It’s the weekend, a great time to get into new music and maybe pull out an old favourite or two. This week’s recommendations include new releases from Fall Out Boy; a much-hyped folky group from Sweden; and some social conscious hip-hop from Edmonton’s former poet laureate. Our undiscovered gem of the week is a woman from Amsterdam with an interesting take on lo-fi guitar rock. And we’ll wrap things up with a throwback track featuring a one-hit, post-grunge wonder.
Five for Friday
Fridays are when all the new releases appear online and in stores. I counted more than 40 new albums on the schedule this week and after sorting through them, here are five albums and songs that I can recommend.
1. Fall Out Boy, Mania
If it seems like we’ve been talking about this album for almost a year, it’s because we have. The first single was released last April and four more singles have been released since. That means we’ve already heard 50 per cent of the album already. While this may seem like a strange strategy, there is a method at work. Fall Out Boy decided to follow rappers like Drake, who provide fans a constant drip-drip-drip of new material between full albums. That way you’re always in the thoughts of your fans. If you’re a longterm fan of the band, you should be pleased with this record since Fall Out Boy decided that after experimenting with different approaches, it was time to appeal to their base once again.
New music to kick off 2018
2. Bahamas, Earthtones
Toronto’s Bahamas — Alfie Jurvansen to his mom — is now up to his fourth studio album. Recorded over just three days, the band’s U.S. tour starts this weekend, which is already sold out in places ranging from Brooklyn to Austin to L.A. The Canadian leg of the tour begins on Feb. 28 in Victoria, B.C., and then extends into Europe in the early spring.
3. First Aid Kit, Ruins
Speaking of fourth albums, Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg have just released theirs, which features some collaboration with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Glenn Kotche of Wilco and a ouija board they found in an old house out in the California desert near Joshua Tree. (You might want to be careful listening to the song Rebel Heart. It’s the one infused with ouija spirits.) Postcard, one of the singles of the album, came so fast that the lyrics were written on an iPhone in the middle of a Lucinda Williams concert. Hey, whenever the muse strikes, right?
The tunes you need to listen to this week
4. Cadence Weapon, Cadence Weapon
Cadence Weapon, one of Canada’s great rappers — he was officially Edmonton’s Poet Laureate for two years — has just released his first full album in nearly six years. After soaking up the vibes of Montreal, he moved to Toronto, where his attitude turned more serious and sombre. Fans will be intrigued by the bluntness of some of his rhymes, an approach he feels is necessary for these troubled times.
5. The Go! Team, Semicircle
From the land of misplaced exclamation marks (cf. Panic! At the Disco and Godspeed You! Black Emperor), Brighton, England’s The Go! Team returns with their fifth album. It’s another uncategorizable collection of music influenced by indie rock, alternative dance, hip-hop and even Bollywood soundtracks. Intriguing, right?
This week’s undiscovered gem: Pip Blom
The point of this exercise is as follows: I find a brilliant song from an artist that no one has ever heard about, and the resulting attention vaults that artist to worldwide acclaim. That’s the theory, anyway. I’m still working on the execution.
This week’s pick is Pip Blom, a 21-year-old from Amsterdam who has been awfully prolific since she started releasing music in 2016. If you go to her Bandcamp site, you’ll see there’s plenty more music from which to choose. This track is the A-side of a new 7-inch single.
Throwback track of the week: Seven Mary Three
Back in the mid-’90s when the labels went on a stampede looking for the next Nirvana, almost anyone with a grunge-y guitar could get a record deal. The result was far too many one-hit-wonders, a situation exacerbated by the music industry’s insistence that the single was dead. “You want just that one song from the album? Too bad! You’ll just have to buy the whole album for twenty bucks.” What could we do? This was the era before file-sharing and iTunes. We did, though, become so annoyed with the situation that when Napster and its ilk finally appeared, we kind of went to town with the piracy thing.
Seven Mary Three was caught up in the grunge rush, even though they were from Williamsburg, Va. — almost 3,000 miles from Seattle. Despite the one-hit-wonder tag, they managed to release a long list of albums over a career that lasted 20 years. The biggest of those records was 1995’s American Standard which featured this alt-rock radio hit.
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