7 Best Songs of the Week: Jarvis Cocker, Hatchie, The National, Younghusband, and More
Plus Men I Trust, Alex Lahey, The Raconteurs, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks
Welcome to another Songs of the Week. We weren’t blown away by too many new tracks this week, beyond the Top 4 on the list below, hence a slightly shorter list this week.
In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by The National, The Flaming Lips, Matmos, Alex Lahey, Patience, Guided By Voices, NOTS, Vampire Weekend, The Mountain Goats, The Get Up Kids, The Drums, and Jamila Woods. Plus we posted reviews of various 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 7 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. JARV IS… (aka Jarvis Cocker): “MUST I EVOLVE”
This week Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker shared a new song, “MUST I EVOLVE,” under the band name JARV IS. The band also features Serafina Steer, Emma Smith, Andrew McKinney, Jason Buckle, and Adam Betts and have been playing shows since late 2017, including ones in caverns and at last year’s Desert Daze festival in California. “MUST I EVOLVE” is the first single credited to JARV IS… and is only available in physical form at the band’s live shows because, as a press release states, “JARV IS… primarily a live experience.” Still, you can watch a lyric video for “MUST I EVOLVE” below. The expansive and propulsive song is 6:44 long has moments that remind of vintage Pulp (there are hints of “Space” and “Acrylic Afternoons” for example).
It’s been 10 years since Further Complications, Cocker’s last solo album (which followed Jarvis, his 2006 solo debut). Although in 2017 he teamed up with Chilly Gonzales for a collaborative concept album, Room 29, inspired by room 29 in the iconic Hollywood hotel Château Marmont, which has had many famous guests (the hotel opened in 1929). In 2017 Cocker also guested on “Century,” the standout track on Feist‘s last album, Pleasure, and teamed up with Iggy Pop to cover the Nick Cave classic “Red Right Hand” for the TV show Peaky Blinders.
JARV IS’ live schedule includes festival appearances at All Points East and Primavera.
Read our 2017 extended Q&A with Cocker on Room 29.
Read our 2007 interview with Cocker on Jarvis.
2. Hatchie: “Obsessed”
Hatchie is the dream pop project of Australian musician Harriette Pilbeam. Her debut album, Keepsake, is due out June 21 via Double Double Whammy. This week she shared another song from the album, “Obsessed,” via a fun video for the track that features footage of Pilbeam and her band on tour in America and elsewhere. Hatchie has also announced some new U.S. tour dates for this September. Check out the tour dates here.
Previously Hatchie shared a video for Keepsake‘s first single, “Without a Blush,” which was our #1 Song of the Week. Then she shared another song from the album, danceable breakup song “Stay With Me,” via a video for the track. “Stay With Me” was our #2 Song of the Week.
Back in May 2018 she released her debut EP under the Hatchie name, Sugar & Spice, via Double Double Whammy. Despite it being an EP, it made it on our Top 100 Albums of 2018 list. Pilbeam recorded Keepsake in a home studio in Melbourne. John Castle, the producer behind Sugar & Spice, once again collaborated with Pilbeam.
A previous press release/bio announcing the album highlighted some of Keepsake‘s tracks. “Her Own Heart,” for example, was described as “a radiant jangle-pop gem that puts a singular twist on the post-breakup narrative.”
Pilbeam elaborated further on the song: “I’d seen people in my life go through breakups and end up with no idea what to do with themselves. I wrote that song from the point of view of a girl who winds up on her own and embraces having to figure out who she is, who doesn’t let her life get turned upside-down like that.”
“Stay With Me” was described as “Keepsake‘s most utterly rhapsodic track, all incandescent synth and unstoppable rhythm.”
Pilbeam commented: “At first I thought I could never put that on my album-it felt too dancey and pop, and I figured it could really shine on someone else’s record. But then I realized: I’m the one dictating what my sound is; what I put on my album is up to me.”
Of the album title, Pilbeam explained: “I’m not much of a nostalgic person when it comes to memories, but I do have a tendency to hold on to certain things, like tickets from the first time I went someplace on holiday. It made sense to me to call the record that, at a time when I’m going to probably end up with a lot of keepsakes-and in a way, this whole album is almost like a keepsake in itself.”
3. The National: “Rylan”
The National released a new album, I Am Easy to Find, today via 4AD (stream it here). It is accompanied by a 24-minute short film directed by Mike Mills and starring Oscar-winning Swedish actress Alicia Vikander. On the eve of the album’s release they shared one last song from it, “Rylan.” To describe it as a “new song” is not entirely accurate, they’ve been performing it live for years, but now they’ve finally shared the studio version.
