Ah, the first long weekend of the summer, that moment when the possibilities of the next few months stretch out before us.
It also means the start of a fertile period of new music. Let’s dive in.
1. Elton John/Taron Egerton, (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again (single)
Elton John is the perfect subject for the rock biopic treatment. The highs (seven consecutive number one albums, 300 million records sold), lows (drugs, alcohol), controversies (he didn’t come out until middle age), the costumes (Donald Duck? Seriously?), and, of course, the music. But who could possibly play the role of Elton? The producers scored with Taron Egerton, who doesn’t just look like Elton — Elton himself finds it uncanny — but he also sounds like him. Egerton does all his own singing in Rocketman (take that, Rami Malek). The only time Elton shows up is to sing this duet for the soundtrack, which is out May 24. Rocketman the movie opens May 31.
2. Rammstein, Rammstein
The one time I saw Rammstein live, singer Till Lindeman went crowd surfing. In a dingy. Back with their first new album in 10 years, Berlin’s best rock/industrial/generally agro band sounds as fearsome as ever. Instructive, too, if the video for Deutschland is anything to go by. Radio is the album’s second single.
3. L7, Scatter the Rats
Although they pre-dated grunge, LA’s fierce, all-female L7 got lumped in with that crowd when their third album, 1992’s Bricks are Heavy, was produced by Butch Vig, the knob-twiddler for Nirvana’s Nevermind. L7 called it a day in 2001, but decided to give it another shot in 2014. This album, their first in 20 years, shows that the reunion seems to be sticking.
4. The National, I Am Easy to Find
The National has a lot to say with this record. Not only is their longest album so far (15 songs extending across almost 64 minutes), it comes with a 24-minute film. Also interesting is the rotation of female singers throughout the record, including Sharon Van Etten and David Bowie’s longtime bassist, Gail Ann Dorsey.
5. Carly Rae Jepson, Dedicated
CRJ is an interesting case. Although she’s yet to have another hit as big as “Call Me Maybe,” she’s continued to release interesting music. Hipsters, who once used to like her ironically, now genuinely like her. Where will this fanbase take her?
London Calling: Yak, Payoff vs. The Struggle
Three guys from London who have garnered attention from their second album, Pursuit of Momentary Happiness, which was released through Jack White’s Third Man Records. You might want to turn up the volume for this one.
Undiscovered Gem: Porridge Radion, Give/Take
Can we agree that this is a bad name? The group consists of four people — three guys and a woman who nevertheless describe themselves as “a capitalist boy band” — who divide their time between London and Bristol. Most of the power resides with singer Dana Martin, who started the band as a solo project. If you like what you hear, go back and check out their last album, Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers.
Throwback Track: Chalk Circle, April Fool (1986)
After about 15 years of Cancon rules — the regulations that required a certain amount of music on the radio to be by Canadian artists — our domestic music industry was really starting to shape up. It would be a few more years before things exploded — we’d have to wait until the early ’90s for that — but groups like Chalk Circle were among the ’80s pioneers who showed how it could be done. Recording for Toronto’s indie label, Duke Street Records, Chalk Circle’s debut EP offered up this single, which became a top 10 hit — a major accomplishment for an indie band back then.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and Q107, and a commentator for Global News.