ALBUM | There aren't many bands willing to mess with a successful sonic formula 15 years and seven albums into their career, but Indiana-based Murder by Death does just that on its new, aptly named BIG DARK LOVE. The band forged its identity in rootsy indie rock, bar-band mayhem and sprawling, dark ballads, and while those elements still peek through, on Big Dark Love they meet horn-driven fanfares, glitchy synth flourishes and orchestral mind-blowers that would make the Flaming Lips proud.
VIDEO | There was a time when Saturday Night Live's musical guests drew from artists as edgy as the comedy delivered by the Not Ready for Prime Time Players. While SNL has been lapped by numerous outlets delivering comedy skewering the Powers That Be (hello, Daily Show and John Oliver), the show has also hit a rut the past several years in its choice of musical guests, throwing up one-hit wonders instead of artists of substance. This season, that trend has seen two notable exceptions, first with Prince, and more recently with D'ANGELO killing a performance of "The Charade" from his new Black Messiah album on Jan. 31 as his band wore "I Can't Breathe" and "Black Lives Matter" T-shirts. YouTube it, Hulu it, do what you need to do to see an R&B king in top form.
BOOK | Nick Hornby is oh-so-British, but past books like High Fidelity and About A Boy have found audiences in America thanks to his knack for humor and ability to create characters who are easy to get behind. I find myself eagerly awaiting each new release, including this week's FUNNY GIRL, which is both a period piece about swinging '60s London and a nice skewering of pop stardom through the character of Sophie Straw, a small-town girl who becomes the country's comedy sweetheart, only to see her career shift along with the country's tastes. Expect the Americanized version to come along soon. ♦