11 Best Songs of the Week: bar italia, Marika Hackman, boygenius, The Last Dinner Party, and More | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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11 Best Songs of the Week: bar italia, Marika Hackman, boygenius, The Last Dinner Party, and More

Plus Jamila Woods, Brittany Howard, Spyres, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Oct 13, 2023
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Welcome to the 33rd Songs of the Week of 2023. This week Andy Von Pip, Austin Saalman, Caleb Campbell, Marc Abbott, and Scott Dransfield all helped me decide what should make the list. We settled on a Top 11 this week.

In the past week or so we also posted interviews with Squirrel Flower, Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service, Pale Blue Eyes, Shakey Graves, Black Belt Eagle Scout, 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 11 best the last week had to offer, followed by some honorable mentions. Check out the full list below.

1. bar italia: “Jelsy”

London post-punk trio bar italia are releasing a new album, The Twits, their second album of 2023, on November 3 via Matador. On Tuesday, they shared its second single, “Jelsy,” via a music video. The video features the band casually performing the song while sat a bar.

Previously bar italia shared the album’s first single, “my little tony,” via a music video. “My little tony” was one of our Songs of the Week.

The Twits quickly follows Tracey Denim, a new album the band released in May via Matador (it was the band’s first for the iconic label).

The band features Nina Cristante, Jezmi Tarik Fehmi, and Sam Fenton. The trio recorded the album over the course of eight weeks, starting in February 2023. They recorded in a makeshift home studio in Mallorca, Spain. Marta Salogni mixed the album.

Prior to Tracey Denim, the band released two albums, an EP, and several singles over the last two years on Dean Blunt’s World Music label.

2. Marika Hackman: “Hanging”

On Wednesday, British singer/songwriter Marika Hackman announced a new album, Big Sigh, and shared a new song from it, “Hanging,” via a lyric video. She also announced some UK and European tour dates. Big Sigh is due out January 12, 2024 via Chrysalis, her first album for the label. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the tour dates, here.

“‘Hanging’ is reflecting on a difficult past relationship and how you can trap yourself in a situation where you’re unable to grow into the next stage of your life,” Hackman says of the new single, in a press release. “The line ‘yeah you were a part of me/I’m so relieved it hurts’ is describing how painful it still is to break up even if it’s not right.”

Big Sigh includes “No Caffeine,” a new song Hackman shared in September via a music video that was #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

Hackman co-produced Big Sigh with Sam Petts-Davies (Thom Yorke, Warpaint) and long-term collaborator Charlie Andrew (Alt-J). It’s her first album of original songs in over four years and described as the “hardest record” she’s ever made.

In 2020 Hackman released a covers album, simply titled Covers, via Sub Pop. Hackman’s last album of originals, Any Human Friend, came out in 2019, also via Sub Pop. Read our rave review of the album. Any Human Friend was the follow-up to her 2017-released breakthrough release, sophomore album I’m Not Your Man.

Read our 2017 interview with Marika Hackman.

Read our My Favorite Album interview with Hackman on Warpaint’s The Fool.

3. boygenius: “Afraid of Heights”

Boygenius released a new EP, The Rest, today via Interscope and it features four new songs: “Black Hole,” “Afraid of Heights,” “Voyager,” and “powers.” The supergroup features Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers. “Afraid of Heights,” led by Dacus, was our favorite of the four songs.

Stream the whole EP here.

Boygenius, Tony Berg, Jake Finch, Ethan Gruska, Calvin Lauber, Collin Pastore, and Marshall Vore all produced the EP.

The Rest follows boygenius’ debut full-length album, the record, released in March via Interscope, when they also shared an accompanying short film directed by actor/director Kristen Stewart simply titled the film. Stream the album here and also watch the film here.

Boygenius recently performed “Cool About It,” from the record, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

When the record was announced in January, boygenius shared three new songs from it: “$20,” “Emily I’m Sorry,” and “True Blue.” “$20” made our Songs of the Week list. Then they shared the album’s fourth single, “Not Strong Enough,” via a music video. “Not Strong Enough” was also one of our Songs of the Week. When the album was released, we included “Cool About It” on our Songs of the Week list. They later shared a video for “Cool About It.”

Boygenius formed in 2018 and released their self-titled debut EP the same year via Matador. The trio self-produced the record, which was recorded at Shangri-la Studios in Malibu, California.

