10 Best Songs of the Week: Angel Olsen, Hayden Thorpe, Dry Cleaning, R.E.M., and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, October 19th, 2019  

10 Best Songs of the Week: Angel Olsen, Hayden Thorpe, Dry Cleaning, R.E.M., and More

Plus Water From Your Eyes, Holy Fuck, Moon Duo, Tindersticks, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Sep 13, 2019
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Welcome to another Songs of the Week. We knew this week's #1 song would be our #1 the moment we heard it. It might be the #1 Song of the Year even, we'll see.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by KAZU, Pixies, Charli XCX, Kindness, and Alex Cameron. 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. Angel Olsen: "Lark"

Angel Olsen is releasing a new album, All Mirrors, on October 4 via Jagjaguwar. Previously she shared a haunting black & white video for its title track, "All Mirrors," which was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. This week she shared the album's second single, "Lark," also via a video. We predicted that it was going to take some major upset for this stunning and epic track not to be our #1 Song of the Week and we were right. Just wow! Also, based on Olsen's performance in the video, she should seriously try her hand at acting in movies. Ashley Connor directed both videos. Olsen's voice is a thing of wonder on this song. The production is overwhelming in all the right ways. And the marriage of audio and visual within the video is expert. That all adds up to this being one of the best songs of the year and one of the best music videos of the year from what's shaping up to being one of the very best albums of the year.

Olsen had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Lark' is a song that took many years to finish. The disjointed feelings and verses of this song began to make sense as a way for me to exercise a kind of journey through grieving, a kind of personal struggle. The message of the song developed at first from an argument I once had with someone about trust and support. Later, I pulled from recurring themes in my life as a musician and as a human that dreams for a living. It's easy to promise the world to those we love, but what about when our dreams change and values split?"
 
The video was filmed in North Carolina's Asheville and Outer Banks. Director Ashley Connor had this to say about it in the press release: "'Lark' is the cathartic release we all ask for but so rarely get, an anthem to scream on the tops of hills or in the back of a truck or just in the privacy of our own home. We cried on beaches, we broke bones, got wet, rolled in the grass, danced around a fire with friends and gave each other a lot of hugs - an apt exploration of every broken heart we've ever had."

Olsen purposefully recorded two versions of All Mirrors, starting with a stripped down solo version recorded with producer Michael Harris in Anacortes, Washington. Then she recorded another, full band, version with producer John Congleton (who produced Olsen's 2014 album Burn Your Fire for No Witness), alongside arranger Jherek Bischoff, multi-instrumentalist/arranger/pre-producer Ben Babbitt, and a 14-piece orchestra. Originally Olsen's plan was to release both versions of the album at the same time, but then, as she stated in a previous press release, she decided she "needed to separate these two records and release All Mirrors in its heaviest form.... It was impossible for me to deny how powerful and surprising the songs had become. The truth is that I may have never allowed this much sonic change in the first place had I not already made an account of the same songs in their purest form."  

A limited edition and exclusive All Mirrors bundle from Jagjaguwar has the album on opaque aquamarine vinyl and includes a 7-inch for "All Mirrors" on silver with black splatter vinyl that includes the album version of "All Mirrors" on one side and a solo version titled "We Are All Mirrors" on the other side.

Of the title track and the album title, Olsen had this to say in the previous press release: "I chose this one as the title because I liked the theme: the theme of how we are all mirrors to and for each other. Even if that is not all of it, there is always an element of projection in what we'd like to see in people and scenarios and in the way we see ourselves in those scenarios, with those people."

Summing up the album in the press release, Olsen had this to say: "In every way - from the making of it, to the words, to how I feel moving forward, this record is about owning up to your darkest side, finding the capacity for new love and trusting change even when you feel like a stranger."

The press release describes the album this way: "On her vulnerable new album, All Mirrors, Olsen takes an introspective deep dive towards internal destinations and revelations. In the process of making this album, she found a new sound and voice, a blast of fury mixed with hard won self-acceptance. All Mirrors gets its claws into you on both micro and macro levels. Of course, there's that singular vibrato, always so very close - seemingly simple, cooed phrases expand into massive ideas about the inability to love and universal loneliness. And then suddenly - huge string arrangements and bellowing synth swells emerge, propelling the apocalyptic tenor."

Olsen's previous full-length album was 2016's MY WOMAN, also via Jagjaguwar. It made it to #3 on Under the Radar's Top 100 Albums of 2016 list. In 2017 she released Phases, a collection of B-sides, rarities, and demos, including some previously unreleased tracks. It was our Album of the Week.

