10 Best Songs of the Week: Rose Elinor Dougall, Hatchie, Weyes Blood, Loma, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, December 7th, 2019  

10 Best Songs of the Week: Rose Elinor Dougall, Hatchie, Weyes Blood, Loma, and More

Plus The National, Alex Lahey, Hot Chip, Vampire Weekend and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Apr 05, 2019
Bookmark and Share


Welcome to another Songs of the Week. There were a slew of notable new tracks to choose from this week, but our #1 is a song we've been planning to add to the Songs of the Week list for a while now and finally could now that the album has been released today. There are quite a few dance-y tracks towards the end of this week's list.

Elsewhere on the website this week we posted a My Firsts interview with Strand of Oaks, as well as interviews with Rose Elinor Dougall, Andrew Bird, No Age's Randy Randall, SASAMI, Jon Hopkins, Black Belt Eagle Scout, and an in-depth conversation with Deerhunter's Bradford Cox.

For this week's Album of the Week we had a tie, two albums we've been heavily supporting for several months now: Rose Elinor Dougall's A New Illusion and Weyes Blood's Titanic Rising.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by The Cinematic Orchestra, Durand Jones & The Indications, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Meat Puppets, Gang of Four, Andrew Bird, The Faint, Yves Jarvis, Jenny Lewis, Aqualung, The Specials, Snapped Ankles, Weyes Blood, and UNKLE. Plus we posted reviews of various DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows.

Don't forget that a few weeks ago we announced our new print issue. The issue features Mitski on the front cover and boygenius (Julien Baker + Phoebe Bridgers + Lucy Dacus) on the back cover.

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. Rose Elinor Dougall: "Christina in Red"

Rose Elinor Dougall released a new album, A New Illusion, today via Vermillion. The album was our joint Album of the Week. Now that the album is out we can highlight our favorite song from it, "Christina in Red," which wasn't one of the album's pre-release singles. The six-minute track leads off with a sublime piano part before building up to a transcendent horn section (à la Camera Obscura's "Razzle Dazzle Rose"). It feels like an album-closer, although it's actually the second-to-last song on A New Illusion.

Read our brand new interview with Rose Elinor Dougall on A New Illusion.

A New Illusion is Dougall's third album and the follow-up to 2017's acclaimed Stelluar (which was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017). Previously Dougall shared its first single, "First Sign" (which was one of our Songs of the Week). Then she shared another song from it, "Take What You Can Get," an immaculately produced propulsive string-backed track that was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Back in November she also shared the new song, "Make It With You," which was our #1 Song of the Week and is surprisingly not featured on the new album.

The album features her brother Tom Dougall of the band TOY, along with his bandmates Maxim Barron and Max Claps, as well as Euan Hinshelwood and Joe Chilton of Younghusband. Dougall had this to say about her collaborators in a previous press statement: "It does feel like a really nice group effort - I didn't want to be over-prescriptive, so some of it is quite loose. I wanted to make it about musicianship."

Dougall had this to say about the album: "I just wanted to sit at the piano and play, I wanted to return to something essential. There's something comforting and solid about that instinctive relationship with music, with playing and singing."

"First Sign" was inspired during a trip to a remote part of Andalusia, in Southern Spain. Dougall explained: "I was trying to cut loose from a situation, and this song is about vainly attempting to shake oneself free. I was looking for a loose, hazy feeling to the music to sit with the imagery of the song. I wanted it to sound like the end of summer."

Dougall is also a former member of The Pipettes and Mark Ronson's band, as well as Innerspace Orchestra, a trio with Tom Furse of The Horrors and Cathy Lucas of Fanfarlo.

Read our 2017 interview with Rose Elinor Dougall on Stelluar.

2. Hatchie: "Stay With Me"

Hatchie is the dream pop project of Australian musician Harriette Pilbeam. Her debut album, Keepsake, is due out June 21 via Double Double Whammy. Previously she shared a video for its first single, "Without a Blush," which was our #1 Song of the Week. This week she shared another song from the album, danceable breakup song "Stay With Me," via a video for the track. In the song Pilbeam begs an ex-lover to come back to her, even though she knows the relationship doesn't work. "Stay with me, why don't you/Stay with me, cos I'm not done/I've come undone," she sings in the chorus. "Stay with me, why don't you/Stay with me, though it feels wrong/You're still the one." Joe Agius directed the video, which features Pilbeam singing the song in a dance club, looking forlorn while people dance around her.

