10 Best Songs of the Week: The Dears, Yves Tumor, Deradoorian, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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10 Best Songs of the Week: The Dears, Yves Tumor, Deradoorian, and More

Plus Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Vundabar, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Mar 13, 2020 Songs of the Week Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the tenth Songs of the Week of 2020. It’s been a scary week thanks to the COVID-19 coronavirus, which meant the postponement of Coachella, Record Story Day, various movie releases, sporting events, and more, as well as school closings and a stock market crash. President Trump’s disastrous Oval Office address to the nation did little to put us at ease that the crisis was going to improve any time soon. Thankfully there were enough compelling new songs in the last seven days to get us through and distract us.

This week we posted new interviews with Destroyer and Peter Bjorn and John, as well as My Favorite Album interviews with “Weird Al” Yankovic and Kirin J Callinan, plus a My Firsts interview with Yumi Zouma.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Sunda Arc, Disq, Nadia Reid, THICK, and Porches. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

This week we also posted the latest episode of our Why Not Both podcast, this one featuring Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins and the Bella Union label.

Finally, our Politics Editor Steve King took stock of where the Democratic presidential primaries are at and who the eventual winner is likely to be.

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. The Dears: “The Worst of Us”

Today Montréal’s The Dears announced a new album, Lovers Rock, and shared its first single, “The Worst of Us,” via a lyric video for the new song. They have also announced some new tour dates. Lovers Rock is due out May 15 via Dangerbird. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as the tour dates, here.

“The Worst of Us” starts off like a good, but expected, Dears rock song, but midway through completely changes tact, as thunderous drums and pounding piano take over for an instrumental interlude before the vocals come back in over strings. It makes for a very dynamic track and a promising precursor to the new album.

The Dears’ last album was 2017’s Times Infinity Volume Two, which was the follow-up to 2015’s Times Infinity Volume One. Since those two albums frontman Murray A. Lightburn also released a new solo album, Hear Me Out, in 2019 via Dangerbird.

The Dears are as ever led by Lightburn on vocals and guitar and his wife Natalia Yanchak on vocals and piano. For Lovers Rock they were joined by longtime drummer Jeff “Looch” Luciani (who’s been with them since 2011’s Degeneration Street) and two musicians who performed on Lightburn’s last solo album, Steve Raegele (guitar) and Rémi-Jean LeBlanc (bass). Sam Roberts also has a cameo and there’s saxophone from both Alex Francoeur and The E Street Band’s Jake Clemons (on “Stille Lost”).

In a press release Lightburn says that Lovers Rock has much in common with No Cities Left, their 2003-released sophomore album that probably remains their most beloved record.

“There’s a direct line between the sort of doominess of No Cities Left and this album,” says Lightburn. “You could go straight from Lovers Rock to No Cities Left and it’s like they’re interlocked. But it’s a different kind of doom. Around 2001, it felt like, ‘We have no control. We don’t know what’s going to happen next.’ Now it’s a doom that’s within our grasp. It’s in the air. It’s between us. But we do nothing about it.”

Lightburn and The Dears have been prolific of late, what with the band releasing two back-to-back albums in 2015 and 2017, Lightburn releasing a solo album in 2019, and now a new Dears album coming a little over a year later.

“For us, the tank is never empty,” Lightburn explains. “For me it’s like an onslaught of ideas and sounds, and then I can’t keep up half the time. It’s a feverish process. Every record that we make, there’s a ton of songs.”

Lightburn and Yanchak are parents and Lightburn also admits in the press release that in this era where it’s harder for indie musicians to make a living, there’s a sense of urgency to their music making.

“The Dears aren’t fucking around,” he says. “We don’t have time to waste. We’ve got a job to do. And we’re going to do it. Twenty years ago, I knew I had a sound in my head, but I didn’t know how to get that down. Now I know how to get that sound.”

But for Lightburn it’s also very much about the art and connecting with listeners. “The question we’re asking in the music is, ‘how do we navigate so much bullshit in this world?’” he says. “We’re still playing this dumb rock music. But there’s always gonna be a little twist of the knife, cutting into something deep to make you feel like you’re alive. To say, ‘I know what you’re going through. And I’m hearing you, and I’m with you.’ That’s what the music is supposed to do.”

