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George Van Eps: Once in Awhile

'40s Jazz Guitar Pioneer in Full Regalia

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‘The Beat Generation’ Is More Deadbeat Than Beatnik

The Beat Generation fails to capture the trendy, hipster social scene that its title promises.

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Robert Christgau Falls From Grace in ‘Going into the City’

We have here the post-apocalyptic wanderer, able to go anywhere because there’s nowhere he belongs.

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Michael Des Barres Puts His Heart on His Sleeve for ‘The Key to the Universe’

With his new album, the veteran British singer/actor delivers a set of spirited and emotional rock and roll.

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‘Alexander’ and the Not-So-Terrible Family Comedy

When it comes to family comedies, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is the exact opposite of terrible, horrible, and no good.

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9 Apr 2015 // 1:06 AM

Waxahatchee: Ivy Tripp

Waxahatchee​’s latest album is a brilliant self-study that occupies a haunting liminal space.

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9 Apr 2015 // 1:05 AM

Lord Huron: Strange Trails

Bringing a broader instrumental palette, more cinematic in scope than their debut, Lord Huron aims high and largely succeeds.

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Perception vs. Reality in Tracy Manaster’s ‘You Could Be Home By Now’

Some books you just don’t want to end. Manaster’s debut is one of those books.

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The Apartments: The Evening Visits… and Stays for Years

The first album from one-time Go-Between Peter Milton Walsh plus attendant early material, spanning 1979-85. Moody and impressive. But loveable?

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MilkDrive: Places You’ve Not Been

MilkDrive becomes an Americana band to watch with their genre-defying new release full of pop-ready jams.

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Kylie Minogue: Kylie / Enjoy Yourself / Rhythm of Love / Let’s Get to It

On these reissues of Kylie Minogue's first four records, the singer starts to figure out who she is, no matter how little her producers/hit-making assembly lines seemed to care.

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‘The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1’ - Don’t Read This Comic

I should have listened to the cover. After all, the warning was clear: "You must NOT read this comic!"

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In ‘Vampire’s Kiss / High Spirits’, Horror and Comedy Clash but Don’t Always Mix

Scream! Factory's horror/comedy "double feature" doesn't truly fit into either genre.

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Per Petterson’s Tales of Innocence and Experience

Petterson's closely-knit stories sadly and beautifully reveal the passage from boyish innocence to "manhood", and show us what it means to be a man.

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The Leap: The Universe of Difference Between ‘Pablo Honey’ and ‘The Bends’

In jumping forward from the lackluster Pablo Honey, Radiohead finally started becoming the Radiohead that is idolized today.

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Bill O’Reilly’s Rock & Roll Machine

Nostalgia has its uses, its benefits. But is it useful and beneficial when it obscures the reality of the past and present, usually in the service of power, prestige, and making a buck?

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Exploited Athletes Exploit the Exploiting System: The Hidden Game Behind College Sports

There is a game hidden behind the basketball courts and football fields of our universities, an unscrupulous match that mostly advantages the institutions themselves.

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‘Blacula’ Bites, but Never Sucks

The two most famous horror blaxploitation films look and sound excellent in this dual release, but they deserve more extras considering their importance.

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The Mountain Goats: Beat the Champ

The Mountain Goats follow up albums about divorce, heartbreak, and scripture with one about professional wrestling.

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Comedy Is a Lower Form in B.J. Novak’s ‘One More Thing’

B.J. Novak forsakes an impeccable sense of timing and an acerbic wit to patronize with this collection of cast-off skit ideas and sappy short-stories.

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Becca Stevens Band: Perfect Animal

Becca Stevens makes a giant leap into pop music complexity with her latest, an exhilaratingly fun listen.

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Yoko Ono: Antony & Yoko / Yoko Ono & John Zorn

With a pair of singles, Yoko Ono furthers her case for artistic relevance as a proponent of fringe music that, like much of her back catalogue, was never intended for mass consumption.

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The Go-Betweens: G Stands for Go-Betweens (Vol.1)

First volume of the Go-Betweens' box set series: four LPs, four CDs, with re-issued albums, rarities and a live concert – a completist’s reverie.

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George Usher and Lisa Burns: The Last Day of Winter

After fighting the crippling effects of chemotherapy, George Ushers's dogged determination is apparent even at the outset.

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Exposing Strengths and Weaknesses in ‘Batman/Superman Annual #2’

Superman's strengths are once again explored, but his weaknesses tell the story.

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7 Apr 2015 // 7:37 AM

Toro y Moi: What For?