Pilbeam had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Stay With Me' was written as a writing exercise in an effort to step away from my usual style into something more fun and dancey. We originally wrote it with someone else in mind, but realized it was the perfect fit for my album as I wanted to expand into a different sound. It became one of my favorite songs on the record because I'm a sucker for crying-in-the-club tracks." 

Back in May 2018 she released her debut EP under the Hatchie name, Sugar & Spice, via Double Double Whammy. Despite it being an EP, it made it on our Top 100 Albums of 2018 list. Pilbeam recorded Keepsake in a home studio in Melbourne. John Castle, the producer behind Sugar & Spice, once again collaborated with Pilbeam.

A previous press release/bio announcing the album highlighted some of Keepsake's tracks. "Her Own Heart," for example, was described as "a radiant jangle-pop gem that puts a singular twist on the post-breakup narrative."

Pilbeam elaborated further on the song: "I'd seen people in my life go through breakups and end up with no idea what to do with themselves. I wrote that song from the point of view of a girl who winds up on her own and embraces having to figure out who she is, who doesn't let her life get turned upside-down like that."

"Stay With Me" was described as "Keepsake's most utterly rhapsodic track, all incandescent synth and unstoppable rhythm."

Pilbeam commented: "At first I thought I could never put that on my album-it felt too dancey and pop, and I figured it could really shine on someone else's record. But then I realized: I'm the one dictating what my sound is; what I put on my album is up to me."

Of the album title, Pilbeam explained: "I'm not much of a nostalgic person when it comes to memories, but I do have a tendency to hold on to certain things, like tickets from the first time I went someplace on holiday. It made sense to me to call the record that, at a time when I'm going to probably end up with a lot of keepsakes-and in a way, this whole album is almost like a keepsake in itself."

Last October Hatchie shared a brand new song, "Adored," via the Adult Swim Singles Program. That song was one of our Songs of the Week, but is not featured on the new album.

In regards to Sugar & Spice, previously we posted Hatchie's "Sleep" (which was our #2 Song of the Week). We also posted the video for Sugar & Spice's title track (which was also one of our Songs of the Week) and the audio for "Bad Guy" (which was also one of our Songs of the Week), as well as a video for "Bad Guy." Hatchie has a shoegazer/dream-pop vibe, so it makes sense that in February 2018 Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie remixed previous single "Sure." Hatchie also previously shared videos for "Try" and "Sure."

Read our 2018 interview with Hatchie on Sugar & Spice.

3. Weyes Blood: "Wild Time"

Weyes Blood (aka Natalie Mering) released a new album, Titanic Rising, today via Sub Pop, her first album for the label. It was our joint Album of the Week. Some of the album's strongest songs were released as singles prior to its release, but not all of them. We had a hard time picking which of the album tracks should make the Top 10, but went with the sweeping six minutes of "Wild Time." Like Rose Elinor Dougall's "Christina in Red," which tops this week's list, "Wild Time" feels like an album closing track, but isn't, it is followed by two more songs.

Titanic Rising includes "Andromeda," a new song she shared in January that was one of our Songs of the Week. When the album was announced Weyes Blood shared a self-directed slasher movie video for the new song "Everyday," which was our #1 Song of the Week. The album cover was photographed in a bedroom fully submerged in water, with no CGI. Video was also shared of Weyes Blood performing a new song from the album, "Something to Believe," at Pitchfork's Midwinter Festival in Chicago. Then she shared another new song, "Movies," via a self-directed video in which a movie theater audience magically jump into the film they are watching. "Movies" was also one of our Songs of the Week. Weyes Blood also recently sang guest vocals on a song by Drugdealer, "Honey" (which was one of our Songs of the Week). Plus she streamed the album a week early via NPR First Listen.

In a previous press release Mering described Titanic Rising as "The Kinks meet WWII or Bob Seger meets Enya."

"You can tell there's not a guy pulling the strings in Enya's studio," Mering said of the New Age pop singer who had huge success in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Of the other influence, Mering says: "The clarity of Bob Seger is unmistakable. I'm a big fan of conversational songwriting. I just try to do that in a way that uses abstract imagery as well." 

"An album is like a Rubik's Cube," she added. "Sometimes you get all the dimensions-the lyrics, the melody, the production-to line up. I try to be futuristic and ancient at once, which is a difficult alchemy. It's taken a lot of different tries to get it right."

