12 Best Songs of the Week: Lana Del Rey, Frontperson, Helena Deland, Villagers, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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12 Best Songs of the Week: Lana Del Rey, Frontperson, Helena Deland, Villagers, and More

Plus Suede, Beak>, Steve Mason, Petitie Noir, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Sep 22, 2018 Matthew Dear Bookmark and Share

In many instances an album’s strongest songs are shared before the album’s release. There were several albums released this week, however, that featured standout tracks that were not advance singles and so this week’s Songs of the Week features some of those, filtered in with other new singles released this week. Hence it’s another supersized edition this week.

Elsewhere on the website in the last week we posted interviews with Devon Welsh, James, and Suede. We had a three-way tie for Album of the Week, between Beak>, Frontperson, and Richard Reed Parry after the three artists threatened to fight over the honor.

This week we honored the 30th anniversary of Talk Talk’s influential 1988-released album Spirit of Eden.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Villagers, Beak>, Joyce Manor, Richard Reed Parry, The Field, Suede, We Were Promised Jetpacks, and The Goon Sax. Plus we posted reviews of various DVDs, Blu-rays, and films.

Don’t forget that our new print issue, which features Kamasi Washington on the cover, 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 seven days had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared in the last week. Check out the full list below.

1. Lana Del Rey: “Venice Bitch”

We’re as surprised as you. We don’t usually mind Lana Del Rey, but we haven’t exactly been big champions of her music. But this week she shared perhaps her most interesting song yet, the near 10-minute long “Venice Bitch.” There was no denying its hypnotic quality and so here it is at #1.

Del Rey released her last album, Lust for Life, in July 2017 via Interscope. Just last week she returned with a new song “Mariners Apartment Complex,” shared via a black & white video. This week she returned with another new song, “Venice Bitch,” also shared via a video (this one in color and also looking like it was shot on Super-8 or 16mm film). Like “Mariners Apartment Complex,” the song is also a collaboration with Jack Antonoff (he of fun. and Bleachers, and in an in-demand producer).

Also, in a new interview with Zane Lowe on his Beats 1 radio show this week, Del Rey revealed that her new album will be titled Norman Fucking Rockwell. In the interview she also said she’s working on a book of poetry under the working title Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass, is training for her pilot’s license, and hopes to release another new song in October.

Here’s what she had to say to Lowe about “Venice Bitch”: “I played it for my managers and I was like, ‘Yeah, I think this is the single I want to put out.’ And they were like, ‘It’s 10 minutes long. Are you kidding me? It’s called ‘Venice Bitch.’’ Like, ‘Why do you do this to us? Can you make a three minute normal pop song?’ I was like, ‘Well, end of summer, some people just wanna drive around for 10 minutes get lost in some electric guitar.’”

In terms of the new album and its title, Del Rey had this to say to Lowe: “Working with Jack [Antonoff], I was in a little bit of a lighter mood because he was so funny. So the title track is called ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ and it’s kind of about this guy who is such a genius artist but he thinks he’s the shit and he knows it and he like won’t shut up talking about it. So often I ended up with these creative types or whatever, and you know, they just go on and on about themselves, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ But there’s a little bit of merit to it also. They are so good. I just like the title track so much that I was like, ‘OK, I definitely want the record to also be called that.’

“In the song ‘Venice Bitch’ there’s like another little reference to Norman Rockwell, which didn’t have to be in there. I don’t even remember if I threw it in there intentionally just to pop that message in a little further. I can’t even remember what I was thinking, but I think when I was writing this song, it was a more happy take on love and it was just sort of about like, ‘I tour, you write. We make it work.’ And also you know I love having painter references because I think sometimes when you’re writing you’re sort of trying to paint these ideas into existence, because I’m very visual too. So yeah, I don’t know. I know it’s a crazy title, but that’s just the title of the record.”

Check out the interview here.

