10 Best Songs of the Week: Jessie Ware, Palehound, Thundercat and Tame Impala, and More | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, April 22nd, 2024  

10 Best Songs of the Week: Jessie Ware, Palehound, Thundercat and Tame Impala, and More

Plus The Clientele, Julie Byrne, Beach House, Protomartyr, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Apr 28, 2023
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Welcome to the fifteenth Songs of the Week of 2023. There were a few notable album announcements this week that provided some fodder for this list, but there was also an album out today that we love and pulled two songs from.

Remember that we recently announced our new print issue, Issue 71 with Weyes Blood and Black Belt Eagle Scout on the covers.

In the past week or so we posted interviews with Braids, Julia Jacklin, Bria, Duran Duran, Esther Rose, and others.

In the last week we reviewed some 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, followed by some honorable mentions. Check out the full list below.

1. Jessie Ware: “That! Feels Good!”

Jessie Ware released a new album, That! Feels Good!, today via Interscope. Stream it here. We gave the album a rave 9/10 review and all of its singles made our Songs of the Week lists, so it stands to reason that there would also be some great album tracks to consider for this week’s Songs of the Week. We narrowed it down to four tracks we really liked and settled on album opener and title track “That! Feels Good!” It really sets the empowering tone for Ware’s latest nu-disco epic, in which she declares: “Everybody gets a little modest and shy sometimes/Just remember, pleasure is a right!”

This week Ware also announced some new tour dates.

Ware had this to say about the album in a press release: “This is for me. Well, it’s for as many people as possible. But more than anything, I knew the album I wanted to make, and who I wanted to make it with. I’ve put aside years of anxiety, imposter syndrome, and all that fretting and feeling like I’m not good enough. That’s not to take anything away from what’s come before because I’m incredibly proud of it all, but I’m in a place, today, where I feel fully happy and relaxed in who I am and the music I’m making.”

Last July Ware shared the album’s “Free Yourself,” a new song that was described as “a taster session” to her fifth album. It was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared a video for “Free Yourself.” Then when the album was announced, Ware shared the album’s lead single, “Pearls,” which was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then Ware shared a fun music video for “Pearls” in which she did indeed “shake it til the pearls fall off,” as the lyrics to the song go. The album’s third single, the lush “Begin Again,” was shared via a music video and was again #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

Of the new album, Ware said in a previous press release: “That! Feels Good! stems from over 10 years of understanding who I am, and who I enjoy being as an artist and the thrill of performance.”

Ware added: “That! Feels Good! is a record to be enjoyed, to sing and shout the words back at me and to each other. It’s a culmination of hard work and total pleasure appreciating the job I have and the worlds I get to dive into. I have never felt so ready for people to hear something I’ve made.”

That! Feels Good! is the follow-up to the acclaimed What’s Your Pleasure?, which was #5 on our Top 100 Albums of 2020 list. A deluxe edition, What’s Your Pleasure? The Platinum Pleasure, came out in 2021 and featured eight bonus tracks, including six new songs (stream it here).

Read our print magazine article on Jessie Ware and What’s Your Pleasure?

Read our extended Q&A interview Jessie Ware on What’s Your Pleasure?

Read our 2017 Self-Portrait interview with Jessie Ware.

Read our 2014 interview with Jessie Ware.

2. Palehound: “The Clutch”

On Tuesday, Palehound (aka Ellen Kempner) announced a new album, Eye on the Bat, and shared its first single, “The Clutch,” via a music video. Eye on the Bat is due out July 14 via Polyvinyl. Brittany Reeber and Adam Kolodny directed the video for “The Clutch.” Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.

Eye on the Bat is the follow-up to 2019’s Black Friday, although in 2021 Kempner teamed up with Melina Duterte of Jay Som to form Bachelor and release their debut album, Doomin’ Sun, via Polyvinyl.

Eye on the Bat was recorded across 2022 at Flying Cloud Recordings in the Catskills, with recording done in various brief sessions. Kempner (who uses they/them pronouns) co-produced the album with Sam Owens (Big Thief, Cass McCombs) and also worked with multi-instrumentalist Larz Brogan, a longtime Palehound collaborator.