The 1997 romantic blockbuster film Titanic inspired the album's title. "It was engineered for little girls and had its own mythology," Mering explained. "It's so symbolic that The Titanic would crash into an iceberg, and now that iceberg is melting, sinking civilization." 

The song "Movies" also comments on the power of the silver screen; as Mering put it, "that movies had been brainwashing people and their ideas about romantic love." 

At the end of the press release, Mering summed up Titanic Rising as such: "There are complicated influences mixed in with more relatable nostalgic melodies. In my mind, my music feels so big, a true production. I'm not a huge, popular artist, but I feel like one when I'm in the studio. But it's never taking away from the music. I'm just making a bigger space for myself."

Weyes Blood's last album, Front Row Seat to Earth, made it all the way to #9 on our Top 100 Albums of 2016 list.

Read our interview with Weyes Blood on Front Row Seat to Earth (from our Best of 2016 Issue).

Also read our The End interview with Weyes Blood about endings and death.

4. Loma: "Half Silences"

Late last week Loma shared a video for a brand new song, "Half Silences." We didn't see the press release and since the news was only posted to a handful of other websites we slept on this news. But we were big fans of the band's self-titled debut album, released back in February 2018 via Sub Pop, so we rectified that oversight and posted the song on Monday. Technically that means the song should've been on last week's Songs of the Week list, but oh well, it's good enough to carry over to this week's list.

"Half Silences" is a standalone single for now on Sub Pop, although a press release says the band is working on their second album. The band self-directed the video with the help of Sam Sanford and it features them dancing along to the song out in nature at night.

Loma consists of Shearwater singer Jonathan Meiburg and the two members of Cross Record (Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski). Meiburg met Cross Record when the duo opened for Shearwater in 2016.

Meiburg had this to say about the "Half Silences" video in a press release: "We're deep inside the new album, but didn't want to wait to release this song. That's not CGI, by the way; Dan and I held the fireworks while Emily danced and our friend Sam yelled 'Lower! Higher! To the left!' Watch for a cameo by Noodle the cat."

Read our 2018 interview with Loma.

5. The National: "Light Years"

The National are releasing a new album, I Am Easy to Find, which is accompanied by a 24-minute short film directed by Mike Mills and starring Oscar-winning Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, on May 17 via 4AD. Previously they shared its first single, "You Had Your Soul with You" (which was our #1 Song of the Week), as well as a trailer for the film. This week they shared another song from the album, closing track "Light Years," via a video made up of footage from the film, with Vikander playing a woman seen through the years, from childhood to motherhood. Like Rose Elinor Dougall's "Christina in Red," "Light Years" is built around an emotive piano part.

It's also been revealed that the band's previously announced five intimate shows later this month will feature screenings of the film and a Q&A with Mills.

"You Had Your Soul with You" features guest vocals from David Bowie collaborator Gail Ann Dorsey and the album also features vocal contributions from Sharon Van Etten, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Lisa Hannigan, Mina Tindle and more.

"Yes, there are a lot of women singing on this, but it wasn't because, 'Oh, let's have more women's voices,'" said frontman Matt Berninger in a previous press release. "It was more, 'Let's have more of a fabric of people's identities.' It would have been better to have had other male singers, but my ego wouldn't let that happen."

The project came together when Mills, who has directed iconic music videos and feature films such as 20th Century Women and Beginners, approached Berninger in September 2017 about collaborating together. Instead of just having Mills make a music video or two for them, they decided to get him much further involved in the album, so much so that Mills co-produced with the band. The album was recorded in Long Pond, Hudson Valley, NY, with additional sessions in Paris, Berlin, Cincinnati, Austin, Dublin, Brooklyn, and elsewhere.

The previous press release further explained the project and the relationship between the film and album: "The result is I Am Easy to Find, a 24-minute film by Mills starring Alicia Vikander, and I Am Easy to Find, a 68-minute album by The National. The former is not the video for the latter; the latter is not the soundtrack to the former. The two projects are, as Mills calls them, 'Playfully hostile siblings that love to steal from each other' - they share music and words and DNA and impulses and a vision about what it means to be human in 2019, but don't necessarily need one another. The movie was composed like a piece of music; the music was assembled like a film, by a film director. The frontman and natural focal point was deliberately and dramatically sidestaged in favor of a variety of female voices, nearly all of whom have long been in the group's orbit. It is unlike anything either artist has ever attempted and also totally in line with how they've created for much of their careers."

