The music industry has begun its annual ritual of putting out records and box sets in time for Christmas while setting up releases for the new year.
There’s a bit of both in this week’s recommendations.
1. Elbow, Giants of All Sizes
Beloved at home in the U.K. but largely unknown in North America, the mournful northerners of Elbow have released yet another excellent record. Singer Guy Garvey and the crew are unrushed — as usual — as they work their way through songs of sadness, longing, empathy and optimism. Impressive, considering that Garvey’s father died as the band was working on the record. If you’re looking for something to put on while enjoying a snifter of brandy on a chilly evening, this will work just fine.
2. Steve Miller, Welcome to the Vault
With a career that extends back to 1962, Steve Miller has plenty of stuff in reserve. Of the 52 tracks included in this new box set, 38 of them are previously unreleased. Superfans can enjoy demos, live performances, rehearsals and a variety of outtakes. One of the more interesting inclusions is a 12-minute work-in-progress version of Fly Like an Eagle. And a big band version of Take the Money and Run? Who knew such a thing existed? The box also includes a DVD of 21 live performances, a 100-page hardcover book, a backstage pass and 10 guitar picks.
3. Monowhales, RWLYD
The cute-as-a-button Toronto group (né Ginger Ale and the Monowhales) keeps getting better with every release. Don’t try to pronounce the title of this track. It’s an abbreviation for Really Wanna Let You Down and appears to set the stage for a new album of some sort in the near future. Monowhales’ first-ever Canadian tour starts this week in Winnipeg.
4. Phantogram, In a Spiral
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Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel continue to offer up dark psych/electronic pop. This track was recorded at a studio in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park in California. They say the desolation of the desert added to the vibe of everything. More material is promised soon.
5. Another Crush, It Sucks
Conflicted about the feelings you have for another? Take a listen to this single from Toronto’s Another Crush. It’s extraordinarily pretty and very well produced. This deserves to be a hit. Check out their Crushed EP the next time you log on to your preferred streaming service.
London Calling: Bombay Bicycle Club, Eat, Sleep, Wake
This London group has been with us off and on since 2005, and they are currently prepping their fifth album for release on Jan. 17, 2020. I found myself humming this one after just a couple of listens.
Undiscovered Gem: Katriel, One Foot Tall
Still in her teens, Newmarket, Ont.’s Katriel may have you thinking of Lorde or, if you’re a bit older, a darling Australian band from the ’90s called Frente. Simple, yet elegant and sophisticated.
Throwback Track: Hole, Violet
Word is that Hole is prepping a reunion. Three members of the classic lineup are apparently rehearsing in Hollywood. No Eric Erlandson yet — he and Courtney Love haven’t seen eye to eye for years — so Eden Galindo of Eagles of Death Metal is part of the plan for now. Will it happen? We’ll see.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and Q107 and a commentator for Global News.