Of the new single, Kempner says: “‘The Clutch’ is the very first song I wrote for this album, back in 2020 right when lockdown started. I had been on a tour that was sliced in half by the onset of the pandemic and we had to apocalypse road trip back to New York across the country from Oregon, where our next show had been scheduled for. While that was happening, I was also having a triggering romantic experience with somebody I didn’t know too well, and by the time I got home my whole body seemed to be spinning in turmoil. Writing and producing this song grounded me and helped me process a new future and self that I hadn’t anticipated.”

The video’s co-director, Brittany Reeber, had this to add: “Adam (Kolodny, co-director), El, and I wanted to create something that captured the charged, raw drive of the song. Inspired by slick, visceral performance videos of the early ’00s, we got ourselves the biggest space we could find and Adam created a visual aesthetic with the circular track, rotating head and alternating key lights that ultimately build (along with the band’s electric performance) to an epic and dizzying climax.”

Summing up the new album, Kempner says: “It’s about me, but it’s also about me in relation to others. After hiding for so long—staying inside and hiding your life and hiding yourself from the world—I was ready. I think I flipped.”

Check out our COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check-In interview with Palehound from 2020.

Check out our 2021 interview with Bachelor.

Check out our My Favorite Album interview with Palehound.

3. Thundercat and Tame Impala: “No More Lies”

On Tuesday, Thundercat (aka Stephen Lee Bruner) and Tame Impala (aka Kevin Parker) teamed up for a new song, “No More Lies.” It is Thundercat’s first new song in three years and is out now on Brainfeeder. The two artist’s styles and vocals blend together effortlessly on the funky track.

“I’ve wanted to work with Kevin since the very first Tame Impala album,” says Thundercat in a press release. “I feel that I knew that us working together would be special. I’ve been excited about this song for a long time and hope to create more with Kevin in the future.”

Thundercat’s last album, It Is What It Is, came out in 2020 via Brainfeeder. It featured Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, Childish Gambino, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole, and Zack Fox. In 2022, Thundercat covered “Fly Like An Eagle” for the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack, which also featured Tame Impala. Last year Bruner also made his acting debut, in the Disney+ show Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett.

In March, Tame Impala shared a new song, “Wings of Time,” that was written for the soundtrack of the recent movie, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

Last year Tame Impala shared a remix of Elvis Presley’s 1970 song “Edge of Reality” for the soundtrack to the biopic, Elvis, directed by Baz Luhrmann.

Also last year, Tame Impala shared a collaboration with Diana Ross on the song “Turn Up the Sunshine,” which was also featured on the soundtrack to the film Minions: The Rise of Gru. It was one of our Songs of the Week.

2022 also found Tame Impala collaborating with Gorillaz on the song “New Gold,” which also featured The Pharcyde’s Bootie Brown and appeared on Gorillaz’s recent album, Cracker Island. “New Gold” also made our Songs of the Week list.

Tame Impala’s last album was 2020’s The Slow Rush.

Read our 2015 cover story article on Tame Impala’s Currents and our bonus digital interview with Parker.

4. The Clientele: “Blue Over Blue”

This week, England’s The Clientele announced a new album, I Am Not There Anymore, and shared its first single, “Blue Over Blue,” via a music video. I Am Not There Anymore is due out July 28 via Merge. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the band’s upcoming tour dates, here.

The Clientele is led by vocalist/lyricist/guitarist Alasdair MacLean and also features bassist James Hornsey and drummer Mark Keen. I Am Not There Anymore is the follow-up to 2017’s Music for the Age of Miracles, which was the band’s first new album in seven years. Sessions for the new album began in 2019, but took a while because of the pandemic and the band’s desire to experiment in the studio.

“We’d always been interested in music other than guitar music, like for donkey’s years,” says MacLean in a press release, with post-bop jazz, contemporary classical, and electronic music all cited as new influences for the band. “None of those things had been able to find their way into our sound other than in the most passing way, in the faintest imprint.”

