12 Best Songs of the Last Two Weeks: Goat Girl, Andy Bell, Loma, Helena Deland, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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12 Best Songs of the Last Two Weeks: Goat Girl, Andy Bell, Loma, Helena Deland, and More

Plus Jesse Kivel, Lost Horizons, Midnight Sister, TRAAMS, and a Wrap-up of the Last Two Weeks’ Other Notable New Tracks

Oct 09, 2020 Robyn Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the 39th Songs of the Week of 2020. We skipped Songs of the Week last week because we had other plans last Friday, so this week’s list covers two weeks worth of songs.

A lot has happened in the last two weeks. There were two debates. First there was a disastrous presidential one between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, that many are calling a national disgrace and one of the worth debates in U.S. history (largely because of Trump’s behavior). Then a fly stole the show in this week’s more dignified vice presidential debate. Trump contracted COVID-19, as did many of his associates. He went to the hospital for several days, signed some blank documents in a photo op, took an ill-advised drive around the hospital to please his fans (and his ego), and then made a show of returning to the White House, triumphantly removing his mask for the press and declaring the coronavirus isn’t that scary after all (never mind that 213,000 Americans have died from it). Because of Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, it was announced that the next debate would be a virtual one and so Trump pulled out and now it’s been cancelled instead of postponed.

Trump announced that he was ending COVID-19 stimulus talks until after the election for some crazy reason, even though things like music venues, Broadway theaters, and movie theaters don’t stand a chance of surviving the pandemic without government help, not to mention all the unemployed people and struggling small businesses. Government stimulus is very popular with voters, so why Trump wouldn’t want it to pass prior to the election is a mystery, but after the stock market took a steep decline because of the news, he did an about face and announced talks were back on. Meanwhile, 13 far-right militia members were arrested by the FBI for plotting to kidnap Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. And finally, guitar legend Eddie Van Halen died, losing a battle with cancer at only 65. So not the best couple of weeks then.

Remember that we recently announced our long-awaited new print issue, with Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney on the two covers. Find all the info here and buy a copy directly from us here.

In the last two weeks on our website we also posted interviews with Herb Alpert, Arlo Guthrie, Bartees Strange, and documentary film writer/editor Kathryn Robson, as well as a My Favorite Album interview with Alex Lahey and a Self-Portrait interview with NZCA LINES.

We also launched the latest episode of the Under the Radar Podcast, featuring an interview with Fantastic Negrito.

In the last two weeks we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Travis, Zoom Unit, METZ, Bendrix Littleton, Kurt Vile, Blonde Redhead (a reissue), Sufjan Stevens, Godcaster, Death Valley Girls, Ruston Kelly, Shamir, Jónsi, Tim Buckley (a reissue), Sad13, Deftones, Tim Heidecker, Uniform, Venus Furs, and Fleet Foxes. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last two weeks, we have picked the 12 best the last 14 days had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared in the last two weeks. Check out the full list below.

1. Goat Girl: “Sad Cowboy”

Last week South London quartet Goat Girl announced a new album, On All Fours, and shared its first single, “Sad Cowboy,” via a Jocelyn Anquetil-directed video. On All Fours is due out January 29, 2021 via Rough Trade. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

Goat Girl’s Clottie Cream had this to say about “Sad Cowboy” in a press release: “‘Sad Cowboy’ centers around the idea of losing a grip on reality and how often this can happen. When you’re within a world that constantly makes you feel as though your living out a really bad dream, disillusionment is inevitable.”

On All Fours is the band’s second album, the follow-up to their self-titled debut album from 2018. Dan Carey (Kae Tempest, black midi, Franz Ferdinand) produced the album, which was recorded in South London in early 2020.

2. Andy Bell: “Skywalker”

Andy Bell, founding member of ’90s British shoegaze band Ride, released his debut solo album, The View From Halfway Down, today on Sonic Cathedral (stream it here). Now that it’s out we can share one of our favorite album tracks from it, six-minute long “Skywalker.” We have no clue if the song has anything to with Star Wars, but musically it’s got a bit of a Krautrock vibe reminiscent of Working For a Nuclear Free City.

Previously Bell shared the album’s first single, “Love Comes in Waves,” via a video for it. “Love Comes in Waves” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then he shared its second single, “I Was Alone,” via a video for it. In a press release Bell described “I Was Alone” as “a Spacemen 3-influenced song about dealing mentally with solitude” and the track also made our Songs of the Week list.

