Sounds like: The 41-year-old Brit legend of “folktronica” recorded her first in six years in Portland, Ore., and left behind the “tronica,” leaving stirring and strong English folk.
Free association: A far cry from the Trailer Park days, but it’s still the Beth we adore.
For fans of: Cat Power/Liz Phair x Calexico, Portishead + Badly Drawn Boy, class. (Bill Chenevert)
Until The Quiet Comes
Sounds like: The L.A. wunderkind producer and sound collage artist busts out another mind-blowing batch of trippy beats, chill ambience and subtly-used vocal guests.
Free association: A little bonus comes from appearances by Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu.
For fans of: J Dilla/Four Tet/the Bug, AraabMuzik x Hudson Mohawke, trip-hop. (B.C.)
Mumford & Sons
Sounds like: The second studio album that “Little Lion Man” fans have been waiting three years for is another opus of folksy, U.K.-countrified white people music.
Free association: This will happen many times: “You don’t like Mumford & Sons?!”
For fans of: Laura Marling/Noah and the Whale, the Byrds x Fleet Foxes, bearded bears. (B.C.)
Push and Shove
Sounds like: For a band that got started 25-plus years ago as ska and reggae punks, they’ve come a long way. And this, their first in 11 years, is shockingly good and fresh.
Free association: Could use a couple more bangers; the second half sags a little.
For fans of: Blondie x the Police, Mighty Mighty Bosstones + Cyndi Lauper, ‘90s comebacks. (B.C.)
Sounds like: The ninth studio effort from the East Bay punks who formed in the late ‘80s. On the first of an LP trilogy, they lay out 12 standard, unexciting emo punk jams.
Free association: As a Dookie (‘94!) fan, it’s hard to watch ‘em get old and more watery.
For fans of: Offspring/blink-182, Simple Plan + Sum 41, punk Broadway musicals. (B.C.)
Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1
Sounds like: The anti-establishment-conscious rapper from Chicago brings it hard on an extraordinary new collection of stark beats with smart, searing raps and real ideas.
Free association: “Bitch bad/Woman good/Lady better/They misunderstood.” Think on it.
For fans of: Common/Mos Def/Talib Kweli, Pete Rock/CL Smooth x Bilal/John Legend, smarts. (B.C.)
Wednesdays, 8pm, NBC
Captive audience: Scrubs fans, pet owners, people who think animals make for good prop comedy.
Moment of truth: Weeds’ Justin Kirk stars as a misanthropic but dedicated veterinarian (with a monkey for a sidekick, no less) who must adjust to having his ex-girlfriend (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) for a boss once she inherits the wacky animal hospital he runs. While the pilot episode showed promise, poking fun at the melodramatic tropes that run rampant on prime-time medical dramas, that second episode was just annoyingly zany. Unless it goes back to sharp gags, I’m just gonna stick with the anarchic satire of Adult Swim’s Childrens Hospital.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phlegmmy. For now. (Craig D. Lindsey)
Thursdays, 10pm, CBS
Captive audience: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fans, police-procedural watchers, guys with geisha-girl fetishes.
Moment of truth: After years of covering its prime-time schedule with Sherlock Holmes knockoffs (The Mentalist, anyone?), CBS finally brings the master detective to its already-cluttered lineup of crime mysteries. In this version, Jonny Lee Miller stars as a modern-day Holmes, coming out of rehab and solving crimes in New York, with the help of a female Dr. Watson (Lucy Liu). Serious Holmes fans may scoff at this incarnation, which paints their beloved sleuth as more tortured and less arrogant. But it’s entertaining enough to work. And besides, Lucy Liu is in it, for crissakes!
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy. (C.D.L.)
Sundays, 10pm, Showtime
Captive audience: Anyone with eyeballs, a brain and a subscription to Showtime. Also, thrill seekers and news junkies.
Moment of truth: Despite opening some implausible gaps, the series certainly didn’t sacrifice any of its momentum as it returned for its much-anticipated second season. Just as Carrie (Claire Danes) is starting to settle into her new life, the CIA comes knocking at her door with an assignment. Meanwhile, Rep. Brody (Damian Lewis) is already being offered another political promotion.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy. As proven last Sunday when it took home an impressive four. (Nicole Finkbiner)
On the Guest List
Fri., Sept. 28, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Overall vibe: Rich Medina’s infamous Philly-N.Y. residencies reimagined on a grand scale—in the Museum’s Great Stair Hall, where a large, eclectic mix of revelers young and old sweated hard to the infectious Afrobeat-disco-funk- and house-blended beats that’ve made one of Philly’s beloved DJs a worldwide fave.
Most memorable moment: Medina’s emotional expression of gratitude to attendees, many of whom kept Fluid packed for nearly a decade just to hear him spin Fela Kuti.
Scene stealer: The fantastic vintage visuals of dancers’ killer moves over the years—on Soul Train, in movies, at clubs and just on the streets—projected onto a huge screen, giving the night an eerily timeless air. Trust, we partied hearty! (Arnetta Reddy)