Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Warmer weather means more tunes

Toni Braxton performs on stage during the BET Honors 2016 Show at Warner Theatre on March 5, 2016 in Washington, DC. Kris Connor/BET/Getty Images for BET

Now that we’re officially into spring, expect the number of big-name releases to increase. Think of this as the tip of the summer music iceberg.

The weather gets warmer, the T-shirts and shorts come out, and eventually, it’s summer festival time! But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s see what’s going to fuel 2018’s summer.

Here are my picks for this week.

1. Jack White, Boarding House Reach

With his third solo record, White has moved further away from the White Stripe sound — not a bad thing, that —and into more experiments with rhythm (Jack messed about on the drums a lot), keyboards, and poetry fragments. As usual, Jack has surrounded himself with some crack musicians as he once again tries to save rock’n’roll and vinyl. Make sure you come back here Sunday for my exclusive Q&A with Jack about dad rock, the universe and the future of rock.

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2. Vance Joy, Staying at Tamara’s

It’s been almost four years since his debut album, Wanted on a Voyage, a record that was followed by multiple whirlwind tours. To decompress and regroup, Joy spent some time at an Airbnb flat in Barcelona. The respite proved to be so refreshing that he named his new record after that apartment. I’m sure Tamara appreciates the recommendation.

3. Toni Braxton, Sex and Cigarettes

After eight years in the wilderness, Toni Braxton returns with her first new album since the Obama administration’s first term. (Yes, there was the 2014 collaboration with Babyface entitled Love, Marriage & Divorce, but we’re talking pure solo work here.) Just be forewarned: she went into this record ready to talk about more adult-oriented content. “I don’t want to be censored.” OK, then, but that doesn’t explain why she’s standing in a bathtub on the cover. The first single is pure heartbreak.

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4. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Dirt

If you’re looking for something experimental, you can’t go wrong with this outfit formed in Montreal. The group, a former Polaris Prize nominee, combines everything from art-rock to Japanese Kabuki imagery. Somewhere, David Bowie is looking down with approval.

5. Preoccupations, New Material

The Calgary band formerly knows as Viet Cong (bad idea, that name) plumbs territory first explored by Joy Division and Interpol. Expect a flashback or two, if you were ever into the kind of material issued by Factory Records, too. In a press release, the band says their third record is “an ode to depression … To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” You’ve been warned.

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London Calling: Shame, Lampoon

High-energy stuff from South London that’s being praised, even by some of the most snooty British music credits. And don’t be fooled by the title of their debut album, Songs of Praise. This isn’t anywhere close to being a gospel record. Expect to hear more from these guys.

Undiscovered Gem: Ian Moore, You Gotta Know

Interesting fellow, this Ian. Born in Austin, Texas, and now living in Seattle, his new record (due May 25) is bafflingly entitled Toronto. Although you may not have heard of Ian yet, you may have seen contestants on The Voice and American Idol perform his songs. He’s also toured with everyone from the Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan.

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Throwback Thursday: White Zombie, Thunder Kiss ’65

Rob Zombie is still making music — he’s heading out on a co-headlining tour with Marilyn Manson called “Twins of Evil: The Second Coming Tour” — although most of his time is spent making horror movies. This track, the only official single from White Zombie’s 1992 album, La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume 1, features samples from the campy 1965 Russ Meyer exploitation film, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Hence the title, right?

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


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