10 Best Songs of the Week: Pixx, Kelly Lee Owens, Summer Camp, Alex Lahey, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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10 Best Songs of the Week: Pixx, Kelly Lee Owens, Summer Camp, Alex Lahey, and More

Plus Flying Lotus, Africa Express, Alex Cameron, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

May 10, 2019 Alex Cameron Bookmark and Share

Welcome to another Songs of the Week. We worried we were going to be able to come up with a Top 8 this week, but a couple of album tracks were able to round out the list.

Elsewhere on the website this week we posted interviews with Amanda Palmer, Foals, Julia Jacklin, and Stella Donnelly.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Editors, Nilüfer Yanya, Charly Bliss, Fat White Family, Ty Segall & Freedom Band, Anderson .Paak, Bad Religion, and Wand. Plus we posted reviews of various DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows.

Don’t forget about our current print issue. The issue features Mitski on the front cover and boygenius (Julien Baker + Phoebe Bridgers + Lucy Dacus) on the back cover.

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. Pixx: “Andean Condor”

Pixx (aka British musician Hannah Rodgers) is releasing her sophomore album, Small Mercies, on June 7 via 4AD. This week she shared the album’s third single, “Andean Condor,” via a video for the track. The album-opener tackles gender politics. “Mature males tend to be at the top of the pecking order/It’s stale/Detest it cos you want to,” Rodgers sings in the song. “Dance for me boy/Give me a twirl/I want to get to know you/But I probably won’t blow you.”

Alice Clingan directed the video, which features Rodgers’ in Elizabethan garb dancing with two topless men.

Rodgers had this to say about the song in a press release: “This song is written about the link between wo/mankind and nature. It is important to recognize how many times women have to face the absurdity of male hierarchy in our modern world. Having had endless conversations with (certain) men who justify the inequality of the sexes by comparing themselves to animals, I thought what better way to help them than to remind those men that they are supposed to be human, with emotional capability and growth.”

Small Mercies is the follow-up to 2017’s The Age of Anxiety. It was co-produced by Simon Byrt and Dan Carey. Previously she shared two songs from Small Mercies: “Bitch” and “Disgrace.”

2. Kelly Lee Owens: “Let It Go” (Plus “Omen”)

This week British electronic music artist/producer Kelly Lee Owens shared two new songs, “Let It Go” and “Omen,” and announced some new European and U.S. tour dates. Both songs will be released as a limited edition 12-inch on July 5 via Smalltown Supersound. “Let It Go” is definitely the one that makes the Songs of the Week list, it dares you not to move on the dancefloor. “Omen” is less memorable, but is below as well.

Owens had this to say about “Let It Go” in a press release: “While working on my second album, I had my Room 1 Fabric DJ set coming up, so I decided to make a track for fun, to play out. There’s no better way of testing out new stuff than on that legendary sound system.”

Owens released her self-titled debut album via Smalltown Supersound in 2017 (it was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017).

Read our 2017 interview with Kelly Lee Owens.

3. Summer Camp: “Love of My Life”

This week Summer Camp (aka British married couple Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley) shared two new songs, “Love of My Life” and “Danny and John.” The double A-side single is taken from their upcoming self-released new album, Romantic Comedy, which ties into a documentary of the same name directed by Sankey. Romantic Comedy features new original songs featured in the film (including “Love of My Life”) or inspired by the documentary (such as “Danny and John”). “Love of My Life” and “Danny and John” are Summer Camp’s first new songs in around four years (their last album was 2015’s Bad Love). We liked both songs enough to have them both make this week’s Songs of the Week list, with “Love of My Life” at #3 here and “Danny and John” at #5 below.

Romantic Comedy the album doesn’t have a release date yet. The documentary has screened at film festivals, including SXSW, and will be released later this year. It examines romantic comedies via clips of over 160 films and interviews with actors, filmmakers, and writers. The band will be performing the album live at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival on June 7 at the Crucible Theatre (it’ll be their first live performance since 2015).

4. Alex Lahey: “Unspoken History”

Australian singer/songwriter Alex Lahey is releasing a new album, The Best of Luck Club, on May 17 via Dead Oceans. This week she shared another song from the album, the ballad “Unspoken History,” which is the third and final pre-release single from the album.

Lahey had this to say about the song in a press release: “When I was in Nashville, I spent some time in a tiny writing room creating songs for this record. Towards the end of that time, I felt as though I was starting to exhaust my output and was starting to become complacent about what I had left to give. On one of my last days there, I was lent a guitar that was set up in a variation on open D tuning, which is something I never play in. In the process of nutting out chords and voicing in this tuning, the melody to the verses just came out. When I started putting words to it, it started off as being about one thing, but then morphed into something else, creating its own path very organically.”

