10 Best Songs of the Week: I Break Horses, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Billie Eilish, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, May 25th, 2020  

10 Best Songs of the Week: I Break Horses, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Billie Eilish, and More

Plus U.S. Girls, Moaning, Anna Burch, Alex Lahey, Caroline Rose, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Feb 14, 2020
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Welcome to the sixth Songs of the Week of 2020. It was a solid week for new tracks, but we managed to keep it reined in to our regular 10 tracks as opposed to last week's supersized 13-song edition. And in a rarity for Songs of the Week, the same artist is #1 two weeks in a row!

This week we posted a My Favorite Album interview with The Divine Comedy, as well as interviews with Wild Nothing, TORRES, and Nabilah Islam, who is on running for Congress in Georgia.

Plus Elizabeth Sankey of Summer Camp wrote about her Top 5 musical moments from romantic comedies, in honor of the British duo's new album, Romantic Comedy.

For this week's installment of the Why Not Both podcast we spoke to Best Coast.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Green Day, Squirrel Flower, Field Music, Wolf Parade, and Tennis. 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. I Break Horses: "I'll Be the Death of You"

Sweden's I Break Horses (the project of Maria Lindén) is releasing a new album, Warnings, on May 8 via Bella Union. Previously she shared its first single, "Death Engine," via a video it. It was our #1 Song of the Week last week. On Tuesday Lindén shared another song from the album, "I'll Be the Death of You," also via a video (directed by Douglas Hart). On Tuesday we predicted that the immaculately produced shoegaze track was already a strong contender to be this week's #1 Song of the Week and it looks like we were right.

Warnings is I Break Horses' first new album in six years, the follow-up to 2014's Chiaroscuro. "It has been some time in the making," Lindén acknowledged in the previous press release announcing the album. "About six years, involving several studios, collaborations that didn't work out, a crashed hard drive with about two years of work, writing new material again instead of trying to repair it. New studio recordings, erasing everything, then recording most of the album myself at home."

For a while Lindén was working on instrumental tracks. "It wasn't until I felt an urge to add vocals and lyrics," she said, "that I realized I was making a new I Break Horses album."

Eventually she got producer/mixing engineer Chris Coady (Beach House, TV on the Radio) involved to mix the album. "Before reaching out to Chris I read an interview where he said, 'I like to slow things down. Almost every time I love the sound of something slowed down by half, but sometimes 500% you can get interesting shapes and textures,'" Lindén said. "And I just knew he'd be the right person for this album."

As its title suggests, Lindén said Warnings deals partly with our troubled era. "It's not a political album," she said, "though it relates to the alarmist times we live in. Each song is a subtle warning of something not being quite right."  

Summing up Warnings and the delay between albums, Lindén said: "Nowadays, the attention span equals nothing when it comes to how most people consume music. And it feels like songs are getting shorter, more 'efficient'. I felt an urge to go against that and create an album journey from start to finish that takes time and patience to listen to. Like, slow the fuck down!"

2. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: "Cars In Space"

On Monday Melbourne, Australia five-piece Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever shared a new song, "Cars In Space," via a video for the track that finds the band performing at a drive-in movie theater in Australia. Fellow Aussie musician Julia Jacklin co-directed the video with her regular collaborator Nick Mckk. Never mind that you can't successfully project films during the day outdoors.

In a press release the band's Fran Keaney says "Cars In Space" is "the swirling words and thoughts before a breakup."

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever released their debut album, Hope Downs, back in June 2018 via Sub Pop. Hope Downs was our Album of the Week, one of our Top 100 Albums of 2018, and our #1 Debut Album of 2018. You can also read our review of it.

In February 2019 they shared a new song, "In the Capital" (it was one of our Songs of the Week) and released it as a 7-inch ia Sub Pop. The B-side, "Read My Mind," was also shared in April 2019 via a video for the track (it was also one of our Songs of the Week). There's no word on a new album from the band.

Read our 2018 interview with Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.

3. Billie Eilish: "No Time to Die"

It was previously announced that 18-year-old singer/songwriter/pop star Billie Eilish would be singing the theme song for the new James Bond film, No Time to Die, and on Thursday Eilish shared the song.

It is as dramatic as you'd expect a Bond song to be, a melancholic ballad with soaring moments. The song was co-written with Eilish's regular collaborator and older brother Finneas O'Connell (aka FINNEAS). FINNEAS also produced the song, alongside Stephen Lipson, and it features orchestral arrangements by Hans Zimmer (the film's composer) and Matt Dunkley, as well as guitar from The Smiths' Johnny Marr. The song is out now via Darkroom/Interscope Records.

Eilish is the youngest artist to do a Bond theme. No Time to Die is the 25th official James Bond film and likely the last film with Daniel Craig in the role as Bond. The film is due out in America April 8 via United Artists/Universal (and April 2 in the UK).

Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the producers of No Time to Die, had this to say in a press release: "Billie and FINNEAS have written an incredibly powerful and moving song for No Time to Die, which has been impeccably crafted to work within the emotional story of the film."
 
Eilish had this to say: "It feels crazy to be a part of this in every way. To be able to score the theme song to a film that is part of such a legendary series is a huge honor. James Bond is the coolest film franchise ever to exist. I'm still in shock." 

FINNEAS added: "Writing the theme song for a Bond film is something we've been dreaming about doing our entire lives. There is no more iconic pairing of music and cinema than the likes of Goldfinger and Live and Let Die. We feel so, so lucky to play a small role in such a legendary franchise, long live 007." 
 
No Time to Die director Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective, Beasts of No Nation) also had this to say: "There are a chosen few who record a Bond theme. I am a huge fan of Billie and FINNEAS. Their creative integrity and talent are second to none and I cannot wait for audiences to hear what they've brought - a fresh new perspective whose vocals will echo for generations to come."

Sam Smith did the theme for the last Bond film, 2015's Spectre, after a song by Radiohead was rejected, and Adele did the song for 2012's Skyfall, which was one of the best modern Bond films.

Neil Purvis, Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge all worked on the No Time to Die script. The film finds Bond retired from active service and in a relationship with Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux, reprising her role from Spectre). His friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), pulls him back into the spy world. Also returning from Spectre are Ben Whishaw as Q, Ralph Fiennes as M, Rory Kinnear as Tanner, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, and Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Joining the cast this time are Lashana Lynch as Nomi, Ana de Armas as Paloma, and Rami Malek as the villain Safin.

Watch the first trailer for No Time to Die here.

Eilish released new #1 debut album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO, in 2019. She recently swept the Grammys, winning all the major awards.

4. U.S. Girls: "4 American Dollars"

U.S. Girls (aka Meghan Remy) is releasing a new album, Heavy Light, on March 6 via 4AD. On Monday Remy has shared another song from the album, "4 American Dollars," via a video for the track. Remy co-directed the video with Emily Pelstring (and Beyond Wonderland Films did the visual effects).

Previously U.S. Girls shared a self-directed video for Heavy Light's first single, "Overtime." "Overtime" was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Heavy Light is the follow-up to 2017's In a Poem Unlimited and 2015's Half Free, both also released on 4AD. Remy self-produced Heavy Light and worked with co-writers Basia Bulat and Rich Morel. It was recorded in Montreal's Hotel 2 Tango studio with 20 session musicians, including E Street Band saxophonist Jake Clemons. Maximilian 'Twig' Turnbull, Steve Chahley, and Tony Price mixed the album.

A previous press release described Heavy Light as "a set of songs conceived as a balance between orchestral percussion (as richly arranged by percussionist Ed Squires) and the human voice (conducted by Kritty Uranowski)."

The previous press release added: "The resulting album finds Remy casting herself as lead voice among a harmonious multitude, the singers of which lend not only their voices, but also share reflections on childhood experiences that are collaged into moving spoken word interludes throughout the album."

Read our 2018 interview with U.S. Girls.

5. Moaning: "Fall In Love"

Los Angeles shoegazers/post-punkers Moaning are releasing a new album, Uneasy Laughter, on March 20 via Sub Pop. On Wednesday they shared another song from it, "Fall In Love," via an animated video for the track. The band's vocalist/guitarist Sean Solomon directed the video, which was premiered by Adult Swim. Moaning also announced some new tour dates, which you can check out here.

Uneasy Laughter is the follow-up to the trio's self-titled debut album, released in 2018 also via Sub Pop. Moaning consists of vocalist/guitarist Sean Solomon, bassist/keyboardist Pascal Stevenson, and drummer Andrew MacKelvie. The band worked with producer/engineer Alex Newport (At The Drive-In, Bloc Party, Melvins) on Uneasy Laughter.

Solomon had this to say about "Fall In Love" in a press release: "People my age are skeptical of love because we see how many previous generations got divorced or went through painful experiences. The song is about being afraid to fall in love because of expecting heartbreak. It's about hating yourself too much to open yourself up to someone else. It's a bummer of a song lyrically but it's pretty fun to dance to!

"I made the music video in my bedroom a couple weeks ago. It's a psychedelic depiction of an imaginary romance. It's inspired by early experimental animations like Belladonna of Sadness and Heavy Metal. Both the song and the video are perfect for everyone feeling like shit this Valentine's Day."

Previously Moaning shared Uneasy Laughter's first single, "Ego," via a video for the track. "Ego" was one of our Songs of the Week.

