Diamond in the Ruff
Sounds like: Spitting hot fire on his fourth solo effort, the Philly emcee does us proud with ferocious and brutal delivery, well-employed guests and sick energy.
Free association: Hip-hop born in and of Philadelphia streets, and it’s no joke.
For fans of: Beanie Sigel/Eve/the Roots/Meek Mill x Rick Ross, all things 215. (Bill Chenevert)
Sounds like: This dynamite, long EP from Beyoncé’s sister—seven strong, pop-flavored R&B tracks—is a collaboration with long-time songwriting partner Dev Hynes.
Free association: Her first on an indie. All that Brooklyning’s done her good.
For fans of: Amerie/Janelle Monae x En Vogue, Knowles girls dumping their dad. (B.C.)
Our House on the Hill
Sounds like: A delightful second LP born of breaks from tours as members from Vivian Girls and Woods team up for simply-made, moody, lo-fi pop.
Free association: Must be nice to be in multiple great bands making great records.
For fans of: Dodos/Kurt Vile x Tiger Trap/Dum Dum Girls, boy-girl indie rock. (B.C.)
Girl on Fire
Sounds like: The 31-year-old New Yorker’s fifth is her first as a mom, and it’s totally solid R&B with hip-hop beats and her typically strong, soulful vocals.
Free association: The rest of the record’s not nearly as annoying as the title track.
For fans of: Mary J., Jennifer Hudson x Toni/Monica/Brandy + Keyshia Cole, N.Y.C. (B.C.)
Sounds like: The veteran Quebecois producer’s team-up with Daniel Lopatin’s a glitchy, airy but often jarring and strange exercise in ambient electronics.
Free association: Some songs take you away, and some you wish would go away.
For fans of: Oneohtrix Point Never x Fennesz/Efterklang, Eno, weird sounds. (B.C.)
Sounds like: Longtime punk stalwarts and new parents, the former Fugazi and Warmers couple’s first in six years. Excellent, seasoned, angry, folksy rock.
Free association: The kind of parents that’d be just the right amount of cool.
For fans of: Sleater-Kinney x Damien Jurado, Bob Mould in D.C., Olympia, Wash. (B.C.)
Mel Brooks Strikes Back!
Monday, 9pm, HBO
Captive audience: People who think Mel Brooks is one of the funniest muhfuckas to ever live, which, I hope, is everyone.
Moment of truth: Mel Brooks fans will undoubtedly be in hog heaven during this hour-long special, where he sits down with BBC creative director Alan Yentob in front of a Westwood, Calif., audience and discusses his life and times. The discussion does leave a lot to be desired, as Yentob hits Brooks with questions that barely touch the surface of his illustrious career. (People who wanna know more about his time co-creating Get Smart better look elsewhere.) Thankfully, Brooks makes up for it by telling amusing anecdotes, which are followed by scenes from his movies, as well as rare performance footage.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy. (Craig D. Lindsey)
Sunday, 8pm, ABC Family
Captive audience: Karaoke geeks, 12-year-old girls and their gay dads.
Moment of truth: Hey, you wanna throw shit at your TV screen for a couple hours? Well, look no further than this horrid telefilm, the insipid star on top of ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas” schedule this year. Tia Mowry stars as a wannabe singer who starts up her own Christmas singing group after she gets turned down for a spot in a legendary holiday troupe (led by a particularly C-wordy Tori Spelling). The movie, which is clichéd and badly conceived even by basic-cable movie standards, is really just an excuse for Mowry and Spelling to appear in musical numbers. Happy birthday, Jesus!
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phlegmmy. (C.D.L.)
Wednesdays, 9pm, BBC America
Captive audience: People who want to go back to a time when they could drink, smoke and harass women freely.
Moment of truth: Currently in its second season, the BBC’s very own swinging period drama, focusing on a struggling, ‘50s-era British TV news program, is some cool, addictive TV. Along with the key players (Dominic West’s prima-donna newsman, Ben Whishaw’s idealistic reporter, Romola Garai’s continuously conflicted producer), Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It) joins the cast this season as the new, no-nonsense news chief. Ultra-stylized to the nines, it may not be as intensely dramatic as Mad Men, but, as far as dramas centered around TV news shows go, it’s 10 times better than The Newsroom.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy. (C.D.L.)