Bell began writing the album in 2016, but shortly after, Ride’s live reunion tour became a full time return, and the band released two albums and embarked on two world tours. When the pandemic hit, Bell decided it was finally time to work on and release his debut solo album, sharing the first single today on his 50th birthday.

The View from Halfway Down was engineered by Gem Archer and mastered by Heba Kadry.

Bell had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “I’ve always wanted to make a solo album, I’ve always said I would do it, although I never imagined it happening like, or sounding like, this one does. I’d been sitting on this pile of almost finished tracks, along with all the other hundreds of ideas that had fallen by the wayside since I’ve been making music. Lockdown gave me the opportunity to find a way to present it to the world.

“The album is not about songwriting. There aren’t many verses or choruses, because this album is about sounds, a listening experience.”

3. Loma: “Elliptical Days”

Loma are releasing a new album, Don’t Shy Away, on October 23 via Sub Pop. This week they shared another song from it, “Elliptical Days,” via a video.

Loma consists of Shearwater singer Jonathan Meiburg, alongside Emily Cross (of Cross Record) and Dan Duszynski. Cross and Duszynski directed the video (filming it in Dripping Springs, Texas).

Cross had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Elliptical Days’ was one of those songs that was pretty well fleshed out by Dan and Jonathan by the time I heard it. I loved how different it sounded from what we usually make together, but it was somehow still in the Loma realm—and the horn arrangement made it really special for me.

Meiburg adds: “The horn session for Don’t Shy Away was one of the most exciting moments in making the record. They drove out to the studio one evening and blew their hearts out for three hours, without hearing any of the songs beforehand. I think they left feeling a bit confused about what kind of record this was, but they were really good sports about it.”

Duszynski also adds: “I started ‘Elliptical Days’ as a sketch in Ableton- an exercise to learn the software and dig through some synth sounds. Jonathan heard me messing with it and walked into the control room asking, ‘Can we use this?’ The song really came to life as he and our good friend (and touring Loman) Emily Lee started overdubbing piano and koto parts—and as usual, our collaboration transcended what any of us could do alone.”

Don’t Shy Away is the follow-up to the band’s self-titled debut album, released back in February 2018 via Sub Pop. One song from Don’t Shy Away, “Homing,” was produced by Brian Eno. The album features “Half Silences,” a new song the band shared in April 2019 via a music video (it was one of our Songs of the Week). When the album was announced they shared another song from it, “Ocotillo,” via a lyric video (it was also one of our Songs of the Week). Then in September they shared two new songs from it, title track “Don’t Shy Away” and “I Fix My Gaze,” both via videos. “Don’t Shy Away” was one of our Songs of the Week.

4. Helena Deland: “Pale”

Montréal’s Helena Deland is releasing her debut full-length album, Someone New, on October 16 via Luminelle Recordings. This week she shared another song from it, “Pale.”

“‘Pale’ is about the little space left to the actual self in romantic relationships where idealization comes into play,” says Deland in a press release.

The song is accompanied by a simple visualizer featuring foaming water in a stream, which Deland says “represents the question of control when control is ultimately impossible.”

In July Deland shared the album’s “Lylz.” Then when the album was announced in August she shared the album’s title track, “Someone New,” via a video that showed Deland posing for the portrait painting which graces the album’s cover. Then she shared another song from it, atmospheric slow-burner “Truth Nugget” (which was one of our Songs of the Week).

5. Jesse Kivel: “Northside”

Jesse Kivel of Los Angeles duo Kisses is releasing a new solo album, ‘Infinite Jess’, on his November 13 on his own New Feelings label. Last week he shared another song from it, “Northside,” which has a ’90s vibe or would sit comfortably next to a song by The Radio Dept.

“This song is a love letter to a time when music was brand new and limitless in my mind,” says Kivel in a press release. “As a kid, my brother and I would walk from our high school to Barnes and Noble and spend hours reading Q, NME, Mojo and all the other British music magazines. Our favorite group was Oasis, and we just wanted to be the Gallaghers. This song also nods to The Smashing Pumpkins, Primal Scream and Polaris who I also deeply connected with at the time.”

Previously Kivel shared the album’s first single, “William,” which made it to #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

Joey Genetti produced the album, which also features Sam Wilkes, Jeff Brodsky, and Michael David. The album ends with a cover of Don McLean’s “Vincent.”

