10 Best Songs of the Week: Japanese Breakfast, Remember Sports, Sinead O’Brien, Crumb, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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10 Best Songs of the Week: Japanese Breakfast, Remember Sports, Sinead O’Brien, Crumb, and More

Plus Rostam, Darkside, Prince, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Apr 09, 2021 Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the 13th Songs of the Week of 2021. Today we lost two giants of completely different worlds: Prince Phillip (married to Queen Elizabeth II) died at age 99, only two months before his 100th birthday, and influential rapper DMX lost his life at age 50 due to an apparent drug overdose. The Derek Chauvin trial continued this week, as did a sex trafficking investigation into GOP congressman Matt Gaetz. In lighter news, it’s been revealed that Phoebe Waller-Bridge will star in the new Indiana Jones movie (the fifth in the series and the first not to be directed by Steven Spielberg, Logan and Ford v Ferrari director James Mangold is helming it instead).

This week we launched season 2 of our Under the Radar with Celine Teo-Blockey podcast with an in-depth interview with Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips.

The Why Not Both podcast we also present interviewed Julien Baker this week.

In the last week we posted text interviews with: Eddie Griffin, Sun June, The Anchoress, and Rhiannon Giddens.

We also posted a list of the 10 best Jesus and Mary Chain songs and ranked all of the albums by Oasis.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums.

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

1. Japanese Breakfast: “Posing in Bondage”

On Thursday, Japanese Breakfast (Michelle Zauner) shared a self-directed video for her new single “Posing in Bondage.” It is the latest release from her forthcoming album Jubilee, which will be out on June 4 via Dead Oceans. She also announced a string of summer and fall tour dates, which can be viewed here.

Zauner speaks about her new song in a press release: “‘Posing in Bondage’ is a ballad about loneliness and longing, a song about two people who want so badly to connect but are never quite able to do so. No place felt lonelier than an empty grocery at 1 AM. The video is actually an epilogue to the one that will accompany our next single, here presented out of order.”

Last month, Zauner shared the song “Be Sweet” (which was #1 on our Songs of the Week) upon the album’s announcement, and would later go on to perform it on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

In a previous press release, Zauner had this to say about her new album: “I’ve never wanted to rest on any laurels. I wanted to push it as far as it could go, inviting more people in and pushing myself as a composer, a producer, an arranger.”

Zauner’s most recent album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet, came out in July 2017 on Dead Oceans and was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017. Her upcoming memoir, Crying In H Mart, will be out April 20 on Knopf. By Joey Arnone

Read our 2017 interview with Japanese Breakfast on Soft Sounds From Another Planet.

2. Remember Sports: “Out Loud”

On Tuesday, Remember Sports shared a new song titled “Out Loud.” It is the latest offering from their upcoming album Like a Stone, which will be out on April 23 via Father/Daughter.

In talking about the song in a press release, guitarist Jack Washburn states that frontwoman Carmen Perry went “full Ariana Grande” in the vocals for the song, adding that “the whispering she does on that last chorus is one of the most special moments on the record for me.”

Previously shared songs from the album are “Pinky Ring” and “Materialistic” (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). By Joey Arnone

3. Sinead O’Brien: “Kid Stuff”

On Thursday, Ireland’s Sinead O’Brien shared a video for her new song “Kid Stuff.” It is her first new music of 2021 and features production by Dan Carey (Squid, Goat Girl, black midi). The song features poetic spoken word vocals over post-punk sounds.

O’Brien speaks about the new song in a press release: “‘Kid Stuff’ shows up all different tones on different days. There’s something alive in it which cannot be caught or told. It is direct but complex; it contains chapters. This feels like our purest and most succinct expression yet.”

Last year, O’Brien released the EP Drowning in Blessings. By Joey Arnone

4. Crumb: “Balloon”

On Thursday, Brooklyn-based rock band Crumb shared two new songs, “Balloon” and “BNR,” concurrently sharing a video for “BNR.” “Baloon” makes our main Songs of the Week list, with “BNR” an honorable mention below.

