This week: ‘American War,’ an X-Men relaunch, the music of Waylon Jennings and much more

“American War” by Omar El Akkad (Knopf). Terrifying, post-apocalyptic  debut novel from this Egyptian-American author, perhaps a bit slipstreamish (think “Station Eleven,” maybe, “) on the sci-fi spectrum. It’s 2075 and America is a mess — constantly hot, full of refugee camps, the sky filled with drones and fully engulfed in civil war, Akkad examines the Chesnut family over two decades of life during wartime. Expect increasing buzz for this one. (Tuesday)

 

“Love & Rockets Magazine #2” by Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics). Second issue in the three-times a year, magazine-sized (well, more like Golden Age comic sized, somewhere between a comic and a magazine…look, it looks really cool) version of the greatest American comic book series of all time. Essential reading since 1982 for everyone with eyeballs. Mature readers.  (Wednesday)

“X-Men Gold #1” by Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf (Marvel). Given what a Marvel VP’s impressively unfortunate comments about comics, marketing and diversity, it’s not too surprising that the X-books are going back to first principles. This book highlights a lineup that is essentially the classic Claremont 70s/80s crew — Kitty Pryde is the leader with Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, (Old Man) Logan, and Rachel Grey-Summers in the Marvel Girl/Phoenix role, doing super-hero stuff (like fighting the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants). Rated 12-plus. (Wednesday)

 

“Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings” (Columbia Legacy) “Outlaw” is a CD tied to a special that airs 9 p.m. Friday on CMT, the broadcast (and CD version) of a set recorded July 6, 2015, at ACL Live. Look for Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Chris Stapleton, Shooter Jennings, Jessi Colter, Bobby Bare, Lee Ann Womack, Buddy Miller, Sturgill Simpson, Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Bingham, Alison Krauss and a ton more. (Friday)

Father John Misty, “Pure Comedy” (Sub Pop). We are in an era where a Sub Pop act can have a Target exclusive CD edition with five collectible cards. (Friday)

 Future Islands, “The Far Field” (4AD). Not sure that anyone who saw them on “Letterman” ever really forgot it — Dave certainly seemed gobsmacked. Produced by Dallas-based genius John Congleton, they seem to be one of the most personally well-liked bands around. (Friday)

 Joey Bada$$, “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” (Pro Era/Cinematic Music Group). Guests include ScHoolboy Q, Styles P, J. Cole and Chronixx. (Friday)

The New Pornographers, “Whiteout Conditions” (Collected Works/Concord). The first album in three years from this often-stunning pop act. This is the first album on Concord and the first not to feature songwriter/singer Dan Bejar, which seems like a mistake for both parties. (Friday)

Wire, “Silver/Lead” (pinkflag). Wire has been kicking around in one form or another for more than 40 years. Singer/guitarist Colin Newman is 62. Wire bassist/singer Graham Lewis is 65. Wire drummer Robert “Gotobed” Grey is 65. Not only do they rock harder than bands one-third their ages, they rock more interestingly as well. Inspiring, always. (Friday)

Pierce Brosnan as Eli McCullough  in “The Son” (James Minchin/AMC)

“The Son” (AMC). The long-awaited, somewhat hyped, Central Texas-shot adaptation of Austinite Philipp Meyer’s totally excellent generational novel about a Texas family. Stars not-a-Texan Pierce Brosnan. (Saturday)

John Hodgman, Wanda Sykes, Janeane Garofalo coming to SXSW Comedy

John Hodgman (remember before he had a persona and was simply a man with an onion in his pocket?), Wanda Sykes (currently being awesome on “black-ish”) and tiny, stand-up lifer Janeane Garofalo are all part of South by Southwest’s Comedy Festival, which celebrates its tenth edition in 2017.

After ten years, comedy has become a de facto track at SXSW.

