Rooster Roundabout Says Goodbye
We bid you farewell
Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights
King Tuff's Was Dead album was one of my favorites of 2013. Though it came out years ago, fan fervor over the original recordings made him reissue it last year, and rightfully so. It's a fantastic record. Now Tuff is gearing up to release another LP (Black Moon Spell), and he's giving a taste of what it'll entail with the album track “Eyes of the Muse.” That should tide you over 'til Sept. 23, but I'm sure he'll release more previews between then and now. Here's hoping.
I've always liked Usher ... well, mostly. I've lost touch with a lot of his recent work, but “Confessions Part II,” “Nice and Slow” and “Yeah” are some good songs to dance, reflect or get in the mood to. Whatever your preference, the man knows what he's doing. Now Usher has made a track available that was produced by Pharrell and features Nicki Minaj. The slick, club-happy number will definitely be a crowdpleaser. Head to Hip-Hop Wired to hear it.
Coldplay and Cat Power? I'm sure some could have predicted it … probably not. Cat Power is ... well ... Cat Power. And Coldplay used to be good. Regardless, it's an interesting combination any way you squeeze it, and the song they've concocted together (written by Coldplay's Chris Martin, sung by Chan Marshall) is a contemplative little number. The track “Wish I Was Here” was written and recorded for Zach Braff's upcoming film of the same name. How that'll go is an entirely different thing. But check out the song below.
There's always dissension when a legendary rock group announces they've recorded new material. Some say it's going to be awful. Some say it's a new era, a new sound. Whatever your views, that still doesn't stop it from happening. Take Pink Floyd for instance. The group is coming out with a new record (The Endless River) in October, and according to the band's website, it's “an album of mainly ambient and instrumental music based on the 1993/4 Division Bell sessions which feature David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright.” So keep an eye out for that one … or don't … I mean I might not even remember … I probably will though.
I mentioned a few weeks back that Christopher Owens (former frontman from Girls) was coming out with his second solo album. Well, that's still happening. The record (A New Testament) hits the music-sphere on Sept. 30. And Owens shared a snippet in the form of “Nothing More Than Everything to Me,” which you can view below.
It's happening. Beck is going to release a new album titled Song Reader. I know, I know, he already came out with a record called Song Reader (though it was a release of sheet music, made to be interpreted by skilled musicians). But Beck is going to release actual recordings of those songs, and each track is going to be done by a different artist. Among them are Laura Marling, Jack Black, Jarvis Cocker, Jack White and much more. Head to Pitchfork to get more deets on that. Oh, and it drops on July 29, which is hella soon!
Like most, I became familiar with The Vines at the turn of the millennium when they graced us with “Get Free.” Anyone else remember the Hives vs. Vines battle during MTV's Music Awards? Them's were the days. The band has been steadily releasing albums over the past decade, though none have found their way on my radar. Now, they're coming out with a new double LP (Wicked Nature). They're self-releasing it via PledgeMusic where fans donate funds and get free downloads of some of the album's tracks. So there ya go. Not sure when the record is coming out, but you can watch the video for their new song “Metal Zone” below.
Taylor Swift is a writer? Well, duh, I know she writes her own songs, but an editorial? And for the Wall Street Journal? The country-pop sensation wrote a piece on the future of the music industry, speculating on where music will be in 30 or 40 years. Swift describes herself at the beginning of the piece as an “enthusiastic optimist.” (Go figure.) She does say some insightful things here and there, and whether you agree with her assertions, it's not as if she's the be-all-end-all authority on music entirely. But if you want her perspective, it's not a terrible read. See what she has to say here.
Fans of Death Proof are no strangers to Mary Elizabeth Winstead (you know, the one who was dressed like a cheerleader in the second half). 'Member the scene where she sits in the car and sings a lovely cover of Smith's “Baby It's You”? Good times. Well Winstead and Dan “The Automator” Nakamura have a music project together (Got A Girl), and they're getting ready to release a record on July 22. To give people a preview, they've made the track “There's a Revolution” available. Listen to the retro pop ditty below.
