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Overrated/Underrated: The puzzling irony of Amazon's brick-and-mortar stores

There’s a lot of pop culture to sort through week after week. Times staff writer Chris Barton offers his take on what’s up and what’s down in music, movies, television and just about anything else out there that’s worth considering.


Heron Oblivion: Something of a modern psychedelic rock supergroup made up of members of Espers, Comets on Fire and other bands you've never seen anywhere near the upper regions of the pop charts, this group's self-titled debut is a reminder that San Francisco can still export mind-expanding wonders not connected to social media or disposable apps. Not unlike its spaced-out city siblings Wooden Shjips, Heron Oblivion counterbalances howls of feedback and wah-pedal guitar with even-keeled vocals, here in the airy melodies of drummer-singer Meg Baird.

Overrated/Underrated: Pop culture’s best and worst >>

Rhea Seehorn on 'Better Call Saul': With its patient, time-skipping structure and anarchic sense of visual flair, this prequel to "Breaking Bad" honors and continues the legacy of Vince Gilligan's comic-thriller masterwork beautifully. But one of the keys to the show's rich details and on-a-dime turns in tone is Seehorn's sharp performance as Kim, who acts as one of the angels of the better nature for Bob Odenkirk's Jimmy McGill with a down-to-earth blend of warmth and dry wit that makes you pull for their relationship despite our knowing it has to end.


Amazon bookstores: Not content with its mission toward the all-encompassing, drone-delivering storefront of the future, Amazon is staking a claim to our past as well with its superficially puzzling choice to invade our brick-and-mortar world with real bookshops that are remarkably similar to the ones the company helped bankrupt. As unsettling as it may be to watch a corporate institution so feverishly embrace irony, the idea points to a not-too-distant future when every storefront on the block will act as a portal into one of five full-service brands.

Killing the CD: Kanye West may have seemed like a revolutionary among the Twitterati when he pledged this past week no longer to release music on compact disc, but the death of plastic media has been inevitable for years, and there's something tragic about that. While no one's ready for the inevitable artisanal CD shop that's as sure to open soon as those vintage-fetishizing cassette-only stores are sure to close, music and movies become something else as they shift away from the physical world: invisible and, as such, inevitably more disposable.

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