12 Best Songs of the Week: Hatchie, Mark Ronson and Angel Olsen, Absolutely Free, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019  

12 Best Songs of the Week: Hatchie, Mark Ronson and Angel Olsen, Absolutely Free, and More

Plus Devendra Banhart, Metronomy, Luke Temple, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Jun 21, 2019
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Welcome to another Songs of the Week. It's a supersized edition, with a Top 12 instead of a Top 10. A ton of new albums were announced in the last week and then there were some albums and EPs released today featuring non-single tracks we've been dying to share in Songs of the Week.

Elsewhere on the website this week we posted interviews with Clinic and The Slow Readers Club, as well as a Self-Portrait feature with Palehound (where she painted her self-portrait).

Hatchie's Keepsake was our Album of the Week.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Hot Chip, Kirin J Callinan, Hatchie, Tim Hecker, and Sebadoh. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

Don't forget about our current 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 12 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. Hatchie: "Unwanted Guest"

Hatchie is the dream pop project of Australian musician Harriette Pilbeam. Her debut album, Keepsake, was released today via Double Double Whammy. You can stream it here and it was our Album of the Week. Now that the album is out, we can share some of our favorite album tracks that weren't pre-release singles (even though all the singles were either #1 or #2 on our previous Songs of the Week list). We narrowed it down to three tracks: "Secret," "When I Get Out," and "Unwanted Guest," settling on the latter as our #1. It's a testament to the power of Keepsake, which will surely go down as one of the best debut albums of 2019 and one of the finest dream pop albums of the decade, that there are so many worthy tracks.

Also, on Wednesday we posted our rave 8.5/10 review of Keepsake and you can read that here.

Previously Hatchie shared a video for Keepsake's first single, "Without a Blush," which was our #1 Song of the Week. Then she shared another song from the album, danceable breakup song "Stay With Me," via a video for the track. "Stay With Me" was our #2 Song of the Week. Then she shared another song from the album, "Obsessed," via a fun video for the track that featured footage of Pilbeam and her band on tour in America and elsewhere. "Obsessed" was also our #2 Song of the Week.

Back in May 2018 she released her debut EP under the Hatchie name, Sugar & Spice, via Double Double Whammy. Despite it being an EP, it made it on our Top 100 Albums of 2018 list. Pilbeam recorded Keepsake in a home studio in Melbourne. John Castle, the producer behind Sugar & Spice, once again collaborated with Pilbeam.

A previous press release/bio announcing the album highlighted some of Keepsake's tracks. "Her Own Heart," for example, was described as "a radiant jangle-pop gem that puts a singular twist on the post-breakup narrative."

Pilbeam elaborated further on the song: "I'd seen people in my life go through breakups and end up with no idea what to do with themselves. I wrote that song from the point of view of a girl who winds up on her own and embraces having to figure out who she is, who doesn't let her life get turned upside-down like that."

"Stay With Me" was described as "Keepsake's most utterly rhapsodic track, all incandescent synth and unstoppable rhythm."

Pilbeam commented: "At first I thought I could never put that on my album-it felt too dancey and pop, and I figured it could really shine on someone else's record. But then I realized: I'm the one dictating what my sound is; what I put on my album is up to me."

Of the album title, Pilbeam explained: "I'm not much of a nostalgic person when it comes to memories, but I do have a tendency to hold on to certain things, like tickets from the first time I went someplace on holiday. It made sense to me to call the record that, at a time when I'm going to probably end up with a lot of keepsakes-and in a way, this whole album is almost like a keepsake in itself."

Read our 2018 interview with Hatchie on Sugar & Spice.

2. Mark Ronson: "True Blue" (Feat. Angel Olsen)

Mark Ronson released a new album, Late Night Feelings, today via Sony. The night before the album's release he shared one last pre-release song from the album, "True Blue," that features the guest vocals of Angel Olsen. "True Blue" starts with distorted old-timey vocals from Olsen, but then turns into a dreamy disco gem.