2. Yves Tumor: “Kerosene!” (Feat. Diana Gordon)

Yves Tumor (aka Sean Bowie) is releasing a new album, Heaven to a Tortured Mind, on April 3 via Warp. This week he shared a new song from it, “Kerosene!” It features guest vocals from singer/songwriter Diana Gordon. “Kerosene!” starts off fairly chill, but the five-minute song explodes with a guitar solo at the 1:30 mark and builds from there. Lyrically there’s not much to hear here, with some variation of the repeated lyric “I can be what you need” being the main message. But the passion in the traded off vocals from Bowie and Gordon and the expansiveness of the music sell the song.

Heaven to a Tortured Mind is the follow-up to 2018’s Safe In the Hands of Love. Previously Yves Tumor shared the album’s first single, “Gospel For a New Century,” via a video for the track.

3. Deradoorian: “Saturnine Night”

On Tuesday Deradoorian (full name Angel Deradoorian) announced a new album, Find the Sun, and shared its first single, the seven-minute long Krautrock-inspired “Saturnine Night.” Find the Sun is due out May 22 via ANTI-. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as her upcoming tour dates opening for Stereolab, here.

Deradoorian was formerly the bassist/vocalist for Dirty Projectors. Find the Sun is the follow-up to her debut solo album, 2015’s The Expanding Flower Planet, and 2017’s Eternal Recurrence EP. Find the Sun was recorded with Deradoorian’s friend and percussionist Samer Ghadry, along with Ghadry’s frequent collaborator Dave Harrington.

“Overall, a lot of these songs are about trying to reach yourself - how to be your most
brilliant self,” Deradoorian says in a press release about the album. “Because we come from a culture that doesn’t actually support this. We are so deeply programmed to obey societal boundaries that we don’t even know the power we contain within.”

The press release further describes the song of the album: “Inspired by the freedom of Can and the singing style of Damo Suzuki as well as the influence of Indian spirituality on free jazz masters like Pharoah Sanders and Sun Ra, Deradoorian gravitates to transportive, shamanic sounds on this record, wielding bells, flutes, and gongs in service of a rock record guided by the spirits.”

Summing up the album, Deradoorian says: “Find the Sun is a record to sit and listen to, and ask yourself about your Self.”

4. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down: “Temple”

On Wednesday Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, the band led by Thao Nguyen, announced a new album, Temple, and shared its first single, title track “Temple,” via a Jonny Look-directed video for the track. Temple is due out May 15 via Ribbon Music. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as the band’s upcoming tour dates, here.

A press release promises that Temple “is among Thao’s most open and honest work yet,” adding that it finds her “coming out in her public life after a long career in which she kept her queer identity quiet in an effort to avoid turmoil with and alienation from a family and culture she deeply loves.”

“But that shit will kill you,” Nguyen says in the press release.

“I have divided myself into so many selves,” Nguyen continues. “I am nervous, but hopeful that in belonging to myself, I can still belong to my family, and my Vietnamese community, especially the elders. I believe that shame has made my work more general, when I’ve always wanted to be specific. This record is about me finally being specific. If you listen to my music, I want you to know who you are dealing with.”

Nguyen adds: “I have my partner and our home to ground me in this life, in my one life. And everything I do now, everywhere I go, every time I present myself to people, it is finally all of me.”

5. Vundabar: “Out of It”

Boston duo Vundabar (Brandon Hagen and Drew McDonald) released a new album, Either Light, today via Gawk. On Wednesday they shared one last pre-release single from it, album opener “Out of It.” And then today they shared a video for the song.

Holler Film directed the “Out of It” video, which features the band in the back of a moving car, on a rowboat, and in other situations.

Previously Vundabar shared Either Light’s first single, “Burned Off,” via a playful video for the track. “Burned Off” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then the band shared another song from the album, “Petty Crime,” via an amusing self-directed video for the track inspired by The Sopranos. “Petty Crime” was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another song from the album, “Montage Music,” via a lyric video (it was also one of our Songs of the Week).

Either Light is the follow-up to 2018’s Smell Smoke and finds the band working with a producer for the first time, Patrick Hyland (Mitski).

Hagen had this to say about Either Light in a previous press release: “The album is about the transitional lightness that follows a period of heaviness. After years of being caught up in a dark period marked by sickness, strife and worry, and using it as the context in which I saw myself, I suddenly found I’d outgrown that story. With that came a feeling of lightness that was opposite the feeling which preceded it.”

6. Girlpool: “Like I’m Winning It”

On Thursday Los Angeles duo Girlpool (Avery Tucker and Harmony Tividad) shared a brand new song, “Like I’m Winning It,” via a video for the track. It follows their 2019 album, What Chaos Is Imaginary (released in February 2019 via ANTI-), and is a bit more dancefloor-ready than some of their previous songs. The Amalia Irons-directed video takes place in a club scene and features synchronized dancers and stripper poles. The single is out now via ANTI-. There’s no word of a new album or EP.

