Saturday, June 20th, 2020
10 Best Songs of the Week: Doves, The Fiery Furnaces, Phoebe Bridgers, The Beths and More
Plus The Killers, Guerilla Toss, Hannah Georgas, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks
Jun 19, 2020
By Christopher Roberts (with Samantha Small and Julian Roberts-Grmela)
Welcome to the 24th Songs of the Week of 2020. These days life is just overwhelming, at least if you pay attention to the news at all. It’s just one long parade of understandable outrage. Sure, some good things happened this week. Trump’s poll numbers against Biden continue to sink as the President’s response to both the pandemic and the nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality continues to be inadequate (to say the least), with an upcoming book by his former National Security Advisor John Bolton painting a picture of a leader only out for his self-interests, one whose prime concern is getting re-elected. The Supreme Court reached some surprising decisions this week, standing up for LGBTQ rights and blocking Trump from ending DACA. And Juneteenth (which honors the end of slavery) took some small steps closer to becoming a national holiday, with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam looking to make it an official holiday in his state and Senator Kamala Harris introducing a bill to declare Juenteenth a national holiday. Despite all this, the pandemic rages on, with 4,000 new cases reported today in Florida alone, a daily record for the state. And yet everywhere you look, people are refusing to wear masks or be socially distant, meaning a second wave looms (or are we even past the first wave).
Onto this week’s songs then. This week our list is topped by two artists who haven’t released new music in around 11 years. It’s nice to have both of them back.
In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Phoebe Bridgers, Gum Country, No Age, The Exbats, Thousand Yard Stare, Built to Spill, Chicano Batman, Modern Nature, and Liam Gallagher. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).
We’ve also been posting our long out of print and sold out Issue 8 to our Patreon page, one article at a time.
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. Doves: “Carousels”
On Thursday British trio Doves returned with “Carousels,” their first new song in 11 years. The band went on an “indefinite pause” in 2010, but announced their reunion in 2018 and played their first reunion show in March 2019, to benefit Teenage Cancer Trust. Other live shows followed, along with promises of new music. Well, here it is. The band’s last album was 2009’s Kingdom of Rust, which was their fourth. While “Carousels” isn’t quite as immediate and poppy as say “Black and White Town,” “Caught By the River,” “Here it Comes,” and some of their other classic singles, it is certainly has those Doves vibes, with a strong backbeat (built around a sample of the late Afrobeat legend Tony Allen), atmosphere to spare, and Jimi Goodwin’s emotive and recognizable vocals. It’s a pleasure to have them back. The song is accompanied by an animated video directed by Yoni Weisberg.
The band’s Andy Williams had this to say about the song in a press release: “It’s a reminiscence of the times that we’d go to places like North Wales on holiday as kids. Places where you had your first experience of sound systems and music being played really loud.”
The lineup for Doves is Jimi Goodwin (vocals/bass), Andy Williams (drums/vocals), and Jez Williams (guitars/programming/vocals). The band produced “Carousels” themselves, which was engineered by Dan Austin and mixed by Craig Silvey. It was recorded at the band’s own Frank Bough Sound III studio. Jez hatched the initial idea for the song while on a trip to the Portuguese city of Porto and presented it to the rest of the band when he returned. “I was blown away. It’s got a bad-ass breakbeat,” Goodwin says, of his first reaction.
Doves have released four albums: 2000’s Lost Souls, 2002’s The Last Broadcast, 2005’s Some Cities, and 2009’s Kingdom of Rust. Since their hiatus, frontman Jimi Goodwin released a solo album, Odludek, in 2014. That same year, Doves’ other two members, brothers Jez and Andy Williams, formed the new band Black Rivers (they released their debut album in 2015). Doves were interviewed in our very first print issue, back in 2001, and we have interviewed them for each of their four albums, so the band has a special place in our hearts. A new album is in the works.
