13 Best Songs of the Week: Jon Hopkins + Kelly Lee Owens, Porridge Radio, Holy Fuck, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, December 5th, 2020  

13 Best Songs of the Week: Jon Hopkins + Kelly Lee Owens, Porridge Radio, Holy Fuck, and More

Plus Rose Elinor Dougall, Caribou, Shopping, Tame Impala, and a Wrap-up of the Last Two Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Dec 06, 2019
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Welcome to another Songs of the Week. We didn't do a Songs of the Week last week because of the Thanksgiving holiday, so this week's installment covers songs from the last two weeks. Hence we have a Top 13 instead of a Top 10. It was a toss up for #1, as both songs were equally impressive.

In the last two weeks we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Joe Henry, IDLES, The Wedding Present, Longwave, Charly Bliss, Girl Ray, Big Star, that dog., Swans, and Coldplay. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

In the last two weeks we also posted a new interview with ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, a My Firsts interview with Jaakko Eino Kalevi and also a Self-Portrait feature with Jaakko Eino Kalevi, a Pleased to Meet You interview with Dry Cleaning, and a cinema interview with writer/director Peter Strickland.

We also launched our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide, posting the first six parts: Video Games; Coffee, Beer, and Wine; Cocktails; Collectibles Part 1, Technology, and Blu-rays and DVDs Part 1.

Don't forget to pick up our recent print issue, the My Favorite Album Issue. It features Angel Olsen and Sleater-Kinney on the two covers and is a special issue where we speak to musicians and actors about their all-time favorite albums.

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. Jon Hopkins and Kelly Lee Owens: "Luminous Spaces"

Yesterday British electronic musicians Kelly Lee Owens and Jon Hopkins teamed up for a seven-minute long new song, "Luminous Spaces." It was originally intended to be an Owens remix of Hopkins' "Luminous Beings" but morphed into its own thing once the pair got into the studio together. The song is available digitally now and will be released as a 12-inch single on January 24, 2020 via Domino. Talk about a match made in heaven, the two artists' aesthetics perfectly intertwining. They should make a whole album together.

In a press release Hopkins had this to say about working with Owens: "This project started as something very different from what you're hearing now - I wanted Kelly to do a straight remix of 'Luminous Beings.' I sent her the parts, but what she sent back just felt like something totally new, and had the potential to be so much more than a remix. She'd recorded these beautiful, uplifting vocal lines and had come up with joyous new riffs that recalled for me the best bits of the '90s trance/euphoria that I had grown up loving. I got a beautiful sense of nostalgia and a true heart-lifting joy the first time I heard it, and it was so painless to take it from there to a finished piece - related and born out of 'Luminous Beings' but very much its own thing."
 
Owens had this to say about working with Hopkins: "'Luminous Spaces' initially began as a remix I did for Jon, which I also wrote vocals on top of. I sent the whole track to Jon for feedback and this lead to the start of a more collaborative effort, with him adding extra sound design/production, and a new intro and outro, which I loved! The exchanging of ideas back and forth made it an extra special process for us and is why he decided to upgrade it to a full and proper collaboration. Our worlds truly colliding!"

Hopkins' last album was 2018's Singularity, also released via Domino and containing "Luminous Beings."

Read our review of Singularity and our interview with Hopkins on the album.

Owens released her self-titled debut album via Smalltown Supersound in 2017 (it was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017).

Back in May Owens shared two new songs, "Let It Go" and "Omen," with "Let It Go" making our Songs of the Week list.

Read our 2017 interview with Kelly Lee Owens.

2. Porridge Radio: "Lilac" 

Porridge Radio are a promising new band from Brighton, England. On Thursday the band have shared a brand new song, "Lilac," via a video for the track. It's also been announced that Porridge Radio have signed to Secretly Canadian. The "Lilac" video features singer Dana Margolin performing the song on the beach. The rousing song builds to Margolin repeating the same lyrics over and over again ("I don't want to get bitter, I want us to get better/I want us to be kinder to ourselves and to each other"), shouting them like a mantra. El Hardwick directed the video.

