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6 Jan 2016 // 9:09 AM

The Expanse: Season 1, Episode 1 - “Dulcinea”

Dystopian space opera The Expanse successfully continues SyFy’s new plan to create high-quality drama.

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New ‘Star Wars’ Film Is a Fascinating Insight into the Populist Artistry of Its Veteran Screenwriter

The rehabilitation of the Star Wars franchise is a triumphant return for Kasdan, whose output since the start of the millennium has been as underwhelming as that of, well, George Lucas.

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Buttoned Up: Clothing, Conformity, and White-Collar Masculinity by Erynn Masi de Casanova

Office culture is full of passive aggressions and radical uncertainties. Buttoned Up is a delightfully firm hook on which to hang your hat, if hats are your thing.

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6 Jan 2016 // 2:30 AM

Hinds: Leave Me Alone

Hinds' debut is fuelled by an infectious lust for life. Well, that and copious amounts of Sangria.

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Weather Report: The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-1981

This comprehensive live set moves back and forth in time, and between quintet and quartet line-ups. The comparisons make for fascinating listening, and suggest that maybe the jazz fusion band is actually more genre defying than defining.

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6 Jan 2016 // 2:15 AM

FOXTROTT: A Taller Us

FOXTROTT's A Taller Us overstays its welcome with its tinny and familiar electronic beats.

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Eugene Mirman: I’m Sorry, You’re Welcome

Comedian Eugene Mirman really puts the "post" in post-modern on this box set.

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5 Jan 2016 // 9:02 AM

‘Making a Murderer’ Sets a High Bar For True Crime Documentary

With its densely woven narrative and unobtrusive style, Making a Murderer is a groundbreaking work with far-reaching implications.

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Is Religion Really the Root of Human Violence?

In a vast survey of human history and religion, Karen Armstrong insists that the link between religion and violence is greatly exaggerated.

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5 Jan 2016 // 2:30 AM

Baroness: Purple

Back from nearly losing it all, the reconstituted band sounds bigger, bolder, and better than ever on an album that makes no apologies for reaching for mass acceptance.

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Sara Bareilles: What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress

Fans of Sara Bareilles will want more than a slice of her in What's Inside: Song from Waitress, a more than fair record from the talented musician.

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5 Jan 2016 // 2:15 AM

Norman Westberg: 13

Almost too obscure to gain any attention the first go-round, Swans guitarist Norman Westberg's 13 enjoys a deserved reissue.

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5 Jan 2016 // 2:10 AM

Wimps: Suitcase

Suitcase is a 27-minute uprising of stupid fun.

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‘Automan’ and ‘80s Neon Visuals

Light-reflective strips in this Tron TV knock-off could spook criminals into submission.

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Pugwash: Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends)

Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends) is often as unobtrusive as its banner implies, but still cheery enough to beg repeated hearings.

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As With ‘Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #2’, Every Relationship Faces Challenges

Emotional depth mixed with forced insecurities create a shallow narrative.

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‘The Leftovers’ Fears and Regrets

The first season of The Leftovers struggles to balance between its mysterious circumstances, its brooding melodrama, and its devotion to complicated characters.

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Various Artists: Hulaland: The Golden Age of Hawaiian Music

Hulaland is a set to peruse and enjoy in your “little grass shack” on the beach, poolside, or by the fire on a snowy day.

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On Judging the Judges of the US Supreme Court

Cass R. Sunstein categorizes the Court’s judges into personas, tracing their personalities according to the position they assume in their rulings.

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4 Jan 2016 // 1:59 AM

The Nancy Meyers Method

Nancy Meyers consistently ensures that any woman worthy of being in one of her scripts would not need the guy to be with her at the end of the third act.

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The 90 Best Songs of 2015

From electronic to Americana... from R&B to country... from hip-hop to rockin' and poppin' indie... 2015 had something great for everyone.

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The 80 Best Albums of 2015

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving hip-hop scene... from R&B, country and jazz to rocking and popping indie... 2015 was a stellar year for new music.

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Doctor Who Christmas Special: “The Husbands of River Song”

Doctor Who's surprising jaunty Christmas special scores points merely by dint of being watchable without resort to the saccharine or the mawkish, and whets the appetite for series 10.

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‘The Annotated Poe’ Is So Thoroughly Poe

Kevin J. Hayes' thorough analysis includes backgrounds on when and where each poem was first published, its contemporary reception, and critical assessments since.

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The Lack of Imagination in 2015 Film Reboots Wasn’t Always a Bad Thing

From Star Wars: The Force Awakens to Mad Max: Fury Road, Creed, and even Magic Mike XXL, Hollywood's 2015 slate felt even more sequel-heavy than usual.

