10 Best Songs of the Week: Thom Yorke, Lightning Dust, San Fermin, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Friday, September 18th, 2020  

10 Best Songs of the Week: Thom Yorke, Lightning Dust, San Fermin, and More

Plus serpentwithfeet, Friendly Fires, Lucy Dacus, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Jun 28, 2019
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Welcome to another Songs of the Week. The Top 2 are by the same artist, which rarely happens, if ever. This week was a challenge, as there were less immediately obvious tracks to make the Top 10, but then we dug deep and ended up with too many tracks (there are an additional 10 honorable mentions). So there are lots and lots of songs to listen to below.

Elsewhere on the website this week we posted our recent print cover story interview with Mitski.

We also posted interviews with Jeremy Schmidt of Black Mountain (a My Firsts) and Sagor Mešković, the Chief of Communications at the Serbian music festival EXIT.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Thom Yorke; The Waterboys; Com Truise; Tyler, the Creator; and the soundtrack to Yesterday. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows). This week, for example, we reviewed the new film Spider-Man: Far From Home.

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. Thom Yorke: "Twist"

Thom Yorke of Radiohead digitally released a new solo album, ANIMA, yesterday via XL (stream it here). There's also an accompanying short film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, a "one-reeler" set to three tracks from the album, and you can watch that over at Netflix now.

ANIMA was announced only last week and a trailer for the short film was shared at the time. Since no advance singles from the album were shared, this is our one and only chance to include songs from it in our Songs of the Week. It was a bit of a challenge because the album really flows together as a complete piece, making it hard to separate out individual standouts. On our first edit we narrowed it down to half the album, but finally settled on two songs, "Twist" and "The Axe." Both are the longest tracks on the album, each around seven minutes long. Ballad "Dawn Chorus" almost made the list and is an honorable mention below.

ANIMA was written by Yorke and produced by longtime collaborator Nigel Godrich. It includes songs previously debuted live during the Tomorrow's Modern Boxes performances. A physical release is scheduled for July 19 via XL and the vinyl version includes one bonus track not on the digital release. The physical version will be available on "CD, black double vinyl, limited edition orange double vinyl, and a deluxe 180g heavyweight orange double vinyl which includes a 40-page book of lyrics, and pencil drawings by Stanley Donwood and Dr Tchock."

The trailer described a one-reeler as "a motion picture, especially a cartoon or comedy, of 10-12 minutes duration and contained on one reel of film; popular especially in the era of silent films."

A press release announcing the album included a definition for the word "anima," defining it as "an individual's true inner self that in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung reflects archetypal ideals of conduct," adding, "also: an inner feminine part of the male personality."

Yorke also recently announced some new North American tour dates and those are here. The electronic shows will be with his Tomorrow's Modern Boxes band (Yorke, Godrich, and visual artist Tarik Barri) and go down this September and October.

Last year Yorke scored his first feature film, Suspiria, and the soundtrack, Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film), was released last fall via XL.

2. Thom Yorke: "The Axe"

Our second selection from Thom Yorke's ANIMA is "The Axe," which lands towards the end of the album. If they ever make a third Blade Runner movie they should hire Yorke to do some of the music and it should sound something like this.

3. Lightning Dust: "Devoted To"

This week Lightning Dust announced a new album, Spectre, and shared its first single, album opener "Devoted To." Spectre features Stephen Malkmus and Destroyer's Dan Bejar and is due out October 4 via Western Vinyl. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the band's upcoming tour dates opening for Purple Mountains, here.

Lightning Dust was previously a side-project for the Vancouver, BC-based duo of Amber Webber and Josh Wells, back when they were in Black Mountain. But in 2017 they both left the mother ship to focus solely on Lightning Dust and this is their first album since then. In 2018 Webber went back to school and tried out a new career, before music came calling again.

