10 Best Songs of the Week: Mannequin Pussy, Lauren Mayberry, Lael Neale, Slowdive, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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10 Best Songs of the Week: Mannequin Pussy, Lauren Mayberry, Lael Neale, Slowdive, and More

Plus Will Butler + Sister Squares, Katy Kirby, Steven Wilson, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Sep 01, 2023 Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the 27th Songs of the Week of 2023. It was another quiet week for new songs, but we settled on 10 we liked.

In the past week or so we posted interviews with Grian Chatten, Steven Wilson, Michael Dinner (showrunner of Justified: City Primeval), Silvertwin, Ratboys, Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Lloyd Cole, and others.

In the last week we reviewed some albums.

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

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. Mannequin Pussy: “I Got Heaven”

This week, Philadelphia-based indie punk band Mannequin Pussy shared a new song, “I Got Heaven,” via a music video. The new single is out now via Epitaph. The band starts a fall tour next week. Mason Mercer and Anthony Miralles directed the video. Check out the band’s upcoming tour dates here.

Mannequin Pussy is Colins “Bear” Regisford, Kaleen Reading, Maxine Steen, and Marisa Dabice. John Congleton produced the new song and more new music is promised soon.

Dabice had this to say in a press release: “‘I Got Heaven’ is a song intended to merge the sacred and the profane and to serve as a reminder that we are all perfect exactly as we have been made and that no one gets to decide how a life should or should not be lived. Heaven is here on a planet that gave us everything we needed to survive. Heaven is in the plants and in the water and in the animals who we share this world with. Heaven is inside of me and inside of you. The weaponization of Christianity for political means, for individual profit and power, as a tool to intentionally divide us is one of the greatest threats to our modern world and a threat to our ability to find solidarity through love. To allow the hatred and the violence and the noise to rise is to reject our sacred purpose as individuals, which is simply to love.”

The band have also announced that they are reissuing their long out of print 2016 album, Romantic, on their new Romantic Records imprint. (Pre-order it here.)

Mannequin Pussy’s last album, Patience, came out in 2019 on Epitaph. In 2021 they released the Perfect EP.

2. Lauren Mayberry: “Are You Awake?”

Earlier today, Lauren Mayberry, singer with Scottish electro-pop trio CHVRCHES, shared her debut solo song, “Are You Awake?” Mayberry has been teasing her solo single in recent weeks and previously announced some solo tour dates. Check out the tour dates here.

Mayberry co-wrote the song with Tobias Jesso Jr. and Matthew Koma. Koma produced the song, which was mixed by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent.

Mayberry had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Are You Awake?’ is a song that started on a rainy day last December with Tobias Jesso Jr. I was thinking a lot about loneliness and homesickness, and as soon as Tobias started playing the chords, the lyrics and melody came to me really quickly. I finished the song with my friend Matthew Koma, who really understood what I was trying to say.

“For a long time, I couldn’t imagine doing anything outside of CHVRCHES but I think some things that I needed to write had to be done from purely my own point of view. I never really thought I’d write a piano ballad, or a solo album full stop, so life really is full of surprises. I am really looking forward to this chapter and can’t wait for people to hear more of the music.”

Details of Mayberry’s solo album are still forthcoming.

CHVRCHES, meanwhile, recently announced a 10th anniversary reissue of their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, and shared a previously unreleased song, “Manhattan,” from it. The Bones of What You Believe (10th Anniversary Special Edition) includes four previously unreleased songs and five live recordings. It’s due out October 13 via Glassnote.

CHVRCHES also features Martin Doherty and Iain Cook. The band recently remixed “An Arrow In the Wall,” a new song by Death Cab for Cutie.

In February, CHVRCHES shared a new song, “Over,” via a music video. “Over” is the first single for the band’s new label, Island Records, and was one of our Songs of the Week. They also performed the song on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

CHVRCHES are signed to Island in America and EMI in England. The band’s last album was 2021’s Screen Violence, which came out via Glassnote.

Mayberry was one of the artists on the cover of our 20th Anniversary Issue in which she was interviewed about Screen Violence. Buy the issue from us directly here.

