11 Best Songs of the Week: The WAEVE, Jens Lekman, Sharon Van Etten, Marlon Williams, and More | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, February 29th, 2024  

11 Best Songs of the Week: The WAEVE, Jens Lekman, Sharon Van Etten, Marlon Williams, and More

Plus Porridge Radio, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Florist, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

May 06, 2022
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Welcome to the 18th Songs of the Week of 2022. There were lots of strong contenders this week, including a new supergroup, two songs from a new album that featured no advance singles, and tracks from artists across the globe (including Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, and England). We’ve got 11 songs this week, since one artist has two different songs on the list.

In the last week we posted interviews with Sondre Lerche, W.H. Lung, and “Sunflower Bean.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums.

Covers of Covers, our first album, came out at the beginning of March on CD and digitally via American Laundromat. You can stream it here. You can also buy it directly from American Laundromat, via Bandcamp, or on Amazon.

Don’t forget to pick up our new double print issue, our 20th Anniversary Issue (which is out now).

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, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared in the last seven days. Check out the full list below.

1. The WAEVE: “Something Pretty”

The WAEVE is a new duo consisting of Rose Elinor Dougall and Blur guitarist Graham Coxon. The project was announced last month and yesterday they shared their debut song, “Something Pretty.” It’s built on a steady Krautrock beat and highlights Coxon’s very British accented vocals, before erupting into what sounds like guitar solo from one of Brian Eno’s 1970s classics. The song is being described as a standalone track for now, there’s no word of an EP or album.

This week The WAEVE performed their first show, at the Lexington in London. Previously they shared a trailer for the band.

The WAEVE collectively had this to say in a previous press release in April: “We are greatly looking forward to unleashing our new sound live at the Lexington next month. We’ve been locked away this year, busy translating the varied sounds of our songs into a dynamic live show, with the help of some great musician friends. We invite you to surrender to the world of The WAEVE.”

Dougall and Coxon started trading messages during lockdown, around Christmas 2020, and the project grew from there.

The previous press release describes the band’s sound in more detail: “Initially drawing on a shared love of English folk music, storytelling and the associated landscapes of this beleaguered island, the collaborators grew in confidence to start voyaging into uncharted waters. The sound developed slowly but surely, voices and words started to find their natural space, guitars and saxophones made clarion calls, strings lifted into other stratospheres.”

Dougall is one of the artists on the cover of our special 20th Anniversary print issue, where you can read an exclusive interview with her.

In 2021, Dougall collaborated with Wesley Gonzalez for a new song, “Greater Expectations,” which was one of our Songs of the Week.

Dougall released her last solo album, A New Illusion, in April 2019 via Vermillion (it was our Album of the Week and one of our Top 100 Albums of 2019). In November 2019 she has shared a new song, “How Long,” a non-album track Dougall said was the last song to be shared from the A New Illusion sessions. “How Long” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Read our interview with Dougall on A New Illusion.

Also read our interview with Dougall on her all-time favorite album.

Plus read our review of A New Illusion.

A New Illusion was Dougall’s third album and the follow-up to 2017’s acclaimed Stelluar (which was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017). Read our 2017 interview with Rose Elinor Dougall on Stelluar. She was also previously in The Pipettes and in Mark Ronson’s band.

Coxon’s last solo album was 2012’s A+E, but he’s kept busy with soundtrack work, including releasing two albums of songs and score from the acclaimed TV show The End of the F***ing World and his 2021 score to the comic book Superstate. By Mark Redfern

2. Jens Lekman: “The Linden Trees Are Still in Blossom”

On Wednesday, Swedish singer/songwriter Jens Lekman shared a video for “The Linden Trees Are Still in Blossom,” the title track from his new album. The album is a reworking of 2007’s Night Falls Over Kortedala, with the new song being a reprise of Kortedala’s “A Postcard to Nina.”

“‘A Postcard to Nina’ was a song that wrote itself,” explains Lekman in a press release. “The story happened and on the bus back home from Berlin I realized I just needed to put a melody to it. Nina was my pen pal but we lost touch at some point, years ago. Last time I wrote her, the email bounced. It’s just one of those things that happens I guess but as I was revisiting these old songs, I decided I wanted to send her one more postcard.”

