Are we at the end of August already? This, then, is technically the last new music Friday of the summer.
Once we get past Labour Day, the music industry really starts gearing up for the big third- and fourth-quarter releases. The volume of new music increases and the number of big names goes up, too. But if you’re looking for some fresh tunes for the long weekend, there’s still plenty to investigate.
1. Meghan Trainor, Treat Myself
If you’re excited by the thought of a new Meghan Trainor album, you’ve earned the right to call yourself a “Megatron,” which is the name her super-fans have adopted for themselves. Trainor’s third album is a real family affair. Fiance Daryl Sabara sings on every song while her father was called in to play piano and organs. She described the album to Entertainment Weekly this way: “It’s obviously me being in love and happy, and reminding myself to choose happiness and love myself.” It’s no longer all just about the bass, then.
2. IDLES, Joy As an Act of Resistance
This Bristol-based quartet is, in my opinion, the best punk rock band in the U.K. at the moment. This is excellent working class-sourced street rock tinged with politics and anti-Brexitisms. If you’ve ever watched the Netflix series Peaky Blinders, you’ll understand much of the IDLES aesthetic. The biggest track from this second album has been Danny Nedelko, a pro-immigrant shout-out to their Ukranian friend who fronts another Bristol band called Heavy Lungs. Play this on maximum volume.
3. Big Red Machine, Big Red Machine EP
Knowing this is a collaboration between Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Aaron Dessner of The National is a tip that we’re not exactly in for a cheerful EP. It is, though, a very emotional and introspective EP. Looking to extract some joy from suffering? Pour yourself a glass of Chardonnay, turn down the lights and stream this one.
4. Alkaline Trio, Is This Thing Cursed?
If you’d prefer some pop-punk, Alkaline Trio has returned with their ninth album. If you’re a fan of blink-182, you’ll know that the band cut’n’pasted AT guitarist Matt Skiba into the band as a replacement for the departed Tom DeLonge. Matt has returned to his old group for his record, the sound of which will remind long-time fans of the kind of thing they were doing earlier in their career.
5. Anna Calvi, Hunter
Listening to classically-trained, 37-year-old Anna Calvi conjures images of David Lynch projects (one of Anna’s inspirations is Lynch musical muse Julee Cruise), as well as bits of Bowie and Edith Piaf. Love the big drums on this record, too.
London Calling: Mush, Gig Economy
This four-piece from Leeds attracted some attention with an early 10-minute garage rock song called Alternative Facts. They’re now back on a new label called Dipped in Gold Recordings with something also very topical.
Undiscovered Gem: Basement Revolver, Heavy Eyes
Looking for something with 1990s-era rock in its DNA? Meet Hamilton, Ont.-based Basement Revolver, a trio that can be heavy, grungey, droney, and sludgy, while also still understanding the importance of melody. If you’re going to stream a complete album this week, make it this one.
Throwback Thursday: The Streets, You’re Fit But You Know It
Alternative hip-hop from 2004. Mike Skinner and The Streets (est. 1994) scored a No. 1 hit in the U.K. with this single from the album, A Grand Don’t Come for Free, a concept album in which our hero tries to recover a missing £1,000. (Spoiler: He finds it.) It’s said that this song was inspired by Rachel Stevens of the band S Club 7 who left that group just as this song was being recorded.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.
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