10 Best Songs of the Week: Loma, Everything Everything, Angel Olsen, Madeline Kenney, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, October 28th, 2020  

10 Best Songs of the Week: Loma, Everything Everything, Angel Olsen, Madeline Kenney, and More

Plus Wye Oak, Ela Minus, Glass Animals, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Jul 31, 2020
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Welcome to the 30th Songs of the Week of 2020. This week President Trump suggested that November’s election be pushed back, something he thankfully has no authority to do. Meanwhile on the same day three other living presidents were honoring the late Congressman John Lewis, with President Barack Obama’s moving eulogy offering a stark contrast to the current commander in chief.

In other news, Hoops broke up and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in an interview this week that musicians just needed to release more music on a more regular basis if they wanted to make money from his streaming platform (quality be damned, apparently).

Onto this week’s songs—there were lots of strong new tracks to choose from this week, so we’re back up to a Top 10 after several weeks of only mustering a Top 9.

This week on our website we also posted a My Favorite Album interviews with Strand of Oaks. We also spoke to Donita Sparks of L7 about her new web series. We also posted two interviews with Alex Izenberg, one from our My Firsts series and one as part of our The End series.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Taylor Swift, Bryde, Butch Walker, Zander Hawley, My Morning Jacket, Wye Oak, and Madeline Kenney. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

The Under the Radar podcast had its broadcast premiere, airing its first episode on the Virginia NPR affiliate public radio station WLUR on Thursday night, with more episodes to follow.

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. Loma: “Ocotillo”

This week Loma announced a new album, Don’t Shy Away, and shared a new song from it, “Ocotillo,” via a lyric video. The song is an atmospheric, horn-backed, slow burner.

Don’t Shy Away is due out October 23 via Sub Pop. One song, “Homing,” was produced by Brian Eno. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

Don’t Shy Away is the follow-up to the band’s self-titled debut album, released back in February 2018 via Sub Pop. The album features “Half Silences,” a new song the band shared in April 2019 via a music video (it was also one of our Songs of the Week).

Loma consists of Shearwater singer Jonathan Meiburg, alongside Emily Cross (of Cross Record) and Dan Duszynski. Apart from “Homing,” the band self-produced the album, recording it at Dandysounds studio in Dripping Strings, Texas. The band members were working on various separate projects, but in part the support of Brian Eno encouraged them to reconvene. For “Homing” the band sent the stems of the song to Eno and let him do what he liked with it. “I was a little worried,” says Cross. “What if we didn’t like it?” Eno never actually spoke to the band but his mix of the song arrived via email late one night.

Read our 2018 interview with Loma.

2. Everything Everything: “Violent Sun”

British art-rockers Everything Everything were releasing a new album, Re-Animator, on August 21 via Infinity Industries/AWAL, but this week they announced it’s been pushed back a bit to September 11 because of the pandemic. This week they also shared another song from the album, “Violent Sun,” via a video for the track directed by the band’s frontman Jonathan Higgs. The video features each band running with a GoPro camera in hand.

Higgs had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Violent Sun’ is about the feeling that something terrible is approaching fast, and you want to hold on to this moment forever. It’s the last song of the night, and the last song of your life. You only have these four minutes to make it happen, so make it happen!”

The band had this to say about pushing back the album: “We’re sorry to announce that we have to push the Re-Animator release date back a bit to 11th September, due to COVID-related delays. We’re disappointed too, of course, but we now have the opportunity to work on something exciting for around the new release date. Thank you for bearing with us; we can’t wait for you to hear the album in full, we’re really proud of it.”

Read our recent COVID-19 Quarantine Check-In interview with Everything Everything’s Jonathan Higgs.

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.” Then they shared another new song from the album, “Planets,” via a video. “Planets” was also one of our Songs of the Week.

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.”

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.

Read our 2017 interview with Everything Everything on A Fever Dream.

