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Today NPR is streaming the new Youth Lagoon album and tomorrow he does on tour, just going to keep it short, what a great record, enjoy.

Through Mind and Back
Attic Doctor
The Bath
Pelican Man
Sleep Paralysis
Third Dystopia
Raspberry Cane

02-26 Missoula, MT – Badlander
02-27 Bozeman, MT – Filling Station
02-28 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
03-01 Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge
03-06 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
03-13-16 Austin, TX – SXSW
03-22 Boise, ID – Treefort Music Fest
04-12 Indio, CA – Coachella
04-19 Indio, CA – Coachella
04-21 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
04-22 Tucson, AZ – Club Congress
04-24 Austin, TX – Mohawk
04-25 Dallas, TX – The Loft
04-26 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s
04-27 New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
04-28 Birmingham, AL – The Bottletree
04-30 Orlando, FL – The Social
05-01 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
05-02 Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge
05-03 Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle
05-04 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
05-07 Northampton, MA – Pearl St.
05-10 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
05-11 Columbia, MD – Sweet Life Festival
05-13 Toronto, Ontario – Great Hall
05-14 Columbus, OH – A&R Bar
05-15 Chicago, IL – Metro
05-16 Madison, WI – Majestic Theater
05-17 Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line
05-22 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
05-23 Vancouver, British Columbia – Venue
05-24 Gorge, WA – Sasquatch! Fest
06-05 Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center *
* with the National

Youth Lagoon’s second album, Wondrous Bughouse, is one of the most arresting headphone records you’ll hear this year. Trevor Powers, the band’s sole member, layers strange but alluring synth textures under quirky melodies and simple pop beats, in the process creating an expansive and endlessly engrossing world of sonic curiosities.

As with Youth Lagoon’s 2011 debut, The Year of Hibernation, the songs on Wondrous Bughouse are moody but not melancholy. Thematically, Powers finds himself in an existential spiral, as he asks grand questions about mortality, the spiritual world and his own mental state — which he describes as “hyperactive.” Weighty subjects ripe for pensive introspection, sure, but the music is uplifting, if a bit dysphoric, like an awkward hug for all that is light and beautiful.

Powers, who says he controls his busy mind with music, offers no illuminating epiphanies or profound discoveries on Wondrous Bughouse, out March 5; he says he hasn’t had any. But the songs allow him to assume the identity of Youth Lagoon and sort through all the emotional and mental baggage he, like so many, carries with him everywhere. The album opens a window into our odd little world, with the understanding that life is a baffling mystery, but also a wonderful ride.

via NPR

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Tecmo Bowl is an arcade game developed and released in 1988. The godfather of football video games, Tecmo once ruled the controllers of sports fans everywhere. The documentary features coverage of an annual Tecmo Bowl tournament in Madison, Wisconsin, along with retired NFL players who played and starred in the game, most notably Christian Okoye.

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Philip Toczylowski, of Philadelphia, sits by his son’s grave with a trumpet at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, a day after the Pentagon declared an end to the war in Iraq. Toczylowski says that he plays taps every time he visits the grave of his son, Army Major Jeffrey Philip [...]

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Boston-based photographer Christopher Churchill’s new book American Faith from Nazraeli Press will be available in December. American Faith is a sprawling, anecdotal tour that explores the meaning of faith in amazing variety. Christopher Churchill answered questions for me recently about the project.

RH: “How did you go about asking people such personal questions (about their faith)? How much time did you spend with folks before shooting them?”

CC: “In most cases I would spend 2-4 hours with people. It was always amazing to me how gracious people were with their time. To randomly stop someone or knock on their door and then have them drop everything to stake that kind of time was incredible. Usually the picture would happen first then the interview. I would never really ask anything to complicated just simple questions. I think they saw that I was looking for answers in my own life and they felt compelled to share what they had discovered. It just happens to be that for most people the difficult times in life are when you end up needing something greater then yourself.”

RH: “Was this project by a seeker, about seekers? If so, did you find something out about your own ‘faith’?”

CC: “I would certainly be described as a seeker or wanderer. While I don’t know if these people would call themselves that as well, everyone human on the planet I would say seeks to be a part of something greater in some capacity.
That idea of faith is now where I place my own faith. I have grown to understand the vastness of the word and why there would be religions that stem from it. Most importantly I have learned that just because you do not practice a religion does not mean you lack faith.”

RH: “What kinds of aesthetic decisions did you make specifically for this project, and why? Were you happy with the results?”

CC: “I was 27 when this started and trying to figure out who I was as a photographer so the aesthetics were not premeditated rather discovered along the way compositionally speaking. The choice to use black and white film came from circumstance. I really like making things in the darkroom and couldn’t afford color 8×10 film. Looking back I couldn’t be happier. Even just looking at the tradition silver prints made with an 8×10 negative the clarity and tonal range are really amazing. Then even more importantly, the fact that they are made by hand, you can feel that effort in the object its very succinct with the whole project.”

