10 Best Songs of the Week: Julia Holter, Matthew E. White, Friendly Fires, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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10 Best Songs of the Week: Julia Holter, Matthew E. White, Friendly Fires, and More

Plus Jamila Woods, Neneh Cherry, Thom Yorke, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Oct 19, 2018 Julia Holter Bookmark and Share

An artist whose last song also made it to #1 on that week’s list and an anti-Donald Trump protest song scheduled to be covered by many more artists head this week’s Songs of the Week list. Plus Thom Yorke makes the list yet again.

Elsewhere on the website in the last week we posted interviews with Tracyanne and Danny, LUMP, Beach House, and comic book writer/artist Andrew MacLean.

Neneh Cherry was our Album of the Week

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by The Dodos, Connan Mockasin, John Grant, CAVE, Exploded View, Kikagaku Moyo, and Empress Of. Plus we posted reviews of various DVDs, Blu-rays, films, and TV shows, including a recap/review of the latest episode of The Good Place and reviews of the new films Halloween and Mid90s.

Don’t forget that our current print issue, which features Kamasi Washington on the cover, is still out now.

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. Julia Holter: “Words I Heard”

Julia Holter is releasing a new album, Aviary, on October 26 via Domino. Previously she shared a video for its first single, “I Shall Love 2” (which was our #1 Song of the Week). This week she shared another stunning new song from the album, “Words I Heard,” also via a video. Dicky Bahto directed the video, which features abstract color images of nature intercut with black & white footage of Holter recording in the studio. Now she’s two for two, in terms of Aviary singles and #1 Songs of the Week.

Aviary was initially inspired by a line from a 2009 short story by writer Etel Adnan: “I found myself in an aviary full of shrieking birds.” A previous press release pointed out that it’s a good metaphor for the daily bad news cycle we currently find ourselves in, especially in the modern political climate. “Amidst all the internal and external babble we experience daily, it’s hard to find one’s foundation,” Holter elaborated in the press release. “I think this album is reflecting that feeling of cacophony and how one responds to it as a person - how one behaves, how one looks for love, for solace. Maybe it’s a matter of listening to and gathering the seeming madness, of forming something out of it and envisioning a future.”

Holter later added: “In a lot of the songs, when I mention love, it’s about a seeking for compassion and humility in a world where it feels like empathy is always being tested.”

Bahto had this to say about the “Words I Heard” video in a press release: “When Julia told me that the title of her album was inspired by Etel Adnan, one of my favorite writers, I felt that I had to make a film for one of the songs on Mount Tamalpais, a recurring subject in both Adnan’s visual art and her writing. I filmed on a few hikes down the Dipsea trail, and in the last section of the song combine this with footage made during the studio sessions of the album.”

The Los Angeles-based artist released her fantastic fourth full-length album, Have You in My Wilderness, in 2015 via Domino (it made it to #4 on our Top 100 Albums of 2015 list). Since then she released the 2016 score for boxing drama Bleed For This, 2017’s In the Same Room, featuring her previous songs re-recorded live in the studio, and in January shared a new song, “So Humble the Afternoon,” as part of the Adult Swim Singles Program (it isn’t featured on the new album, but was one of our Songs of the Week).

Cole MGN executive produced Aviary, which was produced by Holter and Kenny Gilmore. The album also features Corey Fogel (percussion), Devin Hoff (bass), Dina Maccabee (violin, viola, vocals), Sarah Belle Reid (trumpet), Andrew Tholl (violin), and Tashi Wada (synth, bagpipes). Dicky Bahto directed the “I Shall Love 2” video and took Holter’s press photos. When describing Aviary, the press release says the album “combines Holter’s slyly theatrical vocals and Blade Runner-inspired synth work with an enveloping palette of strings and percussion that reveals itself, and the boundless scope of her vision, over the course of 15 songs.”

Read our 2015 interview with Holter.

2. Matthew E. White: “No Future In Our Frontman”

This week Richmond, Virginia singer/producer Matthew E. White shared a new protest song, “No Future In Our Frontman,” that takes aim at President Donald Trump. It launches a larger project where the song will be covered by 17 other artists, including Natalie Prass, Bedouine, and others. The versions will be spread across three EPs, each one released over the course of the next three Fridays, starting tomorrow (October 19) and ending on November 2 (a few days before the midterm elections). White’s version will also be released as a 7-inch single on November 2, with the B-side being an instrumental version of the song. Check out the full list of artists involved and the lyrics to the song here.

White had this to say about the song in a press release: “I believe that Donald Trump is a corrupt, depraved and incapable leader. Along with being unconscionably egomaniacal, his presidency regularly traffics in our worst prejudices, peddles bigotry, and violently disregards truth by both encouraging ignorance and actively participating in deceit. This song is an acknowledgement of our current political disaster and a call for resistance.”