3. Angel Olsen “Whole New Mess”

On Tuesday Angel Olsen announced a new album, Whole New Mess, and shared its first single, title track “Whole New Mess,” via an Ashley Connor-directed video for it. Then later that night she performed the song for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

The album mainly features stripped down versions of the songs found on last year’s acclaimed All Mirrors album, but also features two new songs (“Whole New Mess” and “Waving, Smiling”). While Whole New Mess was recorded before All Mirrors, these are not demos for that album; Olsen purposefully recorded two versions of these songs, always intending to release them separately. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

This week Olsen also announced that on release day she will be doing the third concert in her Cosmic Streams livestream series, performing from the Hazel Robinson Amphitheater in her current hometown of Asheville, NC.

With the aid of audio engineer Michael Harris, Olsen went to a studio in the small town of Anacortes, Washington called The Unknown, in search of a space where, as she puts it in a press release, “vulnerability exists.” The Unknown is a former Catholic church converted by Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum and producer Nicholas Wilbur. “I hadn’t been to The Unknown, but I knew about its energy. I wanted to go sit with the material and be with it in a way that felt like a residency,” Olsen says in a press release. “I didn’t need a lot, since it was just me and a guitar. But I wanted someone else there to hold me accountable for trying different things.”

Olsen also had this to say about the themes of the album: “I had gone through this breakup, but it was so much bigger than that—I’d lost friendships, too. When you get out of a relationship, you have to examine who you are or were in all the relationships. I wanted to record when I was still processing these feelings. These are the personal takes, encapsulated in a moment.”

Of the song “Whole New Mess” Olsen had this to say: “The reality is that artists are often never home so health, clear mindedness and grounding is hard to come by. The song is a mental note to try and stay sane, keep healthy, remember to breathe wherever I happen to be, because there is no saving it for back home.”

All Mirrors was our #1 Album of 2019. It also our Album of the Week and we previously posted a rave 9/10 review of the album.

Also, don’t forget that Olsen was on the cover of our last print issue, the My Favorite Album Issue (you can still buy a copy directly from us here).

4. Madeline Kenney: “White Window Light”

Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter Madeline Kenney released a new album, Sucker’s Lunch, today via Carpark (stream it here and read our review of it here). On Tuesday she shared one last pre-release single from it, “White Window Light.” She also shared a new live video for the song.

Wye Oak (Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack) produced the album and both members contribute backing vocals to the studio version of “White Window Light,” as does Taylor Vick of Boy Scouts, Stephen Steinbrink, and Olivia Gerber. Vick and Gerber also feature in the live video.

Kenney had this to say in a press release: “This, to me, is a bonafide love song. It may not come off that way (I'm aware that the first line is ‘well what's the point’), but that's because I had some hard and weird conversations about love and they wound up as lyrics. So many friends sang on the chorus. That made it so special and beautiful to record. I filmed this on a tripod at Starline Social Club in Oakland—notice our 6 ft triangle of safety. It felt amazing to sing with my friends again.”

Previously Kenney shared “Double Hearted” along with a lyric video as well as the album’s first single, “Sucker,” via a self-directed video for the track. “Sucker” featured guest vocals from Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner and was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. “Double Hearted” was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared “Picture of You,” also via a video, which was also #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

Sucker’s Lunch is Kenney’s third album, the follow-up to 2018’s Perfect Shapes and her 2017-released debut album, Night Night at the First Landing (which was produced by Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bear). Perfect Shapes was produced by Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes. Wasner returns as producer for Sucker’s Lunch, but this time she’s joined by her Wye Oak bandmate Andy Stack (aka Joyero). The album was recorded in Durham, Oakland, and San Francisco.

Read our recent COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In interview with Kenney.

 

5. Wye Oak: “Sky Witness”

Wye Oak (Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack) released a new EP, No Horizon, today via Merge (stream it here and read our review of it here). On Tuesday they shared the EP’s final pre-release single, “Spitting Image,” but while we do like that song, we actually prefer stirring EP closer “Sky Witness,” which was not a pre-release single. “Spitting Image” makes our honorable mentions list below.