The lyrics on I Am Not There Anymore are partially inspired by memories of the death of MacLean’s mother in the summer of 1997, a delayed sense of mourning. He all says the album is about “the memory of childhood but at the same time the impossibility of truly remembering childhood… or even knowing who or what you are.”

MacLean says the album’s first single is about getting lost in the woods in London with his son, a scary adventure: “‘Blue Over Blue’ is about getting lost in the woods on Hampstead Heath on an autumn day with my two-year-old son on my shoulders—he loved it and wanted to play hide and seek. I knew he was a ticking time bomb as I had no food with me and was trying to find my way back to a path.”

5. Jessie Ware: “These Lips”

The other new Jessie Ware album track we really liked was lush album-closer “These Lips.” “I’m telling you that these two lips/Could do so much more,” she sings in the chorus. “These lips are wanted in a hundred countries, maybe more,” she later boasts. We also considered for this list “Beautiful People” and “Shake the Bottle,” in which Ware channel’s Madonna’s “Vogue” in some of the spoken word sections of the song.

6. Julie Byrne: “Summer Glass”

On Monday, Julie Byrne announced a new album, The Greater Wings, and shared its first single, “Summer Glass,” via a music video. She also announced some tour dates. The Greater Wings is Byrne’s first new album in six years and is due out July 7 via Ghostly International. Le’Andra LeSeur directed the “Summer Glass” video. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the tour dates, here.

Byrne’s last album was 2017’s acclaimed Not Even Happiness.

“My hope for The Greater Wings is that it lives as a love letter to my chosen family and as an expression of the depth of my commitment to our shared future,” Byrne says in a press release. “Being reshaped by grief also has me more aware of what death does not take from me. I commit that to heart, to words, to sound. Music is not bound to any kind of linear time, so in the capacity to record and speak to the future: this is what it felt like to me, when we were simultaneous, alive, occurring all at once. What it has felt like to go up against my edge and push, the love that has made it worth all this fight. These memories are my values, they belong with me.”

Byrne started recording the album with her longtime creative partner, the late Eric Littmann (who produced Not Even Happiness). She finished the album with producer Alex Somers (Sigur Rós, Julianna Barwick), recording in the Catskills of New York.

7. Beach House: “American Daughter”

On Record Store Day last Saturday Beach House released a new EP, Become. But now the five-song EP is available on all streaming services via Sub Pop and you can stream it here. It features songs recorded in the sessions for their 2022 album, Once Twice Melody, but not included on that album. Our favorite of the new songs was EP opener “American Daughter” and so it makes this list.

Additionally, the EP will get a regular physical release on black vinyl, CD, and cassette on May 19 via Sub Pop.

The duo collectively had this to say about the EP in a previous press release: “The Become EP is a collection of five songs from the Once Twice Melody sessions. We didn’t think they fit in the world of OTM, but later realized they all fit in a little world of their own. To us, they are all kind of scuzzy and spacious, and live in the spirit realm. It’s not really where we are currently going, but it’s definitely somewhere we have been. We hope you enjoy these tunes.”

Read our rave review of Once Twice Melody here. It was #3 on our Top 100 Albums of 2022 list.

Read our exclusive 2018 interview with Beach House on 7.

8. Protomartyr: “Elimination Dances”

Detroit-formed post-punkers Protomartyr are releasing a new album, Formal Growth in the Desert, on June 2 via Domino. On Wednesday they shared its second single, “Elimination Dances,” via a music video. Yoonha Park directed the video. Check out the band’s upcoming tour dates, including some newly announced European shows, here.

Protomartyr is vocalist Joe Casey, guitarist Greg Ahee, drummer Alex Leonard, and bassist Scott Davidson.

A press release says that “Elimination Dances” was “named after a chapter from a 1950’s teen dance manual” and its title “refers to a game where ‘you get tapped out when you lose the dance,’ and that felt an apt metaphor for just surviving.”

Life is a struggle, but Casey says, “You might as well keep dancing until the tap comes.”