CHVRCHES were on the cover of one of our print issues in 2015 and you can read the in-depth 8-page 5,600-word cover story feature on the band here. You can also read our bonus digital magazine Q&A with them here.

3. Lael Neale: “I’ll Be Your Star”

On Wednesday, Lael Neale shared a brand new song, “I’ll Be Your Star,” via a self-directed music video where she plays an elementary school teacher. It was filmed at Neale’s actual elementary school. The song was recorded during the sessions for her recent album, Star Eaters Delight, released in April via Sub Pop, but instead was held back as a standalone single. Check out Neale’s upcoming tour dates here.

Neale had this to say in a press release: “Getting to make this video at my beloved elementary school felt like coming full circle. I had my first and only film class there in which I learned the spontaneous and primitive approach to making things that I’m still committed to.”

Neale’s regular collaborator Guy Blakeslee produced and mixed the song. “I’ll Be Your Star” follows “White T-Shirt,” another Star Eaters Delight outtake, which was shared in June and was one of our Songs of the Week.

Pick up our current print issue (Issue 71) to read our new interview with Lael Neale on Star Eaters Delight.

Read our rave review of the album here.

Stream the album here.

Read our 2021 interview with Lael Neale.

4. Slowdive: “alife”

Legendary ’90s shoegazers Slowdive released a new album, everything is alive, today via Dead Oceans. On Wednesday, they shared its fourth single, “alife,” via an animated music video. They also announced some new 2024 UK and European tour dates. Check out the tour dates here.

Yesterday we posted our rave review of everything is alive. Read it here.

Slowdive’s line-up remains Neil Halstead (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Christian Savill (guitar), Nick Chaplin (bass), Rachel Goswell (vocals), and Simon Scott (drums, electronics).

Halstead had this to say about the new single in a press release: “‘Alife’ is one of the first tunes we finished for the record. Shawn Everett did a really nice job with the mix. We tried so many times to figure out a good mix by ourselves and couldn’t do it…it sort of had us beaten until Shawn stepped in. We decided if he could handle that one he could probably do the whole record. Our friend Jake Nelson did a really nice animation for this song; it takes some of the imagery from the artwork and digs a little deeper into that.”

Everything is alive is the band’s first new album in six years. Previously Slowdive shared the album’s first single, “kisses,” via a music video. “Kisses” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its second single, “skin in the game,” and third single, “the slab.” Both tracks made our Songs of the Week list in a special playlist we put together.

Halstead had this to say about “kisses” and the album as a whole in a previous press release: “It wouldn’t feel right to make a really dark record right now. The album is quite eclectic emotionally, but it does feel hopeful.”

Everything is alive is the band’s fifth album and the follow-up to 2017’s self-titled album, which was their first full-length album in 22 years and first since the band reformed. It was #4 on our Top 100 Albums of 2017 list.

The new album is dedicated to Goswell’s mother and Scott’s father, as they both died in 2020. “There were some profound shifts for some of us personally,” Goswell said in the previous press release.

The record began with Halstead acting as writer and producer, working from home, and he initially saw the album as a “more minimal electronic record,” but once the rest of the band got involved it became more aligned with their signature shoegaze/dream-pop sound.

“As a band, when we’re all happy with it, that tends to be the stronger material. We’ve always come from slightly different directions, and the best bits are where we all meet in the middle,” Halstead said.

Goswell added: “Slowdive is very much the sum of its parts. Something unquantifiable happens when the five of us come together in a room.”

The album was recorded over the course of several years, starting in 2020 at Courtyard Studio, where the band have recorded before, but also in various other places. Shawn Everett (The War On Drugs, Alvvays, SZA) mixed the album in 2022.

Read our review of Slowdive.

Read our interview with Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell about the making of the album.

Slowdive’s last album of their original run was 1995’s Pygmalion. Slowdive broke up that year, although some of the members went on to form Mojave 3. The band reformed in 2014 and began playing shows again.

We interviewed Slowdive’s Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell in 2014 about the reunion and posted various articles on the band. Read our print magazine article on Slowdive’s reunion. Read our separate interviews with Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell about the reunion. Finally read our interview with Halstead and Goswell about the bands that inspired Slowdive.

