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Heavy Metal or Why the All-New Batman Totally Rocks

Bruce Wayne who? The most entertaining Batman story in sometime finds Commissioner Gordon donning the cowl.

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A Cumbersome Crime Drama, ‘The Onion Field Boasts’ Impressive Performances

A frustrating and demanding watch, The Onion Field constantly shifts in mood and structure, making for a very uneven drama.

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A Portrait of the Artist As an Insecure Genius

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is a gem full of complex personalities, tragic yet redeeming circumstances, and striking conversations and judgments.

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What’s Wrong With X-Men Bobby Drake’s Coming Out Story?

There are a lot of unwritten assumptions about Iceman's sexuality in All New X-Men #40.

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16 Jul 2015 // 2:30 AM

Bilal: In Another Life

With In Another Life, Bilal and Adrian Younge deliver a stone cold soul classic.

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Alan Jackson: Angels and Alcohol

Twenty five years in, Alan Jackson is sounding more like Alan Jackson than ever, which might be a splendid thing.

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White Reaper: White Reaper Does It Again

There’s a predictability to the new White Reaper LP, but the band’s core competency will likely keep most listeners from caring too much.

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Sam Lee & Friends: The Fade in Time

Sam Lee brings a deep reverence and a wildly inventive sonic vision to the British folk tradition, making these ancient songs sound new again.

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‘Boychoir’ Can’t Sing Its Way Out of Trouble

Magic as long as the singing lasts, the rest of Boychoir is let down by half-conceived characters and skeleton sub-plots.

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Black Mountain: Black Mountain

This 10-year anniversary version of Black Mountain has fine add-ons, all of which offer additional insight into McBean’s complex, often times confounding M.O.

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‘The Household Spirit’ Is a Strange Book

This is the kind of book Erma Bombeck would have written if she was on heroin or had just watched The Grave of the Fireflies while listening to Jeff Buckley.

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The Lovey Dovey Return of the Bird and the Bee

Greg Kurstin went from indie-rock has-been to the go-to producer for Lily Allen, P!nk, and Kelly Clarkson, but the Bird and the Bee, his loungey pop project, is his true passion, and after a five-year hiatus, they're finally back.

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‘Do I Sound Gay?’ Raises More Questions Than It Answers

While his topic lends itself to a personal frame, filmmaker David Thorpe remains such a tentative presence in his own story that the result is both navel-gazing and non-revealing.

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A World Is Born in Blood in ‘8House: Arclight #1’

Royals, monsters, and everything in between.

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The Emotional Depth of ‘The Last Five Years’ Helps Elevate Its Simple Narrative

Even when narrative tension is lacking, The Last Five Years benefits from the convincing performances of its lead actors.

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‘Unfair’ Shows How Ordinary Human Failings Can Lead to Failures of Justice

Drexel law professor Adam Benforado argues that the root causes of many criminal justice failures lie in misunderstandings of human psychology and behavior.

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‘Hyena’ Is an Adult Crime Drama That Will Shock and Dismay

Gerard Johnson's portrait of an even worse lieutenant never seeks to ingratiate itself or pander to audience expectations.

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Wavves x Cloud Nothings: No Life for Me

Angst-ridden indie heroes Dylan Baldi and Nathan Williams join forces by channeling each other's energy, though they're still as bummed as they've ever been.

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15 Jul 2015 // 2:20 AM

Galactic: Into the Deep

When Galactic explores the deep, it's the places we all found before, explored, had a little fun with, left, and sort of forgot about for a while.

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The Fictions of Anxiety in ‘The Last of Philip Banter’

An examination of internalized fears, The Last of Philip Banter explores the social culture of the working-class through a careful dissection of mental illness.

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Nozinja: Nozinja Lodge

A listener with an open mind, a tolerance for video game music, and a great deal of energy for dancing will find in Nozinja Lodge a unique, carnivalesque sound.

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Sharon Van Etten: I Don’t Want to Let You Down

There are spaces of elegant starkness on Sharon Van Etten's new EP, and she fills them like a shade of blue yet to be invented.

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A Sherlock Holmes Fit for a King

In an excellent series of TV adaptations, the noble and striking Douglas Wilmer offers a portrayal of Holmes that is perhaps closest to the great writer's original character.

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The Grateful Dead’s Deep History Is Captured in ‘So Many Roads’

If the road doesn’t go on forever, if the Dead's reign really ends here, David Browne’s volume on The Grateful Dead may well prove to be the go-to encyclopedia for fans.

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Demon Eye: Tempora Infernalia

The North Carolina outfit unleashes a furious, heavy record, but don't let that fool you into thinking this is a one-trick pony.

