Alan Cross' weekly music picks: The remnants of 2018

As the rest of 2018 ticks away, there are still a few releases we need to talk about. And if you’re not looking ahead to 2019 yet, it’s time to start.

Let’s see what’s on the docket this week.

1. Strumbellas, Salvation (Single)

Strumbellas had an excellent two-year run with their third album, Hope, and apparently created a new genre (“farm emo,” according to Wikipedia) along the way. A fourth still-untitled record is due on Glassnote Records (the same label as Mumford & Sons, Robert DeLong, Phoenix, etc.) sometime in 2019. This single gives us a taste of what we might expect.

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2. XXXTentacion, Skins

When XXXTentacion was shot and killed outside a Miami motorcycle shop back in June, he’d been working on material for his third album. Skins is the first of several posthumous albums, although at under 20 minutes in length, this one is pretty stingy. The collaboration with Kanye West clocks in at a mere 94 seconds, and is typical of the 10 tracks on the record. Also watch for a ghostly guest appearance on Ye’s upcoming Yandhi album.

3. Van Morrison, The Prophet Speaks

If you’re counting this is album number forty for Van and his fifth in the last two years. Last month also marked the 50th anniversary since the release of his masterwork, Astral Weeks. After about a decade of phoning in material —really, Van, you shouldn’t have bothered because you just embarrassed yourself and annoyed your fans — he’s returned to form by returning to his roots: soul, jazz, and blues. If you’re craving a record that has much in common with Van’s days with Them, this should hit the spot.

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4. AFI, The Missing Man (EP)

Holding AFI to one style of alt-rock has been impossible since they were formed in 1991. They’ve tackled virtually every flavour of punk (garage, skate, horror, hardcore, post-hardcore, screamo, etc.) through 10 full albums and more than a half-dozen EPs, although this is the first AFI EP since 2002. Expect more genre-jumping throughout the record’s five tracks.

5. Gucci Mane, Evil Genius

As a pioneer in the hip-hop sub-genre of trap music, Gucci Mane has helped establish Atlanta as a hip-hop capital and has promoted the rise of other rappers like Chief Keef, Migos, and Young Thug. Evil Genius, his 13th album (he also has more than 70 mixtapes), features guest appearances by Kodak Black, 21 Savage, Kevin Gates, Lil Skies and Bruno Mars.

London Calling — Ian Brown, First World Problems

Having subsumed his personal ambitions to accommodate the Stone Roses reunion, Ian Brown is ready with his first solo album in a decade. His seventh record, called Ripples, is set for release on Feb. 1. Madchester/Britpop fans might be able to spot a few Easter eggs in the video.

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Undiscovered Gem — Tallies, Beat the Heart

Toronto’s Tallies can trace their roots back to a chance meeting by a couple of future members at Algonquin College in Ottawa. One of their number now has a gig in a Toronto recording studio, a handy thing when you’re in a band. This single, a taste of a larger body of work scheduled for 2018, has already been playlisted by the BBC’s 6 Music.

Throwback Thursday — Phantom Plant, Big Brat

This LA-based garage band was co-founded by actor (and drummer) Jason Schwartzman back in 1991. He stayed with them for the first two-and-a-half albums. Halfway through recording their third album, 2004’s self-titled release, Schwartzman left to concentrate on his acting career. Interesting timing. This single from that record became a decent-sized alt-rock radio hit.

Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and Q107, 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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