9 Best Songs of the Week: The Flaming Lips, Muzz, Bright Eyes, Liela Moss, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, July 5th, 2020  

9 Best Songs of the Week: The Flaming Lips, Muzz, Bright Eyes, Liela Moss, and More

Plus Club Intl, Skullcrusher, Art Feynman, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

May 29, 2020
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Welcome to the 21st Songs of the Week of 2020. It’s another week under quarantine, the same as the last week. Except this week there was a new tragedy with the death of George Floyd, who died when he was arrested by Minneapolis police officers and they allegedly used obsessive force, pinning him down so that he couldn’t breathe (it was all captured on camera). This led to massive protests in Minneapolis and elsewhere, which turned violent, leading to a Minneapolis police precinct being set on fire last night. This morning during the protests the police arrested CNN journalist Omar Jimenez and his crew live on the air, just for doing their jobs (despite the freedom of the press and all that). Conservative conspiracy theorists responded on social media that the whole arrest was staged. Meanwhile, President Trump tried to regulate social media due to his unhappiness with Twitter applying a fact-check to some of his tweets and then he sent out a tweet calling the protestors “THUGS” and threatening that “when the looting starts, the shooting stars.” So on top of the pandemic, it wasn’t a great week to be an American. 

In terms of this week’s new songs, the pickings were somewhat slim, perhaps partly because Monday was Memorial Day, meaning less new tracks of note were shared these week. But we’ve still come up with some below that we liked (albeit, only a Top 9, instead of our usual Top 10).

This week we posted a COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In interviews with Shamir and Strand of Oaks.

We also posted My Firsts interviews with Christian Lee Hutson and actress Tawny Newsome (one of the stars of the new Netflix comedy Space Force).

Our Politics Editor Steve King also posted an in-depth interview with Second Lady of Pennsylvania Gisele Fetterman.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Steven Dayvid McKellar, El Michels Affair, Public Practice, Woods, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, and Jeff Rosenstock. 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 the latest episodes of our Why Not Both podcast, one featuring White Sea and one featuring Sondre Lerche.

Last week we launched our brand new podcast, simply titled Under the Radar, with an interview with Black Belt Eagle Scout.

We’ve also been posting our long out of print and sold out Issue 8 to our Patreon page, one article at a time.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the nine 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. The Flaming Lips: “Flowers of Neptune 6” (Feat. Kacey Musgraves)

Today The Flaming Lips shared a new song, “Flowers of Neptune 6,” via a video for the track that features Kacey Musgraves on additional vocals. Frontman Wayne Coyne co-directed the video with regular collaborator George Salisbury. It features Coyne draped in an American flag and wandering a burning field in his signature clear plastic protective ball that he uses to walk over concert audiences. The standalone single is a delicate ballad, rather than one of their more experimental and noisy epics. It could almost be a B-side from The Soft Bulletin era, which is why we like it. Dave Fridmann and The Flaming Lips produced the song, which is out now on Warner Records. 

Coyne had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Flowers Of Neptune 6’ track started off as a very evocative series of melodies that Steven Drozd had woven together. The first time he played it for me I was stunned by its emotional flow. The three sections (well they seem like sections to me) seemed to hint at an older, mature mind reflecting back into a journey from younger innocence then starting to learn and understand and keeps going into the panic of becoming one with the world. The opening lyric ‘Yellow sun is going down so slow...Doing acid and watching the light-bugs glow like tiny spaceships in a row...’ is the coolest thing I’ll ever know...and is a combination of blissful, innocent, psychedelic experiences that Steven and Kacey Musgraves (she sings harmony with me on the track) and myself all discussed.”

In November 2019 The Flaming Lips recently released a new live album, The Soft Bulletin Recorded Live at Red Rocks with The Colorado Symphony Orchestra, via Warner Records. As its title suggests, the album featured a live concert of them recording their acclaimed 1999 album in its entirety with The Colorado Symphony Orchestra (and conductor André de Ridder) at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, near Denver, Colorado.

The Flaming Lips also teamed up with Los Angeles garage rock duo Deap Vally to form the collaborative band appropriately named Deap Lips. They released their debut album together, also titled Deap Lips, in March via Cooking Vinyl.

