11 Best Songs of the Week: The Last Dinner Party, Lael Neale, Squid, Bully, and More | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024  

11 Best Songs of the Week: The Last Dinner Party, Lael Neale, Squid, Bully, and More

Plus Django Django, Killer Mike, bar Italia, Sparks, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Apr 21, 2023
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Welcome to the fourteenth Songs of the Week of 2023. It was a surprisingly quiet week for new tracks, perhaps because it was bookended by the two weekends of the Coachella festival. But there were still some songs we liked.

Remember that we recently announced our new print issue, Issue 71 with Weyes Blood and Black Belt Eagle Scout on the covers.

In the past week or so we posted interviews with Duran Duran, Esther Rose, Alvvays, Fenne Lily, and others.

In the last week we reviewed some albums.

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. The Last Dinner Party: “Nothing Matters”

The Last Dinner Party are a new British five-piece who have been getting a considerable amount of buzz in their home country based mainly on their live performances. But this week they released their debut single, “Nothing Matters,” via a music video. The band co-directed the cinematic video with Saorla Houston.

The Last Dinner Party are Abigail Morris (vocals), Georgia Davies (bass), Lizzie Mayland (guitar), Aurora Nishevci (keys), and Emily Roberts (lead guitar). James Ford produced “Nothing Matters” 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 have already performed sets ahead of Nick Cave and The Rolling Stones before even releasing a debut single. Their upcoming tour dates include some British summer festivals, as well as some shows opening for First Aid Kit and Florence + The Machine. “Nothing Matters” has some sonic similarities to the work of Florence Welch and her machine, making The Last Dinner Party a fitting support act for her.

2. Lael Neale: “Must Be Tears”

Lael Neale has released a new album, Star Eaters Delight, today via Sub Pop. On Tuesday she shared its fourth single, “Must Be Tears,” via a self-directed video.

Neale had this to say about the video in a press release: “Even though I’ve lived through many springs, the season never fails to disappoint me with its lingering cold and dreariness. Flowers are nature’s apology.”

Pick up our current print issue (Issue 71) to read our new interview with Lael Neale on Star Eaters Delight. Read our rave review of the album here.

Previously Neale shared the album’s first single, “I Am the River,” also via a self-directed music video. “I Am the River” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared its second single, the over eight-minute long “In Verona,” via a self-directed video in which Neale plays a newscaster. “In Verona” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then she shared its third single, “Faster Than the Medicine,” also via a self-directed video and also one of our Songs of the Week.

Star Eaters Delight is the follow up to 2021’s Acquainted With Night, which was her debut for Sub Pop and was recorded in 2019. The new album was recorded after Neale moved from Los Angeles to her family’s farm in rural Virginia in April 2020.

Acquainted with Night was a focusing inward amidst the loud and bright Los Angeles surrounding me. It was an attempt to create spaciousness and quiet reverie within. When I moved back to the farm, I found that the unbroken silences compelled me to break them with sound. This album is more external. It is a reaching back out to the world, wanting to feel connected, to wake up, to come together again,” explained Neale in a previous press release.

Guy Blakeslee produced the album with Neale.

Read our 2021 interview with Lael Neale.

3. Squid: “Undergrowth”

British experimental post-punk five-piece Squid are releasing a new album, O Monolith, on June 9 via Warp. On Tuesday they shared its second single, “Undergrowth,” as well as an accompanying video game. They also announced some new 2024 North American tour dates. Check out the tour dates here. Play the game here.

Squid drummer/vocalist Ollie Judge had this to say about the new single in a press release: “I really got into animism, the idea that spirits can live in inanimate objects. I was watching Twin Peaks, and there was the episode where Josie Packard’s spirit goes into a chest of drawers. So ‘Undergrowth’ was written from the perspective of me being reincarnated as a bedside table in the afterlife, and how the thought of being reincarnated as an inanimate object would be dreadful. ‘This isn’t what I wanted/ So many options to be disappointed.’ Even though I’m in no way religious I don’t think anyone who isn’t religious is confident enough to not have had the fleeting thought of ‘Fuck, what if there is an afterlife? What if I’m going to Hell?’”

Squid’s Louis Borlase directed the visualizer video for “Undergrowth” and had this to say: “When we were writing O Monolith we rented a little studio in St Pauls and whichever way we’d walk home, the BRI Hospital chimney would always be standing there – jutting out in front of a disc of countryside beyond. Sometimes it feels like most folklore hides in the countryside’s nooks. At other times it comes in closer, lurking in the bins on the walk back from the shops.”

Frank Force, the creator of the video game, adds: “Imagine the game itself as an interactive music video where gameplay and animation is synched up to the music and changes as the song progresses, moving into different phases.”

