Features
Music

Billy Corgan Brainwashed Me: '90s Alternative Rock and the Introspective Abyss

Once in its thrall, these days I find the overriding message of '90s alt-rock especially naïve and even dangerous.


Recent
Music

David Bowie: 25 Deep Cuts (Playlist)

For all of the imagery that dominated the religiosity of David Bowie  --  the fashion, the characters, the hairstyles --  what matters most are the songs. Here are 25 killer deep-cut Bowie originals, album by album.

Film

The Road to Murder in Love and War: Three Films from Claude Chabrol

The character's in Claude Chabrol's The Third Lover, Line of Demarcation, and The Champagne Murders are obsessively doubled and mirrored, reflecting and refracting their hunger for sex, love, money, and power.

Music

Counterbalance No. 9: The Clash - 'London Calling'

Counterbalance offers up the right profile of the Clash's London Calling, an epic, sprawling disc that will leave you sprawled out on the floor as your mind tries to wrap itself around the sprawl of genres over the course of an hour plus.

Film

'Memento' Is the Movie of the Attention Economy

We are afraid of time, and so like Leonard in Memento, we kill it, compulsively and indiscriminately.

Music

Matchbox Twenty: Aren't We All a Little "Unwell" in the Time of Coronavirus?

Say what you will about Matchbox Twenty – I know I once did. But during this COVID-19 pandemic, we're all going "crazy" and feeling "a little unwell" in this time of isolation, and I'm turning to their music.

Books

When You Discover Your Father Had an Affair with Frida Kahlo...

The story of one of Frida Kahlo's short affairs, captured in Marc Petitjean's excellent book, The Heart, offers an inspired glimpse into the surreal Parisian art scene of 1939.

Music

The Dream Syndicate Explore "The Longing" (premiere + interview)

The Dream Syndicate were at the forefront of the Paisley Underground, but they continue to thrive and evolve nearly 40 years into their career. Co-founder Steve Wynn shares his thoughts (and enthusiasm) on this evolution. Meanwhile, hear the new track "The Longing".

Film

What Lurks Beneath: 'Jaws' and Political Leadership in the Time of COVID-19

Boris Johnson admires the Mayor in Spielberg's Jaws. Remember him? He was the guy who wouldn't close the beaches -- and sacrifice that revenue source -- during a public crisis.

Books

The Kids Might Be Alright: Progress as Virtue in Contemporary Children's Literature

Dave Eggers and Colin Meloy take on the antagonistic and nativist rhetoric in American politics and culture with children's books intent on generating empathy.

Culture

Love at a Socially-Isolating Distance

In one sense, life in the time of Coronavirus clarifies an essential element of love: love always occurs at an ontological distance.

Music

The 15 Best Tom Waits Songs

From apocalyptic blues boasts to backwoods chant-alongs, here are 15 songs that encapsulate Tom Waits' incredibly varied career.

Music

Brits in Hot Weather Presents: False Heads

One of the UK's best new rock bands, False Heads, released It's All There But You're Dreaming recently, but coronavirus has stalled their tour plans. The band take us through their new album in depth. Enjoy before they unleash their rocking assault on stages worldwide.

Books

Blues Everywhere She Goes: Odetta

Ian Zack's biography gives the often-overlooked Odetta a chance to keeping shining that little light of hers.

Music

Counterbalance No. 8: The Rolling Stones - 'Exile on Main St.'

In 1972, the Rolling Stones were holed up in a rickety mansion in the South of France, writing an epic love letter to American music. Counterbalance examines the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St and separates the fever from the funk house—now!

Culture

Life in the Time of Coronavirus Is No Time for False Dichotomies

How unsettling and unnerving it is during these times of coronavirus, when our rational intellect suggests one set of answers, while our emotions pull us toward another.

Music

Nick Drake's 'Pink Moon' and Finding a Place to Be During Coronavirus

Shuttered inside our homes, contending with the COVID-19 outbreak, Nick Drake's third album promises rebirth and renewal: the pink moon is coming.

Books

Queer Love and Art in the Time of Nazis: 'Never Anyone But You'

Never Anyone But You is an inspiring tale of surrealists Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, who defied homophobia, Nazis, and gender norms while pushing the boundaries of art and love.

Music

The 70 Best Albums of 2019

From forward-looking electronic and experimental to new approaches in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and punk to rock and pop, 2019 bestowed an embarrassment of musical riches upon us.

Film

The 20 Top Movie Tearjerkers

Sad movies for sad times. Think you're impervious to crying during a movie? These 20 films are guaranteed to get you weeping.