Previously The National shared I Am Easy to Find‘s first single, “You Had Your Soul with You” (which features guest vocals from David Bowie collaborator Gail Ann Dorsey and was our #1 Song of the Week), as well as a trailer for the film. Then they shared another song from the album, closing track “Light Years,” via a video made up of footage from the film, with Vikander playing a woman seen through the years, from childhood to motherhood. “Light Years” was also one of our Songs of the Week.
Then they shared another song from it, “Hairpin Turns,” via a Mills-directed black & white video for the track that doesn’t feature footage from the short film, but instead showcases the band performing the song in a stark white space. The song features Gail Ann Dorsey and Lisa Hannigan and the video features vocalists Dorsey, Pauline de Lassus (aka Mina Tindle), and This Is the Kit’s Kate Stables. “Hairpin Turns” was our #1 Song of the Week.
Then they shared the full short film several days early, as well as releasing two separate commentary videos on the film, one by Mills and one by frontman Matt Berninger and his wife (and lyric co-writer) Carin Besser, plus a video of a live Q&A in New York about the film featuring Mills and the band, hosted by Julien Baker.
Then they stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform the album’s “You Had Your Soul With You.” They were aided by a string quartet and two guest singers, Stables and de Lassus.
The album also features vocal contributions from Sharon Van Etten, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and more.
“Yes, there are a lot of women singing on this, but it wasn’t because, ‘Oh, let’s have more women’s voices,'” said frontman Matt Berninger in a previous press release. “It was more, ‘Let’s have more of a fabric of people’s identities.’ It would have been better to have had other male singers, but my ego wouldn’t let that happen.”
The project came together when Mills, who has directed iconic music videos and feature films such as 20th Century Women and Beginners, approached Berninger in September 2017 about collaborating together. Instead of just having Mills make a music video or two for them, they decided to get him much further involved in the album, so much so that Mills co-produced with the band. The album was recorded in Long Pond, Hudson Valley, NY, with additional sessions in Paris, Berlin, Cincinnati, Austin, Dublin, Brooklyn, and elsewhere.
4. Younghusband: “Modern Lie”
British trio Younghusband are releasing a new album, Swimmers, on June 7 via Opposite Number. Previously they shared its first single and opening track, “Translation,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. This week we were pleased to premiere the album’s second single, “Modern Lie.” It may be a jaunty indie pop song but, as its title suggests, it’s about confronting the truth about yourself. It’s also a song so nice they recorded it twice.
Frontman and songwriter Euan Hinshelwood had this to say about the song: “It’s about giving into fallacies, internal and external, without too much resistance. Believing things about yourself and others that just aren’t true, like you no longer know where the start or end point of anything is. And then realizing you probably shouldn’t take things so seriously all the time, and just be a bit lighter of thought.”
Of recording the song, Hinshelwood says: “We recorded this song twice, at the very beginning of the album session and the very end. So it’s the first and last song we recorded for the album. Two very different versions. Which kind of works with the subject matter.”
Swimmers is the band’s third album, the follow-up to 2015’s Dissolver. Hinshelwood set up a studio in a barn in Greenwich, England, which is where Swimmers was recorded.
In a previous press release Hinshelwood had this to say about recording the album: “I didn’t play the songs to the guys before. For the majority of the record the band had only heard the songs on the day of recording them. We then went over the top of those bare bones but at the core of it I wanted to get something loose and gritty.”
Hinshelwood also had this to say about Swimmers: “There were so many things we liked and disliked about our first two records. We thought we’d try and find a middle ground. I wanted to bring us back to that place between the first and second record but with more confidence in songwriting. Maybe being a bit more extreme – a bit more emotional extremity and openness.”
5. Men I Trust: “Norton Commander (All We Need)”
Men I Trust were supposed to release a new album, Oncle Jazz, back in February, but then it got postponed to who knows when. While we wait for a new release date, this week they shared a video for a new song, “Norton Commander.” The chilled out track ends too soon, we’d happily live in this vibe for another two or three minutes. The video features a relaxed drive around Los Angeles.
6. Alex Lahey: “Isabella”
Australian singer/songwriter Alex Lahey released a new album, The Best of Luck Club, today via Dead Oceans (stream it here). While all three of the album’s pre-release singles made our previous Songs of the Week lists, there are some album tracks worth considering too. We settled on the piano-backed “Isabella,” seemingly an unabashed queer love song, although in Pitchfork’s review of the album writer Abigail Covington seems to think it’s an ode to a vibrator.
