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.
Monday, September 22 2014
It's no coincidence that Scorpion closely follows The Big Bang Theory on Mondays, a show that loves it nerds.
Gotham is off to a good start, so good that it's possible to watch the entire premiere without missing Batman one bit.
You say schlock like it's a bad thing.
Too reverential for its own good, this film feels like a social studies class instead of a work of art.
When a proud warrior becomes hardened by war, and it reveals her true strength.
Madam Secretary has more on its mind than entertainment, taking on intercultural conflicts and ethical dilemmas without obvious solutions.
Since the early '80s, The Rainmakers have been among the best bands to emerge from the Heartland Rock boom of that decade. They may be the best that's still at it.
The jazz of the '00s jumped past the great divide of earlier years, obliterating the distinction between tradition and avant-garde, jazz and pop, letting the genre blossom.
This excellent, entertaining, and accurate bio-pic of Bob Fosse's life and death was actually co-written and directed by Bob Fosse eight years before he died.
The contradiction of all second records but especially this one: Be what people expect when people want something unexpected.
I loved AC/DC as much as the next lunkheaded longhaired headbanger. But I don't know them any better than Jesse Fink does.
The translation of literature is equal parts art, psychology, technical skill and spirituality – and it brings humanity closer together.
You have to respect Robert Plant's desire to take the crowd-pleasing, Grammy-approved formula of his last few records into wilder, hazier places. But the results don’t always reach their intended target.
Sad-Eyed Lonesome Lady is the kind of platter that, if all goes to plan, is going to make Steph Cameron a little less sad-eyed and lonesome when she takes the stage at a concert hall near you.
This is a fresh, young band, attractive in sound and approach, playing music with echoes of many great indie-pop bands of the past.
Black State Highway's high quality throwback hard rock might have found a place on the charts in 1990 next to The Black Crowes and "Thunderstruck"-era AC/DC.
Classic L.A. punk album back on vinyl for the first time in 30 years.
Friday, September 19 2014
This latest Liam Neeson vehicle isn't just another vengeance movie; it's about what you expect and about how movies create what you expect.
“How literally can you take the metaphor between land and the body?” Nicole Walker asks. The answer isn't as simple as it might seem.
The landmark horror series steps away from crime procedurals and deeper into its inimitable sense of style in a triumphant sophomore year.
What writer-artist Dean Haspiel and co-plotter Mark Waid achieve with Red Circle’s The Fox: Freak Magnet is nothing short of amazing—the simultaneous dismantling and honoring of the golden age of pulp.
Love them or loathe them, Emerson, Lake & Palmer wore immoderation like a badge of courage.
Sarah and Duck finds the fantastic in the mundane in this fine reminder of the joys of the British kids' TV of yesteryear.
Prior to Please, it was fair to say that Sondre Lerche could make a great record. With Please, however, he's one-upped himself and made a masterpiece.
This is an exceptional read on how records get made. We learn how producers coaxed great performances, made power deals, and generally had a good time.
Primitive and Deadly may be the dawning of another new era for the Seattle legends.
Possibly the mother of all box sets, Nils Lofgren’s Face the Music contains 169 tracks, 20 video clips, and a 136-page book, covering a big talent’s long career.
Ballet School is an indelible entry into the synth pop genre, and are at least taking the approach somewhat differently by using guitars.
Ann Hampton Callaway covers the late, great Sarah Vaughan incredibly on From Sassy to Divine.
Queens' militant pedagogue teams up with one of London's weirder producers.
Thursday, September 18 2014
The crux of the plot lies in Solness’ state of mind, bothered by a material abundance he fears is unearned, and thus infinitely fragile, liable to be withdrawn as arbitrarily as it was given.
This summer gone, it’s Daniel’s first time at Comic-Con. But it’s beginning to feel like all our first times, again…
If one is looking for something more 21st century than beat poetry and new journalism to challenge your mind and thrill your heart, this is it, whatever this is.
