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The Unique Blues Album That You Never Heard Of—‘Til Now

Cubist Blues is a stylistic departure; Alan Vega being best known for his work as one-half of pioneering electronic music Suicide, and Alex Chilton from the legendary power pop band Big Star.

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Surprise: Kids Become Killing Machines in the YA Film, ‘The 5th Wave’

Does anyone care that this film is based on formula, or that its comedy is inadvertent, or that it's inelegant from its beginning?

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The Flash: Season 2, Episode 10 - “Potential Energy”

The Flash is the best of the current crop of superhero television; "Potential Energy" shows us why.

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Plates of Cake: Becoming Double

Becoming Double builds on the best parts of the previous records by diving headlong into tones that seemed only on the edge of the Plates of Cake sound before.

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Last Call at Folk City with Dominic Chianese

As the MC at New York's leading folk music venue, Chianese introduced many of the era's best-known and most influential figures.

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Downton Abbey: Season 6, Episode 3

New character facets, continued bickering, and a surprise return from a long-gone character are the focus of this week’s episode.

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What Rod Dreher Ought to Know About Dante and Same-Sex Love

Getting Dante straight means getting him gay, as well.

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22 Jan 2016 // 2:30 AM

Savages: Adore Life

Adore Life is a step up in maturity and songcraft, yet still delivers plenty of jagged ferocity. There aren’t any highs on par with the best moments of Silence Yourself, but it is nonetheless consistently strong, and may be more of a grower.

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22 Jan 2016 // 2:20 AM

Charlie Hilton: Palana

Palana is a beautiful stroke of orchestrated music, a three dimensional portrait of an ever-questioning soul, which goes out with a graceful, trickster smile.

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22 Jan 2016 // 2:15 AM

Jlin: Free Fall EP

The rising star of footwork follows a earth-shaking debut album with a collection of tracks brimming with ideas and a dizzying array of sounds.

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Tori Amos’ ‘Boys for Pele’: 20 Years of Fire

It’s been 20 years since Tori Amos slammed down the gauntlet and set her piano afire, willing and possibly eager to sacrifice anyone who spurned her to writhe in Pele’s eternal flames.

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‘Extraordinary X-men #5’ Is Basic, Bland, and Incomplete

The first arc has the basics, but not much else.

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Mercy Street: Season 1, Episode 1 - “The New Nurse”

Civil War period drama Mercy Street offers enough interest to satisfy the coming Downton Abbey drama drought.

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21 Jan 2016 // 9:00 AM

The Expanse: Season 1, Episode 2 - “Remember the Cant”

It's the complex and nuanced portrayals of The Expanse's female characters that's edging the series into must-watch territory.

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The Pessimist’s Guide to Saving the World

A pessimistic outlook, argues Stuart Sim, is much healthier for humankind than optimism.

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Badly Drawn Boy: The Hour of Bewilderbeast (15th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

Badly Drawn Boy's beloved first album gets a nice reissue with a well-curated disc of bonus material. It's well worth revisiting.

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I Was So Bored Watching ‘Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens’

Star Wars is the latest exemplar of a genre that's accelerating toward its own creative exhaustion. That genre, of course, is the Hollywood tent-pole.

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21 Jan 2016 // 2:20 AM

Half Japanese: Perfect

The consistently strange, dependably wonderful Jad Fair has gifted fans with a concise, enjoyable and, as always, bizarre, new Half Japanese record.

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The Modernization of Japan, a Corrupt Military, and Lady Snowblood

More than just bloody revenge movies, a number of thematic strands and political critiques run beneath the pulp surface of these two Lady Snowblood films.

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Doctor Who’s Famous Sonic Screwdriver

For those interested in how to construct an on-screen universe, there is no better place to start than with Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds.

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Ronald Jones, John Tesh, and Metallic Clouds: An Interview with Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne

Fresh off the massive re-release of the Flaming Lips' fan-favorite 1995 album Clouds Taste Metallic, frontman Wayne Coyne reminisces on its creation, its influence, and mystery surrounding former band member Ronald Jones.

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20 Jan 2016 // 2:31 PM

Mike Holober: Balancing Act

Mike Holober and his band want it both ways -- all ways -- on Balancing Act.

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Armed With a Slew of Hits, Billy Joel Welcomes the New Year in South Florida

Billy Joel unlocked the door to his hit factory in South Florida. His songs tonight happened to be as classic as they were dated; that is, they were both timeless and historical.

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20 Jan 2016 // 11:34 AM

Peter Case: HWY 62

Peter Case understands that life at the margins really means one is at the center of things.

