Every week, highly anticipated and totally unexpected gems appear on the major streaming services. We comb the “recently added” lists on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant, Crackle, and Spotify, so you don’t have to.
The Iceman (Netflix)
No, this isn’t a spin off of Val Kilmer’s character in Top Gun. This is the true story of Robert Kuklinski, who killed over a hundred people for the mob – with a lot less homoerotic tension. Weirdly, there are still a lot of oiled up volleyball scenes. No there aren’t.
A true story, Tom Hardy plays a guy that robs a post office and gets seven years in prison. When he ends up in solitary for 30 years his personality is taken over by an alter ego, that of Charles Bronson. Sounds like someone has a Death Wish.
Red Dawn – 2012 remake (Netflix)
North Korea invades American soil? Seriously? When the original was made the U.S.S.R. was a legitimate threat. But North Korea? They’re tiny. Plus, Dennis Rodman’s their Secretary of State. Not buying it.
Jim Norton: American Degenerate (Netflix)
This is the perfect antidote to whoever it is at your Thanksgiving table that just won’t quit with the jokes. Just telling him or her that they aren’t funny might hurt feelings, but Jim Norton is indisputably funnier than they are. So throw this on, and shut your family holiday jokester right up.
World’s Greatest Dad (Netflix)
When Robin Williams’ son dies in a freak accident, he writes a suicide note to spare his son embarrassment. Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, thee of Shakes the Clown fame, this is another darkly funny movie that you’ll feel a little bad about laughing at. But you’ll still probably laugh.
Simon Amstell: Numb Live (Hulu)
Simon Amstell is a very funny British comedian. But this is Thanksgiving. In America. So screw that noise. Not this weekend, Amstell! USA! USA!
Spring Breakers (Amazon Instant)
James Franco plays a drug dealer who takes the girls from the Disney channel under his wing as they rob a bunch of people and have a bunch of sex. Much like actual Spring Break, you’ll need a shower after and will regret a lot of it, but you’ll also enjoy it.
Despicable Me 2 (Amazon Instant)
Steve Carell is back and so are the minions. Perfect for Thanksgiving, it’s a kids’ movie the adults can enjoy.
I would like to tell you more about Anonymous, but I haven’t been able to pin down any details. One might even call it … incognito. Just kidding! This is an odd turn by Mega-Director Rolan Emmerich, who is best known for gigantic blockbusters like White House Down and The Day After Tomorrow. Anonymous is a quiet little conspiracy flick based on the idea that William Shakespeare never existed. With huge explosions. Just kidding!
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Netflix)
Mystery Science Theater 3000 made ripping on movies an art form. They’re always hilarious. If you haven’t seen them before you owe it to yourself. You are my Rosebud MST3K.
Killing Season (Netflix)
John Travolta and Robert De Niro are both vets of the Bosnian War who aim to settle a score in the Appalachian Mountains. Remember when either of them would say no to a script? They’ve been in some real stinkers lately. Say it with me Bobby: “Noooo. Noooo.” Good.
Joan Rivers: Don’t Start With Me (Hulu)
Joan Rivers is a comedy icon. Sure she tried to screw over the writers on her show, and she’s had more plastic surgery than all the Real Housewives combined. That doesn’t change the fact that she proved to be funnier and tougher than the guys before Sarah Silverman’s and Kathy Griffin’s balls dropped.
The Chosen One (Crackle)
Rob Schneider plays a man chosen by god to save mankind from it’s own destruction, kind of like a modern Noah. I don’t know about you, but he’s kind of the last guy I’d pick if I were god. Just saying “infallible” might be a stretch. We all make mistakes. The film is surprisingly heartfelt considering Schneider’s involvement, who, let’s face it – Daniel Day-Lewis he ain’t.
Against All Odds (Crackle)
An 80’s classic. A skinny Jeff Bridges plays an ex-professional football player hired to find a gangster’s girlfriend, then falls in love with her. And she’s the only one who ever really knew him at all.