Solomon celebrated a year of sobriety during the ​sessions for the album and in a previous press release announcing the album said he wanted to be more open with Uneasy Laughter: "Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they're wrong. But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I've made."

6. Anna Burch: "Party's Over"

Detroit singer/songwriter/guitarist Anna Burch is releasing a new album, If You're Dreaming, on April 3 via Polyvinyl. On Tuesday she shared another song from it, "Party's Over," via a self-directed video that stars Burch as a jilted bride after the groom goes on the run thanks to a sea monster.

Burch had this to say about "Party's Over" and its video in a press release: "It's kind of strange but I already started envisioning the video as we were listening to the playback during recording. I was originally picturing a runaway bride scenario, but I pivoted to runaway groom with the '60s sci-fi angle. The song's lyrics are a bit voyeuristic and, with the '60s sounding 12-string guitar, that probably helped inspire the scenario. A lot of my close friends and family have gotten engaged or married in the last year so weddings have been on the surface of my psyche as well." 

Previously Burch and shared If You're Dreaming's first single, "Not So Bad," via a self-directed video for the track. "Not So Bad" was one of our Songs of the Week. If You're Dreaming is Burch's second solo album, the follow-up to 2018's Quit the Curse (also released on Polyvinyl).

Read our 2018 interview with Anna Burch.

 

7. Alex Lahey: "Sucker For Punishment"

On Monday Australian singer/songwriter Alex Lahey shared a new song, "Sucker For Punishment," via a lyric video for track. The song comments on social media with a chorus that goes "Jesus Christ, I am scrolling all the time/I'm just used to it/I swear I'm fine."

Lahey had this to say about the song in a press release: "We're living in an era we're the micro has become the macro. I don't think there has ever been a time where our actions and attitudes as individuals have had such an impact on broader humanity and the planet. Whether it's a 'think about it later' attitude towards climate change, the undemocratic consequences of sharing personal data to big business online, a lethargicness in the face of political engagement or the need to be validated as a worthwhile individual through obtaining arbitrary units of engagement on social media - we need to catch ourselves out before we suffer greater consequences."

"Sucker For Punishment" follows Lahey's sophomore album, The Best of Luck Club, which came out last year via Dead Oceans. The Best of Luck Club was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2019.

Lahey also announced some new U.S. tour dates this week and you can find those here.

Check out our My Favorite Album print issue to read our interview with Lahey on her all-time favorite album.

Read our 2017 interview with Alex Lahey.

8. Caroline Rose: "Freak Like Me"

Caroline Rose is releasing a new album, Superstar, on March 6 via New West. On Tuesday she shared another song from it, "Freak Like Me," which Rose says is a "S&M-themed love song about falling in love with your dominatrix." She also announced some new tour dates, which you can check out here.

Here is Rose's full press release statement on the new song: "'Freak Like Me' is a S&M-themed love song about falling in love with your dominatrix. The song's melody is very floral and beautiful. I imagine it as some sort of delicate dress dancing around 17th century Versailles. I wanted to juxtapose this daintiness with grotesque lyrics. I've always wanted to write a pretty song with the word 'vomit' in it. Paradoxes are fun.
 
"I had been wanting to sample Aaron Embry's 'Raven Song' in a beat for the longest time. Then I had this kind of 'ah ha!' moment while working on the song on tour. I chopped up the sample, pitched it and it just fit perfectly. It really took the song to another level and completed the paradox."

Previously Rose shared Superstar's first single, "Feel the Way I Want," via a self-directed video for the track (which was one of our Songs of the Week).

Superstar is the follow-up to 2018's LONER, which was Rose's breakthrough album that brought her music to a wider audience. A previous press release said that Superstar is "a bigger, badder, glitter-filled cinematic pop record."

The previous press release further described the album: "Inspired by cult classics such as The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, Mulholland Drive, and the mockumentary Drop Dead Gorgeous, Superstar plays out like a film. After the protagonist receives a mistaken phone call from the glamorous Chateau Marmont hotel in album opener 'Nothing's Impossible,' they (gender neutral pronoun) take it as a sign toward a star-studded future and leave behind everything in pursuit of a newly established destiny. What ensues is a cinematic paradox that in one moment finds them strutting down a neon strip in full Saturday Night Fever hip-swing, and the next, sipping a dirty martini at the rundown apartment complex pool dwelling on life's unfortunate turns. It's a narrative Rose pulled directly from the somewhat shameless desires of her own growing ambition, as well as the public breakdowns of several notable celebrities."

Rose added: "To me, there's both humor and horror in hubris and what it takes in order to be successful. I wanted to make a story out of those parts of myself that I find largely undesirable and embarrassing, then inject them with steroids."

Summing up Superstar in the previous press release, Rose said: "I realized at some point that I'm not going to fit into any one box, and maybe that's a good thing. This record is me embracing being an outsider making my own path."

