Seven Best Songs of the Week: TORRES, Protomartyr, Nine Inch Nails, Ben Gibbard, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Seven Best Songs of the Week: TORRES, Protomartyr, Nine Inch Nails, Ben Gibbard, and More

Plus A. Savage, Tricky, Zola Jesus, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Jul 14, 2017 Songs of the Week Photography by Ashley Connor Bookmark and Share

The first four singles from Arcade Fire‘s forthcoming new album, Everything Now, seem to have gotten a mixed response from fans, but we make no apologies for naming the album’s excellent and catchy first single, title track “Everything Now,” our #1 Song of the Week back on June 2. Still, we have been a bit underwhelmed by the subsequent singles and once again Arcade Fire has not made our Songs of the Week list, with this week’s “Electric Blue,” an elctro-pop number featuring the lead vocals of the band’s Régine Chassagne, simply being an honorable mention. But on the other hand, this week’s #1 marks the second #1 song in a row for the artist.

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. This week featured strong returns from ‘90s icons Nine Inch Nails, Tricky, and Garbage (the latter almost made our Top 7), as well as some covers and remixes. Check out the full list below.

1. TORRES: “Three Futures”

Last month TORRES (aka MacKenzie Scott) shared a brand new song and video, “Skim” (it was our #1 Song of the Week, so this marks her second #1 in a row), and announced that she had signed to the legendary British indie label 4AD. This week she announced her new album, her third, and shared its atmospheric title track via its video. Three Futures is due out September 29 via 4AD.

TORRES last released an album, Sprinter, in 2015, via Partisan. For Three Futures she reunited with Sprinter producer Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey). The album was recorded in Stockport and Dorset, England, and was mixed by David Tolomei (Beach House, Future Islands). Ashley Connor directed the “Three Futures” video, which features MacKenzie in various roles, including as both a housewife and seemingly her husband and ends with her pleasuring herself. Both “Skim” and “Three Futures” have a bit of a St. Vincent vibe, in the best ways possible.

2. Protomartyr: “A Private Understanding”

TORRES isn’t only artist who have jumped to a bigger label, announced a new album this week, and also sport a slightly more accessible sound with its first single. Detroit-formed post punkers Protomartyr announced a new album this week, Relatives in Descent, and shared a video for its first single (also its opening track), “A Private Understanding.” Relatives in Descent is the band’s fourth album and is due out September 29 via Domino, their first for the label (their last two albums, 2014’s Under the Color of Official Right and 2015’s The Agent Intellect, were released by Hardly Art).

Tony Wolski and Trevor Naud directed the “A Private Understanding” video, which features 78-year-old Detroit stand-up comic Marty Smith singing the song in a bar. Casey used to be a doorman at a Detroit comedy club Smith would perform at. The video was inspired by a trip Casey took to Ireland, where he saw an old man singing an Irish folk song in a pub and thought the man looked like an older version of himself.

A press release says that “anxiety about the precarious nature of reality is a recurring thread on” the album. “Though not a concept album,” the press release continues, “it presents twelve variations on a theme: the unknowable nature of truth, and the existential dread that often accompanies that unknowing. It’s no coincidence this missive comes to us at a moment when disinformation and garbled newspeak have become a daily reality.”

Protomartyr singer Joe Casey elaborates in the press release: “I used to think that truth was something that existed, that there were certain shared truths, like beauty. Now that’s being eroded. People have never been more skeptical, and there’s no shared reality. Maybe there never was.”

3. Nine Inch Nails: “LESS THAN”

This week Nine Inch Nails (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) confirmed the details of their previously teased EP, ADD VIOLENCE, and shared a Brook Linder-directed visual for its arresting first single, “LESS THAN.” ADD VIOLENCE is due out digitally July 21 (and on vinyl/CD September 1). It’s the second in a trilogy of EPs, the first being December 2016’s Not The Actual Events.

4. Ben Gibbard: “The Concept” (Teenage Fanclub Cover)

Death Cab for Cutie‘s Ben Gibbard is covering Teenage Fanclub‘s 1991 album Bandwagonesque in its entirety. It will be released on July 28 on limited edition vinyl (with a download card) as part of Turntable Kitchen’s Sounds Delicious vinyl subscription series. This week Gibbard has shared a cover of Teenage Fanclub’s “The Concept” via an animated video. It is a beautiful and expansive 8-minute-long cover.