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Jekyll and Hyde: Series 1, Episodes 8, 9, and 10

As the series comes to an end, vampires, the Incubus, and an army of the undead knock on Jekyll's door, only for Hyde to answer; unfortunately, he doesn't like cold-callers.

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The Good Wife: Season 7, Episode 12 - “Tracks”

The Kings said they're stepping down after this season; after this week's episode, it's hard to imagine how The Good Wife dares to continue on without them.

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The Catalyst of a Genesis in ‘Secret Wars #9’

A new Marvel Universe is forged, refined, and polished in the most satisfying way possible.

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Supergirl: Season 1, Episode 10 - “Childish Things”

With "Childish Things", Supergirl manages the kind of quirky comic book storytelling combined with genuinely interesting characterizations that make for the very best in superhero television.

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20 Jan 2016 // 2:30 AM

Pop. 1280: Paradise

Those wanting to dance with the devil will have a very pleasant time with Pop. 1280's brooding and flashy Paradise.

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Showa Epic of Japan Concludes the Story of a Man and His Nation

Past and present converge in Mizuki’s conceptually rich manga.

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20 Jan 2016 // 2:20 AM

Daughter: Not to Disappear

Daughter's Not to Disappear beautifully distills what it means to be human and to experience pain, but with far greater nuance and maturity than their debut.

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20 Jan 2016 // 2:15 AM

Future: Purple Reign

After one of rap's great runs, Future slows down by returning to the formula of the mixtape that started it all, minus the intangibles.

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‘Intruders’ Plays With Genre, But Not Enough to Stand Out

Director Adam Schindler’s first film shows promise, but its' lack of distinguishing features hold it back.

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Jeffrey Foucault: Salt As Wolves

Jeffrey Foucault never disappoints but especially not on this recording which finds him joined by former Morphine drummer Billy Conway, who co-produces with Foucault and guitarist Bo Ramsey.

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20 Jan 2016 // 2:00 AM

White Jumpsuits: Sci-Fi TV of the Disco Era

Despite skin-tight jumpsuits, dodgy special effects, and silly plots, "disco-era" sci-fi helped US TV became comfortable with ideas too big, too strange, or too disturbing for a "mundane" context.

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The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret: Season Three

It is impossible to know where the stupidity ends and the narcissism begins with the titular Todd Margaret.

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Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real + Insects vs Robots

What really puts Lukas Nelson at a higher level is how he’s just as good a soulful songwriter as he is a guitar player, a rare and special combination.

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The Blacklist: Season 3, Episode 10 - “The Director (No. 24): Conclusion”

The Blacklist closes two of the season story arcs and offers up a ho-hum heel turn.

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Spend the Night with the Characters of ‘Oxenfree’

Oxenfree is a small game, set in a small game universe, that offers some of the most authentic human drama that I've seen in any medium.

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Night Riders and Matinee Movies: The Relationship Between the KKK and American Film

This book could not be timelier, given the nativist and racist rhetoric inflaming discourse among America's Republican Party presidential hopefuls.

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Lewis Carroll’s Alice Goes Digital in the Ambitious New Musical ‘wonder.land’

Damon Albarn and Moira Buffini’s musical is set in the contemporary world of social media, RPGs, and mean-girls, with results that veer from ingenious to awkward.

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Ty Segall: Emotional Mugger

Ty Segall has always reliably subscribed to rockist orthodoxy, but he’s left room enough on his new album for noisy evolution.

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Celestial Sound: Thoughts on Mahler’s Third Symphony

To listen to Mahler is to claim your soul hasn’t been splintered by postmodernity -- even if you hate Mahler and disbelieve in the soul.

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The High Llamas: Here Come the Rattling Trees

Life in the town portrayed in Here Come the Rattling Trees continues as it has, with little change, much like the High Llamas’ music. This can be comforting, but also a little dull.

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Honeymoon Disease: The Transcendence

Honeymoon Disease's eerily precise recreation of '70s hard rock works due to their command of riffs and melody. And their strong lead singer.

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John Carpenter: Lost Themes Remixed

Carpenter's first non-film score gets the remix treatment courtesy some of the best electronic musicians working today

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‘Little Sister’ Keeps it All in the Family

Arguably a far more demented cousin of Cocteau’s Les Enfants Terribles, Little Sister manages an insightful revelation through the contentious moment of familial destruction.

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19 Jan 2016 // 2:00 AM

The Tortoise Wins: An Interview with Dan Bitney

Tortoise's Dan Bitney talks about 25 years in post-rock, the band's latest collaboration with Chicago's free-jazz community and why it made sense to add vocals after all these years.

