The Origin of Love
Sounds like: The 29-year-old Lebanese-born Brit’s third LP is a return to the sheer pop joy of his 2007 debut, and it’s full of catchy, cutesy confections.
Free association: Coming out did him good. This one’s brimming with pop energy.
For fans of: Scissor Sisters x Freddie Mercury + Robbie Williams, frivolity, sparkles. (Bill Chenevert)
Sounds like: The excellent debut of Caribou’s Dan Snaith is electronic opuses of dance that play with repetition, samples, keys and grooves masterfully.
Free association: Finally! Inspired dance music that uses dubstep as a foil.
For fans of: Daft Punk/Matthew Dear, Hot Chip, 3am Voyeur basement balls. (B.C.)
Sounds like: The California strongholds of moody, mathy indie rock deliver on their fifth and first in five years, and they definitely don’t care about trends.
Free association: The same sound that hooked us a decade ago, and it’s still good.
For fans of: Death Cab x Modest Mouse + Yo La Tengo, simpler times, consistency. (B.C.)
Sounds like: Ms. Norwood’s sixth is titled after her birthday and her friend Whitney Houston’s death, and it’s an adult, R&B, slow-jammed bag of collabs.
Free association: “Put It Down” has got somethin’ that’s not on the rest of the disc.
For fans of: Monica/SWV/Keyshia Cole/Faith Evans/Toni Braxton, survivors. (B.C.)
Sounds like: Punk is back, they exclaim, and you believe it when you hear these Jersey boys rip through 10 new brilliantly-titled tracks of loud, smart rock.
Free association: For those times when humanity never ceases to piss you off.
For fans of: Nirvana x Neutral Milk + Gaslight Anthem, snarling post-punk rage. (B.C.)
Bat For Lashes
The Haunted Man
Sounds like: The ever-arty 32-year-old Pakistani Brit Natasha Khan is a wunderkind of songwriting; on her third, she’s gone darker, simpler and less dancey.
Free association: She’d make a helluva dinner party guest—talented and elegant.
For fans of: Kate Bush, Mirah x Tori Amos, Siouxsie/Bjork/Fiona, dreamfolktronica. (B.C.)
Richard Hammond’s Crash Course
Mondays, 10 p.m., BBC America
Captive audience: Anglophiles, Top Gear heads, people who love watching celebrities do crazy, life-threatening shit.
Moment of truth: Brit TV presenter/Top Gear co-host Richard Hammond returns to America for another season of his Dirty Jobs-esque reality show. After spending last season going around the country and working on heavy machinery, the second season has him taking on some adrenaline-pumping stateside occupations, including working at a Harlem barbershop. Since the amusing first episode had him taking on duties as a stuntman—jumping off bridges, being set on fire, etc.—we can only assume this chap will get into more dangerously sticky situations as the season progresses.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy. (Craig D. Lindsey)
RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars
Mondays, 9 p.m. Logo
Captive audience: Drag queens, ladies who look and act like drag queens, fans of general cattiness.
Moment of truth: Are you ready for a bunch of dudes who wear loud-ass ladies’ clothing and call each other “bitch” all the time? Well, that’s what you’re gonna get as the cross-dressing, reality-show contest returns. This time around, 12 beloved contestants from the previous four seasons—yes, Latrice Royale is back!—return to compete and vamp/camp it up, while host RuPaul continually steps in and out of drag, serving up one groan-worthy, double entendre after another. Man, this is so damn good! Laughs galore, for days.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy, bitches. (C.D.L.)
Friday, 8 p.m., NBC
Captive audience: Munsters fans, supernatural-TV watchers, those people who actually went to the theater and saw Dark Shadows.
Moment of truth: After making a big deal out of reviving The Munsters for the 21st century, NBC is seeing if audiences will take a liking to the pilot, which is now airing as a “Halloween special” in the hopes that it’ll possibly become a series. Judging by the uneven, more creepy than campy hour, it’s hard to tell if folks will dig this version, which has Jerry O’Connell and Portia de Rossi as a straight-out-of-a-fashion-spread Herman and Lily, a hammy-as-hell Eddie Izzard as a ravenous, bloodthirsty Grandpa and Brit actress Charity Wakefield as the cute niece who’s spookier than all of them.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phlegmmy. (C.D.L.)
Mort Drucker: Five Decades of His Finest Works
Foreword by Michael J. Fox (Running Press)
In summary: A compendium of the great MAD magazine cartoonist’s movie and TV parodies from the ‘50s through the ‘90s: “James Bomb,” “American Confetti,” “Raving Bully,” “Family Tides,” etc., brought to us by Philly-based publisher Running Press.
Akin to: What illustrated storyboards of Hollywood’s biggest movies would have looked like if they’d all been scripted by Weird Al.
Author fun fact: In an introductory Q&A, Drucker confirms that his parodies were frequently written before he or any of the MAD editorial team had the opportunity to actually watch the movies being mocked. (Stephen H. Segal)
Calendar: December 17-24
Calendar: Dec. 10-17
PW's Holiday Guide 2014