11 Best Songs of the Last Two Weeks: Richard Reed Parry, Low, Kurt Vile, Suede, and More

Plus Cat Power, Wild Nothing, Still Corners, Mitski, Madeline Kenney, and a Wrap-up of the Last Two Weeks' Other Notable New Tracks

Aug 17, 2018
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We took a break from Songs of the Week last week due to a little vacation by our publishers. So this week we are compiling the best songs of the last two weeks. Hence we couldn't contain the list to our usual Top 10, although we didn't do too badly, only expanding to a Top 11 and a few more honorable mentions than usual. There are admittedly lots of Songs of the Week repeat contenders this week, artists who have recently already had songs make the list.

Elsewhere on the website in the last two weeks we posted a My Firsts interview with promising new Saddle Creek artist Tomberlin, an interview with the writer/director (Bo Burnham) and star (Elsie Fisher) of the acclaimed new film Eighth Grade, and an interview with Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard about the band's new album Thank You For Today (which came out today). In the last two weeks we also reviewed a bunch of albums and EPs, including the latest by Moses Sumney, Still Corners, Mitski, Gulp, The Lemon Twigs, Tirzah, Shy Boys, and Florence + the Machine.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last two weeks, we have picked the 11 best the last 14 days had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared in the last fortnight. Check out the full list below.

1. Richard Reed Parry: "Song of Wood"

Arcade Fire multi-instrumentalist Richard Reed Parry is releasing a new solo album, Quiet River of Dust Vol. 1, on September 21 via ANTI-, his first for the label. As the title suggests, it's the first part of a two volume series, with part two due out next spring. Previously he shared a combined animated video for two of its songs, "Sai No Kawara (River of Death)" and "On the Ground" (they both made our Songs of the Week list). This week he shared another song from the album, the six-and-a-half-minute long "Song of Wood." It's a simply gorgeous track and well deserving of this week's top spot.

Parry had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Song of Wood' started in Montreal on my porch in the rain, with a little loop from an iPhone 4 synthesizer app that doesn't seem to exist anymore. I started writing something that I thought was going to be a folk-style 'riddle' song: 'Gave my love a cherry that had no stone / Gave my love a chicken that had no bone' but it turned into something else. I finished it in upstate New York when my friend Caroline Shaw sang a bunch of very magical layers of vocals. There's a quiet moment close to the end that I really like, when you can hear a lot of cicadas that I recorded in a forest in Kyoto, Japan, with Andrew Barr gently playing pieces of driftwood."

The seeds of the album were first planted a decade ago during Arcade Fire's first tour of Japan. Parry hung around Japan for several weeks after the tour ended, finding himself in a monastery, an experience he describes in a press release as "the biggest silence you've ever heard."

Parry elaborates in a press release: "The song 'On the Ground' was inspired by an encounter with ghost voices in a Japanese forest near a temple on the mountain Koya-Sān. I told director Caleb Wood the story - of being alone in this magical environment of giant cedar trees and hearing a loud chorus of powerful harmony singing that sounded inexplicably identical to my late father's folk band the Friends of Fiddler's Green, who were the soundtrack to my entire childhood and upbringing."

Parry also had this to say about the album in the press release: "I'm lousy at sitting still and being nothing. But being out in the natural world or being immersed in music is the meditation for me. That's the heart of this record: the experience of transcending the place that you're in, getting lost in the feeling of where you end and where the world begins, in a dreamlike world of music and thought."

Read our 2014 Versus interview where Richard Reed Parry and Peter Gabriel interviewed each other.

2. Low: "Disarray"

Low are releasing a new album, Double Negative, on September 14 via Sub Pop. When the album was announced they shared videos for three new songs, "Quorum," "Dancing and Blood," and "Fly" (shared as one complete 14-minute piece, a triptych, as well as separately). The songs all made our Songs of the Week list. This week Low shared the album's closing track, "Disarray." Like most of the album, it's both disorientating and fascinating.