Gibbard had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “Bandwagonesque is my favorite record by my favorite band of all time. It came along at a pivotal time in my musical life and I’ve loved it for over 25 years. It’s been such a blast taking these songs apart to see how they work and then putting them back together again.”

5. A. Savage: “Winter in the South”

This week Parquet Courts’ frontman Andrew Savage announced his debut solo album, Thawing Dawn, which is being released under the name A. Savage. He also shared the album’s first single, “Winter in the South.” Thawing Dawn is due out October 13 via Dull Tolls. Thawing Dawn was recorded between December 2016 and June 2017 in Jarvis Taveniere’s Thump Studios in Brooklyn. The album also features members of Woods, Ultimate Painting, PC Worship, EZTV, Sunwatchers, and Psychic TV. Parquet Courts released their excellent latest album, Human Performance, back last April via Rough Trade.

6. Tricky: “When We Die” (feat. Martina Topley-Bird)

Trip-hop pioneer Tricky was back this week with a return-to-form new single, “When We Die,” which featured longtime collaborator Martina Topley-Bird. The song was both beautiful and menacing, as Tricky wrestles with eternal questions about the afterlife. This week he also announced a new album, ununiform, which is due out September 22 via False Idols/!K7. “When We Die” is the album’s opening track.

Ununiform is Tricky’s 13th album and was started in Moscow and finished in Berlin, where he’s lived for the last three years. A press release points out that he doesn’t live lavishly. “I don’t know anybody. I eat good food. I go for walks,” Tricky clarifies in the press release. Topley-Bird was featured on Tricky’s 1995-released debut album, Maxinquaye, and the pair have a child together (although aren’t a couple), but they haven’t collaborated on one another’s music in almost 15 years. The album includes a cover of Hole’s 1994 song “Doll Parts.”

7. Zola Jesus: “Soak”

Zola Jesus (aka Nika Roza Danilova) is releasing a new album, Okovi, on September 8 via Sacred Bones. Previously she shared its first single, the dramatic “Exhumed.” This week she shared another song from the album, the slightly more pop-y “Soak.” A press release says the song “is written through the lens of a serial killer’s victim, clinging to life and about to be dumped in the water.”

Danilova had this to say about the song in a press release: “I was thinking about this crucial moment inside the victim’s mind, when she knows she’s going to die. She thinks back at her life and the futility of the decisions she made, when, in the end her life would be cut short against her will. What’s the point of trying to navigate life if you don’t even get to choose how it ends? Instead of letting her fate be determined by someone else, she takes back control and turns it around, so instead, in her mind, she is choosing to die. She lets the killer assist her in suicide, as she gets tossed into the water and slowly drowns. Through writing this song the story evolved within me, and I saw how it mirrored my own feelings inside.”

Okovi marks her return to Sacred Bones after a stint on Mute. The album also features Danilova’s longtime live bandmate Alex DeGroot, along with producer/musician WIFE, cellist/noise-maker Shannon Kennedy (from Pedestrian Deposit), and percussionist Ted Byrnes.

Other notable new songs this week include:

Arcade Fire: “Electric Blue”

Ariel Pink: “Time to Live”

The Blow: “Get Up”

Coldplay: “Miracles (Someone Special) (Feat. Big Sean)”

DIIV’s Zachary Cole Smith: “Cow” (Sparklehorse Cover)

Empress Of: “Go to Hell”

Garbage: “No Horses”

Hercules & Love Affair: “Omnion (Joe Goddard Remix)”

Hundred Waters: “Blanket Me”

Lana Del Rey: “Groupie Love” (feat. A$AP Rocky) and “Summer Bummer” (feat. A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti)

Lomelda: “Interstate Vision”

Mount Kimbie: “Blue Train Lines” (feat. King Krule)

Perfume Genius: “Wreath (Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith Remix)”

Frankie Rose: “Red Museum”

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October 27th 2017

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