Sounds like: The 31-year-old’s seventh has a few tracks that are stunningly produced, a handful of forgettable ballads and a few vehicles for good ol’ screamin’.
Free association: “Shut Up” and “Circles” are great/weird confrontational jams.
For fans of: Mariah/J. Lo/Toni/Janet, The Voice (Blake and Cee-Lo), going commando. (Bill Chenevert)
Sounds like: Born in ‘84 in Seattle, their sixth and first in 16 years is as tight as ever, with Chris Cornell’s trademark wail pulling their fuzzy grunge together nicely.
Free association: Rarely does this one ever wander into tired, commercial territory.
For fans of: Nirvana/Sabbath/Alice in Chains, QOTSA x STP, righteous rock reunions. (B.C.)
Sounds like: The Liverpool, England quartet’s seventh focuses on trippy rhythms, psychedelic and moody ambience with long songs and hypnotic darkness.
Free association: Music for the people who would’ve been Twilight fans 15 years ago.
For fans of: Interpol/Suicide/Wire/Can x Bloody Valentine, black for every point of style. (B.C.)
El Perro Del Mar
Sounds like: The nom de plume of Sarah Assbring, a Swede who creates wispy electronica that’s quiet but not bashful, channels Little Dragon on her fifth.
Free association: Everyone’s been paying so much respect to The Knife lately!
For fans of: Robyn/Nico x Camera Obscura, Phantogram Lite, chillwave x synth pop. (B.C.)
Sounds like: More seizure-enducing industrial goth dance music, with Alice Glass’ freaky scream and Ethan Kath’s pounding, insistent synths to bug you out.
Free association: For angry Sparks-hungry ADHD youths, this is the absolute best.
For fans of: Kraftwerk x Ladytron, Liars/Sleigh Bells + New Order, strobes, trendy misery. (B.C.)
Take Me Home
Sounds like: The sophomore from the English/Irish boy band, who’re neck-and-neck with Biebs for tween domination, is a just-fine, adult-produced teen pop record.
Free association: What if there’s no “What Makes You Beautiful?” What happens?
For fans of: Spice Girls x Take Five + the Jonas Bros., Ed Sheeran, hype-machine stars. (B.C.)
Fridays, 10 p.m., IFC
Captive audience: People with serious facial-hair fetishes; men who wouldn’t be caught dead watching reality shows.
Moment of truth: The wild and woolly—in every sense of the word—reality show returns for a second season, as it once again follows a group of long-haired (mostly from the neck-down) American males who participate in the surprisingly ferocious world of competitive beard-growing. As these fanatics of facial hair hit the circuit in the hopes of going to the championships and defeating those pesky, undefeated Germans, you keep thinking this has got to be a mockumentary put-on. But no, these guys are for real, which makes this some honestly fascinating—and very manly—television.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy. (Craig D. Lindsey)
Guys With Kids
Wednesday, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Captive audience: See the gotdamn title.
Moment of truth: Not as offensive but just as mediocre is this new sitcom, co-created by Jimmy Fallon (of course!), with Anthony Anderson, Jesse Bradford and Zach Cregger as a trio of buddies who are all coping with fatherhood. While this multi-camera sitcom brings nothing new to the table (dumb-ass daddies, the sitcom trope that never gets old), it’s mostly lightweight, harmless, usually tolerable stuff—much like Fallon himself. At least Tempestt Bledsoe, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Erinn Hayes are there as the resident hot moms.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phlegmmy. (C.D.L.)
Fridays, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Captive audience: People who miss ABC’s TGIF lineup—and just looooove redneck humor.
Moment of truth: Yes, kids: Reba McEntire (or “Reba,” as she’s called now) stars in yet another bad sitcom where she plays a single mom trying to make it in this world. This time around, she’s a former country singer, recently split from her two-timing, country-superstar husband, who moves to California with her two obnoxious kids and her seriously sassy mom (played by Lily Tomlin, the show’s only bright spot) in the hopes of getting back into the music biz. Seriously, this show makes me want to smoke crack.
Emmy or phleggmy: Phlegmmy. (C.D.L.)