Previously Lahey shared a video for The Best of Luck Club‘s first single, “Don’t Be so Hard on Yourself,” which features a prominent saxophone solo from Lahey and was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared another song from the album, “Am I Doing It Right,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week.

The album is the follow-up to her 2017-released debut album, I Love You Like a Brother (it was our joint Album of the Week and one of our favorites albums of that year). Lahey began writing The Best of Luck Club in Nashville, sometimes locking herself in a room for 12-hour days. Then the album was recorded over the course of a month in her hometown of Melbourne at Sing Sing South. Lahey co-produced the album alongside Grammy-winning producer Catherine Marks (Local Natives, St. Vincent, Manchester Orchestra). Lahey plays nearly every instrument on the album, with the appearance of the saxophone a reference to her past studying jazz saxophone at university.

Lahey had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “In Nashville I was really inspired by the dive bar scene there and the idea that at these dive bars there’s no pretentious energy. Whether you’ve had the best day of your life or the worst day of your life, you can just sit up at the bar and turn to the person next to you - who has no idea who you are - and have a chat. And the response that you generally get at the end of the conversation is, ‘Best of luck,’ so The Best of Luck Club is that place.”

Read our 2017 interview with Alex Lahey.

5. Summer Camp: “Danny and John”

The second of two Summer Camp songs to make this week’s list, “Danny and John” is also taken from their upcoming self-released new album, Romantic Comedy, which ties into a documentary of the same name directed by the band’s Elizabeth Sankey. Sankey wrote “Danny and John,” which is sung by her husband Jeremy Warmsley. A press release says it’s “a tale of two men who can’t seem to quit each other - even it takes a decade for them to realize.”

6. Flying Lotus: “More” (Feat. Anderson .Paak)

Flying Lotus (aka Steven Ellison) is releasing a new album, Flamagra, on May 24 via Warp. This week he shared another song from it, “More,” which features Anderson .Paak. He has also announced some new tour dates, which you can check out here.

Previously Flying Lotus shared a video for Flamagra‘s first single, “Fire Is Coming” (the song and video both feature David Lynch). Then he shared two more songs from the album: “Spontaneous” (which features Little Dragon) and “Takashi,” a press release described the two songs as a “mini-suite.”

Flamagra is the first Flying Lotus album in five years, since 2014’s You’re Dead! The album also features George Clinton, Tierra Whack, Denzel Curry, Shabazz Palaces, Thundercat, Toro y Moi, Solange, and others.

Ellison had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “I’d been working on stuff for the past five years, but it was always all over the place. I’d always had this thematic idea in mind-a lingering concept about fire, an eternal flame sitting on a hill. Some people love it, some people hate it. Some people would go on dates there and some people would burn love letters in the fire.”

7. Africa Express: “Johannesburg” (Feat. Gruff Rhys, Morena Leraba, Radio 123, and Sibot)

This week multicultural collective Africa Express, which was spearheaded by Damon Albarn, announced a new album, EGOLI, and shared its first single, “Johannesburg,” which features vocals by Gruff Rhys (Welsh frontman of Super Furry Animals), alongside other featured artists Morena Leraba, Radio 123, and Sibot. EGOLI is due out July 12 via Africa Express Records. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

A press release lays out the album’s many participants as such: “Featured artists include Damon Albarn, Blue May, Gruff Rhys, Georgia, Ghetts, Mr Jukes, Nick Zinner, Remi Kabaka, Otim Alpha and Poté as well as emerging and established stars of the buzzing South African music scene including BCUC, Blk Jks, Dominowe, Faka, Infamous Boiz, DJ Spoko, Mahotella Queens, Moonchild Sanelly, Muzi, Morena Leraba, Nonku Phiri, Radio 123, Sibot, Sho Madjozi, Zola 7, Zolani Mahola (Freshly Ground) and Maskandi guitar legend Phuzekhemisi.”

Rhys released a new solo album, Babelsberg, in 2018 via Rough Trade.

8. Alex Cameron: “Miami Memory”

This week Australia’s Alex Cameron shared a new song, “Miami Memory,” via a video for the track. The video stars actress Jemima Kirke (Girls) and sax player Roy Molloy. The song is his first new music since his 2017 album Forced Witness. Kirke is Cameron’s real life romantic partner and he has dedicated the song to her. Perhaps the explicit lyrics are about their sex life? “Eating your ass like an oyster/The way you came like a tsunami,” sings Cameron at one point. Earlier in the song he sings: “Making love in your momma’s bed/Making love on the floor/Making love in the hotel room/We forgot to shut the door.” If it is about Kirke, let’s hope her mom doesn’t hear it!

