10 Best Songs of the Week: Wild Nothing, The Love Language, Tomberlin, Tunng, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024  

10 Best Songs of the Week: Wild Nothing, The Love Language, Tomberlin, Tunng, and More

Plus We Were Promised Jetpacks, Saintseneca, Richard Reed Parry, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Jul 20, 2018 alt-J Bookmark and Share

Songs of the Week returned last week after a five-week hiatus and now we’re back into the full swing of things. This week’s list features some returning artists who have appeared on other Songs of the Week lists lately, including a repeat #1, as well as some artists making their debut on the list. It all ends with one of the silliest songs to ever make the Songs of the Week list, which will hopefully lift your spirits.

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. Wild Nothing: “Partners in Motion”

Wild Nothing (aka Jack Tatum) is releasing a new album, Indigo, on August 31 via Captured Tracks. Previously he shared its first single and opening track, “Letting Go” (which was our #1 Song of the Week). This week he shared another song from the album, “Partners in Motion,” which wears its 1980s influences on its sleeves even more than Wild Nothing songs already usually do and the results are glorious (check out that saxophone, courtesy of Taylor Plenn). That’s two for two, in terms of Indigo and #1 Songs of the Week.

The album is the follow-up to 2016’s somewhat underrated Life of Pause. Virginia-bred/Los Angeles-based Tatum recorded the demos solo and then spent four days at Sunset Sound’s Studio with drummer Cam Allen and guitarist Benji Lysaght to track the record live (Tatum played bass). Then producer Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink, Gang Gang Dance, Japanese Breakfast) came on board to build out the rest of the album’s sound, including using parts of Tatum’s original demos. Elbrecht and Tatum mixed the album over 10 days in Denver and then Tatum put the finishing touches on Indigo at his Glassell Park studio in Los Angeles. Sonically, Tatum was going for a 1980s vibe.

“I wanted it to sound like a classic studio record, as close as I could get it there,” Tatum said in a previous press release. “It just boils down to me wanting to fit into some larger narrative, musically, in terms of these artists I love. I think about how my music will age. Ideas of ‘timeless’ are going to be different-so if Indigo is not timeless then it’s at least ‘out of time.’”

The previous press release described the album as such: “Indigo is its own cyborg world, utilizing the artful mechanisms of human touch with the precision of technology to create the classic, pristine sound Tatum has been seeking his entire career. It finds Tatum at his most efficient, calculated, and confident after a decade of making music as Wild Nothing. On one hand, Indigo is a return to the fresh, transcendent sweep of his debut, 2010’s Gemini, and on the other, a culmination of heights reached, paths traveled, and lessons learned while creating the follow-ups, Nocturne and Life of Pause.”

Wild Nothing’s 2012 album, Nocturne, was Under the Radar’s #1 album of that year. Read our 2016 interview with Wild Nothing.

2. The Love Language: “Juiceboxx”

The Love Language (aka Stuart McLamb) is releasing a new album, Baby Grand, on August 3 via Merge. It’s his first in five years and previously he shared three songs from it: “Castle in the Sky” (which was our #1 Song of the Week), “Southern Doldrums,” and “New Amsterdam” (which also made our Songs of the Week list). This week McLamb shared perhaps the best song yet from Baby Grand, the catchy “Juiceboxx.” He also announced a competition where you can remix the song.

If you want to remix “Juiceboxx,” you can download the stems here. Then you need to email your remix to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with “Juiceboxx” in the subject. The deadline is August 7. McLamb will pick his favorite and then the winning remix will be featured on Merge’s official Soundcloud page. The winner will also receive the following: “a test pressing of Baby Grand, a copy of Ruby Red, that album’s Black Mtn Demos on cassette, and a bona fide Merge tote!”

Baby Grand is The Love Language’s fourth album, McLamb’s first since 2013’s Ruby Red. The album was begun in a Virginia hammock factory, but was finished after McLamb moved across country to California.

Of the album and “Castle in the Sky,” McLamb said in a previous press release: “It was something just about being in a new city, and a new light, and reopening the sessions, and this demo that I thought was a throwaway, suddenly I’m really feeling it….”

Read our 2013 My Firsts interview with The Love Language.

