10 Best Songs of the Week: Wild Nothing, Suede, Anna Calvi, Matty, John Coltrane, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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10 Best Songs of the Week: Wild Nothing, Suede, Anna Calvi, Matty, John Coltrane, and More

Plus Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Tomberlin, Interpol, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Jun 08, 2018 Prince Bookmark and Share

This was a strong week for new tracks, so much so that we almost expanded this week’s Songs of the Week list to a Top 13. Instead we decided to include three honorable mentions. The full list includes two legendary artists who we will soon be getting previously unreleased posthumous albums from.

Let’s take a very brief moment to remember Anthony Bourdain, the beloved chef, author, TV host of CNN’s travel show Parts Unknown, and all around cool guy. He was found dead today in his French hotel room of apparent suicide. The guy was a big music lover; an upcoming episode of Parts Unknown shot in Berlin is said to feature him hanging out with Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Bands such as The Dead Weather, Neon Indian, and Sleigh Bells performed on his shows. Bourdain had a genuine interest in other cultures and in people in general, his work helped make the world both smaller and bigger, showing us how many vast cultures are out there on this spinning blue ball, but also how we’re not all that different from each other and how “the other” isn’t meant to be feared, it’s to be respected and embraced. He seemed like he was truly living the life, traveling the world and doing what he loved. And yet he took his own life, aged 61. Which goes to show that no matter how much you think someone has their life together, they may not. They may be secretly struggling. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, colleagues, and fans (of which there were many, based on the outpouring of emotions witnessed online today). In terms of celebrity chefs or travel TV hosts, even though he was much more than either of those things, this is a Bowie or Prince level loss.

Elsewhere on the website in the last week: We posted interviews with Yo La Tengo, Preoccupations, Shame, and Lucy Dacus. First Aid Kit did our Fan Interview, answering the questions of 15 of their fans. We also talked to Alex Wolff, one of the stars of the acclaimed new horror film Hereditary.

We also reviewed a bunch of albums (including the latest by Sam Evian, Mazzy Star, Saba, Ash, Bernice, Wooden Shjips, Flasher, and Snail Mail). The debut album by Snail Mail was this week’s Album of the Week.

Note: We’re probably be taking two weeks off from Songs of the Week, as Under the Radar will be on a bit of a 10-day vacation. We’ll be back again towards the end of the month.

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. Wild Nothing: “Letting Go”

This week Wild Nothing (aka Jack Tatum) announced a new album, Indigo, and shared its first single, “Letting Go.” Indigo is due out August 31 via Captured Tracks. He also announced some tour dates. “Letting Go” is a 1980s influenced dream-pop delight, very catchy and immaculately produced.

The album is the follow-up to 2016’s somewhat underrated Life of Pause. Virginia-bred/Los Angeles-based Tatum recorded the demos solo and then spent four days at Sunset Sound’s Studio with drummer Cam Allen and guitarist Benji Lysaght to track the record live (Tatum played bass). Then producer Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink, Gang Gang Dance, Japanese Breakfast) came on board to build out the rest of the album’s sound, including using parts of Tatum’s original demos. Elbrecht and Tatum mixed the album over 10 days in Denver and then Tatum put the finishing touches on Indigo at his Glassell Park studio in Los Angeles. Sonically, Tatum was going for a 1980s vibe.

“I wanted it to sound like a classic studio record, as close as I could get it there,” Tatum said in a press release. “It just boils down to me wanting to fit into some larger narrative, musically, in terms of these artists I love. I think about how my music will age. Ideas of ‘timeless’ are going to be different-so if Indigo is not timeless then it’s at least ‘out of time.’”

The press release described the album as such: “Indigo is its own cyborg world, utilizing the artful mechanisms of human touch with the precision of technology to create the classic, pristine sound Tatum has been seeking his entire career. It finds Tatum at his most efficient, calculated, and confident after a decade of making music as Wild Nothing. On one hand, Indigo is a return to the fresh, transcendent sweep of his debut, 2010’s Gemini, and on the other, a culmination of heights reached, paths traveled, and lessons learned while creating the follow-ups, Nocturne and Life of Pause.”

Wild Nothing’s 2012 album, Nocturne, was Under the Radar’s #1 album of that year.

Read our 2016 interview with Wild Nothing.

2. Suede: “The Invisibles”

Britpop originators and survivors Suede are releasing a new album, The Blue Hour, on September 21 via Rhino. Previously they shared a trailer for the album. This week they shared a video for a dramatic new song, “The Invisibles.” The video doesn’t feature the band, instead a woman lip-syncs the song while riding a swing under a motorway underpass.

