Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

The Amazing Pudding

Monday, September 15 2014

The New Mastersounds: Therapy

Some of these experiments are more successful than others, but it is that basic uptempo, wah-wah inflected, bass-heavy, organ-choogling funk that makes the strongest impression here.


Friday, September 12 2014

Timeless Resonance: An Interview with Luluc

Australian songwriter Zoë Randall of Luluc has been listening to her favorite albums, over and over, for decades. Her own new one Passerby is so effortlessly lovely that you can likewise imagine yourself putting it on again this year and next year and the one after that.


‘The Trip to Bountiful’ Is a Reminder of Why We Go to the Theater

This television version directed by Michael Wilson is lacking in the same of urgency that made the Broadway show such a sensation.


The “Going Out of Business” Sale for the 20th Century

This is a story about the distribution model of comics and why I want to see it evolve to the same levels comics storytelling did in the ‘90s. And this story begins with two vignettes…


‘What We See When We Read’: Covers, Imagination, and Everything in Between

"When we discuss the feeling of reading we are really talking about the memory of having read," says Peter Mendelsund, "and this memory of reading is a false memory."


Riley Rossmo’s Eclectic Signature

“Momentum” is a good word for Rossmo’s work in general. If there’s one thing that ties together his eclectically vast projects, it’s the kinetic energy his art contains.


The Defiant New Postmodern Tamil Cinema

Fed up with the empty rhetoric of utopian ideology and highfalutin discourse, the new generation of filmmakers take their frustrations out on the grand narratives of Tamil cinema.


More Than Just LOLCats and Finger-Chomping Babies, Memes Are a Window Into Contemporary Culture

Thought not always humorous, memes demonstrate the power of whimsical humour to undermine the legitimacy of the most laboriously manufactured control structures.


The Guggenheim’s Latin American Survey Reveals Something New Under the Sun

Categorizing the world we live in may be one of the most primal of human appetites.This exhibit challenges how we do that.


Pere Ubu: Carnival of Souls

Pere Ubu's 18th album offers their most cohesive and disturbing vision of dystopian America. A carnival of oblique reference points, it's also their best album of the 21st century.


Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer: Bass and Mandolin

Mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile and double bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer meet up for a second time, making music that, unsurprisingly, sounds like it was made for virtuosos.


Changing Lanes With John Waters

To most, hitchhiking is a terrifying risk taken by the desperate or insane. This makes it a perfect subject for John Waters’ latest book, Carsick.


Tricky: Adrian Thaws

Adrian Thaws is one of Tricky's most successful attempts to achieve reconciliation between the strengths of his established sound, and his need to progress as an artist.


Various Artists: XL Records - Pay Close Attention

A concise, pure and punchy pop history lesson.


American Hi-Fi: Blood and Lemonade

American Hi-Fi is not a group to reshape the way we hear music. They’re simply a good time.


Brian Setzer: Rockabilly Riot! All Original

It's a fine line between "retro" and "novelty", but no one walks it better than Brian Setzer.


Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra: Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4, 5 & 6

Three of Shostakovich's symphonies sound as scary as they probably did during their premiere, thanks to a unique orchestra and a unique conductor.


LP: Forever For Now

From the top on down, the intent of Forever For Now is perfectly clear: fun. This is one big good time broken into 12 melodically succinct, percussively infectious packages.


Thursday, September 11 2014

Rich Aucoin: Ephemeral

This is a celebratory affair from start to finish, and constructed in such a way as to put a big grin on your face.


Robyn Hitchcock: The Man Upstairs

The Man Upstairs is a beguiling diversion for Hitchcock, one devoid of any mystery or humor.


Durutti Column: Chronicle XL

Seemingly on the verge of death not long ago, Vini Reilly re-emerges with a timely, often gorgeous reminder of why he is among the greatest guitarists of his generation.


Wednesday, September 10 2014

Truth Is an Allusion: “The Wicked and the Divine #3”

Gods as pop stars. It’s a novel concept and one that could crumble under its own weight if not pulled off correctly. But so far, we’ve been treated to a thoughtful exploration of where divine intervention meets celebrity worship.


‘The Girl Who Passed for Normal’ Is a Sagacious Study of the Female Mind

Hugh Fleetwood's eerie tale of deadly symbiotic relationships is rife with Freudian desires and erotic tensions.


Great Sex and No Worries: The Myth of Drug Use

Drugs. We LGBT folk certainly seem to like them. We use them at higher rates than heterosexuals, and we really like to mix them with sex. What a shame they're killing us.


