10 Best Songs of the Week: Nick Cave, Anna Meredith, Kim Gordon, FKA twigs, and More
Plus Corridor, Michael Stipe, Caribou, Girl Ray, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks
Oct 11, 2019
Welcome to another Songs of the Week. Last week we covered two week’s worth of songs, but this week we’re back to our regular coverage. Although there are a heck of a lot of honorable mentions this week.
Don’t forget to pick up our new print issue, the My Favorite Album Issue. It features Angel Olsen and Sleater-Kinney on the two covers and is a special issue where we speak to musicians and actors about their all-time favorite albums.
In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Elbow, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Sturgill Simpson, LIFE, Starcrawler, Moon Duo, and JPEGMAFIA. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).
This week we also posted interviews with DIIV, Vivian Girls, Blanck Mass, and composer David Wingo (who does the music for Barry).
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. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: “Hollywood”
Two weeks ago Nick Cave announced a new Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds album, Ghosteen, due for release the following week. Then the album officially came out last Friday. Technically any of its songs should’ve been included on last week’s Songs of the Week, but as we explained last week, we’d only just heard the double album and needed more time to digest it. So we’re bending our rules slightly and including a song on this week’s list.
“Hollywood,” the album’s 14-minute closing track, seemed like the natural choice. Ghosteen partly deals with the tragic death of Cave’s 15-year-old son Arthur in 2015 and the lyrics tackle loss and grief with startling poetry. “Hollywood” starts with Cave singing about buying a house in Malibu “with a tear-shaped pool.” In the chorus he states: “And I’m just waiting now, for my time to come/And I’m just waiting now, for my place in the sun/And I’m just waiting now, for peace to come.”
Then later in the song he sings about sea creatures coming out of the ocean and tells a folk tale from Buddhism about a woman named Kisa with a sick baby who is told to collect a mustard seed from every house in the village where no one has died, but she “never collected one mustard seed/Because every house, someone had died.” Kisa’s story ends with these lines: “She hugged her baby and cried and cried/She said everybody is always losing somebody/Then walked into the forest and buried her child.” Anyone who has lost someone (which is most of us) can relate to Cave’s deeply felt meditation on such anguish and sorrow.
Read our rave 9/10 review of Ghosteen, where Michael James Hall goes into greater depth about the album and its themes.
Cave announced the news of the album on his website www.theredhandfiles.com where he answers fan questions. The announcement was in response to a fan named Joe and his question “When can we expect a new album?” Cave revealed that it’s a double album, adding: “The songs on the first album are the children. The songs on the second album are their parents.” Cave said that part one of the album has eight songs and part two “consists of two long songs, linked by a spoken word piece.”
The band’s last full-length album was 2016’s Skeleton Tree.
2. Anna Meredith: “Inhale Exhale”
British experimental musician Anna Meredith is releasing a new album, FIBS, on October 25 via Black Prince Fury. This week she shared another song from it, “Inhale Exhale.” It’s a purely fun, high energy track.
Meredith had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Inhale Exhale’ is underpinned with lyrics exploring a more sinister and pessimistic take on what ‘living’ or having a ‘wild time’ might be for a cautious person like myself so despite the upbeat feel, the opening line which sets the mood is ‘you say you’re dancing in the deep end, but to me it looks like drowning.”
Also pick up our new print issue, the My Favorite Album Issue, to read our interview with Anna Meredith about her all-time favorite album. Or check out the digital version of the issue for our new interview about FIBS.
Previously Meredith shared FIBS’ first single, “Paramour,” via a hypnotic video for the track featuring a Lego train traveling around Meredith and her band as they perform the song. It’s surely one of the best music videos of the year and “Paramour” also made it to #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then she shared another song from the album, “moonsmoons,” as well as an Augmented Reality app for the song that uses Spatial Audio so that you can place various instrumental parts of the song in various areas in whichever space you are in.
FIBS is the follow-up to her acclaimed 2016-released debut album, Varmints. Since then she has kept busy, doing the soundtrack to the Bo Burnham-directed film Eighth Grade and working as a classical composer. And, a press release points out, that she “was recently named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s birthday honors list for services to music, making her Anna Meredith MBE.”