In June Olsen was the guest vocalist on "True Blue," a song on Mark Ronson's new album, Late Night Feelings. Olsen also wrote the song, which was #2 on our Songs of the Week list.

Read our 2016 interview with Olsen.

2. Hayden Thorpe: "Full Beam"

Hayden Thorpe, formerly the singer for British art-rockers Wild Beasts, released his debut solo album, Diviner, back in May via Domino (stream it here). This week he shared a brand new song, "Full Beam," that was recorded during the sessions for Diviner but didn't make the final tracklist. It's a surprisingly jazzy number, featuring a notable saxophone solo and really shouldn't have been ditched from Diviner. He has also announced two U.S. tour dates (check out all his tour dates here).

Thorpe had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Full Beam' was the final track to emerge from the Diviner sessions, featuring drums from Stella Mozgowa, backing vocals from Josephine Stephenson and an outrageous saxophone performance from Matana Roberts. It was designed to be a moment of ecstatic release from the brooding songs that preceded it and as serves a calling card for what is to come."

Read our interview with Hayden Thorpe on Diviner.

Read our Self-Portrait feature with Hayden Thorpe.

Back in February Thorpe shared the album's title track, "Diviner," via a video (it was one of our Songs of the Week). When the album was announced in April he shared another new song from it, "Love Crimes," via a video for the track (it was #2 on our Songs of the Week list). Then he shared another song from it, "Earthly Needs" (which was also #2 on our Songs of the Week list).

Read our 2018 interview with Hayden Thorpe about the breakup of Wild Beasts and the band's legacy.

3. Dry Cleaning: "Sit Down Meal"

London-based post-punk four-piece Dry Cleaning released their debut EP, Sweet Princess, just last month via It's OK and this week they have already announced another EP, Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks, and shared its first single, "Sit Down Meal." Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks is due out October 25 via It's OK. Both EPs will also be compiled together as one 12-inch released and also released that date. Check out the EP's tracklist, as well as the band's upcoming tour dates, here.

Vocalist Florence Shaw had this to say about "Sit Down Meal" in a press release: "It's set at the moment just after being suddenly dumped. You cling to details, things you did together and reel at their significance. If you smell their perfume on someone else you feel overwhelmed, but immediately and painfully aware of how lightning quick a relationship can evaporate into thin air."

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.

Previously Sweet Princess' "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. Then the band shared another Sweet Princess single, "Goodnight," which made our main Songs of the Week list.

Also read our review of the Sweet Princess EP.

4. Water From Your Eyes: "Bad in the Sun"

Water From Your Eyes are the Brooklyn-based duo of Nate Amos and Rachel Brown. This week they announced a new album, Somebody Else's Song, and shared its lead single "Bad in the Sun." Somebody Else's Song is due out October 25 via Exploding In Sound. It's the band's first real "New York album" as they were previously based in Chicago. "Bad in the Sun" gets locked in a cool electronic rock groove and doesn't let go for six minutes.

The band had this to say about the song in a press release: "A celebration of bad dreams. The electronic version of 'Somebody Else's Song,' musically over the top, Vocoders, auto-tune (subtle I guess), midi guitars, made sometime in mid 2018 I think, took about a month. In some ways a reflection of 'Break' in terms of length and composition (the two serve as the pillars of album), but ultimately a friendlier and more approachable song. It's definitely the closest thing to older WFYE material on the album, but there are also severe differences in approach to arrangement and pacing. Meant to be a sort of half-closer and set an exciting/ecstatic mood to be ripped down by 'Look Again.'"

5. Holy Fuck: "Luxe" (Feat. Alexis Taylor)

Today Toronto's Holy Fuck shared a new song, "Luxe," that features the guest vocals of Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. Right now it's a standalone single on AWAL. Taylor recorded his vocals at Jack White's Third Man Studio in Nashville on White's "extremely rare" 1947 Voice-O-Graph. Check out the band's upcoming tour dates (many of which are opening for Hot Chip) here.

Holy Fuck is Brian Borcherdt, Graham Walsh, Matt McQuaid, and Matt Schultz. The band had this to say about the song in a press release:

"Among more literal translations, 'Luxe' is the short form of Luxembourg - the city in which the nexus of the song was created. On this particular night, during soundcheck, we had a pulsing minimal synth loop we'd been tinkering around with. (We were listening to lots of TRAX Records stuff on that tour.) We decided that if the crowd demanded an encore we'd go for it. 'Luxe' was the result. Or - as it was then called on the live recorded MP3 - 'Luxembourg Encore'. Once home from tour we took all the live demos back to the drawing board. We shared everything with our friend Kieran Hedben aka Four Tet. His always-intuitive advice was that he heard a great club track in his 'very favorite thing here': 'Luxembourg Encore.' 