There are still moments when I get tears in my eyes at the thought that I will never see The White Stripes live in person. I think back to moments when I could have seen them had I driven 3 1/2 hours, changed highways, snacked on goodies, all while playing all six of their fantastic albums in chronological order. That is slightly remedied with the release of a live White Stripes album (Live Under the Lights of the Rising Sun). No release date on it yet, but the record will have 31 tracks, and it's taken from their first tour in Japan in 2000. So it'll probably have some good early stuff. Head to NME to read more 'bout it.
Talk about a boy-band super duo: Nick Carter (of Backstreet Boys) and Jordan Knight (of New Kids on the Block) have decided to join forces and take over the music world as Nick & Knight. No joke. Their debut LP drops on September 2, and shortly after they're going on tour so people can see this pop extravaganza in person. It's just as well. Interested folks can view a promotional video for the project below, and in it you can hear a snippet of their single “Just the Two of Us.” PS: The album is already available for pre-order. So have at it if you must.
'Member that little Steven Spielberg gem known as Jurassic Park? I know I do. Seeing that in theaters was one of my greatest movie-going experiences as a youngster. And if you were a fan of the music, this is your lucky day. The film’s score is getting a nice reissue on multi-colored vinyl, and it'll be available to the public on June 11. Head to Consequence of Sound for more info.
Coldplay has been steadily giving glimpses of their upcoming record Ghost Stories, which hits the music-sphere on May 19. And now they're providing listeners with another fragment in the form of “A Sky Full of Stars,” which features a collaboration with electronic, club aficionado Avicii. Basically you need to be high as a kite in a black-lit dance party to experience the full effect of the song. Other than that, what's the point? But you can give the tune a listen below.
The dream of the '90s is alive in super-Earth. According to the Portland Mercury, Corin Tucker (formerly of Sleater-Kinney) and Peter Buck (of R.E.M.) have joined forces to deliver new music to the masses in the form of the aforementioned band name: super-Earth. Not sure when they'll deliver the goods, but someone somewhere is jumping with joy, or at least digging into those old mixtapes, you know … from when people used to make them.
A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that a documentary about the late, great Elliott Smith (Heaven Adores You) is scheduled to premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Now you can view a teaser of the film, which provides a glimpse of Smith's legendary status and why he was (and still is) loved and admired by his peers.
Let the album streamage commence: Last week, Lily Allen gave the visual accompaniment of her upcoming record's title track (“Sheezus”), and now she's streaming the album in its entirety. You can hear that via iTunes Radio, which confuses me, so I'll just wait for it to come out, assuming I want to hear it. And while we're on the topic of pop diva streaming, you can head to NPR to stream Lykke Li's I Never Learn. Oh, and you since everyone's giving it away for free (at least momentarily), head to Consequence of Sound to hear The Horrors' new record Luminous.
I'm gonna save you the introduction and spare you talk of my love of Christopher Owens, the former frontman for rock group Girls. I've gone there time and time again, so I'll just get right to it ... Owens has posted a new track (gospel-tinged rocker “Stephen”), and it's fucking great. Not sure if this is going to be on some future release, but one can hope. Have a listen below.
Music lovers young and old have shared thoughts about the internet's influence on music culture: how record labels don't make as much money; therefore, artists don't make as much money, yadda yadda. Steve Albini (noted producer, musician and engineer who has worked with The Breeders, Nirvana, Pixies, Veruca Salt and many more) has been pretty vocal about his views on record labels sucking artists dry to make a buck. And now, contrary to what many people would have considered him to believe, he says album streaming and the internet in general have solved “the problem with music.” He goes on to say “You can literally have a worldwide audience for your music … with no corporate participation, which is tremendous.” You can read more at Quartz.
The Roots shared a track from their forthcoming record ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin a few weeks ago (and maybe another one in between), who can keep track? Either way, they've come out with another one (titled “Tomorrow”), which you can listen to below. Their album hits stores on May 13, which is right around the corner, so save them pennies.
Most folks know David Lynch from his eerie, avant-visual stylings in films like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive. But the filmmaker has also been making music for a while now, and his new video, which was directed by Moby and features vocals by Mindy Jones, is available for visual and aural consumption. The vid is for the title track from last year's The Big Dream, his second full-length effort. You can watch that below.
