Thursday, January 22 2015
Browsing a record shop with Ben Watt is one way to learn about those artists he admires and those that inspired him.
Leo Carax sculpts together cinema references and turns them into something new, only later allowing the influences behind specific pieces to make sense in your mind.
Marilyn Manson's new album experiments with dark blues and alt-country, but it fails to become truly memorable considering the risks each song avoids.
Before becoming the go-to pop music Midas for the likes of M.I.A., Usher, and Madonna, Diplo tried damn hard to be DJ Shadow, and surprisingly, wasn't half-bad at it.
Haruki Murakami is famous for his magical worlds rich in issues of identity and psychology. Strecher's book is the road map to understand the twisting, metaphysical 'Over There' of Murakami.
The answer to the album title’s rhetorical question is self-evident--Nile is the river with all the rich suggestiveness that reference implies.
A relaxed but interesting tribute to tenor sax giants Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young from one of today's most eloquent players.
Debut and follow-up albums from Echobelly re-released in expanded editions with b-sides, radio sessions and live material.
Wednesday, January 21 2015
Ant-Man learns that living small (in his case, really small) can sometimes be better than living large if it means that you get to be with your kids, watch them grow, dry their tears, all that stuff.
From California to Iraq; from Chile to India; struggles over water are coming to define the political and military conflicts of the 21st century.
Food & Wine's editor-in-chief Dana Cowin talks about gender, politics, and mastering your mistakes in the kitchen.
Before Bill Maher became the demon-du-jour for his satirical scorn of religion, Christopher Hitchens led the charge of rhetorical antitheism.
Drawing from the legacy of the Beatles and the Velvet Underground, the still-young group Ultimate Painting made quite a splash in 2014.
Much like its closest television contemporary, Mad Men, Girls comes alive through character detail rather than plot.
Every genre has its retro-revivalists, but the ones that matter are those that inhabit the role and breathe a new gust of wind through comforting styles. Enter Joey Bada$$.
For Lena Respass, the last transcriptionist working at New York's daily newspaper, The Record, a brief bus ride beside a blind woman changes everything.
There may not be much new to say on the subject of death, but with their self-titled debut Viet Cong offer up an evocative contention with the grim reaper.
A band at the peak of its career, one which appears to be happily unsatisfied, yet chronically inspired by melancholy.
Power electronics pioneer William Bennett continues his exploration of African and Haitian percussion as Cut Hands releases its third santeria and vaudou-themed album
The odd thing is that Chambers plays American roots music. She's considered Country in Oz, but she shares little in common with the Nashville stars of today.
Tuesday, January 20 2015
Liliana Cavani's jarring and morally gray exploration of fascist power dynamics reminds us that just as we go through hell to get to love, love can itself be hell.
This will be one big revelation for anyone steeped in a rock-centric understanding of pop history, and validation for those who treasure the Songbook in all its glory.
A haunted estate proves too much for a curious writer in Eduardo de Gregorio's rare and little-seen surrealist mystery, Sérail.
Fourth Word truly is a world unto itself, a vision of avant-garde experimentation that influenced numerous composers in its wake.
This documentary may be straightforward and unfussy, but the story of Sir Edmund HIllary and Tenzing Norgay remains throat-grabbing over half a century later.
The alternative rock band's first record in a decade exceeds all expectations of what a reunion album should sound like by not sounding like a reunion album at all.
Even with the discussion of refractions, range finders, and thermocouples, and the light moments and humor, deportation and immigration status concerns are always there for these four boys.
Australian collective brings home The Merri Soul Sessions, 11 tracks of fine modern soul music.
Harrison's legacy and his work was much more than a reduction of earthly values wrapped in a song.
Monday, January 19 2015
How writers Civil Rights Movement Icon Congressman John Lewis, co-author Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell's March: Book One push us to one, inescapable conclusion -- everybody needs to go to Selma. Now, more than ever.
The two lead actors of The Wedding Ringer make the film tolerable, saving it from the so-so work of the man behind the camera.
The third and latest edition of Shigeru Mizuki’s acclaimed history of Japan chronicles the pivotal period of 1944-1953, in which a shattered Japan began its rebirth into the form we know today.
