Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important (pop) cultural happenings.
LISTEN: The Virginmarys
Remember guitars? This U.K. trio does. Divides, the band’s second record, offers a beguilingly retro mix of Southern-tinged classic rock, anthemic Brit-rock and ‘90s alternative — hat tip here to producer Gil Norton (The Pixies, Foo Fighters), who keeps all the disparate elements codified. It’s the rare band that could play nice with Buckcherry, Queens of the Stone Age or Ash … and they have. (May 6)
EXPLORE: Tom Sachs’ Red Planet
What if two female astronauts headed to Mars, fueled by off-cuts from Home Depot? This is only one of the questions posed by conceptual artist Tom Sachs in his 2012 piece “Space Program 2.0: MARS,” currently showing at Alamo Drafthouse. Both artist and work are scrutinized in this documentary by Van Neistat. If that name sounds familiar, it’s perhaps because he’s YouTube provocateur Casey’s brother. (Through May 7)
READ: The City of Mirrors
This is your can’t-put-down summer beach read. Mirrors is the third and final book in Justin Cronin’s The Passage series, a post-apocalyptic “vampire” epic that plays like a mix of The Stand, 28 Days Later or even Colson Whitehead’s Zone One. Basically, a more literary take on a genre tale. (May 24)
Sometimes, you just want to grab a rocket launcher and kill some demons. A continuation/reimagining/sequel to the popular old-school FPS, this version of Doom features a more advanced melee system (crows gamemaker Bethesda: “Knock-down, slash, stomp, crush and blow apart demons in creative, violent ways!”). Creepy as ever in single-player campaign mode, more Unreal-like shoot ‘em-up fun in the multiplayer deathmatch. (May 13)
SEE: The Baseball Movie Canon
There aren’t a lot of surprises in the lineup of the Smith Rafael Film Center’s Baseball at the Movies; you can probably guess what’s on there, given the brief of “accessible, varyingly nostalgic, slightly worshipful stories centered on baseball” (think The Natural, Bull Durham, Eight Men Out, etc.). But hey: sometimes you want to sit in a crowd, popcorn in hand and enjoy the game — at the movie theater. (Through May 29)
SUBMIT TO: The Big One
Three years and $300 million later, SFMOMA reopens mid-month, and if you thought the lines were long before (see: The Clock), well, let’s just say now might be the perfect time to pick up that membership you’ve been considering. The May 14th opening day is already sold out; we’re most excited for California and the West (Ansel Adams, Ed Ruscha, etc.). The Chronicle’s already called it "a treasure for the Bay Area — and the nation.” Now judge for yourself.
Seth Rogen helped develop this AMC adaptation of the acclaimed ‘90s comic book, a violent supernatural tale of a possessed preacher, an Irish vampire and an ex-girlfriend who attempt to find God ... but instead run into a rogues’ gallery of supernatural weirdos. Including a guy named Arseface. (May 22)
PERUSE: A whole lot of NSFW videos
Rihanna’s “Needed Me” isn’t really a happy summer jam, but it does make for a rather seedy, NC-17 strip club tale, as portrayed by Spring Breakers auteur Harmony Korine. For even creepier vibes: a bootleg of a never-seen “snuff” film meant to accompany Nine Inch Nails’ 1993 release Broken just popped up on the Interwebs. And finally, on a peppier note: model Zippora Seven goes streaking over a French indie pop number in a video celebrating lifestyle mag Monster Children’s 50th issue.
LISTEN: The best songs of May
Take a listen to our monthly Spotify playlist of the month's best new music, featuring Gold Panda, Barns Courtney, the return of DJ Shadow (with Run the Jewels), The Avett Brothers and over an hour of good tunes.
Also: Chelsea Handler begins her new thrice-weekly, thankfully uncensored talk show on Netflix (5/11) ... M. Night Shyamalan’s surprisingly decent mind-twist Wayward Pines returns for a second season (5/25) ... The Lobster is sort of like a rom-com without the com, but with a lot of Logan’s Run and Dr. Doolittle (5/13) ... Anthony Weiner gets exposed (more) in the doc barring his last name (5/20) ... Hey, it’s got Wolverine and Olivia Munn. All hail X-Men: Apocalypse (5/27) ... Don DeLillo’s explores tech, death and dystopia with Zero K (5/3).
Nota bene: Watch for our comprehensive Summer Movie Guide next Monday.
Main image: Michael Jang, Golden Gate Bridge Fiftieth Anniversary, 1987; collection SFMOMA, gift of the Woodrow Jang family; © Michael Jang; photo: Don Ross