Jesse Kivel · Northside

6. Lost Horizons: “Cordelia” (Feat. John Grant)

This week Lost Horizons announced a new two-part double album, In Quiet Moments, and shared its atmospheric first single, “Cordelia,” which features guest vocals from John Grant. The album also features Porridge Radio, C Duncan, Marissa Nadler, Penelope Isles, Tim Smith of Midlake, and more. Lost Horizons is a duo featuring former Cocteau Twins member (and Bella Union label head) Simon Raymonde and drummer Richie Thomas (who has played with Dif Juz, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Felt, and Cocteau Twins). In Quiet Moments is due out in two parts via Bella Union, with part 1 being released on December 4 and part 2 coming out on February 26. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

The album includes “I Woke Up With An Open Heart,” which features The Hempolics and was released in September via a video.

In Quiet Moments is the follow-up to Lost Horizons’ 2017-released debut album, Ojalá, also on Bella Union. Ojalá was also filled with guest vocalists, including Sharon Van Etten, Marissa Nadler, Horse Thief’s Cameron Neal, Liela Moss of The Duke Spirit, Hilang Child, and Tim Smith of Midlake.

Raymonde had this to say about “Cordelia” in a press release: “This was one of the last tracks recorded for the album, though it came from the ashes of one the first improv sessions Richie [Thomas] and I had. Listening back to what we started with, I jettisoned the drums and most of the guitars but salvaged a small part of it and turned it into something brand new. Then I had the amazing David Rothon—who I had seen play live with Marissa Nadler a few nights before—and long-time collaborator Fiona Brice add pedal steel and strings respectively. Sitting quietly in the studio with our spacey slice of instrumental swirl, I closed my eyes to imagine a voice. While much of his recent work involves synths and crunchy beats, how he magnificently handles cinematic melancholy in his own work, and specifically in the Scott Walker Prom for the BBC, I knew my dear friend John Grant would nail this. I hoped he might enjoy the freedom of creating some melodic magic alongside elegant emotional lyrics. I sent him the piece, aware that he is always so incredibly busy, and tried to keep my expectations low, in case he had to turn it down, but to my utter and continuing delight he said yes and I’ll have to admit to shedding a tear or two when he sent me back the completed vocal a few weeks later.”

Grant had this to say: “I really loved doing this track with Simon. I’d had the idea for this song for a long time and when he sent me the instrumental, I immediately thought: ‘Cordelia’—so happy to have found such a beautiful home for this track!”

7. Midnight Sister: “Wednesday Baby”

Last week, Midnight Sister, the Los Angeles-based duo of Juliana Giraffe and Ari Balouzian, shared a new song, “Wednesday Baby,” via a video for it. It is said to be the first single from the band’s forthcoming album on Jagjaguwar and is named after Giraffe’s rescue dog, Wednesday.

Details of the new album are still forthcoming, but it will be the follow-up to their 2017-released debut album, Saturn Over Sunset, also released by Jagjaguwar. Midnight Sister’s art-pop would appeal to fans of Broadcast, influential ’60s pioneers such as The United States of America and The Free Design, and Charlie Hilton.

Oliver Bernsen directed the “Wednesday Baby” video. In a press release Midnight Sister collectively say the video “is about coming to terms with the end and the way sometimes out of death or loss, space is made for something new and beautiful to grow.”

8. TRAAMS: “Intercontinental Radio Waves

This week, British post-rock band TRAAMS shared a new song, Intercontinental Radio Waves. It is accompanied by an animated video and follows “The Greyhound,” a new single the band shared in August that was their first new song in almost five years. Stewart Armstrong directed the Intercontinental Radio Waves” video.

The over nine-minute long “The Greyhound” was one of our Songs of the Week. “Intercontinental Radio Waves” is decidedly brief in comparison, clocking in at just over three minutes long.

After recording a standalone single in 2016 called “A House on Fire,” the band went on a hiatus. The band’s last album was 2015’s Modern Dancing and the trio features Stuart Hopkins (vocals, guitar), Leigh Padley (bass), and Adam Stock (drums).

Intercontinental Radio Waves” was produced and mixed by Theo Verney and recorded in Brighton. A press release promises another TRAAMS single before the year is over.

In the press release, the video’s director Stewart Armstrong had this to say: “Inspired by one of my favorite books, The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville, in which manifestations of surrealist artworks and texts stalk the streets of Paris in 1950’s occupied France, the video is an animated paean to the ideas that art can defeat fascism and that a broken heart can be healed.”