Thomas Putman And Thomas Putman Jr., Ponca City, OK, 2009
“I’m Thomas Putman, born in Ponca City, Oklahoma. We moved out here about a year ago from Michigan due to the fact that there is work. I didn’t have any work in Michigan and I got a little kid who needs anything and everything I can give him. I had to move out here to do that. I mean, havin’ my kid, it was time to wake up. You know, before that I did anything and everything and it didn’t matter what the consequences were afterward. But now that I have him, those thoughts pop in my head before I make a decision on anything. I believe in God. But everybody has a different belief, and as long as it furthers you in life and gives you a better perspective on the things you do in life then I don’t really care what you believe in.”

Father Grasham, Plum Island, MA, 2004

Dewey Chafin, Jolo, WV, 2004
“I’ve been handling snakes for about forty years. I’ve been bitten 151 times and still counting, I hope. Probably some more will bite me. I don’t get scared. I mean, sometimes one will hiss at you and you’re gonna get bit, but it don’t scare me none. I have handled 20 at one time. That was a long time ago… They just kept piling them in my hands, piling them in my hands. I thank God for every time I handle them and I got them in my hands and they don’t bite me. And if they do bite me I’m thinking, ‘Thank you God for talking care of me’.”

Darleen And Marcus Obi, Ho River Indian Reservation, WA, 2007
Darleen: “I’m from the Ho River Tribe.” Marcus: “I’m from the Quileute Tribe.” Darleen: “I’m 16.” Marcus: “I’m 11.”
Darleen: “I think about our ancestry when we do drumming and signing. They have a lot of different songs that they sing and I think about who started the songs. I never find out, but our family probably goes back thousands of years.” Darleen: “My grandma died a couple of weeks ago and we got little necklaces with her ashes in it. I think she is in heaven and always kind of with us. She taught me how to put fish on a stick, like salmon when they have ceremonial dinners and stuff. She taught me how to drum and sing.”

Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, TN, 2009

Hudderite Classroom, Gildford, MT, 2005

Priestess Miriam Shamani, New Orleans, LA, 2004
“At that moment I relaxed and found that all the different circumstances I moved through were just a beautiful ball of wisdom. The inspiration came into my ear, into my soul: One’s life experience is your Master Teacher.
My experiences have given me an understanding of how to be a better self-creative with my life and with my time. It never discouraged me from moving forward and seeking new ways to elevate my life. In these moments of clarity you can see your Master Plan put together and still never know where or how you are going to extend it further. It’s a moment that your Master has put together. It’s a unique sequence of knowledge and activity meant just for you. So many people miss this because they become conflicted in life. They retreat into their troubles.”

Engaged Muslim Couple, Madison, WI, 2005
Amber: “I feel very misunderstood here. I feel like people don’t really know that much about Islam and what they do know is pretty negative. They just take what they know from the media and when they see me they get upset – especially if it’s in a big crowd. They think it’s funny to say things, usually sexual comments. A few weeks ago someone pushed me. It happened at a student organization fair. I was standing next to a Muslim student association poster. She just came up and pushed me. That was the first physical contact I’ve had.”
Babir: “I don’t feel the brunt of it, you know, she does. I hear from her and what scares me the most is how it is for our daughters and sisters who go through these situations with no one to talk to. It’s a sad thing in America, but it happens so much it’s just something you kind of have to just get used to. Before 9/11 it was cultural stereotypes like ‘sand nigger’ and ‘rag head.’ But that’s different than people thinking you killed thousands of people. They don’t know that we had a family member die in one of those towers.”

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Much like zombies, tower defense looks like it's here to stay. We've seen a prodigious amount of tower defense titles recently and it looks as though the trend isn't going to let up anytime soon. Then again, I'm not complaining. I'm also not going to complain if Tower Wars, a competitive online multiplayer real-time strategy game, gets finished early. In spite of its pedestrian-sounding name, Tower Wars looks like it's poised to be amazing. With its steampunk-inspired aesthetics and unique sense of humor, I have a feeling that Tower Wars is going to fit more than one person's description of 'day one purchase'.

I'm especially impressed with our first glimpse of the game. For something so early in the development process, it looks mighty fine. But don't make my word for it. Check out the video above. When you're done, you can take a gander at the second sneak peek after the cut too.

Official website here. More information will be forthcoming.

