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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The Strokes, Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys, Weezer, Fiona Apple set to release new music

It seems as if it’s been forever since the last tour rolled through town thanks to the novel coronavirus. However, that’s nothing compared to when the last time the Strokes or Fiona Apple released an album.

The Strokes

“The New Abnormal” – how is that for a prescient title? – which will drop Friday, is the first Strokes album since 2013’s “Comedown Machine.”

The band’s sixth album is filled with its trademark jangly, angular rock. A pair of the tunes, the leadoff track “The Adults Are Talking” and “Bad Decisions,” were part of the Strokes’ incendiary set in Seattle just before the coronavirus shut down life as we know it. The latter is wildly catchy with ’80s style synths (which singer-songwriter Julian Casablancas can’t get enough of) colliding with jaunty guitar. Elements of Modern English’s “I’ll Melt With You” are present.

The latest collection of Strokes tunes are hook-laden and stylish. “The New Abnormal” is the New York band’s finest project since 2006’s “First Impressions of Earth.”

The common denominator between “The New Abnormal” and the Strokes exceptional debut, “Is This It,” is that each were released with America reeling. The latter dropped weeks after 9/11. The former will see the light of day weeks after the coronavirus halted the country and, well, the world.

The quintet of rich kids in thrift store clothes emerged out of a time of fear and uncertainty and became rock stars courtesy of the songs Casablancas crafted. The Strokes never matched the brilliance of “Is This It,” which is arguably the greatest rock debut of all time, but how could they accomplish such a feat?

Nevertheless, the Strokes are returning as perhaps the last rock stars just as we need the band most.

Here’s hoping that when the Strokes continue their first tour since 2011, a date is booked at the Spokane Arena.

Fiona Apple

“Fetch the Bolt Cutters” is the first album from Apple since 2012’s “Idler Wheel.” Apple seems like a grizzled veteran since she broke at 16 a quarter century ago. The cerebral wordsmith takes considerable time between projects. Four albums in 21 years is hardly prolific. But Apple makes it count. She’s one of the rare recording artists with at least five albums that continues to ascend with each project.

Apple typically takes chances each time out. The word is that “Bolt Cutters,” scheduled to be released April 17, is percussive and full of chants. More on Apple and her latest next week.

Car Seat Headrest

Car Seat Headrest hasn’t released an album of new material since 2016’s “Teens of Denial.” The hard-touring band, which has completed “Making a Door Less Open,” previewed its single “Can’t Cool Me Down” throughout much of its 2019 tour. The catchy and quirky tune, which is the lead single, gives fans an idea where CSH is heading.

“Making a Door Less Open,” set for a May 1 release, finds the underheralded indie rockers moving in another direction. The album includes elements of hip-hop, EDM and even doo wop. Give singer-songwriter Will Toledo credit for taking a chance. However, it’s not surprising since Toledo doesn’t care about fame, fortune or potentially alienating fans. The reclusive throwback is only concerned with music.

Margo Price

Margo Price has that elusive star quality. While hanging out at Willie Nelson’s annual “Luck Family Reunion” on his Texas ranch in 2017, I waited in line to catch the surprise guest at the tiny church (part of the set for his film “Red Headed Stranger”) on his massive Spicewood property.

Price stepped onto the stage and let loose in front of 49 music fans. If the fiery Best New Artist nominee (the Grammys blew it) can channel the passion from her live performance to the studio, watch out. Perhaps her next album, “That’s How Rumors Get Started,” set to drop May 8, will be filled with that energy.

Alicia Keys

“Alicia,” the first album in four years from Alicia Keys, features three singles that have already been released. “Underdog,” which is co-written with Ed Sheeran, is the catchiest cut so far.

“Some people may think of the word underdog as a negative word, but I see it as a powerful word representing people who may be underestimated and yet still rise to the challenge and exceed expectations,” Keys said in a statement. “We’ve all been in a place in our life where we’ve had to defy the odds.”

The elegant Keys, who grew up in the then-hardscrabble New York neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen during the ’80s, beat the odds by becoming an inspiring singer-songwriter who also has a new book, “More Myself,” on shelves. “Alicia” is set for release on May 15.

Bon Jovi

A generation after hair-metal died, Bon Jovi still lives. New Jersey’s second son, Jon Bon Jovi and his band are set to release “Bon Jovi 2020” on May 15. Expect a healthy dose of what the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers typically deliver, pop-rock that harks back to when hair was high, spandex was ubiquitous, and a sea of lighters reigned just before the encore.


While chatting with Toto’s Steve Lukather, the singer-songwriter wondered if Weezer’s next album will feature a cover. The track list for “Van Weezer,” coming May 15, has yet to be released, so we’ll see. The reason Lukather asked the cover question is due to the success Weezer had with its surprising and way-too-reverent version of Toto’s “Africa” in 2018.

Bizarre side note. According to Lukather, Weezer’s River Cuomo refuses to speak with any member of Toto.

Cuomo is a funny dude. The bookish singer-songwriter has had no problem ticking off the late Chris Cornell and producer Timbaland, among other luminaries.

Say what you will about Cuomo, he’s had a nice touch as a hitmaker. “Buddy Holly,” “El Scorcho” and “Pork and Beans” are just some of the smash singles he penned. The group’s fan base, which has purchased more than 35 million Weezer albums, anxiously awaits “Van Weezer.”