, but still finds a way to embody everything we love about every era of X-men.

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Guilty Pleasure ‘Master’ Falls Just Short of Crime Film Mastery

Master achieves escapist fare early by heaping on layers of vulgar poetry and happily overt symbolism.

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David Coggins’ ‘Men and Style’ and Our Infatuation With Being Cool

In an age of renewed discussion and debate over the true definition of masculinity “versus” femininity, how relevant is a book like Men and Style?

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Culture and History for the Age of Trump

History doesn’t always tell us how to get it right. It sometimes warns us of the cost of getting it wrong. Art steeped in that history can remind us, if we’re paying attention.

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The Galloway Case: Sexual Harassment, Due Process, and Literary Exceptionalism

Steven Galloway's sexual harassment case, and the literary establishment's response to it, reveals a lot about how much work still needs to be done in combating misogyny.

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Fellini’s ‘Roma’ and the Polysemic Surreal

Fellini’s films are haunted by an absence, a pervading sense of loss, a mourning for the unattainable, and yet imbued with an effervescent sense of fun as well.

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The Seductive Brutality of Crossing Borders

The year 2016 has demonstrated that the American imagination could use another dozen novels with the defiant honesty of Norte.

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BFI’s Release of Abel Gance’s ‘Napoléon’ Does Justice to a Masterpiece

The BFI’s restoration of Gance’s groundbreaking, grandiloquent 1927 epic is one of the year’s most highly anticipated Blu-ray releases.

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The Doctor (Finally) Returns to TV in the Serviceable “Doctor Mysterio”

The referencing that we've come to expect falls strangely flat: a mishmash of tropes, symbols, and callbacks that ultimately don’t lead anywhere.

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The 10 Best Dance Songs of 2016

From the '90s-flavored house of London-based Antony & Cleopatra to French electronic duo You Man, here is a collection of songs from DJs, producers, and electronic musicians that continue to push the frontiers of artistic expression.

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Winning Streaks and Resolutions in ‘Civil War II #8’

Nobody will be gasping for air or picking their jaw up off the floor with the big climax of the story, here.

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‘Nicotine’: A Riotous Collision Between Squatters and an Eccentric Family

Nell Zink's irrepressible humor and intelligence makes Nicotine a thrilling read.

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Painful Humor and Euphoric Pleasure In ‘Punch-Drunk Love’

Anderson's quirky film is reinvention in the purest sense, free of commercial pressure.

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The 25 Best New Musical Artists of 2016

The best new artists of 2016 mash up genre dividers and take popular music in new and exciting directions.

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Ed Ward’s Prose Reads Like It Was Written for an Erudite broadcast

Ward's concise and readable attempt to consolidate rock 'n' roll’s messy history comes across as a little too neat, at times.

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The Working Man’s Heist in ‘The Asphalt Jungle’

The heist film finds its genesis in John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle, a top-notch and unglamorous depiction of criminal life in the city.

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How the Hell Did ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’ Characters Survive?

The series comes back from the edge after a fatally flawed penultimate episode, setting up an intriguing season two.

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The Totemic Mother and Father of ‘The Squid and the Whale

Our parents loom over us, first literally and then figuratively, for the entirety of our existence.

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David Bowie in Conversation

Turn and face the strange: a posthumous interview compilation shows David Bowie as a brilliant artist and a warm conversationalist, an all-too-rare combination.

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The 15 Best R&B/Soul Albums of 2016

2016 has been a banner year for soul music of all stripes with a number of momentous debuts and returns to form from veterans. All the while, soul music keeps pushing forward.

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You Have Been Loved: Remembering George Michael

"... (H)ow can you not realize that the elation of a good pop record is an art form?"

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Ben Affleck’s ‘Live By Night’ Is a Lax Effort at Making Sense of Complex Ideas

Live by Night is good at era-appropriate garb, but its adaptation of Dennis Lehane's story lacks anything remotely close to sizzle or scope.

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Emeli Sandé: Long Live the Angels

While Sandé may not hit any highs higher that what we heard on Our Version of EventsLong Live the Angels gives the neo-soul belter plenty of scenery to chew

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The ‘Sense 8’ Christmas Special Offers Fun, but Not Enough Plot or Character Development

Sense8 returns with time-skipping, Yuletide charm, a key recasting, and another orgy scene without quite building on the plot from season one.

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The Best Pop Singles of 2016

Celebrating the songs this year that operated within the constraints of "radio music", truly a genre all its own, and produced excellent results.

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In Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’, Is God Even Listening?

Hunted Jesuit missionaries in 17th-century Japan wrestle with the possibility that all their suffering, and that of their persecuted followers, could be meaningless.

