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5 May 2015 // 2:30 AM

Covering Cover Songs

Cover songs don't have to be all that bad. Just listen to what Becca Stevens and Jason Moran have been doing lately, and you'll see.

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The Liberation of Best Coast: An Interview with Bethany Cosentino

The singer, guitarist, and songwriter of Best Coast discusses the influences behind their new album California Nights, the double-edged sword of success, and the band's constantly evolving legacy.

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‘Litpop: Writing and Popular Music’ Suffocates From a Lack of the Lively Air of Opinion

This anthology is meant to study two of the most lively artistic fields on the planet, and yet it's bogged down by articles of no great substance and no great joy.

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Best Coast: California Nights

Lo-fi no longer, Best Coast give listeners an avalanche of hooks and waves of power chords with their third LP, California Nights.

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Revolvers, Redemption, and Yasujiro Ozu’s Silent Film Experimentation With Crime Drama

Like Jean-Luc Godard and other French directors who were later influenced by the American crime film tradition, Japan's own Yasujiro Ozu made the genre his own.

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John Zorn: The Hermetic Organ, Vol. 3: St. Paul’s Hall, Huddersfield

In celebrating his 60th birthday, John returns to his first instrument.

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4 May 2015 // 9:30 AM

The Face in the Puddle

The central image of Spawn #251, the reflection of the monster in a puddle, speaks volumes about both the comics industry, and ourselves.

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Sam Lewis: Waiting on You

Waiting on You is the kind of album that resonates well, one that will likely be a listening staple for some time to come.

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Josh Rouse: The Embers of Time

The 11th album from Josh Rouse continues in a relaxed and chilled-out manner, with some high quality material.

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Listening Ahead: Upcoming Music Releases for May 2015

Get the early word on new albums by My Morning Jacket, the Tallest Man on Earth, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

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Game of Thrones, Episode 3: The Sword in the Darkness

The Sword in the Darkness continues the thread of mischief management associated with the GAme of Thrones and does so with real panache.

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Todd Rundgren, Emil Nikolaisen, Hans-Peter Lindstrom: Runddans

Runddans has been described as “a spiritual magnusopus", but that may be a euphemistic assessment.

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Deconstructing the Star Beast: How the ‘Alien’ Saga Went Wrong

Alien was a planned B-Movie that transcended its genre and spawned the rare sequel that is neither imitation nor complete deviation. Then the saga went to hell.

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4 May 2015 // 5:00 AM

METZ: II

METZ are a caustic antidote for a cynical world, and II burns even better going down than their defining first album.

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‘Run Like Crazy Run Like Hell’ Is Outstanding—Just Don’t Call It a Graphic Novel

I can’t say with certainty who today’s greatest French practitioner of the ‘Ninth Art’ is, but I can say that Jacques Tardi is the greatest I have read.

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‘Wild at Heart’ Is David Lynch’s Exuberant Circus of Romance and Violence

Compared to David Lynch's bleak take on fate and human nature in, say, Eraserhead or Lost Highway, this is sunshine and sailboats -- albeit with plenty of vivid sex, violence, and twisted humor.

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‘Annie’ Is a Feature-Length Native Ad, Not a Remake

At the helm of producers Jay-Z and Will Smith, Annie becomes not a tale about finding one's home, but instead a paean to personal shopping sprees and technology.

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The Science of the Yuk and the Yum of Things

John McQuaid blends history, scientific research, cultural studies, and personal anecdotes to create a lively and engaging history of taste.

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Avengers Age of Ultron, a Triptych’s Second Frame

Avengers: Age of Ultron is an amazing spectacle and there's very little you don't see. But if there is something unnoticed, it might be how seamlessly Whedon crafts the movie into the history of Hollywood.

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In ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’, Women Are Property

A woman fights to keep her freedom in Thomas Hardy’s love quadrangle, rendered visually by director Thomas Vinterberg in a poised, crisp, and actor-centric film.

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More Definitely Means More in Joss Whedon’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

Joss Whedon and his heroes and villains epic offers more this time around -- more characters, more plot points, more action -- and a few reasons for concern.

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28 Apr 2015 // 7:05 AM

A Cosmic Crescendo

An epic crossover involving cosmic power ends in a way that's satisfying without the specter of tragedy.

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Resident Evil: Revelations 2

The Revelations spin-off series is officially the crazy younger sibling of the Resident Evil franchise.

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Paul Thomas Anderson Douses Film Noir With Bong Smoke in ‘Inherent Vice’

Throughout cinema history, there have been countless films made about detectives and stoners, but nothing has ever been quite like Inherent Vice.

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Fateful Ties: A History of America’s Preoccupation With China

Spanning fascination and fear, ideas about China have long been embedded in America’s conception of itself and its own fate.

