7 Best Songs of the Week: These New Puritans, Andrew Bird, The Mountain Goats, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, October 20th, 2019  

7 Best Songs of the Week: These New Puritans, Andrew Bird, The Mountain Goats, and More

Plus King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Cass McCombs, Interpol, Stella Donnelly, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Feb 01, 2019
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After three strong weeks of Songs of the Week starting out 2019 right, this week we hit a bit of a lull. Whereas last week we had a supersized edition, with a Top 12 instead of our usual Top 10, this week we could only muster up enthusiasm for a Top 7.

Elsewhere on the website this week we posted an Artist Survey interview with Hinds, as well as an in-depth interview with Trial and Error creator and showrunner Jeff Astrof on the campaign to save the acclaimed TV comedy, which is looking for a new home after being recently canceled by NBC.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Cherry Glazerr, Girlpool, Spielbergs, MONO, Broods, Buke and Gase, Night Beats, TOY, Rustin Man, Beirut, The Dandy Warhols, The Telescopes, and Better Oblivion Community Center. Plus we posted reviews of various DVDs, Blu-rays, films, and TV shows.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the seven 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. These New Puritans: "Inside the Rose"

This week These New Puritans announced a new album, Inside the Rose, and shared a NSFW video for its title track. The song admittedly works best when accompanied by the video, which features striking imagary (and some artistic nudity) to back up the song. Inside the Rose is due out March 22 via BMG. The band have also announced some tour dates. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as the tour dates, here.

The British duo is made up of brothers Jack Barnett and George Barnett. The album is the band's first new album in six years, since 2013's Field of Reeds. It includes "Into the Fire," a new song the band shared back in November that was also one of our Songs of the Week.

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

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

2. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: "Cyboogie"

Prolific Melbourne psych-rock adventurers King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard released five albums in 2017, so who can blame them for taking 2018 off in terms of putting out new albums (although they did reissue some earlier records). But now they are back in 2019 with a video for a brand new song, "Cyboogie," which they shared this week. It has a late '70s electronic rock vibe and a retro-looking video to match. Jason Galea directed the video, and like These New Puritans, this song works better in the context of the visuals. "Cyboogie" ditches the guitars, with five of the seven members playing synths on the song. There's no word on how many albums the band plans to release this year and if this single will be featured on any of them.

3. Andrew Bird: "Sisyphus"

This week Andrew Bird announced a new album, the amusingly titled My Finest Work Yet, and shared its opening track, "Sisyphus." My Finest Work Yet is due out March 22 via Loma Vista. Bird says in a press release: "I think My Finest Work Yet is my finest work yet." The album includes "Bloodless," a politically themed song that Bird released in November and was our #1 Song of the Week. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art here.

The album tackles our current divisive political climate, as Bird explains in a press release: "I'm interested in the idea that our enemies are what make us whole-there's an intimacy one shares with their opponent when locked in such a struggle. If we were to just walk away would our enemies miss us?  How did we get to this point and how can we, through awareness of it, maybe pull ourselves out of this death spiral."

Bird adds: "There is a certain optimism to this record...it's pretty up musically though it doesn't pull any punches when it comes to the lyrics."

"Sisyphus" is named after the Greek king who was punished by Zeus "for trying to outsmart the gods and cheat death," as the press release puts it. In the myth, Sisyphus was forced to push a heavy rock up a hill over and over again, with it rolling back down after each attempt. Bird says the track "is about being addicted to your own suffering and the moral consequences of letting the rock roll."

Paul Butler produced My Finest Work Yet, which was recorded at Barefoot Recordings in Los Angeles, CA. Bird's last album, Are You Serious, was released in 2016 via Loma Vista.

4. The Mountain Goats: "Younger"

This week The Mountain Goats announced a new album, In League With Dragons, and shared its first single, the horn-backed "Younger." In League With Dragons is due out April 26 via Merge. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as their upcoming tour dates, here.

In League With Dragons follows 2017's Goths and 2015's wrestling-themed Beat the Champ. Frontman John Darnielle wrote all the songs. The Mountain Goats (songwriter and guitarist Darnielle, drummer Jon Wurster, bassist Peter Hughes, and multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas) recorded the album at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, TN. Matt Ross-Spang (Margo Price, Jason Isbell, John Prine) engineered the album, which also features additional vocal arrangements from Robert Bailey and strings performed by the Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra.

Darnielle had this to say about the album in a press release: "This album began life as a rock opera about a besieged seaside community called Riversend ruled by a benevolent wizard, for which some five to seven songs were written. When I'm focusing on a project, I always distract myself from the through-line with multiple byways, which are kind of like mini-games within the broader architecture of a long video game. As I worked on the Riversend stuff, weird noir visions started creeping in, probably under the influence of Leonardo Sciascia (a Sicilian author, he wrote mysteries) and Ross MacDonald's The Zebra-Striped Hearse, which a friend from Port Washington gave me while I was in the thick of the writing. I thought these moods helped complicate the wizards and dragons a little, and, as I thought about my wizard, his health failing, the invasion by sea almost certain to wipe out half his people, I thought about what such a person might look like in the real world: watching a country show at a Midwestern casino, or tryout pitching for an American League team years after having lit up the marquees. Finally, I wrote the title track, which felt like a drawing-together of the themes in play: rebellion against irresistible tides, the lush vistas of decay, necessary alliances. I am earnestly hoping that a new genre called 'dragon noir' will spring from the forehead of nearly two years' work on these songs, but, if not, I am content for this to be the sole example of the style."