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The Magicians: Season 1, Episode 1 - “Unauthorized Magic”

Good ideas and great effects are marred by poor narrative execution in the pilot episode of SyFy's latest offering.

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American Horror Story - Hotel: Season 5, Episode 12 - “Be Our Guest”

In the season finale, the series-long question of, "Is love worse than loneliness?" finally gets a definitive answer, along with several fitting ends for our leads.

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iZombie: Season 2, Episode 10 - “Method Head”

“Method Head” gets meta, gets funny, while skillfully pushing forward the series' increasingly complex storylines.

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18 Jan 2016 // 2:45 AM

The Black Panther’s Pulp Epic

The pulpiness of Black Panther stories is precisely what enables them to comment brilliantly on a variety of social issues, particularly the politics of race.

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Eleanor Friedberger: New View

New View is best appreciated with a deep and unhurried engagement, as the full album in full fidelity offers many distinctive pleasures.

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The Besnard Lakes: A Coliseum Complex Museum

A deep love for texture and amplification is what gives Besnard Lakes' records their distinctive flair, manifesting a capacity to engage with a kaleidoscopic resonance.

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Jason Boland and the Stragglers: Squelch

Red Dirt veteran Jason Boland turns in his most introspective (and rowdy) LP yet.

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We Hunt Buffalo: Living Ghosts

Big riffs and catchy choruses and fuzz. We Hunt Buffalo provides something for fans across the hard rock and metal genres.

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What Happens After Happily Ever After?

Whimsical, poignant, and unmistakably magical, The 10th Kingdom has a grand scale yet an intimate and relatable story that is enchanting for viewers of all ages.

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‘The Autobiography of James T. Kirk’: Backstories for Everyone!

Filled with in-jokes and subtle references to the show, uber-fans will love this "auto" biography of Star Trek's Captain Kirk and the stories of the people in his life.

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Shawn Mullins: My Stupid Heart

With his new album, Mullins draws ever closer to a breakthrough, thanks to some of the strongest songs he’s ever written.

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Heroes and Politics in ‘13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’

The world in this version of Benghazi is both awful and glorious, outsized and shrinking, poignant and repetitive.

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Billy Gibbons and the BFG’s: Perfectamundo

A Latin-tinged misfire from flame-maned ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons

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Igor Stravinsky’s Music Will Long Outlast the Chatter it Begat

True to form for Critical Lives, Jonathan Cross packs a rich life into a lean yet bountiful biography in Igor Stravinsky.

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15 Jan 2016 // 2:30 AM

Ulver: ATGCLVLSSCAP

A stellar collection of material from a collective that pushes more boundaries and buttons than it often gets credit for. An early contender for Album of the Year.

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‘Steven Universe’: Cartoon Network’s Avant-Garde Animation

Steven Universe's brightly colored world offers nuanced characters and complex plots by doing everything "wrong" by the outmoded standards of typical animated programs.

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The Moon, the Marquise and Other Sad Romantics

Eric Rohmer and Heinrich Von Kleist converge in a parallax of misguided literary loves.

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The Kamasi Washington Phenomenon

PopMatters' jazz critics didn't include Kamasi Washington's The Epic on their "Best of 2015" list, despite its huge acclaim by mainstream critics. Here's why.

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It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 11, Episode 2 - “Frank Falls Out the Window”

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia doubles down on their delightfully meta, Oulipian 11th season with an episode designed to satisfy the show's long-time fans.

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American Crime: Season 2, Episode 1

The second season of ABC's American Crime starts off with a demonstration of both the benefits and the limitations of the anthology series format.

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And: Phenomenology of the End by Franco Berardi

Imagine orienting yourself on a map, scratching a red "X" to mark your location, and then realizing how precarious your position is, how perilously far you are from where you want to be.

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14 Jan 2016 // 6:29 AM

In Defense of Board Games

Board games show us a path out of our addiction to the on-screen desert of gaming by making the real world a tactile oasis for entertainment. You’re playing against people, not code, and you might even learn some history, biology, or economics while you're at it.

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Not This Again… ‘Sinister 2’

Take the advice of the kids being forced to watch horror scenes in this film. You won't want to watch any more, either.

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Shearwater: Jet Plane and Oxbow

Jet Plane and Oxbow is a remarkably polished, alluring, and dignified accomplishment.

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Luke Haines: British Nuclear Bunkers

British Nuclear Bunkers is as stubborn, singular and compelling as its creator.

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Donnie Fritts: Oh My Goodness

As a true Southerner, Donnie Fritts understands the finer things in life. He sings about the power of food and sex.

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Alison Brown: The Song of the Banjo

The Song of the Banjo may be Alison Brown's most mainstream effort yet.

