Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

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Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers each recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed the most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

This Charming Charlie

This week I choose This Charming Charlie, a Tumblr based around the frankly genius concept of combining panels from Peanuts with lyrics from Smiths songs. Peanuts has long been one of my favorite comic strips — there’s always been an air of existential despair hanging over Charlie Brown, but it’s impressive just how well the lyrics work with other characters, too (particularly the ongoing Lucy-and-the-football joke.) —Tom Hawking, Music Editor

And Sons by David Gilbert

I just finished David Gilbert’s And Sons and thought it was fantastic. It’s the story of A.N. Dyer, a well-known novelist living in Manhattan (a sort of Roth/Salinger/Bellow composite) and his fraught relationship with his three sons, as narrated by the son of his late best friend, who would have liked to have been one of Dyer’s sons himself. Gilbert intersperses the scenes with passages from Dyer’s most celebrated novel, Ampersand, which seems to be a sort of cross between A Separate Peace and The Catcher in the Rye. It’s witty and dark (an ideal combination for me) and there’s some nice skewering of the self-importance of much of the New York literary scene. —Elizabeth Spiers, Editorial Director

This was a weekend full of revisiting albums I’ve listened to 1000 times before like Bandwagonesque by Teenage Fanclub, Paris 1919 by John Cale, and London Calling by The Clash. They’re all albums I’m sure we’ve all heard plenty, but are all also so wonderful that they just work perfectly during the dog days of summer. —Jason Diamond, Literary Editor

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vW4pTe0yRAc]

The A&R EP by Annie

2013 has been really, really good for Annie fans. Earlier this year, the Norwegian pop goddess made up for a four year hiatus with two really good singles, then to top it all off, she promised a whole EP of new stuff with genius producer Richard X. And indeed, five whole songs from Annie and Richard X came out this month! It’s like Christmas, except way too few people care! The ’90s-influenced EP does a great job of covering how European clubs sounded back then, moving from light and poppy to sublimely dramatic. And its Annie’s investment and experience with the ’90s club scene that sets her apart from Top 40 starlets, who try in vain to capture a sound they were probably too young to hear. Annie and Richard X’s loving ode to the era is proof that if you really want to know what the ’90s sounded like, ask people who were there.

We’re Gonna Die by Young Jean Lee / Future Wife

On Saturday I saw Young Jean Lee’s performance piece We’re Gonna Die for the second time; the first was last September at Lincoln Center, where she’s reprising the show. It sounds a lot more morbid than it really is. Lee ruminates on life’s tragedies, particularly her personal ones: lost friendships, lost love, the death of her father. Ultimately, she gives the audience a glimmer of hope in an unexpected message: we’re all going to die, because we’re people, and part of being a healthy person is the realization that no one is special or immune to bad things. With the help of her band, Future Wife, Lee sings some excellent songs about pain, death, and hope, and she has released the album (featuring Kathleen Hanna, Laurie Anderson, and David Byrne reciting the monologues, to name a few). Above is the closing number. —Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor