This week in popular culture: “On Bowie,” Maxwell and another run at Tarzan

y450-293“On Bowie” by Rob Sheffield (Dey Street). Disclosure: Sheffield  (Rolling Stone, “Love is a Mixtape”) has been a friend, teacher and brother of mine for more than 20 years. But that doesn’t make this book any less excellent. Immediately following Bowie’s death on Jan. 10, Sheffield’s editor asked him to write a book on Bowie in a month. Turned out to not quite be that fast but considering how quickly this was written, “On Bowie” is a stunning achievement, a smart funny and thoughtful meditation on the artist who has meant the most to the author. (Tuesday)

“The Legend of Tarzan.” Another swing at Tarzan (no pun intended), this time taking place years after the titular character, now assuming the title of Lord Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgård of “True Blood” fame), has returned to England. Now, he must go back to the Congo on a trade mission. Could work well, could work poorly, but one has to ask oneself: When was the last time there was a genuinely good Tarzan movie? Could the answer be … never? (Friday)

“BFG.” The highly anticipated next movie by Steven Spielberg based on the Roald Dahl children’s classic, with Mark Rylance as the Big Friendly Giant and Ruby Barnhill as the orphan Sophie. Rumored to be a motion-capture tour de force. (Friday)

Blink-182, “California” (BMG Rights Management). Does a Blink-182 album exist if Tom DeLonge is not on it? I guess we are going to find out, as Alkaline Trio singer/guitarist Matt Skiba replaces DeLonge on this, their first album in five years. (Friday)

Maxwell, “blackSUMMERS’night” (Columbia). Dude’s first album in seven years. Yes, it’s the one slated to appear in 2012 as the follow-up to the 2009 album “BLACKsummers’night.” Also, have you seen the man recently? He is just as hot as he was in the “This Woman’s Work” era but in a completely different, grown-up way. Lord. (Friday)

This week in popular culture: Avett Brothers, “Fantastic Planet” and a little bit of Townes

The Avett Brothers, “True Sadness” (American/Republic). Speaking of being produced by Rick Rubin, these brothers’ ninth studio album and 12th overall is once again produced by label head Rubin. (June 24)

Rae Sremmurd, “SremmLife 2” (EarDrummer/Interscope). The second (and much-anticipated) album from this Atlanta-via-Mississippi duo sticks with the dirty South/trap music hip-hop that made them rising stars. (June 24)

91+DT5KfUAL._SL1500_“Fantastic Planet (The Criterion Collection).” Criterion puts René Laloux’s 1973 animated sci-fi classic on Blu-ray. As  Criterion notes, “Nothing else has ever looked or felt like (it).” Amen. From Roland Topor’s animation to Alain Goraguer’s space-jazz score, “Fantastic Planet” is a cult classic in ever sense of the term. With a new digital restoration and uncompressed mono soundtrack, an alternate English-language soundtrack for the subtitle averse, two early shorts by Laloux and Topor, a 2009 documentary on Laloux and more. You know someone who wants this or doesn’t know that they want it. (June 21)


Various Artists, “Heartworn Highway – Original Soundtrack (Light in the Attic). The soundtrack to the James Szalapski’s iconic 1976 Texas and Tennessee music documentary with performances from Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Steve Young, David Allan Coe, Steve Earle and many others. The CD packaged in gatefold sleeves with two 30-page booklets. The double LP comes with a 20-page booklet. (June 24)

“Independence Day: Resurgence.” I saw the original on my 22nd birthday. (Look, it was a slow year, what do you want from me?) The whole crew is back except for Will Smith, whose character has been killed off. His spot in the story is replaced by Liam “the other” Hemsworth, which … dang, Will. (June 24)

Matthew McConaughey in "Free State Of Jones" 2016
Matthew McConaughey in “Free State Of Jones” 2016

“Free State of Jones.” Matthew McConaughey stars as Newton Knight, a Southern unionist who led an armed rebellion against the Confederacy in Jones County, Miss., during the Civil War. (June 24)

This week in comics: More DC Rebirth, bargain reprints from Marvel and Lovecraftian horror

This is not all of the comics and graphic novels in stores this week but a few that jumped out at me from the Diamond list.

Need to find a comics shop near you? Check out this incredibly handy Comic Shop Locator.

