Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Dido and Flight of the Conchords return

As we creep towards spring, a number of artists have come out of a long hibernation with some new material.

1. Dido, Still on My Mind

It’s been almost six years since the last album from Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O’Malley Armstrong. She has the luxury of being able to take her time since her first two albums were among the best-selling albums in the U.K. through the 00s. She’s also thankful for Eminem, who heavily sampled Thank You (a 1999 hit) for his monster smash Stan in late 2000. Fans will enjoy this mix of folk, hip-hop, dance, and electronica.

2. Flight of the Conchords, Live in London

After a band meeting, Bret Mckenzie and Jemaine Clement decided that it was time to get serious about a reunion. Good move, too, since they’ve been playing sold out shows ever since. That includes this gig at the Eventim Apollo from October 2018 which was recorded for an HBO special (their home for their original TV series) as part of their Flight of the Conchords Sing Flight of the Conchords Tour [sic]. Now about that rumoured Flight of the Conchords movie…
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3. David Gray, Gold in a Brass Age

Another guy who’s been away for a while. Gray’s last record was Mutineers back in 2014, not counting a 2017 greatest hits record. He spent the interim touring (there was a particularly good road trip with Alison Krauss) and learning to generate new electronic sounds and textures while using production methods he’s never tried before. Some of that comes out on this first single.

4. Amanda Palmer, There Will Be No Intermission

Amanda Palmer is a force of nature unlike any other. Fiercely independent and backed by an army of ultra-loyal fans who crowdfund everything she does (Amanda has no fewer than 12,000 patrons), she’s financially free to follow her creative muse anywhere it may take her. This is her first true solo album since 2012.

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5. Foals, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Part 1

As you can probably deduce from the title, (a) the band is in touch with pop culture memes involving Nintendo game systems; and (b) there is the implication that Foals (neighbours of Radiohead in Oxford) have more to say than what they could fit on this one album. Part 2 is due this fall. Fans were intrigued by a scavenger hunter earlier this year when the band posted GPS coordinates leading to doorways at public transit stations in London, Paris, New York, Mexico City and Tokyo. Inside were lyrics to this first single.

London Calling: Snapped Ankles, Rechargeable

Coming out of East London and very proud of their “shamanistic” live shows — whatever that means — Snapped Ankles describe what they do as “punktronica.”

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Undiscovered Gem: Lullwater, Empty Chamber

Now in their 10th year together since forming in the basement of a house on Lullwater Street in Athens, Ga., these guys tick all the right ’90s boxes: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins and REM. There are three Lullwater albums, including Voodoo which came out last month. This is a single.

Throwback Track: Ben Folds Five, The Battle of Who Could Care Less

Ben Folds was a bit of an anomaly in the late ’90s because his work was piano-based, which really stuck out at a time when we were feeling the sonic effects of grunge. Ben has since gone on to work with a variety of people ranging from William Shatner to Regina Spektor. He’s currently an artistic advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. This was a sizeable alt-rock radio hit from his 1997 album, Forever and Ever Amen.

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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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