Of the album title FIBS, in a previous press release Meredith said fibs are “lies – but nice friendly lies, little stories and constructions and daydreams and narratives that you make for yourself or you tell yourself.”
3. Kim Gordon: “Hungry Baby”
Kim Gordon (formerly of Sonic Youth) released her debut solo album, No Home Record, today via Matador. Earlier this week she shared one last pre-release song from the album, “Hungry Baby,” definitely the strongest of the album’s singles. And today she released a video for the unrelenting song, which you can watch below.
When No Home Record was announced Gordon shared its new single, “Sketch Artist,” via a video for the track. Then she shared another song from the album, “Air BnB.” It was shared via an amusing visual featuring white words on a black screen explaining that they couldn’t afford to make a music video at a fancy Air BnB as planned and instead describing the Air BnB and what the video would have been like.
Justin Raisen produced No Home Record, which was recorded at Los Angeles’ Sphere Ranch and also features contributions from Shawn Everett (Jim James, The War on Drugs) and composer/filmmaker Jake Meginsky. Loretta Fahrenholz directed the “Sketch Artist” video, in which Gordon played a ride-share driver. Broad City‘s Abbi Jacobson also made an appearance. The album’s title is inspired by French/Belgian director Chantal Akerman’s film No Home Movie. The album includes “Murdered Out,” a song Gordon shared back in 2016.
Gordon had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “Why a solo record? And why now? I don’t know, but it wouldn’t have happened without the persistence of Justin Raisen. Living in LA the last few years it feels like home, but the transience of the place makes it feel sometimes like no home.”
4. FKA twigs: “Home With You”
FKA twigs is releasing a new album, MAGDALENE, on November 8 (pushed back from its original October 25 release date) via Young Turks. This week she shared a self-directed video for another new song from it, “Home With You.”
FKA twigs had this to say about the song in a press release: “You can take the girl out of the suburbs but you can’t take the suburbs out of the girl. ‘Home With You’ reinforced my reoccurring suspicion that when I’m in doubt, I should follow my gut and go home.”
Back in April FKA twigs shared the album’s closing track, “Cellophane,” via its cinematic Andrew Thomas Huang-directed video (it was one of our Songs of the Week). Then in May she shared a new self-directed video where she performed “Cellophane” live on piano at The Wallace Collection, a public art collection in London. Then in September she shared a video for another new song from the album, “Holy Terrain” (feat. Future).
FKA twigs had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “I never thought heartbreak could be so all-encompassing.
“I never thought that my body could stop working to the point that I couldn’t express myself physically in the ways that I have always loved and found so much solace.
“I have always practiced my way into being the best I could be, but I couldn’t do that this time, I was left with no option but to tear every process down.
“But the process of making this album has allowed me for the first time, and in the most real way, to find compassion when I have been at my most ungraceful, confused and fractured. I stopped judging myself and at that moment found hope in ‘Magdalene.’ To her I am forever grateful.”
5. Corridor: “Pow”
Montreal’s Corridor are releasing a new album, Junior, on October 18 via Sub Pop. It’s the band’s first album for iconic Seattle label and their third album over all. This week they shared another song from it, the appropriately named “Pow.” And while it doesn’t exactly bring to mind Adam West’s Batman punching Cesar Romero’s Joker, “Pow” does have a similar energy to it, cresting on a Krautrock meets dream pop groove.
6. Michael Stipe: “Your Capricious Soul”
This week former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe shared his first ever solo song, “Your Capricious Soul.” It is available to download for 77 cents (or more if you’d like) from www.michaelstipe.com, with all proceeds for the next year going to the climate change organization Extinction Rebellion. It was shared via a video directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson.
Stipe had this to say about the song in a press release: “I took a long break from music, and I wanted to jump back in. I love ‘Your Capricious Soul’ – it’s my first solo work. I want to add my voice to this exciting shift in consciousness. Extinction Rebellion gave me the incentive to push the release and not wait. Our relationship to the environment has been a lifelong concern and I now feel hopeful-optimistic, even. I believe we can bring the kind of change needed to improve our beautiful planet Earth, our standing and our place on it.”
