Six Best Songs of the Week: Grizzly Bear, The War on Drugs, Wolf Parade, and More

Plus Jaws of Love., Phoebe Bridgers, Lost Horizons, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Jul 21, 2017
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This week we announced our new print issue, which features Grizzly Bear on the cover, so how could we not name them Song of the Week? But they legitimately deserve the honor, as each of the four singles from their forthcoming new album, Painted Ruins, have been stellar and "Neighbors" is no exception. The War on Drugs' new single, however, was a very close second (and are also interviewed in our new issue).

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

1. Grizzly Bear: "Neighbors" 

Grizzly Bear are releasing a new album, Painted Ruins, on August 18 via RCA. Previously they have shared three tracks from the album, "Three Rings," "Mourning Sound," and "Four Cypresses." This week they shared the fourth advance offering from the album, "Neighbors," and it was another stunner and perhaps the single thus far to most sound like vintage Grizzly Bear. It was launched via a new video. The video at first seems to be about two survivalists we find each other in the wilderness, but then it appears to be a metaphor for a family who hide away from each other in their own house, emotionally disconnecting.

Pick up Under the Radar's current print issue (Summer 2017/Issue 61) to read our new in-depth cover story interview with Grizzly Bear on Painted Ruins.

Grizzly Bear were formerly a New York band, but three members (Chris Bear, Ed Droste, and Chris Taylor) now live in Los Angeles, with Daniel Rossen living in Santa Fe, NM. The band spent two years writing and recording Painted Ruins. Taylor produced the album, which was recorded at Allaire Studios in upstate New York, and at several locations around Los Angeles, including Taylor's own Terrible Studios. Painted Ruins is the follow-up to 2012's Shields, and they have long been hinting at a new album, releasing various abstract teaser trailers for it.

2. The War on Drugs: "Strangest Thing"

The War on Drugs are releasing a new album, A Deeper Understanding, on August 25 via Atlantic, their first for the label (previously they were on Secretly Canadian). Previously they shared the 11-minute long A Deeper Understanding cut (and Record Store Day single) "Thinking of a Place," announced a fall tour, and also shared another song from the album, "Holding On," as well as performing the song on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and sharing a video for "Holding On" featuring actor Frankie Faison (The Wire, Luke Cage, The Silence of the Lambs). This week the band shared another song from the album, "Strangest Thing" via a visual directed by Shawn Brackbill. The atmospheric song is a slow-burner that then builds into something decidedly more rousing.

Pick up our just announced new print issue to read our new interview with The War on Drugs on A Deeper Understanding.

The War on Drugs' main creative force Adam Granduciel worked on the album in studios in New York and Los Angeles, with help from engineer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Weezer). Other members of the band (bassist Dave Hartley, keyboardist Robbie Bennett, drummer Charlie Hall, and multi-instrumentalists Anthony LaMarca and Jon Natchez) were also involved in the recordings from time to time and thus a press release calls A Deeper Understanding "a 'band record' in the noblest sense, featuring collaboration, coordination, and confidence at every turn."

3. Jaws of Love.: "Jaws of Love."

This week Kelcey Ayer (Local Natives vocalist, pianist, and one of the band's primary songwriters) announced his debut solo album under the name Jaws of Love. (the period at the end of the name is intentional) and shared the project's first single, also titled "Jaws of Love." Like The War on Drugs track, the song builds from A to B. It starts as a deceptively simple piano ballad before growing into something more interesting. The album is titled Tasha Sits Close to the Piano and it's due out September 22 via House Arrest.

As Local Natives were getting ready to record Sunlit Youth (which came out last September via Loma Vista and Infectious Music), Ayer laid down the initial tracks over the course of three days in the same Electro-Vox studio in Los Angeles that Local Natives recorded in. Engineer Michael Harris and mixer Cian Riordan were involved. Ayer later finished the album with Local Natives' drummer Matt Frazier. The Tasha Sits Close to the Piano album title was suggested by Ayer's wife and named after their dog, Tasha. Jaws of Love. will make its live debut show September 21st at Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. It's an all-ages show and on sale now.

Ayer had this to say about the album in a press release: "I used to think that in order to write about love, something had to be wrong. I often got my material from pain, or insecurity, or problems - I thought I couldn't write a good love song because I am in love and it's going so well. But I've grown to realize that even in the most amazing relationships there are turbulent times and misunderstandings that are unavoidable. And that doesn't mean that anything is doomed, but love is such a complicated thing. The idea of 'jaws of love' felt so perfect for this project because it's all about love's trials and tribulations."

