‘Utopia:’ Björk finds love in an alien place

Björk may be from Iceland, but she wants us to believe she’s from somewhere much farther away. Her aesthetic is anything but consistent; the only aspect tying together her alt-rock band The Sugarcubes, genre-hopping early solo projects and her more thematic and ambitious post-1997 projects is her unmistakable vocal delivery. Starting with her masterpiece “Homogenic,” the singer/songwriter/producer began crafting her identity as some sort of an interdimensional or extraterrestrial being. Her albums meld experimental electronic with avant-garde classical traditions, creating melodically and instrumentally challenging music which can prove emotionally rewarding for those willing to follow her otherworldly adventures. “Utopia”...

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‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is a zany, hilarious joyride

Early in “Thor: Ragnarok,” the third film entry of the Norse god’s solo adventures, Loki (disguised as Odin) is watching a play featuring fake Thor, Loki and Odin. It’s an exact recreation of Loki’s fake death scene in “Thor: The Dark World,” rendered hilarious here by surprising celebrity cameos. Director Taika Waititi is sending a clear message: this is not like the underwhelming, super-serious movies that came before. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. Anyone that’s seen the New Zealand director’s beloved cult comedy “What We Do in the Shadows” is familiar with his pension for quirky scenes, improvised...

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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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