Read our website interview with Rose on LONER.

Read our print magazine interview with Rose on LONER.

9. The Strokes: "At the Door"

On Tuesday The Strokes announced a new album, The New Abnormal, and shared its first single, "At the Door," via an animated video for the track. They announced the album when they performed at a Bernie Sanders get out the vote concert rally in Durham, New Hampshire on Monday night, on the eve of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary (you can watch the full video of the rally and performance here). The New Abnormal is due out April 10 via Cult/RCA. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the band's upcoming tour dates, here.

The New Abnormal is The Strokes' sixth studio album and the follow-up to 2013's Comedown Machine full-length and 2016's Future Present Past EP. Rick Rubin produced the album, which was recorded at Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, California. Jean-Michel Basquiat's painting Bird on Money is the album's cover artwork. Mike Burakoff directed the "At the Door" video.

During the Sanders rally the band performed The New Abnormal tracks "Bad Decisions" and "The Adults Are Talking," as well as debuting the video for "At the Door." They also performed such Strokes classics as "Hard to Explain" and "New York City Cops," among others, and opened their set with a cover of Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House."

10. Surfer Blood: "Parkland (Into the Silence)"

On Tuesday Surfer Blood announced a new album, Carefree Theatre, and have shared its first single, "Parkland (Into the Silence)," via a lyric video for the new song. As its title suggests, "Parkland (Into the Silence)" is about the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, in the band's native Florida, two years ago today. Carefree Theatre is due out May 1 via Kanine.

Surfer Blood frontman John Paul Pitts had this to say about "Parkland (Into the Silence)" in a press release: "On February 14, 2018 I was running on the treadmill at the gym with cable news running in the background. I had just moved back to Florida and was desperately looking for a reason to feel good about it. 

"That was when I saw the news. There had been a shooting at a high school forty minutes south of my hometown. My heart ached for the victims and their families, but like so many Americans, I've become resigned to this particular kind of tragedy. I'm not proud of my cynicism, but it's a callousness you develop when you live in a country where this is a weekly event. 

"In the days and weeks that followed, I watched the events closely. These high school kids were tearing up routine talking points we've heard a thousand times, refusing to be helpless, refusing to succumb to despair. In those moments I was so proud to be from this place. Even though we haven't seen any meaningful legislation, these students were able to move the conversation into new territory. I never thought I'd see people wake up to the epidemic of gun violence in the US, but it feels like its on the tip of everyone's tongue, and so much of that awareness is due to the resilience and optimism of these young Floridians. 

"This song is a testament to their courage. They are truly inspiring and living proof that anything can be overcome." 

Carefree Theatre is the follow-up to 2017's Snowdonia and 2019's covers record Covers. The band also features Tyler Schwarz, Mike McCleary, and Lindsey Mills. Former guitarist Thomas Fekete passed away in 2016 after battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

Honorable Mentions:

These 8 songs almost made the Top 10.

Heather Woods Broderick: "Hummingbird Skylight"

Katie Gately: "Allay"

Lala Lala & Grapetooth: "Fantasy Movie" and "Valentine"

Nation of Language: "Rush & Fever"

PINS: "Hot Slick"

Tame Impala: "One More Year"

Trace Mountains: "Lost in the Country"

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Adult Mom: "Berlin"

Nicole Atkins: "Captain" (Feat. Britt Daniel)

Banoffee: "Contagious"

Brendan Benson: "Good to Be Alive"

Boys Noize: "Girl Crush" (Feat. Rico Nasty)

Cable Ties: "Self-Made Man"

Coriky: "Clean Kill"

Deau Eyes: "Some Do"

Eerie Gaits: "What's Eating You"

Grimes: "Delete Forever" 

Hot Snakes: "I Shall Be Free"

 

iji: "In Motion" (Feat. Greta Kline)

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: "Be Afraid"

Jadu Heart: "Dead, Again"

Mdou Moctar: "Ibitlan"

Migos, Travis Scott, and Young Thug: "Give No Fxk"

Primitive Teeth: "Bubble of Me"

Ratboys: "Anj"

Six Organs of Admittance: "The 101"

Bartees Strange: "About Today" (The National Cover)

Swamp Dogg: "Good, Better, Best" (Feat. Justin Vernon)

SWMRS and Fidlar: "People" (The 1975 Cover)

THICK: "Bumming Me Out"

Too Free: "Elastic"

TOPS: "Witching Hour"

Ultraísta: "Anybody"

Laura Veirs: "I Was a Fool"

Johanna Warren: "Bed of Nails"

Hilary Woods: "Orange Tree"

Worriers: "Big Feelings"

YG: "Konklusions" (Feat. Kehlani)

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