12 Best Songs of the Last Two Weeks: Angel Olsen, Elbow, Dry Cleaning, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, October 17th, 2019  

12 Best Songs of the Last Two Weeks: Angel Olsen, Elbow, Dry Cleaning, and More

Plus Cate Le Bon and Bradford Cox, Chromatics, Jaakko Eino Kalevi, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Oct 04, 2019
Bookmark and Share


Welcome to another Songs of the Week. We had to skip it last week because we were too busy announcing our new print issue, the My Favorite Album Issue with Angel Olsen and Sleater-Kinney on the covers (buy it here), and also we weren't overly inspired by last week's selection of new tracks. So this week we cover the best songs of the last two weeks.

In the last two weeks we posted new interviews with DIIV, Metronomy, and Frankie Cosmos.

Angel Olsen's All Mirrors was our Album of the Week.

In the last two weeks we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Angel Olsen, Wilco, DIIV, Belle and Sebastian, The Darkness, Frankie Cosmos, The New Pornographers, Lowe Dens, Temples, Friendly Fires, Sandy (Alex G), A Giant Dog, Long Beard, and Brittany Howard.

Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

Note: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds released a new album, Ghosteen, today without any advance singles and we're still digesting it. So we didn't include any of its songs in this week's list, but may break the rules next week and include one of its tracks then if so moved.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last two weeks, we have picked the 12 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. Angel Olsen: "New Love Cassette"

Angel Olsen released a new album, All Mirrors, today via Jagjaguwar. She only released two songs prior to the release of the album, "All Mirrors" and "Lark," which were both #1 on our Songs of the Week lists, and that leaves plenty of other tracks to choose from for this week's Songs of the Week, especially considering that All Mirrors is our Album of the Week. It wasn't hard to settle on "New Love Cassette," a song that immediately grabbed us the most were first heard the album a few months ago when we were sent an advance press copy. There's one part around the two-minute mark when the strings suddenly erupt that's one of our favorite moments of any song this year.

There were other All Mirrors songs we considered too, including "Spring," "Summer," "What It Is," and... really the whole album. "Summer" is our #2 Song of the Week and "What It Is" makes the honorable mentions list below.

On Wednesday we posted our rave 9/10 review of All Mirrors and you can read that here. And as previously mentioned, don't forget that Olsen is on the cover of our new print issue, the My Favorite Album Issue (you can buy a copy directly from us here).

Previously Olsen shared a haunting black & white video for its title track, "All Mirrors," which was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then she shared the album's second single, "Lark," also via a video (surely one of the best music videos of the year). "Lark" was also our #1 Song of the Week. Ashley Connor directed both videos. Last night she stopped by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to perform "All Mirrors." She was aided by a string section for a stunning (a word we've been using a lot with Olsen lately) performance.

Olsen purposefully recorded two versions of All Mirrors, starting with a stripped down solo version recorded with producer Michael Harris in Anacortes, Washington. Then she recorded another, full band, version with producer John Congleton (who produced Olsen's 2014 album Burn Your Fire for No Witness), alongside arranger Jherek Bischoff, multi-instrumentalist/arranger/pre-producer Ben Babbitt, and a 14-piece orchestra. Originally Olsen's plan was to release both versions of the album at the same time, but then, as she stated in a previous press release, she decided she "needed to separate these two records and release All Mirrors in its heaviest form.... It was impossible for me to deny how powerful and surprising the songs had become. The truth is that I may have never allowed this much sonic change in the first place had I not already made an account of the same songs in their purest form."  

Of the title track and the album title, Olsen had this to say in the previous press release: "I chose this one as the title because I liked the theme: the theme of how we are all mirrors to and for each other. Even if that is not all of it, there is always an element of projection in what we'd like to see in people and scenarios and in the way we see ourselves in those scenarios, with those people."

Summing up the album in the press release, Olsen had this to say: "In every way - from the making of it, to the words, to how I feel moving forward, this record is about owning up to your darkest side, finding the capacity for new love and trusting change even when you feel like a stranger."

In June Olsen was the guest vocalist on "True Blue," a song on Mark Ronson's new album, Late Night Feelings. Olsen also wrote the song, which was #2 on our Songs of the Week list.

2. Angel Olsen: "Summer"

Yes, we couldn't resist. Here's another All Mirrors song at #2.

3. Elbow: "White Noise White Heat"

Elbow are releasing a new album, Giants of All Sizes, on October 11 via Polydor/Verve Label Group. Yesterday the British band shared another song from it, "White Noise White Heat."