‘True Detective’ and the Conventions of Morality

In the realm of moral ambiguity they occupy, Rust Cohle and Marty Hart become a microcosm of Lawrence Kohlberg's three stages of moral development.


‘Night Moves’ Depicts the Blindness and Violence of Ideology

Never once do Night Moves's three lead characters genuinely consider the ramifications of what they're doing. Naturally, they can't foresee their downfall.


‘Devo: The Men Who Make the Music/Butch Devo and the Sundance Gig’: Punk and Progressive

If you've never been a Devo fan, this DVD will give you all the reason you need to remedy the situation.


Sloan: Commonwealth

Sloan changes things by giving each member a side of a double-vinyl record. It works.


Avi Buffalo: At Best Cuckold

Avi Buffalo settle for a sleeker, cleaner set of psychedelic folk on the follow-up to their more compelling 2010 debut.


Orlando Julius and the Heliocentrics: Jaiyede Afro

Forty-plus years on, Afro-beat master Orlando Julius is still gettin' it done.


The Wytches: Annabel Dream Reader

Any anticipatory pleasure to be derived from the pain detailed on Annabel Dream Reader is numbed by its own flogging tedium.


Loudon Wainwright III: Haven’t Got the Blues (Yet) - take 2

He tells you about a "Brand New Dance" that’s sweeping the nation. The craze is just getting out of bed, standing up, and confronting death. He's not just being funny


Tuesday, September 9 2014

‘Frontline: Ebola Outbreak and Hunting Boko Haram’: Resistance and Devastation in West Africa

Images of devastation unite Ebola Outbreak and Hunting Boko Haram, two harrowing PBS documentaries.


Yet Another Perspective on ‘Another Perspective’

What Another Perspective wants to say is that the the essence of the video game is rooted in interaction. In other words that “You are me. I am you.”


A Quirky Legal Drama with Superheroes: “She-Hulk #8”

She-Hulk is a quirky legal drama, like Ally McBeal or Boston Legal. With superheroes.


The Darkness of Teenage Girls in Tana French’s ‘The Secret Place’

Perhaps because of her acting background, French has a knack for creating layered, multi-dimensional characters and distinctive voices.


The Teachers Are the Children in ‘Words and Pictures’

The premise of the film is too silly to ring as true, but the palpable chemistry of Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche makes this an enjoyable trifle.


What Happens When an Interactive Horror Experience Figures Out the Fourth Wall?

P.T. has the digital world bleeding out into the real, hands flailing in search of something to hold onto so it can pull itself out of the game and into your living room.


Waiting for the Sound of His Heart: An Interview with Ethan Johns

Ethan Johns calls upon the ghosts of such British songsmiths as Bert Jansch and Nick Drake, while developing interwoven and metaphorical narratives in the footsteps of Richard Thompson and Bob Dylan.


The Empress’ New Clothes: Brave New Heroines in Young Adult Fiction

Reading heroine-driven young adult (YA) fiction, one can't help but wonder why stagnant views of women’s sexuality and societal roles prevail.


What Happens When You Don’t Want Your Kid?: ‘Proxy’

A slack conclusion can't totally detract from the twisty script, mannered performances, and uncommonly gorgeous direction that make Proxy, the must-see independent thriller of 2014 so far.


Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams

Somebody call 911! Ryan Adams is on fire!


Busdriver: Perfect Hair

Just when you thought hip-hop couldn't get weirder...


Eamon McGrath: Exile

Exile proves that McGrath deserves something more: a rabid following of many devotees who sing along with every pointed word and buy his albums with no reservations.


Rustie: Green Language

Rustie continues his go big or go home mission statement, for better and worse.


Neil Diamond: All-Time Greatest Hits

Its similarities to 2011's Very Best differ only by three songs -- but excising his Rubin-produced songs for some '70s schmaltz will make you say "Play Me" to this comp.


Jon Langford and Skull Orchard: Here Be Monsters

Those that didn’t enjoy Skull Orchard before won’t be won over, but it doesn’t change the fact that those naysayers have conspicuously terrible taste.


Monday, September 8 2014

‘A Good Job: Stories of the FDNY’: Tales of How to Stay Alive

Knowledge of what might happen, a sense of limits and possibilities, make New York firefighters' lives simultaneously extraordinary and essential.


