10 Best Songs of the Week: Gorillaz, Kamasi Washington, LUMP, Joey Dosik, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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10 Best Songs of the Week: Gorillaz, Kamasi Washington, LUMP, Joey Dosik, and More

Plus Underworld and Iggy Pop, Father John Misty, St. Vincent, Johnny Marr, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Jun 01, 2018 Trevor Powers Bookmark and Share

There were some solid contenders for this week’s Songs of the Week list. It was a toss up between #1 and #2, it could’ve gone either way. If we were doing a “Best Use of a Song in a TV Show This Week” list, then first place probably would’ve gone to the use of U2’s “With or Without You” in the surprising and amazing series finale of FX’s The Americans.

Elsewhere on the website in the last week: We posted interviews with Ezra Furman, Sons of An Illustrious Father (a trio featuring acclaimed actor Ezra Miller), Belle and Sebastian (where Stuart Murdoch discussed Buddhism), and Ed Schrader’s Music Beat (who did our The End Q&A on endings and death). We asked fans of Garbage to submit their questions for our upcoming Fan Interview with the band’s Shirley Manson. We also reviewed a bunch of albums (including the latest by Father John Misty, Neko Case, Natalie Prass, Jenny Hval, Rafiq Bhatia, and LUMP). We also reviewed the Boston Calling festival. The latest albums by Father John Misty and Natalie Prass were this week’s joint Album of the Week.

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. Gorillaz: “Humility (Feat. George Benson)” (Plus “Lake Zurich”)

Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz released a new album, Humanz, just over a year ago, but now they are already returning with another new album, The Now Now. There have been Internet rumblings about the album in the last week, but this week the album was officially announced and the cartoon band shared two tracks from it, album opener “Humility” (which features the great jazz guitarist George Benson) and “Lake Zurich,” which is a near instrumental track. “Humility” was shared via a video directed by the band’s creative director, co-founder, and illustrator Jamie Hewlett. It was shot in Venice Beach, California, and features the animated band interacting with comedian Jack Black. The Now Now is due out June 29 via Warner Bros.

“Humility” is officially our #1 Song of the Week, but “Lake Zurich” is worth checking out too.

Gorillaz, along with James Ford and Remi Kabaka, produced The Now Now, which was recorded entirely at Studio 13, London in February this year.

A press release described the album as such: “In contrast to the cast of characters that joined the apocalyptic party thrown by Damon Albarn and his cartoon crew on last year’s multiple-Grammy-nominated Humanz, The Now Now sees the band largely eschewing guest stars, taking it back to the core Gorillaz crew: blue-haired, sweet-natured dreamer 2D on vocals; whip-smart Japanese badass Noodle on guitar; Brooklyn-born philosopher and the meat-behind-the-beat Russel Hobbs on drums. And with Murdoc Niccals temporarily indisposed, bass duties on the new album have been taken up by erstwhile Gangreen Gang member Ace (explaining the “FREE MURDOC” signage that’s been popping up everywhere from Coachella to the Kentucky Derby to Change.org and Reddit).”

Fun fact, the Gangreen Gang are actually villains from The Powerpuff Girls! So now a Powerpuff Girls character is in Gorillaz. Maybe the girls themselves can show up in a future Gorillaz video?

2. Kamasi Washington: “Street Fighter Mas”

Jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington is releasing a double album, Heaven and Earth, on June 22 via Young Turks. Previously he shared its first two singles, “Fists of Fury” (a cover of the theme to the Bruce Lee film) and “The Space Travelers Lullaby” (they were our joint #1 Song of the Week). This week he shared another song from the album, “Street Fighter Mas.” He has also shared a preview of the song’s forthcoming video, directed by A.G. Rojas. Check out both below.

Washington had this to say about the song in a press release: “When I was younger, I was in between the end of the arcade generation and the beginning of the console generation. We used to go to this place called Rexall to play Street Fighter. At Rexall, there would be different people from different hoods there playing the game. It was the one place that was like an equalizer. It was just about how good you were at Street Fighter...for the most part. In other places, you were afraid of these dudes; there, you would just play the game and it was what it was, you know? I was really good at Street Fighter, so where the song really came from was me jokingly saying I was going to have my own theme song so that when I showed up to play Street Fighter they’d play my theme song before I came in, like a boxer. In the context of the album, it was the connection that we got with those guys in our neighborhood. We used to call them OGs, the older guys that we looked up to.

