Emmylou and June, Graham and Johnny – The Unbroken Circle

First Aid Kit

On my way to work last week, this song came on KDHX. It sounded like acoustic folk with Cotton-style finger picking. The lyrics connect the names Emmylou and June with Graham and Johnny. My pinfeathers go pimply and jut out straight. The harmonies remind me of those two Swedish sisters I found on YouTube a couple of years ago, doing a cover of the Fleet Foxes "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song."

Shostakovich: Propaganda Symphony?

Shostakovich and His World

Soviet composer Dmitry Shostakovich (1906-1975) wrote 15 symphonies. His Seventh Symphony, the "Leningrad," was composed in response to the Second World War, with its first three movements written in the besieged city of the same name. The amount of attention the work received in the west-particularly for a Soviet work-was unprecedented for this time. The "Leningrad" Symphony was the most significant and far-reaching piece of musical propaganda to emerge from the Second World War. Musically, the work is best known for its development section in the first movement, which fails to develop much of anything. Instead it is an "invasion" theme-a set of 12 variations most often unflatteringly compared to Ravel's "Bolero."

Within Temptation is Very Tempting

Within Temptation by The Unforgiving


Fans of goth from Evanescence and The Fallen, should consider checking out "Within Temptation" from a Dutch band called The Unforgiving. The Unforgiving features a female lead vocalist with a full-bodied delivery, lots of fast guitar riffs, and the epic bombast that makes goth so engrossing. Within Temptation is a concept album based on a series of short films and graphic novels, but The Unforgiving rise above the normal concept album constraints because the songs stand on their own. Themes of good against evil and a torrid, star-crossed affair run throughout, but the hooks and choruses are magnetic. Even having no idea of the storyline, there is a desire to twist the knob on the car's CD player to maximum volume.

--Cindy F., Headquarters

Mind Your Manners

Social Q's


If your favorite etiquette book contains instructions on leaving calling cards with a butler, it may be time to check out a few newer books. Classic books on manners may not address unanswered emails, posting unflattering photos on Facebook, or taking cell phone calls during dinner. In "Social Q's: How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries, and Quagmires of Today" Philip Galanes collects a questions he received for his column in the "New York Times" Sunday Styles section. With an irreverent and witty approach, Galanes offers advice on many facets of modern life including online dating and surviving the holiday season.

Noir Films: The Good, the Great, the Unknown

In a Lonely Place

Do you have a penchant for desperate men who chain smoke and wear fedoras while they cling to hopeless lives? The library has black and white noir classics full those colorful characters.

"In a Lonely Place" stars Humphrey Bogart as a screenwriter. You may think a Bogie film you haven't heard of is a dud, but this has fine acting and a non-formulaic plot. Bogart's character is plagued by alcohol and uncontrollable rage. The femme fatale is Gloria Grahame, best known for her role as Violet in "It's a Wonderful Life." She's the supportive neighbor who confirms his alibi when he's accused of murder, but that doesn't mean he's innocent.

Win Win Or Scheme Scheme??

Win Win


There were no Oscar nods to this offbeat, funny and touching film yet it in every way "Win Win" should have won won. Struggling attorney and part-time high school wrestling coach, Mike, ( Paul Giamatti)  comes up with a strategy to solve his financial woes and benefit all...or does he? A simple story, super sound track and stellar cast make for one good movie night. And family, we learn, is about mutually acceptable compromises. With Paul Giamatti Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor and terrific newcomer and actual wrestling champ, Alex Shaffer.

--Laura S., Sachs Branch

The Beginner's Goodbye

The Beginner's GoodbyeThe Beginner's Goodbye


Anne Tyler is known for her novels featuring quirky characters struggling with close relationships. She writes with humor and sympathy about imperfect people making tentative steps towards their goals. Her novels are primarily set in Baltimore and focus on the everyday lives of people experiencing challenges in dealing with friends and family. Tyler won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for "Breathing Lessons." Some of her other popular novels illustrate her talent for great titles: "The Accidental Tourist," "Digging to America," and "Back When We Were Grownups."

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