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Thursday, January 22 2015

‘Fluidity of Form’: An Interview with Ben Watt + An Inspired Mixtape

Browsing a record shop with Ben Watt is one way to learn about those artists he admires and those that inspired him.


‘Boy Meets Girl’ Is a Treasure of Cinematic References

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: The Pale Emperor

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.


Diplo: F10rida

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.


Diving Deep Into the Other Worlds of Japan’s Most Famous Living Writer

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.


Willie Nile: If I Was a River

The answer to the album title’s rhetorical question is self-evident--Nile is the river with all the rich suggestiveness that reference implies.


Michael Blake: Tiddy Boom

A relaxed but interesting tribute to tenor sax giants Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young from one of today's most eloquent players.


Echobelly: Everyone’s Got One / On

Debut and follow-up albums from Echobelly re-released in expanded editions with b-sides, radio sessions and live material.


Wednesday, January 21 2015

They’re Making a Movie About Ant-Man: “Ant-Man #1”

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.


‘The Price of Thirst’ Offers a Disturbing Analysis of Forthcoming Chaos Over Water Inequality

From California to Iraq; from Chile to India; struggles over water are coming to define the political and military conflicts of the 21st century.


The Fine Art of Making Mistakes: An Interview with Dana Cowin

Food & Wine's editor-in-chief Dana Cowin talks about gender, politics, and mastering your mistakes in the kitchen.


Antitheism and the Art of the “Hitch Slap”

Before Bill Maher became the demon-du-jour for his satirical scorn of religion, Christopher Hitchens led the charge of rhetorical antitheism.


A Homespun and Natural Kind of Rock: An Interview With Ultimate Painting

Drawing from the legacy of the Beatles and the Velvet Underground, the still-young group Ultimate Painting made quite a splash in 2014.


Season Three of ‘Girls’ Might Be Its Strongest Yet

Much like its closest television contemporary, Mad Men, Girls comes alive through character detail rather than plot.


Joey Bada$$: B4.DA.$$

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$$.


‘The Transcriptionist’ Is Immersed in Words

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.


Viet Cong: Viet Cong

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.


The Sharp Things: Adventurer’s Inn

A band at the peak of its career, one which appears to be happily unsatisfied, yet chronically inspired by melancholy.


Cut Hands: Festival of the Dead

Power electronics pioneer William Bennett continues his exploration of African and Haitian percussion as Cut Hands releases its third santeria and vaudou-themed album


Kasey Chambers: Bittersweet

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

We Suffer for Love, Love Is Suffering: ‘The Night Porter’

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.


‘The B-Side’ Is an Entertaining Study of the American Songbook

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.


Surreal Estate: Exploring the Haunted Grounds of Sérail

A haunted estate proves too much for a curious writer in Eduardo de Gregorio's rare and little-seen surrealist mystery, Sérail.


A Travelogue of Jon Hassell’s ‘Fourth World’ Journey Into the Mystical

Fourth Word truly is a world unto itself, a vision of avant-garde experimentation that influenced numerous composers in its wake.


Leanne Pooley’s Everest Documentary Will Have You ‘Beyond the Edge’ of Your Seat

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.


Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to Love

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.


The Story of a Robot Named Stinky and the Four Boys Who Built It

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.


Paul Kelly Presents: The Merri Soul Sessions

Australian collective brings home The Merri Soul Sessions, 11 tracks of fine modern soul music.


George Harrison: The Apple Years: 1968-1975

Harrison's legacy and his work was much more than a reduction of earthly values wrapped in a song.


Monday, January 19 2015

This Dream of You: Selma. Selma, Alabama

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 Chemistry Between Kevin Hart and Josh Gad Barely Keeps ‘The Wedding Ringer’ Afloat

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.


Recovery and Renewal: Showa’s Magnificent Epic History of Japan Continues to Deliver

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.


The ‘Steven Spielberg Director’s Collection’ Captures a Critical Period in the Director’s Career

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.


The 2015 Grammys Get Jazz Mostly Wrong, a Little Right

Grammy nominations in jazz are rarely adventurous and usually confusing. Yet this year's slate is intriguing.


The Lesbian Sex Joke: Did You Get It?

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.


‘Time Bandits’ Gets Darker With the Viewer’s Age

Watching Time Bandits as an adult isn't a letdown by any means, but It's not the wonder-filled experience of youth, either.


Belle and Sebastian: Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance

Contrary to their twee reputation, Belle and Sebastian prove they don't shy away from taking risks with a techno-pop heavy new album.


On Chasing an Enemy That’s Too Small to See

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.


The Saints: King of the Sun / King of the Midnight Sun

King of the Sun and King of the Midnight Sun are both fine records, but not quite the Saints at their finest.


Various Artists: All Your Friend’s Friends

Putting the lie to the idea that all underground rap is good (or about something).


Spandau Ballet: The Story: The Very Best Of

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.


Kayo Dot: Coffins on Io

The avant-metal band's latest album: traveling in one big loop.


Friday, January 16 2015

Roger Ebert and Steve James Define and Transcend the Documentary Form in ‘Life Itself’

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.


‘Paddington’ Is a Practically Perfect Family Film

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 ‘Blackhat’, Michael Mann Has Made an Impressionistic Action Movie

In this global thriller about digital terrorism, the visuals do not shape the story but rather are the story.


‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ Is a Bloody Good Gangster Epic

Gangs of Wasseypur is tumultuous, five hour gangster saga, stuffed with humor as bleak as the story is bloody.


It’s Not Easy Seeking Green: My Muppet Show

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.


