10 Best Songs of the Week: Natalie Prass, Tracyanne & Danny, Wye Oak, Stars, and More

Plus Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Laura Veirs, CHVRCHES, John Parish, Eels, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Mar 30, 2018 Bookmark and Share


Last week we crammed two weeks into Songs of the Week, but this week we're back on track with a regular one-week wrap-up. There was plenty to choose from this week. Our #1 is a funky feminist anthem and our #2 was a close second. Artists whose songs almost made the Top 10 include Hinds, Air Waves (feat. Kevin Morby), mastersystem (remixed by Mogwai), The Lemon Twigs, Sam Evian, and Bernice.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, 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. Natalie Prass: "Sisters"

Natalie Prass is releasing a new album, The Future and the Past, on June 1 via ATO. Previously she shared a video for its first single, "Short Court Style" (which was one of our Songs of the Week), and also performed the song on Conan. This week she shared the album's second single, "Sisters," which a press release calls a "feminist anthem." The jazzy song features an all-female choir singing "Keep your sisters close/You gotta keep your sisters close to ya." The press release says the song "is a powerful call for solidarity and strength in femininity, during uncertain times." The song was shared via a visual featuring animation by Jordan Bruner.

Prass had this to say about "Sisters" in the press release:

"This song was written right after 45 was elected. I was raised in an environment where 'women can't do this or that.' It was around me in my personal life, but was also deeply built in the culture around me. It resulted in me thinking (sadly up until recently) to be a girl meant to be weak. I was rebellious and confused on what being a woman meant for me in life. A lot of women can't relate to my situation, and I commend you, but I know a lot of women and girls out there can relate to my story. I now know more than ever that women are a force to be reckoned with, and we can change this world for the better. I desperately needed an anthem after Nov. 6. 2016. All of my past ghosts that I thought I had overcome came back to haunt me and I was paralyzed for months. This song was my warrior cry when I was losing hope. We demand equality for all marginalized groups, we demand safety in our neighborhoods, we demand safe health care and proper family leave, we demand better public schools for all classes, we demand equal pay & safety in our place of work. There are solutions to these issues and we need to stick together to solve them. When one ship rises, we all rise. Keep your sisters close. WE ARE WORLD WIDE WORLD CLASS."

The Richmond based singer/songwriter released her acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2015 via Spacebomb/StarTime International. She had a new album written and was ready to record it when Donald Trump won the 2016 Presidential election, which led to Prass rewriting the album. As a previous press release put it: "Out of her despair and disappointment in those results came an impulse she could not ignore: she rewrote the album to reflect these swirling emotions." The press release also called the album "a stunning snapshot of a musician in a state of personal rediscovery and surging femininity. The celebratory and defiant The Future and the Past also signals a significant artistic leap for Prass on the heels of her 2015 breakthrough debut album. It finds Prass tapping into deep, dancey grooves that glisten with '80s pop and '90s R&B, nestled alongside quivering, lushly orchestrated ballads."

As with her debut album, The Future and the Past was recorded in Richmond, VA with long-time friend and collaborator Matthew E. White at his Spacebomb Studios. 

Prass had this to say about the album in the previous press release: "The record was ready to go, and then the election happened. I was devastated. It made me question what it means to be a woman in America, whether any of the things I thought were getting better were actually improving, who I am and what I believe in. I knew I would be so upset with myself if I didn't take the opportunity to say some of the things that meant so much to me, so I decided to rewrite the record. I needed to make an album that was going to get me out of my funk, one that would hopefully lift other people out of theirs, too, because that's what music is all about."

Also read our 2015 Pleased to Meet You Spotlight interview with Prass and our separate 2015 print magazine article on Prass.