While the song is not about the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017, it is inspired by frontman Guy Garvey's reaction to it. A press release further explains: "'White Noise White Heat' is a motorik, metallic soul-blast, soaked in rage and doubt over the artist's role in documenting genuine tragedy, following London's 2017 Grenfell Tower fire. Guy stresses that this is not a song about Grenfell but rather his reaction. After 20 years of living his life in public through his lyrics and believing that music can be a positive force, this was the moment of true artistic self-doubt."

Garvey had this to add in the press release: "I kind of renounce all our previous records with this track, or what we are best known for. What is the point of uplifting songs in the face of this horror?"

Giants of All Sizes includes "Dexter & Sinister," a 7-minute long new song the band shared just prior to the announcement of the album (the song features backing vocals from Jesca Hoop and was one of our Songs of the Week). Then they shared another song from it, "Empires," which was also one of our Songs of the Week.

The band's keyboardist Craig Potter produced and mixed the album, as he did with the band's last four albums. Giants of All Sizes was recorded at Hamburg, Germany's Clouds Hill Studio; The Dairy in Brixton, England; 604 Studios in Vancouver, Canada; and Blueprint Studios in Salford, England. Parts were also recorded at various band member's home studios in Manchester, England. As well as Hoop, the album also features The Plumedores and Chilli Chilton (described in a press release as "a South London newcomer").

Giants of All Sizes seems to find the band in a looser, more experimental mode, with much of it recorded live in the studio, band members encouraged to spend more time cultivating their original demos rather than compromising, and Elbow perhaps embracing new influences. For example, the press release says "Doldrums" "mixes John Carpenter with The Plastic Ono Band" and "The Delayed 3:15" "marries mariachi guitars to jazz dynamics, Morricone via Buddy Rich."

In a previous press release lead singer and lyricist Guy Garvey described the album as "an angry, old blue lament which finds its salvation in family, friends, the band, and new life." 

4. Dry Cleaning: "Viking Hair"

London-based post-punk four-piece Dry Cleaning are releasing their second EP, Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks, on October 25 via It's OK. This week they shared another song from it, "Viking Hair," via a video for the track. Pedro Pina shot and edited the video with the band. It was filmed at a weekly LGBT line dancing class at Cactus Club, in South London.

The band had this to say about the video in a press release: "Cactus Club is a weekly LGBT line dancing class and club where everyone is welcome. Based in Clapham, South London, it was established in 1993 and is run by Michael, Anne and Peter. Whilst recording 'Viking Hair,' we noticed the mood and rhythm of the song brought line dancing to mind. We found Cactus Club online and approached them to see if they would be interested in helping us to make a video. Dry Cleaning wish to thank the Cactus Club organizers and all the dancers who took part for sharing the fantastic atmosphere at their club with us, and for their enthusiasm and expertise."

Dry Cleaning just released their debut EP, Sweet Princess, in August, also via It's OK. Previously the band shared Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks' first single, "Sit Down Meal," which was one of our Songs of the Week.

The band features Florence Shaw, Lewis Maynard, Tom Dowse, and Nick Buxton. They've all been friends for years, but started making music together after a karaoke party. Although, ironically, they started out making instrumental music until Shaw joined in on vocals, having never previously been involved in music before (for her day jobs she's a university lecturer and picture researcher). A press release cites The Feelies, The Necessaries, The B-52s, and Pylon as influences.

Previously Sweet Princess' "Magic of Meghan" (described in a press release as "an ode to Meghan Markle") was an honorable mention in one of our Songs of the Week lists. Then the band shared another Sweet Princess single, "Goodnight," which made our main Songs of the Week list.

Also read our review of the Sweet Princess EP.

5. Cate Le Bon and Bradford Cox: "Secretary"

Welsh singer/songwriter/guitarist Cate Le Bon has teamed up with Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound for a new EP, Myths 04, which was announced last week. Last week the duo also shared its first single, "Secretary." Myths 04 is due out November 1 via Mexican Summer and is latest installment in a serious of collaborative EPs connected to the Marfa Myths festival in Mafa, Texas. Myths 04 was recorded at 2019's festival earlier this year. Check out the EP's tracklist and cover art, as well as Le Bon's upcoming tour dates, here.

Le Bon had a furniture building residency during Marfa Myths 2019 and Mexican Summer has also released a new short documentary about this titled Have a Seat. Eli Welbourne directed the documentary, which also features Cox. Watch that here too.