2. The Fiery Furnaces: “Down at the So and So on Somewhere”
After a near 11-year long hiatus, The Fiery Furnaces came back on Thursday with the new single “Down at the So and So on Somewhere,” courtesy of Third Man Records. The last we heard from the brother/sister duo of Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger was 2009’s I’m Going Away, released in November of that year. “Down at the So and So on Somewhere” is being released as a 7-inch by Third Man.
Starting off with a dark synth, midi-drums and a single piano note, the track nostalgically looks back at what could have been. The chorus then picks up with some brighter synth, additional keys and airy falsetto wondering: “Don’t you remember we were happy then?/Can you remember we’re right now?”
The 7-inch includes the additional track “The Fortune Teller’s Revenge” on the B-side. A portion of proceeds will also be donated to Black Lives Matter and AACM Chicago, the duo’s hometown city.
“The songs were recorded in New York City and a few hours north of New York City on February 3 and February 10 – 12, 2020,” the band collectively say in a press release. “‘Down at the So and So on Somewhere’ is a regretful song about having regrets. Now it seems even more sad than we thought it was back then: ‘Will you meet me.’”
The Fiery Furnaces were scheduled to perform at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, which was unfortunately canceled due to the coronavirus. In the last decade the duo has released eight solo albums collectively. By Samantha Small
3. Phoebe Bridgers: “I Know the End”
Phoebe Bridgers was releasing a new album, Punisher, today via Dead Oceans, but she put it out one day early yesterday. All of its previous singles made our Songs of the Week lists, but now that the album is out there is one more song we’d like to highlight, album closer “I Know the End.” The song ends Punisher in epic fashion, with an all-star backing choir featuring Conor Oberst, Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Blake Mills, Christian Lee Hutson, and Nick Zinner.
Punisher includes “Garden Song,” a new song she shared in February via a video for it. “Garden Song” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then when the album was announced, Bridgers shared another song from it, “Kyoto,” via a Nina Ljeti-directed video for the track that featured Bridgers flying around a city and battling Godzilla. “Kyoto” was also #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then she performed “Kyoto” for Jimmy Kimmel Live!, but because of COVID-19 social distancing she did so remotely, from her bathtub at home, dressed in her pajamas and accompanied by only a synthesizer on her lap. Then she shared another single from the album, “I See You,” via a lyric video featuring hand shadow puppets (it was also one of our Songs of the Week). She also embarked on the “Phoebe Bridgers’ World, Tour,” which was a series of livestream concerts from different rooms in her house.
Punisher is her sophomore album, the follow-up to her acclaimed debut album, Stranger in the Alps, released in September 2017 via Dead Oceans. For Punisher she reteamed with Stranger in the Alps’ producers/collaborators Tony Berg and Ethan Gruska, although this time Bridgers co-produced the album with them. Mike Mogis mixed the album, as he did with her debut.
Read our review of Punisher.
4. The Beths: “Out of Sight”
New Zealand four-piece The Beths are releasing a new album, Jump Rope Gazers, on July 10 via Carpark. On Tuesday they shared another song from the album, “Out of Sight,” via a video for the track where the band goes bird watching. Ezra Simons directed the video, which was filmed via Super 8 film and intercuts archival footage of birds.
Frontwoman Elizabeth Stokes had this to say about the song in a press release. “The band playing on ‘Out Of Sight’ is more fragile than we usually allow ourselves to be. We are trying to listen more deeply and be more open ended, it was confronting to do and sometimes even frustrating. But it came out great, Ben’s bass playing especially is beautifully melodic and gives the song a unique texture.”
Of the video, Simons had this to say: “The goal was to create a nostalgic and timeless roadtrip video where the band goes off in search of native birds, but instead finds each other.”
Previously The Beths shared Jump Rope Gazers’ first single, “Dying to Believe,” via a video for the new song. “Dying to Believe” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another song from the album, “I’m Not Getting Excited,” via a video for the track. “I’m Not Getting Excited” was also one of our Songs of the Week.