Double Negative is the follow-up to 2015's Ones and Sixes. A previous press release described Double Negative as Low's "most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album." Low (Alan Sparhawk, Mimi Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington) recorded the album at Justin Vernon's April Base studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (where they recorded Ones and Sixes) with producer B.J. Burton (Bon Iver, Lizzo, James Blake, and Francis and the Lights). The press release said the band "knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds: they wanted to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, 'a hip-hop guy' could truly do with their music." 

Music writer Grayson Currin wrote the band's bio for this album and described the album as such: "Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fights for the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive 'Quorum.' For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion."

Read our 2015 print magazine interview with Low's Alan Sparhawk about Ones and Sixes, as well as our 2015 digital magazine bonus Q&A with Sparhawk.

3. Kurt Vile: "Loading Zones"

This week Kurt Vile shared a fun brand new song, "Loading Zones," via an amusing video for the song. He also announced some more tour dates. Drew Saracco directed the video, which features Vile evading two parking enforcement officers (played by Pissed Jeans frontman Matt Korvette and film/TV veteran Kevin Corrigan). The single is out now via Matador, but there's no official word yet on a new album. But Vile has announced some more tour dates on top of the ones he already announced back in June. He is partnering with PLUS1 to donate one dollar from every ticket sold to the ACLU. Check out the tour dates here.

Last fall Vile teamed up with Courtney Barnett for a collaborative album, Lotta Sea Lice. Vile's last studio album, b'lieve i'm goin down..., came out in 2015, via Matador, but perhaps he has a new one on the way? Read our interview with Vile about his last album.

Also read our 2017 interview with Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile on Lotta Sea Lice.

4. Wild Nothing: "Shallow Water" 

Wild Nothing (aka Jack Tatum) is releasing a new album, Indigo, on August 31 via Captured Tracks. Previously he shared its first single and opening track, "Letting Go" (which was our #1 Song of the Week), as well as the 1980s-tastic "Partners in Motion" (which was also our #1 Song of the Week) and a strange video for "Letting Go." Last week he shared another song from the album, "Shallow Water."

In a press release Tatum had this to say about the song: "'Shallow Water' is a song for and about my wife. It can be hard to write songs about being in love that don't come across as trite but it's equally as hard to care about being trite when you are in love. To put it simply, it's a song about finally arriving in the place you were meant to." 

The album is the follow-up to 2016's somewhat underrated Life of Pause. Virginia-bred/Los Angeles-based Tatum recorded the demos solo and then spent four days at Sunset Sound's Studio with drummer Cam Allen and guitarist Benji Lysaght to track the record live (Tatum played bass). Then producer Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink, Gang Gang Dance, Japanese Breakfast) came on board to build out the rest of the album's sound, including using parts of Tatum's original demos. Elbrecht and Tatum mixed the album over 10 days in Denver and then Tatum put the finishing touches on Indigo at his Glassell Park studio in Los Angeles. Sonically, Tatum was going for a 1980s vibe.

"I wanted it to sound like a classic studio record, as close as I could get it there," Tatum said in a previous press release. "It just boils down to me wanting to fit into some larger narrative, musically, in terms of these artists I love. I think about how my music will age. Ideas of 'timeless' are going to be different-so if Indigo is not timeless then it's at least 'out of time.'"

The previous press release described the album as such: "Indigo is its own cyborg world, utilizing the artful mechanisms of human touch with the precision of technology to create the classic, pristine sound Tatum has been seeking his entire career. It finds Tatum at his most efficient, calculated, and confident after a decade of making music as Wild Nothing. On one hand, Indigo is a return to the fresh, transcendent sweep of his debut, 2010's Gemini, and on the other, a culmination of heights reached, paths traveled, and lessons learned while creating the follow-ups, Nocturne and Life of Pause."

Wild Nothing's 2012 album, Nocturne, was Under the Radar's #1 album of that year. Read our 2016 interview with Wild Nothing.

