Cold Weather Culture

Eleven things we're looking forward to that aren't the spring thaw

The Plastic Constellations

Crusades, available January 24

French Kiss

It's tough watching our longtime local darlings become Pitchfork Media darlings, but their major (indie) label breakthrough is reason to celebrate all the same. If the mp3 for "Sancho Panzo," which French Kiss recently released on their website, is any indication, Crusades will rally a TPC army out of the savvy youths who first cocked an ear for 2004's Mazatlan. The track is just what their eager in-town and online fans have been waiting for: more staccato riffs with matching vocals, fight-song lyrics about life on the road, and melodies that turn on, I don't know, what's smaller than a dime? If all goes well, perhaps the band's fond memories of sleeping on floors will be just that—memories. Our mamas were right; they really do grow up so fast. —Lindsey Thomas

Cat Power

The Greatest, available January 24


Chasing her avant-blues demons to their obvious source in Memphis, indie rock chanteuse Chan Marshall recorded The Greatest at Big Star drummer Jody Stephens's Ardent Studios with an old-school backup band including Al Green's guitarist Teenie Hodges. The new collaborators lend Marshall's songwriting—which hasn't exactly brightened up since doom-pop classics such as 1998's Moon Pix—an openness and a warmth rarely provided by former sidemen, such as the guys from Australia's Dirty Three. Whether or not the sinewy soul settings turn out to be a permanent groove for Marshall, a practiced dabbler who got Dave Grohl to sit in for 2003's You Are Free, only time will tell. For now it's pure love and unhappiness. —Mikael Wood


The Coup

Pick a Bigger Weapon, available February 2


Many a wide-eyed American lefty has backslid to liberal pragmatism since 2001—four years of neocon/fundamentalist havoc could make anyone above the poverty line miss the benign neglect of Democratic center-right corporate consensus. And yes, the Coup's latest call for ghetto rebellion, Pick a Bigger Weapon, does adjust for the minor historical developments since they dropped Party Music—9/11, the War on Terror, shit like that. But as Cali's premier agit-rap duo, MC/producer Boots Riley and DJ Pam the Funkstress still preach revolution with a sardonic optimism far fresher than the sour wit progressive humorists currently favor. When Boots rhymes, "I'm here to laugh, love, fuck, and drink liquor/And help the damn revolution come quicker," he's just clueing your brain in to what the easy-rolling Bay Area funk underneath has previously told your body. Funnier than Air America, funner than the Black Eyed Peas. Funkier than both goes without saying. —Keith Harris

Factotum, in theaters February 24

It's a tad disconcerting to feel like a film based on a book by Charles Bukowski could be retitled This Is Your Life. The Twin Cities-filmed movie, Factotum, was directed by Norwegian Bent Hamer (Kitchen Stories). It stars Matt Dillon as the Bukowski character Henry Chinaski, along with Lili Taylor and Marisa Tomei. But the uneasy familiarity comes from the locales where the movie was shot: Canterbury Park Racetrack, Cuzzy's Bar, Nye's Polonaise Room, St. Paul City Hall, the Gedney Pickle factory. These are somehow all places where I spend a disproportionate amount of time for either work or pleasure. (Okay, I've never actually been to the pickle factory.) What does this eerie parallel say about the future health of my liver? Since debuting at Cannes last May, Factotum has been well received, with Dillon's performance as the drunken, destitute Chinaski/Bukowski often singled out for acclaim. —Paul Demko


The Sopranos, sixth season premiering March 12 (tentative)

Anticipation is good for building a little buzz, but this is ridiculous. By the time HBO breaks out the new episodes of its biggest show, it will have been over a year and a half since the last season finale. While they didn't exactly leave fans cliff-hanging (season five ended with the raid of a rival family and the deaths of two significant characters who totally had it coming), it's still a damn long time to wait. Twenty-one months! Almost two years! A lot of vengeful shootings, adulterous sex, drug relapses, whore beatings, and sumptuous Italian meals could have happened in that amount of time. It's even more frustrating for those of us who are premium-cable-deficient and have to wait an extra year for the season to come out on DVD. Makes me wanna get myself a gun. —Lindsey Thomas

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