Nine Best Songs of the Week: St. Vincent, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rostam, Elbow + John Grant, and More

Plus Benjamin Clementine, Moses Sumney, Weyes Blood, Margo Price, Alvvays, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Sep 08, 2017 Bookmark and Share


Of late we've been presenting the eight best songs of the week, but last week we expanded it to a Top 9 because there were so many strong choices. This week we kept it as nine, but because we had trouble narrowing the list down in a week of solid new songs, but few obvious standouts. As usual, there are more pressing things in the world right now than thinking of the week's new songs, with Texas recovering from one major hurricane and Florida bracing for an even bigger one (not to mention a huge earthquake in Mexico), but sometimes a good song is all you need to get you through.

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

1. St. Vincent: "Los Ageless"

This week St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) announced her new album, MASSEDUCTION, and shared another song from it, "Los Ageless." MASSEDUCTION is pronounced as "mass-seduction" not "mass-education" and is due out October 13 via Loma Vista. She also had a slightly strange and awkward Facebook live press conference (she revealed that she secretly hates musicals).

St. Vincent previously shared MASSEDUCTION track "New York," as well as a colorful video for the song. It was our Song of the Week. "Los Ageless" perhaps isn't quite as catchy as "New York," but has plenty to interest the ears, including a surprisingly calm minute and a half long outro section, with soft spoken word vocals. Musically, it's a more adventurous offering than "New York."

Clark co-produced the album with Jack Antonoff, which was mainly recorded at Electric Lady Studios in Manhattan, with additional recording at Rough Consumer Studio in Brooklyn and Compound Fracture in Los Angeles.

Clark says this album is more autobiographical than her previous three albums. "Every record I make has an archetype," she says in a press release. "Strange Mercy was Housewives on Pills. St. Vincent was Near-Future Cult Leader. MASSEDUCTION is different, it's pretty first person. You can't fact-check it, but if you want to know about my life, listen to this record." In the press conference Clark said "this record's about love."

Clark previously announced a fall tour she's dubbing the "Fear the Future Tour" and also shared a funny announcement video for the tour.

2. Benjamin Clementine: "Quintessence"

Acclaimed British singer/songwriter Benjamin Clementine is releasing his sophomore album, I Tell a Fly, on October 2 via Capitol. Previously we posted its single, "God Save the Jungle" and "Jupiter." Today he shared another song from the album, the atmospheric "Quintessence," which mainly features solo piano and Clementine's powerful voice.

Clementine won the 2015 Mercury Prize for his debut album, At Least For Now, beating out such bigger artists as Florence and the Machine, Gaz Coombes (ex-Supergrass frontman), Jamie xx, Wolf Alice, and Aphex Twin. He also recently collaborated with Gorillaz on the Anti-Trump song "Hallelujah Money." I Tell a Fly also includes "Phantom of Aleppoville," which Clementine shared a video for back in May.

3. Charlotte Gainsbourg: "Rest"

French singer/actress Charlotte Gainsbourg announced a new album this week, Rest, and shared its title track, which was co-written and produced by Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. As we've come to expect from Gainsbourg, "Rest" is a cool slice of slightly detached, but still sexy European art pop.

Rest is due out November 17 via Because Music. The album also features collaborations with Paul McCartney (who composed and wrote the album's "Songbird in a Cage"), Owen Pallett, and Connan Mockasin. Gainsbourg has also released a self-directed video for the song, although it's currently only viewable at Apple Music.

While "Rest" was produced by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, the rest of Rest was produced by SebastiAn (Frank Ocean, Kavinsky). A press release says Gainsbourg and SebastiAn were inspired by the music of Giorgio Moroder, as well as various movie soundtracks, "particularly Pino Donaggio's score for Brian De Palma's '70s horror classic Carrie, Georges Delerue's music for Jean-Luc Godard's nouvelle vague masterpiece Le Mépris, as well as the unsettling ambience of films like Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and Hitchcock's Rebecca."

When it came to the video for "Rest," Gainsbourg turned to a former collaborator, polarizing Danish film director Lars Von Trier, who encouraged her to direct it herself. As Gainsbourg explains in the press release: "I needed a push. Lars helped. At first I asked him if he would direct this video for me. He answered, 'No... you should do it.'  He then said, knowing very well what I needed, 'I will tell you exactly what you must do.' He dictated quite precisely 'the rules' for me to follow. I was nodding through the telephone while writing down the master's principles. And that was it-the first push I longed for. To go out, and carry a camera for myself. Up to me to deliver my personality in either the archive footage I was choosing or the new images I filmed. Trying to create a repetitive language through this musical loop. Thanks to this first step into directing, I was able to take possession of my own imagery. Ensuing different music videos for quite a few of my album's songs."

The album is the follow-up to 2006's 5:55 (a collaboration with Air, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, and The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon) and 2009's IRM (a collaboration with Beck). Unlike those albums, for Rest Gainsbourg wrote the lyrics herself.

Read our 2010 interview with Charlotte Gainsbourg.

4. Rostam: "Half-Light"

Rostam Batmanglij (formerly of Vampire Weekend and who just goes by his first name these days) is releasing his debut solo album, Half-Light, next Friday (September 15) via Nonesuch. It includes "Gwan," a single that Rostam released a video for back in April, and "Bike Dream." This week he shared another song from the album, title track "Half-Light," via a lyric video. The song features Kelly Zutrau of Wet and is a delicate and relaxed number, punctuated by Rostam's expert production choices.