5. Still Corners: "The Message"

Still Corners released a new album, Slow Air, today (August 17) via their own label, Wrecking Light. Previously they shared a video for its first single, "Black Lagoon" (which was one of our Songs of the Week), as well as a video for its second single, "The Photograph" (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). Earlier this week the dream-pop band shared a video for one last advance single from the album, "The Message." The band self-directed the atmospheric video, which was filmed alongside a highway in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California and features mist or fog coming over the mountains.

Still Corners are the male/female American/British duo of Greg Hughes and Tessa Murray and Slow Air is their fourth album, the follow-up to 2013's Strange Pleasures (a criminally under-appreciated dream-pop gem released via Sub Pop) and 2016's Dead Blue (also released on Wrecking Light). Slow Air was recorded in Austin, TX, in a studio designed by Hughes. Although, the band is now based in Woodstock, NY.

The band issued this statement about the song: "'The Message' is a song about leaving someone and telling them on voicemail. Atmospheric clean-tone guitar mixes with Tessa Murray's voice as it floats over a lonesome highway recording reminiscent of Sun records with shades of '50s Americana."

Murray had this to say about the album in a previous press release: "We wanted to hear beautiful guitar and drums and an otherworldliness, something almost indefinable along with a classic song writing vibe. We're always trying to get the sound we hear inside of ourselves, so we moved fast to avoid our brains getting in the way too much. The name Slow Air evokes the feel of the album to me, steady, eerie and beautiful."

In 2016 Murray wrote a My Inner Geek guest blog post for us about Star Trek: The Next Generation and you can read that here.

Read our review of Slow Air.

6. Cat Power: "Woman" (Feat. Lana Del Rey)

Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) is releasing a new album, Wanderer, on October 5 via Domino. Previously she shared a video for the album's short opening track (and title track), "Wanderer." This week she shared the album's first official single, "Woman," via a video for the song. "Woman" features Lana Del Rey on backing vocals. The Greg Hunt-directed video features Marshall and her all-female backing band performing the song on a city rooftop.

Marshall produced Wanderer herself and the album was written and recorded in Miami and Los Angeles over the course of the last few years. It is Marshall's first album for Domino after spending most of her career on Matador.

In a previous press release Marshall said the album's 11 tracks encompass "my journey so far. The course my life has taken in this journey - going from town to town, with my guitar, telling my tale; with reverence to the people who did this generations before me. Folk singers, blues singers, and everything in between. They were all wanderers, and I am lucky to be among them." 

7. Mitski: "Two Slow Dancers"

Mitski (full name Mitski Miyawaki) released a new album, Be the Cowboy, today (August 17) via Dead Oceans. Previously she shared a Zia Anger-directed video for its first single, "Geyser," which was our #2 Song of the Week, announced some tour dates, and shared a strange video for "Nobody." Last week she shared one last advance single from the album, Be the Cowboy's closing track "Two Slow Dancers."

A press release says the song is about "two old lovers reunited and reflecting in the adolescent setting of a school gymnasium." Mitski further elaborates: "They used to have something together that is no longer there and they're trying to relive it in a dance, knowing that they'll have to go home and go back to their lives."

Be the Cowboy is the follow-up to 2016's acclaimed Puberty 2 and was produced with longtime collaborator Patrick Hyland. In a previous press release, Mitski said she and Hyland were drawn to "the image of someone alone on a stage, singing solo with a single spotlight trained on them in an otherwise dark room. For most of the tracks, we didn't layer the vocals with doubles or harmonies to achieve that campy 'person singing alone on stage' atmosphere."

Mitski also said she "experimented in narrative and fiction" and had in mind "a very controlled icy repressed woman who is starting to unravel. Because women have so little power and showing emotion is seen as weakness, this 'character' clings to any amount of control she can get. Still, there is something very primordial in her that is trying to find a way to get out."

"I had been on the road for a long time," she added, "which is so isolating, and had to run my own business at the same time. A lot of this record was me not having any feelings, being completely spent but then trying to rally myself and wake up and get back to Mitski."

