10 Best Songs of the Week: Temples, Battles, Dry Cleaning, Marika Hackman, and More
Plus Joyero, Bat For Lashes, Jay Som, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks
Welcome to another Songs of the Week. With last week’s list we had a clear #1 and #2 in Angel Olsen and HAIM. This week it was a bit more of a challenge to decide the final order. But we still managed a solid Top 10.
This week’s saddest music news was the untimely passing on Wednesday of David Berman of Silver Jews and Purple Mountains. Our writer Timothy Michalik penned a tribute to Berman, which we posted today.
Marika Hackman’s Any Human Friend was this week’s Album of the Week.
In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Clairo, Sigur Rós (a reissue of Ágætis byrjun), Palehound, Richard Reed Parry, and Marika Hackman. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).
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. Temples: “You’re Either On Something”
British psychedelic pop trio Temples are releasing a new album, Hot Motion, on September 27 via ATO (their first for the label). This week they shared another song from the album, “You’re Either On Something,” in which frontman James Bagshaw sings “You’re either on something or you’re onto something.” The song goes down easy. With impeccable production, it’s a catchy sonic delight.
Of the lyrics on “You’re Either On Something” Bagshaw had this to say in a previous press release announcing the album: “I’m really proud of ‘You’re Either On Something’ lyrically. On that track, I can hear influences of stuff that I listened to when I was growing up. There’s almost a nostalgia to that track, even though it’s very forward-looking. Equally, while the words on [album closer] ‘Monuments’ are a little cryptic, it’s very much about the time we live in. I wouldn’t say it’s a political song but you can’t help but write about the things that are happening.”
In regards the band’s upcoming tour dates, Bagshaw had this to say in a new press release: “I’m excited for people to experience these songs for the first time. They are constructed in such a way that the album should feel relatively instantaneous, but we did not water down our creative ideas. Getting that balance can be hard, perhaps on the last record on some songs we used too many layers to create depth, but making this album we discovered that depth doesn’t simply come by layering things, it can come from the intensity of an idea.”
Hot Motion is the band’s third album follows 2014’s debut album, Sun Structures, and 2017’s sophomore album, Volcano. The band now consists of James Bagshaw (lead vocals/guitar), Thomas Walmsley (bass/vocals), and Adam Smith (keyboards/guitar/vocals). The album was recorded in a studio set up in an outbuilding of Bagshaw’s house in the midlands of England.
“We’ve gone from bedroom to living room to a dedicated space. We could all set up in the same room and allow things to play out a lot more like a band. That played a huge part in the sound of the record,” said Walmsley in a press release.
In terms of Hot Motion‘s sound, Walmsley had this to say: “It felt like there was a darker edge to what we were coming up with and we wanted to make sure that carried through the whole record. It’s not a 10 track, relentless rock record from start to finish, it’s got a lot of light and shade and more tender moments, but that heavier, darker sound is something we wanted to explore further.”
2. Battles: “Titanium 2 Step” (feat. Sal Principato)
This week Battles announced a new album, Juice B Crypts, and shared its first single, the unrelenting “Titanium 2 Step,” which features Sal Principato of Liquid Liquid. Juice B Crypts finds Battles reconfigured as a duo, Ian Williams (keys, guitar, electronics) and John Stanier (drums) remain after bassist Dave Konopka left the band last year. Juice B Crypts is due out October 18 via Warp. Check out the album’s cover art and the band’s upcoming tour dates here.
Juice B Crypts is the band’s fourth full-length, the follow-up to 2015’s La Di Da Di. Chris Tabron (Trash Talk, Mobb Deep, Ratking) produced and mixed the album. As well as Sal Principato, the album also features Xenia Rubinos, Taipei-based psychedelic band Prairie WWWW, Yes vocalist Jon Anderson, Shabazz Palaces, and tUnE-yArDs.
Williams had this to say about the album in a press release: “It’s about chord progressions, resolutions, returning home. Take that and throw it into a blender of modern electronic tools like glitching devices, or use melodic lines and take them and regurgitate them and pulverize the traditional stuff but at the same time try and retain harmonic relationships while completely smashing them up.”
Stanier had this to say about “Titanium 2 Step” in the press release: “We loved making this record in our hometown of New York and cannot be more pleased that Sal from Liquid Liquid is on the track, it could not have been more perfect.”
