This week’s selections come with no fewer than three surprise releases. I like surprises.
1. Mumford and Sons, Blind Leading the Blind
Sometimes a song just doesn’t want to be born. Mumford and Sons spent at least 18 months writing, tweaking, performing, and re-arranging this banjo-based song and just couldn’t seem to shape it to their satisfaction until just recently. When they were happy, the thought was, “Let’s just get it out there and be done with it.” There’s no mention of an album, but you never know.
2. Marilyn Manson, God’s Gonna Cut You Down
Another standalone single and a cover to boot. Manson has taken a traditional American folk song that has been covered a zillion times (Johnny Cash to Elvis Presley to Moby) in a variety of non-folky styles (country, black metal, techno). Is Manson worried that he will soon have to reckon with God’s judgment after his years of wicked ways?
3. Matthew Good, Sicily
There is an album coming — a follow-up to 2017’s Something Like a Storm — and to get things started is this single which was recorded at the Tragically Hip’s Bathhouse Studios outside of Kingston. Lots of piano and acoustic guitars here, so if you liked his 2009 album Vancouver, you’ll be pleased.
4. Leeroy Stagger, Hey Hey (Song for Gord)
Two years after his death from brain cancer, Gord Downie continues to inspire people. Leeroy Stagger wrote this to mark Secret Path Week, which continues Gord’s work of Indigenous reconciliation in this country.
5. Headstones, Leave it All Behind
The Headstones keep plugging away with their ninth studio album, PeopleSkills. It’s pretty much everything you’d expect from Hugh and Co. The video for the first single was shot at a decommissioned federal security prison.
London Calling: Sports Team, Fishing
Thanks to this band, a six-piece from London, I now know that people go fishing in the Thames. Then again, why shouldn’t they? And what would you catch? I honestly want to know.
Undiscovered Gem: Louise Burns, Cry
Coming out of Vancouver, Burns is signed to Maverick, the label founded by Madonna back in 1992. She also collaborates with Damian Miller who has worked with both The Killers and Arcade Fire. Watch for a full album called Portraits on Nov. 8.
Smashing Pumpkins, Zero
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the sprawling 121-minute double album, released 24 years ago this month, captured the Pumpkins at a time when they couldn’t seem to do anything wrong. So many big singles came from this record: 1979; Tonight, Tonight; Thirty-Three; Bullet with Butterfly Wings. But shortly after this album was released, things began to fall apart. Touring keyboards Jonathan Melvoin died of a heroin overdose. Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was fired for substance abuse. Soon, other tensions were tearing at the band. Still, the Pumpkins managed to sell 10 million copies — and that was just in the U.S.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and Q107, and a commentator for Global News.