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Wednesday, November 19 2014

The New Basement Tapes: Lost on the River

Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James and Marcus Mumford add music to Bob Dylan’s lyrics for The New Basement Tapes: Lost on the River.


Hookworms: The Hum

Though the individual tracks stand strong, The Hum's corner-cutting arrangement obscures and frustrates its most important asset: momentum.


Sam Hunt: Montevallo

Sam Hunt records his first full-length LP, makes an argument about genre, and is still problematic about women.


Jens Lekman: WWJD Mixtape

In lieu of issuing an album proper, Jens Lekman lovingly wraps three new compositions in a mixtape that plays like a gift to the listener, showing off his personal sources of inspiration.


NSYNC: The Essential

NSYNC's songs never really defined their era so much as were merely a product of them.


Tuesday, November 18 2014

DOC NYC 2014: ‘The Hand That Feeds’ + ‘Little White Lie’

Workers at a Manhattan deli fight for their most basic rights, and a woman who believed herself to be Jewish discovers a shocking truth about her paternity.


Aura of Superiority: “Superior Iron Man #1”

Iron Man finds a way to be arrogant, shallow, and superior in all the right (and a few wrong) ways.


Ariel Pink: pom pom

pom pom is up there with Ariel Pink's very best work, even if there’s nothing as insanely hooky as “Round and Round".


‘Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones’ Serves as a Crucial Corrective

Brian Jones, founder of the Rolling Stones, had the vision and musical intuition which helped make the band a vital force in the '60s.


Human Interaction Is Nailed Down in ‘Wolf In White Van’

John Darnielle's debut novel is an exploration of self-reliance, pain, and acceptance. Isn't that enough?


Hozier + James Bay: New York - 6 November 2014 (Photos)

Hozier's back to back, sold-out nights at Irving Plaza, proved to the audience that the Irish singer-songwriter's recent buzz, post-SNL, is well deserved.


Jean-Luc Godard and the 3D Dog: An Actress’ Tale

Starring in a film directed by Jean-Luc Godard is an intimidating prospect (especially when it's in 3D), but not only did Héloise Godet rise to the challenge, she's starting to get rave reviews of her own.


Jonas Åkerlund’s Take on Upwardly Immobile Lowlifes in Los Angeles

If The Great Gatsby is a peep through a keyhole at the dirty underbelly of extreme wealth from a bygone era, Small Apartments kicks the door down and lays bare a grotesque characterization of today’s urban lower middle class.


Jumping the Shark and Surviving: A Reappraisal of the Fifth Season of ‘Happy Days’

"Jumping the shark" may be a fun and lingering trope in popular culture, but its truth in relation to the Happy Days episode from which it gets its name is questionable.


Although Almost 100 Years Old, ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ Is Surprisingly Modern

Deliberate artificiality and horror based in human psychology make this horror classic, first released in 1920, feel remarkably fresh today.


Robin Gibb: 50 St. Catherine’s Drive

Like George Harrison, whose career and influence only grew after his death, Gibb’s final efforts reveal that he too deserves a re-evaluation of his solo offerings.


Dream Police: Hypnotized

When Hyponotized succeeds, it feels like a fresh start and a new direction that could worm its way into Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi's other band, the Men, or wander down its own weird path for quite a while.


Tears for Fears: Songs From the Big Chair

A 1985 bestseller re-issue which fails miserably to stand the test of time to put it mildly.


Calvin Harris: Motion

With Motion, Calvin Harris delivers a pleasant album, not without flaws.


Greensky Bluegrass: If Sorrows Swim

Some interesting questions, and some worthy answers from bluegrass country rockers Greensky.


Monday, November 17 2014

DOC NYC 2014: ‘Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere’ + ‘A Murder in the Park’

A lyrically surreal investigation into the mysterious disappearance of a professor in Nebraska and an exposé on the case an innocent man that might have been a huge mistake.


The Spiderversity: “Spider-Verse #1”

The Spider-Verse has no one author, no omnipotent guiding hand. It is organic, connecting and reconnecting like the strands of a web, like the strands of life.


Travel the Steampunk Way in ‘80 Days’

Whereas Jules Verne's novel consisted of only one trip around the world, 80 Days contains multitudes.


All of the Citizens of ‘Nuclear Nation’ Are Forced to Be Expats

Like spent fuel rods, refugees of the Fukushima nuclear disaster are handled delicately, considered toxic, and unwelcome anywhere they go.


“Pussy Riot Is a Mask”: The Prison Letters of Nadya Tolokonnikova and Slavoj Zizek

The prison correspondence of Tolokonnikova and Zizek might not change the world, but it ought to be required reading for those with such aspirations.


