10 Best Songs of the Week: King Krule, Destroyer, The Horrors, Phoebe Bridgers, and More

Plus Björk, Grooms, Jessie Ware, Cut Copy, Yumi Zouma, Alex Lahey, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Sep 15, 2017
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Okay, okay. Since starting our Songs of the Week posts, we've slowly increased from having five songs, then six songs, then seven songs, then eight songs, and then for the last couple of weeks, nine songs. We think it's time to just settle on an even Top 10. So that's what it's going to be from now on. (Well, until there's a slow week and we can't come up with 10 worthy songs, but that rarely happens.)

As we were putting this one together we got word of the passing of beloved character actor Harry Dean Stanton. At 91 he lasted longer than most, was working until near the end (most recently in the new Twin Peaks series), and died of natural causes, so he was one of the lucky ones. But what a great list of classic films and TV shows he was in: Alien, Pretty in Pink, Escape from New York, Christine, The Godfather Part II, Cool Hand Luke, How the West Was Won, Paris Texas, Big Love, Wild at Heart, Repo Man, and more. In fact he's got a new movie, Lucky, coming out September 29. R.I.P. Harry Dean.

Now onto the tracks. To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last seven days, we have picked the 10 best this week had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared this week. Check out the full list below.

1. King Krule: "Dum Surfer"

King Krule (aka British musician Archy Marshall) recently shared a new song, the jazzy "Czech One," via its video (it was our #1 Song of the Week and was released as a 7-inch today). This week he officially announced his new album, The Ooz, and shared a video for another new song, "Dum Surfer." And again he makes Song of the Week, simply because there is no one else out there like Marshall right now. From his uniquely rough voice to the jazzy instrumentation of his songs, King Krule just exudes cool. Plus the accompanying video was playful. Brother Willis directed the "Dum Surfer" video, which features Marshall and his band as zombies as they perform in a small venue (Marshall is wheeled in on a stretcher and sits up and starts singing). 

The Ooz is due out October 13 via True Panther in the U.S. and XL in the U.K. It is the follow-up to 2013's 6 Feet Beneath the Moon (released under the King Krule name) and 2015's A New Place 2 Drown (a collaborative project between Marshall and his brother Jack, released simply under the name Archy Marshall).

2. Destroyer: "Tinseltown Swimming In Blood"

Destroyer (the project of Dan Bejar) is releasing a new album, ken, on October 20 via Merge. Previously he shared a lyric video for its first single, "Sky's Grey" (which was one of our Songs of the Week). This week he shared another song from the album, "Tinseltown Swimming In Blood," via a video. The song is all basslines and backing horns, with Bejar's unmistakable conversational vocals. Karen Zolo (aka KC) directed the video, which was inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 science fiction short film La Jetée (which also inspired Terry Gilliam's 1995 film 12 Monkeys and was about time travel). Like the original film, the "Tinseltown Swimming In Blood" video is made up of black & white still photos. Bejar stars alongside Anisa Tejpar. At first it seems they are enjoying a day out at a museum, before things take a violet turn at the end.

Zolo had this to say about the video in a press release: "I'd just had a conversation about artist Chris Marker with a friend when I was approached to make a music video for the upcoming Destroyer album. 'You have a month.' Okay... I had no idea what the song even sounded like, but the only idea I had was to remake Chris Marker's La Jetée as faithfully as possible. It's not just an homage to the great cine-poet; it's also about the medium of film, about still photography. It would have been a billion times easier and less stressful to shoot it digitally, but it was worth it."

Ken is due out October 20 via Merge. As Bejar explains in the quote below, its title was inspired by the Suede single "The Wild Ones" (from 1994's Dog Man Star), which is below too. Below also is "Sky's Grey," followed by the album's tracklist and cover art and Destroyer's upcoming tour dates.

Ken's title was inspired by the Suede single "The Wild Ones" (from 1994's Dog Man Star). Bejar had this to say about the album, and the Suede connection, in a previous press release: "Sometime last year, I discovered that the original name for 'The Wild Ones' (one of the great English-language ballads of the last 100 years or so) was 'Ken.' I had an epiphany, I was physically struck by this information. In an attempt to hold on to this feeling, I decided to lift the original title of that song and use it for my own purposes. It's unclear to me what that purpose is, or what the connection is. I was not thinking about Suede when making this record. I was thinking about the last few years of the Thatcher era. Those were the years when music first really came at me like a sickness, I had it bad. Maybe 'The Wild Ones' speaks to that feeling, probably why Suede made no sense in America. I think 'ken' also means 'to know.'"

