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

10 Best Songs of the Week: Strand of Oaks, Rose Elinor Dougall, Weyes Blood, and More

Plus Tamaryn, Fat White Family, Tame Impala, Cate Le Bon, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Mar 22, 2019
Bookmark and Share


Today was a fantastic day for new album releases, with fresh full-lengths from Strand of Oaks, Jenny Lewis, Andrew Bird, Tamaryn, Sleeper, These New Puritans, American Football, Lambchop, Avey Tare, Nilüfer Yanya, Ex Hex, and others. Album tracks from some of them made this week's Songs of the Week list, which also contains several new singles released this week.

Elsewhere on the website this week we posted a new interview and photo-shoot with Tamaryn about her new album, Dreaming the Dark, which came out today.

Britpop icons Sleeper released their first new album in over 21 years and this week we posted a My Firsts interview with frontwoman Louise Wener.

We also posted Artist Survey interviews with Piroshka, Mew, Anna Calvi, and Local Natives.

Strand of Oaks' Eraserland was our Album of the Week.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Sleeper, Broken Social Scene (an EP), Karen O and Danger Mouse, Sleaford Mods, and Strand of Oaks. 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. Strand of Oaks: "Forever Chords" (Plus "Cruel Fisherman")

Sometimes songs find you at the right time and connect in a way that's hard to explain. Perhaps they help you through a personal crisis and attain a deeper meaning to you. The War on Drugs' "Under the Pressure" was one such song for me and Strand of Oaks' "Forever Chords" has potential to be another one. "The problem with living is that one day you won't" is the line that gets me the most. The song is nine-minutes long, so I suppose it's not entirely surprising that it wasn't released as a single prior to the release of Strand of Oaks' new album, Eraserland, which came out today via Dead Oceans, although perhaps it should have. Either way, now that the album is out we can make "Forever Chords" our Song of the Week, as knew it was destined to be when we first heard it several months ago when we were sent an advance press copy of the album.

Also, Eraserland ends with a 17-minute long ambient piece "Cruel Fisherman," a mesmerizing piece that's easy to get lost in. We are including that as well, as something on an honorable mention.

Strand of Oaks is the project of Timothy Showalter and Eraserland was also our Album of the Week today. The majority of My Morning Jacket (Carl Broemel, Bo Koster, Patrick Hallahan, and Tom Blankenship) back-up Showalter on Eraserland, which also features Jason Isbell and Emma Ruth Rundle.

A press release announcing the album called "Forever Chords" the definitive track on Eraserland, saying the song is "the manifestation of everything he hoped to achieve on this record and for Strand of Oaks as a whole."

Showalter added: "When I finished writing 'Forever Chords,' I felt like this is either the last song I ever need to write, or the rebirth of Strand of Oaks."

Previously Strand of Oaks shared Eraserland's first single, and opening track, "Weird Ways" (which was our #1 Song of the Week). Then he shared another song from it, "Ruby," via a video that is made up of home movie footage captured by his father (Jeff Showalter) on a video camera when he was a child. "Ruby" was also our #1 Song of the Week. Then Showalter shared another song from the album, the slow-burner "Keys," which he says is something of a love song for his wife Sue and which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Showalter also stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform "Ruby." As on the album, Showalter was backed by members of My Morning Jacket (Bo Koster and Tom Blankenship). He was also joined by Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires.

The album is the follow-up to 2017's Hard Love. Kevin Ratterman produced the album, which was recorded at La La Land Studios in Louisville, KY. A previous press release set the stage for the album: "Empty and determined that he would never write songs again, dark thoughts crept in and Showalter, concerned for his own well-being decided to go on a spiritual pilgrimage - to the Jersey Shore." His friends in My Morning Jacket, especially Carl Broemel, heard Showalter was in a bad way and offered their assistance in recording the next Strand of Oaks album, that they could be his backing band. So Showalter got to writing and demoing the new album in February 2017, alone in Wildwood, NJ. Then the album was recorded in Louisville in April 2017.

"This project seemed to just fall together naturally," said Broemel in the press release. "I felt drawn to Tim's positive energy and his albums...I threw it out there that I'd be happy to help in any way I could with the record." 

My Morning Jacket's Patrick Hallahan added: "I remember sitting next to Tim and Kevin listening to the final mixes with tears rolling down my cheeks. From start to finish, this one came from the heart."

2. Rose Elinor Dougall: "Take What You Can Get"

Rose Elinor Dougall is releasing a new album, A New Illusion, on April 5 via Vermillion. This week she shared another song from it, "Take What You Can Get," an immaculately produced propulsive string-backed track. This album is really getting slept on, we are continually baffled as to why Dougall doesn't get more press and attention elsewhere when she time and again delivers delightful songs such as this.