Rowdy’s Dream Blog #344: Telling Jokes on a Furniture Store Bed
I am walking through the mall. I pass my old friend D and her dark-haired Aussie girlfriend. D gives me a severe look. I bow and kiss her hand. She wears a gold band on her finger. She asks me when I'm going to grow up. I tell her it's too late, so never. We are joined on a furniture store bed by four of her friends. I joke in response to some anecdote: “That will kaak in your craw!” This gets a big laugh. One of the girls is playing with my tie. I see where this is going.
Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights
Hip-hop trio De La Soul has decided to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut full-length release 3 Feet High and Rising by making their entire music catalog available for free download. How's that for giving it away? And they've also shared a track “Dilla Plugged In,” which was produced by the late J Dilla. The song will be featured on an upcoming mixtape, titled Smell the D.A.I.S.Y. So thank them and get to listening.
I'm gonna do it … I'm just gonna mention it … because I think it'll do me good … it'll do you good … it'll do us both good. Thee Oh Sees have come out with another snippet off their forthcoming record (Drop) in the form of the song “The Lens.” The track, which is a slower number, incorporates strings (which is sort of reminiscent of “So Nice” off their Putrifiers II LP). That's all I'll say. Promise. Oh, you can head over to Pitchfork to give that a listen.
I don't know much about Son Lux. But it's just as well. The reason this particular snippet caught my attention is because the track features Lorde. And just in case you didn't read my “Best Albums of 2013” article, Lorde was on it. I won't repeat myself, but if you haven't listened to Pure Heroine, please do. You won't be disappointed. But now the New Zealand native is featured on a Son Lux remix track, titled “Easy (Switch Screens).” The ditty comes off Son Lux' 4-song EP (Alternate Worlds), which is available online and will be out in physical form on May 27. In the meantime, you can hear the track below.
I shared a track off The Black Lips' upcoming album (Underneath the Rainbow) some time back. Well now the entire album is available for streamage over at Noisey. So go there. Seriously … go there. And while we're on the subject of streaming albums, why don't you also check out Kimono Kult's new EP (Hiding in the Light) over at Consequence of Sound. The band features Omar Rodríguez-López from The Mars Volta and John Frusciante from Red Hot Chili Peppers … in case you were wondering.
Arctic Monkeys are another one of those bands that peaked my interest, but only for a short amount of time. I reviewed Humbug for my college paper, and other than that release, there's not a whole lot in the way of fandom for this listener. Friends have been adamantly recommending them over the years, but like I said, I have music-listening ADD and get bored easily. But after hearing frontman Alex Turner's acceptance speech for winning Best Album at this year's BRIT Awards, I decided to take somewhat of a closer look. And that started this week with their video for the track “Arabella,” off their most recent album AM. You can watch that below. By the way, the video is NSFW-ish.
I'm trying to think of how I can say this without sounding like I mean it … oh well … I hate Linkin Park. Hate 'em. Now, that's a strong word, but in this instance, there really is no substitute. So why even mention them, you might ask. Well, I do respect Jay-Z's work, and apparently their joint album (2004's Collision Course) is getting a reissue for this year's Record Store Day. The album (which I haven't heard) is said to feature Jay-Z's raps mashed with the band's tunes. Someone somewhere must be celebrating in some fashion. Let 'em carry on.
A lot of people think Dandy Warhols and immediately want to associate them with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, what with Ondi Timoner's Dig documentary. And while it sparks arguments over who is the better band, that's beside the point entirely. Each band has their own particular sound, their own aura, so to speak. Regardless, the Warhols went on tour last year to celebrate the 13th anniversary of 2000's Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia and are now gearing up to release a live album from the concerts' proceedings. It hits shelves on March 25, but in the meantime, the band has shared a video of them playing a cut from the record (“Godless”). You can watch that below.
I can respect Toadies. Granted, I never delved much into their catalog because a lot of their songs sounded somewhat samey to me. But I always appreciated their aesthetic. And a friend's band in high school used to do a lot of Toadies covers that went well for the teen crowds partaking in Friday night jam sessions at a venue in my hometown. But now the Toadies have come out with a new track, a cover of Pylon's “Stop It,” and the band are also “in the midst of finishing a new album.” You can hear the track and read more about their new stuff over at Billboard.