Books

Nazism Repackaged? A Closer Look at the "Fascist Subtext" of 'Attack on Titan'

Many fantasy writers have incorporated the visual footprint of the Third Reich into their fictional worlds. Few, however, have done so as extensively as the creator of Attack on Titan, who revisited this terrible chapter of history not to find inspiration for a fearsome antagonist, but to excavate the divisive ideas that lay buried there.

Books

'Represented': Black Buying Power and the American Dream

The unheralded and underappreciated PR exec. Moss Kendrix is the de facto hero in Brenna Wynn Greer's enlightening history of Black marketers and the evolving depiction of Black people in mass media.

Music

Corona Tales: Life As an Indie Musician in 2020

Canadian Americana artist Lynne Hanson tells her tale of the Coronavirus Blues, one of canceled tour dates and diminished revenue prospects.

Lynne Hanson
Film

A Fix of Fantasy: Reviving the Wondrous Films of Karel Zeman

The imaginative filmmaker Karel Zeman influenced many artists including Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, fellow Czech Jan Švankmajer, the Brothers Quay, and animator Lawrence Jordan's recycling of classic 19th Century imagery.

Music

10 Deep Tracks from Interpol's Early Discography

These are a scattering of some Interpol tracks you may have missed or skipped over in favor of those oh-so-relevant singles.

Books

#HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice (Excerpt)

#Powertothepeople! The humble hashtag has given power to the powerless, thus helping to engage citizenship and cultural belonging. Enjoy this excerpt of #HashtagActivism, courtesy of MIT Press, written by influential members of hashtag activism networks.

Sarah J. Jackson, Moya Bailey, Brooke Foucault Welles
Television

It Does Happen Here in HBO's 'The Plot Against America'

The organic growth of everyday American fascism and the understanding that pogroms are not a uniquely European phenomenon is rendered in stark and terrifying detail in David Simon's adaptation of Philip Roth's alternate historical novel, The Plot Against America.

Film

Reclaiming Small Spaces: Chantal Akerman's 'Saute ma ville' and the Art of Social Distancing

Chantal Akerman's 1968 short film Saute ma ville directly reflects our current state, serving as a meditative text on the art of staying home.

Music

Counterbalance No. 7: Bob Dylan - 'Blonde on Blonde'

Number seven marks the first appearance of a fellow we’ll be seeing a lot of, one Bob Dylan. He’s a poor fool in his prime on the 1966 opus Blonde on Blonde—Counterbalance has a listen.

Film

32 Films That Begin With Leaving a Mental Institution

"Crazy" movies for crazy times. These 32 films make the case for the recently-escaped-or-released-mental-patient narrative as its own subgenre, replete with a language of recurring themes, plot devices, and character archetypes.

Music

JuJu Charms: An Interview with Rapper JuJu Rogers

Though the rapper's skill set proves him a worthy contender against any of the reigning MCs currently taking the airwaves by storm, JuJu Rogers remains a king in search of a throne.

Music

What the Sirens Taught Us: An Elegy for Mermaidens

There's something not-quite-right, something distinctly off-kilter, about the Mermaidens' feminine voice in New Zealand's music scene.

Music

Miles Davis' Top 10 Performances of American Standards

While Miles Davis will always be known for his original compositions and for genre-busting, innovative records like Kind of Blue, E.S.P., and Bitches Brew, it's worthwhile to give a listen to his great performances of standards from his earlier career.

Music

The Lickerish Quartet Take Us on Classic Pop Journey with "Lighthouse Spaceship" (premiere + interview)

Former Jellyfish members combine forces as the Lickerish Quartet for a collection of imaginative songs influenced by one of rock's most creatively fertile eras. Roger Joseph Manning Jr. discusses the group's origins and debut track, "Lighthouse Spaceship."

Books

'Miss Iceland' Is a Brilliant Novel of Sexism, Homophobia, and the Writing Life

Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir's Miss Iceland Is at once a poetic, light-hearted narrative and a sharply edged social critique that is caustic and righteous in its portrayal of the enduring nature of sexism, misogyny and homophobia.

Film

Nostalgia for the Downtown Slacker: Bertoglio's 'Downtown 81' and Linklater's 'Slacker'

Both Bertoglio's Downtown 81 and Linklater's Slacker showcase characters who are blissfully aimless, anarchic souls discretely or overtly spurning a predictable, soulless society.

Film

Great Scots: 'Whiskey Galore!' and 'The Maggie'

Two Scottish comedies from Alexander Mackendrick, Whiskey Galore! and The Maggie, were part of Ealing Studios movies meant for a depressed postwar England to "let off steam".

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