Universal Pictures, distributors of the eight-film Steven Spielberg Collection on Blu-ray, is uniquely positioned to offer a long view of Spielberg's career.
Grammy nominations in jazz are rarely adventurous and usually confusing. Yet this year's slate is intriguing.
Lesbians are willing to answer some of your questions, but their patience is wearing thin and it’s more enjoyable to mock the “ignorant shit” than to get angry about it.
Watching Time Bandits as an adult isn't a letdown by any means, but It's not the wonder-filled experience of youth, either.
Contrary to their twee reputation, Belle and Sebastian prove they don't shy away from taking risks with a techno-pop heavy new album.
Confronting Contagion tries to capture the 3,000-year history behind a modern scientific breakthrough: the discovery that tiny organisms invade our bodies and make us sick.
King of the Sun and King of the Midnight Sun are both fine records, but not quite the Saints at their finest.
Putting the lie to the idea that all underground rap is good (or about something).
The Story is a strong collection from a classic British '80s pop band. New subscribers could sign up here, but anyone with a passing acquaintance will find nothing new.
The avant-metal band's latest album: traveling in one big loop.
Friday, January 16 2015
The insights of the late, great Roger Ebert shed light on how documentaries fit in the film world, as well as the myopic processes of Oscar voting.
With one paw in the cinematic strategies of the past and the other in pure post-modern magic, Paddington is no run-of-the-mill kid's flick.
In this global thriller about digital terrorism, the visuals do not shape the story but rather are the story.
Gangs of Wasseypur is tumultuous, five hour gangster saga, stuffed with humor as bleak as the story is bloody.
My Muppet Show is the Orpheus myth. You just have to swap out Orpheus for me; Eurydice for a frog; a lyre for a cartoon banjo; and Hades for the iTunes store.
To presume to review works of this level is farcical; we can only be overjoyed by their continued existence.
It’s never about confidence, it’s about doubt, Lasko-Gross, the transgressively intelligent creator of Henni, reminds me.
What legal and ethical restrictions exist, and should exist, in today’s privacy-interested yet over-exposure society?
The fully realized five hour version of Lars Von Trier's Nymph()maniac feels as worthy of revisits as your copy of Crime and Punishment or Ulysses.
Although this isn’t the Decemberists’ best album, it’s a breathtaking effort that maintains everything that makes them so one-of-a-kind and vital.
Live in Memphis is ultimately unassuming but effective, an honest account of Big Star's mid-'90s chapter and a reminder of the group's considerable talent and charms.
Shady Records compilation celebrating 15 years of the label; one disc of new material plus one "greatest hits" CD.
With prudent messaging, excellent delivery, and slick production, there are plenty of reasons to smile while listening to Rise.
Thursday, January 15 2015
Creative chaos may be the mother of Internet invention. But inventiveness is a threat to the Powers-that-be. Is crime-fighting just another handy euphemism for Orwellian consolidation?
Fresh off his Golden Globe win for Best Foreign Film, director Andrey Zvyaginstev clears up a lot confusion about the political and sometimes religious undertones of his sweeping, grand new film Leviathan.
The closure of several DIY music venues on Williamsburg's Kent Avenue pose critical questions about the identity of independent music in the present day.
From cult leader Jim Jones to scientist Richard Dawkins, once in a rare while, Hollywood gets a religious idea, or an idea about religion, right.
Pride is the rare crowdpleaser that gives audience members more to think about once they’ve wiped away their tears and stopped smiling after it's over.
It doesn't matter who played or who produced. It doesn't matter if it's "classical" or "ambient". And it certainly doesn't matter that it was released in 1980. Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics is still an album unlike any other.
These characters navigate a constellation of theological ruins and failed rationalizations, wherein existential nausea must do battle with the hunger of the werewolf Curse.
First Demo proves what fans have long known, that Fugazi was brashly confident and fully formed from day one.
Rick Ross' second album of 2014 might've better served his fans as a mixtape but if you wanted more of exactly what you'd expect from him, here it is.
Tenth anniversary re-release for Ray Charles’ last album Genius Loves Company; glossy AOR and superstar duets.
