8 Best Songs of the Week: HAIM, Baxter Dury, Soccer Mommy, Destroyer, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, May 30th, 2020  

8 Best Songs of the Week: HAIM, Baxter Dury, Soccer Mommy, Destroyer, and More

Plus Girl Ray, Field Music, Max Bloom, SASAMI, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Nov 22, 2019
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Welcome to another Songs of the Week. There were quite a few notable cover songs released this week, including some of the Christmas variety, but not as many strong originals as the last couple of weeks. Hence we are down to a Top 8 instead of our preferred Top 10.

Don't forget to pick up our new 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.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Beck, No-Man, Chromatics, and Juliana Hatfield, as well as two reissues by Dinosaur Jr. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

This week we also posted a new interview with Vetiver, a My Firsts interview with Girl Ray, and a The End interview with Jaakko Eino Kalevi.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 8 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. HAIM: "Hallelujah"

On Monday Los Angeles sister trio HAIM shared a brand new song, "Hallelujah," via a striking video directed by frequent collaborator Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood). The song was co-written with singer/songwriter Tobias Jesso Jr. and co-produced by Danielle Haim, Rostam Batmanglij, and Ariel Rechtshaid. The stripped back cut features all three members of the band taking turns on lead vocals, singing verses they each wrote, and the video features them on the stage of an empty theater, with Danielle being able to make objects move with a wave of her hand or have spotlights turn on or off with a click of her fingers. The song is out now via Columbia.

Danielle Haim simply had this to say about the song in a press release: "We've always wanted to write a song about our bond as sisters."

Alana Haim also had this to say about the song and what her verse is about on Twitter:

"It's a song about family, love, loss, and being thankful for it all. It's hard to talk about my verse on the song but I wanted to open about it so here I go...

"I went through a really hard time when I was 20. I woke up on a hazy October morning to find out my best friend, Sammi Kane Kraft, had passed away in a tragic car accident. It was a loss that changed my life forever. Sammi was my everything, and coming to terms with the fact that she wasn't there, that I couldn't call her, I couldn't hug her, I would never see her bright smile and sparkling eyes ever again broke me.

"It's strange but I started thinking about all the milestones in my life that she would never be a part of - like us wanting to celebrate our 21st birthdays in Vegas, or planning all the festivals we wanted to go to around the world, or knowing that when I walk down the aisle at some point she won't be standing next to me as my maid of honor.

"I had always wanted to pay tribute to her in some way and I could never put how important she was into words. It felt like there were no words in the dictionary to encapsulate how special she was. Losing her put a lot of things into perspective for me. I was so lucky to have my sisters at this time in my life. There was a point where they didn't know what to do or say or how to help and them just being there as a shoulder to cry on or as an ear to talk to got me to slowly recover.

"I'm not the same, I'll never be the same. The me before took love, friends and family for granted. Now there won't be a day that goes by where I don't tell everyone I love how special they are to me. Though I miss her everyday I know she's still here sending me little messages, little signs everywhere I go. I always look up and go I hear ya Sammi Sam! Love love love love love you too."

Este Haim also had this to say about the song and her verse on Twitter: "To me it's a song about relying on the people around you and reflecting on how different life could be if those people weren't around. I wrote my verse a few days after I'd gotten some pretty terrible news from my endocrinologist. Around that time I wasn't paying attention to my health and ignoring warning signs of a bigger issue than just my type 1 diabetes. It's an easy trap to fall into. Some diabetics go through what doctors call "diabetic burnout" where the patient essentially stops taking care of themselves because it becomes too stressful, too time consuming, too frustrating to deal with day in and day out. At the time I was feeling like type 1 diabetes was a 24-hour job that I wasn't allowed to clock out of.

"I came home from the doctor super upset and frustrated and the only two people I felt comfortable enough to talk about it with were Danielle and Alana. Sometimes it feels like they're the only two people that truly understand me and support me when I feel like giving up. They've been with me everyday supporting me and cheering me on since I was diagnosed at 14 years old. And I don't know what I would do without them always reminding me when my blood sugar is taking its toll on me that I'm 'more than my highs and lows, you got this E.' This song is for anyone struggling with chronic illness and the people around us who we truly rely on for help and guidance."

