Eight Best Songs of the Week: Jessie Ware, Charli XCX, Belle and Sebastian, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Eight Best Songs of the Week: Jessie Ware, Charli XCX, Belle and Sebastian, and More

Plus Susanne Sundfør, Everything Everything, Stars, The Roots, Alvvays, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Jul 28, 2017 Jessie Ware Bookmark and Share

It was a busy week for new tracks, with two pop singers (Jessie Ware and Charli XCX) making a strong showing. A couple of classic rockers made a return, and while Ringo Starr’s new song (featuring Paul McCartney and others) was pretty standard old rocker fare, one of Mick Jagger’s new songs (either “Gotta Get a Grip” or the remix of it by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker) surprisingly almost made our Top 8.

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

1. Jessie Ware: “Midnight”

Jessie Ware shared a new song this week, “Midnight.” Its lyrics of “maybe I want you, maybe I need you” may not be revolutionary, but the strong production and Ware’s powerhouse vocals elevate “Midnight” to a superior pop song and our favorite of the week.

It premiered on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show as her World Record. You can listen to the song below, as well as an interview with Ware. “Midnight” is the first taste of her third album, which has yet to be officially announced. Ware’s last album, sophomore effort Tough Love, was released in 2014 via PMR/Friends Keep Secrets/Interscope. Since then she’s had a baby, which partly explains the gap between albums. The new album includes collaborations with Julia Michaels, Francis and The Lights, Cashmere Cat, Benny Blanco, Ed Sheeran, and Ryan Tedder.

In May 2016 Ware shared the new song, “Till the End,” which was written for the soundtrack to the film, Me Before You.

Read our 2014 interview with Jessie Ware.

2. Charli XCX: “Boys”

Charli XCX shared a brand new song this week, “Boys,” via a video she self-directed (with Sarah McColgan) and it was a close second to Jessie Ware. The video understandably got the headlines, but the song is also something of a return to form for Charli XCX, a catchy pop song to be sure, but with some of the over-sugared annoyances of her post-True Romance work reigned in. In keeping with the song’s title, the video features a bunch of well-known “boys,” including Vampire Weekend‘s Ezra Koenig, Mac DeMarco, Mark Ronson, Diplo, Rostam, Chromeo, Flume, Portugal. The Man, Jack Antonoff, Wiz Khalifa, D.R.A.M., Kaytranada, Stormzy, Riz Ahmed and Swet Shop Boys, Ty Dolla $ign, Joey Bada$, Charlie Puth, Khalid, Joe Jonas, Carl Barât (The Libertines), Theo Hutchcraft (Hurts), Dan Smith (Bastille), and others. Charli XCX shows up too, but with a mustache. The whole thing is to be praised for subverting the male gaze. Watch the eye candy below.

Charli XCX released a new mixtape, Number 1 Angel, back in March and her last full-length was 2014’s Sucker. There’s no word on when her next album is due or if “Boys” will be on there.

3. Susanne Sundfør: “Mountaineers” (Feat. John Grant)

“Haunting” and “stirring” are two overused descriptors that come to mind when hearing “Mountaineers,” the latest song by Norwegian singer/songwriter Susanne Sundfør. It’s another track from her forthcoming new album, Music For People in Trouble (due out August 25 via Bella Union), and it starts with the unmistakable deep vocals of John Grant, almost sounding like some sort of Gregorian chant, before Sundfør’s soaring vocals come in and the whole things swells to a climax.

Sundfør had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Mountaineers’ is a song I wrote after spending a week at a retreat with The Dark Mountain Project and Way of Nature, and is inspired by a poem by the American poet Robinson Jeffers, called ‘Rearmament.’ It’s about the importance of seeing the beauty in things in order to find purpose and strength in life.”

John Grant adds: “She blows my mind with her incredible voice.”

4. Everything Everything: “A Fever Dream”

British art-rockers Everything Everything are releasing a new album, A Fever Dream, on August 18 (via RCA in the U.K.). The album is the Manchester band’s fourth and the follow-up to 2015’s Get to Heaven. They previously shared a creepy video for the new album’s first single, “Can’t Do.” In the last week they shared the album’s title track, the danceable “A Fever Dream.”

5. The Roots: “It Ain’t Fair” (Feat. Bilal)

This week The Roots shared a new song featuring Bilal, “It Ain’t Fair.” It’s taken from the soundtrack to Detroit, the new film by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) about the 1967 Detroit riot. Fittingly, “It Ain’t Fair” almost sounds like something from a socially conscious 1970s soul album (Marvin Gaye, etc.), except with a modern hip-hop slant.

