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Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Billie Eilish goes Bond

Billie Eilish performs onstage during the 2019 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on Nov. 24, 2019 in Los Angeles.
Billie Eilish performs onstage during the 2019 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on Nov. 24, 2019 in Los Angeles. Jeff Kravitz/AMA2019/FilmMagic for dcp

If you’re looking for variety, you’ve come to the right place.

This week’s selections not only span the globe, but all manner of eras and genres — oh, and movies, too. Here’s what we have on rotation.

1. Billie Eilish, No Time to Die (Single)

Just when you thought we’d reached Peak Eilish (the best-selling album, the sold-out tour, the radio hits, five Grammys, an Academy Awards performance), Billie and brother Finneas were given the prestigious opportunity to provide the theme for the 25th installment in the James Bond franchise, No Time to Die.

It’s not the best Bond theme ever — sorry, but that accolade has been awarded in perpetuity to Paul McCartney and Wings for Live and Let Die) — but it’s still pretty cool to be in the same exalted company as Adele, Shirley Bassey, Chris Cornell, Jack White, Duran Duran, and, er, Sheena Easton.

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2. Tame Impala, The Slow Rush

In the five years since Kevin Parker’s last album, his Tame Impala has exploded from being an indie-rock curiosity from Western Australia to a worldwide phenomenon.

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Recorded almost entirely in Parker’s home studio in Fremantle (home to AC/DC’s Bon Scott!), he says that the album is inspired in equal parts by American rapper Travis Scott and shopping while stoned. He says that wandering the aisles while in an altered state was a great way to attract “lightning bolts” of creativity. Whatever works for you, dude.

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3. Nathaniel Rateliff, And It’s Still Alright

Nathaniel’s first solo record in seven years (on legendary soul label Stax, no less) will be toured using a 10-piece(!!!) band featuring a couple of his Night Sweats buddies and a string quartet.

If you’ve come to Rateliff’s music only recently, be aware that this is quieter, somewhat darker, and more acoustic than Night Sweats’ tracks like his gold-selling S.O.B. Not there’s anything wrong with this, of course.

A final note: When he gets a chance, Nathaniel will continue to plant flowers — marigolds, specifically — to provide nectar-producing groundcover. Good for the bees, you know.

4. EOB, Shangri-La (single)

Thom Yorke has his solo projects and tours. Jonny Greenwood is busy writing musical scores. So why shouldn’t Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien go the solo route, too?

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His first foray under the name EOB features contributions from bandmate Colin Greenwood, Adrian Utley or Portishead, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, singer Laura Marling and was all roped together by producer Flood. The full album is due April 17.

 

5. Huey Lewis and the News, Weather

There’s a reason why we haven’t heard much from Huey Lewis and the News: Huey himself has been suffering devastating intermittent hearing loss due to something called Meniere’s disease, an affliction of the inner ear that also causes tinnitus and balance issues.

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Sometimes he senses nothing but a feeling a fullness accompanied by a dull roar. The result is that his hearing has fluctuated from day to day. Any recording had to be done when he was hearing well enough to sing. This single might take you back to 1985 when, well, the band was young.

Bonus Tracks

London Calling: Fontaines DC, Liberty Belle

One of the best bands to come out of Dublin in, like, forever, this is a re-release of their first-ever single, which also appears on their excellent Dogrel album from last year. This is supposed to tide things over until a new album arrives later this year.

FXRRVST, Bad Things

It’s pronounced “forest,” by the way, after Australian-born-but-now-living-in-Toronto singer Holly Singer. Shortly after she arrived in Canada to pursue a music career, she teamed up with local singer-songwriter Matt Fuentes and began collaborating. This is a sample from a four-track album entitled Dear Friend that will be out in April.

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The Stone Roses, Love Spreads

Twenty-three years ago this month, Stone Roses singer Ian Brown was a little too lippy for the liking of a flight attendant working a British Airways flight from Paris to Manchester. She reported Brown to the captain, who radioed ahead to have him arrested on an air rage charge. That cost him four months in prison.

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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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