10 Best Songs of the Week: The Good, The Bad, & The Queen; Piroshka; Cherry Glazerr; and More

Plus Murray A. Lightburn, Julia Jacklin, Nilüfer Yanya, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Nov 09, 2018
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There might still be nearly two months left in 2018, but 2019 album announcements have been coming hard and fast of late. The Top 10 of this week's Songs of the Week is packed with first and second singles from albums due out next January or February, although not our #1, that album is due out next week.

Elsewhere on the website in the last week we posted interviews with El Ten Eleven, Flasher, Low, and a The End interview with How to Dress Well.

We also had a series of articles tied to Tuesday's big midterm election. We spoke to Black Belt Eagle Scout. Then Jonathan Meiburg of Loma and Shearwater wrote about the voting choice he most regrets and our politics writer Steve King put together a midterms playlist featuring mainly heavy '90s music.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by J Mascis, Richard Swift, Ty Segall, Cat Power, and Dead Can Dance. Plus we posted reviews of various DVDs, Blu-rays, films, and TV shows, including a recap/review of the latest episode of The Good Place.

Don't forget that our current print issue, which features Kamasi Washington on the cover, is still out now.

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

1. The Good, The Bad, & The Queen: "Gun to the Head"

The Good, The Bad, & The Queen are releasing their long-awaited sophomore album, Merrie Land, on November 16. This week they shared another song from the album, "Gun to the Head," via a video for the song that features a man pretending to be a puppet as he sings the song. The band features Damon Albarn (of Blur and Gorillaz), Afrobeat legend Tony Allen, Paul Simonon (of The Clash), and Simon Tong (of The Verve). The lush song sounds somewhat closer to a vintage Blur ballad than anything else Albarn has done of late.

Previously The Good, The Bad, & The Queen shared the album's title track (which was one of our Songs of the Week) and stopped by Later... with Jools Holland to perform it.

The Good, The Bad, & The Queen released their debut album way back in 2007 and have long been teasing its follow-up (of course Albarn has kept very busy in the last 11 years). Merrie Land was produced by the band with Tony Visconti (David Bowie). A previous press release said the songs were written as Brexit was being negotiated and the UK is attempting to leave the European Union, which creates "a reluctant good-bye letter, a series of observations and reflections on Britishness in 2018." 

The previous press release further described the album: "Merrie Land's focus moves beyond GBQ's London-themed first album to a wider land, with a beautiful and hopeful paean to the Britain of today, an inclusive Britain, currently in an Anglo-Saxostentialist crises at the end of a relationship, wondering what might be salvaged. Could there be a more perfect band - with their creative symbiosis of pasts and present and shared acclaimed music histories - to reflect on the anticipation, disorientation and confusion of current life."

Gorillaz released a new album, The Now Now, back in June via Warner Bros.

2. Piroshka: "Everlasting Yours"

Piroshka are a new band that features members of various other iconic British acts. They are fronted by former Lush singer Miki Berenyi (vocals/guitar) and also include former Moose guitarist KJ "Moose" McKillop, Modern English bassist Mick Conroy, and former Elastica drummer Justin Welch. This week they announced their debut album, Brickbat, and shared their first single, "Everlasting Yours." Brickbat is due out February 15, 2019 via Bella Union. The band also have a handful of tour dates, which you can find here, alongside the album's tracklist and cover art.

Lush reformed in 2015, with Welch filling in for the late Chris Acland on drums. The band released one great comeback EP in 2016, Blind Spot. When bassist Philip King left the band later that year, Conroy filled in on bass for Lush's final shows before the band broke up again after those shows. It was Welch who suggested forming a new band with Berenyi and Conroy. McKillop is Berenyi's partner and has two children with her and naturally found a place in Piroshka. Both Lush and Moose were leading lights in the early 1990s shoegazing scene.

"We sounded great!" says Welch, in a press release, of their initial Lush rehearsals with Conroy. "Like a proper punk band. Mick brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and livens up the room, and I thought, this is the kind of band I want to be in again." 