"It made me realize that art and music are still my light," Webber explains in a press release. "Spectre is my journey. It's for all the women warriors that have been battling throughout life looking for a place to express themselves that feels inclusive and inspiring. It's about finding yourself when no one is paying attention and inventing a new way of creating that feels honest and sincere. I truly feel that women, especially as we age, are underrepresented. That was truly the driving force to creating this album."

Malkmus plays guitar on "A Pretty Picture" and Bejar contributes guest vocals "Competitive Depression."

4. San Fermin: "Hunger"

This week San Fermin, the orchestral rock band led by Ellis Ludwig-Leone, shared a brand new song, "Hunger," via a video for the track. It's the band's first single for Better Company, Ludwig-Leone's new imprint with Sony Music Masterworks. San Fermin has also announced some new tour dates.

Ludwig-Leone had this to say about the song in a press release: "'The Hunger' is the result of a late-night discussion with a female friend about the difficulties of dating in the city. There's a line, 'why'd I wear these fucking shoes,' that's basically lifted right from that conversation. I think there's something heroic in the process of getting your hopes up time and again, even in the face of constant disappointment. The singer is Samia, who came into the studio and nailed it right away, with this mixture of I-don't-give-a-shit energy and vulnerability that's perfect for the song. In the verse, she describes an endless string of bad dates-even the melody is a relentless monotone that leaves her out of breath. But then when the chorus hits, there's a modulation in the harmony that reflects the mental gymnastics required to do it all over again. It's both a release and an attempt to psych herself up for another round. Trying to project confidence while dealing with disappointment and insecurity is an experience I think a lot of people can relate to."

Of the video, Ludwig-Leone adds: "With the video, I wanted to illustrate the euphoria that happens when she finally stops caring about what the other person thinks. All the accumulated wine glasses and detritus from past failures gets destroyed and she just let's go and dances."

San Fermin's last two albums were 2017's Belong and 2015's Jackrabbit.

Read our 2015 interview with San Fermin.

5. serpentwithfeet: "Receipts" (Feat. Ty Dolla $ign) 

This week experimental R&B/gospel vocalist serpentwithfeet shared a brand new song, "Receipts," that features Ty Dolla $ign. It's his first new music since his 2018-released debut album, soil. The single is out now via Secretly Canadian and Tri Angle.

Serpentwithfeet had this to say about the song in a press release: "I began writing 'Receipts' when I first moved to Los Angeles last summer. I was and still am mystified by the city - the mountains, the men, the hummingbirds. I played an early demo for Ty Dolla $ign and he asked to join me on the track. This song carries a lot of weight for me because it's a snapshot of two brothers rhapsodizing about unforeseen romance. Ty is a huge part of my LA story so 'Receipts' feels like a perfect document." 

Read our 2018 interview with serpentwithfeet.

6. Friendly Fires: "Silhouettes"

This week Friendly Fires announced a new album, Inflorescent, and shared a new song from it, "Silhouettes." Inflorescent will be released on August 16 via Casablanca/Polydor. It includes two singles the band shared last year: "Heaven Let Me In" and "Love Like Waves." Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the band's upcoming tour dates, here.

The band features Ed Macfarlane, Edd Gibson, and Jack Savidge. For Inflorescent the band worked with producers Mark Ralph, James Ford and Disclosure (brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence).

It's been eight long years since Pala, the 2011-released sophomore album by London dance-rock trio, but back in April 2018 they returned with a brand new single, "Love Like Waves" (which was one of our Songs of the Week), which was followed by a video for the song in May 2018. Then in October 2018 they shared "Heaven Let Me In" (it was also one of our Songs of the Week). In November they shared a video for "Heaven Let Me In," which starred British actor Jeremy Irvine.

Friendly Fires made a splash with their 2008-released self-titled debut album, which was fueled by the singles "Paris" and "Jump in the Pool" and was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

Revisit our early 2008 interview with Friendly Fires, back when they were largely unknown.

