Eight Best Songs of the Week: The Horrors, Destroyer, The National, Moses Sumney, and More

Plus Cut Copy, Marlon Williams, EMA, Liam Gallagher, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Aug 11, 2017 Bookmark and Share


This week we're either on the brink of war with North Korea or not really that close, depending on which cable TV talking head you listen to and how much you trust President Trump to keep his cool (oh, oh, we're in trouble then). So while we are still clear of the nuclear blast zone (for now), let's soak up the past week's best new tunes. We predicted our Song of the Week midweek and we were right, but it faced some tough competition. (And to be clear, I don't think the chances of a full on nuclear war with North Korea is that likely, but still, it's all a bit worrying.)

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

1. The Horrors: "Something to Remember Me By"

Back on Wednesday morning we predicted it would be our Song of the Week and it's held up. British five-piece The Horrors shared a new song this week, "Something to Remember Me By," the expansive closing track to their forthcoming new album, V. It almost sounds like The Horrors mashed up with Cut Copy, with all the euphoric electronic overtones, and it's probably the most dance-y song they've done. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you end an album.

The Horrors are releasing their fifth album, the fittingly titled V, on September 22 via Wolftone/Caroline. Previously they shared its first single "Machine," as well as a video for "Machine." Paul Epworth (London Grammar, Florence and the Machine, Bloc Party, Adele) produced V at the Church Studios, in North London. It's the follow-up to 2014's Luminous.

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

Keyboardist Tom Cowan added in the press release: "It's natural, if you do see yourself as an artist, to progress and not play it safe. Bowie pre-empted the modern condition of not being able to stay in one place for very long, and I get frustrated with bands who stay still. Because then it does become a career."

2. Moses Sumney - "Quarrel"

Moses Sumney is releasing his debut full-length album, Aromanticism, on September 22 via Jagjaguwar. It includes the recently shared single "Doomed" (for which there was both a regular video and a live performance video). This week he shared another song from the album, the beautiful "Quarrel." He shared both the near-seven-minute long album version and a four-minute edit, but obviously don't bother with the edit, listen to the full-length version in all its gorgeous glory.

Aromanticism also features new versions of previously shared tracks "Plastic" and "Lonely World" and follows his well-received Laminations EP from 2016.

3. Destroyer: "Sky's Grey"

This week Destroyer (the project of Dan Bejar) announced a new album, ken, and shared a lyric video for its first single, "Sky's Grey." Ken is due out October 20 via Merge. As Bejar explains in the quote below, its title was inspired by the Suede single "The Wild Ones" (from 1994's Dog Man Star).

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

The album is the follow-up to 2015's Poison Season. Josh Wells of Black Mountain (who has been the drummer in Destroyer since 2012) produced ken, which was recorded in its entirety in the jam space/studio space called The Balloon Factory. Unlike Poison Season, ken wasn't recorded by the whole band at the same time, but everyone in the Destroyer band does show up on the album.

The album will be available as a deluxe LP pressed on opaque yellow vinyl. The deluxe edition will include a bonus 7-inch single on black vinyl that contains solo acoustic versions of the album tracks "A Light Travels Down the Catwalk" and "Stay Lost."

4. The National: "Carin at the Liquor Store"

The National are releasing a new album, Sleep Well Beast, on September 8 via 4AD. Previously the band shared videos for the album's first two singles, "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness" and "Guilty Party." This week they shared another gem from the album, "Carin at the Liquor Store," via a video in which they perform the song in distorted blue & white images. It was filmed by La Blogothèque and edited by Matthew Miller.

Pick up Under the Radar's current print issue (Summer 2017/Issue 61) to read our new interview with The National on Sleep Well Beast.

The National's Aaron Dessner produced Sleep Well Beast, with additional co-production by his brother Bryce Dessner and frontman Matt Berninger. It was recorded at Aaron Dessner's Long Pond studio in Hudson Valley, New York. Additional sessions took place in Berlin, Paris, and Los Angeles. Peter Katis mixed the album.

5. Marlon Williams: "Vampire Again"

New Zealand singer/songwriter/guitarist Marlon Williams released his self-titled debut album in America on Dead Oceans in early 2016. This week he was back with a brand new single, "Vampire Again," shared via an amusing video in which he dresses like a vampire and leaps out at strangers. Right now it's just a standalone single, there's no word of his sophomore album. Williams directed the clip himself, in collaboration with U.K. cinematographer Steve Gullick.