“In a lot of ways, for me, video games was the way I connected with them because I was never affiliated with any gangs, but I knew them and I was cool with them and that was mainly through the video games. At an older age I thought how amazing would it be if the OGs could just play the game and solve their problems that way. The meaning within the scope of the record is a connection to the past and all of the many ways we can connect.”

Washington had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “‘The world that my mind lives in, lives in my mind.’ This idea inspired me to make this album Heaven and Earth. The reality we experience is a mere creation of our consciousness, but our consciousness creates this reality based on those very same experiences. We are simultaneously the creators of our personal universe and creations of our personal universe. The Earth side of this album represents the world as I see it outwardly, the world that I am a part of. The Heaven side of this album represents the world as I see it inwardly, the world that is a part of me. Who I am and the choices I make lie somewhere in between.”

Heaven and Earth includes a new arrangement of jazz and bebop legend Freddie Hubbard’s “Hubtones.” Bandmate Ryan Porter also contributed one song. The album also features Thundercat, Terrace Martin, Ronald Bruner, Jr., Cameron Graves, Brandon Coleman, Miles Mosley, Patrice Quinn, Tony Austin, and others.

Washington’s last full-length album was 2015’s The Epic, although last year he released the Harmony of Difference EP. Despite being a jazz musician, Washington has crossed over to indie rock and hip-hop fans thanks to collaborations with St. Vincent, Ibeyi, Thundercat, Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Run the Jewels, and others.

3. LUMP: “May I Be the Light”

LUMP is a new band that teams up Laura Marling and Tunng’s Mike Lindsay. Their self-titled debut album, LUMP, came out today via Dead Oceans. A couple of days before its release they shared one last pre-release song from it, “May I Be the Light.” The album was a strong runner-up for this week’s Album of the Week.

Previously they shared a video for its first single, “Curse of the Contemporary” (which was our #2 Song of the Week), as well as its second single, the atmospheric slow-burner “Late to the Flight” (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). Then there was a video for “Late to the Flight” and the band also performed “Curse of the Contemporary” on the BBC music show Later… with Jools Holland.

Marling and Lindsay met when Marling supported Neil Young at a London show in June 2016 and they discovered that they were mutual fans of each other’s work. The collaboration grew from there.

A previous press release explained some of things that influenced Marling’s lyrics for LUMP: “Inspired by early-20th-century Surrealism and the absurdist poetry of Edward Lear and Ivor Cutler, she wanted to slice through the apparent emptiness of contemporary life. Her resulting creation is a bizarre but compelling narrative about the commodification of curated public personas, the mundane absurdity of individualism, and the lengths we go to escape our own meaninglessness.”

Marling’s last album, Semper Femina, was released in 2017 via More Alarming Records, which is Marling’s own label via Kobalt Music Recordings. Meanwhile, Tunng are releasing a new album, Songs You Make At Night, on August 24 via Full Time Hobby.

4. Underworld and Iggy Pop: “Bells & Circles”

This week Iconic British dance duo Underworld (Karl Hyde and Rick Smith) teamed up with Iggy Pop for a new song, “Bells & Circles.” The 7-minute track was, as a press release points out, recorded “during an afternoon tea encounter.” In it Pop longs for the time when you could smoke on cigarettes and pick up beautiful airline stewardesses, so it’s perhaps not the most politically correct of songs, but it made for a potent collaboration.

Underworld released their excellent seventh album, Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future, in 2016 via Astralwerks. Read our 2016 interview with Underworld about the album.

5. Joey Dosik: “Inside Voice”

This week Los Angeles neo-soul singer Joey Dosik announced his debut album, Inside Voice, and shared a video for its first single and title track. The song has a relaxed 1970s soul feel and it’s a pretty irresistible vibe. Inside Voice is due out August 24 via Secretly Canadian.