In this gripping true-crime story, an absurdist stew of petty tensions and quasi-Nietzschean dynamics rip apart the tiny colony of Europeans who settled one of the Galapagos islands in the '30s.
Long before Christopher Hitchens and Bill Maher, H.L. Mencken was America's most notorious satirist of religion. And thus began the battle for the soul of America.
Mike Watt has been in so many iconic bands that it's sometimes easy to lose count, but now, with a stripped-down Italian trio called il sogno del marinaio, Watt is doing his most daring work yet ...
In Torneur's classic film, the femme fatale knows she's an object in a world of violent men she has no reason to respect.
DFA greats the Juan MacLean sound out of their element on their new album, a collection of stripped down pop and '70s rock-flavored electro.
For all his worry over moving around, Spencer Krug's latest Moonface release makes it clear that behind the piano Krug sounds at home, rooted, in a place he's been found and a place he belongs.
A group of metal guys take a break and form an '80s-style hardcore band. A good time is had by all.
The third release from a free jazz cooperative piano trio featuring Craig Taborn, Gerald Cleaver and William Parker
On Atlantic, redemption awaits in the cleansing waters of the river, if not in the chorus of the songs or the hallowed memory of Robert Johnson that Ben Glover invokes.
Wednesday, September 17 2014
New Orleans musicians rarely disappoint. They come from a world where music is practically akin to religion, and they always seem to know how to rise to the occasion.
Shoot better and better and better. Then, shoot some more.
It's hard to overstate the overstatement in Red Band Society.
Cohen elevates the all ages genre by tackling '90s generational creep with latent themes in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
Breathless is an entertaining glimpse into a time period both dominated by men and also on the cusp of great change.
Like the cobwebs and spider webs that colonize a neglected basement, Haruki Murakami’s filamentous plot threads trail uncannily across our psyches.
In Stuff Matters, Mark Miodownik, a quirky science writer, shares his love and knowledge of the materials that shape our world.
Have listeners of the Danish ambient electronic outfit, Croatian Amor, given more of themselves than the musician ever would?
Following its name change, Parsonsfield, New England's most exciting folk band, is letting its music speak for itself.
Patrice Chéreau's multiple César winning film receives a lavish 20th anniversary edition from Cohen.
If you happen to be in the market for a new, hyper-hip iteration of slow-burning electronica, then Jillian Banks is your girl.
On his third release as GRMLN, Yoodoo Park expands and explores pop-punk's roots.
'Walt Before Skeezix' offers an in-depth look at the early days of 'Gasoline Alley' in a beautifully-presented volume.
Between Colours reaches for the sun and the stars, not to mention the backs of the bleachers.
Sarah Jaffe speaks volumes while singing very little on Don't Disconnect's futuristic indictment against modernity.
Similar to albums by Kilgour's band the Clean, End Times Undone feels longer than it is, in a good way.
Die Antwoord have described their work as "exaggerated experience", and that's apt. Anger, lust, passion, violence - all things through the lens of Die Antwoord become amplified to the point of deafening.
Tuesday, September 16 2014
This, of course, is how such concoctions work: all supporting players tell you something about the original squabbling family members, and each of these tells you something about the primary family member.
Despite years of wonderful work, it’s taken Juliette Lewis almost two decades to land her first flat-out great leading role: Kelly & Cal.
Matt Fraction is leaving Hawkeye. It's just never gonna be the same.
The Bone Clocks merges set-scenes of imaginative showdowns with intellectual reflection, which will reward the keen and alert reader.
Blue Eyed Pop includes a trove of candid band shots, live performance photos and more that would otherwise go unseen by anyone outside of Iceland.
Watching Michelle Yeoh fight on screen is like watching Fred Astaire dance: simply beautiful.
Silly sexual politics prevent this film from being a bona fide classic.
Drummer Matt Johnson shares his reflections 20 years later on working with Jeff Buckley and recording what turned out to be a masterpiece, 1994's Grace.
Circle the Wagen begins with the end in mind, and suffers as a result.