The entire EP features the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Previously the band has shared two songs from the EP: “AEIO,” was our #1 Song of the Week, and “No Place,” which also made our Songs of the Week list

Prior, to the announcement of the EP, the band has released quite a few other singles not featured on No Horizon. The standalone single “Walk Soft” also made our Songs of the Week list and another standalone single “Fortune” was our #1 on that week’s Songs of the Week list. Back in January, they also shared  “Fear of Heights,” another #1 on that week’s Songs of the Week list. They also recently shared, JOIN, a new mini documentary highlighting the history of the band.

In June Wasner surprise-released Like So Much Desire, a new EP with her Flock of Dimes solo project. It was her first release for Sub Pop and the title track made our Songs of the Week list.

Read our 2018 interview with Wye Oak on The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs.

6. Ela Minus: “megapunk” 

This week Colombian-born and Brooklyn-based singer Gabriela Jimeno (aka Ela Minus) released her newest single, “megapunk,” and aims to push forward and motivate people in a time of social upheaval. Although the track (which has a bit of a Ladytron vibe) was written last year, the progressive movement Ela describes has remained entirely too relevant. 

“When I wrote this song last year, I was worried it would lose context if not released immediately,” Jimeno says in a press release. “I could not have been more wrong. This is the perfect time to put this out. We have to keep going. Ánimo y fuerza.”

After growing up in Colombia and moving to the U.S, where she attended Berklee College of Music, Jimeno found power and the ability to demand change in the DIY scene. Still drawing from that inspiration, “megapunk” seeks to uplift those fighting for change. 

The song follows “they told us it was hard, but they were wrong,” her debut song for Domino that was shared back in April. “They told us it was hard, but they were wrong” made our Songs of the Week list. By Jennifer Irving

7. Glass Animals: “It’s All So Incredibly Loud” 

British four-piece Glass Animals are releasing a new album, Dreamland, on August 7 via Republic. Today they shared another song from it, “It’s All So Incredibly Loud,” via a video that feature frontman Dave Bayley by a swimming pool at night. David Wilson directed the video.

Bayley had this to say about the video in a press release: “The entire song is only about three seconds of life. I think most people have been in a position where they have had to tell someone something that they knew was going to devastate them. Something that would change their life. It’s about the silence that occurs between those words leaving your mouth and the other person reacting. It’s the most deafening thing I’ve ever experienced. The video is meant to be a metaphor for the build-up before that, and then the sudden explosion of quiet that lasts forever.”

Previously the band shared the album’s first single, title track “Dreamland,” via a video made by Bayley while under quarantine via instructions from director Colin Read. “Dreamland” was one of our Songs of the Week. The album also includes “Your Love (Déjà vu),” a new song the band shared in February that was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another song from it, “Heat Waves,” via a video partially filmed on phones by neighbors of frontman Dave Bayley during the pandemic lockdown. “Heat Waves” also made our Songs of the Week list. 

Dreamland is the follow-up to 2016’s How to Be a Human Being. It’s the band’s first album since drummer Joe Seaward was hit by a truck while cycling in Dublin in 2018, forcing them to cancel their remaining tour dates that year. The band also features guitarist/keyboardist Drew MacFarlane and bassist/keyboardist Ed Irwin-Singer. 

Bayley had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “The idea for this album came at a time of confusion and uncertainty. My best friend was in the hospital. I didn’t know if he’d make it. The future was damn scary and completely unknown. During those weeks in the hospital, it was so difficult to look forwards that I found myself looking backwards. Digging around in my mind, pulling up old memories, finding comfort in them even if they were uncomfortable in themselves. Speaking to friends and family, I’ve realized that a lot of people are experiencing a similar sort of confusion now. Everything that we thought we could see clearly in front of us has been thrown into the air, and all the while, we can’t be out finding our footing. We can’t be out creating new memories, so…we’re diving back head-first into the old ones. I hear that in conversations. I see it in what people are watching on TV. In what we’re listening to. In what we’re eating. In dreams.”

