Come Home To Mama
Sounds like: The brilliant, petulant child of Canuck folk royalty, her first in four years is a stunningly inspiring set of confessional tracks that haunt and humble.
Free association: The production variety’ll make this an instant Best of 2012 contender.
For fans of: Cat Power x Kate Bush/Shivaree, PJ Harvey, her brother/dad/mom. (Bill Chenevert)
Shut Down the Streets
Sounds like: The talented New Pornographers alum’s most mature and also saddest work to date is a pretty-yet-ominous stroll through the woods of adulthood.
Free association: His quirk fiction was more fun than all this dadhood and death.
For fans of: Gordon Lightfoot x Elvis Costello, Sufjan Stevens + Neko Case. (B.C.)
Sounds like: The Brit sensation seems to have won over the masses—especially with “Lights.” On her sophomore, she cranks the electro-danciness.
Free association: Crazy pills consumed—hers is an amplified baby voice, right?
For fans of: Owl City/Imogen Heap x La Roux, Adele + Flo Rida, pop infants. (B.C.)
Sounds like: The Justin Townes Earle-produced batch of covers and new songs from the 74-year-old Queen of Rock proves she ain’t close to done yet.
Free association: Perfectly put-down testament to her insane almost 60-year career.
For fans of: Loretta Lynn/Tammy Wynette/Tanya Tucker x Elvis, “Fujiyama Mama.” (B.C.)
Sounds like: The normally great indie rockers from the Bay Area seemingly go hip-hop—and not well—in a head-scratching effort that’s truly puzzling to listen to.
Free association: It’s true: Rap done poorly is so easily the whackest thing ever.
For fans of: Anyone who’d buy a joint hip-hop record by Ben Folds and They Might Be Giants. (B.C.)
Sounds like: The third LP from a Dublin trio of former boy banders who went back to the drawing board, channelling radio hits with poppy anthemic emosoul.
Free association: S’what you get when you reward U2’s and Coldplay’s stadiumness.
For fans of: OneRepublic + Snow Patrol, James Blunt x Robin Thicke, white soul. (B.C.)
Thursdays, 10:30pm, FX
Captive audience: Cringe-humor lovers, fantasy football enthusiasts, people who actually want to see omnipresent indie-movie star Mark Duplass in everything.
Moment of truth: The other semi-improvised, Thursday night FX sitcom in which a gang of assholes go around doing morally reprehensible shit is currently in its fourth season and, judging by last week’s just-plain-ridiculous season opener, these fantasy football-obsessed sociopaths aren’t coming with the thunder this year. The slump continues in this week’s episode, as the crew finds more lame ways to say Paul Scheer’s bald hipster-wannabe Andre looks like a penis. Thankfully, Jason Mantzoukas’ clueless reprobate Rafi returns next week, bringing full-tilt, comic shamelessness to the game.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phlegmmy. (Craig D. Lindsey)
The Cleveland Show
Sundays, 7:30pm, Fox
Captive audience: Family Guy/American Dad! fans and whoever else has the TV tuned to Fox while they’re waiting for The Simpsons to come on.
Moment of truth: Kanye West returns to the fourth-season opener of Seth MacFarlane’s least-funny cartoon sitcom (if there is such a thing; they’ve all gotten pretty weak now), poking fun at himself by voicing his animated alter ego, Kenny West. He’s joined by Nicki Minaj, Will.i.am, ?uestlove and—for some reason—Bruno Mars as members of a hip-hop secret society our boy Cleveland stumbles upon. While it appears this episode is making fun of black people’s knack for gobbling up Illuminati-related conspiracy theories, it’s sadly not as clever—or funny—as it sounds.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phlegmmy. (C.D.L.)
Thursday, 9pm, HBO
Captive audience: The Kennedys—the family, not that crazy-ass miniseries, political documentary fiends.
Moment of truth: Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy (Ghosts of Abu Ghraib) literally tackles the story of her life when she focuses her camera on her mother, Ethel Kennedy. A hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the movie is an engrossing scrapbook, showing the elder Kennedy as a strong support system for her late husband, Robert F. Kennedy, as well as a stiff-upper-lipped mom to her 11 (!) kids. As someone who saw old white guys get choked up during this film at a documentary festival earlier this year, I can honestly say Ethel excels at being a proper, emotional tribute.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy. (C.D.L.)