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19 Jun 2017 // 7:21 AM

Arcadea: Arcadea

Mastodon's Brann Dailor sings and drums like crazy for this synth metal act featuring no guitars. It's a treat if you're part of that very specific audience that enjoys synth-metal.

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I’ll Fight for Your Life: An Interview with the Drums

He seemed to lose a band member with each passing album, and then a big breakup made him rethink things. Jonny Pierce turned all of that into an album some are calling The Drums' best.

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‘The Girl at the Baggage Claim’: Culture, Context, and the Self in East and West

Gish Jen's study of independence and interdependence brings polarized ideas of the self into conversation with one another.

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19 Jun 2017 // 2:30 AM

UMFANG: Symbolic Use of Light

UMFANG has created a thrillingly live and raw techno album with the emphasis placed on capturing the moment.

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Life in the Time of Outrage: We’ve Drawn So Many Lines in the Sand That We’ve Eroded the Beach

The ad hominem argument, traditionally considered a logical fallacy, has gained a cultural acceptance and a widespread tacit approval that boggles the mind.

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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is Important, Which Means It Has to Do Better

Everything in The Handmaid's Tale narrative is grounded in gendered oppression that exists, or has existed, somewhere in the world, always.

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Whatever Happened to American Idealism?

Young Radicals reminds us that idealism and progressive radicalism are not terms of insult; they are core American values that America needs desperately to rediscover.

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‘Imagine Wanting Only This’ Is as Beautiful as It Is Troubling in the Questions it Poses

Through her visually stunning graphic memoir, Kristen Radtke explores themes of love and loss and the impermanence of life in all its forms.

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16 Jun 2017 // 8:31 AM

Goldie: The Journey Man

Goldie returns after a near decade absence with the lengthy double-album The Journey Man.

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‘Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2’ Humanizes the American Juror As More Than Just Another Digit

Lindy’s conversations  with fellow former jurors reveal some understated nuances in American politics and culture better than mere argumentation ever can.

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Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, and James McAlister: Planetarium

Although overly padded and repetitious at times, Planetarium is a poignant, adventurous, and highly promising debut.

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I’ve Got No Beef With Nu-Disco Editing—It’s the Cutting Into Disco’s Gayness That Bothers Me

There’s nothing wrong with stripping the frills. But what happens when you carve out the heart in the process?

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Family Bonding, Poverty and Vagrancy in Children’s Literature

Three European classics, Seacrow Island, An Episode of Sparrows and Krabat and the Sorcerer’s Mill explore difficult topics with profundity and sincerity.

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Chasing the Jester’s Ghosts: “American Pie”

In light of the March 2017 announcement of "American Pie" being preserved in the Library of Congress, let's not forget other songs of the '70s that matter just as much.

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16 Jun 2017 // 2:30 AM

Fleet Foxes: Crack-Up

On their first album in six years, Fleet Foxes produce a dense, complex album that's easily their best, most ambitious work yet.

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‘iZombie’: “Conspiracy Weary” Deftly Connects the Season’s Numerous Plots

With a fourth season confirmed, everything doesn't need to be wrapped up quickly in iZombie, season 3.

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United, Divided, and Spited: Marvel’s ‘Secret Empire United #1’

The real world and the world of Secret Empire intersect to create a relevant, yet compelling story.

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Summer Turns to Fall: Revisiting the ‘Summer of Love’ 50 Years Later

Summer of Love simultaneously demonstrates why that moment in the cultural timeline is worth commemorating, what its legacy is, and what was lost as summer turned to fall.

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‘The Book of Henry’ Goes From Tearjerker to Just Plain Jerky

It’s difficult to recall a film soaring so high, only to crash beneath the weight of its own narrative and thematic blunders.

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Joe Bonomo’s ‘Field Recordings’ Makes Plain the Poetry Inside of Him

In his lifelong attachments to music, Bonomo holds on loosely and succeeds in never letting go.

