ALBUM | Canadian duo Japandroids famously almost broke up before their 2009 debut even saw the light of day, only to see that album, Post-Nothing, and their 2012 follow-up Celebration Rock turn the Vancouver band into indie darlings, thanks to transcendent live shows and a knack for finding the sweet spot between punk abandon and classic anthem rock. That won't change with the release of NEAR TO THE WILD HEART OF LIFE, their new set of eight songs that build to some magnificent peaks even as Brian King and David Prowse stick to their basic rock building blocks of guitar and drums, and lyrics about drinking, girls and the road.
BOOK | I wouldn't typically have much interest in a memoir written by an actor. The only one I recall reading before now was Bruce Campbell's, and that's because anywhere The Evil Dead star goes, I will follow. But a Christmas present of Bryan Cranston's A LIFE IN PARTS could make me change my mind. Clearly Cranston is a brilliant actor, and his role as Breaking Bad's Walter White probably made this possible (his Heisenberg face fills the back cover). Cranston doesn't waste the opportunity, delivering a tome that's part autobiography, part treatise on the value of creativity and hard work, written through a self-examination of the various "roles" he's filled up to now.
TV | Bryan Cranston is one of the creators of binge-worthy Amazon show SNEAKY PETE, a series that leans heavily on an eminently watchable cast to lure viewers into what, at first, seems a bit of an absurd setup. Giovanni Ribisi plays "Pete," an ex-con who takes on the identity of his prison cellmate as a means to keep hidden from some shady characters (including Cranston as bad guy Vince) who have been waiting for him to get out of the clink. Pete quickly finds himself absorbed into the drama of the unwitting family (including the excellent Margo Martindale and Peter Gerety) who think he's their long-lost grandson. ♦