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)