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30 Dec 2015 // 11:23 AM

The Best Films of 2015

What is Art, at its best, but the very weapon by which we wage the necessary, perpetual war on Culture? Here, but a quiver full of the world’s arsenal of 2015 film offerings.

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Mizuki’s ‘Hitler’ Offers Powerful Lessons for the Present

Depicting Hitler as a man, not a monster, forces us to realize the horrors of militarism and the ease with which history could repeat itself.

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Childhood’s End: Eps. 1-3, “The Overlords”, “The Deceivers”, “The Children”

Childhood's End is a well-crafted adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's classic; SyFy would be wise to do more of these, and fewer Sharknados.

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A Voice on Air: Frank Sinatra and the Golden Age of Radio

Nobody “owned” radio like the Voice, and in the decades since, no other star has come close to dominating the medium like Sinatra, as the newly released boxset A Voice on Air demonstrates

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‘Shameless’ Becomes the Worst of What Its Detractors Said It Was in Fifth Season

Once a dysfunctional family that we rooted for, the Gallaghers have become the antithesis of funny.

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The Inimitable Lemmy Kilmister

Lemmy lived an extraordinary life, but best of all he made some of the greatest music in rock 'n' roll history.

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‘Luke Skywalker Can’t Read and Other Geeky Truths’ Should Strike Fear in the Hearts of Nerds

Sci-fi/fantasy fan culture has now crawled so far up its own backside that we might as well refer to it as the dark side.

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The Worst Films of 2015

Get a laugh from the trailers of the worst movies of 2015, but don't waste your time watching these films unless you happen to enjoy things that are so bad they are amusing.

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Garbage Thrills the London Crowd on Their ‘20 Years Queer Tour’

Fiery Scot Shirley Manson is still the original British grunge girl.

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On the Aggressive, Hilarious Theorizing in ‘Censorship Now!!’

Ian F. Svenonius' is a refreshing voice amidst the irony-addled sad-sack defeatism of postmodernity.

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Dark Siren Amy Lee Electrifies the Faithful in Overdue Return to the Stage

Great rock 'n' roll never goes out of style and Amy Lee has been one of the genre’s most uniquely dynamic performers of the 21st century.

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28 Dec 2015 // 2:00 AM

The Best World Music of 2015

Selections from Brazil, Cuba, Gaza, Mali, and Romania, highlight this list compiled by five enthusiastic world music writers.

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The Frankenstein Chronicles: Series 1, Episode 6 - “Lost and Found”

The fantastic season finalé of finally grants our wish to reveal our mad scientist and our monster -- but we should be careful what we wish for.

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American Horror Story: Hotel Season 5, Episode 10 “She Gets Revenge”

Big decisions and big exits highlight another dreary Lowe-based story line in this winter finalé.

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Finding ‘Joy’ in Adversity

You can read the triumph in Joy as just that, joy -- sheer and brilliant. You can also read it as cynical.

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The Creator and Creation in Elvis Costello’s ‘Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink’

Costello on Costello is a joy for those already in the cult and another arrow in the quiver for those who think he should just shut up already.

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The Best Regional Mexican Music of 2015

Whether norteño or banda, regional Mexican music had rich and vibrant year in 2015.

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Ready to Rumble! The Second Half of ‘Ready for This’ Continues to Fight Numerous Stereotypes

Ready For This! builds on its strong initial showing and skillfully negotiates meta themes of disenfranchisement and marginalisation.

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Fancifully Festive Grit in ‘Klaus #2’

Grant Morrison delivers a tough yet satisfying holiday treat.

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‘Anomalisa’: Through a Puppet’s Eyes, Darkly

Like some slim and semi-acclaimed allegorical novel recently translated into English, Anomalisa is about existential rootlessness.

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23 Dec 2015 // 2:00 AM

A Shane Black Christmas

Issues like regret, redemption, and red-eyed depression hit everyone in December -- the only difference is, it’s usually not followed by a shootout and attempted kidnapping.

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‘Concussion’ Has Will Smith Fighting the NFL

Even if you wish it was a better movie, its point is worth noting; the NFL remains focused on its own marketing and earnings.

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Tarantino, Talk, and Bloody Mayhem in ‘The Hateful Eight’

Quentin Tarantino’s hybrid Western-mystery flick builds to multiple crescendos of greed, betrayal, and violence.

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Back to the Drawing Board With ‘Flash Gordon Volume 4: The Storm Queen of Valkir’

At first, Austin Briggs’ work feels like a simplified version of Alex Raymond’s, the boldness of the characters’ figures and poses replaced by understated charm.

