10 Best Songs of the Week: Magdalena Bay, Ezra Furman, Julia Jacklin, Dumb, and More | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, October 2nd, 2022  

10 Best Songs of the Week: Magdalena Bay, Ezra Furman, Julia Jacklin, Dumb, and More

Plus Wild Pink and Julien Baker, Stella Donnelly, Whitney, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Aug 26, 2022
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Welcome to the 32nd Songs of the Week of 2022. This week there were three strong album tracks, songs from albums released today that weren’t previously put out as pre-release singles, that made the list.

As we started last week, we’re doing things slightly differently than we have been with Songs of the Week, with just a main Top 10 list and some honorable mentions, without the longer list of songs also released in the last week.

In the last week or so we posted interviews with Kate Bosworth, TVAM, and Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson.

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

Covers of Covers, our first album, came out at the beginning of March on CD and digitally via American Laundromat. You can stream it here. You can also buy it directly from American Laundromat, via Bandcamp, or on Amazon.

Don’t forget to pick up our double print issue, our 20th Anniversary Issue (which 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 week had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared in the last seven days. Check out the full list below.

1. Magdalena Bay: “All You Do”

Los Angeles-based electro-pop duo Magdalena Bay (aka Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin) are releasing a deluxe edition of their debut album, Mercurial World, on September 23 via Luminelle. On Wednesday, they shared a brand new song from the deluxe edition, the string-swept “All You Do,” via a video. Luke Orlando directed the video, which features the duo performing the song in front of a small seated audience, intercut with more interesting images, before it gets more expansive at the end. The song is strong enough that it’s surprising it wasn’t saved for their next album, rather than being included on a deluxe edition of their debut. But then again, the band aren’t releasing a standard deluxe edition where bonus tracks are added to the end of the album—instead Mercurial World Deluxe will feature new tracks and alternate versions weaved throughout the tracklist. View the band’s upcoming tour dates here.

Previously the band shared another deluxe edition track, Danny L Harle’s remix of “Chaeri.” Speaking of remixes, Magdalena Bay recently remixed Soccer Mommy’s “Shotgun.”

In a previous press release, the duo had this to say about the deluxe edition: “The Deluxe is a mish mosh of sorts, an amalgamation of new songs that didn’t originally fit the flow of Mercurial World, of reimagined versions of existing album tracks by us and some talented remixers, plus some special secrets. When we started working on the Deluxe, we wanted it to flow like the original album did. These secrets tie the record together in a cool way, we can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”

Mercurial World came out last year via Luminelle. In addition to “Chaeri,” which was one of our Songs of the Week, it features the singles “Secrets (Your Fire),” which was #1 on our Songs of the Week, “You Lose!,” which also made our Songs of the Week list, and “Hysterical Us,” also one of our Songs of the Week. The album was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2021, and several songs from the album were featured on our Top 130 Songs of 2021 list.

Read our interview with Magdalena Bay on Mercurial World here. By Mark Redfern

2. Ezra Furman: “Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club”

Ezra Furman released a new album, All of Us Flames, today via ANTI-/Bella Union (stream it here). All of Us Flames includes “Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club,” one of its highlights that wasn’t put out as a pre-release single but is now eligible for Songs of the Week.

In the song, Furman sings about identifying with Ally Sheedy’s Allison Reynolds character in John Hughes’ 1985 teen movie classic The Breakfast Club. “The black shit on your eyes, your purse full of junk/I build my world on versions of your VHS visage,” Furman sings. Later Furman, who is a transgender woman, adds: “I watch her flicker on my TV/The teenage girl I never got to be/She’s burning like a torch out in a field that’s all her own.” It’s a haunting and powerful song.

Furman shared All of Us Flames’s “Point Me Toward the Real” in early March, which was her first single for ANTI-. “Point Me Toward the Real” was about someone getting out of a psychiatric hospital and made it to #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then “Book of Our Names” followed in April. When All of Us Flames was announced in May, Furman shared its third single, “Forever in Sunset,” via a video. “Forever in Sunset” also made our Songs of the Week list. That was followed by “Lilac and Black,” also one of our Songs of the Week, and “Poor Girl a Long Way From Heaven,” again a successful Songs of the Week contender.

John Congleton (Angel Olsen, Future Islands, Sharon Van Etten) produced All of Us Flames. Furman’s last full-on album was 2019’s Twelve Nudes. In 2021, Furman surprise released a new EP that featured songs she had written for season 3 of the Netflix show Sex Education. It was fittingly titled Sex Education - Songs from Season 3 and featured three new songs, alongside two songs previously released with her former band Ezra Furman & The Harpoons in 2011. Furman has done the music for all three seasons. In 2020, Furman shared the official soundtrack for seasons 1 and 2 of Sex Education, along with a video for the song “Every Feeling.”