Lekman previously shared a reworked version of his 2005 album Oh You’re So Silent Jens under the new title The Cherry Trees Are Still in Blossom.

Lekman’s previous studio album, Life Will See You Now, came out in 2017 via Secretly Canadian. It was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017. Read our 2017 interview with Lekman on Life Will See You Now. By Joey Arnone

3. Sharon Van Etten: “Mistakes”

Sharon Van Etten released a new album, We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong, today via Jagjaguwar (stream it here). Van Etten released no advance singles from the album, preferring that fans heard the whole thing in one straight shot. So now that it’s out we had to decide for ourselves which songs might be the best. We settled on “Born” and “Mistakes” as our favorites. “Mistakes” makes the Top 4, with “Born” a little further down the list.

In a press release Van Etten had this to say about preferring listeners hear the whole album at once: “From beginning to end, this album is an emotional journey that documents the rollercoaster of the last two years we have all experienced in our own ways. I hope you will take that ride with me. Thank you for staying by my side.”

Previously Van Etten shared a trailer for the album. The album doesn’t feature her recent singles “Porta” and “Used to It.”

We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong is the follow-up to Remind Me Tomorrow, which came out in 2019 via Jagjaguwar.

A previous press release set up the new album in dramatic phrasing: “Sharon Van Etten has always been the kind of artist who helps people make sense of the world around them, and We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong concerns itself with the questions we ask ourselves when we think the world—or at least, our world—might be ending. Have we loved as well as we could? Did we try hard enough? How do we protect the things most precious to us from destructive forces beyond our control? And how do we salvage something worthwhile when it seems all is lost? In considering these questions and her own vulnerability in the face of them, Van Etten has created a stunning meditation on how life’s changes can be both terrifying and transformative. We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong articulates the beauty and power that can be rescued from our wreckages.”

Van Etten co-produced the album with Daniel Knowles and recorded and engineering most of it herself in a new custom built studio in her family’s home in Los Angeles. Van Etten plays guitar, synthesizers, piano, drum machine, wurlitzer, keys, and more on the album, but was also joined by her regular touring band of Jorge Balbi on drums, Devon Hoff on bass, and live musical director Charley Damski on synthesizers and guitars.

“I wanted to approach this release differently, to engage my fans in an intentional way, in an effort to present the album as a whole body of work,” Van Etten said in the previous press release. “These 10 songs are designed to be listened to in order, at once, so that a much larger story of hope, loss, longing and resilience can be told.”

Of the album cover, Van Etten says: “I wanted to convey that in an image with me walking away from it all, not necessarily brave, not necessarily sad, not necessarily happy.”

Last year Van Etten and Angel Olsen released the joint song, “Like I Used To,” which was shared via a Kimberly Stuckwisch-directed video. The duet easily landed at #1 on our Songs of the Week list and was also #3 on our Top 130 Songs of 2021 list. Then they performed the song with a full band on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Then they shared an acoustic version of the song and performed the acoustic version on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.

Read our in-depth interview with Sharon Van Etten on Remind Me Tomorrow and check out our exclusive photo shoot with her. By Mark Redfern

4. Marlon Williams: “My Boy”

On Tuesday, New Zealand singer/songwriter/guitarist Marlon Williams shared a new song, “My Boy,” via an amusing video for the single. He also announced some new tour dates in North America, the UK, and Europe. Williams co-directed the video with Martin Sagadin. It features choreography by Robyn Jordaan. Check out the tour dates here.

“My Boy” features co-producer Tom Healy on electric guitars, Los Angeles-based drummer Paul Taylor (Feist), bassist Cass Basil (Ladyhawke, Tiny Ruins), Mark Perkins on vocals and additional production, and Elroy Finn on additional percussion.

Williams had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘My Boy’ is a pop song with a Māori folk strum. The urge to turn every song on the planet into a Māori strummer descended on me like a fever sometime during the long and winding tour cycle of Make Way for Love. So writing it into my artistic life became the only way to get the fever to lift.

