Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Kings of Leon, Childish Gambino… and Bleeker?

Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon performs at Del Mar Race Track on September 13, 2019 in Del Mar, Calif. Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Are we having fun yet?

Look at things this way: beach bodies have been cancelled for 2020 because of coronavirus, so there’s none of that pressure. Best just relax and enjoy some new tunes.

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

1. Kings of Leon, Going Nowhere (single)

The last Kings of Leon album was WALLS back in 2016, so they’re really overdue for something new. But like everyone else, they’re hunkered down at home trying to ride everything out. Whether this song was actually inspired by the coronavirus, the band does have a message for everyone: “Stay safe. Stay home. We will see you as soon as we can.”

READ MORE: A self-isolation playlist for those stuck inside during coronavirus pandemic

2. Bleeker, Give a Little Bit More

Orilla, Ont.’s, Bleeker has been a fixture in Canada for close to a decade-and-a-half and also are finding a considerable amount of interest in the U.S. An album entitled Self-Made is coming next month and this single is quickly being picked up by American rock stations. Here’s hoping they can capitalize on this popularity with a tour later this year.

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3. Childish Gambino, 3.15.20

Donald Glover’s fourth album does away with traditional song titles, instead assigning almost every tune the name of the point in the running time that it appears. For example, if you’re at 19:10 through the album, you’ll run into a song called 19.10. There are also two versions of the album: a 12-track version under the name Childish Gambino and a continuous play edition with the title Donald Glover Presents. There are loads of hooks throughout the album which suck you in a little more each time you listen. This is one of just two tracks on the album with a conventional title.

4. Allan Rayman, Christian

Don’t expect to learn too much about this album from the guy behind the music because Allan Rayman likes to remain mysterious. Has he ever done an interview? We do know that he’s originally from Wyoming but now lives in Toronto. This is his fifth album. He writes, produces, and performs everything himself. And when he plays live, the only thing he ever says to the audience is “Thank you.” Intriguing? Absolutely.

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5. Chaz Cardigan, Not OK!

Billing himself as an alt-pop crooner, Kentucky-born Cardigan is based out of Nashville and is signed to both Loud Robot, the music production arm of Bad Robot, JJ Abram’s movie production company, and Capitol Records, a fairly unprecedented sort of thing. This might remind of early Cage the Elephant crossed with early Beck. Great chorus on this single from his debut EP.

Bonus Tracks

London Calling: Melt Yourself Down, Crocodile

A word of caution about this track: There’s a lot to digest here, so it may take several listenings before the penny drops. Melt Yourself Down is a London-based outfit that has found a way to incorporate such wide-ranging influences as punk, North African music, jazz, and funk. The more you listen, the better this gets.

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Undiscovered Gem: Pottery, Texas Drums

I had to hear about this Montreal five-piece through some friends in the U.K. where this track from their upcoming debut, Welcome to Bobby’s Motel, is getting some radio airplay. And just so you know, there are no bad words in this song. They’re singing “funky.” If you hear something else, that’s on you. The album will be here June 26.

Throwback Track: Nirvana, In Bloom (demo)

Thirty years ago this week, Nirvana travelled to Butch Vig’s Smart Studios in Madison, Wisc., to work on demos for what they thought would be their second album for Sub Pop. But things didn’t work out that way. Drummer Chad Channing was soon dumped for some guy from D.C. named Dave Grohl and Nirvana would sign a major deal with DGC Records. But before all happened, they got these rough versions down on tape. They circulated for years as bootlegs before becoming officially available.

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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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