7. Lucy Dacus: "Forever Half Mast"

This year Lucy Dacus is working on a singles series entitled 2019 where she will release seven songs in 2019, each timed to a different holiday. It'll be a mix of covers and originals. This week she shared another installment, "Forever Half Mast," timed to July 4th.

Dacus had this to say about the song in a press release: "There is a daily dissonance one endures as an American wherein much of our joy is counterweighted by shame, where much of our pride lives in tandem with injustice and suffering. 'Forever Half Mast' is about confronting this unavoidable culpability as an American citizen and consumer.  Instead of allowing this guilt to paralyze us, we should try to let it influence us in positive ways."

The press release adds: "Lucy drew inspiration for the song from her experiences touring in Europe, where she was starkly confronted by the complexities of her American identity, and by what it means to be a proud American in these trying times." 

The first offering of 2019 was a cover of Edith Piaf's "La Vie En Rose," timed to Valentine's Day. Dacus' take was a mix of French and English lyrics. Then she shared its second installment, "My Mother & I," which was fittingly timed to Mother's Day and Taurus season and was one of our Songs of the Week.

The other 2019 songs will be released timed to Independence Day, Springsteen's Birthday, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year's. Then they will all be collected at the end of the year in a physical EP.

Dacus had this to say about the project in a previous press release: "These songs are self-contained, not indicative of a new direction, just a willingness to do something different and sometimes even out of character."

Dacus released a new album, Historian, back in March 2018 via Matador. It was our Album of the Week and one of our Top 100 Albums of 2018.

Dacus also teamed up with fellow singer/songwriters Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers to form supergroup Boygenius, whose self-titled debut EP was released in late October via Matador.

Read our interview with Dacus and boygenius.

Read our 2018 interview with Dacus on Historian.

8. Cross Record: "The Fly

Cross Record is the project of Emily Cross, who is also the vocalist in Loma. Cross Record is releasing a new self-titled album on August 2 via Ba Da Bing and this week she shared a new song from it, "The Fly." She has also announced some new North American tour dates, as well as some "Living Funeral" events. Check those out here

Cross had this to say about the song in a press release: "I was thinking about the fragility of the mind under pressure, being on a brink of collapse and being aware of that, and finding the humor in it objectively. The fly in old oil paintings is a signifier of death and impermanence. The viewer sees all of the perfectly ripe fruits, flowering buds at the height of their glory--but it does all end some day. I suppose it's a song about brinks or being close to an edge: the edge of a meltdown, the edge between life and death, the moment you think you see something beautiful but it turns out to be a plastic bag, and that's funny sometimes."

The Cross Record live band features Cross on vocals alongside Taft Mashburn (vocals/keyboard), Greer Culbertson (vocals), Andrew Hulett (bass/synth), and Andrew Stevens (percussion). The "Living Funeral" ceremony is part of Cross' organization Steady Waves End of Life Services, which was founded by Cross in 2017, according to its website, "in order to serve and uphold the wishes of the dying. As an end-of-life doula, Emily offers her intuitive approach to those seeking assistance, or simply a calming presence. She regularly hosts Living Funeral Ceremonies with the intention of spurring a larger conversation surrounding death and dying within her community and beyond."

A press release describes the "Living Funeral" events as a "three-hour long experience which focuses on turning towards one's own mortality. Participants are faced with their own memorial, are told to write their last words, and then are lead through a death visualization. It is a truly transformative journey, bringing a new outlook on life as a whole."

Previously Cross shared Cross Record's first single, "PYSOL My Castle."

Loma also consists of Shearwater singer Jonathan Meiburg and former Cross Record member Dan Duszynski.

Read our 2018 interview with Loma.

9. Liam Gallagher: "The River"

Former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher is releasing his second solo album, Why Me? Why Not., on September 20 via Warner Records. This week he shared another song from it, "The River," via a video featuring a younger man who perhaps looks up to Gallagher.