3. We Were Promised Jetpacks: “Hanging In”

This week Scotland’s We Were Promised Jetpacks announced a new album, The More I Sleep the Less I Dream, and shared its first single, “Hanging In.” The More I Sleep the Less I Dream is due out September 14. In the U.S. it will be self-released by the band and Big Scary Monsters will be releasing it in Europe. Last week the band announced some new tour dates and hinted that an album was on the way.

The album was recorded in early 2018 with producer Jonathan Low (The National, Sufjan Stevens, Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs) at Minor Street in Philadelphia and Long Pond in New York’s Hudson Valley. Prior to that it took them awhile to write the right songs.

“The first batch of songs were written for the wrong reason,” guitarist Michael Palmer explains in a press release. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and ended up writing a certain kind of song. Focusing more on choruses and structure, trying to simplify everything.”

Vocalist/guitarist Adam Thompson adds: “We scrapped probably a full album. Something just felt off about them. They didn’t work at all.”

The band regrouped and rewrote, with almost title track “The More I Sleep, The Less I Dream.” being one of the first songs to truly work. “All of the songs we scrapped were very calculated, whereas this song just flowed. It was instinctive. That gave us the confidence to believe that we could actually do this, just the four of us,” says Palmer in the press release. “After that everything else just clicked.”

The press release describes the album as such: “The More I Sleep The Less I Dream marks a new chapter in We Were Promised Jetpacks’ career. It’s about going back to the heart of who they are, a high school band that never stopped. It’s about four people who have grown up together, making a conscious choice to keep writing music and seeing where that takes them.”

The band’s last full-length was 2014’s Unraveling. A previous press release laid out what the band has been up to since then: “Having spent 10 years almost consistently writing and touring, it was time to decamp home to Scotland and take a breath. They reverted back to their original four members and dealt with several behind the scenes changes. They celebrated a few marriages and tried to remember who they were when not on the road.”

Also read our 2014 interview with the band or the guest blog post guitarist Michael Palmer wrote for us in 2014 on professional wrestling.

4. Tomberlin: “I’m Not Scared”

Tomberlin is the project of Sarah Beth Tomberlin. Her debut album, At Weddings, is due out August 10 via Saddle Creek. Previously she shared a video for its first single, “Self-Help” (which was one of our Songs of the Week), as well as a video for “Seventeen.” This week she shared another song from the album, haunting folk ballad “I’m Not Scared.”

Tomberlin had this to say about the song in a press release: “It is abrasive, heavy, but packaged delicately. I feel like many people view women as such—shrill and emotionally burdensome but responsible for consistently presenting themselves pleasantly. Gentle and affable - their warmth a tool to heal often with no regard for the state of the body and mind that warmth permeates from. Women, and especially queer, trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming people, have such a capacity for pain. Physical, mental, emotional, psychological pain. This is a hymn-like song in the way that it moves melodically. A reflection on that suffering. I didn’t realize the full meaning when I wrote it. The weight of the song didn’t hit me until I was listening to the final recording. It is kind of like leaving a person or situation that is really abusive and not realizing how much it affects your psyche until you’ve removed yourself completely. You look back and you realize you are strong, even though that is the last word you would use to describe how you feel.”

Tomberlin was born in Jacksonville, Florida, but is now based in Louisville, Kentucky. She grew up in a very religious household, the daughter of a Baptist pastor, and was homeschooled until the age of 16, after which she went to college at a private Christian school she only half-jokingly describes in a press release as a “cult.” At 17 she dropped out of school, returned home, and started to question her faith and her place in the world. It was around this time she began writing the songs that would end up on At Weddings.

“I was working, going to school, and experiencing heavy isolation,” Tomberlin says of the period in a press release. “It felt monotonous, like endless nothingness. It was a means to get through to the next step of life.”

By the time she was 20 she had written enough songs for an album. The press release says At Weddings “documents the unlearning of her childhood faith” but was still heavily influenced by church music and hymns.