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She’s a Walking Controversy in ‘The Mighty Captain Marvel #0’

Even in victory, Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel) discovers a new vulnerability that brings out the best in her.

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‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe’ Delivers on the Shivers—Until It Decides to Explain Things

When it works, it works magnificently. When it doesn't, it only has itself, and it's overreaching screenplay, to blame.

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‘Sing’ Can Be Silly, But It’s Still Fun

While it may seem like an odd comparison, Sing is a lot like Peter Jackson's deranged puppet production, Meet The Feebles.

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Indologist Shulman’s ‘Tamil’ Dismantles Tamil Nationalism and Questions Its Legacy

Sublime and riveting, Tamil: A Biography proves that good linguistic and intellectual history can be written without resorting to either esotericism or jargonism.

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23 Dec 2016 // 3:00 AM

The Best TV of 2016

The Best TV of 2016 offers a bold mix of reality, virtual reality, animated reality, and pure fantasy across broadcast and streaming.

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‘When Comedy Was King’, or, How to Corrupt Young Minds

You know what they say, "He who laughs the loudest lives the longest."

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“The Good Thing About Telling The Truth Is That You Can’t Get It Wrong”: A Chat With Kaiser Chiefs

Kaiser Chiefs have made a career of switching up styles, and now switch things up with their new album a fondness for Tom Hanks movies.

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‘I, Daniel Blake’: Man vs State

Ken Loach’s heartrending drama follows a widowed British carpenter struggling to keep an inhuman social services bureaucracy from turning him into just another number.

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‘Patriots Day’ Is Heavy With Exasperating Fiction

Tommy (Mark Wahlberg) embodies a troubling fiction, the one where one man can "fix it". Sometimes, that fiction is inspiring. Sometimes, it's exasperating.

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Surprising Results From a Marathon Viewing of ‘A Christmas Story’

Even if you don’t give a hoot about Christmas and haven’t seen A Christmas Story seven million times, you may find The Triple Dog Dare shockingly charming.

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The Films of 2016 Didn’t See Trump Coming, Either

As a gauge of the American zeitgeist, 2016’s films provided no warning of the reactionary backlash the nation just woke up to.

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A Sage Among Singers: An Interview With Janice Pendarvis

From performing with Sting, Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson to appearing in 20 Feet from Stardom, Janice Pendarvis finds wisdom beyond her comfort zone.

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‘Passengers’ Asks, Are You Willing to Ruin Someone Else’s Life to Save Your Own?

Passengers raises worthy questions about social arrangements in the future.

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21 Dec 2016 // 9:30 AM

The “Invasion!” Crossover Event Offers the Best of the TV DC Universe

The multi-series crossover event tackles aliens and the multiverse with aplomb.

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Is the Author Gaming Hitchcock? or Is He Getting Gamed by Hitchcock?

“Often when I watch a Hitchcock film in this too-close manner... I am exhausted by the strain of so much scrutinizing… my task has turned me into a freak!”

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The 10 Best Shoegaze and Dream Pop Albums of 2016

Twenty years on, in 2016, shoegaze -- and its demure twin sister, dream pop -- is a continuing presence and influence on guitar music.

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21 Dec 2016 // 2:25 AM

Taso: New Start

Taso's New Start is a showcasing of footwork’s far-reaching appeal and a necessary addition to its canon.

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The Magnetic Fields: The Wayward Bus / Distant Plastic Trees (Reissue)

A pair of sharp, wide-ranging, and playful albums get the reissue treatment on vinyl.

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Wolfgang Muthspiel: Rising Grace

The Austrian jazz guitarist plays beautifully in his third outing for ECM with a remarkable band featuring Larry Grenadier, Brian Blade, Brad Mehldau, and Ambrose Akinmusire.

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Hugo Gernsback and Perversity and Optimism at the Dawn of Science Fiction

Grant Wythoff's new collection of Hugo Gernsback's writings is an indispensable volume for students of science fiction.

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Intelligent ‘80s Sci-fi Films, ‘Man Facing Southeast’ and ‘The Quiet Earth’, Question Life on Earth

These two films, now on Blu-ray, are early examples of dwelling in the possibility of multiple subjective realities.

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Childish Gambino: Awaken, My Love!

Ditching the rap game in favor of a heavy P-Funk vibe, Childish Gambino returns with one of his strongest overall efforts yet.

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The Best Avant-Garde and Experimental Music of 2016

Today's experimental artists tend to locate reference points in the familiar -- or even hyper-familiar in the case of 2016 masterpieces like the Avalanches' Wildflower or Bon Iver's enigmatic 22, A Million.

