10 Best Songs of the Week: Flight of the Conchords, Lala Lala, Little Dragon, and More | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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10 Best Songs of the Week: Flight of the Conchords, Lala Lala, Little Dragon, and More

Plus BADBADNOTGOOD, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Young Galaxy, Ryley Walker, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Sep 28, 2018 Richard Ashcroft
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We tend to avoid including cover versions in our Songs of the Week list, as they are not truly new songs, but this week we have included two notable ones in our main list. We also rarely include live songs in our Top 10 songs, but have made a big exception this week.

Elsewhere on the website in the last week we posted interviews with Joan of Arc and The Flaming Lips. Lala Lala‘s The Lamb was this week’s Album of the Week.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Lala Lala, Metric, Marissa Nadler, The Joy Formidable, and Mount Eerie. Plus we posted reviews of various DVDs, Blu-rays, films, TV shows, and books.

Don’t forget that our new print issue, which features Kamasi Washington on the cover, is out now.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 10 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. Flight of the Conchords: “Father & Son” (Live on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert)

Beloved New Zealand musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords (Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement) appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert this week. They performed the new song “Father & Son,” a hilarious new track with Clement the father and McKenzie the son, and were interviewed by Colbert (which you can watch as well below).

Now, this is a first. I don’t think we’ve ever included a live song in our Songs of the Week list, let alone one performed on a late night TV show, let alone as our #1 song. And sure, the band have performed the song live before (we found a YouTube video of them performing it in Dallas in 2016) and may record and release a studio version at some point, but this is the first time, to our knowledge, it’s been heard by the wider world in an official capacity. From a comedy songwriting viewpoint, “Father & Son” is an expert creation. Unlike some of Flight of the Conchords’ best-known songs, it’s not spoofing any particular artist, and at the start it really feels like a heartfelt father and son duet about grief and losing their wife/mother, until the first punchline is revealed.

Flight of the Conchords have been touring the last couple of years as part of the “Flight of the Conchords sing Flight of the Conchords Tour.” Back in January it was announced that there would be a new HBO live comedy special featuring the duo. But then in March McKenzie fell down some stairs and broke two bones in his left hand, thus postponing their 2018 tour and the special. Now the special has been filmed, it was recorded at London’s Eventim Apollo theater, and it will air on HBO on Saturday, October 6 and will feature new material. Previously they shared an amusing teaser video for the special.

The duo had an acclaimed TV show (also titled Flight of the Conchords) that ran for two seasons on HBO (starting in 2007), in which they starred as two hapless New Zealand folk singers also named Bret and Jemaine who were trying to make it in New York City. They also released two comedy albums and an EP on Sub Pop, the last one being 2009’s I Told You I Was Freaky. There has been talk over the years of a Flight of the Conchords movie. Meanwhile the duo has kept busy on separate acting and musical pursuits.

Feel free to read our 2008 cover story article on Flight of the Conchords.

2. Lala Lala: “See You At Home”

Lala Lala is the project of Chicago-based Lillie West. Her new album, The Lamb, came out today via Hardly Art and it was our Album of the Week. “See You At Home” was not released as a pre-release single for the album, but the album-closer is one of our favorite songs from The Lamb and now that the album is out we had to include it here. The wonderful use of horns brings to mind Camera Obscura.

In his review for Under the Radar, our writer Timothy Michalik declared The Lamb “perhaps one of this year’s finest indie rock records to come out of Chicago, if not the country.”

The Lamb is the follow up to Lala Lala’s 2016’s Sleepyhead.

West had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “The Lamb was written during a time of intense paranoia after a home invasion, deaths of loved ones and general violence around me and my friends. I started to frequently and vividly imagine the end of the world, often becoming too frightened to leave my house. This led me to spend a lot of time examining my relationships and the choices I’d made, often wondering if they were correct and/or kind.”

Previously The Lamb‘s “Water Over Sex” was one of our Songs of the Week and we also shared the more low-key and haunting “Dove” (which was an honorable mention in our Songs of the Week list). Today West also shared a video for “Scary Movie.” It features footage her parents filmed of each other before she was born. Watch it here.

Read our review of Lala Lala’s The Lamb.

3. BADBADNOTGOOD and Little Dragon: “Tried”

This week Swedish electro-pop band Little Dragon and Canadian instrumental hip-hop/jazz band BADBADNOTGOOD teamed up for a new song, “Tried.” The song features lead vocals from Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano and is out now via Innovative Leisure.

