12 Best Songs of the Week: Charly Bliss, Jessica Pratt, The WAEVE, Hamish Hawk, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, July 15th, 2024  

12 Best Songs of the Week: Charly Bliss, Jessica Pratt, The WAEVE, Hamish Hawk, and More

Plus Lionlimb, Why Bonnie, Jon Hopkins, Font, La Luz, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

May 03, 2024 Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the fifteenth Songs of the Week of 2024. This week Andy Von Pip, Caleb Campbell, Mark Moody, and Scott Dransfield helped me decide what should make the list. We seriously considered over 20 songs this week and narrowed it down to a Top 12.

Recently we announced our new print issue, The ’90s Issue, featuring The Cardigans and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth on the covers. Buy it from us directly here.

In the past few weeks we posted interviews with Sunday (1994), Sam Evian, Cheekface, Chastity Belt, Elbow, Julia Holter, Ride, Slowdive, and others.

In the last week we reviewed some albums.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 12 best the last seven days had to offer, followed by some honorable mentions. Check out the full list below.

1. Charly Bliss: “Nineteen”

This week, Charly Bliss announced a new album, FOREVER, and shared its first single, “Nineteen,” via a music video. FOREVER is due out August 16 via Lucky Number. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.

Charly Bliss is Eva Hendricks, Sam Hendricks, Spencer Fox, and Dan Shure. Sam Hendricks co-produced the album with Jake Luppen (Hippo Campus) and Caleb Wright (Samia).

FOREVER follows their 2019 album, Young Enough, and 2019 EP, Supermoon. In 2023 the band released two new songs—“You Don’t Even Know Me Anymore” and “I Need a New Boyfriend” (which was one of our Songs of the Week and accompanied by a dating site)—neither of which are on the new album.

Eva Hendricks had this to say about “Nineteen” in a press release: “I’ll always be fascinated by love and relationships that don’t quite work and bring tsunamis of heartbreak. The further away I am from it, the kind of love that bashes you against the rocks just as often as it carries you over waves of manic joy, the easier it is to see the full scope of it. First love is crazy.”

Young Enough was picked as our Album of the Week.

Check out our review of their Supermoon EP. By Mark Redfern

2. Jessica Pratt: “The Last Year”

Jessica Pratt released a new album, Here in the Pitch, today via Mexican Summer. Earlier this week she shared the album’s third single, “The Last Year.” It’s the album’s closing track.

Previously Pratt shared the album’s first single, “Life Is,” via a music video. “Life Is” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared the album’s second single, “World on a String,” via a music video (it was also one of our Songs of the Week).

Here in the Pitch is the follow-up to 2019’s Quiet Signs. The Los Angeles-based musician once again recorded at Gary’s Electric Studio in Brooklyn. She worked with previous collaborators, multi-instrumentalist/engineer Al Carlson and keyboardist Matt McDermott. Bassist Spencer Zahn and percussionist Mauro Refosco (David Byrne, Atoms for Peace) also took part in the sessions. Ryley Walker, Peter Mudge (Mac Miller, J.I.D.), and Alex Goldberg all also contributed to the album.

“I became obsessed with figures emblematic of the dark side of the Californian dream while making this record,” Pratt said of Here in the Pitch in a previous press release.

Pratt recorded the album over a three-year period, from 2020 to 2023. Of the five-year gap between albums, she said: “I never wanted it to take this long. I’m just a real perfectionist. I was just trying to get the right feeling, and it takes a long time to do that.”

The previous press release compared the album’s first single, and opening track, “Life Is,” to The Walker Brothers’ 1960s orchestral pop classic “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” but Pratt warned it’s not exactly representative of the album as a whole, which is starker.

“In a way, it’s kind of a false flag,” Pratt admitted. “But I also feel like it’s a statement of intention.”

Read our interview with Jessica Pratt on Quiet Signs. By Mark Redfern

3. The WAEVE: “City Lights”

This week, The WAEVE—aka Rose Elinor Dougall and Blur guitarist Graham Coxon—shared a brand new song, “City Lights.”

“City Lights” follows the duo’s self-titled debut album, which came out last year via Transgressive and was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2023.

