10 Best Songs of the Week: Metronomy, Little Dragon, Peter Bjorn and John, Caribou, 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: Metronomy, Little Dragon, Peter Bjorn and John, Caribou, and More

Plus Shopping, Anna Calvi and Courtney Barnett, Braids, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Jan 31, 2020 Courtney Barnett
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Welcome to the fourth Songs of the Week of 2020. There are lots of bass-heavy dance-y songs in the Top 4 this week. Some of this week’s best tracks were connected to albums newly announced this week, others were standalone singles, or additional new songs from previously announced albums. Only one of the artists in this week’s Top 10 is American. The rest of the artists hail from Sweden, Australia, England, and Canada.

This week we posted My Favorite Album interviews with Black Belt Eagle Scout, actor Alan Tudyk, San Fermin, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, and Lucy Dacus.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Destroyer, TORRES, ALA.NI, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and Colony House. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

Also, Under the Radar has been partnering with Why Not Both on the second season of their podcast. So far we’ve posted this season’s interviews with Kate Nash, Marissa Nadler, and Kid Moxie, with more episodes to come every Wednesday.

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. Metronomy: “Up, Higher”

Metronomy released a new album, Metronomy Forever, last year via Because Music. Today the British band shared a new song, “Up, Higher,” via Amazon Music as an Amazon Original. The song was originally intended for Metronomy Forever, but didn’t make the final tracklist, which is a surprise because it’s as good as most of the songs that did.

The band’s founder and frontman Joseph Mount had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Up, Higher’ was one of the first tracks written for Metronomy Forever, then it was culled from the final selection! Which seems strange now as it’s such a jam. It was a track we played live on our last U.S. tour, so it’s nice to have it out there in the world now.”

Metronomy Forever included “Lately,” a new song the British band shared via a video in May 2019 (it was #1 on our Songs of the Week list). When the album was announced in June 2019 they shared a video for another new song from it, “Salted Caramel Ice Cream” (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). Then they shared the album’s “Walking in the Dark,” via a video for the track (it was also one of our Songs of the Week). Then the band shared another song from the album, “Wedding Bells,” via a lyric video for the track that features the lyrics written on a wedding program (it was also one of our Songs of the Week). Then they shared a full-on video for “Wedding Bells.”

Metronomy Forever is the follow-up to 2016’s Summer 08. Since then Mount did production work on Robyn‘s Honey (Robyn appeared on Summer 08). Mount also moved from Paris to the English countryside, which influenced the album.

Mount had this to say about Metronomy Forever in a previous press release: “What happens is when you’re making music and you enter a world where you have achieved some sort of celebrity no matter how large or small you start to think about yourself in terms of legacy and what you’re going to leave behind and then you realize that’s limited to the interest people have in you. In the end I feel completely comfortable with it. The less importance you place in any art the more interesting it can become in a way…I’m making music, I’m going to do some concerts, I need to feed my children.”

Read our 2016 interview with Metronomy.

2. Little Dragon: “Hold On”

On Tuesday Swedish electro-pop band Little Dragon announced a new album, New Me, Same Us, and shared its first single, “Hold On.” New Me, Same Us is due out March 27 via Ninja Tune. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as the band’s upcoming tour dates, here.

Little Dragon consists of vocalist Yukimi Nagano, multi-instrumentalists Håkan Wirenstarnd and Fredrik Wallin on keyboards and bass respectively, and Erik Bodin on drums and percussion. The band self-produced and self-recorded New Me, Same Us in their home-built studio in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The band collectively had this to say about New Me, Same Us in a press release: “This album has been the most collaborative for us yet, which might sound weird considering we’ve been making music together for all these years, but we worked hard at being honest, finding the courage to let go of our egos and be pieces of something bigger…. We are all on our own personal journeys, full of change, yet still we stand united with stories we believe in, that make us who we are.”

The band had this to say about “Hold On” in the press release: “It started out as a slick house track but transformed once Fred played the bass through it and we all worked it together. It became something raw and soulful. It’s a simple groove that makes us dance. We can’t wait to play it live because once we play it live it most certainly will change again.”

Little Dragon released their last album, Season High, back in April 2017 via Loma Vista. That was followed by 2018’s Lover Chanting EP. Last October they shared a brand new song, “Tongue Kissing,” that is not featured on the new album but was one of our Songs of the Week.

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

3. Peter Bjorn and John: “Drama King”

Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John are releasing a new album, Endless Dream, on March 13 via INGRID. Today they shared another song from it, “Drama King,” via a video for the track, which is surprisingly funky, thanks to a minimalist almost Afrobeat drum beat coupled with some Breeders-esque guitar lines.

The band’s John Eriksson wrote the song. Henry Moore Selder directed the video (he’s helmed all the band’s recent videos), which features a mirrored room and some old age hair and makeup.

