10 Best Songs of the Week: Tracyanne & Danny, Natalie Prass, CHVRCHES, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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10 Best Songs of the Week: Tracyanne & Danny, Natalie Prass, CHVRCHES, and More

Plus Ryley Walker, Young Fathers, Lost Under Heaven, Gwenno, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Mar 02, 2018 Young Fathers Bookmark and Share

It was another good week for new songs. Any of our Top 3 songs could’ve been our #1 and we also quite enjoyed CHVRCHES’ collaboration with The National‘s Matt Berninger (on a weaker week that probably would’ve been #1). But it’s so nice to have Camera Obscura‘s Tracyanne Campbell back. Cornelius (remixed by Beach Fossils), Stella Donnelly, Girl Ray, Iceage, Little Dragon, and Yo La Tengo all almost made the Top 10, but scroll down to see what did make this week’s Songs of the Week cut.

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

1. Tracyanne & Danny: “Home & Dry”

On Monday we reported that Camera Obscura frontwoman Tracyanne Campbell had announced Tracyanne & Danny, a new project with Danny Coughlan (who has previously released music as Crybaby), and we shared a teaser trailer for the project. Then on Tuesday Tracyanne & Danny announced their self-titled debut album and shared its lovely first single, “Home & Dry.” Tracyanne & Danny is due out May 25 via Merge. They have also announced some tour dates, which are here (as is the teaser trailer).

Camera Obscura understandably haven’t had much activity since the tragic and untimely passing due to cancer of founding member and keyboardist Carey Lander in 2015. The band’s last album was 2013’s Desire Lines. Campbell is from Glasgow, whereas the London-born Coughlan is Bristol-based. They were introduced by mutual friends in 2013 and Campbell liked his music as Crybaby and asked him to open for Camera Obscura. They worked on songs together, but the project was shelved for Campbell to focus on Desire Lines. After Camera Obscura went on hiatus the duo revisited the project and recorded the album at Clashnarrow, Edwyn Collins’ studio in the Scottish Highlands. Collins co-produced the album along with engineer and multi-instrumentalist Sean Read (Dexys Midnight Runners), using Collins’ vintage gear. A press release says mutual influences on Tracyanne & Danny include “The Roches, Dion, Lou Reed, The Flamingos, Serge Gainsbourg, Santo & Johnny, and The Style Council.”

Campbell says in a press release that the album is “melodic, musical, and murdery. It’s not a duet record. We’ve tried our best to marry our voices, songs, and melodies.”

Of “Home & Dry” Campbell has this to say: “It’s about the movement of time, the inevitability of things not staying the same. Just when you think things are sorted and ok, something changes and they no longer are.”

Tracyanne & Danny have also launched a website and Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

2. Natalie Prass: “Short Court Style”

This week Natalie Prass announced a new album, The Future and the Past, and shared a video for its first single, “Short Court Style.” The Future and the Past is due out June 1 via ATO, her first for the label. Prass co-directed the “Short Court Style” with Erica Prince and it features Prass in a green jump suit singing and dancing to the song in a field and an old playground, aided by some jump suited dancers with streamers. She also announced some tour dates, which you can find here.

The Richmond based singer/songwriter released her acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2015 via Spacebomb/StarTime International. She had a new album written and was ready to record it when Donald Trump won the 2016 Presidential election, which led to Prass rewriting the album (Speedy Ortiz said the same thing when they announced their new album last week). As a press release puts it: “Out of her despair and disappointment in those results came an impulse she could not ignore: she rewrote the album to reflect these swirling emotions.” The press release also calls the album “a stunning snapshot of a musician in a state of personal rediscovery and surging femininity. The celebratory and defiant The Future and the Past also signals a significant artistic leap for Prass on the heels of her 2015 breakthrough debut album. It finds Prass tapping into deep, dancey grooves that glisten with ‘80s pop and ‘90s R&B, nestled alongside quivering, lushly orchestrated ballads.”

As with her debut album, The Future and the Past was recorded in Richmond, VA with long-time friend and collaborator Matthew E. White at his Spacebomb Studios.