3. The Horrors: "Weighed Down"

The Horrors are releasing their fifth album, the fittingly titled V, on September 22 via Wolftone/Caroline. Previously they shared its first single "Machine," as well as a video for "Machine," which was followed by the album's expansive six-minute long closing track, "Something to Remember Me By" (which had euphoric electronic overtones and was our #1 Song of the Week). This week they shared another song from the album, the almost as expansive (it's also over six minutes long), but not as dance-y "Weighed Down." It may not be the absolute best song on V, but the album is so damn good that even the fourth or fifth best song makes it on our Songs of the Week.

Paul Epworth (London Grammar, Florence and the Machine, Bloc Party, Adele) produced V at the Church Studios, in North London. It's the follow-up to 2014's Luminous.

A previous press release promised that the album is diverse and that the band refuses "to stand still." As lead singer Faris Badwan puts it in the press release: "It is a risk. But life isn't much fun without risk. It's the antithesis of being creative if you know what you're going to be doing every time."

4. Phoebe Bridgers: "Funeral"

Los Angeles singer/songwriter Phoebe Bridgers drew some attention back in January for her single "Smoke Signals" and in 2015 also released a three-song single, Killer, produced by Ryan Adams. Now the 22-year-old is releasing her debut album, Stranger in the Alps, on September 22 via Dead Oceans. Previously she shared a lyric video for its first single, "Motion Sickness" (which was one of our Songs of the Week), as well as a video for "Motion Sickness." This week she shared another song from the album, the very sad but beautiful "Funeral," as she laments "Jesus Christ I'm so blue all the time." It is a song about loss and in the YouTube comments most fans said it brought them to tears. It was shared via a lyric video in which she sings the song against a black background, with it looking like she is behind a rainy window, as lyrics appear to the right of her.

Tony Berg and Ethan Gruska produced Stranger in the Alps. Bridgers had this to say about the album in a previous press release: "I wasn't trying to be too lo-fi, too hi-fi, too self-serious, too disingenuous...I feel pretty confident that I'm finding my voice. I wanted the album to completely represent who I am and these songs are representative of what I set out to do."

5. Björk: "The Gate"

Björk recently announced a new single, "The Gate," and it was shared this week. It's the first single from her upcoming new album, Utopia, which is due out in November. "The Gate" starts out slow and abstract, but eventually grows into a beautiful and sparse Björk ballad. But all you need is her voice and you're taken somewhere special.

Björk's last album, Vulnicura, came out in 2015. "The Gate" will be released on single-sided 12-inch vinyl on September 22 via One Little Indian. The vinyl preorder listing on One Little Indian's website included this quote from Björk about the song and her next album: "'The Gate' is essentially a love song, but I say 'love' in a more transcendent way. Vulnicura was about a very personal loss, and I think this new album is about a love that's even greater. It's about rediscovering love - but in a spiritual way, for lack of a better word." 

6. Alex Lahey: "I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself"

Alex Lahey is a promising new Australian singer/songwriter. She is releasing her debut album, I Love You Like a Brother, on October 6 via Dead Oceans. Previously we posted the video for "Every Day's the Weekend" and the audio for "Lotto in Reverse" (which was one of our Songs of the Week). This week she shared another song from the album, "I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself," via a video. As the song's title sets up, Lahey sings about not eating right and smoking, among other things. "I've gained weight and I drink too much/Maybe that's why you don't love me as much," she sings to a lover. The video features Lahey interacting with animation behind her that represents her vices. Callum Preston directs and does the illustrations.

7. Grooms: "Magistrate Seeks Romance"

Brooklyn trio Grooms are releasing a new album, Exit Index, on October 20 via Western Vinyl. Previously they shared the album's first single, "Turn Your Body." Now here's another song from the album, the shoegaze-y "Magistrate Seeks Romance."

Grooms (singer/guitarist Travis Johnson, drummer Steve Levine, and bassist Jay Heiselmann) recorded Exit Index at the famed New York recording studio The Magic Shop, which has hosted sessions with David Bowie and Lou Reed, among many others, and they were the last band to record there before it closed down last year. Collin Dupuis (Angel Olsen, Lana Del Rey) mixed the album. A press release describes the album as such: "On Exit Index the band combines the abandon of pop with the unease of American life in 2017, cloaking its hooks in a clamor of samples and distortion, its agitation expressed in its dream-poetry lyrics."  

8. Yumi Zouma: "Half Hour"

When New Zealand Yumi Zouma first started getting attention, I kind of dismissed them as another interchangeable dance-y indie-pop band. But, man, each single of their upcoming sophomore album, Willowbank (out October 6 via Cascine), has grabbed me and taken hold. This week the band shared a video for another new song from the album, "Half Hour." And while not the most immediate of Willowbank's singles, it's still memorable. The simple black & white video was self-directed by the band and features close-ups and pulled back shots of the band's members against a white wall, looking cool. The song is a bit of a slower burn than their usual upbeat pop singles.

