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Wednesday, September 3 2014

‘To Be Takei’ Is to Be a Civil Rights Activist, Nonstop

Framing George Takei as part of a larger project that has as much to do with his civil rights activism as with his acting career, "to be Takei" is something of a job.


The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell

What could have been little more than a longform book about Gaiman's Sandman becomes a visual and engrossing biography on the prolific dream genius.


‘Blended’: Sandler’s Still Searching for His Sweet Spot

Reuniting Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore can't spark the magic long lost from the former comedian's flailing career.


‘Strange’ Magic: An Interview with ‘Love is Strange’ Director Ira Sachs

Ira Sachs' moving new film boasts career-best work from his lead actors John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a partnered couple.


Thought of Sound: An Interview with Matt Sharp of the Rentals

With years between albums, a lot of factors, including a "get here now so we can record" email from the Black Keys' Patrick Carney, was what got Matt Sharp's the Rentals back into gear.


‘The Normal Heart’ Is Full of Passion, but Not Enough Rage

Larry Kramer’s blistering cri de coeur about the early days of the AIDS plague gets a solidly respectful but flawed treatment from Ryan Murphy


Maroon 5: V

It's worth crediting Maroon 5 for having spawned a guilty-pleasure earworm, containing just enough traces of actual instruments to remind listeners that digital synthesizers haven't completely cannibalized rock 'n' roll.


Jennifer Castle: Pink City

Pink City is a real winner, and listeners will be swayed by its gentle beauty.


Botanist: VI: Flora

San Francisco avant garde black metal group opts for accessibility while maintaining its novel instrumental lineup on stellar VI: Flora.


Celebration: Albumin

The Baltimore psych-indie band, championed by TV on the Radio, have a new label and a new album that often is "out there" in a less-than-flattering way.


Black Pus / Oozing Wound: Split LP

Two very noisy bands try out kinds of noise.


Adam Faucett: Blind Water Finds Blind Water

A mature, powerful collection of songs from the Arkansas singer-songwriter, equal parts darkness and light.


Tuesday, September 2 2014

MIND: Path to Thalamus

The game earns a trust that allows you to let go of your worries and to just let the mood wash over you, vagaries and all.


Not-So-Epic Showdown: “Wolverine #12”

What was billed as the biggest fight between Wolverine and Sabretooth to date ends up being a total rip-off.


Unnerving ‘Insomnia’ Gets Under Your Skin

Most people know Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia; few people, regrettably, know the superior work from which it is adapted.


Z is for Zombie and for ‘The Zombie Book’

There are brains here, interesting tidbits that make you think. They're scattered all over the place, like matter without thought, without movement, without electricity.


The Forerunner: An Interview with Shabazz Palaces

"It’s just like exploration really, and just jumping off certain types of cliffs and trying to open up sonic parachutes that’ll get you floating down to your destination and landing on two feet."


Nixonian Paranoia in 2014: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

The Captain America movies are well-suited to mix and match time periods with a comic-book-y flair.


Disaster and Individualism in ‘Game of Thrones’

Game of Thrones trades in everything good and bad about nations and realms for everything good and bad about pure individualism.


Shovels and Rope: Swimmin’ Time

Swimmin' Time is the product of our generation's June Carter and Johnny Cash after the messy past has been laid to rest.


Blonde Redhead: Barragán

Barragán is aimless and directionless, and it’s hard to see what the group is trying to really do here other than make music that somehow pleases itself.


The ‘Angry Optimist’ Is Clearly a Search-Engine Approach to Biography

Put a thousand monkeys in front of a thousand Google searches, and eventually...


Music Blues: Things Haven’t Gone Well

There is a dark, dark humor that bubbles up on occasion, but its dry wit can't keep the record from being a depressing listen.


Robin Eubanks: Klassic Rock Vol. 1

The M-Base trombonist returns with a slippery, funky mix of rock tunes and originals.


The Knife: Shaken-Up Versions

Somewhere between remixes and a live album, this brief collection would be less of a let down if the band weren't about to end.


Friday, August 29 2014

‘Second Opinion: Laetrile at Sloan-Kettering’: Language Turned Inside Out

Eric Merola's documentary shows us what happens when our everyday language must be turned inside out.


Yet Another One Bites the Dust: ‘The Calling’

Ironically, this film also takes pains to point out the obvious pratfalls of making yet another serial killer film in the first place.