Suede reformed in 2010 and made a fantastic comeback in 2013 with the release of the excellent Bloodsports, which was their first new album in over a decade and was very well-received by critics. They released their last album, Night Thoughts, back in 2016. The Blue Hour is the band’s third album since reforming. Earlier this year the band also put out a 25th anniversary reissue of 1993’s self-titled debut album and frontman Brett Anderson also released his first book, the memoir Coal Black Mornings, via Little, Brown.

Alan Moulder produced The Blue Hour. In a previous interview with NME Anderson shed some light on the sound of the album: “I think we’re at this stage of our career where it doesn’t really matter what we do, as long as we’re engaged in doing it and making it interesting. Because of that, we can do quite extreme things. This is a very complicated record, much more so than the last too - and more diverse. It’s quite a journey. There are a lot of elements that we haven’t used before, like a choir and more spoken word and dialogue. There are a lot of field recordings on it too to thread the ideas together.”

Anderson also told the NME that his son inspired the album. “It was conceived as a record almost from a child’s point of view,” he said. “My son is my muse these days, and I write about him and through his eyes. He inspired the book I wrote recently, Coal Black Mornings. He was my inspiration on the last two records and this is a continuation of that. I’ve always written from different perspectives. A lot of this is about the terrors of childhood, so it’s quite unpleasant in lots of ways. I think Suede should be unpleasant, that’s the point of a band like Suede. Whenever we’ve tried to pleasant, it never works. We have to inhabit Suedeworld and it’s not a very nice place! It’s set in a rural landscape, on the hard shoulder of the motorway, among the B-roads and among the rubbish that’s been fly-tipped. It’s set by a chain link fence with a dead badger lying rotting in the ground.”

Suede made an immediate mark when they came on the scene in their native U.K., with them declared “The Best New Band in Britain” by the music publication Melody Maker in 1992 before their debut album was even released. That self-titled debut arrived on March 29, 1993 to critical acclaim and fantastic sales (it hit #1 on the U.K. album charts and at the time was the fastest selling debut album in over a decade). 1994’s sophomore album, Dog Man Star, is considered a classic of the era. 1996’s third album, Coming Up, continued the band’s success, also debuting at #1 on the U.K. album charts. The Blue Hour is the band’s eighth album.

Read our 2013 interview with Suede’s Brett Anderson on Bloodsports.

3. Anna Calvi: “Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy”

This week Anna Calvi announced a new album, Hunter, and shared a video for a new song that examines gender, “Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy.” Hunter is due out August 31 via Domino. She also has a bunch of tour dates and issued a statement about the album.

William Kennedy (Kendrick Lamar) directed the “Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy” video, which was choreographed by Aaron Sillis (FKA twigs) and features Calvi and various dancers. The song is about gender roles and how children at a young age are conditioned to conform to gender stereotypes, particularly how small boys are taught not to cry or express emotions. Calvi had this to say in a press release: “It’s a song about the defiance of happiness. It’s about being free to identify yourself in whichever way you please, without any restraints from society.”

Hunter is Calvi’s third full-length album and the follow up to 2011’s Anna Calvi and 2013’s One Breath. That makes it her first album in five years. Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Grinderman) produced Hunter at Konk Studios in London, with some additional production in Los Angeles. Calvi’s band was featured in the sessions: Mally Harpaz on various instruments and Alex Thomas on drums. Adrian Utley from Portishead also played keyboards and Martyn Casey from The Bad Seeds played bass.

In a press release Calvi says she wanted to express herself on Hunter while being “free from the story that either gender is given, free from worrying how people would judge me on what I want to do with my body and myself. For me, that’s quite a utopian vision.”

Calvi released a longer statement about the album: “I’m hunting for something - I want experiences, I want agency, I want sexual freedom, I want intimacy, I want to feel strong, I want to feel protected and I want to find something beautiful in all the mess.

“I want to go beyond gender. I don’t want to have to chose between the male and female in me. I’m fighting against feeling an outsider and trying to find a place that feels like home.

“I believe that gender is a spectrum. I believe that if we were allowed to be somewhere in the middle, not pushed to the extremes of performed masculinity and femininity, we would all be more free. I want to explore how to be something other than just what I’ve been assigned to be. I want to explore a more subversive sexuality, which goes further than what is expected of a woman in our patriarchal heteronormative society. I want to repeat the words ‘girl boy, woman man,’ over and over, to find the limits of these words, against vastness of human experience.

