Sting's '57th & 9th's and A Tribe Called Quest's 'We Got it From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service' top this week's new music

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57th & 9th

He’s turned a corner. Or rather, turned back. Sting makes a long-overdue return to rock on his 12th post-Police studio disc, ditching the sea shanties, ancient madrigals and pastoral lutes for songs that actually feature electric guitar, live drums and pop hooks. Granted, it’s still way closer to Ten Summoner’s Tales than Outlandos d’Amour. But hey, it’s a start.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

A Tribe Called Quest
We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

The good news: ATCQ are back after 18 years with their sixth disc. The better news: It’s massive and magnificent, merging classic hip-hop group dynamics and dusty grooves with pointed topical lyrics and cameos by Kendrick, Kanye and Andre 3000 — proving they haven’t lost a step after all this time. The bad news: They say it’s their final album. Get it.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Emeli Sandé
Long Live the Angels

Love is better the second time around. Heartache too — and just about everything else. With the followup to her starmaking 2012 debut Our Version of Events, Scottish soul phenom Sandé does the near-impossible: She outdoes herself with tastefully adventurous, emotionally rich cuts that embrace gospel, Afropop, Beyonce-style R&B, folk and more. Heavenly.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Taylor Hawkins

It stands for King of the A**holes. It oughta be King of the ’70s-Rock Goofballs. In typical fashion, Foo Fighters’ drummer Hawkins expertly channels Queen and Kiss on this EP — then tops his glammy riff-fests with gleefully dumb lyrics about Hollywood wives, rock stars partying in Japan and a guy named Bob who quit his job. Royally entertaining.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)


They’re having their cake and eating it too. A year after dancing on to the charts with Cake by the Ocean, Joe Jonas and his candy-coloured funk-pop crew keep the sweet treats coming on their first album, serving up cheeky bon-bons that echo everyone from P-Funk and the Peppers to Jacko and the JoBros. Sure, it’s empty calories. But just try to resist.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Kate Tempest
Let Them Eat Chaos

Everything’s connected. And we all need to be. That’s the message behind British rap-poet Tempest’s literate, compelling follow-up to her jaw-dropping 2014 debut Everybody Down. Underpinned by Dan Carey’s stylish hip-hop tracks, Tempest’s album-length narrative stars seven London neighbours awake at 4:18 a.m., but serves as a wakeup call to the world.

RATING: 4.5 (out of 5)


Justice isn’t blind. And they’re certainly not deaf. For their third studio offering Woman, the French electronica duo of Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé continue to mix, match and mingle sounds and styles — from funky basslines and synths to sweeping strings and stirring arrangements. The result: The soundtrack to an ’80s action movie that never was.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Chris Robinson Brotherhood
If You Lived Here, You Would Be Home By Now

This week in Good Discs With Bad Titles: Robinson and his hippie fraternity drop an EP of outtakes from their recent, similarly overtitled Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel. On the menu: The usual mix of jam-rock, psychedelia, blues, country and roots, topped with Robinson’s cosmic poetry and sincere delivery. You don’t have to be crazy to pick it up.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

In Flames

War is hell. But so is life for old-school In Flames fans — as it’s been since these Swedes abandoned their death-metal roots for commercial alt-metal more than a decade ago. This dozenth disc does little to course-correct, undermining moments of brutal savagery and synchronized soloing with arena-sized ballads and choir-like vocals. The battle rages on.

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
Mars: Original Soundtrack

One giant leap for two Bad Seeds. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’s umpteenth soundtrack finds them heading to Mars with filmmaker Ron Howard and his miniseries about colonizing the red planet. And their flight path — which traverses noisy solar-flare space-rock, twinkling interstellar meditations and alienating ambience — makes for an otherworldly journey.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Simple Minds

After Big Music comes Smaller Music. Jim Kerr and co. strip down 12 hits and highlights — mostly from their early ’80s heyday — for this set. But if you expect a rustic campfire version of Don’t You (Forget About Me), forget it; these shimmering, smouldering revamps may be mellower, but the full-size production and layered arrangements are hardly simple.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Yo La Tengo
Murder in the Second Degree

YLT have never met a tune they didn’t like. Or wouldn’t take a wild stab at, anyway. The Jersey indie vets compile another scrappy set of classic (and not-so-classic) cover tunes — including (but not limited to) gems by Dylan, The Dead, Bee Gees, Thin Lizzy, Bad Brains and Pere Ubu — cut live for radio-station fundraisers. All filler, yet somehow all killer.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Wayne Hancock
Slingin’ Rhythm

You can’t depend on much in this world. But you can always count on Wayne The Train. Two decades and 10 discs into his uncompromising career, the Austin country traditionalist is still dishing up old-school honky-tonk, western swing, gospel-blues and rockabilly — and still channelling the ghost of Hank Williams in his hickory-twang vocals. Get up to speed.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

No Waves

Sometimes you have to be there. And this live album from Sonic Youth refugee Kim Gordon and new partner Bill Nace seems one of them. It may have been transcendent seeing (and hearing) them sculpt feedback monoliths and noise cathedrals with their guitars. But at home, the 40-minute set loses intensity and momentum, coming off as empty noodling.

