12 Best Songs of the Last Two Weeks: Anna Meredith, Lower Dens, Electric Youth, and More

Plus Jay Som, Jenny Hval, Ride, Penelope Isles, Gruff Rhys, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Jul 12, 2019
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Welcome to another Songs of the Week. We didn't do a Songs of the Week last week because of the July 4th holiday; there really weren't too many new songs last week (and we took Thursday and Friday off as well). So this week's edition covers songs from both this week and last week, hence we have 12 choices.

Elsewhere on the website in the last two weeks we posted My Firsts interviews with Silversun Pickups and Sinkane, Keeping Score interviews with film composers Miles Hankins and Carter Burwell, and a The End with Pixx.

In the last two weeks we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Bleached, Mark Mulcahy, Calexico and Iron & Wine, The Black Keys, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Jesca Hoop, Mannequin Pussy, two reissues by Buzzcocks, Faith Eliott, and three reissues from Doves. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last two weeks week, we have picked the 12 best the last 14 days had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared in the last week. Check out the full list below.

1. Anna Meredith: "Paramour"

This week British experimental musician Anna Meredith announced a new album, FIBS, and shared its first single, "Paramour," via a hypnotic video for the track featuring a camera on a Lego train traveling around Meredith and her band as they perform the song. FIBS is due out October 25 via Black Prince Fury. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as her upcoming tour dates, here.

Ewan Jones Morris directed the "Paramour" video and it's headache-inducing thinking how much effort went into making sure everything timed correcting, as the train arrives just as each instrument is played. Separated from the music video and the instrumental song still holds weight.

FIBS is the follow-up to her acclaimed 2016-released debut album, Varmints. Since then she has kept busy, doing the soundtrack to the Bo Burnham-directed film Eighth Grade and working as a classical composer. And, a press release points out, that she "was recently named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the Queen's birthday honors list for services to music, making her Anna Meredith MBE."

Of the album title FIBS, in a press Meredith says fibs are "lies - but nice friendly lies, little stories and constructions and daydreams and narratives that you make for yourself or you tell yourself."

2. Lower Dens: "I Drive"

Lower Dens (which is led by singer/songwriter Jana Hunter) are releasing a new album, The Competition, on September 6 via Ribbon Music. Previously they shared a video for its first single, "Young Republicans" (which was one of our Songs of the Week). This week they shared another song from the album, "I Drive," also via a video for the track.

Jason Nocito directed the black & white video, which features choreography by Veleda Roehl and dancers Stephannie Henriquez and Steven Jeltsch. The song finds Hunter lamenting, "Why can't we be with the ones we were made to love?"

Hunter had this to say about the song in a press release: "Like a lot of queer and trans people, I've learned that real family is made, and it isn't necessarily blood. Even my blood relatives, we work for that familial connection and trust. This song is about leaving behind obligations to people who don't love or care about you, being with and about people who do. It's a feeling so strong it's driving me. That's the driving I'm doing."

The Competition is the follow-up to 2015's Escape From Evil. A previous press release said The Competition "might be Hunter's most vulnerable, hook-filled album yet, a leftfield, resistance pop record that could only be released in 2019."

Hunter had this to say about the album in the previous press release: "The issues that have shaped my life, for better or for worse, have to do with coming from a family and a culture that totally bought into this competitive mindset.  I was wild and in a lot of pain as a kid; home life was very bleak, and pop songs were a guaranteed escape to a mental space where beauty, wonder, and love were possible. I wanted to write songs that might have the potential to do that."  

3. Electric Youth: "ARAWA"

Electric Youth are releasing a new album, Memory Emotion, on August 9 via Watts Arcade Inc./Last Gang. This week they shared another song from it, "ARAWA."

Previously Electric Youth shared the album's first single, "The Life," via a video for the track. It was one of our Songs of the Week.