“I believe in the female protagonist, who isn’t simply responding to a man’s story. I go out into the world and see it as mine - I want something from it, rather than just being a passive product of it. I’m hungry for experiences. Sometimes things seem clear, and other times I feel lost. I feel strong and yet vulnerable; I wear my body and my art as an armor, but I also know that to be true to myself is to be open to being hurt.

“The intent of this record is to be primal and beautiful, vulnerable and strong, to be the hunter and the hunted.”

4. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: “The Hammer”

Melbourne, Australia five-piece Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are releasing their debut album, Hope Dawns, on June 15 via Sub Pop. This week they shared another song from the album, album closer “The Hammer.”

When the album was announced the band shared a video for a new song, “Talking Straight” (which was one of our Songs of the Week). Then they shared a lyric video for another song from the album, “An Air Conditioned Man” (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). The album also includes the previously shared single “Mainland.”

5. Matty: “I’ll Gladly Place Myself Below You”

Matty Tavares is the keyboardist in Toronto’s modern jazz/instrumental hip-hop quartet BADBADNOTGOOD. On June 15 he is releasing Déjàvu, a new solo album coming out simply under his first name. This week he shared another song from it, “I’ll Gladly Place Myself Below You,” which starts slow and then builds to a satisfying conclusion. The press release sites The Zombies, Soft Machine, and Toro Y Moi as reference points for the album. We hear a bit of Broadcast and 1960s experimental rock band The United States of America.

Tavares had this to say about the song in a press release: “This is a song that I worked on in bits and pieces throughout the entire making of the record. It started with a simple loop and overtime I expanded it to the different sections and at the end me and Leland Whitty arranged the string, horn and mallet percussion sections. I wrote this song when I was in a very vulnerable space and sang it immediately after I wrote it - I tried to record the vocals a bunch of times but ended up using the demo vocals on the final version. I think the song’s concept is something that almost everyone I know deals with in intimate relationships.”

6. John Coltrane: “Untitled Original 11383”

Today Legendary jazz label Impulse! announced that they are releasing a previously unreleased John Coltrane album featuring original, never-before-heard compositions recorded in 1963. The album is entitled Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album and is due out June 29. The label has shared one song from it, “Untitled Original 11383.”

The album was recorded on March 6, 1963 at the Van Gelder Studios in Englewood, NJ. It features Coltrane with his classic quartet of McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones. The master tape for this session had long since been lost, but at the end of the session Coltrane had gone home to Queens and shared the reference tape with his wife, Naima. The family held onto the good quality tape and 55 years later it’s finally seeing the light of day.

The album includes two never-before-heard originals, “Untitled Original 11383” and “Untitled Original 11386,” both played on soprano sax. Then “One Up, One Down” was only previously available via a live bootleg from the Birdland club, this is the first time the studio version has been heard. And then there are early versions of “Impressions” (which here doesn’t feature piano, unlike later versions) and “Nature Boy.”

John Coltrane’s son, Ravi Coltrane (an accomplished jazz player in his own right), chose what he felt were the seven best takes from the session and those are being released as the standard edition on CD, vinyl, and digital. There’s then a deluxe edition on the same formats that includes an additional seven takes.

Of historical note, the next day in the same studio Coltrane and his band would record a famous album with jazz singer Johnny Hartman, the fittingly titled John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman.

Legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins is quoted in a press release about Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album as saying: “This is like finding a new room in the Great Pyramid.”

Danny Bennett, President and CEO of the Verve Label Group and home of Impulse!, had this to say in the press release: “Jazz is more relevant today than ever. It’s becoming the alternative music of the 21st century, and no one embodies the boundary-breaking essence of jazz more than John Coltrane. He was a visionary who changed the course of music, and this lost album is a once-in-a-lifetime discovery. It gives us insight into his creative process and connects us to his artistry. This album is a cultural moment and the release coincides perfectly with our relaunch of the iconic Impulse! label.”

7. Stuart A. Staples: “A New Real”

Stuart A. Staples, frontman for England’s Tindersticks, is releasing a new solo album, Arrhythmia, on June 15 via City Slang. Previously he shared its first single, “Memories of Love” (which was one of our Songs of the Week). This week he shared another song from the album, “A New Real,” via a video for the song he self-directed. The minimalist video features a view of the sky from a moving vehicle and then an image shot through a moving train window.

Staples had this to say about the video in a press release: “I made the first part of this film on the way to City airport, London on November 13th, 2015. We were on our way to Skibbereen in County Cork to celebrate my 50th birthday with friends. Later that night would be the Paris attacks and the madness of tracking down loved ones. But for this moment, a glass roofed taxi in the rain on my way to a place and people I love was a special moment. The song arrived on Christmas Day 2016, but I felt the connection straight away.”

