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Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Escape the 2020 news cycle with these tunes

Gordon Lightfoot performs onstage at Saban Theatre on March 9, 2019 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Gordon Lightfoot performs onstage at Saban Theatre on March 9, 2019 in Beverly Hills, Calif. Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Impeachment, coronavirus, earthquakes, Kobe Bryant — so far, 2020 has been a rough stretch.

Maybe it’s time to just cocoon with some new tunes. Here’s what we’re listening to this week.

1. Finneas, Let’s Fall in Love for the Night

Unless you’ve been paying attention to Billie Eilish, Finneas, her brother, collaborator, and producer, may have escaped your attention. As he and Billie are a team, he also took home five Grammy Awards this year. And he’s only just 22.

Now that Billie’s career has been, um, established, Finneas Eilish is ready to push his debut solo album to the alt-rock world. Will he rise to the heights of his younger sister? We’ll see.

READ MORE: Ozzy Osbourne says he doesn’t think he’ll be around ‘that much longer’

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2. Gordon Lightfoot, Oh So Sweet

The last time there was a new album from Gordon Lightfoot (Harmony, 2004), George W. Bush was only midway through his first term. Now 81 years old, Lightfoot is back with an album featuring songs culled from a unreleased material he found around the house, some more than two decades old.

The new album, Solo, is just that: Lightfoot, alone in a studio with a guitar.

3. Big Sugar, The Better It Gets

Gordie Johnson and his crew are back with their first new album in ages, Eternity Now (due March 27), starting with a single that’s an anthem of the power of neuroplasticity — which, you might recall, is the brain’s ability to rewire itself as necessary.

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Gordie: “If the message in our song can help even just one other person out there, it gives me inspiration to keep howling into the microphone.” It’s therapy, then.

4. Theory of a Deadman, History of Violence

This single from ToaD’s seventh album, Say Nothing, was co-written by singer Tyler Connolly and his ex-wife Christine. And just so we’re clear, while the song is about domestic violence, it has nothing to do with the ex-couple’s relationship. Instead, it encourages people to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline if they or someone they know is in trouble.

READ MORE: Billie Eilish to give special performance at 2020 Oscars

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5. Khrabgbin and Leon Bridges, Texas Sun

This is a stunningly evocative track that conjures images of driving down a dusty highway in the middle of summer, enduring the baking sun.

Khruangbin is a trio from Houston who enlisted Fort Worth’s Leon Bridges to help with this song as well as all the other tracks on this EP of the same name.

Bonus Tracks

London Calling: Liam Gallagher, Now That I’ve Found You

Although he keeps making noises about reconciling with Noel in his trademark passive-aggressive way, the only way forward for Liam at the moment is his solo career. While we listen to the latest single from Why Me? Why Not?, anyone want to wager that Oasis will ever get back together?

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Undiscovered Gem: Junoire, Ah Bah D’Accord

Here’s some bewitching indie-pop from Paris led by singer-songwriter Anna Jean. I think you might agree that music like this could only come from France, thanks to the influence of a particular sort of European pop music from the ’60s. Ecoutez.

Throwback Track: Liz Phair, Never Said

The summer touring season is shaping up to a giant dollop of ’90s nostalgia.

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Green Day, Weezer, Wallflowers, Barenaked Ladies, Matchbox 20, The Offspring, and even Hootie and the Blowfish will be back on the road. One of the more interesting package tours features Alanis Morissette (it’s the 25th anniversary of Jagged Little Pill), Garbage (good to see them back) and Liz Phair (one of the few artists that send me into fanboy mode.)

This was a single from her excellent 1993 album, Exile in Guyville.

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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Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and Tré Cool share why they’re selling their gear
Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and Tré Cool share why they’re selling their gear