Eriksson had this to say about the song in a press release: “Well, the title and the lyrics sort of speak for themselves but regarding the music, I had a vision that I wanted it to sound like an obscure James Brown song, performed by a group of amateurs in a work shop in funk-music for beginners. And, the intro is supposed to resemble the beginning of a four hour long epic drama-comedy that never made it to the cinemas.”

Previously Peter Bjorn and John shared Endless Dream‘s first single, “Rusty Nail.” Then they shared “Reason to Be Reasonable,” via a video for the track. Then they shared another song from it, “Idiosyncrasy,” via a video for the track. Then they shared another single from the album, “On the Brink.”

Endless Dream is the band’s ninth album, the follow-up to 2018’s Darker Days and the EPBJ EP, which came out in February 2019.

Work on the album began right after they finished Darker Days. “We were in a good place,” said Peter Morén in a previous press release, “it’s the light to the darkness - the day to the night.”

John Eriksson added: “This time the tone is bright. It’s about people trying to find colors in this dark world.”

Björn Yttling had this to say about recording the album: “We realized we wanted to cut the crap, so we rehearsed songs in the same room and recorded together. For post-production, every guy was on his own taking care of his baby - and then we came back and had our baby together.”

Read our interview with Peter Bjorn and John on Darker Days.

4. Caribou: “Never Come Back”

Caribou (aka Dan Snaith) is releasing a new album, Suddenly, on February 28 via Merge. On Tuesday he shared another song from it, “Never Come Back.”

Snaith had this to say about the single in a press release: “‘Never Come Back’ was the first track from Suddenly that I finished. It came together very quickly and was one of those tracks that is a lot fun to make. As soon as I landed on the main synthesizer chords and the repeated refrain the rest came together very quickly and naturally. I felt like it was my job to get out of the way and not over complicate or over think it. Sometimes the best pleasures are the simple ones.”

Suddenly will be the first Caribou album in around five-and-a-half years, since 2014’s Our Love. It includes “Home,” a new single Caribou shared in October that was one of our Songs of the Week. Then when the album was announced in December, Caribou shared another new song from it, “You and I,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Snaith has released a fair amount of music in the last five years, but most of it has been under his Daphni moniker. Suddenly was borne from over 900 draft ideas. “I record music every day, and I love it - as much or more than I have always done. I feel very lucky - the thrill has never, ever left me,” Snaith said in a previous press release.

“For the last few albums at least, there’s been a point about three-quarters of the way through where I work late into the night (as usual), but when I try and go to bed, ideas keep forcing me to get up and go back to the studio again,” Snaith continued. “It happens over and over in one night. I can feel the gears whirring as I lie there trying to sleep, and I can’t ignore the ideas for fear that it will be gone when I wake up the next morning.”

The previous press release explained the album title: “Suddenly refers to the moments of dramatic and unexpected change that occur at points in any life and within any family - universal themes that catch you off guard and change your life in a heartbeat.”

Read our 2014 interview with Caribou.

5. Shopping: “For Your Pleasure”

British post-punk trio Shopping are releasing a new album, All Or Nothing, on February 7 via FatCat. On Tuesday they shared another song from it, “For Your Pleasure,” via a video for the track. Lessa Millet directed the video, which a press release points out features “several notable musicians,” including Sam Sparro, Janelane, and members of Ought, French Vanilla, and Mo Dotti.

The band had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘For Your Pleasure’ is a song about frustration, the feeling of always wanting more, needing material things to distract or gratify us. It’s about consumerism but also searching for meaning in life. That feeling of longing that never really goes away even when you have the things, the job, the status or the person you thought you wanted. I think people who create music or art know what that feels like particularly.”

Director Lessa Millet had this to say about the video: “When I first heard the song I immediately felt like it had this amazing gay club anthem quality. I think dressing up, looking fabulous, and going to a party to dance and be surrounded by other fabulously dressed queers and weirdos is a huge part of this community. It’s this thing that sometimes is lacking in your everyday life, but you get to have it in these special places. To feel great about who you are, and feel loved and seen and understood. I wanted the video to be honest and authentic. Everyone in the video is basically playing themselves.”

Previously Shopping shared All Or Nothing‘s first single, “Initiative,” via a Jack Barraclough-directed video for the track. “Initiative” was one of our Songs of the Week.

All Or Nothing finds the band spread across the globe, with guitarist/vocalist Rachel Aggs and drummer Andrew Milk based in Glasgow and bassist Billy Easter based in Los Angeles.

The band had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “We found ourselves singing about being true to yourself, in an often binary and belligerent digital age, and reclaiming agency when it feels like our personal freedom and privacy is constantly eroding.”