Tucker had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Like I’m Winning It’ is about power and lust: how can the weight of someone’s attention feel so heavy just because of its scarcity? This is a song about playing with that line: the line between the electricity in receiving attention and what’s unattainable. I sent this song to our friend Amalia Irons a couple of days after I made a demo at home. I knew she would create a video for this song that was charged, psychedelic, and romantic.”

7. Westerman: “Think I’ll Stay”

On Wednesday West London’s Will Westerman, who releases music simply under his last name, announced his debut full-length album, Your Hero Is Not Dead, and shared a new song from it, “Think I’ll Stay.” Your Hero Is Not Dead is due out June 5 via Partisan. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as his upcoming tour dates, here.

Westerman recorded Your Hero Is Not Dead in Southern Portugal and London with his friend and producer Nathan Jenkins (aka Bullion). The album includes “Blue Comanche,” a new song Westerman shared in January. It was also one of our Songs of the Week.

In 2018 Westerman released a 4-song EP, Ark, via Blue Flowers. Before that he garnered attention for a series of singles and his 2017-released Call and Response EP.

Westerman had this to say about “Think I’ll Stay” in a press release: “I wrote this while I was moving a lot. I was thinking about a chronic pain condition when it started. That pain is a very specific type, but I think there’s an inevitable amount of pain that everyone goes through just being alive. A friend was talking to me about how they’re going to be working until they’re 80 years old, so what’s the difference. In the song, I’m trying to say that it’s worth sticking around. It’s a sort of giddy affirmation of being.”

8. SASAMI: “Mess”

SASAMI (aka Los Angeles based musician Sasami Ashworth) released her self-titled debut album, SASAMI, back in March 2019 via Domino. On Thursday she shared a brand new song, “Mess,” via a lyric video for the track. Ashworth says “‘Mess’ is where I’m at now” and that she wanted to release a new song to honor the one-year anniversary of her debut, before moving on to her sophomore album.

Ashworth had this to say about the song in a press release: “I started making my self-titled album almost three years ago. Since then I’ve fucked other people, healed bad relationships, broken new good ones, found more joy, more anger and everything in between. ‘Mess’ is where I’m at now. I wanted to end the year of my first album campaign with one last sentence before I crack into the stone slab of my next album. This time I didn’t want to provide any visual counterparts. I just want people to listen.”

Read our Pleased to Meet You interview with SASAMI.

When SASAMI’s self-titled album was announced she shared a self-directed video for the new song “Jealousy,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared a video for another new song from the album, “Free.” The song featured backing vocals from Devendra Banhart, although he was not in the video, and was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then Ashworth shared a video for “Morning Comes” that featured her grandmother hosting a cooking show where she teaches you to make kimichi. The album included the previous singles “Not the Time” and “Callous.”

Then in August 2019 SASAMI shared a brand new song, “Take Care,” via a self-directed video for the cut that featured Ashworth on a row boat, burning things in the desert, and in a smashed up car. It was one of our Songs of the Week. At the same time she also shared a new version of SASAMI’s “Free” featuring backing vocals by Tim Presley of White Fence (Devendra Banhart sang on the original version).

Then in November 2019 SASAMI surprise-released a new holiday-themed EP, lil drmr bb, that included the new song “It’s You” and covers of Christmas classics “Little Drummer Boy” and “Silent Night.” “It’s You” was one of our Songs of the Week.

9. Protomartyr: “Processed By the Boys”

On Wednesday Detroit-formed post-punkers Protomartyr announced a new album, Ultimate Success Today, and shared its first single, “Processed By the Boys,” via a video for the new song. The band have also announced some new tour dates. Ultimate Success Today is due out May 29 via Domino. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as the band’s upcoming tour dates, here.

Ultimate Success Today is the band’s fifth album and the follow-up to 2017’s Relatives in Descent and 2018’s Consolation E.P., both also released by Domino. Last year they also put out a deluxe reissue of their debut album, No Passion All Technique.

The band co-produced Ultimate Success Today with David Tolomei (Dirty Projectors, Beach House), who also mixed it. It was recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios, a late 19th century church in Upstate New York

Protomartyr is Joe Casey (vocals), Greg Ahee (guitars), Alex Leonard (drums), and Scott Davidson (bass guitar). Ultimate Success Today also features various guest musicians: Nandi Rose aka Half Waif (vocals), Jemeel Moondoc (alto sax), Izaak Mills (bass clarinet, sax, flute), and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello).