Dougall had this to say about the song in a press statement: "'In Take What You Can Get' I was trying to convey that hungry ardent energy that one can feel when falling for someone - hence the propulsive frenetic energy of the track. The ideas in the song can also be extended into a wider context of considering that grasping, opportunistic culture that seems all pervasive in modern day society. Filling the un-fillable void!"

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). 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."

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.

3. Weyes Blood: "Movies"

Weyes Blood (aka Natalie Mering) is releasing a new album, Titanic Rising, on April 5 via Sub Pop, her first album for the label. This week she shared another song from it, "Movies," via a stirring self-directed video for the song. The video begins with beautiful images of a woman underwater before it's revealed that it's a film being watched by a movie theater audience. Soon the audience is magically jumping into the film (à la Last Action Hero, Sherlock Jr., or The Purple Rose of Cairo) and then Mering shows up.

Mering had this to say about the song and video in a press release: "We are enamored with Movies. Our generation is the most cinematically saturated of all time. Videotapes, DVD's, streaming... Spielberg...all of it has thrust us into an endless loop of consumption. They provide formative experiences as children, standing larger than life before our fragile adolescent minds. I wanted to take a look into the emotionally manipulative powers of Movies - how have Movies succeeded in telling the myths of our time? How have they failed (miserably)? What is the consequent effect on a society of beings looking for themselves in the myths on the screen? It's safe to say that they have failed us, but I can't help it...I love Movies."

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. 

In a press release Mering describes 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 says 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 adds. "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 explains. "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 puts it, "that movies had been brainwashing people and their ideas about romantic love." 

At the end of the press release, Mering sums 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. Tamaryn: "Path to Love" (Plus "Path to Love (The Horrors Remix)")

Tamaryn released a new album, Dreaming the Dark, today via Dero Arcade (stream it here). This week she shared one last pre-release song from the album, "Path to Love," via a NSFW video for the song. She also shared a remix of the song by The Horrors that completely transforms the track into something slower and more beat-heavy. Check out both below.

Told we posted our new interview with Tamaryn and you can read that here.

Alexis Penney directed the "Path to Love" video (that features some nudity) and had this to say about it in a press release: "Whether we gather to make art or food, to protest or protect, collaboration is a teacher. Meaningful solitude is vital, but we are ultimately a collective, communal species, intimately interwoven with every Other on this earth as the Tarot so effectively shows. For the way this work has brought this home for me, I am deeply grateful. Diversity is not a value to be sought or an optic to be curated but the defining reality of our existence on this planet. We weren't dreamed as one homogenous blog, we were dreamed as many, plural and wildly different - queer and straight, cis and trans, black and white and every intersection of all of the categories we can conceive and construct. I am deeply grateful for all those that are not like me in some way, that don't necessarily see their face or story reflected in mine, that still pledge their energy into projects with me, and who will receive this work in spite of or even because of those differences. Share this and whatever inspires you wildly. Pick up a cell phone and make your own video, tell your own story, Please, open up to what is asking to be born. Be the Fool or the Star. Take the next step, pour your tears out. Thank you. Much love and blessed be."

Previously Tamaryn shared Dreaming the Dark's first single, "Fits of Rage" (which was one of our Songs of the Week), as well as a self-directed video for the song. Then she shared a self-directed video for another new song from the album, album opener "Angels of Sweat," which channels Cocteau Twins and Kate Bush as much as any of Tamaryn's other songs and was also one of our Songs of the Week.

The album is the follow-up to 2015's Crane Kiss. Dreaming the Dark was produced and co-written by Jorge Elbrecht (Violens, Ariel Pink).

Read our 2015 interview with Tamaryn about Crane Kiss and also read our review of the album.

Tamaryn - Path to Love (official video) from DERO Arcade on Vimeo.

5. Fat White Family: "Tastes Good With the Money" (Feat. Baxter Dury)

British trio Fat White Family are releasing a new album, Serfs Up!, on April 19 via Domino, their first for the label (and third album overall). This week they shared another song from the album, "Tastes Good With the Money," via a crazy and bloody video directed by fellow musician Róisín Murphy that has a bit of a Monty Python vibe to it. The song features Baxter Dury, who also appears in the video.

When the album was announced, Fat White Family shared the string-backed "Feet," which was our #1 Song of the Week. Serfs Up is the follow-up to 2016's Songs For Our Mothers and was recorded in Sheffield, England.