All of Us Flames is described as the third part of a trilogy, including 2019’s Twelve Nudes and 2018’s Transangelic Exodus.

“I started to think of trans women as a secret society across the world: scattered everywhere, but so obviously bound together, both in being vulnerable and having a shared vision to change a fundamental building block of patriarchal society,” Furman explained in a previous press release. “I’ve been building my world of queer pals, and it feels like we’re forming a gang.”

Much of the new album was written in the early months of the pandemic. “I had no time alone anymore; my house was super crowded,” Furman said. So she went for drives around Massachusetts to find quiet places to write songs.

“This is a first person plural album,” Furman said. “It’s a queer album for the stage of life when you start to understand that you are not a lone wolf, but depend on finding your family, your people, how you work as part of a larger whole. I wanted to make songs for use by threatened communities, and particularly the ones I belong to: trans people and Jews.”

Check out our 2020 interview with Furman in episode two of our official podcast’s first season.

Read our 2018 interview with Furman. By Mark Redfern

3. Julia Jacklin: “Too In Love to Die”

Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin released a new album, PRE PLEASURE, today via Polyvinyl (stream it here). The album includes “Too in Love to Die,” one of its highlights but a song that wasn’t put out as a pre-release single.

“I’m too in love to die/If this plane were to go down/Surely the love I feel for him/Would soften the ground,” Jacklin sings, later citing further examples of feeling invincible due to the strength of her love.

Previously Jacklin shared PRE PLEASURE’s first single, “Lydia Wears a Cross,” via a self-directed video for it. “Lydia Wears a Cross” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared its second single, “I Was Neon,” via a self-directed video for the song (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). Then she shared its third single, “Love, Try Not to Let Go,” via a video for the song shot in one take. “Love, Try Not to Let Go” once again landed Jacklin on our Songs of the Week list. Then earlier this week she shared its fourth single, “Be Careful With Yourself.”

PRE PLEASURE is Jacklin’s third album and the follow-up to 2019’s acclaimed Crushing and 2016’s Don’t Let the Kids Win. The album was written after the end of the world tour for Crushing and was concluded with several months of recording in Montreal with co-producer Marcus Paquin. “The songs on this record took either three years to write or three minutes,” Jacklin said in a previous press release announcing the album.

Members of Jacklin’s tour band—bassist Ben Whiteley and guitarist Will Kidman, who are both based in Canada and also in The Weather Station—played on PRE PLEASURE, as do drummer Laurie Torres and saxophonist Adam Kinner. Owen Pallett (Arcade Fire) provided the string arrangements, which were recorded by a full orchestra in Prague.

“Making a record to me has always just been about the experience, a new experience in a new place with a new person at the desk, taking the plunge and just seeing what happens,” said Jacklin. “For the first time I stepped away from the guitar, and wrote a lot of the album on the Roland keyboard in my apartment in Montreal with its inbuilt band tracks. I blu-tacked reams of butcher paper to the walls, covered in lyrics and ideas, praying to the music gods that my brain would arrange everything in time.”

Seemingly referencing the album’s title, PRE PLEASURE, Jacklin said: “A lot of the time I feel like I need to do all the work before I can enjoy my life. Whether that’s work on songs or sex, friendships, or my relationship with my family – I think if I work on them long and hard enough, eventually I’ll get to sit around and really enjoy them. But that’s not how anything works is it. It’s all an ongoing process.”

Following her huge Crushing tour, Jacklin spent some time reconnecting with music and finding her way back to the joy of listening. “Once music becomes your job, you can lose the purity of music fandom,” she explained. “I spent the last two years trying to reconnect with that. I didn’t play much, I just listened. Especially to a lot of big pop music like Céline Dion, Robyn and Luther Vandross—music that wasn’t so heavy, big feelings, big production. You lose sight of what putting on a big, beautiful song can do.”

Céline Dion was particularly important, with the Canadian singer’s 1996 hit “Because You Loved Me” being a favorite of Jacklin’s dad. She says that revisiting the song in 2020, “brought back a lot of nice, uncomplicated feelings about music. Pure joy and feeling. And as someone relatively introverted and trying to be cool, Céline was a good person for me to lock onto during this period, because she’s definitely not that. She’s dramatic as hell and incredibly cheesy. I think listening to her helped me get over myself.” If you look closely in the “Lydia Wears a Cross” video, Céline Dion is the background photo on Jacklin’s phone.

Of the themes on the new album, Jacklin said: “I care so much about the people around me, so much it makes me want to sleep forever, it feels so overwhelming. I wasn’t raised in an environment where language was used to express love and care, part of my songwriting process is me trying to rectify that, force myself to put words to those feelings”

Read our interview with Julia Jacklin on Crushing. By Mark Redfern

4. Dumb: “Pull Me Up”

On Tuesday, Vancouver DIY punk four-piece Dumb announced the release of a new album, Pray 4 Tomorrow, which will be out on November 11 via Mint. They also shared a video for a new single “Pull Me Up.” View the album’s tracklist/cover art here.

