Neil Young at the Junos
By Bob Wiseman, from Giulietta Masina at the Oscars Crying; streaming here
Ron Sexsmith describes Bob Wiseman as "Canada's Tom Waits," which is interesting given that Wiseman has a touch of Sexsmith's own curvy dips to his vocal delivery. On his colourful new album, the curious former Blue Rodeo keyboardist offers 10 vignettes, most all with intriguing topics and tricky word play, with help from some of the country's greatest female vocalists, including Serena Ryder, Mary Margaret O'Hara and, on Neil Young at the Junos, Basia Bulat, whose "doo-doots" are just as much of an instrument as a steel guitar or Wiseman's piano. "A man needs a song," he sings as he paints a portrait of an imperfect, incomparable artist. As for the man behind the microphone, he's Canada's Bob Wiseman – singular, all ours and required. He launches his new album at Toronto's Tranzac Club on Jan. 24
We are Never Ever Getting Back Together
Samuel L. Jackson; streaming here
In a larky moment of Pinsent-reads-Bieber irony, the Pulp Fiction actor heavily (and with expletives) recites the chorus of Taylor Swift's tuneful kiss-off during a recent guest spot on a British radio station. If the acting gigs ever dry up, Jackson has a career delivering deep messages by voice mail.
By Johnny Marr, from the forthcoming The Messenger; streaming here
"Oooh, I hear us coming round." Is Johnny Marr singing about a much-hoped-for Smiths' reunion? Probably not. On a crunchy, churning, lowly bopping new tune off his first solo album – good lord, why has that taken so long? – the guitarist has his own thing to do.
Line of Fire
By Junip, from the forthcoming self-titled album; streaming here
Sounding like an old Sam Roberts' hit, the new one from José Gonzalez and the Swedish light-rock harmonists lulls listeners into a safer place. The beat hypnotizes gracefully and the vocals soothe gently – the advice is to step aside in case the bullets begin to fly.
By Katy Perry; streaming here
Katy Perry dreams of things that never should be and says, 'Why not?" For the Kids' Inaugural Concert dedicated to America's military families, and with the Obama daughters in the first row, on Saturday the pop-tarty singer audaciously sampled Robert F. Kennedy, dressed up in a Wonder Woman onesie and boldly and inappropriately proposed well off-key, "Let's go all the way tonight."