If you haven’t already begun composing your summer driving playlist, it’s time to make that happen. This week’s music picks appeal to a strangely wide age range, which could be very helpful on some of those family road trips.
1. Nine Inch Nails, Bad Witch
This album — please don’t call it an EP even though it has just seven songs; Trent Reznor insists that we call this an “album” — completes a trilogy of records that began with the release of Not the Actual Events just before Christmas 2016 and its follow-up, 2017’s Add Violence. If you’ve been paying attention to what Trent is trying to say with these releases, you’ll know that he’s exploring the idea of our place in the world and how we’re supposed to cope. He says he needed three releases to explore this concept to the fullest: Put something out, tour, think about it, repeat. Bad Witch brings this meditation on life, the universe and everything to a close — for now.
2. Panic! At the Disco, Pray for the Wicked
The punctuationally-irreverent Panic! at the Disco’s sixth album was teased by sending decorated baking potatoes — actual spuds — to select fans through the mail. That certainly got people’s attention. If you haven’t heard anything from the record yet, remember that singer Brenden Urie spent time on Broadway in the production of Kinky Boots. Some of that experience has rubbed off on this record.
3. Best Coast, Best Kids
Through their first three albums, this California duo worked hard to become indie darlings. For their next trick, they’ve released a children’s album. In addition to some original songs, the band also covers material by throwback artists like Frankie Valli and Lesley Gore. Singer Bethany Cosentino says that she’s coming to the rescue of parents who have been driven insane by hearing the Frozen soundtrack 200 times in a row. Consider this a public service, then.
4. Yukon Blonde, Critical Hit
Cheeky title. Presumptuous or prescient? Time will tell. The band’s fourth album (and sixth release overall) features 13 songs inspired by dating in the digital age. Note that the band is leaning a little more towards pop and dance with this one.
5. Gang Gang Dance, Kazuashita
Speaking of something dancey(ish), this Manhattan-based experimental group returns with their first album in seven years. While the name might not be familiar, this is a fine record for late-night summer chill-out moments. Addictive, really.
London Calling: Spring King, Animal
This four-piece is from Macclesfield, a well-to-do sort of place south of Manchester. Spring King describes itself as “a small-scale art-pop-punk project” influenced by “Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen, peppermint tea, and spirulina.” It’s not often that you see a band use a superfood as an influence. This single is from their second album, A Better Life.
Undiscovered Gem: Bodega, Jack in Titanic
Early adopters have been very bullish on this Brooklyn band, especially after some performances at SXSW back in March. They also converted more than a few with their appearance at NXNE in Toronto last weekend. The result is much anticipation for their debut album, Endless Scroll, which is due July 6 and whetted by this witty song about our male hero in James Cameron’s Titanic. Fun fact: A “bodega” is what you call a full-service convenience store in NYC.
Throwback Thursday: Danko Jones, Bounce
I picked this track because I received Danko’s new book in the mail the other day. I’ve Got Something to Say: 10 Years of Rock and Roll Ramblings is a crazy amount of fun with backstage stories, rants, comics, and insider gossip. This gives me an excuse to go back to 1999 for an EP entitled My Love is Bold, which was his most successful Canadian release. Four of the six songs ended up as singles, including this radio hit.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.