This is an extra squirrelly weekend for music releases, because in addition to the infusion of new music on Friday, we also had the frenzy of the 11th annual Record Store Day.
Speaking for myself, this was a dark couple of days for the credit card balance. Let’s begin with five recommendations of new material.
1. A Perfect Circle, Eat the Elephant
On July 1, 2004, the Cassini spacecraft finally arrived at Saturn. It spent 13 years and 76 days investigating the planet before taking a controlled plummet into Saturn’s atmosphere. That mission took less time than the gap between the last A Perfect Circle album (released Nov. 1, 2004) and this one. We chide Tool, Maynard James Keenan’s other band, for being a little tardy with the new music, but this coming Thursday will only be the 12th anniversary of the release of their last record.
Given that Tool is actually working on a new album, there’s a chance we’ll have records from both bands in the marketplace at the same time. The Apocalypse will surely soon follow. Love the Douglas Adams nod in this single, So Long and Thanks for All The Fish.
2. The Brothers Osborne, Port Saint Joe
I had a chance to speak with John and TJ in Nashville earlier this year, as well as see them play at The Ryman Auditorium. In each case, I came away impressed with their modern take on country. They approach things more like a 1970s-style southern rock band. If you’re looking for something to explore outside your usual musical parameters, I can’t recommend this record highly enough.
3. Sting and Shaggy, 44/876
Haunted by the ghost of Bob Marley, Sting felt he needed to exorcise things by collaborating with Jamaican reggae singer and DJ Shaggy. The result is something of a throwback to the deep dub grooves we heard on Police records around the turn of the 1980s. The project began in Kingston back in January, when Shaggy joined Sting onstage when he performed a benefit for a hospital in Jamaica. The chemistry was instant and poof! Here we are with a full album just four months later. If you’re confused by the title, it’s merely a mash-up of the country phone codes of the UK (44) and Jamaica (876).
4. Kimbra, Primal Heart
The New Zealand singer, who was introduced to many through her contributions to the Gotye hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” returns with her third album, one which is full of collaborations with people like Skrillex and Natasha Bedington. This record was supposed to have been released back in January, but her label decided that it should be held back for a spring release (at least, spring in the Northern Hemisphere) when we might better appreciate some of its more summery sounds.
5. Pennywise, Never Gonna Die
Pennywise have been flying the SoCal punk flag since 1988 and released 12 studio albums. This new one is their first full album of new songs with its (almost) classic lineup in about a decade. Plenty of sociopolitical commentary is contained herein, along with plenty of righteous “WHOAS” for those still possessed to skate. (If that last sentence doesn’t make any sense to you, you may need some remedial Punk Rock 101.)
London Calling: Vile Assembly, Suicide Feast
If I’m honest, it was the band’s name that attracted me first. That led me to their manifesto of this Liverpool band: “The Vile Assembly was created solely to be the whistle-blowers on unjust society. Their purpose: to say what needs to be said through the universally understood medium of music.” Consider that a warning.
Undiscovered Gem: Gwenno, Tir Ha Mor
Gwenno Saunders believes in saving endangered languages. After a stint in some electropop bands and touring with Elton John as a synth player, she’s devoted herself to the preservation of not only the Welsh language (cf. her first album, Y Dydd Olaf in 2015) but quickly-disappearing Cornish. Her second record, Le Kov (translation: Land and Sea), is sung entirely in Cornish as a way of protesting the British government’s decision to stop funding programs to preserve the language. The result is something fans of the Cocteau Twins and Sigur Ros will immediately appreciate. It’s extraordinarily pretty.
Throwback Thursday: Ashely MacIsaac, Sleepy Maggie
Ashely MacIsaac had a most unlikely hit single in 1995 with this track from his debut major label album, Hi™ How Are You Today. Not only was the Cape Breton fiddler heard on alt-rock stations across the country, but “Sleepy Maggie” (featuring Canadian Celtic folk singer Mary Jane Lamond) eventually turned into a Top 40 hit. The album itself sold more than 200,000 copies in Canada. Fun fact: Ashley is a distant cousin of Jack White.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.
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