12 Best Songs of the Week: Death Cab for Cutie, The Beths, Francis Lung, black midi, and More | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, December 5th, 2023  

12 Best Songs of the Week: Death Cab for Cutie, The Beths, Francis Lung, black midi, and More

Plus Danger Mouse and Black Thought, Ezra Furman, Panda Bear and Sonic Boom, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Jul 15, 2022
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Welcome to the 27th Songs of the Week of 2022. It was a strong week for new tracks. Really any of the Top 6 could’ve been our #1 song. We settled on a Top 12 this week.

In the last week we posted interviews with ACID KLAUS, Marv Heiman (manager of Curtis Mayfield), and Katy J Pearson.

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 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 12 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. Death Cab for Cutie: “Here to Forever”

Death Cab for Cutie are releasing a new album, Asphalt Meadows, on September 16 via Atlantic. On Wednesday they shared the album’s second single, “Here to Forever,” via an amusing video in which frontman Benjamin Gibbard has to press the band’s own vinyl after encountering some incompetent workers at the pressing plant. Lance Bangs directed the video, which also features comedians Natalie Palamides and Courtney Pauroso. View the band’s upcoming tour dates here.

“In every movie I watch from the ’50s/There’s only one thought that swirls around my head now/And that’s that everyone there on the screen/Yeah, everyone there on the screen, well, they’re all dead now,” Gibbard sings at the start of “Here to Forever”

Gibbard had this to say about the song in a press release: “It’s a song both about our impermanence and the anxiety of these times. It’s also about wanting to believe in something bigger even when it feels like nothing is out there.”

Previously Death Cab for Cutie shared the album’s first single, “Roman Candles,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared a music video for the song that was shot in one take and featured the band performing the song while roman candle fireworks explode around them.

John Congleton (St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten) produced Asphalt Meadows, which is the follow-up to 2018’s Thank You For Today.

Gibbard was instrumental in helping us all get through the first year of the pandemic, especially when we were all under lockdown, with his regular Live From Home livestream concerts performed in 2020 at first daily and then weekly from his home studio.

Read our 2020 interview with Gibbard on his Live From Home concerts. By Mark Redfern

2. The Beths: “Expert in a Dying Field”

Yesterday, New Zealand four-piece The Beths shared a video for their new single, “Expert in a Dying Field.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming album of the same name, which will be out on September 16 via Carpark.

“I really do believe that love is learned over time,” states lead singer Elizabeth Stokes in a press release. “In the course of knowing a person you accumulate so much information: their favorite movies, how they take their tea, how to make them laugh, how that makes you feel. And when relationships between people change, or end, all that knowledge doesn’t just disappear. The phrase ‘Expert in a Dying Field’ had been floating around my head for a few years, I was glad to finally capture it when writing this tune.”

Upon announcement of the new album in June, the band shared the song “Silence is Golden,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week.

The Beths’ previous album, Jump Rope Gazers, came out in 2020 via Carpark. Read our My Firsts interview with the band. By Joey Arnone

3. Francis Lung: “2p Machine”

On Tuesday, Francis Lung announced the release of a new spoken word EP, Short Stories, which will be out on September 23 via Memphis Industries. Lung also shared an animated video for a new song from the EP, “2p Machine.” View the EP’s tracklist and cover art here.

The song centers on a 12-year-old girl at an amusement arcade, turning a small moment into something more epic.

Lung states in a press release: “Those first months following the birth of my daughter were a daze—the days were joyful, but the nights were long. Once I’m up, I’m up, and I could never get back to sleep after feeding or changing the baby. In my semi-delirious state, I would lie awake in bed making up stories in my head to pass the time. ‘2p Machine’ was the first of these, which originated from memories of being a kid on holiday in the arcades on Blackpool Pleasure Beach.”

Short Stories was written, produced, and mixed by Lung. By Joey Arnone

4. black midi: “Sugar/Tzu”

On Tuesday, experimental rock trio black midi shared a video for their new single, “Sugar/Tzu.” It is the latest release from their new album, Hellfire, which came out today via Rough Trade.

