Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Rush releases new video of a classic, while Elvis Costello waves No Flag

Members of the band Rush, from left, Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, and Alex Lifeson in 2012. Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Is the COVID-19 lockdown over? Not quite. Some jurisdictions are still under some restrictions, but things are getting better. Still, keep that mask handy, OK?

1. Rush, The Spirit of Radio (new video for 2020)

Rush makes an appearance on this week’s list with a brand new video for a 40-year-old song. The hit from 1980’s Permanent Waves album (inspired by CFNY-FM, otherwise today known as 102.1 the Edge/Toronto and part of the Corus/Global family) has been transformed into a big-budget animated clip that pays thanks to the radio stations and DJs who helped Rush throughout their career. If you’re a Rush fan or just a big fan of the magic that is radio, you’ll love this. Note that the band’s massive 40th-anniversary box set of the album is now available.

READ MORE: Spirit of the Radio tops Alan Cross’ list of 10 songs about real-life radio stations and DJs

2. Elvis Costello, No Flag (single)

Elvis got a little restless with over the winter and decided he needed to record in a place where he wouldn’t be bothered or recognized. He found a studio a 20-minute ferry ride from Helsinki and spent four days working on this song by himself. Sonically, there’s more than a little of the Elvis of the ’70s and ’80s in this single, which I suppose could be categorized as something of a protest song.

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3. Jehnny Beth, To Love is to Live

I’ve been waiting for this record since it was announced months ago. Beth (real name: Camile Berthomier) is originally from France and the frontperson for the now-retired Savages, the English indie group. With this solo record, Jehnny covers a lot of sonic ground, from the cinematic to the sparse. She’s now managed by the same powerful outfit that looks after The Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, and Beck, so expect to hear more from her throughout the rest of the year.

READ MORE: Coachella, Stagecoach festivals cancelled for 2020 over fears of COVID-19 resurgence

4. The Aces, My Phone is Trying to Kill Me

There are plenty of groups called The Aces with this four-woman outfit from Provo, Utah, being the latest. Two singles have preceded the release of their sophomore album which is due July 17 (Daydream and Lost Angeles) with the third taking a run at the evils and perils of smartphones and social media. A “monster in my pocket?” I can relate.

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5. Norah Jones, Pick Me Up Off the Floor

Jones has done some de-cluttering. None of these songs was actually destined for this album. In fact, it consists of nothing but older tracks that Jones had written but had never gotten around to releasing until now. This isn’t a jazz record, although those sounds do make an appearance. Instead, think of this album as a palette of sounds that reach into the realms of Americana, soul, and blues. This latest single was recorded in Chicago with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Jeff’s son Spencer on drums.

READ MORE: Grammys rename ‘Urban’ award category, revamp rules and guidelines

Bonus Tracks

London Calling: Silverbacks, Dunkirk

Not from London or even the U.K., but from across the sea in Dublin, This five-person-no-gorilla group likes to describe itself as an art-punk collective, inspired by Sonic Youth, Talking Heads, and Pavement. With a song title like this, you’d expect that it would have something to do with a mass evacuation from the coast of France 80 years ago. The truth is that it was inspired by going to see the movie Dunkirk.

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Undiscovered Gem: Brutus Begins, Stuntman

Brutus Begins (Ricardo Temparao to his mom) is a solo project from Montreal in which all the songwriting, performing, recording, mixing, and mastering are all done by one person. Ricardo even directs his own music videos. There’s one album out there called Uncanny Valley and something new has been promised for August.

Throwback Track: Hole, Rock Star

I pulled out this single from Hole’s 1994 album, Live Through It, because it was 16 years ago this week that Courtney surrendered to police after being charged with assault. She had an encounter with the girlfriend of her ex-manager and ex-boyfriend that allegedly involved throwing a heavy liquor bottle and chasing the woman with a heavy flashlight. They don’t make rock stars like that anymore, do they?

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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

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