New FUV Faves

Vagabon (photo by Tonje Thilesen, PR)
by Kara Manning | 08/30/2023 | 6:46am

Vagabon (photo by Tonje Thilesen, PR)

A quick overview of some of the new songs you'll hear this week on FUV:

Belle and Sebastian "I Don't Know What You See in Me"
In 2022, Belle and Sebastian released their first album in seven years, A Bit of Previous. During those sessions, the band also worked on their brand new album, Late Developers, released on Friday, January 13, on Matador Records.  (You might have heard FUV's album preview of it.) Among the songs on the album is the first single, "I Don't Know What You See in Me," co-written with Pete Ferguson of fellow Glasgow band Wuh Oh — and the first time that Stuart Murdoch and bandmates have ever worked with an outside writer.

Belle and Sebastian have announced an extensive North American tour, including a stop at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City on May 9. Check out Belle and Sebastian's FUV Live session from 2017 with host Kara Manning.

Brandi and the Alexanders, "Where You Belong"
We're a bit partial to Brandi and the Alexanders — FUV's assistant program director Eric Gottlieb is this Brooklyn-based band's drummer. The powerful "Where You Belong" is the latest single to drop from the group's seven-track EP of last year, Reflection, and it showcases the remarkable vocals of lead singer Brandi Thompson.

Thompson, as she told FUV last year in a chat about Juneteenth, looks lyrically not only to her personal road map and the perseverance of her elders and ancestors, but the current events of this country and the rise of Black Lives Matter.  "There's nothing wrong with happy pop music," she said, "but I think the kind of songs that spur someone into action is music is critical, and that those music creators are incredibly valuable."

Catch Brandi and the Alexanders at Pianos on February 3 and revisit their 2018 FUV Live session with host Alisa Ali.

Debby Friday, "So Hard to Tell"
Toronto-based singer and rapper Debby Friday releases her debut album, Good Luck, via Sub Pop on March 24. The Nigerian-born, Montréal-raised musician, who co-produced her debut album with Graham Walsh (METZ, Holy F***), has released two prior EPs. Those recordings, which included 2018's Bitchpunk, had a hard, dynamic edge — she once described her electronic sound as "thunder." While "So Hard to Tell" isn't quite a furious storm,  it still remains true to Friday's edgy, experimental heart. “I have a lower register and speak with vocal fry so I don’t know what came over me when I made this track," she said in a statement. "I have never in my life sung like this before and I had no idea I could even make these kinds of sounds with my voice. There’s no pitch effects on ‘So Hard to Tell,' it’s all me."

Friday, who uses the pronouns she and they, talked about the multilayered meaning of her music to Loud and Quiet back in 2018. "There is a whole stigma around being an angry queer black woman," she said. "I’m just really tired of it, it’s very un-nuanced. The energy I have in my music is about not being afraid to embody that confrontation.”

Friday plays Brooklyn's Baby's All Right on April 19.

Everything But the Girl, "Nothing Left to Lose"
Well, here's some unexpected good news — Everything but the Girl are back after 24 years — Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn will release Fuse on April 21, which comes out via Buzzin' Fly and Verve Records.

In 2021, Watt and Thorn began to write together again as Everything but the Girl, a process that they recently described on Instagram as more collaborative than they've ever been, with the pair sharing lyric and music ideas. Watt produced and describes the process of recording "Nothing Left to Lose," they write: "On the day of recording, Ben said, 'When you sing those last lines, 'Kiss me while the world decays … ', think of Bowie at the end of 'Heroes'. Really go for it.” In the end, it took only three takes to capture the performance you hear."

The resurrection of EBTG seemed unlikely; the couple seemed content to work on their own solo projects after releasing Temperamental, their 10th album as Everything but the Girl, in 1999. Although they toured behind that record, by 2000, the couple pulled the plug on EBTG to enjoy some normalcy, raise a family, and explore their own solo paths.

Watt threw his focus on producing, DJing, writing books, and founding his own label, Buzzin' Fly. In 2014, he released his first solo album since 1984, Hendra, with friend  Bernard Butler. Watt released two other albums, Fever Dream (2016) and Storm Damage (2020). He also spoke to host Kara Manning for two FUV Live sessions (with Butler) in 2014 and 2016 about those albums and his memoir, Romany and Tom.

Thorn released four solo albums, most recently 2018's Record, and wrote a series of best-selling memoirs, including 2021's My Rock 'n' Roll Friend, about her friendship with The Go-Betweens' Lindy Morrison.

Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of EBTG — Thorn and Watt began working together in 1982.

Iggy Pop, "Comments"
There's a bittersweet element to Iggy Pop's "Comments" — it's one of two tracks on his new album to feature late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins.

At the age of 75, James Newell Osterberg, Jr. — the irrepressible Pop — has returned this winter with Every Loser. Pop has been keeping busy — he's a radio DJ himself, hosting a weekly show on BBC's 6Music, and he's recorded in recent years with everyone from Josh Homme to Underworld. With Every Loser, he makes a surprising connection with producer Andrew Watt — winner of the 2021 Grammy for Producer of the Year.

Watt, who has worked with everyone from Miley Cyrus to Pearl Jam (he is a member of Eddie Vedder's solo backing band, The Earthlings), assembled a formidable all-star backing band for Pop of bassist Duff McKagan (Guns N' Roses), and Red Hot Chili Peppers' drummer Chad Smith and guitarist/keyboardist Josh Klinghoffer. Other guest contributions include Dave Navarro, Eric Avery and Chris Chaney of Jane's Addiction, Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, Blink-182's Travis Barker, and Hawkins, who played on "The Regency" and "Comments."

“Taylor came in with incredible style,” Pop told the NME of the sessions with Hawkins.  “I’m very fortunate to have that color on the record."

Tennis, "Let's Make a Mistake Tonight"
Tennis, the couple Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, will release their sixth album, Pollen, on February 10 on their own Mutually Detrimental label. A previous single from the album, "One Night with the Valet" came out in November. "Let's Make a Mistake Tonight" is ready for an indie disco, all sleek synth-pop and Moore's wistful croon. It's been a long time since the pair's sailing-inspired debut, Cape Dory, released in 2011, and when they first visited FUV.

As for the new single, Moore says: "'Let’s Make a Mistake Tonight' is all hubris, attitude, and wish fulfillment. I’m turning water into wine. I’m reshaping my reality through projection or denial. While tracking with Patrick I kept envisioning the same scene: I’m in the passenger’s seat. Patrick drives with one hand on the wheel and one on my thigh. This song plays us out."

Tennis have sold out their Valentine's Day show in London, and kick off a North American tour on March 24 with a show at New York's Beacon Theatre on April Fool's Day.

The Heavy Heavy, "Go Down River"
Back when "The Heavy Heavy" visited Studio A for an FUV Live session last year with host Alisa Ali, the Brighton and Hove-bred, London-based group performed this splash of twangy Laurel Canyon-kissed rock, "Go Down River." Led by Will Turner and Georgie Fuller, there's a swoony Mamas and Papas meets Crosby, Stills & Nash vibe to this track, found on The Heavy Heavy's debut EP, Life and Life Only.

A 2023 debut album is ahead and The Heavy Heavy launch a North American tour on March 19 with local stops at Woodstock's Levon Helm Studios on April 14, a Brooklyn gig on April 27, and a Marquee Member show for FUV in May.

The New Pornographers, "Really Really Light"
Nothing like a sublime new single from The New Pornographers — "my heart's just like a feather, really really light," they sing — to brighten any blue Mondays in January and this track is luminous. It was retrieved from sessions for 2014's Brill Bruisers and reconfigured. Says A.C. Newman: “Part of my process throughout the years has been messing with things I never finished.”

The band releases its ninth album, Continue as a Guest on March 31, their first release in four years. They'll be here in New York on April 17, playing Brooklyn Steel.

Vagabon, "Carpenter"
New York-based Vagabon, real name  Lætitia Tamko, returns with her third album in 2023 — and "Carpenter" is an early taste of where she's heading. Throughout her career, Tamko has shape-shifted album to album: her 2017 debut, Infinite Worlds, was trenchant guitar rock whereas 2019's Vagabon luxuriated in more pensive electronic soundscapes — Tamko, whose one-time day job was as an electrical and computer engineer, taught herself Logic to produce that record. She first visited the station for an FUV Live session in 2019 to chat with host Kara Manning.

Tamko co-produced "Carpenter" with Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend and there's an Afrobeat heartbeat to the track (She was born in Cameroon, immigrating to the States with her family when she was 13).

“'Carpenter’ is about that humbling feeling when you desperately want to be knowledgeable," she says, "you want to be advanced, you want to be mature, forward thinking, and evolved.”

Vagabon will be touring with Weyes Blood in North America this spring — but no East Coast dates yet.


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