Williams had this to say about the song in a press release: "The germination of this song began in LA last year. It was indeed Halloween again, and I was bored, having spent a week locked away in an Airbnb by the airport trying in vain to write a song. Any song. Nothing came. So Halloween comes around and I figure, 'Hey, I'm gonna go out tonight. Alone. Comfortably alone. Comfortably alone to see the LA Opera performing a new score to accompany my fave scary flick Nosferatu at the Ace Hotel. I'm gonna dress as the spindly creep himself. What's more, I'm gonna get super blazed before I go. And be comfortably alone.'

"So, off I go, having spent far too much on a last minute outfit, and step out of the Uber and onto the red carpet with a nauseating air of self-confidence. 'This is my night. I am strong. I am human and it is my right to express myself how I see fit.' Turns out I was running late, and when I finally enter the theatre everyone was already seated and the overture had begun. What's more, no one else was dressed up. Well they were, but in tuxedos and lovely dresses. And there was nowhere for stoned ole spindleboots to sit. So, I hunched and crawled my way down the aisle and sat on the floor like it was the most reasonable thing to do at an opera.
 
"I made it through the whole film and then calmly turned tail, satisfied that I'd had a good time and sure that I'd heard whispers of 'bad-ass' as I left the building. I'd like to believe that this was, at least in part, the catalyst for a whole new period in my life and my art. But that's bullsh*t.

"Anyway, here it is, my own demented tale of New Age self-affirmation; 'Vampire Again.'"

Read our 2016 interview with Marlon Williams.

6. Cut Copy: "Standing in the Middle of the Field"

Last month Cut Copy shared a new song, "Airborne," as well as a video for the song shot in Barcelona. This week the Australian band announced their new album, Haiku From Zero, and shared another song from it, opening track "Standing in the Middle of the Field." Haiku From Zero is due out September 22 via Astralwerks.

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

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

7. EMA: "Blood and Chalk"

Singer/songwriter/guitarist EMA (aka Erika M. Anderson) is releasing a new album, Exile in the Outer Ring, on August 25 via City Slang. This week she shared another song from the album, the slow-burning "Blood and Chalk."

Anderson had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Blood and Chalk' was originally written for the #Horror soundtrack. I wrote the lyrics very quickly, with the idea that it was about the experience of being a 12 year-old girl, kind of right on the cusp between childhood and starting to grow up. But when I played it for Jake [Portrait] he said he thought it was about a police shooting. I was kind of shocked, but it also makes complete sense from that point of view. Makes me wonder if my subconscious mind was working on a different level, creating a double meaning."

Previously EMA shared a lyric video for the album's first single, "Aryan Nation," a full on video for "Breathalyzer," the audio for "Down and Out," and a video for "Down and Out." She has also announced a co-headlining North American tour with The Blow.

Pick up our current print issue (the Summer 2017 Issue) to read our Protest article with EMA where she writes about how automation and robots will affect artists and society in general.

8. Liam Gallagher: "For What It's Worth"

Former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher is releasing his debut solo album, As You Were, on October 6 via Warner Bros. Previously he shared a video for the album's rockin' first single, "Wall of Glass," and the album's second single, the airy ballad "Chinatown," as well as a video for "Chinatown." This week he shared another song from the album, "For What It's Worth," and continued to surprise with the output of solid singles from the album thus far.

Gallagher had this to say about the album in a previous press release: "I didn't want to be reinventing anything or going off on a space jazz odyssey. It's the Lennon 'Cold Turkey' vibe, The Stones, the classics. But done my way, now."

Other notable new songs this week include:

Tori Amos: "Up the Creek"

The Blow: "Greatest Love of All" (Whitney Houston Cover)

Alice Glass: "Without Love"

Hinds: "Caribbean Moon" (Kevin Ayers Cover)

Jaws of Love. (Local Natives' Kelcey Ayer): "Love Me Like I'm Gone."

Queens of the Stone Age: "The Evil Has Landed"

Frankie Rose: "Dyson Sphere"

Saint Etienne: "Dive (Greg Wilson & Derek Kaye Remix)"

Underworld: "Ramajama"

The War on Drugs: "Accidentally Like a Martyr" (Warren Zevon Cover)

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happy wheels
August 13th 2017
9:41pm

We can find a way to break through Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through hell with you.
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