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Next Week in Music | April 13-19 • The Short List: 9 Albums You Should Hear

This week's list is heavy on Canadians and women. I don't know why either.

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Some weeks this list is all about the rock bands. Other weeks it’s loaded with singer-songwriters. This week it’s heavy on Canadian acts and female artists. I could make up some fancy bullshit to explain why, but really, I have no idea. Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe all the good American and male artists moved their albums to other weeks. Or maybe it’s just the luck of the draw. All I know is that these are the albums I’m most interested in hearing next week. If you’re not, well, feel free to write your own list. See how it works out for you.


Fiona Apple
Fetch The Bolt Cutters

THE PRESS RELEASE:


Nicole Atkins
Italian Ice

THE PRESS RELEASE: “In each song she creates, Nicole Atkins reveals her incredible power to transport listeners to a much more charmed time and space. On her new album Italian Ice, the New Jersey-bred singer-songwriter conjures the romance and danger and wild magic of a place especially close to her heart: the Jersey Shore in all its scrappy beauty. Inspired by the boardwalk’s many curiosities — the crumbling Victorian mansions, the lurid and legendary funhouse, the Asbury Park rock-and-roll scene she played a key part in reviving — Atkins ultimately transforms her never ending fascination into a wonderland of her own making. “When you’re on the boardwalk there’s a feeling that anything can happen, and that’s the feeling I tried to create with this record,” Atkins says. “I wanted to give people something they can put on and buy into a fantasy that gets them excited about what might happen in their own lives.” For help in capturing the shore’s kinetic spirit, Atkins assembled a studio band whose lineup feels almost mythical. Recorded at the iconic Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama, Italian Ice finds the Nashville-based artist joined by Spooner Oldham and David Hood (both members of The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who played on classic records from the likes of Aretha Franklin and Etta James), Binky Griptite of The Dap Kings, Jim Sclavunos and Dave Sherman of The Bad Seeds, and drummer McKenzie Smith (St. Vincent, Midlake). With special guests including Spoon frontman Britt Daniel, Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers, Erin Rae, and John Paul White, the album is a testament to Atkins’ uncommon talent for uniting musicians of radically different sensibilities. “I just invited all my best musical friends to be there with me, and then we roped in Spooner and David too,” says Atkins, who connected with the two musicians after performing at Oldham’s birthday bash. “Musically, it doesn’t make any sense. But I’m a superfan of all of them, and we ended up with the weirdest, craziest band ever. It just became this awesome misfit party.”


EOB
Earth

THE PRESS RELEASE:Ed O’Brien never planned to make a solo record. As a guitarist with Radiohead, who over almost three decades and nine albums have established themselves as one of the most innovative and influential musical forces of our time, he thought his artistic side had its outlet and was happy to spend any downtime from Radiohead with his family. Plus, he wondered, would it really be necessary? “Thom, Jonny and Phillip are making music,” he says, “and I’m like, ‘The last thing the world needs is a shit album by me.’” But suddenly a switch was flicked and the songs came pouring out of him. That creative surge resulted in an album of rediscovery and adventure by O’Brien under the moniker EOB that deftly veers from moments of delicate folk to euphoric house, its songs seamlessly pinned together by unswerving melodic hooks and candid lyricism. A spirit of collaboration runs through it, from the production team of Flood, Catherine Marks, Alan Moulder and Adam ‘Cecil’ Bartlett to the extraordinary musicians O’Brien assembled to help bring these tracks to life; Omar Hakim, Colin Greenwood, David Okumu, Laura Marling, Adrian Utley, Nathan East and Glenn Kotche.”