 

8. Jadu Heart: “Burning Hour” 

Today, Bristol, England-based duo Jadu Heart (Alex Headford and Diva Jeffrey) shared a new song, “Burning Hour,” via a video for it. It’s the latest single to be taken from their forthcoming sophomore album, Hyper Romance, which is due out September 25. Befitting their city of residence, the song has a bit of a trip hop vibe, although leaning in a more pop direction (think fellow Brits HÆLOS). The duo co-directed the video with Dave Monis.

Jadu Heart collectively had this to say about the song in a press release: “We all perform rituals to keep our hearts above water, ‘Burning Hour’ is about embracing that to the point of no return, where you might find yourself drowning.”

Hyper Romance is the follow-up to their 2019-released debut album, Melt Away. The band relocated to Bristol following the release of the debut. Jadu Heart have already shared five singles from Hyper Romance: “Caroline,” “Walk the Line,” “Another Life,” “Dead Again,” and “Suddenly I Know Who You Are.”

9. Laura Veirs: “Burn Too Bright” 

Laura Veirs is back. With over 10 solo albums, one supergroup LP, case/lang/veirs, and an additional songwriting credit with Sufjan Stevens’ magnificent, Carrie & Lowell, Veirs is returning with more expertise storytelling on her 11th solo album, My Echo, which she claims, “knew I was getting divorced before I did.” To give a sneak preview, on Thursday she also released the new song “Burn Too Bright.” My Echo is due out October 23 via Raven Marching Band and Bella Union. 

“Burn Too Bright” is technically a lyric video. But instead of just adding text over pictures, Veirs’ scripture is written in chalk. The track itself is a gorgeous blend; Veirs delicate voice and elegant string accompaniment juxtapose forceful drums and powerful chords. But like the music, the song seems to suggest sometimes something so beautiful cannot be contained—it “burns too bright” and blinds everything in its path. At the last moment the two diverging sounds join together in a hurry. They then fade out in a disjointed cacophony as the camera goes to a birds eye view and you see all the lyrics layed out against the concrete. 

Veris’ last record The Lookout was released in April of 2018. Since then she has separated from her husband, producer Tucker Martine. According to her, My Echo tracks through this difficult time in her life. She does get some help though, with features from Jim James, Bill Frisell, Karl Blau, M. Ward, and many others. 

Here is her full statement on My Echo: 

My Echo is my 11th solo album. It’s my ‘my songs knew I was getting divorced before I did’ album. My conscious mind was trying as hard as I could to keep my family together but my subconscious mind was working on the difficult struggles in my marital life. I was part of a ‘Secret Poetry Group’ that met and wrote poems monthly for a year during the writing of this record. Many of my poems turned into songs for this album. By the time the album was being mixed last fall, my ex-husband/producer Tucker Martine and I had decided to go our separate ways. We were a great musical team for many years but we struggled to be compatible in our marriage and family life and that struggle is reflected in this album. 

“In this new batch of songs I imagine escaping from some sort of prison or cage. Advancing age, the confines of domesticity, our oppressive government and the threat of the apocalypse permeate these songs. In these songs my heart craves certainty and permanence but none is to be found. It’s an album about disintegration. It reveals my artist’s intuition at work.

“Although these songs were written before quarantine they are strangely relevant to times in which we find ourselves currently. You will find me staring at the walls (‘Turquoise Walls’). You will find me feeling grateful to be alive (‘Memaloose Island’). You will find me accepting the ephemeral nature of life (‘Vapor Trails’ and ‘All the Things’). You will find me searching for personal freedom while feeling trapped (‘Freedom Feeling’). You will find me trying to accept that sometimes the best thing to do is to sit still and do nothing at all (‘Another Space and Time’). 

