In Battleborn, a collection of short stories, Claire Vaye Watkins recreates the rich and complicated history of the desert regions of California and Nevada. The title is derived from one of Nevada’s nicknames, The Battle Born State, which it earned by becoming a state during the Civil War. Similarly, the ghosts of past battles are never far away from the characters’ minds as they struggle through life. Watkins succeeds at using regional details to ... Read More
   Purity Ring, the Canadian electronic duo of Corin Roddick and Megan James, sounds like water so freezing cold it shocks your skin—it’s surprising, uncomfortable, and disorienting. Icy-blue notes appear throughout their debut full-length album, Shrines, as James’ aloof-but-assertive vocals go in and out of focus, trading places moment to moment with spastic synthesizers. Roddick handles that instrument, turning delicate melodies ... Read More
  Oksana Marafioti’s memoir brings to light a minority culture that most people have very little knowledge of beyond TLC’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. Yes, Marafioti does write about one of those extravagant affairs, in which she donned a mango-colored taffeta gown and teased her hair to the heavens, but the strength of her book lies in the way it makes her Romani family, who moved to California in the early ’90s, and their over-the-top ... Read More
U.K. singer Lianne La Havas is standing on the precipice of superstardom. She’s been buzzed about and blogged about, but until very recently, we’d only heard a few of her songs (including the amazing “Forget,” which you should check out on YouTube immediately). Luckily, we had the opportunity to check out an intimate showcase by La Havas here in NYC, and were blown away by her confidence on stage and by her powerful-yet-delicate voice. ... Read More
In Overdressed, New York-based writer Elizabeth Cline explores the extreme decline in the cost of fashion, and the political, economic, and social implications of this change. Cline begins with a personal yet familiar anecdote: she once bought seven pairs of $7 shoes in a single haul, only to eventually throw half of them out without having worn them once. Most of us who grew up in the ’90s practice Cline’s former shopping ritual: consistently buying ... Read More