12 Best Songs of the Last Two Weeks: Thom Yorke, Arlo Parks, Lost Horizons, Goat Girl, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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12 Best Songs of the Last Two Weeks: Thom Yorke, Arlo Parks, Lost Horizons, Goat Girl, and More

Plus U.S. Girls, Arab Strap, Bernice, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Dec 04, 2020 Arab Strap Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the 44th Songs of the Week of 2020. We didn’t do a Songs of the Week last week because of the Thanksgiving holiday, so this week’s list covers the last two weeks and thus it’s a Top 12 rather than a Top 10.

In the last couple of weeks millions of Americans traveled for Thanksgiving even though the CDC advised them not, meaning that record high COVID-19 cases in America will probably get even higher in the coming weeks. President Trump continued to spread baseless claims of election fraud, rather than doing much to help combat the pandemic, but thankfully there are some viable vaccines on the way and President-Elect Biden is already making plenty of plans for his administration.

Warner Bros., meanwhile, is not waiting around for a vaccine—they announced this week that all of their 2021 movies will simultaneously be shown in movie theaters and stream on HBO Max, something they already said they were going to do with Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day. That means HBO Max subscribers will get to see The Suicide Squad, Matrix 4, Godzilla vs. Kong, Dune, and other blockbusters for free from home for a full month after each film’s release date. It’s the kind of thing that could change movie-going forever. And speaking of movies, head over to Amazon Prime this weekend to stream the acclaimed new film Sound of Metal, about a drummer (played by Riz Ahmed) going deaf, for a cameo from Under the Radar (the fake band in the movie appears on a fake cover for the magazine that we helped the production mock up).

In the last couple of weeks we posted interviews with Jesse Kivel, Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller (directors of the Other Music documentary), travel writer and TV host Rick Steves, and podcaster Roman Mars.

In the last two weeks we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Anna von Hausswolff, Shitbats, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Actress, Autechre, J.E. Sunde, Elvis Costello, Nick Cave, The Parson Red Heads, The Smashing Pumpkins, The War on drugs, Drive-By Truckers, Allman Brothers Band, and Kathleen. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

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

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

1. Thom Yorke, Burial, and Four Tet: “Her Revolution”

Thom Yorke, Burial, and Four Tet have collaborated once again. This week they put out a single featuring two new songs, “Her Revolution” and “His Rope.” The single, a double A-side black label vinyl release limited to 100 copies, was available at London record stores Phonica and Sounds of the Universe, and it is already sold out. Digital transfers of the two songs have been put up on YouTube. We picked the ghostly “Her Revolution” as our #1 song, but “His Rope” appears further down the list.

The three English musicians collaborated back in 2011, releasing another double A-side single with the two songs “Ego” and “Mirror.” Back in April, Yorke performed an original song called “Plasticine Figure” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. In March, Four Tet released his most recent album, Sixteen Oceans, on Text. It featured the song “Teenage Birdsong.” By Joey Arnone

2. Arlo Parks: “Caroline”

Rising British musician Arlo Parks is releasing her debut album, Collapsed In Sunbeams, January 29, 2021 via Transgressive. Last week she shared another song from it, the soulful “Caroline.” It was shared via a lyric video.

Parks had this to say about “Caroline” in a press release: “Caroline is an exercise in people watching and seeing situations unfold without context. It’s an exploration of how something once full of healthy passion can dissolve in an instant.”

Parks grew up in South West London. She’s half Nigerian, a quarter Chadian, and a quarter French. She learned to speak French before English. “I’m a black kid who can’t dance for shit, listens to emo music, and currently has a crush on some girl in my Spanish class,” she remembered in a previous press release announcing the album. As she reached 17 Parks had worked out that she was bisexual and had written and produced an album’s worth of material.

“My album is a series of vignettes and intimate portraits surrounding my adolescence and the people that shaped it,” Parks said. “It is rooted in storytelling and nostalgia—I want it to feel both universal and hyper specific.”