DC Comics

batman-1_0Batman #1

Superman #1

Green Arrow #1

Green Lanterns #1

Titans Rebirth #1:  DC continues its latest universe reboot with all new #1s and status quos (including this new Superman, who is the old, pre-New 52, John Byrne/Dan Jurgens Superman, who is married to Lois and has a kid — man, that is a weird development

Dark Knight Returns: Last Crusade #1: Man, take a look at Frank Miller and his on-going effort to squeeze money out of “The Dark Knight Returns.” What was once a classic story is now a franchise. This time around, we have the story of Batman last mission, pre-retirement. Features the Joker and the death of Jason Todd (in this universe). A 64-page one-shot written with Brian Azzarello and drawn by John Romita Jr.

Marvel Comics

Civil War II #2 Marvel’s summer event series”Civil War II” continues. Heroes will live! Heroes will die!

Black Panther #2 (2nd Print) Another printing for Black Panther #2 (#1 was the year’s best selling comic)

Star Wars: Han Solo #1 The flooding of the market with Star Wars titles continues with a mini-series on everyone’s favorite smuggler, this time written by Marjorie Liu.

Timely Comics: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

Timely Comics: Invincible Iron Man

Timely Comics: New Avengers:  The Timely Comic line is a budget priced reprint series of titles Marvel wants to goose- the first three issues of a particular title for $3. Which is both a terrific way to let folks jump on for a cheap and a sharp reminder that single-issue comics are really expensive.  I highly recommend “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” which not only features an African-American girl at the center but is also about her pet dinosaur. Come on, that is awesome.

Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse Presents #23: Another issue of Dark Horse’s genre comics anthology book. I am always happy to see an anthology book thriving in this marketplace. 

28936Weird Detective #1: A new series from the great Fred Van Lente, one of the best comics writers of his generation (no, really; dude does terrific genre books and wrote “Action Philosophers” — he goes in the pantheon).  Speaking of genre, this is a mix of Lovecraft and cop drama

“Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties”: a comic book adaptation by the excellent  Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá about a weird boy and his trouble with girls.  

“Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser: The Cloud of Hate and Other Stories”: The collected DC series Sword of Sorcery, which means Denny O’Neil scripts based on Leiber’s stories, penciled by very young pre-legends such as Howard Chaykin and Walter Simonson.


Image Comics

Lazarus #22: Greg Rucka’s future-feudal dystopia continues apace. A very enjoyable read even though a TV show is in the works. Yes, I said even though.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

“Compass South: Four Points Vol. 1”: Hope Larson (known for her comics adaptation of “A Wrinkle in Time”) and illustrator Rebecca Mock join forces for this all-ages graphic novel about a pair of twins engage in 19th century high seas adventure.


This week in popular culture: “The Girls,” Radiohead you can hold and “Finding Dory”

26893819“The Girls” by Emma Cline (Random House). There’s hype all over the place for this debut novel by the 26-year old Cline, concerns a girl named Evie who falls under the spell of a cult leader who is very much like but legally distinct from Charles Manson. (June 14)

Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs, “case/lang/veirs” (ANTI-/Epitaph). Speaking of records KUTX will lose its mind over … Lang and Case contributed to Veirs’ 2013 album “Warp and Weft,” and the trio recorded this album last year in Portland, Ore. The three will play the Long Center in Austin on Aug. 3. (June 17)

Sarah Jarosz, “Undercurrents” (Sugar Hill). Actually, this seems to be a fairly Americana-heavy month, what with this Austin-turned-New York artist’s fourth album. (June 17)

51181467Radiohead, “A Moon Shaped Pool” (XL Recordings). Everyone has already probably formed an opinion on this record, which was released on MP3 May 8. If you had a hankering to buy it on CD or 180-gram double LP, now is your chance. (June 17)

Red Hot Chili Peppers, “The Getaway” (Warner). Yes, they are still around. They will always be around. There will never not be a RHCP album coming soon. This one is produced by Danger Mouse, which is maybe the 50-something alt-rocker version of being produced by Rick Rubin, except these guys were produced by Rick Rubin before it was a career-revival thing. (June 17)