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22 Dec 2015 // 2:00 AM

The Best Electronic Music of 2015

Electronic music is one of the broadest reaching genres by design, and 2015 showcases that as well as any other year on record.

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‘Ultimate End #5’ Ends With a Whimper

This story wants to be a fireworks show, but it's only armed with half a box of matches.

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Humor’s No Joke in ‘Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists’

A new documentary about the New Yorker cartoons shows the pains taken to be funny.

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Jekyll and Hyde: Series 1, Episode 7 - “The Reaper”

It's Aliens vs. The Exorcist in this mid-season episode, where secondary-characters start to shine as the body count keeps rising!

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Chaos, Plastic Cups, Alcohol and ‘Sisters’

Sisters invites you to feel "included", like you're in on the jokes about the jokes.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 3, Episode 10 - “Maveth”

Death begets life, and vice versa, in the mid-season finale.

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21 Dec 2015 // 7:00 AM

Avengers Assemble!

The Avengers have never before been assembled quite as exhaustively as in the pages of The Avengers Encyclopedia.

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The Best Holiday Films Mischievously Undermine the Values They Superficially Promote

These holiday movies are more about messing up one’s life and finding second chances than they are about expressing joy to the world.

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The Best New / Emerging Artists of 2015

There was no shortage of new and exciting music in 2015. From the rise of a major new jazz talent challenging boundaries to ever more experimental R&B, this crop of artists gave us a lot of great music this year.

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Arrow: Season 4, Episode 9 - “Dark Waters”

Damien Darhk reasserts himself as the big bad in Arrow's riveting mid-season finale.

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‘The Revenant’ Holds the Audience Within Its Whirlwind

Apocalyptic filigree and bravura filmmaking aside, The Revenant keeps coming back to an old, bloody story: good man chases bad man for doing bad things to good man.

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Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel

Paul Levitz weaves comic legend Will Eisner's life into the long history of sequential art in the 20th century.

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18 Dec 2015 // 2:30 AM

Rick Ross: Black Market

Black Market sounds like a simulacrum of Ross's critical peak, Rich Forever.

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The Punch Brothers: The Wireless

For those who like their music weird and impeccably performed on acoustic stringed instruments.

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18 Dec 2015 // 2:15 AM

Ramleh: Circular Time

Ranging from King Crimson-style heaviness to the deepest of space exploration, the return of the most obscure Ramleh goes down a storm.

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The Bluetones: Return to the Last Chance Saloon

This thorough two-disc reissue captures the underappreciated London band’s search for identity in the Britpop fallout.

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‘He Named Me Malala’ Will Make You Feel Good, But It Won’t Make You Think

Director Davis Guggenheim has a great subject and powerful, but his film believes that this young woman's greatest moment comes in the form of a prize.

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‘Drawing Blood’ and Doing Violence to Clichés

When Molly Crabapple stares down danger and corruption, and when she investigates the long reach of terror and greed, she succeeds.

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18 Dec 2015 // 2:00 AM

The Best K-Pop of 2015

At the end of 2015, the Korean pop scene looks hopeful in a way it hasn’t in previous years.

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Relationships Have Hidden Meaning in ‘45 Years’

45 Years is a kind of ghost story, as memories, personal histories, and truths, are found to have been hidden within dark crevices all along.

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Supergirl: Season 1, Episode 8 - “Hostile Takeover”

Two compelling stories, one about the return of Supergirl's Kryptonian aunt and the other about an email leak at Kara's employer, never quite manage to come together in "Hostile Takeover."

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‘Girlhood’ Is Céline Sciamma’s Lovely Reflection on Growing Up

Pulsing with reds and blues, the film shows that fluidity and discovery are not the same as freedom.

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‘Asking For It’ Is a Harrowing Read, But Offers Hope, Too

Kate Harding offers a damning survey of rape culture’s tenacious hold on American society, and argues that recognizing the problem is the first step to fixing it

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Buck Owens: Buck ‘Em!: The Music of Buck Owens, 1967-1975: Volume 2

This compilation of Buck Owens's late-'60s/early-'70s output focuses on live cuts, rarities, and alternate takes.

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Nigel Kennedy: The Four Seasons

This recording is endlessly surprising and sometimes delightful, cutting the Vivaldi classic to ribbons and reassembling it at will.

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17 Dec 2015 // 2:15 AM

Avvenir: Glyphs

An overall homage to three decades of glitch make this record one of the most interesting electronic debuts of the year.

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‘Southwest’ Eschews the Laws of Time in Favor of Beauty

This is a film that asks the viewer to meditate upon, rather than think about, its meaning.