Making Death Matter: “Death of Wolverine #1”

Death is a revolving door in comics so how does the upcoming death of Wolverine have meaning?


Abuse and Weakness in Pialat’s ‘We Won’t Grow Old Together’

The most excruciating of breakup movies, "We Won't Grow Old Together" showcases a classic performance from Jean Yanne.


The Other Side of the Looking Glass: An Interview with Kelli Deeth

Kelli Deeth’s characters, at the end of their wits and their youth, take the long, last painful look into their abating past, only to see themselves staring back at a fated future.


In Kierkegaard’s Reflektion?: Arcade Fire in a “Reflective Age”

Like Kierkegaard did more than a century-and-a-half ago, Arcade Fire has the courage to ask whether our experience of the world is really as spectral, thin, and shallow as it sometimes seems.


‘Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!’: Pornography and Love in the Eye of the Beholder

Almodóvar's shocking, NC-17 film makes us realize that pornography and love are only in the eye of the beholder.


Interpol: El Pintor

Interpol return with confidence on El Pintor, a record that may satisfy even Turn on the Bright Lights devotees.


Letters of Recommendation Have Never Had It So Good

Composed entirely in correspondence, Dear Committee Members casts some light upon Professor Jason Fitger’s crumbling corner of academia.


Loudon Wainwright III: Haven’t Got The Blues (Yet)

With Haven’t Got The Blues (Yet), Loudon Wainwright III works to a singing observational comic, heavy on the observations, light on the comedy.


Cookies: Music for Touching

Once you’re finished with this round, you’ll definitely want seconds.


Ashrae Fax: Never Really Been Into It

Re-recorded from old snippets, this new Ashrae Fax set is more self-assured than the band's debut, Static Crash!, though you might sometimes miss the nervous energy of that first album.


Soulja Boy: King Soulja 3

Soulja Boy's latest offering is a fairly vanilla addition to the trap genre, with few highlights to make it a worthwhile listen.


smallgang: San

The main discriminant between a bluff and the worthwhile is quality, and smallgang have plenty of it.


Friday, September 5 2014

‘Gringo Trails’ Explores the Complicated Business of Tourism

Gringo Trails doesn't explore the construction of travelers' desire for an "authentic" experience, but instead focuses on its effects: the global tourism industry.


The PopMatters Fall Preview: September 2014

For fans of everything from the truly buzz-worthy (Terry Gilliam) to that found footage trope yet again (Casey La Scala), this warm-up to the end of the year awards has you covered.


Ferguson, Missouri: Real and Imagined

As art imitates life, there are parallels between the violence in Laura McBride's We Are Called to Rise and the most recent headlines of violence in America.


The Holy Greil: Marcus Nears 70 and He’s Better Than Ever With This New Rock History

In The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs, Marcus's writing is as intoxicating as ever. The man is a poet.


He Can Do Quite a Few Things: Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips and Electric Würms

The Flaming Lips' Steven Drozd talks with PopMatters about new group Electric Würms, his thoughts on progressive rock, and decades of musical exploration.


(Not So) Sex Obsessed: ‘Alain Robbe-Grillet: Six Films 1963-74’

The controversial French director's best known films are collected into this handsome six-film BFI box set, full of impressive nouvelle vague innovation.


M83: M83 / Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts / Before the Dawn Heals Us

This re-release of M83's first three albums paint a fascinating story of the band's rise to masters of catharsis-oriented synth-pop.


Wire: Document and Eyewitness (Re-issue)

Wire are arguably one of the most influential post-punk bands ever. But the (mostly) tuneless noise of this 1979/1980 live album is not the place to start.


Brad Paisley: Moonshine in the Trunk

The album feels like Paisley exerting his countryness, just three years after titling an album This is Country Music.


Martyn Bennett: Grit

A reissue of a beautiful yet tragic album which, as now as on its original release, unites a nation and a world with its mixture of traditions, sounds and stories.


Hamilton Leithauser: Black Hours

The Walkmen's bandleader becomes big-band bandleader.


Thursday, September 4 2014

‘Wetlands’: Grossing Out and Coming of Age Now

Wetlands is both sweet if off-kilter love story and a movie full of stomach-churning material. Think of a substance you might find unpleasant, and you can probably find it here.


They Call Alabama the Crimson Tide: Southern Bastards in the Heart of Dixie

Southern Bastards is a true Alabama story as much as To Kill a Mockingbird is a true Alabama story.