5. Cass McCombs: "Absentee"

Cass McCombs is releasing a new album, Tip of the Sphere, on February 8 via ANTI-. This week he shared another song from it, "Absentee," via a video for the song. The video features shadow puppets and other special effects designed by Lydia Greer and Caryl Kientz of Facing West Shadow Theatre. You can also now stream Tip of the Sphere a week early over at NPR Music.

A press release describes the song as such: "In 'Absentee,' McCombs ruminates on ancestral memories of British, colonialist absentee landlords during the Irish Potato Famine, on longing, hunger, and untended places in the heart." 

Previously McCombs shared the album's first single, "Sleeping Volcanoes" (which was one of our Songs of the Week). Then he shared another song from the album, "Estrella." He also did A Take Away Show for La Blogotheque that was filmed at the Dutch National Railway Museum when McCombs was in Utrecht playing the Le Guess Who? Festival in November and featured performances of both "Sleeping Volcanoes" and "Estrella." Then he shared "The Great Pixley Train Robbery" (which was one of our Songs of the Week).

The album is the follow-up to 2016's Mangy Love, which made Under the Radar's Top 100 Albums of 2016 list. McCombs traditionally records his albums in bits and pieces in different studios over time, but took a different approach with Tip of the Sphere, recording the whole thing quickly in one location: Shahzad Ismaily's Figure 8 Studios in Brooklyn. A press release says this new approach "brought his songs a raw immediacy and a special balance of compassion and experimentation with the intent of making a more consistent statement." Sam Owens (aka Sam Evian) engineered the album, which features McCombs on guitar and vocals, as well as Dan Horne (bass), Otto Hauser (drums), and Frank LoCrasto (piano, organ, and more), as well as some guests.

Also read our 2016 interview with Cass McCombs.

6. Interpol: "Fine Mess"

Interpol (Daniel Kessler, Paul Banks, and Sam Fogarino) released a new album, Marauder, back in August 2018 via Matador. This week they shared a brand new song, the fast-paced "Fine Mess," and announced some new U.S. and European tour dates. Check out the tour dates and the single's cover art here. It's too bad "Fine Mess" didn't make it on Marauder, it's better than some of the tracks that did.

Read our 2018 interview with Interpol on Marauder.

7. Stella Donnelly: "Lunch"

Australian singer/songwriter Stella Donnelly is releasing her debut full-length album, Beware of the Dogs, on March 8 via Secretly Canadian. Previously she shared a video for its first single "Old Man," which was an honorable mention on our Songs of the Week list, but in retrospect definitely should've made the main list. This week she shared another song from the album, "Lunch," also via a video for the song.

"Lunch" is about homesickness and the challenges of being on tour. Consequently, the video features amusing footage captured on tour. Donnelly self-directed the video, shooting it with an early 2000s camcorder. Mainly the song's lyrics appear on the image, but sometimes funny subtitles show up instead.
 
Donnelly had this to say about "Lunch" in a press release: "This is my favorite song on the record. It was a massive team effort the night before I flew away on tour. A song that was only ever meant to be played on a single guitar and sung turned out to be the most intricate and textured piece of music I've ever produced. I wrote this about the feeling of displacement I get when I go on tour and come back and nothing feels the same. There's a disconnect there."

Honorable Mentions:

These five songs almost made the Top 7.

Avey Tare: "Saturdays (Again)"

The Chemical Brothers: "Got to Keep On"

Parcels: "Lightenup (Alex Metric Remix)"

Rustin Man: "The World's In Town"

Thyla: "Only Ever"

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Beach Slang: "I Hate Alternative Rock" (Bob Mould Cover)

Big Boi: "Doin' It" (Feat. Sleepy Brown) and "Return of the Dope Boi" (Feat. Killer Mike & Backbone)

Heather Woods Broderick: "Where I Lay"

CHAI: "Fashionista"

Lucy Dacus: "La Vie En Rose" (Édith Piaf Cover)

Lou Doillon: "It's You" (Feat. Cat Power) 

Empire of the Sun: "Chrysalis"

The Faint: "Alien Angel"

Melanie Faye: "Eternally 12" (Feat. Mac DeMarco)

Craig Finn: "Blankets"

HEALTH: "FEEL NOTHING"

Iron & Wine: "Passing Afternoon (Demo)" 

Maxo Kream: "Meet Again"

Memphis: "You Never Really Knew Me"

Micropixie: "The Universal" (Blur Cover)

Bob Mould: "Lost Faith"

Karen O: "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" (The Smashing Pumpkins Cover)

Partner: "Long and McQuade"

Perfume Genius and Empress Of: "When I'm With Him"

Rico Nasty: "Roof"

Soccer Mommy: "Blossom (Demo)" and "Be Seeing You"

Theophilus London: "Whiplash" (Feat. Tame Impala)

Marlon Williams: "Carried Away (Live)"

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Divyadas
February 2nd 2019
12:38am

amazing blog..

aerocitycallgirl
February 2nd 2019
12:41am

great blog thanks for sharing.

Brendi
February 6th 2019
4:13am

The Mountain Goats: “Younger” is beautiful.