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Sex and Unisex: Fashion, Feminism, and the Sexual Revolution

Three cultural tectonic plates came together to produce the gender revolution: the postwar baby boom, the sexual revolution, and the civil rights movement.

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‘Lord of the Flies’ Is an Inferior Take on William Golding’s Classic Novel

The 1963 film Lord of the Flies is a transcendent experience in accurate filmmaking. The 1990 film Lord of the Flies is only a movie.

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“The Only Good Bug Is a Dead Bug”: ‘Starship Troopers’ and the Politics of Science Fiction

There's little a remake of Starship Troopers could add to the original's deceptively deep insights into the nature of social organization.

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28 Apr 2015 // 1:06 AM

Brown Bird: Axis Mundi

Brown Bird's final album finds them expanding their sound without sacrificing their personality. And using drums played with hands, not just foot pedals.

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28 Apr 2015 // 1:05 AM

Braids: Deep in the Iris

The Montreal trio's latest album shows an increasingly refined sense of knowing when to nurture one impulse and temper another, embracing compromise without sacrifice.

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The Dirty Aces: From the Basement

Raucous and debauched, From the Basement has the strut and swagger of Stevie Ray Vaughn and the decadently ragged appeal of ‘70s Rolling Stones.

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Seasick Steve: Sonic Soul Surfer

Seasick Steve shows excellence while away from his comfort zone, but re-re-fried blues is a dead end.

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28 Apr 2015 // 1:02 AM

The Soft Moon: Deeper

If the Soft Moon's techno-mope isn't exactly authentic, it's certainly genuine and most definitely consistent on Deeper.

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Martin Sexton: Mixtape of the Open Road

Mixtape of the Open Road is as cohesive and dynamic as the road itself.

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A Response to Avengers: Age of Ultron, in Triptych

Even after Daredevil, especially after Daredevil, Avengers: Age of Ultron might be the finest realization of the Marvel Universe on screen.

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James Wood on Why Fiction and Criticism Matter

James Wood is exactly the sort of champion of belles lettres we need, and this collection is proof of it.

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‘The Boy Next Door’ Is Wrong, but It Feels So Good

Like a musical, The Boy Next Door often asks us to suspend our disbelief and take a ridiculous ride to an absurd place -- in this case, a place where first editions of The Iliad actually exist.

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The Ethics of Death-Defying Media

Furious 7's path to the screen is emblematic of the ways in which film and other media defy (and define) death as images develop lives of their own.

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Kevin Barnes’ Monolithic Egress: An Interview with of Montreal

Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes explains why it's OK to make music that's ugly, why he loves Os Mutantes, and why he can't recreate his most hated song ever.

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The Potentially Great ‘Mommy’ Is Only Occasionally Good

Mommy has its memorable moments, but it's ultimately not worth the effort to watch obnoxious characters shout at each other for over two hours.

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27 Apr 2015 // 1:06 AM

Blur: The Magic Whip

The Magic Whip is a goofy record, featuring a kind of scattershot energy that is usually only mustered by young bands just discovering their love of music for the first time.

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27 Apr 2015 // 1:05 AM

Ava Luna: Infinite House

Ava Luna's latest is as multilayered and pleasantly bewildering as the "infinite house" where it was recorded.

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‘The Light of the World’ Explores How to Cope When a Light Goes Out

In April 2012, Ficremariam Ghebreyseus collapsed on the treadmill in the house he shared with wife Elizabeth Alexander. Yet her memoir stubbornly adheres to joy.

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27 Apr 2015 // 1:04 AM

The Late Call: Golden

Golden may be the one record to bring Johannes Mayer (The Late Call) to wider awareness.

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27 Apr 2015 // 1:03 AM

Portico: Living Fields

The shift from Portico Quartet to Portico wasn't an evolution; it was a dismantling, a removal of so much of the soul that once made them vital.

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Future Brown: Future Brown

Electronic supergroup Future Brown serve up a quietly evolutionary debut that blends multi-cultural styles without sacrificing mass appeal.

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Man Without Country: Maximum Entropy

If you don't like music, then you'll adore Maximum Entropy.

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Harrison Ford Reminds You Why You Like Movies in ‘The Age of Adaline’

Harrison Ford's performance in this film about a woman who doesn't age foregrounds the consideration of time and desire, how each shapes the other, and how both affect imaginative horizons.

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By Confusing Religion With Reality, ‘Little Boy’ Fails Its Faith-Based Foundation

Because it is unsure whether it wants to push the Bible or a little boy's wavering faith, Little Boy ends up giving us neither.

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Russell Crowe’s War Drama ‘The Water Diviner’ Is Awards Season Sap

Instead of a potent post-war drama, first time director Russell Crowe gives us a jumbled, often incoherent attempt at an epic.

