10 Best Songs of the Week: Beach House, Friendly Fires, Hatchie, Say Sue Me, Jon Hassell, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, May 29th, 2024  

10 Best Songs of the Week: Beach House, Friendly Fires, Hatchie, Say Sue Me, Jon Hassell, and More

Plus Daniel Rossen, Eleanor Friedberger, Ryley Walker, Jess Williamson, Melody's Echo Chamber, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

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Songs of the Week is fairly easy to put together, there are obviously standout tracks and it’s just a case of working out the order. Other weeks there are few great tracks and it’s a real struggle. This week there was an obvious #1 in Beach House and then there were so, so many other tracks to decide between to come up with a Top 10. It took a lot of listening and re-listening to decide. Artists whose songs were also seriously considered for this week’s Top 10 include Underworld (in a new instrumental inspired by Iceland), FAN (aka The Dodos’ Meric Long), Yumi Zouma, TT (Theresa Wayman of Warpaint), Chromeo, Miya Folick, Johnny Marr, Sundan Archives, and John Maus.

Elsewhere on the website this week: Wye Oak was our Album of the Week. We posted new interviews with Loma, Hop Along, and Eels. And today we premiered a new track by British 1980s pop icon Samantha Fox, an extended 12-inch mix of “Hot Boy” by Swedish producer Johan Agebjörn (the man behind Sally Shapiro).

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 10 best this week had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared this week. Check out the full list below.

1. Beach House: “Dark Spring”

Baltimore duo Beach House (Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally) are releasing a new album, 7 (titled as such because it’s their seventh album), on May 11 via Sub Pop. Previously they shared the album’s “Lemon Glow” (which was one of our Songs of the Week) and “Dive” (which was also one of our Songs of the Week), as well as a video for “Dive.” (They also released a lengthy statement about the album.) This week they shared the album’s third single, “Dark Spring,” via a visually arresting video for the song. Zia Anger directed the black & white clip, which starts with the camera, seemingly led by flashlights, finding a house. Inside there are quick images of Legrand and Scally, as well as other visuals timed well to the song. Musically, this is Beach House fully embracing their shoegazing side and the results are glorious.

In a press release Anger says making the video was “a very organic thing made with a lot of people (who are also filmmakers), that I love and trust. An anomaly in process.”

Beach House put out two albums in 2015: Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, both via Sub Pop. In 2017 they released a B-sides and rarities compilation, fittingly titled B-Sides and Rarities, also via Sub Pop.

Read our 2017 interview with Beach House on B-Sides and Rarities.

Also read our 2015 interview with Beach House’s Victoria Legrand about Depression Cherry.

2. Friendly Fires: “Love Like Waves”

It’s been seven long years since Pala, the sophomore album by London dance-rock trio Friendly Fires, but this week they returned with a brand new single, “Love Like Waves,” and it’s a whole lot of danceable fun. The band were pretty much on hiatus from 2012 - 2017, when they announced their return. Last night they made their live return, headlining London’s O2 Academy in Brixton and they are playing some UK festivals this summer. There’s no word on their third album, but this is likely the first single from it. Friendly Fires made a splash with their 2008-released self-titled debut album, which was fueled by the singles “Paris” and “Jump in the Pool” and was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

Revisit our early 2008 interview with Friendly Fires, back when they were largely unknown.

3. Hatchie: “Sugar & Spice”

Hatchie is the project of Australian musician Harriette Pilbeam. She previously played in the bands Babaganouj and Go Violets and on May 25 she is releasing her debut EP under the Hatchie name, Sugar & Spice, via Double Whammy. This week she shared its title track via a video for the song. Hatchie has a shoegazer/dream-pop vibe, so it makes sense that in February Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie remixed previous single “Sure.” Joe Agius directed the video, which features Pilbeam in black & white with colorful words and images.

Pilbeam had this to say about the video in a press release: “Joe and I spent about an hour filming with the guys and two days drawing for the video. It’s such a fun short song, so we wanted something simple and colorful, and less serious than our previous videos. Joe came up with the concept and we took inspiration from our old school scrapbooks.”

4. Say Sue Me: “Coming to the End”

The South Korean music scene isn’t just all about K-Pop. Case in point indie rock four-piece Say Sue Me. Based in Busan, a port city in the southeastern part of the country and the second largest city in South Korea, the band are releasing their sophomore album, Where We Were Together, on April 13 via Damnably/Electric Muse. This week they shared another song from the album, “Coming to the End.” The seven-and-a-half-minute slow-burner builds to an epic guitar solo-fueled second half and also has a bit of a shoegaze vibe.

5. Jon Hassell: “Dreaming”

This week avant-garde 81-year-old trumpeter Jon Hassell announced his first album in nine years, Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume 1), which is due out June 8 on his own label, Ndeya. “Dreaming” is the album’s atmospheric and haunted first single. It sounds like a long lost jazz classic filtered through modern electronics, a track playing in the adjacent apartment in Greenwich Village, but heard through the wall, a distant train horn on a dark country night.