Jump Rope Gazers is the band’s second album, the follow-up to 2018’s amusingly titled debut, Future Me Hates Me. The Beths feature Elizabeth Stokes (vocals/guitar), Jonathan Pearce (guitar), Benjamin Sinclair (bass), and Tristan Deck (drums). The album was recorded at Pearce’s Auckland studio, where he also produced the album.
A previous press release gave some hints as to the themes on the album: “Stokes’ writing on Jump Rope Gazers grapples with the uneasy proposition of leaving everything and everyone you know behind on another continent, chasing your dreams while struggling to stay close with loved ones back home.”
5. The Killers: “My Own Soul’s Warning”
On Wednesday The Killers shared a new single, “My Own Soul’s Warning.” It’s the latest single to be taken from their forthcoming album, Imploding the Mirage, which was due out in May but was then pushed back “due to delays in finalizing the album.” “My Own Soul’s Warning” is another rousing anthem from the band, but one with a decided Bossgaze feel, like a poppier track from The War on Drugs.
Imploding the Mirage is the follow-up to 2017’s Wonderful Wonderful. The band produced it with Shawn Everett and Jonathan Rado of Foxygen, recording it in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Park City, Utah. The album features several notable special guests, including: Lindsey Buckingham, kd lang, Weyes Blood, The War on Drugs’ Adam Granduciel, Blake Mills, and Lucius.
6. Guerilla Toss: “Human Girl” and “Own Zone”
On Monday Guerilla Toss released two new tracks, “Human Girl” and “Own Zone,” as a 7-inch single as part of the Sub Pop Singles Club. It is Vol. 5 of the current Singles Club and Vol. 5 also includes two songs by Clarke and the Himselfs: “Mary Rae Says” and “Crystal Blue” (find those songs further below in the list of songs also released this week). We had serious trouble deciding which of the two Guerilla Toss songs belonged on the list, so we’re cheating and including them both in one entry.
The Sub Pop Singles Club also includes singles from Father John Misty, Moor Mother, Ohmme, Julia Jacklin, Sumac, TEKE::TEKE, Redd Kross, and more.
The two Guerilla Toss songs follow 2019’s EP What Would the Odd Do? That was a collection borne out of truly trying times for Guerilla Toss singer/songwriter/bandleader Kassie Carlson: in 2017 she had open heart surgery to “remove a dangerous blood clot caused by a severe opiate addiction.”
Since then Carlson has greatly recovered and moved to upstate New York with her partner, Guerilla Toss drummer Peter Negroponte, and the rejuvenation is evident in the new tracks. Taking us back to the ’80s, “Human Girl” and “Own Zone” are dance-jams with funky synths, robotic noises, a hint of banjos and some truly pulsating drums. Truly, they’re both just a bit of fun while one might be feeling a bit too “extinsential.” By Samantha Small
7. Hannah Georgas: “Dreams”
On Tuesday Hannah Georgas announced a new album, the Aaron Dessner-produced All That Emotion, and shared a new song from it, “Dreams.” The album is due September 4 via Brassland and Arts & Crafts. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
“Dreams” is the third collaborative single between Georgas and Dessner, after “That Emotion” and “Same Mistakes.” All three songs are featured on All That Emotion.
Georgas had this to say about “Dreams” in a press release: “In my past, I have let my insecurities play into relationships and have pushed people away because I have felt like I’m not deserving of love. This song explores the idea of breaking down those barriers of insecurity and being more open.”
Georgas began working on All That Emotion about a year after her 2016 album, FOR EVELYN.
She had this to say about the album in the press release: “I have been thinking about what this album represents to me and it is resilience. It’s about finding hope and a way out the other side of tough situations. The hardships we go through make us grow into stronger people. The album is about healing, self reflection and getting up again at the end of the day.”
Georgas wrote All That Emotion in 2017 in her Toronto apartment and during a “month-long retreat” in Los Angeles. She started recording the album in 2018 at Dessner’s upstate New York Studio.
