Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Need a song for the summer, a book for the beach, or a discography for your road trip? We’ve got you covered.

A$AP Ferg’s “Strive” (featuring Missy Elliott)

I officially nominate A$AP Ferg’s “Strive” for song of the summer. That’s a thing I can do, right? With all due respect to Justin Timberlake (whose newest song, while fun, should be disqualified because it’s for the damn Trolls movie), Ferg has crafted the perfect warm-weather jam: It’s uptempo, uplifting, and deliriously infectious. The track is certainly radio-friendly—the house beat and banging piano chords might sound familiar to anyone who’s spent time with Top 40 in the past few years—but it’s never derivative. While the message is simple (key lyric: “Get off your ass and create your life”), Ferg and Missy inject loads of personality into their rapid-fire verses, referencing Ben & Jerry’s, Tina Turner, and some inspiring family members. You really can’t go wrong with Missy Elliott, who dutifully puts her thing down, flips it, and reverses it here, reminding listeners why she’s still the queen of hip-hop. If one song is going to get played incessantly on the radio this summer, it might as well be this toe-tapping, optimistic ode to living your best life. Oh, and my runner-up for song of the summer? “Hungry Ham,” another party-ready cut from A$AP Ferg’s Always Strive And Prosper. [Cameron Scheetz]


Uncanny Magazine

I don’t read nearly as much science fiction or fantasy as I’d like—hell, I don’t read any kind of fiction as much as I ought to, despite having been an English lit major. Whenever I admit this to my friends, I am bombarded with suggestions, which is great because my friends have good taste, but it’s also overwhelming. Combing through their suggestions is almost as unwieldy as flying solo with a Google search. But from the beginning I was sold on Uncanny Magazine, a Chicago-based sci-fi and fantasy publication. The staff actively seeks out thought-provoking work by authors from all backgrounds, which is great because inclusivity is important to me. Non-fiction and podcasts are all available on the site, but I’ve been sticking with fiction, like Ursula Vernon’s stifling and foreboding “Wooden Feathers” or the dreamy novelette Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang, named a 2016 Hugo Awards finalist in April. [Danette Chavez]


Right Away, Great Captain!, Live At The Knitting Factory

Andy Hull is the lead singer and songwriter for indie/alternative band Manchester Orchestra (which made an A.V. Undercover appearance in 2013), but when he’s not doing that, Hull has a solo project called Right Away, Great Captain! in which he tells the musical story of a guy who catches his wife sleeping with his brother and then decides to become a sailor. Recently, Hull put out a live CD of him playing a bunch of Right Away, Great Captain! songs at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, and though Manchester Orchestra’s music has gotten bigger and more dramatic with each album, hearing Hull sing these simple, acoustic songs is touching, emotional, and—as he points out during one of the few “talking to the audience” bits—pretty intense. The live CD is sold out and isn’t available elsewhere yet, but the other Right Away, Great Captain! albums (all of which are great) are available on Hull’s Bandcamp page. [Sam Barsanti]


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