As Tomberlin explains in the press release: “A lot of hymns talk about really crazy stuff - being saved from the depths and the mire, judgment. When you actually realize what you’re singing, it becomes really overwhelming. I grew up singing in church. I was still helping to lead worship when I started coming to terms with the realization that I didn’t know if I believed. I felt nauseous and shaky reading these words I was singing and feeling their intensity. If I did believe this, how could I sing these words without being scared out of my mind? That’s what’s influenced how I write.”

5. Saintseneca: “Ladder to the Sun”

Saintseneca (the folk-punk project of Columbus’ Zac Little) is releasing his fourth album, Pillar of Na, on August 31 via ANTI-. Previously he shared the album’s first single, “Frostbiter.” This week he shared a video for another song from the album, “Ladder to the Sun,” which features Little chasing a glowing ladder at night. Little directed the video with Jon Washington. Saintseneca has also announced some tour dates, which are found here.

6. Tunng: “Dark Heart”

Tunng are releasing a new album, Songs You Make At Night, on August 24 via Full Time Hobby. It’s the first album with the original lineup (including founding members Sam Genders and Mike Lindsay) since 2007’s Good Arrows. Previously “ABOP” was one of our Songs of the Week. This week they shared another song from the album, a catchy piece of synth-pop/electronic rock entitled “Dark Heart.”

A press release says “Dark Heart” is “a song for the end of the night. One that you’d hear on the jukebox at last orders,” with singer/lyricist Sam Genders adding: “in a mythical sea side town’s dive bar in a psychedelic dream alive with the smell of salt air and stale lager. It’s a song about embracing and moving through the darker parts of yourself in order to feel more at peace with the world and your place in it.”

Lindsay had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “We really wanted to do a Tunng record going back to the original line up, there was a real magic in the early records that we all wanted to capture again in this one.”

Lindsay has also teamed with Laura Marling for the duo LUMP, who released their self-titled debut last month via Dead Oceans.

7. Richard Reed Parry: “Sai No Kawara (River of Death)” and “On the Ground”

This week Arcade Fire multi-instrumentalist Richard Reed Parry announced a new solo album, Quiet River of Dust Vol. 1, and shared a combined animated video for two of its songs, “Sai No Kawara (River of Death)” and “On the Ground.” Since “Sai No Kawara (River of Death)” is less than three minutes long and blends right into the 7-minute “On the Ground,” we are giving them a joint entry on the list, although “On the Ground” is the stronger song. In fact, we’ve heard the whole album and there are even better songs on there that will hopefully be released as singles and get higher rankings on future Songs of the Week lists.

Parry directed the video with Caleb Wood. Quiet River of Dust Vol. 1 is due out September 21 via ANTI-, his first for the label. As the title suggests, it’s the first part of a two volume series, with part two due out next spring.

The seeds of the album were first planted a decade ago during Arcade Fire’s first tour of Japan. Parry hung around Japan for several weeks after the tour ended, finding himself in a monastery, an experience he describes in a press release as “the biggest silence you’ve ever heard.”

Parry elaborates in a press release: “The song ‘On the Ground’ was inspired by an encounter with ghost voices in a Japanese forest near a temple on the mountain Koya-Sān. I told director Caleb Wood the story - of being alone in this magical environment of giant cedar trees and hearing a loud chorus of powerful harmony singing that sounded inexplicably identical to my late father’s folk band the Friends of Fiddler’s Green, who were the soundtrack to my entire childhood and upbringing.”

Parry also had this to say about the album in the press release: “I’m lousy at sitting still and being nothing. But being out in the natural world or being immersed in music is the meditation for me. That’s the heart of this record: the experience of transcending the place that you’re in, getting lost in the feeling of where you end and where the world begins, in a dreamlike world of music and thought.”

Read our 2014 Versus interview where Richard Reed Parry and Peter Gabriel interviewed each other.

8. The Goon Sax: “Make Time For Love”

Australian trio The Goon Sax (Louis Forster, Riley Jones, James Harrison) are releasing their sophomore album, We’re Not Talking, on September 14th via Wichita. This week they shared a video for the album’s opening track, “Make Time For Love,” a breakup song of sorts that features Forster on lead vocals. Ryan Daniel Browne directed the black & white video.

