7 Best Songs of the Week: MGMT, U.S. Girls, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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7 Best Songs of the Week: MGMT, U.S. Girls, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and More

Plus Marlon Williams, Ought, Titus Andronicus, El Perro Del Mar, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Feb 09, 2018 Titus Andronicus Bookmark and Share

It was a lighter week for exciting new tracks this week. So for this week’s Songs of the Week we only have a Top 7. Our #1 is jokingly presented as a cover (or a rip off of another artist’s song), but it’s not. There are quite a few actual covers in the honorable mentions however.

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

1. MGMT: “Me and Michael”

MGMT (Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser) released a new album, Little Dark Age, today via Columbia (stream it here). On Wednesday, two days before the album’s release, they shared a video for another song from the album, “Me and Michael.” Joey Frank and Randy Maitland directed the weird and funny video, in which MGMT rip off the song from the Filipino band True Faith. It becomes a hit, but then MGMT are accused of stealing the song and the band is disgraced. But there are also some strange details, such as a cell phone that looks like it’s made of meat. Watch it below.

MGMT went a step further with the joke and seemingly had True Faith cover “Me and Michael,” but post their video last week, to make it seem like MGMT ripped them off (when of course MGMT’s version was recorded months ago). Check out the True Faith version below as well. And then there’s a version by a mysterious Russian band as well, which is below too.

Previously they shared a gothic video for the album’s title track, “Little Dark Age,” along with another song from the album, “When You Die,” via a trippy video that starred actor Alex Karpovsky (Girls) as a struggling magician. Then they shared another song from the album, the relaxed “Hand It Over,” via a psychedelic lyric video.

Little Dark Age was produced by MGMT, former Chairlift member Patrick Wimberly, and long-time collaborator Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, who has worked on all three of their previous albums). The album is the follow-up to 2013’s MGMT.

2. U.S. Girls: “Rosebud”

U.S. Girls (aka Meghan Remy) is releasing a new album, In a Poem Unlimited, on February 16 via 4AD. Previously she shared videos for “Velvet 4 Sale,” “Mad As Hell,” and “Pearly Gates.” This week she shared another song from the album via a video, “Rosebud.” Alex Kingsmill directed the video, which was edited by Remy and stars Maximilian Turnbull as a bird handler. In the clip birds sing along to the song.

In a Poem Unlimited is U.S. Girls’ sixth album and the follow-up to 2015’s Half Free, also on 4AD. Read our 2015 interview with U.S. Girls.

3. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks: “Middle America”

On Tuesday Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks shared a 20-second teaser video via their Twitter account that appeared to be a clip from a new music video, with the former Pavement frontman singing on the roof of a building. Then on Wednesday the band shared that new song in full. It’s entitled “Middle America” and Malkmus and co. have also announced some tour dates that take them there (and elsewhere). Check out the tour dates here.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks’ last album was 2014’s Wig Out At Jagbags. It seems like that a new album will be announced soon.

4. Marlon Williams: “Come to Me”

New Zealand singer/songwriter/guitarist Marlon Williams is releasing his sophomore album, Make Way For Love, on February 16 via Dead Oceans. Previously he shared a video for its first single, “Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore,” which is a duet with Aldous Harding, as well as a video for another song from the album, “What’s Chasing You.” This week he shared the third single from the album, “Come to Me,” via a video directed by Martin Sagadin. It features Williams and friends playing basketball (and Williams is quite tall, so he’s well suited for the game). The song is a nostalgic string-swept ballad.

Williams released his self-titled debut album in America on Dead Oceans in early 2016 and he shared a video for a brand new standalone single, “Vampire Again,” last August. Make Way For Love began with pre-production in Williams’ native Lyttelton, New Zealand with regular collaborator Ben Edwards. Then the album was recorded with Williams’ backing band, The Yarra Benders and producer Noah Georgeson in North California’s Panoramic Studios. “Vampire Again” is not featured on the album.

Read our 2016 interview with Marlon Williams.

5. Ought: “Desire”

Montréal post-rockers Ought are releasing a new album, Room Inside the World, on February 16 via Merge (their first for the label, previously they were on Constellation). Previously they shared videos for its first two singles, “These 3 Things” and “Disgraced in America.” This week they shared a third single from the album, “Desire.” In a press release bassist Ben Stidworthy describes the song as “Sade meets Bruce Springsteen.” The track culminates with a 70-piece choir, which is subtly laced into the song rather than overpowering it.

