Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Rusty, The Sheepdogs provide Canadian flavour

Jimmy Bowskill and Ewan Currie of The Sheepdogs perform at The Peppermint Club on October 12, 2018 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Jimmy Bowskill and Ewan Currie of The Sheepdogs perform at The Peppermint Club on October 12, 2018 in Los Angeles, Calif. Harmony Gerber / Getty Images

Let’s mix it up this week. We have new singles from albums released in late 2018, and one new track from an album still to come this year. Maybe.

Here’s what we’re listening to in this first month of the year.

1. Florence + the Machine, Moderation

Florence watchers suspected that something new was in the offing back on January 12 at the RAC Arena in Perth, Australia. Halfway through the set, just after the strains of Dog Days are Over died away, an unfamiliar song appeared. Those who saw the band’s setlist alternately reported that it was listed as MD or Meditation. It turns out the proper title is Moderation and harkens back to the Florence sound of the Ceremonials album. An official studio release appeared today (January 25). Does this herald a new record or is it just a standalone song? We’ll see.

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2. Twenty One Pilots, Chlorine

Because of the carefully-crafted mythology surrounding Twenty One Pilots, their songs often raise more questions than they answer. In the video for the latest single (number five, if you’re counting) from last year’s Trench album, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun spend time filling up a swimming book with water and chlorine in an attempt to attract an animated little alien-like creature apparently called “Ned” who lives in a pile of garbage in the backyard. And what’s the with the antlers?

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3. Rusty, Home

Back in the middle and late 90s, Rusty was one of Toronto’s premier indie bands. The fun lasted through three albums before everything stopped being fun, and the band broke up in 2000. But then there was a reunion in 2011 that was sticky enough for the group to launch a crowdfunding campaign for a new album in late 2017. That record, Dogs of Canada, arrived last summer. This is the latest single.

4. The Sheepdogs, Saturday Night

Hardened by growing up in Saskatoon, The Sheepdogs have no problem touring Canada in the dead of winter. With a Quebec leg beginning this week, the group offered up a new single from last year’s Changing Colours album. The seniors in this video were wrangled up by the 84-year-old grandmother of bass player Ryan Gullen. Turns out her friends still really know how to party.

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5. George Ezra, Shotgun

Some people see a lot of similarities between Ed Sheeran and George Ezra. Both are English. Both do the boyish singer-songwriter thing well, although George has an edge with the alt-pop. And both can write pop songs that tend to drift to the upper reaches of the charts around the world. Shotgun was a #1 hit in the UK last summer but is only now being seriously pushed as a single in North America. Such is the weird territoriality of the music business.

London Calling – Jeremy Warmsley, January

Blame the calendar for this selection. How could I pass up a song entitled January at this time of year? Warmsley, a composer for film and television, also releases solo material and music with his wife in a group called Summer Camp.

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Undiscovered Gem – Yak, Fried

Yes, this trio from Wolverhampton, England, took their name from the bovine Himalayan animal. A series of singles have appeared over the last five years as well as one album. A second complete record, Pursuit of Monetary Happiness, will be released.

Throwback Track of the Week – XTC, The Mayor of Simpleton

This one popped up out of nowhere as my phone was on shuffle, reminding me what a brilliant songwriter Andy Partridge could be. Alt-rock fans will remember this being a major hit from the band’s 1989 album, Oranges & Lemons.

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

Subscribe to Alan’s Ongoing History of New Music Podcast now on Apple Podcast or Google Play

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