Memory Emotion is the band's first new album in five years. The Toronto-based duo (vocalist Bronwyn Griffin and multi-instrumentalist Austin Garrick) first garnered attention due to their song "A Real Hero" being featured prominently in the 2011 film Drive (directed by Nicolas Winding Refn). Their debut album, Innerworld, arrived in 2014. Since then they have kept busy working on more soundtrack work with Winding Refn and other collaborations. The band self-produced Memory Emotion. Chris Muir directed the video for "The Life."

Garrick had this to say about the album in a previous press release: "Memory Emotion is much more outer-world, an album focused on the external world we live in and the way in which we interact with the world as a result of the emotions attached to our memories. Innerworld was finding that sense of self, developing and establishing a viewpoint, and Memory Emotion is us taking that viewpoint with us out into the world. 'The Life' encapsulates the spectrum of that experience, from the dark to the light, the birth and rebirth, the destruction, degeneration and regeneration of living things on our planet, the home to all greedy megalomaniacs and generous martyrs alike. There really is a strong link between music and memory and emotion, and Memory Emotion is what we came up with for that link."

4. Jay Som: "Tenderness"

Jay Som (aka Melina Duterte) is releasing a new album, Anak Ko, on August 23 via Polyvinyl. Previously she shared its first single, "Superbike," via a lyric video for the track (it was #1 on our Song of the Week list). This week she shared another song from the album, the dreamy "Tenderness," via a video for the track. Weird Life produced and directed the video.

In a press release Duterte says "Tenderness" is "a feel-good, funky, kind of sexy song" that is in part about "the curse of social media" and how it affects relationships. "That's definitely about scrolling on your phone and seeing a person and it just haunts you, you can't escape it," Duterte adds. "I have a weird relationship to social media and how people perceive me-as this person that has a platform, as a solo artist, and this marginalized person. That was really getting to me. I wanted to express those emotions, but I felt stifled. I feel like a lot of the themes of the songs stemmed from bottled up emotions, frustration with yourself, and acceptance."

Anak Ko is the follow-up to 2017's acclaimed Everybody Works, also on Polyvinyl (which was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017). Duterte was based in the Bay Area, but relocated to Los Angeles prior to recording the new album. She recorded Anak Ko at home as the sole producer, engineer, and mixer. A previous press release pointed out that "in some songs, you can hear the washer/dryer near her bedroom." Although it wasn't a completely solitary affair, the album also features plenty of guests, including Vagabon's Laetitia Tamko, Chastity Belt's Annie Truscott, Justus Proffit, and Boy Scouts' Taylor Vick, as well as her touring bandmates Zachary Elasser, Oliver Pinnell, and Dylan Allard.

The album's title is pronounced "Ah-nuh Koh," which means "my child" in Filipino. It was inspired by a text message from Duterte's mother, who often addresses her as "anak ko." "It's an endearing thing to say, it feels comfortable," Duterte said in the previous press release.

In the press release Duterte said the album is about the importance of patience and kindness and that those concepts have helped her growth as an artist. "In order to change, you've got to make so many mistakes," she said. "What's helped me is forcing myself to be even more peaceful and kind with myself and others. You can get so caught up in attention, and the monetary value of being a musician, that you can forget to be humble. You can learn more from humility than the flashy stuff. I want kindness in my life. Kindness is the most important thing for this job, and empathy."

For "Superbike," Duterte's aim was to merge Cocteau Twins and Alanis Morissette for a song that she said lets "loose over swirling shoegaze. I came up with the vocal melody while chopping onions during a rare snowstorm in Joshua Tree, definitely one of my favorite memories from making the album."

The album is due out in North America on Polyvinyl, in Australia/New Zealand/Asia via Pod/Inertia Music, and in the rest of the world via Lucky Number.

Back in February Jay Som shared a brand new song, "Simple," that was released as part of the Adult Swim Singles series. That song is not featured on the new album. Last year Jay Som teamed up with Justus Proffit for a collaborative EP, Nothing's Changed.

Read our 2017 Pleased to Meet You interview with Jay Som.