Olsen had this to say about the song in a press release: "I wasn't sure what it would be like to work with Mark, considering we are both from different production worlds...but it was such a fun, organic experience for me. Seriously. He gave me full reign to try things out - I even play a little guitar on the track (not that I'm a virtuoso player or anything). At the time I'd been listening to a lot of dark disco, specifically Nico's dance version of 'Heroes.' I wanted to make something dark like that, but also something people could skate to. A true roller rink song. Hearing the final track back was so rewarding for me. I can't say it enough. I hope to play it live! I'm excited to hear the record in its entirety."

Previously Ronson shared Late Night Feelings' title track, "Late Night Feelings," which features the guest vocals of Lykke Li and was one of our Songs of the Week, as well as a video for the song. Then Ronson and Li stopped by the British talk show The Jonathan Ross Show to perform the song. Ronson also shared "Pieces of Us" (featuring King Princess) "Don't Leave Me Lonely" (featuring YEBBA), "Find U Again" (featuring Camila Cabello), and "Nothing Breaks Like a Broken Heart" (featuring Miley Cyrus).

Late Night Feelings is said to be Ronson's album of "sad bangers." Ronson's last album was 2015's massively successful Uptown Special, which featured the Bruno Mars collaboration "Uptown Funk," one of the best selling singles of all time (its video currently has 3.5 billion views on YouTube). Since then Ronson also teamed up with Diplo to form Silk City, who released four singles last year, with "Electricity" (feat. Dua Lipa) becoming a hit.

Read our 2015 interview with Mark Ronson.

3. Absolutely Free: "The Endless Scroll" (Feat. Carl Didur)

Toronto trio Absolutely Free released a new EP, Geneva Freeport, this week via Idée Fixe. Previously Absolutely Free shared the EP's first single, "Currency (Extended Mix)," which features U.S. Girls (aka Meghan Remy) and was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its title track "Geneva Freeport," which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Now that the EP is out we can share its third and final song, "The Endless Scroll," which features Carl Didur. The near 10-minute track builds into epic freak-out mode, akin to The Doors' "Riders on the Storm." 

Absolutely Free haven't released an album since their 2014-released self-titled debut album, although last November they released the one-off single "Still Life." The band consists of Moshe Fisher-Rozenberg, Michael Claxton, and Matt King.

4. Devendra Banhart: "Kantori Ongaku"

This week Devendra Banhart announced a new album, Ma, and shared a video for its first single, "Kantori Ongaku." Ma is due out September 13 via Nonesuch. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art (a painting by Banhart), as well as Banhart's upcoming tour dates (which were announced last month), here.

Banhart's last album was 2016's Ape in Pink Marble. Since then he's stayed busy. In April he released two books: Vanishing Wave (a book of his ink drawings inspired by a trip to Japan) and Weeping Gang, Bliss Void, Yab Yum (his first book of poetry). Plus in March he released Fragments du Monde Flottant, a collection of various musicians' demos that he curated.

Ma began when Banhart and frequent collaborator Noah Georgeson were invited to record in an old temple in Kyoto, Japan, after an Asian tour. The album was then recorded in California at 64 Sound and Sea Horse Studios in Los Angeles and Anderson Canyon in Big Sur. Cate Le Bon contributes background vocals on "Now All Gone" and previous collaborator Vashti Bunyan duets with Banhart on "Will I See You Tonight."

"Vashti is the archetype of the mother, one of the most important people in my life. It was so beautiful to sing this duet with her," says Banhart in a press release.

This is how the press release describes the themes of Ma: "Banhart doesn't approach the album's maternal theme in a literal way; rather, by contemplating it, alluding to it, regarding the concept of motherhood from different angles, he has fashioned an album of multiple, intertwining narratives. Its concerns are both personal and global, with subtly autobiographical looks at life and death and ruminations about the precarious state of the world. The many lighthearted moments of Ma are balanced by deeply melancholic, even somber ones."

Three of the album's tracks are sung in Spanish and one is in Portuguese. Banhart spent his childhood in Venezuela and a press release says his decision to sing in Spanish was because he "has been profoundly affected by the poverty and despair he's witnessed there."