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Status Flow: The Kingly Rhymes of Marracash

A household name in his native country, Italy has in Marracash one of its biggest contenders of hip-hop.

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24 Apr 2015 // 1:10 AM

Vinyl: The Analogue Record in the Digital Age

As a multifaceted cultural object, vinyl has remained a persistent force within our technologically accelerated culture -- although not without bumps in the road.

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‘Cries and Whispers’ Is a Life-Affirming Film About Death

To call Ingmar Bergman's red-drenched masterpiece Cries and Whispers essential to any collection would be a serious understatement.

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Scharpling & Wurster: The Best of the Best Show

Numero Group’s 16-disc box set of phone calls featuring Scharpling & Wurster is both the sort of product that might have been lampooned on The Best Show on WFMU as well as a great monument to their first, weird era together.

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24 Apr 2015 // 1:05 AM

Squarepusher: Damogen Furies

Even when Damogen Furies starts to become overfamiliar in its spastic rhythmic explorations, Squarepusher finds a way to upset the listener's expectations.

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Great Lake Swimmers: A Forest of Arms

A solid album with a number of beguiling songs and a lot of spirit, A Forest of Arms is the sound of a band well into their musical journey, with many more miles still to go.

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Pokey LaFarge: Something in the Water

The music sounds old, as if it was meant to be played on a 78 rpm turntable, but without the scratchiness.

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24 Apr 2015 // 1:02 AM

Steve Howe: Anthology

Anthology serves its purpose -- that is, to compile Howe’s solo stock and spotlight him outside the confines of his day job.

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‘Helicopter Mom’ Depicts an Overbearing Mom With Overbearing Stereotypes

Any potentially forward-thinking ideas Helicopter Mom has are drowned out in the labels the film puts on itself.

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Tribeca Film Festival: Harold Lloyd’s ‘Speedy’ With Live Soundtrack by Z-Trip

Criterion's new restoration of Harold Lloyd's Speedy was screened with a live score accompaniment from turntablist Z-Trip at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

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‘The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy’ Is Something of a Duck-Rabbit Itself

The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy does more than introduce major themes and arguments in philosophy. It raises interesting questions about the visual nature of philosophy itself.

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‘Cult of the Damned’ Leaps Directly Into the “Camp” Camp

This cult obscurity remains bright and bewildering, chock full of silly dialogue and dangerous, ungrateful youths.

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‘H Is for Hawk’ and for Healing

This book about grief and hawks and T.H. White is so beautifully written that even readers unable to tell robins from parakeets will be entranced.

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Diss-Illusioned! Magic and the Supernatural

A new breed of magicians are self-consciously aware that their toolbox of trickery enables them to wield the potential power to affect beliefs—and thus behavior.

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Still Built to Spill: An Interview with Doug Martsch

Doug Martsch and Built to Spill march on. Despite a core lineup shift, they never plan to slow down.

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John Moreland: High on Tulsa Heat

John Moreland proves there's nothing sanctimonious about singing the truth on High on Tulsa Heat.

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The Charlatans: Modern Nature

A survivor band if ever there was one, the Charlatans have drawn on personal tragedy to produce one of the stand-out albums of their long career.

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Rocky Votolato: Hospital Handshakes

Hospital Handshakes is a milestone in Rocky Votolato’s career and one that would do well to serve as a springboard for all his efforts going forward.

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Sandra Newman’s ‘The Country of Ice Cream Star’ Is a Heavy Read

There’s talk of war, rape, disease -- all things we associate with the worst of adulthood. But Newman never lets us forget that these are children.

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iLoveMakonnen: Drink More Water 5

There's something about iLoveMakonnen's tone and inflection that turns his wobbly singing and hazy, uncomplicated rapping into reliable ways to deliver hooks. He might not have perfect pitch, but his pop instincts are awfully close.

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James Bay: Chaos and the Calm

On Chaos and the Calm,, singer/songwriter James Bay delivers a sound debut album that's never earth-shattering.

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The Westies: West Side Stories

Michael McDermott's newest project is off to a promising start. If only it was a little more difficult.

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Cross Culture Convergence in ‘Ms. Marvel #14’

It's easy to root for Kamala Khan, but that also means it's easy to feel the impact when her emotions get the better of her.

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Michel Onfray’s Philosopher’s Guide to Good Food

From Nietzsche's 'Sausages of the Anti-Christ' to Kant's 'Ethical Alcoholism', the French celebrity philosopher serves up a sumptuous smorgasbord of philosophical plates.

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Summer Camp Slashers and Greek Myths in ‘The Roommates’ and ‘A Woman for All Men’

A former Perry Mason director takes on the exploitation format in this pristine Blu-ray reissue and double feature.