Tickets for Squid’s new tour dates go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. local time.

Previously Squid shared the album’s first single, album opener “Swing (In a Dream),” via a music video.

O Monolith is the band’s sophomore full-length and follow’s 2001’s debut album, Bright Green Field.

Squid features Louis Borlase, Ollie Judge, Arthur Leadbetter, Laurie Nankivell, and Anton Pearson. Long-time collaborator Dan Carey produced O Monolith, which was mixed by John McEntire (of Tortoise).

Squid started working on O Monolith just two weeks following Bright Green Field’s release. At the time the band was on tour, playing seated and socially distanced shows, as the pandemic was still very much a factor. On that tour they tested out some new material. “Without that tour we wouldn’t have any of these tracks,” says Judge in a press release. “People were so looking forward to seeing live music that we thought we could just play anything, even if it was unfinished. In some form or another we played about 80% of O Monolith, mostly without lyrics.”

Of the themes on the album, Borlase says: “There’s a running theme of the relation of people to the environment throughout. There are allusions to the world we became so immersed in, environmental emergency, the role of domesticity, and the displacement you feel when you’re away for a long time.”

The press release says that “Swing (In a Dream)” was “inspired by a dream Judge had about a painting called The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.”

“In my dream, I was in the painting but it was flooded and everything was floating away,” Judge explains.

Park had this to say about directing the “Swing (In a Dream)” video: “I was interested in exploring visual ideas from Where’s Waldo, Richard Scarry, and Brueghel as a means to express anxieties about the climate crisis.”

Read our 2021 interview with Squid.

4. Bully: “Hard to Love”

Bully (aka Alicia Bognanno) is releasing a new album, Lucky For You, on June 2 via Sub Pop. Yesterday she shared the album’s third single, “Hard to Love,” via a self-directed music video.

Bognanno had this to say about the song in a press release: “Growing up never fitting into society’s constructed gender stereotypes and expectations, I often felt as though different equals bad or wrong. I was confused about my place in the world, not fully identifying with any one particular gender or sexuality. I was ashamed, and I blamed myself. Though I’m still in the process of understanding and accepting my identity, I’m glad to be surrounded by people who love and accept me for who I am regardless of the clothes I wear and the labels others use to define me.”

Lucky For You includes “Lose You,” a new song shared in February that features Soccer Mommy (aka Sophie Allison) and was one of our Songs of the Week. When the album was announced in March, Bully shared the album’s second single, “Days Move Slow,” via a music video. “Days Move Slow” was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Lucky For You was recorded in 2022 at MMK Studios and Bognanno’s house in Nashville. Producer J.T. Daly helped with the recordings and Joe LaPorta mastered the album at Sterling Sound.

Bognanno had this to say about recording with Daly in a previous press release: “If I’m doing something that doesn’t feel natural or right, I’m quick to shut it down. So it was great to work with J.T. because I could tell he was a genuine fan who wanted to emphasize what he thinks is good about my writing instead of changing it. I could tell how much he cared about the project, and it meant a lot to me.”

The album was recorded over a seven-month period, which is much longer than previous Bully albums. “I was freaking out about it at first because taking my time was so new for me,” admitted Bognanno. “But a few months in, I realized how crucial that time ended up being. I got songs out of it that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Summing up the experience of recording Lucky For You, Bognanno said: “With every record, I feel more and more secure in terms of doing what I want. For this one, I wanted to be as creative as possible with these songs.”

Bully’s last album, SUGAREGG, came out in 2020 on Sub Pop, and was featured on our Top 100 Albums of 2020 list.

5. Django Django: “Dumdrum”

Django Django are releasing a new album, Off Planet, on June 16 via Because Music. It’s being released in four parts and on Thursday the band shared part three, which features six new songs: “No Time” (Feat. Jack Peñate), “A New Way Through,” “Galaxy Mood” (Feat. Toya Delazy), “The Oh Zone,” “Dead Machine” (Feat. Stealing Sheep), and “Dumdrum.” “No Time” is being considered the lead single of part three and that makes our honorable mentions list below, but our favorite of the new batch was “Dumdrum.”

The band collectively had this to say about part three of Off Planet in a press release: “Part 3 continues the journeys in sound with guest vocals from Jack Peñate, Stealing Sheep, and Toya Delazy. Moving from classic house inspired grooves of ‘No Time’ and ‘A New Way Through’ to the woozy, lo-fi hip-hop drums of “Dead Machine” and ending with the squelching, dancefloor ready synths of ‘Galaxy Mood’ and ‘Dumdrum.’”