Chaz Bundick turns his restless dissatisfaction into artistic fuel on Toro y Moi's psychedelic fourth album.

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Talkin’ Bout Evil With the Lower Dens

The Lower Dens' new album is called Escape From Evil, but the way Jana Hunter tells it, recording it was nothing but a joy.

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7 Apr 2015 // 1:45 AM

Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth

Given what we know about Billie Holiday now, much of Lady Sings the Blues can be read as autobiographical fiction.

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Billie Holiday at 100: Still an Inspiration

On Billie Holiday's centennial, her influence remains everywhere in music. Jazz singers Cassandra Wilson and Jose James, have new tributes out on Blue Note.

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‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ Brings a Bloated Trilogy to Its End

This epic flick concludes a trilogy that, in retrospect, should have been a duology.

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Brian Wilson: No Pier Pressure

No Pier Pressure is a lifeless, limp collection of songs that counts as a Brian Wilson album in name only.

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‘Wayward Volume One: String Theory’ Beautifully Captures Accurate Folkloric Context

The comic series Wayward depicts the struggles of a group of supernatural teens growing up and fighting evil on the streets of modern Tokyo.

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Ray Wylie Hubbard: The Ruffian’s Misfortune

Perhaps this is the true ruffian’s misfortune: one mellows with age. Hubbard tries to pretend otherwise by snarling and playing blues licks.

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José James: Yesterday I Had the Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday

Forgoing a more exploratory route, José James delivers a set of pleasantly predictable Billie Holiday covers.

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Barnstar!: Sit Down! Get Up! Get Out!

In spite of a few generic weaknesses and maybe a little too much joy, Barnstar!'s sophomore effort's a boot-stomping good time.

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‘Frankenstein Underground’ and the Deaths That Tax Us

Frankenstein Underground is the magnificent postmodern crown jewel in the Hellboy-verse that creator Mike Mignola thinks of as a love-letter to Edgar Rice Burroughs. We think otherwise.

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Tales from the Borderlands, Episode 2: Atlas Mugged

Yeah, the manic murder fantasy playground of Borderlands gets more subtle moments of humanity than the grand tragedy of Telltale's catalog, The Walking Dead.

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Signs of Genius at the End of the World

Signs Preceding the End of the World is a moving novel about borders, identity and the world to come.

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Time, Space and Plasticity in Long-running Comics Series

Some creators and publishers choose to make time and space infinitely malleable. Others take readers to new times and places while leaving characters in a single timeline.

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Fact and Fiction: The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle on Wrestling and the Creative Process

The prolific songwriter and now acclaimed author John Darnielle tells PopMatters how he created his wrestling-themed album Beat the Champ, what he calls the Mountain Goats' "most musically interesting record by a country mile".

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‘Maude’ Remains Funny and Groundbreaking 40 Years On

Maude certainly paved the way for other strong-willed, independent, feminist characters, but she more than others will be remembered for her wit and unwavering beliefs.

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Young Fathers: White Men Are Black Men Too

Young Fathers’ radicalization of pop is important and thrilling.

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‘Culture Crash’ Aims to Draw Attention to the Dwindling Creative Subset of the Middle Class

Has the US abandoned its middle-class creatives? Scott Timberg explains in Culture Crash.

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6 Apr 2015 // 1:05 AM

Big Data: 2.0

Submitted for your approval, Big Data presents a dark dance-pop album written by NSA agents and sentient surveillance machinery.

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Will Hoge: Small Town Dreams

Will Hoge is rapidly positioning himself between those two pillars of populist rock, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp.

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Dutch Uncles: O Shudder

Dutch Uncles' fourth album is slightly more pop-oriented and immediate than previous efforts but still bound to the band’s abstract vision.

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6 Apr 2015 // 1:02 AM

Estelle: True Romance

The British singer-songwriter returns with a wide range of styles to conquer our imaginations. The result? A partial victory.

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Fractal Mirror: Garden of Ghosts

Fractal Mirror's sophomore set reaffirms the Dutch band's sophisticated sensibilities and makes a stunning step forward.

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‘Going Clear’ Proves That L. Ron Hubbard’s “Religion” Is More Ruse Than Revelation

Scientology may seem like nothing more than a wacky cult filled with outrageous teachings and belief to many. Unfortunately, it's much sillier, and far more sinister, than that.

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‘Furious 7’: When Cars Fly

Cars parachute into the Caucasus, cars plunge off cliffs, and perhaps most dauntingly, soar from one of the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi.