Forster had this to say about the song in a press release: “It’s about realizing that love is at odds with the rest of your life and admitting defeat. Head hung. We were listening to a lot of ESG and Liquid Liquid around that time so the song ended up kind of dancy. All the melody to this song was just really funny to me. We laughed a lot, particularly when writing the part for the chorus but then the words were very earnest because there was a lot going on that I couldn’t really push aside to write about something else. ‘I’m gonna see my baby/And it make me feel moody’ would probably have done the trick.”

Forster had this to say about the video: “Coming up with the concept for the video, we were influenced most strongly by Die Abenteuer Des Prinzen Achmed by Lotte Reiniger and Carl Koch and A Nap és a Hold elrablása by Sándor Reisenbüchler. The covers of Tilt and the Drift by Scott Walker were another critical clue for us, and Riley actually bought a copy of Tilt on tour which we listened to and it got us in the right head space. The video takes place in three worlds: wicked, regular, and a third removed fantasy.”

9. Waxahatchee: “Chapel of Pines”

This week Waxahatchee (aka Katie Crutchfield) announced a new EP, Great Thunder, and shared a video for its first single, “Chapel of Pines.” The video features Kevin Morby (although he does not sing on the song). Great Thunder is due out September 7 via Merge.

Waxahatchee’s last album, Out in the Storm, came out last year via Merge. It was our Album of the Week.

Crutchfield had this to say about the EP in a press release: “I would say that it is a complete 180 from the last record: super stripped-down, quiet, and with me performing solo, it’s a throwback to how I started. Overall, the EP is a warm, kind of vibey recording.”

The EP features songs Crutchfield originally wrote with the former experimental music group Great Thunder while she was also recording the Waxahatchee albums Cerulean Salt and Ivy Tripp. Crutchfield re-imagined the songs them with producer Brad Cook at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Wisconsin.

Read our 2017 The End interview with Waxahatchee where she answered our questions about endings and death.

10. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy: “Blueberry Jam”

To end this week’s list, a delightfully silly song from Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (aka Will Oldham) about blueberries. That’s pretty much it. Blueberries upon blueberries. And then there is the Tim Morton-directed video, which features Oldham and his wife in blue makeup and a whole lot of blueberries. In these troubled times, sometimes all you need is some blueberry jam, or at least a witty song and ridiculous video to distract you from the cable news cycle.

Honorable Mentions:

These five songs almost made the Top 10.

alt-J: “Deadcrush (feat. Danny Brown) (Alchemist x Trooko Version)”

The Beths: “Great No One”

Death Cab for Cutie: “I Dreamt We Spoke Again”

The Lemon Twigs: “Small Victories”

Devon Welsh: “By the Daylight”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

The 1975: “Love It If We Made It”

Animal Collective: “Hair Cutter”

Vanessa Carlton: “Needle in the Hay” (Elliott Smith Cover)

Cat Power: “Wanderer”

Chance the Rapper: “65th & Ingleside,” “I Might Need Security,” “Wala Cam” (Feat. Supa Bwe & Forever Band),” and “Work Out”

Brandon Coleman: “Giant Feelings” (Feat. Patrice Quinn & Techdizzle)

Everything Is Recorded: “Carry Me” (Feat. Obongjayar & Yazz Ahmed)

Foxing: “Nearer My God”

Free Cake For Every Creature: “Be Home Soon”

Guerilla Toss: “Meteorological”

Hilang Child: “Crow”

The Hold Steady: “The Stove & The Toaster” and “Star 18”

Jeff The Brotherhood: “Parachute”

Jlin: “The Abyss of Doubt”

Joyce Manor: “Million Dollars to Kill Me”

Liars: “Helsingor Lane”

Menace Beach: “Crawl in Love”

Minus the Bear: “Fair Enough”

Muse: “Something Human”

Willie Nelson: “Summer Wind” (Frank Sinatra Cover)

Ross From Friends: “Pale Blue Dot”

Silk City: “Feel About You” (Feat. Mapei)

Superorganism: “Night Time (Danny L Harle Remix)”

Swamp Dogg: “Answer Me, My Love”

Fred Thomas: “Good Times Are Gone Again”

Tirzah: “Affection” and “Devotion” (Feat. Coby Sey)

TORRES: “Gracious Day”

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