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Monday, Apr 14, 2014
When the film's story showcases the turncoat nature of those in power, it doesn't have the impact -- or the ideas -- of the films from the '70s.

Sometimes, it seems like the entire social media collective has lost touch with reality. Now, that may seem like a given, but the truth remains that time, plus the rapidly decreasing window of available word of mouth publicity, demands a kind of critical shortcutting. We writers do it all the time. We begin aesthetic discussions with phrases like “imagine David Lynch on steroids…”, or “take one part Michael Bay, two parts John Woo, and a lot of CG gore…”, hoping that the reader will recognize the reference and do some of the analytic heavy lifting for us. In the case of the most recent Marvel movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the ‘70s shout outs have been almost deafening. Not every critic has made the inference (some are just too young to know), but many have tried to make the case that this latest slick, high action entry is more akin to the spy thrillers of the Me Decade than the slap dash splash of the current comic book epic.


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Monday, Apr 14, 2014
This week we play a few hands of Blizzard's collectible card game, Hearthstone, while considering its place in the free-to-play gaming landscape.

Another day, another free-to-play release, but this one has been launched by a developer with a long history of bringing virtual addiction to the masses.


This week we play a few hands of Blizzard’s collectible card game, Hearthstone, while considering its place in the free-to-play gaming landscape.


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Friday, Apr 11, 2014
Americana and Betty's legs

There have been a thousand show-biz musicals where the hero and heroine advance and retreat through many misunderstandings, arguments, and contrivances until they finally get together, and Betty Grable’s million-dollar-legs shuffled through a lot of them. Fortunately, Mother Wore Tights doesn’t belong to that species for long. It gets all that out of the way in the first reel so it can concentrate on being another kind of movie entirely: nostalgic, sentimental Americana about the trials and tribulations of a family, as recalled by the child who’s going to write a book about it.


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Friday, Apr 11, 2014
Lorde crowns herself as a pop princess at riveting, polished Kansas City show.

Lorde utterly dominates several Billboard charts nowadays, especially for her Adult Pop song “Team”. But she has earned considerable notoriety for much of the past year for her genre-defying debut single “Royals”, and for her critically acclaimed first proper album, Pure Heroine (2013). Youthful singer-songwriter Ella Yelich-O’Connor is a denizen of New Zealand. Among other accolades, she also won two Grammys—Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance—this year, both of which for her worldwide hit “Royals”. She could have easily won for her fine album, too.

Logically, Lorde is amidst a whirlwind U.S. tour in which she headlines approximately 18 scheduled gigs in three and a half weeks, from Austin to Oakland. She then tackles the festival circuit as her itinerary includes three South American Lollapalooza dates, and two shows at Coachella. In short, Lorde is a busy, talented, and in-demand artist. Her sold-out show at The Midland was simultaneously enchanting and triumphant, and it italicized an emerging artist who can solidly deliver her songs within a live setting, and with few, if any, mistakes.


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Friday, Apr 11, 2014
Wooden Wand's James Jackson Toth releases his new album, Farmer's Corner, in May on Fire Records

Farmer’s Corner, the upcoming record from James Jackson Toth’s project Wooden Wand, is also the first self-produced record in the Wooden Wand catalog. No wonder, then, Toth sounds so much at home, so much like himself on this record. Nowhere is that clearer than on excellent album opener “Alpha Dawn”. It’s a guitar-and-voice number, built around dusty acoustic and the sweet croak of Toth’s voice, but it’s also surrounded by melting textures, stringed instruments and atmospheric hues that spread this lonesome sound out into something larger than it seems. The song, and the record as a whole, is sparer than recent Wooden Wand records like Blood Oaths of the New Blues and Wooden Wand & the World War IV, but it’s got a similar bittersweet expansion to it. For an artist always fitfully changing, Toth seems to have found a sonic home on these past few records, and that uneasy comfort is clear on “Alpha Dawn”. And yet, even when he finds home, Toth is still restless and wandering in fruitful ways.


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