Staff Picks

Stepping out of Line (CD)

Unlike, say, Gang of Four, who fused the single-cell amoeba of the punk template with more complex melodic and rythmic variations, or Wire, who stripped down punk to explore more minimal terrain and art-school antics, the Au Pairs did something similar to what Joy Division did--they pushed rhythm to the foreground and articulated a very personal, emotional lyricism that defined the headspace of the post-punk era and beyond.

 

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The Stonecutter

The hottest crime genre of the moment is Nordic noir and Camilla Läckberg is one of the reasons. Darker, bleaker, and far more sinister than similar American fare...Local detective Patrik Hedstrom has just become a father. It’s his grim task to discover who could be behind the murder of a local child. What he does not know is how this case will reach into the dark heart of Fjallbacka, spanning generations, ripping aside its idyllic façade,perhaps forever.
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A Night to Remember

The 1958 British production of A Night to Remember remains a definitive dramatization of the disaster, adhering to the known facts of the time and achieving a documentary-like immediacy that matches (and in some ways surpasses) the James Cameron epic released 39 years later.

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Other People's Rejection Letters : Relationship Enders, Career Killers, and 150 Other Letters You'll Be Glad You Didn't Receive

Welcome to the rejection-letter hall of fame, where the hopes and dreams of celebrities (Jimi Hendrix, Andy Warhol, among others) are crushed alongside the aspirations of the rest of us.

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The Parking Lot Movie

Director Meghan Eckman's irreverently funny debut celebrates a brotherhood of eccentric attendants who man a unique parking lot in Charlottesville, Virginia. From grad students to middle-age slackers, indie-rock musicians to surly philosophers, these overeducated part-timers wax profoundly about car culture and capitalism, seek vengeance against entitled patrons and thieves, and make fun of drunken jerks. If the intersection between the status quo and the quest for freedom is their ultimate challenge, could a slab of asphalt be an emotional way station for The American Dream.

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I am an Executioner

An explosive, funny, wildly original fiction debut: nine stories about the power of love and the love of power, two urgent human desires that inevitably, and sometimes calamitously, intertwine. In I Am an Executioner, Rajesh Parameswaran introduces us to a cast of heroes—and antiheroes—who spring from his riotous, singular imagination. At once glittering and savage, daring and elegant, here are wholly unforgettable tales where reality loops in Borgesian twists and shines with cinematic exuberance, by an author who promises to dazzle the universe of American fiction.

 

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Wordplay

Wordplay" starts as the story of the New York Times crossword puzzle, and the current and historical creative forces behind it. But as it dances across the story, filling it in as one of its devotees might across the puzzles, it reveals an entire amazing world behind its practice, creation, and history, from the annual crossword convention in Stamford to the breadth of individuals who enjoy it daily. Features crossword aficionados Bill Clinton, Jon Stewart, Bob Dole, Mike Mussina, Indio Girls, and Ken Burns!

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

These eight new stories from the celebrated novelist and short-story writer Nathan Englander display a gifted young author grappling with the great questions of modern life, with a command of language and the imagination that place Englander at the very forefront of contemporary American fiction...Beautiful and courageous, funny and achingly sad, Englander’s work is a revelation.

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Philly Fiction: a collection of short stories highlighting Philadelphia as a city of literary inspiration

"Philly Fiction covers all the bases in an eclectic collection that exposes the city at its worst and its best. A friend of mine recently said that Philadelphia hasn’t found its soul. I will send him this collection as Philly Fiction reveals the city's soul with all its bumps and bruises."

--G. Emil Reutter

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Life (BBC Series)

This enthralling BBC series examines "the lengths living beings go to to stay alive," in the words of Sir David Attenborough. Aided by breathtaking high-definition cinematography, the makers of Planet Earth explore the more colorful strategies the world's creatures employ to procreate, evade predators, and obtain nourishment. 

 

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Psychocandy

 Psychocandy was released in 1985, and marks the debut album for The Jesus and Mary Chain. The biggest influences for the Jesus and Mary Chain were punk legends The Velvet Underground and The Stooges, and also pop legends Phil Spector and Brian Wilson. The resulting sound is dark and bare, but ladened with sugary melodies. On Psychocandy, they implement just one style, one trick if you will, but oh man it is a great one. The feedback is turned up as high as it goes, and the echo is plentiful. With this album, The Jesus and Mary Chain caused a movement in shoegazer and britpop, as more and more bands began to use the echo sound that is so perfect on this album. 

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Bobos in Paradise

Do you work for one of those visionary software companies where people come to work wearing hiking boots and glacier glasses, as if a wall of ice were about to come sliding through the parking lot? If so, you might be a Bobo. In his bestselling work of "comic sociology," David Brooks coins a new word, Bobo, to describe today's upper class -- those who have wed the bourgeois world of capitalist enterprise to the hippie values of the bohemian counterculture. Their hybrid lifestyle is the atmosphere we breathe, and in this witty and serious look at the cultural consequences of the information age, Brooks has defined a new generation.

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I Will Be

 The gum-smacking gutter pop of Dum Dum Girls' full-length debut I Will Be is a rough-edged cinderblock that’s been blasted off of Phil Spector’s sweepingly dramatic “Wall Of Sound” productions of the early ’60s. The state-of-the-art grandness of those pre-Beatles girl-group hits has been scuffed up and shattered, but the feisty attitude and relentlessly catchy hooks remain as indestructible as ever... I Will Be always sounds erratically adolescent in the best possible sense.

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Year of Wonders

When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna's eyes we follow the story of the fateful year of 1666, as she and her fellow villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition. As she struggles to survive and grow, a year of catastrophe becomes instead annus mirabilis, a "year of wonders."
 
 

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If You're Feeling Sinister

  Whimsy and preciousness are an integral part of If You're Feeling Sinister, along with clever wit and gentle, intricate arrangements -- a wonderful blend of the Smiths and Simon & Garfunkel, to be reductive. Even if it's firmly within the college, bed-sit tradition, and is unabashedly retrogressive, that gives Sinister a special, timeless character that's enhanced by Stuart Murdoch's wonderful, lively songwriting. Blessed with an impish sense of humor, a sly turn of phrase, and an alluringly fey voice, he gives this record a real sense of backbone, in that its humor is far more biting than the music appears and the music is far more substantial that it initially seems. Sinister plays like a great forgotten album, couched in '80s indie, '90s attitude, and '60s folk-pop. 

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