2. Tracyanne & Danny: "Alabama"

Tracyanne & Danny, is a new project from Camera Obscura frontwoman Tracyanne Campbell and Danny Coughlan (who has previously released music as Crybaby). Their self-titled debut album, Tracyanne & Danny, is due out May 25 via Merge. Previously they shared a teaser trailer for the project and their lovely first single, "Home & Dry" (which was our #1 Song of the Week). This week the duo shared a second song from the album, "Alabama," via a music video. Blair Young directed the video, which features Tracyanne & Danny touring around America, except that they are really in the U.K. (titles appear on the screen for U.S. locations kind of similar to the U.K. ones we see).

Camera Obscura understandably haven't had much activity since the tragic and untimely passing due to cancer of founding member and keyboardist Carey Lander in 2015. The band's last album was 2013's Desire Lines. Campbell is from Glasgow, whereas the London-born Coughlan is Bristol-based. They were introduced by mutual friends in 2013 and Campbell liked his music as Crybaby and asked him to open for Camera Obscura. They worked on songs together, but the project was shelved for Campbell to focus on Desire Lines. After Camera Obscura went on hiatus the duo revisited the project and recorded the album at Clashnarrow, Edwyn Collins' studio in the Scottish Highlands. Collins co-produced the album along with engineer and multi-instrumentalist Sean Read (Dexys Midnight Runners), using Collins' vintage gear. A previous press release said mutual influences on Tracyanne & Danny include "The Roches, Dion, Lou Reed, The Flamingos, Serge Gainsbourg, Santo & Johnny, and The Style Council."

Campbell said in the previous press release that the album is "melodic, musical, and murdery. It's not a duet record. We've tried our best to marry our voices, songs, and melodies."

3. Wye Oak: "Lifer"

Wye Oak (Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack) are releasing a new album, The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs, on April 6 via Merge. Previously they shared its title track (which was our #2 Song of the Week), as well as a video for "The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs," and the atmospheric "It Was Not Natural" (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). This week they shared another song from the album, "Lifer," which starts off deliberately paced before it erupts around the two-minute mark. Wasner has also written a lengthy statement about the song.

Here's Wasner's statement on the song:

"For some people, it is much harder to stay alive than it is for others.

The basic cruelty of this fact has been with me-hovering at the edges of my consciousness, often threatening to take over-for pretty much as long as I can remember. For each auspicious turn that my life has taken, I've always been conscious of how easily I could have ended up in a different situation, of how many things had to line up perfectly in my favor for me to be sitting here, writing to you. Sure, I work hard, and I'm moderately talented-but a lot of people do, and are. When you look at the facts in a broader context, it's impossible to deny the reality that I've been very, very lucky.

Addiction, depression, and mental illness run in my family. I'm an anxious person, but my particular psychological weight is manageable, bearable-certainly not all-consuming or life-threatening. That's genetic luck. I dropped out of college to play music when I was 20, and somehow the very first thing I made (with the person who is still my main collaborator and creative partner) got heard and released by the record label we're still working with, over ten years later. That's luck, too.

To be a creative, sensitive person is to be aware of the world around you-in an immediate sense, and in a global sense. Injustice is everywhere. Suffering is the norm for the vast majority of people on the planet. Throughout my life, this reality reflected itself to me from great distances, in the lives of strangers, and in the experiences of the people closest to me. And yet, while I watched those around me suffer, some invisible force seemed to have settled around me, protecting me from the same fate and dropping gifts of good fortune unceremoniously into my lap. I was always the lucky one. And along the way, my brain took a feeling that should have manifested as something like extreme gratitude and turned it into overwhelming, soul-twisting guilt.

I am an idealist, and a perfectionist-a tricky combination. From the deepest place inside of me, I believe that all people are deserving of equal happiness, and that a person's self-worth is not determined by their ability to work or make money or hit any of the major checkpoints for success that our society has deemed acceptable. We all know that the world is not a perfect place, or anything even remotely approaching fair. And my first instinct when faced with something flawed is not to fix it, or to figure out some kind of compromise-my first instinct is to destroy it. Burn it down. So my attempts to align my internal beliefs with my behavior-to not play along with the shallow ambition and achievement-based value system that we've put into place for ourselves-has often manifested in my life as unintentional self-sabotage.