5. Will Butler + Sister Squares: “Stop Talking”

Will Butler (formerly of Arcade Fire) is releasing a new self-titled album with Will Butler + Sister Squares on September 22 via Merge. On Tuesday they shared the album’s latest single, “Stop Talking,” via a lyric video. Check out the band’s upcoming tour dates here.

Butler had this to say about “Stop Talking” in a press release: “This is one of the ‘dream songs’ on the record. Emotion in dreams; dreams in reality; tired and confused. ‘Stop talking; there’s nothing to say;’ not sure if it functions as a dismissal ‘Stop!,’ or as a sign of love ‘You don’t have to say it; I already know;’ I think, like a lot of communication between people who love each other—a little of both? Like, this song is full of fear; someone expressing fear to their partner, and the partner being like, ‘There’s nothing to fear, and also, shut up, quit being crazy.’ That’s not exactly it, but there’s something of that here.”

When Will Butler + Sister Squares was announced, they shared the album’s first single, “Long Grass,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. They have also shared the album’s “Arrow of Time” and “Willows.”

Butler left Arcade Fire at the end of 2021 and had spent the preceding two years at home with his children. “I was waking up every morning and reading Emily Dickinson, until I had read every Emily Dickinson poem,” said Butler in a previous press release. “I was listening to Morrissey, to Shostakovich, to the Spotify top 50. I had unformed questions with inchoate answers.”

Sister Squares—who are Miles Francis, Julie Shore, Jenny Shore, and Sarah Dobbs—all came together through familial word of mouth. “I met Jenny—my wife!—in college, the year before I joined Arcade Fire. When I needed a band to tour Policy,” says Butler, referring to his 2015-released solo debut album, “I asked [Jenny’s sister] Julie to join because I trusted her musically. And I asked Sara, Jenny and Julie’s childhood friend, because I knew she was super talented.”

Butler initially had different intentions for his solo career and this album. “After Generations [Merge, 2020], I considered making a weird solo record. Me alone in the basement, etc., etc. Mostly I realized that what I wanted was the opposite,” he says.

He then turned to Sister Squares and asked Francis to produce the new album. “Will and I organically discovered our relationship as a production duo through making this album. We didn’t have to talk too much about things as they happened, because the music just flowed,” says Francus. “As a producer, working with Jenny, Julie, and Sara is the dream. They connect so innately. In one motion they can conjure a mood, or get at the root of a feeling.”

Read our 2015 interview with Butler on Policy.

6. Katy Kirby: “Cubic Zirconia”

This week, Katy Kirby shared a new song, “Cubic Zirconia,” via a music video. It’s her first single for ANTI-. Emma Montesi directed the video. Check out Kirby’s upcoming tour dates here.

Kirby had this to say about the song in a press release: “I’ve been trying to write this song for nearly four years, but it only came into focus for me when I fell in love with a girl for the first time. It’s an attempt to say something that I don’t think I’m smart enough to articulate outside of the song—something about how much I admire when someone is unembarrassed of being explicit about the cosmetic and aesthetic choices they make for themselves. Why wouldn’t you love the little tricks of their trade—the way they wear makeup, the clothes and mannerisms that make them feel safest and most themselves—why wouldn’t these little tricks be the most endearing artifacts of their inner essence? If you loved someone, why would you not love those choices? It’s an honor to get that close to someone–close enough to see how they construct the image of themselves with which they move through the world as best they can (as we all do). Why wouldn’t that be enough?

“Cubic Zirconia! A lab-grown diamond. A salute to whatever the world looks down on as “artificial”—even a defense of artifice. It seems like naturalness is not only a dangerously vague and subjective concept, but that whenever those concepts get invoked, the invoker is almost invariably being manipulative or even malicious. Insofar as the line between authentic/fake, natural/unnatural, organic/synthetic artificial/genuine is hopelessly thin. Insofar as it’s a line that shifts constantly and doesn’t seem to be in anyone’s interest except the people who’ve decided that they’re the most qualified to draw that line. What a useless concept. What an extremely suspicious concept to leverage in assessing someone’s worth. What a sanctimonious little scam!”