9. Jónsi: “Salt Licorice” (Feat. Robyn)

Jónsi of Iceland’s Sigur Rós released his first solo album in 10 years, Shiver, last Friday via Krunk (stream it here and read our review of it here). Last week he shared one last pre-release single from it, “Salt Licorice,” which features Swedish pop singer Robyn. Jónsi co-directed the disorientating video with Rene van Pannevis and it includes the singer cutting his own hair.

Robyn had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Salt Licorice’ is such a cute and perfect pop song. It makes me want to dance violently and make out at the same time. It was a no-brainer to say yes to singing it with Jónsi. The pretty emails I get with a thousand emojis in them from him is a bonus that came with our collaboration as well!”

Shiver includes “Exhale,” a new song Jónsi shared in April via a video for the track he co-directed with Ribisi. When the album was announced, he shared another new song from it, “Swill,” via a Barnaby Roper-directed video for the track. Then he shared another song from it, “Cannibal,” which features Elizabeth Fraser (formerly of Cocteau Twins) and was also shared via a video. Shiver was co-produced by A. G. Cook (of PC Music).

10. Deep Sea Diver: “Wishing”

Deep Sea Diver (the band led by Jessica Dobson) is releasing a new album, Impossible Weight, on October 16 via High Beam/ATO. Last week they shared another song from it, “Wishing,” via a video that is made up of crowd-sourced footage of fans standing in front of 78 music venues closed because of the pandemic, in an effort to promote the Save Our Stages movement.

Dobson had this to say in a press release: “I gladly add to the chorus of voices of those releasing music right now and say, alongside many others, that it is DEVASTATING not being able to properly promote an album by playing shows and touring. The question that keeps rising within us as we try to maintain our wits and creativity is, how can we still involve people—and how can we still involve these music venues that we love and NEED?

“The answers are not totally clear, but one thing we do know is—they HAVE to be involved. So, for ‘Wishing,’ we wanted to make a video that brought others in, as well as utilized these precious spaces for the backdrops. We wanted to create a feeling like we were still on tour somehow, though being logistically at home. We wanted the togetherness of a show to come through in the video with one stipulation—that people would pick a music venue that means a lot to them—a place where they have experienced beauty and togetherness with others, and film themselves in front of it. The hope being that our video would contain the joy, the longing, the memories and the importance of these spaces for music, musicians and concert goers.

“And I feel like that was accomplished. Though its not the same, its the closest thing we’ve got at this point, and with this video, we want to plead with our local and federal governments to step in and save these spaces that are such beacons of hope and light for so many to experience community, joy, art and beauty together. Save Our Stages. Please.”

Previously Deep Sea Diver shared the album’s title track, “Impossible Weight,” which features a guest verse from Sharon Van Etten. It was shared via a video featuring both Dobson and Van Etten. “Impossible Weight” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

Dobson’s Deep Sea Diver bandmates include her husband Peter Mansen (drums), Garrett Gue (bass), and Elliot Jackson (guitar, synth). Impossible Weight is the band’s third album. The band entered the studio not long after the touring cycle for their sophomore album, 2016’s Secrets.

“We went into the studio pretty quickly after the tour ended, and I sort of hit a wall where I was feeling very detached from making music, and unable to find joy in it,” Dobson reveals. “I realized I had to try to rediscover my voice as a songwriter, and figure out the vocabulary for what I needed to say on this album.”

Eventually she regrouped and co-produced the album with Andy D. Park (Pedro the Lion, Ruler), recording it at Seattle’s Studio X and The Hall of Justice. Previously Impossible Weight’s first single “Lights Out” was shared.

Dobson has also performed in The Shins and in Beck’s band.

11. Quarter Life Crisis: “Postcard From Spain” (Feat. Frances Quinlan)

Quarter Life Crisis is a new project from Ryan Hemsworth. This week Quarter Life Crisis’ self-titled debut EP was announced and the EP’s first single, “Postcard From Spain,” which features guest vocals from Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan (as well as a children’s choir), was shared. Quarter Life Crisis is due out December 4 via Saddle Creek and also features Meg Duffy (Hand Habits), Charlie Martin (Hovvdy), Claud, and Yohuna. Check out the EP’s tracklist and cover art here.

Hemsworth had this to say about “Postcard From Spain” in a press release: “I had a plan going into the Quarter-Life Crisis project, but Frances really helped radicalize me, this collaboration was kind of the catalyst I unknowingly needed. Working on the arrangement together and with our engineer Ryan Schwabe was the best—I’ve worked with a lot of people but I felt a serious encouraging push from them. In the end we got this fun mix of live, electronic, soft and hard sounds (And a children’s choir on the chorus!). It feels like the basis of my whole project.”