Conroy adds: "I'd seen Lush so many times, it was like playing with old friends. Miki agreed it was good fun too. And with Moose available we thought, let's all have a bash, see what happens."

It was not a given that Berenyi would be interested in joining a new band. After Lush's split in 1998 she had stepped away from performing music, focusing on raising her kids and working for magazines.

"After the Manchester show, Justin asked if I'd be up for something else," Berenyi explains in the press release. "But I'd never made music outside of Lush, and I've never wanted to do anything solo. I need someone else to motivate me, and in this case it was Justin. He sent drum tracks with guitar parts and odd words, so I wrote some vocals and lyrics, which became 'This Must Be Bedlam' and 'Never Enough.' When Mick added bass, it sounded great. When Moose added guitar and keyboards - I'd never written like that before, it was such good fun."

A press release says that songs on Brickbat are often more direct than those by Lush. The lyrics to "Village of the Damned," for example, were written by McKillop and he says the song is "about school shootings and our reaction to almost being unable to take our eyes off 24-hour news and Internet feeds. You're depressed and appalled by what you see." 

The Piroshka band name comes from the Hungarian version of Little Red Riding Hood.

Simon Raymonde, formerly of Cocteau Twins runs the band's label, Bella Union. He signed the band as soon as he heard their demos. Raymonde's Cocteau Twins bandmate Robin Guthrie produced Lush's debut album, 1992's Spooky. Also Raymonde is in the duo Lost Horizons with Richie Thomas, who used to be in Moose. Paul Gregory of Bella Union labelmates Lanterns on the Lake who mixed most of Brickbat, expect for "What's Next," which was mixed by Alan Moulder. Fiona Brice wrote the string arrangements and Terry Edwards, who played on Lush's final album, contributes brass. 

Read out 2016 interview with Lush on their reunion and Blind Spot.

Also read our two 2015 interviews with Berenyi and Lush bandmate Emma Anderson on their albums Split and Lovelife, in which they discussed the challenges of reforming. Also read our 2007 interview with Berenyi, which at the time was her first interview in a decade, since Lush's breakup.

3. Cherry Glazerr: "Daddi" 

This week Los Angeles-based trio Cherry Glazerr announced a new album, Stuffed & Ready, and shared its first single, the Blonde Redhead-sounding "Daddi," via a video for the song. The band have also announced some new tour dates. Stuffed & Ready is due out February 1 via Secretly Canadian. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the band's upcoming tour dates, here.

Stuffed & Ready is the band's fourth album and the follow-up to Apocalipstick, which was released on President Donald Trump's Inauguration Day in 2017. Instead of focusing on political songwriting, the craziness of the last two years made 21-year-old frontwoman Clementine Creevy turn inwards.

"I am telling my story of how I feel and where I am in life," she says in a press release. "I've felt the need to explain my feelings...not just state them, but search for why I feel the way I do honestly. With Apocalipstick, I was an over-confident teenager trying to solve the world's problems. With Stuffed & Ready, I'm a much more weary and perhaps a more cynical woman who believes you need to figure your own self out first."

Cherry Glazerr is now a three-piece also featuring drummer Tabor Allen and bassist Devin O'Brien, with synth player Sasami Ashworth moving on to her own solo work. An initial version of Stuffed & Ready was recorded in early in 2018 with engineer/musician John Vanderslice. Creevy says that resulted in a "very live sounding, self-produced album, which was cool, but wasn't exactly what I wanted to put into the ether right now."

The band then turned to Carlos de la Garza, who had co-produced Apocalipstick. "I wanted a producer to push me," Creevy explains. "I wanted to be questioned, to rip my songs apart and look at their guts and pour myself open again. And I wanted it to sound massive."

Danny Cole wrote, edited, and directed the "Daddi" video, which features animation by Loose Change Animation. The album also includes "Juicy Socks," a song they shared a video for back in April and can also be watched below.