“I turned up at Mark ‘Merk’ Perkins studio early in 2019 with ‘My Boy’ and a small handful of other tunes. Some simple songs will try to tempt and lure you into over-complication; this one showed no such insecurities. For the first time in my writing life, it didn’t even demand lyrics in the chorus. It laid itself out, buoyed by its own sailing rhythm and lightness of phrase: Mark and I fleshed out the demo with a simple drumbeat and a whimsical mellotron descant and dinner was largely on the table. Going into Roundhead with Tom and the band, we kept that simplicity, adding only some extra percussion from Elroy Finn and a folk electric guitar solo from Tom.”

Williams’ last full-length was his sophomore album, Make Way For Love, released back in February 2018 via Dead Oceans. In 2019 he released his first official live album, Live at Auckland Town Hall.

Williams has also been acting of late, appearing in the Netflix DC Comics TV adaptation Sweet Tooth, as well as acting in the films The True History of the Kelly Gang, Lone Wolf, and The Beautiful Lie. Williams also appeared in the hit Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga musical romance A Star Is Born, playing himself as a younger star tapped to lead a Roy Orbison tribute at the Grammys instead of Cooper’s somewhat aging rocker Jackson Maine.

Read our 2017 interview with Marlon Williams on Make Way For Love.

Read our 2016 interview with Marlon Williams. By Mark Redfern

5. Sharon Van Etten: “Born”

“Born” is the second Sharon Van Etten song from her new album, We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong, that we really liked. It’s less immediate than “Mistakes,” but more epic. By Mark Redfern

6. Porridge Radio: “End of Last Year”

England’s Porridge Radio are releasing a new album, Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky, on May 20 via Secretly Canadian. On Tuesday, shared the album’s third single, “End of Last Year,” via an animated video for the song. They also announced their first ever full on North American tour. The dates go down mainly in September. Maura Sappilo directed and animated the video. View all the band’s upcoming tour dates here.

The lyrics to “End of Last Year” paint a memorable picture: “Cut off my shoes instead of taking them off/Cut off my hands because they’re itching so much/Talk to myself because it’s getting so bad/Do you know?/You break everything you touch.”

Singer Dana Margolin had this to say about the new song and video in a press release: “‘End of Last Year’ is a love song for my bandmates and for myself. It’s about not trusting my intuition, not trusting my body to heal itself, not trusting the people closest to me, but it is also an ode to all those people, and to difficult platonic love. It came out of a particularly painful period of communication breakdown and high pressure that hurt a lot, but ended in reconciliation and understanding.

“The video is by my friend Maura Sappilo. I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time, and I wanted her to make the video for this song because whilst her work is playful and bright, she knows how to bring the dirty and painful and disgusting aspects of being a person and having relationships into her paintings. Her art is lyrical and sensual and painful and beautiful, and I love how she brought all that to this song.”

Previously Porridge Radio shared a video for the album’s lead single, “Back to the Radio.” That was followed by the album’s next single, “The Rip.”

Porridge Radio also features drummer Sam Yardley, keyboardist Georgie Stott, and bassist Maddie Ryall. Tom Carmichael, Margolin, and Yardley all co-produced Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky.

“I wrote these songs for myself but I think everyone wants to feel like what they’re doing is useful in some way,” Margolin said of the album in a previous press release. “I’m learning to embrace both now, the parts that are for me, and the parts that are for everybody else.”

The band’s last album, Every Bad, came out in 2020 via Secretly Canadian. Read our interview with Margolin on that album here. By Mark Redfern

7. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: “Dive Deep”

Melbourne, Australia five-piece Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever released a new album, Endless Rooms, today via Sub Pop. On Wednesday, they shared its fourth single, “Dive Deep.” View the band’s upcoming tour dates here.

“This is a simple song of devotion,” says the band’s Tom Russo in a press release. “It’s about if you are going to give in to love, you need to go all in, and accept that you have no control in the matter. It began as a home recording during lockdown. I recorded the guide vocals and guitars with my new baby strapped to my chest. When we could finally get together to play it, Joe White came up with the perfect lead guitar tone. He was given full license to wail, and did so. I remember sitting by the fire, looking up at the stars, and hearing the guitar echoing all around the valley.”