Cameron had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Miami Memory’ is a story about how we audition in the present for our future selves to enjoy in retrospect. In that way, tender memories that we share together are captured in thought and stored with the same electricity that keeps our heart beating. It’s a gift for my girlfriend Jemima, and it is dedicated to the artist Greer Lankton and her partner Paul Monroe. I am lucky to have learned that a group of people can be a shining light.”

Cameron has also announced some new tour dates (check them out here).

9. Clinic: “Congratulations”

Liverpool post-punks Clinic released their first new album in seven years, Wheeltappers and Shunters, today via their longtime label Domino (you can stream it here). The band only shared two pre-release singles, which left plenty of album tracks to choose from for this week’s Songs of the Week. We narrowed it down to “Congratulations” and album-closer “New Equations (at the Copacabana),” but went for the former (the latter is an honorable mention below).

Previously they shared a video for its first single, “Rubber Bullets,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another song from the album, opening track “Laughing Cavalier,” also via a Joseph May-directed animated video (it was also one of our Songs of the Week).

The band’s last album was 2012’s Free Reign. “We’d released albums like clockwork every two years, so it seemed natural to have a break,” explained frontman Ade Blackburn in a previous press release about the long gap between albums. “It allowed everyone to do some quite oddball stuff, away from Clinic. I think we all wanted a bit more freedom.”

Wheeltappers and Shunters’ album title is inspired by a 1970s British variety show The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, which was hosted by Bernard Manning and according to the press release “recreated the smoky, boozy atmosphere of Northern working men’s clubs for a sofa-bound audience.”

“It’s been a pisstake thing between us for quite a few years,” Blackburn explained. “Whenever we’d talk about a song sounding too ‘cabaret’ or too nice, we’d say, ‘That’s a bit Wheeltappers and Shunters.’”

Wheeltappers and Shunters looks back on the culture 1970s era Blackburn and “his collaborator-in-chief” Jonathan Hartley grew up in. “It’s a satirical take on British culture - high and low,” Blackburn said. “It fascinates me that people look back on the 1970s as the glory days. It’s emerged that there was a darker, more perverse side to that time. When you look back on it now it was quite clearly there in mainstream culture.”

The album was recorded last year at Hartley’s Liverpool studio. Then Dilip Harris (King Krule, Sons of Kemet, Mount Kimbie) mixed the album. “We thought it felt right to make a fun, dancefloor album in these dark and conservative times,” said Blackburn.

10. Charly Bliss: “Blown to Bits”

Charly Bliss also released a new album, Young Enough, today via Barsuk (stream it here). Many of its standout tracks were already released as pre-release singles (and all made previous Songs of the Week lists), but there are some worthy album tracks too. We considered the late album ballad “Hurt Me” (“You need me like a parachute” is a good line), but album opener “Blown to Bits” caught our ears the most. In the sequencing it provides a nice built up to album highlight (and first single) “Capacity.” “I don’t know what’s coming for me after 24,” frontwoman Eva Hendricks sings. If her band keeps putting out albums as good as Young Enough then lots more great things should be coming for her.

Today we posted our rave review of Young Enough and you can read that here as well.

Previously Charly Bliss shared a video for Young Enough‘s first single, “Capacity,” which was one of our Songs of the Week (and the video was directed by Michelle Zauner aka Japanese Breakfast). The they shared another new song from the album, “Chatroom,” also via a video for it. Maegan Houang directed the twisted clip, which starred Hendricks as the member of a cult. “Chatroom” was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another new song from the album, “Hard to Believe,” via a video for it (it also made our Songs of the Week list).

Honorable Mentions:

These five songs almost made the Top 10.

Charly Bliss: “Hurt Me”

Clinic: “New Equations (at the Copacabana)”

Mikal Cronin: “Breathe”

IDLES: “Mercedes Marxist”

Olden Yolk: “Grand Palais”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Black Mountain: “Licensed to Drive”

Sam Cohen: “Man On Fire”

Crumb: “Ghostride”

Denzel Curry: “RICKY”

Mac DeMarco: “Here Comes the Cowboy” and “On the Square”

Dude York: “Falling”

Brian Eno: “Like I Was a Spectator”

Ben Gibbard: “Filler” (Minor Threat Cover)

Hot Chip: “Hungry Child (Paul Woolford Sunrise Mix)”

Carly Rae Jepsen: “Too Much”

Madonna: “Crave” (Feat. Swae Lee)

Phantom Planet: “Balisong”

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber: “I Don’t Care”

Silversun Pickups: “Freakazoid”

Sinkane: “Ya Sudan”

Skepta: “Bullet From a Gun” and “Greaze Mode”

Summer Cannibals: “False Anthem”

Jamila Woods: “Baldwin” (Feat. Nico Segal)

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Nathan Butland
May 12th 2019

Even though I’m probably slightly partial being a huge Crumb fan, I’m gonna go ahead and say that ‘Ghostride’ is an epic song!