10 Best Songs of the Week: Chromatics, JARV IS…, HAIM, Austra, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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10 Best Songs of the Week: Chromatics, JARV IS…, HAIM, Austra, and More

Plus Muzz, The Lemon Twigs, Caroline Rose, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Mar 06, 2020 Jarvis Cocker Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the ninth Songs of the Week of 2020. It’s been a topsy-turvy week. SXSW was just cancelled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The Democratic presidential primaries have dramatically changed in the last week, with Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, and, sigh, Elizabeth Warren all dropping out of the race, leaving just Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

This week we posted new interviews with Wolf Parade and U.S. Girls, as well as My Favorite Album interviews with Metronomy, The Mountain Goats, and Frankie Cosmos.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Best Coast, Ratboys, Spinning Coin, Marcus King, U.S. Girls, Caspian, and Caroline Rose. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

This week we also posted the latest episode of our Why Not Both podcast, this one featuring U.S. Girls.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 10 best the last seven days had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared in the last week. Check out the full list below.

1. Chromatics: “Famous Monsters”

Today Chromatics shared a brand new song, “Famous Monsters,” via a video for the track directed by the band’s own Johnny Jewel. It is one of the band’s more dancefloor-ready songs and features spoken word vocals from frontwoman Ruth Radelet in which she says lines such as “Meet you in the cemetery/We love dancing and violence.” There are various versions of the song: the video version on YouTube is 4:07 long and then on YouTube/Apple Music there is a longer 6:37 long version, as well as an instrumental version of that length.

Jewel had this to say about the song and video on its YouTube page: “In this week’s installment of Fresh Blood, our heroine narrates from beyond the grave. Past the silver screen into the underworld where the monsters of our dreams congregate. Filmed in slow motion, silhouetted by fog. Meet me in the cemetery After Dark.”

“Famous Monsters” follows, “Toy,” a new song Chromatics shared back in January. The band also released a brand new album, Closer to Grey, last October only hours after it was announced (stream it here).

There’s no word on whether or not “Toy” and “Famous Monsters” are taken from a forthcoming new album or EP or if they are just standalone singles. Chromatics have yet to release their long delayed Dear Tommy album, so perhaps they are new tracks from that?

Closer to Grey featured all new tracks not intended for Dear Tommy, including covers of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” and The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “On the Wall.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that Dear Tommy is never coming out, as Closer to Grey is listed by the band as their seventh album, with Dear Tommy still considered their sixth. Closer to Grey was the band’s first new album in seven years, since 2012’s Kill For Love, although there’s been no shortage of Chromatics and Johnny Jewel music since then, even if there has been no word yet on when Dear Tommy will be released.

In October they shared a video for Closer to Grey‘s “You’re No Good” and the song made our Songs of the Week list.

2. JARV IS…: “House Music All Night Long”

Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker has a newish band JARV IS… and on Monday the project announced their debut album, Beyond the Pale, and shared a new song from it, “House Music All Night Long,” via a video for the track. Beyond the Pale is due out May 1 via Rough Trade. It includes “Must I Evolve?,” the group’s first single, shared last May (it was #1 on our Songs of the Week list). Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art below, as well as the band’s upcoming tour dates, here.

JARV IS… features Cocker (vocals, guitar, percussion), Serafina Steer (harp, keyboards, vocals), Emma Smith (violin, guitar vocals), Andrew McKinney (bass, vocals), Jason Buckle (synthesizer and electronic treatments), and Adam Betts (drums, percussion, vocals). The project started as a live band in 2017 and they began recording their shows. Then they took the live recordings to Narcissus Studios in Neasden, London, where overdubs and vocals were added. Additional post-production work was done at Jason Buckle’s Place du Big Boss studio in Raynes Park, London. Craig Silvey mixed the album at Toast Studios in West London.

A press release says: “JARV IS… an ongoing live experience because life is an ongoing live experience. Or, to put it another way: THIS IS NOT A LIVE ALBUM - it’s an ALIVE ALBUM.”

It’s been 11 years since 2009’s Further Complications, Cocker’s last solo album (which followed Jarvis, his 2006 solo debut). Although in 2017 he teamed up with Chilly Gonzales for a collaborative concept album, Room 29, inspired by room 29 in the iconic Hollywood hotel Château Marmont, which has had many famous guests (the hotel opened in 1929). In 2017 Cocker also guested on “Century,” the standout track on Feist‘s last album, Pleasure, and teamed up with Iggy Pop to cover the Nick Cave classic “Red Right Hand” for the TV show Peaky Blinders.

Read our 2017 print magazine article on Cocker and Gonzales’ Room 29.