In a press release, the band’s Franco Rossino states: “It seems that these days even some of our more intelligent friends find themselves trapped in loops of cyclic discourse, in an endless battle between other chronically-online walking encyclopedias fruitlessly attempting to force the truth into submission. The song ‘Pull Me Up’ (a reference to ‘Pulled Up’ by the Talking Heads) is all about reaching out to those friends who have been inside too long, their brains fried from a repetitive strain injury.”

The band’s previous album, Seeing Green, came out in 2018 via Mint. Read our review of it here. By Joey Arnone

5. Wild Pink: “Hold My Hand” (Feat. Julien Baker)

On Tuesday, Wild Pink shared a new single, “Hold My Hand,” a duet with Julien Baker. It is the latest release from the band’s forthcoming album, ILYSM, which will be out on October 14 via Royal Mountain.

Frontman John Ross elaborates on the new single, which deals with an experience he had during cancer treatment, in a press release: “I wrote that song right after my first surgery, about lying on the operating table where a member of the surgical team held my hand right before I went under. It sounds kind of arbitrary, and like it shouldn’t have been as impactful as it was, but I felt very comforted and wanted to capture that loving feeling in the song.

“I knew pretty quickly that I wanted it to be a duet, and I’m super grateful to Julien for joining me on it. This was one of the first songs we rehearsed together as a band in the studio and David’s piano part felt great almost immediately. There were a couple moments like that in the recording process where a song just immediately fell into place as soon as we started playing it.”

Upon announcement of the new album in July, Wild Pink shared the single “ILYSM,” which was #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

ILYSM features musical contributions from J Mascis, Julien Baker, Ryley Walker, Yasmin Williams and Samantha Crain. Wild Pink’s previous album, A Billion Little Lights, came out last February via Royal Mountain. By Joey Arnone

6. Stella Donnelly: “Medals”

Australian singer/songwriter Stella Donnelly released a new album, Flood, today via Secretly Canadian. Flood includes the horn-backed “Medals,” one its highlights that wasn’t put out as a pre-release single but can now be included on Songs of the Week.

Previously Donnelly shared Flood’s first single, “Lungs,” via a video. “Lungs” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared its second single, title track “Flood,” via a video for the song. “Flood” was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared its third single, “How Was Your Day?,” via a video for the song. “How Was Your Day?” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

“I do love observing human dynamics,” Donnelly said in a previous press release, in relation to “Lungs,” the album’s opening track. “Dynamics between old best friends, or dynamics between housemates, or a relationship where the two people are broken up and haven’t spoken in years. I like getting into the mind of someone who we’ve all been at some point.”

Flood is Donnelly’s second album, the follow-up to 2019’s debut full-length album, Beware of the Dogs. Donnelly co-wrote songs with her bandmates Jennifer Aslett, George Foster, Jack Gaby, and Marcel Tussie, and the previous press release says the process “at times felt like experimental kindergarten play.” Donnelly co-produced Flood alongside Anna Laverty and Methyl Ethyl’s Jake Webb.

The album was partially written during her time in the rainforests of Australia’s Bellingen, where she took up birdwatching. During her time writing new songs she also lived in Fremantle, Williams, Guilderton, Margaret River, and Melbourne and in total she wrote 43 new songs.

“I had so many opportunities to write things in strange places,” Donnelly said. “I often had no choice about where I was. There’s no denying that not being able to access your family with border closures, it zooms in on those parts of your life you care about.”

Read our interview with Stella Donnelly on Beware of the Dogs.

Also read our rave 8.5/10 review of Beware of the Dogs. By Mark Redfern

7. Whitney: “MEMORY”

Yesterday, Chicago duo Whitney (Julien Ehlrich and Max Kakacek) shared two new singles: “MEMORY” and “COUNTY LINES.” They are the latest releases from the duo’s forthcoming album, SPARK, which will be out on September 16 via Secretly Canadian.

We debated about which song we liked best. “COUNTY LINES” is more in line with Whitney’s traditional sound, whereas “MEMORY” represents the newer direction that band has taken with SPARK and so we leaned towards the latter. “COUNTY LINES” is still an honorable mention further below.

In a press release, the band state: “The lyrics of ‘MEMORY’ illustrate someone processing and eventually accepting their fear of death. Halfway through writing the song our bandmate Will Miller sent along the chords for what would become the outro of the song without ever hearing ‘MEMORY.’ It was one of those harmonious moments where two separate ideas somehow fit together immediately. The final third speaking to the afterlife in a way we wouldn’t have been able to match with words.”