Previously Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever shared Endless Rooms’ first single, “The Way It Shatters,” via a video for it. “The Way It Shatters” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then they shared its second single, “Tidal River,” also one of our Songs of the Week. The album’s third single was “My Echo,” also shared via a video and again one of our Songs of the Week.

The band features singer/songwriter/guitarists Tom Russo, Joe White, and Fran Keaney, as well as bassist Joe Russo and drummer Marcel Tussie.

Endless Rooms is the band’s third full-length and is the follow-up to 2020’s Sideways to New Italy and 2018’s debut album, Hope Downs, both of which also came out via Sub Pop. The album began with the band members trading ideas remotely during lockdown and it was recorded in “a mud-brick house in the bush around two hours north of Melbourne built by the extended Russo family in the 1970s.” The lakeside house also appears on the album’s cover.

The band self-produced the record, working with engineer and collaborator Matt Duffy. “The result is a collection of songs permeated by the spirit of the place; punctuated by field recordings of rain, fire, birds, and wind,” stated a previous press release.

The band collectively added: “It’s almost an anti-concept album. The Endless Rooms of the title reflects our love of creating worlds in our songs. We treat each of them as a bare room to be built up with infinite possibilities.”

Read our interview with Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever on Sideways to New Italy.

Read our review of Sideways to New Italy.

Hope Downs was our Album of the Week, one of our Top 100 Albums of 2018, and our #1 Debut Album of 2018.

Read our 2018 interview with Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. By Mark Redfern

8. Florist: “Spring in Hours”

Brooklyn-based quartet Florist are releasing a new self-titled album on July 29 via Double Double Whammy. On Tuesday, they shared its second single, “Spring in Hours,” via a fan-sourced video made up of footage from over 125 collaborators from around the world. The band have also announced a U.S. summer tour. Check out the tour dates here.

“‘Spring in Hours’ is a love song for cycles, seasons, growth, bugs, flowers, friendship, all the atoms in the universe, the chaos that created us, and the void which everything returns to,” says singer Emily Sprague in a press release. “Musically for Florist, it’s our collaboration as a group in full spectrum. We arranged, played, produced, and recorded the song ourselves. Often at night alongside the crickets you can hear playing along.”

Florist is Sprague, Jonnie Baker, Rick Spataro, and Felix Walworth. Florist is the follow-up to 2019’s Emily Alone, which was essentially a solo album from Sprague.

“The trauma response to losing my best friend, my mom, was to feel really afraid to get close to anybody ever again,” she said in a previous press release. “It’s sort of cheesy, but I realized that life is better when you share it. The answer isn’t to isolate yourself and be alone.”

So Sprague reconvened with the rest of the band to record the new album in Hudson, NY in 2019.

Of the album title, Sprague explains: “We called it Florist because this is not just my songs with a backing band. It’s a practice. It’s a collaboration. It’s our one life. These are my best friends and the music is the way that it is because of that.”

Florist previously shared the album’s first single, “Red Bird Pt. 2 (Morning),” via a video for the song (which was one of our Songs of the Week). By Mark Redfern

9. Sunflower Bean: “In Flight”

New York trio Sunflower Bean released a new album, Headful of Sugar, today via Mom + Pop. Yesterday, they shared the album’s fifth, and final, pre-release single, “In Flight,” via a video. View the band’s upcoming tour dates here.

Also, on Tuesday we posted our rave review of Headful of Sugar and you can read that here. And today we posted our new interview with the band about the album.

Sunflower Bean is vocalist and bassist Julia Cumming (she/her), guitarist and vocalist Nick Kivlen (he/him), and drummer Olive Faber (she/they).

Kivlen had this to say about “In Flight” in a press release: “This song is a romantic vision of meeting a lover, running away together, and entering a dangerous new world. It’s less safe but also less suffocating. The video follows me through a series of twilight zone-style mishaps as I search to be seen or understood. Things only improve when I finally find like-minded people. Is it a dream? Is it the multiverse? It’s for the viewer to decide.”