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Beyond Record Store Day: Digging Up Some Choice Used Americana Vinyl

There are plenty of good reasons to visit an actual record store besides that one hyped day in April.

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‘The Wild Angels’ Lays Out the Rules of the Biker Film

Roger Corman's 1966 film is the storytelling legacy that works of cinema and television such as Sons of Anarchy draw from.

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Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis Talks Self-Acceptance, Feminism, and Inclusivity in Rock Music

Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz talks with PopMatters about a growing progressive movement in rock music, her new record, and more.

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Alabama Shakes: Sound and Color

What makes the Alabama Shakes sound new is that they’re evidently devoted to their musical forebears -- everyone from Etta James and Aretha to Bowie and Zeppelin -- yet also coquettishly unfaithful to each one of them.

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22 Apr 2015 // 1:05 AM

Wire: WIRE

Eponymous albums aren't for amateurs, and Wire's 13th chunk of full-length steel proves it.

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‘Soul!’, the Groundbreaking Public TV Show From the Black Power Era Is Rescued From the Archives

Musical acts ranged from Rahsaan Roland Kirk to Ashford & Simpson. Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin interrogated each other in a two-episode arc. Try finding a mix like that in the current PBS lineup.

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Merzbow, Gustafsson, Pándi, Moore: Cuts of Guilt, Cuts Deeper

A stunningly ferocious noise album from four masters of their craft.

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22 Apr 2015 // 1:03 AM

Ron Sexsmith: Carousel One

Blandness sometimes encroaches, but Sexsmith’s 14th record proves, at its strongest, to be a typically warm, reassuring, and likeable piece of work.

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Peggy Lee: At Last: The Lost Radio Recordings

Forty four tracks from Lee’s radio show that she never recorded later and have, for the most part, not been heard since they originally aired.

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Big Time Fun in ‘Chrononauts #2’

Chrononauts is a thrill ride that embraces the time travel genre while turning it on its head. It is big time fun.

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John Andrews & The Yawns: Bit by the Fang

Bit by the Fang is a decidedly lo-fi, low-key album of psychedelic alt-country folk pop -- Big Lebowski fans, take note.

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‘Preaching on Wax’ Is an Introduction to a Neglected Subset of Early Black Pop and Its Biggest Star

Rev. J.M. Gates was a hit from his 1926 debut, worlds apart from his stodgy predecessors. His best work can still really get the goosebumps going.

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‘The Breakfast Club’ Gets Overpowered by Its Archetypes

The Breakfast Club is a solid effort, but one that spends too much times clubbing its viewers over the head with its message of, "We're more than just labels."

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Dreamfall Chapters, Book Two: Rebels

Dreamfall Chapters is about power and its abuse.

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Faith No More Come Back ‘From the Dead’ and Slay Vancouver - 15 April 2015

After a lengthy hiatus, Faith No More return to the stage, and never once do they appear like they're going through the motions.

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21 Apr 2015 // 2:00 AM

Going Forward and Looking Back with Taking Back Sunday

The original lineup is still back, and Taking Back Sunday happily tell us about their Long Island origins and the real subject of "There's No 'I' in Team".

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Great Movies With Terrible Sequels: Laughable Sequels in Action

Not even the combined might of Superman, Batman, Predator and James Bond can save their respective series from sinking like an ocean liner into the Bay of Pigs!

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21 Apr 2015 // 1:10 AM

Burning Bridges With Wire

Colin Newman is a rock legend. Wire have been churning out great self-released LPs for years, and their new one is no exception.

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A Vampire Falls in Love in Iran in ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the most exciting debut feature film of the decade thus far, showing a prodigious talent in director Ana Lily Amirpour.

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Built to Spill: Untethered Moon

Built to Spill's guitar-driven sound is the indie-rock equivalent of comfort food, indulgent and satisfying in how familiar it is.

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Crossing the Troll Bridge With ‘Marvel Comics in the 1980s’

It’s almost as if Pierre Comtois is trolling the reader, treating the printed page as a message board on which to make fans go crazy.

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21 Apr 2015 // 1:05 AM

Turbo Fruits: No Control

No Control turns the trouble of being a very fast fruit into a full-on, true rock and roll experience.

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Marie Davidson: Un Autre Voyage

Canadian Coldwave Queen's third heralds the rise of the machines. Quick hide!

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Kristian Bush: Southern Gravity

This isn’t disconnected from the current country-radio charts entirely; some of what he’s doing is taking familiar tropes and making them sound “fun” and easily digestible.

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The Gibson Brothers: Brotherhood

Eric and Leigh Gibson continue to innovate with a collection of bluegrass covers dedicated to fellow bands of brothers.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

"Island of Lemurs: Madagascar" Is Cute but Spooky

// Short Ends and Leader

"This flick is a superficial but eye-popping survey for armchair nature tourists.

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