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Top Picks: The Sidekicks' album 'Runners in the Nerved World,' Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast, and more

Amazon's show 'Mozart in the Jungle' is one of the best of the new shows created by the bookselling behemoth, PBS's 'The Great British Baking Show' features lovable and quirky amateur bakers, and more top picks.

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Caitlin Canty

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Sweet and low

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect realization of an artist’s sound and vision than Vermont singer/songwriter Caitlin Canty’s Reckless Skyline. Buoyed by some of New England’s finest acoustic musicians, Canty’s 12 original songs sound as natural as breathing, with nary a false note in execution or production. The album’s first single, “Get Up,” is only one of the myriad delights to be discovered here. 

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History lessons

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast takes a deeply researched yet colloquial dive into moments of great conflict. Most recently, he released five episodes on World War I, which earned him iTunes’ award for best classic podcast of 2014. These chatty, fascinating walks through history are available free of charge on iTunes and DanCarlin.com.

Upbeat in the burbs

Picture a garage somewhere in Ohio filled with a quartet of freckle-faced Opies wielding crunchy electric guitars and pounding drums, singing at the top of their boyish, keening voices about all things suburban and confusing. You’ve conjured up The Sidekicks, and their new album, Runners In the Nerved World, is an open-hearted, cinematic, indie rock joyride.

Urban maestros

Amid Amazon’s latest original content releases sits Mozart in the Jungle, an edgy, funny look at the unlikely family of musicians that make up the New York Philharmonic. A young Latin American conductor, Rodrigo (Gael García Bernal), has arrived to replace the veteran maestro, Thomas (Malcolm McDowell). It swings between the wildly absurd and creatively inspired, with doses of adult content, as a revered classical culture is offset by contemporary themes. It’s available at amazon.com.  

British bake-off

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While waiting for Season 5 of “Downton Abbey” to get under way we’ve gotten hooked on The Great British Baking Show, a 10-week baking competition between lovable and quirky amateur bakers. Inside a tent pitched on the lawn of a British manor, contestants work on progressively more difficult pastries, pies, and cakes. Each week someone gets sent home. It airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on PBS through March 1. Visit PBS.org/food for previous episodes and featured recipes.


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