BADBADNOTGOOD had this to say about the collaboration in a press release: “We’ve all been big fans of Little Dragon for years, and had a chance to play some shows and hang out with them recently, which eventually led to this collaboration. They’re a truly captivating and unique group of musicians, and we’re really excited to share this song with them and hope to work together again in the future!”

Little Dragon had this to say: “We first met BADBADNOTGOOD at SXSW several years ago and we were struck by their raw sweaty energy. We got really excited when they sent us an instrumental idea, it had a beautiful fragile mood that felt reminiscent of a classic but still new. We are super excited to share the track.”

Little Dragon released their last album, Season High, back in April 2017 via Loma Vista. Back in February they shared a brand new song not found on that album, “Sway Daisy,” and in March they shared another new song, “Best Friends.” Both songs were released as a 12-inch single in April. In September 2017 they also shared another new song not found on Season High, “Peace of Mind,” which featured the guest vocals of ‘90s R&B icon Faith Evans (as well as those of Little Dragon singer Yukimi Nagano).

BADBADNOTGOOD’s last album was 2016’s IV.

Also read our 2017 Self-Portrait interview with Little Dragon.

4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra: “Hanoi 06”

New Zealand-born/Portland-based Unknown Mortal Orchestra (mainly the project of Ruban Nielson) released a new album, Sex & Food, back in April via Jagjaguwar. This week they announced another new 2018 album, IC-01 Hanoi, and shared a track from it, the nine-minute long “Hanoi 06,” which has a free jazz feel to it. The album was recorded in the Vietnamese city of Hanoi, hence its title, and is an instrumental album.

The album was recorded during the sessions for Sex & Food, when they were recording at Hanoi’s Phu Sa Studios. As well as featuring Ruban Nielson, his longtime collaborator Jacob Portrait, and his brother Kody Nielson, the sessions included local musician Minh Nguyen (on Sáo Trúc, Đàn Môi, and Vietnamese percussion) and Nielson’s father, Chris (on Flugelhorn, saxophone, and keyboards).

A press release compares the album to Miles Davis’ experimental 1972 album On the Corner.

Read our 2017 interview with Unknown Mortal Orchestra about Sex & Food.

Read our 2015 interview with Unknown Mortal Orchestra about Multi-Love.

5. Young Galaxy: “The Future”

Montréal electro-pop band Young Galaxy (Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless) are taking a break, this week they announced an indefinite hiatus. But before they do, they have released today one more EP, Snow Leopard, which they also announced this week. This week they also shared a video for the EP’s first single, the fittingly titled “The Future.” Below is a statement from the band about their hiatus.

Snow Leopard features material recorded during the sessions for their last album, Down Time, which came out back in April. The three-song EP also includes the tracks “Snow Leopard” and “Backwards Love.”

Ramsay and McCandless are married and Young Galaxy have had different lineups around them over the years. Young Galaxy have released six albums in total, from 2007’s Young Galaxy up to Down Time.

Here’s the band’s statement (seemingly written by McCandless) on their hiatus:

“Young Galaxy has been the singular site of all our creative coordinates since 2006. Generatively, as source, as the conduit for all our content, and as the bloom of each album cycle, it is the flower we have presented to all those who want to listen, see, and appreciate.

YG has had a linear movement until now with Stephen and I as its central driving force. And to satisfy our need to change and be challenged, each album bloomed differently than the last with loved and varied people to help present it. But now the two of us see that it is a matter of survival, personally and creatively, that we transform our singular process from its linear movement to multiple processes / branched movements.

Young Galaxy will go on hiatus so that we can go inside, stir it up, and regenerate. There will be many more Ramsay and McCandless blooms but they will have new and varied origins, conduits, and presentations. We both wish to focus on solo work, interdisciplinary collaborations, and ways of presenting content beyond prescribed music industry limitations.

Most of all, we want to thank you, the fans, for your support. To all who have listened, come to our shows and kept in touch, you have truly been the reason we have continued to love doing this and believe in it, through the ups and downs of these past 12 years. Thank you again.

