11 Best Songs of the Week: Silverbacks, POND, Bachelor, Beak>, and More | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, December 1st, 2021  

11 Best Songs of the Week: Silverbacks, POND, Bachelor, Beak>, and More

Plus Damon Albarn, Proper., Suuns, The Dodos, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Sep 03, 2021
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Welcome to the 33rd Songs of the Week of 2021. We liked enough new songs this week to form a Top 11.

In the last week we posted interviews with Wet Leg, Lost Girls, and Water From Your Eyes.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of 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, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared in the last seven days. Check out the full list below.

1. Silverbacks: “Wear My Medals”

On Thursday Dublin post-punk five-piece Silverbacks shared a brand new song, “Wear My Medals.” Lauren Gregory directed the accompanying video, which starts off as claymation before switching to live action and featuring the band. “Wear My Medals” is Silverback’s first release for Full Time Hobby, a label the band has just signed to.

“Wear My Medals” follows the 2020 release of their well-received debut album, Fad, which came out on Central Tones. The band features Daniel O’Kelly (vocals/guitar), Kilian O’Kelly (guitar/vocals), Emma Hanlon (bass/vocals), Peadar Kearney (guitar), and Gary Wickham (drums).

“From the very start, we’ve always wanted to be a ‘career band,’” says Kilian O’Kelly in a press release. “We don’t see the point in not constantly making music—if you’re lucky enough to be able to make music you like and enjoy it, why put restrictions on it?”

The band began writing sessions for new material in early 2021, with Daniel O’Kelly now based in Paris and the rest of the band still in Ireland. Girl Band bassist Daniel Fox produced Fad and they’ve been working with him again on the new material.

Emma Hanlon takes lead vocals on “Wear My Medals,” as Daniel O’Kelly explains: “We always set out while demoing to write ‘Emma Songs’—songs that we think will specifically work for Emma’s vocals. We were quite a ways through the latest batch before we realized we hadn’t gotten any Emma Songs down so herself and Kilian got to work.”

Lauren Gregory had this to say about the “Wear My Medals” video she directed: “The band gave me complete creative license, so I really got to let my imagination run wild. For the swimming scenes, I took inspiration from the movie A Philadelphia Story, a scene in which Katherine Hepburn is swimming and climbing out of a pool. When I was working on the boxing scenes, I watched a lot of footage of Muhammed Ali warming up before fights, jumping and punching the air, and tried to emulate his movements. Out of everything, sculpting the hands playing bar chords on the guitar was the most fun.”

When asked how fans of Fad will react to Silverbacks’ new material, Kilian O’Kelly responds: “We don’t really know—people say we’re post-punk, but we aren’t really. Some people say we’re an indie band but we aren’t that either. I don’t know, sometimes it’s more fun just to see what comes out when we write and let everyone else worry about what it is.”

When Fad was announced the band shared a new song from it, “Muted Gold,” via an amusing video for the track. “Muted Gold” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. The Fad single “Up the Nurses” also made our Songs of the Week.

Read our 2020 The End interview with Silverbacks.

2. POND: “Human Touch”

Australian psych-rock band POND are releasing their ninth studio album, fittingly titled 9, on October 1 via Spinning Top/Secretly Distribution. On Wednesday they shared its newest single, “Human Touch,” via a video. The song seems partially to be about disconnecting from screens and reconnecting with in-person human interaction. Duncan Wright directed the video, in which frontman Nick Allbrook perhaps channels a bit of Mick Jagger’s dancing. Godzilla briefly shows up too.

Allbrook had this to say about what inspired the song in a press release: “One time a woman was smashing up a car outside my house, begging me to help her steal it. It was a lovely day. She was wired but sweet in a way. Her dog, Josie, was sitting in the passenger seat being very cute and fluffy. We talked for a good few hours in the sunny cul-de-sac and neither of us ended up committing grand theft auto. The music started with a grimey Casio loop Jay made, that we built the song around.”

Of the video, Allbrook says: “My original idea was to be dancing in the central business district of Perth, being thoroughly ignored by suits on their lunch break. Turns out me and Duncan Wright (Director) are both quivering Fremantle natives and terrified of the City. When Duncan saw a pretty sliver of morning sunlight in the West End we figured, stuff it, let’s do it there. Zero people is kind of the same thing as being ignored by lots of people, right? I need some human connection blah blah blah. It was super fun to make. We didn’t really have a strict plan and I overcame by anxiety about dancing in platform shoes to no music at 9am on a Tuesday morning like a kook.”