HAIM have been on a roll lately. In July they shared another brand new song, "Summer Girl," also via a video directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It was one of our Songs of the Week. Then in October they shared another brand new song, "Now I'm In It," again via a video directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. "Now I'm In It" made it to #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Hopefully this all means a new HAIM album is on the way soon.

In August HAIM also teamed with Charli XCX for "Warm," a new song on her recent album, simply titled Charli.

HAIM's last album, Something to Tell You, was released in 2017 via Columbia. Since then they have collaborated with Twin Shadow and Vampire Weekend, and appeared on Jenny Lewis' telethon.

2. Baxter Dury: "Slumlord"

On Tuesday Baxter Dury announced a new album, The Night Chancers, and shared its first single, "Slumlord," via a Tom Haines-directed video for the track. The Night Chancers is due out March 20, 2020 via Heavenly. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as Dury's upcoming tour dates, here.

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 press release describes 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: "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.

3. Soccer Mommy: "Yellow is the Color of Her Eyes"

On Tuesday Soccer Mommy (the project of Nashville native Sophie Allison) shared a seven-minute long brand new song "Yellow is the Color of Her Eyes," via a video for the track directed by Alex Ross Perry (Her Smell). She has also announced some new 2020 tour dates. "Yellow Is the Color of Her Eyes" features Mary Lattimore on harp and follows "Lucy," another new song Soccer Mommy shared in September that was one of our Songs of the Week. There's no word yet of a new album or EP. Check out the tour dates here.

Allison had this to say about the song in a press release: "'Yellow is the Color of Her Eyes' is a song that is really important to me. The song was inspired by a time when I was on the road constantly and I felt like I was losing time - specifically with my mother. It's also a song that I feel really showcases my writing when it comes to instrumentation, so it's one that makes me really proud."

Perry had this to say about making the video (which the press release describes as a short film): "The challenge of creating a 7-minute piece was daunting and irresistible in equal measure. Having just completed a film for which the color-coded design of it's various acts was of the utmost importance, Sophie's idea of collaborating on a short-form film to complement her similarly-conceived new music was irresistible. 

"Running with her idea of locations evoking where she wrote this song, the concept couldn't have announced itself more boldly. To that, I shared images from Breaking the Waves and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It wasn't until we got the footage back that I realized a dash of first-scene-of-Inception had snuck in there, as well."

Allison released her debut full-length album, Clean, back in March 2018 via Fat Possum. It was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2018. Back in January she shared a demo version of the album's "Blossom," as well as the B-side "Be Seeing You."

Read our 2018 interview with Soccer Mommy on Clean.

Read our review of Clean.

4. Destroyer: "It Just Doesn't Happen"

Destroyer (the project of Dan Bejar) is releasing a new album, Have We Met, on January 31, 2020 via Merge. On Tuesday he shared another song from it, "It Just Doesn't Happen," via a sparse visual for the track featuring dimly lit images of a snowmobile at night.

Previously Destroyer shared Have We Met's first single, "Crimson Tide," via a video for the track. It was #2 on our Songs of the Week list. Have We Met is the follow-up to 2017's ken, which was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017.

Read our interview with Destroyer on ken.

5. Girl Ray: "Like the Stars"

North London trio Girl Ray released a new album, Girl, today via Moshi Moshi. Now that the album is out, we can highlight one of our favorite album tracks from it that wasn't already a pre-release single (which wasn't hard since they only released two of those). We chose album closer "Like the Stars."

Also on Wednesday we posted our My Firsts interview with the band and you can read that here.

Previously they shared the album's first single, "Show Me More," via a video for the track. "Show Me More" was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its title track, "Girl," via a video for the song. "Girl" was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Girl Ray features Poppy Hankin (guitar/vocals), Iris McConnell (drums), and Sophie Moss (bass). Girl is their second album, the follow-up to their cleverly titled 2017-released debut album, Earl Grey (it was our Album of the Week and #3 on our Top 15 Debut Albums of 2017 list).

