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Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Dixie Chicks and Bush back with new tunes

Emily Robison (L) and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks perform in concert during the Mack, Jack & McConaughey charity gala at ACL Live on April 12, 2018 in Austin, Texas.
Emily Robison (L) and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks perform in concert during the Mack, Jack & McConaughey charity gala at ACL Live on April 12, 2018 in Austin, Texas. Gary Miller/Getty Images

So much new music came in this past week that we’re not even going to get past the letter “D.”

Let’s see what’s on tap for this first week of March.

1. Austra, HiRUDiN

The title, right? What’s up with that? This is the name of the peptide released by leeches — yes, the slimy things that latch onto you — which is considered to be the most powerful anticoagulant in the world. If that sounds like a slightly tortured metaphor for a collection of songs about toxic relationships, insecurity, anxiety, negative thoughts and shame, you’d be right. However, leeches can also be used for good — just ask some of today’s medical experts — so the album also contains themes of healing and letting go of bad influences. This is probably an album best enjoyed with a stiff drink in hand.

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2. Boomtown Rats, Trash Glam Baby (Single)

Yes, those Boomtown Rats. To put things into perspective, the last time Bob Geldof and company released a new album, Sir Bob had yet to learn of the famine in Ethiopia. That album, In the Long Grass, not only came out before Bob got wrapped up in Live Aid but before he organized Do They Know It’s Christmas. How long ago was this? Elton John was married to a woman. Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen still had two arms. And no videos were being shown on MuchMusic because there still wasn’t a MuchMusic. But now, after a wait of 36 years, the Rats will have a new record entitled Citizens of Boomtown next Friday (March 13).

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3. Bush, Flowers on a Grave (Single)

Grunge-y goodness from a guy who remembers what it was like the first time around. Gavin Rossdale (along with whoever is backing him up these days) returns with their eighth album, The Kingdom, which is due in May. Watch for a tour this summer featuring Breaking Benjamin and Theory of a Deadman.

4. Disq, Collector

Shambolic indie rock from Madison, Wisc., which will have you thinking of 90s lo-fi heroes like Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. Just when you think everything is going to fall apart, the band pulls it back together. If you’ve ever found yourself in despair because your job has you in front of a computer screen all day, you’ll appreciate the sentiments of this single. The album is out Friday (March 6).

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5. Dixie Chicks, Gaslighter (Single)

The last time the Dixie Chicks released a single, they were still in Republicans’ bad books for dissing George W. Bush about his handling of the post-9/11 War on Terror. Now that Trumpism has taken over America, the time for a Chicks reappearance is welcome, if not overdue. But before you jump to any conclusions about this song being inspired by Trump, hold on. Singer Natalie Maines is actually talking about the breakup of her marriage and divorce from Hollywood star Adrian Pasdar (Graviton on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). I’m sure Trump will get his turn soon.

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Bonus Tracks

London Calling: Porridge Radio, Sweet

Terrible name but an excellent band from Brighton with five albums now to their name. Headed up by singer-guitarist Dana Margolin, the other three members of the band don’t seem to have last names. Lots of LOUD-soft-LOUD dynamics. Definitely some 90s influences here.

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Undiscovered Gem: Kiki Jr., Salary Man

With a name like that, you’d expect a story about a band from New Zealand. Not so. Kiwi Jr. is headed up by librarian(!!!) Jeremy Gaudet, a Toronto native who relocated to Prince Edward Island, where he found some like-minded souls (including guitarist Brian Murphy, who normally plays bass in Alvvays). The album, Football Money, got a domestic release last year but has now been issued internationally.

Throwback Track: Beastie Boys, Girls

It took three white, snotty, upper-class Jewish ex-punk rockers to bring rap to the suburbs. While hip-hop was born in the Bronx and developed by pioneers like Afrika Bambaataa, Cool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Run-DMC, it wasn’t until the release of the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill in late 1986 that a critical mass of people began to pay attention. On March 7, 1987, it became the first rap album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

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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