Carlos Lopez Estrada directed the quirky “Inside Voice” video, which stars Dosik as a waiter and features food (clams and meatballs) that comes to life. The album is the follow-up to his debut EP, Game Winner, which first came out in 2016, but was re-released with extra tracks this February by Secretly Canadian. Inside Voice features Moses Sumney, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Mocky, Coco O, Theo Katzman, and others

6. Father John Misty: “Please Don’t Die”

Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman) released a new album God’s Favorite Customer, today via Sub Pop worldwide (except for Europe, where it’s on Bella Union). It was our joint Album of the Week.

A couple of days before its release he shared one last pre-release song from the album, “Please Don’t Die,” via a video for the song. It is perhaps not quite the strongest song on the album, but it’s still good enough to make this list. Chris Hopewell directed the stop motion video in which Tillman gets dragged to hell by the Grim Reaper and encounters dancing skeletons, among other things. Hopewell previously directed Father John Misty’s “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution” video, as well as clips for Radiohead’s “Burn the Witch” and Run the Jewels’ “Don’t Get Captured.”

Details of God’s Favorite Customer leaked a little early and then the next day Tillman officially announced the album and shared two more songs from it, “Just Dumb Enough to Try” and “Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All” (both made our Songs of the Week list).

The album’s first single, “Mr. Tillman” which was first shared back in February and was one of our Songs of the Week. When “Mr. Tillman” was initially shared it was via a basic official audio YouTube post that midway through turned into a goofy video of Tillman dancing in front of a green screen, with footage of hotel lobbies and bars behind him. Then he released the raw green screen footage. Then there was a full-on video for “Mr. Tillman” that featured Tillman checking into a creepy hotel but then getting stuck in a time loop. He also announced some new fall tour dates and performed “Mr. Tillman” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, backed by the New York City Gay Man’s Chorus.

Tillman produced God’s Favorite Customer, which was recorded with Jonathan Rado, Dave Cerminara, and Trevor Spencer. It was written largely in New York between Summer 2016 and Winter 2017. The album will be available in various formats: CD, digital, cassette, standard black vinyl, and “the limited Loser edition on metallic purple vinyl.”

7. St. Vincent: “Fast Slow Disco”

St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) released her latest album, MASSEDUCTION, last October via Loma Vista. It was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017. This week she shared a new version of the album’s “Slow Disco.” The original version was a delicate string backed track. Clark has now remixed the song to make it more ready for the actual disco, speeding up the tempo and adding in electronic beats. Hence the new version is entitled “Fast Slow Disco.”

8. Johnny Marr: “Walk Into the Sea”

Johnny Marr is releasing a new album, Call the Comet, on June 15 via New Voodoo. Previously he shared the album’s first single, “The Tracers,” as well as a video for another song from the album, “Hi Hello.” This week he shared a video for a third song from the album, “Walk Into the Sea.” Marr co-directed the video with Mat Bancroft and it features Marr and his band performing the song with images projected on them.

Marr had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “Call the Comet is my own magic realism. It’s set in the not-too-distant future and is mostly concerned with the idea of an alternative society. The characters in the songs are searching for a new idealism, although there are some personal songs in there too. It’s something that people like me can relate to.”

The former guitarist of The Smiths last released a solo album in 2014, with Playland. Last December he shared a new song not featured on the new album, “The Priest,” via a video for the song. It was a spoken word track featuring British actress Maxine Peake that tackled homelessness.

9. Jim James: “Throwback”

My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James is releasing a new solo album, Uniform Distortion, on June 29 via ATO. Previously he shared the album’s first single, “Just a Fool” (which was one of our Songs of the Week and which he performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert). This week he shared another song from the album, “Throwback.”

James had this to say about the song in a press release: “I wrote this song doing pretty much what you are probably doing right at this very second: scrolling thru social media. It struck me as SO wild - how, as you scroll back in time through someone’s account, you watch their face grow younger…but as you do this, REAL TIME IS RUNNING OUT!!!! The clock is ticking…instead of doing good work or creating love or taking a walk in nature, I am here STARING AT MY FUCKING PHONE!!!! ha ha ha. Don’t get me wrong - social media is an amazing tool…but I think we should look at it more like a tool, like a hammer you pick up for a little while to do a job, and then you PUT IT DOWN. You don’t sit there and keep hammering away or else pretty soon your entire world would be destroyed and fall apart! And I feel like that is exactly what is happening right before our very eyes to this precious real beautiful human-filled earth. So lets WAKE EACH OTHER UP PEOPLE! Lets stand up against injustice and use this tool of social media to fight for peace and love and equality! Let’s throwback for a minute, but try and live in the NOW for a better future. Thanks for listening.”

