Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Sass Jordan, Niall Horan, Iggy Pop and more

Sass Jordan will take the stage Sunday afternoon in Kitchener. .
Sass Jordan will take the stage Sunday afternoon in Kitchener. . CP images/Mario Beauregard

First, the good news: There are only two Friday the 13ths in 2020 (we can only ever have three) and we won’t have to worry about another one until November. The bad news for paraskevidekatriaphobiacs (those who fear this particular day/date) is that it’s been 13 weeks since the last Friday the 13th and the next one is 39 weeks (3 x 13) away. Plan accordingly.

Now that that’s all out of the way, here are your music recommendations for the week.

1. Sass Jordan, Rebel Moon Blues

It’s been a long time — nearly 10 years, in fact — since we last heard from this Juno Award winner and former judge on Canadian Idol. This album comes as Sass is touring with A Bowie Celebration, which is a 42-date tribute performance to David Bowie featuring Bowie alumni and Corey Glover of Living Color. (Details here.) This record focuses on Sass’ love of the blues (it comes on blue vinyl) and will also be launched in coordination with Rebel Moon Whiskey through Canadian distillery Dixon.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: COVID-19 is really messing with our music plans. Please make it stop.

2. The Districts, You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere

Pennsylvania rock from a tiny town no one’s ever heard of. Now working out of Philadelphia, they found some early interest in their fourth album, including from the BBC. This has to be encouraging because the group had a serious crisis of confidence and weren’t sure if they wanted to continue as a band. But then the best music often comes out of adversity, doesn’t it?

3. Niall Horan, Heartbreaker Weather

What happens to the boys in a boy band when they’re no longer boys? They have to find some way to grow up along with their audience. A very perilous journey, that. Some are successful (cf. Justin Timberlake) while others (e.g. most of New Kids on the Block) struggle. Now that all the early boy band hype surrounding One Direction has faded, can the individual members carry on as solo artists. Harry Styles seems to be doing fine. Liam Payne and Liam Tomlinson have been dropping solo singles. And Zayn Malik got out early to do his own thing. What will this record do for Niall’s fortunes?

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: The Killers announce tour despite coronavirus concerns

4. Grouplove, Healer

Before they released this new single back in January, LA’s Grouplove had been AWOL since 2016. This record, their fourth, comes with a mission. The band has partnered with The Ally Coalition for their 2020 to help organizations that assist at-risk LGBTQ young people. The group has also picked up a new drummer, so see if you can pick up on any different rhythms.

5. Deap Lips, Deap Lips

When things get too serious and real, we can always depend on Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips to come to the rescue. This new project is a merger of the Lips and L.A.-based duo Deap [sic] Valley, resulting in songs with title like Love is a Mind Control and One Thousand Sisters with Aluminum Foil Calculators. The first single (rather NSFW, by the way) is a perfect example how strange things can get. It starts as a quiet, acoustic piece that — well, you’ll see.
Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Led Zeppelin did not plagiarize ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ court rules

Bonus Tracks

London Calling: Working Men’s Club, White Rooms and People

This West Yorkshire band is generating some hype with a style that somehow combines Mark E. Smith vocals with jangly REM guitars. There are only a couple of singles so far but the plan is to give us a debut album later this year.

Undiscovered Gem: Aaron Rizzo, Gone Mad

Rizzo is a multi-instrumentalist DIYer from Rochester, N.Y., who likes to find inspiration in the grooves laid down by funk drummers. There’s potential here.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Concerts postponed or cancelled because of coronavirus: A full North American list

Throwback Track: Iggy Pop, China Girl

On March 13, 1977, Iggy Pop’s The Idiot Tour landed at The Plateau Auditorium in Montreal with a formidable backing band which included, believe it or not, a very-low key David Bowie on keyboards. It was strange to see one of the biggest stars in the world taking such a subservient role, but Iggy and Bowie were at their closest. They were living together in Berlin, trying to dry out, clean up, and record music. It seemed to be working, too, because Bowie helped Iggy crack out three albums in 1977 alone. The most famous cut from The Idiot was China Girl, a Pop-Bowie co-write inspired by a real woman named Kuelan Nguyen. Bowie would later earn Iggy untold dollars when he covered the song on the Let’s Dance album six years later.

Story continues below advertisement

Alan Cross is a broadcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.

Subscribe to Alan’s Ongoing History of New Music Podcast now on Apple Podcast or Google Play