I wrote this song after a long conversation with a friend-someone who loves me and wants to see me succeed, and let go of this burden of guilt that I've been dragging around for my whole life. While I wrote it, I was thinking about the people in my life who have had to struggle much harder than I do, or likely ever will-just to stay alive. For a moment, I saw everything differently than I ever had before-I was able to accept and be grateful for the gifts I had been given. I was able to forgive myself for having so much more than so many others. And I made a deal in my mind with those others: If you can keep trying to choose life, and find joy, in the face of all of these obstacles, well, then, so can I. This song contains that promise. It's called 'Lifer.' I hope you like it.

-Jenn Wasner

March 2018"

To record the album Wasner and Stack took turns visiting each other's cities (Durham, North Carolina for Wasner and Marfa, Texas for Stack) for a week at a time.

A previous press release described the album as such: "The result is the biggest, broadest, boldest music Wye Oak has ever made. Louder pursues a litany of modern malaises, each of its dozen tracks diligently addressing a new conflict and pinning it against walls of sound, with the song's subject and shape inextricably and ingeniously linked. It arrives at a time of immense doubt, when our personal problems are infinitely compounded by a world that seems in existential peril. But these songs answer the challenge by radiating self-reflection and resolve, wielding hooks and musical intricacy as a shield against the madness of the moment." 

In 2016 Wye Oak surprise-released the excellent Tween, a mini-album on Merge. Wasner released her debut full-length album under her Flock of Dimes solo project, If You See Me, Say Yes, the same year via Partisan.

4. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks: "Shiggy"

This week Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks announced a new album, Sparkle Hard, and shared a new song "Shiggy." Sparkle Hard is due out May 18 via Matador. Last month the band led by the former Pavement frontman shared a brand new song, "Middle America," which is featured on the new album.

Sparkle Hard is the band's seventh album and the follow-up to 2014's Wig Out At Jagbags. The band features singer/songwriter/guitarist Malkmus, along with Mike Clark (keyboards), Joanna Bolme (bass), and Jake Morris (drums). Malkmus started writing the album in 2015. All the demos were recorded in one day in April 2017. Then recording of the album started in May 2017. Chris Funk of The Decemberists produced the album, which was recorded in Halfling, a new studio in Portland managed by Funk.

In February, the day before "Middle America" was released, the band shared a 20-second teaser video via their Twitter account that appeared to be a clip from a new music video, with Malkmus singing on the roof of a building. "Middle America" was one of our Songs of the Week and was also featured in our Soundtracking the Resistance music and politics column.

A press release describes the album as such: "Self-indulgent escapism has never been The Jicks' bag, but on Sparkle Hard, the reality of modern life sits closer to the surface, communication cutting to the chase whether it's a proto-punk grind or a back-porch country duet doing the talking. A cleaner burn for dark and complex times."

5. Stars: "Ship to Shore"

Montreal indie-pop heroes Stars released a new album, There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light, last October via Last Gang. This week they shared a video for a brand new single, "Ship to Shore." They also announced some more tour dates. Natalka Proszak directed the "Ship to Shore" video, which is made up of found super 8 footage.

In a press release Stars' Amy Millan says "Ship to Shore" is "a disco dirge sent out to our friend John Bil. Diligent and ferocious in his love for life, he always shared the best of everything. So for all of us lost at sea looking for friendship ports, raise a glass, have a dance, share the feeling. We love your love. Xo Stars."

Read our 2017 Just the Fax interview with Stars, where we interviewed Amy Millan via fax machine.

Read our regular 2017 interview with Stars.

