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Friday, October 17 2014

‘Into the War’ Is Introspective, Poignant,  and Moralistic in All the Right Ways

Italo Calvino offers a rarely personal, and deeply insightful, glimpse of the adolescent experience of war.


Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Worker

The constantly morphing new jazz trio moves into deeply atmospheric, electronic territory and dares you to follow.


Pig Destroyer: Mass and Volume EP

This EP bears the mark of idle hands merely wanting to keep busy.


Hiss Golden Messenger: Lateness of Dancers

The latest from M.C. Taylor and Scott Hirsch's country-leaning band serves as an re-introduction and a rebirth for their signature sound.


Noel Torres: La Balanza

When playing corridos, one must be absolutely modern. If you play them as hard as possible, that helps.


Thursday, October 16 2014

‘Lilting’ Is About the Ways We Assimilate

Lilting challenges what it means to assimilate into a culture, suggesting that blending in isn't necessary for shared experience.


Soap, Candles, and Even the Humble Ice Cube Make Appearances in ‘How We Got to Now’

From the first selfie to the importance of jazz musicians, Steven Johnson puts a few surprises into How We Got To Now.


More Boy Than Witch: “Klarion #1”

Just keep moving, folks. There is nothing to see here, especially nothing scary. This Klarion, this Witch Boy, is a lot more boy than witch.


‘The Essential Jacques Demy’ Captures the Director’s Breezy, Bluesy World

The Essential Jacques Demy provides an insightful look inside an auteur who may finally be getting the recognition he deserves.


‘Surgeon General’s Warning’ Provides a Fascinating History on a Controversial Position

Written in vivid detail and expertly researched, Mike Stobbe's chronicle of the office of the Surgeon General parts the curtains on some surprising heroes and brings us to a surprising conclusion.


Mount Eerie: New York - 24 September 2014

Phil Elverum brought minimalist arrangements of songs from upcoming Mount Eerie release Sauna to NYC's Le Poisson Rouge, along with plenty of mystery and endearing stage banter.


Lucifer Is Free to Roam: (In)Justice and Retribution in ‘Hannibal’

Hannibal, unlike much-hyped pulp revival shows like True Detective and Fargo, refuses to give its audience neat answers on matters of right and wrong.


A Dark Rapture: The Rise of Punk in Spain

Spanish punkers came swinging harder than ever, screaming not for the sake of inducing change, but screaming for the sake of screaming – because now they could.


El May Reclaims Her Confidence on the Introspective ‘The Other Person Is You’

Lara Meyerratken, the Los Angeles-by way of-Australia indie pop musician, returns with her first new album in four years.


‘Revenge: The Complete Third Season’ Is Too Convoluted for Its Own Good

In its third season, Revenge jumps the shark and drowns slowly afterwards.


Kele: Trick

From the club to the bedroom, the Bloc Party frontman explores the empty sensuality of sleeping with complete strangers.


Johnny Marr: Playland

Johnny Marr's second solo album suggests a consummate musician becoming more comfortable with his solo status.


Lars Iyers’ ‘Wittgenstein Jr’ Is a Portrait of the Genius as a Tortured Thinker

Lars Iyer's latest novel explores sadness and genius while contemplating the end of philosophy.


Pharmakon: Bestial Burden

Bestial Burden really knows how to work a mood, and beat that sense of claustrophobic misery right into the ground.


JAWS: Be Slowly

These Birmingham lads mine their musical past to create a sound in keeping with their influences without straying too far from established templates, finding comfort in familiarity.


Billy Thermal: Billy Thermal

A long-shelved power pop gem gets its chance to shine.


Trigger Hippy: Trigger Hippy

Trigger Hippy's roots run deep and the down-and-dirty, soul-tinged blues they rock is the real deal.


Wednesday, October 15 2014

Pixies May Have Changed, But Their Energy Is Still Strong

The revamped Pixies prove there's plenty of fuel left in the tank yet.


In ‘The Zero Theorem’, Terry Gilliam Is Still Looking for the Meaning of Life

Terry Gilliam's quest for life's biggest answers finds a new formulation in The Zero Theorem: perhaps, the film suggests, there is no meaning to it all.


A (Not Quite) Epic Onslaught: “Avengers and X-men: AXIS #1”

A high concept that's high on potential and low on refinement.


