10 Best Songs of the Week: Madeline Kenney, Campdogzz, John Grant, Suede, and More

Plus The Lemon Twigs, Christine and the Queens, Phantastic Ferniture, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Jul 13, 2018
Bookmark and Share


Hello again. We haven't done a Songs of the Week for almost five weeks, since June 9. We were on vacation from mid to late June and then when we returned there really weren't enough compelling songs last week to justify doing Songs of the Week lists, mainly because of the July 4th holiday being smack dab in the middle of the week and so labels mainly avoided sharing new songs. But now Songs of the Week has returned after a week of audio riches (we almost did a Top 15 this week and hence also have five strong honorable mentions).

To make up for our absence, after this week's main Songs of the Week list we have highlighted 17 songs, in no particular order, that would've made our Songs of the Week lists had we done them the rest of June. So consider all of those officially designated as Songs of the Week too. Hopefully we'll be back to a regular weekly Songs of the Week schedule for the rest of the month.

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. Madeline Kenney: "Cut Me Off"

This week Madeline Kenney announced her sophomore album, Perfect Shapes, and shared a video for its first single, "Cut Me Off." Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes produced the album, which is due out October 5 via Carpark. "Cut Me Off" was the song that stuck with us the most this week. It's catchy, but a little off kilter too. The video is incredibly memorable too.

Kenney only just released her debut album, Night Night at the First Landing, last September via Company. Toro Y Moi's Chaz Bear produced that album. Back in January she shared a brand new song, "Still Learning," which featured Naytronix (aka Nate Brenner of Tune-Yards) and is not on the new album.

Perfect Shapes was recorded in Durham, NC in January 2018, just five months after the release of her debut album. This is Wasner's first time producing another artist's work.

Wasner had this to say about Kenney and the album in a press release: "The first time I heard the songs that would come together to form Madeline Kenney's Perfect Shapes, I understood what it felt like to really have a piece of art speak directly to you...hearing her words felt like someone whispering in my ear the contents of my own mind. This was my first time producing music other than my own, and it was one of the only times I've ever experienced working exclusively with women. And it was a creative experience unlike any I've ever had."

Robert Kolodny directed the "Cut Me Off" video, from a concept by Kenney. It features the singer in an office environment, including dancing on a table, and seems to be making a bit of a statement about women in the workplace.

Read our 2017 Pleased to Meet You interview with Madeline Kenney.

Read our 2017 Artist Survey interview with Madeline Kenney.

2. Campdogzz: "Run Wild"

Chicago-based five-piece Campdogzz are releasing their sophomore album, In Rounds, on August 3 via 15 Passenger. This week Under the Radar was pleased to premiere the video for new single "Run Wild."

"The video is a visual representation of what, to me, is lush, visceral, spiritual Tulsa, OK," commented lead singer/songwriter and Tulsa native Jess Price. "Most of what you see was shot on the Northside and at the historic Colony. Featured is Lydia Cheshewalla (Roots and Ash, Holy Mother Collective) along with several other resident Tulsa artists and musicians, sculpture by Chris Wollard. Those who live or have lived in the area will gladly attempt to describe it. It's sky. The way the winds rip and shift. Green country and how alive it is. Insects. The pull to come back. The heaviness that seems to always be in the air. It's an area that is in part progressing, yet is so acutely preserved. The song itself is more or less a person acknowledging patterns in their life. And the setting holds the heaviness of those patterns and the lightness of their revelations."

The new album follows Campdogzz's self-released 2015 debut album Riders in the Hills of Dying Heaven and is, as a press release states, "a more collaborative and intentional effort," centered around the songwriting and voice of Price, whose "melodies take on the shape of a storm making its way in-and out just as soon." The Oklahoma native moved to Chicago to become a filmmaker and then met now Campdogzz bandmates Mike Russell and Nick Enderle when making a documentary about their previous band, Suns. (Note: Campdogzz write up written by Charles Steinberg)

3. John Grant: "Love Is Magic"

This week John Grant announced a new album, Love Is Magic, and shared its six-and-a-half-minute long title track. Love Is Magic is due out October 12 via Partisan in the U.S. (and Bella Union in the U.K.).

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 press release says 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 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.

4. The Lemon Twigs: "If You Give Enough"

The Lemon Twigs (aka brothers Brian and Michael D'Addario) released their debut album, Do Hollywood, in 2016 on 4AD. This week they shared a new song, the string- and piano-backed "If You Give Enough." Last month the band shared a teaser video for something called Go to School, which was described as "a musical by The Lemon Twigs" (watch it below again). This week Go to School was officially announced as their sophomore album with an August 23 release date via 4AD.