5. Jenny Hval: "Ashes to Ashes"

This week Norwegian avant-garde musician Jenny Hval announced a new album, The Practice of Love, and shared its first single, "Ashes to Ashes." The Practice of Love is due out September 13 via Sacred Bones. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as her upcoming tour dates, here.

The album is the follow-up to her acclaimed 2016 album, Blood Bitch, and her 2018 EP, The Long Sleep. The album features guest vocalists Vivian Wang, Laura Jean Englert, and Félicia Atkinson. The title The Practice of Love was partially inspired by Valie Export's 1985 film of the same name.

Hval had this to say about the album in a press release: "This all sounds very clichéd, like a standard greeting card expression. But for me, love, and the practice of love, has been deeply tied to the feeling of otherness. Love as a theme in art has been the domain of the canonized, big artists, and I have always seen myself as a minor character, a voice that speaks of other things. But in the last few years I have wanted to take a closer look at the practice of otherness, this fragile performance, and how it can express love, intimacy, empathy and desire. I have wanted to ask bigger, wider, kind of idiotic questions like: What is our job as a member of the human race? Do we have to accept this job, and if we don't, does the pressure to be normal ever stop?"

6. Ride: "Repetition"

British shoegazing icons Ride are releasing a new album, This Is Not a Safe Place, on August 16 via Wichita. Previously they shared its first single, "Future Love" (which was one of our Songs of the Week). Last week they shared another song from the album, "Repetition," which has a bit of an '80s vibe to it.

Ride reformed in 2014 to do some touring and finally released their first new album in 21 years, Weather Diaries, in 2017 via Wichita. That was followed by the 2018 EP, Tomorrow's Shore. As with those two releases, Erol Alkan produced This Is Not a Safe Place. Alan Moulder mixed the album, the fourth Ride album he has mixed. The band came together at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019. A previous press release said the band were influenced by "the Jean Michel Basquiat exhibition at London's Barbican Centre and the post-punk sound of The Fall and Sonic Youth, for an album rich in their trademark shoegaze atmosphere, whilst simultaneously sounding rejuvenated and creatively ambitious."

Read our 2017 interview with Ride about Weather Diaries.

Until Weather Diaries Ride hadn't released a new studio album since 1996's Tarantula, which was put out after the band split up and was poorly received. The quartet's original run lasted from 1988 to 1996 and included four studio albums (Nowhere, Going Blank Again, Carnival of Light, and Tarantula). In 2015 they also released Nowhere25, a 25th anniversary reissue of their 1990-released debut album Nowhere. A few years ago we interviewed Ride's Mark Gardener and Andy Bell about Nowhere and you can read that article here. And then in 2015 in another interview we did with Gardener he went through Nowhere track-by-track and you can read that here.

7. Penelope Isles: "Cut Your Hair"

Penelope Isles are a new British four-piece that released their debut album, Until the Tide Creeps In, today via Bella Union. This week they shared one last pre-release song from it, "Cut Your Hair." They also announced some new U.S. tour dates (check those out here).

Previously their single "Chlorine" was one of our Songs of the Week and they also shared a video for the song. Then they shared another song from the album, "Round" (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). Then they shared another song from the album, "Leipzig," via a video for the track (it was also one of our Songs of the Week).

The band features siblings Jack and Lily Wolter and are from Isle of Man-via-Brighton. The quartet is completed by Jack Sowton and Becky Redford.

Jack had this to say about the song in a press release: "One of my favorite songs to play live. The slow sludgy groove always feels like a refreshing moment in the set. I wrote it in our old garage on the Isle Of Man whilst in uncertainty of whether or not to move away to pursue a career in music or not. I had a small studio set up and it started with the drum groove and the rest happened really quickly. I guess it's a fixtinal tale and concept of what could have been me if I didn't have a go at doing 'the band thing'. A don't give up on your dreams kinda thing."

The musical partnership between the siblings came together when Jack came home from studying art at university.