Read our exclusive interview with Wayne Coyne on his all-time favorite album, from our My Favorite Album Issue.

The Flaming Lips released another new album, King’s Mouth: Music and Songs, back in April 2019 for Record Store Day (followed by a wider release in July 2019). King’s Mouth features spoken word vocals by Mick Jones of The Clash.

Read our interview with The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne on King’s Mouth.

2. Muzz: “Knuckleduster”

Muzz is a new band that features Paul Banks of Interpol, Matt Barrick of The Walkmen, and Josh Kaufman of Bonny Light Horseman. They are releasing their self-titled debut album on June 5 via Matador. On Thursday they shared another song from the album, “Knuckleduster,” via a video for the track. It was filmed pre-pandemic in a long hallway underneath the American Treasure Tour Museum.

Banks had this to say about the video in a press release: “While we were shooting the video for ‘Red Western Sky,’ we discovered this great space underneath the museum. Unplanned, we quickly set up and started filming again—capturing the video for ‘Knuckleduster’ on the same day. Hair was greener and times were simpler back then.”

Previously Muzz shared their first song, “Bad Feeling.” It was a little more lush and chill than the post-punk assault of Interpol and was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another new song, “Broken Tambourine,” via a video for the track (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). Then the album’s third single was “Red Western Sky,” also shared via a video and also one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared a live acoustic video for “Bad Feeling.” Then they shared a live acoustic video of the three members performing the previously unreleased song from the album, “Trinidad,” separately and remotely. 

Banks and Kaufman have known each other since they were teenagers and both have also worked with Barrick before. Muzz’s earliest recordings date back to 2015. All three members wrote, arranged, and performed the album. And while Banks is usually the sole lyricist in Interpol, here all three members contributed to the lyrics.

“Josh has more training as a theory musician while Paul comes from a different perspective,” Barrick said about the process in a previous press release. “You never know how Paul’s gonna approach a song, lyrically and melodically, so it’s always unusual and exciting. Everyone is open to everyone else’s ideas. I think three is a great number of people for a band. We all had a big hand in everything.”

Kaufman had this to say about the band’s sound: “The music has this weird, super removed vibe but is also personal and emotional at the same time. If something felt natural in a simple way, we left it. I’d never heard Paul’s voice framed like that—a string section, horns, guitars—we know none of that is visionary but it felt classic and kind of classy.”

The band’s name stems from the word Kaufman used to describe the band’s sound, or as the press release put it, “the music’s subtle, analog quality and texture.”

Summing up the album Banks said: “Ultimately, the music speaks for itself. We have a genuine, organic artistic chemistry together. It’s partly a shared musical taste from youth, as with me and Josh, but then it’s also the souls of my friends that resonate with me when expressed through music. I think it’s cosmic.”

3. Bright Eyes: “One and Done”

On Wednesday Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, and Nathaniel Walcott) shared a new song, “One and Done.” It is said to be the third single from a yet-to-be-announced new album and follows “Persona Non Grata,” a new song the band shared in March that was their first new song in nine years, and “Forced Convalescence,” a new song shared in April that was one of our Songs of the Week. “One and Done” features Flea on bass and was shared via a lyric video.

The band previously announced that they had signed to Dead Oceans and had been recording, with intentions to release new music this year. They also previously announced a world tour (although those tour dates have been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19). In January they also shared a teaser video featuring them recording in the studio with an orchestra.

While Oberst has kept busy in the last decade with solo and collaborative projects (such as last year’s Better Oblivion Community Center duo with Phoebe Bridgers), the band with which he made his name have not released an album since 2011’s The People’s Key.

In a previous press release Dead Oceans co-founder Phil Waldorf had this to say about signing the band: “Bright Eyes is not just a formative artist for me personally, but for countless people who work at Dead Oceans. To get to work with a band that is part of our own origin stories in falling in love with music is the rarest of privileges. We are thrilled to be part of another great chapter in Bright Eyes enduring legacy.”

Since Bright Eyes went on hiatus, Mogis has kept busy as a producer and Walcott has worked as a film composer. Oberst’s punk band Desaparecidos also reformed for 2015’s Payola.