6. Stars: “Fluorescent Light”

Last month Montreal indie-pop heroes Stars shared two new songs, “Privilege” and “We Called It Love.” This week they announced their new album and shared a new song, both via NPR. The album is entitled There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light and is due out in October via Last Gang (the exact release date has yet to be announced). The new song is a near title track in that it’s titled “Fluorescent Light.” It features vocals of both Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell as they sing, “No one falls in love under fluorescent light.”

The band issued a statement to NPR about the album: “Does no one fall in love under fluorescent light? Pretty sure that’s not true, as many an office romance could attest. But as a statement in support of love’s delusions, we will stand by it. In love, the lights are different, softer; the air has more oxygen in it; and for a second, all you need is a good chorus to believe this might be the one. It’s a Stars song, but with Peter Katis producing it. So it’s spaghetti with tomato sauce, but Mario Batali cooked it. So eat it.”

Stars are also releasing a documentary to tie into the album, Dinner With Stars, in which, as the title suggests, the band have a meal together. As they explain to NPR: “Here’s a preview of a film we made with our friend Anthony Seck. It’s us having dinner and telling stories and eventually getting a little wasted. There’s a baby in it, too. He’s fantastic in it. In an age where you have to call an album a playlist and a video an event, this is just another one of our little films we make that let you know you’re not alone, you’re only as good as your best story, and it helps if there’s music. Enjoy.”

7. Alvvays: “Dreams Tonite”

Toronto-based indie-pop four-piece Alvvays are releasing a new album, Antisocialites, on September 8 via Polyvinyl. Previously the band shared its first single, album opener “In Undertow,” as well as a trippy lo-fi video for the song. This week the band has shared another song from the album, “Dreams Tonite.”

Antisocialites is the follow-up to their well-received 2014-released self-titled debut album. “This record is a fantasy breakup arc and my life nearly imitated art,” said Rankin in a previous press release.

Pick up Under the Radar‘s current print issue (Summer 2017/Issue 61) to read our new interview with Alvvays or download the digital version to read an extended Q&A with the band.

8. Belle and Sebastian: “We Are Beautiful”

Belle and Sebastian shared a brand new song, “We Are Beautiful,” this week. Right now it’s just a standalone single, there’s no word if the song is from an upcoming album or EP. The band just embarked on a North American tour, so it could be in honor of that. The song starts almost like a mild drum ‘n’ bass song before turning into a more recognizable horn-inflected Belle and Sebastian song. Brian McNeil produced the song with the band.

Is “We Are Beautiful” the band’s best song? Not by a long-shot. But a decent Belle and Sebastian song is still better than many other artists’ great songs and good enough to land it on this list.

The band’s last album was 2015’s Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance. Last year the band announced that they were working on new music that they planned to release as a series of vinyl EPs and frontman Stuart Murdoch posted a casting call looking for models to appear on the covers of the EPs. They weren’t necessarily looking for professional models, but rather regular people who are fans of the band. The cover art for “We Are Beautiful” seems to be culled from this project.

Other notable new songs this week include:

The Afghan Whigs: “You Want Love” (Pleasure Club Cover)

alt-J: “In Cold Blood (Baauer Remix)”

Tori Amos: “Cloud Riders”

Jack Cooper: “Gynn Square”

Ramona Gonzalez, Julia Holter, Cole MGN, Nedelle Torrisi: “Condemnation” (Depeche Mode Cover)

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton: “Planets”

Iron & Wine: “Thomas County Law”

Mick Jagger: “Gotta Get a Grip,” “England Lost” (Feat. Skepta), and “Gotta Get a Grip (Kevin Parker Remix)”

Kesha: “Learn to Let Go”

The Killers: “Run for Cover”

Alex Lahey: “Every Day’s the Weekend”

Briana Marela: “Feel What I Feel”

Mister Heavenly: “Beat Down”

Margo Price: Weakness EP

Purity Ring: “Asido”

Sparks: “Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)”

Ringo Starr: “We’re On the Road Again” (Feat. Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Steve Lukather, and Edgar Winter)

Chelsea Wolfe: “Vex” (Feat. Troy Van Leeuwen and Aaron Turner)

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July 29th 2017

‘A Fever Dream’, they’re on similarly expectation-bending form. It kicks off with the distant, echoing sound of a choir before introducing simple, bare piano and Jonathan’s voice.