Phoebe Bridgers (Photo: Frank Ockenfels)

The album to listen to

Phoebe Bridgers, Stranger In The Alps

Stranger starts with an unstoppable pair of singles in the swirling ‘Smoke Signals’ and the album’s most upbeat moment, ‘Motion Sickness.’ The former indicates an album that could’ve gone a much different way: Two clicks slicker and a bit of a dance beat, and it might be a mainstream hit ballad for someone like Ellie Goulding. But [Phoebe] Bridgers keeps it intimate, complete with references to dead heroes—Bowie, Lemmy—and songs about loneliness (specifically The Smiths’ ‘How Soon Is Now’). ‘Motion Sickness,’ meanwhile, offers the album’s only real hopping pulse and sing-along chorus.”
Read the rest of our review here.


The show to watch

Star Trek: Discovery

“There is a lot to nitpick in Star Trek: Discovery, the first new Trek TV series since 2005. If you imagined the Mass Effect video games cross-patched with the nu-Trek movies, you wouldn’t be far off. And yet, it works. There are problems, and some clumsy writing, and god only knows if it can sustain the momentum and sharpness. But after assuming for months that this would be a disaster, it’s a relief to report that it’s not. The first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery are thrilling, moving, and frequently unexpected. Just as importantly, for everything questionable about the design, it still feels like Trek.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The comic to read

Nilah Magrudger, M.F.K.

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M.F.K. is a book with significant all-ages appeal, delivering drama, action, and comedy with a warm, lively art style. M.F.K. plants the seeds of a larger fantasy narrative, but it starts small by focusing on Abbie’s time in Little Marigold, building an immersive setting and a charming cast of characters. Nilah Magruder isn’t in a rush, and she’s much more concerned with giving readers a strong impression of this environment and its inhabitants than jumping into the grander plot points, which gradually come into relief over the course of this first book.”
Read the rest of our review here.


The video game to play

Heat Signature

PC Gamer editor turned game designer Tom Francis has made an art form out of finding the most insane possible solutions to problems that crop up in popular games. (Here’s a recent write-up about figuring out how to pull his team members out of a deadly situation in XCOM 2; needless to say, it involves intentionally blowing up his own extraction point with grenades.) The brilliant thing about Tom’s games—specifically his 2013 stealth-building-rewiring game Gunpoint, and Heat Signature, which came out last week—is that they essentially force you to become as crazy as he is, improvising bizarre strategy after bizarre strategy to keep yourself alive.”
Read about the rest of the games we’re playing this weekend here.

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The movie to watch

Lucky

“The directorial debut of ace character actor John Carroll Lynch (Marge’s husband in the movie Fargo, the creepiest suspect in Zodiac, etc.), this lightly eccentric, virtually plotless meditation on mortality would likely have attracted attention under any circumstances—indeed, even had it turned out to be terrible—simply because it offers [Harry Dean] Stanton his first leading role in a feature film since 1984’s Paris, Texas. (First-time screenwriters Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja reportedly conceived it with him in mind; it’s hard to imagine who else they might have turned to had he said no.) So it’s a remarkable gift to fans and cinephiles that Lucky serves as a first-rate showcase for its star as well as an ideal swan song.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The podcast to listen to

Strictly Business With Derek Contrera

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“Anyone paying attention to the comedy podcasting landscape will know that Drew Tarver is an unstoppable force. So it’s no surprise that starring in his own Stitcher Premium show would see him shine in a new and thrilling way. The half-scripted, half-improvised show allows Tarver to outfit a character with a rich backstory while also living in that pocket and discovering new things. Derek Contrera is the type of guy who coins terms like ‘the try-or-die spirit,’ ‘hustle juice,’ and ‘the success gene,’ and who would try to kill himself by sucking his own dick and snapping his neck.”
Read about the rest of the week’s best podcasts here.