James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Florence & The Machine, Foals, HAIM) produced The WAEVE, which was recorded in 2022. Dougall and Coxon started trading messages during lockdown, around Christmas 2020, and the project grew from there.

Many of the band’s tracks feature Coxon on saxophone, one of the first instruments he picked up when he initially became a musician.

The WAEVE were interviewed in Issue 71 of our print magazine (get it here).

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

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).

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.

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. His memoir, Verse, Chorus, Monster!, got a U.S. release last year via Faber Books. Blur also released a new album last year, The Ballad of Darren. By Mark Redfern

4. Hamish Hawk: “Big Cat Tattoos”

This week, Scottish musician Hamish Hawk announced a new album, A Firmer Hand, and shared its first single, “Big Cat Tattoos,” via a music video. A Firmer Hand is due out on August 16 via Fierce Panda. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as Hawk’s upcoming tour dates, here.

Hawk had this to say about the new song in a press release: “‘Big Cat Tattoos’ is just one of the great unsaids that make up the new record, and it’s the birthplace of the album’s title: ‘A Firmer Hand.’ Unknowingly I’d been building up an ugly arsenal of great unsaids over the past few years, and the album became a place I could offload them, and with any luck put them to rest.

“I tried to avoid cleaning things up at the time of writing, I cornered myself into a warts-and-all approach. But don’t be fooled, ‘Big Cat Tattoos’ is all talk. Our hero gets a few barbs in nice and early, and lands a couple of clumsy jabs, but in the end we’re witness to nothing more than a petty diatribe. It’s embittered, unbecoming and wholly embarrassing. It does have a certain get-up-and-go, though.”

A Firmer Hand is the follow-up to 2023’s Angel Numbers.

Hawk had this to say about the album: “Writing this album, I opened up my closet, and a skeleton came out. The thing that links all of the songs is a sense of the unsaid, whether out of guilt, shame, repression, embarrassment, coyness, whatever it might have been. I realized: I am going to say these things, and not all of them are going to make me look good. The album made so many demands, and I just gave myself over to it.

“Once I’d given myself over to the idea, I thought, I have to stick to this. I can’t hide anything from it. I can’t clean it all up for consumption. It felt uncomfortable for me – and that’s exactly how it should feel. That’s a really strong position.”

Read our 2022 interview with Hamish Hawk.

Read our review of Angel Numbers. By Mark Redfern

5. Lionlimb: “Underwater”

Lionlimb are releasing a new album, Limbo, on May 24 via Bayonet. This week they shared its third single, “Underwater,” via a music video.

Lionlimb is the New York-based project of Stewart Bronaugh and it also features Joshua Jaeger.

A press release describes the new single in greater detail: “On ‘Underwater,’ Bronaugh compares falling in love to plunging further into deep water, represented by rolling piano and tense strings. Using images inspired by nature, he expresses being overtaken by a force greater than himself, as the psychedelic instruments evoke vast landscapes.”

Previously Lionlimb shared Limbo’s first single, “Hurricane,” via a music video. “Hurricane” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its second single, “Dream of You,” which features Angel Olsen, who also appears in the video. Bronaugh and Jaeger have also both performed in Olsen’s touring band. “Dream of You” was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Limbo follows 2021’s Spiral Groove. A press release says the new album was “inspired by a palette of ’70s Italian film soundtracks, ’60s girl group music, and funk and soul ballads.”

“When I’m working on music, it’s like I’m trying to make my own world,” Bronaugh says in the press release. “It’s that feeling of wanting to exist somewhere else. I’m trying to express something and get out of my head and body.”

Of the new single, he adds: “‘Hurricane’ is about escapism and searching for THAT feeling that puts you in a flow state, away from the anxiety and uncomfortableness of being human. Creativity can help, and then there are other ways that are much more harmful. This song is about saying goodbye to those, but I feel like I’m always searching for that next thing.” By Mark Redfern

6. Why Bonnie: “Dotted Line”

This week, Why Bonnie (the project of Blair Howerton) shared a new song, “Dotted Line,” via a music video. It’s her first single for Fire Talk, which have just announced that they’ve signed Why Bonnie.

Howerton wrote “Dotted Line” when she was “broke as hell” and under “the weight of capitalism.”

“I was thinking of all the things we’re told are markers of success, and how at this rate, I’ll probably never have any of them,” she explains in a press release.

