Basia Bulat, Good Advice

People sometimes ask me what my favorite A.V. Undercover is, and like any good parent, I refuse to answer. But I won’t deny that it tends to get me thinking about a few that seemed to fly under the radar, particularly Basia Bulat’s take on Ted Leo’s “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?” Which is a roundabout way of getting to the matter of Bulat’s latest album of her own songs, the confident, gorgeous Good Advice. Part of Bulat’s modus operandi in the past was a folk-filled shyness, but on her fourth album, the Canadian songwriter ditches most of the folk for more direct pop exhortations and a much, much fuller sound. That makes sense, considering Bulat crafted the record with producer Jim James (of My Morning Jacket), who also plays on a bunch of the tracks. Particularly notable: the synth-assisted “Infamous” and the girl-group-inspired “La La Lie.” [Josh Modell]

Camp Midnight

Created by Steven T. Seagle (Ben 10 and Big Hero 6 co-creator) and New Yorker cartoonist Jason Adam Katzenstein, Camp Midnight offers an insightful escape to adolescence, capturing the uncertainty of transitional periods in life. Though the graphic novel spends most of its time in the world of fantasy at a summer camp designated for witches, ghouls, and werewolves, it succeeds in creating an entirely relatable and strong protagonist. Skye is quick-witted and sarcastic when dealing with her parents divorce, which is handled in the most authentic way. Turmoil is depicted but in believable amounts, and at no point is the fairy tale of a reunion between Skye’s parents presented, allowing readers to avoid the horrible feeling of false hope. She’s also genuinely kind-hearted, which helps her learn a valuable lesson about identity at summer camp. The horror, which inherently requires suspense, will keep the pages turning, aided by the emotive artwork. This is a great read for both a first-time foray into comics and someone more familiar and interested in the YA market, as it perfects the fundamentals. [Becca James]


American Psycho: Original London Cast Recording

First of all: Yes, they made a musical from American Psycho. And yes, it could’ve easily gone either the campy route (à la Evil Dead: The Musical) or played it mainstream-courting bombastic, following the path of so many movie-to-musical adaptations before it. (Trying not to remember the musical version of Titanic.) Instead, much like Mary Harron’s devilishly subversive film translation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel, this production is a work of art in its own right, challenging and provocative in equal measure. Much of the music is subdued, filtered through the frenzied thoughts of the corporate tools that populate the story. The score, by Grammy and Tony winner Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening), hearkens back to the icy pulses of early techno and house music, fused to the grandiose emotional beats of the American musical tradition. The soundtrack becomes a challenging artistic journey in its own right, telling a story compelling and evocative. Beyond that, the cast is stacked with powerhouse performers, including Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Gillian Kirkpatrick, Cassandra Compton, and Susannah Fielding. It’s become a waiting game for me to anticipate the upcoming U.S. version of the musical, led by Broadway dynamo Benjamin Walker (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson). After listening to this album dozens of times, I’m already researching excuses to force myself to visit New York, post-haste. [Alex McCown]