Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Muse, Sloan and Tyga release new tunes

Dominic Howard, Matt Bellamy and Chris Wolstenholme of Muse attend the VO5 NME Awards held at Brixton Academy on February 14, 2018 in London, England.
Dominic Howard, Matt Bellamy and Chris Wolstenholme of Muse attend the VO5 NME Awards held at Brixton Academy on February 14, 2018 in London, England. Dave Benett/Getty Images

New music comes in ebbs and flows, dictated by how new release Fridays fall within the calendar. Because last weekend was the Presidents Day long weekend in the U.S., some bigger names were found on the schedule as labels hoped to capitalize on holiday streaming/buying/listening. This week is light on mainstream names but heavy on the new and cool.

1. Muse, Thought Contagion (Single)

Okay, so there’s one superstar release, but one that wasn’t actually on the schedule. It just sort of … showed up on Thursday. A new album? There’s no indication of anything yet, so it appears for the moment that Matt Bellamy and Co. are content to drip out new material like hip-hop stars. Judging from song and video, Matt is still wearing his tinfoil hat — just in case, you know?

READ MORE: Several MIA bands return with new albums

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2. Ought, Room Inside the World

Post-punk (art-punk?) from Montreal. Their first album, More Than Any Other Day (2014) became something of an indie sensation, making a number best-of year-end lists, including Rolling Stone. Skip ahead to February 2018. The group has signed to Merge (the American label that first believed in another Montreal band called “Arcade Fire.”) We should probably pay attention.

3. Sloan, Spin Our Wheels (Single)

Sloan’s 12th album — entitled 12 — will feature 12 songs with each of the four members contributing three songs each. Isn’t that mathematically pleasing? And if you’re a superfan, you’ll want to pre-order the album on orange vinyl. Everything will be ready for release on April 6 with this track being the album’s lead-off song. It’s out now.

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READ MORE: 5 new music picks for the week of Jan. 26

4. Tyga, Kyoto

Two songs from this album appeared before the official release this week. How much of this album was inspired by Tyga’s split from Kyle Jenner? Fans will be combing through the lyrics of the album for clues.

5. U.S. Girls, In a Poem Unlimited

More experimental pop from the always interesting American (and now Canadian by marriage) music and artist Meghan Remy. With a Juno nomination and a Polaris Music Prize Short List resulting from her last album, the expectations for this album are, well, sizeable. If you love the idea of someone influenced by equal parts Bowie, No Doubt, ABBA and Blondie, then there will be plenty for you to enjoy on this album.

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READ MORE: New music to kick off 2018

This week’s undiscovered gem: Arielle

Arielle — note the spelling, so this obviously isn’t anyone connected with that Disney movie — is a hot singer/guitarist from Austin, Tex., who describes her style as “classic folk rock.”

She’s already opened for Heart, Gregg Allman, and Joan Jett while Brian May created a special part for her in the Queen musical, We Will Rock You.

She should be better known, but it’s just a matter of time. Get on board now with this track from her new EP, Mind Lion.

London Calling: Waiting for Smith

Friends in the U.K. say that Oxfordshire’s Waiting for Smith is being heard all over London: cabs, pubs, stores.

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Their name comes from an annoying drummer who never showed up for rehearsals and was eventually replaced with a much more reliable timekeeper named Tim.

Leader Harry Wallace is a former ski instructor in France who broke his back three years ago. (It’s okay. He’s fully recovered.) Meanwhile, the bass player used to tour with Tom Jones. Yes, him.

Throwback Thursday: The Northern Pikes

The Pikes — the most famous band to come out of Saskatoon until The Sheepdogs — recently announced that they’ve just recorded their first new music in 15 years.

The current lineup includes original members Jay Semko, Don Schmid and Bryan Potvin and former Grapes of Wrath leader, Kevin Kane. Given that they’ll be touring again this year (they’ve been on and off the road since a 1999 reunion), this is a good excuse to reach back to their 1987 debut album, Big Blue Sky, for one of the singles.

Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.

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