Casey had this to say about the album in a press release: “The re-release of our first album had me thinking about the passage of time and its ultimate conclusion. Listening to No Passion All Technique again, I could hear myself hoping for an introduction and a long future, but also being cognizant that it could be ‘one and done’ for us. So, when it came time to write Ultimate Success Today, I was reminded of that first urgency and how it was an inverse of my current grapple with how terribly ill I’ve been feeling lately. Was that sick feeling coloring how I felt about the state of the world or was it the other way around?

“This panic was freeing in a way. It allowed me to see our fifth album as a possible valediction of some confusingly loud five-act play. In the same light I see it as an interesting mile marker of our first decade of being a band: a crest of the hill along a long highway. Although just to cover my bases, I made sure to get my last words in while I still had the breath to say them.”

The video for “Processed By the Boys” was inspired by “a bizarre Brazilian TV clip the band became infatuated with. A man sings to a studio audience, while a member of the audience becomes enraged by a puppet, leading the whole situation to devolve into total chaos.”

David Allen and Nathan Faustyn directed the video, which was produced by HLPTV and LooseMeat.Biz. Faustyn had this to say about the video in the press release: “As soon as we heard the concept, we knew how to take the band’s ideas and coalesce them into this sort of timeless public access chaos. Because of the nature of HLPTV and LooseMeat.Biz and who we are: professional and hobbyist technicians: we knew we could pull off a really strange, funny and sardonically dark compendium to this song that is equally such.”

Read our 2017 interview with Protomartyr.

10. GUM: “Out In the World”

GUM is the solo project of Jay Watson, who’s a member of both Tame Impala and POND. This week the Australian psych-pop musician shared a new song, “Out In the World,” via a Laura-Lynn Petrick-directed video for the track. It will be released as a 7-inch single via Spinning Top Music/Kung Fu Nation, with a cover of Ballroom’s “It’s a Sad World” on the B-side.

Watson had this to say about “Out In the World” in a press release: “The song is about the feeling of wanting to give up and never talk to anyone ever again after something goes wrong. It started off as a jangly 12 string folk sort of thing, before morphing into my version of Fleetwood Mac meets Cleaners From Venus. It features very little keyboard and synthesizer for me and more guitars than I’ve used in a while, it was important to have that texture.”

GUM last album was 2018’s The Underdog.

Honorable Mentions:

These 10 songs almost made the Top 10.

Anna Burch: “Tell Me What’s True”

Model/Actriz: “Suntan”

Nap Eyes: “Mystery Calling”

PINS: “Ponytail”

Ride: “Repetition (Reimagined by Pêtr Aleksänder)” and “Clouds of Saint Marie (Reimagined by Pêtr Aleksänder)”

Sharon Van Etten: “Staring at a Mountain”

Surfer Blood: “Karen”

Johanna Warren: “Part Of It”

Steven Wilson: “Personal Shopper”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Cable Ties: “Hope”

Deap Lips: “The Pusher” (Steppenwolf Cover)

Deb Never & Kenny Beats: “Stone Cold”

Eerie Gaits: “Saw You Through The Trees”

Flume: “The Difference” (Feat. Toro Y Moi)

Nicolas Jaar: “Sunder”

JFDR: “Think Too Fast”

Norah Jones: “I’m Alive” (Feat. Jeff Tweedy and Spencer Tweedy)

Kehlani: “Toxic”

The Killers: “Caution” (Feat. Lindsey Buckingham)

Fenne Lily: “Hypochondriac”

Lil Yachty & DaBaby: “Oprah’s Bank Account” (Feat. Drake)

Georgia Maq: “Cold Summer”

Orion Sun: “Lightning”

Painted Zeros: “Commuter Rage”

Margo Price: “Twinkle Twinkle”

The Psychedelic Furs: “You’ll Be Mine”

Racecar: “Hand Over The Thing”

Porter Robinson: “Something Comforting”

Luke Schneider: “Anteludium”

The Slow Readers Club: “Killing Me”

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: “Expanding Electrity”

Snail Mail: “Evaporar” (Little Joy Cover)

Sufjan Stevens and Lowell Brams: “Climb That Mountain”

TENGGER: “Achime”

Justin Timberlake: “Don’t Slack” (Feat. Anderson .Paak)

Velvet Bethany: “Throw Your Stone”

Rufus Wainwright: “Peaceful Afternoon”

Yaeji: “Waking Up Down”

Zeus! and Mike Patton: “Human Fly” (The Cramps Cover)

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