Read our 2016 interview with Local Natives on Sunlit Youth

4. Wolf Parade: "Valley Boy"

This week Wolf Parade announced a new album, Cry Cry Cry, and shared its first single, "Valley Boy." Cry Cry Cry is the band's first new album in seven years and is due out October 6 via Sub Pop. "Valley Boy" was shared via an amusing visual that blends classic art and smart phones.

The Canadian four-piece formed in 2004 in Montreal and features Spencer Krug (Moonface, Sunset Rubdown), Dan Boeckner (Handsome Furs, Divine Fits, Operators), Arlen Thompson, and Dante DeCaro. The band released three albums for Sub Pop: Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005), At Mount Zoomer (2008), and Expo 86 (2010). After being on hiatus for five years, Wolf Parade announced last year that they were back and began playing some new shows. Sub Pop released a deluxe 3-LP reissue of the band's 2005-released debut album, Apologies to the Queen Mary, and in May 2016 the band released a brand new EP, simply entitled EP 4, via the band's own Wolf Parade Productions.

John Goodmanson (Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Unwound) produced Cry Cry Cry at Robert Lang Studios outside of Seattle.

Spencer Krug had this to say in a press release: "The band itself is almost a fifth member of the band, something more or at least different than the sum of its parts. We don't know who or what is responsible for our sound, it's just something that naturally and consistently comes from this particular combo of musicians."
 
Dan Boeckner had this to say: "Once we got back together, I was playing guitar, writing and singing in a way that I only do while I'm in Wolf Parade. It's just something that I can't access without the other three people in the room."

5. Phoebe Bridgers: "Motion Sickness"

Singer/songwriter Phoebe Bridgers drew some attention back in January for her single "Smoke Signals" and in 2015 also released a three-song single, Killer, produced by Ryan Adams. This week the 22-year-old announced her debut album, Stranger in the Alps, and shared a lyric video for its first single, "Motion Sickness." Stranger in the Alps is due out September 22 via Dead Oceans.

Tony Berg and Ethan Gruska produced Stranger in the Alps. Bridgers had this to say about the album in a press release: "I wasn't trying to be too lo-fi, too hi-fi, too self-serious, too disingenuous...I feel pretty confident that I'm finding my voice. I wanted the album to completely represent who I am and these songs are representative of what I set out to do."

6. Lost Horizons: "Frenzy, Fear (Feat. Hilang Child)"

Lost Horizons is a new duo featuring former Cocteau Twins member (and Bella Union label head) Simon Raymonde and drummer Richie Thomas (who has played with The Jesus and Mary Chain, Felt, and Cocteau Twins). Their debut album, Ojalá, is due out November 3 via Bella Union. Previously Lost Horizons shared its first single, "The Places We've Been," which features guest vocals from Karen Peris of The Innocence Mission. This week another song from the album, "Frenzy, Fear," which features Hilang Child (aka singer/songwriter Ed Riman, a half-Welsh, half-Indonesian Londoner). Listen below.

Raymonde had this to say about the song in a statement: "'Frenzy, Fear' was recorded in January this year. I thought I was close to finishing the album and decided I wanted to do some ambient piano + guitar pieces for a possible bonus disc, to show a different side to Lost Horizons. Warren Ellis of the Bad Seeds/Dirty Three told me about this wonderful piano in a small studio just outside Brighton where I live, where he and Nick Cave work a lot, and I took two days there with no ideas or tunes, just improvising and recording everything, warts and all. When I got home and listened back, these seemed more like proper songs than just noodlings, so the minute I started imagining vocals I thought of Hilang Child (Ed Riman) as his voice is simply exquisite, and I knew he would get the vibe and the mood. What he did exceeded all my expectations though."

Ojalá is filled with guest vocalists, including Sharon Van Etten, Marissa Nadler, former Midlake frontman Tim Smith, Horse Thief's Cameron Neal, Liela Moss of The Duke Spirit and Ghostpoet, Beth Cannon, Hilang Child, Gemma Dunleavy, and Phil McDonnell. Ojalá is due out November 3 via Bella Union.

Other notable new songs this week include:

Deerhoof: "Your Dystopic Creation Doesn't Fear You" (ft. Awkwafina)

Leif Erikson: "Real Stuff"

 

The Lemon Twigs: "Night Song"

Luna: "Let Me Dream If I Want To" (Mink DeVille Cover)

Melina Mae (aka Jay Som): "Time Off Work"

Nine Inch Nails: "THIS ISN'T THE PLACE"

Lina Tullgren: "Asktell"

Chad VanGaalen: "Pine and Clover"

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