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.

Erin Markey’s You Actually Could Have Fooled Me

Downtown cabaret performer Erin Markey returns to Joe’s Pub this Saturday in a show called You Actually Could Have Fooled Me. I caught her show back in February (which featured the song “Hurricane Sandy,” heard in the video above), and it absolutely blew me away. Combining original songs and covers with stories of nude feminist performance art, sex work, as well as other hilariously awkward and poignant situations, Markey delivers both laughs and astounding vocals in a way that makes her audience feel both at ease and incredibly uncomfortable. As you can hear in the song above, Markey’s got a beautiful voice, a stellar sense of comedic timing, and the good fortune of being accompanied by The Julie Ruin’s Kenny Mellman on piano. —Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

Processed with VSCOcam

 

The American Guide’s Zine

The American Guide has a wonderful zine out that I really hope
everybody picks up so they can make more. The first issue is short,
but filled with arresting photos from forgotten spots in the middle of
the country. —Jason Diamond, Literary Editor

5cc0d3707f3868c9047fe44135de4948.600x600x1

Z, SZA

Solana Rowe, better known by her stage name SZA, released her debut album, Z, earlier this month. It’s part of the melty, alt-R&B genre with some jazzy elements sprinkled in. Her voice on the tracks sounds slightly removed, in danger of dreamily floating away. Standout tracks are “Babylon,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Green Mile,” and “Sweet November.” In the latter, a few lines are spoken through a megaphone, slipping beneath the chorus — giving it the same raw, cut-up vibe Frank Ocean achieved in “Sierra Leone.” So if you’re looking for some dreamy music to help survive the gloom of this eternal winter, SZA is the way to go. —Isabella Biedenharn, Editorial Apprentice

tumblr_meu83kItBI1qcf9s5

Dan Harmon’s Heat Vision and Jack

I’d heard about it for years, and seen clips in the forthcoming documentary Harmontown, but this week, I finally, finally got around to watching Heat Vision and Jack, the legendary unaired pilot from 1999. Written by Community creator Dan Harmon and his frequent collaborate Rob Schrab (who recently directed that show’s “G.I. Jeff” episode) and directed by Ben Stiller, HVaJ is a true oddity: the story of a NASA pilot (Jack Black) given super-intelligence by the rays of the sun, and his sidekick Heat Vision (voiced by Owen Wilson), a motorcycle with the personality of his former roommate. It’s probably not surprising that networks weren’t that interested in a hyper-precise spoof of ‘70s shows like The Six Million Dollar Man, Then Came Bronson, and the forgotten obscurity The Master, though it’s exactly that kind of specificity — and devil-may-care attitude towards mass audiences — that has made Community so special. Seen now, a decade and a half later, Heat Vision and Jack is a goofy lark, knowing and funny and dumb all at once. —Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Bjork-Biophilia-11

Biophilia, Björk

In honor of last week’s release of Biophilia Live at the Tribeca Film Festival, Björk’s Biophilia has seen a renaissance on my at-home playlist (its outlandish instrumentation has become so normalized in my domestic life that I recently dreamt Björk and I were bitching about taxes while doing dishes. Girl cannot use a sponge). The idea that this goliath album-project-thing could be “normalized” is farfetched, but perhaps crucial to its enjoyment. When it was released in 2011, Biophilia received a ton of press for its conceptual loftiness, and the musical content got lost somewhere in all the labyrinthine explanations of the project (and here’s another: essentially, it was a high-budget musicological lesson using apps, live demonstrations, documentaries, bespoke instruments and, of course, an album, to highlight the imitative bond between music, technology and nature). All that aside, the album at the project’s core is noteworthy for its minimalism. Pairing Björk’s unprocessed voice with the sounds of never-before-heard instruments, each element of these songs seems necessary, parroting natural phenomena with total clarity. The best songs play like ageless lullabies, somehow intimate despite their cosmic themes, with Björk acting as the gentle mediator between the listener and the universe. Best tracks include “Moon,” “Virus,” “Sacrifice,” and “Cosmogony.” —Moze Halperin, Editorial Apprentice