PopMatters Picks
Books

Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.


Recent
Music

The 1975's 'Notes on a Conditional Form' Is Laudably Thought-Provoking and Thrilling

The 1975 follow A Brief Inquiry... with an even more intriguing, sprawling, and chameleonic song suite. Notes on a Conditional Form shows a level of unquenchable ambition, creativity, and outspoken curiosity that's rarely felt in popular music today.

Music

Woods Explore Darkness on 'Strange to Explain'

Folk rock's Woods create a superb new album, Strange to Explain, that mines the subconscious in search of answers to life's unsettling realities.

Music

The Dream Syndicate Spontaneously Combust on 'The Universe Inside'

The Universe Inside isn't a typical Dream Syndicate album. The verse/chorus structure has been neatly sidestepped in favor of a free-wheeling, improvised, truly experimental approach, and it's marvelous.

Music

There Are No Slip-Ups on Badly Drawn Boy's 'Banana Skin Shoes'

After a ten-year hiatus, British pop master Badly Drawn Boy returns with a wonderful mix of cathartic quandaries and boisterous quirks on Banana Skin Shoes.

Film

Films from the Long War: 'Their Finest Hour' Offers Five British WWII Classics

These WWII films from directors Alberto Cavalcanti, Guy Hamilton, Michael Anderson, Leslie Norman and J. Lee Thomson are excellent studies in history, filmmaking, and wartime propaganda.

Music

'Underground London' Dazzles with Its Scope and Anti-Establishment Music

Cherry Red issues a gargantuan collection of anti-establishment music associated with the 1960s London counterculture, a movement which challenged the norms and conventions of mainstream society by drinking from the well of psychedelia, free jazz, Beat poetry, musique concrete, electronics, and minimalism.

Music

Matthew Shipp's 'The Piano Equation' Will Stand the Test of Time

Matthew Shipp's The Piano Equation is a fully improvised solo piano recital to stand the test of time, sitting in the realm where mathematics and magic collide.

Reviews

Jarrod Dickenson's Country-Soul Wows on 'Ready the Horses'

Jarrod Dickenson's rootsy, broad-ranged Americana draws deeply from tradition while forging all-new sounds on Ready the Horses.

Books

Crapification Syndrome: When Hilarity Slides into Nausea

No one living in America today can escape the blast radius of the questions raised in Wendy A. Woloson's Crap.

Music

Steve Earle Finds Common Ground With 'Ghosts of West Virginia'

On Ghosts of West Virginia, Steve Earle chronicles the lives, hopes, dreams, and regrets of families who've lived for generations in coal country with a masterful song cycle that's long on empathy and short on judgment.

Books

'Spring Rain' Is a Superb Graphic Memoir of the Vagaries of Mind and Memory

Andy Warner's style of narrative in Spring Rain is evocative of those visual puzzles that require the viewer to look beyond the image in front of them, letting their eyes relax into an indirect gaze, in order for the hidden picture to reveal itself.

Film

'The Grand Budapest Hotel' Gorgeously Conveys Our Need for Poise and Elegance

The sense of artifice in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel helped him create an alluring reverie of both color and meaning.

Music

'Reunions' Is Yet Another Winner From Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell both subverts and embraces country and rock tropes on Reunions, his new album with the 400 Unit.

Music

'Pacific Breeze 2' Is Another Refreshing Dive into the Waters of City Pop

Reissue label Light in the Attic follows up last year's Japanese musical excursion with another collection, Pacific Breeze 2, that's sure to please lovers of international retro-pop.

Film

Stepping into the Phantasmagoric Otherwise with Karel Zeman

While all films project a world that might be, certain films and certain filmmakers, like Karel Zeman, come closer than others in bringing to the surface the underlying phantasmagoric essence of cinema.

Music

The Ruthie Foster Big Band Swings the Best Live Record of the Year So Far

Featuring several originals paired with timeless covers, Live at the Paramount finds the Ruthie Foster Big Band bringing the house down.

Reviews

Sparks Still Ignite with 'A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip'

After nearly 50 years and two dozen albums, Sparks continue their reign of resonantly quirky art pop-rock delights on A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip.

