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Friday, March 27 2015

Janelle Asselin, Rosy Press and the Reinvention of the Ordinary

Sometimes once in a rare while someone with a single idea disrupts an entire industry. Veteran Editor Janelle Asselin's Rosy Press might just be that idea for this generation.


‘Serena’ Re-Teams Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper Amidst Cliches

Every time the movie makes the claim that its protagonist is a "strong woman", it just as quickly reduces her to the worst clichés.


Is ‘Get Hard’ Humor or Hate Crime?

You may find yourself laughing at the homophobia and hate on display in this borderline despicable film.Said snickers are nothing to be proud of.


‘Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter’ Finds Riches in the Coen Brothers’ ‘Fargo’

This film about a woman so obsessed with Fargo she thinks it contains clues to buried treasure turns into a beautiful, chilly odyssey.


Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock

Morningstar plays like a Star Trek episode that forgot to add in a moral message about the nature of humanity at the end.


How to Use the Media

Don’t just sit there looking at your computer (or tablet, or phone). Engage!


Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Science of Hedonism and the Hedonism of Science

The colourful science of marijuana and psychedelic drugs will make you wish you paid more attention in science class.


30 Musical, Literary and Cultural Reasons to Celebrate 30 More Years of Phish: Part Two

From Romanticism to structuralism, the musical ingenuity of Phish pays tribute to a variety of cultural movements; they're more dada than dad rock.


Tinseltown Has Rarely Seemed More Terrifying Than in ‘Starry Eyes’

Starry Eyes presents a twilit world of hysterical ambition that would put Norma Desmond to shame.


Liturgy: The Ark Work

Religious music, black metal, electronic, and 8-bit all come together in this bizarre yet ultimately captivating philosophical tome from Liturgy.


Zu: Cortar Todo

It roars, dilutes, squeals, shrieks, pulsates and squawks. Welcome to the world of Zu.


Chastity Belt: Time to Go Home

Chastity Belt brings the '90s nostalgia, but forgets to bring the variety along with it.


Joe Pug: Windfall

Pug fought through some tough times to produce this optimistic, rewarding record.


Ryan Bingham: Fear and Saturday Night

The candor of Bingham on Bingham reveals an intimate portrait of love and hope on Fear and Saturday Night.


Theophilus London: Vibes

True to its name, Vibes comes chock-full of different vibes for different situations.


Thursday, March 26 2015

‘Convergence’ and ‘Secret War’ Get to the Heart of the Matter

In the lead up to the release of Convergence and Secret War, we explore why these comicbook stories matter to you, no matter what the publishers' say.


No One Gets Away Unscathed in David Joy’s Latest

Where All Light Tends to Go is unflinchingly violent, difficult to witness, and tragic from its outset.


The Artist Is Not Present: The Significance of Sia’s Anti-Pop Persona

For once, a pop artist has rejected the idea of stardom, and as a result, has become one of the world’s most discussed pop stars.


Too Smart to Be Naïve, Too Young to Be Jaded: ‘The Bends’ and Teen Angst

Even teenagers two decades removed from The Bends' original release can still find deep emotional connections to its depiction of isolation and dissatisfaction.


‘Stranger at My Door’ Is a Western That Doesn’t Settle for the Obvious

This isn't some towering milestone of the genre, but it's something harder to pull off: a quietly intelligent, handsomely made, satisfying B-western.


Laura Marling: Short Movie

The eclectic guitar becomes a tool that complements Laura Marling's lyrics on this pivotal album, at times articulating visceral anger and, at others, obliterating psychic barriers and clearing space for something new.


On “the Agony of Becoming”

Green Girl is Kate Zambreno's searing meditation on a young American girl's coming-to-being in London.


The Go! Team: The Scene Between

With heavier rock influence and toned-down electronic methodology, The Scene Between represents the Go! Team's greatest deviation from their original template yet.


Tobias Jesso Jr: Goon

Goon isn’t great, but it is a fine example of what might evolve from pure pop purpose.


Andrew Combs: All These Dreams

Andrew Combs is either ignorant of or recording in deference to the past by rekindling the gilded countrypolitan spirit on his sophomore release, All These Dreams.


Tangerine Dream: Booster VII

The Booster series wraps up as the world bids farewell to Edgar Froese.