Tim & Eric with Dr. Steve Brule: Boston - 4 October 2014

Tim & Eric, with Dr. Steve Brule in tow, shared their brand of entrancingly preposterous, thoroughly sweet comedy during an extended set in Boston's Back Bay.


‘The End of Absence’ Is an Argument to Turn Off and Tune In

These days there's so much technodread floating around that you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a thinkpiece about how smartphones are ruining our minds.


Katie Kate: Nation

Nation isn't an opus. It's a warning.


Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles

Sarah Silverman's second HBO special/comedy album gives us another healthy helping of rape, incest, oral sex, profanity and jokes about Jews. In other words, Sarah Silverman being herself.


Sweetback in the Cosmos: An Interview with Melvin Van Peebles

He's almost single-handedly invented the Blaxploitation film genre, but as his recent collaboration with Heliocentrics proves, Melvin Van Peebles is so much more than simply a filmmaker in command of his craft.


Vashti Bunyan: Heartleap

Vashti Bunyan is given the final word on a sporadic yet influential career with the organic swan song Heartleap.


Dads: I’ll Be the Tornado

I’ll Be the Tornado is an enrapturing album, and one that you simply must hear with your mind and your heart.


The Magical Presence of Anna Karina: More Than Godard’s Muse

It’s not that Anna Karina couldn’t act, but that she didn’t have to. Her physical presence was the art, and her beauty, in and of itself, was a significant contribution to the culture.


Will We Ever Come First? ‘Vampire Academy’ and Female (Mis)Representation

Though a surface reading of Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy suggests compelling depiction of women, underneath lies ages-old patriarchal myths.


‘Million Dollar Arm’ Is a Million Dollar Idea With a Ten-Cent Film Plot

Million Dollar Arm is a film that picked the wrong protagonist.


Foxygen: ...And Star Power

Try as you might to take Foxygen's ...And Star Power at face value, it's hard to because the mischievous duo does everything but play it straight on the 82-minute double LP.


The Acacia Strain: Coma Witch

Coma Witch is a bracing, unapologetic, mesmerizing album. And it could very well be easily one of the best metal albums of the year.


‘The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace’ Will Make You Think

This real-world account of an ill-fated Yale student's life will be haunting me for many months.


Tuesday, October 14 2014

What More Is Mankind Than Nature’s Parasite? Reflections on ‘Herzog: The Collection’

For Werner Herzog, man’s tug-of-war with nature is not a present imbalance but a lost cause, the barbarous beauty of nature made mere barbarism by humankind.


Pearl Jam: 3 October 2014 - St. Louis (Photos)

Pearl Jam's shows are more and more memorable for hardcore fans but they still remain approachable for everyone as they pulled from their earliest releases in St. Louis.


Mainstream Economists Are Leading America to Ruin

The challenges for Americans and other countries to grapple with are not economic ones, and they are not narrow, technically ‘scientific’ ones. They are moral and philosophical ones.


Roald Dahl, But for Adults: “Wytches #1”

"It’s not the greatest #1 I’ve ever read by a long shot but…"


The Afterparty: An Interview with Bloc Party’s Kele

Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke talks his new solo album, Trick, and explains how the album pushed him to make music in an entirely fresh way.


Songs of Simulation and Discouragement: Bowie, Bono, and Authenticity

With its Apple-sponsored free public release, U2's Songs of Innocence betrays just how far the band has come from their past, despite its attempts to bring back a Dublinesque vision.


The Bully at the Pulpit: ‘Elmer Gantry’

Richard Brooks's adaptation of Elmer Gantry lives and dies on Burt Lancaster's strangest, most unforgettable performance.


Gazelle Twin: Unflesh

Gazelle Twin's Unflesh is as immaculate as a hotel in a JG Ballard novel, and just as bloody scary.


Why You Have No Idea What Your Favorite Characters Look Like

Celebrated book designer Peter Mendelsund considers how readers construct (or fail to construct) visual images in their minds in What We See When We Read.


Revocation: Deathless

Deathless should cement Revocation as one of the top metal bands in the world, if they haven’t already reached such lofty heights on previous releases.


Jason Aldean: Old Boots, New Dirt

Aldean's personal life, and Nashville's change of direction, isolate the listener and reinforce stereotypes.