4. Murray A. Lightburn: "Belleville Blues"

This week Murray A. Lightburn, frontman of Montréal's The Dears, announced a new solo album, Hear Me Out, and we were pleased to premiere its first single, "Belleville Blues." "I need you to save me from myself," Lightburn pleads in the chorus, perhaps singing to his wife and Dears bandmate Natalia Yanchak. It's an impassioned song about not being dragged down by the past and not being afraid to rely on a partner to help you get through the day-to-day stresses of modern life. You can find the album's tracklist and cover art here.

Lightburn had this to say about "Belleville Blues" in a statement to us: "When I was growing up, my old man never said or expressed much about what was going on with him. As a grown man with a family of my own, I find myself shielding my children and my wife from stuff that is bothering me or stressing me out. It's a choice, I reckon, to keep a lot of stuff bottled but manageable. Sometimes the weight-the pressure to make life a smooth ride for others-becomes heavy. Having a partner that won't judge you for breaking down a bit is something I think should never be taken for granted. On a personal level, why this song is called 'Belleville Blues' is much more complicated than that. It's a town somewhere between Montréal and Toronto along the 401, a road we as a family have been driven upon literally hundreds of times over the years. It's not a long drive but sometimes we'll stop there and stay in a hotel to break up the journey. I suppose that's the metaphor."

Lightburn wrote and arranged all the song on Hear Me Out, which was produced by Lightburn and Howard Bilerman (Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, Godspeed You Black Emperor!). It was recorded and mixed at Hotel2Tango in Montréal. Lightburn plays a lot of different instruments on the album: lead and background vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, organ, Mellotron, piano, tubular bells, vibraphone, tambourine, and maracas. The album also features guest vocals from Catherine McCandless of Young Galaxy and Ariel Engel of Broken Social Scene and La Force, as well as Hawksley Workman on bongos. Plus the album includes the following players: Jeff Luciani (drums), Rémi-Jean Leblanc (bass guitar), Steve Raegele (electric guitar and acoustic guitar), Gregory Burton (piano), and Liam O'Neil (piano and tenor saxophone).

Under the Radar and The Dears go way back. We first discovered the band as they were preparing to release their 2003 sophomore album, No Cities Left, which still remains one of our favorites and made the Top 20 in our Top 200 Albums of the Decade list in our Best of the Decade issue in 2009. We then put Lightburn on the cover of our print magazine in honor of The Dears' 2006 album, Gang of Losers. The Dears' last album was 2017's Times Infinity Volume Two, which was the follow-up to 2015's Times Infinity Volume One. Lightburn's last solo album was 2013's Mass: Light.

5. Julia Jacklin: "Head Alone" 

This week Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin announced her sophomore album, Crushing, and shared another song from it, "Head Alone." She also announced some North American tour dates. Crushing is due out February 22 via Polyvinyl. It includes "Body," a new song she shared last month via a video for the song (it was one of our Songs of the Week). Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as Jacklin's upcoming tour dates, here.

Jacklin released her debut album, Don't Let the Kids Win, on Polyvinyl in 2016. This past summer Jacklin released another album as part of the trio Phantastic Ferniture. Their self-titled album also came out via Polyvinyl.

Jacklin had this to say about "Head Alone" in a press release: "I wrote most of 'Head Alone' on tour, singing it to myself, looking out the window on endless car journeys. It's not a song that comes from a singular experience. It came from two years of feeling like the space around me shrinking to the point where I couldn't even raise my arms. This song is me raising my arms and running into an open field. A bit of a plea to those around me to give me space and a song to remind myself that's it's okay to enforce boundaries, the good people in your life will listen, adapt and still love you." 

Jacklin says Crushing addresses similar themes: "This album came from spending two years touring and being in a relationship, and feeling like I never had any space of my own. For a long time I felt like my head was full of fear and my body was just this functional thing that carried me from point A to B, and writing these songs was like rejoining the two."