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Jodie Landau: You of All Things

You of All Things re-elaborates without overturning or, worse, overdoing.

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Downton Abbey: Season 6, Episode 2

As the series nears its end, it's the women of Downton Abbey who get to shine.

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The Good Wife: Season 7, Episode 11 - “Iowa”

The Good Wife hits the reset button for the second half of its seventh season: how else could it avoid one of those dreaded cliffs?

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American Horror Story - Hotel: Season 5, Episode 11 - “Battle Royale”

The dirty, stinky, gross side of rock 'n' roll throws up Sally's back-story, and all the characters are united in their aim to off the Countess once and for all in this episode.

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13 Jan 2016 // 8:10 AM

The Expanse: Season 1, Episode 2 - “The Big Empty”

The Expanse remains a work in progress, but some excellent performances and interesting developments help it avoid common sci-fi plot pitfalls.

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Sarah Vowell Explores American History With One Foot Firmly in the Land of Humor

Part travelogue, part historical narrative, and every bit a statement on post-Obama politics, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is an interesting work that serves multiple purposes.

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13 Jan 2016 // 2:30 AM

Secrets of the Moon: Sun

The German metal unit takes black metal and progressive metal to new extremes on their latest release.

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Pinkish Black: Bottom of the Morning

Fort Worth duo forges through tragedy to make their uniquely compelling heavy, dark music.

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There Are No Accidents on ‘Mulholland Drive’

David Lynch's film unfolds in a series of desires, warnings, and deals that are often made under duress by unseen malevolent forces, or motivated by darkness within.

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A Great Big World: When the Morning Comes

A Great Big World's versatility as musicians will carry them through accusations of mediocrity and sameness.

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Doc Watson: Live at the Bottom Line

There may be too many Doc Watson albums for one person to hear, but it is difficult to think of a more pleasurable musical experience. In the meantime, this concert from 2002 provides an excellent place to start.

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An Impressive Look at the Evolution of the British TV Documentary

Most of the films in Visions of Change: Volume 1 - BBC 1951-1967 consists of writerly texts that challenge viewers to conceive of their meaning in new and unexpected ways.

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13 Jan 2016 // 2:05 AM

Beer Is a Funny Thing

The Comic Book Story of Beer shows how the evolution of beer parallels the evolution of civilization. Bottoms up to civilization!

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‘Silicon Valley’s’ Humor Is Smart, and Assumes Its Viewers Are Too

Unlike the other "geek-themed" series, The Big Bang Theory, Silicon Valley finds its humor in its geeky characters, rather than at their expense.

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‘Chuck Norris vs. Communism’ and the End of Television

Unable to find food to eat, working long hours for precious little compensation, living in cramped, cold quarters, Romanians sought hope in "video nights".

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Shades of Blue: Season 1, Episode 1 - “Pilot”

Have we gotten to the point in television where moral ambiguity is the norm?

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Steven Universe: Season 2, Episode 29 - “Log Date 7 15 2”

The conclusion to this week’s "StevenBomb" is a quiet episode that offers greater insight into Peridot.

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The Blacklist: Season 3, Episode 9 - “The Director”

In the latest episode of The Blacklist, the sides are set between Team Red and the Cabal.

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Steven Universe: Season 2, Episode 28 - “Message Received”

Peridot, in her own unique way, finally makes a decision about her place in the world.

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‘Like Family’ Unfortunately, Is a Story as Lifeless as Its Central Subject

Like Family is full of worthwhile scattered sentiments, but there isn’t enough appeal or momentum between them to make enduring the entire work worthwhile.

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Mourning the Alien: The Many Lives and Powerful Death of David Bowie

In remembering David Bowie, we ask that you remember him two ways: through the eyes of so many others who saw so many different things in him, and through the biggest lie that he ever told us.

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Lee Hazlewood: The Very Special World of / Hazlewoodism: Its Cause and Cure / Something Special

These records tell a fascinating story of a compellingly eccentric artist given the chance to shine and experiment with his craft.

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John Lennon’s ‘Working Class Hero’: Boundaries, Mobility and Honesty

The working class song has to speak of boundaries and ambition, but it also has to say where the performer stands among the people, among the classes—or where he thinks he stands, or wants to stand.

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Judy Dyble: Anthology Part One

Judy Dyble sang with the Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention and Giles, Giles Fripp. Then she disappeared...

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

Violin Virtuoso L. Subramaniam Mesmerizes in Rare New York Performance (Photos)

// Notes from the Road

"Co-presented by the World Music Institute, the 92Y hosted a rare and mesmerizing performance from India's violin virtuoso L. Subramaniam.

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