Alan Cross' weekly music recommendations: Mid-summer selections

1. Kenny Chesney, Songs for the Saints

Country fans still like to buy their music in physical form so I won’t be surprised when we see this one at the top of the charts next week. Kenny lives on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and was one of the many people who lost his home in Hurricane Irma. Much of this record was made in the months that followed during the cleanup and rebuilding. Expect plenty of introspection on life, love and loss.

2. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, While We’re At It

The first Bosstones studio album in seven years is also the third in a trilogy of records that began with Pin Points and Gin Joints (2009) and The Magic of Youth (2011). Membership sits at nine these days and while the music may sound happy and danceable, the lyrics often tell a different story. This single takes on the issue of race in America.

3. Boz Scaggs, Out of the Blues

Another conclusion to a trilogy. Boz’s 19th studio album finishes up his celebration of American roots music that started with Memphis (2013) and continued with A Fool to Care (2015). Like the other two records, this one features a mix of classics and original material by his friend Jack “Applejack” Walroth. As usual, the production quality sets Boz’s material a notch above others.

4. Halestorm, Vicious

In the three years since the last album, Into the Wild Life, Pennsylvania’s Halestorm has increased their fan base and extended their abilities to write solid pop metal. If the first single from their new fourth album has you comparing singer Lizzy Hale to Joan Jett, you’re not alone. It’s good heartland rock’n’roll.

5. Underworld and Iggy Pop, Teatime Dub Encounter

On a paper, this seems like a strange juxtaposition: a legendary electronic/rave band providing the music for the godfather of punk. Oddly, though, it works, largely because Iggy has never been shy to try different styles in recent years (cf. the jazzy Préliminaires from 2009 and its follow-up, Après, which was sung mostly in French.) It’s a short work — just four songs — and it did leave me wanting more.

London Calling – James, Coming Home (Part 2)

Back in 1989, James singer Tim Booth was going through a rough time with a divorce and the breakup of his family, an experience that poured itself into the song “Coming Home.” Almost 20 years later, Tim is in a happy relationship and cannot wait to be reunited with his family. The result is a sequel to that original song, something that we don’t see very often. But if movies can have sequels, why can’t songs? The new James album, Living in Extraordinary Times, is out next week.

Undiscovered Gem — Billy Wild, Reality

Billy is a Toronto-based multimedia artist who spends some of his time working with the Glenn Gould Foundation (expect to hear more from Billy closer to Glenn Gould Day, which is coming up Sept. 25). This song, which comes with this trippy video, is from Billy’s new album, All Nighters.

Throwback Thursday — Gang of Four, I Found That Essence Rare

Leeds, England’s Gang of Four don’t get enough of the credit they deserve for influencing a lot of what we hear today. If you listen to any of their early material, you’ll hear shades of Tokyo Police Club, bits of Franz Ferdinand and elements of many of the bands who came in the wake of The Strokes. Not only was Kurt Cobain a great fan, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers adored Gang of Four to the point that they had bandmember Andy Gill produce their first album. (That didn’t turn out so well, but that’s another story.) When you listen to this track from their 1979 album, Entertainment, you’ll wonder how something this old could still sound this fresh.

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

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