We will have lots to announce in the coming months. We will see you soon.

caterpillar to butterfly”

Hotel Sport directed the video for “The Future” and in a press release says it “depicts an endless wave of information, a glimpse into the future where everything is hyper-connected and meaningless. The song’s topic of anxiety and time was well suited to a barrage of disconnected images, something both visually seductive and absurd.”

Read our 2013 interview with the band.

6. Ryley Walker: “Busted Stuff” (Dave Matthews Band Cover)

Ryley Walker just released a great new album, Deafman Glance, back in May via Dead Oceans. This week he already announced a new album, The Lillywhite Sessions, but it’s not your average follow-up album. Instead he has taken an unreleased Dave Matthews Band album from 2001 and covered it track-for-track. This week he shared the album’s first single, “Busted Stuff.” The Lillywhite Sessions is due out November 16 via Dead Oceans.

Dave Matthews Band recorded the original The Lillywhite Sessions in 1999 and 2000 with producer Steve Lillywhite, as the follow-up to 1998’s Before These Crowded Streets. The band’s label rejected the album and Matthews instead teamed with producer Glen Ballard to write a new album, which only took them 10 days to write and resulted in 2001’s Everyday. The Lillywhite Sessions leaked to the Internet soon after Everyday‘s release, in the days of Napster, and some fans preferred it to Everyday. The Lillywhite Sessions were never officially released, but most of its songs were reworked (sometimes with new lyrics) and re-recorded with producer Stephen Harris for the band’s 2002 album Busted Stuff. Dave Mathews Band have been very successful, all but their first two albums have debuted at #1 on the Billboard album charts, but they aren’t what you would call a cool band, or at least one that’s been all that embraced by indie rock fans and musicians. Walker, however, grew up listening to them. As a press release puts it: “When he was a kid growing up in the Rust Belt suburbs of Chicago, worlds away from the city’s cultural stronghold, the Dave Matthews Band taught him how to play and love music.” The album features Walker’s frequent collaborators Andrew Scott Young and Ryan Jewell.

To be honest, here at Under the Radar we were sent an advance promo copy of Walker’s The Lillywhite Sessions a few weeks back and had no idea it was a Dave Matthews Band covers album until now and have been thoroughly enjoying it. Hopefully Walker fans won’t be put off by the album’s origin and Dave Matthews Band fans will discover Walker. When Walker performs in Charlottesville, VA on December 17 it will be interesting to see if longtime Charlottesville resident Dave Matthews shows up.

7. Jay Som and Justus Proffit: “Invisible Friends”

Bay Area singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jay Som (aka Melina Duterte) has teamed up with Justus Proffit for a collaborative EP, Nothing’s Changed, which came out today via Polyvinyl. This week they shared another song from it, “Invisible Friends.” They also announced some tour dates together.

Proffit had this to say about the song in a press release: “Melina and I wanted this song to sound really big. This song is kind of Oasis inspired. Every 2-count of the song there is a note hit on the keyboard, that was inspired by Len’s ‘Steal My Sunshine.’ We generally just wanted a groovy ‘90s rock song.”

Jay Som released a fantastic album, Everybody Works, in March 2017 via Polyvinyl. (It was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017.)

Read our 2017 Pleased to Meet You interview with Jay Som.

8. Deerhoof: “Midnight, The Stars and You” (Ray Noble and His Orchestra Cover)

All work and no play does not make Deerhoof a dull band, apparently. Meaning that the ever-prolific band continue to be involved in interesting projects. Before you can say “redrum” over and over again in a creepy voice, this week the band announced a new 7-inch EP where they cover songs from Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1980 horror film The Shining. It’s fittingly titled Deerhoof Plays Music of The Shining and this week they also shared its B-side, a cover of “Midnight, The Stars and You” (the original was by Ray Noble and His Orchestra, featuring vocals by Al Bowlly, and played in the ghostly ballroom scene in the movie). The A-side is a cover of Béla Bartók’s “Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta,” also from the movie. Deerhoof Plays Music of The Shining is due out October 27 via Famous Class.

The band issued this statement about the 7-inch:

“Deerhoof plays the music of the shining. Deerhoof plays

the music of the shining. Deerhoof plays the music of the shining. Deerhoof plays the music of the shining.

Deerhoof plays the music
of the shining. Deerhoof

plays the music of the shining. Deerhoof plays the music of the shining. Deerhoof plays the music of

the shining.”

