After a few weeks of almost zero activity, it’s back to the business of sorting through new releases and other assorted recommendations. Meanwhile, feel free to share any comments, questions and critiques as well as your latest discoveries. The more help, the better.
5 for Friday: Recommendations from this week’s new releases
Are any of the record labels back at work after the holidays? Would anyone be so bold as to release new music on the first new release Friday of the year? Surprisingly, yes.
1. Sykamore, Self+Medicine EP
Sykamore, a Calgary-based singer-songwriter, has the release schedule almost all to herself with a pop-country EP that was produced by a guy better known for his work in the EDM world.
2. Rob Tardik, Synergy
If smooth jazz is your thing, you probably know of Rob Tardik already, given that his career has already spanned a couple of decades. Synergy is his sixth release.
3. MGMT, Hand It Over
While MGMT’s fourth album, Little Dark Age (release date still TBA, although February seems likely), is still being prepped, a third pre-release single was released today. Fun fact: “James,” another song on the album, was allegedly written while the group was allegedly on drugs.
4. Judas Priest, Lightning Strike
Forty-plus years on, the Metal Gods are still at it. Firepower, their 18th studio album and first in about four years, will be out later this year.
5. Justin Timberlake, Filthy
JT’s first album in five years, Man of the Woods, is introduced by a single that features him as a Steve Jobs-ish robot. Of course.
5 more cool songs you must hear this week
1. BØRNS feat. Lana Del Rey, God save your young blood
Recommended if you like: Unexpected changes in key
BØRNS says he spent a lot of time listening to Beach Boys songs and became fascinated by how Brian Wilson would often unexpectedly change keys or create new movement in a song (cf. “Good Vibrations,” among many others). When he tried to write a song in that vein, he found him thinking of Lana Del Rey, whom he contacted on Facetime. That went well enough for her to agree to sing on the track.
2. Dizzy, Swim
Single (Canvasback Music)
Recommended if you like: Dear Rouge, some Metric, a few 4AD bands from the 80s
Three brothers (Charlie, Alex and Mackenzie Spencer) and a friend (Kate Munshaw) are all from Oshawa, Ontario, who seemed determined to make a go of things with a second single that draws from their experience of growing up in suburbia. Watch for more shows around the GTA and beyond in 2018.
3. DYGL, Let it sway
Sat Goodbye to Memory Den (Hard Enough)
Recommended if you like: Hollerado, Tokyo Police Club, The Strokes
DYGL (pronounced “Dayglow, making them a band that’s not only too poor to afford vowels but one that has to skimp on consonants, too), is a four-piece from Tokyo (points if you can connect them to Yikki Beat) who have been around since 2013. After finding some success with this album which was released last spring, let’s see what they can do in North America.
4. Partner, Play the Field
In Search of Lost Time
Recommended if you like: Tegan & Sara cut with ’90s alternative
Lucy Niles and Joseé Caron, both from Windsor, Ontario (and originally from Sackville, New Brunswick) have their sights set on keeping the sound of their ’90s guitar heroes (Pumpkins, Weezer, Nirvana, Veruca Salt) alive. Keep in mind that they also have experience in a couple of hardcore bands. The result is sapphically wonderful. Check out the video they shot at the University of Windsor.
5. lovely.the.band, Broken
Everything I Could Never Say… (Red Music)
Recommended if you like: MGMT, Pixies, Grouplove
Out of Hollywood, this three-piece that allegedly evolved after everyone got drunk and started talking about forming a band. When they sobered up, the band was there, so they decided to keep going. So far, so good.
London Calling: Django Django, “In your beat”
My weekly pick for something new and cool from the UK goes to the five-piece London art-rock outfit Django Django. With two well-received albums — both impossible to categorize genre-wise —a third confounding recorded entitled Marble Skies is set for release on Jan. 26. This is an early single.
The Undiscovered Gem of the Week: Basement Revolver
Hamilton, Ontario’s Basement Revolver describes what they do as “slow-burning introspective” music. The four-piece fronted by Chrissy Hum have three EPs to date and a track called “Bread & Wine” from last July’s Agatha EP is currently getting some radio airplay in the UK.
Throwback Track of the Week: Fun Lovin’ Criminals
By the time New York’s Fun Lovin’ Criminals broke out of New York in 1996, they’d found something of a sweet spot between rock, rap, hip-hop and the still relatively new art of sampling. Things started well enough with the single “Scooby Snacks,” but when Quentin Tarantino heard the sampled dialogue from Pulp Fiction, he sued and ended up with a co-songwriting credit. Head Criminal Huey Morgan now works as an announcer for BBC Radio.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.