When Collapsed In Sunbeams was announced, Parks shared the single “Green Eyes,” via a video for the track (which features Clairo). “Green Eyes” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Parks previously shared Collapsed In Sunbeams “Hurt,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. “Hurt” followed her cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” and her singles “Black Dog” and “Eugene” (the latter landed on a Michelle Obama playlist). In 2019 Parks released a pair of EPs: Sophie and Super Sad Generation. Parks also recently teamed up with Phoebe Bridgers to cover the Radiohead classic “Fake Plastic Trees” (from The Bends), performing it in a church, with Parks on piano, for BBC Radio 1’s Chillest Show with Phil Taggart. She also sang guest vocals on a new version of Glass Animals“Tangerine” (the original version was on their recent album Dreamland).

3. Lost Horizons: “Every Beat That Passed” (Feat. Kavi Kwai)

Lost Horizons are releasing a new two-part double album, In Quiet Moments, today and in February, and this week they shared another song from it, “Every Beat That Passed,” which features Swedish singer/producer Kavi Kwai. It was shared via a video directed by Jonathan Caouette.

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). “Every Beat That Passed” sounds very much like Cocteau Twins, more so than Lost Horizons songs usually do.

In Quiet Moments is due out in two parts via Bella Union, with part 1 being released today and part 2 coming out on February 26.

Previously Lost Horizons shared the album’s atmospheric single, “Cordelia,” which featured guest vocals from John Grant and was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another song from it, “One For Regret,” which featured Porridge Radio. It was shared via a video featuring Porridge Radio’s Dana Margolin. “One For Regret” was also one of our Songs of the Week.

The album also includes “I Woke Up With An Open Heart,” which features The Hempolics and was released in September via a video. In Quiet Moments also features C Duncan, Marissa Nadler, Penelope Isles, Tim Smith of Midlake, and more.

Raymonde also had this to say about “Every Beat That Passed” in a press release: “Richie came up with the piano part for this and it grabbed my attention immediately. That ‘waltz’ rhythm is pretty much in my DNA from my Cocteaus days, and the other instrumentation just kinda flowed out in a rush of emotion and memory. Discovering Kavi Kwai was akin to roaming the beaches of Bognor with a defective metal detector and discovering a whopping blue diamond. She is from Sweden and on hearing her music, I vowed to create a track especially for her. When I received her vocal back, I had that unusual experience of simultaneously laughing and crying at the same time. Laughing because I couldn’t believe how incredible it was, and crying because she turned our tune into a beautifully sad song which really moved me. Still does to be honest.”

Kavi Kwai had this to add: “The feeling that came to me when I first heard the instrumental version was that it felt very hopeful. Hope always has an undertone of something heavy or dark - otherwise we wouldn’t need it. When I wrote the melodies and the lyrics I stayed in that mode, I wanted to capture the combination of dark and light.”

Caouette, who also directed the video for Lost Horizon’s “Cordelia,” also says: “Through the work I did on the videos, I began feeling that ‘Cordelia’ represented memory, loss, melancholy, and how inescapable impermanence is and that ‘Every Beat that Passed’ represented the antithesis of those ideas: the promise of resetting and renewal, and the hope that not all is lost, even under the hardest of circumstances. So, even though they have two distinct feelings they also work together as two different perspectives, yin and yang etc.”

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.

4. Goat Girl: “The Crack”

South London quartet Goat Girl are releasing a new album, On All Fours, on January 29, 2021 via Rough Trade. This week they shared another single from it, “The Crack,” via a surreal video for the song. Molly Ann Pendlebury directed the video, which features elaborate masks and costumes set against a natural beach setting.

In a press release the band collectively say the song “emerged from an imagined post-apocalyptic world whereby people flee into space for a new life on an unruined planet, as the result of the pillaging of Planet Earth.”