The Lemon Twigs recorded the album in their Long Island house. It features Jody Stephens (Big Star) and their father Ronnie D'Addario. A press release says Go to School "tells the heartbreaking coming of age story of Shane, a pure of heart chimpanzee raised as a human boy as he comes to terms with the obstacles of life. Todd Rundgren and their real life mother Susan Hall play Shane's parents."

The band had this to say about the album in the press release: "Something now, then, big, small, bleak, and hopeful. All in under an hour."

Of "If You Give Enough," the press release says: "In lines like 'Your life's only good as love, if you give enough,' the moral of the fable is revealed: give a lot of love without expecting it in return and you won't be corrupted by the hate around you."

Last year The Lemon Twigs followed up Do Hollywood with the Brothers of Destruction EP and back in March they shared two new songs, "Foolin' Around" and "Tailor Made," neither of which is featured on the album.

Read our 2016 interview with The Lemon Twigs in our Pleased to Meet You section.

5. Christine and the Queens: "Girlfriend (Dâm-Funk Re-Freak)"

Christine and the Queens (aka Héloïse Letissier and her amazing dancers) is releasing her sophomore album, Chris, on September 21 via Because Music. This week she shared a remix EP for the album's lead single, "Girlfriend" (which features Dâm-Funk). It includes a funky seven-and-a-half-minute remix of the song by Dâm-Funk, which was worth highlighting on its own. Check out the Dâm-Funk remix below, followed also by the full EP.

Back in May Christine and the Queens shared a new song, "Girlfriend" (which features Dâm-Funk), as well as a French version of the song, titled "Damn, dis-moi." She got a lot of mileage out of that song. It was one of our Songs of the Week, there was also a video for the song, she performed the song on Later... with Jools Holland, and also performed it on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (with The Roots and Dâm-Funk). Then she shared a video for a new song, "Doesn't Matter," as well as a video for a French version of the song, "Doesn't Matter (voleur de soleil)." There will be both English language and French language versions of the album, with the French one having an extra track.

She also stopped by the BBC Live Lounge to do a session where she covered Maroon 5's "What Lovers Do," as well as performing "Girlfriend."

Christine and the Queens made waves in her native France with her 2014 debut album, Chaleur Humaine. A more English language version of the album, simply titled Christine and the Queens, was released in America (and other English speaking countries) in 2015 via Because Music.

In a previous press release Letissier compared her first and second albums: "Chaleur Humaine was about teenage years, most of it. Loneliness, really true feelings, and there is a softness in the way I wrote as well, because I was properly introducing myself." With Chris, she says "it gets to be a bit more exhilarating, because I get to say, 'Okay, I've been introduced now.' I get to be more confident, and it matches what happened in my life as a woman."

Letissier added: "The second album could have been me finding a fancy producer in LA and doing the pop shit, but actually, no. I wanted to make it even more personal, if it's possible." 

6. Phantastic Ferniture: "Bad Timing"

Phantastic Ferniture is a trio led by Julia Jacklin (who released a well-received solo album, Don't Let the Kids Win, on Polyvinyl in 2016). The band also features Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan K Brennan and on July 27 they are releasing their self-titled debut album, also via Polyvinyl. Previously the album's catchy second single, "Gap Year," was an honorable mention in our Songs of the Week list and they also shared its first single "Fuckin 'n' Rollin." This week they shared a video for a third song from the album, "Bad Timing." Nick Mckk directed the silly video with the band, which features the band with fern plants in front of their faces. Watch it below.

Jacklin had this to say about the video in a press release: "We have to really thank all of our friends who came and made this clip with us. It turned out to be quite a painful process but probably good for our dwindling musician specific fitness levels. I think all our arms were aching for about a week after. I think anyone who is already on the fence in regards to our use of fern imagery is going to really hate us after watching this. We had also just got back our puzzle that features on the cover of our record and were putting it together while we waited for each shot to be set up."

7. Dirty Projectors: "I Feel Energy" (Feat. Amber Mark)

Dirty Projectors (the project of Dave Longstreth) released a new self-titled album last year via Domino and are already returning with a new one, Lamp Lit Prose, which came out today also via Domino. Previously they shared a video for its first single, "Break-Thru" (which was one of our Songs of the Week), as well as another song from the album, "That's a Lifestyle," via a minimalist animated video. On Thursday, the eve of the album's release, they shared one last pre-release single, the upbeat "I Feel Energy," which features guest vocals from Amber Mark.