3. Dry Cleaning: “Goodnight”
Previously the EP’s “Magic of Meghan” (described in a press release as “an ode to Meghan Markle”) was an honorable mention in one of our Songs of the Week lists (watch the video for it below again). The band features Florence Shaw, Lewis Maynard, Tom Dowse, and Nick Buxton. They’ve all been friends for years, but started making music together after a karaoke party. Although, ironically, they started out making instrumental music until Shaw joined in on vocals, having never previously been involved in music before (for her day jobs she’s a university lecturer and picture researcher). A press release cites The Feelies, The Necessaries, The B-52s, and Pylon as influences.
Shaw had this to say about “Goodnight” in the press release: “The lyrics are a mixture of inner monologue, YouTube comments describing memories of songs, and phrases collected from adverts on TV. The YouTube comments represent strangers sharing poignant memories. The phrases from ads suggest our bodies are naturally disgusting, that we ought to work harder, and that our relationships might fail. ‘Goodnight’ is partly about feeling fed up with these ideas, and partly about feeling uplifted by openness on the internet.”
4. Marika Hackman: “hand solo”
British singer/songwriter Marika Hackman released a new album, Any Human Friend, today via Sub Pop. It was our Album of the Week and you can stream it here. Now that the album is out, we can share one of our favorite non-single album tracks, “hand solo.” The song works even better in the context of the album, as the preceding song “send my love” ends with a computerized voice saying the opening lines that Hackman then sings at the start of “hand solo.” We also considered the album’s “blow” and “come undone,” which are honorable mentions below.
Today we posted our rave review of the album and you can read that here.
Previously she shared the album’s first single “i’m not where you are” (which was one of our Songs of the Week), as well as a video for the song. Then she shared “the one,” which made it to #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then shared another song from the album, the sexually charged “all night,” which also made our Songs of the Week list at #2.
Any Human Friend is the follow-up to her 2017-released breakthrough release, sophomore album I’m Not Your Man. Hackman co-produced the album with David Wrench (Frank Ocean, The xx, Let’s Eat Grandma).
In a previous press release Hackman summed up the album this way: “This whole record is me diving into myself and peeling back the skin further and further, exposing myself in quite a big way. It can be quite sexual. It’s blunt, but not offensive. It’s mischievous.”
Hackman added: “I’m a hopeless romantic. I search for love and sexual experience, but also I’m terrified by it.”
Hackman is unabashed about tackling these themes, even if her only family is a little less enthused. “I sent ‘all night’ to my parents and they were quite shocked,” she said in the press release. “Why does it sound shocking coming out of my mouth? Women have sex with each other, and it seems to me we aren’t as freely allowed to discuss that as men are. But at no point am I disrespecting the women I’m having sex with. It can be fucking sexy without banging people over the head with a frying pan. It’s sexy sex.”
5. Joyero: “Steepest Stairs”
Joyero is the solo project of Andy Stack of Wye Oak. He is releasing his debut album as Joyero, Release the Dogs, on August 23 via Merge. This week he shared another song from the album, “Steepest Stairs,” via a self-directed video for the track.
The “Steepest Stairs” video was filmed in west Texas and features Stack running down a deserted road and falling against a white background. Stack had this to say about “Steepest Stairs” in a press release: “It’s a song about feeling like an outsider, and finding some peace in that.”
Release the Dog includes “Salt Mine,” a song shared back in March. When the album was announced, Stack shared another song from it, “Dogs,” via a video for the track (it was one of our Songs of the Week).
6. Bat For Lashes: “The Hunger”
Bat For Lashes (aka Natasha Khan) is releasing a new album, Lost Girls, on September 6 via AWAL Recordings. This week she shared another song from it, “The Hunger,” via a self-directed video for the track. The album is vampire-themed and the song might take its name from Tony Scott’s 1983 cult vampire movie The Hunger, which starred David Bowie, Susan Sarandon, and Catherine Deneuve, and prominently featured Bauhaus in the opening scene. The video for “The Hunger” features Khan (as the album’s main character Nikki Pink) and various other women in the desert performing some sort of ritual.
Previously Khan shared Lost Girls‘ first single, “Kids in the Dark” (which was one of our Songs of the Week). Then she shared a video for the track. Khan directed it herself and starred as the album’s main character Nikki Pink, in this case as a vampire stalking a lover, backed by a gang of female vampires. Then she shared the album’s second single, “Feel For You,” which has a strong ’80s vibe and was #1 on our Songs of the Week list.
Lost Girls is the follow-up to 2016’s concept album The Bride, which came out via Parlophone/Warner Bros. Although in 2018 Khan scored the BBC/Netflix show Requiem, for which she picked up an Ivor Norvello Award.
