Natasia Demetriou in FX’s “What We Do in the Shadows”: Given the abundance of charm and wit in the original — it’s the film that first brought “Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi (also the voice of Korg) into most of our lives — it’s maybe no surprise this series is among the funniest newcomers of the year. Rejiggering its setting from Wellington, New Zealand, to New York’s Staten Island with a new class of genial, dryly hilarious vampires, the series benefits from a lethal cast of comics who are mostly unfamiliar on these shores. The most rewarding wildcard is Demetriou, the British comic and writer, who steals scene after scene as Nadja. Vampires thrive in darkness, but her efforts have been shining in the spotlight.
Teodross Avery’s “After the Rain: A Night for Coltrane”: Few figures in jazz cast such a titanic shadow as John Coltrane, who even in death is still among the top sellers with every newly unearthed reissue. This new album, recorded by an acclaimed California-born saxophonist and professor at Cal State Dominguez Hills, expands upon that legacy with fiery, free-blowing verve. Known also for collaborations with Talib Kweli, Dee Dee Bridgewater and the late Amy Winehouse, Avery acknowledges Coltrane’s influence with expansive takes on classics such as “Africa” and “Pursuance” while beautifully sounding most like himself.
Time travel: Now that “Avengers: Endgame” has surpassed “Titanic”-level piles of money with a confusing, time-jumping workaround for killing half its heroes in “Infinity War,” this plot device may see a resurgence. Netflix’s Spike Lee-produced “See You Yesterday” debuts later this month, and there’s a chance Bran’s time-jumping gifts could see another workout before “Game of Thrones” is through — we can hope, anyway, considering he hasn’t had much else to do. Still, everyone should tread lightly. There are rules with time travel, not the least of which is its inability to undo a bad ending (sorry, “Avengers” — and we’ll see about “GoT”).
Don McLean’s “American Pie”: The 1971 rock staple returned to the news this month — and now, regrettably, its chorus will be stuck in your head — when the singer-songwriter received a lifetime achievement award from a UCLA student group only to have it rescinded upon learning of McLean’s 2016 domestic violence charge. While this is a bad look for all involved, what’s most curious is how one hit that spawned an unlistenable Madonna cover, among other things, constitutes a life’s work. Is it because a lifetime is what the song’s eight-minute running time feels like? Or because that’s how long questions about its inscrutable lyrics will last?
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