"My brother is in Venezuela, my cousins, my aunts and uncles. They are just holding their breath, in gridlock standstill," Banhart elaborates. "There's this helplessness. This place that has been a mother to you, that you're a mother to as well, and it's suffering so much. There is nothing you can do but send out love and remain in that sorrowful state."

Black Belt Eagle Scout is set to support many of the fall tour dates. Banhart has teamed up with PLUS1 for the tour and $1 from every ticket sold in the U.S. (except for Austin) will go to World Central Kitchen (WCK). A press release says WCK is "an organization founded by Chef José Andrés to fight hunger around the world. WCK has served more than eight million meals to victims of natural disasters and humanitarian crises, including Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, California wildfires, Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, and more. WCK is currently responding to the crisis on the Colombia-Venezuelan border and has served more than 350,000 meals to date." Find out more on the organization here

Read our review of Ape in Pink Marble.

5. Metronomy: "Salted Caramel Ice Cream"

This week Metronomy announced a new album, Metronomy Forever, and shared a video for a new song from it, "Salted Caramel Ice Cream." Metronomy Forever is due out September 13 via Because Music. It includes "Lately," a new song the British band shared via a video last month (it was #1 on our Songs of the Week list). Check out the album's tracklist and cover art (by Anne Zeum), as well as the band's upcoming tour dates, here.

Metronomy Forever is the follow-up to 2016's Summer 08. Since then frontman Joseph Mount did production work on Robyn's Honey (Robyn appeared on Summer 08). Mount also moved from Paris to the English countryside, which influenced the album.

Mount had this to say about Metronomy Forever in a press release: "What happens is when you're making music and you enter a world where you have achieved some sort of celebrity no matter how large or small you start to think about yourself in terms of legacy and what you're going to leave behind and then you realize that's limited to the interest people have in you. In the end I feel completely comfortable with it. The less importance you place in any art the more interesting it can become in a way...I'm making music, I'm going to do some concerts, I need to feed my children."

The video for "Lately" was Mount's directorial debut and he returns behind the camera for the "Salted Caramel Ice Cream" video.

Mount had this to say about the video in a press release: "Years ago a friend of mine gave me a VHS tape of the MTV show 120 Minutes. It's something I'd get him to do every so often as I was a bit obsessed with music TV at the time. On one particular tape was the video for 'Sonne' by Rammstein, I'd never seen them before and it blew my mind. This video is a sort of homage to that, but with an added story about the gentrification of ice cream parlors." 

Read our 2016 interview with Metronomy.

6. Hatchie: "Secret"

As we mentioned above Hatchie (the dream pop project of Australian musician Harriette Pilbeam) released her debut album, Keepsake, today via Double Double Whammy. The album is so good, we couldn't resist including our second favorite album track (discounting all the previous singles that already made our Songs of the Week lists). So here for your listening pleasure is "Secret."

7. Luke Temple: "Wounded Brightness"

This week Here We Go Magic frontman Luke Temple announced a new solo album, Both-And, and shared its first single, "Wounded Brightness." He also announced some tour dates. Both-And is due out September 13 via Native Cat. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the tour dates, here.

In terms of Temple's solo work, the album is the follow-up to 2016's A Hand Through the Cellar Door and 2013's Good Mood Fool, both underappreciated works. Both-And was inspired by Temple's move from New York to Northern California's Marin County.

8. Fat White Family: "Feet" (Parrot and Cocker Too Remix)

England's Fat White Family released a new album, Serfs Up!, back in April via Domino, their first for the label (and third album overall). It was our Album of the Week. This week they shared a remix of one of its singles, "Feet," done by Jarvis Cocker of Pulp alongside DJ Parrot. The remix stretches the song out to over nine minutes long. They have also announced some new UK tour dates for this November and December (check them out here).

When the album was announced, Fat White Family shared the string-backed "Feet," which was our #1 Song of the Week. Then they shared another new track, "Tastes Good With the Money," via a crazy and bloody video directed by fellow musician Róisín Murphy that had a bit of a Monty Python vibe to it. The song features Baxter Dury, who also appeared in the video. "Tastes Good With the Money" was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then just before the album's released they shared another song from the album, "When I Leave," via a strange video for the track (it was also one of our Songs of the Week).