Arrhythmia is Staples’ first solo album in 13 years and it features a 31-minute long instrumental track, “Music for ‘A Year in Small Paintings.’” Staples sings and plays guitar, bass, chimes, q-chord, philichorda, bells, Wurlitzer piano and vibraphone on the album. Arrhythmia also features Dan Mckinna (piano), Thomas Belhom (drums), Seb Rochford (drums), Julian Siegel (clarinet, quartet arrangement), David Boulter (musical saw), and Neil Fraser (guitar). “Music for ‘A Year in Small Paintings’” was inspired by a film by Claire Denis about paintings by Suzanne Osborne, who is Staples’ romantic partner.

Tindersticks’ last album, The Waiting Room, was released in 2016 via City Slang.

8. Tomberlin: “Self-Help”

Tomberlin is the project of Sarah Beth Tomberlin. This week she announced her debut album, At Weddings, and shared a video for its first single, “Self-Help.” At Weddings is due out August 10 via Saddle Creek. “Self-Help,” with its hints of dream-pop, is probably the album’s most accessible song. Despite the gentleness of the music, the lyrics are somewhat defiant, as Tomberlin sings “You know I’m not your napkin this time.”

Tomberlin was born in Jacksonville, Florida, but is now based in Louisville, Kentucky. She grew up in a very religious household, the daughter of a Baptist pastor, and was homeschooled until the age of 16, after which she went to college at a private Christian school she only half-jokingly describes in a press release as a “cult.” At 17 she dropped out of school, returned home, and started to question her faith and her place in the world. It was around this time she began writing the songs that would end up on At Weddings.

“I was working, going to school, and experiencing heavy isolation,” Tomberlin says of the period in a press release. “It felt monotonous, like endless nothingness. It was a means to get through to the next step of life.”

By the time she was 20 she had written enough songs for an album. The press release says At Weddings “documents the unlearning of her childhood faith” but was still heavily influenced by church music and hymns.

As Tomberlin explains in the press release: “A lot of hymns talk about really crazy stuff - being saved from the depths and the mire, judgment. When you actually realize what you’re singing, it becomes really overwhelming. I grew up singing in church. I was still helping to lead worship when I started coming to terms with the realization that I didn’t know if I believed. I felt nauseous and shaky reading these words I was singing and feeling their intensity. If I did believe this, how could I sing these words without being scared out of my mind? That’s what’s influenced how I write.”

9. Interpol: “The Rover”

This week Interpol (Daniel Kessler, Paul Banks, and Sam Fogarino) announced a new album, Marauder, and shared its first single, “The Rover.” The album is due out August 24 via Matador and was announced via a live-streamed press conference from Mexico City. The band also announced some tour dates.

Dave Fridmann (MGMT, The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Mogwai) produced the album, which was recorded in two-week spells from December 2017 to April 2018 at his Tarbox Studios in Upstate New York. A press release promises that the album is louder than previous Interpol releases, relating a story where the police were called to their practice space while working on the album due to a noise complaint from a neighbor. “It seemed like you’re picking on the wrong rock band,” jokes Fogarino in the press release. “It’s not like we’re Mastodon. I mean, in certain circles, we’re considered wimps!”

Previously Banks’ lyrics have been more observational, but for this album he turned inward. He explains in the press release: “This record is where I feel touching on real things that have happened to me are exciting and evocative to write about. I think in the past, I always felt autobiography was too small a thing for me to reference. I feel like now, I’m able to romanticize parts of my own life.”

The album cover is a Garry Winogrand photo of former Attorney General Elliot Richardson. In 1973 he resigned after refusing President Nixon’s orders to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox because Cox was leading an investigation into the Watergate scandal. “A lot of being accountable has to do with being honest,” says Banks about both the cover art and his lyrics on this album. Of course the Watergate scandal also has modern parallels to our current president and the Russia investigation.

It’s been four years since Interpol’s last album, 2014’s El Pintor.

10. Stars: “One Day Left”

Montreal indie-pop heroes Stars released a new album, There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light, last October via Last Gang. Back in March they shared brand new single, “Ship to Shore” (which was one of our Songs of the Week). This week they were back with a lyric video for another new song, “One Day Left,” which was premiered by serious newsmagazine Time of all places. They also announced some new tour dates.