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They’re Finally Listening: An Interview with RP Boo, the Inventor of Footwork

The legendary RP Boo discusses the development of footwork, his contributions, the influence of the late DJ Rashad, and his new album, Fingers, Banks Pads & Shoe Prints.

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‘Frontline: Escaping ISIS’ Explores the Terrorist Group’s Genocidal Aims

As Frontline: Escaping ISIS reveals in images that are at once effectively impressionistic and grim, ISIS is embarked on a genocidal, "forced conversion" crusade against the Yazidi.

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‘The Breakfast Club’ Meets ‘Ender’s Game’ in ‘Runaways #2’

At heart this may be a story about a superhero team, but it has more in common with The Breakfast Club and Ender's Game than with The Avengers.

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14 Jul 2015 // 10:22 AM

Taylor Swift Thrills London in a Hyde Park Concert

The biggest pop star in the world lights up London's Hyde Park, both figuratively and literally.

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In ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’ Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart Have Electrifying Chemistry

Less Birdman and more Bergman, Clouds of Sils Maria delves deeply into the complex psychology of its characters.

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The Art of the Game and the Game of Art

John Sharp's Works of Game: On the Aesthetics Games and Art doesn't argue whether games are art or not, but instead looks at the intersection where games and art meet.

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Faith No More: The Real Thing and Angel Dust (Reissues)

While not exactly half-assed, Rhino's reissues of Faith No More's best-known albums aren't quite as good as they could be. The Real Thing finally gets a much-needed remaster, at least.

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Police Brutality Is in the Headlines, So Where Is Our Jim Gordon of ‘Gotham’?

If you didn’t watch the first season of FOX’s Gotham, you’ve missed out on some fascinating commentary on the real-world problems of police brutality and corruption.

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Flying Saucer Attack: Instrumentals

Instrumentals balances simplicity and depth, abrasiveness and beauty, with rare skill, reminding anyone who does not already know that Flying Saucer Attack are masters of this type of music.

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14 Jul 2015 // 2:20 AM

Aqueduct: Wild Knights

Welcome back to the wacky world of 2000s lonely white guy indie pop. If you weren’t too annoyed by it the first time around, you’ll likely enjoy this 36-minute trip down memory lane.

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Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams: Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams

This long awaited debut from the long-married duo mixes blues, country, and gospel traditions into one of the strongest Americana albums of the year.

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The Long Con in ‘The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water’

Somehow this surreal and crazy story about a sponge living in a place called “Bikini Bottom” with his starfish best friend works.

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Left Lane Cruiser: Dirty Spliff Blues

Indiana’s Left Lane Cruiser demonstrate their loud and raucous prowess on Dirty Spliff Blues.

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Jeff Beck: Performing This Week… Live at Ronnie Scott’s

Recorded at the famed London jazz club of the same name, this sensational double disc set recasts many -- though not all -- of the individual highlights of Beck’s nearly 50-year career.

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‘Come As You Are’: This Is the Season for Remembering the ‘90s

The complexity of identity, audience, and capital is a strong current running throughout this beautiful book.

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‘My Depression: The Up and Down of It’, Sketches a Relationship With Illness

The supermarket bins in this story are stocked with Mystery, Anxiety, and Fresh Doubt, and shelves are lined with boxes of Tired and Go Away or sacks of Malaise.

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Foo Fighters 4th of July 20th Anniversary Blowout at RFK Stadium (Photos)

Foo Fighters and friends, like Buddy Guy, Heart and LL Cool J, celebrated the band's 20th anniversary, and the 4th of July, with a huge festival in Washington, D.C.

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A Murky Age in ‘Age of Apocalypse #1’

The uber-event of the '90s stumbles, but doesn't fail.

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‘The Wonders’ Shows That Countryside Tradition Dies Hard in Italy

Alice Rohrwacher's The Wonders is fascinating glimpse into a disappearing world told through thinly sketched characters.

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Ends Should Not Concern Us in ‘Hand of Fate’

It is the journey that makes Hand of Fate interesting, the play of the game that matters.

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‘Red Army’ Raises Thought-provoking Questions About the Price of Greatness

Red Army works as an engaging history lesson and an entertaining sports documentary.

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Glenn Greenwald’s Latest Has Us Wondering Who Watches the Watchers?

'No Place to Hide' is a portrait of courage, determination, and the lengths people go to stand by their principles.

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Building the Perfect Bomb: The Numbers Behind Box Office Flops

The biggest "box office bombs" of all time, much like the biggest hits, are not always the ones you're expecting them to be.

