10 Best Songs of the Week: Wand, Idlewild, Barrie, Charly Bliss, SOAK, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, October 17th, 2019  

10 Best Songs of the Week: Wand, Idlewild, Barrie, Charly Bliss, SOAK, and More

Plus The Love Language, Foxygen, These New Puritans, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Feb 08, 2019
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This week's Songs of the Week was almost just a Top 8. However two fun, but seriously inessential, songs from the Lego Movie 2 soundtrack skated in at the bottom of the list. Veteran Scottish rockers Idlewild surprised us with an interesting new song, even though we admittedly haven't paid much attention to their last few albums. Then there's a band named Barrie who we've never written about before today but who made it in at #3.

Elsewhere on the website this week we posted Artist Survey interviews with Erika Spring of Au Revoir Simone, Moaning, Teleman, and Guerilla Toss. We also posted an interview with Field Music about their World War I project with the Imperial War Museum.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Bob Mould, The Lemonheads, Michael Chapman, FEELS, Xiu Xiu, Emily King, Jessica Pratt, Weezer, and Panda Bear. Plus we posted reviews of various DVDs, Blu-rays, films, and TV shows.

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. Wand: "Scarecrow"

This week Los Angeles-based psych-rockers Wand announced a new album, Laughing Matter, and shared a video for its first single, "Scarecrow." Laughing Matter is due out April 19 via Drag City. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the band's upcoming tour dates, here.

Laughing Matter is the follow-up to 2017's Plum and is the band's fifth full-length. The band consists of Sofia Arreguin (keys, vocals), Cory Hanson (guitar, vocals), Robert Cody (guitar), Lee Landey (bass), and Evan Burrows (drums).  

A press release describes the album as such: "Laughing Matter is a record about love in a time of terror; it calls you down from panic room labyrinths, to work the deep tissue of unraveling trauma we all carry so dear. The 15 songs on this record face their energy outward, to take with you through a common world that can't suffer its human abusers much longer. Laughing Matter encourages you to shake hands with your old demons, to lay your pathologies to rest, to hold your spirit close, and let your body do what's next." 

 

2. Idlewild: "Dream Variations"

Earlier today Scottish indie rockers Idlewild announced a new album, Interview Music, and shared its first single (and opening track), "Dream Variations." Interview Music is due out April 5 via Empty Words. "Dream Variations" starts like what you might expect from an Idlewild single in 2019, but midway through its sound takes an interesting detour down avenues previously traveled by Tame Impala (and perhaps Air and Pink Floyd), making it a much more interesting single than initially anticipated. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art (which looks very late 1990s/early 2000s), as well as the band's upcoming tour dates, here.

Under the Radar and Idlewild go way back. We first interviewed them in 2001 for our very first print issue. Back then they were in between their second and third albums, 2000's 100 Broken Windows and 2002's The Remote Part (which is probably their best regarded album and debuted at #3 on the UK album charts). The band went on to release three more albums before taking a break in 2010. Idlewild returned with some fresh members and 2015's Everything Ever Written. Founding members Roddy Woomble (vocals), Rod Jones (guitar), and Colin Newton (drums) were joined by Luciano Rossi (keyboards) and Andrew Mitchell (bass) in 2014 and that's also the lineup that made Interview Music, which is the follow-up to Everything Ever Written.

Work on the album began in Los Angeles after a U.S. tour in 2016, but the album was finished later at Jones' studio in Edinburgh.

"A lot of the songs are about dreams and dreaming and the thoughts and ideas that come from this state," says Woomble in a press release. "I live in the Scottish Highlands, and between there and California you've got two locations that can put you in a dream like state - driving down Sunset Boulevard as the sun sets or driving over the remote Ardnamurchan peninsula as the sun rises. The world seems unreal, magical. You're dreaming through a landscape."

Dave Eringa, who produced 100 Broken Windows and The Remote Part, later reunited with the band to finish up the album. "Dave produced five songs on the album, but also brought a focus back to the band, and actually made us finish it!" says Woomble in the press release. "He made it sound like us."

At the end of the press release, Woomble sums up where the band is at now: "What's really important about Idlewild is that we are basically punk rock kids. No one ever taught us how to play anything. We formed a band and we learned. In our own way. We were inspired by the bands we saw just getting up on stage, making a noise and exchanging ideas, and trying to change your ideas. That's principally what the band still do. I'm not a kid rolling around screaming into a microphone on the floor anymore, but that ideal is still at our core."

 

3. Barrie: "Clovers"

Barrie are a five-piece from Brooklyn and this week they announced their debut album, Happy to Be Here, and shared its lead single, "Clovers." Happy to Be Here is due out May 3 via Winspear. "Clovers" is a pleasing slice of dream pop/indie pop that would appeal to fans of Yumi Zouma. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as their upcoming tour dates, here.