Previously the band shared the album’s first single, “Pink Lunettes,” a new song the band shared in April via a video. “Pink Lunettes” was one of our Songs of the Week. When 9 was announced POND shared its second single, “America’s Cup,” which also made our Songs of the Week list. Then they shared its third single, “Toast,” shared via a video. “Toast” was also one of our Songs of the Week.

POND’s last album was 2019’s Tasmania. POND produced the album, which was mixed by the band’s Jay Watson and James Ireland.

Allbrook also had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “We sort of gave ourselves permission to make something stuffed this time. We’d settled into a pretty tight routine with the last few albums and wanted to shake a boat with this so we started off with filling a few tape reels with some absolutely heinous improvised sonic babble which, after much sifting, became the first few songs of the album. We also wanted to up the tempo. The last few albums have a neat little mantra or repetitive theme. If I was forced to find something like that in 9, I guess it would be ‘biography’ or ‘observation’—a lot of the lyrics seem to focus on single people’s lives, or the lives of small moments or small things when you zoom real close up and they reveal something deeper. Stuff like my cheap Chinese slippers, or a soiled teddy bear, or Agnes Martin (not to put them in the same category, although maybe Agnes would’ve appreciated it). In the Rorschach test of re-reading lyrics, one thing that sticks out is a fixation on leaving behind a time of golden optimism and uncynical abandon. We can’t look at ourselves the same anymore, and the world we’ve built provides a scary lense for viewing our past.”

3. Bachelor: “I See It Now”

Bachelor (a duo between Melina Duterte of Jay Som and Ellen Kempner of Palehound) released their debut album, Doomin’ Sun, back in May via Polyvinyl (stream it here). On Wednesday they shared a brand new song, “I See It Now,” that was recorded after the sessions for Doomin’ Sun were completed.

The band collectively had this to say about the song in a press release: “Back in January when Bachelor was filming our music videos for Doomin’ Sun, we found ourselves with a day to kill at Ellen’s house in Poughkeepsie. Ellen had assembled a small recording setup in her basement that she was mystified by and still figuring out how to work so we decided to record a song to mess around with the gear. Melina wrote the creepy intro keyboard part and we built the song from there. What came was ‘I See It Now,’ a kind of lethargic muse on sexual regret and insecurity.”

Read our interview with Bachelor here.

Read our review of Doomin’ Sun here.

Doomin’ Sun includes “Anything at All,” Bachelor’s debut single, which was shared in February and made our Songs of the Week list. When the album was announced they shared its second single, “Stay in the Car,” via a video for the song (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). Then they shared the album’s third single, “Sick of Spiraling.” Then they shared a video for “Back of My Hand.”

The album was written and recorded over the course of two weeks in January 2020 in Topanga, CA. It also features Big Thief’s Buck Meek and James Krivchenia and Annie Truscott of Chastity Belt (who is Duterte’s partner and also in the side-project Routine with her).

In February, Kempner shared a new single, “How Long.” Last November, Duterte released an EP with Routine titled And Other Things.

4. Beak>: “Ah Yeh”

On Thursday, Beak> (the trio consisting of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, Billy Fuller, and Will Young) shared a new song titled “Ah Yeh.” The Krautrock-y track was released as a B-side to a two-track single shared by the band on Bandcamp, with its A-side being the previously released song “Oh Know.”

The band’s most recent music project, their Life Goes On EP, came out back in 2019 on Invada/Temporary Residence Ltd. It featured the title track and the song “We Can Go.” By Joey Arnone

5. Damon Albarn: “Particles”

Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz is releasing a new solo album, The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows, on November 12 via Transgressive. On Wednesday he shared its third single, the haunted ballad “Particles.” He’s also shared a separate video where he performs the song live with his backing band. Check out both below.

Previously Albarn shared the album’s first single, title track “The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows.” Then he shared its second single, “Polaris,” which was one of our Songs of the Week, as well as a live video for the song.

Albarn’s last solo album was 2014’s Everyday Robots, but since then he’s been busy with a variety of projects. The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows was initially intended to be an orchestral piece inspired by the landscape of Iceland but was reworked into a solo album during the pandemic lockdown. A previous press release said the album explores “themes of fragility, loss, emergence, and rebirth” and that its title is taken from a John Clare poem Love and Memory.

Albarn also said: “I have been on my own dark journey while making this record and it led me to believe that a pure source might still exist.”