Read our review of Puberty 2

8. Madeline Kenney: "Overhead"

Madeline Kenney is releasing her sophomore album, Perfect Shapes, on October 5 via Carpark. Previously she shared a video for its first single, "Cut Me Off" (which was our #1 Song of the Week). This week she shared another new song from the album, "Overhead," via a self-directed video. In it she appears to be in a haunted house. The song is about Kenney's decision not to have children. She's also announced some more tour dates, which can be found here.

Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes produced the album, although "Overhead" is the one song produced by Ben Sloan instead of Wasner.

Kenney had this to say about "Overhead" in a statement: "Lyrically, 'Overhead' is about the societal expectations of women to have children, my own grappling with those expectations, and considering the value and depth in my life without children. For the video, I wanted to express that idea through the image of an arid, lofty, haunted house - not traditionally creepy, but moreso haunted by my own personal demons. The women dancers come in to exorcise those demons out, offset the heaviness, and call attention to the fact that a lot of us are having the same internal conversations. During the video shoot, we talked a lot about this, and a few of the women agreed to share some words on what the song and video represent to them."

Kenney only just released her debut album, Night Night at the First Landing, last September via Company. Toro Y Moi's Chaz Bear produced that album. Back in January she shared a brand new song, "Still Learning," which featured Naytronix (aka Nate Brenner of Tune-Yards) and is not on the new album.

Perfect Shapes was recorded in Durham, NC in January 2018, just five months after the release of her debut album. This is Wasner's first time producing another artist's work.

Wasner had this to say about Kenney and the album in a previous press release: "The first time I heard the songs that would come together to form Madeline Kenney's Perfect Shapes, I understood what it felt like to really have a piece of art speak directly to you...hearing her words felt like someone whispering in my ear the contents of my own mind. This was my first time producing music other than my own, and it was one of the only times I've ever experienced working exclusively with women. And it was a creative experience unlike any I've ever had."

Read our 2017 Pleased to Meet You interview with Madeline Kenney.

Read our 2017 Artist Survey interview with Madeline Kenney.

 

9. Christine and the Queens: "5 Dollars"

Christine and the Queens (aka Héloïse Letissier and her amazing dancers) is releasing her sophomore album, Chris, on September 21 via Because Music. This week she shared another new song from the album, "5 Dollars," via a video for the song. Colin Solal Cardo directed the video, which features Letissier take a shower and slowly get dressed in a suit.

Letissier had this to say about "5 Dollars" in a press release: "The song is so tender, so disheveled. It's dealing with some kind of love - the kind you can buy. It's a literal interpretation. A note for a shag - how surprisingly soothing this can be! The power ratio runs clear, like water in your hands; it becomes a pure gesture of love, of ultimate consent."

A press release describes the video as "American Gigolo with a twist" and says that "Christine investigates and takes on the role of the outcast, those who exist on the invisible margins, and is seen getting ready, though for what and for whom is left unsaid." Letissier adds: "The closet is segmented into two racks - suits and bondage. From there, I wouldn't advise to conclude anything too drastic, since you're glaring yourself, in an obscene fashion - voyeur. The hustler is also someone that allows you to project onto him or her, before disappearing to leave you alone with your phantasmes."

Back in May Christine and the Queens shared a new song, "Girlfriend" (which features Dâm-Funk), as well as a French version of the song, titled "Damn, dis-moi." She got a lot of mileage out of that song. It was one of our Songs of the Week, there was also a video for the song, she performed the song on Later... with Jools Holland, and also performed it on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (with The Roots and Dâm-Funk). Then she shared a video for a new song, "Doesn't Matter," as well as a video for a French version of the song, "Doesn't Matter (voleur de soleil)." There will be both English language and French language versions of the album, with the French one having an extra track.

She also stopped by the BBC Live Lounge to do a session where she covered Maroon 5's "What Lovers Do," as well as performing "Girlfriend." In July she shared a remix EP for "Girlfriend" (the funky seven-and-a-half-minute remix of the song by Dâm-Funk was one of our Songs of the Week).

Christine and the Queens made waves in her native France with her 2014 debut album, Chaleur Humaine. A more English language version of the album, simply titled Christine and the Queens, was released in America (and other English speaking countries) in 2015 via Because Music.

