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Supergirl: Season 1, Episode 13 - “For the Girl Who Has Everything”

This week's episode of Supergirl is inspired by one of the best known and most critically lauded Superman stories in the Man of Steel's long history; it fails precisely where that story succeeded.

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Daniel Craig’s James Bond Doesn’t Break a Sweat in ‘Spectre’

The 24th (official) James Bond film delivers with sleek, sexy cool and better realism, to the degree that Bond can really be "real".

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Downton Abbey: Season 6, Episode 6

While this week's plots run in a predictable fashion, there's still fun to be had in the Abbey.

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‘The Witness’: Puzzles Are Teachers, Puzzles Are Bullies

The Witness is the most pleasant and educational descent/ascent into madness you’ll ever experience.

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Tindersticks: The Waiting Room

The world's most cinematic band has invited a collection of film directors to interpret their latest record, to stunning effect.

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When Is Art Beautiful? When Is It Just Boring?

To paraphrase art critic Peter Schjeldahl, beauty is a kind of action and reaction between the work and the viewer, or the listener, or the reader. Beauty happens.

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10 Feb 2016 // 2:20 AM

Basia Bulat: Good Advice

If there's one thing that Good Advice shows most of all, it's Basia Bulat's flexibility as a songwriter. Her take on pop makes her emotive and multi-dimensional.

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Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto: The Revenant

After a short hiatus from music, Ryuichi Sakamoto set himself up for quite the challenge in scoring The Revenant.

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10 Feb 2016 // 2:10 AM

Bloodiest: Bloodiest

Relapse Records and Chicago underdogs team up for a bloody good noise/art rock mélange.

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Brown Lives Don’t Matter in the Dark and Cruel World of ‘Visaranai’

Visaranai compels us to interrogate our presumptions about the bourgeois state apparatus.

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10 Feb 2016 // 2:05 AM

Charles Murdoch: Point

Charles Murdoch first created a stir in 2013 and now returns to stir things up again with a record that is more emotionally complex than you might think at first.

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Questioning Authenticity and Narrative Performance in Dodie Bellamy’s ‘When the Sick Rule the World’

A new collection of writings by one of the progenitors of the American New Narrative movement is stylistically impressive, but lacks engagement with its subject matter.

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Hangin’ Loose: Exploring British Soul in the Music of Loose Ends

Loose Ends cultivated an art in supreme sophistication with their groundbreaking experiments in British soul and R&B during the '80s. Decades later, their music remains as potent as it was when it first graced the airwaves and clubs of both the UK and US.

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9 Feb 2016 // 2:33 PM

Pete Astor: Spilt Milk

The former Weather Prophet rediscovers his jangle ‘n’ roll voice.

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‘Jim: The James Foley Story’: Remembering and Not Knowing

Jim: The James Foley Story makes you aware of the need for more storytelling and more visibility, more open doors and more lessons shared.

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The Expanse: Season 1, Episode 6 - “Rock Bottom”

"Rock Bottom" marks a turning point in the journeys of our main characters, as The Expanse transitions to what promises to be an explosive second half of the season.

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The Blacklist: Season 3, Episode 13 – “Alistair Pitt (No. 103)”

A nice bounce back week for The Blacklist, although it still has a way to go to regain its mojo.

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9 Feb 2016 // 4:00 AM

Laser: Night Driver

Lisa Lobsinger has logged many hours with Broken Social Scene and is an excellent performer. Unfortunately, this collection doesn't find her living up to her full potential.

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“At the Service of the Song”: A Conversation with Angelique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo speaks with conviction and humour about the major issues that drive her, such as the promotion of African music, the education of women, and our shared destiny as a people.

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9 Feb 2016 // 3:00 AM

Kent Finlay, Dreamer

Cheatham Street Warehouse founder Finlay was one of the world’s best-known and best-loved promoters, mentors, and gurus of Texas music.

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9 Feb 2016 // 2:30 AM

Future: EVOL

EVOL doesn’t stand up to Future's critical peaks, but this could easily be seen as but a release to tide fans over before the next blockbuster.

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Why Does Paul Bowles’ 70-Year-Old Existential Masterpiece Continue to Test Our Limits?

The Sheltering Sky is itself a test of limits: its form is an exploration of how far one can go in novel writing.

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Gogo Penguin: Man Made Object

Gogo Penguin’s debut on Blue Note is a relentless, electronic-influenced collection of rhythmic jazz that would make Miles Teller jealous.

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Promise and the Monster: Feed the Fire

Seriously kids, don't feed the fire. OK, but only if Promise and the Monster ask you nicely.

