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Monday, April 14 2014

‘Oculus’ Casts a Bad Reflection

Oculus is only partly about a mirror, a terrible, terrible mirror, the kind that pops up now and again in horror movies, the kind that's full length with an ornate wooden frame, odious and unfathomable.


A ‘Simulacrum of Life’ in Words: Marcel Theroux’s ‘Strange Bodies’

In this thoughtful, entertaining novel, Marcel Theroux explores the ways in which we construct 'a workable self out of all the dissonant parts.'


The Room Two

While it is true that a mystery loses all interest once it is explained, it is also true that continually implying something significant without providing a payoff can render it meaningless.


A Hands-Off Approach Goes a Long Way in ‘Philomena’

The direction is solid but not overbearing, the score subtle and light, the entire affair very nicely cushioned around Coogan and Dench's performances, and the film is all the more effective because of it.


The Afghan Whigs: Do to the Beast

Greg Dulli, John Curley, and some other guys they're calling the Afghan Whigs channel the rock, soul, and dark undertones of the band's classic work on an excellent quasi-reunion album


Freddie Gibbs and Madlib: Piñata

Madlib and Freddie Gibbs drop one of the best hip-hop albums in recent memory.


Making Sense of Nonsense and ‘Assembling Flann O’Brien’

Given Brian O'Nolan and his sly guises, one must wonder what this erudite satirist makes of this posthumous tribute to his tetchy talents.


Tony Molina: Dissed and Dismissed

This 12-song, 11-minute album from 2013, now reissued by Slumberland Records, is a quick blast of power-pop in which brief songs becomes representative but not reflective. They twist or deny our expectations, and are all the stronger for that denial.


Cynic: Kindly Bent to Free Us

Cynic makes technical, progressive sounding music sound fun and emotional. These guys are masterful technical musicians, but more importantly, they are great song writers.


Meridiem: A Scattering TIme

A Scattering Time plays like an emblem of a different era because it is an emblem of no era, a haunting and formless musical work full of pitch-dark textural turns, proggy rhythmic tremors, and a wailing vocal thrust.


Friday, April 11 2014

Lots of Dads in the NFL in ‘Draft Day’

The good dads theme culminates in the image of the biggest, bestest dad of all, Roger Goodell on the stage, calling out the names of hopeful young men whose lives are changed forever by his pronouncement.


Nicolas Cage Is Jolted Back to Life in ‘Joe’

Nicolas Cage jolts back to life for David Gordon Green's Joe, a Southern thriller and character study that asks more of him than grimacing or wigging out.


The Jen Chapin Trio Live at the Bohemian Caverns

The wonderful folk-soul-jazz singer plays a classic jazz club at the start of her tour. If only more people were hearing this music!


Off Course by Michelle Huneven

If you haven't yet read a Michelle Huneven novel, what are you waiting for?


The Bad Plus: The Rite of Spring

The "power jazz" trio reinvents Stravinsky's avant-garde classic in a wholly new way. And darn if it doesn't sound fresh!


Before ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ Begins, Flicker Alley Is Delivering the Goods

The greatness of Flicker Alley’s 2014 Blu-ray release of the 1923 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame is evident even before the disc is slid into the player.


Joan Osborne: Love and Hate

Love and Hate offers songs that are mature, but not aged, worldly, but not cynical, in a soundscape that flows with no forcing and no faltering.


Nine Inch Nails and Coil: Recoiled

This merger of two industrial pioneers can be impressive, but never quite matches the original versions.


Rufus Wainwright: Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright

Some questionable choices, but otherwise a good place to start in the man's discography.


Wild Moccasins: 88 92

Wild Moccasins spend half of their debut slavishly recreating early '80s pop, but don't really come to life until they stop doing that later in the album.


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