Music

New CDs This Week: Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys and more... (Streaming)

Sarah Zupko

'80S NEW WAVERS BACK TO RULE THE CHARTS

Depeche Mode: Sounds of the Universe

Pet Shop Boys: Yes

Both of these artists began their lengthy careers in Southern England back in the early '80s, 1980 and 1981 respectively. Their 30-year careers have been punctutated by stylistic shifts, most notably in the case of Depeche Mode who began life as among the poppiest of new wave's synth pop bands and steadily turned darker and rockier over the years. Both artists return this week with new albums that will be competing heavily for attention among Generation Xers.

REVENGE OF THE BRIT POPPERS

Super Furry Animals: Dark Days / Light Years

Art Brut: Art Brut Vs. Satan

Camera Obscura: My Maudlin Career

This is British week for record shopping. Three new releases are headed our way via Wales, Engand and Scotland from three of the finest indie pop bands in Dear Old Blighty. The Super Furry Animals continue to produce insanely catchy and wacky pop album after album and their new one is as strong as the preceding ones. Art Brut are the wise-acre of the bunch, turning in jagged pop riffs and acerbic observations bound with a uniquely British wit. Camera Obscura come from the classic Scottish twee pop tradition that produced Belle and Sebastian and their latest is yet another strong effort.

SOUL MEN

Allen Toussaint: The Bright Mississippi

Booker T.: Potato Hole

New Orleans' legendary Allen Toussaint returns with his first solo album in many moons, more than a decade to be precise. It's a jazzy journey through a collection of classic Big Easy and Mississippi River tunes, including songs by Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and Django Reinhardt. Meanwhile Booker T., from the 1960s Stax house backing band Booker T. and the MGs, steps into the spotlight on his own with Potato Hole. Booker T. roped in an amazing backing band in the Drive-By Truckers and Neil Young pops by to lend his guitar chops on two tracks.

Other notable releases this week:

The Boxmasters: Modbilly

Brakesbrakesbrakes: Touchdown

The Breeders: Fate to Fatal EP

Cryptacize: Mythomania

Wayne Hancock: Viper Melody

Jane's Addiction: Cabinet of Curiosities

King Khan and the Shrines: What Is?!

The Kingsbury Manx: Ascenseur Ouvert!

Manchester Orchestra: Mean Everything to Nothing

Sinéad O'Connor: I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got

Okkervil River: Pop Lie EP

Asher Roth: Asleep in the Bread Aisle

Dale Watson: Vol. 2 - Truckin' Sessions

XTC as the Dukes of Stratosphear: 25 O'Clock EP / Psonic Psunspot

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

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This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

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Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

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10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

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7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

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