13 Best Songs of the Week: I Break Horses, Hinds, Baxter Dury, Sharon Van Etten, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, August 6th, 2020  

13 Best Songs of the Week: I Break Horses, Hinds, Baxter Dury, Sharon Van Etten, and More

Plus Christine and the Queens, Jehnny Beth, Hamilton Leithauser, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Feb 07, 2020
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Welcome to the fifth Songs of the Week of 2020. It was tough to narrow things down to a Top 10 this week, too many great tracks, so we've got a super-sized edition.

This week we posted My Favorite Album interviews with Camera Obscura, The Flaming Lips, Marika Hackman, SPELLLING, and actor Jay Baruchel.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Frances Quinlan, Dan Deacon, Sløtface, Khruangbin & Leon Bridges, and John Moreland. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 13 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. I Break Horses: "Death Engine"

On Tuesday Sweden's I Break Horses (the project of Maria Lindén) announced a new album, Warnings, and shared its first single, "Death Engine," via a video for the new song. Warnings is the band's first new album in six years and is due out May 8 via Bella Union. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art here. "Death Engine" is a transfixing seven plus minutes worth of gorgeous dream pop to get lost in and has us seriously psyched for Warnings.

Warnings is the follow-up to 2014's Chiaroscuro. "It has been some time in the making," Lindén acknowledges in the press release announcing the album. "About six years, involving several studios, collaborations that didn't work out, a crashed hard drive with about two years of work, writing new material again instead of trying to repair it. New studio recordings, erasing everything, then recording most of the album myself at home."

For a while Lindén was working on instrumental tracks. "It wasn't until I felt an urge to add vocals and lyrics," she says, "that I realized I was making a new I Break Horses album."

Eventually she got producer/mixing engineer Chris Coady (Beach House, TV on the Radio) involved to mix the album. "Before reaching out to Chris I read an interview where he said, 'I like to slow things down. Almost every time I love the sound of something slowed down by half, but sometimes 500% you can get interesting shapes and textures,'" Lindén says. "And I just knew he'd be the right person for this album."

As its title suggests, Lindén says Warnings deals partly with our troubled era. "It's not a political album," she says, "though it relates to the alarmist times we live in. Each song is a subtle warning of something not being quite right."  

As for "Death Engine," Lindén says: "The song, which was written in connection to a close friend's suicide attempt, also reflects upon the increasing reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death among Generation Z, with this age group having more mental health issues than any other generation."

Summing up Warnings and the delay between albums, Lindén says: "Nowadays, the attention span equals nothing when it comes to how most people consume music. And it feels like songs are getting shorter, more 'efficient'. I felt an urge to go against that and create an album journey from start to finish that takes time and patience to listen to. Like, slow the fuck down!"

2. Hinds: "Good Bad Times"

On Tuesday Spanish quartet Hinds announced a new album, The Prettiest Curse, and shared a new song from it, "Good Bad Times," via a video for the single. They also announced some new North American tour dates. The Prettiest Curse is due out April 3 via Mom + Pop. The album includes "Riding Solo," a new song the band shared in December via a video for the track (it was one of our Songs of the Week). Jean Lafleur directed the "Good Bad Times" video, which features the band as superheroes. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the band's upcoming tour dates, here. "Good Bad Times" further finds the former garage rock band go in a more polished direction and we're all for it, the better production suits them well.

Jenn Decliveo produced The Prettiest Curse. It features some songs where the band members sing in their native language for the first time.

In a press release the band's Ana Perrote says The Prettiest Curse is a quantum leap from their earliest work. "If baby Hinds could hear this record, they wouldn't believe it-it's so far from where we started," she says. "It's the first time we truly enjoyed the process and didn't ever feel we had something to prove. I'm so proud that we just let ourselves have fun, and never held back from doing what we wanted." 

In the press release the band's Carlotta Cosials also had this to say about The Prettiest Curse and its title: "We have this incredible job, but it's really transformed the way we live. We know we're not going to stop, so we've decided to embrace it-to see this curse as something pretty."