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17 Dec 2015 // 2:10 AM

Wreckless Eric: amERICa

amERICa is a reminder of everything that was both exhilarating and unhinged during those heady days when punk and pop found common ground.

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Tamar Braxton: Calling All Lovers

Tamar Braxton shows off her ridiculous, magnificent pipes on third album Calling All Lovers.

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The Creep of Neoliberalism’s Effects Are Explored in ‘Disaster Capitalism’

A cool, hard look at the global structures that profit from those of us who are most vulnerable.

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17 Dec 2015 // 2:00 AM

The Best R&B of 2015

Modern R&B could very well be in the midst of a new, insanely fruitful Golden Age.

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The Good Wife: Season 7, Episode 10 - “KSR”

Expectation and disappointment are at the heart of The Good Wife's spotty, if not overtly head-scratching, midseason finale.

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‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Is a Fun But Shamelessly Pandering Cash Grab

J.J. Abrams’s sleek, feverishly hyped Episode Seven injects the moribund series with humor and humanity, but relies too much on remixed bits from the original trilogy.

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‘The Voice’ at 100: Frank Sinatra Jr. Speaks Out

On the centennial of his legendary father’s birth, Frank Sinatra Jr. strives to defend the Sinatra legacy, and keep his father’s music alive

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‘Guitar Hero Live’: Wait and See Before Reforming the Band

Playing the guitar in Guitar Hero Live is now more challenging, and challenge may not have universal appeal.

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‘Crocodile Gennadyi’: A Ukrainian Pastor’s Mission

Even if his methods to save street kids aren't exactly legal, no one can argue with Gennadyi's rousing effectiveness a performer.

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Justin Richards Delivers a Mixed Bag in Doctor Who: The Time Lord Letters

This is a thick and glossy volume featuring the Doctor's correspondence across time and space.

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Mikael Tariverdiev: Film Music

Hopefully this handsomely packaged triple album will turn the rest of the world on to the masterful works of Mikael Tariverdiev.

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16 Dec 2015 // 2:29 AM

James Baldwin Matters

There's a reason why Ta-Nehesi Coates is often compared to James Baldwin, and there's a reason why Baldwin's work is so relevant in the age of Black Lives Matter.

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Alan Jackson: Genuine: The Alan Jackson Story

You probably know most of the material here, but taken all together we're reminded why Alan Jackson remains one of country music's greatest singers.

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What Can Be Said About ‘I Spit On your Grave III: Vengeance is Mine’?

This can be said: spit this one out.

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16 Dec 2015 // 2:10 AM

Tim O’Brien: Pompadour

If there's one musician who can cover James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing” on banjo, it's Tim O'Brien.

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French Montana & Fetty Wap: Coke Zoo

What do you get when you mix French Montana’s Coke Boys with Fetty Wap’s Zoo Gang? You get ‘Coke Zoo’, of course.

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16 Dec 2015 // 2:00 AM

The Best Progressive Rock/Metal of 2015

While one-dimensional emulations of various styles dominate the charts, the acts within progressive rock/metal continue to create masterpieces for a very finite audience.

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The Frankenstein Chronicles: Series 1, Episode 5 - “The Frankenstein Murders”

As we draw closer to the end, moral beasts and political monsters threaten to overshadow child murder, until confessions of mad-science experiments gone wrong point Inspector Marlott towards the real mastermind of the season.

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Game of Thrones: Episode 6, “The Ice Dragon”

There is some great plotting and great reveals in episode 6. Unfortunately, this episode also reveals some hidden weaknesses of the game overall.

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The Essays in ‘I’ll Tell You Mine’ Speak Precisely Individual Truths

We are a species that longs for stories. We are also a species that longs for the truth. Both are found, here.

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15 Dec 2015 // 2:30 AM

Bersarin Quartett: III

Thomas Bücker has spun another ghostly miracle for the third time in a row.

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Making Movies to Survive in ‘The Wolfpack’

The Wolfpack is less about the power of movie consumption and more about the power of movie creation.

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Swans: White Light From the Mouth of Infinity / Love of Life

Though these early '90s records have a bright transcendence that makes them feel like outliers, they fit perfectly into the Swans canon.

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Frank Sinatra Was a Strange Cat

For many, Frank Sinatra is a caricature of a bygone era, a static character whose legacy commanded more respect than his work. That's only part of the story-- and so is this.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

In Motion: On the Emptiness of Progress

// Moving Pixels

"Nils Pihl calls it, "Newtonian engagement", that is, when "an engaged player will remain engaged until acted upon by an outside force". That's "progress".

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