Parquet Courts, Wide Awake!
“Desperate times call for unified measures, and on Parquet Courts’ exuberant sixth studio album, Wide Awake!, the Brooklyn quartet uses a collective voice to directly address police violence, global warming, racism, and nihilism… Recognizable in fleeting glances—a wobbly guitar tremolo here, a midnight moodiness there—producer Danger Mouse assists the band in trying on such new sounds… [The album] captures both Parquet Courts’ usual keyed-up exasperation and their new, hard-earned optimism.”
Read the rest of this week’s music reviews here.
“The side-scrolling journey’s best moments are the long stretches spent rolling rightward through a color-drained, post-apocalyptic landscape. Its barren fields and gloomy megastructures recall the work of Playdead, whose medium-defining landscapes told tales of incomparable richness. The small team behind Far doesn’t quite scrape those heights, but they get closer than almost anyone has since, creating post-industrial wastelands full of eerie beauty, refuse, heartbreak, and narrative detail—an upturned oil tanker here, a lonely baby carriage there.”
Read about the rest of the games we’re playing this weekend here.
Mike Carey, Peter Gross, and Fabien Alquier, The Highest House
“When you’re immersed in a book, you’re transported to a different place, and exposed to new experiences that can change how you move through the world when you put the book down. And reading can be dangerous in a society that wants to prevent upward mobility. The slaves of The Highest House have the opportunity to buy their freedom if they can come up with the coin, but limited resources and spirit-breaking power structures prevent them from rising to a position where they can enact sweeping social reforms. One slave boy is the exception, and after being physically elevated for his duties as a roofer, Moth is intellectually elevated when he’s finally taught how to read.”
Read the rest of our review here.
Catch up on season one of The Terror, which concludes Monday, May 21.
“So much of The Terror’s imagery and iconography is based on isolation—all those shots of lone or scattered figures against the seemingly endless slate-gray and bone-white backdrop of the arctic nothingness where Captain Francis Crozier and his men are stranded. When that infinitude is bridged for any reason—comfort, camaraderie, killing, and in the end, cannibalism—the break from the norm is profound. As the Franklin expedition staggers toward oblivion at an ever-accelerating pace as it does here, those linkages create even more of an impact.”
Read our recaps of The Terror here.
Switched On Pop, “Can AI ‘Algorhythms’ Write Pop Songs?”
“It turns out that AI can do a halfway decent job of crafting a piece of music. This trend (genre?) is examined in depth by two music academics and artist Taryn Southern, who’s using AI to compose an entire album. The trio demonstrates how AI can be used to create some current-sounding earworms and lush orchestral arrangements… But the line between human and AI compositions is thinning rapidly, and many will get tripped up by the musical Turing tests administered by the hosts, who pit human and AI pieces against one another and try to discern which is which.”
Read about the rest of the week’s best podcasts here.
“Paul Schrader is a portraitist of the self-destructive American psyche, and his subject matter here is something of an update of his landmark screenplay for Taxi Driver… Tending to his church in the dead of winter, the soft-spoken rector of the First Reformed quietly bears witness to the apathy of the world. In Schrader’s take on the modern digital age, the city rat’s violently fantasizing, alienated stare has been replaced with the late-night Googling of horrors. The small miracle of First Reformed is that its outrageousness—which flirts with satire, symbolism, climate fears, and the stuff of cheap thrillers yet still finds room for a transcendently goofy psychedelic sequence—should come from a place of subtlety.”
Read the rest of our review here.