1 We’ve heard him singing on the recent Daft Punk and Robin Thicke mega-hits and saw him (and his oversized Mountie hat) performing at the Grammys and the Oscars, but until now we’ve heard surprisingly little Pharrell Williams music issued under his own name. That changes with “G I R L,” the veteran singer/producer’s second solo album. It follows the breezy, lightly sexy, retro dance-party mold of “Happy,” the Oscar-nominated track from “Despicable Me 2” (also featured here). The added dosage of “Off the Wall”-era Michael Jackson and “1999”-style Prince make the new disc irresistibly fun.
4 “How to Be a Feminist Artist” is a smart show at St. Catherine University in St. Paul of works both nuanced and potent, even when dealing with such difficult topics as abuse, U.S. military deaths and the role of women in Arabic cultures. The most emotionally affecting piece is “Suicide Survivor’s Club,” a series of little books designed and produced by graphic artist Laurie Phillips about a family’s upheaval following the suicide of a husband and father of three. stkate.edu/gallery.
2 With three splendid actors in several roles under the deft direction of Rachel Bowditch, “The Sun Serpent” unfolds at Mixed Blood Theatre as a highly theatrical historical pageant about the 16th-century Spanish conquest of Mexico. What makes this play — in English, Spanish and the Aztec tongue of Nahuatl — so captivating is the telling. The company’s three actors use masks that they switch frequently. These visages represent a spectrum of emotions, from scowls to quiet pain. mixedblood.com
3 With former guitarist Jason Isbell and recently departed bassist Shonna Tucker launching their own careers, Alabama/Georgia twang-rockers Drive-by Truckers have fewer cooks and more kitchen to take advantage of on their 12th album, “English Oceans.” Co-founding guitarist Mike Cooley steps out front more often — and with more impressive results — than frontman Patterson Hood this time around. Both charmingly veer toward mellower territory but with the same mud-caked, hell-bent storytelling abilities.
5 Attempts to turn Jay Ward’s animated TV series into movies —”Rocky and Bullwinkle,” “Dudley Do-Right” and “George of the Jungle.” — were huge disappointments. What a relief to see that while “Mr. Peabody’s” visuals are enhanced to sleek 21st-century standards, the essential charm of the “Peabody and Sherman” series survives more or less intact. In this telling, sophisticated, sarcastic Peabody, an outcast brainiac in his youth, adopts human foundling Sherman to give him the family he never had as a pup. Ty Burrell as Peabody leads a vocal cast including Stephen Colbert, Allison Janney and Stanley Tucci.