Sadly, I got into Girls after listening to their second release (Father, Son, Holy Ghost), and we all know what happened after that, right? Well, they broke up. And Christopher Owens later released a solo LP (Lysandre), which was as good as we could have expected. Makes sense considering he was Girls' main songwriter. And now Owens has come out with a new solo track “It Comes Back To You,” which is very much in keeping with the soulful, rock-ballad aesthetics that Girls strived for on their second album. Supposedly it comes off of an upcoming LP, but no details on that at the moment. You can hear the track below.
It it common for a band to release an album, and then come out with another one mere months later? Is this not the definition of prolific? Well rock group Guided By Voices must have an insane backlog of material if they're coming out with an entirely new LP (Cool Planet) in a couple months (May 13). I mean they literally just released Motivational Jumpsuit not even a month ago. And to prove that they've got new stuff brewing, they're previewing a track off the forthcoming record (“Bad Love is Easy to Do”), and you can take a listen below.
Am I the only one who’s surprised Korn is still making music? Probably … because it seems the band is still going strong, having released The Paradigm Shift late last year. My last foray into the world of Korn was Follow The Leader when I was a kid. And that was largely a byproduct of having an older brother. Regardless the band has come out with a video for the track “Spike in My Veins,” from their latest record. You can watch that video below.
Granted my musical repertoire could use some brushing up on the rap front. I guess it's just a genre I spent a vast majority of my life being woefully ignorant of, but hey: There's always room for improvement. Nas was always a name thrown at me growing up, whether it was cousins sharing his new tracks or aficionados urging me to pick up one of his LPs. Now Nas has decided to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his debut record in a big way: He's releasing a reissue (Illmatic XX) that features remixes, freestyles and demos. And he's also coming out with a documentary about working on the album, “Time Is Illmatic.” You can read more about it and view the tracklist over at Pitchfork.
I posted Jenny Lewis' contribution to the soundtrack for HBO series “Girls” a couple weeks back. Now a new track—that is also on said compilation, titled Girls, Volume 2: All Adventurous Women Do—has surfaced. It's Miguel's song “Simplethings,” which layers lofty fuzz over an otherwise-typical modern R&B beat. Still, it works, and you can hear it below. And as of press time, Lily Allen's contribution to the soundtrack was revealed via Rolling Stone. So head over there to hear her track. The album itself comes out on Feb. 11.
'Member when I mentioned John Dwyer's new project Damaged Bug? Dwyer, singer/guitarist of currently defunct garage contemporaries Thee Oh Sees, is gearing up to release Bug's first record (Hubba Bubba) on Feb. 25. And since that date is fast approaching, he's made a new tune from said album available. This track is titled “Photograph,” and while it has more electronic leanings, it also has got some distorted overtones ringing throughout. Nice job. You can head over to Pitchfork to give that a listen.
Ohhh snap! Folks who are still keeping tabs on Robert Smith and the gang are sure to be excited that The Cure has announced a new album for 2014 (titled 4:14 Scream). Now I've never been much of a Cure fan—which was blasphemy to my “goth” friends in high school—but I can appreciate their appeal. And some tracks have stirred my emotions, here and there (see “Plainsong”). I was always looking for something with more cojones, but you can learn more at the A.V. Club.
I believe that it was Hole that said, “If the world is so wrong, yeah, you can take it all with one song.” I'm not saying that The Men's new track “Different Days” is that song, but it's enough to at least put a smile on your face, make you get your ass off that seat and start jumping around. And isn't that what rock and roll is all about? Minus the sex and drugs … Either way, the track comes off The Men's upcoming album (Tomorrow's Hits), which gets released on March 4, and you can take a listen to it below.
For those who may not be too familiar with them, The Jesus Lizard is a rock band that started out in Texas in the late '80s. And while they haven't released a standard LP since 1998, they've always been a band I've heard about from various, excited friends. But I've said it before: I always hear about things late in the game. Aside from that, guitarist Duane Denison has joined with Tomahawk and Alexander Hacke of Einstürzende Neubauten to form a new band called The Unsemble. They've shared a tune off their upcoming self-titled debut—which hits stores on March 4—and you can hear that over at the A.V. Club.
