Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Some tunes to blast winter away
April can be such a cruel month. One minute you’re positive that spring has arrived only to have your hopes dashed by freezing cold a few hours later.
Perhaps it’s best to just hunker down with some music until Mother Nature gets her act together. Here are some music picks to get you through the weekend.
1. Norah Jones, Begin Again
Jones’ seventh album is both new and old. New in the sense that it’s her first full record since 2016’s Day Breaks. Old in that it’s a compilation of singles she’s released in the last 18 months. It’s not a long record — the seven songs are over in just under 29 minutes — nor did she spend more than three days on any song. The idea was to create something both in the moment (many of the songs are improvisations based on voice memos she sent to herself) and eclectic. Mission accomplished, then.
2. Pup, Morbid Stuff
One of the best Toronto alt-rock bands keeps getting better and more assured with each record. Morbid Stuff, the band’s third full-length, is hard and angry, shaped by spending nearly two solid years on the road. Expect this album to receive some love around the time the Long List for the Polaris Music Prize is released later this year.
3. BTS, Map of the Soul: Persona
Weird domestic scandals notwithstanding, it sometimes seems that we’re eventually destined to live in a K-pop world. BTS, the carefully constructed-and-groomed seven-member group from Seoul (they’re also known as Bangtan Boys, Bulletproof Boy Scouts, Beyond the Scene, and Bangtan Sonyeondan) is so big that you can measure their success as a percentage of South Korean GDP. This seven-track EP takes its title from — wait for it — Jungian philosophy while other songs refer to the classical composer Béla Bartók and various bits of classical Greek. Not your average fare for a teen pop band, right?
4. Chemical Brothers, No Geography
Twenty-five years after they first emerged, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons still haven’t run out of ideas. Rave sounds and dance beats gave way to flirtations with hip-hop which led to something more in a pop vein. Now they’ve evolved into another new space which — well, I don’t know what it is, but I like it. And anybody who can put a dog behind the wheel of an F1 racing car is fine by me.
5. Talltale, A Japanese Fever Dream EP
Talltall is a six-foot-tall, Edmonton-based pop-electronic singer/composer/drummer (real name: Tatiana Zagorac) who has developed a deep fascination with Japan. Between each of the seven songs on the EP are short interludes, each with a Japanese title that has no equivalent in English to help create a loose narrative feel. You might want to spend some time in Tokyo after this video.
London Calling: Cabbage, Torture
Terrible name, great band. Manchester’s Cabbage released a debut record entitled Nihilistic Glamour Shots that got them some attention. This song is just a single for the moment, but it’s probably indicative of what we’ll see with their second album which is due later this year.
Undiscovered Gem: She Drew the Gun, Paradise
Louis Roach — the person behind She Drew the Gun — issued an excellent record called Revolution of the Mind back in November. The good reviews keep piling up with the release of this third single.
Throwback Track: Bjork, Human Behavior
When Bjork released her debut album entitled, er, Debut, back in the summer of 1993, hardcore fans were quick to point out that this wasn’t her first solo record. When she was just 11, Bjork released a self-titled indie album available just in Iceland. Details, details.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and Q107, and a commentator for Global News.
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