Staff Picks: Jefferson Airplane, Floating Points and ‘Friday Night Lights’ on Netflix


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. Scroll through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

Friday Night Lights on Netflix

One of the joys of covering television is that giant, gaping holes in your knowledge base are inevitable; there’s simply too much of it to have seen every notable show. You could see this as an impossible task (and probably be right), or you could see it as an opportunity — which is exactly how I feel about experiencing high school football drama Friday Night LIghts for the first time through the magic of Netflix. As someone who couldn’t tell you which teams are playing in this Sunday’s Super Bowl with a gun to my head, Dillon, Texas feels like an alien planet, and FNL‘s magic lies in the fact that it both knows how warped the town’s priorities are and forces viewers to empathize with those caught up in them. The series also doesn’t look like a network drama; adapted by director Peter Berg from his feature film of the same name, its handheld camerawork gives it an intimate feel that’s as far from the obviously staged sheen of most teen shows as it gets. All of which is to say it’s something I can feel about consuming three episodes at a time in the comfort of my own bed. — Alison Herman, TV Editor

Primal Scream and Sky Ferreira — “Where the Light Gets In”

We posted about this collaboration between Glaswegian dance-rock legends Primal Scream and great 21st-century pop hope Sky Ferreira on Monday, but if you haven’t listened to the song and watched the video yet, I urge you to do so immediately. Because the fact is that we’re smack in the middle of a sad, gray winter, and nothing will make you see the light at the end of it all like a sparkling new dance song. This track splits the difference between disco and glam rock, curiously (but not disrespectfully) references Leonard Cohen in both title and chorus, and comes accompanied by a video that’s all mod ’60s sparkle. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

This 50-Minute Live Floating Points Performance

Floating Points, née Sam Shepherd, released Elaenia last year on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label, and, in its own weird way, it has become one of my favorite jazz albums of the past decade. It doesn’t immediately register as a jazz album, there’s no piano or saxophone within its first few minutes, just strokes of watercolor electronics. Few people have written about it as a jazz album, and I’ve even questioned my perception of the album as anything close to jazz. Until now.

This performance clip from THUMP proves that this dude knows what he’s doing, jazz and otherwise. It’s 50 minutes of pure, chilled-out bliss, paired with some pretty stellar visuals. It may not be your father’s Coltrane, but it’s certainly a sound that’s entirely appropriate for 2016. — Shane Barnes, Associate Editor

Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll by Peter Guralnick

Guralnick’s long-time-coming biography of the musical innovator and Sun Records founder is a bit of a doorstop – 784 pages, so it’s a commitment. But if you have even a casual interest in the history of popular music, it’s worth the effort. Guralnick is one of our finest scribes of the era; his two-part Elvis bio, his Sam Cooke profile Dream Boogie, and his three indispensible volumes of short-form portraits all fused a historian’s attentiveness and thoroughness with a music critic’s passion and you-are-there immediacy. Here, Guralnick delves deep into what drove his subject into recording, and what ultimately drove him away; he takes you into those sessions, which are presented as revolutionary without being mythic, and digs into his private life in a manner that’s candid without being gossipy. Guralnick only really stumbles when the time comes to work himself into the story, but that’s an unenviable and perhaps impossible task; that complaint aside, this is a breezy, fascinating chronicle. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow

Two members of Jefferson Airplane — Paul Kantner and Signe Anderson (the band’s first lead singer, who was replaced by Grace Slick when she left the band in 1966) — died this week. As news with the deaths of artists often does, this had me revisiting Surrealistic Pillow, the band’s most iconic work of psychedelia, and an album I fell in love with — knowing nothing about its historical or thematic context — when I heard my mom playing it when I was very young. (Anderson no longer was with the band at the point this album was released — in 1967). Outside of making a mixtape — with “White Rabbit,” and solely “White Rabbit” — playing on both sides of the tape on repeat (naturally, it reminded me of Disney), I was also enamored — in whatever way a kid can be — of the infinite warmth and softness of the instrumental “Embryonic Journey,” the curious, dreamlike suspension of “Today,” Grace Slick’s visceral, adamant bleating on “Somebody to Love.” In revisiting the album, I’m glad to find I’m equally fond — and that I now have the vocabulary to know why. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor


I’m very happy about the return of Portlandia. I’m a longtime student (and occasional practitioner) of comedy, and I’ve struggled to figure out what category Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s show fits into. As a sketch show in which the storylines often converged, Portlandia reflected many other series, from Monty Python to Kroll Show. Even then, the show’s leisurely, oddball humor set it apart from the noise and ferocity of most modern comedy. But Fred and Carrie apparently became tired with that familiar concept and, last year, switched to a format which followed one set of characters in a single storyline each week. This season continues that idea, making Portlandia a cross between a sitcom, a sketch show, a Louis C.K.-style meditation on a topic, and a mini-movie. Clever, quiet, quirky, and whimsical, it’s the lazy Saturday afternoon version of sketch comedy. Check it out on IFC every Thursday. — Jason Ginsburg, Social Media Editor

Twofold Inc. (iOS and Android)

The best smartphone puzzle games — Threes, Drop 7, even Candy Crush — all combine complex matchmaking with wild colors and impulsive, sometimes mind-numbing finger swiping. Martin Jonasson’s Twofold Inc. captures all of those elements and distills them into their most impulsive, addictive form. Players move and connect colorful square to hit certain numbers “quotas” within a certain number of moves. While there’s plenty of planning required in order to succeed, the game’s true achievement is its ability to satisfy even completely mystified players with bright colors, quick moves, and explosive feedback. In other words, there’s a satisfying intellectual challenge for when you’re focused, and fast-moving, bright colors for when you’re only giving it half of your attention. — Michael Epstein, Editorial Apprentice