Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Some Canadian classics for the weekend

Jim Cuddy, left, and Gord Bamford perform at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards in Saskatoon on September 10, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

I know what you’re thinking: “I have my streaming subscription but I don’t know where to begin with this week’s new releases.”

Relax, my children. I’m here to help.

1. Walk Off the Earth, Mike’s Song (single)

Back in December, Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor, multi-instrumentalist with Burlington, Ontario’s Walk Off the Earth, died suddenly from natural causes. As expected, the trauma felt by the band was extreme. To cope with the tragedy, they worked on a song for Mike, a “therapeutic process” according to the group. It’s all about moving forward while still learning to deal with loss.

2. Jim Cuddy, Countrywide Soul

When he’s not working on anything related to Blue Rodeo, Jim Cuddy and his band can often be found working on new music in his barn. This live record features new versions of Cuddy songs from his career (kind of like what Sting just did with his new record, My Songs), a couple of covers (George Jones, Glen Campbell), and two brand new songs.

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3. Pip Blom, Boat

Adorable, this band is. Pip, who sings, brother Tender (yes, that’s his real name), and two friends make up this Dutch band while mom works as their auxiliary tour manager and dad takes care of social media and merch sales. According to Pip, the title of the album was inspired by visions of a cruise ship, which she took as a sign of new journeys to come. If you’re into a jangly, earnest, simple form of indie rock, you’ll find much to enjoy here.


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4. Lowest of the Low, AGITPOP

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LOTL was perhaps the greatest of all the Toronto indie bands of the early and mid-’90s. But for a variety of reasons (many self-inflicted) the commercial success enjoyed by some of their peers (Our Lady Peace, I Mother Earth, Moist) somehow eluded them. Back together and serious about new music, this record advances what they’ve been trying to accomplish over the last few years. And if you’re a fan, you need their box set.

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5. Duff McKagan, Tenderness

Now that the Guns N’ Roses reunion tour is on something of a hiatus, bassist Duff is taking this time to release his third solo album, a work that he says was inspired by what he saw on said tour as it made its way around the planet. This track, Chip Away, is a rant against clickbait, cable news and the pursuit of profit over any kind of truth. Not a song for the Fox News newsroom, then …

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Bonus Tracks

London Calling: Ride, Future Love

The shoegaze vets from Oxford reunited about five years ago, a situation that has now produced a second album to follow up 2017’s Weather Diaries. Lovely stuff, this.


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Undiscovered Gem: Johnny Hostile, feat. Jehnny Beth, Let It Out

Brit Johnny Hostile was asked to compose the soundtrack to the documentary XY Chelsea, the story of U.S. trans soldier Chelsea Manning, who got into big trouble for leaking information about what U.S. forces were really doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. When it came to a song to run over the closing credits, Hostile phoned up Jehnny Beth of the fierce all-female post-punk band Savages. The result is extremely pretty.


Throwback Track: Understones, Teenage Kicks

Wind things back to the fall of 1978. Punk is happening all over the U.K. In the midst of all the Clash and Sex Pistols fury came this single from Northern Island’s The Undertones. The singer with the wobbly vibrato is 20-year-old Feargal Sharkey. When the ‘Tones broke up, he went on to be in a few other bands, released some solo singles, and then ended up working on behalf of the music industry with U.K. governments and later with private organizations. This debut single has been called one of the greatest indie songs of all time.

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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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