Murphy had this to say about the video in a press release: "I've been making it known for years how much I wanted to make a video for this band. I'm a massive fan of FWF and I've been chasing this opportunity for a long time. I used every possible connection I had, I have asked people to ask people, I've contacted the band on social media, I really set my heart on this. For me there's such a charm about them and an authenticity that's actually incredibly rare. I knew I could not possibly work with a more magnetic bunch of performers.

"The idea of referencing Monty Python partly came out of the somewhat absurd and confusing political landscape that we are now living in Britain, Python seems prescient. The British laughing at themselves, a certain kind glee even in the loss of empire, singing as the ship goes down, well it just seems so...of the moment. There is this deep ambivalence to the establishment that resonates with the Fat Whites own irreverent world view.

"Most of all I wanted an idea that would give them the confidence and the space to really let go and just perform, to allow them to be raw in what is essentially an unnatural situation for a bunch of ne'er do well musicians.

"When I look at the video, what I see is the trust they put in me and I'm so proud of that. Maybe it's because I am a performer too but they let themselves be put in a kind-of vulnerable situation; they allowed themselves to be foolish, silly and absurd in a way that could have gone tits-up, however, the result is hilarious and the performances are second to none."

6. Tame Impala: "Patience"

Today Tame Impala (aka Kevin Parker) finally released a new song, "Patience." It's been four years since his last album, his excellent third album, Currents (which was #2 on Under the Radar's Top 100 Albums of 2015 list). But our patience has been rewarded with this new track, which certainly sounds like Tame Impala (Parker hasn't gone off in any new weird direction, at least not yet). It's got a bit of a piano-fueled disco beat to it and Parker's signature smooth vocals. It's perhaps not as mind-blowing as some of his previous singles, but it's still a welcome diversion, with hopefully even better songs to come from Tame Impala in 2019. The single is out now via Interscope, but there's no definitive word yet on a new album.

A press release describes "Patience" like so: "The track is a lyrical meditation on life's cycles and phases that ascends to an overwhelmingly blissed out zenith, as our protagonist makes peace with the transience of time. Its a potent hint at the infinite possibilities for future Tame Impala." 

Tame Impala will be performing on Saturday Night Live on March 30, with Sandra Oh hosting, and will also be playing Coachella and various other festivals this year (check out the tour dates here).

Read our 2015 cover story article on Tame Impala's Currents and our bonus digital interview with Parker.

7. Cate Le Bon: "Daylight Matters"

This week Welsh singer/songwriter/guitarist Cate Le Bon announced a new album, Reward, and shared its first single, "Daylight Matters." Reward is due out May 24 via Mexican Summer. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as Le Bon's upcoming tour dates, here.

In terms of her solo work, Reward is the follow-up to 2016's Crab Day, although last year she released Hippo Lite, her second album with DRINKS, a collaboration with Tim Presley of White Fence. Le Bon also produced Deerhunter's recent album.

Le Bon spent a year living in isolation in the Lake District in the UK, by day making wood furniture and by night playing piano and writing songs. "There's a strange romanticism to going a little bit crazy and playing the piano to yourself and singing into the night," Le Bon says in a press release.

Of the album title, Le Bon says: "People hear the word 'reward' and they think that it's a positive word, and to me it's quite a sinister word in that it depends on the relationship between the giver and the receiver. I feel like it's really indicative of the times we're living in where words are used as slogans, and everything is slowly losing its meaning." 

The album features Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint, H. Hawkline, and Samur Khouja. The latter co-produced Reward with Le Bon.

8. pronoun: "temporary tantrum"

Pronoun is the project of Alyse Vellturo. She is releasing her debut album, i'll show you stronger, on May 24 via Rhyme & Reason and this week she shared another song from it, "temporary tantrum." (And yes, everything connected to pronoun is meant to be styled lowercase.) The song has a bit of a dream pop/shoegazer vibe.

Vellturo had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Temporary tantrum' was written about that moment in the relationship when you realize you've been played. Although in that moment it's heart breaking and you feel like the biggest idiot, you know that eventually you will come out on the other end and use that experience to grow."

Vellturo also had this to say about the album: "This record picks up where my first EP left off. It pretty much saved my life. It helped me realize it's ok to be sad, and crazy, and hurt, and vulnerable, but it's just as important to stand up for yourself and know what you deserve, and lastly to move on."

9. Sorry: "Jealous Guy"

Yesterday North London band Sorry shared a new song, "Jealous Guy," via a video for the track. It's not a cover, but a press release says it's "a sideways look at the John Lennon and The Plastic Ono Band song of the same name." The video features the band performing the song on various city streets while smoking cigars. The single is out now via Domino, there's no word yet if it will also be featured on a forthcoming album or EP. Watch the video below, followed by the band's upcoming UK tour dates.