Margolin had this to say about the song in a press release: "I wanted to find some power in powerlessness. I was thinking about love and control and the things out of my control, and how fragile and incapable depression can make you feel. I was thinking about the way you can feel so close to someone that it's like their body is your body, like there's no separation between you, but you can't stop things disintegrating. It's a song about finding some hope and some future within that."

3. Holy Fuck: "Free Gloss" (Featuring Nicolas Allbrook of POND)

Toronto's Holy Fuck are releasing a new album, Deleter, on January 17, 2020 via Last Gang. This week they shared another song from it, the dance-y "Free Gloss," that features the guest vocals of Nicolas Allbrook from POND. Haoyan of America directed the trippy video.

Previously Holy Fuck shared Deleter's first single, "Luxe," which featured the guest vocals of Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. Taylor recorded his vocals at Jack White's Third Man Studio in Nashville on White's "extremely rare" 1947 Voice-O-Graph. "Luxe" was one of our Songs of the Week.

Holy Fuck is Brian Borcherdt, Graham Walsh, Matt McQuaid, and Matt Schultz.

The band had this to say about the song in a press release: "Our music can be dark and pummelling at times, unrelenting even. 'Free Gloss' was designed as a way for us to shed some light, and bring some bliss and buoyancy to the table whilst still maintaining that ecstatic energy and intensity that we love. We started tinkering with the main riff and structure on this one as an idea to take the listener on a euphoric sonic journey and explore the push/pull, tension and release you can take people with on the dance floor.... We were trying to step out of the corner we've been painted into. Now we're more in the dance world than ever. And this is the kind of dance music we like. In many different ways 'Free Gloss' reminds us all of some kind of '90s thing. When we wrote the main keyboard riff, immediately we thought of Much Music, our Canadian equivalent to MTV, specifically their live dance studio broadcast, Electric Circus or their compilation album Extenda-Dance Mix 93. The inadvertent soundtrack to our youth. Looking back on it now, these shows explored a clash of humanity with technology, or perhaps the humanity in technology; repetitive electronic music with unpredictable human movement, which feels in keeping with the way we write and perform our music."

Holy Fuck's last album was 2016's Congrats.

4. Rose Elinor Dougall: "How Long"

Rose Elinor Dougall released a new album, A New Illusion, back in April via Vermillion (it was our Album of the Week). Last week she shared a new song, "How Long," a non-album track Dougall says is the last song to be shared from the A New Illusion sessions. It's as gorgeous as anything on A New Illusion.

Read our interview with Dougall on A New Illusion.

Also pick up Under the Radar's current print issue (the My Favorite Album Issue) to read our interview with Dougall on her all-time favorite album.

Plus read our review of A New Illusion.

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). Then she shared another song from it, "Take What You Can Get," an immaculately produced propulsive string-backed track that was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then when the album was released, we made album track "Christina in Red" #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then she shared the non-album track "Natural State."

Back in November 2018 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."

"First Sign" was inspired during a trip to a remote part of Andalusia, in Southern Spain. Dougall explained: "I was trying to cut loose from a situation, and this song is about vainly attempting to shake oneself free. I was looking for a loose, hazy feeling to the music to sit with the imagery of the song. I wanted it to sound like the end of summer."

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.

5. Caribou: "You and I"

On Wednesday Caribou (aka Dan Snaith) announced a new album, Suddenly, and shared a new song from it, "You and I." Suddenly is due out February 28, 2020 via Merge and will be the first Caribou album in around five-and-a-half years, since 2014's Our Love. It includes "Home," a new single Caribou shared in October that was one of our Songs of the Week. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as Caribou's upcoming tour dates, here. Any other week and this song might've been our #1, but it was quite an impressive two week's worth of new tracks.

Snaith has released a fair amount of music in the last five years, but most of it has been under his Daphni moniker. Suddenly was borne from over 900 draft ideas. "I record music every day, and I love it - as much or more than I have always done. I feel very lucky - the thrill has never, ever left me," Snaith says in a press release.