James also previously issued a lengthy statement about the album and its cover art, which you can read here.

James released an excellent solo album, the politically-charged Eternally Even, in the fall of 2016 via ATO (it was one of Under the Radar‘s Top 100 Albums of 2016). Last December James released Tribute To 2, an album of covers that was the sequel to his 2009 George Harrison covers EP Tribute To (which was also reissued last year).

10. Trevor Powers: “Ache” (Plus “Plaster Saint”)

Youth Lagoon was essentially a solo project for Trevor Powers (even though he did tour with a live backing band), but back in 2016 he retired the project, broke up the one-man band. Back at the start of May he shared a video for new song, “Playwright,” simply under his given name. This week Powers announced a full album under his own name, Mulberry Violence, and shared two more songs from it, “Ache” and “Plaster Saint.” Mulberry Violence is due out August 17 via his own label Baby Halo. The album also features “Playwright.” He has also announced some tour dates. The dramatic “Ache” is the superior of the two songs and the one that makes this list, but check out both songs below.

Powers issued a lengthy statement about the album: “Early chronicles have long enveloped mulberry trees in legend. Some say they’re the link between heaven and earth. Others say the red berries are stained from the blood of star-crossed lovers. For over 5,000 years, medicine has been made from their leaves, with some cultures claiming them to be a miracle remedy or even the key to eternal life. Although many stories and attributes surround the mulberry tree, they are known most for one reigning characteristic ::: wisdom. Mulberries wait until the danger of frost is completely gone before they begin to bud, at which point the budding occurs overnight. They are patient. They are restrained. They are calculated. They are everything we’re not.

“We are tornadoes, sweeping the fields - mutable and unsettled. Storms of impulse; units of destruction. Often our instincts are misguided / lashing out rather than soaking in silence, tuning in to the whispers. Violence is king, and we are its servants ::: eager to please, trained in frenzy, and knowing little else. Since infancy, we’ve grown used to hearing words far opposite the examples we’ve been shown. We’ve been told to douse fires, but we’ve been handed a torch. Should it be a surprise that the world is burning?

Mulberry Violence is the intersection of these two dimensions. It is where stillness meets pandemonium. Dead air meets babel. Harmony meets war. Sisters from the same womb, separated at birth. It serves as a personal document of the everlasting battle inside of us. No one has it figured out; least of all me.”

As Youth Lagoon, Powers released three albums: 2011’s The Year of Hibernation, 2013’s Wondrous Bughouse, and 2015’s Savage Hills Ballroom.

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

The 1975: “Give Yourself a Try”

Lily Allen: “Lost My Mind”

Animal Collective: “Penny Dreadfuls (1996 Auto Mine Recording)”

Charli XCX: “5 in the Morning”

Thom Fekete: “Moulding Over”

Charlotte Gainsbourg: “Sylvia Says (A-Track Remix)”

The Internet: “Come Over”

JJUUJJUU x J Mascis: “Italian Toothpaste (Remix)”

Lykke Li: “sex money feelings die” and “two nights” (Feat. Aminé)

MDNR: “Gravity”

Night Jewel: “On Your Own” and “The Jokes on You”

Beth Orton & The Chemical Brothers: “I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain” (Tim Buckley Cover)

Perfume Genius: “Run Me Through (King Princess Remix)” and “Slip Away (Mura Masa Remix)”

Tanukichan: “Perfect”

Weezer: “Africa” (Toto Cover)

yyxy: “love4eva” (Feat. Grimes)

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June 2nd 2018

One of my favorites was Joey Dosik - Inside Voice

Peter Plaster
May 20th 2019

I just love Gorillaz - Peter Plaster