Barrie is led by Barrie Lindsay, who wrote the album's songs late at night alone in her apartment, plays various instruments on the album (guitar, piano, synth, and bass), and co-produced the album with Jake Aron (Snail Mail, Solange, Grizzly Bear). But Barrie is not simply a solo project, the band also features Dominic Apa, Spurge Carter, Noah Prebish, and Sabine Holler, who had to record her backing vocals remotely from Germany due to visa issues. The band members are from all over, having previously lived in Boston, Baltimore, Upstate New York, London, and São Paulo via Berlin, but came together in New York. 

"The scaffolding of this album is moving to New York and finding these people that make up the band," Barrie says in a press release. "We're very different, but we cover each other's gaps personally and creatively, and are eager to learn from each other."

4. Charly Bliss: "Capacity"

This week Charly Bliss announced a new album, Young Enough, and shared a video for its first single, "Capacity." Young Enough is due out May 10 via Barsuk. Michelle Zauner (aka Japanese Breakfast) directed the "Capacity" video, which was shot by Adam Kolodny. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as their upcoming tour dates, here.

Charly Bliss' Eva Hendricks had this to say about the "Capacity" video: "It was a dream come true to work with Adam and Michelle on this video. 'Capacity' is a song about wanting to kill your inner people-pleaser, and Michelle beautifully presented a parallel concept, which warns of the perils of getting swept up in other people's bullshit."

5. SOAK: "Valentine Shmalentine"

SOAK (Northern Ireland singer/songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson) is releasing a new album, Grim Town, April 26 via Rough Trade. This week she shared another song from the album, "Valentine Shmalentine," via a lyric video for the song.

In a press release Monds-Watson says "Valentine Shmalentine" is "the result of both giving into Hallmark and being a dramatic bitch." 

Grim Town includes "Everybody Loves You," which she shared back in October and was one of our Songs of the Week (she also shared a video for the song), and "Knock Me Off My Feet" (which was also one of our Songs of the Week).

Grim Town is SOAK's second album, the follow-up to 2015's debut, Before We Forgot How to Dream. Back then she was only 19 years old, now of course she's older (22) and likely wiser.

In a previous press release, Monds-Watson said that the central premise of Grim Town is "a dystopia that I've created in my brain: me on the inside, processed into a pretend location. The way I could wrap my head around a lot of what I was going through was to make it feel like something quite physical and real. Once I had the idea of the album being an actual location, exploring the dynamics of this town and what it would look or sound like felt like the right way to give my mental state a personality."

Read our 2015 interview with SOAK.

6. The Love Language: "Bees"

The Love Language (aka Stuart McLamb) released a new album, Baby Grand, last August via Merge. This week, ahead of his February tour dates, including some shows opening for Teenage Fanclub, McLamb shared a brand new song, "Bees." It's a short, spunky number just under three minutes long. Check out The Love Language's upcoming tour dates here.

McLamb had this to say about "Bees" in a press release: "For about a week or so last December, I tried to do a song-a-day exercise. Some were ok, some were really bad, but this one stood out. I've been listening to a lot of fuzzy pop/punk stuff (Exploding Hearts, Buzzcocks, Wire, Strokes, GBV, etc.), and this definitely came out of the feeling I get from those records. I wrote and recorded it to a drum machine track and sent it over to Kris Hilbert at Legitimate Business to track real drums on it with our drummer, Tom Simpson, then mix it all in the same day. I think that quick process helped give it a really immediate vibe that I love."

Baby Grand was The Love Language's fourth album, McLamb's first in five years, since 2013's Ruby Red. The album was begun in a Virginia hammock factory, but was finished after McLamb moved across country to California.

Read our 2013 My Firsts interview with The Love Language.

7. Foxygen: "Livin' a Lie"

This week Foxygen (Jonathan Rado and Sam France) announced a new album, Seeing Other People, and shared a video for its first single, "Livin' a Lie." Seeing Other People is due out April 26 via Jagjaguwar. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art here.

Seeing Other People is the follow-up to 2017's grandiose and theatrical Hang and 2014's ...And Star Power. "Livin' a Lie" is a bit more reigned in than most of the tracks on Hang. Foxygen wrote and self-produced Seeing Other People at Sonora Recorders in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles, California. Shawn Everett engineered and mixed the album, which features drummer Jim Keltner.

A press release says that Seeing Other People is a "goodbye" record. In the press release, France explains further: "For me Seeing Other People just means goodbye: Goodbye to the drugs, to the partying. Goodbye to my twenties now. Goodbye to my Saint Laurent-model-body. Goodbye to the touring circus - that's right, no more shows or tours for a while. Goodbye, hopefully, to the anxiety attacks. Goodbye to beating myself up because I didn't fit into those leather pants anymore. Fuck it. Goodbye to the facilities. And goodbye the leeches in my life. I know a lot of gritty stories about a lot of players in this business but you'll have to read between the lines." 

You can read a longer statement from France about the album here. In it France also says he's written a memoir entitled Sam Francisco: Confessions of an Indie Rock Star (it's unclear if he's being serious or not).