The previous press release also had this to say about the album: “The trio’s vision - deeply queer; political by default - place them in a radical lineage of dance, a continuum connecting disco and post-punk to Chicago house and EDM.”

6. Anna Calvi: “Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy” (Feat. Courtney Barnett) (Hunted Version)

On Monday Anna Calvi announced a new album, Hunted, and shared its first single, a new version of “Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy” that features guest vocals from Courtney Barnett. Hunted is a new stripped down version of Calvi’s 2018 album Hunter featuring various other notable guests: Julia Holter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and IDLES’ Joe Talbot. It’s due out March 6 via Domino. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here. Calvi has also announced some new tour dates, which are also here.

Calvi had this to say about Hunted in a press release: “During a break from touring I went back and listened to the first recordings I ever made of Hunter. These recordings capture the very moment I first wrote these songs, and recorded them on my own, in my attic studio. I find something especially intimate about sharing these most private recordings with my favorite singers and asking them to lend their voices and artistic sensibility. Courtney Barnett is an amazing artist. Her voice and guitar playing together are mind blowing. Her ability to connect the profound to the smallest moments of human experience is the unique talent of a true artist.”

Barnett had this to say about working with Calvi: “Anna is a completely awe-inspiring performer, it’s impossible to take your eyes off her onstage. I love her songwriting for its beautiful and perfect balance between aggression and tenderness.”

Hunter was Calvi’s third full-length album and the follow up to 2011’s Anna Calvi and 2013’s One Breath. It was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

Last year Calvi shared an atmospheric new song, “You’re Not God,” that was done for the soundtrack of the Netflix/BBC show Peaky Blinders and was one of our Songs of the Week.

Read our exclusive Self-Portrait feature with Calvi from 2018, where she took a self-portrait photo and wrote a list of six personal things about herself that her fans may not know.

7. Braids: “Young Buck”

This week Montreal trio Braids announced a new album, Shadow Offering, and shared its first single, “Young Buck,” via a video for the track. Shadow Offering was produced by former Death Cab for Cutie guitarist/producer Chris Walla and is due out April 24 via Secret City. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

Braids’ singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston had this to say about “Young Buck” in a press release: “We wrote this song to capture the nervous anticipation of desire, the delicate chase of seduction, the highs and lows of obsession, and the humor in between. To want to possess someone, make them desire you, fall for you, only to learn that to lust is not to love.”

Summing up the album, Standell-Preston had this to say: “There’s more hopefulness in this record than anything else I’ve written. I think the songs are more human, more tangible, more honest.”

The album includes “Eclipse (Ashley),” a new song Braids shared last December.

8. Gorillaz: “Momentary Bliss” (Feat. slowthai and Slaves)

On Thursday Damon Albarn’s virtual band Gorillaz shared a new song, “Momentary Bliss,” that features slowthai and Slaves, via a video for the track. It’s also the first episode of their Song Machine video series that is expected to include other new songs that feature special guests, as well as in-the-studio footage and interviews.

Gorillaz’s virtual frontman 2D had this to say in a press release: “Hello everyone who is reading these words. I’ll keep this short because once you say things you can’t unsay them and they exist in the universe forever, like Tupperware.”

Gorillaz’s virtual drummer Russel had this to add: ”Song Machine is a whole new way of doing what we do. Gorillaz breaking the mold ‘cos the mold got old. World is moving faster than a supercharged particle, so we’ve gotta stay ready to drop. We don’t even know who’s stepping through the studio next. Song Machine feeds on the unknown, runs on pure chaos. So whatever the hell’s coming, we’re primed and ready to produce like there’s no tomorrow. Y’know, just in case…”

Gorillaz’s last two albums were 2017’s Humanz and 2018’s The Now Now.

Slaves are a British punk duo whose last album was 2018’s Acts of Fear and Love. Slowthai is a British rapper whose debut album, 2019’s Nothing Great About Britain, was nominated for the Mercury Prize and featured Slaves.

9. Margaret Glaspy: “Killing What Keeps Us Alive”

On Tuesday Margaret Glaspy announced a new album, Devotion, and shared its first single, “Killing What Keeps Us Alive” via a Alex Chaloff-directed video for the track. She has also announced some tour dates. Devotion is due out March 27 via ATO. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as Glaspy’s upcoming tour dates, here.

Devotion is the follow-up to Glaspy’s 2016-released debut album, Emotions and Math. Glaspy co-produced the album with Tyler Chester and recorded it at Atomic Sound in Red Hook, Brooklyn. “Tyler and I proved to be a very good match in the studio,” says Glaspy in a press release. “I love being very hands-on with my records and he was a force of nature without restricting my sense of what the record should be. His instincts and ability are truly inspiring.”

Glaspy says Devotion is “about letting love in even when you don’t know what will happen when you do. It’s about devoting your heart to someone or something, against all odds.”

