Staff Picks

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Think: Rachel Ray meets Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa). Home cook meets simple, sophistication.  

Deb founded her award-winning blog, The Smitten Kitchen, on the premise that cooking should be a pleasure, and that the results of your labor can—and should—be delicious . . .  every time. Deb is a firm believer that there are no bad cooks, just bad recipes. She has dedicated herself to creating and finding the best of the best and adapting the recipes for the everyday cook.

Read More »

The Cabin in the Woods (DVD)

For fans of: the Scream series, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

 Kicking off with the best title card of the year, the film follows a standard assortment of college kids as they head to the creepy, cobwebby location of the title. Meanwhile, a pair of blasé white-collar drones trudge through what appears to be just another day in the office. An affectionate, extremely knowing spoof that also manages to be a full-blooded, rip-snorting scary movie, this Joss Whedon production should have horror fans levitating off of their seats with bliss.

Read More »

The Other Woman's House by Sophie Hannah

For fans of: Tana French, Ruth Rendell, Sophie Hannah's Simon Waterhouse & Charlie Zailer series.

It's past midnight, but Connie Bowskill can't sleep. To pass the time, she logs on to a real estate website in search of a particular house, one she is obsessed with for reasons she's too scared to even admit to herself. As she clicks through the virtual tour, she comes across a scene from a nightmare: a woman lying facedown on the living room floor in a pool of blood. But when she returns to show her husband, there is no body, no blood—just a perfectly ordinary room, with a perfectly clean beige carpet.

Read More »

Q: Are we not men? A:We are Devo! (CD)

For fans of: Gary Numan, The B-52's, post-punk, new wave.

Produced by Brian Eno, Q:Are we not men?...was a seminal touchstone in the development of American new wave. It was one of the first pop albums to use synthesizers as an important textural element, and although they mostly play a supporting role in this guitar-driven set, the innovation began to lay the groundwork for the synth-pop explosion that would follow very shortly.

Read More »

Queen of Versailles (DVD)

For fans of: social documentaries, quirky documentaries, schadenfreude.

The film begins with the family triumphantly constructing the largest privately-owned house in America, a 90,000 sq. ft. palace. Over the next two years, their sprawling empire, fueled by the real estate bubble and cheap money, falters due to the economic crisis. With epic proportions of Shakespearean tragedy, the film follows two unique characters, whose rags-to-riches success stories reveal the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream. 

Read More »

Midwinter Blood by Mons Kallentoft

For fans of: Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbo, and Karin Fossum. 

In a small, frozen town in the north of Sweden, Supt. Malin Fors combines heavy brooding with a strong work ethic. When the town outcast is found naked, beaten, and hanging from a tree, Malin and the rest of the police force must devote all their resources to finding the killers. But a motley family of degenerates, a nosy journalist, and a ritualistic cult all stand in the way of a clean, speedy investigation.

Read More »

Who's Landing in My Hangar: An Anthology 1977-1984 by Human Switchboard (CD)

For fans of: Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, Elvis Costello.

Recommended Song: Refridgerator Door

As part of the first generation of indie-rockers, Human Switchboard were transplants from Ohio that found their way into the NYC club scene of the early 1980s. Inspired by the writing of the Velvet Underground, H.S. worked up a great batch of edgy post-punk rockers with battling boy/girl vocals before imploding. This collection documents Human Switchboard's integral contribution to the history of alternative music.

Read More »

Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia Butler

For fans of: 1984 by George Orwell, Ursula Le Guin, Margaret Atwood. 

A perfect introduction for new readers and a must-have for avid fans, this New York Times Notable Book includes "Bloodchild," winner of both the Hugo and the Nebula awards and "Speech Sounds," winner of the Hugo Award...Like all of Octavia Butler’s best writing, these works of the imagination are parables of the contemporary world. She proves constant in her vigil, an unblinking pessimist hoping to be proven wrong, and one of contemporary literature’s strongest voices.

Read More »

Philadelphia Noir (book)

For fans of: Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, and Lee Child.

The 15 stories in this Akashic noir anthology mostly support Romano's thesis in his introduction: Philadelphia noir is different from the mood, the sensibility, the dimensions, of noir encountered in more glamorous American cities such as New York or L.A., because it is ordinary noir--the humble killings, robberies, collars, cold cases that confront people largely occupied with getting by. 

Read More »

Art of the Steal (DVD)

For fans of: Wordplay, Helvetica, and Freakonomics.

Note: Though we know the outcome, seeing the drama unfold behind the legal battle surrounding the Barnes Foundation's move from Merion to Philadelphia is quite gripping. 

In 1922, Dr. Albert C. Barnes formed a remarkable educational institution around his priceless collection of art, located just five miles outside of Philadelphia. Now, more than 50 years after Barnes’ death, a powerful group of moneyed interests have gone to court for control of the art, and intend to bring it to a new museum in Philadelphia.

Read More »

Freaks (DVD)

For fans of: The X-Files, classic horror. 

Tod Browning, who directed Bela Lugosi in the original Dracula, stepped into even eerier territory with this 1932 story of betrayal and retribution in the circus. Evil trapeze artist Olga Baclanova seduces and marries a midget in the circus sideshow, hoping to inherit his wealth. But in doing so, she has crossed the wrong folks: the tightly knit group of nature's aberrations, who stick together like family--and who set out to avenge their little pal.

Read More »

I Know What Love Isn't by Jens Lekman

For fans of: Magnetic Fields, Sondre Lerche, beautiful baritones singing intricate lyrics about comical, unique characters.

The album came out of a break up which isn't a new story. He fell in love and it didn't work out. It borrows sparingly from the vast and colorful palette of sounds he created on Kortedala. I Know What Love Isn't has strings but not a string section, an upright piano not grand, a single saxophone, gracenotes from a flute, a lot of tambourine.

Read More »

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

For fans of: David Sedaris, David Rakoff, and This American Life.

Sarah Vowell exposes the glorious conundrums of American history and culture with wit, probity, and an irreverent sense of humor. With Assassination Vacation, she takes us on a road trip like no other -- a journey to the pit stops of American political murder and through the myriad ways they have been used for fun and profit, for political and cultural advantage.

Read More »

Chomp More by Pylon

For fans of: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Raincoats, and Pixies.

To describe Pylon as ahead of their time is somewhat misleading, because it implies that there was ever a moment when music finally caught up with them. The architects of a sound unlike any of their Athens, Georgia, contemporaries and the inspiration for numerous Post-Punk imitators, Pylon still sounds unlike anything before or since.

Read More »

Shrines by Purity Ring

For fans of: John Maus, Bat for Lashes, and Bjork.

Purity Ring make lullabies for the club, drawing equally from airy 90s R&B, lush dream pop, and the powerful, bone-rattling immediacy of modern hip hop. Megan’s remarkable voice is at once ecstatic and ethereal, soaring joyfully through Corin’s carefully chopped beats, trembling synths, and skewed vocal samples.

Read More »