The Interpreters: In Another Voice, Another Song

In reinterpreting the words and music of their male peers, songwriters like Tori Amos and Joan Baez create whole new works of art.


‘Uranium Drive-In’ Reveals How Fake Facts Shape Reality

Suzan Beraza's documentary captures the contours and stubborn endurance of myths about uranium mining, as well as the evidence of their tenuous connection to reality.


Wilco: Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014

Alpha Mike Foxtrot's 77 tracks suggest that Wilco didn't have an experimental period. Instead, we see Wilco as an ever-changing, constant experiment in and of itself.


Buzzcocks: The Way

This leans towards hard rock rather than punk, back to the type of music prevalent when punk burst out, and which after all most punks grew up hearing.


A Rural Youth is Curated in John Updike’s ‘Olinger Stories’

John Updike is able to highlight the details of domestic life in a way that turns the mundane into something sacred and significant.


Arca: Xen

Arca invites you to come along for the ride into the netherworld of the self, and those who do may feel alternately exhausted and exhilarated.


The Jazz June: After the Earthquake

The Jazz June’s first new album in a dozen years is one of the most surprising developments so far in the unlikely second life of second-generation emo.


Steve Aoki: Neon Future I

This collection of songs are serviceable tracks that would fit well on any EDM-lovers playlist, but it lacks a certain something: experimentation.


Roll the Dice: Until Silence

The Swedish duo explores the protagonist's journey through the post-war torn landscape in a soundtrack for an imaginary film.


Sunday, November 16 2014

Learn How to Sculpt With Words With ‘Gwynne’s Grammar’

N. M. Gwynne is devoted both to the preservation of the proper English language and also to its use for higher aesthetic purposes.


Saturday, November 15 2014

Love Is a Sad Thing in ‘The Future for Curious People’

This novel should take its rightful place as a serious literary endeavour about what it means to be human, to be in love, and how that love overcomes all obstacles.


Friday, November 14 2014

‘Rosewater’ Is Jon Stewart’s Ode to Hope

For all its desperation, Rosewater is also suffused with hope and even joy, a reminder that journalist Maziar Bahari is not forgotten.


‘Beyond the Lights’ Delivers What You Most Expect Out of a Melodrama

The conventions in Gina Prince-Bythewood's film are fully functioning, not so much challenged as fine-tuned, placing it safely in the camp of melodrama.


DOC NYC 2014: ‘Salad Days’ + ‘Happy Valley’

Both Salad Days and Happy Valley conclude leaving as many questions as they ask during their runtimes.


Eisa Davis: 22 October 2014 - New York

On a rainy New York night, Obie Award winner Eisa Davis transformed Joe's Pub into the garden of Eisa.


Retracing Classic TV With ‘Twin Peaks the Entire Mystery’

This restoration of the television classic will remind you of all that was wonderful and odd, sweet and quirky, intriguing and terrifying about Twin Peaks.


America Has a Fever and the Only Cure Is Poetry

In Twenty Poems That Could Save America and Other Essays, Tony Hoagland makes a compelling case that poetry is just what America needs, so long as it's the right kind of poetry.


‘World War One: The Centenary Collection’ Remembers, But Does Not Memorialize, the War

Rather than recapitulating the faux sentiment of veterans' poppies, BBC's Centenary Collection gives viewers a chance to really understand WWI.


New Landscapes From the Ruins: The Mystique of Buying Records

While owning a record may seem commonplace, some artists hold the controversial view that these "postcards" actually ruin the musical landscape.


Melissa McCarthy Leads an All-Star Cast to Its Doom in ‘Tammy’

Don't be fooled by the pretty faces: Tammy is as bad as they come, a major flop that fails to show Melissa McCarthy and her cast's true talents.


Big K.R.I.T.: Cadillactica

Big K.R.I.T.'s second major label debut continues his reign of dominance as he claims the role as "King of the South".


Marianne Faithfull: Give My Love to London

Now in the 50th year of her career, Faithfull delivers a vibrant, haunted and haunting set of songs that look to the past and the future.


‘The Story of Pain’ Takes an Historical Look at the Experience and Nature of Suffering

To the author, pain exists only in the act of naming it. Sufferers may disagree.


iamamiwhoami: blue

blue isn't only the most satisfying record in this collective's discography; it's also one of the best albums released this year.


Kevin Drumm: Wrong Intersection

As Kevin Drumm steers you through the Wrong Intersection, you can't help but get the feeling that that's where he belongs.