Read our 2017 extended Q&A with Cocker on Room 29.

Read our 2009 cover story interview with Cocker on Further Complications.

Read our 2007 interview with Cocker on Jarvis.

3. HAIM: “The Steps”

On Monday Los Angeles sister trio HAIM announced a new album, Women In Music Pt. III, which is due out April 24 via Columbia. Then on Tuesday shared another song from the album, “The Steps.” It was shared via video for the track co-directed by the band’s Danielle Haim and regular collaborator, and noted film director, Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood). Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

HAIM consists of sisters Danielle, Alana, and Este Haim. Women In Music Pt. III is the band’s third full-length album, the follow-up to 2017’s Something to Tell You. While the tracklist has yet to be shared, the album is expected to include three singles the band shared last year: “Summer Girl,” “Now I’m In It,” and “Hallelujah.” Danielle Haim, Rostam, and Ariel Rechtshaid all produced the album and Paul Thomas Anderson shot the album cover.

In a press release Danielle says the album title “came to me in a dream and I woke up laughing so I told my sisters.”

Alana adds: “I liked it because we are literally women in music and we always get written about that way, so it seemed cool to make it our own and control the narrative. It made me think about some of our experiences more.”

Este also had this to say: “I just thought it was funny, plus the initials are WIMP3. Wimp is a hilarious word.”

In July 2019 HAIM shared a brand new song, “Summer Girl,” via a video directed by frequent collaborator Paul Thomas Anderson. It was one of our Songs of the Week. Then in October 2019 they shared another brand new song, “Now I’m In It,” again via a video directed by Anderson. “Now I’m In It” made it to #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then in November 2019 they shared another new song, “Hallelujah,” via a striking video also directed by Anderson. The song was co-written with singer/songwriter Tobias Jesso Jr. and was also #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

In August 2019 HAIM also teamed with Charli XCX for “Warm,” a new song on her recent album, simply titled Charli.

In December 2019 HAIM also did a “Piano Session” for BBC Radio 1 where they covered Robyn‘s “Show Me Love” and performed “Hallelujah.”

Since the release of Something to Tell You HAIM have collaborated with Twin Shadow and Vampire Weekend, and appeared on Jenny Lewis’ telethon.

4. Austra: “Anywayz”

On Thursday Austra (the project of Katie Austra Stelmanis) announced a new album, HiRUDiN, and shared a new song from it, album opener “Anywayz,” via a Jasmin Mozzafari-directed video for the track. HiRUDiN is due out May 1 via Domino. It includes “Risk It,” a new song Austra shared in January via an animated video. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as Austra’s upcoming tour dates, here.

HiRUDiN is the follow-up to 2017’s Future Politics. For the album Stelmanis worked with external producers for the first time, Rodaidh McDonald and Joseph Shabason, recording it in the Spanish countryside. Additional recording was done in Toronto with contemporary classical improv group c_RL, the cellist and kamanche duo Kamancello, kulintang ensemble Pantayo, and a children’s choir. David Wrench mixed the album and Heba Kadry mastered it.

The album was borne out of a crisis of confidence (“I was losing faith in my own ideas,” Stelmanis says in a press release) and a toxic relationship. Stelmanis felt like she had to start over. “My creative and personal relationships were heavily intertwined, and I knew the only answer was to part ways with all of the people and comforts that I’d known for the better part of a decade and start again,” she says.

Of “Anywayz” Stelmanis had this to say: “It explores the fear associated with leaving someone, and the terrifying realization that without them in your life, the rest of the world will continue unscathed as if nothing has changed.”

The press release further describes the themes on the album: “HiRUDiN points inward, tracing a deeply personal journey towards regeneration, dealing with the fallout of toxic relationships, queer shame, and insecurity along the way. Named after the peptide released by leeches that is the most potent anticoagulant in the world, HiRUDiN is about the importance of healing the self, letting go of harmful influences, and finding the power to rebuild.”

Mozzafari, the director of the video for “Anywayz” (and also the video for “Risk It”) had this to say about the video in a press release: “I wanted the video to feel as dramatic and chaotic as heartbreak can be, bringing this fear into fruition. The concept focuses on Katie as a heightened version of herself, sequestered inside a barren mansion that resembles a cage of her own spiralling thoughts. She resists moving on, yet as time persists and the outside world thrives, it eventually forces itself upon her.”

Read our 2016 Artist Survey interview with Austra.

5. Muzz: “Bad Feeling”

Paul Banks of Interpol has formed a new band, Muzz, that also features Matt Barrick (The Walkmen) and Josh Kaufman (Bonny Light Horseman). On Thursday they shared their first song, “Bad Feeling.” It’s a little more lush and chill than the post-punk assault of Interpol. Not much more is known about the band, such as whether or not “Bad Feeling” is taken from a forthcoming EP or album.