Donald Hall’s ‘Essays After Eighty’ Is an Unsparing Look at Extreme Old Age

To presume to review works of this level is farcical; we can only be overjoyed by their continued existence.


Ideas Become Geographies: An Interview with Miss Lasko-Gross

It’s never about confidence, it’s about doubt, Lasko-Gross, the transgressively intelligent creator of Henni, reminds me.


The First Amendment Bubble: How Privacy and Paparazzi Threaten a Free Press

What legal and ethical restrictions exist, and should exist, in today’s privacy-interested yet over-exposure society?


The Extended Director’s Cut of ‘Nymph()maniac’ Is the Must See Version

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.


The Decemberists: What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World

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.


Big Star: Live in Memphis

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.


Eminem and Various Artists: SHADYXV

Shady Records compilation celebrating 15 years of the label; one disc of new material plus one "greatest hits" CD.


Trip Lee: Rise

With prudent messaging, excellent delivery, and slick production, there are plenty of reasons to smile while listening to Rise.


Thursday, January 15 2015

The Unending Saga of Internet Cops, Robbers, and the Rest of Us

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?


Conquering the Leviathan: An Interview with Andrey Zvyaginstev

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.


Reflections in the Wake of Destruction: Kent Avenue

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.


‘The Sacrament’, ‘The Unbelievers’ and Religious Imperialism

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’ Celebrates Unity Through Diversity

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.


Jon Hassell and Brian Eno: Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics

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.


Glen Duncan’s Existential Horror Is So Good, It’s a Curse

These characters navigate a constellation of theological ruins and failed rationalizations, wherein existential nausea must do battle with the hunger of the werewolf Curse.


Fugazi: First Demo

First Demo proves what fans have long known, that Fugazi was brashly confident and fully formed from day one.


Rick Ross: Hood Billionaire

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.


Ray Charles: Genius Loves Company

Tenth anniversary re-release for Ray Charles’ last album Genius Loves Company; glossy AOR and superstar duets.


Mathias Kunzli: Playground

Playground is a happy reminder that now remains the time, as always, to hear our world from a fresh perspective.


Wednesday, January 14 2015

September 11, 2001, Is Said to Be the Most Photographed Disaster in History

9/11 and the Visual Culture of Disaster examines the tremulous memory effects of the destruction of the World Trade Center.


We Are Charlie Brown

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.


Wanna Buy Some Old Bill Cosby Records?

In the face of mounting allegations against the beloved comedian, we are left to reconsider his artistic legacy.


Holidays in Hades: An Interview with the English Heretic

PopMatters meets the founder of the occult-influenced UK project to talk about its fascinating new album/aural mausoleum The Underworld Service.


A Great Cast Has Nothing to Do in ‘This Is Where I Leave You’

Even though the actors are given parts that suit their usual skills, they all bring extra self awareness to their work.


Guster: Evermotion

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: Third and Seneca EP

Sun Kil Moon closed 2014 with a quiet and unassuming reissue.


How Pioneering Blues Women Were All But Written out of “Official” Blues History

While industry gatekeepers were invested in a specific image of black performance, black performers themselves had different ideas.


Adrian Legg: Dead Bankers

In the hands of Adrian Legg, the guitar's limitations melt away, and in his mind, the music flourishes.


Sid Griffin: The Trick Is to Breathe

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.


The Legendary Pink Dots: 12 Steps Off the Path

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

A Larger Legacy: “Wolverines #1”

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.


Pop Like an Egyptian

Cairo's youth find meaning and identity in a genre that can't get any respect.


The Act You’ve Known for All These Years: Covering ‘Sgt. Pepper’

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?


Coolness and Connoisseurship in Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’

Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive reimagines the vampire myth in the context of intellectual philistinism.


The Jokes and Michael Caine Impressions Are Still Fresh in ‘The Trip to Italy’

Even though it lacks the novelty of its predecessor, The Trip to Italy is nonetheless just as hilarious.


Panda Bear: Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

Pushing into a more electronic realm, the prolific Animal Collective member rips through his own conventions on his latest solo effort.


‘Ada’s Algorithm’ Dishes the Dirt and Makes the Case for the World’s First Programmer

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 Pop Group: We Are Time / Cabinet of Curiosities

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.


Tetherball: Whimsy

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.


Le Common Diamond: Swedish Summer Dream EP

Second four-track EP from Le Common Diamond hits the beach for the summer.


Monday, January 12 2015

Hayley Atwell Gives the Male-Centric 1940s a Kick in Its Pants in ‘Agent Carter’

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’ Creatively Explores Social Media Solipsism

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.


Tales from the Borderlands, Episode 1: Zer0 Sum

Things are funnier when they go terribly wrong.


There’s More Than Just Magic in Neil Patrick Harris’ Clever Autobiography

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.


Reverted Meaning: “Avengers and X-men: AXIS #9”

An event comes to a solid end, but is too lacking to be anything more.


Trust Your Instincts: An Interview with Steve Gunn

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.


‘Collected Poems’ Captures the Vibrant Life of a Great Poet

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.


Listening Ahead: 15 Albums for Early 2015

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.


‘The Facts of Life’ Is the Ultimate ‘80s Comfort Food Sitcom

Almost 30 years after its conclusion, putting The Facts of Life on the TV feels like hanging out with an old friend.


Saint the Boss, Intercede for us Sinners…

In attempting to distance Springsteen from his sainted reputation by humanizing him, Ryan White only manages to sanctify him all the more.


Ben Frost: V A R I A N T

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.


Exit Verse: Exit Verse

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: Retweeted

Sleaford Mods deliver a burly compilation, filled with complaints and rabid rants.


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