Music » Culture Jamming

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


CD -- Wire reissues: Punk's most minimalist and nonlinear band released three influential albums at the end of the '70s: Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, and 154. For years, muddy sound quality had all but obliterated the thrill of the original records. These remastered reissues restore their blistering luster and add historical liner notes and period pics. Here's your chance to hear why bands from U2 to Sonic Youth are fans.

CD -- Dusk and Summer: Dashboard Confessional frontman Chris Carrabba still wears his heart on his sleeve more shamelessly than any peer. But on his band's fourth album of songs about romantic remorse, he grows a pair of balls, wipes away the tears, and makes a record that's as anthemic as his desires. Carrabba can still be whiny at times, but it's easy to ignore, what with all the glorious, ringing guitar riffs.

TV -- James Dean: Sense Memories: There's a reason Dean remains an icon to punks, homos, romantics, and sullen actors. This doc (airing at 10 p.m. Wednesday on PBS) explores Dean's short career -- he died in a car accident when he was 24 -- with interviews, recollections, and clips from his three movies. No actor has influenced so many with so little.

PRODUCT -- Nintendo DS Lite: Our favorite portable gaming system just got a whole lot thinner, brighter, and lighter. Game play remains pretty much the same (a stylus guides the action on two screens), but at two-thirds the size of the original DS, it's not nearly as bulky. Now it actually fits in your pocket -- perfect for that mid-afternoon Tetris fix.

DVD -- The Pee-wee Herman Show: Before his groundbreaking Saturday-morning TV series (and way before he was caught befriending himself in an adult theater), Paul Reubens regularly performed a concept show around L.A. This set-heavy stage performance -- originally shown on HBO in the early '80s -- is a forerunner to the even more absurd Pee-wee's Playhouse and shares many of the same themes (there's a child inside all of us), characters (Miss Yvonne), and actors (Phil Hartman).

DVD -- Tell Me Do You Miss Me: The indie rock band Luna called it quits last year, after a farewell tour to Europe and Asia that eventually wrapped up at the group's home base of New York. This all-access doc follows the quartet through the final few months. As in any good rock band, bandmates bicker and stage late-night, drunken confessions. There's also plenty of music and a few tears, shed by the usually stoic members. We miss them already.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- The Importance of Being Barbra: Tom Santopietro's fawning bio of the world's greatest living gay icon breathlessly catalogs Streisand's music, movies, and politics. It's filled with facts and stats, but not much heart. Santopietro is so devoted to his subject that he never addresses the fact that the diva can be a royal pain in the ass. Probably because he's too busy kissing hers.

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