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As the ‘60s Moves Forward for Women, ‘Mad Men’ Leaves Its Women Behind

Mad Men may have started out as a feminist show, but in later seasons it reinforces rather than critiques the sexism faced by its female characters.

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The High Art of Disownership in ‘Death Sentence: London’

Death Sentence: London is quite possibly the most important work of 2015.

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3 Apr 2015 // 1:10 AM

Listening Ahead: Upcoming Music Releases for April 2015

The latest "Listening Ahead" provides an early look at new albums from Built to Spill, Speedy Ortiz, and Waxahatchee.

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‘Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXXII’ Gets ‘Marooned’ With Bad Cinema

Despite what seems a one-note premise, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 legacy has thrived because of the deep love and relationship the cast has with movies.

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress

Godspeed You! Black Emperor deals in catharsis, which the world needs as much now as it ever has.

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It’s Been Beautiful: ‘Soul!’ and Black Power Television

Iconic chair-smashings helped shape the identity of the Soul! television program, while also alluding to the civil disobedience of the late '60s and early '70s.

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Ryley Walker: Primrose Green

A headphone trip for the ages, Primrose Green is a diaphanous tapestry that envelops our musical history.

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Ride: OX4: The Best of Ride

Reissue of the British dream-rock band's 2001 compilation, to "celebrate" their current reunion. As ever, the back half of Ride's career nearly spoils the party.

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Quiet Company: Transgressor

This is a record of top-notch power pop that’s a strong candidate for one of 2015’s best in its genre.

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Janet Devlin: Running with Scissors

An Irish singer-songwriter learns how the shine of her voice can transform angst into maturity.

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“Get Down, America!” Howard the Duck for President

Howard the Duck ran for president way back in the year of the American Bicentennial. His platform sounds just as good today as it did back then.

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Cannabis Cowboys, Guitar-slinging Musicians, and Desert Landscapes

Homegrown captures the weirdness of Austin, as depicted in music poster art from the hippie days to the punk days.

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2 Apr 2015 // 2:00 AM

‘Get Hard’ and Get Angry

The Left is veering uncomfortably close to the Right in its half-informed demonization of individuals and artworks, as response to Get Hard illustrates.

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The Curious Art of Wrapping Music

With the 'gratuity' of music fostered by digital ubiquity came a renewed, exacting demand for magic artefacts.

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‘The Beat Generation’ Is a Relic of the Fraying of the Production Code

This imperfect police procedural is nonetheless both a rare example of the point of view of women in the '50s and a case study for how the Production Code ultimately met its demise.

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Lower Dens: Escape From Evil

Escape From Evil is a reminder that all things in life are always filled with the potential to vanish completely in an instant.

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Simon Joyner: Grass, Branch & Bone

Call this beautiful record what you will: late-night or rainy-day music. Whatever, it demands active listening.

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The Grim, Strangely Hopeful World of Per Petterson

As existentially bleak as it is, I Refuse is not devoid of hope. A refusal is a negation, to be sure, but a lost swimmer may refuse to drown.

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Buena Vista Social Club: Lost and Found

From the vaults come 14 unreleased tracks by the beloved Cuban ensemble.

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Ólafur Arnalds and Alice Sara Ott: The Chopin Project

Ólafur Arnalds and Alice Sara Ott join forces on a genre-defining rendition of some of Chopin's greatest compositions.

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6 String Drag: Roots Rock ‘n’ Roll

This fondly remembered alt-country band comes back in an impressive way.

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Modest Mouse’s Webster Hall Show Could Have Done With More of the Early Stuff

These indie giants' recent two-night run at New York City's Webster Hall answers the question: what kind of band is Modest Mouse in 2015?

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‘New Suicide Squad #8’ Raises More Questions Than Answers

A heated confrontation between Black Manta and Amanda Waller is the highlight of New Suicide Squad #8.

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‘The Hunting Ground’ Highlights the Horrors of Rape on College Campuses

For many, going to college is a dream come true. Sadly, as this film points out, it will also become a nightmare.

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Hamid’s Collection of Essays on Life, Art and Politics Sparkle With the Magic of His Prose

The essays in Discontent and its Civilizations treat their subjects with skill and beauty; sharing an idea or insight and then leaving it to the reader to nurture the thought further.

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Remember Death: Passage of Time Through Linklater’s Lens

Richard Linklater's Before trilogy is a rare work of cinema that lives up to the true spirit of memento mori: remembering that we all will die.

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The Deconstruction and Destruction of a Hero

Shadow of the Colossus begins as a game about a hero rescuing a princess, but by the end, there are no heroes and there are no princesses.

