Seth Colter Walls

P. J. Harvey Declines to Bring Sexy Back

The first-person characters in P. J. Harvey's early songs never thought twice about oversharing. "I wanna bathe in milk, eat grapes," she declared in the fuzzed-out opening of 1993's "Reeling," before howling: "Robert De Niro, sit on my face."

Nixon Returns—and Hits the High Notes

Picture this on an opera stage: President Richard Nixon lands in Beijing to deliver an aria about the mystery of the news industry beaming his story back to the West.

Superchunk's Super Indie Cred

Last month, Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" handed 21-year-old Merge Records its first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. This was the cause of some high-fiving on the network of indie rock-centric blogs and Web sites, though it wasn't the first time this year that one of the label's releases made the top 10. The band's recent history.

Q&A: National Jazz Museum Director on the Newly Discovered Trove of Jazz Greats

When the National Jazz Museum in Harlem announced last week that it had acquired approximately 100 hours of high-quality live radio broadcasts by giants from the swing era, something rare happened: a moment of complete accord. The museum's executive director talks about the recordings and shares eight exclusive, never-before-heard clips from the collection.

Can a Marching Band Pull Off Björk?

Last summer, the 12 members of Asphalt Orchestra—a marching band of highly skilled musicians from the jazz and classical worlds—started stomping and oompahing up a reputation not just for playing tunes by Frank Zappa and Charles Mingus in public, but also for daring to make their musical alchemy seem natural. Can a chamber-size marching band really pull off Björk?

Bun B's 'Trill O.G.' Inspires a Hip-Hop Debate

It's been five years since The Source, the magazine that proclaims itself the "bible of hip-hop," has awarded a perfect "5 mic" rating to an album. But when Trill O.G., the third solo album from stalwart Houston rapper Bun B, debuted this month and received the long-dormant designation, we got ourselves a good, old-fashioned hip-hop debate.

The Luke Wilson Movie About Online Porn Wants To Have It Three Ways

The new movie "Middle Men" is a based-on-real-life story of one businessman (played by Luke Wilson), who labors mightily in order to remain of several minds about the porn business for an impressive length of time. That is to say, he would like to be a key economic player at the beginning of its mid-'90s online distribution model (only a "middle man" on the credit-card side, thus the title), while remaining a blushing innocent when it comes to the nitty-gritty grind of smut's production.

Arcade Fire's Recession-Proof Rock

Arcade Fire's new album, "The Suburbs," has attributes that seem to be in small supply among bands right now: emotional heft, an affinity for more than one type of tune. But chief among them has to be its solution for a puzzle surely plaguing hundreds of musicians: how to translate the malaise of this recession into rock that can move you.

All the Sad Old Literary Artifacts of David Markson

The late author of "Wittgenstein's Mistress" was a postmodern giant, praised during his life by David Foster Wallace and now mourned in literary circles. So why is his personal library on sale at a discount used-book store?

No-Fault Unemployment

Over the course of its six seasons, the professional skills of Denis Leary's character on 'Rescue Me' have never been in doubt. And yet, he's getting sacked. Why TV can't get over the recession as inspiration.

R.E.M.'s Shiny, Semi-Happy Remaster

New CD issues of classic albums often help us hear them louder and better than before. But what about those that never wanted to be loud in the first place?

In Defense of M.I.A.

The raft of critical consensus about her new album, "Maya," is largely correct when it notes that this thing is a mess. But that's different from saying that M.I.A. doesn't know what she's doing.

PBS's Less-Than-Great Performance

Despite its reputation for being as cutting edge as a fine pearl, Lincoln Center was sort of badass this season. The Metropolitan Opera scored a global coup with its debut production of Dmitri Shostakovich's wild 1930 work The Nose—directed with multimedia panache courtesy of South African artist William Kentridge.

Laurie Anderson Gets Mad

"I am pretty angry," says Laurie Anderson, whose new album, "Homeland," emerged from her political frustrations of the past decade. "As we sort of segued into the Obama [presidency], I thought: I'm going to see what would happen if we just started again in this way. But it's even darker today." On her new album she's quite specific about what's wrong in the world today.

The Gospel According to ?uestlove

Few celebrities today are as cross-platform enjoyable as The Roots' drummer ?uestlove, and yet even fewer are possessed of such a contemplative--even sad--streak. "I tend to wonder if I'm running away from the human experience and using entertainment as a means not to deal with regular life."

Is Gustavo Dudamel's Star Falling?

It is not always advisable to believe the hype. Or we should at least be on guard for hype to be proved insufficient. In the case of Gustavo Dudamel—the 29-year-old Venezuelan wunderkind who took over the Los Angeles Philharmonic this season—it's a lesson that has been largely forgotten.

Film: The Problem With 'Breathless'

Every cinephile knows to at least pretend to like Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless," which turns 50 this year. But I'll come right out and say it: it's not his best work.