Even in the age of streaming, having a number one album (or even one that debuts nice and high on the charts) is something to brag about. That’s why some artists wait for seasonal lulls in the new release schedule so their records have a chance of sneaking in a big debut.
1. Snoop Dogg, I Wanna Thank Me
After a detour into gospel (!) for his 2018 album, Bible of Love, Snoop Dogg is back doing Snoop Dogg things. The title track of his 17th album is a thank you to himself for being Snoop. With 22 tracks, the guest list is pretty thick: Slick Rick, Swizz Beatz, Wiz Khalifa, Jermaine Durpri, Trey Songz and more.
2. Frank Turner, No Man’s Land
Literal title, this. Frank Turner has a 13-track album that tells the stories of Huda Sha’arawi (Egyptian feminist), Nannie Doss (a serial killer), and Rescusi Anne (her face was used as the model for CPR mannequins. No, really.) Sister Rosetta is dedicated to Rosetta Tharpe, whose contributions in the 1930s and ’40s were important to the eventual development of rock’n’roll.
3. Ride, This is Not a Safe Place
Ride was one of the kings of the British shoegaze movement back in the early-to-mid ’90s before the scene stalled and they broke up. The good news is that the reunion that began in 2014 has resulted in two solid records, Weather Diaries (2017), and the new one, This is Not a Safe Place. The band says that this record was inspired by the work of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
4. The Hold Steady, Thrashing Thru the Passion
Has it really been five years since the last Hold Steady album? It certainly feels good to have Craig Finn and the boys back with more tales of urban characters delivered in a Springsteen-esque way. This isn’t an entirely new record. Half of what’s included has already been released as singles on Bandcamp over the last two years while the rest are more recent. Not a typical album, then. See if you can count the musical shout-outs in this song.
5. Sleater-Kinney, The Centre Won’t Hold
Those who fondly remember the original Riot Grrrl years probably had a Sleater-Kinney T-shirt or two. Their 2014 reunion hasn’t completely stuck — drummer Janet Weiss has since bailed — but Carrie Brownstein (yes, from Portlandia; Sleater-Kinney was her thing long before she moved into TV) and Corin Tucker are still roaring ahead with an album produced by St. Vincent. Furious stuff, this.
London Calling: The Murder Capital, Don’t Cling to Life
A little pessimistic this one. Dublin’s The Murder Capital doesn’t hold out much hope for an afterlife, so they’re all about living in the moment. This track will find purchase with fans of the Pixies, Joy Division and even Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Undiscovered Gem: Billy Wild, The Waves
Toronto native Billy Wild also works under the name DVSN88, a hip-hop and electronic collective, as well as collaborating with the estate of Glenn Gould, the famous Canadian classical pianist and futurist. He’s returned to his rock roots with this single.
Throwback Track: Nine Inch Nails, Head Like a Hole
Had things gone according to plan, we’d be talking about the 50th anniversary Woodstock event someplace in upstate New York. Since that’s not happening, let’s remember the 25th anniversary of Woodstock 25, which took place in a hideously wet, muddy and unsanitary place near Saugerties, N.Y. (I was there; I’ve been off camping at festivals ever since). One of the highlights of the weekend was Nine Inch Nails’ Saturday night performance which featured the greatest density of human bodies I’d seen in a long time. Trent Reznor and his crew rolled around in the mud before taking the stage in some kind of act of solidarity with the audience.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.