Hassell issued a longer statement about the album that included this excerpt: “Most of the world is listening to music in terms of forward flow - based on where the music is ‘going’ and ‘what comes NEXT.’ But there’s another angle: Vertical listening is about listening to ‘what’s happening NOW’ - letting your inner ears scan up and down the sonic spectrum, asking what kind of “shapes” you’re seeing, then noticing how that picture morphs as the music moves through Time.”

6. Daniel Rossen: “Deerslayer”

This week Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles shared a new solo song, “Deerslayer.” It will be released as a 12-inch single on Record Store Day (April 21) via Warp, with the B-side being a cover of Golden Suits’ “You’re Crossing a River.”

In 2012 Rossen released the Silent Hour / Golden Mile EP via Warp. This is his first solo music since then.

Rossen had this to say about the A-side in a press release: “‘Deerslayer’ started as an imaginary dialogue with the hunters I constantly heard roaming around outside my place in upstate, NY. They were always heard but never seen, and a constant reminder that I didn’t really belong there. Stylistically this song doesn’t really fit with the rest of the material I am working with now, but it still feels true to the experience I had. So I’d like it to exist in the world, and record store day seems like a great opportunity to give it a special physical release.”

Rossen had this to say about the B-side: “‘You’re Crossing a River’ is a song by my old Dept. of Eagles bandmate, Fred Nicolaus, which he released as Golden Suits. I loved the lyric and Fred asked me to try a cover of it back when his last record came out. I tried to treat the song like I might have treated one of his tunes back in our Dept. of Eagles days, adding instrumental passages to mirror what’s going on in the lyric. If we were still making records together I would want to include this song.”

7. Eleanor Friedberger: “Make Me a Song”

Eleanor Friedberger (of the long on hiatus The Fiery Furnaces) is releasing a new album, Rebound, on May 4 via Frenchkiss. Previously she shared its first single, “In Between Stars,” as well as a video for “In Between Stars.” This week she shared another song from the album, “Make Me a Song,” via its video. Scott Jacobson directed the black & white video, which features Friedberger going for morning jogs, having a session with a no touch healer, and jumping into the pool fully clothed.

Friedberger had this to say about the song in a press release: “Despite the refrain ‘I could love you more,’ ‘Make Me a Song’ is not a love song. It was inspired by an encounter with a born-again Christian musician I met while living in Athens. Over dinner he confessed: ‘I love Jesus; Jesus is my best friend.’ I was surprised—and even more surprised later, when I was searching for the right tone and lyrics for a song that could be long, meditative, and unifying. I wanted to write a song about wanting to try harder and not knowing how; a song about writing songs that urge us to vibrate and resonate!”

Rebound is the follow-up to 2016’s New View. The album was recorded mostly by Friedberger solo, with assistance from producer Clemens Knieper. A previous press release says Rebound is “an entirely new sound for Eleanor, exchanging live instrumentation for programmed drums, a Juno synthesizer, and muted guitars, creating a sonic landscape where influences range from Stereolab and Suicide to Lena Platonos and Yellow Magic Orchestra.” Friedberger is half-Greek and traveled to Greece frequently with her family. Rebound is inspired by time she spent in Greece in late 2016 and is named after an ‘80s goth disco in Athens.

8. Ryley Walker: “Opposite Middle”

Ryley Walker is releasing a new album, Deafman Glance, on May 18 via Dead Oceans. Previously he shared the album’s lush flute-backed six-and-a-half-minute long first single, “Telluride Speed” (which was one of our Songs of the Week). This week he shared another song from the album, “Opposite Middle.”

Walker had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Opposite Middle’ was the last tune written for the record. At first it was slow. Like crawling pace. What a bummer that would have been, yeah? Somehow it worked itself out to become the only bonafide fast jammer on the record. I was thinking a lot about making my brain work better and the guitar playing of David Grubbs and Steve Hackett. I can’t play as well as either of them but I was thinking about it. Thank you for scoping this out. Really appreciate it. This one is fun to play live. Really can’t wait for the gigs.”

Deafman Glance is the follow-up to 2016’s Golden Sings That Have Been Sung and 2015’s Primrose Green. Walker produced the album with LeRoy Bach, recording it at the Minbal (now JAMDEK) Studios in Chicago, at USA Studios, and in LeRoy’s kitchen. Cooper Crain (Bitchin’ Bajas, Cave) recorded and mixed the album and played synths on it. Bach played some guitar and piano on the album. Deafman Glance also features 6-string players Brian J Sulpizio and Bill Mackay, Andrew Scott Young and Matt Lux on bass, Mikel Avery and Quin Kirchner on drums/percussion, and Nate Lepine on flute and saxophone.