The band’s Geordie Greep explains in a press release: “‘Sugar/Tzu’ imagines that in 2163 it’s possible to see a championship fight between two 600 lb men. Albeit in a so-called ‘Leadweight’ division. The fight is between Sun Sugar and Sun Tzu; the latter being a fan of the Chinese general, hoping to channel his strength; and the former looking to continue the lineage of Sugar Ray Robinson, Leonard etc.

“Present at their battle is a young boy who stands just over three feet tall. At ringside, he briefly exchanges a glance with Sun Sugar, who, in perhaps an attempt to inspire, comes over to the boy and shakes his hand. It is then revealed, as the contender walks back to the action, that the boy is in fact a killer. He takes a small pistol from his little jacket and shoots the man in the back, honor be damned. The boy believes this not to be a cruel act, but a virtuous one, with his interference giving the audience an ultimate, rare entertainment.

“As Sun Sugar hits the deck, the crowd cheer and scream, believing this only to be the result of a particularly vicious shot from Sun Tzu.

“There is a little joke here. It is regular for a boxing audience to bemoan an early stoppage, the official stepping in to save a fighter who could’ve gone on. And while there is the surface agreement of most that ‘it was the right thing to do,’ there seems to be often left unsaid the fact that we actually do want to see a brutal knockout. And in the split second where these one-shot, punch-perfect, coma-inducing blows do occur, there is an undeniable rush. The boy in this story feels he is a hero for giving the crowd what they all really want. This is not to say the song is a critique of boxing or anything of the like—I love the sport—but it is an interesting and rare phenomenon worth exploring.”

Upon announcement of the new album in May, the band shared the album track “Welcome to Hell.” They later shared the album track “Eat Men Eat.”

The band’s most recent album, Cavalcade, came out last year via Rough Trade. It featured the singles “John L,” “Slow,” (which made it to #1 on our Songs of the Week), and “Chondromalacia Patella” (also one of our Songs of the Week).

Their debut album, Schlagenheim, came out in 2019 on Rough Trade, and made it to #30 on our Top 100 Albums of 2019 list. By Joey Arnone

5. Danger Mouse and Black Thought: “Aquamarine” (Feat. Michael Kiwanuka)

On Wednesday, Danger Mouse and The Roots’ frontman Black Thought shared a video for a new single, “Aquamarine,” which features Michael Kiwanuka. It is the latest release from the duo’s forthcoming album, Cheat Codes, which will be out on August 12 via BMG.

“For ‘Aquamarine,’ when I heard the music I just had a feeling to sing about standing up for something that’s unique and following that path,” states Kiwanuka in a press release. “I don’t know why but that’s what came out. Sometimes when you’re following something that’s unique to you it’s as if ‘enemies are all around.’ At times life can feel fragile like ‘everything’s burning down.’ For some reason the chords and music made me feel that way.”

Upon announcement of Cheat Codes, Danger Mouse and Black Thought shared the album track “No Gold Teeth,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Soon after, they shared “Because,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. By Joey Arnone

6. Ezra Furman: “Lilac and Black”

Ezra Furman is releasing a new album, All of Us Flames, on August 26 via ANTI-/Bella Union. On Tuesday, she shared its fourth single, “Lilac and Black,” via a lyric video. View her upcoming tour dates here.

A press release says “Lilac and Black” concerns “a revenge plot where she and her ‘queer girl gang’ drive out their oppressors and claim a hostile city for themselves.”

Furman elaborates further: “I’ve started to think of us trans women as a kind of secret gang, scattered across the world. Or that we could be that. So I wrote this theme song for us, and gave us some gang colors: lilac and black. Unfortunately, being trans usually comes with some kind of threat to one’s well-being or even one’s life. The hostility toward us right now is intense and the stakes are high. This song is an expression of deep solidarity and willingness to defend our lives. Being an inherently peaceful person, I hate to imagine it, but there are times that violent self-defense, or defense of others, is the moral and necessary path. This song is about being ready for that…. It’s also about how being trans so often feels like a war we never asked for. On top of the seemingly endless social stigma and barriers to our general thriving, various governments have now set in motion a concerted movement to virtually outlaw healthy trans existence. Let it be known: we demand safety, resources and dignity, and we are ready to fight for our lives and the lives of others.”