Jagged Edge (Crackle)
Another 80’s classic starring Jeff Bridges. He plays a wealthy San Francisco businessman accused of killing his wife. He hires Glenn Close as his lawyer and a love affair grows. I remember seeing this movie as a kid. It scared the bejeezus out of me, so much so that I took a bat with me to the bathroom. They don’t make suspenseful whodunits like this anymore. So now I just take my mitt.
Fast & Furious 6 (Amazon Instant)
Faster and more furious. The whole gang returns as – ya know what? Do you really need to know the plot? There’s a bunch of car chases and ridiculous stunts. If you’d like to turn your brain off for two hours here’s your chance.
The Wolverine (Amazon Instant)
Hugh Jackman plays the real man of steel yet again. The latest version is less a sequel to the 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine and more a reboot. Gone is director Gavin Hood, replaced by James Mangold, director of Walk the Line. Don’t worry, Wolverine doesn’t sing.
Dirty Business (Netflix)
Apparently the coal industry is bad for the environment. Huh. Not gonna lie. Did not see that coming. But thanks to Rolling Stone’s Jeff Goodell and Peter Bull’s documentary I now know the facts. Maybe I should stop buying soap from Kingsford.
Only God Forgives (Netflix)
This action-thriller about a drug-smuggler in the Bangkok underwold who seeks revenge after his brother’s killed, pairs sir handsomeness, Ryan Gosling back together with Nicolas Winding Refn, the director of Drive. Bad news: It’s not as good. Good news: Drive is also available on Netflix.
The latest Bond film starring Daniel Craig as a less debonair, more brutish Bond has him fighting a wild and dangerous ex-MI6 agent, played by Javier Bardem, who wreaks havoc on the agency. We learn more about Bond’s childhood, which is surprisingly derivative of Bruce Wayne’s, but we also get all the cool stuff we expect in a Bond movie – explosions, car chases, and a stunning romantic lead. But all that is secondary; see this movie for Bardem, who redefines creepy with his performance.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Netflix)
While the Pirates series has lost its way and the 47th sequel, Dead Men Tell No Tales is expected in 2015, if you haven’t seen the movie that started it all, you should. Johnny Depp is incredible as Jack Sparrow, the effects are great, and it’s a thousand times more interesting than the Disneyland ride that the franchise is somehow based on. Plus, no lines!
What are Danny Glover and Sean Astin doing in this movie? One of Crackle’s first original feature films, it’s about a U.S. Black Ops soldier who has to fight his way out of a Chechen prison filled with terrorists. It looks and feels much like one of those soft-core B-movies you catch on Showtime late at night, yet without all of the boobs. And if there are no boobs, don’t the terrorists win?
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (Crackle)
Israel’s most dangerous Mossad agent, played by Adam Sandler, fakes his own death in order to follow his true passion: being a hairdresser. He moves to New York and wackiness ensues. It’s not Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore of course, but fans of Sandler should appreciate one of the few times he doesn’t play a man-child.
Man of Steel (Amazon Instant)
Anyone who saw director Zack Snyder’s 300 knows what to expect from his reimagining of Superman: the film looks amazing, and the trailer is totally awesome. As for the rest of the movie … Look, people of a certain age know that Christopher Reeve is the one and only son of Jor-El. There’s no way Snyder was going to make a version that had the humor or charm of Richard Donner’s 1978 classic. But if you’re a fan of Synder’s, that’s probably not what you’re looking for anyway.
Red 2 (Amazon Instant)
Bruce Willis and his group of ‘long in the tooth’ ex-spies, find themselves back in action as they search the globe for a missing nuke. This is the sequel to Red, which became a surprise hit due to its perfect mix of humor and action. It’s the thinking man’s The Expendables, which, ironically, also stars Willis.
13 Assassins (Amazon Instant)
A small group of assassins come together to kill a really bad guy, from director Takashi Miike. There’s lots of swordplay, martial arts, and general kicking of ass. If this kind of stuff interests you, 13 Assassins will not disappoint. If it doesn’t, well, I think you need to reevaluate where and how you find joy, because … swordplay! Come on.