Proceeds from the project will go to charities benefiting voter participation and registration.

Also read our 2015 interview with Matthew E. White.

3. Friendly Fires: “Heaven Let Me In”

It’s been seven long years since Pala, the sophomore album by London dance-rock trio Friendly Fires, but back in April they returned with a brand new single, “Love Like Waves” (which was one of our Songs of the Week), which was followed by a video for the song in May. This week they shared another new song, “Heaven Let Me In,” which was co-produced by British dance duo Disclosure (brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence) and is out now digitally via Polydor. A press release says the band’s third album is expected in 2019.

Friendly Fires’ Ed Macfarlane had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Heaven Let Me In’ is a song about being comfortable in your own skin. When you stop trying so hard and embrace your imperfections then opportunities arise and doors open.”

Friendly Fires made a splash with their 2008-released self-titled debut album, which was fueled by the singles “Paris” and “Jump in the Pool” and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. The band also features Edd Gibson and Jack Savidge.

Revisit our early 2008 interview with Friendly Fires, back when they were largely unknown.

4. Jamila Woods: “Giovanni”

Chicago-based singer and poet Jamila Woods released her debut album, HEAVN, in 2016. This week she returned with a brand new song, “Giovanni,” via a video for the track. The song is named after the poet, writer, activist, and educator Nikki Giovanni, and it is inspired by her poem “Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why).” Woods co-directed the video with Vincent Martell and the empowering clip not only features Woods performing the song, but also quick interviews with other African American women. The single is out now, there’s no word on a new album.

Woods had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Giovanni’ is a song about owning and celebrating all the parts of myself. It’s about legacy and lineage, and how the love and strength of the people who made me makes me feel invincible.”

5. Neneh Cherry: “Natural Skin Deep”

Neneh Cherry released a new Four Tet-produced album, Broken Politics, today via Smalltown Supersound and it was our Album of the Week.

Previously she shared two songs from it, “Kong” (which was one of our Songs of the Week) and “Shot Gun Shack” (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). This week, in the days leading up to the album’s release, she shared two more songs from it: “Natural Skin Deep” and “Synchronized Devotion.” “Natural Skin Deep” was our favorite of the two, but “Synchronized Devotion” made our honorable mentions list below.

Speaking of Broken Politics’ album title and the album as a whole, Cherry said this in a previous press release: “I’m very shy about taking on big themes with the airs that I’ve got a solution-who has the fucking solutions? I like writing from a personal perspective, and the time we live in is so much about finding your own voice. People have been left feeling misheard, misunderstood, and disillusioned. What the fuck can I do? Maybe politics starts in your bedroom, or your house-a form of activism, and a responsibility. The album is about all of those things: feeling broken, disappointed, and sad, but having perseverance. It’s a fight against the extinction of free thought and spirit.”

“Kong” was co-produced by Four Tet and Massive Attack’s 3D and shared via a video directed by Jenn Nkiru (Kamasi Washington). Cherry’s last album was 2014’s Blank Project, which was also produced by Four Tet. Turner Prize winning Wolfgang Tillmans designed the Broken Politics’ cover art. The album was recorded in Woodstock, NY.

6. Thom Yorke: “Open Again”

Thom Yorke of Radiohead has scored his first feature film, Suspiria, and the soundtrack, Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film), is due out October 26 via XL. This week he shared another song from it, “Open Again,” which features his vocals.

This week Yorke shared another new solo song, “Hands Off the Antarctic.” The instrumental track was shared in conjunction with Greenpeace and via a video that shows off images of the Antarctic. Greenpeace is campaigning for a 700,000 square mile sanctuary for penguins, whales, and other Antarctic wildlife and this song is aimed to bring that cause to light (check it out in the also released section below).

Previously Yorke shared three songs from the Suspiria soundtrack: “Suspirium,” which features his vocals and was our #2 Song of the Week, “Has Ended,” which also features his vocals and was also one of our Songs of the Week, and the disquieting instrumental track “Volk” (which also made our Songs of the Week list).

Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) includes 25 original compositions by Yorke, including instrumental tracks and ones that are more traditionally song-like and feature vocals. Yorke wrote and arranged the score, which was recorded and produced by Yorke and Sam Petts-Davies. The score also features the London Contemporary Orchestra and Choir, as well as Yorke’s son Noah Yorke on drums on “Has Ended” and “Volk,” and Pasha Mansurov on solo flute on “Suspirium.”

Suspiria is a remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 Italian horror film of the same name. Suspiria‘s first teaser trailer debuted in June and last month a new, longer trailer for the film was shared (watch the creepiness below again). Luca Guadgnino (Call Me By Your Name) has directed the new version, which stars Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, and Jessica Harper (the star of the 1977 original). It’s due out nationwide November 2 via Amazon Studios, with New York and Los Angeles showings starting October 26.