Thursday, August 28 2014

‘Love Is Strange’: Complicated Lives in Tight Spaces

The film reminds us of just how difficult it can be to find one's own tempo amidst radical changes caused by unjust circumstances.


The World(s) That Video Made

Video Revolutions is a brief, brilliant inquiry into the history of a complex, contested medium.


In ‘The Love Punch’, Money Does Buy Happiness

The troubling implicit moral at the end of The Love Punch encapsulates the film's insubstantial construction.


“It Never Happened Again” and Again and Again

In his book It Never Happened Again, Sam Alden uses two short comicbook stories to offer a slight twist on the old journey-vs.-destination philosophy.


The Gunman on the Unemployment Line: Masculinity, Professionalism, and Ethical Bankruptcy

Surely even Dirty Harry needs a break from cinematic violence, some time off at Walden Pond. Though I doubt its tranquility would deter him from picking off the sparrows.


Listening Ahead: Upcoming Releases for September 2014

September's slate of releases features numerous living legends and big names, but "Listening Ahead" is focusing its attention on artists whose time has come, like Hiss Golden Messenger and Perfume Genius.


‘The Wind Will Carry Us’ Is a Challenging Climb to the Top of the Hill

Abbas Kiarostami's film subverts viewer expectations of what makes a film satisfying, or even enjoyable.


Opeth: Pale Communion

Pale Communion is both the culmination of Opeth's journey toward classic progressive rock and its best work since Ghost Reveries.


Ty Segall: Manipulator

The often quick-working Segall took 14 months to make Manipulator, but it's not so much a wild departure sonically as it is a return to and refinement of tangents we've heard from him in the past.


‘The Temptation of Despair’ Is a Marvelous New Work on World War II-Era Germany

Werner Sollors' memories formed the basis for this book, but his research caused him to re-evaluate and re-imagine what he thought he knew about the time and the era.


Tinnarose: Tinnarose

Tinnarose is a singer-songwriter showcase of the highest order, and there’s plenty of material to keep coming back to.


Various Artists: Kompakt Total 14

After taking a year off to celebrate the label's 20th anniversary, Kompakt's annual Total compilation is back.


The Cleaners From Venus: Volume Three

This third volume of reissues from the Cleaners From Venus gives us another set of complications to consider in Martin Newell's work.


Centro-matic: Take Pride in Your Long Odds

Take Pride in Your Long Odds adds further talking points to Centro-matic’s esteemed canon.


Wednesday, August 27 2014

Quality Time and Honest Mistakes: “Wolverine Annual #1”

How an innocent camping trip can be ruined by a reasonable misunderstanding


Someone Is Missing in Elizabeth McCracken’s ‘Thunderstruck’

These stories, to borrow Carrie Fisher’s title, are postcards from the edge, a place McCracken’s creative heart has taken up residence.


Who Wants to Read Comics on a Computer?

However modest in scope, comiXology's new downloads signals the beginning of the end for strict DRM in digital comics -- and it will change how we view comics.


Tongue Firmly in Cheek: An Interview with Ace Frehley

Several years sober, KISS' Ace Frehley comes fresh off some time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to release his first solo album in over five years -- and definitely knows how to write a sexy song better than Robin Thicke.


‘The Railway Man’ Goes Off the Rails With Sentimentality

The movie wastes its impressive cast, choosing instead to drown itself in sentimentalism.


The New Pornographers: Brill Bruisers

Brill Bruisers, with its blaring, neon keyboards and deep hooks, is both a prototypical New Pornographers record and another variation on the band's established themes.


“Harry Potter for Grown-Ups” Grows Up

The third and final installment in Lev Grossman's 'Magicians' trilogy, The Magician's Land, is also its best.


Todd Snider: Cheatham Street Warehouse

Snider covers Kent Finlay on Cheatham Street Warehouse to raise funds for Finlay’s medical care.


The Rentals: Lost In Alphaville

Matt Sharp's side project-turned-band is back, and they sound just like most of you remember them. But is that really such a good thing?


Imelda May: Tribal

When May rants about a "Wild Woman", we know that it's the woman that lives inside her. She ferociously attacks the lyrics, growling and stuttering as needed.