4. Liela Moss: “Atoms At Me”

On Tuesday, Liela Moss of The Duke Spirit announced her new solo album, Who the Power, and shared its lead track, “Atoms At Me,” and an accompanying video. Who the Power will be released August 7 on Bella Union. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

Directed and filmed by her neighbor and IYEARA singer, Paul O’Keeffe, the video features a blurred Moss dancing along to the powerful, even urgent track where she explains she needs to “break free,” and gain some clarity. Moss explained the meaning further in a press statement.

“I am dancing with the walls and grooving in the recesses. Preparing—but hesitating—to reveal more of myself. The visual quality softly distorts and abstracts me, hinting at the way we keep old emotional patterns at bay; a bit too afraid to bring them to surface, to witness your needs and fears with clarity…. If you’re going to deconstruct the modern psyche, you might as well dance to it.”

After releasing her stormy 2018 debut solo album, My Name Is Safe in Your Mouth, Moss found herself in a period of self-reflection. The new album, produced by partner/producer Toby Butler, then became an accumulation of her discoveries.

But, unlike her lush debut, Who the Power is an angry, charging critique of modern culture. “Perhaps that oscillating energy is best expressed musically via machines,” Moss says in a statement. “We spent much of our time playing with vintage synths and drum machines, building a more visceral palette. I wanted the album to convey a depth of field, to be multi-layered yet feel simple, and to groove.” By Samantha Small 

5. Club Intl: “Crush”

Producer Johnny Jewel, the owner and operator of record label Italians Do It Better and the creative force behind Chromatics and other projects, has teamed up with Public Access T.V. frontman John Eatherly, Cults vocalist Madeline Follin, and Cults collaborator Maxwell Kamins to form Club Intl. Today the band dropped their debut single, “Crush,” a tune composed of indie and synth parts that’s bound together with a mutual understanding for alternative pop. Jewel produced the song, and he directed and edited the accompanying video.

Eatherly, who was also in Be Your Own Pet, had this to say about the song in a press release: “A crush hits you like an avalanche. An electric storm throwing you towards a new destiny. The waters are deep and your feet can’t touch the ground. This song encapsulates that excitement of being forced out of your routine. The wind blows sand in your eyes...but you can't look away from the sun. Waiting for a signal from the UV rays, unable to ignore your fate. Embrace the unknown.”

Club Intl came together when a nightclub was built on top of the basement studio Eatherly records in, in the East Village area of New York.

“All of a sudden there was this nightclub above our clubhouse.” Eatherly explains in the press release. “The energy from upstairs and seeing hundreds of kids just wilding out every night, started seeping into what we were working on downstairs.”

Chromatics released a new album, Closer to Grey, last October and it’s still hoped that their long-awaited album Dear Tommy will also come out soon. By Lily Guthrie

6. Skullcrusher: “Day of Show”

On Wednesday Skullcrusher (aka Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Helen Ballentine) shared a new song, “Day of Show,” via a video for the track that plays like a hazy childhood VHS dream. It is the second single from her upcoming self-titled debut EP, which is due out June 26 via Secretly Canadian. It’s also the EP’s closing track.

“Day of Show” follows “Places/Plans,” the EP’s first single. Despite Skullcrusher’s name, both of the singles have been soft, acoustic songs with reflective lyrics.

In a press release Ballentine says she wrote “Day of Show” last summer while she felt “dazed and restless” from the heat and says it is a song about “feeling trapped in yourself.”

It is a song about feeling trapped in yourself, unable to help yourself and reluctant to let others in,” she says. “It explores the fragmented behavior and thoughts that arise from this feeling: a kind of daydreaming that can be really creative but also the darkness that also exists there.”

The upcoming EP is inspired by the media Ballentine consumed after quitting her job at a gallery, including Nick Drake, ambient electronica, and the Czech New Wave film Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. Noah Weinman produced the EP. By Julian Roberts-Grmela

7. Art Feynman: “Not My Guy”

Here We Go Magic frontman Luke Temple is releasing a new album under the name Art Feynman, Half Price at 3:30, on June 26 via Western Vinyl. On Thursday he shared another song from the album, “Not My Guy,” which was inspired by the election of President Trump and written soon after election day. “Came in through the back, jack, on America’s heart-attack,” Temple sings over Afrobeat-inspired beats. “You’re not my guy, you’re not your guy, you’re not anybody else’s guy.”