Park had this to say about directing the video: “My dad once told me ‘Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end the faster it goes,’ That idea along with the lyrics led to the idea of a choreographic pattern that repeats as it grows outward in an expanding spiral. The choreography repeats with each cycle but has to be danced faster and faster to keep pace with the ‘pale youth’ until eventually devolving into chaos. I recently learned that the toilet paper quote was actually by Andy Rooney.”

Previously Protomartyr shared the album’s first single, “Make Way,” via a music video.

Formal Growth in the Desert is the follow-up to 2020’s Ultimate Success Today. The album was recorded at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas. “The desert is more of a metaphor or symbol,” Casey says in a press release, “of emotional deserts, or a place or time that seems to lack life.”

Read our review of Ultimate Success Today here.

Read our 2017 interview with Protomartyr.

9. PJ Harvey: “A Child’s Question, August”

On Wednesday, PJ Harvey announced a new album, I Inside the Old Year Dying, and shared its first single, “A Child’s Question, August,” via a music video. I Inside the Old Year Dying is due out July 7 via Partisan. Steve Gullick directed the video for “A Child’s Question, August.” Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.

I Inside the Old Year Dying is Harvey’s 10th studio album and follows 2016’s The Hope Six Demolition Project, released by Vagrant. Last year she released the boxset compilation, B-Sides, Demos and Rarities, via UMe/Island.

In a press release, Harvey says the songs on I Inside the Old Year Dying offer “a resting space, a solace, a comfort, a balm—which feels timely for the times we’re in.”

After she finished touring The Hope Six Demolition Project, Harvey felt a little lost creatively, uninterested in re-entering the album-tour-album cycle, and instead focussed on poetry, composing music for the stage and screen, and reissuing her previous work. But eventually inspiration struck and the songs on I Inside the Old Year Dying “all came out of me in about three weeks,” she says.

Harvey once again worked with her longtime collaborators, producer/musicians John Parish and Flood, recording at Battery Studios, in North West London. “The studio was set up for live play, and that’s all we did,” she says matter of factly.

Summing up I Inside the Old Year Dying, Harvey says: “I think the album is about searching, looking—the intensity of first love, and seeking meaning. Not that there has to be a message, but the feeling I get from the record is one of love—it’s tinged with sadness and loss, but it’s loving. I think that’s what makes it feel so welcoming: so open.”

10. Jess Williamson: “Chasing Spirits”

Texas-born/Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Jess Williamson is releasing a new album, Time Ain’t Accidental, on June 9 via Mexican Summer. On Tuesday she shared its second single, “Chasing Spirits,” via a music video. Rocco Rivetti directed the video.

Williamson had this to say about the new single in a press release: “‘Chasing Spirits’ opens with a question: are my love songs lies now that the love is gone? You can write a deeply devotional love song about a partner and then one day break up. In that same vein, the title of this song has multiple interpretations. Chasing spirits can be a way of trying to connect with supernatural entities or one’s own higher self, and also, you order spirits at the bar or pick them up at the liquor store, maybe with a chaser.”

Previously Williamson shared Time Ain’t Accidental’s first single, “Hunter,” via a music video. “Hunter” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Time Ain’t Accidental is the follow-up to 2020’s Sorceress, although last year Williamson teamed up with Waxahatchee (aka Katie Crutchfield) to form Plains and the duo released their debut album under that name, I Walked With You A Ways, via ANTI-.

The new album was partially inspired by a breakup at the start of the pandemic and her attempts at dating again after a long relationship. Williamson worked with Brad Cook (who’d produced the Plains album), recording in Durham, North Carolina. “I kept thinking, ‘My voice feels different now—it’s been liberated,” Williamson says of the recording sessions.

Read our 2021 interview with Williamson on Sorceress.

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 10.

The Antlers: “Rains”

Beach Fossils: “Run to the Moon”

Braids: “Lucky Star”

Clark: “Dolgoch Tape”

Crumb: “Dust Bunny”

Long Beard & Ryan Galloway: “Posters”

Kevin Morby: “This Is a Photograph II”

The National: “The Alcott” (Feat. Taylor Swift)

M. Ward: “Supernatural Thing”

Wye Oak: “Every Day Like the Last”

Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 10 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:

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