TIME Television

Good News for Fans of Good TV: FX Picks Up New Seasons of Louie and Fargo

LOUIE: Episode 14: "Pamela Part 3" (Airs Monday, June 16, 10:30 pm e/p). Pictured: Louis C.K. as Louie. CR: KC Bailey/FX
Louis C.K. as Louie. FX Networks.

2015 will bring the fifth and second seasons, respectively, of the two acclaimed shows

It’s not a huge surprise, but FX announced today that Louie and Fargo will both be returning to your televisions sometime in 2015. Louie, which wrapped its fourth season in mid-June, will have just seven episodes (down from 13 or 14 in each of the first four seasons), but any Louie is better than no Louie at all.

Initially, Fargo was intended to simply be a one-off, but the critical acclaim garnered by the show’s initial ten-episode run likely inspired FX to change that plan. The new season will feature a new story, a new setting and all new actors — most crucially, however, showrunner Noah Hawley will return to steer the ship. It’s a little sad imagining a Fargo without Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) or Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks), but there’s no reason to believe that Hawley won’t have as much success crafting Fargo‘s second season as he did its first.

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TIME Music

REVIEW: Alvvays Make Sunny Guitar-Pop Gold on Self-Titled Debut

Polyvinyl / Transgressive

The Canadian pop band's sunny debut puts lead singer Molly Rankin in fine company

From laconic, wise-cracking slackers like Stephen Malkmus and Bethany Cosentino to starry-eyed romantics like Stuart Murdoch and Tracyanne Campbell, the history of left-field, literate indie pop is littered with idiosyncratic, effortlessly charming vocalists. Molly Rankin, the woman who leads Canadian five-piece Alvvays, is a descendent of both lines; she’s a madcap schemer and a bleeding heart, equally likely to scamper away after tripping over her own feet and to plead a male pal to reconsider his disdain for the institution of marriage. Her actual genealogy is just as impressive as her musical ancestry: Rankin is a member of the Rankin Family, Canadian folk luminaries who have written and toured across the country for decades. She cut her teeth as part of the family’s band before striking out on her own with a 2010 EP; that solo project gradually picked up friends and nearby musicians and morphed into Alvvays. The band’s eponymous debut full-length is smart, sharp guitar pop, with songs shaped by lyrical playfulness, chiming, melodic leads, and Rankin’s bell-clear, yearning voice.

The band’s songwriting is possessed of both an impressive ear for structure and a remarkable generosity. Songs build in discrete steps to emotional crescendos, then hang there or ascend to an even higher level, rewarding listeners with a new melody or another round of a potent chorus; crisp, clean lines like the ones that mark “Adult Diversion” and “Archie, Marry Me” return for curtain calls, unfurling over top of simple, metronomic rhythms. The high level of execution is a necessity: many bands have written songs like this before, and well, so each new track requires a certain indelibility in order to stand out. The band is also differentiated by lesser peers by the strength of Rankin’s character. She’s immediately familiar and relatable, fully realized in a way that’s quite impressive given this is Alvvays’ debut; she could be the girl sitting across from you in a seminar, speeding with intent down a bike lane, relaxing in a park with a wide-brimmed hat. She spends a lot of time singing about love, and navigates that fraught terrain with an exuberance and palpable anxiety that belies her youth. It’s a perspective that equally suits jangling, up-tempo cuts like “Adult Diversion” and “Atop a Cake” and dreamier, more wistful songs like highlights “Ones Who Love You” and “The Agency Group.” Her voice, pure as spring water and able to easily reach lofty, piercing notes, is best served by the latter pair of tracks; she has a deft hand with heartbreak.

In the moments when listeners are able to tear themselves away from the band’s sticky, simple guitar lines, they’re rewarded with a lyrical wit and intelligence that nicely complements Rankin’s erudite persona. Spend enough time around smart people and you’ll meet characters who clearly derive personal satisfaction from putting together exquisite sentences and dropping ten-dollar words; it’s a precious source of joy, sure, but it’s infectious all the same. The members of Alvvays fit that mold: when Rankin tries to convince a romantic partner to stick around on “Party Police” by telling him that “we can find comfort in debauchery,” it’s easy to imagine the sparkle in her eye and the half-grin plastered on her face. It’s to the band’s credit that their toying with vocabulary and phrasing feels inclusive, rather than smug, and those aforementioned melodies act like gateways into their wordy world. It’s those two strengths, and Rankin’s innate likeability, that separate Alvvays from their peers in a genre that’s always ripe with aspiring stars.

TIME celebrities

Prince George Celebrates His First Birthday

The son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge celebrates a birthday

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Prince George, son of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, turns one on Tuesday, July 22nd.

At the royal baby’s Tuesday birthday party, the guest list is slated to be an intimate one, with only close family and friends apparently invited. The event will take place at the family’s Kensington Palace home.

In the pint-sized prince’s first royal portrait, the heir to the British throne can be seen walking completely on his own, a great milestone for the soon-to-be one-year-old. His father Prince William even joked that Prince George would soon be outrunning him.