The band's Josh Burgess had this to say about the song in a press release: "The first time I experienced death in any significant way was when I was 7. My granddad died, and I still remember this feeling knowing that no he was no longer on the planet, and no matter how hard I searched, he could not be found - he ceased to exist. I worried that he needed someone to help him as he navigated his way into death. The line 'I think I'll need you when I die, when I've got no one on my side' is one that I wrote a while ago, which for me, captures my biggest fear about dying. An intensely visceral experience with no assistance."

Previously they shared the Willowbank's first single, the truly wonderful pop song "December," which was one of our favorite Songs of the Week, as well as the album opener "Depths (Pt. I)" (the album ends with "Depths (Pt. II)"), which was also one of our Songs of the Week, and "Persephone," which was again a Song of the Week.

9. Cut Copy: "Black Rainbows"

Cut Copy are releasing a new album, Haiku From Zero, next Friday (September 22) via Astralwerks. Previously they shared "Airborne," as well as a video for the song shot in Barcelona, and album opener "Standing in the Middle of the Field." This week the Australian band shared another song from the album, "Black Rainbows." And sure, it sounds very much like what you'd expect a Cut Copy song (infectious and upbeat dance pop). But Cut Copy just do what they do and it works, so let them get on with it. If it ain't broke and all that.

You can also head over to NPR First Listen to stream the entire album a week early.

The album is the follow-up to 2013's Free Your Mind. Cut Copy frontman Dan Whitford had this to say about the album in a previous statement: "So much of this album is about this mosaic of information, images that we're surrounded by on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes it feels like overload, but there's a weird random beauty in it. The idea of squeezing poetry form chaos was where the title of the album came from-the idea of finding something poetic in the overload."

Read our 2013 interview with Cut Copy on Free Your Mind.

10. Jessie Ware: "Alone" 

After sharing two singles from it, this week Jessie Ware officially announced her new album, Glasshouse, and shared another song from it, "Alone." "Alone" is the weakest of the three Glasshouse singles thus far, but it's still superior pop music. Glasshouse is due out October 20 via PMR/Friends Keep Secrets/Interscope.

Ware recently shared a brand new song, "Midnight" (it was our #1 Song of the Week). She also shared a film noir video for "Midnight," which was filmed on the Spanish island of Mallorca and described as the second part of a two-part story. Then she shared a video for another new song, "Selfish Love," that is the first part of the story and tells a tale of infidelity that turns violent. "Selfish Love" was also one of our Songs of the Week.

"Alone" was co-written with Kid Harpoon (HAIM, Florence and the Machine). Ware had this to say about the song in a press release: "I'm so happy to be reunited with Kid Harpoon on this one. It's a song about stealing time with your loved one, and longing for the simple declaration that they want the same."

Of Glasshouse, which was influenced by the birth of Ware's first child in 2016, the singer had this to say: "It became an album for my husband and my baby. It's an apology, a confession, a love note, a declaration. It shows all my fears and all of my emotion." 

Glasshouse was recorded with Benny Blanco and also features collaborations with Felix and Hugo White (The Maccabees), Ed Sheeran, and Norwegian DJ/ producer Cashmere Cat. 

Ware's last album, sophomore effort Tough Love, was released in 2014 via PMR/Friends Keep Secrets/Interscope. In May 2016 Ware shared the new song, "Till the End," which was written for the soundtrack to the film, Me Before You.

Read our 2014 interview with Jessie Ware.

Other notable new tracks this week include:

!!! (Chk Chk Chk): "The Long Walk" 

 

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: "Little Thing Gone Wild"

Blood Orange: "BOWERYLDN EDIT 6 15 SEPTEMBER"

John Carpenter: "Christine"

Four Tet: "Scientists"

 

Grandaddy: "Hawaiian Island Wranglers"

Ibeyi: "Me Voy" (Feat. Mala Rodriguez)

The Killers: "Some Kind of Love"

London Grammar: "Purple Rain" (Prince Cover)

Lost Horizons: "Bones" 

Marilyn Manson: "WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE"

Mister Heavenly: "Makin' Excuses"

R.E.M.: "Mike's Pop Song"

Shamir: "90's Kids"

 

Mavis Staples: "If All I Was Was Black"

 

U2: "You're the Best Thing About Me (Kygo Remix)" 

Weezer: "Beach Boys"

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Mark
September 16th 2017
3:22am

Good songs.