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 recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

Hundred Waters — The Moon Rang Like a Bell

On a first date, we can all agree that it might seem hasty for a fellow Tinder-er, Cupid, Grindr, whatevr to plead, “show me love”; Hundred Waters’ The Moon Rang Like a Bell does just that. That “Show Me Love,” the album’s most emotionally and sonically bare track (a one minute, 16-second a cappella piece), comes first should be an indication that the band isn’t fooling around. It’s a rare case where such a plea is delivered with enough eloquence and earnestness not to seem unwarranted; it reels the listener in, leaving us hungering for another personal imperative. And, likewise paralleling the first stages of a relationship, its sweetness and candor quickly plunge us into the darker territory of the rest of the album (listen to “Chambers”); in these songs, meaning becomes obfuscated by electronics and layered, looping vocals (on “Murmers,” singer Nicole Miglis seems to be channeling Elizabeth Fraser). Hundred Waters, it turns out, doesn’t need to ask me to show its folk-meets-Skrillex (they’re signed to his label, OWSLA) tunes love – I’m already fully enchanted.— Moze Halperin, Editorial Apprentice

Benny the Jet Rodriguez — Home. Run

Benny the Jet Rodriguez first caught my ear during last year’s Fest in Gainesville, when I checked them out based solely on their name (a reference to The Sandlot!). I immediately fell in love — not only because they have great songs but because it takes a really amazing set to hold my attention after ten-plus drunk and sweaty hours of seeing bands in the Florida sun. I caught them again over the weekend, when they played alongside the equally-great bands Adult Dude and Chumped, and was reminded of how much I adore this album. It’s catchy pop-punk that manages to be both heavy and youthful at the same time. I’ve been listening to it for days. — Pilot Viruet, TV Editor

The Rap Test.com

One of my favorite things to do is to accumulate unnecessary knowledge, and then take quizzes to measure my success. I’ve made no secret of my lifelong Kanye West worship, but this fun game (OK, it’s just guessing songs really quickly from clips) helps really quantify whether I’m his #1 fan or #6,000. I got to Level 8, which is not bad, but I think Mr. West would be disappointed. Anyway, you can test your knowledge of a bunch of other rappers, too: Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Tupac, and Meek Mill. Kiss your lunch break goodbye! — Isabella Biedenharn, Editorial Apprentice

David Gilbert’s & Sons

I love a big, sprawling, New York creative-class novel like Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children, and David Gilbert’s work, new to paperback, is just as ambitious. The story of an elderly patriarch who wrote a Catcher in the Rye-like classic, & Sons is concerned with family and the legacy that A.N. Deyer will leave behind to his children. It’s a funny book, rooted in the landscape of the Upper East Side and Central Park and the comings and goings of the literary world, and has line after line that’s very underline-able. For example: “Fathers start as gods and end as myths and in between whatever human form they take can be calamitous to their sons.” — Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor

Hearts and Minds on Criterion Blu-ray

Criterion’s new Blu-ray upgrade of this 1974 Best Documentary winner finally moved it to the top of my viewing stack, and if you too have missed it thus far, it should be on yours as well. Though forty years old, it’s a decidedly modern documentary: no narration and no illusion of objectivity, ironically employing archival footage and sly editing to argue a political point of view. In this case, the POV is that Vietnam was a disaster, and director Peter Davis talks to the expected military and government figures, but also vets (both pro- and ant-war) and the Vietnamese people themselves. It’s a model of editing efficiency, and the footage of bloodshed and carnage hasn’t lost any of its considerable power. Thoughtful, provocative, and quietly furious, it’s a must-see. (Bonus features include an audio commentary and over two hours of outtakes.) — Jason Bailey, Film Editor