Staff Picks

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 »

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

For fans of: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and Why be Happy When You Could be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson.

Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It's a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own adult love life.

Read More »

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

For fans of : Gillian Flynn, S.J. Watson, and Chevy Stevens.

Catherine has enjoyed the single life long enough to know a good catch when she sees it.  Gorgeous and charasmatic, Lee seems to perfect to be true. Four years later, Lee is in prison and Catherine--now Cathy--suffers from severe paranoia and OCD. 

Read More »

Lazy Ways/Beach Party

For fans of : Young Marble Giants, the Raincoats, Everything But The Girl and Tune-Yards. 

Recommended song: "In Love" on YouTube

This all female-trio released their debut album Beach Party in 1981 and followed it up with their next and final album Lazy Ways in 1983. Drawing heavily from other minimalistic post-punk groups like Young Marble Giants, the Marine Girls combine acoustic sounds with light vocals to produce fun, breezy pop music. 

Read More »

Kraftwerk: Minimum/Maximum (DVD)

For fans of: Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, John Maus. 

The first-ever official concert film of the reclusive electronic band Kraftwerk, taped on its 2004 world tour, supporting its first album of new material in 17 years, "Tour de France Soundtracks."  Includes favorites from previous albums.  Spoiler alert: robots may make an appearance. 

Read More »

A Double Death on the Black Isle

For fans of: Tana French, Elly Griffiths, Charles Todd.

Nothing is ever quite at peace on Scotland’s Black Isle—the Traveling people are forever at odds with the locals, the fishermen have nothing in common with the farmers, and the villages have no connection with the town. But when two deaths occur on the same day, involving the same families from the same estate—the Black Isle seems as forbidding as its name.

Read More »

This American Life (the Television Show)

For fans of: TAL radio show, creative nonfiction, quirky documentaries.

The widely popular, award-winning Chicago Public Radio show This American Life (TAL) is now a Showtime show. Drawing on a different theme each week, viewers hear compelling stories from everyday folks culled from six months on the road. Host Ira Glass and company create a captivating look at the American Life in a series that’s not quite documentary, not much of a news magazine and definitely not a reality show – it’s simply unlike anything else. And don't forget to check out Season 2!

Read More »