Jacklin seems pleased with the results: "I really like this album, I worked hard on it and I really like listening to it. That's not usually how I feel after making something. I've finally come to accept that right now for me, making records is about capturing a time; who I am at that time, what I need to say in the best way I can say it, with minimal studio frills to cover it up."

To sum up the experience of recording Crushing, Jacklin says: "As I was making this album there was sort of a slow loosening of pressure on myself. There've been some big life changes for me over the last few years, and I just found it too tiring to try to cover things up with a lot of metaphors and word trickery. I just wanted to lay it all out there and trust that, especially at such a tense moment in time, other people might want to hear a little vulnerability."

6. Nilüfer Yanya: "Heavyweight Champion of the Year"

Nilüfer Yanya is a promising new 23-year-old London-based singer/songwriter/guitarist. Now she has shared a new single, "Heavyweight Champion of the Year," via a video for the track. The single is out now via ATO and a press release promises her debut album will be out in early 2019 via the label. She has some upcoming tour dates opening for Interpol in Europe and Sharon Van Etten in America.

Yanya co-produced the song with live band members saxophonist Jazzi Bobbi and bassist Luke Bower. It follows up the Do You Like Pain? EP, released earlier this year. The creative team ENERGYFORCE directed the video.

Yanya had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Heavyweight Champion...' for me is about reaching my own metaphorical bar, reaching my own limits within myself, and kind of forbidding myself to take it further. It feels like quite a physical song, quite physically tired - and mentally, but knowing the desire is still there to continue. I imagine it sometimes in my head as drawing a line around me and the outside world - a form of self protection and preservation."

Yanya had this to say about the video: "The video is about the concept of performance and the relation to the individual. We are never really sure who is the real me. This is because we are all in a state of constant performance, whether that be in everyday life or being in front of a camera. Even when we are not performing, how do we know we are not performing? Which is the genuine and which is the fake? Only in retrospect we can look back and realize 'I wasn't being myself' or 'I was completely myself'."

7. These New Puritans: "Into the Fire"

This week These New Puritans returned with a new song, "Into the Fire." It's their first new song in five years, since their last album, 2013's Field of Reeds.

The British duo is made up of brothers Jack Barnett and George Barnett. "Into the Fire" also features David Tibet of Current 93. According to a new interview with The Fader, it's the first single from an upcoming album, which George says "is a banger. Both brutal and beautiful, a record of extremes." 

8. Conor Oberst: "No One Changes" (Plus "The Rockaways")

This week Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes) has shared two new songs, "No One Changes" and "The Rockaways." Both are available to buy from Bandcamp, with a 7-inch release scheduled to ship out on or around February 1, 2019. Lyrically, "No One Changes" was the stronger of the tracks, even if it's a bit bitter, and so it makes the list with "The Rockaways" more of an honorable mention.

In 2016 Oberst released the solo acoustic album, Ruminations, via Nonesuch and that was followed in 2017 by the new companion album, Salutations, also via Nonesuch. It included full-band versions of all of Ruminations' 10 tracks, as well as seven new songs.

9. Methyl Ethel: "Real Tight"

This week Australia's Methyl Ethel, the band led by Jake Webb, announced a new album, Triage, and shared a video for a new song from it, "Real Tight." Triage is due out February 15, 2019 via 4AD. Matt Sav directed the "Real Tight" video. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as Methyl Ethel's upcoming tour dates, here.

Triage is Methyl Ethel's third album. Webb wrote, performed, and produced the album, recording it in his home studio in Perth. For live shows the band fills out to a five-piece, adding in Thom Stewart, Chris Wright, Lyndon Blue, and Jacob Diamond. The album includes "Scream Whole," a single that was shared back in September.