Howerton co-directed the video with Grace Pendleton and the press release says it’s about “getting into bed with ‘the man.’”

Why Bonnie released her debut album, 90 in November, in 2022 via Keeled Scales. In 2023 she shared a brand new single, “Apple Tree.” Previously the project was presented more as a band, but now it seems to be more of a solo enterprise.

Read our 2022 interview with Why Bonnie. By Mark Redfern

7. Jon Hopkins: “RITUAL (evocation)”

This week, British electronic musician Jon Hopkins announced a new album, RITUAL, and shared its lead single, “RITUAL (evocation),” via a music video. RITUAL is due out August 30 via Domino. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as Hopkins’ upcoming tour dates, here.

RITUAL follows 2021’s Music For Psychedelic Therapy and is a single 41-minute piece spread over eight chapters.

Hopkins had this to say about the album in a press release: “I have no idea what I’m doing when I’m composing. I don’t know where it’s coming from, and I don’t know where it’s going, nor does it seem to matter. I just know when it is finished. So all I can really do is feel my way to the end, then try and retrospectively analyze what might be going on, and try and figure out what its purpose is. What is clear is that this one has the structure of a Ritual. I know what that Ritual is for me, but it will be something different for you. It feels important not to be prescriptive about what this Ritual actually is.

“It feels like a tool, maybe even a machine, for opening portals within your inner world, for unlocking things that are hidden and buried. Things that are held in place by the tension in your body. It doesn’t feel like ‘an album’ therefore—more a process to go through, something that works on you. At the same time, it feels like it tells a story. Maybe it’s the story of a process I’m going through, and one that we are all going through. Maybe it’s also the story of creation, destruction and transcendence. Maybe it’s the story of the archetypal hero’s journey—the journey of forgetting and remembering.

“Ultimately though, all I have to say about it is said by the sound.”

Read our 2019 interview with Hopkins here. By Mark Redfern

8. Font: “Hey Kekulé”

This week, new Austin five-piece Font announced their debut album, Strange Burden, and shared its first single, “Hey Kekulé,” via a music video. Strange Burden is due out July 12 via Acrophase Records. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the band’s upcoming tour dates, here.

Font is Thom Waddill (guitar/synth/vocals), Jack Owens (drums), Anthony Laurence (guitar/synth/sampler), Logan Wagner (percussion/sampler), and Roman Parnell (bass/synth).

Cormac McCarthy’s essay, “The Kekulé Problem,” about a German chemist, inspired the new single. Waddill explains more in the press release: “As with the other songs on the record, there is no intentional meaning to the symbols, references, phrases, and images I use. I’m not trying to ‘say’ anything about the subconscious—I’m only trying to channel it. And a big reason why I could do that here was because it was one of the first songs where the five-part machine of the band really began to whirr—I had a hand in almost none of the music for the song. The beat, the piano part, all of it came from the band, and because it was a truly foreign container, I could simply release and respond.” By Mark Redfern

9. La Luz: “I’ll Go With You”

La Luz are releasing a new album, News of the Universe, on May 24 via Sub Pop. This week they shared its third single, “I’ll Go With You,” via a music video.

The band is led by guitarist, singer, and songwriter Shana Cleveland. She had this to say about the new single in a press release: “This song is heavily influenced by Yanti Bersaudara, a group of Indonesian sisters who released some of my very favorite music originally released in the mid ’60s and early ’70s. Lyrically, this song is a retelling of a dream I had one night when I had gone to bed with the melody of this song in my head. I had some different words in mind, but this sweet little romance dream took over.”

Previously La Luz shared the album’s first single, “Strange World,” via a music video. “Strange World” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its second single, “Poppies,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week.

News of the Universe follows 2021’s La Luz, which was released on Hardly Art, Sub Pop’s sister label, which makes this their debut on Sub Pop proper.

Cleveland was diagnosed with breast cancer two years after the birth of her son, which led to the postponement of shows in 2022.

“Seeing the cycle of life, seeing things grow out of decay, the decay of other living things—was super comforting to me. I had to get to a place where I felt more comfortable with the idea of death,” Cleveland said of the new album in a previous press release.