Gui Boratto: Abaporu

Abaporu is a record that, despite all of its differing hues, manages to come across as a unified mosaic of sound.


Medeski Scofield Martin and Wood: Juice

The jazz trio, supplemented by frequent partner John Scofield, put out another appealing blend of jazz and groove music -- a flavorful if somewhat slight version of what they do best.


Texas in July: Bloodwork

Texas in July is so lifeless that not even the transfusion of a whole new line-up can revive this corpse.


Monday, October 13 2014

Does ‘Marry Me’ Mark the Year of the Rom-Sitcom?

Why shouldn’t a maligned genre -- and romantic comedies are nothing if not maligned -- follow in drama's footsteps?


John Woo Said “For a Better Tomorrow:” CW’s “The Flash” and “This American Life’s” “Serial”

Just ahead of tomorrow's second episode of The Flash, we present this special Iconographies on this show isn't very different from This American Life's spinoff, Serial.


The Campus Novel as Gonzo Mayhem

His Ph.D revoked, a man fueled by anger returns to an institution he despises in Primordial: An Abstraction.


Neither Here Nor There: ‘The Institute’, the Game, and the Thread to Elsewhere

The trend in alternate reality gaming fits a traditional definition of hyperreality; the condition where fiction and the real become indistinguishably blended together.


“It’s Just About the Document”: An Interview with Danny Clinch

He's an iconic photographer for rock stars such as the Beastie Boys and Bruce Springsteen. Here, he talks about his first book and the stories behind some of his most memorable images.


‘Obvious Child’ Looks at Unplanned Pregnancy from a New Angle

Even when Obvious Child lacks interesting conflict, it still admirably presents women in a way atypical from mainstream cinema.


OK Go: Hungry Ghosts

OK Go successfully dips a toe into synth-rock without forgetting their power-pop roots, yet they still manage to include a small handful of outright clunkers.


In ‘The Beggar and the Hare’, Beggars Can Be Choosers

What really happens when you hit rock bottom?


We Were Promised Jetpacks: Unraveling

How many times can you challenge your audience to join you at the top of the room before these big moves become big tropes?


Lights: Little Machines

The Canadian singer-songwriter decides that pop music is no place for individualism or high-energy performances on her third album.


Purling Hiss: Weirdon

The latest from Philadelphia guitar wizard Mike Polizze gives voice to his catchy, pop-loving side.


Mark Turner Quartet: Lathe of Heaven

Fly guy Mark Turner makes a sparse quartet really work for him and you.


FaltyDL: In the Wild

FaltyDL's newest floats around without aim or interest.


Sunday, October 12 2014

‘Comic Book Men’ Is ‘Pawn Stars’ for Nerds

Kevin Smith and his comic book-loving posse spend each episode swapping tales about daily trades, sales, and purchases in Smith’s comic book store, Secrete Stash.


Saturday, October 11 2014

‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’

Like most kids' movies, this one is less chaotic and inventive than it is predictable and reassuring.


Friday, October 10 2014

There’s Blood on the Drums in ‘Whiplash’

In Whiplash, all the visual and aural magic comes from Andrew's (Miles Teller) precise and jazzy drum solos.


Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall Chew Scenery in ‘The Judge’

A strong cast fights a losing battle against subpar material in this ramshackle drama.


There Are Lots of Bill Murray Bits in ‘St. Vincent’

Like any movie in the curmudgeon-mentors-a-child subgenre, St. Vincent draws some fine lines, between comedy and sentimentality, formula and, well, more formula.


‘Super Smash Bros.’ for the 3DS: Controller Blues

Almost all portable games are single player, and for the most part, this feels like a single player game, which does the fantastic series a disservice.


Austin City Limits: A History

An unprecedented access telling of this landmark musical showcase whose history spans dramatic changes in the nature of television, the expansion of digital media, and the ways in which we experience music.


‘Some Luck’ Is Sweeping, Bold, and Completely Engrossing

Few authors are able to write equally well about war strategy, communism, cover crops, and postpartum depression.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 20-1

These top 20 records of the '00s feature some familiar faces, but also several that, over time, have grown more fondly in memory.


Love in a Gilded Cage: ‘Blanche’

A master of visuals, Walerian Borowczyk's stunning recreation of medieval life presents a world which seems as real and defined as the space in our own living rooms.