RxGF: Any Other Way

There's an innovative sound happening here, with many tracks sounding like they came from the soundtrack of some dystopian sci-fi world or even just the dark Orwellian future that’s currently on Earth’s horizon right here in 2015.


Wednesday, March 25 2015

In Gotham The Kids Are Alright, Day Two

By incorporating genres as diverse as Harry Potter, Dan Brown and Van Helsing, Gotham Academy #5 is as close to perfect as you can get.


Marge Piercy and the Geography of Home

In topics ranging from poverty to war’s ravages to environmental collapse, Piercy obeys the poet’s dictum to act as witness with Made in Detroit.


Thursday’s Geoff Rickly on Reissues, the Future, and Selling Crockpots

Thursday is no more, but their legacy lives on, with singer Geoff Rickly reissuing Waiting on his own label and talking about what chances, if any, there are to the group reuniting.


What Would Don Draper Do? Reading Dante in a Secular Age

Many readers of our generation emulate Don Draper, having lost Dante's connections to Christianity or perhaps to any such deity.


“Where Do We Go from Here?” ‘The Bends’ of the 20th Century and Beyond

The Bends is the 20th century's identity emerging under pressure, forced to search bleakly for some form of cohesion among an increasingly artificial and commercial world.


‘Watership Down’ Is a World of Rabbits in Darkness

Like all great films based on great literature, Watership Down does a fine job of not replacing, but rather complementing the source material.


Earl Sweatshirt: I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

Earl Sweatshirt leaves shock horror behind and finds something much better on his brilliant third album.


It’s an Art Form, Talking ‘Bout Your Mama

Readers that aren’t easily offended will find themselves laughing and cringing at what is surely the raunchiest history book in years.


Lightning Bolt: Fantasy Empire

In the end, this is exactly what we have come to expect from Lightning Bolt; a set list of fuzzy, overwhelming, noise rock that keeps it simple while never missing its target.


John Statz: Tulsa

Tulsa speaks to more than the desolate environs its sound sometimes suggests.


Contretemps: Pronouncement

Distressing, awkward, disturbing and almost upsetting, this aura of discomfort, if combined with the sound of the term itself (|ˈkɒntrətɒ̃|) is the essence of the music presented by Joel Ebner.


Junior Wells: Southside Blues Jam

Junior Wells and his men straddle two decades and lay down 15 gems.


Tuesday, March 24 2015

In Gotham the Kids Are Alright, Day One

It’s when publishers create titles outside the hype of their most recognizable heroes that writers and artists are able take risks that can lead to some of the most innovative and original comic books available. This is where Gotham Academy comes in.


How the Go! Team Puts the “I” in Team with ‘The Scene Between’

Ian Parton, leader of the Go! Team, weighs the maturation and development of his crazed wall-of-sound schoolyard aesthetic on new album The Scene Between.


‘The Voices’ Gets to the Very Essence of the American Nightmare

Disturbing, funny, alluring and repulsive in a uniquely American way that no one likes to admit, The Voices should trouble you.


Of Maus and Men: Postwar Identity Through a Postmodern Lens in Art Spiegelman’s ‘Maus’

Far more than a comic book with an edge, Maus interrogates the fallacious identity politics of the Nazis, to an unforgettable effect. Given recent events in Europe, this is a vital book to revisit.


There Aren’t Many Reasons to Go ‘Into the Woods’

Die-hard Sondheim fans may enjoy this adaptation, but the rest of the world should revisit Chicago and wonder why Marshall hasn’t been able to capture that film’s magic since.


Van Morrison: Duets: Re-Working The Back Catalogue

Forgoing the obvious hits and contemporary pop star collaborators, iconoclast Van Morrison raises the bar for what duet albums can and should be.


Nellie McKay: My Weekly Reader

The assortment of different tunes here suggests McKay understands the complexity of the past and reveals her empathy for a more hopeful time when love and peace were fresh thoughts rather than a debased slogan.


Damn Scandinavians! Why Are They Always So Almost Nearly Perfect?

Michael Booth sets out to investigate the mystery of Scandinavian perfection. He doesn’t find the answer, but what he does find is equally entertaining.


Erik Larson’s Latest Is a Gripping Tale of a Sinking Luxury Ship Not Named Titanic

Larson's description of the torpedoing of the Lusitania churns like an angry sea, full of detail gleaned from memoirs and letters of survivors and rescuers.


