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What do swimming pools, sexual voyeurism, elevators, and eco-terrorist extraterrestrials have in common? They’re all the subjects of songs on Hotel Valentine, Cibo Matto’s first release in 15 years. Much of the album is written from the perspective of a wry ghost who haunts a hotel and delivers deadpan lines like, “I had some cheese and seedless grapes for lunch and floated around for the rest of the afternoon.” The band’s Japanese-born, N.Y.C. Read More
Following her debut novel, The City is a Rising Tide, Rebecca Lee presents a collection of seven biting stories about the luxury we take in life’s ordinary comforts, and the threats, real or imagined, that lurk beyond the surface. As of this writing, Bobcat was longlisted for the international Frank O’Connor Prize for story collections, and the praise is due: with deadpan humor, Lee’s light touch illuminates the contrasts in everyday life—warmth and cold, past and present, beauty and terror—imbuing her realistic tales with quiet depth. Read More
New Girl Law is a post-Empirical, proto-fourth-wave-feminist memoir-cum-academic abstract that scrutinizes the current reality and future hope for women aspiring to positions of power in Cambodia. If that sounds heady, know that it also makes our country’s Mommy Wars look like child’s play—and proves, in the meantime, why we should be paying attention to Cambodia’s record of human rights and gender equity. Author Anne Elizabeth Moore, a Fulbright scholar and U.N. Read More
  Alida Nugent, of The Frenemy blog fame, has brought her witty snark to the literary world with this debut. The book—a collection of short essays on 20-something life—has fine writing and some genuinely funny lines, but I was initially put off by the subject matter. Nugent spends a lot of time bragging about failed attempts at maturity, seems to revel in her emotional and financial instability, and spends too many pages discussing how best to drink in front of your parents—all with a self-awareness that seems like an insincere exaggeration of her flaws. Read More
Two girls romp around the city, tap dancing and play fighting and falling asleep together like puppies. Except they’re not girls, they’re women, and they’re about to be smacked in the face by the reality of adult friendships. Frances (played by co-screenwriter Greta Gerwig) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner) are so tight that Frances turns down moving in with her boyfriend because she wants to keep living with Sophie. But when Sophie announces she wants to move in with someone else once their lease is up, Frances is heartbroken. Read More
Going to an Akron/Family show is like attending a hipster tent revival, so it’s fitting that the band’s sixth album is full of psychedelic hymns for its flannel-clad brethren. Mixing folk-y melodies with strange rhythms and switching time signatures and tempos constantly, the band has fully realized its signature genre on Sub Verses: prog folk. Expansive opener “No Room” is a primal waltz with a grinding, repetitive drumbeat and soaring, chant-like vocals. Read More
Virgin Soul is the fictional memoir of Geniece> Hightower, an aspiring journalist undergoing a journey of self-discovery during the Black Power movement in 1960s San Francisco. Divided into four sections, each dedicated to a year of her university schooling, the novel follows Geniece’s transition from focused scholar to revolutionary panther. While researching a story for her college newspaper, she meets Allwood, a highly intellectual activist who pulls Geniece into the rebellious world of the Black Panther Party. Read More
  As a self-identified geek and longtime Music-Obsessed Human, I’ve tried more than my fair share of headphones. Nobody wants to spend all their dang beer money on a crazy-fancy pair, but I’m definitely willing to shell out a bit of cash for quality sound and good construction that’ll withstand some abuse. I’ve tried everything from the ultra-cheap earbuds at Best Buy to massive 1960s-era Pioneer headphones (thanks, eBay!), but I’ve had nitpicky issues with most of them. Read More
Electronic dance music—otherwise known as EDM—sometimes gets a bad rap, but Miss Kittin’s new album Calling from the Stars is a nonstop dance party. The French femme fatale sounds as sharp as ever. Songs like “Night of Light” and “Tamarin Bay” find Miss Kittin experimenting with various pitches and tempos, all while using her voice as a flexible instrument. “Ballad of the 23rd Century” sounds more like a psychotropic call to action than a five-minute dance track. Read More
Authors Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Heather Wood Rudúlph wanted to “dispel negative ideas about feminism” and give ladies “the tools to bring feminist ideals into their daily lives.” The result, part feminist primer and part self-help book, is certainly accessible: the chapters are loosely-organized riffs from a friendly and well-read perspective. The first half gets into ethical aspects of typical women’s magazine fodder: bikini waxing, plastic surgery, dieting, and fashion. Read More