Frontwoman Lila Ramani speaks about the new songs in a press release: “‘BNR’ is an ode to my favorite colors. I had a weird obsession with those colors in winter 2018-2019 and felt like they would follow me around everywhere I went. ‘Balloon’ tells the story of a girl that dances so fast in the club that her head falls off.”

Last month, the band shared the song “Trophy,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. By Joey Arnone

5. Rostam: “Changephobia”

On Tuesday, Rostam (formerly of Vampire Weekend) shared the title track from his upcoming album Changephobia, which is due out June 4 via Matsor Projects (via Secretly Distribution).

In a press release, Rostam talks about the process of creating the song, stating: “‘Changephobia’ was one of the last songs I finished writing for this album. The chorus came to me sitting at the piano in my living room; I spent weeks picking up and putting down ideas for the verses. One day I sat down with an acoustic guitar, feeling close to giving up on the song altogether: all of a sudden a new melody, a new feeling, and new words came out of me and I felt like I could be honest with myself about what I wanted to say. The song ‘Changephobia’ is partly about something we can all be guilty of, avoiding our own feelings. I think of it as a reminder not to.”

Previously shared songs from the upcoming album are “Unfold You” (which was one of our Songs of the Week), “These Kids We Knew,” and “4Runner.” Rostam’s debut solo album, Half-Light, was released in 2017 via Nonesuch. By Joey Arnone

6. Darkside: “The Limit”

On Thursday, Darkside (the duo of electronic artist Nicolas Jaar and multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington) shared a new song titled “The Limit.” It is the latest release from their upcoming second studio album Spiral, which is due out July 23 via Matador. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

“From the beginning, Darkside has been our jam band. Something we did on days off. When we reconvened, it was because we really couldn’t wait to jam together again,” states Jaar in a press release. Harrington adds, “It felt like it was time again. We do things in this band that we would never do on our own. Darkside is the third being in the room that just kind of occurs when we make music together.”

Upon the album’s announcement last December, the duo shared the song “Liberty Bell.” Their debut album, Psychic, came out in 2013 via Other People. By Joey Arnone

7. Prince: “Welcome 2 America”

On Thursday, a previously unreleased Prince album from 2010, Welcome 2 America, was announced. It is set for release on July 30 via Legacy. The album’s title track was shared as well. Even though it was written at least 11 years ago, “Welcome 2 America” is still quite relevant with lyrics like “Land of the free, home of the brave/Oops, I mean/Land of the free, home of the slave.” The song is good enough that you have to wonder why Prince held onto it. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

A press release describes Welcome 2 America as “a powerful creative statement that documents Prince’s concerns, hopes, and visions for a shifting society, presciently foreshadowing an era of political division, disinformation, and a renewed fight for racial justice.”

The deluxe version of Welcome 2 America will come with a full-length live concert video from one of Prince’s string of 2011 shows at The Forum in Los Angeles during his “Welcome 2 America” tour. The tracklist for the concert can also be viewed here.

Last year, the Prince Estate put out an expanded reissue of Prince’s 1987 album Sign O’ The Times. By Joey Arnone

8. Max Bloom: “Pedestrian”

This week, Max Bloom, the former frontman for London four-piece Yuck, announced a new solo album, Pedestrian, and shared its title track via a video for it. Pedestrian is due out June 18 via his own label Ultimate Blends. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

In February Yuck announced their breakup on the 10th anniversary of the release of their self-titled debut album. Pedestrian follows Bloom’s solo debut, Perfume, released last year.

Bloom had this to say about the album and its title track in a statement: “I was contemplating a lot of things when I was trying to come up with the lyrical themes. I listened to this instrumental a lot when I was out running, and I remember seeing the word ‘Pedestrian’ on a road sign. It made me contemplate what a pedestrian is, and what the word represents. As pedestrians, we’re all trapped in our own individual worlds but when something cataclysmic happens, we’re all brought together. I think about death a lot, and I think about what humans are and whether we are the only intelligent life in the universe. So I guess this song explores both of those feelings at the same time.”

Read our 2016 interview with Bloom.