The National released their excellent last album album, Sleep Well Beast, in September 2017 via 4AD. It was our Album of the Week and #7 on our Top 100 Albums of 2017 list.

Read our 2018 interview with The National.

Read our 2017 interview with The National on Sleep Well Beast.

Read our rave 9/10 review of Sleep Well Beast.

Read our 2012 interview with Alicia Vikander, as well as our 2015 interview with her.

6. Alex Lahey: "Am I Doing It Right"

Australian singer/songwriter Alex Lahey is releasing a new album, The Best of Luck Club, on May 17 via Dead Oceans. Previously she shared a video for its first single, "Don't Be so Hard on Yourself," which features a prominent saxophone solo from Lahey and was one of our Songs of the Week. This week she shared another song from the album, "Am I Doing It Right," which is partly about the struggles of being a modern indie musician. She has also announced some new North American and UK tour dates, which you can check out here.

Lahey had this to say about the song in a press release: "Being a musician is considered a weird job without any explanation necessary, but one of the strangest parts about being a musician is that there is absolutely no set pathway you're supposed to follow to get where you want to go. This song reflects on being thrust into a lifestyle and going with it while feeling like others are looking over your shoulder to make sure you're doing all the right things by you and everyone else. It's like fighting a losing battle while loving every minute of it."

The album is the follow-up to her 2017-released debut album, I Love You Like a Brother (it was our joint Album of the Week and one of our favorites albums of that year). Lahey began writing The Best of Luck Club in Nashville, sometimes locking herself in a room for 12-hour days. Then the album was recorded over the course of a month in her hometown of Melbourne at Sing Sing South. Lahey co-produced the album alongside Grammy-winning producer Catherine Marks (Local Natives, St. Vincent, Manchester Orchestra). Lahey plays nearly every instrument on the album, with the appearance of the saxophone a reference to her past studying jazz saxophone at university. 

Lahey had this to say about the album in a previous press release: "In Nashville I was really inspired by the dive bar scene there and the idea that at these dive bars there's no pretentious energy. Whether you've had the best day of your life or the worst day of your life, you can just sit up at the bar and turn to the person next to you - who has no idea who you are - and have a chat. And the response that you generally get at the end of the conversation is, 'Best of luck,' so The Best of Luck Club is that place."

The previous press release described the sound of the album as such: "The Best of Luck Club picks up where Brother left off, but sprints forward with killer hooks, her acute sense of humor, and a more polished sound. Throughout, Lahey's sharp songwriting and propensity for taking personal minute details and transforming them into anthemic pop-punk is showcased as she sings about self-doubt, break-ups, mental health, moving in with her girlfriend, vibrators, and generational ennui. Here, Lahey documents 'the highest highs and the lowest lows' of her life to date."

Read our 2017 interview with Alex Lahey.

7. Holy Ghost!: "Escape From Los Angeles"

This week Brooklyn based synth-pop duo Holy Ghost! announced their newest album, Work, and shared the album's 7-minute long closing track "Escape From Los Angeles." The album is due out via New York City disco label West End Records on June 21 and is the first release of original music from the label in over three decades. Check out the album's cover art and tracklist, as well as the band's upcoming tour dates, here.

Work is the group's third studio album, following their 2013 release Dynamics. The album features the tracks "Epton on Broadway (Part I & Part II)" (shared in February) and "Anxious" (which was previously an honorable mention on our Songs of the Week list back in October).

Partially inspired by the minimalist tech that generated such albums as David Bowie's iconic Low, the group simplified their gear down to only two synths: a Yamaha CS80 and a Mini Moog. Featured on the cover of Work is a piece by Agnes Denes titled Wheatfield - A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan - The Harvest, 1982By Stephen Axeman 

8. Hot Chip: "Hungry Child"

This week Hot Chip announced a new album, A Bath Full of Ecstasy, and shared a video for its first single, "Hungry Child." A Bath Full of Ecstasy is due out April 20 via Domino. Saman Kesh wrote and directed the "Hungry Child" video, which stars Martin Starr and Milana Vayntrub as a couple dealing with the fact that they can't avoid the song, it follows them everywhere, playing loudly. Watch it below, but we have also included the Soundcloud audio for the track, so you can hear it without all the distracting dialogue from the amusing video. The song doesn't reinvent the Hot Chip wheel by any means, but it's a fun house track (even though one of the people in the video hates house music).

Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the band's upcoming tour dates, here.

For A Bath Full of Ecstasy, the band (Owen Clarke, Al Doyle, Joe Goddard, Felix Martin, and Alexis Taylor) worked with outside producers for the first time: France's Philippe Zdar and Scotland's Rodaidh McDonald. The album was recorded in Paris and London. Turner-prize winning artist Jeremy Deller and Fraser Muggeridge Studio created the album's artwork. The album is the follow-up to 2015's Why Make Sense?, although in 2018 founding member/lead vocalist Alexis Taylor released a new solo album, Beautiful Thing, also via Domino.

9. Little Cub: "Millenium People"

This week British synth-pop outfit Little Cub shared a video for their new track "Millenium People." The track is the group's first release since their 2017 debut Still Life. The song's lyrics deal with Brexit at a time of particular national interest in the subject and the video features the band performing in a neon lit warehouse. "But maybe it's time, say goodbye/The great British lifeboat capsized," frontman Dominic Gore sings. By Stephen Axeman

Read our 2017 interview with Little Cub.

10. Vampire Weekend: "This Life" (Plus "Unbearably White")

Vampire Weekend are releasing a new album, Father of the Bride, on May 3 via Columbia/Spring Snow. This week they shared two more songs from it: "This Life" and "Unbearably White." They are said to be the last two songs the band will share from the album before its release. Neither are as compelling as the two Father of the Bride songs that previously made our Songs of the Week list ("Harmony Hall" and "Sunflower"), but we liked "This Life" just enough for it to skate in near the bottom of this week's Top 10, whereas "Unbearably White" is pleasant, but doesn't really go anywhere interesting.

"This Life" features backing vocals from Danielle Haim and additional guitar from Jake Longstreth. Ariel Rechtshaid and Ezra Koenig produced the song, with additional production by Dave Macklovitch from Chromeo. The song borrows lyrics ("You've been cheating on, cheating on me/So I've been cheating on, cheating on you") from iLoveMakonnen's "Tonight."

Koenig wrote "Unbearably White," which he produced with Ariel Rechtshaid, with additional production by BloodPop.

Previously Vampire Weekend shared two songs from Father of the Bride: "Harmony Hall" (which was #2 on our Songs of the Week list) and "2021," as well as a video for "Harmony Hall." Then they shared "Sunflower" (which features Steve Lacy of The Internet and was one of our Songs of the Week) and "Big Blue." Then they shared a video for "Sunflower" directed by actor Jonah Hill and featuring comedy legend Jerry Seinfeld and rapper/visual artist Fab 5 Freddy.

Father of the Bride is the band's fourth album. The band's last album was 2013's Modern Vampires of the City. Since then founding member/producer Rostam Batmanglij left the band as a full-time member. 

Honorable Mentions: 

These eight songs almost made the Top 10. Big Thief and The Divine Comedy came closest to making the main list.

Big Thief: "Cattails"

Broken Social Scene Share New Song "Big Couches"

The Divine Comedy: "Queuejumper"

Rose Elinor Dougall: "Echoes," "Something Real," and "That's Where the Trouble Started"

Weyes Blood: "A Lot's Gonna Change" and "Something to Believe"

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Barrie: "Saturated"

 

Mac DeMarco: "All of Our Yesterdays"

Frankie Cosmos: "Rings on a Tree," "Allowed," and "Today's Special"

The Get Up Kids: "The Problem is Me"

Grimes: "принцесса"

Noname: "Song 32"

Palehound: "Aaron"

Priests: "Jesus' Son"

Julia Shapiro: "Natural"

Titus Andronicus: "(I Blame) Society"

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:

Shawn Smith
April 8th 2019
1:53am

I liked the list. In fact, it is my favorite song list of the week also. Every song on the list has a different story. Lyrics, tune, composition- everything touched me. The real song lovers will love to have all these songs together here. I am a freelance content writer by profession. When I sit to write, these songs lead me writing awesome writing piece. And surely your work will also be smooth hearing these songs.

Fason
April 10th 2019
4:38am

Stay With Me - it’s a great song. Hatchie made great progress in singing. I really like this song.