Interpol (which also features Daniel Kessler and Sam Fogarino) released a new EP, A Fine Mess, last year via Matador. It followed their 2018 album Marauder. Outside of Interpol, Banks has released two solo albums (2009’s Julian Plenti is… Skyscraper and 2012’s Banks) and one album with RZA as Banks & Steelz (2016’s Anything But Words).

Read our 2018 interview with Interpol on Marauder.

6. The Lemon Twigs: “The One”

On Monday The Lemon Twigs (aka brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario) announced a new album, Songs For the General Public, and shared its first single, “The One,” via a video for the new song. Songs For the General Public is due out May 1 via 4AD. Michael Hili directed the video for “The One,” which features the brothers on the campaign trail. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

Songs For the General Public is the band’s third album, the follow-up to 2018’s concept musical, Go to School. The D’Addario’s self-produced the album and recorded it in their Long Island home studio, at Sonora Studios in Los Angeles, and at New York City’s Electric Lady.

The Lemon Twigs released their debut album, Do Hollywood, in 2016 on 4AD. Read our 2016 interview with The Lemon Twigs in our Pleased to Meet You section.

7. Caroline Rose: “Do You Think We’ll Last Forever?”

Caroline Rose released a new album, Superstar, today via New West. On Tuesday she shared one last pre-release single from it, “Do You Think We’ll Last Forever?”

Rose had this to say about the song in a press release: “When I started forming the narrative for Superstar, I knew I wanted the first half of the record to feel upbeat in order to mimic the narrator’s excitement in following this big dream. ‘Do You Think We’ll Last Forever?’ is one of these tracks that showcases the false bravado the character has, but also exposes a few more cracks in their veneer of self-confidence. The song is fun, but it’s also tense, like a rubber band that’s stretched until it snaps. It’s not a love song, but rather a song about the anxiety that comes with the excitement of potential love. Is this person falling for me too? Am I good enough? Are we on the same page? Anyone who’s had a passionate fling knows this feeling, so I tried to get across that the narrator is just like any other uncool person with anxiety issues.”

Previously Rose shared Superstar‘s first single, “Feel the Way I Want,” via a self-directed video for the track (which was one of our Songs of the Week). Then Rose shared another song from it, “Freak Like Me,” which she said was a “S&M-themed love song about falling in love with your dominatrix.” “Freak Like Me” was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then she stopped by Late Night with Seth Meyers to make her TV debut with an energetic performance of “Feel the Way I Want.”

Superstar is the follow-up to 2018’s LONER, which was Rose’s breakthrough album that brought her music to a wider audience. A previous press release said that Superstar is “a bigger, badder, glitter-filled cinematic pop record.”

8. Porridge Radio: “Circling”

Porridge Radio, a band from Brighton, England fronted by Dana Margolin, are releasing a new album, Every Bad, on March 13 via Secretly Canadian. On Tuesday they shared another song from it, “Circling,” via a video for the track. Ben Cole, Tash Lever, and Rachel Winton directed the clip, which features the band on a double-decker bus.

Margolin had this to say about “Circling” in a press release: “A lot of the songs on Every Bad are centered around the sea, and ‘Circling’ was one of the last songs focused on the water that I wrote for the album. I was thinking on the idea of willing things to be okay by repeating that they are, because I need them to be. I tried to follow the feeling of the flow of waves, and how they keep coming in endlessly, washing everything away without judgment, and then bringing it back again.”

Every Bad includes “Lilac,” a song the band shared via a video in December that was #2 on our Songs of the Week list. Then when the album was announced Porridge Radio shared another new song from it, “Sweet,” via a video for the track. “Sweet” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

Margolin started Porridge Radio as a bedroom recording project, before enlisting the rest of the band: bassist Maddie Ryall, keyboardist Georgie Stott, and drummer Sam Yardley. A press release bills Every Bad as the band’s debut album, although in 2016 Porridge Radio did self-release the lo-fi album Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers, apparently recorded in a garden shed.

9. Anna Calvi “Swimming Pool” (Hunted Version) (Feat. Julia Holter)

Anna Calvi released a new album, Hunted, today via Domino. It is a new stripped down version of her 2018 album Hunter featuring various notable guest singers. On Thursday she shared Hunted‘s version of “Swimming Pool,” which features guest vocals from Julia Holter.

Previously Calvi shared Hunted‘s first single, a new version of “Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy” that featured guest vocals from Courtney Barnett. It was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared Hunted‘s version of “Eden,” which featured guest vocals from Charlotte Gainsbourg and was also one of our Songs of the Week. Hunted also features and IDLES’ Joe Talbot.

