Friday, October 25 2013
A.N Wilson's The Elizabethans is a very readable history, despite the author's inability to get out of his own way.
Thursday, August 28 2014
The film reminds us of just how difficult it can be to find one's own tempo amidst radical changes caused by unjust circumstances.
Video Revolutions is a brief, brilliant inquiry into the history of a complex, contested medium.
The troubling implicit moral at the end of The Love Punch encapsulates the film's insubstantial construction.
In his book It Never Happened Again, Sam Alden uses two short comicbook stories to offer a slight twist on the old journey-vs.-destination philosophy.
Surely even Dirty Harry needs a break from cinematic violence, some time off at Walden Pond. Though I doubt its tranquility would deter him from picking off the sparrows.
September's slate of releases features numerous living legends and big names, but "Listening Ahead" is focusing its attention on artists whose time has come, like Hiss Golden Messenger and Perfume Genius.
Abbas Kiarostami's film subverts viewer expectations of what makes a film satisfying, or even enjoyable.
Pale Communion is both the culmination of Opeth's journey toward classic progressive rock and its best work since Ghost Reveries.
The often quick-working Segall took 14 months to make Manipulator, but it's not so much a wild departure sonically as it is a return to and refinement of tangents we've heard from him in the past.
Werner Sollors' memories formed the basis for this book, but his research caused him to re-evaluate and re-imagine what he thought he knew about the time and the era.
Tinnarose is a singer-songwriter showcase of the highest order, and there’s plenty of material to keep coming back to.
After taking a year off to celebrate the label's 20th anniversary, Kompakt's annual Total compilation is back.
This third volume of reissues from the Cleaners From Venus gives us another set of complications to consider in Martin Newell's work.
Take Pride in Your Long Odds adds further talking points to Centro-matic’s esteemed canon.
Wednesday, August 27 2014
How an innocent camping trip can be ruined by a reasonable misunderstanding
These stories, to borrow Carrie Fisher’s title, are postcards from the edge, a place McCracken’s creative heart has taken up residence.
However modest in scope, comiXology's new downloads signals the beginning of the end for strict DRM in digital comics -- and it will change how we view comics.
Several years sober, KISS' Ace Frehley comes fresh off some time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to release his first solo album in over five years -- and definitely knows how to write a sexy song better than Robin Thicke.
The movie wastes its impressive cast, choosing instead to drown itself in sentimentalism.
Brill Bruisers, with its blaring, neon keyboards and deep hooks, is both a prototypical New Pornographers record and another variation on the band's established themes.
The third and final installment in Lev Grossman's 'Magicians' trilogy, The Magician's Land, is also its best.
Snider covers Kent Finlay on Cheatham Street Warehouse to raise funds for Finlay’s medical care.
Matt Sharp's side project-turned-band is back, and they sound just like most of you remember them. But is that really such a good thing?
When May rants about a "Wild Woman", we know that it's the woman that lives inside her. She ferociously attacks the lyrics, growling and stuttering as needed.
Soulful duo Kindred the Family Soul retain the refined persona of R&B on latest album A Couple Friends.
Tuesday, August 26 2014
With episode 4 of its second season, I feel as if the well is running dry on Telltale's ability to wring new meaning out of The Walking Dead franchise.
In this story of multiple worlds, fiction is fact and comicbooks are true.
The Dylanologists doesn't give up any answers about Dylan, but it does ask the right questions of people, on the trail through Dylan's America.
The value of violence in the hardcore punk movement is not what it fought against, but rather the new ground it forged.
The acclaimed L.A. producer Adrian Younge talks about his new album with Souls of Mischief, why he hates ProTools, and about his slew of upcoming projects.
Infusing Alice Munro's portrait of a lonely woman and her quest for happiness with deadpan comic beats, Kristen Wiig muddies the tone of "Hateship Loveship" and leaves it without a center.
The UK progressive house duo is in transition on their latest full-length.
For its themes of loss and longing, its wide-eyed sense of wistfulness, for all of its hopefulness in misfortune, Lose ends up being a win.
