There’s no way around it. This summer will be … off. Yes, we have livestreams and drive-in concerts, but things probably won’t be anywhere near back to normal for at least another year. Imagine being in a band or working for a label and trying to coordinate the release of new music while no one is able to tour. A couple of this week’s releases were slated to come out earlier this year with hopes that COVID-19 would quickly pass us by. But since we’ve realized we’ll be dealing with the virus for a while, the decision has been made to just get on with it.
1. Grey Daze, Amends
Hardcore Linkin Park fans have scoured the internet looking for material from the days when Chester Bennington was in a Phoenix-based band called Grey Daze. They made some indie recordings with a teen Chester until 1998 when he bolted for L.A. where he found a home with Linkin Park. Amends features re-recorded versions of old songs but with Chester’s original vocals intact. This is what we might have heard live a few years back when Grey Daze was planning a bit of a reunion before Chester took his own. Guests include Brian “Head” Welch and James “Munky” Shaffer of Korn, Helmet guitarist Paige Hamilton, and Chris Traynor from Bush.
2. HAIM, Women in Music Pt III
Here’s another record coming out late because of COVID-19, having skipped its original release date of April 24. The Haim sisters’ third album moves somewhat beyond their now-familiar Fleetwood Mac-esque sound into something … jazzy? Hip-hop-y? This is still very much a Haim record — and it’s a very good one — but it gives hints as to where the group may go in the future.
3. Ray LaMontangne, MONOVISION
Remember the Seinfeld episode about the low talker, the woman that was so soft-spoken that no one could make out what she said? That’s what it’s like to interview Ray LaMontange, an extremely quiet, gentle, and private person. The fact that I got to talk to him at all is something of a miracle because he doesn’t like to give interviews. He’d rather spend time at home on his 103-acre farm in Massachusetts, with his wife, Sarah Sousa, a poet of some renown. This is his eighth album.
4. Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill (Deluxe 25th anniversary reissue)
Had we not been infected with plague, Alanis Morissette would be out on the road this summer with Garbage and Liz Phair, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of Jagged Little Pill. The original version sold at least 33 million copies and became a cultural phenomenon. (A flip side to that: have you ever tried to trade in a CD at a used record store? Forget it.) But even then, fans will want this new edition with the 13 original tracks and new acoustic live material recorded in London back in March. And there’s more coming, too. A brand new album entitled Such Pretty Forks in the Road will be here July 31.
5. Corb Lund, Agricultural Tragic
It’s been five years since the last album from Corb and with a title like that, you might think we’re headed for some seriously sad music. Nope. There’s plenty of comedy and cheek on this record (cf. Tattoo Blues, some spoken word cowboy poetry about some ill-advised ink and Grizzly Bear Blues that — well, you’ll see.) There are more sombre moments on the record — appropriate, given our current predicaments — including Never Not Had Horses, written for his mother who had to let go of her last horses.
London Calling: Nadine Shah, Kitchen Sink
The Mercury Prize-nominated English singer returns with her fourth album which is less about Trump and Brexit as it is with how she views being a woman in this world. Things veer from Club Cougar (the protagonist is chatted up by a much younger dude) to more musical short stories — there really is no other way to describe her lyrics — about relationships and domesticity. When you’re done listening, you’ll realize that Shah is not a woman to be messed with.
Undiscovered Gem: Bullrider, Dying
This Winnipeg four-piece has been around in one form or another since 2012 but is now just finally getting around to releasing a debut album entitled Hidden Gems and the Love of Another. This single was inspired by someone stricken with cancer. Just be careful when Googling this song. The first things you’ll be served up will be some unfortunate rodeo injuries.
Throwback Track: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Behind the Sun
It was 32 years ago that Hillel Slovak and the Chili Peppers returned to L.A. from a tour supporting the band’s third album, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. Both he and frontman Anthony Kiedis had been deep into heroin addiction but had made a pact on that tour to quit. Slovak tried to do it on his own, isolating himself in his apartment from everyone. Somewhere along the line, he slipped, overdosed, and died. He was found dead on June 27, 1988. Forensics say he had died two days earlier.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.
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