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Sister Sledge: Circle of Love (Special 40th Anniversary Edition)

By the time this record came out in 1975 Sister Sledge had been gigging steadily for some time and releasing small singles. There's little evidence of the powerhouse this quartet became.

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‘Take Me to the River’, Please

This promising documentary about the past and future of Memphis and the Mississippi Delta music scene is overcrowded with too many captains who steer the boat aground.

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What Doesn’t Kill You Will Surely Give You Heartburn

When reading The Bare Bones Broth Cookbook, food safety and strange adaptations of classic recipes may come to mind.

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Keeping Up With Jessica Jones, the Postmodern Anti-Hero Next Door

Jessica Jones breaks the Marvel superhero mold in a distinctly postmodern way.

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The Magicians: Season 1, Episode 4 - “The World in the Walls”

A well-crafted episode that ties together the loose threads that have made up this season so far.

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A No-Nonsense Agenda for the Left

The authors of Inventing the Future ask: why think local, when there’s a world to win?

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Junior Boys: Big Black Coat

First album in five years from the Canadian synth-poppers... now even synth-poppier.

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Nap Eyes: Thought Rock Fish Scale

There is a sense throughout that we’re sitting spellbound listening to a storyteller, even though part of our being is never completely sure we follow or even trust the yarns he’s spinning.

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Sierra Hull: Weighted Mind

Sierra Hull comes into her own, perhaps a bit ironically, on an album that has much to do with doubt.

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The Truth: A Step in the Right Direction: Singles, Demos, BBC Live (1983-1984)

Mining the R&B/Mod terrain of the early 1980s, the Truth was an attempt to fill a void left by the Jam. A new collection captures the band in its earliest form, doing what it did best back then.

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When Talkies Were Red Hot: ‘Gold Dust Gertie’ and ‘Her Majesty, Love’

From the era of Hollywood's creative borrowing of Broadway come two scandalous comedies that predate the Production Code's thematic restrictions.

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Christopher Hitchens’ Posthumous Anthology, ‘And Yet…’, and Yet There Is More

Why reprint what's already available, as done here, if such a bounty of miscellanea is as yet uncollected?

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Shovels and Rope: Busted Jukebox, Vol. 1

Busted Jukebox, Vol. 1 features more imagination than most albums of original material.

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Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade: Children of the Light

Three jazz greats step out on their own as a trio for the first time after years working together as part of the Wayne Shorter Quartet.

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The New Faith of Kendrick Lamar: Dramatic Unity in ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’

Lamar's story is more that just a personal statement or expression; it seeks to bring light into a city corrupted by darkness.

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‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ Is in Pursuit of Brains

Lizzy and her sisters spar in the basement while debating the merits of one suitor or another, slamming one another into walls and bearing posts.

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Muse Commandeer Barclays Center for Drones World Tour (Photos)

Resistance is futile. Muse's walloping Drones World Tour forces the audience to confront Big Brother.

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The Magicians: Season 1, Episode 3 - “Consequences of Advanced Spellcasting”

Stella Maeve's performance is the bright spot in an episode that suffers from the same issues as the pilot.

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The Blacklist: Season 3, Episode 12 - “The Vehm (No. 132)”

Last year, much of The Blacklist felt like 3 pounds of sausage in a 5 pound casing; hopefully, "The Vehm" is an aberration rather than an indication of rest of the season.

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‘Hail, Caesar!’ Is a Comedy Without Laughs

The Coen brothers’ artfully conceived but strained satire of '50s Hollywood gets the look right, but little else.

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Game Theory: Lolita Nation

The most critically acclaimed masterpiece of the '80s that you’ve never heard finally sees re-release. Time having been kinder to this long lost album than the music industry, it remains fresh, exciting, and essential for any fan of good pop songwriting.

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Sweet Dreams Are Made of This: An Interview With Dave Stewart

With his new memoir Sweet Dreams Are Made of This in mind, Stewart joins PopMatters for an in-depth discussion about his new book and his influential catalog of music.

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Chaos Does Not Mean Despair in Bowie’s Soundscapes

What Bowie's music describes, again and again, is that we were endlessly, relentlessly killing ourselves.

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5 Feb 2016 // 2:20 AM

Mass Gothic: Mass Gothic

Noel Heroux crafts a genre-blending record of infectious creativity in debut as Mass Gothic.

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Bert Jansch: Avocet (Special Edition)

To say Avocet is representative of Bert Jansch’s other work would be missing the mark because it’s so individual and unique.

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Venomous Concept: Kick Me Silly: VCIII

Grindy little supergroup bringing together members of Napalm Death, Brutal Truth, etc. gives the people what they want with 20 tracks of whack.