Guadgnino had this to say about Yorke in a previous press release last year: “Thom’s art transcends the contemporary. To have the privilege of his music and sound for Suspiria is a dream come true. The depth of his creation and artistic vision is so unique that our Suspiria will sound groundbreaking and will deeply resonate with viewers. Our goal is to make a movie that will be a disturbing and transforming experience: for this ambition, we could not find a better partner than Thom.”

7. Ioanna Gika: “Roseate”

This week Ioanna Gika, frontwoman for Los Angeles dark electro shoegaze duo Io Echo, shared a new solo song, “Roseate.” It’s the first taste of her debut solo album, which is due out in early 2019 via Sargent House. “Roseate” sounds a bit like Io Echo remixed by Zola Jesus. A press release says the song “was formed from a political premonition Gika had after a period of personal loss drew her back to her family’s home in their native Greece.” Gika is currently on tour opening for Deafheaven and DIIV and you can check out those dates here.

8. My Brightest Diamond: “It’s Me on the Dance Floor”

This week My Brightest Diamond (aka Shara Nova) announced a new album, A Million and One, and shared it’s first single, “It’s Me on the Dance Floor.” A Million and One is due out November 23 via Rhyme & Reason. “It’s Me on the Dance Floor” is surprisingly funky for My Brightest Diamond.

A Million and One was recorded with producer Anthony “The Twilite Zone” Khan (Gorillaz, Kanye West) and engineer Andrew Scheps (Adele, Lana Del Rey). It’s the follow-up to 2014’s This Is My Hand. The tracklist and cover art have yet to be shared. You can read an interview with Nova about the album over at Rolling Stone.

9. Rose Droll: “Boy Bruise”

San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Rose Droll is releasing her debut album, Your Dog, on November 16 via Father/Daughter. Previously the album’s title track was an honorable mention in our Songs of the Week list. This week she shared another track from it, “Boy Bruise.”

Droll had this to say about the song in a press release: “It’s about starting out holding your creative vision higher than anything else, then experimenting with substance to aid your creative process, and then waking up one day to find that the tables have turned and you’re holding the substance in a higher position than your art to the point where you’re not making art anymore.”

Droll self-recorded and self-produced the album, recording it in a duplex in Los Angeles’ Highland Park neighborhood and in a quiet cabin in Big Bear, CA. She played every instrument on Your Dog, including guitar, piano, drums, bass, cello, and glockenspiel. Warren Hildebrand mastered the album.

10. Antarctigo Vespucci: “Freakin’ U Out”

Antarctigo Vespucci is the project of Jeff Rosenstock and Chris Farren. They released their debut album, Leavin’ La Vida Loca, in 2015. They are returning on October 26 with their sophomore album, Love In the Time of E-Mail, via Polyvinyl. Previously they shared the album’s first single, “White Noise,” and this week they shared another new song from the album, “Freakin’ U Out.” It was accompanied by a music video directed by Clay Tatum.

Honorable Mentions:

These 7 songs almost made the Top 10.

Neneh Cherry: “Synchronized Devotion”

El Perro Del Mar: “Broder”

Empress Of: “I Don’t Even Smoke Weed”

Hideout: “Picture Falling”

J Mascis: “Web So Dense”

You Tell Me: “Invisible Ink”

Zero 7: “Mono”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

The 1975: “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)”

Bad Religion: “The Profane Rights of Man”

Charles Bradley: “Can’t Fight the Feeling”

Will Butler and The Knocks: “Sun Comes Up”

John Carpenter: “Halloween Triumphant”

Jennifer Castle: “Midas Touch” (Feat. The Weather Station)

Euringer: “The Medicine Does Not Control Me” (Feat. Grimes)

Eleanor Friedberger: “Are We Good? (Cate Le Bon Remix)”

Juliana Hatfield: “It’s So Weird”

Hour: “At the bar where you literally saved me from fatal heartbreak”

How to Dress Well: “Body Fat”

Majetic: “Tender Ums”

Major Lazer: “Blow That Smoke” (Feat. Tove Lo)

Maxwell: “Shame”

Cass McCombs: “Noise Suite for the Green Party”

Ra Ra Riot: “This Time of Year”

Ty Segall: “Class War” (The Dils Cover)

Shogun: “Hold on Kid” and “Pissing Blood”

Troye Sivan & Jónsi: “Revelation”

Tiny Ruins: “Olympic Girls”

The Weather Station: “I Tried to Wear the World” (Feat. Jennifer Castle)

Thom Yorke: “Hands Off the Antarctic”

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