Grimes - "Flesh Without Blood / Life in the Vivid Dream" (Singles Going Steady)

This is bound to be a pop classic for people who don’t particularly care for pop music.

Brian Duricy: Few artists have an aesthetic as singular to them as does Grimes. After releasing the allegedly unfinished "REALiTi" earlier in the year, anticipation for her follow-up to the exceptional Visions was high. With "Flesh without Blood / Life in the Vivid Dream", Grimes' ingenious genre-spanning songs position Art Angels to be one of the most interesting and engaging releases of the year. [8/10]

Paul Duffus: The video physically hurts my tired, jaded Gen. X eyes. It's essentially a collection of idiots dancing around like idiots in idiot costumes, and the abandon with which they seem to revel in their technicolour stupidity somehow confirms much of what we in our worst moments suspect, deride, and loathe about Millennials.

"Flesh Without Blood" is a thin sugary wash of mainstream pop, which is not completely objectionable when separated from its nightmarish video. "Life in the Vivid Dream" is a slower, forbidding affair reminiscent of Madonna's "Frozen", and as such is by far the more interesting of the two tracks. [5/10]

Steve Horowitz: Grimes uses her voice like just another electronic effect. Mixed with the synths, they create a pulsating mess. The anarchy in the repetition becomes the focus. Whether she succeeds in making something valuable is not really clear. This is homemade. Put it in the jar and wait until later to serve music. The two-part video serves Grimes well as it allows her to be everything from a purple haired Marie Antoinette to a Texas cowgirl angel dripping with blood. Not everything has to make sense -- the title alludes to a dream and the impossible (flesh without blood). Still, there seems to be less here for the ear than there is for the eye. [6/10]

Dustin Ragucos: Grimes has dabbled in pop several times in the past, and the idea of having an album with differing paints on the musical palette can be something that fares well for her. The first act finds the musician uncontrollably settled in rhythms that Carly Rae Jepsen could call home. "Uncontrollable" is right, considering that this act feels like it's progressively stacking whirls of fluff. The machine Grimes has operated is broken, but she's sitting around without a care, and that's something likeable about the musician. Second act? The one that dove into nothingness? Oh, let's pretend that there'll be better takes on this new record. [6/10]

Kevin Korber: In which Grimes tries to cross over. If this is a letdown, it’s only because Grimes has set such a high bar for herself already. As pop, this is immaculate sounding and incredibly catchy, but Grimes’ persona may be a little too weird to pull this off convincingly. As it is, this is bound to be a pop classic for people who don’t particularly care for pop music. [6/10]

John Garratt: "Flesh without Blood": what a perfect name for such soulless music! Now, can anyone recommend how to treat my burned retinas? Not even my grade school-aged daughters exploit this much hot pink around the house. [3/10]

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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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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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

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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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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