Lamp Lit Prose features Robin Pecknold, Rostam, HAIM, Empress Of, and others. A previous press release described the album as such: "Lamp Lit Prose arrives just over a year after 2017's self-titled Dirty Projectors. Here Longstreth's band returns with a new album that is the yang to the yin of the 2017 effort. The songs signal a page turned for Longstreth: hope instead of heartbreak, a restorative balance. Guitars have returned to the Dirty Projectors' world, intricate vocal harmony too. Lamp Lit Prose is a recommitment to the sounds and ideals of Dirty Projectors, embracing the band's trademarks while pushing forward the sonic envelope." 

Their tour is the band's first full-on tour in five years. Dirty Projectors also recently announced a new live line-up. Longstreth will be joined by previous members Nat Baldwin (bass) and Mike Johnson (drums), as well as three new band members: Felicia Douglass (percussion/vocals), Maia Friedman (guitar/vocals), and Kristin Slipp (keyboards, vocals). 

8. Suede: "Don't Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You"

Britpop originators and survivors Suede are releasing a new album, The Blue Hour, on September 21 via Rhino. Previously they shared a trailer for the album and a video for a dramatic new song, "The Invisibles" (which was our #2 Song of the Week). Today they shared a second single from the album, "Don't Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You," which sounds like vintage Suede and seems to end with the sound of a teakettle whistling.

Suede reformed in 2010 and made a fantastic comeback in 2013 with the release of the excellent Bloodsports, which was their first new album in over a decade and was very well-received by critics. They released their last album, Night Thoughts, back in 2016. The Blue Hour is the band's third album since reforming. Earlier this year the band also put out a 25th anniversary reissue of 1993's self-titled debut album and frontman Brett Anderson also released his first book, the memoir Coal Black Mornings, via Little, Brown.  

Alan Moulder produced The Blue Hour. In a previous interview with NME Anderson shed some light on the sound of the album: "I think we're at this stage of our career where it doesn't really matter what we do, as long as we're engaged in doing it and making it interesting. Because of that, we can do quite extreme things. This is a very complicated record, much more so than the last too - and more diverse. It's quite a journey. There are a lot of elements that we haven't used before, like a choir and more spoken word and dialogue. There are a lot of field recordings on it too to thread the ideas together."

Anderson also told the NME that his son inspired the album. "It was conceived as a record almost from a child's point of view," he said. "My son is my muse these days, and I write about him and through his eyes. He inspired the book I wrote recently, Coal Black Mornings. He was my inspiration on the last two records and this is a continuation of that. I've always written from different perspectives. A lot of this is about the terrors of childhood, so it's quite unpleasant in lots of ways. I think Suede should be unpleasant, that's the point of a band like Suede. Whenever we've tried to pleasant, it never works. We have to inhabit Suedeworld and it's not a very nice place! It's set in a rural landscape, on the hard shoulder of the motorway, among the B-roads and among the rubbish that's been fly-tipped. It's set by a chain link fence with a dead badger lying rotting in the ground."

Suede made an immediate mark when they came on the scene in their native U.K., with them declared "The Best New Band in Britain" by the music publication Melody Maker in 1992 before their debut album was even released. That self-titled debut arrived on March 29, 1993 to critical acclaim and fantastic sales (it hit #1 on the U.K. album charts and at the time was the fastest selling debut album in over a decade). 1994's sophomore album, Dog Man Star, is considered a classic of the era. 1996's third album, Coming Up, continued the band's success, also debuting at #1 on the U.K. album charts. The Blue Hour is the band's eighth album.

Read our 2013 interview with Suede's Brett Anderson on Bloodsports.

9. The Twilight Sad: "I/m Not Here [missing face]" 

This week Scotland's The Twilight Sad shared a brand new song, "I/m Not Here [missing face]," and announced some new tour dates. This is the band's first new music since signing to Mogwai's label, Rock Action, and their recent performances with The Cure.

On "I/m Not Here [missing face]" frontman James Graham sings "I don't want to be around you anymore" and in a press release he says the song is "about my ongoing battle with not liking myself, trying to be a good person but constantly feeling like I'm failing myself and everyone I care about." 