Swans, “The Glowing Man” (Young God). Allegedly the final album to bear the Swans name in this go-around of lead Swan Michael Gira using the Swans name. Austinite Thor Harris plays on this one, as he has on the last few. If you had told me in 1995 that Swans, who seemed like a spent bullet back then, would be one of the best rock bands of 2016, I would not have believed you. At all. (June 17)

Neil Young + Promise of the Real, “Earth” (Reprise). A double live album of performances from the 2015 tour by ol’ Neil and Promise of the Real, aka the band led by Willie Nelson’s kids Micah and Lukas. (June 17)

“Finding Dory.” The long-awaited sequel to the still-terrific 2003 film “Finding Nemo,” one of the all-time best Pixar movies. Writer/director Andrew Stanton returns, as do Ellen DeGeneres as Dory and Albert Brooks as Marlin. Boy, Disney is having quite a little year, huh? (June 17)

This week in popular culture: New work from Chuck Klosterman, Stephen King and the head-scratching wonder of “Now You See Me 2”

Here are some of the best new releases in books, music, movies out this week.

klosterman-cover“But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past ” by Chuck Klosterman (Blue Rider Press).

Full disclosure: Chuck Klosterman is a friend of mine. In his new book, the former New York Times Ethicist talks to various folks — writers such as George Saunders, Junot Díaz and Amanda Petrusich, artist David Byrne, celebrity physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater — about, essentially, how certain we are that we are correct. About what? All sorts of things: the nature of gravity or time, how rock music will be regarded in 2516, the second Golden Age of Television, the possibility that we as a species have learned all that we could possibly learn. You know: Klosterman stuff. And in typical Klosterman fashion, the theory he posits — it is “impossible to understand the world of today until today has become tomorrow” — is both pretty obvious and possibly not even a question. But the thing that has built Klosterman’s audience is the fact that he asked it, he asked a bunch of people about it and they discussed it with him. As much as any author I have ever encountered, Klosterman writes in a way that never makes the reader feel as if he knows any more than the reader does. This is much tougher than it sounds — David Foster Wallace, a key Klosterman influence, was incredibly good at this — and it has given Klosterman the audience he has today. You, the reader, can discuss this stuff with Klosterman at 7 p.m. June 16 at BookPeople. (June 7)

ST_WOK_BD-ORNG_3D-e1460671343368“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Director’s Cut” Blu-ray. So this movie may in fact be inferior to what you and I and everyone we know saw in the theaters and on home video a billion times. Only three new minutes of footage and all of the extras from the DVD version. Still: you know somebody who probably wants this, the best Trek movie by far, for Father’s Day. (June 7)

“End of Watch” by Stephen King (Scribner). The finale to the trilogy that began with the Edgar Award-winning “Mr. Mercedes” and continued with “Finders Keepers.” Look for a final confrontation between the “Mercedes Killer” and the team of Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney. (June 7)Band of Horses, “Why Are You OK” (American Recordings/Interscope). Some may ask, “Why are you still a band?” Others may simply be thrilled that this, the band’s first record since 2012 and first for Interscope Records, is in stores as of … (June 10)

“Now You See Me 2.” I think even the folks who made the first in this apparent franchise were shocked when it was a hit. Apparently, we would like more movies about thieving con-man magicians. With the still mega-punchable Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo and Woody Harrelson. Directed by Jon M. Chu, whose last film was the atomic bomb “Jem and the Holograms.” (June 10)

Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle, “Colvin & Earle” (Fantasy). Two on-and-off Texas musicians come together with one-time Austin musician Buddy Miller for the Americana duets albums of which you (or at least KGSR, KUTX and Sun Radios) have been dreaming. Will it be this year’s “Raising Sand?” (June 10)

Nick Jonas, “Last Year Was Complicated” (Safehouse/Island). This is the third solo album by Li’l Nick Jonas, of Jonas Brothers fame. Look for guest spots from Tove Lo, Ty Dolla $ign, Big Sean and Daniella Mason. (June 10)

Allen Toussaint, “American Tunes” (Nonesuch). “American Tunes” includes songs from a 2013 solo session and an October 2015 session; work on the record wrapped right before Toussaint died in November. Featuring musicians Bill Frisell, Charles Lloyd, Greg Leisz, Jay Bellerose, guest vocalist Rhiannon Giddens and pianist Van Dyke Parks. (June 10)