Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: A few stragglers start off 2019

Kevin McKeown (L) and Eric Owen of Black Pistol Fire perform during the Music Midtown Festival at Piedmont Park on September 16, 2018 in Atlanta, Ga.
Kevin McKeown (L) and Eric Owen of Black Pistol Fire perform during the Music Midtown Festival at Piedmont Park on September 16, 2018 in Atlanta, Ga. Scott Legato/Getty Images for Live Nation

This week’s album release schedule is terribly light, but given the time of year, that’s to be expected.

A few acts, however, are anxious to let us know they mean business in 2019 with these advance singles.

1. Black Pistol Fire, Level

We know the story by now: Two Toronto guys move to Austin and after a couple of years see their band blow up to be one of the biggest alt-rock success stories of 2018. And with the release of this new single, it looks like their good fortune will continue for the foreseeable future. Nice.

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2. SHAED, Trampoline

Yes, another band intentionally misspelling its name in ALL CAPS. In this case, we have an electropop trio from Washington, D.C., that seems to be doing well as the result of placement in TV commercials. First, it was a track called Name On It that appeared in a Victoria’s Secret spot followed by the use of this song in a MacBook Air commercial just before Christmas.

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3. Catfish and the Bottlemen, Longshot

After three years, this Welsh four-piece has finally released some new material. Few details are available, but they do have a British arena tour and a road trip through various North American theatres in March and April, so fans can probably expect more new stuff soon.

4. Walk the Moon, Timebomb

Five songs were peeled from the band’s fourth album, What If Nothing, which came out in late 2017. Not much to report on the fifth album yet, but with the appearance of this single, something must be afoot.

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5. Bear Hands, Blue Lips

This post-punk/indie rock band from Brooklyn is also due to release some new material given that the last album appeared in 2016. Whatever appears next will be a product created without founding member Ted Feldman, who left the band a year ago. They’ll soon be on the road opening for Walk the Moon.

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London Calling: The Specials, Vote for Me

The Specials were — correction, are — one of the great bands of the U.K.’s Second Wave of Ska, a movement that emerged in the wake of punk in the late ’70s. This current reunion (est. 2008) seems to be sticking and has now evolved into an album of new material entitled Encore, the first such release since 2001. This is the first single.

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Undiscovered Gem: Basic White, Time to Leave

Riffage from a new trio from London, Ont. A debut album called The Second Half is due Feb. 22.

Throwback Thursday: The Toadies, Possum Kingdom

After about 1993, a couple of years into the grunge era, we started to hear from bands that weren’t really grunge but sounded like they could be. The music industry herd mentality kicked in and A&R scouts went looking for anything and anyone that sounded remotely like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. (We ended up with Creed, but that’s another story.) This inevitably led to a series of bands who appeared with one or two songs and then disappeared. This included The Toadies, a Fort Worth, Texas, band that still exists but has never managed to achieve the kind of success they did with this song from their 1994 debut album, Rubberneck.

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Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and Q107, and a commentator for Global News.

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