In a press release the band issued this statement about the song: “The last 12 hours you spend with someone you love might as well not exist. You are looking at a ghost. Maybe you have fucked a hundred times, maybe you just met. But if you are in love with them, goodbye hits like poison. You are in the hotel room. You know it’s almost over. You know it has to be. The city rages on outside. But in there lying next to them with all your clothes on and your bags packed, listening to them breathe, time stops. Why won’t the city have some heart and stop while you say goodbye? This song is for everyone who has a fucked up love affair this summer. It might not feel like it now, but….one day you’ll sit in a bar somewhere alone and realize; the pain was worth it.”

Read our 2017 Just the Fax interview with Stars, where we interviewed Amy Millan via fax machine.

Read our regular 2017 interview with Stars.

Honorable Mentions:

These three songs almost made the Top 10.

The Beths: “Happy Unhappy”

The Beths are a new four-piece who are releasing their debut album, the amusingly titled Future Me Hates Me, on August 10 via Carpark. All four members of the band studied jazz at university, but the band has more of a scrappy indie rock vibe. This week they shared a new song, “Happy Unhappy,” via a video featuring someone with a pineapple on their head.

Phantastic Ferniture: “Gap Year”

Phantastic Ferniture is a trio led by Julia Jacklin (who released a well-received solo album, Don’t Let the Kids Win, on Polyvinyl in 2016). The band also features Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan K Brennan and on July 27 they are releasing their self-titled debut album, also via Polyvinyl. This week they shared a video for the album’s catchy second single, “Gap Year.”

Hughes had this to say about “Gap Year” and its video in a press release: “This song is about just doing what you need to do, with no expectation of any kind of return. It’s about trusting your instincts and not seeking validation…. Julia and I are performing our hearts out to absolutely no one at one…. The lack of audience doesn’t dull our enthusiasm, and we know our companionship and community will be enough of a reward. It’s poignant because we grew up in the mountains, both desperate for a stage.”

Prince: “Mary Don’t Weep”

When Prince passed away in 2016 he left behind a huge vault filled with unreleased material and so we can probably expect new albums from him for years to come. Yesterday, on what would have been Prince’s 60th birthday, his estate announced a new album, Piano & A Microphone 1983, which is due out on Warner Bros. on September 21. It is culled from a previously unheard home studio cassette recorded in 1983 at Prince’s Kiowa Trail home studio in Chanhassen, MN and just features Prince singing and playing piano. It includes an early version of future hit “Purple Rain,” but yesterday Warner Bros. shared the album’s version of “Mary Don’t Weep,” a cover of a 19th century spiritual.

“Mary Don’t Weep” will also be featured in the end credits Spike Lee’s upcoming movie BlacKkKlansman, which is in theaters this August. The album includes a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.” The booklet will include new liner written by Prince’s then engineer Don Batts, plus previously unseen candid photos of Prince. The cover art is a backstage photo of Prince taken by frequent collaborator Allen Beaulieu during the 1999 tour.

Prince Estate entertainment adviser Troy Carter had this to say about the album in a press release: “This raw, intimate recording, which took place at the start of Prince’s career right before he achieved international stardom, is similar in format to the Piano & A Microphone Tour that he ended his career with in 2016. The Estate is excited to be able to give fans a glimpse of his evolution and show how his career ultimately came full circle with just him and his piano.”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Arp: “Nzuku”

Body/Head: “You Don’t Need”

The Charlatans: “Standing Alone”

Deaf Wish: “FFS”

Death Grips: “Ha ha ha”

Neil & Liam Finn: “Back to Life”

A Flock of Seagulls: “Space Age Love Song (With the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra)”

Free Cake For Every Creature: “Around You”

Gang Gang Dance: “Young Boy (Marika in Amerika)”

Gorillaz: “Sorcererz”

Gulp: “I Dream of Your Song”

Idles: “Danny Nedelko”

Jason Isbell: “The Assassin” and “Whisper”

Kevin Krauter: “Suddenly”

Late Bloomer: “Listen”

The Milk Carton Kids: “Younger Years”

Chino Moreno: “Brief Exchange”

Mourn: “Doing It Right”

Cullen Omori: “Happiness Reigns”

Ross From Friends: “Project Cybersyn”

serpentwithfeet: “seedless”

Shy Boys: “Take the Doggie”

The Smashing Pumpkins: “Solara”

Sorry: “Twinkle”

Swamp Dog: “I’ll Pretend”

Alexis Taylor: “Beautiful Thing (Matias Aguayo Remix)”

Underworld: “Apple Shine”

U2: “Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way (Beck Remix)”

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