Previously Django Django shared part one of Off Planet, which featured its first five songs, including lead single “Complete Me” (feat. Self Esteem), “Wishbone,” “Osaka,” “Hands High” (feat. Refound*), and “Lunar Vibrations” (feat. Isabelle Woodhouse). “Complete Me” was one of our Songs of the Week and then they shared a video for “Complete Me.”

Then Django Django shared part two of Off Planet, which featured its next five songs: “Don’t Touch That Dial” (Feat. Yuuko), “Back to Back” (Feat. Patience), “Squid Inc,” “Come Down,” and “Golden Cross.”

Off Planet deconstructs ’90s dance pop. Self Esteem (aka Rebecca Taylor, formerly of Slow Club) previously appeared on the Django Django song “Surface to Air,” from the band’s 2018 album Marble Skies.

Django Django’s last studio album, Glowing in the Dark, came out in 2021 via Because Music. Last year they released a 10th anniversary reissue of their self-titled debut album. It featured the original album along with a complete dub reworking by Mad Professor.

6. Killer Mike: “Don’t Let the Devil” (Feat EL-P and thankugoodsir)

Yesterday, Killer Mike of Run the Jewels announced a new solo album, simply titled MICHAEL, and shared a new song from it, “Don’t Let the Devil,” which features his Run the Jewels bandmate EL-P and thankugoodsir. MICHAEL is due out June 16. The album’s tracklist and cover artwork have yet to be shared.

A press release says MICHAEL is “his most autobiographical and independent album to date.” Mike adds: “RTJ is the X-Men, this is my Logan.”

“Don’t Let the Devil” features production from No I.D., EL-P, and Little Shalimar.

Last year Killer Mike shared the new song “Run,” a collaboration with Young Thug with a video features an opening monologue by Dave Chappelle. “Run” is expected to be on MICHAEL.

Killer Mike’s last solo album was 2012’s R.A.P. Music. Run the Jewels’ most recent album, RTJ4, came out in 2020 via Jewel Runners/BMG.

7. bar italia: “punkt”

On Tuesday, London post-punk trio bar italia announced a new album, Tracey Denim, and shared a new song from it, “punkt,” via a music video. They also announced their first ever U.S. tour dates. Tracey Denim is due out May 19 via Matador, the band’s first for the iconic label. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the tour dates, here.

Tracey Denim includes “Nurse!,” a new song the band shared in March. The band previously released two albums, an EP, and several singles over the last two years on Dean Blunt’s World Music label.

8. Sparks: “Veronica Lake”

Sparks (brothers Ron and Russell Mael) are releasing a new album, The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte, on May 26 via Island. Today they shared the album’s second single, “Veronica Lake,” which is inspired by the 1940s movie star known for playing femme fatales in film noir movies.

Previously Sparks shared the album’s first single, title track “The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte.” Then they shared a video for the song starring none other than Oscar winning actress Cate Blanchett (who is nominated again this year for Tár). “The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte” was one of our Songs of the Week.

The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte will be the band’s first album on Island Records in 47 years. The band released several albums on the label in the 1970s, including 1974’s classic Kimono My House. Their last album for the label was 1976’s Big Beat.

Sparks’ last album was 2020’s A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip. In 2021, Edgar Wright directed an acclaimed documentary on the band, The Sparks Brothers. In 2021, they also co-wrote the musical film, Annette, with director Leos Carax and also did all the music for it. In 2022, they announced a reissue series.

The Mael brothers collectively had this to say about the new album and rejoining Island in a previous press release: “Funny how things work! One of the most memorable periods for Sparks, the one that forever cemented our relationship with the UK and also exposed Sparks to a bigger audience around the world, was the ’70s Island Records era. Chris Blackwell, Muff Winwood, and Co. went all in on our album, Kimono My House, and released a truly non-conventional first single, ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both of Us.’ Their belief (and ours) proved right: that there was a place for both bold creativity and commerciality in pop music. And here we find ourselves in 2023, almost 50 years later, re-signing with Island Records, again with an album that we all feel is as bold and uncompromising as anything we did back then, or for that matter, anytime throughout our career. We’re happy that after so much time, we’ve reconnected with Island, sharing the same spirit of adventure that we all had way back when, but with our new album, The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte.”

9. Foo Fighters: “Rescued”

On Wednesday, Foo Fighters announced a new album, But Here We Are, and shared its first single, “Rescued,” via a lyric video. But Here We Are is due out June 2 via Roswell/RCA. Checkout the album’s tracklist and minimalist album cover artwork here.

But Here We Are is the band’s first album since the 2022 death of the band’s drummer Taylor Hawkins, who passed away at the age of 50 while the band were on a South American tour in Bogotá, Colombia.