"For the last few albums at least, there's been a point about three-quarters of the way through where I work late into the night (as usual), but when I try and go to bed, ideas keep forcing me to get up and go back to the studio again," Snaith continues. "It happens over and over in one night. I can feel the gears whirring as I lie there trying to sleep, and I can't ignore the ideas for fear that it will be gone when I wake up the next morning."

The press release explains the album title: "Suddenly refers to the moments of dramatic and unexpected change that occur at points in any life and within any family - universal themes that catch you off guard and change your life in a heartbeat."

In the press release Snaith also had this to say about the new single: "'You and I' was one of the first tracks on the album that I started, and one of the last tracks I finished; it existed in some form or other throughout the whole arc of making the record. It also captures a lot of what the record, and the title of the album, are about - the track changes suddenly and unpredictably, and it is about a change in my life that happened out of the blue."

Read our 2014 interview with Caribou.

6. Shopping: "Initiative" 

This week British post-punk trio Shopping announced a new album, All Or Nothing, and shared its first single, "Initiative," via a Jack Barraclough-directed video for the track. They have also announced some tour dates. All Or Nothing is due out February 7, 2020 via FatCat. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the band's upcoming tour dates, here.  

All Or Nothing finds the band spread across the globe, with guitarist/vocalist Rachel Aggs and drummer Andrew Milk based in Glasgow and bassist Billy Easter based in Los Angeles.

The band had this to say about the album in a press release: "We found ourselves singing about being true to yourself, in an often binary and belligerent digital age, and reclaiming agency when it feels like our personal freedom and privacy is constantly eroding."  

The press release also had this to say about the album: "The trio's vision - deeply queer; political by default - place them in a radical lineage of dance, a continuum connecting disco and post-punk to Chicago house and EDM." 

7. Tame Impala: "Posthumous Forgiveness"

Tame Impala (aka Kevin Parker and band) are releasing a new album, The Slow Rush, on February 14, 2020 via Interscope. On Tuesday Parker has shared a new song from it, a six-minute slow-burner named "Posthumous Forgiveness." We realize that in some corners of the Internet the reaction to The Slow Rush's singles thus far has been somewhat muted. And while we acknowledge that the singles haven't always quite reached some of Tame Impala's impossibly high previous heights, we have quite enjoyed most of them, at the very least from a production standpoint, including this song.

Parker recorded, produced, and mixed The Slow Rush himself and the album features 12 songs.

A previous press release described the album like this: "The Slow Rush is Parker's deep dive into the oceans of time, conjuring the feeling of a lifetime in a lightning bolt, of major milestones whizzing by while you're looking at your phone, it's a paean to creation and destruction and the unending cycle of life."

The Slow Rush will be available in four different heavyweight double disc vinyl formats: standard black, forest green (limited edition at all retailers), red/blue (indie retail exclusive), and splatter (Tame Impala webstore exclusive).

Tame Impala released two new songs this past spring: "Patience" (which was one of our Songs of the Week) and the house music-infused "Borderline" (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). Tame Impala also performed both songs on Saturday Night Live. It's presumed they will be on the album, although not confirmed. Then when the album was announced, Tame Impala shared another song from it, "It Might Be Time," which was also one of our Songs of the Week (at #8).

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).

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

8. Hinds: "Riding Solo"

On Tuesday Spanish quartet Hinds shared a brand new song, "Riding Solo," via a video for the track. Right now it's just a standalone single on Mom + Pop, there's no word of a new album or EP. Keane Pearce Shaw directed the video, which features the band out in the desert.

Hinds collectively had this to say about the song in a press release: "Feeling lonely is one of the most common human feelings, right? Well, being a musician doesn't really help. Your whole life is constantly moving and the only thing that remains is yourself. And dealing with yourself, oh gosh, we all know how boring and angering that can be. 'Riding Solo' is about this. About us. Perpetually on the move, being everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Surrounded by strangers most time of the day, being 9 hours time difference from our people and what we call home, living and dying por y para la música."

Hinds' last album was 2018's I Don't Run, also released via Mom + Pop.

9. Grimes: "My Name Is Dark"

Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) is releasing a new album, Miss Anthropocene, on February 21, 2020 via 4AD. Last week she shared another song from it, "My Name Is Dark."