Music

Erik Hall Is One Musician Taking on Steve Reich's 'Music for 18 Musicians'

Erik Hall painstakingly and effectively recreates Steve Reich's minimalist classic, Music for 18 Musicians, with three instruments in his Michigan home studio.

Reviews

Remember to Come up for Air When You Read 'They Say Sarah'

Debut They Say Sarah is a vivid impressionistic novel that churns the entire emotional spectrum.

Music

Natalia Lafourcade Stages a Stirring Benefit to Rescue Mexico's Musical Heritage

Un Canto Por Mexico is a true labor of love. Natalia Lafourcade led with her heart and was elegantly guided by her refined musical intelligence.

Reviews

Damien Jurado Learns From Emptiness on 'What's New, Tomboy?'

What's New, Tomboy? is special for how profoundly Damien Jurado acknowledges what might be learned from the emptiness in this life, as well as from being still and waiting to be filled.

Music

Nicolás Jaar's 'Cenizas' Is a Woozy, Ambient Masterwork

Cenizas is the sound of Nicolás Jaar skirting around the edges of his own sound—skeletal, stripped-back, examining the little things that made his music so great to begin with.

Music

From Norway and Oregon Come the No Ones with a Potent Dose of Classic Jangle Pop

Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck's the No Ones took their sweet time on their debut, The Great Lost No Ones Album, but it was well worth the wait for any indie or pop fan.

Film

Disruptive Films and Political Turmoil

Facet's Disruptive Film: Everyday Resistance to Power, Volume Two documents the multiple approaches a variety of filmmakers take in wielding video and celluloid for social change.

Music

Whitney Rose Still Goes to Rodeos

The music world has been conquered by women like Whitney Rose, whose guitar based-sounds on We Still Go to Rodeos recall the splendors of the past and move them forward with a kick in the butt.

Music

Ital Tek's 'Outland' Is, Quite Simply, an Electronic Masterpiece

Electronic producer Ital Tek's new album Outland is ambitious and profound while remaining compelling unpredictable. It's a constantly shape-shifting, all-encompassing musical experience.

Music

Cassowary Debuts with a Jazz-Funk Gem

After debuting on a 2015 record by childhood friend Earl Sweatshirt, Cassowary merges jazz, funk, soul, and hip-hop on his self-titled debut album and creates a jazz-funk gem.

Music

Liberty Ellman's 'Last Desert' Is Unafraid to Charm You and Challenge You

Guitarist Liberty Ellman's compositions for this brilliant sextet on Last Desert demand that you pay careful attention, but not that you tolerate harsh tonalities.

Music

DJ Python's 'Mas Amable' Is a Loopy, Continuous Dream

On DJ Python's Mas Amable, everything moves along in a liquid haze. Each song slowly mutates into the next, and each sound seems to become something unlike itself.

Music

Half Waif's 'The Caretaker' Is a Small Art Pop Treasure

Half Waif's second album, The Caretaker, takes a microscope and a scalpel to the mysteries and wonders of the quotidian, to great effect.

Books

Mieko Kawakami's 'Breasts and Eggs' Is a Feminist Masterpiece

Fearless in its demand for accountability, transcendent in its honesty, Mieko Kawakami's Breasts and Eggs breathes life into feminist literature and throws down a gauntlet for other writers to aspire toward.

Film

Pudovkin Makes the Revolution Human: The Bolshevik Trilogy

Inspired by D.W. Griffith's Intolerance, Vsevolod Pudovkin would leave his chemistry studies for cinema. His films Mother, The End of St. Petersburg, and Storm over Asia are presented in The Bolshevik Trilogy.

Music

'Rejoice' with Tony Allen and Hugh Masekela

This long-delayed collaboration by two African master musicians is an occasion for jubilation. Rejoice is a posthumous reminder of what Hugh Masekela at his best could deliver and of the now 80-year-old Tony Allen's amazing vitality.

Film

'Camille Claudel' Features an Electrifying Performance by Isabelle Adjani

Through a brazen performance, one to obliterate all performances that came before, Isabelle Adjani gives her Claudel a true body in which to house all her drive and desire in Bruno Nuytten's Camille Claudel.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.