TIME celebrities

5 Things We Learned from Kanye West’s GQ Interview

Kanye West
Kanye West attends the 2014 Cannes Lions on June 17, 2014, in Cannes, France Didier Baverel—WireImage / Getty Images

Did you know? He's a blowfish!

When Kanye West spoke to GQ magazine last month, it was mere days after his news-making wedding to Kim Kardashian. Now, though it may already seem that married-Kimye has existed since the beginning of time, the results of that conversation — including new information about the wedding — are finally available for public consumption at GQ.com. The many things can be learned include:

West has a new album on the way, but he’s not sure he wants to be the biggest name in rap: In addition to a forthcoming menswear line, West is working on an album. He still doesn’t have a release date, though September looks like a possibility. But, he says, Drake is now the most popular artist in the genre — and when asked whether he feels the urge to best his rival, he equivocates. “It’s a real question for me,” he tells GQ. “Do I want to?”

His speech at his wedding was about the state of celebrity: Though wedding toasts are more typically the land of drunk maids-of-honor recounting embarrassing stories, West himself spoke for an extended period of time at his reception. Though previous accounts had said that he talked about himself, he says that what he discussed was “the idea of celebrity” and how he and Kardashian planned “to find to raise the respect level for celebrities so that [their] daughter can live a more normal life.” There’s a class system among celebs, he said, with people like the Kardashian family not as well respected as high-fashion figures or film auteurs; both of those groups were represented at the wedding (by Carine Roitfeld, whom West calls “the Walt Disney of what Tumblr is today,” and Steve McQueen), all spending time together. West plans to erase the lines between which the celebrities who receive respect from audiences and paparazzi and those who don’t.

He wants to make being a dad cool: West admits that he doesn’t like to do anything that might be perceived as uncool, but he also knows that he has “the ability to make things cool.” The next thing on his list is being a family man. “Going home to one girl every night is super cool,” he says. He also shares the reasons he fell for that girl: her body, face, style, niceness, financial independence and family-orientedness. (Also of note: West apparently calls her “Mom.”)

He’s a blowfish: “I’m not a shark, I’m a blowfish,” West says, speaking of his relationship with the paparazzi — meaning that he doesn’t go after anyone, but he will defend himself when necessary. He also compares himself to a porcupine to make the same point.

He’s a fan of Step Brothers: He is, he says, the ultimate embodiment of a motivational speech from the 2008 Will Ferrell comedy Step Brothers. Even as his star rose, he says, he never lost track of what he was looking for in a relationship — his, as he puts it, dinosaur:

There’s more where that came from — including West’s take on which of his tracks contains the best rap verse ever — over at GQ.

TIME Television

Troubling Times for Chalky White in the New Boardwalk Empire Teaser

Things seem to have gone from bad to worse for the once-powerful leader of Atlantic City's north side

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When Michael K. Williams revealed that Boardwalk Empire would jump forward to 1931 for the HBO drama’s final season, the time-jump brought with it the possibility that Williams’ Chalky White may have improved upon his diminished circumstances from Season 4′s finale. If the new “St. James” teaser that HBO released last night is any indication, however, Mr. White seems to be in even worse conditions than when we last saw him.

Though the teaser isn’t totally explicit, it seems Mr. White has spent — or is currently spending — some time in prison. Also in a bad way is Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol), who appears trapped in some sort of straightjacket/bathtub contraption. We also get quick glimpses of Nucky (Steve Buscemi), Margaret (Kelly MacDonald), Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon), Dr. Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright), Al Capone (Stephen Graham) and Charlie Luciano (Vincent Piazza), but the brief 53-second clip doesn’t hint much about what they’ll be up to in Season 5.

Boardwalk Empire returns on HBO on Sunday, Sept. 7.

TIME Music

REVIEW: 2 Chainz Returns to Form on Freebase EP

Freebase EP
The Real University

The rapper's new E.P brims with menacing swagger and ferocious beats

This post is in partnership with NME.

2 Chainz is back with a bang. Compared to his last two overcooked albums, 2013’s B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time and the 2012’s Based on a T.R.U. Story, Freebase is solid southern hip hop. ”I keep shitting on the competition, so I’m put me out a shittape” he brags on the title track; and the rest is equally hubristic. Though the themes are over-familiar hustler fare — “Trap Back” is about drug dealing, “Crib in My Closet” has him and A$AP Rocky boasting about their ”designer shit” and “Cuda Wuda Shuda” is a diss track to all his envious rivals — the EP brims with menacing swagger and ferocious beats. Lyrically 2 Chainz knows he’s no street Shakespeare, but as this EP shows, he certainly knows his way around an arresting tune.

More from NME: Listen to a teenage Eminem rapping on track ‘Pooh Butt Daily’

More from NME: 9 Stunning Photos Of The Beatles And Other Counter-Culture Icons By Photo Legend Terry Spencer

TIME Music

Weird Al’s New Song Makes Fun of Your Lame Celebrity Name Dropping

Your dentist accidentally sneezed on Russell Crowe? You stayed in the same hotel as Zooey Deschanel once? Weird Al is not impressed

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Well, “Weird Al” Yankovic is making good on his promise to release eight new videos in eight days. His latest is a southern rock style tune that takes aim at all the shameless name droppers who think having some tertiary connection to a celebrity makes them cool.