"The next moment of discovery came when Graham suggested the band scrap Brian's vocals and give it to Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. When we presented Alexis with the concept our reference notes to him, based around Brian's temporary vocals, were 'like an old sample you'd dig up off an old folk record... and approached more like a classic house track.' He responded, 'We could try to record the vocal in a Voice O Graph booth (an obsolete 1940s coin operated phonograph booth) if we can access one...'. As far as we're aware, there are only two in the world - one in Liverpool (that apparently doesn't work anymore) and the other at Jack White's Third Man studio in Nashville. And that is where Alexis sang 'I'd like to scrap all of this and start over again.' Fittingly, it was New Year's Eve."

Holy Fuck's last album was 2016's Congrats. Hot Chip released a new album, A Bath Full of Ecstasy, back in June via Domino (stream it here and read our positive review of the album here).

6. Moon Duo: "Eternal Shore"

Moon Duo (aka Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada) are releasing a new album, Stars Are the Light, on September 27 via Sacred Bones. This week they shared another song from the album, "Eternal Shore," the album's final pre-release single.

Yamada had this to say about the song in a press release: "The lyrics are about the search for a sense of belonging and for the truth of one's inner being, beneath the masks we're conditioned to wear in order to function in society."
 
Johnson added: "We were experimenting with a lot of different rhythms for this record, and this one is in 5/8ths time, which is a real departure for us. It moves us further away from the classic motorik beat. And it's special because it's the first song on which Sanae wrote the lyrics and sings lead."

Previously Stars Are the Light track "Lost Heads" was one of our Songs of the Week. It would appeal to fans of Johnson's other band, psych rock mainstays Wooden Shjips.

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 the album 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."

7. Tindersticks: "The Amputees"

This week Tindersticks announced a new album, No Treasure But Hope, and shared its first single, "The Amputees," via a video for the track. The band have also announced some 2020 tour dates, including their first show on the American East Coast in 10 years. No Treasure But Hope is due out November 15 via City Slang. Check out the album's cover art and the band's tour dates here.

Tindersticks' last album, The Waiting Room, was released in 2016 via City Slang. Unlike most previous Tindersticks' albums, No Treasure But Hope was recorded fairly quickly. "Five weeks from the first notes recorded to the mastering," says frontman Stuart A. Staples in a press release. 

"The last two albums were gradually built to a point of being finished in our studio from moments of playing and recording together," Staples further explains. "When we figured out how to present the songs live, different things happened to them. This time, we wanted to reverse that - to do something that was about being committed to a song together in a moment."

Staples directed the animated video for "The Amputees," with art direction by Suzanne Osborne.

Staples released a solo album, Arrhythmia, last year via City Slang. Earlier this year he did the score for the film High Life, which was directed by Claire Denis (Staples has scored various other Denis films in the past) and starred Robert Pattinson. Tindersticks contributed the new song "Willow" to the soundtrack and it featured the vocals of Pattinson.

8. Temples: "Context"

British psychedelic pop trio Temples are releasing a new album, Hot Motion, on September 27 via ATO (their first for the label). Today they shared another song from the album, "Context."

Temples' frontman James Bagshaw had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Context' was originally written as an observation of words being taken out of context, and how that changes the sentiment and meaning of words. This thought process crossed over into the musicality of the song. I wanted to reinvigorate the idea of the guitar solo, and also re-contextualize influences from my favorite musical pioneers. There is a nod to Les Paul and Mary Ford, and the guitar solo pays homage to a recording technique made famous on the piano sound on 'In My Life' by The Beatles! We recorded the guitar solo at half speed, and then sped it up afterwards!"

Previously Temples shared a video for the album's title track (also its opening track), "Hot Motion" (which was one of our Songs of the Week). Then they shared its second single "You're Either On Something," which was #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

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."

Read our 2013 interview with Temples and our 2014 interview with the band. Also read our 2017 interview with Temples on Volcano.

9. Underworld: "S T A R"

Iconic British dance duo Underworld (Karl Hyde and Rick Smith) are releasing a new album and box set, DRIFT Series 1, on October 25 via the band's own Smith Hyde Productions label and Caroline International. This week they shared another song from it, "S T A R," via a video for the track. The song features the band listing off various notable celebrities and historical figures, including Rosa Parks, David Bowie, and previous collaborators with the band such as film director Danny Boyle and Iggy Pop. They also shared the tracklist for the album and box set versions and you can check those out here.