Last year Grimes shared a brand new song for our future AI overlords, "We Appreciate Power," via a lyric video for the track, and also stopped by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to perform the song (where she was joined by HANA, who is featured on the song). "We Appreciate Power" was said to be the first track from her forthcoming fifth album, the follow-up to 2015's Art Angels. In March she shared a new demo, "Pretty Dark," which she said was not from the new album. Then in September she shared the new song "Violence," via a self-directed video for the track. The song features i_o, a techno DJ/producer, and was #2 on our Songs of the Week list. "Violence" is on the album's tracklist, but "We Appreciate Power" isn't. Then when the details of Miss Anthropocene were announced she shared another new song from the album, "So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth," which was also one of our Songs of the Week.

10. EOB (Ed O'Brien of Radiohead): "Brasil"

EOB is the solo project of Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien. He is releasing his debut EOB album in early 2020 via Capitol and yesterday he shared a new song from it, "Brasil," via a video/short film for it. The song also features Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood, as well as drummer Omar Hakim and The Invisible's guitarist David Okumu. Flood produced the song, which was mixed by Alan Moulder. Andrew Donoho directed the video.

"'Brasil' is a state of mind, not a place or time," says O'Brien in a press release. "H.P. Lovecraft, Kubrick, and Junji Ito have created some of my favorite sci-fi narratives. But I've always wanted to reinterpret their horrific premises into a more poetic and optimistic notion. What if an alien or higher being were to come to earth to help us achieve a greater existence, and not to destroy us? What would it look like if everyone on earth shared thoughts, experiences, and actions? The theory that humans, as a species, actually represent one large, singular organism has always fascinated me, and I wanted to explore that concept visually through a variety of different character perspectives, mediums, and impressionistic visual effects. All these layers and ideas culminated into our narrative for 'Brasil.'"

Donoho had this to say about the video/short film: "'Brasil' was one of those tracks just dripping with magic from the very beginning. Everything started clicking very quickly. Empathy, togetherness, wonder, spirituality, and exploration resonated from the song and the references, and I wanted to write a large scope, otherworldly concept weighted in humanity. Ed and I both shared a love of space and the abstract concepts surrounding time, so I started building a narrative around transcending the physical barriers of our bodies and the temporal barriers of linear experience."

The upcoming album will also feature Laura Marling, Portishead's Adrian Utley, Nathan East, and Wilco's Glenn Kotche.

Radiohead's last album was 2016's A Moon Shaped Pool. It landed at #2 on Under the Radar's Top 100 Albums of 2016 list.

11. Sorry: "Rock 'n' Roll Star"

Last week North London band Sorry shared a new song, "Rock 'n' Roll Star," via a video for the track. The song is the B-side to "Right Round the Clock," a song they shared in October that was one of our Songs of the Week. The two songs will be released as a 7-inch single this Friday via Domino. The band's Asha Lorenz directed the video alongside frequent collaborator Jasper Cable-Alexander, and Lorenz stars as Elvis. The band has also announced their first ever U.S. tour dates, including a stop at SXSW. Check out the tour dates here.

"Right Round the Clock" is taken from the band's forthcoming debut album, 925, which is due out in spring 2020 via Domino. The exact release date and other album details are to be announced.

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. Previously we also posted the band's "Jealous Guy" (not a John Lennon cover), which was also one of our Songs of the Week.

12. The Homesick: "Kaïn"

Dutch trio The Homesick are releasing a new album, The Big Exercise, on February 7, 2020 via Sub Pop, the band's first for the Seattle label. On Wednesday they shared another song from the album, "Kaïn."

When The Big Exercise was announced the band shared a new song from it, "I Celebrate My Fantasy," which was one of our Songs of the Week.

The band's lineup is Jaap van der Velde, Erik Woudwijk, and Elias Elgersma. The Big Exercise is the band's second album, the follow-up to 2017's debut, Youth Hunt. The album's title is inspired by a passage in the Scott Walker-biography Deep Shade of Blue.

