10 Best Songs of the Week: Rose Elinor Dougall, Phoebe Bridgers, Sharon Van Etten, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, November 18th, 2019  

10 Best Songs of the Week: Rose Elinor Dougall, Phoebe Bridgers, Sharon Van Etten, and More

Plus James Yorkston, Telekinesis, Sneaks, TEEN, TOY, and a Wrap-up of the Last Two Weeks' Other Notable New Tracks

Nov 30, 2018
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We didn't do a Songs of the Week last week due to the Thanksgiving holiday and long weekend. Beyond the fact that we were taking a break from work, there simply weren't enough songs released last week to justify a Songs of the Week wrap up. Thus this week's post encompasses the last two weeks. Although, all of the Top 10 are songs released this week. Fun fact, the Top 10 features a sister and brother: Rose Elinor Dougall has a new song and her brother, Tom Dougall is in TOY, whose new song also makes the list.

Elsewhere on the website in the last two weeks we posted interviews with Snail Mail, Christine and the Queens, Wild Nothing, serpentwithfeet, Hatchie, Liars, a Self-Portrait from Anna Calvi, and a My Firsts interview with How to Dress Well.

Today we posted our recent print magazine cover story article on Kamasi Washington to the website.

We also posted the first three parts of our Holiday Gift Guide: part 1 on video games, part 2 on board games, and part 3 on technology.

In the last two weeks we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by The Smashing Pumpkins, My Brightest Diamond, Yoko Ono, Stereolab (three reissues), Laura Jane Grace and The Devouring Mothers, Jonathan Richman, Jacco Gardner, Justus Proffit & Jay Som, Bauhaus, boygenius, and Matthew Dear. Plus we posted reviews of various DVDs, Blu-rays, films, and TV shows.

Don't forget that our current print issue is still out now.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last two weeks, we have picked the 10 best the last 14 days had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared in the last two weeks. Check out the full list below.

1. Rose Elinor Dougall: "Make It With You" (Plus "Two Weeks Last Summer" (Dave Cousins Cover))

This week Rose Elinor Dougall shared a new song, "Make It With You." She also shared a cover of Dave Cousins' "Two Weeks Last Summer," recorded with her brother Tom Dougall of the band TOY, along with his bandmate Maxim Barron. "Make It With You" is expected to be on Dougall's next album, which is due out sometime in the spring of 2019 and will be the follow-up to 2017's acclaimed Stelluar (which was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017). "Make It With You" is a soaring ballad that sounds more like something from her 2010-released debut album, Without Why, than the more electro-pop tones of Stelluar. Dougall has such a memorable and beautiful voice that she could sing stock reports and there's a good chance it would still make our Songs of the Week list.

Dougall wrote the song in Los Angeles with Andrew Sarlo, after being impressed by his production work on two of her favorite albums of last year: Big Thief's Capacity and Nick Hakim's Green Twins

Dougall said to The Quietus (who premiered the two tracks) that "Make It With You" is "a simple love song, but set against the fear of an uncertain, turbulent future. I suppose this song is about striving to cling onto those ideas [of pursuing love], against what can feel like diminishing odds."

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. Phoebe Bridgers: "Christmas Song" (Feat. Jackson Browne) (McCarthy Trenching Cover)

This week Phoebe Bridgers shared a cover of McCarthy Trenching's "Christmas Song." It features guest vocals from Jackson Browne and includes sleigh bells, so it's a full on Christmas song. We haven't really included too many Christmas songs in our Songs of the Week list and also generally stay away from covers, but Bridgers' take on this song is so powerful that it had to make the list. And, if we're being honest, we hadn't heard of the original version of the song prior to Bridgers' cover.

Bridgers had this to say about the track in a press release: "McCarthy Trenching is singer/songwriter Dan McCarthy's band. We played a show together in Omaha this last year. They named the band after the trenching company owned by Dan's uncle so they could sell those t-shirts instead of having to make their own. The first time I heard this song it hit me like a ton of bricks. A lot of McCarthy Trenching songs do that. It's not that often that I hear a Christmas song that doesn't make me want to quit music. I played a show in L.A. around the holidays last year where I covered it for the first time. Jackson Browne was there, and he came up to me after the show to tell me how much he loved the song. A couple days later, Dan got a Bandcamp notification on his desktop computer that someone paid 50 bucks for his record and wrote a nice note and signed it Jackson Browne. He thought someone was fucking with him. So when I decided to record a version of the song, I knew who I wanted to sing on it. Plus, I have wanted to make music with Jackson as long as I've wanted to make music."

The Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter released her debut album, Stranger in the Alps, back in September 2017 via Dead Oceans and then released a deluxe digital version in October 2018, also via Dead Oceans. Bridgers has also recently teamed up with fellow singer/songwriters Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus to form supergroup Boygenius, whose self-titled debut EP was released last month via Matador.

Read our 2017 exclusive interview with Phoebe Bridgers and check out our photo-shoot with her.