In a previous press release Letissier compared her first and second albums: "Chaleur Humaine was about teenage years, most of it. Loneliness, really true feelings, and there is a softness in the way I wrote as well, because I was properly introducing myself." With Chris, she says "it gets to be a bit more exhilarating, because I get to say, 'Okay, I've been introduced now.' I get to be more confident, and it matches what happened in my life as a woman."

Letissier added: "The second album could have been me finding a fancy producer in LA and doing the pop shit, but actually, no. I wanted to make it even more personal, if it's possible." 

10. Suede: "Life Is Golden"

Britpop originators and survivors Suede are releasing a new album, The Blue Hour, on September 21 via Rhino. Previously they shared a trailer for the album, a video for a dramatic new song, "The Invisibles" (which was our #2 Song of the Week), and the second single from the album, "Don't Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You" (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). This week they shared a third single from the album, "Life Is Golden," via a video for the song. Mike Christie directed the video, which features aerial footage of Pripyat, Ukraine, a town that was quickly abandoned in 1986 when the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant had a catastrophic accident.

Suede reformed in 2010 and made a fantastic comeback in 2013 with the release of the excellent Bloodsports, which was their first new album in over a decade and was very well-received by critics. They released their last album, Night Thoughts, back in 2016. The Blue Hour is the band's third album since reforming. Earlier this year the band also put out a 25th anniversary reissue of 1993's self-titled debut album and frontman Brett Anderson also released his first book, the memoir Coal Black Mornings, via Little, Brown.  

Alan Moulder produced The Blue Hour. In a previous interview with NME Anderson shed some light on the sound of the album: "I think we're at this stage of our career where it doesn't really matter what we do, as long as we're engaged in doing it and making it interesting. Because of that, we can do quite extreme things. This is a very complicated record, much more so than the last too - and more diverse. It's quite a journey. There are a lot of elements that we haven't used before, like a choir and more spoken word and dialogue. There are a lot of field recordings on it too to thread the ideas together."

Anderson also told the NME that his son inspired the album. "It was conceived as a record almost from a child's point of view," he said. "My son is my muse these days, and I write about him and through his eyes. He inspired the book I wrote recently, Coal Black Mornings. He was my inspiration on the last two records and this is a continuation of that. I've always written from different perspectives. A lot of this is about the terrors of childhood, so it's quite unpleasant in lots of ways. I think Suede should be unpleasant, that's the point of a band like Suede. Whenever we've tried to pleasant, it never works. We have to inhabit Suedeworld and it's not a very nice place! It's set in a rural landscape, on the hard shoulder of the motorway, among the B-roads and among the rubbish that's been fly-tipped. It's set by a chain link fence with a dead badger lying rotting in the ground."

Suede made an immediate mark when they came on the scene in their native U.K., with them declared "The Best New Band in Britain" by the music publication Melody Maker in 1992 before their debut album was even released. That self-titled debut arrived on March 29, 1993 to critical acclaim and fantastic sales (it hit #1 on the U.K. album charts and at the time was the fastest selling debut album in over a decade). 1994's sophomore album, Dog Man Star, is considered a classic of the era. 1996's third album, Coming Up, continued the band's success, also debuting at #1 on the U.K. album charts. The Blue Hour is the band's eighth album.

Read our 2013 interview with Suede's Brett Anderson on Bloodsports.

11. Amber Arcades: "Where Did You Go"

Amber Arcades, the project of Dutch musician Annelotte de Graaf, his releasing her sophomore album, European Heartbreak, on September 28 via Heavenly. Previously she shared a video for its first single (and opening track), "Simple Song" (which was one of our Songs of the Week), as well as a video for "Goodnight Europe" and the audio for "Alpine Town" (also one of our Songs of the Week). Last week she shared another song from the album, "Where Did You Go," via a video that continues the story from the earlier videos from the album.