A previous press release set the scene for Lost Girls this way: “If her last album, The Bride, was melancholy and mournful, a tone poem of loss and regret, Lost Girls is her mischievous younger sister, widescreen in scope and bursting with Technicolour intensity. It’s an album for driving in the dark; holding hands at sunset; jumping off bridges with vampires; riding your bike across the moon…. Spanning 10 tracks, Lost Girls sees Khan dreaming up her own fully formed parallel universe, creating an off-kilter coming of age film in which gangs of marauding female bikers roam our streets, teenagers make out on car hoods and a powerful female energy casts spells and leave clues for us to follow. The women of Lost Girls are parallel to one of Khan’s previous female protagonists, the tough, darkness-driven Pearl, from her 2009 lauded album Two Suns. Within the women of Lost Girls and the character Nikki Pink, Khan unfolds elements of herself; within these songs, we do the same.”
7. Jay Som: “Nighttime Drive”
Jay Som (aka Melina Duterte) is releasing a new album, Anak Ko, on August 23 via Polyvinyl. This week she shared another song from it, “Nighttime Drive,” via a video for the track. In it Duterte and her band are on the road in their tour van when they encounter a hula hooping alien. Remember, the truth is out there.
A press release says “Nighttime Drive” is about “accepting and becoming stronger from constantly being on the road.” Duterte adds that the song “basically encapsulated my entire life for the past two years.”
Han Hale directed the video and in a press release says it is “an homage to the song’s namesake; the song is about being a band on the road and the camaraderie involved.”
Previously Jay Som shared Anak Ko‘s first single, “Superbike,” via a lyric video for the track (it was #1 on our Song of the Week list). Then she shared another song from the album, the dreamy “Tenderness,” via a video for the track (it was also one of our Songs of the Week).
Anak Ko is the follow-up to 2017’s acclaimed Everybody Works, also on Polyvinyl (which was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017). Duterte was based in the Bay Area, but relocated to Los Angeles prior to recording the new album. She recorded Anak Ko at home as the sole producer, engineer, and mixer. A previous press release pointed out that “in some songs, you can hear the washer/dryer near her bedroom.” Although it wasn’t a completely solitary affair, the album also features plenty of guests, including Vagabon’s Laetitia Tamko, Chastity Belt’s Annie Truscott, Justus Proffit, and Boy Scouts’ Taylor Vick, as well as her touring bandmates Zachary Elasser, Oliver Pinnell, and Dylan Allard.
The album’s title is pronounced “Ah-nuh Koh,” which means “my child” in Filipino. It was inspired by a text message from Duterte’s mother, who often addresses her as “anak ko.” “It’s an endearing thing to say, it feels comfortable,” Duterte said in the previous press release.
In the press release Duterte said the album is about the importance of patience and kindness and that those concepts have helped her growth as an artist. “In order to change, you’ve got to make so many mistakes,” she said. “What’s helped me is forcing myself to be even more peaceful and kind with myself and others. You can get so caught up in attention, and the monetary value of being a musician, that you can forget to be humble. You can learn more from humility than the flashy stuff. I want kindness in my life. Kindness is the most important thing for this job, and empathy.”
The album is due out in North America on Polyvinyl, in Australia/New Zealand/Asia via Pod/Inertia Music, and in the rest of the world via Lucky Number.
Back in February Jay Som shared a brand new song, “Simple,” that was released as part of the Adult Swim Singles series. That song is not featured on the new album. Last year Jay Som teamed up with Justus Proffit for a collaborative EP, Nothing’s Changed.
8. Moon Duo: “Lost Heads”
Moon Duo (aka Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada) are releasing a new album, Stars Are the Light, on September 27th via Sacred Bones. This week they shared its second single, “Lost Heads.” Fans of Johnson’s other band, psych rock mainstays Wooden Shjips, will find much to like here.
Sonic Boom (aka Peter Kember of Spacemen 3 and Spectrum) mixed Stars Are the Light in Portugal’s Serra de Sintra. A press release announcing the album described its sound this way: “Taking disco as its groove-oriented departure point, Stars Are the Light shimmers with elements of ’70s funk and ’90s rave.”
Yamada had this to say about “Lost Heads” in a press release: “We have changed, the nature of our collaboration has changed, the world has changed, and we wanted the new music to reflect that.”