Twenty Years, Too Fast: ‘The Past Is a Grotesque Animal: A Film About Of Montreal’

The Past Is a Grotesque Animal takes a compelling, 20-year long story, and zips far too quickly through it.


The Great Tragic History of Southern Rock Is Revealed in ‘Southbound’

Some say it's impossible to call one volume the definitive history on a topic, but it is possible to announce one as the seminal work. This book is both.


Wake to Dream: An Interview with David Bridie, Australia’s Best Kept Secret

After three decades as a recording artist, David Bridie, Australia's best kept secret, releases his fourth solo album Wake, an album born on the outer reaches of a dream.


‘Rosemary’s Baby’ Needs a Little Humor

This adaptation of Rosemary's Baby misses out on a lot of the charms of Roman Polanski's original.


Half Japanese: Overjoyed

Overjoyed, Half Japanese's first record in over a decade, is all unapologetic, whole-hearted declarations of love that, oddly, make for some of the band's most confrontational material yet.


J Mascis: Tied to a Star

On his latest, deceptively quiet solo outing, legendary Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis wisely lets his guitar do the talking.


Darius Jones and Matthew Shipp: Cosmic Leider: The Darkseid Recital

Chamber jazz that cries, whispers, and aches beyond standard harmony but with focus and clarity despite being wholly improvised.


In the Valley Below: The Belt

In the Valley Below definitely recalls the synth pop of the ‘80s on this debut album, though without the sheer brightness or glossiness of that decade.


Wiz Khalifa: Blacc Hollywood

Blacc Hollywood is content to stay on the same eternally-stoned playing field as past Wiz Khalifa efforts.


Wednesday, September 3 2014

I Would Rather Be a Cyborg than a Goddess: “Pop # 1”

Curt Pires and Jason Copland delve into the mysterious origins of pop stars in their new miniseries from Dark Horse Comics.


‘To Be Takei’ Is to Be a Civil Rights Activist, Nonstop

Framing George Takei as part of a larger project that has as much to do with his civil rights activism as with his acting career, "to be Takei" is something of a job.


The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell

What could have been little more than a longform book about Gaiman's Sandman becomes a visual and engrossing biography on the prolific dream genius.


‘Blended’: Sandler’s Still Searching for His Sweet Spot

Reuniting Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore can't spark the magic long lost from the former comedian's flailing career.


‘Strange’ Magic: An Interview with ‘Love is Strange’ Director Ira Sachs

Ira Sachs' moving new film boasts career-best work from his lead actors John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a partnered couple.


Thought of Sound: An Interview with Matt Sharp of the Rentals

With years between albums, a lot of factors, including a "get here now so we can record" email from the Black Keys' Patrick Carney, was what got Matt Sharp's the Rentals back into gear.


‘The Normal Heart’ Is Full of Passion, but Not Enough Rage

Larry Kramer’s blistering cri de coeur about the early days of the AIDS plague gets a solidly respectful but flawed treatment from Ryan Murphy


Maroon 5: V

It's worth crediting Maroon 5 for having spawned a guilty-pleasure earworm, containing just enough traces of actual instruments to remind listeners that digital synthesizers haven't completely cannibalized rock 'n' roll.


Jennifer Castle: Pink City

Pink City is a real winner, and listeners will be swayed by its gentle beauty.


Botanist: VI: Flora

San Francisco avant garde black metal group opts for accessibility while maintaining its novel instrumental lineup on stellar VI: Flora.


Celebration: Albumin

The Baltimore psych-indie band, championed by TV on the Radio, have a new label and a new album that often is "out there" in a less-than-flattering way.


Black Pus / Oozing Wound: Split LP

Two very noisy bands try out kinds of noise.


Adam Faucett: Blind Water Finds Blind Water

A mature, powerful collection of songs from the Arkansas singer-songwriter, equal parts darkness and light.


Tuesday, September 2 2014

MIND: Path to Thalamus

The game earns a trust that allows you to let go of your worries and to just let the mood wash over you, vagaries and all.


Not-So-Epic Showdown: “Wolverine #12”

What was billed as the biggest fight between Wolverine and Sabretooth to date ends up being a total rip-off.


Unnerving ‘Insomnia’ Gets Under Your Skin

Most people know Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia; few people, regrettably, know the superior work from which it is adapted.


Z is for Zombie and for ‘The Zombie Book’

There are brains here, interesting tidbits that make you think. They're scattered all over the place, like matter without thought, without movement, without electricity.


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