9. Jess Williamson: “Mama Proud”

Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Jess Williamson is releasing her new album, Cosmic Wink, on May 11 via Mexican Summer. It’s her first for the label and finds her expanding her sound a bit (in fact the album’s opening single, “I See White,” sounds a bit like former Mexican Summer artist Weyes Blood). Previously “I See White” was one of our Songs of the Week. This week she shared another song from the album, “Mama Proud.”

Williamson had this to say about the song in a press release: “Recording this song was a huge departure for me musically, and that felt a little unnerving at the time. This song is about making a big decision and accepting all of the consequences and lingering questions…. We layered maybe 9 or 10 of my vocals to create the layers of harmony on the ‘dance’ section and then Dan Duszynski (the co-producer and engineer of the album) added the jazzy drums and piano behind it. The repeating vocals in the outro were a completely unplanned, spontaneous thing. I just started singing the oohs out of nowhere really and we kept it and added more vocals. It felt like that idea came from somewhere else and we grabbed a hold of it before it got away.”

10. Melody’s Echo Chamber: “Breathe In, Breathe Out”

This week Melody’s Echo Chamber, the project of French musician Melody Prochet, officially announced her long-awaited second album, Bon Voyage, and shared a video for its first single, “Breathe In, Breathe Out.” Bon Voyage is due out June 15 via Fat Possum.

Bon Voyage is her first album in six years, following her self-titled debut album from 2012, which was produced by Kevin Parker of Tame Impala. This album features a different crew of psych-rock enthusiasts: Dungen’s Reine Fiske and The Amazing’s Fredrik Swahn collaborated with Prochet on Bon Voyage, which also features Gustav Esjtes and Johan Holmegaard (both from Dungen) and Nicholas Allbrook of Pond. Dungen and The Amazing are from Sweden, whereas Pond hails from Australia. In a press release Prochet calls the members of Dungen “soulmates and extreme beings, uncompromisingly intense and sensitive.”

The album was recorded in the woods of Solna, Sweden. Prochet had this to say about the album in the press release: “Swedish nature helped me to breathe and soothed me in times of anxiety. I had a majestic forest with a lake three minutes’ walk from my home. Recording sessions were a break in our lives, an escape from our frustrations as young adults, parents, musicians and embittered life jugglers. What transpired was a kind of modern fairytale full of duality: beautiful and disenchanted, happy and painful, internal and external, childish and mature, but also violent and measured. We had no structure and no limits and we stepped out of our comfort zones.”

“Breathe In, Breathe Out” is notable as it features Prochet on drums, an instrument she only learned at age 30. “It’s a special one,” she explains. “I’m used to recording with masters of drums and accepting my drum playing as not perfect but with the right intention was a big deal to me.”

The curiously named Dr D Foothead directed the animated “Breathe In, Breathe Out” video.

Last year Prochet was hospitalized after an undisclosed serious accident. She previously shared album opener “Cross My Heart” last year.

Other notable new tracks this week include:

A$AP Rocky: “A$AP Forever” (Feat. Moby)

Chromeo: “Must’ve Been” (Feat. DRAM)

DRINKS: “Corner Shops”

Bob Dylan: “He’s Funny That Way” (Neil Moret and Richard Whiting Cover), Benjamin Gibbard: “And I Love Him” (The Beatles Cover), Valerie June: “Mad About the Girl” (Nöel Coward Cover), Kesha: “I Need a Woman to Love” (Janis Joplin Cover), Kele Okereke: “My Guy” (The Temptations Cover), and St. Vincent: “And Then She Kissed Me” (The Crystals Cover)

Exitmusic: “Trumpets Fade”

FAN: “Velour”

Miya Folick: “Deadbody”

Forth Wanders: “Ages Ago”

Samantha Fox: “Hot Boy (Johan Agebjörn Extended 12-Inch Mix)”

The Get Up Kids: “Maybe”

Grouper: “Driving”

James: “Better Than That”

Joan of Arc: “Truck”

Kevin Krauter: “Rollerskate”

LANZ: “125 BPM”

Nick Lowe: “Tokyo Bay”

Johnny Marr: “The Tracers”

John Maus: “Episode”

Middle Kids: “On My Knees”

MOURN: “Barcelona City Tour”

Ryan Pollie: “Blackout”

Remember Sports: “Pull Through”

Saba: “LOGOUT” (Feat. Chance The Rapper)

SSION: “At Least the Sky is Blue (Johnny Jewel Remix)” (Feat. Ariel Pink)

Spoon: “Can I Sit Next to You (Ad-Rock Remix)”

St. Vincent: “New York (DJDS Version)”

Sundan Archives: “Nont For Sale”

Matthew Sweet: “I Belong to You”

TT: “I’ve Been Fine”

Underworld: “Brilliant Yes That Would Be”

Washed Out: “Face Up”

Yumi Zouma: “France (Grand Boulevards)”

Zola Jesus: “Ash to Bone (Johnny Jewel Remix)”

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