"By the time I moved home Lily was not so much of an annoying younger sister anymore and had grown up and started playing in bands and writing songs," Jack said in a previous press release. "We soon became very close. I had written some songs, so we started a band called Your Gold Teeth. We toured a bit and then Lily left for Brighton to study songwriting. A couple of years later I moved down and we started Penelope Isles together."

Jack said the album consequently deals with themes of "leaving home, moving away, dealing with transitions in life and growing up. We are six years apart, so we had a different experience of some of this, but we share a similar inspiration when writing music. Family, leaving home, disconnection and connection all ring bells!"

Jack added: "It's cool to have two songwriters in the band because I love her songs so much!"

Jack also directed the "Chlorine" video and produced the album, which was co-mixed by Iggy B (The Duke Spirit, John Grant, Spiritualized) in London's Bella Studios.

8. Gruff Rhys: "Pang!"

This week Gruff Rhys, Welsh frontman of Britpop outliers and survivors Super Furry Animals, announced a new solo album, Pang!, and shared a video for its new single, title track "Pang!" The album's lyrics are in Welsh. Pang! is due out September 13 via Rough Trade. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as Rhys' tour dates, here. The album also features "Bae Bae Bae," a song Rhys shared last year.

The album is the follow-up to Babelsberg, which was released in June 2018 also via Rough Trade and was recorded with the 72-piece BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Pang! also features some verses in Zulu and the album came together over the course of 18 months. South African electronic artist Muzi produced and mixed the album, which was recorded in Cardiff, Wales. The song "Pang!" features Rhys on vocals/guitar; drums by Kliph Scurlock (formerly of The Flaming Lips); brass by Gavin Fitzjohn; flute and percussion by the engineer Kris Jenkins; and beats and bass by Muzi.

Rhys had this to say about the album's title track in a press release: "'Pang!' is a Welsh language song with an English title. It started life as a folk reel and soon expanded into a 'list' song, listing various reasons for pangs; hunger, regret, twitter, pain, bad design etc. Using the English word pang in a Welsh language track may appear weird but I suppose it's like using the French word 'Magazine' in an English song. In that it's slightly pretentious but completely acceptable."

Rhys was also recently featured on the Africa Express song "Johannesburg," which was one of our Songs of the Week.

Read our 16th Annual Artist Survey interview with Gruff Rhys.

Read our 2015 interview with Gruff Rhys about American Interior.

9. Belle and Sebastian: "Sister Buddha"

It was announced last year that Scotland's Belle and Sebastian would be providing the score for the indie film Days of the Bagnold Summer. Last week the band officially announced its soundtrack and shared its first single, "Sister Buddha," via a video for the track. The soundtrack to Days of the Bagnold Summer is due out September 13 via Matador. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the band's upcoming tour dates, here.

The film is the directorial debut of Simon Bird, an actor and comedian known for his role as Will McKenzie in The Inbetweeners TV and movie series. The movie is based on a 2012 graphic novel of the same name by Joff Winterhart and is due out in 2020.

A press release describes the plot of Days of the Bagnold Summer as such: "It's a tender, touching and acutely observed coming-of-age story, which tells of a heavy-metal-loving teenager's holiday plans falling through at the last minute, leading to him having to spend the summer with the person who annoys him most in the world: his mum."

Nick Cave's teenage son, Earl Cave (The End of the F***ing World), stars as the teenager in the film. Monica Dolan (Eye in the Sky) plays the mum (who's a librarian) and the film also stars Rob Brydon (The Trip), Tamsin Greig (Second Best Marigold Hotel), Alice Lowe (Prevenge), and Elliot Speller-Gillot (Uncle).

In a press release Murdoch admits that he wasn't aware of the original graphic novel before Bird approached the band to soundtrack the movie version. "But its style and its atmosphere set me off straight away," he says. "I read it on a Friday, and by Monday I pretty much had all my ideas lined up. What was great was that Simon hadn't shot anything then. You want to get in early, because that way you can start having late night conversations with the director about The Graduate, or whatever. We all have fantasies about those great movies of the '60s and the '70s. If you going to get involved with a project like this, you want to do it right."