Batmanglij had this to say about the song in a press release: "After I recorded the piano and my voice, I sat down at the drum kit and sketched in a beat. Then I picked up the bass and added acoustic guitars. The next thing was the fuzz guitar. I worked quickly and didn't think too much about anything as I was recording it. This is how I made music as a teenager with a four-track. I got as far as the first fade-out on the guitar solo, but I didn't feel like the song was done yet. Kelly Zutrau [of the band Wet] was staying in my back house and one day I said, 'Hey Kelly I've got this almost-finished song. Do you think you could help me figure out the ending for it?' Kelly wrote the part she sings and helped me write the part that I sing after the guitar solo as well. I love the shift in perspective she brought to the song."

Rostam produced all three of Vampire Weekend's albums, but left the band early last year to focus on his solo work and producing. Last year Rostam teamed up with Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen and released a collaborative album, I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, via Glassnote.

5. Moses Sumney: "Indulge Me"

Moses Sumney is releasing his debut full-length album, Aromanticism, on September 22 via Jagjaguwar. It includes the singles "Doomed" (for which there was both a regular video and a live performance video) and the beautiful "Quarrel" (which was one of our Songs of the Week). This week shared another song from the album, the relaxed gem "Indulge Me." Last weekend he also did a session/secret set for The Line of Best Fit at England's End of the Road festival in which he covered Björk's "Come to Me," from her 1993 album Debut. Accompanied by just a guitarist, Sumney's version is spot-on and simply gorgeous. Watch that below too.

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

6. Weyes Blood: "Everybody's Talkin'" (Fred Neil/Harry Nilsson Cover)

Weyes Blood (aka Natalie Mering) released a new album, Front Row Seat to Earth, last October via Mexican Summer and it made it all the way to #9 on our Top 100 Albums of 2016 list. In January she teamed up with Ariel Pink for a collaborative EP, Myths 002. Now she has put out a new 7-inch via Mexican Summer that includes two covers: Soft Machine's "A Certain Kind" and Fred Neil's iconic "Everybody's Talkin'." The latter was written by Neil in 1966 and released by him in 1967, but is probably better known by Harry Nilsson's Grammy winning version, which was on his 1968 album Aerial Ballet and was prominently featured in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy (the deserving Oscar winner for Best Picture) and made it to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Mering's version is much slower and sadder than the original.

Read our interview with Weyes Blood on Front Row Seat to Earth (from our Best of 2017 Issue).

Also read our The End interview with Weyes Blood about endings and death.

7. Alvvays: "Lollipop (Ode to Jim)"

Toronto-based indie-pop four-piece Alvvays released a new album, Antisocialites, today via Polyvinyl. Previously the band shared its first single, album opener "In Undertow," as well as a trippy lo-fi video for the song, plus the songs "Dreams Tonite" and "Plimsoll Punks." Yesterday, on the eve of the album's release, they shared one more song from it, "Lollipop (Ode to Jim)." Listen to it below, followed by the band's upcoming tour dates.

Antisocialites is the follow-up to their well-received 2014-released self-titled debut album. "This record is a fantasy breakup arc and my life nearly imitated art," said Rankin in a previous press release.

Read our new interview with Alvvays about Antisocialites.

Read the full extended Q&A of our interview with Alvvays's Molly Rankin about Antisocialites.  

Read our review of Antisocialites.

Read our 2014 interview with Alvvays.

8. Elbow: "Kindling (Fickle Flame)" (Feat. John Grant)

Elbow released a new album (their seventh), Little Fictions, back in February via Concord. This week the band shared a new version of Little Fictions' closing track "Kindling." Renamed "Kindling (Fickle Flame)," this version is redone as a duet with John Grant. Not coincidentally, the band also announced some 2018 European dates with Grant opening. The track was originally geo-blocked earlier this week and couldn't be heard in the U.S., but now it's free and clear to post.

Also read our interview with Elbow's Guy Garvey on Little Fictions.

9. Margo Price: "A Little Pain"

Old school country-rocker Margo Price recently followed up her 2016-released acclaimed debut album, Midwest Farmer's Daughter, with a surprise-released new four-song EP, Weakness, via Third Man. This week she has announced her sophomore album, All American Made, and shared its first single, "A Little Pain." The album includes the previously shared "Weakness" (for which there was a video) and features Willie Nelson on one song. Price also announced some tour dates that stretch into 2018.

Matt Ross-Spang and Alex Munoz co-produced All American Made with Price and her band member Jeremy Ivey. It was recorded at Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis and features her touring band: Ivey (acoustic guitar/bass/harmonica), Kevin Black (bass), Jamie Davis (electric guitar), Micah Hulscher (piano), Dillon Napier (drums), and Luke Schneider (pedal steel). "Do Right By Me" features "gospel legends" The McCrary Sisters on backing vocals. Lester Snell, who did the string arrangements in Shaft, did orchestration on "A Little Pain."

Other notable new tracks this week include:

Beck: "Up All Night"

Foo Fighters: "The Line"

Hundred Waters: "Wave to Anchor"

Daniele Luppi and Parquet Courts: "Talisa" (Feat. Karen O)

George Michael: "Fantasy (Nile Rodgers Remix)"

Sam Smith: "Too Good At Goodbyes"

Spinning Coin: "Sleepless"

Taylor Swift: "...Ready For It?"

 

U2: "You're the Best Thing About Me"

Weyes Blood: "A Certain Kind" (Soft Machine Cover)

Chelsea Wolfe: "The Culling"

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