Robert Redford

Welcome to an alternate universe populated entirely by middle-aged lesbians the likes of Robert Redford, Barry Manilow, Al Franken, and Kim Jong-il.

Everyone knows: aging is so much easier for men than women, especially if you happen to be in the public eye. It’s a constant lament in Hollywood that male actors continue to get leading roles as they age -- in fact, many of them are considered to look even more handsome as they ripen and mature -- and nobody thinks twice about men like Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson dating women half their age.

Yet the truth is, not all men over 40 look like George Clooney. In fact, some middle-aged men, especially those who start experimenting with different styles, begin to look…. well, frankly, rather like old lesbians. Or at least, let’s say, like middle-aged lesbians.

Al Franken

Now, before you start getting all indignant, have a quick poke around the inspired site, Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians, and you’ll soon find yourself in agreement. The great thing about MWLLOL, as with all the most compelling websites, is the way it takes something familiar (in this case, publicly aging men), and gives it a very slight push, a tiny little spin on its axis, and suddenly you’re seeing everything from a totally new perspective.

In fact, you’ve landed in an alternate universe populated entirely by middle-aged lesbians, where Barry Manilow is the owner of a Tucson-based chain of doggy day spas, Al Franken is the Art Director of the Land’s End Catalogue, Robert Redford is the Head of Women’s Studies at the Community College of Denver, and Kim Jong-il is a soccer mom.

Barry Manilow

When I asked him where he got the idea for the site, founder Keith Mays recalled seeing a recent picture of athlete Bruce Jenner, whom he remembered rooting for in the Olympics as a kid; he happened to remark to his wife that Jenner now looked like an old lesbian. A couple of weeks later, Keith’s wife saw a picture of ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, and made a similar observation. After that, Mays kept a list “very casually,” he says, “and when I had about ten people, I started the blog.”

If MWLLOL seems a tad cruel, consider it as an act of retaliation, a small attempt to right the balance in media discrimination against middle-aged women. Whenever the site seems snarky, it’s important to note that the hits are directed not against old lesbians, but against aging men who vainly attempt to make themselves look younger than they actually are.

In fact, lesbians are a major constituent of the blog’s fan base, notes Mays, though he’s not sure whether they’re old or not. “Conservatively, I'd say 35 percent of the e-mails and suggestions I get are from lesbians, although they usually don't indicate their age,” he said. “One of my favorite comments was from a woman who said her ex- looked like Patrick Swayze -- but she couldn't dance.”

Kim Jong-il

Like it or not, certain men do start to look a little femme as they age, and in the worst cases, this impression is enhanced by bad style choices. According to Mays, the most common mistake made by the men featured on his site is “having eye work done,” and the second most common mistake is “spiked, streaked or feathered hair.”

There are a multitude of lesser sins, too. Turtlenecks, single earrings and designer glasses may look great on Ellen, kd lang or Melissa Etheridge, but, as MWLLOL woefully demonstrates, they don’t look nearly so hot on Kyle McLachlan or Joe Piscopo.

I asked Mays what was his favorite contribution to the blog, and he told me he’s always been fond of the Bruce Jenner gallery, but added “I love the picture someone sent of Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs.” I mentioned to Mays that I know a middle-aged lesbian who’s the spitting image of Robin Williams, and he confessed that he’s been looking for the right picture of Williams for a while. “He’s tough, though,” added Mays, “He’s always a little too hairy.”


The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

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From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

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White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

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