PM Pick

White Whale, Sufjan Stevens, The Charlatans UK...

White Whale --"The Admiral"

From WWI on Merge Records

In White Whale’s maiden voyage, WWI, all glory and honor is theirs. Amassing the power of the Big Star with the fury of the Sabbath (Black) and the mesmerizing wiles of the Badfinger, the gentlemen of White (F-in’) Whale are not afraid to ask the musical question “What’s an Ocean For?” Beware ye Decemberists and those who would set the Arcade (a)Fire, the Okkervil River can not contain the enormity of White Whale.

Sufjan Stevens --"The Henney Buggy Band"

From The Avalanche on Asthmatic Kitty

As 2005 came to a close, Sufjan returned to the old, forsaken songs on his 8-track like a grandfather remembering his youth, indulging in old journals and newspaper clippings. The gathering that followed would become the setting for the songs on The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album.

The Charlatans UK --"Blackened Blue Eyes"

From Simpactico on Sanctuary Records

Simpatico. finds The Charlatans UK returning to the sound that made them UK chart toppers and festival headliners for many years, proving once again that they are still a vital force. No longer using his falsetto, lead singer Tim Burgess is in fine form as he continues to find the sweet spot where Dylan-inspired diatribes meet unstoppably contagious melodies – both obsess him.

Camera Obscura -- "Let's Get Out Of This Country"

From Let's Get Out of This Country on Merge Records

Kicking off Camera Obscura’s brand new CD, Let’s Get Out Of This Country, “Lloyd” sets the table for nearly 40 minutes of pure pop bliss. A wide variety of influences are in play – from Jimmy Webb to Lloyd Cole, from Connie Francis to Skeeter Davis; from the Supremes to the work of David Lynch - with the band crafting each into a sound that is uniquely their own.

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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