Prass had this to say about the album in the press release: “The record was ready to go, and then the election happened. I was devastated. It made me question what it means to be a woman in America, whether any of the things I thought were getting better were actually improving, who I am and what I believe in. I knew I would be so upset with myself if I didn’t take the opportunity to say some of the things that meant so much to me, so I decided to rewrite the record. I needed to make an album that was going to get me out of my funk, one that would hopefully lift other people out of theirs, too, because that’s what music is all about.”

Also read our 2015 Pleased to Meet You Spotlight interview with Prass and our separate 2015 print magazine article on Prass.

3. Ryley Walker: “Telluride Speed”

This week Ryley Walker announced a new album, Deafman Glance, and shared its first single, “Telluride Speed.” Deafman Glance is due out May 18 via Dead Oceans. He also announced some upcoming tour dates, which you can find here.

Deafman Glance is the follow-up to 2016’s Golden Sings That Have Been Sung and 2015’s Primrose Green. “Telluride Speed” is a lush flute-backed six-and-a-half-minute long song that rocks out towards the end. Walker produced the album with LeRoy Bach, recording it at the Minbal (now JAMDEK) Studios in Chicago, at USA Studios, and in LeRoy’s kitchen. Cooper Crain (Bitchin’ Bajas, Cave) recorded and mixed the album and played synths on it. Bach played some guitar and piano on the album. Deafman Glance also features 6-string players Brian J Sulpizio and Bill Mackay, Andrew Scott Young and Matt Lux on bass, Mikel Avery and Quin Kirchner on drums/percussion, and Nate Lepine on flute and saxophone.

Walker issued this statement about the album: “I think more than anything the thing to take away from this record is that I appreciate what improv and jamming and that outlook on music has done for me, but I wanted rigid structure for these songs. I don’t want to expand upon them live. There’s a looseness to some of the songs I guess, but I didn’t want to rely on just hanging out on one note.

“I was under a lot of stress because I was trying to make an anti-folk record and I was having trouble doing it. I wanted to make something deep-fried and more me-sounding. I didn’t want to be jammy acoustic guy anymore. I just wanted to make something weird and far-out that came from the heart finally. I was always trying to make something like this I guess, trying to catch up with my imagination. And I think I succeeded in that way - it’s got some weird instrumentation on there, and some surreal far-out words. And it’s more Chicago-y sounding. Chicago sounds like a train constantly coming towards you but never arriving. That’s the sound I hear, all the time, ringing in my ears.”

4. CHVRCHES: “My Enemy” (Feat. Matt Berninger)

This week Scottish electro-pop trio CHVRCHES announced their new album, Love Is Dead, and shared another song from it, “My Enemy,” which features the guest vocals of Matt Berninger of The National (and EL VY). Love Is Dead is the band’s third album and it’s due out May 25 via Glassnote. Previously the band shared its first single, “Get Out,” which was our #1 Song of the Week. The band also announced some tour dates, which are here.

Greg Kurstin (Adele, Tegan and Sara) co-produced nine of the album’s 13 songs and Steve Mac produced one song, “Miracle.” CHVRCHES are Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty.

A press release says “Love Is Dead is at times euphoric and others bittersweet, it is an album about growing up.” Mayberry adds that the album is “coming to terms with the fact that there are great things in the world and there are awful things in the world and that you can’t get one without the other.”

Cook also had this to say: “We’re fucked, the world is fucked. But there’s an ellipses at the end. It’s Love Is Dead. Like, how did we get to this point? And how do we move on from this point? It’s Love Is Dead, we’re fucked, what’s next?”

Mayberry had this to say about working with Berninger: “We’ve all been huge fans of The National for a long time. We had played a few festivals together but really got to know Matt when we were involved in 7 Inches For Planned Parenthood, a fundraising and awareness campaign that he spearheaded. It’s really inspiring and reassuring to meet other artists you admire and realize that they are trying to do some good in the world. We kept in touch after that and, when it came time to record ‘My Enemy,’ Iain and Martin suggested I email Matt to see if he’d like to sing on it. We never realistically thought he’d have time to do it but he replied right away and recorded the track at his house the next day.”

