Overrated/Underrated: Adult Swim's transition into pop culture tastemaker

There's a lot of pop culture to sort through week after week. Times staff writer Chris Barton offers his take on what's up and what's down in music, movies, television and just about anything else out there that's worth considering.



Ra Ra Riot's 'Need Your Light': You'd be forgiven for letting nine out of 10 indie rock bands pass you by in 2016 — apart from the known commodities that were around when that term was first coined, there hasn't been much to be excited about. Then comes the electro-tinged new album from this band, whose 2006 debut, "The Rhumb Line," was more aligned toward the orchestral sweep of Arcade Fire, but their fourth mixes bright '80s keyboards with sticky, yearning melodies such as on the impossibly catchy "Water." Indie rock is dead, long live indie rock.

"Rick andMorty"
"Rick andMorty" (Adult Swim)

Adult Swim: Less of a programming bloc than a sort of pop culture secret handshake, this former showcase for the surreal side of the Cartoon Network has become a destination for those with discriminating taste in music and comedy. The premiere of Samantha Bee's excellent new show, "Full Frontal," earned better ratings here than on her home network, and Adult Swim's singles program has included free songs from left-field musicians that include Flying Lotus, Peaches and Future. With a third season of "Rick & Morty" also on its way, the pool is deep and the water's fine.


Album art for Animal Collective's album "Painting With."
Album art for Animal Collective's album "Painting With." (Amazon / TNS)

Animal Collective: If there's anything to celebrate about the continued march away from the '00s, it's the abrupt reveal that it's OK to no longer pretend to care about this band. Apart from a few stabs at anthemic accessibility on 2009's "Merriweather Post Pavilion," this self-consciously arty group combined the airy vocals of the Beach Boys with a love of in-the-moment creation that at times recalled a gratingly guitar-free Grateful Dead. Its new album, "Painting With," features a song called "FloriDada," which like the rest of their catalog was probably a fun idea until the drugs wore off.

Gillian jacobs and Paul Rust in "Love."
Gillian jacobs and Paul Rust in "Love." (Suzanne Hanover / Netflix)

"Love" on Netflix: If you were a socially awkward and nondescript scruffy man-child with few redeeming qualities, you have been enjoying a golden age of romantic success on TV and movies. The latest example is this newcomer, which was co-created by Judd Apatow and features a pair of almost startlingly unlikable leads in "Community" vet Gillian Jacobs and series co-creator Paul Rust. While the show has moments of trying to tweak rom-com convention in its exhausting Apatowian nerd-iverse, its biggest sin is being far more unpleasant to watch than it is subversive.