The TV movie starring Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, and a cast of a thousand sharks, took the Twitter-verse by storm with an Ed Wood-like embrace of its terribleness. Watching sharks fly through the air and terrorize LA is absolutely worth watching despite the fact that you won’t get through the whole movie. This is the online streaming version of channel surfing; watch it for 20 minutes, then switch it to the Aziz Ansari special. But my favorite thing about Sharknado might be the fact it’s really about a hurricane.
Bobcat Goldthwait: You Don’t Look the Same Either (Hulu)
It’s kind of a strange realization, but Bobcat Goldthwait is the breakout star from the Police Academy movies. Back then I would’ve bet on Michael Winslow. Goldthwait, who you likely think of as just the poor man’s Sam Kinison, is actually much more. Besides being a great stand up, he’s an even better director with TV credits like Maron, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Chappelle’s Show. Plus, he directed the “Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies.”
Groundhog Day (Crackle)
The story of Phil Connors, a weatherman who keeps reliving the same day over and over again, is some of Bill Murray’s finest work and a comedy classic even if director Harold Ramis and Murray haven’t spoken since. If you haven’t already seen it … you make me sad. Do it now, with a Sweet Vermouth on the rocks with a twist.
The Karate Kid (Crackle)
This is the good one, with Ralph Macchio as Danny Larusso and Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi. Sure, Elizabeth Shue looks ten years older than Macchio, but if you prefer the Jaden Smith version you’re either a child or have the mind of a child. Either way, you’re wrong. Put him in a body bag, Johnny!
Flight (Amazon Instant)
The role of an alcoholic airline pilot led to an Oscar nomination for Denzel Washington. Good on you, Denzel, but despite what Hollywood thinks, the film is disjointed and melodramatic. It feels like an afterschool special. Hey kids, don’t drink. I will say, director Robert Zemeckis really does know how to film a plane crash scene, but haven’t we seen him do that before?
Abduction (Amazon Instant)
Taylor Lautner in an action movie directed by the ghost of John Singleton? Man, you Twihards will watch anything, won’t you? Well, a few minutes of this thing will have you joining Team Edward in a flash.
Road House (Amazon Instant)
Patrick Swayze plays James Dalton, the world’s best bouncer, who comes into the small town of Jasper, Missouri with the goal of turning around a little saloon. He soon discovers that the town’s run by a corrupt businessman with his hands in everyone’s pocket. When Swayze refuses to play ball with the guy, it ignites a war in town that is absurdly violent and completely unnecessary. There’s lots of kicking ass, Sam Elliott plays Sam Elliott, and Kelly Lynch is incredible looking. Basically, it’s a perfect movie.
Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive (Netflix)
Another example of a popular comedian usurping the traditional broadcast networks, Aziz’s brand spanking new comedy special is now on Netflix. The guy that brought us Randy in Funny People, told us stories about his fat little cousin, and loves Kanye almost as much as Kanye, rarely disappoints. If you’re not familiar, watch him kill at the roast of James Franco.
Not to be confused with Slacker, which opened the door for the Independent Film movement in the 90’s, this movie came out in the wake of American Pie, when everyone was trying to make comedies for high school boys with raging hormones. While no dick goes in a pie, and it has little of that film’s charm, it does star Jason Schwartzman (Orange Is The New Black) and Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother), so if you’ve seen every other movie they’ve been in then, well… go outside for Christ’s sake.
Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah (Crackle)
Godzilla, the iconic Kaiju monster/anti-hero, was a Japanese allegory for the dangers of nuclear power post-WWII. You should really familiarize yourself with Ishirō Honda’s 1954 original (which is conveniently available over on Netflix), or, for that matter, the original Godzilla Vs. Mothra or Ghidora: The Three Headed Monster before you see this 2001 update, or the new one due out in theaters next year. But that will require a Netflix subscription, so if you’re really cheap, sit back and enjoy for the low low price of nuthin’ on Crackle.
Pacific Rim (Amazon Instant)
Speaking of giant sea monsters, this past summer’s sorta-hit from Guillermo del Toro features plenty of those, doing battle with robots so badass they’d make a Transformer blush. If you need me to explain why you should watch this then you’re a lost soul.