Furman shared All of Us Flames’s “Point Me Toward the Real” in early March, which was her first single for ANTI-. “Point Me Toward the Real” was about someone getting out of a psychiatric hospital and made it to #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then “Book of Our Names” followed in April. When All of Us Flames was announced in May, Furman shared its third single, “Forever in Sunset,” via a video. “Forever in Sunset” also made our Songs of the Week list.

John Congleton (Angel Olsen, Future Islands, Sharon Van Etten) produced All of Us Flames. Furman’s last full-on album was 2019’s Twelve Nudes. In 2021, Furman surprise released a new EP that featured songs she had written for season 3 of the Netflix show Sex Education. It was fittingly titled Sex Education - Songs from Season 3 and featured three new songs, alongside two songs previously released with her former band Ezra Furman & The Harpoons in 2011. Furman has done the music for all three seasons. In 2020, Furman shared the official soundtrack for seasons 1 and 2 of Sex Education, along with a video for the song “Every Feeling.”

All of Us Flames is described as the third part of a trilogy, including 2019’s Twelve Nudes and 2018’s Transangelic Exodus.

“I started to think of trans women as a secret society across the world: scattered everywhere, but so obviously bound together, both in being vulnerable and having a shared vision to change a fundamental building block of patriarchal society,” Furman explained in a previous press release. “I’ve been building my world of queer pals, and it feels like we’re forming a gang.”

Much of the new album was written in the early months of the pandemic. “I had no time alone anymore; my house was super crowded,” Furman said. So she went for drives around Massachusetts to find quiet places to write songs.

“This is a first person plural album,” Furman said. “It’s a queer album for the stage of life when you start to understand that you are not a lone wolf, but depend on finding your family, your people, how you work as part of a larger whole. I wanted to make songs for use by threatened communities, and particularly the ones I belong to: trans people and Jews.”

Check out our 2020 interview with Furman in episode two of our official podcast’s first season.

Read our 2018 interview with Furman. By Mark Redfern

7. Panda Bear and Sonic Boom: “Go On”

On Wednesday, Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox of Animal Collective) and Sonic Boom (aka Pete Kember, formerly of Spacemen 3) announced a collaborative album, Reset, which will be out on August 12 via Domino. They also shared an animated video for the album’s first single, “Go On.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

Panda Bear’s most recent solo album, Buoys, came out in 2018 via Domino. Read our interview with Panda Bear on Buoys. In 2020, Sonic Boom released the album All Things Being Equal via Carpark. By Joey Arnone

8. Young Fathers: “Geronimo”

On Tuesday, Scottish hip-hop trio Young Fathers shared a new single, “Geronimo.” It is the trio’s first release of new music in four years, and it is out now via Ninja Tune.

In a press release, the band elaborate on their new single: “A good time trying. That’s what Ma said, she was smiling, but it was meant as a warning.

“It’s a track about contrast, because life is contrast—pushing through, giving up, all at the same time. Wanting everything and then wanting nothing, then wanting everything again. It’s kind of reflective of where we are at the moment, trying to remember how to do this again.

“Trying to make music and all of the other stuff that comes along with it. Trying to forget all the bad bits, just trying to get somewhere. And that’s where we are right now, trying to get somewhere.

“It’s the tenderness in toil, we had expelled a bunch of stuff with a lot of drive and wilder energy beforehand but this one had focus. It widened the scope again for us personally, that’s where the real high comes from. We grew another arm. We surprised ourselves.

“So coming back with a track called ‘Geronimo’ feels quite fitting. Just the three of us again, but still in a fucking basement.”

Young Fathers’ most recent album, Cocoa Sugar, came out in 2018 via Ninja Tune. Read our interview with Young Fathers on Cocoa Sugar. By Joey Arnone

9. Marlon Williams: “River Rival”

New Zealand singer/songwriter/guitarist Marlon Williams is releasing a new album, My Boy, on September 9 via Dead Oceans. On Wednesday, he shared its third single, “River Rival,” via a video for the new song. Steve Gullick directed the video, which simply features a wet Williams singing the song in one close-up shot, no edits. View his upcoming tour dates here.