Read our 2019 cover story interview with boygenius.

4. The Last Dinner Party: “My Lady of Mercy”

This week, buzzed about new British five-piece The Last Dinner Party shared their third ever single, “My Lady of Mercy,” via a music video. James Ford produced the song. The Last Dinner Party directed the video with Harv Frost and Dora Paphides.

The Last Dinner Party collectively had this to say about the new single in a press release: “‘My Lady of Mercy’ is about being a girl. A girl looking up at a painting of Joan of Arc for the first time and thinking that she looks so brave and so beautiful that she wants to kiss her. And maybe she also wants to kiss the girl who stands next to her in the school choir. We are expanding the world of The Last Dinner Party to encompass a darker, heavier atmosphere. The lyrics explore the anguish of a teenage crush that can only be described through the bloody, carnal language of religious experience, as the sound world takes cues from Nine Inch Nails, PJ Harvey, and Roxy Music.”

The Last Dinner Party were getting a considerable amount of buzz in their home country based mainly on their live performances, but in April they released their debut single, “Nothing Matters,” via a music video. “Nothing Matters” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then in June they shared their second single, “Sinner,” as well as a video of them performing the song live. “Sinner” again made our Songs of the Week list.

Read our recent interview with The Last Dinner Party, which is likely the band’s first ever interview with an American publication.

The Last Dinner Party are Abigail Morris (vocals), Georgia Davies (bass), Lizzie Mayland (guitar), Aurora Nishevci (keys), and Emily Roberts (lead guitar). James Ford has produced all their songs so far and not only is he a member of Simian Mobile Disco and The Last Shadow Puppets, but as a producer he has worked with an impressive array of artists, including Depeche Mode, Arctic Monkeys, Jessie Ware, Everything Everything, Gorillaz, HAIM, Florence + The Machine, Foals, and Pet Shop Boys.

The Last Dinner Party had already performed sets ahead of Nick Cave and The Rolling Stones before even releasing a debut single.

5. Jamila Woods: “Practice” (Feat. Saba)

Chicago musician and poet Jamila Woods released a new album, Water Made Us, today via Jagjaguwar. On Tuesday, she shared its fourth single, “Practice,” via a music video. The song features Saba. Carlos López Estrada directed the video, which could be considered NSFW due to some non-sexual nudity.

McClenney produced the song. Woods had this to say about it in a press release: “‘Practice’ is a song I made with McClenney about releasing the pressure we put on ourselves in relationships. I was trying to shift how I often evaluate relationships based on their potential for longevity rather than on how I feel in the moment. The song is about how we can learn to just enjoy ourselves and be present with someone without needing to ‘get everything right’ or ‘have everything together.’ My friend Carlos López Estrada came up with this concept of creating faces with bodies in a way that’s sensual and silly at the same time. The whole process was very playful and experimental, which suits the song perfectly.”

McClenney says: “‘Practice’ was such an important part of completing this album. We went through 2-3 different versions of the song to end up with the final you hear today. Where it sat in the sequence was important because it has a familiar rhythmic groove that celebrates the joy of exploring a new relationship while bookending the ‘honeymoon’ phase of the album’s themes as the next few tracks move onto heavier & more vulnerable topics and tones. It was a puzzle piece Jamila and I spent so much time making sure we got right. Saba has been a consistent collaborator of her’s and it felt like the perfect track to capture their synergistic creative energies with something both familiar and new; he killed it.”

Previously Woods shared a video for the album’s first single, “Tiny Garden,” which features duendita. “Tiny Garden” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared its second single, “Boomerang,” via a music video. “Bommerang” was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then she has shared its third single, “Good News,” another Songs of the Week entry.

Woods had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “Water Made Us feels like the most personal and vulnerable piece of art I’ve ever made. I love creating from source material, diving deep into a subject and extrapolating from what I discover. We sat in the house for two years and I became my own source material. Shout out to the therapists, the astrologers, the family members and friends who listened, who helped me process and transform my journaled thoughts and questions into this body of work. I hope it feels like a playlist that carries you through the life cycle of a relationship, whatever stage of the journey your heart may be in.”

