Max Goldberg

Do you believe in White Magic?

The witchy duo shine on with Dark Stars
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The folkish side of indie rock has been blessed with several female songwriters who have unique, affecting voices — Chan Marshall, Joanna Newsom, Becky Stark — but White Magic's Mira Billotte is in a different league altogether. Her vocal tracks thunder and shiver all over the register, fearlessly chasing down radical intonations and bold tonal colors. Where the others can all sound a little fey and princessy, Billotte's full-spectrum blasts hark back to the possessed passion of '60s stunners like Grace Slick, Karen Dalton, and — why not? Read more »

Remain in light

Chasing after Aquarius with the Source Family
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"The body, and its pleasures and powers, is rarely far from the spirit in California," Erik Davis writes in his introduction to Isis Aquarian's firsthand account The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13, and the Source Family (Process). Read more »

Goldie winner -- Music: Wooden Shjips

The dark star that lurks beneath flower power
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Wooden Shjips released their "Dance, California/Clouds over Earthquake" 7-inch single (Sick Thirst) last year in much the same way as they had their instigating, self-released Shrinking Moon for You 10-inch: packaged in an unassuming, clear plastic sleeve with hardly any information besides song titles. Beyond sending bloggers and journalists into a tizzy over their sexy, squalling grooves, this set confirmed Wooden Shjips as essential California. Read more »

All that noise

New Yorker critic Alex Ross surveys the many faces of 20th-century classical music
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Seven up

Picks from the Vancouver International Film Festival
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1. Dans la Ville de la Sylvia (José Luis Guerín, France/Spain)

2. My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, Canada) My two favorites of the festival were both ghost stories in which a haunted protagonist (fey Xavier Lafitte in Sylvia and Maddin's voice-over in My Winnipeg) traces his past in a city charged with memory. Read more »

More sad hits

Another dream date with Damon and Naomi
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It's been nearly two decades since Galaxie 500 broke through with their languid, fuzzed-out dream pop, and rhythm section Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang still live and record in the Ivy Leagued shadow of their Cambridge, Mass., alma mater, Harvard University. Perpetual college rock? It's true their recordings as a duo have retained Galaxie 500's moody overtones, but the self-consciously wide-screen canvas is gone: instead of soaring chorus and spiral-jetty guitar wails, Damon and Naomi emphasize smart pop arrangements and subdued vocal harmonies. Read more »

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: Fresh air

Life after Smog with Bill Callahan
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"I could tell you about the river," Bill Callahan bellows on "From the Rivers to the Ocean," the opening salvo of his most recent record, Woke on a Whaleheart (Drag City). There's a pregnant pause, he drops his voice between ascending piano chords — "Or ..." — and then a sweet melody buoys the rest of the line, "... Read more »

Atmosphere and an actress

A gliding guide: the double visions and global nightmares of Olivier Assayas
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Olivier Assayas's films are both strange and engrossing, so much so that they may evade broad comprehension on the first go-round. Whereas instigating French new wave directors like Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut played fast and loose with tone and narrative structure to create jarring juxtapositions, Assayas does so to effect a subtler, more mysterious sense of illumination. Read more »

The afterworld

>A second posthumous novel by Suite Française author Irène Némirovsky argues for literature's enduring life
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REVIEW "Stress eternal life." Irène Némirovsky inscribed these words in her diary on July 1, 1942, less than two weeks before she was arrested under Vichy race laws, a month and a half before her death at Auschwitz. She wrote concerning a cycle of novels conceived to reflect the everyday qualities of life during wartime — a portrait emphasizing pettiness and pity, fear and loathing. Read more »

"American Dirge"

Ryan Coffey's mystic '60s
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REVIEW I confess: despite having a disproportionate appetite for '60s leftovers — from the children of Coca-Cola and Marx to the Mamas and the Papas, I eat it all up — I've felt my enthusiasm flagging in the past couple of weeks. Is it Summer of Love indolence? Brightblack ballyhoo? Regardless, what a stirring relief to come upon "American Dirge," a solo show at Tartine Bakery spotlighting the charmed collages of local up-and-comer Ryan Coffey. Read more »