News of the Universe features a changing of the guard in terms of La Luz’s lineup—it’s the first appearance for drummer Audrey Johnson and the final ones from longtime members Lena Simon (bass) and Alice Sandahl (keyboards).

La Luz worked with producer Maryam Qudos (Spacemoth) on the album and the collaboration went so well that Qudos has joined the band as their new keyboardist.

“There are moments on this album that sound to me like the last frantic confession before an asteroid destroys the earth,” said Cleveland, summing up News of the Universe.

Read our 2021 interview with La Luz. By Mark Redfern

10. illuminati hotties: “Can’t Be Still”

This week, illuminati hotties (the project of singer/songwriter Sarah Tudzin) shared a new song, “Can’t Be Still,” and announced some new fall tour dates. Tony Wolski directed the video.

Tudzin had this to say about the song in a press release: “I find that something I have in common with most people that I talk to lately is the immense fear of and inability to be alone with ourselves. Constant motion, avoidance, restlessness—anything to keep myself from stagnating have always been my coping mechanisms when my inner monologue starts to get loud.”

“Can’t Be Still” follows “Sandwich Sharer,” a new song Tudzin shared in 2022, and her 2021 album, Let Me Do One More.

Let Me Do One More was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2021.

Read our 2021 interview with illuminati hotties. By Mark Redfern

11. Sunday (1994): “Blonde”

Up-and-coming Anglo-American band Sunday (1994) dropped their self-titled debut EP today. They also shared a video for the EP’s new single, “Blonde.” The release follows their two hit singles “Tired Boy” and “Stained Glass Window,” which garnered international attention for the band.

Sunday (1994) craft songs inspired by the everyday magic found in the mundanity of modern life. Their music may evoke a nostalgic ’90s cinematic film aesthetic, but their lyrics are laced with an acerbic self-aware wit and a dark sense of humor.

Composed entirely within their one-bedroom apartment by the songwriting duo of Paige Turner and Lee Newell, alongside their drummer known simply as “X,” their debut EP is a love letter to the universal experience of love, separation and all the associated drama, beauty, and heartbreak that comes with it

The Latest single “Blonde” sets the mood with its swaying tempo, chiming guitars, soft arpeggios, and emotive, evocative vocals. The band describes the track as “a song about reclaiming yourself and finding freedom after heartbreak.”

Read our recent interview with the band HERE. By Andy Von Pip

12. Mdou Moctar: “Oh France”

Nigerien quartet Mdou Moctar released a new album, Funeral for Justice, today via Matador. Earlier this week they shared its third single, “Oh France.” A press release says the song is “a fiery indictment of French colonialism.”

Previously the band shared the album’s title track, via a music video. Then they shared its second single, “Imouhar,” via a music video. It was one of our Songs of the Week.

Funeral for Justice follows the band’s 2021 album, Afrique Victime.

The band belong to the Tuareg people and Mdou Moctar shares its name with its lead singer and guitarist.

In a previous press release, Moctar said the new album is inspired by the troubling political climate in Niger. “This album is really different for me. Now the problems of terrorist violence are more serious in Africa. When the U.S. and Europe came here, they said they’re going to help us, but what we see is really different. They never help us to find a solution.”

Producer and bassist Mikey Coltun said: “Mdou Moctar has been a strong anti-colonial band ever since I’ve been a part of it. France came in, fucked up the country, then said ‘you’re free.’ And they’re not.”

Speaking of the band’s progression, Coltun added: “Ilana was the gateway album, saying that this is a raw rock band. And Afrique Victime was a summation of that vision. With Funeral for Justice, I really wanted this to shine with the political message because of everything that’s going on. As the band got tighter and heavier live, it made sense to capture this urgency and this aggression—it wasn’t a forced thing, it was very natural.”

Read our interview with Mdou Moctar on Afrique Victime. By Mark Redfern

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 12.

Arab Strap: “You’re Not There”

Alex Izenberg: “Drinking the Dusk Away”

Caroline Polachek: “Starburned and Unkissed”

SPRINTS: “Help Me, I’m Spiralling”

Suzie True: “LEECHES (PLAY DEAD!)”

Washed Out: “The Hardest Part”

Kamasi Washington: “Get Lit” (Feat. George Clinton and D-Smoke)

Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 12 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:

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