Williams had this to say about “River Rivals” in a press release: “This tune began with an idle Google search. The Latin noun ‘rivalis’ means people competing for the same source of water. That got me excited and seemed to hit upon a central occupation of the record as a whole. Resource scarcity, very generally construed, is at the heart of most conflict: economically, materially, socially. Musically, it started out as a bleary-eyed Nick Drake-esque acoustic rambler but somehow, perhaps counterintuitively, it felt too heavy that way so with a bit of fussing and redressing (largely in pre-production with Mark Perkins) it gradually morphed into the cyclical synth rock-roller before you. Under Tom Healy’s guiding hand, Cass (Basil) and Paul (Taylor) then built up the rhythmic intensity, each stanza pushing the point a little more urgently every time.”

Of the video he says: “I reconnected with my buddy and ‘Vampire Again’ collaborator Steve Gullick to make the video in a studio in Cambridge while on the recent tour with Lorde. I was so tired I couldn’t be bothered blinking.”

In May Williams shared the album’s title track (also its opening track), “My Boy,” via an amusing video. “My Boy” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then in June he shared the album’s second single, “Thinking of Nina,” a song inspired by the Cold War spy drama The Americans. It was shared via a film noir-esque video and was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Williams opted not to record My Boy with his long-time backing band The Yarra Benders. Instead he demoed half the album with Mark ‘Merk’ Perkins. Then he worked with producer Tom Healy (Tiny Ruins, The Chills) at Neil Finn’s Roundhead studios in Auckland in late 2020. There he worked with LA-based drummer Paul Taylor (Feist), bassist Cass Basil (Ladyhawke, Tiny Ruins), and Healy on guitars and synths. There were also appearances from Delaney Davidson and Elroy Finn (on drums and percussion). Dave Kahn is the only member of The Yarra Benders to play on the album.

“Having new personalities in the room allowed me to escape myself,” said Williams in a previous press release. “When everyone’s still working out each other’s roles, there’s an unsettling and exciting tendency to go off in different directions…. It happened naturally. I was listening to more steely, New Romantic stuff, like Duran Duran, John Grant, Perfume Genius, the Bee Gees. All those things fed into the machine.”

Of the themes on My Boy, Williams said: “There’s a lot of male shapes on the record. Growing up an only child, I had to outsource my brothers and build a world around me. So while masculinity is a big theme, it’s really subsumed by broader explorations of vitality, and the social and cultural value placed on legacy.”

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.

“I’ve always explored different character elements in my music,” said Williams. “And I think the more I get into acting, the more tricks I’m learning about representation and presentation. I’m trying to make my worlds feed into each other as much as possible. To get braver and bolder with exploring shifting contexts and new ways of doing things.”

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

Read our 2016 interview with Marlon Williams. By Mark Redfern

10. Sorry: “Let the Lights On”

On Tuesday, North London band Sorry announced the release of their second album, Anywhere But Here, which will be out on October 7 via Domino. They also shared a video for a new album single, “Let the Lights On,” in addition to announcing a U.K. tour. View the album’s tracklist/cover art and full list of tour dates here.

The band’s Louis O’Bryen states in a press release: “If our first version of London in 925 was innocent and fresh-faced, then this is rougher around the edges. It’s a much more haggard place.”

The band state, regarding the new video: “It’s a fun love song for the club. A bittersweet track for us. It kinda touches on how you want to be honest and say things directly, but in the end that can also ruin them. If you’ve got a light don’t let it go out…sometimes you have to leave things behind but it’s hard to do.”

Anywhere But Here was produced by O’Bryen along with band member Asha Lorenz, Ali Chant, and Adrian Utley of Portishead.

Back in April, the band shared the album track “There’s So Many People That Want To Be Loved.” It was one of our Songs of the Week.

Last year, Sorry shared the EP Twixtustwain. Their debut album, 925, came out in 2020 on Domino, and made it to #35 on our Top 100 Albums of 2020 list.