The Cribs: For All My Sisters

The Brothers Jarman maintain a taut, propulsive sound. There’s no let up at all, and even the more melodic entries maintain a considerable amount of swagger and sway.


BadBadNotGood and Ghostface Killah: Sour Soul

Does every album have to be a classic? Minor pleasures are still pleasures, at the end of the day.


The Popguns: Pop Fiction

The Popguns are an archetypal '80s/'90s Brit indie band who, although they can knock out a passable tune, lack the inspiration or adventure to stray any distance from their fixed musical roots.


Monday, March 23 2015

Revealing Strengths and Vulnerabilities

Superman reveals his identity and spends a day without his powers, but he still finds a way to be a heroic ideal.


‘Disorder’ Is Disordered All Right

Disorder doesn't know how to balance its gameplay with its story or its art with its gameplay. It's a game whose individual pieces work well on their own, but when mixed together, they only break what was in the beginning a pretty fun game.


‘A Bad Character’ Is Courageous in Its Realism and the Many Chances Its Author Has Taken

This is Deepti Kapoor’s time to paint a picture of India that no one has the nerve to do anymore.


‘Unbroken’ Is a Merely Adequate Biopic

For every powerful moment, there is a scene that lacks force and overstays its welcome.


James McMurtry and His Complicated Games

Americana legend James McMurtry is fiery, opinionated, and smart as a whip. His latest (accidental) endeavor: Occupy spokesman.


Farther Than You Think: Mapping the Noir Terrain

Rope of Sand, Dark City, and Union Station each extend the shadowy reach of film noir.


The Annotated Guide to the Music Videos of ‘The Bends’

With one album Radiohead left an impressive music video legacy, one that would extend to later masterpieces such as OK Computer.


‘The Identical’ Is So Bad It’s Not Even Hate-Watchable

The Identical is as egregious a cinematic misfire as could be imagined, bumbling its message, its music, and even in its spiritual intent during its ingratiating 107 minutes.


Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Even though Courtney Barnett has tightened and punched up her sound, her songwriting still gets stuck in your head because she gets lost in her own imagination.


Happyness: Weird Little Birthday

UK Next Big Indie Thing loves Pavement, whispering, on US reissue of 2014 debut.


Wonder of Wonders: A New/Old Anthology From Teffi

The stories in Subtly Worded are lost gems from Russia's wacky past.


Jack DeJohnette: Made in Chicago

Modern jazz's legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette assembles a post-bop dream team from hell.


Shakey Graves: Nobody’s Fool

Americana cult favorite Shakey Graves whets the appetite of his fans with the pleasantly surprising release of the Nobody's Fool EP.


Damon and Naomi: Fortune

Another confident expression of this couple's quiet command of music and lyrics, Fortune wins us over again.


Friday, March 20 2015

‘Invisible Republic’ Gives Us Two Tales, Twinned With Shakespeare

Smashing the hubris of grand space opera against the neonoir of political investigative journalism, it’s only a matter of time until we make the leap to Shakespeare.


‘The Divergent Series: Insurgent’ Is Borderline Insufferable

If gobbledygook was gold, Insurgent would be Ft. Knox.


‘The Gunman’ Loves Nicotine More Than Non-Stop Action

Sean Penn tries to better Liam Neeson in the middle-aged ass-kicker action film genre, and fails miserably.


Jethro Tull: Back to Basics (Sort Of)

After the back-to-back-to-back brilliance of their previous three albums, a letdown seemed inevitable; amazingly, Ian Anderson & Co. raised the bar, instead.


Last of the Rock Stars? An Interview With Elliott Murphy

As Elliot Murphy tells PopMatters, the new reimagining of his 1973 debut Aquashow may be the most profound musical adventure of his 40-plus year career yet.


Radio France Remains Faceless Even at the End of a Camera Lens

Much of Nicolas Philibert's La Maison de la Radio is essentially The Office without any jokes.


Allison Moorer: Down to Believing

Skip the self-help books on moving through the grieving process and get this album instead.


Elliott Murphy: Aquashow Deconstructed

Elliott Murphy heads back to his debut album, "a lost classic" re-recorded and re-interpreted for the modern age.


Hitchcock à la Carte

Alfred Hitchcock's reputation for meticulousness in conceiving his thrillers also extended to his kitchen.


Liz Longley: Liz Longley

Longley’s greatest strength is her ability to share her emotions while never conceding to whatever adversity comes her way.