6. Brittany Howard: “What Now”

Today, Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard announced a new solo album, What Now, and shared its title track via a music video. She’s also announced some new tour dates. Most of the details of What Now are still forthcoming—its release date, tracklist, and cover artwork are all still to be revealed. But we do know it’s coming out on Island. Check out the tour dates here.

What Now follows Howard’s 2019-released, Grammy-winning debut solo album, Jaime, which was released by ATO.

Howard wrote and produced “What Now,” with co-production from Shawn Everett. Danilo Parra directed the song’s video. It will be released as a 7-inch in December, with the song “Meditation” as the B-side.

Howard had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘What Now’ is maybe the truest and bluest of all the songs. It’s never my design to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I needed to say what was on my mind without editing myself. I like how it’s a song that makes you want to dance, but at the same time the lyrics are brutal.”

7. Spyres: “The Thing”

On Wednesday, Glaswegian four-piece Spyres announced their new EP, Karaoke Sellout, for release on 24th November. They also released yet another shimmering indie-pop earworm in the shape of “The Thing.”

Previously tipped by Under the Radar, their new single “The Thing” is a soaring nugget with sugar-sweet call-and-response vocals. It’s a song that revels in ambiguity, the unknowable, and the things you can’t quite find the right words for.

The band explains: “‘The Thing’ just speaks for itself. When those words were brought up in a writing session, we thought there were so many avenues to go down and so much it could be about hence the extensive lyrics in the chorus and bridge. We never actually come to a conclusion of who or what ‘The Thing’ is as we wanted to give it a real edge and leave the listener wanting to know more.”

8. Lauren Mayberry: “Shame”

On Tuesday, Lauren Mayberry, singer with Scottish electro-pop trio CHVRCHES, shared her second solo single, “Shame.”

“Shame” follows her debut solo single, “Are You Awake?,” which was released in September and was one of our Songs of the Week.

Mayberry had this to say about the song in a press release: “I had the idea for a while of a song that had the tagline of ‘what a shame,’ but in a sarcastic way. And the word ‘shame’ having a double meaning—the shame you feel and internalize, but what a shame you feel like that and can’t change it.

“Looking back on a lot of my life in terms of relationships, sexuality and my sense of self in the world, there is a lot of shame associated with that. I came into my teens in the early-mid 2000s, a time period we now regard as a bit of a shithole in terms of gender and media messages (post Woodstock 99, the dawn of sex tape leaks, Girls Gone Wild, etc etc). What was deemed ‘attractive’ for women and girls was quite disturbing in hindsight, and that’s what went into my brain at a formative time, romanticizing bargain basement, local band boy versions of Reality Bites Ethan Hawke. But now I know better, my wiring is still to find those things attractive on a cellular level. I know not to want those things academically, but emotionally, romantically, sexually, I have been trained to find those things valuable and attractive.

“I know you are what you eat and it’s the taste that keeps me tame.”

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.

9. Lenny Kravitz: “TK421”

Yesterday, Grammy Award winning 1990s rock icon and actor Lenny Kravitz announced a new album, Blue Electric Light, and has shared its first single, “TK421,” via a NSFW music video that nearly features a full-frontal Kravitz. Blue Electric Light is due March 15, 2024 via Roxie Records/BMG. Check out the album’s cover artwork here (the tracklist is TBA).

Blue Electric Light is Kravitz’s first double album, first album in over five years, and his 12th full-length LP. Kravitz played most of the instruments on the album himself, with longtime guitarist Craig Ross also involed. He wrote and recorded the album in his studio in the Bahamas.

Tanu Muino directed the “TK421” video, which features Kravitz in various states of undress as he gets ready in the morning, while singing the song. The song’s title is a Star Wars reference—TK-421 was the designation of a Death Star Storm Trooper tasked with guarding the Millennium Falcon. He was tricked and killed by Han Solo, who then took his armor to use as a disguise when rescuing Princess Leia.

Kravitz’s last album was 2018’s Raise Vibration.

10. Jaakko Eino Kalevi: “Drifting Away” (Feat. Jimi Tenor)

Finnish multi-instrumentalist Jaakko Eino Kalevi is releasing a new album, Chaos Magic, on November 17 via Domino imprint Weird World. On Wednesday, he shared another new song from it, horn-backed ballad “Drifting Away,” via a self-directed music video. It features Finnish saxophonist Jimi Tenor.