Sorry is led by childhood friends Asha Lorenz and Louis O'Bryen and the lineup is rounded out by Lincoln Barrett on drums and bassist Campbell Baum. Lorenz directed the video alongside Flo Webb and Jasper Cable-Alexander.

The band had this to say about the video in a press release: "We played on the saxophone idea - I guess like a Madness or The Specials video or like the Blues Brothers, sharply dressed and funny, interesting shots of us about town. The theme of jealousy runs through the video and the last shot is Asha killing Louis due to her jealousy."

10. Broken Social Scene: "Can't Find My Heart"

Earlier this month Broken Social Scene released a new EP, Let's Try the After - Vol. 1, via Arts & Crafts. This week they announced its follow-up EP, Let's Try the After - Vol. 2, and shared its first single, "Can't Find Me Heart." Let's Try the After - Vol. 2 is due out April 12 via Arts & Crafts. Then both EPs will be bundled and released together the next day, April 13, which is Record Store Day. Check out the EP's tracklist and cover art, as well as Broken Social Scene's upcoming tour dates, here.

Previously they shared Vol. 1's first single, "All I Want," which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then, on the eve of the EP's release, the Canadian band shared another track from Vol. 1, "Boyfriends," via a fun video made up entirely of GIFs.

Vol. 1 included "1972," a song they recently performed in a session for the Canadian music show The Strombo Show. The other new song they performed on the show, "Can't Find My Heart," is on Vol. 2

Frontman Kevin Drew had this to say about the EP in a press release: "The theme is to continue. Sickness, suicide, uprise, love, death, betrayal, hurt, joy, sex, communication, battles and divisions ... Let's just get to their after and start building again. How do we do it within the isolation of self prescribe empty popularity? How does the ego revolt? How does the heart win? Can it? Maybe after we will find out."

Broken Social Scene's last album, Hug of Thunder, was released in July 2017 via Arts & Crafts. It was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017.

Read our 2017 interview with Broken Social Scene on Hug of Thunder.

Honorable Mentions:

These eight songs almost made the Top 10.

The Budos Band: "Veil of Shadows"

Calexico and Iron & Wine: "Father Mountain"

Fujiya & Miyagi: "Flashback" 

Ioanna Gika: "Swan"

Idlewild: "Same Things Twice"

Joyero: "Salt Mine"

Jenny Lewis: "Little White Dove"

Wand: "Walkie Talkie"

Other notable new tracks in the last week include: 

An Horse: "This Is a Song"

ANOHNI: "KARMA" (Feat. J. Ralph & Jade Bell)

Avey Tare: "HORS_"

Brutus: "Django"

The Cranberries: "Wake Me When It's Over"

The Dream Syndicate: "Put Some Miles On"

FACS: "Another Country"

Hether Fortune: "Forget The Night"

Frankie Cosmos: "February" and "In the World"

Honeyblood: "Glimmer"

Bruce Hornsby: "Cast-Off" (Feat. Justin Vernon)

How to Dress Well: "Vacant Boat (Mun Sing Remix)"

Damien Jurado: "Throw Me Now Your Arms"

Lizzo: "Tempo" (Feat. Missy Elliott)

Morrissey: "Morning Starship" (Feat. Ed Droste) (Jobriath Cover)

Ryan Pollie: "Aim Slow"

Ra Ra Riot: "Bad to Worse"

Radiator Hospital: "Weird Little Idea"

Saudade: "Shadows & Light" (Feat. Chelsea Wolfe and Chino Moreno)

Mavis Staples: "Change"

TR/ST: "Grouch"

John Vanderslice: "Spectral Dawn"

Juan Wauters: "Letter"

Tierra Whack: "Unemployed"

Josephine Wiggs: "Time Does Not Bring Relief"

Heather Woods Broderick: "White Tail"

Jamila Woods: "Eartha"

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:

Tim
March 24th 2019
1:49am

Loving Take What You Can Get, and totally agree about being baffled at how Rose is overlooked by other press and fails to get the attention she deserves. Carefully crafted songs of her own, wonderful voice, yet autotuned rubbish gets lapped up. On top of that a friendly, modest person

Sassysunlimited
March 24th 2019
9:47am

One of my best collection and favourite list of songs thankyou so much for the list I love it

Jodeci Songs - RepRightSongs
March 24th 2019
2:28pm

I really enjoyed listening to Rose Elinor Dougall - Take What You Can Get. It so soothing to hear especially when you think about life. It makes since.

“Take what you can get before there is nothing left.” Grab all the positive out of life because there is so much negativity out there. I feel like there is only rare positivism out there and if you come across it, you have been blessed with happiness when it seemed like you wouldn’t ever deserve something so special again.

All of the sudden you get reminded that there is still hope.