Bad Witch

Nine Inch Nails

An EP that Trent Reznor calls an album just to outfox Spotify, Bad Witch would nevertheless fit onto a single CD with Nine Inch Nails’ previous two offerings, Not the Actual Events and Add Violence. But unlike those records, you’d be able to blind-ID which one these songs hail from.

The abrasively distorted opener S--- Mirror is uncharacteristically followed by hyperactive neo-drum ’n’ bass (Ahead of Ourselves) and free-jazz horns (Play the G------- Part) that come together memorably on the squelchy advance single God Break Down the Door.

On that song and the closing Over and Out, Reznor croons like none other than his onetime collaborator David Bowie, whose latter-day albums, particularly Earthling and Blackstar, Bad Witch pays deliberate homage to. If only the droning final two tracks, making up nearly half the 30-minute running time, were any good.

— Dan Weiss

Philadelphia Inquirer

All We Ever Wanted

Emily Giffin

Best-selling author Emily Giffin ventures into new territory in All We Ever Wanted. If you’re looking for a book about romance, single parenthood, race, gender injustice, lost love, or high-class privilege, this novel is for you.

Nina Browning married into wealth. She’s always worked hard to make sure her only son doesn’t take their good fortune for granted. Finch is on the brink of starting his life at an Ivy League college, just like his father dreamed. The world is at his feet. But he takes a cruel photo of a young girl passed out at a party and it spreads around the school. Suddenly, his future is in jeopardy.

Nina is mortified when her husband tries to throw money at the problem to make it go away. She doesn’t believe Finch’s behavior can be categorized as “bad judgment.” Moreover, there’s a young woman out there who’s crushed. Nina ignores her husband’s wishes and reaches out to the girl.

Lyla wants to forget what happened, but her father has other plans. The more Nina tries to set things right, the more she realizes that her marriage is broken and her elite community is a facade of real life.

All We Ever Wanted is an emotional journey that analyzes the intricacies of parenthood and the pain of standing beside a child in need, no matter what — even if that child isn’t your own.

— Lincee Ray

Associated Press

Arthur Buck

Arthur Buck

Former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and often-experimental singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur have teamed up for an album that was written mostly in a few days after a chance encounter in Mexico and recorded nearly as quickly. Fresh and spontaneous, it’s also filled with precious sonic details, like little flashes sparking the songs.

Unsurprisingly, Buck’s layers of acoustic guitars and bright and brief solos provide numerous R.E.M. textures and the tunes bear plenty more traces of the 1985-1995 pop decade. Arthur’s role and contributions are just as significant. As he often does on his own albums, the Akron native plays most of the instruments, wrote the lyrics and sings the songs.

American Century sounds like Pop Life-era Prince, but sung by Axl Rose in his low register, while If You Wake Up in Time echoes the Talking Heads. David Bowie’s spirit infuses Wide Awake in November and the brief Summertime could be a David Sylvian/Robert Fripp interlude.

Opener I Am The Moment would have fit seamlessly on one of the last R.E.M. albums, while closer Can’t Make It Without You, with its haunting, dolphin’s cry-like faux string section, could be from New Adventures in Hi-Fi.

Lyrically there is some topical material, like American Century and maybe Wide Awake in November, but the dominant mood seems to be about making the most of one’s opportunities amid our frazzled lives at hyperspeed.

— Pablo Gorondi

Associated Press