ALBUM | Covering a much-beloved artist can be dicey business, but SETH AVETT & JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD SING ELLIOTT SMITH is the best kind of tribute, and hopefully will introduce new generations of listeners to Smith's incredible songwriting. The male/female vocals blend beautifully and add new and welcome colors to songs of remarkable emotional and musical complexity. Smith, who died in 2003, is well-served by the sparse arrangements, and Avett and Mayfield tackle songs from throughout his career with great respect for the source material, from the solo acoustic "Roman Candle" to his more ornate productions like "Baby Britain."
TV | I'm happy to acknowledge that was I was all wrong on THE GOLDBERGS when it debuted in the fall of 2013, assuming it was simply a Wonder Years wannabe set in the '80s (albeit one narrated by Patton Oswalt, so how bad could it be?). In essence, it is simply a retro, family-friendly sitcom, but the second season has shown it has an inviting amount of weirdness, from regular bleeped F-bombs to older brother Barry's alter ego "Big Tasty" to excellent homages to flicks like WarGames, Back to the Future, and especially, the episode-long Ferris Bueller fest "Barry Goldberg's Day Off" — complete with Charlie Sheen reenacting his police-station scene.
BOOK | Kim Gordon spent most of her life as a pioneering rock icon and half of indie rock's It Couple alongside husband and fellow Sonic Youth founder Thurston Moore. Their split after Moore's extramarital affairs came to light helped inspire the typically terse Gordon to open up through GIRL IN A BAND: A MEMOIR, in which she talks about the harsh demise of her marriage, her California upbringing, her evolution in the New York art scene and plenty of her famous friends like Courtney Love (surprise — she's a train wreck!). The book is at its best, though, when Gordon writes about artistry and independence with the authority that can only come with hard-earned experience. ♦