6. Laura Veirs: "Lightning Rod"

Longtime Pacific Northwest singer/songwriter Laura Veirs is releasing a new album, The Lookout, her tenth solo album, on April 13 via Raven Marching Band Records. Previously the album's first single, "Everybody Needs You," was one of our Songs of the Week and its second single, "Watch Fire," featured backing vocals from Sufjan Stevens. This week she shared the album's third (and final) pre-release single, "Lightning Rod," via an animated video created by Izar Etxeberria (illustrations) and Eñaut Uribesalgo (animation) that features various animals.

Etxeberria had this to say about the video in a press release: "I wanted to express the sense of wonder about the majestic mystery of life that fuels both science and art. It represents the creative process of an artist born from the need to make sense of it and to communicate the beauty and sacredness of nature, it's fragility. It's a poetic attempt to question our modern cosmology and values."

Tucker Martine produced the album, which also features guest vocals from My Morning Jacket's Jim James.

Veirs had this to say about the album in a previous press release: "The Lookout is about the need to pay attention to the fleeting beauty of life and to not be complacent; it's about the importance of looking out for each other. I'm addressing what's happening around me with the chaos of post-election America, the racial divides in our country, and a personal reckoning with the realities of midlife: I have friends who've died; I struggle with how to balance life as an artist with parenting young children."

7. John Parish: "Sorry For Your Loss" (feat. PJ Harvey)

This week John Parish announced a new album, Bird Dog Dante, and shared a new song, "Sorry For Your Loss," which features longtime collaborator PJ Harvey. Bird Dog Dante is due out June 15 via Thrill Jockey. "Sorry For Your Loss" is about the late Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, a close friend of Parish and Harvey.

8. Eels: "Bone Dry"

Eels (the project of Mark Oliver Everett) are releasing a new album, The Deconstruction, on April 6 via E Works/PIAS. Previously Everett shared its title track, "The Deconstruction," as well as the upbeat "Today Is the Day." Then there was a video for "Today Is the Day" that starred Mike Mitchell, who plays Randy on the Netflix comedy Love (Everett is also sometimes on that show), as well as another song, "Premonition." This week he shared the fourth song from the album, the fast paced "Bone Dry."

Everett had this to say about the album in a previous press release: "Here are 15 new Eels tracks that may or may not inspire, rock, or not rock you. The world is going nuts. But if you look for it, there is still great beauty to be found. Sometimes you don't even have to look for it. Other times you have to try to make it yourself. And then there are times you have to tear something apart to find something beautiful inside."

9. CHVRCHES: "Never Say Die"

Scottish electro-pop trio CHVRCHES are releasing a new album, Love Is Dead, on May 25 via Glassnote. Previously they shared its first two singles, "Get Out" (which was our #1 Song of the Week) and "My Enemy" (which features the guest vocals of Matt Berninger of The National and EL VY and was also one of our Songs of the Week). This week they shared the third single from the album, the ultra shiny "Never Say Die."

Frontwoman Lauren Mayberry had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Never Say Die' is one of my favorite songs on the record because it really leans into the juxtaposition of what we do - the mixture between the dark and the light. It's melodic and direct but uses some of the gnarliest sounds we've ever tried.... The chorus lyric came about very quickly but the verses took a lot longer. I really wanted to sum up a feeling of trying to be optimistic when you feel disillusioned by the people around you, but trying to keep going because 'Goonies Never Say Die.'"

CHVRCHES also did an acoustic set of three songs at the New York studio Power Station in partnership with Honda where they covered Beyoncé's "XO" and also did acoustic versions of "Get Out" and "The Mother We Share" (from their debut album). They also covered The 1975's "Somebody Else" for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge.

Greg Kurstin (Adele, Tegan and Sara) co-produced nine of the album's 13 songs and Steve Mac produced one song, "Miracle." CHVRCHES are Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty.

A previous press release said, "Love Is Dead is at times euphoric and others bittersweet, it is an album about growing up." Mayberry added that the album is "coming to terms with the fact that there are great things in the world and there are awful things in the world and that you can't get one without the other."