Read our recent COVID-19 Quarantine Check-In interview with Temple.

Previously Temple shared the album’s first single, “I’m Gonna Miss Your World,” via a Caroline Sallee-directed stop-motion video for the new song. “I’m Gonna Miss Your World” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then he shared another song from the album, “The Physical Life of Marilyn,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week.

A previous press release laid out the Art Feynman persona and the album as such: “As Feynman, Temple uses his dual persona like a needle and thread to stitch art pop, Nigerian highlife, worldbeat, and other less-heard genres into a musical quilt that displays his unmistakable guile and eccentric songcraft.” 

In terms of Temple’s solo work, the album is the follow-up to 2019’s Both-And, 2016’s A Hand Through the Cellar Door, and 2013’s Good Mood Fool, all underappreciated works. In 2017 Temple released his first Art Feynman album, Blast Off Through the Wicker.

 

8. Widowspeak: “Breadwinner”

On Wednesday Brooklyn-based duo, Widowspeak shared their new single “Breadwinner,” their first release in three years since 2017’s Expect the Best, the band’s fourth album. Along with the single is a stop-motion video made by Wisowspeak members Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas. Among Hamilton’s soft timbre and a muffled hi-hat, black and white images of dough rise and fall. “I’ll be the breadwinner/I’ll go instead/I’ll be the one to rise/you can stay in bed,” sings Hamilton.

Co-produced by Sam Evian (Cass McCombs, Anna Burch) and mixed by Ali Chant (Aldous Harding, Perfume Genius, PJ Harvey), “Breadwinner” was inspired by the cover of a zine by Ian Vens, which sat on display in the duo’s home for years. It read, “OH PLEASE BABY JUST QUIT OK IF ANYTHING COMES ALONG PLEASE PROMISE ME YOULL QUIT THAT JOB.”

In a press release, Hamilton explained the full inspiration behind “Breadwinner.”

“I have to recognize all that we took for granted when I wrote this song a few years ago, or even when we were recording it last winter. There was the option to imagine a new reality for yourself, the choice to quit and start over, the possibility to support your loved ones. Obviously, there are lyrics within this song that feel so strangely on-the-nose right now (even the part about bread), and perhaps their meaning has changed since everything is different. Now feels like the only time we could possibly let this song into the world, when everyone is trying to figure out life beyond the way we earn a living, and how we’ll earn anything going forward. So, without wanting to capitalize on the heavy realities we’re all facing, we hope it brings some comfort or at least entertainment to people at home.” By Samantha Small

9. Protomartyr: “Michigan Hammers”

Detroit-formed post-punkers Protomartyr are releasing a new album, Ultimate Success Today, on July 17 via Domino. On Thursday they another new song from the album, “Michigan Hammers,” via a video for the track. Yoonha Park directed the video, which features clips from action movies and is also a play on the Detroit-set sci-fi/action classic Robocop.

Park had this to say about the video in a press release: “This video is a retelling of a well-known Michigan folk tale that describes timeless themes of greed, power, death and rebirth and nothing short of the conflict of good and evil.”
 
Frontman Joe Casey adds: “Couldn't make a ‘proper’ video due to the miasma. So why not make one using what tools remain? That's sort of what MICHIGAN HAMMERS is about I think—building with rubble. It's probably about that and mules, syndicates, too many parking lots, camaraderie, the ideal happy hour, failure, and takin' what they're givin' 'cause we're workin' for a livin' until we start takin' it to the streets. Or something like that.”

Ultimate Success Today was due out May 29, but in April it was pushed back to July 17 because of COVID-19. Previously Protomartyr shared Ultimate Success Today’s first single, “Processed By the Boys,” via a video for the song. “Processed By the Boys” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another song from the album, “Worm in Heaven,” via a video for the track.