Serfs Up is the follow-up to 2016's Songs For Our Mothers and was recorded in Sheffield, England.

9. Hot Chip: "Positive" 

Hot Chip released a new album, A Bath Full of Ecstasy, today via Domino. Now that the album is out, we can share one of its best album tracks that wasn't a pre-release single, "Positive." Our favorite lyric is "We get together sometimes/Talk about how we used to get together sometimes."

Today we also posted our positive review of the album and you can read that here.

Previously they shared a video for its first single, "Hungry Child" (which was one of our Songs of the Week). Then they shared another song from it, "Melody of Love," also via a video for it (it was also one of our Songs of the Week).

For A Bath Full of Ecstasy, the band (Owen Clarke, Al Doyle, Joe Goddard, Felix Martin, and Alexis Taylor) worked with outside producers for the first time: France's Philippe Zdar of Cassius (who alas just tragically passed away) and Scotland's Rodaidh McDonald. The album was recorded in Paris and London. Turner-prize winning artist Jeremy Deller and Fraser Muggeridge Studio created the album's artwork. The album is the follow-up to 2015's Why Make Sense?, although in 2018 founding member/lead vocalist Alexis Taylor released a new solo album, Beautiful Thing, also via Domino.

10. Chelsea Wolfe: "The Mother Road" 

This week Chelsea Wolfe announced a new album, The Birth of Violence, and shared its first single, "The Mother Road." She also announced some acoustic tour dates for this fall. The Birth of Violence is due out September 13 via Sargent House. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the tour dates, here.

The Birth of Violence is the follow-up to 2017's Hiss Spun. It was recorded with longtime musical collaborator Ben Chisholm and features Jess Gowrie (drums) and Ezra Buchla (viola).

Wolfe had this to say about the album in a press release: "I've been in a state of constant motion for the past eight years or so; touring, moving, playing new stages, exploring new places and meeting new people-an incredible time of learning and growing as a musician and performer. But after awhile, I was beginning to lose a part of myself. I needed to take some time away from the road to get my head straight, to learn to take better care of myself, and to write and record as much as I can while I have 'Mercury in my hands,' as a wise friend put it." 

The press release describes the album as such: "Birth of Violence touches upon tradition, but it also exists in the present, addressing modern tragedies such as school shootings and the poisoning of the planet. But the record is at its most poignant when Wolfe withdraws into her own world of enigmatic and elusive autobiography. The songs describe an internal awakening of feminine energy, a connection to the maternal spirit of the Earth, and a defiant stance against the destructive and controlling forces of a greedy and hostile patriarchy. Though the lyrical minutiae remain secret, the overall power of the language and delivery is bound to haunt the listener with both its grace and tension. In keeping with the general approach of the album, it thrives by culling from the familiar language of American country and folk music while setting it within longtime musical collaborator Ben Chisholm's scenic soundscapes."

The press release adds: "While it's tempting to draw a comparison to Wolfe's acoustic collection Unknown RoomsBirth of Violence is a far cry from the unplugged nature of that album. Instead, it feels like an exploration of one of Wolfe's strongest facets-her ties to the American singer/songwriter tradition."

Read our 2015 The End interview with Wolfe about endings and death.

11. Spoon: "No Bullets Spent"

Spoon have a spectacular track record for making one great album after another, so much so that we probably take them for granted. Now they are giving us a chance to re-evaluate their best songs and are releasing their first greatest hits record, Everything Hits At Once: The Best of Spoon, on July 26 via Matador. The 13-song compilation was announced this week and ends with a brand new song, "No Bullets Spent," that the band has shared this week via a lyric video. As is the case with many a new song tacked onto a Best Of compilation, it's not exactly their finest song, but it's a solid addition to their fantastic catalog.

Check out the album's tracklist and cover art here. There are two album covers, a digital one featuring a tambourine and a physical one featuring a black & white photo of a frontman Britt Daniel, out of focus. Check out the band's upcoming tour dates here.