Le Bon had this to say about the EP in a press release: "Marfa is an extraordinary town. It feels like nothing else exists when you're in it which is both comforting and unnerving. We committed ourselves to embracing the chaos, surrendering to all moments and moods that travelled through. It's a crude holiday scrapbook shared by all involved, an amalgamation of the changes in mood and light that shaped the days."

Le Bon released a new album, Reward, back in May via Mexican Summer. Deerhunter released a new album, Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?, back in January via 4AD, and Le Bon was one of the producers on that album.

The Myths 04 recording sessions also featured Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint, Stephen Black of Sweet Baboo, Tim Presley of White Fence, and Samur Khouja.

Previous collaborations in the Myths series include Dev Hynes of Blood Orange and Connan Mockasin, Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood, and Dungen and Woods.

Le Bon also recently covered Wilco's "Company In My Back."

Read our in-depth interview with Deerhunter's Bradford Cox on Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared from earlier this year.

6. Chromatics: "You're No Good" 

Chromatics released a brand new album, Closer to Grey, on Wednesday only hours after it was announced (stream it here). It was hard to pick one track from it, so we just went with what seems to be the single, "You're No Good," which they shared a video for today and is one of the band's catchier songs. The band's Johnny Jewel directed the video, which features lots of multiple exposure images and befits the band's general aesthetic well.

Instead of releasing their long delayed Dear Tommy album, they have put out Closer to Grey, which features all new tracks, including covers of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" and The Jesus and Mary Chain's "On the Wall." This doesn't necessarily mean that Dear Tommy is never coming out, as Closer to Grey is listed by the band as their seventh album, with Dear Tommy still considered their sixth.

The band's Johnny Jewel released a simple statement about the album: "Music is medicine."

Closer to Grey is the band's first new album in seven years, since 2012's Kill For Love, although there's been no shortage of Chromatics and Johnny Jewel music since then, even if there has been no word yet on when Dear Tommy will be released.

7. Jaakko Eino Kalevi: "Dissolution"

This week Finnish multi-instrumentalist Jaakko Eino Kalevi announced a new mini-album, Dissolution, and shared a video for its first single, title track "Dissolution." Dissolution is due out November 22 via Domino imprint Weird World. Kevin Luna directed the "Dissolution" video, which features a man who can't stop dancing. The song features Berlin-based Taiwanese singer Yu-Ching Huang, who also sings on two other songs on the album. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as Kalevi's upcoming tour dates, here.

The mini-album is the follow-up to 2018's full-length, Out of Touch, which was his fifth album and the follow-up to 2015's self-titled album. Dissolution was recorded in Berlin and Helsinki.

A press release describes the new mini-album as such: "If last year's Out of Touch album found Jaakko Eino Kalevi in a reflective mood, on Dissolution he's curious and engaged, hunting for meaning on a record that takes in heavy funk, chakra-aligning electro and rococo space balladry."

Kalevi had this to say in the press release: "Just as a drop of ink dissolves in a glass of water, it is said that life on Earth began in this way. It's impossible to become that drop again. Life on Earth is a mystery - it's a story of dissolution."

Kevin Luna, the director of the "Dissolution" video, had this to say about it: "The concept was pretty minimal to start: A man cannot stop dancing in the city of Las Vegas. The details fell into place from there. There's a dream logic to the flow of this video and I think Vegas is pretty dreamy if you manage to take a few steps back from the spectacle. I wanted to show how the desert, the suburbs and the strip all combine to form this place that feels like a pinnacle of some kind of collective hallucination. A dream that we've forced into reality, from which we can't wake up from anymore."

Read our 2015 interview with Jaakko Eino Kalevi.

8. Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron: "Love Without Possession"

Last week Mount Eerie (aka Phil Elverum, who also used to record as The Microphones), announced a new album, Lost Wisdom pt. 2, that's a collaboration with singer Julie Doiron, and shared its first single, "Love Without Possession." Mount Eerie has also announced some tour dates featuring Doiron, likely the only such dates for this album for the foreseeable future. Lost Wisdom pt. 2 is due out November 8 via P.W. Elverum & Sun. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the tour dates and a trailer for the album, here.

In 2008 Elverum and Doiron previously collaborated on the Mount Eerie album Lost Wisdom. 

In 2017 Elverum released an acclaimed album, A Crow Looked At Me, which was followed in March 2018 by another equally acclaimed album, Now Only (which was our Album of the Week). Both were written after his first wife, Geneviève Elverum (née Gosselin and also known as Geneviève Castrée), passed away in July 2016 after losing her fight with pancreatic cancer. Geneviève was a musician and comic book artist who had recorded as both Woelv and Ô Paon. Geneviève was diagnosed with inoperable, stage four pancreatic cancer just four months after giving birth to their daughter and died a year later, leaving Elverum to raise their infant daughter on his own. But then in July 2018 it was announced that Elverum had secretly married actress Michelle Williams. Alas, Elverum and Williams have since divorced and perhaps Lost Wisdom pt. 2 tackles that in some way. In September 2018 Mount Eerie also released the live album (after).

