Music

The Weeknd - "Starboy" ft. Daft Punk (Singles Going Steady)

The Weeknd returns with one of his tightest pop singles yet.

Andrew Paschal: The Weeknd returns with one of his tightest pop singles yet. "Starboy" eschews the bouncy R&B of "Can't Feel My Face" for something more nocturnal and tormented. Daft Punk show surprising reserve in their production efforts, pulling back from their maximalist impulses to engage with the track's brooding ambience. The noirish combination of sensuality and melancholy is oddly reminiscent of Madonna's 1992 classic "Erotica", and the tightly coiled, looping beats are like candy for the brain. My first exposure to this song was during the Weeknd's recent performance on Saturday Night Live, which was propulsive and almost euphoric. The studio track, however, features the blue-hued keyboards more prominently, making for a more somber, but no less engaging, listen. [9/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Don't let the featured artist credit fool you: “Starboy” is all about the Weeknd. With a lush, understated Daft Punk-produced cushion behind him, the Weeknd buries his past and embraces his present and future fame by shining the spotlight on his own considerable talent. His voice soars over itself in layers, using simplicity as its strength, and echoes over the whole arrangement. This is the Weeknd's own anthem, an ode to his own success and confidence. It's well-deserved and a solid tune. [8/10]

Morgan Y. Evans: I am not promoting violence but when the Weeknd suffocates at the start of the video I thought , "thank God I won't have to hear anymore of dude's terrible lyrics ruining his golden voice yet again." Alas, one more song that says "bitch" casually as soon as possible and has an annoying name that seems to want to bite Bowie. Another beat that would be chill if it didn't have some parts way too blown out and stupid lines about cars. I don't care about your main or side "bitch" or desiring anyone cool with being called that. This sexist spongebob MJ-wannabe is so wicked overrated. I miss the real pop stars. I'm broke though so my opinion doesn't matter and won't be stopping any crap like this from being made anytime soon. It should be evident in 2016 we sorely need some art with way deeper content even though Public Enemy's Apocalypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Black came out 25 years ago. This shit sucks. [2/10]

Chris Ingalls: The percussive, heavily syncopated beat and rich, understated keyboards provide a nice, lush bed for what's essentially a pretty standard, yet well produced, pop song. The song seems to hold back a bit, simmering and not really "exploding," giving it a nice sophistication. It won't change your life, but it's a good tune. [7/10]

Paul Carr: This is a startlingly mix of Nine Inch Nails beats, languid piano and vulnerable vocals. It’s surprisingly dark and emotional with only the merest traces of Daft Punk’s signature disco sound. This is no upbeat club banger. This a song to be played when you get home from the club after a night of rejection. [9/10]

Scott Zuppardo: Rolling in exotic cars with pumas and wrecking shit, both figuratively and literally, the future rap of the Weeknd over a Daft Punk sonic landscape is pure dope. The video a cinematic indulge as well, although it's a far stretch to imagine this dude as a hard knock with the b&e and a murder in the first frames, it's fresh all around. [7/10]

SCORE: 7.00

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.

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If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

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Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

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