9. Pixies: “Catfish Kate”
Pixies are releasing a new album, Beneath the Eyrie, on September 13 via Infectious/BMG. Previously they shared its first single, “On Graveyard Hill,” as well as a video for the song. This week they shared another song from the album, “Catfish Kate,” via an animated video for the track.
UK/European-based Krank! Collective produced the “Catfish Kate” video (they previously produced the animated video for “Tenement Song,” from Pixies’ 2016 album, Head Carrier). In particular, Krank!’s Neirin Best and Lianne Pierce created the “Catfish Kate” video. A press release said they did so “using a variety of handmade and digital animation techniques, including old school light box, painted animation, rotoscoping, and digital compositing.”
A previous press release said Beneath the Eyrie features “tales of witches, Daniel Boone, misfits, and other characters.”
The band features Black Francis (vocals, guitars), Joey Santiago (guitars), David Lovering (drums), and Paz Lenchantin (bass). Tom Dalgety produced Beneath the Eyrie, which was written over the course of 2018 and recorded last December at Dreamland Recordings near Woodstock, NY. The studio was originally St. John’s Church built in 1896. The album’s title was inspired when “Lovering spotted an eagles nest – or ‘eyrie’ – right above the studio in a tree.”
The making of the album is being chronicled in It’s a Pixies Podcast, which is produced by the band and hosted/narrated by New York Times best-selling author Tony Fletcher.
Beneath the Eyrie is Pixies’ third album since reuniting in 2004 and is the follow-up to 2016’s Head Carrier (which was the first album to feature Lenchantin) and 2014’s Indie Cindy (which was more of an EP collection than an album).
10. !!!: “This Is the Door”
!!! (pronounced Chk Chk Chk) are releasing a new album, Wallop, on August 30 via Warp. This week they shared another song from it, “This Is the Door,” which showcases the vocals of the band’s Meah Pace.
Wallop is the follow-up to 2017’s Shake the Shudder. Previously the band shared three other songs from the album: “UR Paranoid,” “Off the Grid,” and “Serbia Drums.” Frontman Nic Offer recorded the album in his Brooklyn apartment. As well as vocals from Offer and regular co-vocalist Meah Pace, the album also features guest vocals from Liars’ Angus Andrew, Sink Ya Teeth’s Maria Uzor, and Glasser’s Cameron Mesirow.
A previous press release described the album this way: “Like an apocalyptic jukebox, Wallop is jam-packed with various sounds and styles from dance music’s rich history-from the pie-eyed psychedelia of Madchester-era English dance-rock to tunnel-vision techno and the flashy, bomb-dropping sound of UK grime. The candy-coated sounds of ’90s rave loom large in Wallop‘s playful darkness, a callback to another era when everything felt like it was just about ready to fall apart.”
Offer had this to add: “Diving into ’90s retro nostalgia is good for us. I know all the ’80s stuff already, so it’s like, ‘What did happen in the ’90s?’ Because in the ’90s, we were just listening to James Brown.”
These 7 songs almost made the Top 10.
Future Teens: “So What”
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds: “This Is the Place”
Marika Hackman: “blow” and “come undone”
The Lilac Time: “(I’m) a Believer”
Bruce Springsteen: “I’ll Stand By You”
Faye Webster: “Both All the Time”
Other notable new tracks in the last week include:
Ariel Pink: “Stray Here With You”
The Beatles: “Something (Studio Demo),” “Something (Take 39 / Instrumental / Strings Only),” and “Something (2019 Mix)”
BROCKHAMPTON: “If You Pray Right”
Cashmere Cat: “Emotions” (Feat
Ceremony: “Presaging the End”
Chastity Belt: “Elena”
Lana Del Rey: “Looking For America” and “Season of the Witch” (Donovan Cover)
Empty Country: “Ultrasound” and “Jets”
Gold Panda: “Transactional Relationship”
Guided By Voices: “Heavy Like the World”
Hater: “Four Tries Down”
Ladytron: “Far From Home (Dave the Hustler Remix)”
Shannon Lay: “August”
Mudhoney: “One Bad Actor”
Oh Sees: “Captain Loosely”
Peaer: “Have Fun!”
Katy Perry: “Small Talk”
Phantogram: “Mister Impossible”
Lisa Prank: “Rodeo”
The Telescopes: “Strange Waves”
Tool: “Fear Inoculum”
Maria Usbeck: “Obscuro Obituario”
Hana Vu: “At the Party”
(Note: Bon Iver released eight new songs this week and then released their new album three weeks early. We considered adding all eight songs to other notable new tracks, but since the whole album was also released, we decided against it. You can stream it here.)