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20 Dec 2016 // 2:00 AM

Pick Just One: The Wallflowers’ (Breach)

The Wallflowers' Bringing Down the Horse is certainly a great album, as many fans will attest, but it's not their best.

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Pathos and Pride in Denzel Washington’s ‘Fences’

As director and star of this powerful adaptation of August Wilson’s canonical play, Denzel Washington plays a brash talker masking a world of misery and secrets, with an unforgettable pathos.

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In ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ Coming of Age Becomes a Wonderful Adventure

Set against a magical backdrop in the New Zealand bush, Hunt for the Wilderpeople offers a perfect balance of silly and lovely that makes it an irresistible adventure.

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Radicalism and the Art of Compromise

Under a Trump Administration, is it better to be a rebel with a cause, or a reformer with a platform? "Red" Ellen Wilkenson's biography gives us some insight into these difficulties.

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Loretta Lynn: White Christmas Blue

For her second release of 2016, Loretta Lynn presents a down-home country Christmas of the old fashioned variety.

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Colman Andrews Defines Paul McCartney’s Butter Pie for the Non-Brit—and Other Recipes

Veteran food writer and lifelong Anglophile Colman Andrews brings his expertise to a book that by rights should be perfect.

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There’s No Real “Détente” In the Finale of ‘Divorce’

Divorce reaches anything but detente in its fitfully moving, but ultimately sour and reticent, finale.

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Form Follows Function: ‘The Life of Pablo’ and ‘Blonde’ Challenge the Notion of an Album

Kanye West and Frank Ocean have created imperfect perfect albums which invert our notions of flaws and challenge our perception of the album as an art form.

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‘Goat’ Is a Film for its Time

Goat's universal horror is not its grisly depiction of "hell week" hazing, but the conditions that drive kids into the self-flagellation it requires.

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The 20 Best Electronic Albums of 2016

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2016 highlights that as well as any other year on record.

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The 15 Best Americana Albums of 2016

This year's Best of Americana list may place the greatest distance between the genre and country music of any list we've compiled in recent years.

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19 Dec 2016 // 1:45 AM

The Best Hip-Hop of 2016

In a year full of uncertainty and pessimism, the ever-stretching definition of what it means to be “hip-hop” was a welcome reprieve.

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‘Barry’ Delivers Insights Into a Young Barack Obama

This is a film that wants to paint an impression of our current President without bogging down the narrative with unnecessary excess.

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‘Collateral Beauty’ Is Obsessed With Stringing Together Oscar Moments

Director David Frankel’s saccharine drama about love and loss will stop at nothing to make you cry.

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‘Hell on Wheels’ Is Both a Tactical Homage to the Western Genre and a Postmodern Pastiche

Doc Durant (Colm Meaney) embodies a harbinger that darkly foreshadows the shape of the American political landscape and a post-truth Presidency.

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‘Christmas in the Crosshairs’: It Wasn’t Always Love and Peace on Earth

The centuries-old struggle for and against the very idea of Christmas is chronicled in this fascinating book.

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16 Dec 2016 // 3:00 AM

The Best Films of 2016

PopMatters presents a list of the best films that surfaced in 2016 and impressed us with their cinematic visions of where we’ve been.

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The 12 Best World Music Albums of 2016

There’s no short list that can be truly comprehensive of all the music in a single country, much less a planet, but there are always a few promising places to start.

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Keith Jarrett: A Multitude of Angels

This newly-discovered box set captures the last gasp of Keith Jarrett's marathon concert phase.

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John Renbourn and Wizz Jones: Joint Control

A series of low-key, intimate duets mark the first recorded pairing of guitarists John Renbourn and Wizz Jones as well as, sadly, the last recordings made by Renbourn.

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Andrew Cyrille and Bill McHenry: Proximity

In the tradition of Coltrane and Rashid Ali, a tenor saxophonist and an esteemed drummer play clear and free in duets.

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The Power of Print: ‘OMG Posters’

Poster art is in a renaissance right now; OMG Posters: A Decade of Rock Art proves why.

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The Legendary Stardust Cowboy: Launch Pad Favorites

One of the stranger denizens of that nebulous world of outsider artists, Legendary Stardust Cowboy is an artist like no other.

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First Shots and Fatal Flaws in ‘Inhumans vs. X-men #1’

What does it take for a clash between two superhero teams to be interesting these days?

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Filming the Blank Spaces of Existence in ‘Nestor

Nestor, meticulously photographed, invites us to dwell in the wide stretches of blank time we inhabit and ignore.

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David Choi: The David Choi Christmas Album

The YouTuber gives his warm and genuine take on holiday chestnuts.

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STS9 Blasts Off in Epic Fillmore Homecoming

The tone scientists of STS9 are at the top of their game here, mixing songs together for unique mashups as they push the improvisational envelope to the edge.