Frank Kimbrough: Quartet

A beautifully balanced group, including Steve Wilson on saxophones, Jay Anderson on bass, and Lewis Nash on drums.


Zion80: Adramelech: Book of Angels Volume 22

There’s nothing not to recommend about this release, which offers further evidence that virtually everything Jon Madof touches turns to sonic gold.


Policing Sexuality: The Mann Act and the Making of the FBI

America’s first anti–sex trafficking law, meant to protect women, more often resulted in the policing of women’s sexual behavior.


Thursday, November 13 2014

DOC NYC 2014: ‘The Seven Five’ + ‘The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest’

One of New York’s most crooked cops tells his story in an electric film, and a tragicomic story looks at the troubled life of Florida’s most dedicated prison escape artist.


DOC NYC 2014: ‘9-Man’

This documentary poses hard questions about how teams, communities, and identities are developed, and how assumptions shape expectations.


“Ms. Marvel” Keeps the Change

The reason Ms. Marvel is so capable of dealing with the enormous shifts in her life is that, underneath all of her typical teenage fear and doubt, she very much knows who she is.


‘Countercultures and Popular Music’ Is Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

A fascinating, thorough, and highly intellectual exploration of how popular music shaped the counterculture of the '60s, this is a must read for any fan of music and/or modern anthropology.


‘Force Majeure’ and the Art of Putting Your Marriage on Ice

Provocative filmmaker Ruben Östlund's Force Majeure is getting awards buzz for setting the story of a crumbling marriage on avalanche-prone ice slopes.


Kicked Out of a Building That Then Collapsed: An Interview With Travis Morrison

The veteran indie singer-songwriter discusses the past, present, and future of the Dismemberment Plan, how D'Angelo and Pearl Jam influenced their music, and what it's like to grow up making records.


What Does Heavy Metal Say About Canadian Identity?

This rollicking look at the intersection of heavy metal music and Canadian identity reveals some interesting connections, and raises some important questions, too.


Röyksopp: The Inevitable End

Röyksopp are officially saying au revoir to the “traditional album format” with The Inevitable End, but they are definitely not disbanding anytime soon.


‘Remember Those Great Volkswagen Ads?’

This revised and expanded second edition of the hardback, details one of the most influential campaigns in the history of advertising.


Deerhoof: La Isla Bonita

Deerhoof's 12th album channels the band's musical chops toward sharp political critique while retaining moments of whimsical release.


Serengeti: Kenny Dennis III

The law of diminishing returns has begun to catch up with Seregenti's sketch-like Kenny Dennis persona on this, his fourth dedicated release.


The Hollies: 50 at Fifty

The Hollies have been better represented on other collections and this anniversary collection contains little new. But their '60s pop virtuosity is still something to be treasured.


Scarred But Smarter: The Life ‘n’ Times of Drivin’ n’ Cryin’

An excellent documentary of a deserving band. Thirty years down a long road, the band is still driving with tears in their eyes and telling stories worth hearing.


Ruby: Waiting For Light

Still trading on much of the heavy electronic grooves of past albums, Ruby's latest effort also sees much of the sonics stripped to a bare minimum of just voice and guitar.


Wednesday, November 12 2014

Fleetwood Mac: 1 November 2014 - Hartford, CT

After 16 long years, the Fleetwood Mac lineup is complete with Christine McVie and touring again. The legendary band's show in Hartford proved the reunion to be a happy one.


‘Virunga’ Tells the Sadly Familiar but Complicated Tale of Colonialism in the Congo

Director Orlando von Einsiedel comes under literal gunfire for documenting the colonial capitalist powers in the Congo, a reminder that sometimes the price for oil is blood.


Inspiration of an Ideal: “Superman Unchained #9”

Superman demonstrates his power to inspire in an appropriately effective ending to the series.


Where Does Kanye West’s ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ Stand in the Canon?

Kirk Walker Graves' mix of fanboy marvel and critical detachment will convince even Kanye West detractors to give My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy a close listen.


“That Feels Good in the Heart”: An Interview with Butch Walker

He's produced hits for Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and more, but on his forthcoming Ryan Adams-produced album, Butch Walker explores some of the darkest corners of his soul.


Caitlin Moran: Lady Sex Pirate and Working Class Hero

The remarkable author of How to Build a Girl wasn’t seeking controversy; she just wanted to change the world.


A Few Codes of the Western Protagonist

The “true” codes of the Western hero, as borne out in an excavation of the subtleties in major films of the canon, are really more perverse than moral, more calculating than artless.


Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 2

A bluesy howl of addictive beats, political fury, and hypnotic technique, the sequel to Run the Jewels' triumphant debut bests the original in every way.


Antony & the Johnsons: Turning: A Musical Documentary

Charles Atlas' 2006 tour documentary captures the depth, beauty, and complexity of Antony Hegarty’s artistic vision and her corollary mission for transgendered acceptance.


2:54: The Other I

2:54 craft a weirdly woven tapestry of implied grunge, dream pop, and psychedelic folk in compelling sophomore record.


Howard Eynon: So What If Im Standing In Apricot Jam

A long-lost acid folk classic crawls out from the Australian bush to blink its stoned eyes in the sun.


Childish Gambino: Kauai EP

Childish Gambino flexes his immense talent and versatility on EP Kauai.


Dawn Pemberton: Say Somethin’

This is a record for the blue-haired crowd, but there’s enough here for those who like soul, R&B, and jazz rock to make Pemberton an appreciative force.


Indecent Exposure and Christopher Beha’s ‘Arts & Entertainments’

This story, although not mindless, is kind of a trashy read; rather like the celebrity culture it critiques.


Tuesday, November 11 2014

‘The Lives of Muhammad’ Is Not Merely a Biography, but a Biography of Biographies

Ali's book is devoted to unraveling the story of the Muslim prophet, and a serious contribution to the debate over what is real, what is apocryphal, and what is myth.


CBGB Music Festival: New York - 12 October 2014 (Photos)

Perry Farrell's antics during the Jane's Addiction CBGB Festival set were probably more wild than one would expect in tourist friendly Times Square.


Margaret Brown, The Great Invisible, and Modern Day Injustice

Margaret Brown chides at questions about being a female filmmaker, but that's nothing compared to the subjects of her film The Great Invisible, dealing with the personal toll that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill took on people's livelihoods.


Growing Up Is Hard to Do: A ‘Wonder Years’ Retrospective

Executive producer Bob Brush and actor Dan Lauria ruminate on The Wonder Years timeless nostalgia.


Katniss Everdeen: The Girl Who Volunteers?

Despite claims that The Hunger Games' Katniss Everdeen represents a step forward for women, her self-sacrificial streak reveals just how unfree she really is.


‘The Female Gaze’ Is a Collection of Films That Buck Male-Centric Cinematic Trends

The seven films in The Female Gaze offer an interesting look at the work of seven different female directors, each a welcome antidote to action-hero blockbusters and formulaic rom-coms.


...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead: IX

After a few albums of focused hard rock, Trail of Dead confidently begins to reintegrate the more pop-oriented experimentations that killed their early '00s buzz.


Cult of Youth: Final Days

Final Days is an uncompromising record played with the passion and conviction to back up its ambitious artistic vision.


Mark Kozelek: Sings Christmas Carols

For those ready to consider the the real meaning of Christmas rather than the crass commercial aspect, this is the holiday record for you.


Close Talker: Flux

Deftly penchant, heart rending, and thoughtful, Close Talker is certainly a band worth chatting about.


Darius Jones: The Oversoul Manual

Jazz saxophonist Darius Jones has composed before, but you’ve never heard him make anything like this.


The Bluebells: Exile on Twee Street

This was no doubt created for fans, but it serves as a decent introduction to the band's music anyway.


Monday, November 10 2014

‘The Flash’: The CW’s New Superhero Show is Complex, So Far

Just under the surface, the earnest Barry Allen suppresses his darkness in the hope of freeing his wrongly convicted father.


To Beard or Not to Beard? Thomas Gowing Ponders the Question

Gowing's manifesto is short on philosophy, long on facial hair, and bound to appeal to high-brow and low-brow readers alike.


‘Houdini’ Explains the Tricks Before Showing the Magic

Film and magic have always been intertwined. Some works take advantage of the relationship, but Houdini does not.


Let the People Play What They Want to Play: An Interview with Moon Hooch

James Muschler, drummer for EDM and dubstep infused jazz trio Moon Hooch, discusses his group's new record, being shut down by the cops, and finding happiness in jazz.


The GeekGirlCon Effect

GeekGirlCon may not be a "comic-con", but it has helped to bring about positive change in comics culture.


The Concept Album As a Performative Genre

Pink Floyd’s concept album The Wall is a key example of an artwork that the studies of the musical theatre are missing out.


Philip Seymour Hoffman Grappled With Broken Systems in His Final Roles

Both A Most Wanted Man and God's Pocket reminder us of how Hoffman always rose to the occasion of the role and drew our attention to the larger structures at play.


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