In a press release Calvi had this to say about working with Holter: “Julia has such an amazing ability to color her music in unexpected ways. Her creativity and originality always astound me. I had no idea she was going to do a choral piece on ‘Swimming Pool.’ But I was so pleasantly surprised when I heard it back. She’s added something so unexpected and yet something that feels so beautiful and perfect for this song. She is a unique talent.”

Holter had this to say: “The stunning power of Calvi’s performance here simply with voice and guitar made it tempting to either leave it alone or provide some far-away chorus emerging from the depths, just something to underline the passion. One of my favorite things to do is to experiment with layers of soft background voices that overlap and rub in pleasing/scary ways, and so this was extremely fun, and it was an honor to be a part of this project of Anna Calvi’s, she is a fierce master of her craft.”

Calvi had this to say about Hunted in a previous press release: “During a break from touring I went back and listened to the first recordings I ever made of Hunter. These recordings capture the very moment I first wrote these songs, and recorded them on my own, in my attic studio. I find something especially intimate about sharing these most private recordings with my favorite singers and asking them to lend their voices and artistic sensibility. Courtney Barnett is an amazing artist. Her voice and guitar playing together are mind blowing. Her ability to connect the profound to the smallest moments of human experience is the unique talent of a true artist.”

Hunter was Calvi’s third full-length album and the follow up to 2011’s Anna Calvi and 2013’s One Breath. It was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

Last year Calvi shared an atmospheric new song, “You’re Not God,” that was done for the soundtrack of the Netflix/BBC show Peaky Blinders and was one of our Songs of the Week.

Read our exclusive Self-Portrait feature with Calvi from 2018, where she takes a self-portrait photo and writes a list of six personal things about herself that her fans may not know.

10. Woods: “Where Do You Go When You Dream?”

On Tuesday Woods announced a new album, Strange to Explain, and shared its first single, “Where Do You Go When You Dream?” Strange to Explain is due out May 22 via Woodsist. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as their upcoming tour dates, here.

Strange to Explain is the follow-up to 2017’s Love Is Love. Since then frontman Jeremy Earl has become a father and bassist/producer Jarvis Taveniere has moved from New York to Los Angeles. That makes it the band’s first bicoastal record.

Honorable Mentions:

These 11 songs almost made the Top 10.

James Elkington: “Late Jim’s Lament”

Hinds: “Come Back and Love Me<3”

Joensuu 1685: “Hey My Friend (We’re Here Again)”

L.A. Takedown: “When It’s Over” (Feat. Yukihiro Takahashi)

Hamilton Leithauser: “Isabella”

Lightning Bug: “The Onely Ones”

Little Dragon: “Are You Feeling Sad?” (Feat. Kali Uchis)

Moaning: “Make It Stop”

Ohmme: “3 2 4 3

Sonic Boom: “Just Imagine”

The Whitest Boy Alive: “Serious”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Courtney Marie Andrews: “If I Told”

Liza Anne: “Desire”

Bad History Month: “Waste Not”

Boy Scouts: “Wish”

Brockhampton: “Sugar (Remix)” (Feat. Dua Lipa & Jon B)

Built to Spill: “Life In Vain” (Daniel Johnston Cover)

Damaged Bug: “I Tried” (Michael and the Mumbles Cover)

Dark Morph: “Dark Wave” (aka Jónsi and CM Hausswolff)

Diet Cig: “Thriving”

Dixie Chicks: “Gaslighter”

Empress Of: “Give Me Another Chance”

Hazel English: “Combat”

Hannah Georgas: “That Emotion”

Jade Hairpins: “J Terrapin”

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: “What’ve I Done To Help”

Luke Jenner: “You’re Not Alone” (the frontman of The Rapture)

Damien Jurado: “Birds Tricked Into Trees”

Lisel: “Rabbit Rabbit” and “Specters”

Kevin Morby: “Gift Horse” and “I Was On Time”

Nation of Language: “Tournament”

Partner: “Good Place to Hide (At the Time)”

Katy Perry: “Never Worn White”

Phantogram: “Dear God”

Phantom Posse: “Find You Out” (Feat. Emily Yacina)

Lido Pimienta: “Nada” (Feat. Li Saumet)

Porches: “Patience”

Pottery: “Take Your Time”

pronoun: “Song Number 1.5

Saving Grace: “Everybody’s Song” (Low Cover) (Robert Plant’s New Band)

TOPS: “Colder & Closer”

Trace Mountains: “Rock & Roll”

Hilary Woods: “The Mouth”

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