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‘The New Mutants’ Is Rooted Both in Scholarship and in the Rich History of Superhero Narratives

Books about comic books, even scholarly ones, should be fun; The New Mutants certainly is.

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Benji Hughes: Songs in the Key of Animals

The beauty of the stream of consciousness that bleeds into both Hughes' lyrics and his melodies is that while it feels sporadic, it doesn’t ever become disjointed.

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5 Feb 2016 // 2:00 AM

Jamie Woon: Making Time

Jamie Woon’s Making Time is a diligently watched pot that, predictably, refuses to boil.

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The X-Files: Season 10, Episode 3 - “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”

Even if the remaining three episodes don’t live up to the standard set by “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”, there’s no doubt that it'll stand as a new classic.

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Tradition Meets Innovation at the Fifth Annual Maqam Fest

In a city with an abundance of smartly conceived and adventurous music events, Maqam Fest stands out for its unique vision and its broad and expanding constituency.

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The Flash: Season 2, Episode 12 - “The Fast Lane”

The Flash is one of the best family dramas on TV today.

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iZombie: Season 2, Episode 11 - “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter”

At this point, the larger story that looms over the entire series is so intricate and the characterizations so spot-on that watching the show never disappoints.

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‘Spider-Man #1’ Shows That Adolescence Is Everybody’s Kryptonite

Give any teenager superpowers and they'll still struggle with just being a teenager.

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Arrow: Season 4, Episode 11 - “A.W.O.L.”

Arrow takes a breather from the fight against H.I.V.E., and instead turns the focus to Felicity and Diggle.

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On the Meaningful Nonsense in ‘Jottings From a Far Away Place’

Formally inventive, beautifully written and thematically dense, Brendan Connell's latest collection is a multi-layered anthology that compels multiple readings.

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August Wilson’s ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ Gets a Vibrant National Theatre Revival

Charismatic performances from O-T Fagbenle and Sharon D Clarke ignite Dominic Cooke’s major revival of August Wilson’s play at the National Theatre.

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4 Feb 2016 // 2:30 AM

Bloc Party: Hymns

Over a decade since their classic debut Silent Alarm, Bloc Party's fifth album does nothing to change the downward trajectory of each album they've released since.

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Bruce Springsteen, ‘The Ties That Bind’, the Working Class, and Authenticity

As we use the term today, authenticity allows no truth from art, only from artists. It visits art the way one visits a subway station or an airport: to get to somewhere else.

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4 Feb 2016 // 2:20 AM

nonkeen: the gamble

nonkeen's the gamble is a really impressive release given its context. Strip the album out of it and the listener will have something more humane and approachable.

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Jason Collett: Song and Dance Man

A versatile assemblage of roots and country-influenced singer/songwriter pop, with splashes of '70s AM soul.

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Ane Brun: When I’m Free

Ane Brun is capable of making strong records, maybe even great ones. But this isn't one of them.

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Takashi Murakami’s ‘Jellyfish Eyes’ Smacks of Derivative Pastiche

Famed Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami earnestly attempts to translate his innovative Superflat aesthetic to the world of film.

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Wadada Leo Smith and John Lindberg: Celestial Weather

A titan of trumpet, a titan of double bass come together and give us a record that is undeniable in its ability to blow winds and minds.

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Is It Always Better to Think Things Through Twice?

Columnist Stanley Fish's collection of works has readers reconsidering how they form their opinions.

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The Resolution of a Lifespan: James Dean in ‘Giant’

In Giant, James Dean plays a character so desperate to belong that he winds up becoming a perverted reflection of it.

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‘Madoff’: That Smirk Seen Round the World

With a smirk, Dreyfuss as Madoff invites you to feel as though he's granting exclusive access to the mechanics of the biggest Ponzi scheme in US history.

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Supergirl: Season 1, Episode 12 - “Bizarro”

A version of the Silver Age comic book villain, Bizzaro, makes a first appearance on CW's Supergirl.

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The Expanse: Season 1, Episode 5 - “Back to the Butcher”

While several key mysteries move forward, this episode is bogged down by an uninteresting protagonist.

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Rock Pioneer Lloyd Price Has a Couple of Stories to Tell

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and rock pioneer Lloyd Price’s life has been much more interesting than yours or mine, from writing hits with Fats Domino to playing an influential role in the Rumble in the Jungle. Yet Price still has many more yarns to spin even now.

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Stacking the Rolling Stones’ Best Shows

The From the Vault series adds infinite layers of the Rolling Stones' performances for diehard and casual fans alike.