9. New Madrid: “Are You the Wind”

On Wednesday, New Madrid returned with their newest single, “Are You the Wind,” premiering with Under the Radar.

“Are You the Wind” puts the band’s growth on full display, showing off how well the longer writing period worked for the band. The song initially begins in the band’s established lane, running through driving southern indie rock, colored by effortless guitar lines, and a propulsive drum beat.

Yet, there are new touches that give the track a fresh feel, especially the mixture of live and electronic drums, moving the track seamlessly through a shifting structure. Most notably, the middle section allows the instrumentation to fall away for a spacious ambient section, gently carried by mercurial synth tones and understated electronic percussion. Slowly the electronic percussion builds back up, joined by the live drumming for a climactic build back into the dynamic opening rhythm. It’s already quite apparent New Madrid’s newest work ratchets up both the songwriting and musicianship on display, reintroducing the band with an inventive new flair after their long hiatus.

The band says of the track: “Something about how when the wind blows invisible. Tree limbs whistle like hair running down. Weather can deliver you. ‘Are You the Wind’ is one of the first songs we started writing for the new album, but the last to find its final form. We road-tested it, opening a lot of shows with it before we set it aside. The middle section was originally a way to allow us some space to go into a trance playing live. Exploring the dynamics gave it new life and a swirling big wide sound recording it.”

New Madrid is out April 30th on Lemonade Records. By Caleb Campbell

10. Andy Stott: “Hard to Tell”

Manchester, England-based producer/musician Andy Stott is releasing a new album, Never the Right Time, on April 16 via Modern Love. This week he shared the album’s second single, “Hard to Tell,” via a video for the track. Rebecca Salvadori directed the video, which intercuts swirling camerawork with animation and is a tribute to a sculpture by Shiro Takahashi.

Stott was almost done with the new album in early 2020, but personal upheaval and no doubt the pandemic changed those plans. Never the Right Time was finally completed late last year, with vocals recorded by Alison Skidmore. A press release details the music Stott was listening to last year while working on the album: Prince, Gavin Bryars, A.R. Kane, Bohren & der Club of Gore, Robert Turman, Cindy Lee, Leila, Catherine Christer Hennix, Junior Boys, László Hortobágyi, Nídia, and Prefab Sprout.

Previously Stott shared the album’s first single, “The beginning.” His last album was 2019’s It Should Be Us.

Honorable Mentions:

These four songs almost made the Top 10.

Crumb: “BNR”

Matthew Dear: “Muscle Beach”

Spencer Krug: “Pin a Wing Above the Door”

Leon Vynehall: “An Exhale”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Lydia Ainsworth: “Sparkles & Debris”

Tony Allen: “Stumbling Down” (Feat. Sampa The Great)

Alsarah & The Nubatones: “Men Ana”

Lou Barlow: “Over You”

Crowded House: “To the Island (Tame Impala Remix)”

Matthew Dear: “Supper Times”

DMX: “X Moves” (Feat. Bootsy Collins, Steve Howe, and Ian Paice)

Fog Lake: “Catacombs”

Ganser: “Self Service (Adam Faulkner/Girl Band Remix)”

Hildegard: “Jour 1”

Jon Hopkins: “Wintergreen” (Brian and Roger Eno Cover)

Hushpuppy: “I’m At Home With You”

Iron & Wine: “Calm on the Valley”

The Isley Brothers: “Friends and Family” (Feat. Snoop Dogg)

Damien Jurado: “Tom”

LSDXOXO: “Sick Bitch”

Paul McCartney: “Slidin’ (EOB Remix)”

Red Fang: “Arrows”

Sour Widows: “Bathroom Stall”

Sufjan Stevens: “Meditation V”

Taylor Swift: “Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor’s Version)”

Sylph: “In the Morning Light”

Tkay Maidza: “Syrup”

Alan Vega: “Filthy”

v Tierra Whack: “Link”

The White Stripes: “Fell in Love With a Girl (Alternate Take)”

Years & Years: “Starstruck”

(Thanks to Joey Arnone for helping to put this week’s list together.)

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