Monsters University (Amazon Instant)
The original, Monsters Inc., is one of the greatest animated features ever. I have no problem making that claim. While not as great as its predecessor, if you liked the first one, this sequel delivers. If you didn’t like the first one… why do you hate joy and happiness?
We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (Netflix)
The documentary about how Julian Assange and Wikileaks pulled off the largest security breach in U.S. history was a hit at Sundance. That’s good for them, but honestly, no one cares about Wikileaks. Don’t believe me? Ask Benedict Cumberbatch and the good people at Dreamworks, who recently released their thrilling “The Fifth Estate” to a whopping $1.7 million opening weekend at the box office. If you live in Los Angeles, it’s still in one theater. Meet you there? Didn’t think so.
Brody Stevens: Enjoy It! (Hulu)
This docu-series follows stand up Brody Stevens after he was committed to a psych ward following a bipolar episode. The show is brilliantly funny and unflinchingly honest. If you’ve ever thought about being a standup comedian (or a patient in a psych ward)… this show will probably give you second thoughts.
Last Resort (Crackle)
A bunch of Navy Seals get stuck on an island after refusing to launch a nuclear weapon. It’s like The Hunt for Red October meets Lost starring Andre Braugher and Felicity’s boyfriend from the guy that gave us Nash Bridges. How are you still reading this sentence and not watching Last Resort?!
Perfect for Hanukah, this series about a bunch of Jewish commandos that save the Mona Lisa from a North Korean dance squad is a heart-stomping – Wait, what? That’s not what it’s about at all? It’s about an ordinary father who wakes up one day to find a box with a gun and picture in it? He must kill the guy in the picture or he and his daughter will be killed? Okay, I’ll admit it. Your idea might be just a little bit better than mine.
Alaska: The Last Frontier (Netflix)
This Discovery Channel reality series follows the Kilcher family as they live off the grid in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. You have to respect a family that shuns the trappings of modern living, feels no need for the comforts you and I enjoy, and despises technology so much … that they let a camera crew film them in their home 24/7? Sounds like Alaskan logic to me.
Iron Chef USA (Hulu)
Most of you are likely familiar with the original Iron Chef from Japan, and Iron Chef America on the Food Network for years. Well, this is Iron Chef USA. Originally shot in 2001, it plays more like a spoof of the original than an homage. While there’s no Bobby Flay, William Shatner is the Chairman leading us to boldy pan fry what no man has pan fried before.
The Final 24 (Hulu)
This documentary series examines the final twenty-four hours of the lives of artists, politicians, and celebrities, before their deaths, as it dives into their childhood to track their impending doom. Profiles include John Belushi, Sid Vicious, and Hunter S. Thompson. All the class of the Kardashians, matched with the hopefulness of a dead pool. Good times.
Technological Marvels of the Ancient World (Hulu)
This series explores the astonishing ingenuity of ancient contraptions made ages ago. Episode 1 goes into the incredible weapons used in warfare. The Romans can have their giant slingshots; nothing has had a greater impact on our world than the toilet paper, invented in the 6th Century in China. Still waiting on that episode though.
Almost Heroes (Hulu)
When two brothers’ dad dies, they must save the comic book store they inherited or lose it to their dad’s arch nemesis. Do comic book store owners really have arch nemeses? Well, as you can probably guess, one brother is a square and doesn’t like comics, and one’s wacky and does. Will they get along well enough to keep the store a float? I’m asking you because I couldn’t last one episode, so I won’t be watching.
10 Items or Less (Crackle)
A TBS comedy that sadly only ran for three seasons, John Lehr stars as a failed businessman who moves back to Ohio to take over the family grocery store. Much like Freaks and Geeks, it’s one in a long list of comedy shows that went underappreciated. So appreciate it on the internet!