When DRIFT Series 1 was announced Underworld shared two songs from it, "Listen to Their No" and "Soniamode (Aditya Game Version)." The album is the culmination of their 52-week Drift series project that featured music, film, and text pieces created and published by the band every Thursday.

The project is the follow-up to Underworld's excellent seventh album, Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future, released in 2016 via Astralwerks. In 2018 Underworld teamed up with Iggy Pop to release the collaborative four song EP, Teatime Dub Encounters, via Caroline International.

Read our 2016 interview with Underworld.

10. R.E.M.: "Fascinating"

This week R.E.M. 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 below or you can 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 earlier this month. "Fascinating" may not be R.E.M.'s all-time greatest song, but it's nice to have a new track of sorts from the iconic band and to hear Michael Stipe's vocals again.

An original version of "Fascinating" was intended for R.E.M.'s 2001-released album Reveal, before being cut at the last minute, despite being frontman Michael Stipe's favorite song from the Reveal sessions (according to David Buckley's R.E.M. biography, Fiction), but the album was too long and something had to be cut. It was re-recorded by Stipe and his bandmates Peter Buck and Mike Mills in 2004 for Reveal (co-produced by Pat McCarthy and R.E.M, and engineered by Jamie Candiloro), but was cut again because the lush song didn't fit the vibe of the rest of the album, which was sparer.

Mills had this to say in a press release: "I have been fortunate to spend many weeks working and playing in the Bahamas, making friends and lots of music there. It breaks my heart to see the damage wrought by Hurricane Dorian. Please help us and Mercy Corps do what we can to alleviate the suffering caused by this catastrophe."

Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO of Mercy Corps, had this to say: "The Bahamas faces a long road to recovery after this devastating hurricane. We're grateful to have R.E.M. in our global community of humanitarians, sharing their song with the world to help the people of the Bahamas recover and build back even stronger."

Stipe previously released a six-song EP that raised nearly $100K for Mercy Corps' relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina.

You can also donate directly to Mercy Corps here.

R.E.M. recently announced a 25th anniversary deluxe box set reissue of their 1994 album Monster and shared a new remix of the album's single "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" by original producer Scott Litt. The Monster reissue is due out November 1 via Craft Recordings and 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.

Honorable Mentions:

These 8 songs almost made the Top 10.

Efterklang: "Uden ansigt"

Jenny Hval: "Accident"

M83: "Lune De Fiel"

The New Pornographers: "One Kind of Solomon"

Perfume Genius: "Eye in the Wall"

Pet Shop Boys: "Dreamland" (Feat. Years & Years)

Twin Peaks: "Oh Mama"

Vivian Girls: "Sludge"

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Bask: "New Dominion"

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: "At the Back of the Pit"

Alex Cameron: "Stepdad"

Charli XCX: "2099" (Feat. Troye Sivan)

Clipping.: "La Mala Ordina" (Feat. The Rita, Benny The Butcher, and Elcamino)

Cursive: "Barricades"

Lucy Dacus: "Dancing in the Dark" (Bruce Springsteen Cover)

Carla dal Forno: "No Trace"

Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and Lana Del Rey: "Don't Call Me Angel"

Kim Gordon: "Air BnB"

Great Grandpa: "Digger"

Fall Out Boy: "Dear Future Self (Hands Up)" (Feat. Wyclef Jean)

FKA twigs: "Holy Terrain" (Feat. Future)

Foxes In Fiction: "Antibody" and "Rush to Spark"

Claire George: "Alone Together" and "Alone Together Forever"

Girl Band: "Salmon of Knowledge"

Jeff Goldblum & The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra: "Let's Face the Music and Dance" (Feat. Sharon Van Etten) (Irving Berlin Cover)

Green Day: "Father of All..."

JPEGMAFIA: "Beta Male Strategies"

Kero Kero Bonito: "When the Fires Come"

La Neve: "A Pretty Red"

Major Lazer: "Que Calor" (Feat. J Balvin & El Alfa)

Thurston Moore: "Leave Me Alone" (New Order Cover)

Omni: "Skeleton Key"

Robbie Robertson: "Dead End Kid" (Feat. Glen Hansard)

Charles Rumback & Ryley Walker: "Half Joking"

Saintseneca: "In a Van"

Supergrass: "Next to You" (The Police Cover)

Swervedriver: "I Think I'm Going To Feel Better" (Gene Clark Cover) & "Reflections" (The Supremes Cover)

 

Twen: "Make Hard"

Weezer: "The End of the Game"

The Who: "Ball and Chain"

Wild Nothing: "Partners in Motion - Live in Brooklyn"

Wynonna: "The Child" (Feat. Cass McCombs)

Neil Young With Crazy Horse: "Rainbow of Colors"

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