Get your headphones on...
- Wait for Me by Moby (Mute): Moby's not always the most reliable musician in the world, but this time around he's done something just right. Ditching the disco dance pretensions of 2007's Last Night, the mononymous DJ has returned to what he does best: mellow, chill-out, introspective mood music. On Wait for Me,Moby thankfully seems to have accepted that he'll never recapture the staggering crowd-pleasing successes of Play and focuses instead on making music that's personal and meaningful. Recorded entirely in his bedroom and released on his own imprint, Little Idiot, the music is freed from any marketer's meddling, and allowed to ruminate on masterfully melodic mourning. The soft sounds of Wait for Me drift in and out like a midnight fantasy, providing some of the most haunting music in recent memory. Check out the creepy and beautiful David Lynch-directed video for the album's first single, "Shot in the Back of the Head."
- I'm Going Awayby the Fiery Furnaces (Thrill Jockey): Fiery Furnaces front woman Eleanor Friedberger is frankly the fiercest functioning female indie rocker operating today. Alliteration aside, it's clearly criminal that Eleanor has not won the Grammy for Best Voice, if such a thing exists. After seven solid albums (in a mere six years) in which Eleanor and her brother Matthew's playful piano pop experimentation served as an entree for distortion-dabbling voluptuous soundscapes, the Friedbergers have scaled down their operation with their latest LP, I'm Going Away . This simple set seems positively microscopic in contrast to the epic storytelling embedded within their famously globetrotting lyrics, and it's a pleasant surprise. Focusing on personal regret and melancholy, the album dips its toes into ballad territory just deep enough, carefully retaining the upbeat schizoid excitement that makes the Furnaces so great. The band members themselves describe the album as less Titanic than Taxi (the classic TV sitcom), a sentiment that is no more evident than on the highlight of the record, "The End Is Near," which sounds like the beautifully contemplative theme song to a TV show that will sadly never be broadcast.
- Music for Menby the Gossip : Three years after the group's watershed album Standing in the Way of Control , plenty has changed for the the girl behind the Gossip: the vocally staggering, bisexual, and proudly plus-size Beth Ditto . From the band's humble queercore roots in Olympia, Wash., Ditto's taken the Gossip to international stardom, hobnobbing with celebrities, making regular appearances on British television, and posing for a plethora of eye-popping magazine covers. So the Gossip's follow-up album is being closely watched for the first sign of a misstep -- especially by the tabloid-mongerers who feed on Ditto's outspoken, controversy-prone every move. With the backing of a major label and the help of legendary producer Rick Rubin, the band has successfully averted disaster on Music for Men. The new record is a sexy and slick entry into the pop realm that doesn't chuck the Gossip's gritty charm with the bathwater, rather accentuating the group's dark, edgy guitar work and Ditto's velvet soul with a stream of candy-coated Rick Rubin glitter. Don't miss the band's nostalgic ode to gay love, "Men in Love," a song that's the complete opposite of Katy Perry's substance-free piggyback ride into gay taboo, and the synth-heavy dance floor come-hither, "Four Letter Word." The Gossip decided to get physical and make this silly infomercial to spread the word on this album:
Get cozy on the couch...
- Pedro : The other biopic of a legendary and charismatic queer historical figure written by Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black ( Milk ) is this look at the too-brief life of AIDS activist and Real World star Pedro Zamora, played here by Alex Loynaz. If you saw Pedro and his fellow cast members on MTV the first time, it's hard to take this cast in their place, but the film tells a moving and powerful story. The DVD includes an introduction by Bill Clinton.
- The Lucille Ball Specials: Lucy Gets Lucky & Three for Two : Unseen since their original airing in the mid 1970s, these two TV specials feature sitcom queen Ball doing her thing with the likes of Dean Martin and Jackie Gleason, her onetime rivals for prime-time supremacy. DVD extras include a documentary, radio interviews with Martin, and rare footage of Lucille Ball.
- The Queens of Country: Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline : If your favorite divas were more likely to have played the Grand Ole Opry than Studio 54, then this three-disc set is for you. The Parton and Lynn DVDs include long-unseen TV performances, while the Cline collection features many rare full-length performances and well as her final TV appearance before her fatal plane crash.
Check for showtimes...
- Public Enemies: When summer movies are aimed at teenage boys ( Transformers ) or counterprogrammed in the direction of what Hollywood assumes women want to see (the ruinous Ghosts of Girlfriends Past ), it's like finding an actual oasis in the desert when a stylish, well-made film for grown-ups comes along. This one has Johnny Depp as John Dillinger and Christian Bale as the FBI man on his trail, and it was helmed by acclaimed director Michael Mann. That means you go see it.
- Ice Age 3: Dawn of The Dinosaurs: Warmhearted wooly mammoths and wacky sloths disrupt evolutionary history and coexist with adorable dinosaur babies. But you know you're really going just to see if Scrat ever gets that nut. (Spoiler: This time he's got a girlfriend sparring with him over that scrap of food, so the romance angle is smoking hot.)
Head to the bookstore...
- Mental by Eddie Sarfaty: Sarfaty's collection of personal essays proves the truth that there is dignity and hilarity in what may seem ordinary. His short episodes individually encapsulate the range of human emotion; together they make a case for and against any notion of adult sanity.
- Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde by Thomas Wright: Emerson said that books don't belong to authors but to the eyes that read them. In Built of Books, Wright explores Wilde's library and assembles a convincing collection that catalogs Wilde's psyche by saturating readers with the titles, chapters, and words that he read.
- Moral Panics, Sex Panics: Fear and the Fight Over Sexual Rights, edited by Gilbert Herdt: Noted scholars from across the national conversation on sexuality are featured in essays that focus on AIDS, sex education, abortion, and other issues of sexuality and body politics. This enlightening text shows that our brains really are connected to our lower organs, and the revealed results are mixed.