Cook also had this to say: "We're fucked, the world is fucked. But there's an ellipses at the end. It's Love Is Dead. Like, how did we get to this point? And how do we move on from this point? It's Love Is Dead, we're fucked, what's next?"

In February 2017 we reported that the band had started work on their third album and were working with Dave Stewart of iconic 1980s duo Eurythmics (although his name wasn't mentioned in the album announcement). Then there was word they were working with Kurstin and that it might be their most pop album yet.

CHVRCHES released their well-received second album, Every Open Eye, in 2015 via Glassnote (it was #9 on Under the Radar's Top 100 Albums of 2015 list). In 2017 they guest starred in the comic book series The Archies and covered Tegan and Sara's "Call It Off" for their The Con X: The Covers album.

CHVRCHES were on the cover of one of our print issues in 2015 and you can read the in-depth 8-page 5,600-word cover story feature on the band here. You can also read our bonus digital magazine Q&A with them here.

10. Lord Huron: "When the Night Is Over"

Lord Huron are releasing a new album, Vide Noir, on April 20 via Whispering Pines/Republic Records. Previously they shared two new interconnected songs from it, "Ancient Names (Part I)" and "Ancient Names (Part II)" (which collectively made our Songs of the Week list). They were followed by "Wait by the River." This week they shared another from the album, the slow-burner "When the Night Is Over."

Lord Huron's singer/songwriter/producer/founder Ben Schneider had this to say about "When the Night Is Over" in a press release: "We wanted this song to feel something like a Raymond Chandler story, a desperate search through a rain-soaked, neon-lit city. The groove section in the middle is one of my favorite passages on the album." 

The rest of Vide Noir's songs can be streamed at various geo-locations across the U.S., Canada, and the UK, including national parks, hikes, beaches, and a volcano (more info can be found at www.followtheemeraldstar.com).

Vide Noir is the Los Angeles-based band's third album and the follow-up to 2015's Strange Trails. The album was written and recorded over the past two years at Lord Huron's Los Angeles studio, Whispering Pines (which a press release describes as the band's "informal clubhouse"). Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips/MGMT) mixed the album, which was engineered by Sonny DiPerri (Portugal. The Man, Animal Collective).

Schneider said in a previous press release that he found inspiration for the album by wandering around Los Angeles, his adopted home, at night. "My nighttime drives ranged all over the city-across the twinkling grid of the valley, into the creeping shadows of the foothills, through downtown's neon canyons and way out to the darksome ocean," he said. "I started imagining Vide Noir as an epic odyssey through the city, across dimensions, and out into the cosmos. A journey along the spectrum of human experience. A search for meaning amidst the cold indifference of The Universe."

Other notable new tracks this week include:

Air Waves: "Warrior" (feat. Kevin Morby)

Belly: "Stars Align"

Bernice: "Glue" 

Cardi B: "Be Careful"

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis: "Saying Goodbye" & "Waking Up"

 

El-P: "Rejected Blade Runner 2049 Trailer Demo Unmixed"

Daryl Hall & John Oates: "Philly Forget Me Not" (feat. Train) 

Empath: "The Eye"

Sam Evian: "Health Machine"

The Flaming Lips: "Flaming Lips Theme Song 1983"

Frog Eyes: "Idea Man"

Garbage: "Lick the Pavement"

Goat Girl: "Throw Me a Bone" 

Hinds: "Finally Floating"

Hop Along: "Prior Things"

Lady Gaga: "Your Song" (Elton John Cover)

The Lemon Twigs: "Foolin' Around" and "Tailor Made"

 

mastersystem: "Old Team (Mogwai Remix)"

John Prine: "God Only Knows" (Feat. Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires) 

Tyler, The Creator: "OKRA"

Westerman: "I Turned Away"

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qooapp apk
April 2nd 2018
1:20am

Great this article is very helpful. Thank you for the valuable information.