The band's Andy MacFarlane had this to say about the musical basis for the song: "I was attempting to play 'Ogives' by Erik Satie, but I'm really shit at the piano so it didn't happen, but I came up with the music using those chord shapes. So from my perspective, it's a bad cover version of that piece of music."   

Of the tour dates, Graham says in the press release: "I'm really excited to start playing again. I've got the drive and I want us to get back out there and do it from a new perspective. We all enjoy playing, we need to rehearse these songs with a new drummer... but it's all such uncharted territory, l think that's why it's exciting to me. I can't tell exactly what's going to happen. I like that chaotic side of it."  

He also commented on signing to Rock Action: "To be able to say that we're on that record label, to try and give something back for all the good faith they've had in us over the years. Mogwai took us on tour early on, introduced us to Robert [Smith]. They've been a through line for us and I'm excited to be a part of that label."

10. Frontperson: "Tick - Tock (Frontrunner)"

Frontperson is a new duo that features Kathryn Calder of The New Pornographers (and also a solo artist and formerly of Immaculate Machine) and Mark Andrew Hamilton (who has released six albums as Woodpigeon). This week they announced their debut album, Frontrunner, and shared a video for its first single, "Tick - Tock (Frontrunner)." Frontrunner is due out September 21 via Calder's own label, Oscar St.

Rob Leickner and Ryan Sudds directed the "Tick - Tock (Frontrunner)" video, which features various track & field events, sometimes running backwards, and was filmed at the 2018 Langley Pacific Invitational and the 2018 BC Masters Track & Field Championships.

The album cover also features a track & field event and is a photograph that actually inspired the album title. Hamilton explains in a press release: "About 20 years ago, a photographer friend of mine named Ambrose Fan gave me this incredible picture of a young girl with her fists clenched, getting ready to run a race at a track meet. I've lived in a lot of places since then, and this photo has always come with me. When we started recording at the National Music Centre - basically one of the world's best keyboard museums where we had pretty much free reign over their incredible collections of synths and such - I put the photo on the recording console, and it stayed there for two weeks guiding the making of our record. Whenever someone would ask what sound we were going for, I'd just point at that picture." 

Calder adds: "The photograph is now our record cover, it was the inspiration for our album name, and it's still guiding this record, because we decided to use it as inspiration for the video for our first song, 'Tick-Tock (Frontrunner).'"

Honorable Mentions:

These five songs almost made the Top 10.

Jorge Elbrecht: "Down In Flames" 

 

Gorillaz: "Humility (Superorganism Remix)"

Gulp: "Claudia"

Ty Segall and White Fence: "Body Behavior"

ShadowParty: "Present Tense" (Feat. Denise Johnson)

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

BEAK>: "Brean Down"

Phoebe Bridgers: "The Gold" (Manchester Orchestra Cover) 

Cults: "Total Control" (The Motels Cover)

Childish Gambino: "Feels Like Summer" and "Summertime Magic"

First Aid Kit: "Running Up That Hill" (Kate Bush Cover)

Gorillaz: "Humility (DJ Koze Remix)"

Ariana Grande: "God is a Woman"

Guided By Voices: "You Own the Night"

Lord Huron: "Harvest Moon" (Neil Young Cover)

Mudhoney: "Paranoid Core"

Cullen Omori: "A Real You"

Houndmouth: "Waiting For the Night"

Lala Lala: "Destroyer"

Metric: "Dark Saturday"

Tony Molina: "Jasper's Theme"

Parquet Courts: "Wide Awake (Danny Krivit Re-Edit)"

 

Thin Lips: "Gaslight Anthem (The Song Not the Band)" 

Tokyo Police Club: "Hercules" and "DLTFWYH"

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: "Keep a Little Soul"

Patrick Watson: "Melody Noir"

Westerman: "Easy Money" 

Songs From June 10 - July 6 We Would've Included in Songs of the Week: 

Christine and the Queens: "Doesn't Matter"

Death Cab for Cutie: "Gold Rush"

Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood: "With Animals"

 

The Love Language: "New Amsterdam"

Low: "Quorum," "Dancing and Blood," and "Fly"

The Mary Onettes: "Cola Falls"

Mass Gothic: "J.Z.O.K."

Mitski: "Nobody"

Trevor Powers: "XTQ Idol" and "Dicegame" 

Pram: "Shimmer and Disappear"

Spiritualized: "I'm Your Man" and "A Perfect Miracle"

Still Corners: "Black Lagoon"

Underworld and Iggy Pop: "Get Your Shirt"

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.