Girl was recorded at Electric Beach Studios in Margate with Ash Workman (Christine and the Queens, Metronomy). Whereas their debut album was a twee-pop gem, Girl is inspired by more modern and electronic pop sounds, in particular Rihanna and Ariana Grande.

Read our Pleased to Meet You interview with Girl Ray and check out our exclusive photo shoot with the band.

6. Field Music: "Money Is a Memory"

Britain's Field Music (anchored by brothers Peter and David Brewis) are releasing a new album, Making a New World, inspired by the aftermath and repercussions of World War I, on January 10, 2020 via Memphis Industries. On Wednesday they shared another song from the album, "Money Is a Memory," a song about Germany's war reparations.

A press release describes the song in more detail: "'Money Is a Memory' is about Germany's war reparations and is written from the perspective of an office worker in the German Treasury preparing documents for the final installment on reparation debts - a payment made in 2010, 91 years after the Treaty of Versailles was signed. A defining, blood-spattered element of 20th century history becomes a humdrum administrative task in a 21st century bureaucracy." 

The band's David Brewis had this to say: "The whole album is really about consequences, and how the consequences of that war are still with us. 'Money Is a Memory' is probably the most explicit example of that - decisions that were made a hundred years ago still casting a shadow. The initial premise is a bit comical - the admin assistant going through their bureaucratic duties - but buried away inside those papers you can imagine the echoes of millions of lives being turned upside down."

Previously Field Music shared Making a New World's first single, "Only In a Man's World," which was one of our Songs of the Week. Making a New World features Field Music's full live band in the recording sessions for the first time in a while.

Making a New World began when the band performed two World War I-themed shows for England's Imperial War Museum at their sites in Salford and London in January 2019. The basic tracks for the album were recorded the day after the London Imperial War Museum show. While the majority of Field Music's studio work has been put together by Peter and David Brewis, the one-day session featured Field Music's full live band (Liz Corney on keyboards, Kevin Dosdale on guitar, and Andrew Lowther on bass), with Peter and David on guitar and drums respectively. This is the first album since 2007's Tones of Town that could be considered more of a full band album.

A previous press release described the themes and inspirations of the album in more detail: "Making a New World [is] a 19-track song cycle about the after-effects of the First World War. But this is not an album about war and it is not, in any traditional sense, an album about remembrance. There are songs here about air traffic control and gender reassignment surgery. There are songs about Tiananmen Square and about ultrasound. There are even songs about Becontree Housing Estate and about sanitary towels."

The jumping off point for the Imperial War Museum performances was, as the press release explained, "an image, from a 1919 publication on munitions by the U.S. War Department, made using 'sound ranging,' a technique that utilized an array of transducers to capture the vibrations of gunfire at the front. These vibrations were displayed on a graph, similar to a seismograph, where the distances between peaks on different lines could be used to pinpoint the location of enemy armaments. This particular image showed the minute leading up to 11am on 11th November 1918, and the minute immediately after. One minute of oppressive, juddering noise and one minute of near-silence."

David Brewis explained further in the previous press release: "We imagined the lines from that image continuing across the next hundred years, and we looked for stories which tied back to specific events from the war or the immediate aftermath. In writing these songs, we felt we were pulling the war towards us - out of remembrance and into the everyday - into the now."

We interviewed Field Music earlier this year about their Imperial War Museum performances and you can read that here.

7. Max Bloom: "Bottle"

London four-piece Yuck have been fairly quiet since the 2016 release of their third album, Stranger Things, but frontman Max Bloom has kept busy, releasing several solo singles and now he's back with a new one, "Bottle," and we were pleased to premiere it on Wednesday. "Bottle" was borne of heartbreak and the collapse of a long-term relationship, which also helped motivate Bloom to start focusing on his solo music in 2017. "Bottle" bears some of the '90s alternative rock influences also found in Yuck, but takes a more melodic path. The song will be out on digital platforms this Friday via Anniversary. In the meantime listen to the song below, and find Bloom's upcoming tour dates here.