Kindred the Family Soul: A Couple Friends

Soulful duo Kindred the Family Soul retain the refined persona of R&B on latest album A Couple Friends.


Tuesday, August 26 2014

The Walking Dead Season Two, Episode 4

With episode 4 of its second season, I feel as if the well is running dry on Telltale's ability to wring new meaning out of The Walking Dead franchise.


Not Just a Comicbook: “The Multiversity #1”

In this story of multiple worlds, fiction is fact and comicbooks are true.


Tracing the Mythos of Dylan, One Fan at a Time

The Dylanologists doesn't give up any answers about Dylan, but it does ask the right questions of people, on the trail through Dylan's America.


The Body Politic: Violence and Rebellion in the First Wave of Hardcore Punk

The value of violence in the hardcore punk movement is not what it fought against, but rather the new ground it forged.


There Is Only Now: An Interview with Adrian Younge

The acclaimed L.A. producer Adrian Younge talks about his new album with Souls of Mischief, why he hates ProTools, and about his slew of upcoming projects.


Kristen Wiig Sinks ‘Hateship Loveship’

Infusing Alice Munro's portrait of a lonely woman and her quest for happiness with deadpan comic beats, Kristen Wiig muddies the tone of "Hateship Loveship" and leaves it without a center.


Basement Jaxx: Junto

The UK progressive house duo is in transition on their latest full-length.


Cymbals Eat Guitars: Lose

For its themes of loss and longing, its wide-eyed sense of wistfulness, for all of its hopefulness in misfortune, Lose ends up being a win.


If You Can’t Take the Heat, Get Out of the (Restaurant) Kitchen

Popular Orangette blogger Molly Wizenberg loves to cook, as made clear in Delancey... just not in restaurants.


Liam Bailey: Definitely Now

Liam Bailey’s first full length album, Definitely Now , is so genre-defying that if not for the unmistakable voice of Bailey, it could seem like a mixtape of several artists.


The Gun Club: Fire of Love

A sawed-off, hard-bitten punk sensibility and a bluesy, drawn-out compulsion to sink deeper into cloudy depths. The Gun Club's debut from 1981 wallops on this reissue as exciting, entertaining and evil as ever.


Peter Gabriel: Back to Front

Peter Gabriel Live in London... So?


Monday, August 25 2014

Hohokum

The game plays like it belongs in a museum, one of those interactive displays that invites people to navigate the art rather than stare at it.


Not the Antidote You’re Looking For: “Trees #4”

What I’d hoped would happen is that Trees would be the natural antithesis to those gimmicky summer crossovers with anticlimactic events that seem to written in marketing departments.


Organized Murder and the Graphic Anthology, ‘To End All Wars’

This stark, chiaroscuro compilation promotes a humanitarian view of the First World War, as witnessed by an array of Earth's beleaguered creatures.


Is the Sadness Gone from Country Music?

Has country music lost its capacity for brutal, unshakeable loneliness? Or are we just experiencing some calm before the next, inevitable heartache?


“No Complaints”: An Interview with Pete Best, the Original Drummer of the Beatles

Despite missing out on being one of the Fab Four, Pete Best is as happy as ever: "I have no complaints, I’ve enjoyed life. Wouldn’t change anything."


‘Dream Deceivers: Heavy Metal on Trial’ Examines Culpability and Belief

Metal fans will remember this story in the lore of censorship and a dark moment in the history of Judas Priest. But this film is not about the band and is all the better for it.


‘The Legend of Hell House’ Is Cerebral Horror at Its Finest

Possibly the greatest haunted house film of all time is still as impactful as ever, a fact not reflected by this Blu-ray's paltry extras.


Ariana Grande: My Everything

In trying to sound like everything else on the charts, Ariana Grande continues to have one of pop music's most distinctive voices that has very little to say.


Which Is Better, Gorgeous Writing or a Gorgeous Blonde?

In The Black-Eyed Blond, Benjamin Black provides such a satisfying incarnation of Raymond Chandler's sensibility, it's almost possible to pretend Chandler is back among the living.


Cold Specks: Neuroplasticity

With its smorgasbord of texture and tones, Neuroplasticity is a real contender for Canadian Album of the Year.


Mirel Wagner: When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day

There's a coffin-like closeness and aloneness to each and every song on Mirel Wagner's Sub Pop debut. It's a fitting feel for a record so focused on death.


