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The evil of Gnesa, and other songs worth a listen

Screen grab from Gnesa video for “Wilder”

Everybody's Brother
Cody Chestnutt, from the forthcoming Landing on a Hundred (One Little Indian); streaming here

"I used to smoke to crack back in the day," sings Cody Chestnutt, the eccentric soulman whose pipes we remember. He was the one who held the spotlight momentarily a decade ago, with his lo-fi vision of hedonism, neo-soul and if-I-do-say-so-myself estimation, The Headphone Masterpiece. The memorable (and memorably explicit) single The Seed was covered by the Roots. Then Chestnutt got gone.

He's reformed – "teaching kids in Sunday school," according to Everybody's Brother, performed affectingly and solo, with only a plush, gospel-toned organ as accompaniment. The stripped-back tune on his Kickstarter page is a preview of an album much grander, however. The disc was recorded with a 10-piece band in Al Green's old studio in Memphis.

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Green, of course, did his own turnaround, from lover man to preacher man in the 1970s. Now Chestnutt is back among us, with a new outlook and still smoking, by all reports.

Point of No Return
Jeff Lynne, from Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Orchestra; streaming here

Mr. Blue Sky, please tell us why, you had to hide away for so along (so long)? On an album of re-recorded hits from the ELO catalogue, a slickly jangly new tune (with allusions to personal and/or Wall Street collapse) marks the return the of pop-orchestra conductor Jeff Lynne. Simultaneously he's putting out an LP of covers (Long Wave) that reaches back to the radio days of his youth.

Ship and the Globe
Kae Sun, from the forthcoming Afriyie; streaming here

"Oceans apart and it's heavy on my heart." A supple, easy-going track tune glides to a steady bass line, finger-snaps and a tight beat. Throw in a few feathery bah-bah-bahs and you have a track capable of making your daily commute much more bearable.

Saffron
Jake Bugg, from Jake Bugg (Mercury/Universal); free download here

This sounds Super-8, a warbling and finger-packing retro-ditty from the young English fogy Jake Bugg. It's a touch woebegone, about a girl above his league. Sweet.

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ESSENTIAL VIDEO: Wilder
Gnesa; streaming here

You have to see this to disbelieve it. A tone-deaf New York artist with an astonishing collection of one-shouldered dresses punishes ears and common decency with her blithe evilness and a song-less, no-fi song. Torture like this ought to be against the Gnesa Convention.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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