It’s the Memorial Day long weekend in the U.S. and a few releases have been timed for the occasion. Interesting to hear from some familiar names again, too.
Here are my picks for this week.
1. Sting, My Songs
Sting isn’t usually short of new ideas (cf. his musical The Last Ship and his reggae collaboration album with Jamaican star Shaggy), but maybe after years of performing these older songs, he thought he might be able to improve on them. My Songs features news versions of his solo hits along with reinterpretations of three Police songs: Every Breath You Take, Demolition Man, and Can’t Stand Losing You. Get the deluxe version and Der Stringer will provide five bonus tracks. I guess if you’re Sting, you’re never satisfied.
2. Morrissey, California Son
Mozzer positions his 12th studio release as a “protest-themed covers album” and features some pretty esoteric stuff, meaning that this might be a release for Morrissey fans only. All the material is taken from the ’60s and ’70s from artists ranging from Gary Pickett and the Union Gap (Lady Willpower) to The Fifth Dimension (Wedding Bell Blues, a recording that features Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day; bizarre) to Roy Orbison (It’s Over). Interestingly, some record stores have begun banning all Morrissey records because of Mozzer’s apparent support of a far-right political group.
3. Rocketman original soundtrack
What sets the upcoming Elton John biopic apart from the story of Queen told in Bohemian Rhapsody is that Targon Egerton (Eggsy from Kingsmen: The Secret Service movies — and note that in the second movie, supervillain Julianne Moore captures Elton John and keeps him hostage) does all his own singing. Take that, Rami Malek. Egerton looks and sounds frighteningly like Elton. So far, reviews have been excellent. Rocketman opens May 31.
4. Stray Cats, 40
Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom, and Lee Rocker return with the first Stray Cats record in 26 years. Recorded in Nashville, the album’s title is a nod to the band’s 40th anniversary. Might we see a rockabilly revival? We’ll see after a world tour begins on June 21. Click on the image below to see the first single, Cat Fight (Over a Dog Like Me) on Facebook.
5. Amyl and the Sniffers, Amyl and the Sniffers
I’ll admit it. The only reason I’m including this pick is because of the band’s name. But now that I’ve got your attention, you really need to take a listen. This four-piece from Melbourne, Australia, is fronted by American Amy Taylor. The group plumbs a sound that’s equal parts garage rock, classic rock and vintage punk, a combination that’s in short supply when it comes to new bands these days.
London Calling: The Mysterines, Gasoline
Back in 2018, posters started appearing around Liverpool asking, “Who are The Mysterines?” They turned out to be a new female-fronted three-piece who wanted to keep a low profile while simultaneously creating some hype. It worked.
Undiscovered Gem: Midnight Ambassador, Palace
I’m still sorting through all the music I collected/was exposed to during Canadian Music Week. One artist who stood out was Midnight Ambassador, a classical-trained guy from the south end of Portugal who divides his time between there and London. I was slipped his self-titled EP and was impressed.
Throwback Track: Sisters of Mercy, Gimme Shelter
May 22 was the 11th annual World Goth Day, a holiday(?) begun in the U.K. described by organizers as “a day when the Goth scene gets to celebrate its own being and an opportunity to make its presence known to the rest of the world.” (I know! We should have bought a card or something.) If colour has yet to creep into your wardrobe, you’ll appreciate this extra-sinister cover of the Rolling Stones’ classic by the Sisters of Mercy.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and Q107, and a commentator for Global News.