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Lucinda Williams: The Ghosts of Highway 20

On her superb new album, Lucinda Williams takes the wheel for a memory trip down Highway 20.

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As Al Jazeera America Dies, the News Dies, Again: An Open Letter to the Liberal Media

Liberal-leaning American TV news is hopelessly lost in a Manichean tug-of-war with right-wing infotainment.

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John Cale: Music for a New Society / M:FANS

Rather than merely reissue his classic 1981 album, John Cale reworks and rerecords the majority of the album, showing the thematic through line that connects the two.

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The Pines: Above the Prairie

The Pines give us a record that is artful and imaginative and in many ways defies easy classification. In others, it's pure joy Americana.

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3 Feb 2016 // 2:10 AM

Lemaitre: 1749 EP

1749 EP finds Lemaitre approaching the top of their pop-slinging game

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3 Feb 2016 // 2:05 AM

MONEY: Suicide Songs

A Manchester band who create some beautiful music. But the singing is not on the money.

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Peter Pál Pelbart’s ‘Cartography of Exhaustion’ Is Exhilarating

This is a sunny, revitalizing book, despite its ostensible focus on exhaustion and nihilism.

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The Good Wife: Season 7, Episode 13 - “Judged”

The inevitable has finally come to fruition in so many ways, and now, we can resume our regularly scheduled The Good Wife programming.

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Coming-of-Age Within the Exquisite Eccentricities of Europe

A precisely refined blend of unique and hypnotic people, places, and philosophical phrasings make Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs wondrously impactful and artistic.

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Is Miles Jupp On Your Guest List?

Miles Jupp excels at many things, but he earns special top marks for his ability to be both an engaging guest and host of comedy panel shows.

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2 Feb 2016 // 2:30 AM

Field Music: Commontime

David and Peter Brewis dexterously bend funk, R&B and Top 40 radio to fit their distinct regional post punk dialect.

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2 Feb 2016 // 2:20 AM

Your Friend: Gumption

Gumption is a pop album and an experimental work, with all of the deep charms of both.

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Nothing But Thieves: Nothing But Thieves

Ever wondered what Adele would sound like fronting a middling rock band? Nothing But Thieves has the answer!

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Mose Allison: American Legend: Live in California

Idiosyncratic, unclassifiable jazz/blues/etc. singer and pianist Mose Allison delivers a fine set of live performances spanning the whole of this career.

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‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ TV Series Still Has the Cool Factor

Before there was Sam and Dean Winchester, before there was Mulder and Scully, Starsky and Hutch, there was Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin.

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Loss and Selfishness, Isolation and Pleasure and Other Themes in Italian Literature

Tim Parks' A Literary Tour of Italy is no tour guide of the haunts of famous writers; it's an informative choice for readers seeking the best that Italian writers can offer.

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Stephen Kellogg: South West North East

True to the sprawling designs implied in its title, it comes across like an epic effort, thanks to the memorable melodies etched in every one of its 20 songs.

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Fame, Faith, and a Meaningful Life: An Interview With Ruth Pointer

Why is Ruth Pointer so excited? Her new memoir celebrates three decades of sobriety and a lifetime of survival.

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‘No Más Bebés’: Sterilized Without Consent

As the struggle for reproductive rights continues, we might look back on history in order to understand the consequences of denying women sovereignty over their own bodies.

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Beware Strangers Bearing Literary Quotes

In Mojave, an effective thriller struggles under the weight of its intellectual pretensions.

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Agent Carter: Season 2, Episodes 1-3

In its second season, Agent Carter's brightly colored world continues to be well worth visiting.

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Needs Secrets: Talking Music’s Essence as Art with Dean Fertita

Dean Fertita, the incendiary strike force alongside rock titans Joshua Homme and Jack White (among others) and solo artist, discusses creativity, music, and art.

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1 Feb 2016 // 2:30 AM

Sia: This Is Acting

As a pop songwriter who can bend her style into many different forms, This Is Acting is the most compelling when Sia decides to simply be herself.

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1 Feb 2016 // 2:20 AM

DIIV: Is the Is Are

The Brooklyn-based band seems either unwilling or incapable of taking the artistic steps to make music that isn't just more of what they've done before.

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Intersystems: Intersystems

This is one of those great lost recordings (three of 'em actually) that comes from the lysergic era. Get your weird on presently.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

Beyoncé and When Music Writing Becomes Activism

// Sound Affects

"The overall response to Beyoncé's "Formation" has been startlingly positive, but mostly for reasons attached to political agendas. It's time to investigate this trend.

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