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, July 14 2014
Jafar Panahi's Closed Curtain showcases the difficulties of making art and being an artist in a troubled world.
The obvious question is whether or not Dick Grayson can carry a book, minus his mask and superhero identity. The answer, at least in this first issue, is yes, yes he can.
Tesla Effect is B-grade fun that unfortunately soon turns into B-grade nonsense.
Black Sabbath, Faith No More, Soundgarden and more: a tale of music and Independence.
"So it all came from a point of view of nostalgia, of how India used to be when I still lived there," says Ritesh Batra of her new film, The Lunchbox.
Sexual rights in America remain both provisional and cynical; we know everyone should have them, but we are beholden to cowardly, outmoded, theocratic institutions that are fearful of egalitarianism.
Legendary songwriter John Hiatt takes the hard road on Terms of My Surrender, a tough, modern blues contemplation which turns into an exciting heartland roar.
The way Landlady can explode with joy and strangeness puts them on some sort of a pedestal, right from their debut.
Tiphanie Yanique's debut novel is both a family saga and an unusual love story. It seems likely to become a classic of Caribbean American literature.
When your album highlights are a song that sounded just as good in a previous rock incarnation and a pair of fast songs that sound like fraternal twins, it’s probably not your best effort. Especially when there are eight other tracks on the record.
This is a streamlined collection of a standard sound with some sonic detours into pop territory, and it draws inspiration from both the classic and the contemporary styles of blues.
The second set of Northern Soul-flavored 7x7"-singles from the legendary soul label highlights just how tough it is to consider the Motown sound objectively these days.
Sunday, July 13 2014
People must make choices, dire, resonant, tragic, repeatedly in The Strain.
Friday, July 11 2014
Matt Reeves’ sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a tight, bleak, and dramatically lopsided tragedy wrapped inside a pummeling summer crowd-pleaser.
The song was "Flagpole Sitta", and it was everywhere in the late '90s. Nearly two decades later, it finally gets the vinyl treatment.
Polanski's movies tend to be even-handed in their treatment of the sexes, at least in that both male and female characters can be conniving and power-mad.
In Quest for Infamy, you’ll spend more time looking for a story and puzzles than you do participating in a story and puzzles.
Women in jazz can sing about their same-sex experiences, while men tend to stay deeply in the closet. Odd, considering the genre once embraced such dalliances.
Should you indulge, I encourage you to pour your favorite tipple, settle into a comfortable chair, open the pages of Proof, and enjoy the "bar moment".
Artisanal chocolate. Mustaches. Locally sourced vegetables. Etsy. Birds. Flea markets. Cult films. Horn-rimmed glasses. Twee.
Walter Hill's talkiest action film boasts one of his best stories, but isn't the forgotten classic one might hope for.
The seminal bossa-nova record for American audiences still sounds perfect.
Now (Chicago XXXVI) will likely make moms across the land swoon, and that’s pretty much all you can ask from Chicago by this point.
They are Serge Gainsbourg's songs, but it's Harvey’s show, and he does a fine job as frontman throughout.
Watching Eric Elbogen's career has been like watching a turtle come out its shell in slow motion, and Endless Wonder is perhaps Say Hi's most fully realized album to date.
A mixed bag from Portland's folk-rock superstars.
Thursday, July 10 2014
With so many mainstream movie romances mired in clichés, it's up to the indie sector to offer more nuanced, more original versions of the movie romance.
Over the last couple of years IDW has collected the entirety of the Star Trek strips that ran from 1979 to 1983 into two large, coffee table style volumes in their Library of American Comics series.
Nothing goes unnoticed in Yelena Akhtiorskaya's satire of an immigrant family, and nothing is sacred.
In evaluating what makes a great film score, writers, composers, and listeners must ask themselves if the function of cinematic music limits the form it has to take.
Silly plot aside, the real attraction to A Hard Day’s Night is the music and the way it is presented.
Bassist for the Atlanta sludge metal monsters Troy Sanders discusses why Once More 'Round the Sun is simply the next logical step in the band's Go-Go's-loving journey.