Hinds collectively had this to say about "Good Bad Times" in the press release: "You know that part in the movies when two people in a relationship are living complete opposite realities? When one thinks everything is great and the other one is about to drown? 'Good Bad Times' is the struggle of communication, time difference, distance. Like the two sides of a coin. Two sides close together that can't be separated, even though they seem to be completely different."

Hinds' last album was 2018's I Don't Run, also released via Mom + Pop. The band also features Amber Grimbergen and Ade Martin.

 

3. Baxter Dury: "I'm Not Your Dog"

Baxter Dury is releasing a new album, The Night Chancers, on March 20 via Heavenly. This week he shared another song from the album, "I'm Not Your Dog," via a video for the track. Tom Haines directed the clip, which finds Dury on the beach somewhere in a bad way (he's either been stabbed or shot). Baxter Dury really doesn't get the attention he deserves, especially not in America, and we're always out to fix that.

Previously Dury shared the album's first single, "Slumlord," via a video for the track. "Slumlord" was one of our Songs of the Week. Then he shared another song from it, "Carla's Got a Boyfriend."

Dury and Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, John Grant, Arctic Monkeys) co-produced The Night Chancers, which was recorded at Hoxa studios in West Hampstead, London in May 2019. The album is the follow-up to 2017's Prince of Tears.

A previous press release described the album as such: "From thrilling affairs that dissolve into sweaty desperation ('Night Chancers') to the absurd bloggers, fruitlessly clinging to the fag ends of the fashion set ('Sleep People'), via soiled real life ('Slumlord') social media - enabled stalkers ('I'm Not Your Dog') and new day, sleep - deprived optimism ('Daylight'), the record's finely drawn vignettes, are all based on the corners of world Dury has visited."

Dury had this to say about the album in the previous press release: "Night Chancers is about being caught out in your attempt at being free, it's about someone leaving a hotel room at three in the morning. You're in a posh room with big Roman taps and all that, but after they go suddenly all you can hear is the taps dripping, and all you can see the debris of the night is around you. Then suddenly a massive party erupts, in the room next door. This happened to me and all I could hear was the night chancer, the hotel ravers."

Dury is the son of the late Ian Dury, lead singer of Ian Dury and the Blockheads, who are known for, among other things, the 1978 single "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick," which hit #1 on the U.K. singles chart.

Read our 2017 interview with Baxter Dury.

4. Sharon Van Etten: "Beaten Down"

Sharon Van Etten released a new album, Remind Me Tomorrow, in January 2019 via Jagjaguwar. On Wednesday she shared a brand new song, "Beaten Down," via a video for the track. Nicky and Juliana Giraffe at Giraffe Studios directed the black and white video, which features Van Etten and the dancing duo of Allison and Veronica Huber in the California desert. John Congleton produced the song, which simply has a very cool vibe.

Van Etten had this to say about the video in a press release: "'Beaten Down' is about love, patience and empathy. It's about making life-changing choices and remaining strong enough to see them through."

Nicky and Juliana Giraffe collectively had this to say about the video: "Our goal was to create a striking and psychedelic video set in the California desert, a welcoming of Sharon's next chapter here. Upon hearing the song, our minds automatically drifted into stark black and white, fever dreams, dark silhouettes contrasted against a barren desert landscape. Our intention was to give Sharon's song and performance space to breathe and echo. It was important to us that the dancers were strongly connected and we're so lucky to have worked with the talented Huber Twins on this project."

Remind Me Tomorrow was our Album of the Week and one of our Top 100 Albums of 2019.

Read our in-depth interview with Sharon Van Etten on Remind Me Tomorrow and check out our exclusive photo shoot with her.

Read our review of Remind Me Tomorrow.

5. Christine and the Queens: "People, I've been sad"

Christine and the Queens (aka Héloïse Letissier) released her sophomore album, Chris, back in September 2018 via Because Music. On Wednesday she shared a brand new song, "People, I've been sad." She's also done a live performance video of the song for the YouTube channel COLORS. The song is partly in English, partly in French.

Read our 2018 interview with Christine and the Queens on Chris.

