Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: AWOLNATION lands on schedule and Danzig channels Elvis

AWOLNATION at The Edge studio.
AWOLNATION at The Edge studio. Jenna Hum /

To release or not release? That’s the question labels, acts, and managers are debating these days. Should they stick to the schedule or wait until after COVID-19 has settled down? These acts are most definitely in the former camp.

1. AWOLNATION, Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders

ON TIME: AWOLNATION was the first act on Red Bull’s record label that came to my attention. Now on a label called Better Noise Music, the band, led by Aaron “AWOL” Bruno, has released their fourth album, a record Bruno says was “inspired by some of the most difficult events I have experienced.” Four of the album’s 10 songs have already been released as singles with this being the most recent.

2. Danzig, Danzig Sings Elvis

ON TIME: Glenn Danzig has always had a soft spot for Elvis as evidenced by the covers he’s done with punk/metal pioneers The Misfits. Now Danzig has taken a serious run at recording his favourite tunes by The King in a very non-ironic way. Yes, there are some hits here (Always on My Mind, for example), but most of the material is from deep within the Elvis canon. And damn if it doesn’t sound like Danzig is channeling Presley from beyond the grave.

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3. Robbie Krieger, The Ritual Begins at Sundown

MOVED UP: Yes, that Robbie Krieger. The Doors’ guitarist (and one of two surviving members of the group) will soon be back with his first solo album in a decade and his ninth overall. Don’t expect any Riders on the Storm-like songs, though. Krieger worked with a ton of alumni from Frank Zappa’s band — there’s even a Zappa cover on the record —-so some freak-out, jazzy stuff is in order. The album was scheduled for release late in the summer, but it’s been moved up to now.

4. Corb Lund, 90 Seconds of Your Time (Single)

DELAYED: If you’re looking for a little Canadian country this spring, Corb Lund might have had what you need, but there’s been a snag. The new album, Agricultural Tragic, was supposed to be out this week but has been pushed back until June 26 over COVID-19 concerns. Perhaps by then Corb will have an idea if his previously announced Canadian tour will go ahead as scheduled.

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5. Rufus Wainwright, Damsel in Distress (Single)

DELAYED: The release of Wainwright’s 10th studio record has been postponed because the CD and vinyl editions of Unfollow the Rules are “stuck in the warehouse as they had to shut down.” (Hey, they’re just following the rules, right?) If things go according to plan, the record will come out July 10. Until then, here’s a sample of one of the album’s 12 songs.

Bonus Tracks:

London Calling: PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS, Rubbernecker

Yet another recommendation from this five-piece Newcastle group and their excellent metal-ly rock record, Viscerals. This could be exactly the kind of loud, twitchy music we need right now.

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Undiscovered Gem: One Eyed Oracle, All I Am

Interesting stuff from multi-instrumentalist Boris Bohut of Oshawa. This is from his debut indie record, Really Small Town. There’s something that brings me back to the era between Madchester and Britpop. Perhaps if Iggy or Peter Murphy had sung for Blur…

Throwback Track: U2, Discotheque

Twenty-three years ago this week, U2 began the PopMart tour in Las Vegas. A lot was riding on this road trip in support of the Pop album. First, U2 was coming off an upward career trajectory that extended all the way back to 1984 with the release of the War album. It was followed by a string of now-classic albums: The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, and Achtung Baby. But then came the surprise Zooropa album of 1993, which was … just okay in comparison. Pop and PopMart were supposed to not only reassert U2’s dominance, but serve as a bulwark against the increasing popularity of pop (think Spice Girls and late ’90s boy bands) and hip-hop. But writing and recording album was rushed; even U2 admits that much of the record wasn’t finished to their satisfaction. And it turns out that a dance-club-ready version of U2 wasn’t what the world wanted.

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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