Bloom had this to say about the song in a statement: "This song is about the moment when my ex-girlfriend and I ended our relationship after eight years. It was just after Christmas, and we met up in a busy bar in Soho. She gave me a bag of Christmas presents from her family. She broke her stoicism for one second to say the words 'I always thought that we'd be together forever,' and I completely broke down. Suddenly, for the first time in eight years, I found myself completely alone. I've come a long way since then, but the way I felt at that moment will stay with me forever."

"Bottle" is Bloom's third single this year and follows "Call Me When It's Over," released in August. Bloom is at work on a solo album, which is due out next year.

Read our 2016 interview with Bloom.

8. SASAMI: "It's You"

SASAMI (aka Los Angeles based musician Sasami Ashworth) released her self-titled debut album, SASAMI, back in March via Domino. Today she surprise-released a new holiday-themed EP,  lil drmr bb, that includes the new song "It's You" and covers of Christmas classics "Little Drummer Boy" and "Silent Night." The EP was recorded in Los Angeles by Ashworth and Kyle Thomas (aka King Tuff), and mixed by Andrew Sarlo. "It's You" makes the main list, while the two Christmas covers can be found further below.

Read our Pleased to Meet You interview with SASAMI.

When the album was announced she shared a self-directed video for the new song "Jealousy," which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared a video for another new song from the album, "Free." The song featured backing vocals from Devendra Banhart, although he's not in the video, and was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then Ashworth shared a video for "Morning Comes" that featured her grandmother hosting a cooking show where she teaches you to make kimichi. The album includes the previous singles "Not the Time" and "Callous."

Then in August SASAMI shared a brand new song, "Take Care," via a self-directed video for the cut that features Ashworth on a row boat, burning things in the desert, and in a smashed up car. It was one of our Songs of the Week. At the same time she also shared a new version of SASAMI's "Free" featuring backing vocals by Tim Presley of White Fence (Devendra Banhart sang on the original version).

Honorable Mentions:

These six songs almost made the Top 10.

Beck: "Stratosphere" and "Star"

Caramel: "Golden Ways (Alexander von Mehren Remix - Golden Days)"

JFDR: "My Work" 

Amy Klein: "White Wind"

Frances Quinlan: "Now That I'm Back"

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Braids: "Eclipse (Ashley)"

Phoebe Bridgers: "Georgia Lee" (Tom Waits Cover)

Burial: "Old Tape"

Bill Callahan: "If You Could Touch Her At All" (Lee Clayton Cover)

Coldplay: "Daddy" and "Champion of the World"

Bryce Dessner: "Pope Francis"

Drive-By Truckers: "Armageddon's Back In Town"

Eddy Current Supression Ring: "Our Quiet Whisper"

HAIM: "If It Be Your Will" (Leonard Cohen Cover)

Hot Snakes: "Checkmate"

Devonté Hynes: "Hair" and "Kissed All Your Scars"

Kesha: "My Own Dance"

Courtney Love: "Mother"

Marilyn Manson: "The End" (The Doors Cover)

Paul McCartney: "Home Tonight" and "In a Hurry"

Ozzy Osbourne: "Straight to Hell" (Feat. Slash)

Peggy Sue: "Validate Me"

Post Animal: "Schedule" 

The Rentals: "Forgotten Astronaut" 

 

Maggie Rogers: "Love You For a Long Time" 

Mark Ronson and Anderson .Paak: "Then There Were Two"

SASAMI: "Little Drummer Boy" and "Silent Night"

Squarepusher: "Vortrack"

Sting and Shaggy: "Silent Night (Christmas Is Coming)"

 

Stormzy: "Own It" (Feat. Ed Sheeran & Burna Boy) 

St. Vincent: "Smoking Section (Jlin Remix)"

U2 and A.R. Rahman: "Ahimsa"

Weaves: "Internet Tears"

Whitney: "Far, Far Away" (Wilco Cover)

The Who: "I Don't Wanna Get Wise" 

Yo La Tengo: "Eight Candles"

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