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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