Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important (pop) cultural happenings.
GET GOING: Missy Higgins
Whatcha doin’ Sunday night? We vote for Missy Higgins at Great American Music Hall: Her song “Nye” is a nifty confection of a pop song, and here she’ll offer proof of her expanded worldview promoting “O Canada,” its title song offering unexpected commentary on the refugee crisis. (June 5)
ENJOY: Star Wars: The Force Awakens floating hologram vinyl
If you’re like us, you might be a bit sick of the Star Wars resurg— Wait, what? I can enjoy John Williams’s amazing score on 180-gram vinyl and see holograms of a tie fighter and the Millennium Falcon as I listen? Let the Force continue. (June 17)
SAMPLE: DJ Shadow
DJ Shadow’s 1996 debut Entroducing was such a sampling breakthrough it has its own Guinness World Record. The California producer returns after a five-year absence with The Mountain Will Fall (June 24), a more cinematic record with a trippy, funky cameo by Run the Jewels.
As usual, the 16th annual iteration of this festival offers a smorgasbord of subjects, styles and lifestyle choices, ranging from the maverick female surfers of curtain opener It Ain’t Pretty to ultra-marathoner El Chivo to an 80-year-old man who’s found celebrity documenting his life with his pet (“Frank and the Wonder Cat”). An appropriately oddball celebration of human (and feline) diversity. (June 2-16)
READ: Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals
The first novel from comedy writer Jesse Armstrong — a writer for HBO’s Veep, he’s also responsible for the amazing British nihilistic comedy Peep Show — shows his penchant for laugh-out-loud dialogue and social commentary on paper as well as screen. This is a road novel set in wartime (Milošević’s Yugoslavia) that manages to be legitimately funny while fiercely questioning humanity, art, culture and yes, sex and love. (June 7)
LISTEN: The best songs of June
Speaking of samples, our monthly Spotify playlist is highlighted by Australia’s wildly inventive The Avalanches, who return after 16 years with a sequel (we’ll claim it) the best album of this century. Their new single “Frankie Sinatra” is wonderfully weird mishmash of tubas, The Sound of Music and Danny Brown.
QUEUE FOR: Christian Marclay’s Six Animations
Art fans who’ve been in the Bay Area three years or more likely remember lining up for Christian Marclay’s “The Clock” at the (old) SFMOMA. Here’s the latest from the master of found and constructed footage: “Six New Animations,” created from snippets of footage shot during Marclay’s daily peregrinations across London. If it’s anything like his past work (our favorite is “Crossfire”), we expect he’ll create something surprisingly touching out of a whole lotta nothing. (Through June 25)
WATCH: Anything on June 24
We already called June 24 the best movie day of the year, as it offers something great for fans of explosion-heavy blockbusters (Independence Day: Resurgence), creepy Nicolas Winding Refn thrillers (The Neon Demon), “smart” films (the Matthew McConaughey-led Free State of Jones) or sharks/Blake Lively (The Shallows). We weren’t done: that Friday, you also get a Zappa doc (Eat That Question) and Todd Solondz’s very loose, dog-centric sequel to Welcome to the Dollhouse (Wiener-Dog).
CONSUME: Sounds Delicious
An inventive monthly vinyl subscription service via Seattle’s music/food blog Turntable Kitchen, the just-launched (via Kickstarter) Sounds Delicious will deliver exclusive, limited-edition vinyl records featuring artists covering iconic albums. No word on which albums yet, but the indie roster doing the covering (The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Mitski, Skylar Spence, etc.) portends good things. (Available for pre-order now)
Also: Swiss Army Man, aka the “Daniel Radcliffe farting corpse” flick that nauseated (and charmed) Sundance, opens nationwide (June 17) ... Honoring the 50th anniversary of Star Trek this year, you’re getting a director’s cut of Wrath of Khan (June 7), Blu-ray box sets of the original series (June 14) and Next Generation (June 7) and the Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of the show (June 28) ... Most influential album ever? The 4CD “collector’s edition” of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds (June 10) offers food for thought. And plenty of unheard music ... If you’re not tired of O.J. nostalgia, ESPN’s 30 for 30 offers a riveting, five-part take on the murder case and its aftermath (June 11) ... Finally, it’s not all about the outdoors. Stay inside and welcome back Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (June 15), Orange is the New Black (June 17) and Bill Simmons, who debuts his new HBO talker Any Given Wednesday (June 22).
(Additional reporting by Rebecca Klar and Athena Wisotsky. Missy Higgins: Photographer Cybele Malinowski)