Read our 2017 interview with Mount Eerie about A Crow Looked At Me.

Read our 2018 interview with Mount Eerie about Now Only.

9. Broken Bells: "Good Luck"

Last week Broken Bells (the collaboration between James Mercer of The Shins and producer Danger Mouse, aka Brian Joseph Burton) shared a brand new single, "Good Luck." A press release says the duo are working on a new album, which would be the follow-up to 2014's After the Disco.

The single follows last year's single "Shelter" and "It's All That Talk Again," a new song the duo released back in 2015.

Broken Bells collectively had this to say about "Good Luck" in a press release:

"As with 'Shelter,' we wanted to release 'Good Luck' while it felt timely and reflective of specific discussions between the two of us, questioning the state of things, as we do... 

"Both of us are constantly working on music at any given time, yet we always drift back to one another as Broken Bells. When it happens naturally, it happens-and right now it's happened in the form of writing and recording sessions for the third Broken Bells album."

10. The Mountain Goats: "Get High and Listen to The Cure"

The Mountain Goats released a new album, In League With Dragons, back in April via Merge. Last week they shared a new B-side, "Get High and Listen to The Cure," which was fittingly written for 2017's Goths. It appears on the B-side of the 7-inch single for In League With Dragons single "Welcome to Passaic."

Frontman John Darnielle had this to say about "Welcome to Passaic" and "Get High and Listen to The Cure" on the band's website: "As is generally known, whenever I get some time to myself I tend to start thinking about Ozzy Osbourne. A few years ago I wrote about 3/4 of an album's worth of songs about Black Sabbath and/or Ozzy's solo career, some of which were on the Marsh Witch Visions EP. When I sent Owen Pallett a link to the songs I was working on for In League With Dragons, he noticed a bunch of other songs in the folder - stuff I'd meant to say 'these were for something else' about, but didn't. Those songs were probably going to hang out in that folder for a good long while or maybe never see daylight at all. I am a shark, I seek the blood-cloud a little further ahead.

"But Owen announced, in our second conversation about Dragons, that 'Passaic' was the single. I was pretty surprised by this - to me it felt like a 2/3 Robert Forster + 1/3 Syd Barrett's Opel sessions cocktail, music dear to my heart but not renowned for its chartbusting ways. Owen, however, heard the song more in the vein of 'Talk About the Passion'-era R.E.M., stuff I only know in passing. Still, I was committed to having him call the shots on the arrangements, and curious about what he meant.

"One pre-production session, one full studio session, some very intense mixing back-and-forths with the genius Shani Gandhi, and two tours later, the arena-with-lighters heart of the song has revealed itself even to me, who can barely find an arena on a map. Shani's final mix takes at least 50% of the credit for the way that final chorus and outro now sound like the morning sun rising above a nameless rock festival's trashed field somewhere east of Ohio in the mid-seventies, everybody drowsy and loving their situation, all vibes positive except the ones you haven't accounted for yet.

"Speaking of singles, Peter Hughes, on hearing 'Get High and Listen to the Cure' - written for Goths, attempted in the studio sessions in versions that lacked the snap of this demo - felt certain this was the song that would make us a household name. I'm fond of the song, though I don't share his conviction that it's the Mountain Goats song the whole world has been waiting to hear. Should this release prove Peter right, I will be quite content to concede the point."

Previously The Mountain Goats shared the album's first single, "Younger" (which was one of our Songs of the Week). Then they shared another song from it, "Cadaver Sniffing Dog," which was followed by "Sicilian Crest."

In League With Dragons follows 2017's Goths and 2015's wrestling-themed Beat the Champ. Frontman John Darnielle wrote all the songs. 

11. Foals: "Into the Surf"

Foals are releasing two albums this year: Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1 came out in March and Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 2 is due out October 18, both via Warner Records. Last week they shared another song from Part 2, "Into the Surf."

Read our interview with Foals about Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1. Also read our shorter recent print magazine article on Foals.

Previously Foals shared Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 2's first two singles: "Black Bull," via a video for the track, and "The Runner." They also released a remix album, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1: Remixes, featuring Metronomy and others and shared a cinematic video for "The Runner."