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15 Jun 2017 // 10:11 AM

Bibio: Beyond Serious

Since Mineral Love, Bibio has been in an exploratory period which has blossomed into two drastically different EPs. Beyond Serious is way off the beaten path.

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‘The Jacques Rivette Collection’: Three Proto-Lynchian Dream Teases

Rivette's Duelle, Noroît and Merry-Go-Round are the kind of films that are always on the verge of almost making sense.

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Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Jug Band Blues

Full of surprises, this lively anthology explores a sometimes under-appreciated genre of early-recorded blues, highlighting its creative diversity.

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London Grammar: Truth Is a Beautiful Thing

While compelling, London Grammar did not exactly sound wildly original when they first emerged in 2013. In 2017, it is even harder to find a context for their work.

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15 Jun 2017 // 9:11 AM

Ride: Weather Diaries

Oxford’s dreaming sons erase their ending with an album that is fondly unfamiliar and more rewarding for it.

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Does It Take a Superhero to Understand One’s Own Mind?

In A Little More Human, Fiona Maazel provides a madcap conspiracy involving high-tech medicine and the stranger within.

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Mind Blowing: Leroy Smart in the Heady Days of 1977

In 1977, reggae music burst out of its Caribbean confines and found its way to a record store in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That's the first time I met "The Don", Leroy Smart.

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Netflix Mystery ‘Shimmer Lake’ Opens Up a Conversation About the New World of Film

"Studios are not making these types of movies anymore... and so places like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and YouTube Red are coming in and filling the void," says Footprint Features CEO, Adam Saunders.

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‘Beyond Trans’ Exposes the Absurd Sex and Gender Bureaucracy

Reading Beyond Trans is like having one's window shades thrown open after arising from a long night of sleep: the sunlight burns the eyes, but it awakens them.

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Mark Mulcahy: The Possum in the Driveway

With only the second release after his wife’s tragic passing in 2008, Mark Mulcahy manages to make the most of his time spent moving forward.

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Brash and Playful ‘Okja’ is the Summer’s Activist Epic

Bong Joon Ho’s uneven but still electrifying caper about a little girl and her giant pig on the run from villainous Tilda Swinton swirls a sharp dose of slapstick comedy into its pop satirical narrative.

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Chris Stapleton: From a Room: Volume 1

Although From a Room likely won’t sweep the CMAs as Traveller did, its refined craftsmanship hammers home Stapleton’s abilities as a singer and songwriter.

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Amir ElSaffar Rivers of Sound: Not Two

It is elevating to the spirit to encounter music and philosophy characterized by such warmth and amenity.

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14 Jun 2017 // 8:52 AM

Katy Perry: Witness

Who's going to bear Witness? The listeners, of course, because this album, unfortunately, proves to be one hell of a burden.

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‘Pussy’ Is a Savage Satire in the Form of a Comic Fairytale

Howard Jacobson shows that Donald Trump may not be beyond satire, after all...

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Ella Fitzgerald’s Centennial: Is It Possible to Reinvent This Artist?

The First Lady of Song was a seeker, and it's been all too easy to just imitate her: the scatting, the silky melodies. On her 100th, there's a better way to do it.

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Allen Ginsberg: The Artist as Mensch

The overwhelming impression from Ginsberg's interviews is his lack of ego. He comes across, again and again, as a fundamentally decent person.

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It All Began the Day ‘Blade’ Sliced Through the Silver Screen

How Blade found success out of the rubble of comic book films and Marvel's bankruptcy.

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‘The Production of Money’: How to Break the Bankers and Put Our Broken Economy Back Together

There’s plenty of money floating around in the world, but it’s all in the wrong places.

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In ‘The Blood is at the Doorstep’, a Family Suffers From an Intransigent Criminal Justice System

Erik Ljung's work is an auspicious cinematic debut which reminds that for every criminal justice statistic, there's a stirring story which deserves to be deeply considered.