In a previous press release Van der Velde had this to say about some of the musical influences on the album: "When we were on tour in 2018, I bought Meredith Monk's Dolmen Music in Switzerland. Elias and I have been completely immersed in her music ever since. But also the work of Joan La Barbara for example, who also did things with extended vocal techniques, that was also quite vital to us. We discovered that the human voice offers so many beautiful elements that can still feel very physical and intrusive."

Summing up the album, Van der Velde said: "That's also a phenomenal aspect of the position we're now in as a band. I consider The Homesick a pop band first and foremost. If you'd introduce a late-era Scott Walker-record to a layman, it would likely fall on flat ears. But put it in the right scene of a good movie, and that person may finally understand its potential. The Homesick is allowed to play around in that pop framework, and the goal is to explore what's possible within it. You can do super radical and weird things, and at the same time convey it all as straightforward pop music. With this album, I hope people will hear things anew after multiple listens."

13. Nicolas Godin: "The Foundation"

Last week Nicolas Godin, one half of the French band Air, announced a new solo album, Concrete and Glass, and shared a new song from it, "The Foundation," via a video for the track. The song features Oxnard, California singer Cola Boyy and the album also features Kirin J Callinan, Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor, and others. Concrete and Glass is due out January 24, 2020 via Because Music. It includes "The Border," a new song Godin shared in October via a video for the track. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art here.

Concrete and Glass is the follow-up to Godin's debut solo album, Countrepoint, released back in 2015.

Godin had this to say about "The Foundation" in a press release: "Pierre Koenig's Case Study House #21 was the starting point for this song. Well, at least that's how I presented the music to its future singer, Cola Boyy. I told him about the project's architectural origins, explaining that he must let his own personal inspiration run free for the lyrics. I always thought that a concept was always the perfect way to start a record, but then you should soon let the music take over. A good record is one in which the music seizes control pretty fast. I've applied this rule to each album I've been lucky enough to record, with only one mantra: 'It's the music that decides.' This song is the perfect example of this."

Greg Barnes directed the video for "The Foundation," shooting it on 16mm film. He had this to say about the video in the press release: "The synth-led, ethereal momentum of the track felt so out-of-this-world and intrepid all at once - the concept of mankind exploring space fell into place almost immediately, and the excitement of creating a sci-fi visual for the song stayed with me throughout the whole process." 

Read our 2015 interview with Nicolas Godin on Counterpoint.

Honorable Mentions: 

These eight songs almost made the Top 13.

Algiers: "Void"

The Chemical Brothers: "Out of Control (The Avalanches Surrender to Love Mix)"

Cornershop: "No Rock, Save in Roll"

Khruangbin & Leon Bridges: "Texas Sun"

of Montreal: "Polyaneurism"

Soccer Mommy: "Feed"

TORRES: "Gracious Day"

M. Ward: "Migration of Souls"

Other notable new tracks in the last two weeks include: 

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead: "Into the Godless Void" 

 

Avey Tare: "Midnight Special," "Red Light Water Show," and "Disc One"

Deap Lips (The Flaming Lips and Deap Vally): "Hope Hell High"

Greg Dulli: "Pantomima"

Duster: "Letting Go"

Alex Ebert: "Stronger"

Editors: "Black Gold (Zamilska Remix)"

Bill Fay: "Love Will Remain"

Hasley: "Finally // beautiful stranger" and "SUGA's Interlude" (Feat. Suga of BTS)

House of Feelings: "Convo" (Feat. Dave Harrington)

The Innocence Mission: "This Boat"

Huey Lewis & The News: "While We're Young"

Alanis Morissette: "Reasons I Drink"

POLIÇA: "Forget Me Now"

Pop. 1280: "Boom Operator" 

The Professionals (Oh No & Madlib): "Superhumans" (Feat. Elzhi & Chino XL)

SOAK: "Bloodbuzz Ohio" (The National Cover)

Harry Styles: "Adore You"

Squirrel Flower: "Headlights"

Taylor Swift: "Christmas Tree Farm"

Tenacious D: "Don't Blow It, Kage"

Kali Uchis: "Solita"

The Weeknd: "Blinding Lights" and "Heartless"

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