Pendlebury had this to say about the song’s video: “‘The Crack’ intimates a world at the mercy of its inhabitants. I wanted to create a video which indirectly plays with notions of environmentalism and our relationship to the earth whilst never explicitly being a film about climate change… Playing with subtle and restrictive movement, the performers are ‘on all fours’; alluding to the album’s title, and moving collectively as one; portraying a journey through a land lost to time.”

Previously Goat Girl shared On All Fours’ first single, “Sad Cowboy,” via a video. “Sad Cowboy” made it to #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

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. Goat Girl’s lineup is Lottie Cream, Rosy Bones, L.E.D., and Holly Hole.

Read our review of Goat Girl.

5. Thom Yorke, Burial, and Four Tet: “His Rope”

“His Rope,” the other song released this week by Thom Yorke, Burial, and Four Tet, also makes our Songs of the Week list.

6. U.S. Girls: “Santa Stay Home”

This week U.S. Girls (aka Meghan Remy) shared a new original holiday song, “Santa Stay Home,” that has an anti-consumerism bent. “While landfills overflow around the globe, you sit up there in your red judge robe/This charade has got to end,” sings Remy. Despite the political message, “Santa Stay Home” sounds upbeat and danceable. Rich Morel co-wrote the song with Remy. It was shared via a video.

In a press release statement Remy simply had this to say: “When one stops to really think about it, Santa is creepy and Christmas makes no damn sense.”

U.S. Girls released a new album, Heavy Light, back in March via 4AD. In March we posted our new text interview with U.S. Girls, our review of Heavy Light, and our Why Not Both podcast interview with Remy.

Previously U.S. Girls shared a self-directed video for Heavy Light’s first single, “Overtime.” “Overtime” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then Remy shared another song from the album, “4 American Dollars,” via a video for the track. “4 American Dollars” was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Heavy Light was the follow-up to 2017’s In a Poem Unlimited and 2015’s Half Free, both also released on 4AD. Remy self-produced Heavy Light and worked with co-writers Basia Bulat and Rich Morel. It was recorded in Montreal’s Hotel 2 Tango studio with 20 session musicians, including E Street Band saxophonist Jake Clemons. Maximilian ‘Twig’ Turnbull, Steve Chahley, and Tony Price mixed the album.

Read our 2015 interview with U.S. Girls.

Read our 2018 interview with U.S. Girls.

7. Arab Strap: “Compersion Pt. 1”

Last week Scottish duo Arab Strap (Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton) announced their first album in 16 years, As Days Get Dark, making the announcement in tandem with the release of a new single, “Compersion Pt. 1,” which will be featured on the album. As Days Get Dark will be out on March 5, 2021 via Rock Action. Check out the album art and tracklist for As Days Get Dark here.

Frontman Aidan Moffat talks about the meaning of “Compersion Pt. 1” in a press release, where he says that the song “depicts a quest to find the ever-elusive unicorn; to bond fluidly—and safely—with the like-minded and adventurous, in the comforting arms of an anonymous hotel…and the stark realization that you never really wanted it.”

Speaking on the album, Moffat states, “It’s about hopelessness and darkness, but in a fun way.” Moffat goes on to clarify that the intent for this latest album is not to “recapture the ’90s,” but to capture something new and unexplored for the group. “This album feels like its own new thing to me,” he says. “It’s definitely Arab Strap, but an older and wiser one, and quite probably a better one. I’ve never been interested in making slick records, but the new stuff sounds much fuller, brighter and better because we actually know what we’re doing. I think for a long time we didn’t know how to express what we wanted in a studio.” Nonetheless, he still reaffirms that “we’re still doing what we always do: Malcolm [Middleton] gives me some guitar parts then I’ll fuck about with them and put some drum machines and words over the top.”