El Perro Del Mar: El Perro Del Mar (Deluxe Edition)

El Perro Del Mar's self-titled album has its charms, especially in this expanded edition.


Brodinski: Brava

Modern French house pioneer and Yeezus co-producer drops his first solo album after years of remixes and singles. Sadly, the result is far too middling.


Thursday, March 19 2015

The Pop Group Brings Funky Disco Social Criticism to Brooklyn - 16 March 2015

Hearing the Pop Group in action in the present day makes you wish bands that are half the Pop Group’s age would try harder.


It’s Not That Steven Toast Is a Total Failure

Arthur Mathew and Matt Berry's sitcom, Toast of London is almost too weird and wonderful to put into words.


Weird Fruit: Jonny Greenwood’s Creative Contribution to ‘The Bends’

Jonny Greenwoods' musical achievements on The Bends represent as far as he was ever going to get by limiting himself to channelling his ideas through his guitar.


The Parisian Journey of ‘Le Pont du Nord’ Echoes With Loss and Abandonment

This slow, long-winding walk around Paris is a languorous exploration of two lost souls.


Stone Jack Jones: Love & Torture

Stone Jack Jones bestows upon us the truths of human nature that we are too blind ourselves to see.


The Monochrome Set: Spaces Everywhere

Spaces Everywhere shows that staying on their own path has served the Monochrome Set well over time.


‘The Whites’ Gives Slumming a Good Name

Reported reality gives Price’s novel, published under his new crime-genre pen name Harry Brandt, a sharp tang that resonates with the best of his work.


John Coltrane Quartet featuring Eric Dolphy: So Many Things: The European Tour 1961

The four discs on So Many Things find the band looking for some sweet spot between a groove the audience can latch onto and the experimentalism that shaped the early '60s period of Coltrane's career.


Aphex Twin: Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt. 2

Richard D. James isn't laying his best cards on the table with this EP, but at least he's staying active.


Nicholas Krgovich: On Cahuenga

The literature and cinema of Los Angeles is full of binaries, of twins and alter egos; here is another. On Cahuenga is a double of On Sunset, the same but incredibly different.


Big Neon Kill Machine

In Suiciders, series creator Lee Bermejo gives us an elegant drama of transitions, and in doing this offers perhaps the most innovative mediation on LA itself.


Wednesday, March 18 2015

Detangling the Web

Spider-Woman #5 is a master class in art and is what seems like the beginning of a fantastic story, set at street level, which is exactly what this character needs.


‘Dreaming of Cinema’ Demonstrates Why the Humanities Are Out of Touch

For better or worse, contemporary scholars in cinema studies spend more time drawing from and debating one another than talking about films.


For a Day Like Tomorrow: An Interview With Swervedriver

Swervedriver: "As it goes, the feeling is that it's some of the best material we've ever done. And to be honest I was never in any doubt that we would deliver the goods."


Power and Possibility in Political Satire: 22 Years of ‘22 Minutes’

Canada’s hit comedy news program offers a provocative example of the role political satire and popular culture can play in defining and even changing a nation


The Narrative of the ‘Halloween’ Saga Gets Confused Over Time

The message of John Carpenter's Halloween is simple: "Evil is here!" To expect any sequel to enhance that idea is to miss the point.


Those Talented, Tempestuous Van Goghs: ‘Vincent and Theo’

Robert Altman’s beautiful film reminds us of Van Gogh's genius and provides an intimate portrait of two brothers bound by their love of art.


Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly

To Pimp a Butterfly is the result of one man’s sprawling journey, but it’s meant to empower us all to take our own.


Mark Knopfler: Tracker

Tracker is the sound of Mark Knopfler's consistency catching up with him. Again.


Kaki King: The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body

Though it loses some of its spectacle charm in the process, the audio adaptation of Kaki King's guitar showcase still bursts with masterclass talent.


St. Vincent: St. Vincent (Deluxe Edition)

Dying her hair white is sadly analogous to the record as a whole. She sounds quirky for the sake of being quirky.


Norman Blake: Wood, Wire & Words

Calling an album consisting of a dozen original songs traditional may seem strange, but Wood, Wire & Wood surely is. Blake pens story songs about past events and composes instrumentals with roots in an earlier period.


Tuesday, March 17 2015

If It Looks Like a Duck

In Howard the Duck #1, Zdarsky and Quinones get the most important things right. They get Howard right.


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