- By Joe Gross American-Statesman Staff
Here are some of the best and highest-profile new releases in music, movies, TV and more on the horizon in April. Man alive, Texas and Austin — and that which Texas and Austin care about —are all over this month’s list.
As always, dates are subject to change without notice.
1 and 2. “Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings” (Columbia Legacy) and “Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live … and More,” (Concord Bicycle Music). Apparently, April is the all-star tribute month.
“Outlaw” is a CD tied to a special that airs 9 p.m. Friday on CMT, the broadcast (and CD version) of a set recorded July 6, 2015, at ACL Live. Look for Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Chris Stapleton, Shooter Jennings, Jessi Colter, Bobby Bare, Lee Ann Womack, Buddy Miller, Sturgill Simpson, Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Bingham, Alison Krauss and a ton more.
“Thank You” is a CD/DVD or Blu-ray version of a 2016 show in Glendale, Calif., a gig that became the “Thank You” documentary that screened at South by Southwest. A whole mess of folks performed, including members of Big Star, the Posies, R.E.M., Semisonic, Wilco, the dB’s, Let’s Active, the Old Ceremony, Yo La Tengo with Kronos Quartet. (“Outlaw” is in stores Friday; “Thank You” hits the shelves April 21.)
3. Father John Misty, “Pure Comedy” (Sub Pop). We are in an era where a Sub Pop act can have a Target exclusive CD edition with five collectible cards. (Friday)
4. Future Islands, “The Far Field” (4AD). Not sure that anyone who saw them on “Letterman” ever really forgot it — Dave certainly seemed gobsmacked. Produced by Dallas-based genius John Congleton, they seem to be one of the most personally well-liked bands around. (Friday)
5. Joey Bada$$, “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” (Pro Era/Cinematic Music Group). Guests include ScHoolboy Q, Styles P, J. Cole and Chronixx. (Friday)
6. The New Pornographers, “Whiteout Conditions” (Collected Works/Concord). The first album in three years from this often-stunning pop act. This is the first album on Concord and the first not to feature songwriter/singer Dan Bejar, which seems like a mistake for both parties. (Friday)
7. Wire, “Silver/Lead” (pinkflag). Wire has been kicking around in one form or another for more than 40 years. Singer/guitarist Colin Newman is 62. Wire bassist/singer Graham Lewis is 65. Wire drummer Robert “Gotobed” Grey is 65. Not only do they rock harder than bands one-third their ages, they rock more interestingly as well. Inspiring, always. (Friday)
8. “The Son” (AMC). The long-awaited, somewhat hyped, Central Texas-shot adaptation of Austinite Philipp Meyer’s totally excellent generational novel about a Texas family. Stars not-a-Texan Pierce Brosnan. (Saturday)
9. “The Fate of the Furious.” The eighth installment of the most enjoyable action franchise around, “Fate” features F. Gary Gray (“Straight Outta Compton”) directing Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren. (April 14)
10. “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (Netflix). We can all thank, or blame, Kickstarter for the return of this iconic 1990s show for a 14-episode season. Creator and original host Joel Hodgson is back; look for Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn as Crow and Tom Servo. Dana Gould, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland (the latter two of the incredible “Rick and Morty”) apparently did some writing along with some MST3K vets. We hope for the best. (All 14 episodes stream April 14.)
11. “The Leftovers” (HBO). The second season, some of which was shot in the American-Statesman building, was light-years better than it had any right to be; the third and final season does time in both Texas and Australia. (April 16)
12. “Fargo” (FX). Real talk, and this is not just Austin homerism: Our fair city’s own Noah Hawley is the TV showrunner of the year. Between the amazingly psychedelic, next-level superhero fiction on “Legion” and the third season of this brilliant show, the dude is killing it. This run is set in 2010, starring Ewan McGregor in two roles as well as Carrie Coon (also on “The Leftovers”), Mary Elizabeth Winstead and David Thewlis. (April 19)
13. The Black Angels, “Death Song” (Partisan). It’s the newest album from this Austin outfit. Some of them were recently spotted filming some scenes for a video over at End of an Ear. (April 21)
14. Sheryl Crow, “Be Myself” (Warner). This lady used to be seen around Austin quite a bit. This is her ninth album. She doesn’t seem to be aging at all. (April 21)
15. Ray Davies, “Americana” (Legacy Recordings). One of the most English songwriters who ever lived takes the Jayhawks as his backing band and, well, makes some Americana. (April 21)
16. Robyn Hitchcock, “Robyn Hitchcock” (Yep Roc). Speaking of extremely English guys, we will someday remember that Hitchcock is one of the most consistent songwriters of his generation. (April 21)
17. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” (HBO). Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne star in this long-awaited feature-ization of Rebecca Skloot’s brilliant book about a woman whose cells were harvested by scientists and used for research for decades. Given Oprah’s on-screen involvement, one expects insane ratings. (April 22)
18. “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu). I think it’s safe to say that this 10-episode series is the crown jewel of Hulu’s original programming for 2017. This terrifyingly relevant series, based on Margaret Atwood’s classic of dystopian feminist science fiction, stars Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, a very creepy Joseph Fiennes, Samira Wiley and more. Three episodes launch the show; the rest arrive weekly on Wednesdays. One suspects that this might be the future of streaming: a balance between binging and weekly waits, which both gives the show time to build an audience and prevents folks from watching all of it at once and the show having less overall impact as a result. (April 26)
19. Feist, “Pleasure” (Interscope). She’s back! It’s her first album since 2011 and her fifth overall. Expect a whole mess of emotional, intense song craft. Who doesn’t like Leslie Feist? (April 28)
20. Willie Nelson, “God’s Problem Child” (Legacy Recordings). Another seven months, another Willie Nelson album (the last one came out in September). Many songs were written by Nelson and producer Buddy Cannon. Also looks for songs by Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White, vocals from the late Leon Russell, a song about the 2016 election called “Delete and Fast-Forward” and a tribute to Merle Haggard called “He Won’t Ever Be Gone.” And, yes, the original title of the album was “I’m Not Dead.” Forever and ever, amen.