3. Sharon Van Etten: "Jupiter 4"

Sharon Van Etten is releasing a new album, Remind Me Tomorrow, on January 18, 2019 via Jagjaguwar. Previously she shared its first single, "Comeback Kid" (which was one of our Songs of the Week), as well as a video for the song. This week she shared another song from the album, "Jupiter 4," via a video for the song. The compelling tension-filled track is all build-up with no release and the dark and mysterious black & white video matches the song's vibe well. Katherine Dieckmann directed the video and Van Etten previously scored her film Strange Weather.

Van Etten had this to say about the video in a press release: "I had been looking forward to collaborating with Katherine again since finishing our work together on her film in 2016. Since wrapping the film, she has not only been a guiding force in my work, but a light and guiding force in my life as well, sharing with me stories of how she and her husband made it work with two kids as artists living in New York and encouraging me to return to my music after my son was born. I asked if she would ever want to make a music video for me. She asked what the mood would feel like and I simply said 'apocalyptic mom.' And with that - she said 'Absolutely.' That's why I love her so much."

Dieckmann had this to say: "Getting to make a video for 'Jupiter 4' was such a gift that Sharon gave to me. The song is a fever dream, a spell cast in the name of obsession. I was hypnotized by it when I first heard it, and have never stopped being hypnotized by it - and by now I have probably heard it over a hundred times, maybe more. The trick was to figure out how to match the power of the song with visuals that could serve its ideas without spelling any of them out. I decided right away to work in an inky black-and-white palette and use raw elements (water, fire, earth, mist, dirt, summertime's lush meadows and blooms) as a natural support for Sharon, and shoot her as a strong sculptural presence in space, to accompany the deeply immersive quality of the track. Sharon melded herself effortlessly to every natural location, and delivered a sync performance that was so passionate and vulnerable that it struck silent everyone who was lucky enough to see it happen.... It was a magical shoot, one meant to honor 'Jupiter 4''s combination of brooding ambience with searing declarations of passion. I still have to ask myself, is the love 'so real,' or is it actually unreal? The beauty of the song, and hopefully of the video too, is that it lets that mystery be." 

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

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

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

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

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

4. James Yorkston: "My Mouth Ain't No Bible"

This week James Yorkston announced a new album, The Route to the Harmonium, and shared a video for its first single, "My Mouth Ain't No Bible," which features spoken-word vocals. The Route to the Harmonium is due out February 22, 2019 via Domino. Edwin Burdis directed the video. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art here.

Yorkston recorded the album mainly on his own in the small Scottish fishing village of Cellardyke, which is where he lives. His studio is a loft space that was originally used to repair fisherman's nets but is now packed with Yorkston's antique musical equipment. He then took those recordings to producer/mixer David Wrench (Frank Ocean, FKA Twigs, David Byrne) to piece together the final product.

The Route to the Harmonium is Yorkston's first solo record since 2014's Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society, although since then he's released two collaborative albums as one third of Yorkston/Thorne/Khan and in 2016 he put out his debut novel, Three Craws.

Yorkston had this to say about the album in a press release: "I guess, as a musician and writer, I find myself reacting to what goes on around. So, this album is about life, the life that carries on around me. There's family, place, and the being away from family that the life of a touring musician brings... But there's also reference to friends departed - the hows, the whys - When a friend jumps ship it's always a haymaker to the gut, you know? And this album is about them, but it's more about us, us who are left behind..."

5. Telekinesis: "Set a Course"

This week Telekinesis (the project of Seattle-based singer/songwriter/drummer Michael Benjamin Lerner) announced a new album, Effluxion, and shared a lyric video for its first single, "Set a Course." He also announced some tour dates. Effluxion is due out February 22, 2019 via Merge. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the tour dates, here.

Effluxion is Telekinesis' fifth album, the follow-up to 2015's Ad Infinitum. Effluxion comes from the Latin term meaning "to flow." While on previous albums he worked with Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla and Spoon's Jim Eno as producers, Lerner self-produced Effluxion, recording it in his basement home studio and playing every instrument. The album was influenced by his time in 2017 as a touring member of Teenage Fanclub, leading him to a more back-to-basics sound as opposed to the drum machine-led Ad Infinitum.

Also, read our 2015 interview with Telekinesis or our 2015 Artist Survey interview with Telekinesis or our 2014 Artist Survey interview with Telekinesis or Lerner's My Favorite Thing post on Flin Flon's A-Ok or our Halloween 2013 Questionnaire with Lerner or the guest post he wrote on the film The Sandlot.

6. Sneaks: "Hong Kong to Amsterdam" (Plus "Money Don't Grow on Trees")

Sneaks (aka Eva Moolchan) is releasing her third album, Highway Hypnosis, on January 25, 2019 via Merge. She previously shared two songs from it: "The Way It Goes," and "Beliefs." Then last week she shared "Money Don't Grow on Trees" (which we posted the video for). This week she shared another song from the album, the Jacknife Lee-produced closing track "Hong Kong to Amsterdam," via a video for the song. Of the two songs, that was our favorite and makes the Top 10. Emmett Kerr-Perkinson directed the video, which was shot on a European tour.

7. TEEN: "Only Water"

This week Sister trio TEEN announced a new album, Good Fruit, and shared its first single, "Only Water," via a video for the song. Good Fruit is due out March 1, 2019 via Carpark. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the band's upcoming tour dates, here.