R.E.M. are also releasing a 25th anniversary deluxe box set reissue of their 1994 album Monster on November 1 via Craft Recordings. Previously R.E.M. shared a new remix of the album’s single “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” by original producer Scott Litt. Then they shared another bonus track from the reissue, “Revolution 4-21 (Demo).” That was followed by a new remix of the album’s “Let Me In” by Litt. The Monster reissue comes in a six-disc set that includes the original album, a disc of demos, the whole album remixed, two live concerts, and a Blu-ray featuring all the album’s music videos and the Road Movie concert film. It’s also available in other CD, LP, and digital configurations.
R.E.M. also recently shared a previously unreleased song, “Fascinating,” to benefit Bahamas hurricane relief efforts by Mercy Corps. The song was recorded in Nassau, Bahamas in 2004 for their Around the Sun album (released later that year), but it didn’t make the cut. You can stream it or download it from Bandcamp for a donation of $2.00 or more. Hurricane Dorian caused much destruction in Bahamas’ northwest islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco in early September. “Fascinating” was one of our Songs of the Week.
Your Capricious Soul – Michael Stipe from JMSPROJ on Vimeo.
7. Caribou: “Home”
Dan Snaith has released a fair amount of music in the last five years, but most of it has been under his Daphni moniker. He hasn’t actually released anything under the Caribou name since the project’s 2014 album Our Love. But this week he was back with a new Caribou song, “Home,” and Snaith has also announced some new Caribou tour dates for 2020 (check them out here).
Snaith had this to say about the song in a press release: “I’m always listening to lots of music and sometimes a loop just jumps out at me – it’s too perfect. That’s how it was with Gloria Barnes’ ‘Home’ – I kept returning to it, meaning to do something with it but not knowing what. Sometimes making music feels like a process I’m in charge of … but there are other times when things just present themselves and my job is to follow their lead. It wasn’t until the circumstances of someone close to me mirrored the refrain of the original song that the track all came together.
“When I’ve played it to friends, several of them have said that they feel like it’s speaking to their circumstances, about people close to them. We’ve all had moments when something changes suddenly and catalyses a change in your whole life – when you need to go back to something familiar, pick up the pieces and start again.”
Read our 2014 interview with Caribou.
8. Girl Ray: “Girl”
North London trio Girl Ray are releasing a new album, Girl, on November 8 via Moshi Moshi. This week they shared its title track, “Girl,” via a video for the song. Crusoe Weston directed the video, which features the trio driving to the beach.
The band’s Poppy Hankin had this to say about the song in a press release: “Well what’s it about? An intense crush where you lose all reasonable brain thoughts and can’t conceive why the hell things shouldn’t work out in rom-com style perfection. This one is for you to roll the windows down to on those hot hot hot summer days. Blast it loud blast it proud.”
Previously they shared its first single, “Show Me More,” via a video for the track. “Show Me More” was one of our Songs of the Week.
Girl Ray features Poppy Hankin (guitar/vocals), Iris McConnell (drums), and Sophie Moss (bass). Girl is their second album, the follow-up to their cleverly titled 2017-released debut album, Earl Grey (it was our Album of the Week and #3 on our Top 15 Debut Albums of 2017 list).
Girl was recorded at Electric Beach Studios in Margate with Ash Workman (Christine and the Queens, Metronomy). Whereas their debut album was a twee-pop gem, Girl is inspired by more modern and electronic pop sounds, in particular Rihanna and Ariana Grande. Crusoe Weston directed the “Show Me More” video, which features the band riding around on bikes.
In a press release the band say “Show Me More” is about “crushing really hard but having to play the long game and wait it out because your boo is playing savage games. It’s your classic pop banger. Steamy dance floor. Drinks on me.”
Read our Pleased to Meet You interview with Girl Ray and check out our exclusive photo shoot with the band.