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‘Orphan Black’s The Crowded “Few Who Dare” Sets Up for the Final Season

"The Few Who Dare" continues to keep the clones separate, for the most part, as they each pull on a different thread in the Neolution plot.

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20 Questions: Doctors of Madness’ Richard Strange

The Sex Pistols once opened for them, and are cited as the missing link between glam and punk. At long last, their music is available again, and frontman/erstwhile Death Eater Richard Strange reflects on it all.

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A Warts and All Look at 150 years of Women’s Wrestling

As GLOW gets a second look on Netflix and a group of new women wrestlers grab attention in the WWE, Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy celebrate the female performers who paved the way.

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13 Jun 2017 // 8:14 AM

Joe Fiedler: Like, Strange

One of the era's most astonishing trombonists, Fiedler has made his best, most appealing recording with a sterling quintet.

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13 Jun 2017 // 8:08 AM

Lyle Lovett: Greatest Hits

Despite being something of a misnomer on multiple levels, Greatest Hits is as fine a place to start as any for those looking to get into Lyle Lovett.

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13 Jun 2017 // 7:53 AM

Phoenix: Ti Amo

Summer is here and Phoenix have returned with a set of pop songs determinedly celebrating vacationing on the beach and the joys of love and romance.

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13 Jun 2017 // 3:00 AM

One Nation, Divided by Humor

We may be one nation in America, but today we appear to be living on different planets.

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Resistance and Hope in ‘Letter to Brezhnev’

Opportunities for happiness and betterment may be few and far between, but these Liverpudlians will grab them when they do come their way.

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‘Post Grad’ Takes a Hard, Honest Look at Life After College

Many recent grads will appreciate knowing that they aren’t the only ones struggling after graduating college.

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All Moviemakers Are Liars: Nick Efteriades on His Short Noir Thriller, ‘Pronoia’ (premiere)

With the protagonist thrust into a fictional situation inspired by an actual event, Pronoia is like a fusion of Melville's Le Samourai and Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad.

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Royal Trux: Platinum Tips + Ice Cream

Royal Trux, one of the most important American bands of all time, resurfaces with an anarchic yet smooth live set to remind disciples how it is done.

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The Charlatans: Different Days

Different Days may not be a match for its predecessor Modern Nature, but the Manchester talent and spirit of the Charlatans shine through.

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The Long Life of a Shattering and Complex Idea: Civil War

How a conflict is defined and labeled can make all the difference in whether an organization such as the Red Cross comes on the scene.

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‘iZombie’: “Return of the Dead Guy” Is Overcrowded But Still Entertaining

While clearly the larger ongoing stories will continue into next season, "Return of the Dead Guy" is still a fun hour, if not a standout episode.

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‘Was She Pretty?’ Depicts a Litany of Ex-lovers

Was She Pretty? may suggest that anxieties over exes are universal, it also subtlety critiques its circle of privileged sufferers.

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Linklater’s “Before” Trilogy Is About So Much More Than Romantic Love

Across three films and 18 years, the characters of Jesse and Céline have endured in the hearts of cinephiles everywhere, but their journey remains more complex than you remembered.

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The Sweet Spot Between Expression and Familiarity: An Interview with Becca Stevens

Jazz-pop great Becca Stevens is breaking from being billed as a band to craft a progressive solo effort that will take many of her fans into new and fascinating places.

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‘Practicable’ Proposes to Rewrite Postwar Western Art History

Both a historical survey and a theoretical treatise, this book highlights key artists and movements, of course, and then brings broader humanities and social science perspectives to bear.

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Chastity Belt’s ‘I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone’ and the Power of Termite Art

Chastity Belt's latest is a killer album, laid back but upbeat, honest and laser sharp, a highly unified piece of work by four people who know exactly what they want to say and how to say it.

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Pantha Du Prince: The Triad (Ambient Versions & Remixes)

Pantha Du Prince strips back his songs from The Triad to leave a delicate and soothing ambient album

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The Heliocentrics: A World of Masks

The Heliocentrics deliver straight aural acid and face-melting psych jazz as they head for A World of Masks.