The Howling Hex
Knuckleball Express

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Don’t call it a comeback; he’s been here for years. Underground rock hero Neil Hagerty returns with Knuckleball Express, the electrifying new album from his long running project The Howling Hex. While he may be best known as one half of the critically confounding Royal Trux, Hagerty has thrived and survived beyond many of his subterranean peers from the late 1980s by staying true to his school of eccentricity. This supercharged collection of guitar-heavy choogle proves he’s still throwing heat in unexpected directions. Recorded over eight days in Hagerty’s home of Denver, the album finds him teamed up with a brand new musical squad. The second most prominent voice and guitar featured comes from Nicole Lawrence, who has recently been seen onstage with Mary Timony and King Tuff. Thanks to a meaty mix by veteran producer Clay Jones (Modest Mouse, Elvis Costello, Townes Van Zandt), it’s as slick as The Howling Hex has ever sounded without losing any of their off-kilter scorch. “Rock and roll is what’s missing in bands these days that take a generic approach to playing that’s almost machine-like,” says Hagerty. “We don’t need that anymore because machines can actually do it. I don’t see what the difference is between a precise human drummer playing to a click track and EDM. There’s some weak dad-rock stuff being distributed now by people my age, so I’m just trying to up the ante. I get on stage and say all the words I believe in my daily life. Not every dad can do that.”


Shelby Lynne
Shelby Lynne

THE PRESS RELEASE:Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Shelby Lynne returns with Shelby Lynne, her first solo album since 2015. Shelby Lynne finds the acclaimed artist laying herself bare in both her performances and in the untraditional recording methods, making this the most unique album of her celebrated career. The genesis of Shelby Lynne came from Lynne’s collaboration with lyricist/director/screenwriter Cynthia Mort to film When We Kill The Creators. The film stars Lynne as a deeply conflicted artist struggling at the intersection of art and commerce. The sparse, deep album highlights the push and pull nature of love, with Lynne challenging and ultimately succumbing to it. Lynne claims, “As an artist, I don’t mind being naked. Everything is so fake, so manufactured these days, I want to get real. It’s the only way to communicate these days.” Lynne notes, “These are 11 songs I love and want to share with the world. They were recorded in very different circumstances at various times but I think they go together. It’s time to not hide behind the game but put your work out as it is.” Although Lynne enlists keyboardists Benmont Tench, Mimi Friedman, Ed Roth and Billy Mitchell to play on the album, she is the key musician on most tracks. Lynne plays guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and even saxophone throughout the release. The album revels in its simplicity.”


The Pack AD
It Was Fun While It Lasted

THE PRESS RELEASE: “This spring The Pack AD will release It Was Fun While It Lasted, their eighth, and, as both of them tell me, final album. It Was Fun While It Lasted began as a gathering up and repolishing of the B sides the duo recorded for their previous album, Positive Thinking, but then something else happened: the road dust settled, they added a couple of new songs, and there stood this record: defiant, determined, a little bit wiser, and, like a pair of near perfect parenthesis, my favourite work of theirs since Tintype first hit me in the guts 13 years ago. It Was Fun While It Lasted is both a love and a hate letter to the road. The fire-hardened spine of the band is omnipresent: the black leather boot stomping drums, the stark and sometimes dismal poetry scratched into the space between the lyrics, the why don’t you just watch me do it all by myself guitar lines, it’s all there. This is the last record of a band that has always always kept its promises. These 12 songs dissemble and then stitch back together all of the things that many of us carry around in our mental luggage these days: depression, disconnect, deterioration, fatigue, frustration, fear. Fear of the lonely abyss, fear of planetary destruction, fear of the next school shooting. “Making music and touring it, you are constantly reminded of how small you are, and you must summon enough ego to think that your contribution is even vaguely worthwhile,” says Becky over a black coffee and breakfast. Maya nods and adds that after they tour this album, The Pack AD intends to pack it in. “I’m tired of being humbled.” she says. It Was Fun While It Lasted is more than just a swan song. It’s a skillfully written unapologetic break-up letter from two great musicians who have blessed us with one more record full of guts and heart and sweat and strength. They’re not leaving this tour van by the side of the road. They’re trading it in while it’s still got tons of good rubber on the tires.”