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This Is Our New Song: ‘The Bends’ and the Reformation of Alternative Rock

The Bends was the genesis of Radiohead’s perceptive, forward-thinking tendencies, which would go on to inspire countless musicians in myriad ways.

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The Nuclear Family Dies at the ‘River’s Edge’

This mid-'80s obscurity is a chilling depiction of the violence amongst those who find themselves on the fringes of society's moral landscape.

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Death Grips: The Powers That B

While the layers of their enigma are gradually peeled away, Death Grips still show how relentlessly messy and fascinating they can be on their first double-album.

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‘I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son’ Shows Russell’s Potential

Kent Russell explores multiple, often bizarre manifestations of American masculinity in addition to his own.

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Action Bronson: Mr. Wonderful

Action Bronson takes the best ingredients of his acclaimed mixtapes, buffs them up with tighter production values and greater artistic focus, and produces his strongest statement yet.

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Ringo Starr: Postcards From Paradise

Ringo sings praises to the past with obvious nods to nostalgia.

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Evil Invaders: Pulses of Pleasure

This old school-style thrash metal album would be a lot of fun if the lead singer didn't punctuate his vocals with random, aggravating falsetto shrieks.

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Various Artists: Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness

This nifty compilation fills in some blanks on the lesser-known variation of Chicago house. No booty has been spared.

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31 Mar 2015 // 8:35 AM

‘Weird Loners’ Is Fox’s ‘Unromantic Comedy’

The initial set-up contrivances suggest that Weird Loners is not so strange as its title might lead us to think.

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Overwhelming and Overdue Humility in ‘Uncanny X-men #32’

Cyclops is put in a difficult position that reveals his vulnerabilities, amongst other things.

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‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’ Makes One Wonder, Are All Internet Outrages Fabricated?

Internet shamings are simple: people say dumb things, are then pilloried for it and in the ensuing frenzy lose their jobs and reputations.

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Good Food, Big Ideas: An Interview With Chef Christian Puglisi of Copenhagen’s Relae

With three restaurants, a Michelin star, and now a new book under his belt, Puglisi leads a new generation of chefs in shaking up food culture.

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What’s Not to Love About the Trombone?

There was a time when jazz trombonists like Glenn Miller were mega-stars. Not so today, but talents like those of Ryan Keberle and Joe Fiedler make the case that they should be.

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31 Mar 2015 // 1:20 AM

Beyond Don as Dorian: Fin de Siècle, Mad Men, and Aesthetics

Given the parallels between Dorian Gray and Don Draper, can we use the lesson of the former to predict the fate of the latter?

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‘The Imitation Game’ Is Equally About Wartime and Emotional Codes

This biopic both reminds the world of Alan Turing’s genius and aims to empower “those people no one expects anything from who do the things no one expects.”

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Death Cab for Cutie: Kintsugi

This isn't the sound of "indie rock", nor is it "dad rock". This is "obligation rock", a forced brand of music that exists just because it has to.

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‘Seraphim 266613336 Wings’ Will Set Your Imagination Afire

This little-known collaboration between, Mamoru Oshii and Satoshi Kon, two giants of anime was never completed. But it’s very much worth reading anyway.

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Vetiver: Complete Strangers

A lack of substance, coupled with an occasionally overwhelming “lite-ness” that veers dangerously close to easy-listening, makes Complete Strangers a less-than-solid effort.

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Benjamin Clementine: At Least for Now

Benjamin Clementine's emotional cup runneth over... again and again.

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Tom Brosseau: Perfect Abandon

Perfect Abandon seems to try and fit as many people into a tiny corner as possible. It's a straight-ahead folk record, but it walks that straight road with a crooked walk.

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Art Pepper: Neon Art Volume One

Art Pepper reignites his stake on the jazz industry in this modernized re-issuing of the first in his Neon Art series, originally pressed onto vinyl in 2012.

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30 Mar 2015 // 8:20 AM

Exit Life, Pursued by a Bear: ‘Backcountry’

This indie horror flick finds a young couple stranded in the woods looking for safety in an uncaring natural world.

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Foul Play in ‘Strange Sports Stories #1’

There is plenty of horrible fun to be had in this weird mixture of horror, science fiction and good old fashioned, healthy, wholesome sports.

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More Recent Features
//Blogs

Adventure Games As Theater and 'the Charnel House Trilogy'

// Moving Pixels

"The Charnel House Trilogy casts the player as an actor in a performance where the script is uncovered as performed. In doing so, it's throwing off an older design paradigm and creating a better work for it.

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