Kirby’s debut album, Cool Dry Place, came out in 2021 via Keeled Scales. Read our review of Cool Dry Place here.

7. Steven Wilson: “Economies of Scale”

On Tuesday, British musician/producer Steven Wilson announced a new album, The Harmony Codex, and shared its first single, “Economies of Scale,” via a music video. On Tuesday we also posted part one of our two-part interview with Wilson about the album. Read the interview, which was conducted by Stephen Humphries, here.

The Harmony Codex is due out September 29 via Spinefarm. A deluxe edition includes remixes/reimaginings by Interpol, Manic Street Preachers, Tears for Fears’ Roland Orzabal, and others. Charlie Di Placido directed the “Economies of Scale” video. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.

The album features Ninet Tayeb, Craig Blundell, Adam Holzman, Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto), and Sam Fogarino (Interpol).

In 2022 Wilson released his memoir, Limited Edition of One, and The Harmony Codex is based on a short story featured in that book.

“I’ve always seen my music in cinematic terms,” Wilson says in our new interview with him. “But something about this record has taken that aspect, I think, to another level. Maybe it’s the fact it was based on the short story. Maybe it’s the fact that every song seems distinctly different to every other song, and it has its own sort of internal musical world and musical vocabulary, and yet it still seems to form a cohesive whole, a cohesive journey.”

8. Ty Segall: “Void”

On Monday, Ty Segall shared a near-seven-minute-long new song, “Void,” via a music video and announced some 2024 North American tour dates. Segall co-directed the video with his wife, Denée Segall. Check out Ty Segall’s upcoming tour dates here.

A press release describes “Void” like so: “With his new single, Ty’s bringing it all in a sustained blast, beginning with a shimmering frisson of acoustic guitars, a sub-aqueous release of oxygen rising as bubbles. As we spiral into sensory isolation, each bubble seems like another life – but which one’s ours? Doors are flying open, with comings and goings. This is a trip! But it’s not the beginning of the journey to the center of whatever and what you find there. This is the delirium that comes at the end.”

Segall’s most recent solo album, “Hello, Hi”, came out in 2022 via Drag City. Also in 2022, Segall released the soundtrack to the Matt Yoka documentary Whirlybird, his first ever feature film score, also via Drag City.

9. Oneohtrix Point Never: “A Barely Lit Path”

Last week, Oneohtrix Point Never (aka Daniel Lopatin) announced a new album, Again, which is due out September 29 via Warp, but didn’t share any new music from it. Earlier this week, however, he shared its first single, “A Barely Lit Path,” via a music video. Freeka Tet directed the video, which is described as a “harrowing tale of a pair of anthropomorphized crash test dummies.” Lopatin and Tet came up with the video’s treatment together. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.

Oneohtrix Point Never’s previous album, Magic Oneohtrix Point Never, came out in 2020 via Warp. In a press release, Lopatin describes the new album as “a speculative autobiography.”

For the album’s cover artwork, Lopatin collaborated with Matias Falkbakken, who made an original sculpture for it, which was then photographed by Vegard Kleven. Then the cover and packaging was designed by Memory, which is a newly formed collaboration between Lopatin and Online Ceramics (Elijah Funk and Alix Ross).

10. Woods: “Day Moving On”

Woods are releasing a new album, Perennial, on September 15 via the band’s own Woodsist label. This week they shared two more new songs from it: “Little Black Flowers” and “Day Moving On.” “Day Moving On” was our favorite of the two and makes this list. Check out the band’s upcoming tour dates here.

Woods have been sharing two singles at a time. When Perennial was announced, Woods shared its first two singles, “Between the Past” and “White Winter Melody.” Then they shared its next two singles, “Another Side” and “Weep.”

Woods’ last album was 2020’s Strange to Explain.

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 10.

Devendra Banhart: “Nun”

Beirut: “So Many Plans”

Daneshevskaya: “Big Bird”

Helena Deland: “Bright Green Vibrant Gray”

Duran Duran: “Danse Macabre”

Peter Gabriel: “Love Can Heal”

Grrrl Gang: “Better Than Life”

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

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