The album is the follow-up to 2016's Love Yes. Charles Billot directed the "Only Water" video, which was shot in the band's native Nova Scotia, Canada. Good Fruit's cover art was designed by Luke Temple of Here We Go Magic.

TEEN's Kristina "Teeny" Lieberson had this to say about the single in a press release: "'Only Water' tells the story of my experience of my father's sickness and death. It explores the final moments that I had with him, as well as the processing of the loss of a parent. As it has been many years since his death, my relationship to losing him has changed. I have been thinking a lot about the idea of possession and how it can even exist once someone has died. The song questions this principle; if we are all water, can't I have you? Can I be you? Which in, abstractly, is a celebration of letting go. The freedom within oneness as well as nothingness." 

Teeny summed up the album this way: "A lot of what ties Good Fruit in...is forging new paths for ourselves and letting go of old ways of doing things."

Read our The End interview with TEEN from 2016 and our 2016 Artist Survey interview with the band.

8. TOY: "You Make Me Forget Myself"

British psych-rock band TOY are releasing a new album, Happy In the Hollow, on January 25, 2019 via Tough Love. Previously the band have shared three songs from the album: "Energy," "The Willo," and "Sequence One." This week they shared another single from the album, "You Make Me Forget Myself," via a Daisy Dickinson-directed video for the track.

The band has this to say about "You Make Me Forget Myself" in a press release: "It has a feeling of estrangement about it. The sound of someone you love who's going away and it doesn't matter. It's the first song Maxim has sung lead on and Dominic plays slide reminiscent of Ry Cooder on the Paris, Texas soundtrack."

The album is the follow-up to 2016's Clear Shot, which was released via Heavenly. The band self-produced the album, recording it at their home studio and at Dan Carey's Studio B, in London. 

9. Steve Mason: "Walking Away From Love"

Steve Mason, former frontman of The Beta Band (whose The Three EPs turned 20 this year), is releasing a new solo album, About the Light, on January 18, 2019 via Domino imprint Double Six. Previously he shared its first single, "Stars Around My Heart," via a video for the song (it was one of our Songs of the Week). This week he shared another song from the album, "Walking Away From Love."

Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur, The Cranberries) produced About the Light, which was recorded at studios in London and Brighton. It's Mason's fourth solo album, following Boys Outside (2010), Monkey Minds in the Devil's Time (2013), and Meet the Humans (2016).

Mason had this to say about the album in a previous press release: "It's a beautiful, confident, positive, angry, loving, and gentle album which once again moves what I do forward. David Bowie said that you should always be slightly out of your comfort zone if you want to achieve greatness, and for the first time perhaps ever, I deliberately pushed myself into that place. Who doesn't want greatness?"

10. You Tell Me: "Water Cooler"

You Tell Me is a new duo that features Field Music's Peter Brewis and Sarah Hayes of Admiral Fallow. They are releasing their self-titled debut album on January 11, 2019 via Memphis Industries. This week they shared another song from the album, "Water Cooler."

Brewis had this to say about the song in a press release: "['Water Cooler'] was intended to be a look at an inept office romance. I was literally imagining two office workers failing to talk to each other at the water cooler. No metaphors here."

Previously You Tell Me shared the singles "Clarion Call" and "Invisible Ink," as well as the B-side "Incantation No. 1." Field Music's last album was 2017's Open Here.

Honorable Mentions:

These seven songs almost made the Top 10.

The Decemberists: "Traveling On"

Grandaddy: "Bison on the Plains"

Grimes: "We Appreciate Power" (Feat. HANA)

Mike Krol: "I Wonder" (Feat. Allison Crutchfield)

Men I Trust: "Say, Can You Hear"

Perfect Son: "It's For Life"

Jeff Tweedy: "I Know What It's Like"

Other notable new tracks in the last two weeks include:

Arctic Monkeys: "Anyways"

Astronoid: "I Dream in Lines"

Balms: "Candle"

The Beths: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Judy Garland Cover)

Michael Chapman: "It's Too Late"

The C.I.A.: "Oblivion"

(The C.I.A. is Ty Segall, his wife Denée, and The Cario Gang's Emmett Kelly.)

Cults: "Not Impossible"

Fontaines D.C.: "The Cuckoo Is A-Callin'"

The Glow: "Beamer"

Iceage: "Broken Hours"

Annie Lennox: "Requiem For a Private War"

Los Unidades & Pharrell Williams: "E-Lo" (feat. Jozzy) 

(Los Unidades is actually Coldplay.)

Malibu Ken: "Acid King"

(Malibu Ken is Aesop Rock & TOBACCO.)

Bob Mould: "What Do You Want Me to Do"

The National: "Save the Bird"

Partner: "Lost My Pick, Can I Borrow One?"

Perfume Genius: "Not For Me" (Bobby Darin Cover)

Phosphorescent: "House of Cards" (Radiohead Cover)

Pottery: "Hank Williams"

Mark Ronson: "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart" (Feat. Miley Cyrus)

Weezer: "Zombie Bastards"

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