Quinlan had this to say: “This was one of my first attempts at writing lyrics to a fully formed and recorded melody—it’s certainly one of the few times I’ve worked on something collaborating with an artist other than my bandmates in Hop Along. I love the melodies Ryan Hemsworth composes, they’re both catchy and intriguing, calculated and dreamy. I was nervous about possibly throwing a wrench into it with my vocals, as I’m so used to writing lyrics along with the chords, but it ended up being a really freeing experience to focus solely on vocal melody, to play with where I could take what was already there, already strong on its own.”

12. HAERTS: “For the Sky” (Feat. Ed Droste)

This week HAERTS (the duo featuring romantic partners Nini Fabi and Benny Gebert) shared a new song, “For the Sky,” via a video for it. The song features guest vocals from Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste. Julian Klincewicz directed the video, which was filmed while Fabi was pregnant.

Fabi had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘For the Sky’ came from a dream I had when I first found out that I was pregnant, which was the catalyst and beginning of writing the new music. When we finished the demo for the song I kept hearing Ed’s voice and just thought he would sound amazing on it. We didn’t know him at the time, but were such fans. When we reached out we honestly thought we’d never hear from him. But we did and we went into the studio in LA, and ended up recording it just singing together in a room. Now that feels like such a nostalgic notion. But even then it was special. It was that feeling you get when you sing with somebody and something just clicks. And it’s especially crazy when you sing with a vocal force as Ed. I wish everybody could sing together more and feel that.

“A few months later, we decided that we wanted to do a music video a week before I ended up giving birth. So it all came full circle when Julian came to NY and filmed me dancing at 9 months pregnant.”

HAERTS’ last album, sophomore effort New Compassion, came out in 2018 via Arts & Crafts. HAERTS turned heads in 2012 with their fantastic debut single, “Wings.” Its documentary style video has over 1.8 million views on YouTube. That was followed by their 2013 Hemiplegia EP and their 2014-released self-titled debut album (both which featured “Wings”).

Read our 2013 interview with HAERTS.

Honorable Mentions:

These 13 songs almost made the Top 10. Future Islands, Kevin Morby, and IAN Sweet came closest to making the main list.

Another Michael: “New Music”

The Antlers: “Wheels Roll Home”

Future Islands: “Born in a War”

IAN SWEET: “Power”

Buck Meek: “Second Sight”

Men I Trust: “Lucky Sue”

Mdou Moctar: “Chismiten”

Kevin Morby: “Sundowner”

Sen Morimoto: “Jupiter”

This Is the Kit: “Was Magician”

Travis: “Waving At the Window”

Laura Veirs: “Another Space and Time

Wild Pink: “The Shining But Tropical”

Other notable new tracks in the last two weeks include:

Annie: “Corridors of Time”

Tim Atlas: “Cold Shoulder”

Andrew Bird: “Andalucia” (John Cale Cover)

beabadoobee: “How Was Your Day?”

Bicep: “Apricots”

Bleached: “Stupid Boys”

Broadcast: “Where Are You?” (Demo)

James Broadcast · Where Are You? 4 Track Demo 2002

John Cale: “Lazy Day”

Channel Tres: “Skate Depot”

Chubby and the Gang: “Union Dues”

Club Intl.: “Ash Is Gone”

CocoRosie: “End of the Freak Show” (Feat. ANOHNI, Brooke Candy, Big Freedia, & Cakes Da Killa)

Django Django: “The Ark”

Gorillaz: “The Pink Phantom” (Feat. Elton John and 6LACK)

Hannah’s Little Sister: “Gum”

The Kills: “Raise Me (Demo)”

Adrianne Lenker: “dragon eyes”

Hamilton Leithauser: “Isabella” (Feat. Lucy Dacus)

Lykke Li: “BRON”

Alex Maas: “Been Struggling”

Stevie Nicks: “Show Them the Way”

Osees: “Weird And Wasted Connection”

Plants and Animals: “Love That Boy”

Porches: “I Miss That”

Purity Ring: “Better Off Alone” (Alice DJ Cover)

Small Black: “Tampa”

The Smashing Pumpkins: “Anno Satana” and “Birch Grove”

Tank and the Bangas: “Self Care”

Told Slant: “Run Around The School”

Jeff Tweedy: “Gwendolyn”

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October 12th 2020

New tune from Birdcage recorded in Berlin’s famous Arch studio.