The soundtrack features re-recorded versions of two previous Belle and Sebastian songs: "Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying" (from 1996's sophomore album If You're Feeling Sinister) and "I Know Where The Summer Goes" (from the 1998 EP This is Just a Modern Rock Song). "Simon was adamant he wanted to use it. He's a proper fan of the group," says Murdoch about "Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying."

The origins of one of the tracks, "Safety Valve," date back even further. "That one's ancient," says Murdoch. "It predates the band; it's maybe 25 years old. The only time I can remember ever playing it was in a coffee shop with a friend of mine, and people scratching their heads. There was only a verse and a chorus, so I went back to it, and revised the words. It's a simple song about being over-reliant on a particular person - probably my girlfriend at the time. But it seems to work okay here, too."

In terms of releasing a soundtrack vs. a regular album, Murdoch comments: "Everything we do that becomes an album is a big deal for us. We're quietly pleased with how the collaboration went, but the truth is that you don't know what's going to happen when it goes out into the world, and people hear it."

The band's Sarah Martin adds: "It's more consistent, probably, than most of our albums. Soundtracks are a deeper cut. They're not a big pop statement."

In late 2017 and early 2018 Belle and Sebastian released three interconnected EPs via Matador, all titled How to Solve Your Human Problems. How to Solve Your Human Problems Part 1 came out in December 2017, Part 2 came out in January 2018, and Part 3 came out in February 2018. Then all three EPs were collected in a vinyl box set and CD compilation that also came out in February 2018. Then in May 2018 the band announced The Boaty Weekender, a floating festival to set sale from Barcelona to Sardinia and back again on August 8-12, 2019. Its initial lineup was announced in September 2018 and includes Camera Obscura, Tracyanne & Danny, Mogwai, Honeyblood, and Django Django. Also setting sail are Alvvays, The Buzzcocks, Japanese Breakfast, HINDS, Kelly Lee Owens, Nilüfer Yanya, and Whyte Horses.

Read our interview with Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch on How to Solve Your Human Problems.

Read our review of How to Solve Your Human Problems.

10. One True Pairing: "One True Pairing"

Tom Fleming was formerly a member British art-rockers Wild Beasts, who called it quits in 2018. Last week he announced a new solo project, One True Pairing, and shared a Clarence Clarity-directed video for its first song, also titled "One True Pairing." The single is out now via Domino.

Fleming had this to say about the name of the project in a press release: "One True Pairing is a name taken from internet fan fiction, where you write the perfect relationship you always wished existed. The idea of Prince Charming and Helpless Princess living happily after is no fun at all."

Of the song, Fleming says: "I wanted to write about the real world. This is a song about hope, about getting beaten down and getting up again, more wide-eyed and full of wonder than you ever were before. It's about doing wrong and then seeing things for what they really are. It's a love song, or as close as I'll ever want to get to one. The name of the whole project is something of a savage joke, but this time I mean it 100% sincerely. Wear the scars proudly, wave 'em in the faces of people who don't, will never understand what they mean. One True Pairing, 2019, hope you enjoy it."

Fleming's former Wild Beasts bandmate Hayden Thorpe recently released his debut solo album, Diviner, in May, also via Domino. Back in February Thorpe shared the album's title track, "Diviner," via a video (it was one of our Songs of the Week). When the album was announced in April he shared another new song from it, "Love Crimes," via a video for the track (it was #2 on our Songs of the Week list). Then he shared another song from it, "Earthly Needs."

In 2017 Wild Beasts announced their breakup in a typed up statement, signed by the band and posted to Instagram. That was followed by a final EP, Punk Drunk and Trembling, three farewell concerts in February 2018, and a final album, February 2018's live in the studio release Last Night All My Dreams Came True (which featured new interpretations of songs from across their catalogue).

Read our 2018 interview with Hayden Thorpe about the breakup of Wild Beasts and the band's legacy.