“MEMORY” features string arrangements by Trey Pollard; “COUNTY LINES” features string arrangements by Rob Moose and saxophone by Sam Gendel.

Whitney shared the single “REAL LOVE” upon announcement of the album in June, and it was one of our Songs of the Week. They later shared the album singles “TWIRL” and “BLUE.” Their previous album, Forever Turned Around, came out in 2019.

Read our My Favorite Album interview with the band. By Joey Arnone

8. Alice Boman: “Feels Like a Dream” (Feat. Perfume Genius)

On Monday, Alice Boman shared a self-directed video for her new single, “Feels Like a Dream,” a collaboration with Perfume Genius (aka Mike Hadreas). It is the latest release from Boman’s forthcoming album, The Space Between, which will be out on October 21 via [PIAS].

In a press release, Boman states: “In the past I’ve written a lot of songs about disappointments, heartbreaks and the longing for love. Being in love—I thought it would be so hard to write songs about that. Not wanting to sound too cheesy. But love can be cheesy. And this song is about how it sometimes feels like a dream to be with that someone. Especially when you’ve been wondering if you’d ever find love.

“Me and Mike have been writing to each other on Instagram here and there. Once we talked about maybe doing a cover of a mutual favorite song—Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Storms.’ When I talked to Mike about doing something together for the album I was working on, and sent him a few demos, he chose ‘Feels Like a Dream.’ I think it works beautifully as a duet—us representing and singing from the two sides of a relationship. I have listened to Perfume Genius for a long time and love his voice and sound and I’m thrilled that he wanted to be a part of this.” By Joey Arnone

9. Mamalarky: “It Hurts”

On Monday, Atlanta-based indie rock band Mamalarky shared a self-directed video for their new single, “It Hurts.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming album, Pocket Fantasy, which will be out on September 30 via Fire Talk.

In a press release, the band’s Livvy Bennett states: “Writing about this song in this context feels extremely meta because the song itself picks at what it’s like as a musician to essentially be careerizing your own experiences and emotions. It’s pretty bizarre to put out shit that is so personal—like, when someone loves a sad song you wrote it’s like…I’m sorry we’ve been down in the same way? Or, I’m glad you enjoy listening to something that was essentially an intervention that I needed to have, haha.

“‘It Hurts’ is also a bit about the one-sided narrative of songwriters writing about their lives and relationships, for that to exist out there forever and to be consumed by people who only know the song. I’m always left wondering about the other side of the story when I hear those epic heartbreak songs, we’ll just never know.

“There’s one line about being ‘a poorly drawn caricature,’ which is what it can feel like having any of your music deciphered by anyone. The goal is to draw a really moving, poignant portrait though and I feel closer to doing that with every song we put out.”

Upon announcement of the album in July, Mamalarky shared the single “Mythical Bonds.”

Mamalarky consists of Bennett on vocals and guitar, Michael Hunter (also of White Denim) on keyboards, Dylan Hill on drums, and Noor Khan on bass. Their self-titled debut LP was released last year on Fire Talk. Check out our review of it here. By Joey Arnone

10. Whitmer Thomas: “Most Likely”

On Wednesday, Whitmer Thomas shared a video for his new single, “Most Likely.” It is the latest release from his forthcoming album, The Older I Get The Funnier I Was, which will be out on October 21 via Hardly Art.

In a press release, Thomas states: “This song is about the constant shame I feel for my unshakable need to please everyone all the time. I’ll probably never know why I regret everything I did in a room the moment I walk out of it. I’ve spent way too much trying to figure out what events in the past led to me having a bad personality in the present. In the end I guess it’s a song about not knowing who in gods hell I am.”

He adds, regarding the video: “I headed back home in an attempt to capture a flash of my childhood. We shot it at Pirate’s Cove on the outskirts of where I grew up. It’s one of the only places in my hometown that has stayed the same for my entire lifetime. They barely have credit card machines. It’s the best. I’d spend many summer days there, while my mom’s band would play, stealing dollars from her tip jar to buy some dippin dots ice cream. I never pulled the jet ski scheme but thought about it a lot. People get so drunk they’ll be there for 16 hours trying to sober up to drive back home. Plenty of time to let somebody take a spin on a jet ski you don’t own.”

Upon announcement of the album, Thomas shared the single “Rigamarole,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. By Joey Arnone

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 10.

Badge Époque Ensemble: “All Same 2 Each, Each Same 2 All”

Tim Burgess: “Sure Enough”

Drugdealer: “Someone to Love”

Scout Gillett: “slow dancin’”

Julia Jacklin: “Be Careful With Yourself”

The National: “Weird Goodbyes” (Feat. Bon Iver)

Tegan & Sara: “Faded Like a Feeling”

Whitney: “COUNTY LINES”

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

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