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Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Ozzy Osbourne, Sarah Harmer and more

Ozzy Osbourne performs onstage during the 2019 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Ozzy Osbourne performs onstage during the 2019 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, Calif. John Shearer/AMA2019/Getty Images for dcp

Music recommendations can come in two forms. First, there are songs that you might like enough to listen to again and again. And then there are songs that you’ve just got to hear because they’re so insane.

We’ll cover both this week.

1. Ozzy Osbourne, Ordinary Man

I have no idea how Ozzy managed to pull this record together given his poor health over the last year. At 71, the years of hard living have caught up with him as he battles infections, Parkinson’s, and various other maladies. Is the tour in support of this album — his first new material in 10 years — cancelled or, as he maintains, just postponed? Can he rally or is the Prince of Darkness really just an ordinary man like everyone else? We’ll see. Guns N’Roses bass player Duff McKagan is featured on the record along with Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith. And yes, that’s Elton frickin’ John singing with Ozzy on this song.

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2. Sarah Harmer, Are You Gone

Speaking of someone who’s been AWOL for a decade, Kingston’s Sarah Harmer makes a welcome return with Are You Gone, a collection of deeply personal and occasionally political songs that even touch on things like climate change and the elimination of fossil fuels. If you’re a fan, consider this a sequel of sorts to her 2000 album, You Were Here.

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3. Arca, @@@@@

Googling a new song is usually easy, but if you insist on using non-alphanumeric symbols in the title of your track, you’re going to run into all kinds of SEO issues. Such is the case with Arca, the Venezuelan artist-producer, who has just released a new single running about 62(!!!) minutes. I quote: “@@@@@ is a transmission broadcasted [sic] into this world from a speculative fictional universe, in which the fundamentally analogue format of FM pirate radio remains one of few means to escape authoritarian surveillance powered by a hostage sentience gestated by a post-singularity AI. The host of the show, known as DIVA EXPERIMENTAL lives across multiple bodies in space in virtue of her persecution — in order to kill her, one would first have to find all of her bodies. The bodies that host her carry fetishes for paralinguistics, breaking the fourth wall and nurturing a mutant faith in love in the face of fear.” Uh, okay.
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Listen here.

4. Kill the Giants, Fake News

Another WTF release that came in this week. This won’t make many playlists in the West Wing–unless, of course, some embedded subversive from the Deep State needs to decompress on their own time. This collision of metal, beats, and Irish folk takes on Donald Trump’s assault on the media. No wonder the band has been trolled by Trump supporters. It’s…odd.

5. Agnes Obel, Myopia

The Danish have a word for the contentment that comes with feeling of being warm and cozy. This is the kind of music that goes well with hyggelig. Obel is a stunningly good singer-songwriter from Denmark who hearkens the same sort of feelings that come with the best of Kate Bush and Tori Amos. Recommended for cold February nights.

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READ MORE: The singer of a KISS cover band caught on fire in the middle of a show and kept playing

Bonus Tracks

London Calling: Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Reducer

Yes, that’s a silly name. But the band came up with it in the pub after many, many pints. The good news is that they play excellent sludge rock that’s been given a twist of alt-rock hellfire that pulverizes listeners into submission. Their Viscerals album lands April 3.

Undiscovered Gem: Jugular, And Into Dust

Barrie, Ontario’s, Jugular has been an off and on project since 2006. The current record, As Birth Becomes Life Becomes Death, was edited, mixed, and mastered at a studio in Minsk, Belarus. That’s a long way to go, but hey, whatever works, right?

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Sugarcubes, Hit

Twenty-four years ago this week (February 19, 1996), former Sugarcubes singer Bjork administered a public beat-down to a TV reporter as she tried to make her way through Bangkok airport. The woman was pulled to the floor and her head was banged against the ground. Naturally, the reporter’s cameraman caught the whole thing on video. Bjork later apologized, saying that she was just trying to protect her daughter from the paps. This song seems like an appropriate way to commemorate that.

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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