This week in popular culture: Frank Ocean, “Halt and Catch Fire,” De La Soul and “The Nice Guys”

Frank-Ocean-Blond-compressedFrank Ocean, “Endless” and “Blonde” (Apple Music). On Aug. 18, a weird little miracle occurred. Frank Ocean, he of the ground-breaking R&B 2011 mixtape “Nostalgia, Ultra” and the 2012 album “Channel Orange” finally emerged from wherever well-decorated suite of rooms on Mars he has been for the past four-years-and-change and delivered unto us two new collections: A “visual album” called “Endless” that involved Ocean building a staircase and an audio-only set (read: regular old album) called “Blonde” (or “Blond”). (There’s also the massive one-off magazine called “Boys Don’t Cry” which chronicles Ocean’s visual interests.)

Ocean’s return is pretty much the only thing — or at least the top thing, the premier thing — every critic (and possibly a mess of fans) of contemporary pop will be thinking about, contending with, meditating on and arguing about for the next little while.  (Out now.)

 “Halt and Catch Fire” (AMC). The critically acclaimed 1980s tech drama is back. The two-hour season 3 première moves the setting from Texas to Silicon Valley, which is kind of too bad. I really enjoyed the show’s fictional-Compaq aspect. (Aug. 23; subsequent episodes will air Tuesdays at 10 p.m.)

“The Nice Guys” DVD/Blu-ray. Starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, this Shane Black picture ended up being one of the summer’s more egregious critical darlings. It received extremely positive reviews and pretty well bombed at the box office. Perhaps it will gain new life on DVD/streaming/etc. (Aug. 23)

Banks & Steelz, “Anything But Words” (Warner). Wu Tang Clan’s RZA and Interpol’s Paul Banks team up. Guests include Florence Welch, Kool Keith, Ghostface Killah, Method Man and more. Hey, maybe it’ll be good. (Aug. 26)

De La Soul, “And the Anonymous Nobody” (AOI). This iconic crew held a Kickstarter to fund their new album and raised $110,000 within hours. With Usher, David Byrne, Damon Albarn, Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg and more. (Aug. 26)


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