There were both English language and French language versions of Chris, with the French one having an extra track. In July 2019 Christine and the Queens also guested on the Charli XCX song "Gone," a track from her Charli album, which was shared via a video for the track and was one of our Songs of the Week. Then Charli and Christine performed "Gone" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

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6. Jehnny Beth: "Flower"

On Wednesday Jehnny Beth, frontperson for British four-piece Savages, announced her debut solo album, To Love Is to Live, and shared a new song from it, "Flower." She has also announced some tour dates. To Love Is to Live is due out May 8 via Caroline. Check out the album's cover art and Beth's tour dates here. "Flower" in an intriguing slow-burner.

In November shared the new unrelenting solo song, "I'm the Man," from the soundtrack of the Netflix/BBC show Peaky Blinders. It was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared a video for "I'm the Man."

To Love Is to Live was recorded in Los Angeles, London, and Paris with producers Flood, Atticus Ross, and longtime co-creator Johnny Hostile. The album also features The xx's Romy Madley Croft, Peaky Blinders actor Cillian Murphy, and IDLES' Joe Talbot.  

Savages released their last album, Adore Life, back in 2016 via Matador.

7. Hamilton Leithauser: "Here They Come"

Today Hamilton Leithauser (formerly of The Walkmen) shared a new song, "Here They Come." Part of the song could heard in a funny teaser video that we posted yesterday in which Leithauser got beaten up by actor/writer Ethan Hawke. The single features backing vocals by Leithauser's wife Anna Stumpf and is out now via Glassnote.

There's no word yet on when the new album from Leithauser will be released. In the teaser video Leithauser said his new album is made up of songs about real people, many of them his friends. "'Here They Come' is about a friend who tends to run from his problems," Leithauser further explained in a voice over, as he walked around New York City. "When the going gets tough, he tends to just cut and run. The song is about the specific moment when the lights are coming up in a movie theater where he's been hiding out all day."

In the teaser Leithauser then arrives at Café Carlyle (where he had a series of residency shows in January) to play the song for one of his friends, who turns out to be Hawke. Right off the bat, the actor is annoyed that Leithauser is late. Then Hawke has a violent reaction to the song.

Back in 2016 Leithauser teamed up with Rostam Batmanglij (formerly of Vampire Weekend) to release a collaborative album, I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, via Glassnote.

8. Summer Camp: "The Ugly Truth"

Summer Camp are releasing a new album, Romantic Comedy, on February 14 via Apricot Recordings. On Monday they shared another song from it, "The Ugly Truth."

Summer Camp are British married couple Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley.

Romantic Comedy ties into a documentary of the same name directed by Sankey. Romantic Comedy the album features new original songs featured in the film or inspired by the documentary.

The album includes two new songs, "Love of My Life" and "Danny and John," the band shared last May as a double A-side single. Both songs made our Songs of the Week list. "Danny and John" seems to now be titled "When Danny Met John." Then they shared another song from the album, "Women In Love," which also made our Songs of the Week list.

Romantic Comedy the documentary has screened at film festivals, including SXSW. It examines romantic comedies via clips of over 160 films and interviews with actors, filmmakers, and writers. The band performed the album live at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival last June at the Crucible Theatre (which was their first live performance since 2015). The band's last album was 2015's Bad Love.

9. Meggie Brown: "Boys Boys Boys"

Today North London-based indie rocker Meggie Brown shared a video for her new single, "Boys Boys Boys," and we were pleased to premiere it.

The video features singer Meggie Cousland coaching and frollicking about at a football game and hanging in a locker room, traditionally masculine spaces that she sneakily inserts herself into. The song itself is a hybrid of wiry post-punk guitar and a true pop sensibility.

On the making of the track, Cousland had this to say in a statement to Under the Radar: "It's a love song ultimately. I'm having fun in the song and the video with the idea that masculinity 'belongs' only to men. When you love someone you love someone and that's that, what's gender got to do with it?"

Meggie Brown has been performing as a seven-piece band since roughly last year. This lineup change inaugurated a new openness in the band that spurred the creative juices and got the band back gigging. Prior to that, Meggie Brown's 2018 single, "Coming Back Again" was produced by Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos at Edwyn Collins' studio in the Scottish Highlands. By Stephen Axeman

10. James Elkington: "Nowhere Time"

On Tuesday James Elkington announced a new album, Ever-Roving Eye, and shared its first single, "Nowhere Time," via a Tim Harris-directed video for the new song. He has also announced some new tour dates. Ever-Roving Eye is due out April 3 via Paradise of Bachelors. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the upcoming tour dates, here. The song as a bit of a Steve Gunn feel to it.

