Music » Culture Jamming

Here are the week's best releases from the pop-culture universe:

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CD -- Yes, Virginia: One wrong move, and Boston-based cabaret-punk duo the Dresden Dolls could easily become a novelty. But on their second album (one of the year's best), they manage to craft songs that are both gorgeous and complex (like the hauntingly elegant "Sing"). Yes, Virginia's piano-driven pop is all about appearances and deception, with Amanda Palmer's smoky, smoldering voice finding melancholy in even the springiest melodies. It's sorta like Ben Folds Five, but with garter belts, clown makeup, and an obsession with prewar Berlin.

CD -- Dinosaur Jr. reissues: J Mascis' post-punk trio popped up on alternative nation's radar in the late '80s with a pair of career-launching albums. But it's on the band's first two Sire releases -- Green Mind and Where You Been -- that it really perfected its mix of sludgy riffs and hooky tunes. These remastered editions of Dino's 1991 and 1993 CDs include extras like radio sessions, studio outtakes, and live cuts. Best is a cover of Gram Parsons' "Hot Burrito #2" with backing vocals by Crash star Matt Dillon.

DVD -- The Dirty Dozen: Two-Disc Special Edition: The most manly movie ever made finally gets the treatment it deserves. The 1967 action pic about a bunch of criminals and losers on a World War II suicide mission stars the most testosterone-laden cast ever assembled on film, including Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, and Jim Brown. Bonus materials feature documentaries, the 1985 sequel The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission, and Marine Corps Combat Leadership Skills, a vintage recruitment film in which Marvin makes today's leading men look like simpering schoolgirls.

DVD -- Little Britain: The Complete Second Series: This BBC cult hit takes its cue from the Monty Python troupe -- right down to its stars donning makeup, wigs, and dresses to get laughs. Creators Matt Lucas and David Walliams play more than two dozen characters, including a pampered overweight diva, an inept stage hypnotist, and an eccentric Scot who communicates by dancing. It's England's funniest export since The Office.

TV -- SuperGroup: What do you get when you bring together bunny-killer Ted Nugent, Skid Row wailer Sebastian Bach, and son-of-dead-drummer Jason Bonham? An appetite for destruction and a recipe for disaster. On VH1's new reality series (premiering at 10 p.m. Thursday), Anthrax's Scott Ian and Evan Seinfeld (we had to Google the Biohazard singer) join the aforementioned motley crew in a musical experiment designed to create the heaviest heavy-metal band ever. Anything to keep Bach out of Skid Row. (And we're not talking about his old band -- dude needs work!)

VIDEOGAME -- Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend: The gal who set impossibly high girlfriend expectations for an entire generation of game geeks returns after a two-year break. The seventh videogame (for PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, and the PC) in the globe-trotting series is the best since the original. Legend's loaded with new weapons and cool gizmos (the magnetic grappler totally rocks) and a storyline that nods to the game's roots while updating the playing field. Now, if we could only wipe those crappy Angelina Jolie movies from our memory.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- Green Day: American Idiots & the New Punk Explosion: This unauthorized bio about the biggest punk band on the planet spends a lot of time on the trio's messed-up childhoods. It also takes a while to get to the good stuff. Author Ben Myers unevenly charts the course that turned onetime Dookie hurlers into Bush-bashing icons, without providing the context needed to understand it. Wake us up when this book ends.

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