California Literary Review

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Album Review: Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob

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February 21st, 2013

Heartthrob is deeply wounded and most of it is sad. Its emotional palette is reds and pinks, raw and tender, skin scrubbed too fiercely. But for all its sadness, all its discussion of never-going-to-work relationships, it’s an incredibly hopeful album. Not optimistic, per se but determined, teeth-gritted and snarling. Hope’s necessary for that, even if it is in small and ragged quantity. And hope’s never really stronger than when it’s down to its last shreds.

Halloween Home Video #2: Pascal Laugier’s The Tall Man

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October 10th, 2012

Halloween Home Video 2012, for your spooky holiday enjoyment! Today’s pick: Pascal Laugier’s moody thriller The Tall Man

Album review: Purity Ring’s Shrines

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August 6th, 2012

James plays on her small-sounding voice a lot, which I found increasingly grating the more I listened to the album. It’s partly a personal intolerance for grown women playing twee but also there’s something frustrating about ambitious, wide instrumentals, whose breathy intimacy didn’t need any greater emphasis, being somewhat reduced by a vocal not always interesting enough to accompany them.

Tom Russell: American Primitive Man

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December 13th, 2010

Every Tom Russell song has something to say about the human heart. In each voice he invokes there are universal echoes of love, doubt, weakness, fear, restlessness and faith. The figure of the wanderer – whether soldier, cowboy, nomad, pioneer, outcast or pilgrim – passes again and again through his work.

Fortune’s a River by Barry Gough

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March 5th, 2008

By the closing years of the 18th century the stage was set for a major international confrontation over the Pacific Northwest Coast. Imperial Russia controlled the untamed Alaskan wilderness, Spain was expanding its holdings north from Mexico, Captain James Cook had claimed Northwest America for Great Britain and Captain Robert Gray had discovered the Columbia River, the historical basis for the United States’ claim to the river and the extensive watershed that extends eastward far into Montana.

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