Comparing Devotion to Emotions and Math, the singer/songwriter/guitarist says: “This record is very different from the last. It’s not about being righteous or all-knowing, it’s about letting love in even when you don’t know what will happen when you do. It’s about devoting your heart to someone or something, against all odds.”

At the end of the press release Glaspy reflects on how she has grown between the two albums. “I’m learning that life is painful but you take the bad with the good; that love is hard but if you love someone, you make yourself available; that life is short and it’s okay to be sincere,” she says. “I’m starting to be able to write about these things and it’s a feat for myself as an artist and growth for me as a person.”

10. These New Puritans: “The Mirage”

On Wednesday These New Puritans (brothers Jack and George Barnett) announced a new album, The Cut [2016-2019], and shared its first single and opening track, “The Mirage,” which features a children’s choir. The Cut [2016-2019] is due out February 14 via Infectious Music/BMG and is a companion album to 2019’s Inside the Rose, which was the band’s first album in six years. The Cut [2016-2019] collects material initially recorded for the Inside the Rose sessions and also includes some remixes and alternate versions. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

In a press release Jack Barnett had this to say about the album: “A lot of these songs were started during the Inside the Rose sessions, but we didn’t have the right momentum to finish them. So we came back to them and turned them inside out.”

“The Mirage” features the Rushmore Primary School Choir from Hackney, London.

Jack had this to say about the song: “George’s original idea was to get a group of kids to shout abuse, things like ‘Are you awake? Do you still exist? Hello yuppies, hello cunts,’ but the idea evolved away from that, maybe for the best.”

George adds: “The process of recording the choir was like our own Opportunity Knocks, I think the children thought ‘This could be IT. Hollywood here we come,’ but we didn’t discard any of their voices, we wanted the realness and purity. We intentionally sought them: went to Hackney - didn’t go for West London’s finest, ‘I can hit any E you like’ professional type stuff. ‘The Mirage’ is strange in that it’s something Jack wrote when we were 16.”

The Cut [2016-2019] will be available digitally, but also via a limited edition CD format that features “hand-cut slit fabric artwork.”

“I wanted to get across in a more literal way what Inside the Rose is,” says George about the artwork. “The slit through fabric - brutality, fragility, beauty, life, birth, sex, death. It’s unsanitized. This sounds quite wanky, but ‘tis the truth my dear, hahah.”

UK fans can catch These New Puritans performing a special one-off show at London’s Barbican on February 23. The performance is dubbed The Blue Door and will feature a 16-person band and a full stage show, including film projections and a lighting installation. The press release promises “the performance will explore themes of sex, death, transcendence, and love at the end of the human age.”

Honorable Mentions:

These 7 songs almost made the Top 10.

Austra: “Risk It”

Emperor X: “Sad React”

Hazel English: “Off My Mind”

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds: “Blue Moon Rising”

Half Waif: “Ordinary Talk”

Peel Dream Magazine: “Pill”

Silverbacks: “Drool”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Aesop Rock: “Rogue Wave”

Against All Logic: “Illusions… Of Shameless Abundance” (Feat. Lydia Lunch) and “Alucinao” (Feat. FKA twigs & Estado Unido)

A$AP Ferg: “Value”

Justin Bieber: “Get Me” (Feat. Kehlani)

David Bowie: “Baby Universal ‘97”

Chastity Belt: “The Process”

DMA’s: “Life Is a Game of Changing”

DAWN: “Die Without You” and “Buttah”

Deeper: “This Heat”

Diet Cig: “Night Terrors”

Draag: “Trauma Kit”

Duck Sauce: “Smiley Face”

Greg Dulli: “It Falls Apart”

Everything Is Recorded: “10:51 PM / THE NIGHT” (Feat. Berwyn & Maria Somerville)

Gang Starr: “Bad Name (Remix)” (Feat. Method Man & Redman)

Guided By Voices: “Man Called Blunder”

JFDR: “Shimmer”

Kesha: “Tonight”

Lily Konigsberg: “I Said”

Dua Lipa: “Physical”

Long Neck: “Campfire”

Loose Tooth: “Lonely”

Melkbelly: “LCR”

The Men: “Breeze”

Morrissey: “Love Is On Its Way Out”

The Psychedelic Furs: “Don’t Believe”

Porter Robinson: “Get Your Wish”

Polly Scattergood: “Red”

Saudade: “Lions” (Feat. Randall Blythe and Lee “Scratch” Perry)

Shady Nasty: “AA”

Shell of a Shell: “Away Team”

Sons of Yusuf and Jay Electronica: “Diving For Pearls”

Squarepusher: “Terminal Slam”

Taylor Swift: “Only the Young”

Willaris. K: “Indifferent” (Feat. Gordi)

Hayley Williams: “Leave It Alone”

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January 31st 2020

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