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Thursday, Jul 10, 2014
Public radio, abandoned houses, and the search for mystery in video games.

As an insufferable coastal faux-intellectual, I am pretty much obligated to listen to This American Life.  Each week, the show picks a theme (such as “A Call for Help” or “I Was So High”) and presents a few stories on the theme.  It’s nice nice way to learn a few things about politics, science, and culture while also wrapping my voyeurism in the guise of journalism.  It’s a good way to hear dramatic or embarrassing stories without feeling like I’m prying.  I recently caught an old episode that helped me realize that my interest in certain types of video games stems from the same place.


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Wednesday, Jul 9, 2014
In addition to a new remix of her tune "Boom Clap", Charli XCX has just announced a headlining tour in the US, beginning in late September.

2014 has already shaped up to be a busy year for the London musician Charli XCX, with her own “Boom Clap” as well as her co-write on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” taking national airwaves by storm. The former tune has an excellent new remix by the New York-based duo ASTR, which reimagines it as a minimalist, icy club bumper.


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Wednesday, Jul 9, 2014
The British sensation Jessie Ware has released the first tune from her yet-untitled forthcoming new album, the '80's-indebted "Tough Love".

With 2012’s Devotion, English singer sensation Jessie Ware took the world by storm with her impressive, refined vocals, as well as her take on soul music. Not much has been heard about the kind of music she will be making on her yet-untitled forthcoming new album, but if “Tough Love” is any indication, she’s expanding her music to the growing realm of synth-pop.


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Wednesday, Jul 9, 2014
Andre De Toth's noir-ish western, Ramrod, is notable for its examination of doubles; almost every character has someone else who matches their identity.

Andre De Toth’s Ramrod is a classic film licensed by Olive Films from Paramount, although this indie production was distributed by United Artists and this print for some reason opens with the MGM lion. What matters is that it’s here now, in a print a bit dusty but easily watchable. It stars De Toth’s then-wife Veronica Lake, reunited with the same Joel McCrea who supposedly never wanted to work with her again after Sullivan’s Travels.


From the beginning, it quietly shows off nice lengthy shots (from cinematographer Russell Harlan) that glide sideways for complexly staged actions, usually left to right. This gives an aesthetic unity to a first reel whose script is a confusing snarl of relations and implications based on a story by Luke Short. It’s a complicated, seething, noir-ish western in which everyone deceives everyone else about something or other, and indeed deception is sometimes necessary for survival. Shot in Utah, the story takes place in a part of the country where everybody lives in picturesque canyons that dwarf them; at the risk of making too much of it, the climax finds McCrea’s hero “reborn” from a womblike cave.


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Wednesday, Jul 9, 2014
The Chicago-based duo of Dan Zima and Xoe Wise, known by their artistic moniker Kinky Love, have followed their recently released EP with a new song, the airy "Hush".

The Chicago-based duo of Dan Zima and Xoe Wise, who go by the attention-grabbing name Kinky Love, are in the business of textural, spacey synth-pop. With their recently released Promise EP, the two garnered some attention to their take on this increasingly popular genre, and now with “Hush”, available for stream and download here on PopMatters, they are demonstrating their continuing interest in the craft. The clipped beat of the song, combined with its layers of synthesizers, proves to be an appropriately understated backing to Wise’s airy vocals.


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