Category Archives: Under the Radar

Album review: Shut Down the Streets by A.C. Newman

The New Pornographers’ frontman Carl Newman wrote Shut Down the Streets after his mother’s death and before his son’s birth, and as open and airy as these songs sound, they are also anchored by weighty lyrics about indecision and ambiguity. In other words, the album’s cover, featuring Newman standing in a spacious glade surrounded by […]

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Album review: Transcendental Youth by the Mountain Goats

Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle has a new baby, but that hasn’t softened his love for dark subject matter. (“Please,” he wrote on his website in July. “May the baby grow up to spit in my face if I should pose that hard.”) Transcendental Youth, despite its frequent use of a punchy horn section, is […]

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Album review: The Tarnished Gold by Beachwood Sparks

In the 11 years since the indie-country-folk band’s last record, things have gotten hazier for Beachwood Sparks. Their sunniness is now deployed with a lighter touch and ample reverb, bringing to mind the humid dog days of August instead of the fireworks of July. Thankfully, the haze suits them. [ Click here for more ]

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Album review: Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage by R.E.M.

Four guys in Athens, Georgia start a band. They play shows, get signed to a local label, work their way up the college rock ranks, get signed to a major, become rock stars, implode, and (mostly) recover. [ Click here for more ]

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Film review: High and Low

Though known internationally as Heaven and Hell, the film’s American title High and Low is more reflective of its many highs and lows: art, classes, and physical spaces, not to mention the movie’s equally compelling text and subtext. [ Click here for more ]

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Album review: Good One by Tig Notaro

Sarah Silverman provides an introduction on Tig Notaro’s debut comedy record, and it’s a fitting choice. Like Silverman, Notaro caters in moments of surprise, and neither comic shies away from discomfort, letting jokes unfold to satisfying payoffs. [ Click here for more ]

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Album review: Join Us by They Might Be Giants

For all the reductive adjectives typically used to describe They Might Be Giants—“quirky,” “weird,” etc.—their songs are always rooted in their own realities. A drum-playing worm sounds perfectly normal when described by John Linnell, and why wouldn’t The Replacements have a song called “We’re The Replacements?” [ Click here for more ]

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Album review: SBTRKT

SBTRKT’s name is pronounced “subtract,” and the moniker fits—this London producer’s self-titled debut is all about subtlety and mystery. Beats seem to emerge from dark corners, sounds from shadows. The fact that SBTRKT performs wearing a mask comes as no surprise. [ Click here for more ]

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