Webb issued this statement about the album in a press release:

"Methyl Ethel began as a personal challenge. I wanted to see if I could write, record and release some music before the band I was in at the time finished doing the same. I did and subsequently withdrew from some close friends. Relationships were severed, I severed some even closer ones. This all played out in such a public way, as it invariably does, so I withdrew more. My first album Oh Inhuman Spectacle became the 'why me?/fuck you/sorry' album that I wrote as a confused coping mechanism. It helped and I enjoyed it. I continued the introspective journaling with the follow-up, Everything is Forgotten. For me, that album said 'who cares? all your emotions are irrational and meaningless anyway.'

This year, I found myself in the same city, alone in a room tasked with writing an album to be heard, not as an outlet for personal grievances. I decided to find closure with Triage. The question this time around is 'what is important? What requires attention?' I think It's about living with secrets. Secrets cause the problems. They call them white lies, little things used to manipulate people for the greater good. It's a triage of truths to maintain an artifice. A poem by T.S Elliot that I referenced on the first EP I recorded says it best;

'To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate;

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.'

Everyone is older, people have moved on. I receive text messages from old friends looking to reconnect. I have a masochistic social complex in so far as I enjoy the company of others, but self-imposed solitude and exile are exciting and useful to me. It's like method acting, which isn't too far removed from the emotional memory I see people drawing upon every day. I challenge the idea of friendship and trust. I think because I am untrustworthy. At least I'm honest about that."

10. Panda Bear: "Dolphin"

This week Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox of Animal Collective) announced a new album, Buoys, and shared its first single, "Dolphin." Buoys is due out February 8, 2019 via Domino. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art here.

We almost didn't include this song in the Top 10. With its dripping water sounds and Auto-Tune, it is borderline annoying. It also doesn't really go anywhere. And yet, there's something hypnotic and relaxing about it too, so it skates in at #10.

The album is the follow-up to 2015's Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper and 2018's A Day With the Homies EP, released on vinyl back in January. Buoys was recorded in Lennox's adopted home of Lisbon, Portugal. Rusty Santos co-produced and co-mixed the album with Lennox and two last worked together on Panda Bear's acclaimed 2007 album Person Pitch. The album also features Chilean DJ/vocalist Lizz and Portuguese musician Dino D'Santiago. Danny Perez created the album's artwork, with photography by Fernanda Pereira and additional design by Rob Carmichael of SEEN. Hugo Oliveira did the painting of Lennox that is acting as his press photo and it was then photographed by Fernanda Pereira

Lennox had this to say about Buoys in a press release: "The last three records felt like a chapter to me, and this feels like the beginning of something new."

Feel free to also read our 2015 Ariel Pink vs. Panda Bear joint interview.

Honorable Mentions:

These 6 songs almost made the Top 10.

angelic milk: "Celebrate"

Bibio: "Phantom Brickworks IV" and "Phantom Brickworks V"

Rose Droll: "Fat Duck" 

Iceage: "Balm of Gilead"

Shout Out Louds: "Up the Hill"

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Nana Adjoa: "Simmer Down"

Anderson .Paak: "Who R U?" 

Claire George: "Lonely or Alone"

DAWN: "New Breed" 

Editors: "Cold (UNKLE Remix)"

Jacco Gardner: "Levania"

Ariana Grande: "thank u, next"

HEALTH and Youth Code: "Innocence"

Homeshake: "Like Mariah" 

Ibibio Sound Machine: "Basquiat"

Ice Cube: "Arrest the President"

Mineral: "Aurora"

 

The Minus 5: "Christmas in Antarctica" (Feat. Ben Gibbard)

Muse: "Algorithm" 

Nancy: "I'm Not Getting Sober, I'm Just Getting Older (Helluva Guy)"

 

Parquet Courts: "We R In Control" (Neil Young Cover)

Salad: "The Selfishness of Love"

Shame: "Rock Lobster" (The B-52's Cover)

The Smashing Pumpkins: "Knights of Malta"

Sorry: "Starstruck" 

Regina Spektor: "Birdsong"

Sufjan Stevens: "Lonely Man of Winter"

Twist: "Places"

Tyler, The Creator: "I Am the Grinch" (Feat. Fletcher Jones)

William Tyler: "Fail Safe" 

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