Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Adventure Time, a sci-fi book about insomnia, and not another emo revival

Illustration for article titled Adventure Time, a sci-fi book about insomnia, and not another emo revival

The Hotelier, Home, Like Noplace Is There
Any talk of an “emo revival” should be accompanied by the sound of a slide whistle, or perhaps LL Cool J’s oft-quoted directive about not calling comebacks things that have been here for years. Although Massachusetts band The Hotelier has been around since 2009, its excellent new album, Home, Like Noplace Is There feels like a rebirth. Its last, 2011’s It Never Goes Out—released under the band’s old name, The Hotel Year—didn’t stray too far from its punk tendencies, at times recalling Lifetime or early Saves The Day (so basically Lifetime). But Home, Like Noplace Is There stretches out, patiently building and releasing and harnessing restraint like the band seemed loath to do on its first full-length. Aptly titled opener “An Introduction To The Album” spends the bulk of its time quietly simmering in Christian Holden’s vocals and undistorted guitar, with the rest of the band only joining him for the final explosive verse. “In Framing” and its muted guitar chords are the only direct nods to the more straightforward sounds of It Never Goes Out, but it’s followed by the album’s most striking step forward, “Your Deep Rest,” a gut-wrenching look at the aftermath of a suicide. Much of Home, Like Noplace Is There dwells in the dark territory of broken relationships (“Dendron,” “Discomfort Revisited”) and personal demons (“Life In Drag”), but the album doesn’t wallow so much as find catharsis in the power of music. No slide whistle needed. [Kyle Ryan]


Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun
I’ve been obsessed with insomnia stories—specifically science fiction that speculates what happens when humans are subjected to extreme degrees of sleep deprivation—since I was a teenager. It was then that I first read J. G. Ballard’s 1957 short story “Manhole 69,” in which a sleep-deprivation experiment leads to a grotesque warp in spatial reasoning. Many other writers have tackled that topic, but I was blown away recently by Kenneth Calhoun’s Black Moon. In his new, debut novel, Calhoun imagines a near future in which a pandemic has hit America—one that renders everyone sleepless except for a few unfortunate souls who are now being hunted by the zombielike hordes of perpetual wakefulness. I suffered insomnia as a high-strung kid, and I still do as a high-strung adult. Calhoun vividly and horrifically captures that feeling of surreal suspension that comes with lack of sleep. But Black Moon does far more than that; by diving poignantly into the symbolism, philosophy, psychology, and social theory that’s been used to explain the mystery of sleep in the modern age, he’s built a book that kept me up at night reading. [Jason Heller]

Adventure Time, season three
If you’re looking for the point at which Adventure Time went from that weird cult thing that you sometimes heard kids talking about to a legitimate sensation with animation fans, you’d do well to check out the show’s third-season debut, when it became one of Cartoon Network’s highest-rated shows. It’s the season that both deepened the overall mythology and references back to the “Mushroom War,” brought in lots of great guest voices (Neil Patrick Harris! “Weird Al” Yankovic! Keith David!), and reasserted the series’ view of young adolescent psychology. Plus, the season introduced two of the most popular recurring characters, the gender-flipped versions of protagonists Finn The Human and Jake The Dog, Fionna The Human and Cake The Cat. If that’s not enough to convince you, then just know that the third season is also a really great introduction to one of the most whimsical, wonderful shows on the dial, and it’s not the kind of show you have to watch in order to really appreciate. With season three newly available on Blu-ray, check out that format, because this is a show that really benefits from the upgrade to high-definition. [Todd VanDerWerff]