Bandmate Malcolm Middleton also had a few things to say regarding the album in a press release: “We’ve had enough distance from our earlier work to reappraise and dissect the good and bad elements of what we did. Not many bands get to do this, so it’s great to split up.” For this album, Moffat and Middleton have reconnected with producer Paul Savage. “Paul brings comfort and trust,” says Middleton, “and a sense of continuity.”

Middleton makes a final statement regarding the band’s reunion and the new sonic direction they are exploring on the album: “There’s no point getting back together to release mediocrity.”

In September, Arab Strap released the single “The Turning of Our Bones,” which was the first song they had released in 15 years and is the album’s opening track. It was featured on our Songs of the Week list in the first week of September. The band’s last album was 2005’s The Last Romance.

Arab Strap were interviewed in Under the Radar’s very first print issue in 2001, for The Red Thread, an album released the same year. By Joey Arnone

8. Bernice: “Groove Elation”

This week Toronto five-piece Bernice announced a new album, Eau De Bonjourno, and shared its jazzy first single, “Groove Elation.” Eau De Bonjourno is due out March 5, 2021 via Telephone Explosion. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

Eau De Bonjourno is the band’s third full-length, the follow-up to 2018’s eclectically named Puff LP: In the air without a shape. Shahzad Ismaily produced Eau De Bonjourno.

In a press release lead singer Robin Dann says the album “openly plays with the shape of a pop song.”

Dann adds: “We have an impulse to open doors that you might not expect, and that translates from groove to melody to lyric. Phil and Thom have this strong aversion to building a beat that sits there in front of you and does exactly what you expect it to do. We come out of so many musical traditions and are trying to make something that’s not a direct descendent of any of them. We’re trying to make the music that feels like us right now.”

Read our 2018 interview with Bernice here.

9. Shame: “Snow Day”

This week Shame shared their new single “Snow Day,” along with a visualizer for the song, which features drone footage shot in the Scottish Borders by Starkie Reay. “Snow Day” will be featured on Shame’s upcoming album Drunk Tank Pink, which will be out January 15, 2021 via Dead Oceans.

Frontman Charlie Steen had this to say about the song and upcoming album in a press release: “A lot of this album focuses on the subconscious and dreams, this song being the pivotal moment of these themes. A song about love that is lost and the comfort and displeasure that comes after you close your eyes, fall into sleep, and are forced to confront yourself.”

Shame has also announced a livestream performance from Rough Trade in London which will take place on January 14. Last month, the band released another song from the upcoming album, “Water in the Well,” which was featured on our Songs of the Week.

Shame’s previous album, Songs of Praise, was released in January 2018 on Dead Oceans. By Joey Arnone

10. Midnight Sister: “Foxes”

Midnight Sister, the Los Angeles-based duo of Juliana Giraffe and Ari Balouzian, are releasing a new album, Painting the Roses, on January 15, 2021 via Jagjaguwar. This week they shared another song from it, the glam-sounding “Foxes,” via an Oliver Bernsen-directed video for the single.

Giraffe had this to say about the song in a press release: “The song and video explore the relationship between performer and performance. Dissecting what it means to feel trapped by someone’s/something’s gaze and how the inherent invasive nature of the camera corners the performer through a dance of reality.”

When Painting the Roses was announced in October the band shared another new song from it, “Doctor Says,” via a video for it. “Doctor Says” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Painting the Roses also includes “Wednesday Baby,” a new song shared in September via a video for it. “Wednesday Baby” was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Painting the Roses is the duo’s second album, 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.

Read our 2017 interview with Midnight Sister.