Alessandra Lichtenfeld directed the "Livin' a Lie" video, which was filmed in Calabasas, CA and the band's hometown, Westlake Village, after the Woolsey fires.

Read our 2017 interview with Foxygen about Hang.

8. These New Puritans: "Anti-Gravity"

These New Puritans are releasing a new album, Inside the Rose, on March 22 via BMG. This week they shared another song from the album, "Anti-Gravity," via a lyric video.

The British duo is made up of brothers Jack Barnett and George Barnett. The album is the band's first new album in six years, since 2013's Field of Reeds. It includes "Into the Fire," a new song the band shared back in November that was one of our Songs of the Week. When the album was announced they then shared a NSFW video for its title track, "Inside the Rose," which was our #1 Song of the Week.

In a press release Jack says "Anti-Gravity" is about "a person or moment suspending your disbelief and bending the rules of the world," to which George adds: "Irony won't save you from anything." The song is inspired by the work of William Blake, including this quote from him: "The imagination is not a state, it is human existence itself."

Writing sessions for Inside the Rose began in Essex, England in 2015, but they were completed in Berlin, Germany after they relocated there. The album was recorded in Berlin, London, and Southend-on-Sea, England. Most of the recording was done in a former Soviet broadcasting studio in Berlin's industrial suburbs. It was mixed in Los Angeles. Harley Weir directed the "Inside the Rose" video (which features lots of artful nudity) in collaboration with George Barnett.

Jack Barnett had this to say about the album in a press release: "I want to go beyond myself and my time. That's the art I like. Whether it's Francis Bacon or William Blake. You fail, inevitably, but that's the challenge."

9. Beck "Super Cool" (Feat. Robyn and The Lonely Island)

This week Beck shared a new song, "Super Cool," that features Robyn and The Lonely Island. It was written for The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, the new animated film that came out today via Warner Bros. The song plays during the end credits of the film, as referenced by The Lonely Island's portion of the track. As its title suggests, the movie is the sequel to 2014's acclaimed The Lego Movie, which prominently featured the hit song "Everything Is Awesome," which was a collaboration between The Lonely Island and Tegan and Sara (that song is briefly referenced at the end of this song).

Beck's last album, Colors, came out in October 2017 via Capitol, but he recently shared another new track, "Tarantula," which is a cover of a 1983 song by Colourbox and is on Music Inspired By the Film Roma, which is due out this Friday via Sony Masterworks and features songs inspired by the Alfonso Cuarón-directed black & white Spanish language film Roma that is an Oscars frontrunner this year. On Monday Beck performed the song on The Late Late Show with James Corden, where was joined by a backing choir that featured Feist, Alex Lilly, Bat For Lashes (aka Natasha Khan), and The Bird and the Bee's Inara George. He was also accompanied by the LA Philharmonic, conducted by Philharmonic music director Gustavo Dudamel.

10. Superorganism: "Hello Me & You"

Superorganism are a multi-national band based in London. They feature members from Japan, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, and the U.K. and their self-titled debut album came out in March 2018 via Domino. This week they shared a new song, "Hello Me & You," that's also featured in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, the new animated film that came out today via Warner Bros. The band's maximalism approach suits the vibe of a fun and clever blockbuster cartoon, although perhaps a bit of the band's charm has been lost in the Hollywood translation. Still it's

In terms of Superorganism, we previously shared a video for "Reflections on the Screen" (which was one of our Songs of the Week), their cover of the Pavement classic "Cut Your Hair" (from the Stephen Malkmus-fronted band's 1994 album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain), and the video for "Night Time." Then the band did a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR and remixed Gorillaz's "Humility," with Noguchi adding extra vocals and appearing in a video for the remix.

Read our 2018 interview with Superorganism.

Read our review of Superorganism's debut album.

Honorable Mentions:

These four songs almost made the Top 10.

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah: "Ancestral Recall" (Feat. Saul Williams)

Bibio: "Curls"

Moniker: "Tidal Wave"

Pet Shop Boys: "On Social Media"

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

And The Kids: "Butterfingers"

Bellows: "The Tower"

Ex Hex: "Tough Enough"

Fontaines D.C.: "Big"

Gold Connections: "Like a Shadow"

Honeyblood: "The Third Degree"

Ibibio Sound Machine: "Wanna Come Down"

JR JR: "Day In, Day Out" and "NYC"

Khalid: "Talk"

Mary Lattimore & Mac McCaughan: "III"

LCD Soundsystem: "Seconds" (The Human League Cover) 

Living Hour: "Hallboy"

MELTS: "Echoes"

Migos: "Position to Win"

Rozi Plain: "Conditions"

Ratso: "Our Lady Of Light" (Feat. Nick Cave)

 

Esther Rose: "Don't Blame It on the Moon"

Royal Trux: "Year of the Dog"

Show Me The Body: "Camp Orchestra"

Thelma: "Stranger Love" and "Sway"

 

Sharon Van Etten: "Never Grow Old" (James Cleveland Moore, Sr. Cover)

Jamila Woods: "Zora"

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