ALBUM | Criminally underappreciated in America, Portland-based "alt-country" band Richmond Fontaine thrives in Europe, where dusty tales of Americana like those penned by frontman Willy Vlautin always seem to find an audience. British music mag Uncut got on board early, naming two of the band's albums "masterpieces," and the band's latest (and final) release, YOU CAN'T GO BACK IF THERE'S NOTHING TO GO BACK TO, hit No. 1 on England's country music charts before being released in America last month. Vlautin specializes in sharply drawn character studies, and the new album is full of them; be sure to spin "Let's Hit One More Place" and "Tapped Out in Tulsa." Check out Vlautin's novels, too.
TV | Adapting books for the movies or TV is tricky, and the fact that novelist Joe R. Lansdale blends sci-fi, horror, mystery and Western tropes in his work makes translating it for the screen all the more daunting. In the Sundance Channel's HAP AND LEONARD, the six-episode arc of its first season captures much of the lunacy of the two best friends — one an ex-con jailed for refusing to fight in Vietnam (James Purefoy as Hap), the other a black, gay Vietnam vet with a hair-trigger temper (Michael Kenneth Williams, aka Omar from The Wire) — who constantly find themselves battling their personal demons and a deliciously odd cast of characters that Lansdale introduces through nine novels featuring the duo.
BOOK | A successful reunion between 2013 and 2015 made it seem the Replacements might finally figure out how to be the successful rock machine critics thought they could be back in the '80s. Naturally, the reunion ended in fighting and dysfunction, two of the Minneapolis quartet's specialties, along with booze-fueled concerts that veered from brilliant heights to incoherent chaos. Through it all, they wrote amazing songs and influenced much of what we know about so-called "alternative" music. Author Bob Mehr spent 10 years reporting and writing his new biography of the band, TROUBLE BOYS: THE TRUE STORY OF THE REPLACEMENTS, and it's a compelling and sometimes sad read. Fitting. ♦