Lars Gotrich

The Schneider family is full of nerds. If you were wondering whatever happened to The Apples In Stereo, well — its frontman Robert Schneider has spent the last five years getting his Ph.D in mathematics. No, really, he teaches and studies math at Emory University.

The penumbra is the shadow beyond the shadow, its light only partially blocked by an object. Think of an eclipse, but only being able to experience the edge of it. Tsembla's "Penumbra" achieves a similar effect, its sound sources familiar, but obscured by some very chill electronic rhythms.

Björk doesn't so much perform on a stage — she inhabits a space.

The only antidote for the hell-in-a-handbasket blues is the stankiest of funks, and no one makes it stankier than George Clinton. The good doctor is here to prescribe Medicaid Fraud Dogg, the first album in 38 years from Parliament, the P-Funk empire's more soulful outfit.

Have you ever been in the car, scanning radio signals for signs of life, and thought about the stories behind the headlights passing on the highway? There's life in those spaces, in close quarters, alone or with friends, lovers, strangers. Then, windows down, you hear a pop song emanate from that beat-up sedan, that souped-up SUV, that pickup truck with the rusted tailgate. The song shifts the gears of your being, if only for a moment. With pop music's ability to transmute desire and despair into easily hummable enlightenment, it maybe even saves you.

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