9. The Dodos: “The Atlantic”
Singer/guitarist Meric Long had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘The Atlantic’ is a song about the limitations of what you can see if you don’t surround yourself with people that challenge you. In the first couple years of knowing my partner, the Atlantic ocean was literally between us, and now when we disagree and see things very differently it can feel like that ocean still exists metaphorically. It’s meant as a love letter, but one that honors our differences because seeing through each other’s facade was what brought us together.”
The Dodos released a new album, Certainty Waves, last year via Polyvinyl. The band also features percussionist Logan Kroeber.
10. Elbow: “Weightless”
Elbow have released a new album, Giants of All Sizes, today via Polydor/Verve Label Group (stream it here). Now that the album is out, we can share one of its best album tracks, shimmering album closer “Weightless.”
Also, today we posted a rave review of the album and you can read that here.
Giants of All Sizes includes “Dexter & Sinister,” a 7-minute long new song the band shared just prior to the announcement of the album (the song features backing vocals from Jesca Hoop and was one of our Songs of the Week). Then they shared another song from it, “Empires,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then the British band shared another song from it, “White Noise White Heat,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week.
The band’s keyboardist Craig Potter produced and mixed the album, as he did with the band’s last four albums. Giants of All Sizes was recorded at Hamburg, Germany’s Clouds Hill Studio; The Dairy in Brixton, England; 604 Studios in Vancouver, Canada; and Blueprint Studios in Salford, England. Parts were also recorded at various band member’s home studios in Manchester, England. As well as Hoop, the album also features The Plumedores and Chilli Chilton (described in a press release as “a South London newcomer”).
Potter had this to say about “Empires” in a press release: “We thought the studio would give us inner city vibes but we were on the edge of Hamburg which meant we spent more time in Clouds Hill rather than exploring. With time to spare, we sat around and played together in a way we haven’t for a long time and experimented and improvised with the music which led to the looser feel you hear on ‘Empires.'”
Giants of All Sizes seems to find the band in a looser, more experimental mode, with much of it recorded live in the studio, band members encouraged to spend more time cultivating their original demos rather than compromising, and Elbow perhaps embracing new influences. For example, the press release says “Doldrums” “mixes John Carpenter with The Plastic Ono Band” and “The Delayed 3:15” “marries mariachi guitars to jazz dynamics, Morricone via Buddy Rich.”
In a previous press release lead singer and lyricist Guy Garvey described the album as “an angry, old blue lament which finds its salvation in family, friends, the band, and new life.”
The previous press release added that Giants of All Sizes “is a record that lyrically takes in moments of deep personal loss whilst reflecting its times by confronting head-on the specters of injustice and division not just in the UK but across the world. It is a record that could only have been made in the 21st Century.”
These 12 songs almost made the Top 10.
Julien Baker: “Tokyo”
Black Mountain: “What’s Your Conquest?”
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: “Ghosteen”
DJ Shadow: “Urgent, Important, Please Read”
Nicolas Godin: “The Border”
Guerilla Toss: “Future Doesn’t Know”
Nation of Language: “The Motorist”
Palehound: “Your Boyfriend’s Gun”
Panda Bear: “playing the long game”
Swans: “The Hanging Man”
The Twilight Sad: “Rats”
When Saints Go Machine: “MVL”
Other notable new tracks in the last week include:
Julien Baker: “Sucker Punch”
Bonnie “Prince” Billy: “In Good Faith” (Feat. Joan Shelley)
Cigarettes After Sex: “Falling In Love”
Lucy Dacus: “In the Air Tonight” (Phil Collins Cover)
Hemlock Ernst and Kenny Segal: “Addicted Youth”
Hovvdy: “Mr. Lee”
Omni: “Courtesy Call”
Palehound: “Autumn Sweater” (Yo La Tengo Cover)
Liz Phair: “Good Side”
Phantogram: “In a Spiral”
POLIÇA: “Driving” and “trash in bed”
Psychic Twin: “Water Meets Land”
Rata Negra: “¿Qué Tendrá?”
R.E.M.: “Let Me In (Scott Litt Remix)”
St. Vincent: “New York (Nina Kraviz Vocal Remix)”
The Twilight Sad: “Public Housing”
WHY?: “We Are Real” (Silver Jews Cover)
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