Betas (Amazon Instant)
Amazon’s original series about four guys working in Tech, attempting to cash in on an app they’ve created in Silicon Valley. The show has a sense of humor that, ironically, San Francisco lacks, finally giving Tech the razzing it deserves. It makes sense that Amazon would be able to create a story in this world, a setting that traditional television has only been able to look at through the lens of bad reality TV. Alpha House isn’t going to be Amazon’s breakout hit. This is.
BC One (Crackle)
A bunch of B-Boys (that’s hipspeak for breakdancers) head to Tokyo for the Red Bull BC One, the world’s greatest breakdancing competition. No Turbo, Ozone, or Special K, so that’s a disappointment, but this docu-series features dancing that is beyond impressive.
Masterpiece Theatre: Mr. Selfridge (Amazon Instant)
Jeremy Piven plays the real life founder and namesake to the famous London department store. Think a British version of Entourage, but E and Vince are nowhere in sight, and it’s not really that funny and there are no strippers, hip hop stars, or cool cars.
Dexter – Season 8 (Amazon Instant)
The final season of the series that started so strong, yet ultimately disappointed so many. Well, if you’ve gotten this far you can’t turn back now. Go ahead and get it over with.
This documentary series follows the firefighters of Detroit, the city that once gave us Ford and Motown, but now has the nation’s highest arson rate, as they try to fight blaze after blaze. I’ve seen pics of Detroit recently. Spoiler Alert: The blazes won.
How I Rock It (Hulu)
Baron Davis, ex-NBA point guard, examines the state of men’s fashion for the Esquire Network. In the first episode he profiles Jason Lee and others. I can’t think of another men’s fashion show so it should fill a void, and Davis is likeable. Though his best work will always be this.
Alpha House (Amazon Instant)
Amazon’s first original television series focuses on four Republican lawmakers in D.C. who share a house. It’s not the first time John Goodman has played a congressman, but it’ll be interesting to see if audiences will watch in a series based on a group whose approval numbers are lower than herpes. The pilot tried to stake some ground between the dark insider gamesmanship of House Of Cards and the absurdist humor of Veep. You decide if it works.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 8 (Netflix)
F/X has recently made a bold programming decision: They’ve decided to make watching their shows difficult. Now that they’ve split one network into three – F/X, FXX, and FXM – and moved their channels somewhere between the Cat Meme Network and Period-Piece Music Videos, can anyone find their shows anymore? Well, thanks to Netflix you don’t need to. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a small but hilarious show about some miserable people in Philadelphia, was an unlikely success that has turned into a cultural icon. I salute you, Netflix, in the native Philadelphian manner and say, “BOOOO!”
That 70’s Show Seasons 1 – 8 (Netflix)
Those who grew up with That 70’s Show will be glad to find it now on Netflix. They’ll be upset when they realize that show wasn’t actually funny (they were just too young to realize it). While the show did give us Mila Kunis, that doesn’t make up for Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama. But nothing will. Ever.
The Killing Season 3 (Netflix)
The next great AMC show that no one really watches yet is The Killing. Based on a Danish series, it’s about the death of Seattle girl and the effect it has on the detective on the case. The Danish sure know comedy, huh? Well, Season 3 has just been added to Netflix, so you can stop watching Breaking Bad over and over again.
Under The Dome (Amazon Instant)
Based on the Stephen King novel about a small town that gets cut off from the outside world when an invisible dome falls on top of it, this summer-run series became a surprise hit and was thus renewed for Season 2. I don’t think the writers were planning on another season, though, and they seem to be making it up as they go along now. I’d say watch Season 1 in hopes that they figure out the direction of the show soon.
Behind The Mask (Hulu)
“Behind The Mask,” a cute documentary series that dives into the colorful world of sports mascots, would surely pique the interest of sports fans… if there weren’t already college football, the NFL, and now the NBA on this weekend. For those you whose favorite part of the game is halftime, we have the show for you!
Dexter Seasons 1-4 (Netflix)
The frighteningly suspenseful drama about a blood splatter pattern analyst for the Miami police who is also a serial killer became a huge hit for Showtime, and was a constant at awards season for awhile. Only problem is that the series ended with a colossal dud. Fortunately for you, Netflix only has the first four seasons, so you can get totally invested in the good part without the disappointment of the bad part!