Room Inside the World was recorded at the Rare Book Room studio in Brooklyn with producer Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter, Animal Collective). A previous press release described the album as such: ”Room Inside the World was approached with newfound patience. Together, Ought constructed a (digital) moodboard to set their intentions: Brian Eno and Stereolab synths, the Mekons’ 1985 album Fear and Whiskey, and Gerhard Richter and Kenneth Anger’s sexy, fluorescent hyperreal all made it into the melting pot.”

The album is the follow-up to 2015’s second album, Sun Coming Down. Read our 2014 interview with Ought.

6. Titus Andronicus: “Above the Bodega (Local Business)”

Titus Andronicus are releasing a new album, A Productive Cough, on March 2 via Merge. Previously they shared a video for its first single, “Number One (in New York).” This week they shared the album’s second single, “Above the Bodega (Local Business),” which has been shared via a Ray Concepcion-directed video of the band recording the song in the studio. The song is heavy on handclaps, horns, and backing vocals, so it’s quite pop for a Titus Andronicus song. Frontman Patrick Stickles mentions his mom and the video cuts to her.

Patrick Stickles had this to say about the song in a press release: “All the songs on [A Productive Cough] deal with the realities of life, as I understand them, in my adopted hometown of New York City, and one quality that does much to define New York City life is the access to 24-hour consumption. The first floor of the apartment building in which I live is occupied by a deli-grocery, to which I give my patronage several times a day. As a result, I have developed a particular understanding with the staff there which I have not so far heard articulated in song. Thusly, I took it upon myself to write the ‘ultimate’ song explicating the bodega clerk-patron relationship…. More and more, we are defined by the things which we consume, and those who facilitate that consumption may glimpse a more truthful view of ourselves than the carefully curated image we share with our loved ones. No one knows the depths of my vice better than they who oversee the transactions which make it possible-in this way, the deli clerk knows me better than my own mother.”

Stickles had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “[Titus Andronicus] records have always had their fair share of ballads, but they were always buried. Now, they are the cornerstones.”

7. El Perro Del Mar: “Mirrors”

Sweden’s El Perro Del Mar (aka Sarah Assbring) is releasing a new six-song EP, We Are History, on February 23 via The Control Group. Today she shared the EP’s opening track, “Mirrors,” via a video for the song. Connor Hurley directed the video, which features three generations of women (or the same woman at three different ages, it’s unclear).

Assbring had this to say about the video in a press release: “It’s a dialogue with another human being (or oneself), either in present time or in the past - to help better understand oneself and therefore our fellow human beings. It’s a song left somewhere on a cold moor about reaching out to yourself for empathy and humanity. Of daring to see yourself and others with love and compassion.”

Hurley said this: “For me, ‘Mirrors’ is about the struggle and perseverance of women from the beginning of time. The characters represent the same woman at three stages of life and the idea of attempting to communicate with your past and present selves.”

Assbring also had this to say about the EP in the press release: “We Are History is about me, the people of the world and the history behind us. Knowledge learnt through time that we should’ve cherished but that we throw away. The music and the theme of the EP have a close link to the past. Lately I’ve kept going back hundreds or two hundreds years back in time in a desperate attempt to connect to people living back then to find some answer to our condition today. What did we do to end up here? How different are we or are we any different?”

Read our recent 2017 Artist Survey interview with El Perro Del Mar.

Other notable new tracks this week include:

A Perfect Circle: “TalkTalk”

Barely Civil: “You With a Cape, Me With a Baseball Bat”

Beach Fossils: “Agony” (Yung Lean Cover)

Blood Orange: “Christopher & 6th” and “June 12th”

Win Butler and Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and RAM: “Ann Ale! (Let’s Go!)”

Car Seat Headrest: “My Boy (Twin Fantasy)” (2018 Version)

D∆WN: “Waves”

Katie Dey: “Data”

Eels: “Today Is the Day”

Frankie Cosmos: “Being Alive”

Franz Ferdinand: “Shut Up Kiss Me” (Angel Olsen Cover)

Gordi: “Sorrento Moon (I Remember)” (Tina Arena Cover)

PJ Harvey and Harry Escott: “An Acre of Land” (English Folk Standard Cover)

Haley Heynderickx: “Worth It”

Half Waif: “Keep It Out”

King Tuff: “Psycho Star”

L7: “I Came Back to Bitch”

Walter Martin: “Me & McAlevey”

No Joy / Sonic Boom: “Obsession”

of Montreal: “Love Isn’t a Right” (Molly Drake Cover)

John Prine: “Summer’s End”

Screaming Females: “No More I Love You’s” (Annie Lennox Cover)

Sloan: “The Day Will Be Mine”

St. Vincent: “Consideration” (Rihanna Cover)

Sune Rose Wagner: “Let My Baby Ride” (R.L. Burnside Cover)

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