Image: Negro Swan

The album to listen to

Blood Orange, Negro Swan

“With his newest LP, Negro Swan, Dev Hynes explores the contradiction of a high-visibility life without ownership or control of how your actions are interpreted and the boundaries one must make to reclaim them. The world he’s created continues his story from Freetown Sound: a sharing of his life’s traumas as he goes through them, processes them, and then recounts them back to the audience. The magic of his music is not just in this retelling but in his commitment to bringing us to him, ensuring we are not left with much space to misunderstand.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The game to play

Donut County

“While Donut County is available for consoles, it feels most at home on a phone, where you slide your finger around to directly guide a scenery-devouring hole in the ground. And while it does have low-key puzzles that gently arc up in difficulty as they go, its pleasures are more aesthetic, with lush beats soundtracking your destruction and an appetizing assortment of pastel landscapes.”
Read the rest of our thoughts on Donut County here.

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The TV show to watch

The Purge (USA)

The Purge, a new 10-part television series from USA and the four-part-and-counting film franchise’s writer/creator James DeMonaco, wants to get in a broad swath of timely social issues, from deindustrialization to income inequality to an extremist political party seizing control of the levers of power—but mostly, it wants you to have fun. Perhaps in its later going, the show will execute some deep dives into the thorny moral and sociopolitical questions it raises; but for at least for the first few episodes, such concerns are quickly set aside in favor of action, intrigue, and splashy and engaging theatrics centered around the key idea of the Purge. This is still a franchise with an explicit engagement regarding the fate of the working poor in this country, but it’s clear that having some kick-ass fun is an equally important consideration.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The comic to read

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Aisha Franz, Shit Is Real

“How do you push forward when you’ve lost your job, your home, and your romantic partner? The central character of Aisha Franz’s graphic novel, Shit Is Real, is dealing with this triplicate of misfortune, sending her a downward spiral as she struggles to maintain personal relationships and find purpose in her aimless life. This might sound like fairly typical alt-comics fare, but the German cartoonist imbues the story with ingenuity thanks to a surreal perspective that blurs the line between reality and dreaming.”

Read the rest of our review here.


The film to watch

Prototype

“[Director Blake] Williams doesn’t usually cut directly from one shot to the next, often punctuating archival samples with a few seconds of blackness. He resists the tyranny of the edit through inventive stylistic sorcery: Objects melt into other objects, sometimes remaining in the liminal half-space long enough to suggest a connection between, say, the rising sun and a nuclear explosion. Williams also sets up juxtapositions by sticking two pseudo-TVs in a single frame, effectively reclaiming picture-in-picture from the artistic prison of ESPN game-day broadcasts. Most notably, he picks up where Godard left off in Goodbye To Language and gives the viewer the authority to edit in-eye by closing one or the other when two different images overlap on the screen.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The podcast to listen to

Bad Reception

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Bad Reception, created by comedians Eric Martin and Justin Michael, harnesses the power of some of the greatest improvisers out there (Betsy Sodaro, Lauren Lapkus, Nicole Byer, Paul F. Tompkins, and more) to spin a saga about fictional South Grampers, California, the movie theater butter capital of the world, trying to raise enough money to stay afloat. Yes, the scenes and characters are improvised, but hours of playing is cut down and edited into digestible chapters that are part of a very well-shaped—albeit ridiculous and supernatural and off-the-rails—story.”
Read about the rest of the week’s best podcasts here.