Ever-Roving Eye is the follow-up to 2017's debut album, Wintres Woma. The album features previous collaborators Nick Macri (bass) and Macie Stewart (violin). The album also includes new collaborators Lia Kohl (cello), Spencer Tweedy (drums), The Weather Station's Tamara Lindeman (vocals), and Paul Von Mertens (Brian Wilson) on woodwinds. 

A press release says Ever-Roving Eye "ropes in echoes of British library musics, horror-film soundtracks, demure psychedelia, and more rocking elements of folk-rock." 

Speaking about "Nowhere Time" in a press release, Elkington says: "A more cosmic acquaintance of mine once told me that when your life is going in the direction you want it to, it's the universe's way of telling you that you are in the place you're meant to be. Does that sound likely? Not at all, but the song asks the question anyway."

11. King Krule: "Alone, Omen 3" 

King Krule (aka British musician Archy Marshall) is releasing a new album, Man Alive!, on February 21 via True Panther/Matador. On Wednesday shared another song from the album, "Alone, Omen 3," via a video for the track.

Jocelyn Anquetil directed the "Alone, Omen 3" video and was co-written with Marshall. The theme of the song and video is "you're not alone." 

In a press release Marshall further explains: "I felt like I had gotten out of a dark place, and I was on a high. I appreciated the depression... but I also liked how I felt better in the here and now." 

Previously King Krule shared a self-directed video for the album's first single "(Don't Let the Dragon) Draag On." Man Alive! features album versions of all four songs contained in last year's King Krule short film, Hey World!, that featured Marshall performing the aforementioned "(Don't Let the Dragon) Draag On" and "Alone, Omen 3," alongside "Perfecto Miserable" and "Energy Fleets."

King Krule's last album was The OOZ, released in October 2017 via True Panther in the U.S. (and XL in the U.K.). (It was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017.)

Man Alive! was made with The OOZ's co-producer Dilip Harris. Marshall performed most of the instruments himself, apart for the saxophone, which was played by Ignacio Salvadores. Marshall began recording in London, but partway through the sessions he found out he was going to be a dad for the first time and moved up to the North West to be close to the family of his baby's mother.

"I should've had it all wrapped up before my daughter was born," said Marshall in a previous press release. But after his daughter Marina was born in March 2019, Marshall took a few weeks off and then finished the album. "I was still adding tracks until she was about six months old (i.e mid-September)," he said.

Marshall said that getting out of his South London suburban neighborhood was good for him. "It was just the easiness of it. There really is nothing else to do here, especially when it turns to winter. Everyone I know has jobs, whereas I'd sit on my arse all day sometimes not doing anything, then I'd go to the pub with them when they finished work. It became a bit habitual. Then, right in the middle of the record, this big change came in my life that I didn't really comprehend initially. It was like, 'Oh, I'd better get my shit together!' To be honest, I was really glad to get away from all that so I could focus on more pressing matters - like keeping a child alive and stuff."

Speaking about the album's themes and lyrics, Marshall said: "More and more, I've been put off by the intention of speaking about what's going on in society as a black-and-white thing, or trying to get to the bottom of why we're in this position. So the album is mostly made up of snapshots and observations. There are a lot of real-time-and-place moments, songs talking about walking through the park just over there and getting a head injury [don't ask! - Ed.], then there are other tracks which are just simplicity, looking at one particular situation and reflecting on it as somehow being super-profound."

Regarding musical influences on Man Alive!, Marshall added: "I've been listening to a lot of weird stuff, I guess. There was some Argentinian music, some Brazilian Bossa Nova - I love the way they sing, how soft they are. I also listened to the radio, which I never did until recently. I don't like it but I suppose it might influence me a bit."

Read our 2017 interview with King Krule on The OOZ.

