Top Picks: Shakey Graves' new album 'And the War Came,' the retrospective 'Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography,' and more

Music writer Greil Marcus's book 'The History of Rock ’n’ Roll in Ten Songs' uncovers what makes songs memorable and influential, the documentary 'Powerless' looks at the lack of electricity in Kanpur, India, and more top picks.

Jarred Gastriech

Austin bright light

The Austin, Texas, music scene is so talent-rich that it’s tough to get noticed. The first thing you’ll notice about Shakey Graves is that moniker. Now that you’re paying attention, check out the handsome singer’s quirky and rocking new album, And the War Came. Graves pulls out all the stops, performing styles ranging from rattly, raspy folk-pop to passionate balladry, with ethereal harmonies by the lovely Esmé Patterson. 

Modernist photographer

The iconic images of American photographer and filmmaker Paul Strand revealed the beauty and dignity of daily life and joined a movement that established photography as a 20th-century art form. A major retrospective of his work, Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography, is on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art until Jan. 4, but a taste of Strand’s talent and scope can also be experienced online through the exhibit’s website at

No rushing here

The PBS “Nature” episode A Sloth Named Velcro tracks sloths in Costa Rica, Colombia, and Panama to show how sloths exist in their natural habitat and how sanctuaries are working to protect the slow-moving mammals. The episode also tells the story of journalist Ana Salceda and a sloth named Velcro that she released back into the wild. It airs on PBS on Nov. 5 at 8 p.m.

On the grid

The documentary Powerless examines the lack of electricity in Kanpur, India. Electrician Loha Singh illegally supplies houses and businesses with power so life can continue, but Ritu Maheshwari, new chief of the Kanpur Electrical Supply Company, is determined to stop Singh and his ilk. “Powerless,” directed by Fahad Mustafa and Deepti Kakkar, airs on PBS’s “Independent Lens” Nov. 3 at 10 p.m.

Song decoder

Sometimes it’s great to just listen to music and let it carry you away. But if you’ve ever wondered why a song moves you, music writer Greil Marcus is your man. His new book, The History of Rock n Roll in Ten Songs, uncovers the fascinating connections, coincidences, and serendipity that make songs memorable and influential. Recordings by Buddy Holly, Phil Spector, Amy Winehouse, Etta James, Joy Division, and more are featured in this entertaining treatise.

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