Playground is a happy reminder that now remains the time, as always, to hear our world from a fresh perspective.
Wednesday, January 14 2015
9/11 and the Visual Culture of Disaster examines the tremulous memory effects of the destruction of the World Trade Center.
In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, what I want more than anything is for art to be redemptive for any who view it, and for comics to be transformative.
In the face of mounting allegations against the beloved comedian, we are left to reconsider his artistic legacy.
PopMatters meets the founder of the occult-influenced UK project to talk about its fascinating new album/aural mausoleum The Underworld Service.
Even though the actors are given parts that suit their usual skills, they all bring extra self awareness to their work.
Guster takes a leap forward while remembering what makes them a strong band, working the best of then and now into Evermotion.
Sun Kil Moon closed 2014 with a quiet and unassuming reissue.
While industry gatekeepers were invested in a specific image of black performance, black performers themselves had different ideas.
In the hands of Adrian Legg, the guitar's limitations melt away, and in his mind, the music flourishes.
As one would expect, the best stories make the best songs. There’s the lovely “Elvis Presley Calls His Mother After the Ed Sullivan Show”, where the King’s legendary love for his Mama shows itself in all its sweetness.
A compilation that highlights all things Legendary Pink Dots. It’s dark and filled with esoteric mystique, it’s loud, it’s psychedelic, it’s synthy, it’s gothy, and it’s still more thrilling today than many of the most hotly praised albums of the year.
Tuesday, January 13 2015
The death of Wolverine is not quite the same as the death of Kurt Cobain or Brett Favre’s retirement, but he’s a character that casts the biggest shadow in all of X-men.
Cairo's youth find meaning and identity in a genre that can't get any respect.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band may be the most overanalysed, overexposed album in history. In light of the Flaming Lips' affectionate reimagining, can the inescapable masterpiece ever be surpassed?
Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive reimagines the vampire myth in the context of intellectual philistinism.
Even though it lacks the novelty of its predecessor, The Trip to Italy is nonetheless just as hilarious.
Pushing into a more electronic realm, the prolific Animal Collective member rips through his own conventions on his latest solo effort.
With the enthusiasm of a celebrity journalist and the deep reading of an academic, James Essinger presents a flawed portrait of the flawed life of Lord Byron's daughter, Ada Lovelace.
The legendary English post-punk band's live and rare tracks fill out their legacy and unravel bits of their mystery. They're also raw, wild and challenging.
Entertaining '90s geek-rock throwback features off-kilter but catchy guitar riffs and songs about Wile E. Coyote and Absinthe-fueled trips to outer space.
Second four-track EP from Le Common Diamond hits the beach for the summer.
Monday, January 12 2015
As the titular Marvel heroine, the smart and one-liner ready Hayley Atwell towers over Iron Man and his ilk in this contemporary take on post-WWII politics.
Frank uses Twitter and Tumblr without ever striking a false note in its depiction of an erratic indie rock band struggling through the artistic process.
Things are funnier when they go terribly wrong.
What's most remarkable about Harris' freewheeling bio, Choose Your Own Autobiography, is that even with all its tricks and jokes, there's actual substance to be found here.
An event comes to a solid end, but is too lacking to be anything more.
Acoustic finger-picker left the archival folk behind to arrive at a psychedelic 1960s-influenced style on his 10th album, Way Out Weather. The trick, he says, it not to overthink things.
Mark Strand's death in December 2014 casts a different light on his newest poetry volume, as it now carries the weight of summarizing a life in writing.
Get an early glimpse of the best and most eagerly anticipated albums of the new year, including new efforts from Sleater-Kinney, Father John Misty, Belle and Sebastian, and Viet Cong.
Almost 30 years after its conclusion, putting The Facts of Life on the TV feels like hanging out with an old friend.
In attempting to distance Springsteen from his sainted reputation by humanizing him, Ryan White only manages to sanctify him all the more.
A U R O R A has a little step-sister named V A R I A N T. And just like that, Ben Frost's discography is saddled with an attractive piece of filler.
One can’t help but being drawn in by the output, rather than the method, by the pure creative act, instead of the artistic potency
Sleaford Mods deliver a burly compilation, filled with complaints and rabid rants.