“Before each session, I would make the long drive from Toronto to Hudson Valley in Upstate New York.” Georgas says in the press release. “It was really special getting the opportunity to work in such a remote space with Aaron and Jon and I was always itching to get back whenever we had breaks. At the same time, I appreciated the space in between and coming back with fresh ears…. Aaron and I agreed the production needed to bring out the truth in my voice. During these sessions we musically found a new depth and, vocally, a delivery that was more raw and expressive, allowing the emotional texture of each song to shine through.” By Julian Roberts-Grmela
8. No Joy: “Nothing Will Hurt”
On Wednesday No Joy shared a new single, “Nothing Will Hurt,” with an accompanying video. “Nothing Will Hurt” is the second single off of their upcoming album, Motherhood, following “Birthmark.” Motherhood will release on August 21 via Joyful Noise / Hand Drawn Dracula.
No Joy’s lead singer and principal songwriter, Jasamine White-Gluz, had this to say about the recording sessions for “Nothing Will Hurt” in a press release: “The demo of this song started as a slow Industrial burner built on samples of me screaming. Once brought into the studio, the song found new life; our mission in the studio was that no idea was too weird to try. That led to us squishing Bananas into very expensive microphones to get textured percussion noises, shoving kitchen knives into guitar necks to create a perfect slide guitar sound and adding some Primus-inspired slap bass.”
The accompanying video was filmed at Ferme du Domaine Quinchien, a “cruelty-free” farm in Quebec. The goat on the Motherhood album cover lives on the farm.
White-Gluz says in a press release that she didn’t read Sheila Heti’s book, Motherhood, until after she recorded and titled the album, but said that when she read it she noticed “the narrative parallels between the two projects” were like “looking into a mirror.”
White-Gluz had this to say about the album in a press release: “Time is critical, and you have to make decisions that are extremely time sensitive and your body doesn’t care. It’s a lot of seeing myself through my mother’s experiences, and the physicalness of a body getting older.”
On Motherhood, Jorge Elbrecht acts as co-producer and multi-instrumentalist. The band’s touring sound engineer, Madeleine Campbell, acts as engineer alongside Chris Walla. Jamie Thompson is the drummer. Tara McLeod plays guitar and banjo. By Julian Roberts-Grmela
9. Everything Everything: “Planets”
British art-rockers Everything Everything are releasing a new album, Re-Animator, on August 21 via Infinity Industries/AWAL. On Thursday they shared another new song from the album, “Planets,” via a video directed by the band’s frontman Jonathan Higgs. The strange video centers on a monkey puppet and gets all spacey, befitting the song’s title.
In April the band shared the album’s “In Birdsong,” via a video for the track that was one of our Songs of the Week. Then when the album was announced they shared “Arch Enemy,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared a strange video for “Arch Enemy.”
The album was recorded last December at RAK studios in London with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten, David Byrne). Prior to that there was a year of writing and demoing. A press release points out that for this album the band wanted to focus “on harmonies and melodies over synths and programming.”
In terms of lyrical themes, the album tackles “wonderment at the wider world despite the horror of its politics; existentialism and the prolonged, if fading, youthfulness of being in a touring band; and the ominous threat of climate change. All things which contribute to a sense of one door closing while another awaits.”
Frontman Jonathan Higgs also became interested in the theory of the bicameral mind, as put together by psychologist Julian Jaynes. The press release explains the theory: “It argues that early in human evolution, the two sides of the brain were next to each other but functioned independently. In essence, one side would hear the other sending instructions via a disembodied voice—a zombie-like state of pre-consciousness.”
The band features Jonathan Higgs (vocals), Jeremy Pritchard (bass), Michael Spearman (drums), and Alex Robertshaw (guitar). Their last full-length was 2017’s Mercury Prize-nominated A Fever Dream, although they released the Deeper Sea EP in 2018.