Caribou: Our Love

By tweaking the sound of his previous record, Caribou's Dan Snaith has created one of the most enjoyable, crowd-pleasing records of the year.


Ex Hex: Rips

Mary Timony's new project Ex Hex makes the best case possible for listening to that urge to simplify on Rips.


Let Your Twee Flag Fly High!

Twee is about much more than DIY/Etsy, hipsters and Zooey Deschanel.


Field Report: Marigolden

Field Report have crafted a near-masterpiece of pain and triumph within the deckle-edged leaves of Marigolden.


Matthew Shipp: I’ve Been to Many Places

Avant garde pianist Shipp explores his musical past through this contemporary solo set, hinting at where we may find him in the future.


Tim McGraw: Sundown Heaven Town

On album 13, and album two since extracting himself from his Curb contract, Tim McGraw is in his element and doing what he does best.


Walt Weiskopf: Overdrive

An under-heard but top-notch tenor player, leading a sharp band through excellent tunes. Vibes, guitar, driving rhythm, all right here.


Thursday, October 9 2014

That Old, Black Thaumaturgy: Scott Snyder’s “Wytches”

Wytches marks a radically important turning point in Scott Snyder's evolution as a writer. And thereby hangs a tale…


‘Tough Day for the Army’ Is a Middle Finger to the Strictures of Form

Whether it’s the recollection of Jesus’ time on the ice as a hockey player, or the confessions of a newspaper editor, Warner isn’t bound by the traditional template for short stories.


Digital Vestiges: What Will They Have of Me When I’m Gone?

If this were a murder mystery, it would be a fine enough catalyst to a long, protracted investigation, complete with red herrings and an arc that would befit Raymond Chandler.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 40-21

From breathtaking reformulations of shoegaze to British soul revival, this batch of stellar recordings from the 2000s is an eclectic one.


Verhoeven Had a Lot to Learn After ‘Flesh + Blood’

Flesh + Blood has at least this to its credit: it's not as bad as Howard the Duck.


Weezer: Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Everything Will Be Alright in the End is not an album: it's an act of contrition that you can dance to.


‘Uncle Anton’s Atomic Bomb’ Is a Story Full of Details That Requires and Rewards Close Reading

Follow author Ian Woollen's advice: "Sit back, sip your drink, and allow words and phrases such as 'sock hop' and 'fallout', 'Studebaker', and 'Red Scare' to summon up what images they will."


SBTRKT: Wonder Where We Land

SBTRKT leads a disparate cast of collaborators down a rabbit hole of mismatched beats and psychotic melodies on his second LP.


yMusic: Balance Problems

Highly accomplished and in-demand, classical collective yMusic host a range of notable peers on their second album.


Bill Frisell: Guitar in the Space Age!

Space Cadet Frisell requests permission to come aboard.


Coachwhips: Get Yer Body Next Ta Mine

It's great to revisit John Dwyer's old band, Coachwhips, in light of Thee Oh Sees' success. The group's 2003 record, Get Yer Body Next Ta Mine, more than their 2002 debut, sounds like a great stand alone rock record.


Iain Matthews and Searing Quartet: Joy Mining / Iain Matthews and Egbert Derix: In the Now

Iain Matthews finds a rare musical soul-mate in Dutch pianist Egbert Derix. The two albums resulting from this unexpected collaboration rank among the best of Matthew's career.


Wednesday, October 8 2014

‘Kill the Messenger’: Truth in Headlines

Even as you know the US government can be brutal in its retributions, you're also left with a set of images that are a bit too mythic or contrived.


Title Fight, the Dissent: “Thor #1”

When something as big as Thor #1, that completely alters the character after more than 50 years of publication history, the only proper response is our very first "Title Fight".


Who Shot the Food?: ‘Gauntlet’ Returns

Death was always inevitable in Gauntlet. It was not merely a matter of skill, but also a matter of time.


The End Is Not the End in ‘Station Eleven’

Emily St. John Mandel's book about the survivors of a devastating plague is a thoughtful and original take on the post-apocalyptic genre.


Katha Pollitt on Reclaiming Abortion Rights, Rejecting Shame and Renewing America’s Potential

Pollitt’s new book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights is both a call to arms and a call for honest reflection.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electro-R&B.


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