Okay … it may seem like I'm playing favorites here … what with mentioning St. Vincent's upcoming self-titled release again. But it's not from a lack of trying to expand my horizons, people. It's just that Annie Clark has now posted another song, “Prince Johnny,” from her upcoming LP, and since it's real good stuff, I thought, “why not share it?” So you can hear that below.
It's no secret that Kurt Vile's Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze was a pretty stellar release. We don't need to go there, ’cause I've already gone there. But this isn't about Vile. No, this is about Ms. Aly Spaltro aka Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. LLB's 2013 record Ripely Pine was one of my favorite albums of the year—and for damn good reason (see “Crane Your Neck” or “You Are the Apple”). But now Ms. Spaltro has covered Vile's “Girl Called Alex” to pay homage to what she considered the best record of 2013. You can hear that below.
So many collaborations! Just last week I mentioned Ariel Pink's involvement in Raw Deal. Apparently he's also involved in another project with Jorge Elbrecht, and that’s called Jorge Elbrose. They've just come out with a video for their track “Called to Ring.” You can read more about their project at Pitchfork, and you can watch the video below.
My first introduction to YACHT was when a friend played their song “The Afterlife” in his car. I liked the dark, '80s vibe emanating from his speakers, and the lyrics immediately grabbed me, what with singer Claire L. Evans deadpanning “We know how to make life go on.” Their show at Emo's in Austin, Texas was a pretty dynamic affair. People danced whether they wanted to or not. Now the band has shared a new single, “Plastic Soul,” and an accompanying video. You can watch that below.
I know … I know … It must get tiresome with all this love in the air and Valentine's day looming ahead like an unstoppable force coming to claim your hard-earned cash and whatnot. But the Sweetheart compilation I've been plugging for the past few weeks (posting tracks by Beck and Jim James) has shared a new track. This time it's Fiona Apple and her cabaret-singing sister Maude Maggart singing Anton Karas' “I'm in the Middle of a Riddle.” You can check that out at the Wall Street Journal. PS: You can also hear Ben Harper covering Mazzy Star for this compilation over at Consequence of Sound. And the compilation is out on Feb. 4.
While I've already ruminated over the music of the hit HBO series “Girls,” it's always nice when the good music keeps a-flowin'. And now we've got a new track by Jenny Lewis, titled “Completely Not Me.” The song was produced by Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij, which I'm assuming is supposed to be impressive. But you can hear the track below, and check out the Girls Volume 2: All Adventurous Women Do… over at Entertainment Weekly.
I've always appreciated Kevin Drew's atmospheric musicality in Broken Social Scene. I never really followed his solo work, but I guess it's better late than never. Now Drew is coming out with a new record (titled Darlings), slated to hit stores on March 18. And he's shared a track off said album (“Good Sex”), which you can listen to below.
While it's probably completely out of left field, Led Zeppelin themselves always had sort of an unpredictably whimsical quality about them. I mean, come on … they made medieval stories sound ridiculously cool. Regardless, John Paul Jones has teamed up with electronic artist Deathprod, and together they are Minibus Pimps. You can read more about 'em over at Pitchfork.
A friend first introduced me to Neutral Milk Hotel my sophomore year of high school, and (no joke!) my life was changed. I understood what it meant to make music an actual art form. Poetry and rock and roll had melted together into these seamless barrage of sound, all of it surrounding Jeff Mangum and his vibrant guitar. And now (after never thinking it was possible), I'll get to see them live because the band has added some more dates to their tour, and they'll be stopping at Albuquerque's Kiva Auditorium on April 17. Tickets went on sale this morning, so go get 'em before they sell out (if they haven't already). You can also hear my all-time favorite NMH track (“Two Headed Boy, Pt. 2) below.
Alibi Managing Editor and Music Editor Samantha Anne Carrillo covered Syracuse punk outfit Perfect Pussy in one of her Four Up's and noted how Captured Tracks had enough confidence in the band to sign them … Well, you can see why with their track “Driver” off their upcoming full-length debut (Say Yes To Love), which hits online and physical stores on March 18. It looks like the noise is headed our way.
Let those withering clouds part and the sonic sun descend upon the masses. It's been “confirmed” that Jack White and Neil Young have recorded an album of covers (apparently with Jack White handling production duties). According to music journalist Michael Goldberg, a source close to the project has confirmed it, but you know how that stuff goes. I say speculation until a physical copy is in my hands. It looks like I need to hit up Third Man Records for an advanced copy, what what!