Ultimate Success Today is the band’s fifth album and the follow-up to 2017’s Relatives in Descent and 2018’s Consolation E.P., both also released by Domino. Last year they also put out a deluxe reissue of their debut album, No Passion All Technique.

The band co-produced Ultimate Success Today with David Tolomei (Dirty Projectors, Beach House), who also mixed it. It was recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios, a late 19th century church in Upstate New York

Protomartyr is Joe Casey (vocals), Greg Ahee (guitars), Alex Leonard (drums), and Scott Davidson (bass guitar). Ultimate Success Today also features various guest musicians: Nandi Rose aka Half Waif (vocals), Jemeel Moondoc (alto sax), Izaak Mills (bass clarinet, sax, flute), and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello).

Read our 2017 interview with Protomartyr.

 

Honorable Mentions: 

These five songs almost made the Top 10.

Bad Moves: “Cape Henlopen”

Benjamin Gibbard: “Proxima B”

 

Paddy Hanna: “Cannibals”

Strange Brew · Paddy Hanna - Cannibals

Hater: “Sift”

 

Ohmme: “The Limit”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include: 

Aminé: “Riri” 

Courtney Marie Andrews: “It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault”

 

Beach Fossils: “Time” 

BROCKHAMPTON: “I.F.L,” “downside” (Feat. Ryan Beatty), and “baby bull”

The Brother Macklovitch: “Give Love To Get Some” (Feat. Leven Kali)

CARM: “Already Gone” (Feat. Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan)

Andreya Casablanca: “Talk About It”

Cigarettes After Sex: “You’re All I Want”

George Clanton, Nick Hexum: “Aurora Summer”

Cut Worms: “Castle In the Clouds”

Shirley Collins: “Wondrous Love”

Death Valley Girls: “Breakthrough” (Atomic Rooster Cover)

 

 

 

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Drakeo the Ruler: “GTA VI” and “Backflip or Sumn”

DRAKEO The Ruler · GTA VI

DRAKEO The Ruler · Backflip Or Sumn

Neil Finn: “Find Your Way Back Home” (Feat. Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie)

Flatbush Zombies: “iamlegend”

Benjamin Gibbard: “Filler” (Minor Threat Cover)

Saya Gray: “SHALLOW (PPL SWIM IN SHALLOW WATER)” 

Joensuu 1685: “Light in the Heart of Our Town”

GEMS · Joensuu 1685 - Light in the Heart of Our Town 

JPEGMAFIA: “CUTIE PIE!”

Juice WRLD: “Tell Me U Luv Me” (Feat. Trippie Redd) 

Jyoti: “This Walk” and “Cowrie Waltz”

Kamaiyah: “Extravagant”

Kate NV: “Plans”

Kelsey Lu: “Morning Dew”

Katy Kirby: “Tap Twice”

Ray LaMontagne: “Strong Enough” 

Land of Talk: “Diaphanous”

The Lemon Twigs: “Moon”

Mal Devisa: “Raw as the hands of the sun”

No Rome: “Hurry Home” (Feat. beabadoobee, Jay Som)

Orville Peck: “No Glory in the West”

Painted Zeros: “I Will Try”

Tim Presley: “Must Let Go”

The Raconteurs: “Blank Generation” (Richard Hell and the Voidoids Cover)

Real Estate: “Name” (Goo Goo Dolls Cover)

Jessie Reyez: “Headlines” (Drake Cover) 

ROSALÍA and Travis Scott: “TKN”

Slingbaum: “Behoove” (Feat. Erykah Badu, D’Angelo)

Gilles Peterson - Slingbaum, Erykah Badu and D'Angelo Exclusive & Diggin' In The Archives with Zero 7 Ibiza 2001 - BBC Sounds

Catch up on your favourite BBC radio show from your favourite DJ right here, whenever you like. Listen without limits with BBC Sounds.

Colin Stetson: “Awake You Sleepy Hearts” (Feat. David Thewlis)

Tove Lo: “sadder badder cooler”

Whitney: “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (Feat. Waxahatchee) (John Denver Cover) and “Rain” (SWV Cover)

(Special thanks to Lily Guthrie for also helping to put this week’s list together.)

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