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Culture Jamming

Fresh pop culture picks for this week

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TOP PICK

Tenacious D: Rize of the Fenix

(Columbia)

From its bird/penis cover art to the many dick jokes to songs about getting it on with ladies pushing 40, Jack Black's goofy metal duo pretty much has one thing on its mind for its first album in six years. Black and partner Kyle Gass (along with Dave Grohl on drums) are hoping you're as much into over-the-top music and dick jokes as they are. If so, it's a mighty funny record about rock-star excess.

BOOK

Feeding Back: Conversations With Alternative Guitarists From Proto-Punk to Post-Rock

(Chicago Review)

A bunch of guitar heroes from the past 40 years talk about technique, influences, and their own legacies. Writer David Todd pulls them all together into a single narrative, but certain chapters stand out from the rest. Not so coincidentally, the best stories come from the best guitarists here, like Johnny Marr, J. Mascis, Bob Mould, and Richard Thompson. It's a little wonky, but the music takes center stage.

MUSIC

John Mayer: Born and Raised

(Columbia)

This is the album where Mayer finally realizes that he's a first-class douchebag and apologies, sorta, in a half-ass way, with self-reflecting songs that sound like they came out of Laurel Canyon in the '70s. He unplugs, plays the harmonica, and basically takes in the past few years – his parents divorced, he made an ass of himself in interviews and online – with some regrets and a few lessons learned.

VIDEO

The Strange Case of Alice Cooper

(Shout! Factory)

The original Alice Cooper band was gone by the time this 1979 concert movie was shot and released. But the frontman was still smearing on the makeup and strapping on the straitjacket for one of the best and most theatrical stage shows rock has ever seen. There's a story here – narrated by Vincent Price, of course – about rock & roll demons, but it's the parade of hits that keeps it moving.

VIDEO

We Need to Talk About Kevin

(Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Tilda Swinton is terrific as a mom living in the aftermath of her troubled son's shooting spree at school. Told in flashback, the story's tragic end comes as no surprise: The kid is nothing but trouble pretty much from the time he comes out of the womb. Swinton's performance will leave you shaken and shattered. Bonus materials include a well-deserved tribute to the actress from the Telluride Film Festival.

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