10. IDLES: “Grounds”
On Tuesday British political punks IDLES announced a new album, Ultra Mono, and have shared a new song from it, “Grounds,” via a video for it. Ultra Mono is due out September 25 via Partisan. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
Ultra Mono includes “Mr. Motivator,” a song the band shared in May via a self-directed video for the track. Rob French directed the “Grounds” video. Nick Launay and Adam Greenspan produced the album, with additional programming from Kenny Beats. The album features Jehnny Beth, Warren Ellis, David Yow, and Jamie Cullum. The band have also announced three ticketed livestream shows, which will be professionally recorded and filmed at an “iconic studio” (the exact one is TBA). Two will happen on August 29 and one on August 30. Buy tickets at the band’s website.
Ultra Mono is the band’s third album. IDLES’ last album, Joy as an Act of Resistance, came out in 2018 via Partisan and was widely acclaimed.
Frontman Joe Talbot had this to say about “Grounds” in a press release: “We wanted to write a song that embodied self-belief, and gave us self-belief—a counter-punch to all the doubt we build up from all the noise we so easily let in. We wanted to make the sound of our own hearts’ marching band, armed with a jack hammer and a smile. We wanted to make the sound of our engine starting. So we did. Thank you.”
Talbot also had this to say about Ultra Mono in a press release statement: “Ultra Mono is the acceptance of now and I and you. We are not the same but behold something together that is true: the moment. I can not control anything but my ideas, my actions and my emotions, I can not control yours. In allowing our art to be momentary, we give ourselves and you the opportunity to perceive who we all are now as truth. It is an engine of all that we can’t control: our race, our age, our class and our past in the form of what we control absolutely—our music, our now.
“Joy is still an act of resistance. No more apologies. We will work hard and work honestly. Ultra Mono is joy’s engine and it goes.
“We hope that you feel a sense of strength and purpose from listening to Ultra Mono. It is meant to fill you with the violence love and the rhythm of now. You are now. You are all.
“All is love.”
These seven songs almost made the Top 10.
Art Feynman: “I Can Dream”
Roy Ayers: “Synchronize Vibration” (Feat. Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge)
Julianna Barwick: “In Light” (Feat. Jónsi)
The Dead Tongues: “Déjá Vu” (Feat. Mountain Man)
Angel Olsen: “New Love Cassette” (Mark Ronson Remix)
Public Enemy: “State of the Union (STFU)”
Other notable new tracks in the last week include:
5 Billion in Diamonds: “Divine Accidents”
Tunde Adebimpe: “People”
All We Are: “Not Your Man”
Anderson .Paak: “Lockdown”
Annie: “American Cars”
Ashnikko: “Cry” (Feat. Grimes)
Daniel Blumberg: “On&On,” “Sidestep Summer,” and “On&On&On”
Keedron Bryant: “I Just Wanna Live”
Cat Power: “Toop Toop” (Cassius Cover)
Clarke and the Himselfs: “Mary Rae Says” and “Crystal Blue.”
clipping.: “Chapter 319”
Gold Connections: “Iowa City”
Bruce Hornsby: “My Resolve” (Feat. James Mercer)
J. Cole: “Snow On Tha Bluff”
Kamaiyah: “Black Excellence”
James Krivchenia: “Fountains of Youth” and “Idiot Passion”
Mount Eerie: “Of Pressure” (Mirah Cover)
Noname: “Song 33”
TJO (Tara Jane O’Neil): “Cruel Summer” (Bananarama Cover)
Perfume Genius: “Fade Into You” (Mazzy Star Cover)
Mike Polizze: “Cheewawa” (Feat. Kurt Vile)
Pom Pom Squad: “Crimson + Clover” (Tommy James and the Shondells Cover)
Regional Justice Center: “KKK Tattoo”
Soccer Mommy: “Indie Rokkers” (MGMT Cover) and circle the drain (Gentle Dom – Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT Remix)
Swae Lee: “Reality Check”
Kate Teague: “The Temporary”
Mina Tindle: “Lions” and “Belle Pénitence”
Toro y Moi: “Ordinary Guy” (Feat. The Mattson 2) (Joe Bataan Cover)
Hayley Williams: “Dead Horse” (Hot Chip Remix)
Ric Wilson: “Fight Like Ida B & Marsha P”
(Special thanks to Lily Guthrie for also helping to put this week’s list together.)