Read our interview with the band. By Joey Arnone

11. Madi Diaz: “Hangover”

On Tuesday, Nashville-based singer Madi Diaz shared a video for her new single, “Hangover.” Diaz also announced a North American tour. View the full list of tour dates here.

Diaz states in a press release: “I wrote ‘Hangover’ with Jesse Thomas and Drew Pearson when I was still feeling the lagging throws of heartbreak—the waking up in withdrawal, aching, reeling over a person and all the things that come after it’s over. Sometimes it feels like you’re just stumbling around a city and in every corner there’s a memory. At every table in every restaurant some argument, on every street corner some kiss, at the 7 Eleven some melt down. ‘Hangover’ is about bumping into that old feeling and reliving the less appealing side effects of not being in love with that person anymore.”

She adds, regarding the video: “Joey conjured these huge flashing screens towering around me, making a space for me to get lost in performance and really feel every heartbeat of the song. We were in a world inside of a world. With two generators and 42 feet of LED walls, I’m sure it looked like we were throwing a mini warped tour in my backyard.”

Diaz’s most recent album, History of a Feeling, came out last year via ANTI-, and it was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2021. Earlier this month, Diaz released Same History, New Feelings, an EP consisting of reworkings of tracks from History of a Feeling.

Read our interview with Diaz on the album. By Joey Arnone

12. Beth Orton: “Forever Young”

On Wednesday, Beth Orton shared a video for her new single, “Forever Young.” It is the latest release from her forthcoming album, Weather Alive, which will be out on September 23 via Partisan.

“Beth originally had the idea of looking at women as mystics and witchcraft as a form of spiritual connection rather than evil,” states director Ellcock regarding the video in a press release. “Running with this, we wanted to make something that took you on a journey both cosmic and macrocosmic, from outer to inner space and back again. A kaleidoscope of archetypal imagery and shifting perspectives seen through a miraculous scrying glass, it subverts stereotypes whilst celebrating the power of intuition and the persistence of hope and magic in a treacherous universe.”

Upon announcement of the album in May, Orton shared the album’s title track, “Weather Alive,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. By Joey Arnone

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 12.

Badge Époque Ensemble: “Conspiring With Nature”

The Black Angels: “Firefly”

Bonny Light Horseman: “Summer Dream”

Jesca Hoop: “Sioux Falls”

Interpol: “Gran Hotel”

The Mountain Goats: “Wage Wars Get Rich Die Handsome”

Meditations on a Crime: “We the People of the Myths” (Feat. Sun Ra Arkestra and King Khan)

Tegan and Sara: “Yellow”

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:

The A’s: “When I Die”

Courtney Marie Andrews: “Loose Future”

Archers of Loaf: “In the Surface Noise”

beabadoobee: “Sunny Day”

Mykki Blanco: “French Lessons” (Feat. Kelsey Lu)

Rachel Bobbitt: “Watch and See”

Fake Palms: “Visions”

Faye: “Dream Punches”

FINNEAS: “Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa”

Four Tet: “Scythe Master”

Friendship: “Chomp Chomp”

Gilla Band: “Eight Fivers”

Gordi: “Inhuman”

High Vis: “Blending”

Hockey Dad: “T’s To Cross”

IAN SWEET: “Die a Million Times”

Kutiman: “My Everything” (Feat. Dekel)

Steve Lacy: “Sunshine” (Feat. Fousheé)

Lewis OfMan & Carly Rae Jepsen: “Move Me”

Lil Silva: “To the Floor”

Marcus Mumford: “Cannibal”

Pinkshift: “i’m not crying you’re crying”

Lizzie Reid: “Warpaint”

Reuben and the Dark: “Wanderer”

Maggie Rogers: “Horses”

Santigold: “Nothing”

Amanda Shires: “Empty Cups”

Silversun Pickups: “Scared Together”

Sloan: “Spend the Day”

SOHN: “Segre”

Indigo Sparke: “Pressure in My Chest”

Special Interest: “Follow Me” (Amanda Lear Cover)

Wombo: “7 of Cups”

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