6. Proper.: “Zuko Alone”

On Thursday Brooklyn-based punk trio Proper. shared a new song titled “Zuko Alone.” Later this year, they will tour with indie rock bands Glass Beach and Home is Where, with their own set of UK tour dates set for Spring 2022. Listen to “Zuko Alone” and check out the band’s tour dates here.

Fronman Erik Garlington speaks about his band’s new song, inspired by the titular character of Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender, in a press release: “Seeing his journey from a hot-headed kid fixated on a goal to an empathic leader who trusts himself really spoke to me. It’s just nice to take a step back from writing about my life and dive into fiction writing.”

In 2019, the band released their sophomore album, I Spent the Winter Writing Songs About Getting Better, on Big Scary Monsters. Last year, they shared the song “Don’t.”

Read our interview with the band from last year. By Joey Arnone

7. Strand of Oaks: “Somewhere in Chicago”

Strand of Oaks (the project of Timothy Showalter) is releasing a new album, In Heaven, on October 1 on Showalter’s own Galacticana Records via Thirty Tigers. Today he shared its third single, “Somewhere in Chicago,” which is an ode to the late singer/songwriter John Prine, who died last year due to COVID-19.

Showalter had this to say about the new single in a press release: “My ode to the late John Prine and the midwestern ethos he so perfectly embodied. The song dreams of the great city of Chicago where John can forever and happily wander.”

Upon the announcement of In Heaven, Showalter shared its first single, “Galacticana,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then he shared its second single, “Jimi & Stan,” which also showed up on Songs of the Week.

In Heaven is the follow-up to 2019’s acclaimed Eraserland, which came out via Dead Oceans and was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2019. The majority of My Morning Jacket (Carl Broemel, Bo Koster, Patrick Hallahan, and Tom Blankenship) backed up Showalter on Eraserland.

In Heaven was recorded with Kevin Ratterman (who also played drums on it) at Invisible Creature in Los Angeles, in October 2020. My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel and Bo Koster returned on guitars and keyboards respectively. Cedric LeMoyne (Alanis Morrissette, Remy Zero) played bass, with Scott Moore on violin. James Iha of The Smashing Pumpkins guests on one song, contributing vocals and guitar to “Easter.”

It is the first Strand of Oaks album since Showalter moved to Austin and since he got sober.

Showalter had this to say in a previous press release: “In Heaven was created with so much love and my greatest hope is that it connects with people and provides a momentary space for reflection, joy, catharsis and whatever else someone might be looking for in their life. Music is magic and I feel like the luckiest person in the world that I’m allowed to share it.”

Read our 2019 My Firsts interview with Strand of Oaks.

Read our 2019 interview with Strand of Oaks on Easerland.

Read our 2020 COVID-19 Quarantine Check-In interview with Strand of Oaks.

Read our My Favorite Album interview with Strand of Oaks.

8. Suuns: “The Trilogy”

On Wednesday Montreal’s Suuns shared a video for their new single “The Trilogy.” It was the latest offering from their new album The Witness, which came out today on Joyful Noise. Antoine Dasseville directed the video for “The Trilogy.”

Drummer Liam O’Neill states in a press release: “This song best represents the patience that we allowed ourselves on The Witness, our willingness to let things unfold on their own accord without pushing too much. The mandate with ‘The Trilogy’ was to set up a groove that feels good, and then not do anything, which gives the song the endless feeling around which to sing about history and the future, complacency and patience.”

The band’s previous album, Felt, came out in 2018 on Secretly Canadian. By Joey Arnone

9. The Dodos: “Annie”

On Thursday The Dodos announced the release of their eighth studio album, titled Grizzly Peak, and shared two new singles from it, “Annie” and “The Surface,” the latter of which is a reworking of a song previously shared by the band in 2019. Since “Annie” is a truly new song, it makes the main list.

The band has also announced a new U.S. tour set for this upcoming fall and winter. Check out the the album’s tracklist/cover art and list of tour dates here.

Frontman and guitarist Meric Long speaks about “Annie” in a press release: “We had a lot of production goals when we set out to make Grizzly Peak, and the song ‘Annie’ touches on all of them. It’s a song about regret and accountability, as the first song it felt appropriate in disclosing what the intentions of the record are: rediscovering the initial premise for this band, while saying ‘thank you’ to our fans and those we’ve worked with along the way.”

Upon the inception of Grizzly Peak, Long began to experience the beginnings of arthritis in his hands. “Guitar has always been my ticket out from feeling worthless, insecure—perhaps I never quite grew out of that moment in my adolescence where I discovered playing the guitar made me feel better than what my mind or others told me,” he states. “It also became such a huge part of identity, that I probably latched on to it a little too much, and I guess feeling the beginnings of arthritis was sort of a sign of the impermanence of that identity. If I can’t play the guitar anymore—the way that, at least in my own mind, defined me so much—then what else am I?”