The band previously shared the album tracks “Baby Don’t Cry” and “Who Put You Up To This?,” the latter of which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then in March they shared its third single, “Roll the Dice,” via a video. Then in April they shared the album’s fourth single, “I Don’t Have Control Sometimes,” via a video for the single.

Their last album, Twentytwo in Blue, came out in 2018 via Mom + Pop. In 2020, they shared the song “Moment in the Sun,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. By Mark Redfern

10. DC Gore: “I Like You”

On Tuesday, DC Gore, formerly of British trio Little Cub, announced the release of his debut solo album, All These Things, which will be out on July 29 via Domino. He also shared a video for a new single from the album, “I Like You.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

All These Things is a bookend to a torrid period in my life,” Gore states in a press release. “There are so many themes in there of failure and frustration (personal and political), shame and longing, but in the end, there is a hope to it. All these things that feel so all-consuming at the time become quotidian in the wake of a global pandemic.

“It’s a very real possibility that we might be living in the end times, you know? This might be how we’re going to go out. And we’ve got this incredible opportunity to experience life, so why not make the most of it?”

DC Gore previously shared the album tracks “California” and “Nietzsche on the Beach.” By Joey Arnone

11. Everything Everything: “Pizza Boy”

British art-rockers Everything Everything are releasing a new album, Raw Data Feel, on May 20 via Infinity Industries/AWAL. On Wednesday, they shared the album’s fourth single, “Pizza Boy,” via a video made up of live footage. Frontman Jonathan Higgs edited the video. View the band’s upcoming tour dates, including some instore dates in the UK, here.

The band collectively had this to say about the song in a press statement: “The song is about recovering from trauma, by focusing on both hedonism and solitude.”

On May 20, Everything Everything are also releasing a limited-edition lyric book, CAPS LOCK ON: Lyrics + Debris 2007-2022, via Faber Music.

Previously Everything Everything shared Raw Data Feel’s lead single, “Bad Friday,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared the album’s second single, “Teletype,” via a video featuring AI-generated faces singing the song. “Teletype” was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared the album’s third single, “I Want a Love Like This,” via a video for the single (which was again one of our Songs of the Week, at #2).

For Raw Data Feel the band used an AI (artificial intelligence) of their own making to help create the album’s lyrics, song titles, and cover art, via selected information they fed the AI.

The band’s last album, Re-Animator, came out in 2020 on Infinity Industries and made it on our Top 100 Albums of 2020 list. It featured the songs “Arch Enemy,” “Planets,” “Violent Sun,” and “Big Climb,” all of which were featured on our Songs of the Week lists.

Check out the fourth episode of our Under the Radar podcast, where we speak to Jonathan Higgs.

Read our COVID-19 Quarantine Check-In interview with Higgs. By Mark Redfern

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 11.

The Afghan Whigs: “The Getaway”

bdrmm: “Three”

CHAI: “Surprise”

Elf Power: “Artificial Countrysides”

Glasser: “New Scars”

Hovvdy: “Hide”

Alex Izenberg: “Ivory”

Marci: “Immaterial Girl”

Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 10 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

…And You Will Know us by the Trail of Dead: “No Confidence”

John Carpenter: “I’ll Find You”

Cola: “Degree”

Drive-By Truckers: “Every Single Storied Flameout”

Flying Lotus: “They Call Me Magic”

Half-Handed Cloud: “Handles”

Tim Heidecker: “Punch In the Gut”

Charlie Hickey: “Gold Line”

Jaws of Love.: “Patricia”

JayWood: “Just Sayin’”

Carly Rae Jepsen: “Western Wind”

Joyce Manor: “Don’t Try”

Lady Gaga: “Hold My Hand”

LIES: “Blemishes” and “Echoes”

Erica Dawn Lyle and Vice Cooler: “Mirrorball” (Feat. Kathleen Hanna)

Pink Mountaintops: “Nikki Go Sudden”

POND: “Hang a Cross On Me”

Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow: “The Church”

Joan Shelley: “Amberlit Morning” (Feat. Bill Callahan)

Tirzah: “Ribs”

Wolf Alice: “The Last Man on Earth (Lullaby Version)”

Jenny Owen Youngs: “Ghosts” (Feat. Hrishikesh Hirway and Ty Demo)

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