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Music

Country's Ruthie Collins Finds 'Cold Comfort'

Ruthie Collins' Cold Comfort is devoid of glittery instrumentation and mellifluous lyrics. Instead, the music is raw, sometimes bitter yet earning for optimism. Collins' grittiness is measured and her anguish certain.

Books

Memoir 'Scratched' Seeks Beauty in the Flawed

Scratched: A Memoir of Perfectionism is a staggering depiction of the impact of psychological trauma written with breathless intensity.

Music

Sea Wolf's 'Through a Dark Wood' Is an Honest Portrayal of Emotional Struggle

Sea Wolf's Through the Dark Wood holds space for psychological transformation. Alex Brown Church's masterful illustrations of vulnerability and adversity affirm grief as a step towards growth.

Music

Childish Gambino's '3.15.20' Captures the Tumultuous Contemporary Moment

As society contends with sickness, anger, and fear, Donald Glover remedies the malignancy while fueling the anguish. 3.15.20 signals an important shift for Childish Gambino and secures the album's spot as one of the best of the year.

Music

Esmé Patterson Goes Dream Pop on 'There Will Come Soft Rains'

Working with indie pop's Tennis, There Will Come Soft Rains moves Esmé Patterson away from her folk music proclivities towards a more dream-pop vibe, and uses the album to musically capture the emotionally unspeakable.

Music

Grrrl Gang's 'Here to Stay!' Is a Tremendous Rejection of Cultural Conformity

While Here to Stay! points to their Riot Grrrl and indie-pop influences, Grrrl Gang methodically transcend redundancy to chisel a concrete space for themselves.

Books

Racism's Trauma Reverberates Across Generations in 'Your House Will Pay'

Steph Cha's depiction of systematic racism in Your House Will Pay is compelling, attesting to the complicated social structures at play.

Books

Black. Queer. Southern. Women.

Conveyed with urgency and mindfulness, Johnson's Black. Queer. Southern. Women. creates a space for revisioning critical race and sexual ideologies while affirming the voices of queer black women.

Books

Reflections and Refractions: 'Apple, Tree: Writers on Their Parents'

The contributors to Apple, Tree: Writers on Their Parents identify nuance; frequently framing themselves and their parents through multiple lenses.

Music

Dustbowl Revival Explore the Personal and Political on 'Is It You, Is It Me'

Dustbowl Revival's Is It You, Is It Me undertakes the personal and political. The Americana ensemble are candid in their responses to divisive political conversations all the while setting their missives to masterful instrumentation.

Music

The Wood Brothers' 'Kingdom in My Mind' Features Freewheeling Experimentation

Kingdom in My Mind captures the energy of the Wood Brothers' live performances, and it invites listeners to come jam-out, as long as the lyrics aren't carefully scrutinized.

Music

Kacy & Clayton's 'Carrying On' Is a Profound Meditation on Geographic Connection

Folk duo Kacy & Clayton explore the power of geographic connection and the awareness they develop when separated from their roots on Carrying On, their Jeff Tweedy-produced sixth studio album.

Music

Poppy Expands Her Musicality and Challenges Genre Conventions on 'I Disagree'

Poppy lays bare a necessary reminder to reject conformity and encircle empowerment. Whereas I Disagree explores what is confining and liberating - the latter is the album's unequivocal focal point.

Music

The 20 Best Folk Albums of 2019

Folk in 2019 is an image of inclusivity and unity in the face of international political upheaval. It's most captivating in its moments of sheer, heart-bearing authenticity and ensnares with new musical bearings introduced by some of its foremost innovators and newcomers to the scene.

Music

Rachael & Vilray Update Swing-Era Music on Their Debut

Rachael & Vilray is an absolute reflection of the jazz era while also firmly integrating the sound and energy into the contemporary moment.

Music

The Lumineers Get Cerebral on 'III'

Gone are the days of the Lumineers' pop-standards and monosyllabic earworms. III is a cerebral and disquieting portrait of addiction.

Books

Chavisa Woods: 100 Times (A Memoir of Sexism)

Chavis Woods' 100 Times (A Memoir of Sexism) is the ideal tool for inciting the collective rage needed to subvert gender-based harassment and violence.

Music

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Paint a Portrait of a Grieving Parent on 'Ghosteen'

The anguish a parent feels for losing their child is harrowing and Ghosteen masterfully captures Nick Cave's grief and spiraling rumination on mortality.

Music

Kate Tempest Takes on the UK Establishment with 'The Book of Traps and Lessons' and Wins

The Book of Traps and Lessons reveals Kate Tempest's disdain with contemporary society while also envisioning a future where it all can be changed. With a flair for hip-hop laced with Marxism, the album is poetic artistry.

Music

The HawtThorns Offer Country Music a West Coast Vibe on 'Morning Sun'

The HawtThorns successfully shine-up classic country music with sumptuous harmonies and innovative instrumentation on Morning Sun.

Music

'Beneath the Eyrie' Is the Pixies' Strongest Release Since Their Reemergence

Beneath the Eyrie is the portrait of the Pixies' musical progression and an arresting glimpse of the group in this contemporary musical moment.

Reviews

Cecelia Ahern's 'Roar' Reinforces the Normativity It Attempts to Subvert

Roar's strength is found in its depiction of empowered women, yet Ahern mistakenly centralizes a normative vision of feminism while reiterating the patriarchal control that silences her female characters' voices.

Music

Missy Elliott Remains Relevant and Just As Revolutionary As Ever on 'Iconology'

Enlisting the production prowess of Timbaland, Wili Hendrix, and Missy Elliott herself, Iconology is both a signifier of Missy's role in contemporary popular music while ushering in a welcomed opportunity to #throwitback.

Music

Folk's Heather Maloney Matches Power to Vulnerability on 'Soil in the Sky'

Heather Maloney is in prime position to defy listeners' expectations. On Soil in the Sky, she makes it indelibly clear that any predetermined labels propelled at her will be defied and bucked.

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