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‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ is fun, but tries to do too much

The ultimate allure of the spy movie lies in its fantastic elements. When you strip the genre down to its essentials, you have colorful villains with ludicrous plots facing off against suave gentleman armed with classic good looks, charisma and ultra-hi-tech gadgets. In other words, you have “Kingsman.” “Kingsman: The Secret Service” opened in 2014 to modest buzz but quickly developed a large fanbase declaring their love from the social media mountaintops. It’s easy to see why the film generated such enthusiasm; crafted as a love letter to the James Bond films of yore, it stars dapper Brits (Taron...

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Vince Staples drops the bass on the album of the summer with ‘Big Fish Theory’

Rap and EDM. Those two things go together like peanut butter and spaghetti; I suppose you could convince me that it’s a good combo, but only if you change one or the other until it’s almost unrecognizable. Hip-hop and electronic music have always gone hand in hand, but you almost never see a full-fledged rap over a full-fledged, techno dance beat. Kanye West rapped over industrial beats on “Yeezus,” but the result was more rage-fueled than danceable, and Drake has incorporated two-step and Afro-electro beats on the likes of “Passionfruit” and “One Dance,” but he switches to his sing-song...

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The National complicates their somber sound on ‘Sleep Well Beast’

If the age-old concept that sadness has a physical presence, a sort of heaviness that weighs on your shoulders and could sonically manifest itself, the result would probably sound a lot like The National. Their songs seem bent on pressing down on you in the same way that pop music wants to lift you up; the piano and bass draw rich, long chords over you like a blanket, synthesizers and strings emit hauntingly mournful moans and lead singer Matt Berninger’s signature baritone is the vocal equivalent of a defeated, weary sigh. Decidedly sorrowful since their 2001 debut, The National...

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LCD Soundsystem returns from the dead to hone their classic dance-punk sound

Certain artists manage to stay recognizable, if not relevant, as time passes. Everyone knows a Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston or Bee Gees tune, and some of them manage to fulfill the same purpose they had decades ago — to get people on the dance floor. At the same time, generations of people can sing along to iconic choruses from the Beatles or big-hair bands like Journey and Bon Jovi. Those were popular bands that can be recognized as such now. Like other non-mainstream cultures, history hasn’t been so kind to the alternative music of days past. That’s right, people:...

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‘Game of Thrones’ makes a mad dash for the endzone

Television, which was once condensed to weekly programs on three or four channels, has expanded so vastly in recent years that it’s impossible for a person to watch every show of note. In such a diluted market, the TV series-as-a-cultural-event, where, for the course of an hour, a large swath of viewers has their eyes on the same program, has essentially died. The exception to that rule is “Game of Thrones,” which is the only show that, while episodes are airing, everybody is talking about all the time. The question is, how did it manage to accomplish its astronomical...

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