The best new music of the week: Coldplay, Neko Case, Rancid and more

By Nicholas Jennings

As music columnist for, each week I’ll bring you my selections for the best and most notable new music, albums you’re going to want to add to your collection plus a five-song playlist to try out. Happy listening!

Scroll down for playlist…


Coldplay - A Head Full of Dreams
Coldplay’s seventh album is joyous and uplifting, leaving the gloom of Ghost Stories behind and reflecting frontman Chris Martin’s move from marital breakup to a new girlfriend. Suffice to say that the band is having fun embracing new sounds, teaming up with Beyoncé on the soulful “Hymn for the Weekend” and delving into global-style disco on the breezy “Adventure of a Lifetime.” Other guests include Swedish singer Tove Lo on “Fun” and Oasis’ Noel Gallagher on “Up&Up.” Full credit to Coldplay for shuffling the deck.

Neko Case - Truckdriver Gladiator Mule
Neko’s extraordinary journey from punk drummer and country torch singer to avant pop icon is well-documented in this box set, which gathers her entire discography of eight titles on remastered vinyl and includes an 80-page book of photography. The collection includes the American-born, Canadian-bred musician’s 1997 solo debut The Virginian, on vinyl for the first time, and her excellent 2004 live album The Tigers Have Spoken, recorded with Toronto’s the Sadies, plus a wealth of inspired covers.


Rancid - …And Out Come the Wolves
This 20th anniversary edition of the California punk rockers’ classic album sounds as vital as ever, especially Clash-inspired tracks like “Ruby Soho” and the hyper ska nugget “Time Bomb.”

The Punch Brothers - The Wireless
Chris Thile and his bandmates lace their American roots music with jazz and classical filigrees as much as folk and bluegrass, as heard on four originals and a sweet cover of Elliott Smith’s “Clementine.”

Alyssa Reid - Songs From the Trees
The Edmonton-born, Toronto-based singer, who scored a hit as a teenager with her 2010 single “Alone Again,” sounds all grown up on her third studio album, focusing on sad songs like the angsty opener “Suffocating.”

Kate Rusby - The Frost Is All Over
One of English folk’s finest singers unearths some old but wonderfully fresh sounding traditional seasonal songs, including “Bradfield,” “Christmas Goose,” and her title track, all sung in her shimmering soprano.

Jill Barber - Jill Barber Sings the Standards
Switching to jazz was a good move for Canada’s former folk darling, who has since blossomed into a beguiling torch singer. Here she lends her voice to classics popularized by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.


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