I went crazy for Analog Africa’s Amara Touré anthology at first listen and became an instant fan of the label. I finally got a hold of their newest release, Space Echo, which is another impressive compilation. The (semi-true?) story behind the album sounds like something from a lost ‘70s sci-fi movie. You can read about that from our own Matthew Ismael Ruiz, who reviewed Space Echo in May. It basically involves a shipwreck, a boatload of synthesizers, and a strange turn of fate. The cosmic sounds that resulted from this happy accident in Cabo Verde redefined traditional music and dance genres like morna and funaná. And it’s ridiculously fun. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor
The Great British Baking Show
Let me make some things clear: I can’t stand most cooking shows, and I think, over the last decade, I’ve watched enough reality TV for a lifetime. But The Great British Baking Show (renamed when it aired in the States, from its original The Great British Bake Off) holds a special place in my heart for being the most adorable, most British (less of their Monty Python sardonic or racist imperialism brand, more Queen Elizabeth and her corgis) thing I’ve ever seen. Unlike the gimmicky, overdramatic bloodbaths of American shows (see a perfect analysis here), GBBO consistently delivers a set of friendly, focused, and quality bakers, their creations (episodes are themed around cakes, “biscuits,” pies and tarts, desserts, bread, patisserie, etc.) a tantalizing mix of food and art. Everything takes place in a perfectly picturesque park, and lambs, yes, baby freaking lambs are a common scene transition! Everyone hugs at the end. It’s perfect.
Netflix has Season 3, which was the first to air in America, but you can get the first two on PBS’s website. Ready, get set, watch baking! — Carmen Triola, Editorial Apprentice
Atrocious acting, hilariously inept fight choreography, clumsy edits, outrageously dated dialogue, disastrously unerotic sex scenes, blown dialogue cues, awkward framing and camerawork – make no mistake, there’s no shortage of flaws in the films of Rudy Ray Moore. You have to love bad movies to love Moore’s movies, but if you do, they’re a goldmine. Yet a recent re-viewing of his inaugural effort (newly restored and reissued on Blu-ray by the fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome) confirms that there’s more to these films than the pleasure of pointing and laughing. There’s something sort of charming about them, a quality film writer Nathan Rabin called “exquisitely unselfconscious”; Moore’s got his story to tell, and he’s not going to let niceties or aesthetics slow him down. And as cheap and unwieldy as they are, they supplied a vision of black heroism, sensuality, and performance that was all but invisible onscreen, then and now. Vinegar’s restoration makes the film look better than it ever has (presumably including even its initial theatrical release), and they’ve thankfully included the original and immortal full-frame version, a la the incorrectly framed VHS release whose omnipresent boom microphone made the film look (miraculously) even more amateurish. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor
Service by Platon
One of the premier portraitists of the 21st century, Platon’s distinctive wide-angle portrait style remains as fresh as it when his infamous Bill Clinton “crotch shot” debuted on the cover of Esquire. He’s since been named staff photographer at the New Yorker, and has shot all manner of celebrities and luminaries. But his latest project, Service, focuses on the men and women of the armed forces. The crisp, textured black-and-white photographs look great in the hardcover book, and he’ll exhibit prints at Milk Gallery in New York this summer. The book has words from both Elisabeth Biondi and Sebastian Junger; the show at Milk runs June 22-July 24. — Matthew Ismael Ruiz, Music Editor
The Gays Are Finally (Almost?) Over Nick Jonas
Last week, I wrote about Nick Jonas’s persona as a gay-ish straight man who happens to be incredibly attractive and sings OK songs. I wrote about the way he’s exploited the weakness of gay men in order to sell records, but I also called out gay men for being so easily manipulated. The piece struck a (fairly quiet) chord. Everyone seemed to be over Jonas’s schtick. And then, earlier this week, he appeared at NYC queer institution Stonewall to speak during a vigil that was being held for the LGBT people and their allies who were killed in the Pulse shooting over the weekend. Twitter was not happy, and more and more criticism sprung up around the internet, chastising Jonas for his continued gay-baiting, and also criticizing the gay community for not giving more attention to queer performers who were just as outspoken as Jonas — and more talented, natch.
This is just a small bump on his road to bigger, gayer fame, I’m sure, but it was nice to see the queer community call itself on its bullshit, especially in such rough times. — Shane Barnes, Associate Editor
Manus x Machina at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
This weekend was my first time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the very first lesson I learned was to never visit a touristy museum in a touristy city on a weekend. I could hardly see the statues of naked white men with small penises between the hordes of dad bods and fanny packs. However, I was determined to walk the same stairs that the likes of Beyoncé and Rihanna have slayed upon at the annual Met Gala. But more importantly, I wanted to visit the Costume Institute to see Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology. The Spring 2016 exhibit explores the ways combinations of handmade and machine-made technologies are used in the creation of haute couture and over-the-top ready-to-wear get ups. For me, some of the highlights were a Gareth Pugh dress made of mesh and hand embroidered drinking straws, all of the McQueen pieces, and the exhibit’s centerpiece, a wedding gown designed by Karl Lagerfeld with a 20 foot train. Lagerfeld hand drew the print on the train, which was digitally recreated over and over again as an outline for the gold embroidery. The next day I joined a Buddhist group and later talked about aliens at a BBQ and when I arrived home I couldn’t help but think about the constant merging of both worlds and technologies. — Sesali B., (Pop) Culture and Politics Staff Writer