11. Claud: “Soft Spot”

This week Claud (aka 21-year-old singer/songwriter Claud Mintz) announced their debut album, Super Monster, and shared a new song from it, “Soft Spot.” Super Monster is due out February 12, 2021 via Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records, making it the first album on Bridgers’ new imprint for Dead Oceans. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

Claud had this to say about “Soft Spot” in a press release: “‘… Sigh. I have a soft spot for lots of people, places, and things. This song is about knowing I can’t be with this one specific person, but my feelings won’t go away… I still hope I run into them, or they randomly text me about something. It’s just me romanticizing what I can’t have and being like ‘but what if…’”

Super Monster was recorded at New York’s Electric Lady Studios. Joshua Mehling played on and co-produced several tracks. The album features various special guests: Claire Cottrill (aka Clairo), Melanie Faye, Blu Detiger, Noa Getzug, Nick Hakim, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jake Portrait. The album features “Gold,” a single Claud shared in October.

12. Viagra Boys: “Creatures”

This week Swedish post-punk band Viagra Boys released a video for their new song “Creatures,” which will be featured on their upcoming album Welfare Jazz, out January 8, 2021 via YEAR0001. The quirky, Erik Kockum-directed video picks up where their previous video “Ain’t Nice” left off, where band member Sebastian Murphy is shown continuing to wander around an 18th century estate.

Welfare Jazz features production by Matt Sweeney (Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Run the Jewels), Justin and Jeremiah Raisen (Yves Tumor, Kim Gordon, Sky Ferreira), and past collaborators Pelle Gunnerfeldt and Daniel Fagerström (The Hives, The Knife).

Viagra Boys’ most recent release was their Common Sense EP, which came out back in March on YEAR0001. By Joey Arnone

Honorable Mentions:

These four songs almost made the Top 10.

Field Music: “Home for Christmas”

The Hold Steady: “Family Farm”

King Princess: “PAIN”

Pure Bathing Culture: “The Downtown Lights” (Feat. Ben Gibbard & San Fermin) (The Blue Nile Cover)

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Tori Amos: “Better Angels”

Bodies of Water: “I Knew Your Brother”

Boris With Merzbow: “Boris” (Melvins Cover)

Phoebe Bridgers: “If We Make It Through December” (Merle Haggard Cover)

Buke And Gase & So Percussion: “Diazepam”

Bill Callahan & Bonnie “Prince” Billy: “Our Anniversary” (Smog Cover) (Feat. Dead Rider)

Classixx & Local Natives: “Francesca”

Elvis Costello & Iggy Pop: “No Flag (En Français)”

Deftones: “Teenager (Robert Smith Remix)”

Liam Gallagher: “All You’re Dreaming Of”

The Go! Team: “Look Outside (A New Year’s Coming)”

S.G. Goodman: “Red Bird Morning” (Live At Loud And Clear)

Cory Hanson: “Paper Fog”

Hot Chip: “Straight To The Morning” (Feat. Jarvis Cocker) (Dillon Francis Remix)

Hospital Bracelet: “Happy Birthday”

Lia Ices: “Earthy”

Boldy James: “On Ten”

Jordana: “Reason”

Kuwaisiana: “Bara7a (براحة)”

Jenny Lewis & Serengeti: “Unblu”

Lost Under Heaven: “Goin’ Broke For Christmas”

Miss Grit: “Dark Side of the Party”

Muzz: “Nobody Wants a Lonely Heart” (Arthur Russell Cover)

NZCA LINES: “Pure Luxury (Django Django’s Boogie Beat Remix)”

Pom Pom Squad: “Last Christmas” (Wham! Cover)

Margo Price: “River” (Joni Mitchell Cover)

Quarter-Life Crisis: “You & Me” (Feat. Claud)

Esther Rose: “Keeps Me Running”

Jeff Rosenstock: “Hang In The Heat”

Sleaford Mods: “Shortcummings”

Sports: “Never Know”

The Staves: “Satisfied”

Matt Sweeney & Bonnie “Prince” Billy: “Make Worry For Me”

Tigers Jaw: “Lemon Mouth”

ViVii: “Fool Alone”

ViVii · Fool Alone

Your Old Droog: “Kyrgyzstan”

Zola Jesus: “Krunk”

(Thanks to Joey Arnone for helping to put this week’s list together.)

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