Long concludes: “I feel a huge debt of gratitude to our fans or anyone that paid attention enough to notice. I really want to say thank you; going back to our original intention and trying to perfect this sound really seemed like the best way to express that gratitude. It was a huge motivation in working through this stuff.”

The band’s most recent album, Certainty Waves, came out in 2018 via Polyvinyl. In 2019, the band shared the song “The Atlantic,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. By Joey Arnone

10. Johnny Marr: “Spirit, Power and Soul”

On Tuesday Johnny Marr announced a new set of EPs which will comprise his fourth full-length album, Fever Dreams Pts 1-4. He shared a video for a song from the first EP, titled “Spirit, Power and Soul.” Fever Dreams Pt 1 will be out on October 15 via BMG. Check out the tracklist for the first EP and cover art for the album here.

Marr speaks about the new song in a press release, stating: “‘Spirit, Power and Soul’ is a kind of mission statement. I had an idea about an electro sound with gospel feeling, in my own words…an electro soul anthem.

Marr’s most recent album, Call the Comet, came out in 2018 via New Voodoo. In 2019, he shared the song “The Bright Parade.” By Joey Arnone

11. Portico Quartet: “Impressions”

On Wednesday British instrumental band Portico Quartet announced the release of their new album Monument, subsequently sharing its lead single “Impressions.” Monument will be out on November 5 via Gondwana. Check out the album artwork and tracklisting here.

Saxophonist and keyboardist Jack Wyllie talks about the new album in a press release, stating: “It’s possibly our most direct album to date. It’s melodic, structured and there’s an economy to it that is very efficient. There’s not much searching or wastage within the music itself, it is all finalised ideas, precisely sculpted and presented as a polished artefact.”

Drummer Duncan Bellamy adds: “Monument sits somewhere between our albums Portico Quartet and Art in the Age of Automation. It has perhaps a more overtly electronic edge to its sound—there are more synthesisers and electronic elements than we have used before and the music is often streamlined and rhythmic.”

Portico Quartet consists of Wyllie and Bellamy in addition to Milo Fitzpatrick (electric and double bass) and Keir Vine (keyboards). Their most recent album, Terrain, came out earlier this year on Gondwana. By Joey Arnone

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 11. We generally shy away from putting covers in the main list, otherwise Kamasi Washington would’ve been up there.

Billy Bragg: “Pass It On”

Charli XCX: “Good Ones”

The Dodos: “The Surface”

Duran Duran: “ANNIVERSARY”

Lionlimb: “Loveland Pass”

Mr Twin Sister: “Polvo”

Stranded: “Crossed Lines”

Thyla: “Gum”

Kamasi Washington: “My Friend of Misery” (Metallica Cover)

The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die: “Queen Sophie For President”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

ABBA: “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down”

Anderson .Paak: “Fire In The Sky”

Bastille: “Thelma + Louise”

Bat Fangs: “Queen of My World”

Lindsey Buckingham: “Scream”

The Doors: “Riders on the Storm (Sunset Sound Version - Original Demo)”

Drake: “Way 2 Sexy”

FINNEAS: “The 90s”

Gulfer: “Neighbours”

Jon Hopkins: “Sit Around the Fire”

Howlin Rain: “Don’t Let The Tears”

Injury Reserve: “Superman That”

Jeremy Ivey: “All Kinds of Blue” (Feat. Margo Price)

JPEGMAFIA: “TRUST!”

Loose Buttons: “Minor Leaguer”

Francis Lung: “Internet”

Dave Okumu: “Son of Emmerson”

POP. 1280: “Brennschluss”

The Psychedelic Furs: “Evergreen”

Public Service Broadcasting: “Lichtspiel III: Symphonie Diagonale”

Diana Ross: “If the World Just Danced”

Runnner: “Snowplow” (Feat. Skullcrusher)

Andy Shauf: “Spanish on the Beach”

Spearmint: “Since Bowie Died”

Sting: “If It’s Love”

Tachys: “Signify”

Wet: “Clementine”

Wiki: “Roof”

Classic Song of the Week:

Talk Talk: “Life’s What You Make It”

Released in 1985, “Life’s What You Make It” was the first single from Talk Talk’s third album, The Colour of Spring (released in 1986). The lyrics may be a bit repetitive, but the crisp production in stellar.

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