Previously Gallagher shared the album's first single, "Shockwave." Then there was a video for "Shockwave" that was filmed in America's Deep South and starts with Gallagher burning down a house and ends with him crashing a protest march, with the protest signs featuring the lyrics from the song.

Gallagher released his debut solo album, As You Were, in 2017 via Warner. He's also the subject of a new documentary, As It Was, which charts Gallagher's tough journey from the breakup of Oasis to a successful solo career. It recently premiered in the UK and is due out later this year in America (the exact date TBA). Watch the trailer here.

Why Me? Why Not. was recorded in Los Angeles and London and was co-written by Gallagher with producers Andrew Wyatt and Greg Kurstin, who also worked on As You Were but were even more involved this time.

"I wrote some songs on my own for the last album, but this time it's all co-writes," Gallagher explains in a press release. "Reason being is I want it to be even better than As You Were. I know my strengths and I know my limitations. I'm an ok songwriter, but I'm a great singer and frontman. I want the second album to be a step-up because the hardest thing to do is to make something the same, only better. So that's what we've done."

Gallagher had this to say about "Shockwave" in a previous press release: "I'm buzzing. Buzzing to be alive, buzzing to be making tunes, raring to go. It's nice to be back with some new music because it means I can get out there, play some gigs and give some people some stick because that is what I do. Let's face it, it's boring without me."

Of Why Me? Why Not., Gallagher boasted in the previous press release: "It's a better record than As You Were, which is saying something, as that was epic, wasn't it?"

10. Joyero: "Dogs"

Joyero is the solo project of Andy Stack of Wye Oak. This week he announced his debut album as Joyero, Release the Dogs, and shared a video for a new song from it, "Dogs." Release the Dogs is due out August 23 via Merge. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as Joyero's upcoming tour dates, here. The album includes "Salt Mine," a song shared back in March.

Stack had this to say about the "Dogs" video in a press release: "I filmed this in the back of Wye Oak's tour van in Durham, NC, as summer temperatures crept toward triple digits, so these dogs had no problem showing me their panting, slobbery tongues and beautiful white teeth. It's a song about longing and control, love and danger, cages we are placed into and cages in which we choose to stay. I felt at home in this box, close cuddling with dogs and hens and tarantulas, delusional from the heat and happy to stay a little longer than was probably advisable."

Wye Oak (Stack and Jenn Wasner) released a new album, The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs, back in April 2018 via Merge. (It was our Album of the Week and one of our Top 100 Albums of 2018.) In February they shared a brand new song, "Evergreen," via the Adult Swim Singles series (it was one of our Songs of the Week).

Wye Oak are performing at Merge's 30th anniversary festival in July.

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

Honorable Mentions:

These 10 songs almost made the Top 10.

Blanck Mass: "No Dice"

Brittany Howard "History Repeats"

KAZU: "Meo"

Moon Duo: "Stars Are the Light"

Oh Sees: "Henchlock"

Purple Mountains: "Margaritas at the Mall"

The Soft Cavalry: "Never Be Without You"

TEEN: "Doctor"

UV Rays: "Overrated"

Thom Yorke: "Dawn Chorus"

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Bleached: "Rebound City" 

Ceremony: "Turn Away the Bad Thing"

 

CUP: "Soon Will Be Flood" 

 

Florist: "Time is a Dark Feeling" 

Ghost Orchard: "Station"

 

Harkin & Sarah Silverman: "My Backwards Walk" (Frightened Rabbit Cover)

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: "Organ Farmer"

 

Kygo & Whitney Houston: "Higher Love" (Steve Winwood Cover) 

Manchester Orchestra: "My Backwards Walk" (Frightened Rabbit Cover)

 

MUNA: "Who"

Prophets of Rage: "Made With Hate" 

Esther Rose: "Sex and Magic"

Laura Stevenson: "Jesus, etc." (Wilco Cover) 

Summer Cannibals: "Behave"

Torche: "Admission"

TRACE: "Make Me Laugh"

Sui Zhen: "Perfect Place"

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