Notable new releases and events
The symbol indicates titles of unusual interest, quality, and/or critical acclaim.
Listen to Mosquito in its entirety prior to its Tuesday release at YouTube.
Mosquito is just the fourth album album from the trio of Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Brian Chase (better know as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and their first since 2009's It's Blitz. Production duties on the new set were split by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek and Nick Launay, while Dr. Octagon (better known as Kool Keith) guests on a track produced by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy. Album cover aside, the result is a bit more subdued than past YYY LPs, though it still finds them trying out new sounds, and in fact might be their most experimental and diverse album yet.
Listen to The Terror in its entirety prior to its Tuesday release at NPR.
Speaking of experimental and diverse, The Flaming Lips also have an album out this week. Though the Oklahoma-based band have busied themselves in recent years with, among other things, a 24-hour song, a cover of Dark Side of the Moon, and a collaborative LP, Tuesday's The Terror is their first proper studio album in four years. Clocking in at a mere 9 tracks and 55 minutes, it's a relatively concise affair compared to 2009's Embryonic, though it's even darker thematically and sonically. Dave Fridmann returns once more as producer, and the duo Phantogram guest on one track.
Major Lazer is a reggae/hip-hop/dance side project for in-demand producer Diplo. Their second album, titled Free the Universe, arrives Tuesday after repeated delays, and features collaborations with Dirty Projectors, Tyga, Bruno Mars, Shaggy, Santigold, Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig, Wyclef Jean, and more.
Also out Tuesday is Ghost on Ghost, the fifth album from singer-songwriter Samuel Beam under the name Iron & Wine. ... A new album from The Thermals is never a bad thing, and Tuesday the Portland, Oregon power-punk trio return with Desperate Ground , their sixth LP and first for new label Saddle Creek Records. ... Finally, England's Charlotte Aitchison, a 20-year-old rising star who records under the name Charli XCX, releases her debut album True Romance this week.
A reminder: Don't forget to visit your local independent record store this Saturday (April 20) for the latest Record Store Day event. Each store will have its own supply of a variety of limited edition singles and albums; get the details at the official event site (or, if you're in the UK, this official site).
Friday's major release (screening in both IMAX and conventional theaters) is Oblivion, a sci-fi thriller that's an adaptation of director Joseph Kosinski's own graphic novel. Tom Cruise stars as a drone repairman in the year 2073, when Earth is almost entirely abandoned after being devastated by war. There, he rescues a woman (Andrea Riseborough) from a downed spacecraft and runs afoul of resistance forces (led by Morgan Freeman); Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau also star. It's Kosinski's first film since the mixed success of Tron: Legacy, but various drafts of the script were written by Oscar-winners William Monahan and Michael Arndt (the latter getting some much-needed sci-fi experience to prepare him for Star Wars Episode VII), and the score comes from French electronica band M83.
Limited releases this week include The Lords of Salem, the latest directorial effort from Rob Zombie in which a radio DJ receives a mysterious record that, when played, awakens an old demonic presence. ... Nominated for a foreign film Oscar, Kon-Tiki retraces Thor Heyerdahl's famous South Seas expedition.
Originally expected to open this week, the Steve Jobs biopic jOBS (starring Ashton Kutcher as the Apple co-founder) has been delayed indefinitely. No worries; taking its place is a feature-length Funny or Die parody called iSteve, which stars Justin Long, Jorge Garcia, and James "Jimmy Urbs" Urbaniak. (What, no Hodgman?) The film streams online beginning Monday.
The new fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us (360, PS3, Wii U) features some very familiar-looking combatants: your favorite characters from the DC Comics universe. The roster of playable characters is split between heroes and villains and includes the likes of Batman, Catwoman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Lex Luthor as well as more obscure names such as Killer Frost and Ares; locations range from the Batcave to the Fortress of Solitude. The game comes from NetherRealm Studios, who also handled 2011's Mortal Kombat reboot.
Also out Tuesday is the Nintendo 3DS title Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner - Soul Hackers, an updated port of the old Saturn/PlayStation RPG of the same name from the late 1990s. ... And another Japanese RPG, Pandora's Tower, finally comes to North America this week; it's a rare new title for anyone still holding on to their Wii.
Sandwiched in between the launches of Netflix's high-profile House of Cards and Arrested Development is another series exclusive to the streaming giant: Hemlock Grove, a spooky thriller that finds horror director Eli Roth adapting the novel of the same name by Brian McGreevy. The series is set in a run-down Pennsylvania steel town where a 17-year-old girl has just been murdered, an event that ultimately exposes the town's secrets—and if you think that setup sounds a bit like Twin Peaks, Roth agrees with you (though expect more supernatural monsters and much less humor than in David Lynch's trailblazing series). Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott, and Bill Skarsgard star. All 13 episodes will begin streaming on Friday.
Starting Monday with a two-hour premiere on Syfy is Defiance (9p), an ambitious new sci-fi series created by Rockne S. O'Bannon (Farscape) and produced by Battlestar Galactica veterans Michael Taylor, Kevin Murphy, and Michael Nankin. The show is set in a post-apocalyptic future St. Louis after a lengthy war on Earth between humans and an alliance of invading alien races known collectively as the Votans has completely transformed the surface of the planet. Julie Benz (Dexter), Grant Bowler (True Blood), Mia Kirshner, and Fionnula Flanagan star. What makes it ambitious (other than a budget in excess of $100 million and five years of development time) is that Defiance is a video game in addition to a TV show; the game portion (released earlier this month) is an MMO that takes place in the same world (albeit in the ruins of San Francisco, rather than St. Louis), with storylines potentially crossing over from one to the other in the future.
Also: Saturday brings the made-for-HBO movie Mary & Martha (8p), starring Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn as mothers who bond in Africa—and become activists—after losing children to malaria. Phillip Noyce (The Quiet American, Salt) directs from a script by Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral), and James Woods, Sam Claflin, and Frank Grillo also star. ... Four women who worked as codebreakers during WWII reunite a decade later to help solve a series of murders in the three-part miniseries The Bletchley Circle, which begins Sunday at 10p on PBS. ... Adult Swim's latest live-action title is Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell (Thursday at midnight), which is your typical corporate workplace comedy, albeit set in hell.