“I hope you enjoy these new songs.” By Samantha Small 

10. Liela Moss: “Turn Your Back Around”

Liela Moss’ (The Duke Spirit) new solo album Who the Power is getting released in just two weeks on August 7 via Bella Union. So far she’s shared tracks “Atoms At Me” (which was one of our Songs of the Week) and “Watching the Wolf.” And this week, we got the self-affirming anthem “Turn Your Back Around” and its lyric video.

In an empty dance studio Moss wears a dark red hoodie over her face and twists and turns to her own pop track. Sounding something like an ’80s pop hit—think Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield”—synths and fast-paced drums guide the track as Moss confidently sings “knowledge baby, I’m the power.”

“As its almost game over for the planet, I’m enjoying one filthy upbeat downhearted close-your-eyes-and-dance by-yourself pop song and offering it as a parting gift to Mother Earth,” Moss says in a press release. “It's a lament, at an urgent bpm.”

After releasing her stormy 2018 debut solo album, My Name Is Safe in Your Mouth, Moss found herself in a period of self-reflection. The new album, produced by partner/producer Toby Butler, then became an accumulation of her discoveries.

But, unlike her lush debut, Who the Power is an angry, charging critique of modern culture. “Perhaps that oscillating energy is best expressed musically via machines,” Moss says in a statement. “We spent much of our time playing with vintage synths and drum machines, building a more visceral palette. I wanted the album to convey a depth of field, to be multi-layered yet feel simple, and to groove.” By Samantha Small 

Honorable Mentions:

These six songs almost made the Top 10. 

Bill Callahan: “The Mackenzies”

Doves: “Carousels (The Comet Is Coming Remix)”

Yves Jarvis: “For Props”  

 

SOAK: “I’m Alive”

Mina Tindle: “Give a Little Love” (Feat. Sufjan Stevens) 

Wye Oak: “Spitting Image”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include: 

Agent blå: “Atopos”

Travis Barker and Run The Jewels: “Forever”

Black Noi$e: “Mutha Magick” (Feat. bbymutha)

Nicholas Braun: “Antibodies (Do You Have The)”

Cayucas: “Lonely Without You”

Park The Van · "Lonely Without You" by Cayucas

DaBaby and Stunna 4 Vegas: “No Dribble”

Billie Eilish: “my future”

The Go-Go’s: “Club Zero”

Half Gringa: “Afraid Of Horses” (Feat. Gia Margaret)

Hidden Mothers: “Beneath, to the Earth”

Hinds: “Spanish Bombs” (The Clash Cover)

Jordana: “Forgetter”

JPEGMAFIA: “Living Single”

Alex Kapranos and Clara Luciani: “Summer Wine” (Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra Cover)

Knot: “The World”

Lisel: “Night and Day”

Lomelda: “It’s Infinite”

Long Knife: “Night of the Hunter” and “Rough Liver”

Marilyn Manson: “We Are Chaos”

Mastodon: “Fallen Torches”

Matmos: “lo! Lavendar River Karez” (Feat. Yo La Tengo)

Róisín Murphy: “Something More”

mxmtoon: “bon iver”

The Notwist: “Ship” (Feat. Saya)

Osees: “Dreary Nonsense”

A.K. Paul: “Be Honest”

PHONY: “Waffle House” and “Turnstile Effect”

Robert Plant: “Charlie Patton Highway (Turn it Up, Pt. 1)”

Jorja Smith: “By Any Means”

Semisonic: “All It Would Take”

Sprain: “Constant Hum”

Sumac: “The Iron Chair”

Touché Amoré: “Limelight” (Feat. Andy Hull)

Tricky: “Thinking Of (Feat. Marta)”

Unreal City: “Sin In God’s Name”

(Special thanks to Jennifer Irving for also helping to put this week’s list together.)

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