The Clientele were one of the greatest triumphs of the fickle aughts, and also one of the most overlooked successes of indie pop.
Donovan Quinn and Glenn Donaldson took a straight ahead approach to making their latest, a record infused with immediate charm making its 33-minute running time feel breezy, even effortless.
Two masters play mostly love songs as if the night were coming to a close.
The Motherland shows that, at the age of 50, Dave Bidini shows no signs of slowing, and we can all celebrate the fact that he’s still making music.
Kris Delmhorst aims for a mature, minimalistic style on her seventh studio album Blood Test, a move which ultimately lacks punch and floats by in a puff of nothingness.
Wednesday, July 9 2014
While vengeance is surely a reliable dramatic device, its use here is also potentially more far-reaching.
The setting is not one hundred years after Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny were first exposed to cosmic rays but rather one hundred years after Jack and Stan kicked off the Marvel revolution with the introduction of “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.”
Comics Art demonstrates Gravett's deep passion for the world of panels, speech balloons, fine lines and grand colors, subtle shading and transformative images.
Parenthood comes with a lot of change, and a lot of decisions to be made, including this one: What’s your musical strategy?
The veritable Top 40 Country outsiders, Old Crow Medicine Show, are the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. But does that really matter?
For any a fan of The Who’s “Maximum R&B” music, this is as close to being there as you can possibly get without a time machine and a hefty ticket charge.
This is probably Boris’ most accessible record to date and the overall feeling is that it has, once again, managed to mould its inspiration while remaining quintessentially "Boris".
Tim Booth lost his mother and a friend. His band's aesthetic betrays his grief. But it all somehow comes out alright.
No collection could do justice to some of the diverse paths which Paul Weller has pursued over the last decade.
If this was the last day on Earth, Friedman would still go out and greet friends and celebrate the moment rather than cry in despair.
Tough and yet tender, sexy and yet seductive, All of Nothin’ appeals to all of your good senses, and it is a wonderful testament of an artist who is very quickly coming into her own.
Tuesday, July 8 2014
Flashbacks appear first as if in her mind (via circular mirrors and quaint iris transitions) and then as if on digital recording (on a tablet), neither obviously accurate.
Sex Criminals fits into a category all its own. Is it a book about sex? It is certainly dirty, but it doesn’t exploit its characters.
Young Adult literature is not just for kids, and it fills an important niche left vacant by much of contemporary "adult" fiction.
PopMatters catches up with singer and wordsmith Tim Bowness to talk about the creative process behind Together We're Stranger, its lyrical influences, and how it fits into the band's diverse career.
I Spy is filled with revolutionary diversity, exotic filming locations, and a textbook example of on screen chemistry.
What happens when one of the most successful and prolific songwriters of the past few years decides to return to the career that debilitated her emotionally and physically?
And Man Created God is an impressively detailed and panoramic survey of how power and piety interacted with one another in the increasingly globalized classical world.
Savage Gold proves extreme metal to be a race to the bottom that no one wins.
This wholly unique dream-pop band returns with an album that takes their ambient, dreamy sound to new and interesting places.
Before this night is through, White Sea wants to do real bad things with you.
While it sometimes sticks too close to home, most of Givin' Up on Free Jazz is an open and welcome invitation to join the band there and get lost in the feeling of good rock 'n roll.
Monday, July 7 2014
As it follows Paralympians en route to London 2102, this documentary makes clear the arbitrary dividing line between what's "normal" and what's not.
Beck really knocked it out of the park with his show at Summerstage.
Disorganization and ineptitude somehow come together in a wonderfully meaningful story.
Marvel owns characters and its profits come from comics sales, film tickets, lunch boxes, etc. As such, character identification fluctuates easily between media.
Though the video game industry bases itself on forward progression, the rich history of the medium is being underserved by the lack of preservation for older, essential games.
There’s no scenery chewing in All That Heaven Allows, just very eloquent décor.
This is Judas Priest as they haven't been heard in nearly 25 years. Not since Painkiller has the band had this much power, energy, or hooks.