"No Bullets Spent" is also being released as a limited edition 7-inch. The B-side will be "Shake It Off," a rarity from the A Series of Sneaks era. The band's last album was Hot Thoughts, released in 2017 via Matador.

"The idea of doing a best-of came to us a couple times," says Daniel in a press release. "First I wasn't sure how I felt about it but at some point I remembered that when I got my first Cure record it was Standing on a Beach. When I got my first New Order record, it was Substance. That was how I met those bands, and I moved backwards from there but I still listen to those comps. I love a greatest hits LP when it's done well. It can be a thing unto itself."

In the press release Daniel admits it was challenging narrowing down the band's best songs to one best of album. "Honestly, it was a struggle," he says. "I was listening to the old records and jotting down the songs-if you wanna turn the volume up, that's a good sign. The list really got whittled down, so these are the best. 'I Summon You' was never a huge song, wasn't for the radio, but it had to be on there. It's one of the best things we've done. I wanted to represent Transference, even though it's not really a 'hit' type of album-'Got Nuffin' was the closest thing. It did get to a point where I started feeling like, 'We gotta represent this album in some way, we've gotta represent this change in some way.' 'Everything Hits at Once' was a turning point for us-a minimal new wave soul type of rock song.'"

Summing up the album, Daniel says: "It's a small collection trying to cover a lot of years, but I hope it does what The Singles record by the Pretenders or Hot Rocks [by The Rolling Stones] did for me-cover a lot of ground and then if you want to find out more, you can find out more." 

12. Editors: "Frankenstein"

This week British five-piece Editors shared a new song, "Frankenstein," via a video for the track. Jacknife Lee produced the dancefloor-ready track and Greg Ohrel directed the cinematic video. Right now it's a standalone single on Play It Again Sam. The video really sells the song. Would we like it quite as much without the visuals? It's hard to say.

In a press release frontman Tom Smith describes "Frankenstein" as "a song of joy and escapism - a cartoon song for the freaks, the different and for the night."

Ohrel had this to say about the video: "We've been so lucky to work with Editors on this. They've been supportive throughout, with a crazy idea like this it only works if you go 100% and they made that happen. This is about fan obsession where we've turned the extreme into the ridiculous!"

Editors' last regular album, Violence, was released back in March 2018 via Play It Again Sam. Although this April (on Record Store Day) they released The Blanck Mass Sessions, a new, more electronic, version of Violence featuring the original production work on the songs done by Blanck Mass (aka Benjamin John Power of Fuck Buttons). We previously posted its first single, the new song "Barricades," via a video for the track.

Read our interview with Editors' Tom Smith on Violence.

Honorable Mentions: 

These nine songs almost made the Top 10, with Caroline Polachek and Steve Gunn's "Shrunken Heads" coming closest.

Amason: "Marry Me Just For Fun"

Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Bryce Dessner, and Eighth Blackbird: "Beast For Thee"

Frankie Cosmos: "Windows"

Steve Gunn: "Be Still Moon" and "Shrunken Heads"

Hatchie: "When I Get Out"

Caroline Polachek: "Door"

Mark Ronson: "Pieces of Us" (Feat. King Princess)

Twen: "Damsel"

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

!!!: "Serbia Drums"

Julien Baker: "The Modern Leper" (Frightened Rabbit Cover)

Biffy Clyro: "The Modern Leper" (Frightened Rabbit Cover)

Blink-182: "Generational Divide"

Alex Cameron: "Divorce"

 

Floating Points: "LesAlpx"

Gauche: "Flash"

The Hold Steady: "Denver Haircut"

House of Feelings: "401K" (Feat. Kip Berman)

Lil Nas X: "Panini"

Luna: "The Oort Cloud/Kuiper Belt"

Mannequin Pussy: "Cream"

Migos: "Stripper Bowl"

Nicki Minaj: "Megatron"

Sheer Mag: "Blood From a Stone" 

Snail Mail: "Pristine" (Simlish Version)

Trentemøller: "In the Garden"

Noël Wells: "Sad Girl Blues"

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