9. Westerman: “Albatross”

Will Westerman, who releases music simply under his last name, has already garnered attention for a series of singles and his 2017-released Call and Response EP. This week the West London musician announced a new EP, Ark, due for release on November 9 via Blue Flowers, and shared its first single, “Albatross.” It is the opening track to the 4-song EP.

Westerman had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Albatross’ is set on a lake in my mind where I go to escape the worries of day to day existence. It’s a more innocent and natural place. There is a growing impingement on that place as time starts to feel like it moves faster, and more demands emerge. The song looks at that threat both to the physical environment and our own psychology through the inevitability of an ever changing landscape.”

10. Jeff Tweedy: “Some Birds”

This week Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy announced new solo album, WARM, and shared a video for its first single, “Some Birds.” WARM is due out November 30 via dBpm. Sam Henrikson directed the “Some Birds” video, which features Tweedy watching himself get a haircut.

WARM was recorded in Tweedy’s studio in Chicago, The Loft. Tweedy produced and recorded the album himself and sessions also featured his son Spencer Tweedy, Tom Schick, and Wilco’s Glenn Kotche. It’s the follow-up to 2017’s Together At Last, which was a solo acoustic album that featured new versions of songs by Wilco as well as Tweedy’s side-projects Loose Fur and Golden Smog.

In a press release, Tweedy describes “Some Birds” as “like a lot of songs on WARM, being a confrontation between self and shadow self simultaneously feeling I’m to blame and not to blame, present and gone, and utterly confused, but determined to hold someone accountable.”

In the press release Henrikson had this to say about directing the “Some Birds” video: “When I got the call to collaborate with Jeff on the video for ‘Some Birds’ it was a thrill and an honor. The concept for the video naturally highlights Jeff’s amazing songwriting and lyrical genius. However, it also exploits another of Jeff’s gifts—his uncanny sense of men’s fashion and hairstyles. I’m excited to share it with Tweedy fans!”

Also read our 2015 joint interview between Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Australian singer/songwriter/guitarist Courtney Barnett, from our Best of 2015 issue.

Honorable Mentions:

These 8 songs almost made the Top 10.

Richard Ashcroft: “Born to Be Strangers”

Cursive: “It’s Gonna Hurt”

Rose Droll: “Your Dog”

It Looks Sad.: “Bike”

Punch Brothers: “Let It Happen” (Tame Impala Cover)

Sune Rose: “After All”

Spiritual Cramp: “The Erasure”

Young Jesus: “Saganism vs. Buddhism”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Lily Allen: “Mad World” (Tears For Fears Cover)

Azure Ray: “Palindrome”

The Chemical Brothers: “Free Yourself”

Coco O.: “1000 Times”

Kevin Devine: “Into the Great Wide Open” (Tom Petty Cover)

Empress Of: “Love For Me”

Gabby’s World: “Winter Withdraw”

Johnny Marr: “Jeopardy”

Muse: “Pressure”

Oh Pep!: “Hurt Nobody”

R.E.M.: “E-Bow the Letter” (Live at London’s St. James’ Church, 2004) (Featuring Thom Yorke)

Robyn: “Honey”

Erika Spring: “Less”

Barbra Streisand: “Don’t Lie to Me”

Joe Strummer: “Czechoslovak Song / Where Is England”

St. Vincent: “Slow Slow Disco”

THYLA: “Candy”

Chad VanGaalen: “Monopoly Arp”

Yaeji: “One More”

Annika Zee: “Lydia”

Two Older Songs That Appeared Online This Week:

This week Fleet Foxes shared a rarity, “Isles,” which was originally released as a B-side to “White Winter Hymnal” in the U.K. in 2008 and has never been officially released outside of Europe. It’s featured on a new vinyl box set, First Collection 2006 - 2009, due out November 9 via Sub Pop. Also, this week Broken Social Scene shared “Old Dead Young,” which was originally a bonus track on the vinyl edition of the band’s last album, 2017’s Hug of Thunder, but is now online for all to hear. Neither track is a new song, so they aren’t really eligible for our Songs of the Week list, but we thought we’d include them at the end anyway.

Broken Social Scene: “Old Dead Young”

Fleet Foxes: “Isles”

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September 30th 2018

I read the article you shared, it was awesome and left a deep impression on me, thank you for sharing this great article and meaning.

October 1st 2018

hurt nobody would have been my first pick in this list

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January 1st 2020

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