Hardly original, but always something of quality, Wooden Head is a record you’ll be glad to hear, and, by the end, leaves you wanting more.
Famous Baby is fun and funny and a bit flawed, just like its two main characters.
The Pretenders vocalist delivers first solo album with a little help from her friends. Results may vary.
Elusive would imply that she's hiding from us. The irony is that this album serves Mariah Carey in droves.
Music of the earth, emotion and community, Handsome and Gretyl talk love, hope, optimism, and life.
Wednesday, July 2 2014
Bonnaroo's four-course, farm-to-table "Bonnaroots" dinner showed the locavore food culture's vibrancy crossing into pop culture.
War is bad, demons are bad, walking on human skulls is bad. And then what?
The middle day of the festival on Saturday featured a strong draw for the rock ‘n' roll crowd.
A furious mix of hip-hop beats, Arabic primal screams and punk-rock guitars, Taha brilliantly battles against the ideologies of both Western and Arab traditions.
We take another trip to a certain simian world, we have another experience with an annual government authorized night of lawlessness, and we get our second sighting of a mythic Greek muscleman.
It’s nearly impossible to not get roped in by the easy banter of the dialogue, the epic drama, and the luminous images of this quintessential Western.
The Bats are a crucial part of the Flying Nun story, as well as the story of New Zealand music.
There is nothing hidden about the world of these stories, and Yu Hua’s writing is defined by its plainspoken voice and depiction of quotidian lives.
Willie Nelson still makes records that are smart, funny, sexy, and heartbreaking.
The Hunting Party is a decent record on its own, but it feels too repetitive, uninspired, and generic to equal its immediate predecessors.
“The Ballad of Stinky Penis”. “I’m Gonna Fuck You Up!". “Big Bloody Booger on the Bathroom Wall”. If those song titles seem even remotely appealing to you, boy, have I got the record for you!
As the title implies, this is nothing but drum solos from one of the greatest drummers of all time. Even if the notion turns you off, the album itself will prove mesmerizing.
Tuesday, July 1 2014
The children in Earth to Echo are trying to be understood, and to matter, with the footage they shoot.
Imagine you’re back in high school. You’re faced with a lot of societal pressures such as fitting in and applying for colleges. Now to top that off your school has inexplicably been transported to an alien galaxy. You are now entering The Woods.
Despite being set in London's Swinging Sixties, Up the Junction comes across just as apropos of America's here and now.
A Summer’s Tale is a rich snapshot of youth and the hopefulness contained in the realization that the world is nothing if not endless possibilities.
These adventurous women only wear some kind of underwear or nightie in front of the windows for that funny little peeping tom across the courtyard.
Good effort, gentlemen, but not the best effort. You've put together a very solid studio album but also somehow managed to include two total duds and one supremely silly track.
The success of the 32 restless, spectral stories in Last Stories and Other Stories depends upon whether Vollmann can sustain in-depth soul-searching.
Here comes Peter Murphy again, and he's got a mane this time. He might even bite you. Seriously, Lion is ferocious.
28 Grams is full of interesting, moody, personality-drenched beats, many of which go to waste because they’re not suited to the artist.
Cartoonish in nature, like an exploding cigar joke. No matter how smart one thinks he or she is, one always laughs to the groove at the moment of detonation.
Monday, June 30 2014
This explores the marriages that come after the weddings and perhaps more provocatively, the hopes and limits of documentary filmmaking.
The cop and the reverend spend the first few episodes starting or not avoiding fights, their faces increasingly bruised and bloodied, increasingly emblems of disorder.
A sequel to the 2009 Japan-only DS release Tomodachi Collection, Tomodachi Life is less a game than a virtual aquarium (or perhaps sitcom set) populated by Miis.
According to Joseph Campbell, The Demon You Can Swallow "gives you its power—and the greater life’s pain, the greater life’s reply."
Dino Risi is able to turn this odd couple’s story into a film that’s socially and emotionally intelligent -- and entertaining.
PopMatters is pleased to premiere I Sleep Alone the new album by Psalmships.