Ten years on, Death from Above 1979 kicks just as much ass.
Labored and unfocused, the study that Luis Sanchez attempts with SMiLE is a poor fit for the 33 1/3 format.
By time a song ends, one has undergone the journey from ignorance to familiarity accompanied by a sense of Déjà vu as if one already knew what one never has known.
Classic Zeus is sturdy and stormproof, and has enough memorable hooky hooks to make your head spin.
Not all the guest artists fit, and sometimes the connection to Satchmo seems tenuous indeed. But when it works, as it mostly does, the album delivers much pleasure and pleasant surprises.
The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd's new project is a solid attempt at arty prog-rock, but in the end, they just can't shake sounding like the Flaming Lips.
Monday, September 15 2014
A loveable girl and a loveable dog team up to create a world of entertaining complications.
Five years in the making, Martha Davis & the Motels made a triumphant return to New York City.
In Last Days in Vietnam, archival footage is both thrilling and heartbreaking, at once emblematic of the broader saga of so many mistakes set against so many heroic efforts.
This is a movie about hearts and selves, bodies and trusts, and most importantly how people deal (or don't deal) with loss.
I found A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing to be the literary equivalent of a shot of blackest espresso: sharp, jolting, and acidic.
The 'Marshall McLuhan' message borne by the MP3 revolution is clear: music is endlessly plentiful and entirely disposable. So what's the message of streaming?
Mostly Other People Do the Killing have taken on an ambitious task: recreate Miles Davis' landmark Kind of Blue note for note. Except, as bassist Moppa Elliott notes, note-for-note might just be impossible.
Drawing from 20 years worth of reviews and books, in addition to new interviews with those involved in Jeff Buckley's music, David Chiu looks back on Grace, which two decades later remains just as impactful.
This reboot is a pretty pedestrian affair, managing to pull out all the tropes you've come to expect from monster movies without offering anything new.
It's hard to fault a lot of young people for are asking the question of "Who is U2?", because after listening to Songs of Innocence, this is a question that not even the band themselves could answer.
Mike Auldridge is joined on this, his final recording, by fellow dobro masters Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes. A fitting capstone to a legendary career.
William Alexander's cardiologist asks about any new stress in his life. "Well, I am studying French," he answers.
To a large degree, the last year in music has been about the triumph of the smooth.
There are different ways to experience and to express joy. It can be celebratory, or quiet and introspective. Joy in Spite of Everything balances those poles of sound and style on what is one of the most successful jazz releases of the year.
Saying that The Water(s) shows potential would be unfair. Mick Jenkins has already arrived.
Some of these experiments are more successful than others, but it is that basic uptempo, wah-wah inflected, bass-heavy, organ-choogling funk that makes the strongest impression here.
Friday, September 12 2014
Australian songwriter Zoë Randall of Luluc has been listening to her favorite albums, over and over, for decades. Her own new one Passerby is so effortlessly lovely that you can likewise imagine yourself putting it on again this year and next year and the one after that.
This television version directed by Michael Wilson is lacking in the same of urgency that made the Broadway show such a sensation.
This is a story about the distribution model of comics and why I want to see it evolve to the same levels comics storytelling did in the ‘90s. And this story begins with two vignettes…
"When we discuss the feeling of reading we are really talking about the memory of having read," says Peter Mendelsund, "and this memory of reading is a false memory."
“Momentum” is a good word for Rossmo’s work in general. If there’s one thing that ties together his eclectically vast projects, it’s the kinetic energy his art contains.
Fed up with the empty rhetoric of utopian ideology and highfalutin discourse, the new generation of filmmakers take their frustrations out on the grand narratives of Tamil cinema.
Thought not always humorous, memes demonstrate the power of whimsical humour to undermine the legitimacy of the most laboriously manufactured control structures.
Categorizing the world we live in may be one of the most primal of human appetites.This exhibit challenges how we do that.
Anti-romances of those who shouldn't be together.