Overrated/Underrated: Get to know Michael Kiwanuka, and we’re not yet nostalgic for ‘True Detective’

Woody Harrelson, left, and Matthew McConaughey in a scene from "True Detective."
Woody Harrelson, left, and Matthew McConaughey in a scene from “True Detective.”
(JIm Bridges / Jim Bridges/HBO)

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 is worth considering.


‘Abstract: The Art of Design’ on Netflix: This newcomer arrived back in February with the streaming service’s typical lack of fanfare, but its unique approach to examining creativity is worth a look. Co-created by a former editor at Wired, the eight-episode series breaks with the familiar documentary format with a fresh, engaging look at Berlin-based illustrator Christoph Niemann, who wryly talks about inspiration and the creative process amid animated glimpses of his work, which have appeared on the pages of the New Yorker as well as on Instagram. It’s not often that a series looking at design manages to break new ground in design.

Michael Kiwanuka: If you only know this London singer-songwriter from the opening credits on HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” you have some catching up to do. Stripped away from the oddball procession that opens David E. Kelly’s drama, Kiwanuka’s full version of “Cold Little Heart” is a 10-minute epic of string-laden psychedelic soul and rock that sets the tone for his excellent 2016 album, “Love & Hate.” From there Kiwanuka’s album shifts into the urgent R&B of “Black Man in a White World,” followed by the mournful title track, and soon you’re hooked on a beautiful, timely album that’s every bit as bingeworthy as premium cable.



A third go-round for ‘True Detective’: Over our relatively brief history of “peak TV,” it’s hard to think of a show that burned up as much promise as the second season of “True Detective.” While the first offered some campy chills from Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and a heavy dollop of literary pretense and metaphysical gobbledygook, the grim follow-up couldn’t hide the hollowness of the show’s nihilistic machismo. Though talk of a comeback has begun with rumors of help from David Milch (best known for “Deadwood” and, well, “John from Cincinnati”), HBO should know it’s still too soon for 2014 nostalgia.

Every Internet service provider: If you’re reading this online, think of all the various topics you’ve typed into search engines, videos you’ve watched and songs you’ve streamed up to the point of reading this page. Now, consider the approaching reality that all of that information may soon be available to every cable or DSL company to market to you using all that personal data with the recent attempt to roll back FCC restrictions against just such behavior. Fortunately, if you’re quaint enough to be reading this on a physical paper, your identity and personal information is safe — but don’t worry, we know who you are.

See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour »

Follow me over here @chrisbarton.


Overrated/Underrated: The Shins’ ‘Heartworms’ buries its strengths while ‘Hotel Beau Séjour’ is worth checking out

How we overlook the flaws in the ‘The Night Of,’ ‘Stranger Things’ and more

Judd Apatow and Pete Holmes get real about comedy in HBO series ‘Crashing’