Comics attending including Al Madrigal, Andrew Santino, Big Jay Oakerson, Bob Odenkirk, Bonnie McFarlane, Brendon Walsh, Chris Hardwick, Dan Harmon, Dave Hill, Doug Benson, Doug Stanhope, Dulce Sloan, Glenn Wool, Eddie Pepitone, Guy Branum, Horatio Sanz, Janeane Garofalo, Jason Mantzoukas, Jessica McKenna, Joe DeRosa, Joel Kim Booster, John Hodgman, Jon Gabrus, Liza Treyger, Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, Matteo Lane, Michael Ian Black, Morgan Murphy, Nate Bargatze, Nick Swardson, Nick Thune, Nicole Byer, Phoebe Robinson, Rich Vos, Robert Kelly, Sasheer Zamata, Scott Aukerman, Scott Thompson, Sean Patton, Shane Mauss, Shaun Diston, Tim Dillon, Tom Lennon, Wanda Sykes, Whitney Cummings, Wyatt Cenac and more to come.

This year’s festival kicks off March 10 at ACL Live with Comedy Central’s “@midnight with Chris Hardwick Live,” a SXSW edition of the Emmy-award winning interactive late night game show. Tom Lennon, Whitney Cummings and Nick Swardson will be contestants.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 21:  Actor/comedian Wanda Sykes performs on stage at the Keep It Clean Comedy Benefit for Waterkeeper Alliance at Avalon on April 21, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Waterkeeper Alliance )
HOLLYWOOD, CA – APRIL 21: Actor/comedian Wanda Sykes performs on stage at the Keep It Clean Comedy Benefit for Waterkeeper Alliance at Avalon on April 21, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Waterkeeper Alliance )

NBCUniversal’s comedy streaming service Seeso will sponsor a slate of shows, including Dan Harmon’s live fantasy role-playing show, “HarmonQuest,” an improvised Dungeons & Dragons game that takes a cast of characters (Harmontown mainstays Jeff B Davis, Erin McGathy, and Dungeon Master Spencer Crittenden, and a special guest) on a dragon-slaying journey. Also returning is Big Jay Oakerson’s What’s Your F@%king Deal? a show in which comedians will rely solely on crowd work, mining the audience for their material.

Another Seeso program, Wyatt Cenac’s “Night Train” showcase, is here for the first time, with the musical stylings of Night Train regular DJ Donwill. Seeso will also record back-to-back performances of “Doug Stanhope and Friends,” featuring a lineup of some of his favorite comedians, hosted by Stanhope. All SXSW attendees are invited to be part of the live audience for two shows at 10 p.m. and midnight March 14 at Esther’s Follies.

Other shows include:

  • TruTV’s ‘Talk Show the Game Show” a mash-up of both formats with creator Guy Branum and judges Casey Schreiner and Wanda Sykes.
  • The Laugh Button Live! featuring some of New York City’s sharpest comics.
  • The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre will host events all week, including their flagship improvised show “ASSSSCAT,” as well as “420 with Matt Besser,” which is a whole mess of stoner jokes
  • “Lorne Michaels’ Above Average,” whose showcases have attracted SNL alumni and UCB regulars in years past.
  • “Good Trip with Shane Mauss,” which explores the comedian’s lifelong relationship with psychedelics. Expect stand-up, a one-man show and, hey, maybe some useful information.
  • Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane will host “Would You Bang Him?,” a comedy (one hopes) game show that, with the help of female judges, aims to answer the titular question for a batch of competing male comedians.
  • Dave Hill delivers “Witch Taint,” a “comedic live reading and concert” about the comic’s attempt to pose as a Black Metal guitarist online and try to get signed by a label.
  • Podcast recordings include”Comedy Bang! Bang! and “improv4humans,”  as well as live episodes of “Harmontown,” “My Wife Hates Me” and “Doug Loves Movies.”

The SXSW Comedy Festival is open to all SXSW badges as well as music festival and film festival wristband holders, and there’s plenty of crossover between the film and comedy fests.

The movie “The Big Sick” is a collaboration between producer Judd Apatow and writer Kumail Nanjiani, who first met on a podcast recording at SXSW in 2012.

Night Train host Wyatt Cenac stars in “Fits and Starts,” the story of a writer who can’t seem to escape his wife’s literary success. Austin’s own SNL alumna Noel Wells directed “Mr. Roosevelt” to the fest, in which she stars alongside comedian Nick Thune and “Doug Loves Movies” host Doug Benson.

If you need even more comedy, know that the cast of “Veep” will be in attendance, Gillian Jacobs and Phoebe Robinson will host a panel on the body positivity movement in comedy and actor/comedian Bob Odenkirk will hold “A Conversation with Bob Odenkirk.”