Music on Spotify
Bruce Springsteen, High Hopes
At this point, you’ve either accepted Bruce Springsteen as the single greatest rock and roll musician this country has ever produced, or not. The fact that he continues to turn out noteworthy, and even great, music 30 years since his first album is something you either celebrate or don’t care about. And if you’re the latter and therefore not checking out “High Hopes,” we weep for your blackened soul.
Puscifer, What Is…
The lead singer of Tool and A Perfect Circle’s other band that you don’t listen to anymore. Actually, this one you never listened to. So at least you’re consistent.
Five Iron Frenzy, Engine of a Million Plots
In the mood for a new album from Colorado’s favorite late-90’s ska-punk band? Yeah, me neither.
Metallica, Through the Never soundtrack
Metal’s biggest band had a huge hit on their hands with their live performance/narrative movie earlier this year. This is the live soundtrack to the film and further proof that though the band might be signing up for Medicare soon, they rock as hard as ever.
Billy Joe + Norah, Foreverly
Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong teams up with adult contemporary princess Norah Jones to make the least likely duo since Turner and Hooch. “What?” you say. Oh, and they’re singing country music. “Seriously?” you ask. The truly shocking part is that, well, it’s actually good.
Ghost B.C., If You Have Ghosts
Sweden’s favorite satanic alt-rockers return with their unique brand of lameness. Their attempts to be shocking with occult lyrical themes might be more interesting if they didn’t sound like Nickelback.
Yo La Tengo, Fade
New Jersey’s favorite rockers are back! No, not the Boss, but Yo La Tango, indie darlings du jour. Their last album, Popular Songs, gave the weird little band from the Garden State unprecedented popularity. Their latest 2-CD album doesn’t disappoint.
A Perfect Circle, Three Sixty
The band that was created on the heels of Tool’s success certainly had a moment. Unfortunately, that moment isn’t now. Listening to their latest album, the band feels like a relic, a time capsule to last decade. A perfect circle has no end, but since anyone other than hardcore fans are going to want this one to end, then I guess it’s not that perfect.
Various artists, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack
The best movie soundtracks have a consistent sensibility, so that the music in the film is almost a character in itself. With a wide range of artists that seem to be chosen for their name cache more than a specific sound – from the National to Christina Aguilera – this movie soundtrack isn’t even enough to consistently elevate the film or stand that well on its own. Not that it matters; the movie’s going to make a gazillion dollars anyway.
Yo Gotti, I Am
Not to be confused with Big Gotti, Don Gotti, Juan Gotti, or the original, John Gotti, the boss of the Gambino crime family, Yo Gotti pays tribute to the fallen gangster with his own style of— well, actually, if we’re being honest here it’s not his own style at all, but a derivative hodgepodge of every Dirty South record you’ve ever heard. If that’s your thing, check it out. Though something tells me John wouldn’t have liked it.
The Killers, Direct Hits
The Killers can’t get anyone to buy their new songs. So how about their old ones? Anyone? Ya know what? Stop listening to The Killers. They had their moment, but it’s over. There’s great new music out there. Just put a little effort in, will ya?
Andrew Bird, I Want to See Pulaski at Night
Andrew Bird’s latest album is largely instrumental. A beautiful arrangement of strings, it feels very much like the score of an art house film, probably staring Chloë Sevigny somewhere on the plains, the wind blowing her hair as she stares out into vast nothingness. Or maybe that’s just me. If you’d like to hear Bird’s more radio-friendly stuff listen to The Mysterious Production of Eggs or Break It Yourself.
Lady Gaga, ARTPOP
An honorary gay man in a little Italian girl’s body, and hero to her little monsters, Gaga finally releases her long-awaited new album. With the unrelenting tabloid attention she receives and her affinity for bizarre costumes, it’s easy to forget how talented the girl is. The album is hit and miss, and at times unbearable if you don’t enjoy pop/dance music, but it’s impossible to listen to “Dope” or “Gypsy,” and not respect her tremendous voice.