11. Chastity Belt: "Ann's Jam"

This week Seattle's Chastity Belt announced a new self-titled album and shared its first single, "Ann's Jam," via a video for the track. Chastity Belt is due out September 20 via Hardly Art. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as their upcoming tour dates, here.

The album is the follow-up to 2017's I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone. The band consists of Julia Shapiro (vocals, guitar, drums), Lydia Lund (vocals, guitar), Gretchen Grimm (drums, vocals, guitar), and Annie Truscott (bass). Chastity Belt is their fourth album and it was co-produced by Jay Som's Melina Duterte. The band took a several months hiatus in 2018 and then reconvened to work on the album.

"So much of the break was reminding ourselves to stay present, and giving ourselves permission to stop without saying when were gonna meet up again," says guitarist Lydia Lund in a press release. "It was so important to have that-not saying, 'we're gonna get back together at this point,' but really just open it up so we could get back to our present connection."

12. Long Beard: "Sweetheart"

Last week Long Beard (aka Leslie Bear) announced a new album, Means to Me, and shared its first single, "Sweetheart." Means to Me is due out September 13 via Double Double Whammy. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art here.

Means to Me is Bear's second Long Beard album, the follow-up to 2015's Sleepwalker. The album was co-produced with Japanese Breakfast collaborator Craig Hendrix.

In a press release Bear had this to say about the album's first single: "'Sweetheart' is a nostalgic song that shifts between the distant past and the present. It's a letter to someone you've lost touch with from a long time ago, finding some small connection to their life with regards to yours- how the thought of them resurfaces every once in a while and how they may have shaped the person you've become while wondering if you've had a similar impact on them. It's a jangly/indie pop song reminiscent of the '90s with a chimey lead guitar that weaves in and out. It's written almost as a stream of consciousness with a heavy daydream mood."

Honorable Mentions: 

These eight songs almost made the Top 10.

Devendra Banhart: "Abre Las Manos"

Bon Iver: "Faith"

The Bird and the Bee: "Hot For Teacher" (Van Halen Cover) (Feat. Beck)

Blushing: "So Many"

Daughter: "Poke" (Frightened Rabbit Cover)

Dry Cleaning: "Magic of Meghan"

Benjamin Gibbard: "Keep Yourself Warm" (Frightened Rabbit Cover)

Ty Segall: "Radio"

Other notable new tracks in the last two weeks include:

Steve Aoki & Darren Criss: "Crash Into Me" (Dave Matthews Band Cover)

Bad Heaven Ltd.: "bed"

Beyoncé: "Spirit"

Bon Iver: "Jelmore"

Common: "Hercules" (Feat. Swizz Beatz)

Sheryl Crow: "Everything Is Broken" (Feat. Jason Isbell) (Bob Dylan Cover)

Dude York: "Should've"

Duster: "Interstellar Tunnel"

Billie Eilish: "Bad Guy (Remix)" (Feat. Justin Bieber)

Floating Points: "Coorabell"

Goon: "Black Finch"

Infinity Crush: "Misbehaving"

Lisel: "Vanity"

Lusine: "Not Alone" (Feat. Jenn Champion)

Mal Blum: "See Me"

The Mountain Goats: "Sentries In The Ambush" and "Divided Sky Lane"

Oh Sees: "Poisoned Stones"

Pharmakon: "Self-Regulating System"

Purling Hiss: "Interstellar Blue"

Rosalía: "Milionária"

SASAMI: "I'm In Love With A Girl" (Big Star Cover)

The Sidekicks: "Ode to Jerry"

SOAK: "Modern Girl" (Sleater-Kinney Cover)

Stereolab: "Freestyle Dumpling"

Strange Ranger: "Message to You"

Surf Curse: "Midnight Cowboy"

Surfer Blood: "Around the Sun"

that dog.: "Buy Me Flowers"

Uniform & The Body: "Penance"

Maria Usbeck: "Nostalgia"

UV-TV: "Happy" and "World"

Devon Welsh: "War"

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