Music

Death Cab for Cutie: We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes

Steve Lichtenstein

Death Cab for Cutie

We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes

Label: Barsuk
US Release Date: 2000-03-21
Amazon
iTunes

Pop is a wonderful thing. It's all of its bastardized forms, through all of its retarded variations, amidst many hideous backfires and mistakes, the genre, as a global musical denomination, keeps progressing and delivering worthy sons. Think Built to Spill. Elliott Smith. Wilco. Whatever its shape, pop as a feeling is alive and continues to transcend, and blah, blah, blah. You've heard it all before. And whether you've actually heard of or listened to Death Cab for Cutie before, you've heard them too. It's the same thing and entirely unique. Pop is dead. Long live pop.

Underneath Ben Gibbard's obsessive, introspective, poetic lyrics ("You'll discover that casual friends keep notes in their pockets to remember your name," "This won't be the last time you'll hear from me / It's just the start"), are infectious, lovely melodies that hardly creep above a conversational roar and burrow easily into your skin. Lacking a verse-chorus-verse mentality, the songs still find a way to be undeniably pop, undeniably friendly. Mostly, it's Gibbard's voice, more welcoming than the cold side of the pillow, and more Freedy Johnston or Elliott Smith than either could do themselves. But on top of that, it's elegant, hypnotic guitar licks and an ambient dream-like feel that grab you, and never let you go.

The Seattle band is catching on and gaining a name. And sure, you could make the argument that "For What Reason" or "Lowell, MA" might fit on the radio, but We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes is something you want to discover and cherish with no strings attached, and pass it on as eagerly.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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