Four culture recs for 2018
It’s a new year, with countless hours of new entertainment to consume. To that end, here are some things to get excited about for this month.
1. Tune-Yards will release their fourth album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life on January 19. The duo of Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner has made some of my most beloved songs of the past several years, including “Real Thing” from their 2014 album Nikki Nack. This new album seems to deal more explicitly with the cloud of cultural appropriation accusations that hovers over the band, and the two heretofore released cuts from the record are even more political than the band’s earlier releases. I’m especially digging “Look At Your Hands.” The song thumps with the gated reverb drums that typified 80s pop music, and sounds equally at home in a nightclub, a smartphone commercial, or a viral political ad. I hope to hear it in all three spots before 2019.
2. That moment when everyone realizes that “Crocodile” is sneakily the best episode from the fourth season of Black Mirror. True, it’s not sweet or redeeming, but for the way a new-ish, invasive, but undoubtedly useful piece of technology undergirds a personal and horrifying tragedy, it’s kind of untouchable. And Kiran Sonia Sawar, who plays an intrepid insurance claims investigator, is a revelation.
3. Only 6-12 months late, I might find out who the 17-year-old Soundcloud rapper Lil Pump is. This is mostly out of respect for the Miami teenager, born Gazzy Garcia, who wrote “Gucci Gang,” which contains the underrated lyric, “Me and my grandma take meds.”
4. In a new series of tweets that either mark the president as a world-class troll, or signal the mental decline described in journalist Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, Trump said his “two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.” I was dazzled by the tweet, more than I have been by many other wild things the president has said. It’s the commas, isn’t it? The thing that we’re all hung up on, whether we know it or not, is the crisp deployment of those commas on either side of “like.” If you read tweets from professional comedians, or even essays and posts that appear on this website, you’ll see this kind of construction used to comedic effect. And while I don’t think Trump is especially funny, he knows how to deliver a good line sometimes. But, is he, you know, like, a funny person? I am unsure what to do with these possibilities, but the president, as always, demands a closer look in the days and weeks to come. If he, like all former presidents, grows in public esteem after leaving the office, might we appreciate him as just a funny guy?
header image: "merrill garbus of tune-yards," katjusa cisar / flickr
 A revelation to non-UK audiences. Presumably, plenty of UK fans recognized her from an award-winning performance in Murdered by My Father from 2016.