RATING: 2 (out of 5)


We all have to stomach hard times now and then. Looks like it was Belly’s turn. The Ottawa rapper’s latest mixtape takes a trip to the dark side, with grim tales of love gone wrong — and the desensitizing depression, drugging and drinking that follows — voiced against starkly appointed, narcotic slow-rollers. On the plus side, it hasn’t affected his productivity.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Kristin Hersh
Wyatt at the Coyote Palace

Kristin Hersh could tell you stories. And does. The Throwing Muses frontwoman’s ninth solo disc is her third to come with a book that details her lyrical tales of turbulent incidents from floods and fires to divorce and her autistic son (the titular Wyatt). Coupled with her intense delivery, raspy pipes and noisy folk-rock creations, it’s nothing short of a page-turner.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Okilly Dokilly
Howdilly Doodilly

They wear green sweaters over pink shirts. They have glasses and soup strainers. They call their music Nedal. Yep, it’s true: The awesome Okilly Dokilly are the musical spawn of Ned Flanders. And their demented disc fuses wickedly sharp lyrics (mostly Ned lines) with wickedly heavy riffs and primal-scream vocals. Crack a white wine spritzer, neighboreeno.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

The Men
Devil Music

More like That Old Devil Music. After embracing Heartland rock and Americana on their last albums, this Brooklyn quartet pull a 180 and return to the noise-punk abrasion of their misspent youth. Cut in their basement practice space over a weekend, their sixth album kicks and lurches like The MC5 and Stooges joining forces with Mudhoney. See you in hell.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Jacuzzi Boys
Ping Pong

Nobody wants to keep a Jacuzzi in the garage. So, on their fourth full-length, Miami indie-rock trio Jacuzzi Boys expand beyond their Ramones-inspired roots into a bigger, brighter world of melodic Beatle-pop. But in the process, they lose much of the fuzzy grit and edgy propulsion that earned them acclaim — and fans like Iggy Pop. Hope they bounce back.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Olly Murs
24 HRS

“When you hear this on the radio, you’re gonna turn it up,” promises British pop wuss Murs on his fifth meaningless album. Guess again, chump.

RATING: 1 (out of 5)


Tommy Hawkins

Tommy Hawkins has two heads. Specifically, those of Canadian rock mavericks Hawksley Workman and Thomas D’Arcy, who put their noggins together on this high-voltage EP of flamboyant glam-rock weirdness. D’Arcy brings the tight-trousered yowling; the Hawk burns up his fretboard like a hesher hero; a good time is had by all. Wrap your head around that.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Bobby Bazini
Summer is Gone

Bobby Bazini’s moment in the sun is long overdue. Maybe his exceptional third album will finally do the trick. Produced and co-penned with hitmakers like Martin Terefe and Chris Stapleton, it effectively showcases the Montreal singer-songwriter’s Rod-like rasp and seductively soulful delivery. Bottom line: If he were cuter, younger and British, he’d be a star.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Royal Blues

Music can outlast marriage. Just look at Fleetwood Mac and ABBA. Or Dragonette — singer Martina Sorbara and bassist Dan Kurtz split up after their last album. That infuses this fourth set with some personal tales of heartache. Pity any actual substance instantly vanishes amid the wispiness of their generic dance-pop. Speak now or forever hold your peace.

RATING: 2 (out of 5)

Rik Emmett & RESolution 9

A Triumph(ant) return? Yes and no. On RES9, Emmett finally (albeit briefly) reunites after 30 years with drummer Gil Moore and bassist Mike Levine. Pity it’s just for a single jazzy, nostalgic ballad. But the rest of the disc is closer to a classic rock ’n’ roll machine of blues, boogie and blistering solos — plus cameos by Alex Lifeson and James LaBrie. Not bad.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

New Occupation

It’s never too late for a do-over. Not if you’re Duotang. The Winnipeg bass-and-drums twosome — who predated both The White Stripes and Black Keys — return with their first disc in 15 years. And pick up right where they left off with a brace of stylishly straightforward, mod-influenced indie-pop reminiscent of Paul Weller and Ted Leo. It’s time to play catchup.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)


David Bowie

Nothing has changed. More or less. The first posthumous Bowie anthology is nearly identical to the last one, except it replaces a couple of songs from The Next Day with newer cuts from ★ — and a new mix of Life on Mars. Even at that, it’s a fairly standard 40-song trip through his golden years, from Space Oddity to Ziggy to Fame to Let’s Dance and beyond.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Gillian Welch
Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg

Official Bootleg? More like Revival Revisited. That’s what you get as Americana troubadour Welch and foil David Rawlings celebrate the 20th birthday of her jawdropping debut by unvaulting 21 superbly earthy outtakes, alternate versions and demos — including eight previously unheard songs. Almost as good as the disc it commemorates. No matter the title.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

The Hold Steady
Almost Killed Me: Deluxe Edition/Separation Sunday: Deluxe Edition

Few things beat a new Hold Steady album. But these reissues of their first two classics come close. Both 2004’s crunchy debut Almost Killed Me and 2005’s druggy concept-album masterpiece Separation Sunday come remastered and expanded with a handful of singles, demos and outtakes. Get ready for some massive nights.

RATING: 4 and 5 (out of 5)

Robbie Robertson

Life is a carnival. Or in Robertson’s case, a three-ring circus: Inventing Americana with The Band; working with icons like Dylan; and forging his own solo career. Hard to sum up in one anthology — but the 18-song Testimony (the companion disc to his memoir) does fairly well, drawing from all eras and even tossing in a rarity now and then. Come one come all.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)


Nov. 25

Garth Brooks, Gunslinger
Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface Live
The Weeknd, Starboy
The Afghan Whigs, Black Love (20th Anniversary Edition)
Alison Moyet, Alf (Deluxe Edition)

Twitter: @darryl_sterdan