For the past few weeks, music blogs have been abuzz over the long-lost Johnny Cash album (Out Among the Stars), which was recorded in the early '80s. The record will get a proper release, thanks to his son John Carter Cash. And now Cash's son has picked the album's lead single (“She Used to Love Me a Lot”). The album hits the music-sphere on March 25, but you can hear the aforementioned track below.
I've mentioned before that I like Ty Segall. I like his thrashy, disgusting, melted face approach to garage rock. It's supposed to be that way. And now his side project FUZZ has released a cover of The Kinks' track “Till The End Of The Day.” You can hear that below.
I don't know what it is with me and losing interest after a band's first album. It's a curse. That's how it went with The Mars Volta. De-Loused in the Comatorium was a fantastic album that highlighted my sophomore year of high school. (Or was it junior year?) Either way, now former member Omar Rodríguez-López and former Red Hot Chili Peppers member John Frusciante have started a new collaboration. The project is called Kimono Kult, and they're fixing to release a debut EP (Hiding in the Light) on March 4. But you can hear a new track from this group over at Rolling Stone.
It's always exciting when two powerhouse divas get together for a collaboration. (Britney and Madonna, anyone?) So I'm sure Shakira's collaboration with Rihanna will be no different. And the thing about Shakira (besides her being this pop sensation) was that she used to be this cool, alternative, Latin musician. Check out Dónde Están Los Ladrones? or her MTV Unplugged version of “Ciega, Sordomuda” if you don't believe me. That album is fantastic. Either way, I'm sure most people will go nuts over this track, so here's “Can't Remember to Forget You.”
The Daily Word in Chris Christie's apology, West Virginia's water and dead chickens
People weigh in on Gov. Chris Christie's apology concerning his team's “callous” and “stupid” behavior.
HBO's "Girls" gets renewed for a fourth season. Has the third even premiered yet?
After a chemical spill contaminated the water supply, nearly 200,000 people in West Virginia were left without H2O.
A major drop in added jobs for December flusters economists.
Someone's been leaving dead chickens at a North Valley cemetery.
It seems that panhandling has become a profession for a couple (and their kids) in Modesto, Calif.
Some students in Gallup found a way to cheat the system.
A woman surrendered her dog (that tested positive for cocaine and marijuana), but now she wants her canine friend back.
Coors Banquet beer puts out an 18-wheeler engulfed in flames.
Santigold and “Girls”
Singer/rapper releases new song for hit show soundtrack.
Santigold’s self-titled debut dropped in 2008 and put to rest any notion that she was merely riding the colorful wave of success paved by rapper M.I.A. Santigold, born Santi White, proved that she had more skills than just rapping along to an electronic beat. On “Santigold,” fans could hear influences of punk, ska, electronic and hip-hop, and her polychromatic outfits made her visually intriguing as well.
Santigold also garnered praise with her somewhat similar yet sonically evolved second outing, Master of My Make-Believe. But today she makes news for contributing a song to the soundtrack of the hit HBO series Girls, the brain-child of writer / director / actor Lena Dunham. The soundtrack hits stores and digital merchants next month, and features music by Robyn, Belle & Sebastian, Fleet Foxes and more. In the meantime, here’s a listen to Santigold’s “Girls.”
Glut yourself at an aural buffet
Whether you’re working on Thanksgiving or are lucky enough to have the day off, you’ll need something to listen to. Drown out family arguments with the sonic feast laid before you. The Rest is Gravy mix features 23 tracks from artists ranging from Gore Gore Girls to Little Eva to The Ohio Players. Stream it below or view the full track list on the original blog post. Good gravy, y’all!
1-2-3-4 ... What are we fighting for?
“Sex and the City” Gets a Reality Check
“Girls” on HBO
As Lena Dunham’s aspiring writer in “Girls” says, “I want to be the voice of my generation. ... Or a voice ... of a generation.” Dunham, who made her debut as the self-depricating 23-year-old writer-director-star of the indie dramedy Tiny Furniture, is certainly shaping up to be just that. Remarkably, she’s been able to parlay her award-winning feature into a gig writing, directing, producing and starring in a series for envelope-pushing HBO.