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Nathaniel Rateliff: In Memory of Loss (Reissue)

Put out only seven years after its initial release, this reissue does little to expand its original incarnation.

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12 Jun 2017 // 2:10 AM

Woman: Happy Freedom

Happy Freedom may be the only album to make you think of Marvin Gaye and Kraftwerk at the same time.

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Threefifty: Gently Among the Coals

It's rare to find a band so unbeholden to genre as Threefifty.

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Raul Midón: Bad Ass and Blind

Eclectic singer/songwriter Raul Midón lives up to being a self-proclaimed badass on Bad Ass and Blind.

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‘Megan Leavey’: The Story of a Dog and His Girl

Megan Leavey is not interested in the Iraq war as such. What it offers instead is the story of her journey, heartfelt and well-acted, but never surprising.

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Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2017: ‘Nowhere to Hide’

Zaradasht Ahmed's opening night film is a quiet but searing portrait of an Iraqi family hurled into exile by the chaos that followed the 2011 pullout of American forces.

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Dressing Like Dolls as a Form of Resistance: ‘So Pretty / Very Rotten’

Unlike the western understanding of the word, "Lolitas" engage in a somewhat sexless performance of innocence, fairy tale femininity, and cultural resistance.

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’The Mummy (2017)’ Abandons Campy Fun for Faux Gravitas

Alex Kurtzman’s first chapter in the ‘Dark Universe’ franchise is stuck somewhere between William Castle and William Shakespeare.

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It’s All True!: Weston Magazines and Wrestling’s “Creative Journalism”

Stanley Weston's small pre-WWF line of wrestling magazines featured writing staffs that made up pull-quotes and headlines on the spot. Just what fans were clamoring for.

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Fried Green Tomatoes in the Rubyfruit Jungle

Although their writing styles and life experiences differ greatly, Fannie Flagg and Rita Mae Brown each has illuminated what it means to be a woman -- and a lesbian -- in contemporary American society.

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9 Jun 2017 // 2:30 AM

alt-J: Relaxer

The real gold on Relaxer happens when alt-J reins in the gimmickry a bit and starts writing folk songs.

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There Are Still So Many Barriers to Break: Zoe Lister-Jones On ‘Band Aid’ and Women In Film

Zoe Lister-Jones writes, directs, and stars in her feature debut, Band Aid, a heartfelt relationship comedy that, unlike the epically popular Wonder Woman, boasts an all-female crew.

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9 Jun 2017 // 2:20 AM

Glen Campbell: Adios

The incomparable singer and musician has been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for years, and Adios is a fitting farewell from a multifaceted legend.

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Game Theory: 2 Steps From the Middle Ages

Game Theory’s 1988 release anticipated the alternative music explosion of the early '90s.

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Iceman May Be Out as a Gay Character, But He’s Not Quite Out With the World at Large

His parents don't accept him. The world, as a whole, doesn't accept him. Even other mutants seem more "normal" by comparison.

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‘Pinstripe’ Makes for a Lovely Hell

Thomas Brush's talent is in creating compelling worlds through images that are both whimsical and haunting in equal measure.

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Finally, a Proper Biography of Chrissie Hynde

Despite the analytic difficulties inherently present in Hynde as a subject, Sobsey truly does deliver the goods.

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8 Jun 2017 // 8:30 AM

Dreams Can Be Deadly

The Nightwalker may not make perfect sense once it concludes, but its level of engagement, imagination, and self-reflection makes it unforgettably haunting,

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Trombone Shorty: Parking Lot Symphony

Same old same old from the New Orleans brass phenom, but a pretty good same old blending '70s soul and brass band swagger.

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Digging the Earth: Michael J. Sheehy on Music, Politics and Personal History

Miraculous Mule introduces politics into their poisonous melodrama on their latest album and frontman Michael J. Sheehy shares his greatest musical inspirations.