Greg Kurstin produced the album with the band. The band’s last album was 2021’s Medicine at Midnight.

A press release describes the new album in more detail:

“A brutally honest and emotionally raw response to everything Foo Fighters endured over the last year, But Here We Are is a testament to the healing powers of music, friendship and family. Courageous, damaged and unflinchingly authentic, But Here We Are opens with newly released lead single ‘Rescued,’ the first of 10 songs that run the emotional gamut from rage and sorrow to serenity and acceptance, and myriad points in between.

“Produced by Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters, But Here We Are is in nearly equal measure the 11th Foo Fighters album and the first chapter of the band’s new life. Sonically channeling the naiveté of Foo Fighters’ 1995 debut, informed by decades of maturity and depth, But Here We Are is the sound of brothers finding refuge in the music that brought them together in the first place 28 years ago, a process that was as therapeutic as it was about a continuation of life.”

10. Christine and the Queens: “True love” (Feat. 070 Shake)

Christine and the Queens is releasing a new album, PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE, on June 9 via Because. This week the artist has shared the album’s second single, “True love,” which features 070 Shake and was performed this past weekend at Coachella.

Previously Chistine and the Queens shared the album’s first single, “To be honest,” via a self-directed music video. PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE features Madonna on three songs.

Christine and the Queens is the project of Héloïse Letissier (who just goes by Chris). PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE follows Redcar les adorables étoiles, which came out last November via Because under the alias Redcar. The last album released simply under the name Christine and the Queens was 2018’s Chris.

Christine and the Queens co-produced the new album with Mike Dean.

Chris had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “This new record is the second part of an operatic gesture that also encompassed 2022’s Redcar les adorables étoiles. Taking inspiration from the glorious dramaturgy of Tony Kushner’s iconic play, Angels in America, Redcar felt colourful and absurd like Prior sent to his insane dream-space. The follow-up PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE is a key towards heart-opening transformation, a prayer towards the self—the one that breathes through all the loves it is made of. Prior’s real agony in Angels in America is a deep, painful becoming, a shedding of all waters and memories, that then allows angels to immerse deep too, and offer back profound, narrative-altering love—a rest in true love.”

Read our 2018 interview with Christine and the Queens on Chris.

11. Mega Bog: “Cactus People”

Mega Bog (aka Erin Birgy) is releasing a new album, End of Everything, on May 19 via Mexican Summer, her first for the label. On Wednesday she shared its third single, “Cactus People,” via a self-directed music video.

Birgy had this to say about “Cactus People” in a press release: “This song is a transparent call to practice addressing what lies at the feared feet of abandonment. All of a sudden I realized I was running away, with a black widow bite, collapsing on a trail several hours out of town, alone. Reacting to something inevitable, something I desired even, and taking notes of images arising while pitting emotionality against logic. At the time they felt like enemies, but somewhere in there was a seed wailing, ‘just watch yourself unfold.’”

Of directing the song’s video, she adds: “While making the video for ‘Cactus People,’ similar thrills and fears had me run to Greece, where I watched old patterns rear their noses once more, but with a brazen clarity—geographically, surrounded by new and inspiring friends, all with that ancient, echoing reminder of the stones we were born to bear, who we’ll have to embrace as company to find any peace throughout this life.”

Previously Mega Bog shared the album’s first single, “The Clown,” via a self-directed music video. “The Clown” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared the album’s second single, “Love Is,” via a music video. “Love Is” featured backing vocals from Westerman and was also one of our Songs of the Week.

End of Everything is the follow-up to 2021’s Life, and Another, released via Paradise of Bachelors.

Birgy co-produced the album with James Krivchenia of Big Thief, who also mixed the record and co-engineered it with Phil Hartunian. Krivchenia also plays drums on the album, which also features regular Mega Bog bassist Zach Burba, alongside Will Segerstrom, Meg Duffy (Hand Habits), Jackson Macintosh (Drugdealer, TOPS), and Westerman.

As Birgy got sober and started to work through her personal traumas, she decided to make a more direct record, writing on piano and synthesizer instead of guitar.

In a previous press release Birgy said she had the need “to feel… instantly. I didn’t want to dig into secret codes. I no longer wanted to hide behind difficult music. I was curious to give others the same with the music I create; to make music someone could use to explore drama, playfulness, and dancing, to shake the trauma loose.”

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 11.

Django Django: “No Time” (Feat. Jack Peñate)

Florence + The Machine: “Mermaids”

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds: “Council Skies”

Hannah Jadagu: “Admit It”

Militarie Gun: “Very High”

Arlo Parks: “Blades”

Tachys: “Boy”

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

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