Previously Lahey shared a video for The Best of Luck Club‘s first single, “Don’t Be so Hard on Yourself,” which features a prominent saxophone solo from Lahey and was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared another song from the album, “Am I Doing It Right,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared another song from the album, the ballad “Unspoken History,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week.
The album is the follow-up to her 2017-released debut album, I Love You Like a Brother (it was our joint Album of the Week and one of our favorites albums of that year). Lahey began writing The Best of Luck Club in Nashville, sometimes locking herself in a room for 12-hour days. Then the album was recorded over the course of a month in her hometown of Melbourne at Sing Sing South. Lahey co-produced the album alongside Grammy-winning producer Catherine Marks (Local Natives, St. Vincent, Manchester Orchestra). Lahey plays nearly every instrument on the album, with the appearance of the saxophone a reference to her past studying jazz saxophone at university.
Lahey had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “In Nashville I was really inspired by the dive bar scene there and the idea that at these dive bars there’s no pretentious energy. Whether you’ve had the best day of your life or the worst day of your life, you can just sit up at the bar and turn to the person next to you – who has no idea who you are – and have a chat. And the response that you generally get at the end of the conversation is, ‘Best of luck,’ so The Best of Luck Club is that place.”
The previous press release described the sound of the album as such: “The Best of Luck Club picks up where Brother left off, but sprints forward with killer hooks, her acute sense of humor, and a more polished sound. Throughout, Lahey’s sharp songwriting and propensity for taking personal minute details and transforming them into anthemic pop-punk is showcased as she sings about self-doubt, break-ups, mental health, moving in with her girlfriend, vibrators, and generational ennui. Here, Lahey documents ‘the highest highs and the lowest lows’ of her life to date.”
7. The Raconteurs: “Help Me Stranger”
The Raconteurs are releasing a new album, Help Us Stranger, on June 21 via Third Man. Today they shared another song from the album, near title track “Help Me Stranger,” via a video for the track. Yasuhiko Shimizu directed the video, which was shot in Kimitsu, Japan while the band was on their Japanese tour. It features lots of shots of the band all turning to the camera at the same time.
Help Us Stranger is their first new album in 11 years, since their 2008-released second album, Consolers of the Lonely. No new music accompanied the album announcement, but it includes remixed and remastered versions of two songs the band shared back in December: “Sunday Driver” and “Now That You’re Gone.” Then they later shared another track from the album, a cover of Donovan’s 1965 song “Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness).”
The band features Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence, and Patrick Keeler. The Raconteurs formed in 2005 and released their debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers, in 2006. Lawrence and Keeler were also in The Greenhornes and Lawrence has also played with White in The Dead Weather. Benson is known as a solo artist and of course so is White, who released a new solo album, Boarding House Reach, in 2018 via Third Man and Columbia. The band is known as The Saboteurs in Australia, due to another band down under named The Raconteurs.
White and Benson wrote all the tracks, except for “Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness).” The Raconteurs produced the album, which was recorded at Third Man Studio in Nashville, TN, and engineered by Joshua V. Smith. Vance Powell and The Raconteurs mixed the album at Blackbird Studios in Nashville. The album also features keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita (The Dead Weather, Queens of the Stone Age), as well as Lillie Mae Rische and her sister Scarlett Rische.
These seven songs almost made the Top 10.
Stef Chura: “Sweet Sweet Midnight” (Feat. Will Toledo)
Jorge Elbrecht / REMYNYS: “Only Gonna Break Your Heart”
The Hives: “I’m Alive”
Modern Nature: “Peradam”
Purple Mountains: “All My Happiness Is Gone”
Sons of An Illustrious Father: “Don’t Cha” (The Pussycat Dolls Cover)
Mavis Staples: “We Get By” (Feat. Ben Harper)
Other notable new tracks in the last week include:
Baroness: “Throw Me An Anchor”
The Black Keys: “Go”
Cave In: “Shake My Blood”
Chance The Rapper: “GRoCERIES” (Feat. TisaKorean & Murda Beatz)
Charli XCX: “Blame It On Your Love” (Feat. Lizzo)
Lana Del Rey: “Doin’ Time” (Sublime Cover)
French Vanilla: “Suddenly”
PJ Harvey: “The Crowded Cell”
Elton John & Taron Egerton: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again”
Lust for Youth: “New Balance Point”
Madonna: “Future” (Feat. Quavo)
Ryan Pollie: “Getting Clean”
Passion Pit & Galantis: “I Found U”
Mark Ronson: “Don’t Leave Me Lonely” (Feat. YEBBA)
Bruce Springsteen: “There Goes My Miracle”
Tycho: “Pink & Blue” (Feat. Saint Sinner)