Lido Pimienta
Miss Colombia

THE PRESS RELEASE:Lido Pimienta has announced the release of Miss Colombia, the anticipated follow-up to La Papessa, which was awarded the Polaris Music Prize in 2017. The Colombian-born, Toronto-based global beats trailblazer recorded the album in her home studio, with some additional recording done in the historic Colombian town of San Basilio de Palenque. Miss Colombia boasts 11 new and original songs that boldly celebrate Lido’s ecstatic musical hybridity of electronic meets cumbia, and is at once defiant and delicate, exploratory and confrontational. All of the songs were written and arranged by Lido, and she co-produced the album with Matt Smith aka Prince Nifty. The album title was partly inspired by the Miss Universe gaffe in 2015, when Steve Harvey mistakenly awarded the crown to Miss Colombia instead of Miss Philippines. It caused Lido to reflect on the anti-blackness she’s experienced, and how she was viewed as an outsider in adolescence, a “weird artistic tomboy” for not adhering to the expected norms projected upon her. Lido — an Afro-Indigenous, queer feminist — created Miss Colombia as a canvas for introspection, with pieces about love (and self-love), and loss. Other songs confront divisive politics in Colombia, Indigenous inequality and racism, and ultimately to bring her closer to home. Musically it digs deeply into the history of Afro-Latin musics, from Palenque to cumbia, styles that Lido embraced after being introduced to Sexteto Tabala, one of the most representative musical expressions of the African communities in Colombia (who are also featured on the album). The album also features Bomba Estereo’s Li Saumet. Lido has an affinity for acts like A Tribe Called Red and Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, but her work also resonates with British-Sri Lankan rapper MIA and she draws unabashed inspiration from the New York-bred Dominican-Trinidadian rap queen Cardi B.”


Joel Plaskett
44

THE PRESS RELEASE: “On April 17, the day before his 45th birthday, Joel Plaskett will release 44. A conceptual follow-up to his Juno Award-winning triple record, Three, 44 is a visionary project comprised of four, 11-song records, packaged together and connected thematically. Four years in the making, the songs were recorded in Dartmouth, Memphis, Nashville and Toronto with 33 different musicians. Musically, 44 showcases many of Joel’s talents, and the hallmarks that have established him as one of Canada’s best known contemporary songwriters. Catchy rock and roll, delicate acoustic ballads and sonic production experiments bounce around the albums, all held together by Joel’s unique and inimitable lyrical style. Varying themes run across the records, but at its heart, 44 is an imaginative, musical rumination on trying to slow down and grow up in a rapidly accelerating world. The first album, 41: Carried Away, is a traveling record. It starts in Memphis with the song Collusion, old memories colliding with the present and the journey begins. The second album, 42: Just Passing Through, playfully evokes the feeling of returning home to an unfamiliar landscape, while, 43: If There’s Another Road, is an introspective, nighttime transition from lost to found. The fourth and final album, 44: The Window Inn, documents the arrival at a personal destination, summed up in the last song, A Benefit 4 Dreamland. 44 is Joel Plaskett’s most ambitious and imaginative endeavor to date. It is a project that will reveal itself over time, its scale and intention standing in sharp contrast to the fast paced, short-form digital world we navigate daily.”


Ron Sexsmith
Hermitage

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Canada’s most accomplished singer-songwriter, Ron Sexsmith has returned with new music. Hermitage is his first since moving from his longtime home of Toronto to a more bucolic life in Stratford, Ontario. Ron partnered with producer Don Kerr to create Hermitage; the two set up in Ron’s living room to record the album, with Ron playing all the instruments except the drums. This album marks Ron’s 25th year as a recording artist. At 56, Sexsmith has made a most unlikely discovery: domestic bliss. All it took, it turns out, was leaving the city he loved. Following 30 years as an emblem of Toronto’s west end, he reluctantly uprooted to the serene hamlet of Stratford and the melodic, playful, theatrically vivacious Hermitage came gushing out. “Almost immediately after arriving here I just felt this kind of enormous stress cloud evaporate and all these songs started coming,” recalls Sexsmith. “I’d walk along the river every day into town and feel like Huckleberry Finn or something. It had a really great effect on my overall state of being.” Further reflecting Sexsmith’s new confidence, Hermitage is the first album on which he played nearly all the instruments, an idea he credits to producer and longtime drummer Kerr. “Don said ‘Why don’t you make one of those sort of Paul McCartney-type records?’ and it’s like a light bulb went on over my head,” he says. “That had never occurred to me.” The result is the songwriter’s most self-assured collection, still charmingly subtle yet increasingly full of musical vigor. “I think it’s a very upbeat album, lyrically,” he says. “It’s reflective of the sort of peacefulness that I’d recently felt. I’m getting more comfortable in my own skin.”