Popular Orangette blogger Molly Wizenberg loves to cook, as made clear in Delancey... just not in restaurants.
Liam Bailey’s first full length album, Definitely Now , is so genre-defying that if not for the unmistakable voice of Bailey, it could seem like a mixtape of several artists.
A sawed-off, hard-bitten punk sensibility and a bluesy, drawn-out compulsion to sink deeper into cloudy depths. The Gun Club's debut from 1981 wallops on this reissue as exciting, entertaining and evil as ever.
Peter Gabriel Live in London... So?
Monday, August 25 2014
The game plays like it belongs in a museum, one of those interactive displays that invites people to navigate the art rather than stare at it.
What I’d hoped would happen is that Trees would be the natural antithesis to those gimmicky summer crossovers with anticlimactic events that seem to written in marketing departments.
This stark, chiaroscuro compilation promotes a humanitarian view of the First World War, as witnessed by an array of Earth's beleaguered creatures.
Has country music lost its capacity for brutal, unshakeable loneliness? Or are we just experiencing some calm before the next, inevitable heartache?
Despite missing out on being one of the Fab Four, Pete Best is as happy as ever: "I have no complaints, I’ve enjoyed life. Wouldn’t change anything."
Metal fans will remember this story in the lore of censorship and a dark moment in the history of Judas Priest. But this film is not about the band and is all the better for it.
Possibly the greatest haunted house film of all time is still as impactful as ever, a fact not reflected by this Blu-ray's paltry extras.
In trying to sound like everything else on the charts, Ariana Grande continues to have one of pop music's most distinctive voices that has very little to say.
In The Black-Eyed Blond, Benjamin Black provides such a satisfying incarnation of Raymond Chandler's sensibility, it's almost possible to pretend Chandler is back among the living.
With its smorgasbord of texture and tones, Neuroplasticity is a real contender for Canadian Album of the Year.
There's a coffin-like closeness and aloneness to each and every song on Mirel Wagner's Sub Pop debut. It's a fitting feel for a record so focused on death.
It’s safe, which only gets The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale so far, but, this record will undoubtedly get a lot of people to revisit, or discover JJ Cale, which is a win in itself.
Both of these compilations provide interesting ways into a time and sound all too overlooked in certain circles, at least (hopefully) until now.
Friday, August 22 2014
It's hard to think of a scene in this movie you haven't seen in another.
Our Heroes is like a Saturday morning cartoon, only better. It perfectly captures the spirit of the funny superhero. (The Human Mallet Lives!)
If previous seasons gave us glimpses of the evil that men do, then this penultimate season of HBO's best current series gives us an extreme closeup.
This film urges you to believe that the protagonist is as special as anyone at the center of a YA saga, which is to say, so very special.
PopMatters looks at five Beastie Boys songs that are not only underappreciated, but some of their best.
Guitar music gave John Fahey a bridge to the subconscious, and his subconscious evidently was a scary realm.
Southbound profiles the musicians, producers, record labels, and movers and shakers that defined Southern rock, including the Allmans, Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band and here, the Charlie Daniels Band.
Disney’s Tarzan is more than the last film in the “Disney Renaissance”; it’s also the best Tarzan film ever made.
With Meshes of Voice, Norwegians Jenny Hval and Susanna Wallumrød come together to craft an avant garde masterpiece.
This is a huge step forward for the band, while preserving all of the most attractive qualities of the debut.
Folk troubadour Richard Thompson commits an intimate solo studio performance of his classics to tape, highlighting both his skills as a guitarist and exceptional songwriter.
At their best, Bishop Allen develop a time and a place through memorable hooks and high craft, but they just can't sustain it for the whole album.
Richie Hawtin returns to the name that made him a godfather of minimal techno.
Soft is the opposite to what the title suggests. Instead this is an album of quick, jagged rock and roll, New York style. Take it or leave it.
Thursday, August 21 2014
Daniel Dencik's film helps you to look at the Earth, so majestic, so superb, and to want more than ever to be aware.