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Jason Isbell: Something More Than Free

While it doesn't quite have the thunderous impact of Southeastern, Something More Than Free confirms that Jason Isbell is a rare talent.

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John Zorn: Pellucidar: A Dreamers Fantabula

The tide pulls the quiet surf back to the shore where John Zorn's Dreamers await with nine new compositions. Nice.

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Senses Fail: Pull The Thorns From Your Heart

The latest Senses Fail album is a journey from the heart of darkness to the heart of the sunrise.

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The Maltese Spin-Offs: ‘Satan Met a Lady’ and ‘The Maltese Bippy’

These are not the gospel according to Dashiell Hammett.

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13 Jul 2015 // 2:10 AM

Dale Watson: Call Me Insane

The Austin, Texas, honky-tonk troubadour keeps it real on 14 new cuts of old-school country.

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Consider, If You Will, the Pig

Mark Essig's Lesser Beasts is an edifying, surprising, and sometimes sad history of the other white meat.

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Vinicius Cantuária: Vinicius Canta Antonio Carlos Jobim

What happens when one Brazilian music giant tackles another? Smooth sailing, that's what.

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13 Jul 2015 // 2:02 AM

The Listener Gifted: Frank Zappa’s ‘Dance Me This’

Where should we place Dance Me This within Zappa's immense catalogue?

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‘The Strain: Season 2’ Has More Monsters, More Metaphors

The Strain connects its vampiric mayhem to political and melodramatic themes, all nestled in with the gory action for which the series is best known.

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12 Jul 2015 // 10:00 AM

‘Naked and Afraid XL’ Doesn’t Scare Us

Naked and Afraid XL doesn't provide enough time with any of the contestants to make us worry about them as individuals.

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‘Tangerine’ Is a Raucous, Gorgeous Comedy of Errors

This is a sprawling, generous examination of how lies intersect with truths, and especially, how gender identities occasion such intersection.

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What’s at Stake with Warren Ellis’s ‘Injection’

Warren Ellis tackles the same theme from Marlowe's Faustus, and carries the grander ambitions of comics with him.

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The Family in ‘Strangerland’ Is Lost in the Australian Desert

Strangerland offers few clear-cut causes and effects. Rather, it considers broader themes, including the consequences of sexual repression and social secrecy.

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‘Self/Less’ Gives Life Lessons for Rich People

Even if we give the protagonist his newly found joie de vivre a pass, what with him essentially being brought back from the dead and all, it's still pointless.

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Morrissey and Blondie at Madison Square Garden

At 56, Morrissey is singing better than ever. His New York concert, however mostly was a drag.

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‘The Gallows’: Dude, I’m Sorry!

Per formula, our victims get themselves into a mess, entering the high school after hours the night before the performance and then running directly into scary noises and locked doors.

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Intimacy Between Two Voices: An Interview With Mandolin Orange

Discussing their latest album Such Jubilee, Mandolin Orange share insight into the inspiration of their melancholic songs.

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‘Minions’ Is a Big Yellow Blur

Like most kid franchise spinoffs, this headache-inducing snooze from the Despicable Me team is just a cash grab.

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The Odd Thing About Dissent Is the Illusion of Its Virginity

There are people in jail right now, others in early graves over this whole dissent business.

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Four Tet: Morning/Evening

Largely succeeding on the strength of the record's second half, Kieran Hebden has proved his mercurial approach to electronic music is as vital as ever.

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10 Jul 2015 // 2:20 AM

The 23s: Flamingo

On Flamingo, the 23s concoct a mesmerizing mixture of gentle grooves to soundtrack a film taking place in the imagination of the viewer.

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Robin Gibb: Saved By the Bell: Collected Works 1969-70

Ten years in the making, this anthology presents Robin’s first two solo albums with generous outtakes and demos, establishing him as a master of chamber pop.

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The Kids Are Not Alright in ‘The Decline of Western Civilization Collection’

Whether you have a nostalgic connection to punk rock or just want to glimpse into a couple of under-examined subcultures, this set is well worth adding to your collection.

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10 Jul 2015 // 2:10 AM

Richard Buckner: The Hill

The Hill is an eerie concept, but as a piece of sepia-tinted folk art, it works remarkably well.

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10 Jul 2015 // 2:05 AM

Valet: Nature

Valet’s first album in seven years captures an element of first-generation shoegaze that many new-school groups too often miss.

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Name That Tune: ‘Koji Kondo’s Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack’

Thirty years after the release of his most famous work, there are likely still many who don’t know the name Koji Kondo -- yet they know they've heard his music, somewhere.