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Each month in the Big Picture, we post a collection of photographs from Afghanistan.  They feature American forces and those of other countries, and they show us daily life among the Afghan people.  In June, President Obama declared that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, which set in motion an aggressive timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. However, the fighting has spiked in some regions of the country. On Aug. 6, the United States suffered its deadliest day in the nearly decade-long war when insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter, killing 30 Americans and eight Afghans.  According to the United Nations, 360 Afghan civilians were killed in June alone.  The surges of violence reflect how deeply entrenched the insurgency remains even far from its strongholds. The war continues.  -- Paula Nelson (42 photos total)
Villager Juma Khan meets with the provincial district governor and fellow villagers at a shura, or consultation, on July 23 at the US Marine Patrol Base Salaam Bazaar in Helmand province, Afghanistan. As mentors with the international coalition attempt to phase out their involvement and put Afghan institutions in the lead, the Taliban continue to gain strength in many of Helmand's northern communities, where legitimate Afghan governance is more of a plan than a reality. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

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IN EFFIGY: An antigovernment protester held up an effigy of Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh as demonstrators demanded his resignation in San’a, Yemen, Friday. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)

BENDING OVER BACKWARDS: Bridgette O’Brien performed yoga at the capitol building Friday in Madison, Wis., as people camped out in protest of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s bill to eliminate collective bargaining for the state’s public employees. Mr. Walker asked Democratic senators to vote on the bill. (Andy Manis/Associated Press)

IMPROVISING; A man washed his dishes on a street in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday. The death toll rose to 113 and hundreds remain missing three days after the earthquake. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

VIEW FROM THE TOP: A child slept in a hammock at a railway station in Hyderabad, India, Friday. (Krishnendu Halder/Reuters)

IN DISTRESS: A woman used a cellphone after climbing out of a vehicle that had crashed into a guardrail on Interstate 295 during a snowstorm in Cumberland, Maine, Friday. Maine was expecting to get between 4 and 14 inches of snow. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)

LITTLE SOLDIERS: Children dressed in army uniforms sat atop a military vehicle in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Friday. Tens of thousands of protesters pushed Egypt’s military rulers to carry out reforms and to call for the dismissal of holdovers from the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. (Khaled Desouki/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

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PUSHING ON: A man pushed a woman in a wheelbarrow as they fled a suburb of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Thursday. Heavy fighting over the country’s disputed election may augur a return to civil war, the United Nations warned Thursday. (Issouf Sanogo/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

ARMED AND READY: A police officer patrolled in Baghdad Thursday. (Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters)

SHOUTING OUT: A protester shouted slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in San’a, Yemen, Thursday. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)

ON A MISSION: A rescue worker stood atop debris in Christchurch, New Zealand, Thursday. A massive search is under way to find victims of Tuesday’s earthquake, with hopes fading for hundreds still unaccounted for in the rubble. (Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)

A SLEEP-IN: Demonstrators slept in the rotunda of the state capitol in Madison, Wis., in protest of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to pass a bill that would restrict collective bargaining. Democrats in the state Assembly agreed to a deal, but Democratic senators remain unavailable. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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It's not easy being a participant observer of a family in crisis. Amber Sowards has the ability to look at a situation, while painfully personal and emotionally charged, and capture it with compassion and objectivity. And that bravery has resulted in recent successes. Amber was selected to attend Review Santa Fe with work from her project, Private Property, and has a number of exhibitions this year.

Born in Dundalk, Maryland, Amber recieved her MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She now resides in Madison, Wisconsin and is starting a project that examines the city of Madison’s desire to be a green and organic community, which includes the adoption of new laws that allow community members to house chickens within the city limits; access to fresh eggs; and the government enforcing the right to ban raw milk sales. As Amber states, Moving from Baltimore to Madison has been a complete culture shock, partially because of the greater community’s philosophy on the environment, their level of education, and their white liberalism. I believe in doing work that reflects issues by which I am surrounded because it is what makes me truly involved, committed and open to the experience of photographing.

From June 2008 to April 2009 I documented my mother, father, sister and five year old niece, who all reside in a one-bed room apartment in Baltimore Maryland. I have been numb to my families’ lifestyle, accustomed to their downward spiral of addiction, poverty, unemployment, imprisonment and depression. I longed to see their humanity.

Images from Private Property

The camera allowed me the safety of distance to look into the eyes of each family member and have a moment, a connection. I finally felt and saw the power of subjectivity. In the end I understood a mother’s strength, a father’s regret, a sister’s beauty and a little girls’ fearlessness. All together it added up to a families’ will to survive.

In this work I use color and environment to connect the individual members in my family. Their alcoholism, depression and routine of living day to day with no real plans of the future, leaves them little time for healthy communication. I am searching for moments where visual evidence of communication and emotional awareness fill in a missing link, exposed when two photographs fall in a sequence that bring new insights to light.

This work was never about poverty or substance abuse. Through their portraits, I was able to witness their complexity and internal struggles. I witnessed moments of compassion and vulnerability, which are in a constant state of motion and always shifting with their self destruction and disassociation. But the idea of family and my family specifically, is permanent.

The unconscious lets time pass by
The conscious borrows time with shifty eyes and callused hands
Making a certain choice between the will to remember
And the relief in forgetting

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