In fashion, August is all about transitional pieces, saying goodbye to swimsuits and sandals and hello to cardigans and scarves. This month’s culture lineup is bittersweet, too. We get new Breaking Bad (yay!), but they’re the final episodes of the groundbreaking run (boo!).
TV, Music, Movies—The Culture Guide For The Perfect Party Guest
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Much like throwing a moto jacket over a floral sundress to make the summer seem a little more endless, I’ll soothe my soul by jamming out to the synth jams of UK duo AlunaGeorge. Then I’ll channel Hit-Girl a.k.a. Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass 2, don my best uniform—Levi’s skinnies and a vintage white tee—and banish the bad guys (and by bad guys I mean refined sugar and gluten; August is cleanse time as well). Check out the rest of our August culture musts to make your summer glow last a little bit longer!
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The Civil Wars, The Civil Wars
Those of us who love the soothing twang of singer-songwriter country folk have been eagerly awaiting a new album from this duo, comprised of Joy Williams and John Paul White. While they first made headlines with their critically adored (and ultimately Grammy-winning) album Barton Hollow, they blew up when they collaborated with Taylor Swift on “Safe & Sound,” the keystone of the first Hunger Games soundtrack. Sadly, The Civil Wars have dissolved their band, so this self-titled album will likely be their last.
Release date: August 6th
Download now: “The One That Got Away”
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Halcyon Days and Halcyon Days Deluxe, Ellie Goulding
If you’ve been living in the dark and haven’t heard the sweet, poppy “Lights,” by lovely sylph Ellie Goulding, you’re missing out. The hit has driven the British singer- songwriter to the top of the charts and earned equal love for follow-up anthem “Anything Can Happen.” This month, the blonde beauty—who has been brightening up red carpets with her bold style—drops Halcyon Days, half album/half EP, and the über edition Halcyon Days Deluxe, which feature a mix of new material and rereleases, including a song written by fun.’s Nate Ruess and a cover of Alt-J’s “Tessellate.” Goulding did perform her cover of Elton John’s “Your Song” at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Perhaps a lullaby to the young Prince George of Cambridge is next on her to-do list?
Release date: August 27th
Download now: “Burn”
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Body Music, AlunaGeorge
Ok, so technically their album dropped on July 30th, but that’s August adjacent, and I had to give AlunaGeorge some love. I first stumbled across this amazing electro-R&B-pop duo (made up of the honey-voiced Aluna Francis and beats-master George Reid) when I was going through the BBC’s “Sound of ’13” finalists, and they blew my mind. With Body Music, this Brit pair delivers an album full of bouncy, smooth jams heavy on the synth, and light on the boredom. This is my favorite album of 2013!
Release date: July 30th
Download now: “You Know You Like It”
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This sophomore effort from New York Times best-selling author Marisha Pessl (Special Topics in Calamity Physics) is the perfect summer read. When the daughter of a cult filmmaker is found dead in an abandoned warehouse of an apparent suicide, a wronged reporter takes on the case. Intrigue? Check. Noir? Check. Family drama? Check. Brilliant writing? Just like Pessl’s debut novel, Night Film is a fiction tour de force.
Release date: August 20th
If you loved Curtis Sittenfeld’s Sisterland, you won’t be able to put this book down!
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Bid a fond farewell to Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and their merry band of psychopaths in part two of the fifth and final season of this addictive drama. The stars paid beautiful homage to the show by rolling up to the premiere in a mobile meth lab RV.
Debuts: August 11th
Tip: Haven’t seen it yet? It’s streaming on Netflix! What are you waiting for?
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The West Coast has cornered the market on August’s most awesome music fests! First up: San Francisco’s Outside Lands (August 9th – 11th). This year’s big guns include Paul McCartney, Nine Inch Nails, and Red Hot Chili Peppers and indie swooners Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Yeasayer, and The National. My faves? Milo Greene, Daughter, Wavves, and Surfer Blood. FYF Fest hits Los Angeles on August 24th and 25th, bringing Beach House, Solange, MGMT, and My Bloody Valentine—and over 50 other acts to L.A.’s State Historic Park. No dusty fields or oppressive heat? I’ve never been happier with my decision to skip Coachella this year!
Image of Solange Knowles, courtesy of Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage; Photo of Vampire Weekend, courtesy of Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns via Getty Images
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In a World
Lake Bell wrote, directed, and starred in this Sundance film about one woman’s adventures in the strangely male-centric world of movie trailers. (Cue big, booming voice: “IN A WORLD WHERE…”) Bell, who is artfully funny—just check out her Twitter—crafts a sweet romantic comedy in her directorial debut.
Hits Theaters: August 9th
Your favorite new summer indie rom-com from a talented triple threat!
Lake Bell image, courtesy of Michael Stewart/WireImage; In A World stills, courtesy of Seamus Tierney and Bonnie Osborne.
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Our favorite teen super heroine Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) dusts off her killer costume and bold purple wig for more epic adventures. In this sequel, crime-fighting vigilantes Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his sidekick Hit-Girl (Moretz)—who comes out of a forced early retirement—return to, well, kick some more ass against super villain Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).
Hits Theaters: August 16th
If you’re going to watch someone save the world, it should be Chloë Grace Moretz, who can kill a bad guy—and a red carpet look.
Chloe Grace Moretz image, courtesy of Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic; Kick Ass 2 stills, NBC Universal.
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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Heir apparent to the Hunger Games throne? We’ll see. Of course it doesn’t hurt that this big-screen adaptation of the first installment of the YA Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare stars lovely ingénue Lily Collins and her real-life boyfriend Jamie Campbell Bower. (I die for their combined lovely locks alone!)
Hits Theaters: August 21st
YA—lit-addicted and can’t wait for Catching Fire or Divergent? This flick’s for you!
Lily Collins image, courtesy of Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic; Mortal Instruments stills, courtesy of Sony Pictures.
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This 23-year-old first caught my attention as the spiky teen in Showtime’s now-canceled United States of Tara. She has since gone on to star as Channing Tatum’s lady love in 21 Jump Street and Michael Cera’s crazy ex in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Brie is also an amazing filmmaker, having written and directed shorts, including “The Arm” (alongside Sarah Ramos and Jesse Ennis), which screened at Sundance. This month she stars in the heartbreaking drama Short Term 12, which won both the Jury and Audience awards at this year’s SXSW. Bonus: Her red-carpet style is as multifaceted as her career.
Short Term 12 hits theaters August 23. Watch Larson’s short “Weighting” here!
Night FilmMarisha Pessl, $20