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The Beatles Are Pent-Up Prisoners of Their Own Notoriety in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

Over 50 years after its release A Hard Day's Night is regarded as a minor classic. It's easy to forget, however, that no one thought the film would ever achieve such stature.

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10 Jul 2015 // 2:00 AM

Rachel Grimes: The Clearing

Neoclassical composer Rachel Grimes pokes holes in the mold rather than snapping it in half.

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‘What We Did On Our Holiday’ Finds Order in Chaos

This seems like a primer on how to do divorce badly. But it also gets at a broader theme: how truth and lies shape lives.

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John McCrea’s Fun-Loving, Magical Terrors in ‘Mythic’

John McCrea’s combination of bananas-crazy and legit-scary artwork is enough to keep one enthusiastically following the title all on its own, patiently waiting for the meat of the plot and/or characters to reveal themselves in full.

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‘House of Cards: Season 3’: Sic Semper Tyrannis

Although the political stakes have never been higher with Francis Underwood as (shudder) President, this series’ personal drama keeps narrowing, to its detriment.

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The Thunderbolt of Change: ‘Angels in America’ and the Marriage Equality Victory

Complicated, fabulous and deeply progressive, Angels in America may be more pressing and relevant in the time of SCOTUS' decision on marriage equality than it was during the height of the AIDS crises.

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Ezra Furman: Perpetual Motion People

Like a shark, albeit in a $5 dress and red lipstick, Ezra Furman's gotta keep on movin'.

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9 Jul 2015 // 2:20 AM

Matrixxman: Homesick

The self-proclaimed futurist brings his industrial world to life in staggered, inconsistent bursts.

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Duke Ellington and His Orchestra: The Conny Plank Session

A rare treat for jazz enthusiasts comes in the form of a surprising new addition to Duke Ellington's tremendous catalog.

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Instant Empire: Lamplight Lost

Instant Empire's debut manages to hit a sweet spot where jagged edges meet smooth melodies.

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Like Its Title, ‘A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence’ Is Brilliantly Odd

Roy Andersson's latest absurdist trip into the lives of others is as good as anything he's done.

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Roberto Fonseca / Fatoumata Diawara: At Home: Live in Marciac

At Home: Live in Marciac is one of those rare live albums that somehow retains the show's sense of excitement.

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A Series of Unlikely Events Come Together in Judy Blume’s Latest

In Blume's latest and possibly final novel, three plane crashes leave a lasting impact.

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9 Jul 2015 // 2:00 AM

Leaf Rapids: Lucky Stars

Leaf Rapids have created a most affecting debut album with a set of songs that reflects what one can only imagine must be the carefree feeling inspired by life in the vast expanse of Canada’s western provinces.

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The Kids Are Alright in ‘We Are Robin #1’

The Robins come out to play.

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8 Jul 2015 // 2:30 AM

The Internet: Ego Death

With Ego Death the Internet create a sound that is both consistently difficult to pin down but alternatively easy to love.

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Afropunk Is Officially a Brand and That’s a Good Thing

There is a large community of alt-black folks out there, and Afropunk has given them a big tent to party under.

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Leon Bridges: Coming Home

Leon Bridges harkens back to that earlier era of rock history when quiet and sincere could be just as radical as its opposite.

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The Moons: Live at Bush Hall

Live at Bush Hall is an excellent high-energy audio capture of a rock band's average night on tour.

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RP Boo: Fingers, Bank Pads and Shoe Prints (take 2)

The godfather of Juke comes through on his debut album.

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‘Eddie Cantor Four Film Collection’ Moves In and (Thankfully) Out of Blackface

Beneath the grotesque surface, white performers tried to tap a secret power of blackness in the '30s. This Eddie Cantor four film collection is one such document of that time.

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Nora Pouillon and the Birth of the Farm-to-Table Movement

Nora Pouillon's restaurant was the first in America to receive organic certification.

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Denny Zeitlin and George Marsh: Riding the Moment

Denny Zeitlin and George Marsh celebrate the telepathic power of music the hard way.

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KaiL Baxley: A Light That Never Dies

Baxley clearly commands the groove and there’s no reason to think that further triumphs aren’t left to come.

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Adding Color to a World of Music: The Revival Rock Stylings of the Moons

"Don't let the bastards grind you down!" encourages music industry veteran Andy Crofts. As frontman for British rock band the Moons, Crofts seeks to spark creativity and musicality in a throng of eager fans.

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Minimized Melodrama in ‘Uncanny Avengers #5’

Ending with neither a bang nor a whimper.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

The Eye of Lenzi: "Gang War in Milan" and "Spasmo"

// Short Ends and Leader

"Two wide and handsome Italian thrillers of the 1970s.

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