Eric Clapton and Friends: The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale

It’s safe, which only gets The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale so far, but, this record will undoubtedly get a lot of people to revisit, or discover JJ Cale, which is a win in itself.


Various Artists: 1970’s Algerian Folk and Pop / 1970’s Proto-Rai Underground

Both of these compilations provide interesting ways into a time and sound all too overlooked in certain circles, at least (hopefully) until now.


Friday, August 22 2014

‘When the Game Stands Tall’: Faith-Based High School Football

It's hard to think of a scene in this movie you haven't seen in another.


Somewhere in Dimension Mek: “Our Heroes” and the Superhero Funny Book

Our Heroes is like a Saturday morning cartoon, only better. It perfectly captures the spirit of the funny superhero. (The Human Mallet Lives!)


Knots Untie and Tie Again in ‘Boardwalk Empire: Season Four’

If previous seasons gave us glimpses of the evil that men do, then this penultimate season of HBO's best current series gives us an extreme closeup.


Our Protagonist Is a Passenger of Clichés in ‘If I Stay’

This film urges you to believe that the protagonist is as special as anyone at the center of a YA saga, which is to say, so very special.


Long Live the Beastie Boys: Their Five Most Underappreciated Songs

PopMatters looks at five Beastie Boys songs that are not only underappreciated, but some of their best.


What a Quart of Whiskey Might Assuage, but Never Alleviate

Guitar music gave John Fahey a bridge to the subconscious, and his subconscious evidently was a scary realm.


Southbound: An Illustrated History of Southern Rock

Southbound profiles the musicians, producers, record labels, and movers and shakers that defined Southern rock, including the Allmans, Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band and here, the Charlie Daniels Band.


Disney’s ‘Tarzan’ Is a Visual Thrill Ride

Disney’s Tarzan is more than the last film in the “Disney Renaissance”; it’s also the best Tarzan film ever made.


Jenny Hval and Susanna: Meshes of Voice

With Meshes of Voice, Norwegians Jenny Hval and Susanna Wallumrød come together to craft an avant garde masterpiece.


Literature: Chorus

This is a huge step forward for the band, while preserving all of the most attractive qualities of the debut.


Richard Thompson: Acoustic Classics

Folk troubadour Richard Thompson commits an intimate solo studio performance of his classics to tape, highlighting both his skills as a guitarist and exceptional songwriter.


Bishop Allen: Lights Out

At their best, Bishop Allen develop a time and a place through memorable hooks and high craft, but they just can't sustain it for the whole album.


Plastikman: Ex: Performed Live at the Guggenheim NYC

Richie Hawtin returns to the name that made him a godfather of minimal techno.


Rathborne: Soft

Soft is the opposite to what the title suggests. Instead this is an album of quick, jagged rock and roll, New York style. Take it or leave it.


Thursday, August 21 2014

‘Expedition to the End of the World’: Scientists and Artists Find Beginnings

Daniel Dencik's film helps you to look at the Earth, so majestic, so superb, and to want more than ever to be aware.


‘Transcendence’ Is a High-Tech Mess of Subplots

Like Dr. Caster's (Johnny Depp) experiments, Transcendence is much smarter in theory than it is in practice.


‘The Answer to Everything’ Questions the Veracity of Truth

If this doesn’t get shortlisted for the Giller Prize, well, that would be just proof that the world is an unjust place.


From the Soul to the Hills: The Music of the Caucasus

The music of the Caucasus is powered by national ardour and ritual. All that's needed is an open and willing audience to accept the undisclosed gifts it brings.


‘I’m Not a Teacher, But I Play One in the Movies’: The Movie Teacher Myths

Movies create iconic, mythical teacher figures who, in two or so hours, do both more harm and more good than any actual human could achieve in a lifetime.


‘Ginger Snaps’ Is Freshly Female-Centric Horror

Watching the movie now, it seems to anticipate its own cult.


Roddy Frame: Seven Dials

There's much to like about Roddy Frame, and much to admire about this album. Shame it lacks a killer tune.


Connections: Into Sixes

Connections' Into Sixes is the band truly hitting its stride while also testing its limits in exciting ways.


Jon Gnarr Is Changing the World One Laugh at a Time

The unlikely, improbable, unbelievable – and totally true – story of Iceland’s anarchist comedian turned politician.


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