 

12. Moses Sumney: "Cut Me"

Moses Sumney is releasing a new double album, græ, in two parts, with the first part coming digitally on February 21 (that release date was just announced) and then the second part coming on May 15, which is also when the full album is released physically via Jagjaguwar. Today Sumney shared a new song from the first part, "Cut Me." Sumney also recently debuted another song from part one, "Conveyor," via a live video session at the Moog Sound Lab in Asheville, North Carolina (check that out here).

Sumney has also announced a residency at Los Angeles' Bootleg Theater from February 13 to March 4, in which the album will be playing and Sumney will be giving weekly free performances on Wednesday nights.

Here's how the press release describes the residency: "Between the hours of 12 and 5PM on Monday through Saturday from February 13th through March 4th, fans will be able to enter the Bootleg Theater where græ will be playing in immersive, 3D Audio via Amazon Music HD on an Echo Studio. The space will aim to create community and conversation among those representations of græ-ness. Throughout the course of the residency there will be weekly free live performances by Moses Sumney every Wednesday night, starting on February 12th into the first week of March."

Previously Sumney shared græ's first single, "Virile," via a self-directed video for the track. "Virile" was one of our Songs of the Week. Sumney then shared another song from the first part, "Polly," which is the final track of part one. Then he shared a new song from the second part, "Me in 20 Years," via a lyric video (it was one of our Songs of the Week).

Græ is Sumney's sophomore album, the follow-up to 2017's full-length debut, Aromanticism, and 2018's Black in Deep Red, 2014 EP. Aromanticism was our #1 Debut Album of 2017 and one of our overall Top 100 Albums of 2017. The album is his first since relocating to Asheville, North Carolina.

Read our 2017 interview with Moses Sumney on Aromanticism.

13. Vundabar: "Petty Crime"

Boston duo Vundabar (Brandon Hagen and Drew McDonald) are releasing a new album, Either Light, on March 13 via Gawk. On Wednesday they shared another song from the album, "Petty Crime," via an amusing self-directed video for the track inspired by The Sopranos.

Previously Vundabar shared Either Light's first single, "Burned Off," via a playful video for the track. "Burned Off" was one of our Songs of the Week.

Either Light is the follow-up to 2018's Smell Smoke and finds the band working with a producer for the first time, Patrick Hyland (Mitski).

Hagen had this to say about Either Light in a previous press release: "The album is about the transitional lightness that follows a period of heaviness. After years of being caught up in a dark period marked by sickness, strife and worry, and using it as the context in which I saw myself, I suddenly found I'd outgrown that story. With that came a feeling of lightness that was opposite the feeling which preceded it."

Honorable Mentions: 

These 6 songs almost made the Top 10. The Radio Dept. was in there until the last minute.

EOB (Ed O'Brien of Radiohead): "Shangri-La"

Irreversible Entanglements: "No Más"

The Radio Dept.: "The Absence of Birds"

Sufjan Stevens and Lowell Brams: "The Unlimited"

Store Front: "Rip the Price Off"

Hayley Williams: "Cinnamon"

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Bat For Lashes: "The Boys of Summer" (Live Don Henley Cover)

Best Coast: "Different Light"

Justin Bieber: "Intentions" (Feat. Quavo)

Black Midi: "Sweater"

 

David Bowie: "Nuts"

Built to Spill: "Bloody Rainbow" (Daniel Johnston Cover)

Daughter of Swords: "Prairie Winter Wasteland"

 

Disq: "Loneliness"

Gladie: "When You Leave The Sun"

Halsey: "Experiment On Me"

Jon Hopkins: "Scene Suspended"

Carly Rae Jepsen: "Let's Be Friends"

Kamaiyah: "Set It Up" (Feat. Trina)

Khalid and Disclosure: "Know Your Worth"

Christian Lee Hutson: "Lose This Number"

Meek Mill: "Believe" (Feat. Justin Timberlake)

Nicki Minaj: "Yikes"

Mush: "Existential Dread"

NOVA ONE: "violet dreams"

 

Phantogram: "Pedestal"

 

Lido Pimienta: "Eso Que Tu Haces"

Pottery: "Texas Drums Pt I & II"

Rustin Man: "Jackie's Room" 

Wasted Shirt: "All Is Lost"

Hayley Williams: "Creepin'" and "Sudden Desire"

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