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‘Event[0]’ Is a Fresh Take on the AI Story

Event[0] uses the fundamental awkwardness of talking with an AI to dramatic effect.

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Joyce Carol Oates Is at Her Best With ‘Soul at White Heat’

Oates' prose has achieved a level of polish most writers can only wish for.

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Trumpaholism, or, Is “Liquor Before Beer, Never Fear” a Piece of Fake News?

How I worry when I drink, and why Distilled Knowledge is diffuse knowledge.

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15 Dec 2016 // 2:25 AM

Moderat: Live

Serving as the perfect culmination of Moderat's studio LP triptych -- which reached its apex with this year's III -- Live proves that 2016 was Moderat's year.

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Kjartan Sveinsson: Der Klang der Offenbarung des Göttlichen

Former Sigur Rós pianist Kjartan Sveinsson's first major orchestral work is an intriguing listen for patient listeners. The fourth movement is worth the price of admission alone.

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Led Zeppelin: The Complete BBC Sessions

Led Zeppelin’s full BBC sessions are finally reunited more than 40 years after they were recorded and 20 years after the bulk of the collection first appeared.

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The Spencer Davis Group: Taking Out Time: Complete Recordings 1967-1969

What happens to a band when founding members depart? If you're the Spencer Davis Group, you soldier on and make the best of it.

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Various Artists: Christmas on the Lam and Other Songs from the Season

Christmas on the Lam offers itself up as a fine alternative to the traditional Christmas fare without falling back on the cloying tropes found in the majority of contemporary Christmas songs.

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NPR Music Host Bob Boilen on the Songs That Impacted Musician’s Lives

The radio personality collected artist interviews about their life-changing songs in a new book. He discussed it here with PopMatters.

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Bob Dylan, ‘The Lyrics: 1961-2012’

Grizzled poet, mercurial visionary, and now Nobel Prize winner. More than 50 years of Dylan lyrics are lovingly compiled in this handsome set.

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Angels, Sparks, Flashdance: Frank DiMino Returns With ‘Old Habits Die Hard’

The voice of Angel, Frank DiMino, offers first solo release, reflects on the power of song.

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The Hold Steady: Almost Killed Me / Separation Sunday (Deluxe Editions)

Craig Finn's spoken vocals are a barrier to entry, but the Hold Steady's first two albums literally contain the beginning of the story. These deluxe editions have enough strong extras to warrant a look.

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Various Artists: 20 Years of Victory

Catskills Records' eclectic anniversary release features squeaky toys, kazoos and Finnish cheerleader champions.

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Rob Noyes: The Feudal Spirit

Here comes another fingerstyle guitarist a-rollin' down the track, one that manages to inject some warmth into all those pretty little notes.

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If Studs Terkel Were Alive Today, What Would Steve Bannon Tell Him?

Terkel biographer Alen Wieder reminds us that if he were alive today, Studs would actually listen to the voices of the Trump voters -- all of them.

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13 Dec 2016 // 11:40 AM

The 70 Best Albums of 2016

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving hip-hop scene... from soul and Americana to rocking and popping indie... 2016's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

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Animated “Power of the Daleks” Is a First Look at the Second Doctor’s Debut for Many

The animated version of a missing serial provides fascinating insight into a pivotal moment in Doctor Who's history.

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Star Wars ‘Rogue One’: The Force Is Weak With This One

Director Gareth Edwards’ disappointing sci-fi actioner has little merit beyond its famous pedigree.

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‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ Shows There’s Life in Star Wars Yet… Barely

If nothing else, Gareth Edwards’ combative, hard-working installment answers why the Death Star was so easy to destroy in the first place.

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Greensky Bluegrass: Shouted, Written Down and Quoted

Greensky Bluegrass' strong new album sticks close enough to bluegrass trappings to satisfy traditionalists while being adventurous enough to attract both jamgrass and progressive fans. That's an achievement in and of itself.

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13 Dec 2016 // 9:50 AM

Goat: Requiem

Although Goat's sense of adventure sometimes results in indulgent and diminished returns, it just as often furnishes the listener with warm, inspired, and exuberant music.

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13 Dec 2016 // 9:39 AM

TOY: Clear Shot

TOY set an ominous mood that ultimately proves superficial. As a result, Clear Shot makes few indentations and leaves few fingerprints behind.

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The Rolling Stones: Blue and Lonesome

On their new album, the Stones return to their origins -- but now with greater authority and skill

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Home Culinary Exploration Has Never Been More Fervent

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"Ever wondered what the difference between cinnamon and cassia is? The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs will teach you.

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