When it comes to new releases, March usually roars in like a lion as music labels begin to ramp up for spring releases.
This week’s schedule includes material from a couple of icons, the return of some ’90s alt-rock darlings, along with a post-grunger-turned-country star. Stick around, too, for one of the most ear-wormy songs of the year so far.
Here are my music picks of the week.
1. Randy Bachman, By George By Bachman
If he had been in any other group, George Harrison would have been the standout member. But when you have to work in the shadows of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it was often hard for George to be heard, even though songs like Something, Here Comes the Sun, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps are some of the most achingly beautiful songs in the Beatles catalogue.
Randy Bachman has always had a soft spot for The Quiet Beatle, so his latest project is his reimagining of some of George’s songs, both from his time with the Beatles and from his solo career.
2. Joan Baez, Whistle Down the Wind
Baez’s musical career began in 1958 and spans at least 30 albums. Whistle is her first studio record since 2008 and looks to be the last she’ll support with a tour. At 77, she’s not keen on enduring the rigours of the road anymore and she admits her voice isn’t what it used to be.
She’s going out with a collection of songs by some of her favourite composers, including Tom Waits, who wrote this song for his 1992 album, Bone Machine.
3. Moby, Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt
Everyone’s favourite electronica-minded bald vegan has been on a tear of late. Everything is his 15th studio album and fourth in just the last two-and-a-half years. Points to you if you picked up on the Slaughterhouse-Five reference in the title.
Moby has been mopey recently, mainly because he’s not much of a fan of Donald Trump. All you need to know about his state of mind is to run through the song titles on this album: A Dark Cloud is Coming, Welcome to Hard Times, The Middle is Gone and this single, Like a Motherless Child.
4. The Breeders, All Nerve
This reunion album will have Alt-Nation kids from the ’90s racing back to their Last Splash album. After years of estrangement, the (almost) full and proper classic lineup of The Breeders — twin sisters Kim and Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim MacPhearson — have returned with a record that sounds just as fans would have hoped.
5. Dallas Smith, Acoustic Sessions, Vol. 1 (Digital-only release)
Dallas used to play in Default, a solid Canadian post-grunge band which was all over the radio through the ’00s. Lately, Dallas has been focusing on his talents as a country artist, and it’s paid off. He’s one of the most-played country artists on Canadian radio as well as one of our most-awarded performers of recent years. Catch him at Ontario’s Boots and Hearts Festival this summer along with Florida Georgia Line, Alan Jackson and Thomas Rhett.
London Calling: Riton feat. Kah-Lo
Apologizes in advance for the earworms this song will create. Riton, a British electronic musician and producer, has once again teamed up with Kah-Lo, a Nigerian singer-songwriter. The last time they collaborated, they ended up with a Grammy nomination for their song Rinse & Repeat.
Throwback Thursday: REM and Tongue
On March 1, 1995, REM moved into the Patinoire de Malley in Lausanne, Switzerland, where they performed songs from their new Monster album in front of 20,000 people.
While singing the falsetto part in a song called Tongue, drummer Bill Berry said, “It felt like a bowling ball hit me in the head.”
Unable to finish the show because of the pain, he was rushed to the hospital where doctors discovered two brain aneurysms, one that burst and one that was about to. Emergency brain surgery was the only solution. Berry was in hospital for a month before he was well enough to fly home. By May, he was back with REM on the road. The new tour program featured a picture of an MRI scan of Bill’s head from that night in March.
That was a life-changing event for Berry. He stuck around for one more album and then retired to be a hay farmer in Georgia. He’s still happily driving his tractor around his fields today.
Undiscovered Gem: Kurt Riley
Kurt Riley is a Bowie apostle from Ithica, N.Y. His sound is a blend of glam, punk, New Wave and more than touch of early-’70s Bowie mixed with a dollop of early-’80s Soft Cell. Take a listen to his song Love is in My Heart.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.
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