The albums are the follow-up to 2015's What Went Down. Philippakis produced the albums, which were recorded at 123 Studios in Peckham, London with the help of engineer Brett Shaw. The band also features Jimmy Smith (guitar), Jack Bevan (drums), and Edwin Congreave (keys).

In a previous press release Philippakis had this to say about releasing two albums: "They're two halves of the same locket. They can be listened to and appreciated individually, but fundamentally, they are companion pieces."

12. Big Thief: "Forgotten Eyes"

Big Thief are releasing a new album, Two Hands, on October 11 via 4AD. This week they shared a second song from it, "Forgotten Eyes."

Two Hands is Big Thief's second album of 2019 and is the "sister album" to U.F.O.F., which was released back in May via 4AD. Previously they shared Two Hands' first single, "Not," which was #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

The band began work on Two Hands only days after finishing U.F.O.F. Whereas their last album was recorded at Bear Creek Studios in a cabin in the woods of Washington State, Two Hands was recorded at the Sonic Ranch studio 30 miles west of El Paso, in the desert near the Mexican border, surrounded by thousands of acres of pecan orchards. The songs were recorded live in the studio, with largely no overdubs, and the vocals on all but two songs were completely live vocal takes. 

Big Thief consists of singer/songwriter/guitarist Adrianne Lenker, guitarist Buck Meek, bassist Max Oleartchik, and drummer James Krivchenia. As with U.F.O.F., the band once again worked with engineer Dom Monks and producer Andrew Sarlo (who also mixed the album with Krivchenia).

Lenker had this to say about the album in a previous press release: "'Two Hands' has the songs that I'm the most proud of; I can imagine myself singing them when I'm old. Musically and lyrically, you can't break it down much further than this. It's already bare-bones."

U.F.O.F. was the follow-up to 2017's Capacity and 2016's debut album, Masterpiece. Last fall Lenker released a new solo album, abysskiss, via Saddle Creek.

Read our 2016 Pleased to Meet You interview with Big Thief.

Read our 2017 interview with Big Thief on Capacity.

Honorable Mentions: 

These 11 songs almost made the Top 12. Okay, Huey Lewis & The News didn't almost make the main list, but for their first new song in 11 years it was surprisingly solid (if you're a fan).

Barrie: "Drag" 

Black Marble: "Private Show"

 

CHVRCHES: "Death Stranding"

Cursive: "Stranded Satellite"

Craig Finn" "It's Never Been A Fair Fight"

Huey Lewis & The News: "Her Love Is Killin' Me"

Little Scream: "Disco Ball"

Angel Olsen: "What It Is"

Sleater-Kinney: "Animal"

that dog.: "Just the Way"

Water From Your Eyes: "Adeleine"

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Battles: "A Loop So Nice..." and "They Played It Twice"

Blue Hawaii: "Still I Miss U"

Danny Brown: "3 Tearz" (Feat. Run The Jewels)

Cherry Glazerr: "Call Me" (Feat. Portugal. The Man)

Clipping: "Blood of the Fang" 

 

Mikal Cronin: "I've Got Reason"

EOB (aka Radiohead's Ed O'Brien): "Santa Teresa"

Floating Points: "Anasickmodular"

Foxes In Fiction: "Say Yes to Violence"

Gauche: "Body Count"

Great Grandpa: "Bloom"

Jacques Greene: "For Love"

David Hasselhoff: "Head On" (The Jesus and Mary Chain Cover)

Juliana Hatfield: "Next to You" (The Police Cover)

Hemlock Ernst and Kenny Segal: "Down"

Hovvdy: "So Brite"

Jennifer Vanilla: "Space Time Motion"

Carly Rae Jepsen: "Don't Speak" (No Doubt Cover)

Jimmy Eat World: "All The Way (Stay)"

Joyero: "Evacuate"

Kal Marks: "Kimmy"

Kele: "Between Me and My Maker"

Kero Kero Bonito: "Battle Lines" and "The River" 

Kito and Empress Of: "Wild Girl"

Konradsen: "Dice"

Steve Mason: "Like a Ripple"

Matt and Kim: "GO GO"

The Philistines Jr.: "What? Help!"

R.E.M.: "Revolution 4-21 (Demo)"

Say Sue Me: "Good People"

Sunn O))): "Frost (C)"

Tei Shi: "Even If It Hurts" (Feat. Blood Orange)

Thyla: "Two Sense"

Sharon Van Etten: "Seventeen" (Feat. Norah Jones)

Devon Welsh: "Uniform"

The Who: "All This Music Must Fade"

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:

There are no comments for this entry yet.