Throwing Muse, Purgatory/Paradise
One of the seminal college bands of the 80’s and early 90’s returns. But as many of their compatriots have retired or just plain given up, will fans of the band from the first Bush presidency still be up for the band’s angsty rock? Or are they now too busy bumping Taylor Swift with their daughters? Something tells me the Muses are in trouble.
Toby Keith, Drinks After Work
Toby Keith, the country singer, is probably best known on the coasts for feuding with the Dixie Chicks after they criticized George Bush. I must admit that while there’s some country that I get and enjoy, but I’m not sure I’m the Toby Keith audience; this might be due to my more-or-less “Blue State” liberal views on a lot of things, or it might be because I have ears. Red State social conservatives and the ear-less, however, are going to love this thing.
Death Cab For Cutie, Transatlanticism Demos
The hipster songbirds, who are so soft now that they make The Shins look like The Stooges, have release the demos to their break out (but not best) album, Transatlanticism. While only the diehards will run out and purchase it, it is worthy of a listen on Spotify. After all, it’s free. A stripped down, slow, acoustic version of “The Sound of Settling” feels like a nod to Elliot Smith, and is a highlight. But if you’re looking for a Death Cab album to buy (or just stream on repeat – it’s on Spotify, too), pick up We Have The Facts And We’re Voting Yes instead.
After many delays, the Sri Lankan rapper/humanitarian/artist has finally released her first album since signing with Jay-Z’s management company. At times her self-righteous act can get a bit grating – she once declined being in People Magazine’s “Beautiful People” issue because, as she said, “Mother Teresa was never on the list.” Ugh. But, since her first album, Arular, dropped in 2005, M.I.A. has spawned an entire genre of strong, hip hop and electro-inspired female artists and she still sounds fresher than nearly all of them.
Mason Jennings, Always Been
No, he’s not related to Waylon Jennings. But Mason’s brand of simple singer-songwriter folk does seem to embrace the old country mantra of three chords and the truth. While there’s a little Jonathan Richman in his vocal, his music is more closely aligned with Ryan Adams, some Jon Brion, and Wilco. Certain to be played at your local coffee house come winter.
Lorde, Live In Concert (EP)
The just-turned-17 year-old is the youngest person to have the number one song since Tiffany did it in 1987. With such illustrious company, does anyone doubt that this Kiwi teenager is around for years to come? Don’t answer that – and besides, “Royals” is roughly 739 percent better than “I Think We’re Alone Now.”
Arcade Fire, Reflektor
They’ll never make another song as great as “Wake Up”. They just won’t. If you can accept that, you’ll realize that Reflektor is a very good album, probably better than the last one. If not, you’ll always be disappointed. By Arcade Fire albums. And by life.
Pearl Jam, Lightening Bolt
You either love Pearl Jam or you don’t and you probably made up your mind nearly 20 years ago. But while you’re still debating their role in the grunge era as it relates to Nirvana’s greatness, they’re one of the few real rock bands still out there. And unlike, say, Sting, they haven’t gotten softer as they’ve gone along – quite the opposite in fact.
I’m not really sure what Eminem still has to be angry about at this point, but these two track make clear he’s still plenty mad. He’s also still totally superior, skills-wise, to just about any other MC out there (save for my boy Kendrick Lamar).
Paul McCartney, New
At some point this Thanksgiving, the football games will end, only to be replaced with awkward silence between you and the old man. That’s when you play the new Paul McCartney album, and not just to placate the guy. Do it because, well … it’s actually really friggin’ good! The track “Queenie Eye” is a highlight and feels like vintage Paul.
Fall Out Boy, PAX AM Days
At some point don’t we have to change the name to Fall Out Man? Even Bow Wow dropped the “L’il” once his balls dropped. The band just released a new album earlier this year so it’s no surprise that this new EP lacks a lot of material (eight tracks and only one is over two minutes). But it’s more punk rock than it’s radio friendly predecessor, and therefore totally worth the thirteen minutes and nineteen seconds it will take to listen.
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