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Life in the Interzone in Old Shanghai

The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai and Flowers of Shanghai capture a William S. Borroughs-like Interzone in Old Shanghai.

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8 Jun 2017 // 2:30 AM

Bleachers: Gone Now

Gone Now shares the '80s enthusiasm and sincere sentimentalism of Bleachers' debut, but Jack Antonoff's over-the-top flair occasionally sacrifices the music.

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8 Jun 2017 // 2:20 AM

Chuck Berry: Chuck

The good news is that while the man was no longer a groundbreaking creator of a new musical style, he still could rock in creative and energetic ways.

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Oumou Sangaré: Mogoya

With her first new music in eight years, Oumou Sangaré proves she's still the queen of Malian music.

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From Punk Fan to Rising Star: Jade Jackson Delivers Formidable Country Rock

California country-rocker Jade Jackson tells PopMatters her story and talks about her debut album, Gilded, which was produced by Social Distortion's Mike Ness.

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LGBTQ People at Home, at Ease

Tom Atwood's Kings & Queens in Their Castles celebrates the diversity of the gay, lesbian, and transgender community with a series of beautiful portraits of people in their homes.

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Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Jon Batiste: The Music of John Lewis

The late show band leader and Wynton Marsalis, in concert presenting the surprising prescient music of the leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet.

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8 Take Aways from the 2017 Governors Ball Music Festival

Brief bouts of rain didn't dampen the most vibrant Governors Ball yet. The fest had a lot to offer an all-ages audience. Most importantly: great performances.

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Jazz, Cocktails, and the Overlooked Players of Film Noir

A noir protagonist usually finds himself encountering a new danger around each corner. A jazz musician, in venturing into the throes of an intricate composition, must also anticipate the unknown.

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Jacques Demy’s ‘The Young Girls of Rochefort’ Is Awash With Color—and Influence

How much did La La Land draw from the distinctive look, music, and atmosphere of this 1967 French classic?

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Omar Souleyman: To Syria, With Love

Omar Souleyman's latest collection of Syrian synthpop pays ecstatic tribute to his long-lost homeland.

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The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the Continuing High Cost of Fashion

The poor workplace conditions that led to this tragedy have been outsourced to places like Bangladesh, where similar factory tragedies happened as recently as 2013.

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Halsey: Hopeless Fountain Kingdom

Halsey has, for the most part, abandoned the specificity that was key to her lyrical successes on Badlands.

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7 Jun 2017 // 2:15 AM

Michael Nau: Some Twist

The man behind Page France and Cotton Jones takes a somnambulant approach to his latest collection of sleepy, understated bedroom pop. *Warning: do not listen to while operating heavy machinery.

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When It Comes to Collecting Vinyl, It’s Better to Be a Freak Than a Snob

John Corbett exposes a beautiful and dusty world forgotten but kept alive by that dying medium known as the vinyl record.

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6 Jun 2017 // 9:42 AM

Flamingods: Majesty

Flamingods use a wealth of exotic instruments to make rich, unusual textures. Too bad they don't work nearly as hard on their songwriting.

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13 Must-See Artists at This Week’s Northside Festival

Northside’s unique geographical situation and organizational openness makes it an ideal alternative to what has become the cookie cutter weekend-long concert experience in America.

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From the Superhero Universe of Brute Ego, Wonder Woman Arises, Unsullied

Seventy-five years ago Wonder Woman arose to show what a stagnating comic book medium could achieve; now she does it again, and in so doing, rescues the DC franchise from itself.

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‘A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women’: Siri Hustvedt and the Art of Thinking

Hustvedt reminds us that the making and encountering of art is often embodied, rooted in material and biological and neurological functions.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

'Doctor Who': Casting a Woman as the Doctor Offers Fresh Perspectives and a New Kind of Role Model

// Channel Surfing

"The BBC's announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor has sections of fandom up in arms. Why all the fuss?

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