Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.


Nick Hornby, More Baths Less Talking

It seems like there’s something vaguely meta about using this feature to recommend a book full of columns recommending books, but Nick Hornby’s “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” columns for The Believer are a real treat — funny, informative, passionate — and the most recent collection of them, More Baths Less Talking, is as pleasurable as ever. Hornby is a terrific novelist, but also a fine critic; these freewheeling columns not only showcase his conversational writing, but will prompt most readers to make several additions to their own “BOOKS BOUGHT” lists. —Jason Bailey, Film Editor


Carissa’s Wierd, You Should Be at Home Here

Chamber pop is one of the many musical subgenres whose name kind of doomed it to dismissal. The image it evokes is precious and pretentious, suggesting old-timey costumes and performances in painstakingly restored 19th-century theaters. And certainly, some chamber-pop music lived up to the stereotype. But not Carissa’s Wierd, a turn-of-the-millennium Seattle band whose music is comprised of strums and whispers and delicate violins. I’ve been belatedly exploring their discography, beginning with Hardly Art’s gorgeous 2010 reissue of their first proper album. It’s the perfect music for dulling the edges of the fiercest winter in recent memory. —Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief


Angel Taylor, Love Travels

During weeks of endless snow, I’m always compelled to listen to the 2009 debut (and only) album from singer-songwriter Angel Taylor. Her voice has the warming effect of a giant mug of hot chocolate, or, like one of her songs, a “Chai Tea Latte.” As a bonus, it also has a couple fantastic breakup songs if you need to have an angry-cry in your room alongside lines like, “You were never my epiphany,” and “You’re not even human, you’re just a lovely idea of one.” —Isabella Biedenharn, Editorial Apprentice


Transparent on Amazon

In Arrested Development, Jeffrey Tambour showed off his surprising versatility; with a turtle-y face and a recognizable baritone, he managed to channel these stubborn qualities into polar-opposite twin characters Oscar and George Bluth, Sr. Now, with Amazon’s Transparent pilot, Tambour gets another chance to play duality, but within one character. From a scene at a family dinner in which Tambour’s character performs masculinity, to a scene of him in bed, shaking his balding mane out from a ponytail with a look of relief — as though with each return to femininity he’s shedding 60 years of posturing — his mannerisms morph so seamlessly. He is, of course, the same character, but the discomfort each experiences is wholly different: though corporeally and socially uncomfortable as a man, he experiences another form of discomfort in being a new and therefore visible performer of femininity. Apart from Tambour’s performance, which with just one pilot deserves pages of writing, the rest of the cast is equally affecting: the “blowing-up!” Gaby Hoffman as the daughter who likes to be dominated, Amy Landecker as the “straight” married daughter with an eye for women, and Jay Duplass, the womanizing son who appears to frequent an older, salt-of-the-earth healer/prostitute. Creator Jill Soloway’s documentation of the complexities of this family’s unconventional sex lives — as well as a drool-worthy brand of alternative-L.A. lifestyle porn — reflects that of Six Feet Under, for which she likewise wrote and served as executive producer. After one episode, this family proves just as intriguing, lovel,y and sad as the Fishers. —Moze Halperin, Editorial Apprentice


American Football, American Football

Maybe it’s a combination of Mercury Retrograde and the hibernate-for-days weather, but lately I’ve been feeling like listening to the kind of indie emo stuff that populated all my high school playlists (Dashboard Confessional and Death Cab for Cutie, say what?). And while I’d never heard of the band American Football until this year, I’ve come to view their self-titled 1999 album as a quintessential ode to disenfranchised teenagerdom. It’s heartbreaking and nostalgic and perfect for lying on the floor, feeling utterly despondent and suburban. —Brie Hiramine, Editorial Apprentice


St. Vincent, St. Vincent

This week I’ve been loving the new self-titled St Vincent album, which is streaming at NPR. Quite apart from the fascinating concepts Annie Clark addresses with the album’s lyrics — which I wrote about today — it’s just a damn good listen, with some of the best songs of Clark’s career allied to heavy use of electronic sounds and exemplary production. And it features the line “Remember the time we snorted/ That piece of the Berlin Wall you’d extorted.” —Tom Hawking, Music Editor


Erin Markey, There’s a New Emergency Contact in Town

I’m super excited to see Erin Markey’s new show on Sunday night at Joe’s Pub. Markey is an intense cabaret performer, bringing an absurd, uncomfortable sense of humor blended with a powerful voice. (She’s a natural for Joe’s Pub, which has become almost the center of the downtown performance scene.) Accompanied by the Julie Ruin’s Kenny Mellman on piano, you can expect a night of original songs, covers, and stories that recount “the frailties of midwestern family life and salvation by Bible Belt Christians, leotards, and the terror of Dads.” If you’re not convinced, here’s a pretty great example of her work: a cover of “Saving All My Love for You” honoring the late Whitney Houston. —Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor