10 Best Songs of the Week: Courtney Barnett, Phosphorescent, Julia Jacklin, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, January 25th, 2021  

10 Best Songs of the Week: Courtney Barnett, Phosphorescent, Julia Jacklin, and More

Plus Moonface, Thom Yorke, Sharon Van Etten, Kurt Vile, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Oct 05, 2018
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This week Sharon Van Etten and Moonface announced new albums and their lead singles both made this week's Songs of the Week list. Joining them are new standalone singles from Julia Jacklin, Jessie Ware, and SOAK, as well as some singles from upcoming albums, and an eight-minute album track. But our #1 this week is a bonus track that probably shouldn't have been cut from an album released earlier this year.

Elsewhere on the website in the last week we posted a guest article from Madeline Kenney, where she wrote about one of her favorite underrated albums, Paul Simon's 1980 album One-Trick Pony.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Tokyo Police Club, Tom Petty, Christine and the Queens, Tim Hecker, and Phosphorescent. Plus we posted reviews of various DVDs, Blu-rays, films, and TV shows, including a review of the new film A Star is Born and a recap/review of the latest episode of The Good Place.

Don't forget that our new print issue, which features Kamasi Washington on the cover, is out now.

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. Courtney Barnett: "Small Talk"

Australian singer/songwriter/guitarist Courtney Barnett released a new album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, back in May via Mom + Pop/Marathon Artists/Milk! Records (it was our Album of the Week). This week she shared a brand new song, "Small Talk," a previously unreleased track from the Tell Me How You Really Feel sessions. In it she sings about her brother and potentially being a "cool auntie," among other things. The song is being released as part of Mom + Pop's 10th anniversary album, but really it was good enough to appear on her last album, so it's a shame it was cut.

Read our recent cover story on Courtney Barnett here.

Also read our review of Tell Me How You Really Feel.

2. Phosphorescent: "Around the Horn"

Phosphorescent (aka Matthew Houck) released a new album, C'est La Vie, today via Dead Oceans. Now that the album is out, we can share one of our favorite tracks from it, even though it wasn't released as a single. "Around the Horn" is the album's eight-minute long centerpiece, a glorious piece of gospel-infused space-rock Americana in the vein of Spiritualized.

Previously Phosphorescent shared the album's first two singles, "New Birth in New England" (which was one of our Songs of the Week), "Christmas Down Under" (which was also one of our Songs of the Week), and almost title track "C'est La Vie No. 2." Then he stopped by The Late Late Show with James Corden to perform "New Birth in New England."

Pick up Under the Radar's current print issue (Issue 64) to read our exclusive joint interview between Phosphorescent and Ethan Hawke.

Phosphorescent's last album was 2013's Muchacho. In the five years since, Houck fell in love, had kids, and moved from New York to Nashville. Once there he built is own studio from scratch, Spirit Sounds Studio. C'est La Vie was recorded there and was produced by Houck. Houck mixed the album with Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, Arctic Monkeys). 

A previous press release described the album as such: "With a focus on translating these profound experiences to music as intuitively as he could, Houck pushes the boundaries of what a Phosphorescent record can sound like, balancing the earthy and the incandescent, the troubled and the serene, creating his own musical cosmos in the process."

3. Julia Jacklin: "Body" 

This week Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin shared a new song, "Body," via a video for the track. Jacklin co-directed the video with Nick Mckk and it features her driving out into the Australian wilderness. The song is a slow build, but has a hypnotic quality to it.

Jacklin released her debut album, Don't Let the Kids Win, on Polyvinyl in 2016. A press release promises that her sophomore album is due out early next year on Polyvinyl and this is presumably the first taste of that, but right now it's just a standalone single.

Jacklin had this to say about the video in a press release: "Nick and I drove out to the Hay Plain which is one of my favorite parts of Australia and filmed this clip. We spent about 14 hours in the car, jumping out when something looked beautiful. Whenever I listened to this song I knew the clip had to be a driving one, destination unknown. The song speaks for itself I think but I'd say it's just a very long and exaggerated sigh. Born from feelings of powerlessness when it comes to the impossible task of representing yourself the way you think is right; personally and professionally. When you feel like everything is for the taking no matter what you do."

This past summer Jacklin released another album as part of the trio Phantastic Ferniture. Their self-titled album came out via Polyvinyl.

4. Moonface: "Walk the Circle In the Other Direction"

This week Moonface (aka Canadian musician Spencer Krug from Wolf Parade, among other bands) announced a new album, This One's For the Dancer & This One's For the Dancer's Bouquet, and shared its first single, "Walk the Circle In the Other Direction," which almost sounds like a more jazzy and experimental Interpol cut. Krug is calling this his final album under the Moonface moniker and it's due out November 2 via Jagjaguwar.

This One's For the Dancer & This One's For the Dancer's Bouquet combines two separate projects into one. Half the album was recorded in a different year, in a different studio, in a different city, and with different collaborators than the other half. Half the album is sung from the perspective of the Minotaur from Greek mythology, the other half is written from Krug's own point of view.

Krug had this to say about the album in a press release: "I never made an album under that name I was embarrassed by, and this is one of my favorites, so I may as well get out while I still can, on a personal high note to boot. Take this album as a sort of parting gift before Moonface sails into oblivion; the alter-ego's final offering."

The press release describes the sound of the album like this: "This One's For the Dancer & This One's For the Dancer's Bouquet is an experimental, amorphous listen, oscillating between jazzier meditations and frenetic rock imbued with marimbas, xylophones, and steel drum."

Moonface's last album was 2016's My Best Human Face, in which he once again teamed up with Finish band Siinai (Moonface and Siinai previously collaborated on the 2012 album Heartbreaking Bravery).

5. Thom Yorke: "Has Ended"

Thom Yorke of Radiohead has scored his first feature film, Suspiria, and the soundtrack, Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film), is due out October 26 via XL. Previously Yorke shared one song from it, "Suspirium," which features his vocals and was our #2 Song of the Week. This week Yorke shared another song from the soundtrack, "Has Ended," which also features his vocals and, despite its title, falls near the beginning of the soundtrack's tracklist. Yorke's son, Noah Yorke, plays drums on the track.

Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) includes 25 original compositions by Yorke, including instrumental tracks and ones that are more traditionally song-like and feature vocals. Yorke wrote and arranged the score, which was recorded and produced by Yorke and Sam Petts-Davies. The score also features the London Contemporary Orchestra and Choir, as well as Yorke's son Noah Yorke on drums on "Has Ended" and "Volk," and Pasha Mansurov on solo flute on "Suspirium."  

Suspiria is a remake of Dario Argento's 1977 Italian horror film of the same name. Suspiria's first teaser trailer debuted in June and last month a new, longer trailer for the film was shared (watch the creepiness below again). Luca Guadgnino (Call Me By Your Name) has directed the new version, which stars Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, and Jessica Harper (the star of the 1977 original). It's due out nationwide November 2 via Amazon Studios, with New York and Los Angeles showings starting October 26.

Guadgnino had this to say about Yorke in a previous press release last year: "Thom's art transcends the contemporary. To have the privilege of his music and sound for Suspiria is a dream come true. The depth of his creation and artistic vision is so unique that our Suspiria will sound groundbreaking and will deeply resonate with viewers. Our goal is to make a movie that will be a disturbing and transforming experience: for this ambition, we could not find a better partner than Thom."

6. Sharon Van Etten: "Comeback Kid"

This week Sharon Van Etten announced a new album, Remind Me Tomorrow, and shared its first single, "Comeback Kid." We wish the song was longer, but it's an intriguing look into her new sound. Remind Me Tomorrow is due out January 18, 2019 via Jagjaguwar.

Remind Me Tomorrow is the follow-up to 2014's Are We There, but she's kept busy in the intervening years, having a kid, going back to school, writing a film score, and embarking on an acting career. The album was written while Van Etten was pregnant and going to school to study psychology. Around that time she also guest starred on the Netflix show The OA and was one of the musical performers on the revival of David Lynch's Twin Peaks. Plus she wrote the score for Strange Weather, a 2017 drama directed by Katherine Dieckmann and starring Holly Hunter and Carrie Coon, as well as contributing the closing title song for Tig, a 2015 documentary on comedian Tig Notaro. As a press release describes it, "Remind Me Tomorrow was written in stolen time: in scraps of hours wedged between myriad endeavors."

John Congleton produced Remind Me Tomorrow, taking Van Etten's original demos and helping to transform them into a new sound for the singer/songwriter. "He helped flip the signature Van Etten ratio, making the album more energetic-upbeat than minimal-meditative," a press release explains. "The songs are as resonating as ever, the themes are still an honest and subtle approach to love and longing, but Congleton has plucked out new idiosyncrasies from Van Etten's sound."

The album finds Van Etten stepping away from the guitar, writing on piano. "Comeback Kid" was initially a piano ballad, but Van Etten "didn't want it to be pretty," so it evolved. The press release further describes the album's sound as such: "Remind Me Tomorrow as a whole shows this magnetism towards new instruments: piano keys that churn, deep drones, distinctive sharp drums. There are dark intense synths, a propulsive organ, a distorted harmonium."

The album features Van Etten's longtime collaborator and bandmate Heather Woods Broderick, as well as various guests, including: Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu, Zachary Dawes, Brian Reitzell, Lars Horntveth, McKenzie Smith, Joey Waronker, Luke Reynolds, and Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint.

Van Etten had this to say about the album in the press release: "I want to be a mom, a singer, an actress, go to school, but yeah, I have a stain on my shirt, oatmeal in my hair and I feel like a mess, but I'm here. Doing it. This record is about pursuing your passions."

7. Kurt Vile: "One Trick Ponies"

Kurt Vile is releasing a new album, Bottle It In, on October 12 via Matador. This week he shared another song from the album, "One Trick Ponies." It was shared via a lyric video that features Vile singing the song out in nature and also in a row boat. The YouTube title for the track jokingly says that it's a Kurt Vile song featuring Kurt Vile, perhaps because his vocals are layered a bit on the song. The song also features backing vocals from Warpaint's Stella Mozgawa and Farmer Dave Scher.

Bottle It In includes "Loading Zones," a new song Vile shared in August via an amusing video for it (it was one of our Songs of the Week). When the album was announced Vile shared the near 10-minute long "Bassackwards," via a lyric video for the song. "Bassackwards" was our #1 Song of the Week.

Bottle It In is the follow-up to 2015's b'lieve i'm goin down..., although last fall Vile teamed up with Courtney Barnett for a collaborative album, Lotta Sea Lice. Bottle It In was recorded over the course of two years in various cities (including Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and Portland), with various producers (including Rob Schnapf, Shawn Everett, and Rob Laakso, a member of his backing band The Violators). The majority of Bottle It In was recorded at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with Peter Katis (Interpol, the National) engineering and producing. The album also features Cass McCombs, Kim Gordon, Mary Lattimore, and Lucius.

Vile said in a previous press release that all the travelling around influenced the album: "For a while I was terrified of flying, so I would be listening to whatever country songs I was obsessed with. I'd have George Jones blasting in my ears. Or, I would be reading something about country music. Or, I would start writing songs in that flash of being afraid, being swallowed by life. I'm up there on a plane drinking wine because like everybody else I'm afraid to die. And I wrote 'Hysteria' up there." 

Of the album's emotional weight, Vile added: "It's like that moment on the airplane, when you're on your way somewhere and you have that burst of panic. When you're terrified of dying, that's when you want people to know you love them."

Also read our 2017 interview with Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile on Lotta Sea Lice.

8. Jessie Ware: "Overtime"

Jessie Ware released her third album, Glasshouse, in October 2017. This week, a year later, she shared a brand new song, "Overtime." The club-ready track is currently a standalone single out now via PMR/Friends Keep Secrets/Interscope. The song features production from Bicep (aka Andy Ferguson and Matt Mcbriar) and Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford.

Ware had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Overtime' is a taste of what's to come. It's been really fun being back in the studio and I'm so excited to share this track. I worked on it with some of my favorite producers; James Ford & the guys of Bicep. It feels like I'm going back to my early days; it's a late-night song to flirt too. Whilst I carry on working on new music, I hope you really enjoy this one."

Read our 2017 Self-Portrait interview with Jessie Ware.

Read our 2014 interview with Jessie Ware.

9. SOAK: "Everybody Loves You"

SOAK (Northern Ireland singer/songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson) returned this week with a new song, "Everybody Loves You," on Rough Trade. It's her first song in three years, since her acclaimed debut album, 2015's Before We Forgot How to Dream. Back then she was only 19 years old, now of course she's older (22) and likely wiser. There's no word yet on her second album. "Everybody Loves You" features lush production and it might have made it even higher on the list if the lyrics were a little more poetic.

Monds-Watson had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Everybody Loves You' is a song about extreme denial. More specifically about my stubborn ability to convince myself I don't want something that I do and blind my rational thought process. I suppose in this case, as a way of self-protection (and avoiding vulnerability). The lift at the end of the song ('Everybody wants you, And I do too') represents the almost comedic/foolish acceptance of my own feelings. A 360 turn of events in which I then so desperately want all that I had rejected and pushed away. A consistent theme of my younger self."

Read our 2015 interview with SOAK.

10. John Grant: "Is He Strange"

John Grant is releasing a new album, Love Is Magic, on October 12 via Partisan in the U.S. (and Bella Union elsewhere). This week he shared another song from the album, "Is He Strange." Plus this week Grant performed previous single "He's Got His Mother's Hips" on the BBC music show Later... with Jools Holland. Some members of his backing band were wearing pig masks. Watch that performance here.

Grant had this to say about "Is He Strange" in a press release: "'Is He Strange' is a pure love song about how you cannot own or possess another person. It's about letting go of someone you still love and moving on and also how it is possible to continue to love while you are letting go. Much easier said than done." 

Previously Grant shared Love Is Magic's six-and-a-half-minute long title track, "Love Is Magic," via a lyric video (it was one of our Songs of the Week), which was followed by a full-on video for "Love Is Magic" featuring lots of dogs. Then he shared two more songs from the album: the shiny and upbeat "He's Got His Mother's Hips" and the ballad "Touch & Go," a tribute to Chelsea Manning. Both songs made our Songs of the Week list. We also recently premiered a song by Ethan Gold, "Sway Lake (Lost Record Version)," that featured the guest vocals of Grant and was an honorable mention on our Songs of the Week list. Then he shared a wild video for "He's Got His Mother's Hips" that featured the work of 13 different animators.

Love Is Magic is the follow-up to 2015's Grey Tickles, Black Pressure. Grant produced the album with analogue synth expert/collector Benge and Paul Alexander of Texas band Midlake. It was mainly recorded at Benge's MemeTune Studios in Cornwall, England.

A previous press release said the album "is a turbulent, riveting, often brutal collection that overlaps pitch black humor, fear, anxiety, and anger" and that "the instrumentation consists almost entirely of synthesizers and programming."

Grant had this to say about the album in the previous press release: "The lyrics aren't just the doom and gloom of the past. They're a snapshot of everyday life - the ridiculousness, the pain, the deep longing.... Each record I make is more of an amalgamation of who I am. The more I do this, the more I trust myself, and the closer I get to making what I imagine in my head."

Grant also had this to say about the album's title: "Love's a shitshow that requires work. It's not all lollipops and rainbows and '67 Dodge Dart Hemis and STD's and macaroni and cheese and John Carpenter. But nothing can distract from the fact that, in spite of it all, love is still magic."

Also be sure to read our in-depth 2013 article on Grant, one of the most honest and personal interviews we've ever done.

Also read our 2015 interview with John Grant on Grey Tickles, Black Pressure.

Honorable Mentions:

These 6 songs almost made the Top 10.

Glass Candy: "Naked City"

Holy Ghost!: "Anxious"

Madeline Kenney: "Perfect Shapes" and "Your Art"

Phosphorescent: "C'est La Vie No. 2"

U.S. Girls: "Velvet 4 Sale (Tune-Yards Fiction Dub Mix)."

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

AlunnaGeorge: "Cold Blooded Creatures" (Feat. Bryson Tiller)

Anderson .Paak: "Tints" (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)

angelic milk: "when the limousines pass by"

Richard Ashcroft: "Hey Columbo"

Bedouine: "Come Down In Time" (Elton John Cover) and "Hey, Who Really Cares?" (Linda Perhacs Cover)

Phoebe Bridgers: "It'll All Work Out" (Tom Petty Cover)

Charli XCX & Troye Sivan: "1999"

Clams Casino: "Gravity" 

Death Valley Girls: "(One Less Thing) Before I Die"

Geotic: "Knapsack"

HALEY: "Credit Forever Part 2"

Ed Harcourt: "Duet For Ghosts"

IAN SWEET: "Holographic Jesus"

Nicholas Krgovich: "Lido"

Adrianne Lenker: "from"

Cass McCombs & The Chapin Sisters: "Dolphins" (Fred Neil Cover)

Mr Twin Sister: "Tops and Bottoms"

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart: "Runnin' Down a Dream" (Tom Petty Cover)

Pill: "Midtown" 

John Prine: "I Just Called To Say I Love You" (Stevie Wonder Cover)


Stephen Steinbrink: "Mom" (Feat. Jay Som)

St. Vincent: "Savior" (MassEducation Version)

Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam: "Meatloaf To The Camera" 

Tasha: "New Place" 

Tune-Yards: "Coast to Coast (U.S. Girls neverlearn2saygoodbye Mix)"


Typesetter: "Technicolor" (Feat. Lydia Loveless)

Zedd & Maren Morris: "The Middle (Zola Jesus Remix)" 

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