Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Waxahatchee (Photo: Jesse Riggins)

The album to listen to

Waxahatchee, Out In The Storm

“An unsentimental candor defines Out In The Storm, which is not so much a breakup album as a scathing post-mortem that leaves neither party unsullied. As [Katie] Crutchfield put it in an interview, the relationship’s intermingling of the professional and the romantic meant its dissolution ‘rippled throughout every little corner of my life.’ […] But [Out In The Storm is] hardly a slog. On the contrary, Crutchfield has channeled her pain into some of her catchiest songs to date. Opener ‘Never Been Wrong’ marries the record’s typically pointed lyrics to a wash of electric guitars that would fit in on a Superchunk album. The guitar-led ‘Silver’ recalls The Strokes, and ‘Brass Beam’ has the warmth of a bar-rock confessional, as a subtle organ boosts Crutchfield singing, ‘I just wanna run, yeah, I don’t wanna fight / I just wanna sing my songs / And sleep through the night.’ ‘Brass Beam’ also perfectly captures the forehead-slapping, ‘What was I thinking?’ moment of clarity that accompanies the end of a bad relationship: ‘When I think about it, I wanna punch the wall.’ ‘Hear You’ is a standout, its slinky, fuzzy, keyboard leading an almost martial, tom-and-snare beat that segues into Out In The Storm’s most dizzyingly catchy chorus.”
Read the rest of our review here.


The Bechdel Cast, “Spider-Man 2 With Sina Grace

“‘Hello and welcome to The Bechdel Cast. This is our best episode yet,’ declares Jamie Loftus in the latest episode’s introduction, and she may not be wrong. Caitlin Durante insists she will try to keep things on track for this Spider-Man 2 installment, though it could end up being mostly about character actor Alfred Molina. Fans of The Bechdel Cast should know by now that Loftus has always been, as she proudly broadcasts, ‘all horned up’ for Molina, so it was only a matter of time that they’d examine the 2004 blockbuster. With author-illustrator Sina Grace as a special guest, this episode effortlessly encapsulates all there is to love about the show. Durante and Loftus are as charming as ever, and since the movie itself is so much fun, their discussion has a jovial ease that is an undeniably enjoyable listen.”
Read about the rest of the week’s best podcasts here.

The movie to watch

Lady Macbeth

“At first, Lady Macbeth looks suspiciously like your average period drama, lushly costumed and meticulously detailed, carefully composed in wide, still shots and lit with warm candlelight and pale, thin daylight under perpetually gray skies. But when Alexander orders Katherine to undress and face the wall on their wedding night, we know right away that something is inescapably rotten here. […] The strength of the performances and the audacity of the subject matter are enough to keep Lady Macbeth riveting, with increasingly claustrophobic mise en scène and a breathlessly still soundtrack—the film features no music at all until the third act—creating a sense of emptiness to match [Florence] Pugh’s disturbingly stoic gaze.”
Read the rest of our review here.


The book to read

Jesús Carrasco, Out In The Open


“A breakout success when it first struck the Spanish literary scene back in 2013, Jesús Carrasco’s Out In The Open tells a very simple story: Danger hot on his heels, a boy flees across the arid plains of an unknown country toward hardship and pain. Carrasco’s style is terse and direct, and he omits all but the most necessary of details. As a result, the novel reads more like a parable or a fable, replete with iconic locations like a medieval castle, a vast desert, a sparse forest, and an abandoned village. The boy is simply ‘the boy,’ the friendly mentor ‘the goatherd,’ the villain ‘the bailiff.’ Carrasco reduces his story to a series of abstractions and archetypes, grounded by violence, pain, and the relentless, blistering heat of an unforgiving sun. The author and his capable translator, largely through a feat of stylistic showmanship and control, are able to pull off something of exceptional difficulty. Carrasco offers a direct, straightforward, and sparse world, story, and character, but makes it all feel energetic, dynamic, and mysterious rather than hollow, frivolous, or inconsequential. The only real problem, in fact, is that it moves too quickly and the reading experience is over too soon after it’s begun.”
Read the rest of our review here.

The show to watch

I’m Sorry

“Two recommendable attributes emerge in across the four episodes of I’m Sorry screened for critics, both having to do with marriages at separate stages. Andrea (creator and star Andrea Savage) and Mike’s (Tom Everett Scott) relationship isn’t perfect, but after 10 years, they’re still plainly attracted to one another—they’re Laura and Rob Petrie with TV-MA vocabularies. (Furthering the Dick Van Dyke Show parallels, Jason Mantzoukas plays Buddy and Sally rolled in one filthy-minded package as Andrea’s writing partner, Kyle.) And while it plays out mostly in the background, there’s a thread involving Andrea’s divorced parents (Kathy Baker and Martin Mull) that seems like it’s heading to potentially explosive territory later in the first season. In the immediate, it’s a reliable source for expressions of shock and dismay from Savage.”
Read the rest of our review here.


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