Elliot Arndt directed the video, which stars De Graaf and Edwin Louis as a couple unable to decide their future. Louis pins a map of Europe up and prepares De Graff to throw a dart at it, saying, "Wherever this dart lands is where we're gonna go and spend the rest of our lives." It doesn't quite go as planned.

Amber Arcades released her fantastic debut album, Fading Lines, in 2016 via Heavenly. It made our Top 100 Albums of 2016 list. In June 2017 she is released the 5-song Cannonball EP, also via Heavenly.

European Heartbreak was co-produced with Chris Cohen (solo artist and former Deerhoof member) in Los Angeles and with Trey Pollard (Natalie Prass, Bedouine) in Richmond, Virginia, where Pollard oversaw horn and string overdubs from Spacebomb.

A previous press release had this to say about the album: "A vast step forward from her critically acclaimed debut album Fading Lines, this selection of songs flit around Europe, from Berlin to Spain to the south of France. It's European not just in lyrical theme but in the sly sophistication of its music: songs that carry with them the air of open-topped cars on clifftop roads, of cocktails on the terrace at sunset. And then the lyrics undercut that sunny mood, artfully and skilfully."

De Graaf had this to say about the album and its title in the previous press release: "If it were called American Heartbreak, you wouldn't bat an eye. Somehow calling it European Heartbreak feels far less comfortable, almost like a statement in itself. I'm Dutch, hence European. The focus of the record is Europe. As for Heartbreak, for me a heartbreak symbolizes any kind of falling apart of one of these concepts or stories we invent for ourselves, like romantic love, a sense of identity, nationality, an economic system. It's kind of a universal thing in my mind." 

Read our 2016 interview with Amber Arcades and our 2016 Artist Survey interview with her.

Honorable Mentions:

These eight songs almost made the Top 11.

Matthew Dear: "Bunny's Dream" and "Echo"

The Field: "Who Goes There"

Ethan Hawke: "LAX" and Conor Oberst: "LAX (Demo)"

Ladytron: "The Island"

Lindstrøm: "Blinded By the LEDs"

Moors and Tune-Yards: "Mango"

Marissa Nadler: "Blue Vapor"

Other notable new tracks shared in the last two weeks include:

The 1975: "TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME"

Aphex Twin: "T69 Collapse"

Art Brut: "Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out!"

Eric Bachmann: "Jaded Lover, Shady Drifter"

 

Courtney Barnett: "Houses" (Elyse Weinberg Cover)

Big Red Machine: "Deep Green" and "I Won't Run From It"

Black Belt Eagle Scout: "Just Lie Down"

Cloud Nothings: "The Echo of the World"

Cursive: "Life Savings"

 

Death Valley Girls: "Disaster (Is What We're After)"

The Dodos: "Forum"

Father John Misty: "Everything Is Free" (Gillian Welch Cover) and "Mr. Tillman" (Synth-pop Version)

FIDLAR: "Are You High?"

Fucked Up: "Normal People"

Calvin Harris and Sam Smith: "Promises"

Noah Hawley & Jeff Russo: "Don't Come Around Here No More" (Tom Petty Cover) 

IDLES: "Great"

Iron & Wine: "Waves of Galveston"

Janet Jackson: "Made For Now" (Feat. Daddy Yankee)

Joyce Manor: "Think I'm Still In Love With You"

The Joy Formidable: "The Wrong Side"

The Kinks: "Time Song"

The Lemon Twigs: "The Fire"

Adrianne Lenker: "cradle"

Lykke Li: "U Got It Bad" (Usher Cover)

Paul McCartney: "Fuh You" 

Connan Mockasin: "Con Conn Was Impatient"

Mount Eerie: "Soria Moria (Live)"

Mudhoney: "Kill Yourself Live" 

Doe Paoro: "Over"

Steve Perry: "No Erasin'"

Justus Proffit & Jay Som: "Nothing's Changed"

Roosevelt: "Forgive" (Feat. Washed Out) 

Saintseneca: "Beast in the Garden"

Swearin': "Untitled (LA)"

Toto: "Hash Pipe" (Weezer Cover)

You Tell Me: "Clarion Call"

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