Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: From Willie Nelson to Miley Cyrus

Willie Nelson performs at the Producers & Engineers Wing 12th Annual Grammy Week Celebration at the Village Studio in Los Angeles on Feb. 6, 2019. Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/File

Although summer is now officially here, much of Canada is still grumbling — with good reason — about a cool, damp spring that threatens to carry over to the next season.

Perhaps I can distract you with this oddly varied selection of music recommendations.

1. Willie Nelson, Ride Me Back Home

We think this is Willie’s 69th studio album, but he’s been around so long, no one is really sure if that’s accurate. This record completes the ominously entitled Mortality Trilogy that began with God’s Problem in 2017 and continued with Last Man Standing in 2018. Most of the material is brand new, although he does cover Mac Davis’ Hard to be Humble and Just the Way You Are from Billy Joel. He also revisits a song he recorded in 1972 called Stay Away from Lonely Places.

2. Miley Cyrus, On a Roll

Earlier this year, Miley appeared in an episode of Season 5 of Black Mirror (Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too) where she played a pop singer named Ashley O. One of the things the character did was reimagine Nine Inch Nails’ industrial classic Head Like a Hole under the title On a Roll. Instead of using the song’s original bleak and angry lyrics, Miley reworked everything into something much more positive. Trent Reznor got it right away and immediately gave his blessing.

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READ MORE: Listen to ‘lost’ Freddie Mercury song, ‘Time Waits for No One’

3. Cold War Kids, Complainer

No new album yet — New Age Norms will be here in the fall after a summer tour — but we do have two new songs from this L.A.-based alt-pop band. Some of the tracks were co-written with Bonnie McKee, who has had hits with people like Katy Perry and Rita Ora. The second new song is 4th of July, which can be found here.

4. Collective Soul, Blood

Still chugging along in their 27th year together, Collective Soul’s 10th album features a song inspired by Ed Roland’s grandmother, who always talked about things being “as right as rain.” Ed still has no idea what that means, but it does make a good song title. By the way, we’re supposed to refer to Ed as “E Roland” now.

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5. Drake, Omertà

Shortly after the Raptors won their first NBA title, Drake released his first new music of 2019. (Hey, he was busy buying cars, getting his own jet and trolling the Raptors’ playoff opponents.) This track, named after the Italian code of silence and honour, features Drake rapping out ahead of his Las Vegas residency. The second track, Money in the Grave, features Rick Ross and offers these instructions upon Drake’s death: “When I die, put my money in the grave / I really gotta put a couple n— in they place.”

READ MORE: Thom Yorke announces solo North American fall tour

Bonus Tracks

London Calling: Egyptian Blue, Collateral

I can’t tell you much about this band from Brighton, mainly because they’re so new. This spikey and cooly atonal single comes from their debut EP, Collateral Damage. Best heard with the volume way up.

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Undiscovered Gem: Sault, Let Me Go

This group is as close as you can be to an internet ghost these days. Led by a woman named Cleopatra (no, really), the group appears to be English and has a debut album entitled Five. That’s about all that’s been revealed.

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Throwback Track: Out of Your Mouth, Music

When a Calgary band called Flu found that someone else already had that name, they changed their name to Out of Your Mouth and immediately issued a rocked-up version of Madonna’s 2000 hit, Music. It not only did well on the rock charts but made it into the Top 40, too. Unfortunately, the band broke up almost immediately after their debut Draghbad was released in 2004.

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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