In February 2017 we reported that the band had started work on their third album and were working with Dave Stewart of iconic 1980s duo Eurythmics (although his name isn’t mentioned in the album announcement). Then there was word they were working with Kurstin and that it might be their most pop album yet.

CHVRCHES released their well-received second album, Every Open Eye, in 2015 via Glassnote (it was #9 on Under the Radar‘s Top 100 Albums of 2015 list). In 2017 they guest starred in the comic book series The Archies and covered Tegan and Sara’s “Call It Off” for their The Con X: The Covers album.

CHVRCHES were on the cover of one of our print issues in 2015 and you can read the in-depth 8-page 5,600-word cover story feature on the band here. You can also read our bonus digital magazine Q&A with them here.

5. Young Fathers: “Toy”

Scottish hip-hop trio Young Fathers surprised everyone by winning the Mercury Prize with their 2014 debut album, Dead. They are releasing their third album, Cocoa Sugar, on March 9 via Ninja Tune. Previously they shared a video for “In My View” (which was one of our Songs of the Week) and “Lord.” This week they shared a third song from the album, “Toy.”

6. Ladytron: “The Animals”

It’s been seven long years since Liverpool-formed electro-pop quartet Ladytron released their last album, 2011’s Gravity the Seducer. Under the Radar go way back with the band, we interviewed them about their debut album, 604, way back in our very first print issue in 2001. Since their last album, singer Helen Marnie released two solo albums and Daniel Hunt co-produced the comeback EP by iconic shoegazers Lush. This week Ladytron finally returned with a new song, “The Animals.” They have also launched a Pledge Music campaign to raise funds for their next album (check it out here). Next Monday the band will also release a remix of “The Animals” by Vince Clarke of Erasure.

Jim Abbiss, who produced Ladytron’s 2005 album Witching Hour, worked with the band on “The Animals.” A press release promises a second single this summer and an album this fall. The Pledge Music campaign offers such rewards as the lyrics to any of their songs handwritten and autographed by a member of the band, vinyl test pressings, a photo book about the history of the band, and more.

Marnie had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘The Animals’ was the first new song we had, and with it we went immediately into the studio with Jim Abbiss. He’s the producer who has really understood us the most.”

Hunt had this to say about Clarke’s remix: “We have always wanted to work with Vince in some way, he’s obviously a legend in our sphere.”

7. Lost Under Heaven: “Breath of Light”

Today Lost Under Heaven (who were formerly known mainly by their initials LUH) shared a new song, “Breath of Light.” There’s no word if there’s a forthcoming EP or album on the album. The duo features ex-WU LYF frontman Ellery James Roberts along with Ebony Hoorn. They released their debut album, Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing, back in 2016 via Mute.

Read our 2016 interview with Lost Under Heaven and our review of Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing.

8. Gwenno: “Hi a Skoellyas Liv a Dhagrow”

Welsh musician Gwenno (full name Gwenno Saunders) is releasing her sophomore album, Le Kov, on March 2 via Heavenly Recordings. Previously she shared a video for its first single, “Tir Ha Mor” (it was one of our Songs of the Week). This week she shared another song from the album, “Hi a Skoellyas Liv a Dhagrow.” The album is sung in Cornish, a somewhat lost language native to the United Kingdom and spoken by few. “Hi a Skoellyas Liv a Dhagrow” translates to “She Shed a Flood of Tears.” Listen to it below.

In a press release Gwenno says the song is “inspired by the title of Aphex Twin’s piece from his album Druqks. I imagined Richard D. James coming across this ‘long lost Cornish ‘70s folk rock’ song on vinyl in a charity shop in the city of Le Kovand stealing the title.”

Le Kov is the follow-up to Y Dydd Olaf, Gwenno’s debut solo album that initially got a sold-out very limited release in 2014, before getting a proper full-on release by Heavenly in 2015. A press release sites Broadcast, The United States of America, White Noise, and Serge Gainsbourg as influences on Le Kov. Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys contributes guest vocals to “Daromres Y’n Howl.”