You once threw up in an elevator next to Christian Slater? You know Paul Giamatti’s plumber? You have the same birthday as Kim Kardashian? Weird Al is begging you to stop with these lame claims to fame.

Okay, we’re kind of guilty of this behavior. Sorry to let you down, Weird Al.

TIME movies

Here’s What the X-Wing Starfighter Looks Like in Star Wars: Episode VII

Director JJ Abrams also offers fans the chance to win a preview screening of the sequel

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Eight weeks ago, Star Wars: Episode VII director J.J. Abrams announced that by donating to the “Star Wars: Force for Change” initiative, you, yes you, could be in the upcoming reboot of the iconic sci-fi franchise.

Now, in an online video in which he is shown standing next to the movie’s iteration of an X-Wing Starfighter, Abrams has kicked the fundraiser—for UNICEF—up a notch .

Fans who donate to the initiative–which has donations from 119 countries already–could win a chance to have an early and private screening of Star Wars: Episode VII in their hometown with 20 of their closest friends and family.

Already, the campaign, which is organized by the Omaze fundraising site, is offering fans the opportunity to fly to London with a friend for a behind-the-scenes look at the set, a chance to meet cast members, and most importantly, be transformed into a Star Wars character and be a part of an actual scene in the movie.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the campaign raised over $1 million in the first 24 hours of its launch. Disney has also donated $1 million to the cause, which will benefit UNICEF’s Innovation Labs and fund projects throughout the developing world.

You can still donate to the cause, and enter to win a chance to be in the movie or attend a preview screening, here. There’s only four days left though, so hurry.

TIME

Sam Smith, Maroon 5 on Tap for iTunes Festival

Sam Smith performs at The Summer Series at Somerset House on July 18, 2014 in London.
Sam Smith performs at The Summer Series at Somerset House on July 18, 2014 in London. Chiaki Nozu—WireImage/Getty Images

Smith was a spectator last year

(NEW YORK) — Last year Sam Smith says he was a spectator at the iTunes Festival. This year, his view will be much improved — he’ll be onstage.

The soulful newcomer is among those set to perform at the eighth annual event, held every night in September at The Roundhouse in London. Other acts announced Monday include Pharrell Williams, Maroon 5, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Robert Plant, Blondie and Chrissie Hynde.

The iTunes festival is free for contest winners, and people worldwide can watch live or on demand via various Apple devices and iTunes. Past performers include Adele, Kanye West, Elton John, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney.

Earlier this year, the iTunes Festival branched out to the United States for the first time with concerts in Austin, Texas, during the South by Southwest music festival.

TIME movies

Over a Tepid Weekend at the Box Office, Room for Mediocrity to Thrive

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes led the box office for the second consecutive weekend. Twentieth Century Fox

Of the four highest-grossing films this weekend, two were about societal collapse, three were sequels, and only one earned respectable reviews

“Art,” Roger Ebert said in a speech on human empathy on a Colorado Public Television feature in 1994, “is the closest we can come to understanding how a stranger really feels.”

If that’s the case, then maybe it’s grimly logical that with Gaza on fire, and hundreds of families in Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur mourning a wreck that still smoulders, the most popular films in American theaters this past weekend are stories of apocalyptic or near-apocalyptic crisis. Also, sequels.

The first is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the story of humankind felled by a manufactured virus and an army of chimps rendered sentient by the same virus seeking to fill the power void. For the second consecutive weekend, Dawn has seized the top position at the U.S. box office, having grossed nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in international ticket sales since opening ten days ago. It’s a follow-up to the 2011 20th Century Fox film that revived the decades-old franchise; both movies have enjoyed a surprisingly warm embrace from critics.

Not drastically far behind in the numbers was The Purge: Anarchy, whose title is perhaps more fitting, or at least to the point, than that of the first film in the franchise. The plots of both deal with a utilitarian sort of lawlessness sometime in the nearish future, in which anyone can pretty much do anything — murder is popular — over a twelve hour period once a year in order to keep crime rates otherwise low. Tepid reviews of the sequel apparently notwithstanding, the film made just under $30 million in ticket sales after opening in U.S. theaters on Friday.

After that, things are more incongruous with the Ebert-empathy thesis: a Pixar movie — another sequel — and a tongue-in-cheek romantic comedy about a leaked sex tape came in at third and fourth, respectively. Both have received mixed-to-plainly-negative feedback (Planes: Fire and Rescue holds a 44% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes; Sex Tape’s is twenty points lower).

It was, on the whole, a shoddy weekend for Hollywood, the New York Times reports, though of course the summer blockbuster season is still relatively young. We’ll get the fifth — fifth — installment in the predictably stalwart Step Up franchise in a few weeks. There’s a redux of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coming out; given that (a) it’s a Michael Bay number and (b) Megan Fox is in it, we can rely on every adolescent male in the U.S. to help it at least break even.

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