Kalevi had this to say about the song in a press release: “Missing someone is the most romantic thing, and this is a romantic song. It started out as an ancient jam we once had at a rehearsal place a long time ago, but this one had certain elements that stuck in my mind and I knew I’d use them in a song one day.”

Frank Holbein shot the music video, which was filmed on MiniDV. “The original idea for the video was to shoot it on a yacht like in ‘Rio’ by Duran Duran,” Kalevi explains. “We were all set but then Storm Elias raged over the sea and we had to figure out something else. The song is about longing so I thought it could be more about dreaming about sailing. My sister was visiting and wanted to go to a beach, so we made up a story based on that and shot by the sea.”

Chaos Magic also features Faux Real, Yu-Ching Huang, and John Moods. It was recorded at Mutual Sound Studios in Athens and was co-produced and mixed by Teemu Takatalo, who runs the studio and is friends with Kalevi.

Kalevi calls the album “a ‘back to the roots’ album” and “a collection of songs from a certain period without trying to tie them together.”

Previously Kalevi shared a video for the album’s first single, “I Forget,” which made a special Songs of the Week playlist we did. Then he shared another new song from it, “Palace in My Head,” featuring guest vocals from French actress Alma Jodorowsky, who also directed and co-starred in the song’s music video. “Palace in My Head” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Kalevi’s last full-length was 2018’s Out of Touch. In 2020 he released the mini-album, Dissolution,

Read our The End interview with Kalevi.

Also read our My Firsts interview with Kalevi.

Plus read our Self-Portrait interview with Kalevi.

Read our 2015 interview with Jaakko Eino Kalevi.

11. Sen Morimoto: “Deeper”

Chicago-based Japanese American multi-instrumentalist Sen Morimoto is releasing his third studio album, Diagnosis, on November 3 via City Slang, in partnership with his own Sooper Records. On Wednesday, he shared another song from it, “Deeper.”

Morimoto had this to say about the song in a press release: “There is a place in the center of my chest, tucked behind my heart, where only the most extreme depths of grief or joy make themselves known. When the context of everything in your life is squeezed into a single moment by the pressure of an overwhelming present it feels like you’re at the bottom of the ocean. Nothing’s deeper.”

On Sunday, October 22, fans will be able to hear the album early at a drive-in movie theater in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. All the album’s music videos will also be shown, as well as the cult 1974 horror rock opera Phantom of the Paradise, which was directed by Brian De Palma and is an influence on the new album.

Morimoto explains: “Phantom of the Paradise was a film my collaborators New Trash [production company in Chicago] recommended when I came to them with the concept for the ‘Diagnosis’ video. I couldn’t believe I’d never seen this amazing rock opera that poked fun at capitalism and corruption in the music industry in a way that felt so related to what Diagnosis is about. It lives in the same goofy fantasy horror world that I wanted our visuals to come from too so I was immediately obsessed.”

RSVP to the drive-in event here.

Morimoto previously shared the album’s first single, “If The Answer Isn’t Love,” which was featured on our Songs of the Week. When the album was announced, he shared its title track, “Diagnosis,” via a music video. The song was also one of our Songs of the Week.

When explaining this album’s aim, Morimoto said in a previous press release: “I’ve now released a couple of albums in a time when the most commercially exploitable asset an artist has is their social identity and their trauma. Over this time the discussion of this pattern has come up repeatedly with peers who felt similarly tired of being expected to share every private detail of an immigrant household or to romanticize the struggle of their working class upbringing only to find questions on the craft itself reserved for artists without those burdens. While the songs on my third album range in topic from love to radicalization to spirituality and the internal effects of life under capitalism, every song on Diagnosis is, at its core, an attempt to flip the lens around. To hold a magnifying glass over the systems we live in and empower us to investigate them with the same scrutiny.”

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 11.

Beirut: “The Tern”

The Death of Pop: “Withering”

Eyedress: “My Simple Jeep” (Feat. Mac DeMarco)

Kaeto: “No Body”

Fenne Lily: “Hollywood and Fear”

Maple Glider: “Do You”

Tex Crick: “Silly Little Things”

Viji: “Sundress in Pink”

Wish Queen: “Grievances”

Yumi Zouma: “be okay”

Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 11 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:

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