Like Dr. Caster's (Johnny Depp) experiments, Transcendence is much smarter in theory than it is in practice.
If this doesn’t get shortlisted for the Giller Prize, well, that would be just proof that the world is an unjust place.
The music of the Caucasus is powered by national ardour and ritual. All that's needed is an open and willing audience to accept the undisclosed gifts it brings.
Movies create iconic, mythical teacher figures who, in two or so hours, do both more harm and more good than any actual human could achieve in a lifetime.
Watching the movie now, it seems to anticipate its own cult.
There's much to like about Roddy Frame, and much to admire about this album. Shame it lacks a killer tune.
Connections' Into Sixes is the band truly hitting its stride while also testing its limits in exciting ways.
The unlikely, improbable, unbelievable – and totally true – story of Iceland’s anarchist comedian turned politician.
They say that misery loves company, which is why blues music remains so popular.
It all comes down to the songs, and that weathered 'n' warm voice and guitar.
Throwback chameleon Paloma Faith changes skin again, appointing herself the Queen of Retro Soul Disco and infusing every track with her irrepressible melodrama and charm.
Wednesday, August 20 2014
In her final issue, writer Gail Simone provides the space for Batgirl to start over in a new world.
Woven like a colorful tapestry of many characters, all of whom share the misfortune of having lost a child, this is structured like an epic poem which, despite its short length, feels fully realized.
This holiday special perfectly balances the recognizable elements found in horror movies and the elements of the Toy Story universe.
Like the book that inspired it, Radio Free Albemuth works as a vindicating love letter to spiritual seekers who feel that humanity is capable of more than the Orwellian rat race of the modern era.
Women are the alpha-characters in Halt and Catch Fire. There may be no better dynamic duo of smart leading females on TV today than Donna and Cameron.
She influenced too many off-beat divas to count, but was struggling for her own record deal. Now, Princess Superstar is back, and she means business.
For the most part, the shorts are some of Disney's strongest, and taken as a whole they offer a variety of animation styles, characters and tones.
With the help of Gotye, you can't help but feel like Kimbra's follow up to her magnificent debut squanders her undeniable talent.
From MOOCs to Second Life to chairs that move, Elizabeth Losh discusses all things technological in The War on Learning.
Like all good country music, Cory Branan is hard, if not impossible, to define.
On Ray Raposa's first Castanets record in five years, the elements of the formula haven't changed very much, though the album works best when the balance between those elements shift in fresh ways.
The Mark Lanegan Band's first official release since 2012 is, unfortunately, a lackluster and unfocused affair.
The Who, however it survives, repeats that that youthful concerns and ideals matter, no matter how long the band or we endure.
Tuesday, August 19 2014
As a movie, The Expendables 3 is kind of a shambles. As part of a never-ending retirement party, it's kind of a gas.
Not many readers have put themselves in the headspace of a caped vigilante, but Jon and Suzie, the dynamic duo of deviant thoughts and sexcapades, embody our deepest desires, shame, regrets, and fears.
The duo Amber Sudano Ramirez and Abner Ramirez live, die, and make music with the overarching theme of gratefulness.
The YA crowd is full of articulate, well-read, hungry hyenas. They'll rip my lungs out for this. They'll crucify me. They'll leave my corpse in a ditch.
The goal of indie rock is to make something real, even at the expense of decades of music tradition.
Hercules is a Disney animated film that shows the studio riding the wave of its '90's renaissance, but not reaching the heights of earlier classics.
Little Rock's Pallbearer add some studio sheen with their sophomore release while maintaining the mudslide-like heaviness of their acclaimed debut.
In one of the best books of 2014, Rebecca Makkai tells a story of time, ghosts, fate, unrequited love, requited love unconsummated, and art.
Thorn appreciates the little things in life one takes for granted: family, love, a good rock beat, etc.
The Provincial Archive makes a wonderful folksy racket, and, should you saunter down to your local record store and pick this up, you’ll be more than glad that you did.