Gwenno had this to say about Le Kov in a previous press release: “This album is a combination of accepting the culture which your parents have valued enough to want to pass on to you, regardless how small, and utilizing it in a positive way to try and make sense of the world around you, it’s also about having to accept and respect the nuances that make us all different and discovering that all of our stories share the same truth.”

Gwenno was previously best known as a member of the retro-sounding girl group The Pipettes (which also featured Rose Elinor Dougall).

9. Cavern of Anti-Matter: “Phase Modulation Shuffle”

Cavern of Anti-Matter is a trio featuring Stereolab’s co-founder Tim Gane, along with synth player Holger Zapf and former Stereolab drummer Joe Dillworth. They are releasing a new album, Hormone Lemonade, on March 23 via Duophonic. Previously they shared its first single, “Make Out Fade Out.” This week they shared another song from it, instrumental track “Phase Modulation Shuffle,” which sounds very Stereolab-y. The album is the follow-up to 2016’s void beats / invocation trex.

10. Unknown Mortal Orchestra: “Not in Love We’re Just High”

New Zealand-born/Portland-based Unknown Mortal Orchestra (mainly the project of Ruban Nielson) are releasing a new album, Sex & Food, on April 6 via Jagjaguwar. Previously they shared its first single, “American Guilt,” as well as a video for the song, and announced some tour dates for the spring. This week they shared another song from the album, “Not in Love We’re Just High,” via an animated video directed by Greg Sharp that mainly features hands playing the song on a piano. Although look out for the flies from the Sharp-directed “American Guilt” video at the end.

A press release describes “Not in Love We’re Just High” as such: “The song examines relational confusion induced by drugs (or simply mania). The couple at the center of the song realize that they’re not actually in love, they are indeed simply high, and how a realization that may seem sad on its surface could actually be quite liberating and euphoric.”

Sex & Food is the follow-up to 2015’s excellent Multi-Love. It was recorded in various cities, including Seoul, Hanoi, Reykjavik, Mexico City, and Auckland, as well as Nielson’s home base studio in Portland.

Read our 2015 interview with Unknown Mortal Orchestra about Multi-Love.

Other notable new tracks this week include:

A Place to Bury Strangers: “There’s Only One of Us Left”

The Avalanches: “Because I’m Me (Remixes by Bondax, Black Milk, Dâm-Funk, and Moor Mother)”

Chris Cornell: “You Never Knew My Mind” (Based on Johnny Cash Writings)

Cornelius: “The Spell of a Vanishing Loveliness (Beach Fossils Rework)”

Courtney Barnett: “Never Tear Us Apart” (INXS Cover)

Dinosaur Jr.: “Hold Unknown”

DJ Koze: “Illumination” (Feat. Róisín Murphy)

Stella Donnelly: “Mechanical Bull”

Dungen and Woods: “Loop”

Frankie Cosmos: “Apathy”

Girl Ray: “The Way We Came Back”

Margaret Glaspy: “Before We Were Together”

Albert Hammond Jr. - “Set to Attack”

Juliana Hatfield: “Physical” (Olivia Newton-John Cover)

Hundred Waters: “I Don’t Believe in the Sun” (The Magnetic Fields Cover)

Iceage: “Pain Killer” (Feat. Sky Ferreira)

The Kills: “List of Demands (Reparations)” (Saul Williams Cover)

Little Dragon: “Best Friends”

Lindstrøm: “Didn’t Know Better”

Moby: “This Wild Darkness”

Mouse on Mars: “Foul Mouth” (Feat. Amanda Blank and Beirut’s Zach Condon)

Nap Eyes: “I’m Bad”

Now, Now: “AZ”

Phoenix: “Fior Di Latte (A. G. Cook Remix”)

Phoenix: “No Woman” (Whitney Cover)

Superorganism: “Cut Your Hair” (Pavement Cover)

Laura Veirs: “Watch Fire” (Feat. Sufjan Stevens)

The Voidz: “All Wordz Are Made Up”

Wand: “The Gift”

Jack White: “Over and Over and Over”

“Weird Al” Yankovic: “The Hamilton Polka”

Yo La Tengo: “For You Too”

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