The Month In Pop Entertainment: January 2014

Ring in the New Year with new music, TV series, and a surprising amount of horror movies.

The holidays are officially over. So as we (hopefully) start a brand new year with an abundant assortment of giftcards, here’s a top ten list of entertaining ways to pass these long, cold winter nights.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones -- 03 January

In this fifth installment of the horror series, the malevolent demon moves on to prey on another family. Critics are saying that it has to be terrible because its trailer barely shows anything. But how else do you make a trailer for a movie that’s mostly about staring at dark rooms, waiting for something for move by itself?

CBS’ Intelligence -- 07 January

A cocky, confident soldier (Josh Holloway) becomes a top-secret spy after an implanted chip upgrades his brain. It’s kind of like The Six Million Dollar Man. It’s a lot like Jake 2.O, if you actually remember that show.

FOX’s Enlisted -- 10 January

A sergeant finds himself in charge of his two brothers and other lackluster military recruits. It’s being described as a “workplace comedy set in the Army”, but this sitcom, similar to McHale’s Navy or Gomer Pyle, USMC, is full of goofy antics and silly personalities.

Jennifer Nettle’s That Girl -- 14 January

There are only two members of Sugarland. So lead singer Jennifer Nettle’s first solo album has to be like one of their albums, right? Actually, it seems to continue the trend towards more pop-based country music.

FOX’s American Idol -- 15 January

The most successful singing competition on TV returns with Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr. on the judges panel, Randy Jackson as “mentor”, Ryan Seacrest as host, and at least five currently unknown people who can really sing.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit -- 17 January

Chris Pine stars as a newbie secret agent in this origin story based on the popular Tom Clancy character. If you are looking for a break from all those potential Oscar contenders, this is your popcorny pick.

The Nut Job -- 17 January

A squirrel plots out a nut store heist in this animated comedy featuring the voices of Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, and Liam Neeson. Talking squirrels planning a robbery doesn’t surprise me. They can be very crafty creatures. But has anyone ever heard of a shop that only sells nuts?

PBS’ Sherlock -- 19 January

Season 3 of the BBC import will introduce us to a new villain (Lars Mikkelsen), show us how Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) faked his own death, and how Watson (Martin Freeman) dealt with it all.

FOX’s Sleepy Hollow Season Finalé, -- 20 January

The biggest hit of the fall 2013 season comes to an early end in a big two-hour finalé. The good news: it’ll be back for another season. The bad news: you’ll have to wait until fall 2014 to see it.

I, Frankenstein -- 24 January

In this very loosely adapted version of the classic monster story, Aaron Eckhart stars as the creature and Bill Nighy co-stars as the leader of a clan of demons. If there is a sequel, the Bride of Frankenstein will probably be a mercenary employed by a coven of witches. But seriously, this movie does look interesting.





In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.


Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.


Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.


Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.


Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.


'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.


Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.


From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.


Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.


Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".


On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.


Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.


That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.


Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.


Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.


Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.


'Thor: Ragnarok' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.


Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.

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