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Tipping Point: Our picks and pans

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A Most Beautiful Thing

In the 1990s, the first African American high school rowing team was created, in Chicago. The students on the team came from rough backgrounds — some had addicted mothers, they all felt the pull of gang life — but, they recall now, they found peace on the water. They reunited last year to race once again, and Mary Mazzio’s new documentary follows their journeys. This is a feel-good documentary, but it isn’t simplistic. The boys don’t suddenly find an easy future after their rowing adventures. Two end up in prison. But some of them succeed, and “A Most Beautiful Thing” manages to be honest and optimistic at the same time.

— Kristina Dorsey


Snollygoster's Goon

The Lickerish Quartet

Over the years, I have learned many excellent things from the musicians who performed in psycho-poppers Jellyfish and their offshoot bands. This now includes vocabulary words! Did you know a "snollygoster" is a shrewd person, usually a politican, who has no principles? I didn't, either. Who could imagine such a person, or that they'd have a personal goon? Anyhoo, this high-calorie, sugar-rush single from The Lickerish Quartet — comprised of ex-Jellyfishers Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Tim Smith and Eric Dover — is the first track from their impending second EP. And it addresses Snollygosters and their goons! It's everything you'd want — musically and philosophically — in these trying times. And check out our "Leave Work NOW!" podcast with Manning Jr. from last summer, when the LQ was just revving up.

— Rick Koster 


Song Exploder


"Song Exploder" is a deep dive into one song each episode — Alicia Keys' "3 Hour Drive," for instance — and it's a fascinating exploration of how a now-iconic tune came to be. Lin-Manuel Miranda remembers sitting in Aaron Burr's historic home writing "Wait for It" while tourists wandered through the rooms. R.E.M. members recall how "Losing My Religion" began, with Peter Buck learning how to play the mandolin; his noodling around on the instrument developed into "Religion's" signature riff. Host Hrishikesh Hirway asks insightful questions and pulls intriguing responses from the musicians. The second batch of shows is out Dec. 15, featuring Dua Lipa, Nine Inch Nails, The Killers and Natalia Lafourcade. I'll be watching.

— Kristina Dorsey


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