- 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 July. As always, dates are subject to change without notice.
1. “Rick and Morty” season 3 (Adult Swim). Yeah, yeah, the first half of the final season of “Games of Thrones” is showing up this month, that’s great. Let’s talk about the real TV news: On June 29, “Rick and Morty” creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon confirmed than the new season of “Rick and Morty” — which is not just one of the best science-fiction shows ever and best cartoons ever but one of the best television programs of this complicated decade — is returning July 30.
For those unfamiliar: A sort of rude take on “Back to the Future” that both celebrates and interrogates every sci-fi trope you care to think of, the animated “Rick and Morty” concerns Rick Sanchez, an alcoholic, nihilistic-yet-somewhat-moral, dimension-hopping mad scientist; his grandson Morty, whom he drags on adventures; their exceptionally dysfunctional family; and all manner of aliens, creatures, planets, parodies and incredible comedy.
A good 14 or so months separated the first season from the second, and a similar interval has come between the second and third. After a devastating season 2 finale aired Oct. 4, 2015, the first episode of season 3 magically appeared April 1 of this year. Fans were frustrated with the long wait between seasons but knew that it was because, well, a very small writing staff (mostly Roiland and Harmon) puts this stuff together and truly wants it to be as good as humanly possible, which is to say, man alive, all is forgiven. This is smart, funny, slightly obscene, emotionally inspiring stuff, worth every eyeball it can acquire. (July 30)
2. “Made for Love: A Novel” by Alissa Nutting (Ecco). The author of the rather explicit and fascinating “Tampa” chronicles Hazel, who moves into a trailer park with her father and his sex doll to escape her tech-mogul husband Byron Gogol after he suggests connecting their brains via microchip. Sounds awesomely bonkers. (July 4)
3. “Snowfall” (FX). The story of crack cocaine in Los Angeles in 1983, as told by filmmaker John Singleton. (July 5)
4. HAIM, “Something to Tell You” (Columbia). The second album from this trio of pop-rock-oriented Los Angeles sisters that seems to embody everything from classic Fleetwood Mac to old R&B and the sort of soft rock that feels mighty relaxing in these exhausting times. (July 7)
5. “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”Spider-Man, once the domain of Sony, has become a player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, making a spectacular debut in “Captain America: Civil War.” Tom Holland is the best Peter Parker yet, Robert Downey Jr. stops by as Tony Stark and Michael Keaton plays another birdman as the Vulture. (July 7)
6. “Castlevania” (Netflix). A new, mature-viewers animated series written by comics savant/vibrant internet-newsletter personality/culture critic Warren Ellis (“Planetary,” “Transmetropolitan”) based on the 30-year-old video game franchise. The first season has four 30-minute episodes. (July 7)
7. “American Fire” by Monica Hesse (Liveright). Washington Post reporter Hesse explores a series of arsons that took place in Accomack County on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Once it was a wealthy agricultural community. Now, it is one of the poorest places in the Commonwealth. Hesse unpacks the complex story of a weird series of crimes and a confession that gets weirder the more she looks into it. (July 11)
8. Shabazz Palaces, “Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star” (Sub Pop). Ishmael Butler, aka Palaceer Lazaro, aka Butterfly of Digable Planets, and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire invite guests such as Julian Casablancas, Thundercat, Gamble and Huff and many more to explore abstract, gauzy hip-hop oddness. (July 14)
9. Waxahatchee, “Out in the Storm” (Merge). The much-anticipated fourth album overall and second album for Merge from this singer-songwriter/indie rocker. A digital deluxe version will include 10 demo versions. (July 14)
10. Yoko Ono, “Fly,” “Approximately Infinite Universe,” “Feeling the Space” (Chimera Music/Secretly Canadian). Secretly Canadian continues its excellent Ono reissue series with these three awesomely whacked-out albums. Only squares and sexists dismiss her work out of hand — this is deeply experimental American music from a time (1972-1974) when stateside rock wasn’t exactly crawling with such sounds. (July 14)
11. “War for the Planet of the Apes.” I have warm feelings toward the rebooted “Planet of the Apes” series — it will never be as cool as the original, but what is? It’s Caesar the ape (Andy Serkis) versus Woody Harrelson and a whole mess of humans in this sequel. Given the events of the past few years, it is pretty much impossible not to root for the apes. (July 14)
12. “Game of Thrones” (HBO). This penultimate season (or the first half of the final season, depending on how you look at it) of “Thrones” will run for seven presumably extremely plot-heavy episodes. (July 16)
13. Various artists, “The Bad Batch (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” (Lakeshore). I am somewhat torn on this horror-thriller, but I quite enjoyed the soundtrack, with tracks by Darkside, Pantha Du Prince, Chilled by Nature and more. (July 21)
14. “Girls Trip.” A middle-age-ladies-gone-wild romp co-written by “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris. Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish and Regina Hall head to New Orleans, and hijinks ensue. (July 21)
15. “Dunkirk.” Christopher Nolan directs a star-studded cast including Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and One Direction defector Harry Styles in this massive-looking war film about the Battle of Dunkirk. Sometimes these things go well; sometimes you get “Pearl Harbor” (the movie, not the event). (July 21)
16. “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” Oh, man. Luc Besson knocked it out of the park with the visual lunacy in “The Fifth Element,” which took a mess of inspiration from French sci-fi comics. So some of us have probably inappropriately high hopes for this adaptation of a French comic book space opera. We hold out hope for something seriously weird. (July 21)
17. “Ozark” (Netflix). This series about money laundering in the Ozarks, directed by and starring Jason Bateman, raises interesting questions: When was the last time anyone saw Bateman in a drama, and, living in a post-“Arrested Development” world as we do, is it even possible to take him seriously in one? With Laura Linney, who, on the other hand, is not very funny at all. (July 21)
18. Arcade Fire, “Everything Now” (Columbia). The fifth studio album and first on Columbia by this Canadian indie rock band (fronted by a native Texan). The first single (and title track) had a distinctly disco cast; they have been moving in this direction for some time indeed. (July 28)
19. “Brigsby Bear.” Kyle Mooney of “Saturday Night Live” fame plays a man kidnapped as a baby and separated from society until adulthood. His only ideas about the outside world come from Brigsby Bear, a children’s character whom his kidnappers invented. It’s a fairly dark premise for a dramedy. Music by Austin composer David Wingo. (July 28)
20. “Room 104” (HBO). From former Austinites the Duplass brothers comes this 12-episode anthology series — same motel room, different stories, characters and cast every week. (July 28)