Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: A little ’90s flavour in February

Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt of Green Day perform onstage during the 2019 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on Nov. 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, Calif. Kevin Mazur/AMA2019/Getty Images for dcp

A quick look at Canadian album sales for January 2020 shows a 30 per cent decline over where things were a year ago.

That, however, is misleadingly bad, given the lack of big-name releases during what’s already the quietest month of the year. Things, however, are about to turn around.

Here’s what we’re listening to this week:

Green Day, Father of All…

After teasing this album for months, Green Day’s 13th album appears with a censored title (it’s actually entitled Father of All Motherf******) and will be a short listen. The 10 songs are over in 25 minutes and 53 seconds, making it considerably shorter than the band’s 39/Smooth album from 1990, which ran a shade over 31 minutes. To put this into a punk-rock perspective, even The Ramones took 29 minutes and four seconds to say everything they needed to with their 1976 debut. Billie Joe Armstrong describes everything as: “This is new! Soul, Motown, and manic anthems! Punks, freaks, and punishers!”

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Stone Temple Pilots, Perdida

Stone Temple Pilots have been through a lot in their career. Now on to their third singer (fourth, if you count the time when the band morphed into Talk Show during one of the periods when they fired Scott Weiland), the group has taken a left turn into an acoustic realm with frontman Jeff Gutt. Perdida — Spanish for “lost,” by the way may confuse longtime fans at first, but that’s probably the point. The band needs to extend its range beyond what it did with Weiland.

Psychedelic Furs, Made of Rain (single)

When this single popped into my inbox, I did a double take. When was the last time the Furs released a single? It was July 30, 1991, a couple of months before Nirvana issued Nevermind, that they issued World Outside. To be fair, the band went on an eight-year hiatus starting in 1992, but they’ve been a going concern (however sporadic) since 2000. Why now? Could be the boost they got from the use of The Ghost in You in Season 2 of Stranger Things and/or the cover of Love My Way in the movie Call Me By Your Name. Whatever the case, welcome back.

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William Prince, Reliever

William Prince is a Juno Award-winning modern country-folkie from Winnipeg (but born up Highway 8 in Selkirk) who holds Johnny Cash as his hero. Having grown up on Peguis First Nation reserve, he has an informed view of the situation faced by Indigenous Peoples. Reliever is his second album and is being pushed by Glassnote Records internationally — the same label that gave us both Mumford and Sons and The Strumbellas.

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Jehnny Beth, Flower (single)

My favourite new track of the week: Jehnny Beth, frontperson for England’s excellent Savages and part of the French duo John & Jehn, has a solo record coming May 8 entitled To Love Is to Live. Beth is always keen to collaborate with others — Primal Scream, Gorillaz, The xx, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, etc. — which has turned her into a sponge of influences, resulting in something really quite special.

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Bonus tracks!

London Calling: Mura Masa feat. Slowthai, Deal Wiv It

Mura Masa (Alexander Crossan to his mother) started posting material from his home in Guernsey when he was 15. Since then, he’s won a bunch of awards, including for a remix he did for Haim in 2018. He’s also spent some time working with Nile Rodgers and Chic. Not a bad resume for someone who’s still just 23. His second album, R.Y.C. (short for “Raw Youth Collage”) recycles all his many influences from punk to emo to Britpop. British rapper Slowthai gives this single an extra British spin.

Undiscovered Gem: The All Canadian Soundclash, Romp

Hailing from Ottawa, All Canadian Soundclash singer Andrew Michelin comes from an interesting family. His grandfather was not only one of the last people to trade furs with Hudson’s Bay but also the author of The Grand River Song, which has been covered by a number of Canadian acts. Michelin’s indie folk-rock project already recorded a debut EP due in June.

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Manic Street Preachers, Stay Beautiful

On Feb. 1, 1995, just hours before his band was to leave on a North American tour, troubled Manic Street Preachers rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards walked out of a London hotel room and disappeared. There were brief sightings over the next two weeks, but hope turned to shock when his car was found abandoned near a popular suicide spot. He’s not been heard from since,  although there have been Elvis-like reports in India and the Canary Islands. He was officially declared dead in 2008, leaving one of rock’s great mysteries unsolved. This track from 1992’s Generation Terrorists features Edwards on guitar.

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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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