2. Villagers: “Ada”

Villagers (aka Irish musician Conor O’Brien) released his new album, The Art of Pretending to Swim, this week via Domino. He previously shared videos for the album’s “A Trick of the Light” and “Fool” (which was one of our Songs of the Week), as well as the audio for “Again” (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). “Ada” is the album’s closing track and while it wasn’t released as a single this week, now that the album is out we wanted to include the track.

3. Frontperson: “Long Night” and “U.O.I.”

Frontperson is a new duo that features Kathryn Calder of The New Pornographers (and also a solo artist and formerly of Immaculate Machine) and Mark Andrew Hamilton (who has released six albums as Woodpigeon). This week they released their debut album, Frontrunner, via Calder’s own label, Oscar St. Earlier this week they shared one last pre-release single, “Long Night,” via a video for it. The band’s Hamilton co-directed the video with Maëlle Ramsay. It stars Tranna Wintour, a Canadian comedian who sings along to the song in the video.

Also, album opener “U.O.I.” wasn’t released as a single, but it’s one of our favorite tracks from the album and we wanted to highlight that below too, now that the album is out.

Previously Frontperson shared a video for Frontrunner‘s first single, “Tick - Tock (Frontrunner)” (which was one of our Songs of the Week), which was followed by a video for “Young Love” (which was also one of our Songs of the Week).

Calder had this to say about “Long Night” in a press release: “I originally wrote ‘Long Night’ with a ‘60s British psychedelic-folk direction in mind for it, but when we went to the National Music Centre studio to record, they had so many incredible instruments at hand, we ended up putting a drum machine on it, plus a ton of cool synths, and it completely changed the atmosphere in a really great way. Mark and I still wanted to keep some of that psychedelic-folk influence of the original vision, which is more prominently heard at the beginning of the song, but then the song morphs in a neat and unexpected way.”

Hamilton had this to say about the video in the press release: “The video stars my amazing, inspiring friend Tranna Wintour, who’s a performer, singer, comedienne here in Montréal. In terms of the LGBTQ+ community here in Montréal - and the rest of Canada, to be honest - she’s a beacon of what’s possible and what can be for someone who just wants to be who they are. I remember having such a fun time making this song so when we were discussing video ideas, I thought the idea of Tranna singing the song (sometimes one, sometimes three of her to make up for all of Kathryn’s amazing harmonies) would fit it perfectly. We spent some nights running around Montréal, including on the rooftop of an underground venue (which is now sadly defunct) we all love called Crystal Palace. A lot has happened under that roof, so it’s nice to document some great stuff happening on top of it too. I just love watching Tranna having an amazing time and looking fantastic.”

4. Helena Deland: “Lean On You”

Montréal’s Helena Deland is releasing two interconnected EPs, collectively titled From The Series of Songs “Altogether Unaccompanied” Vol. III & Vol. IV, on October 19 via Luminelle Recordings. This week she shared a new track from Vol. III, “Lean On You.”

Previously she shared Vol. IV‘s “Claudion,” which was an honorable mention in our Songs of the Week list (but in retrospect should’ve made the main list). Then she shared the other track from Vol. IV, “Rise” (which was also an honorable mention on our Songs of the Week list).

From The Series of Songs “Altogether Unaccompanied” Vol. I & Vol. II came out back in March. Of her decision to release a series of EPs, rather than one album, Deland says in a press release: “The songs are to be considered as their own little things. They are part of something larger, yes, but they live on their own.”

5. Suede: “Flytipping”

Britpop originators and survivors Suede released a new album, The Blue Hour, this week via Rhino. “Flytipping” wasn’t released as a single this week, but the epic album finale was definitely worthy of inclusion on this list. Fans of the Dog Man Star-era of the band might appreciate this one.

Read our review of The Blue Hour from earlier this week.

Read our new interview with Suede’s Brett Anderson on the album.

Previously Suede shared a trailer for the album, a video for a dramatic new song, “The Invisibles” (which was our #2 Song of the Week), and the second single from the album, “Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You” (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). Then they shared a third single from the album, “Life Is Golden,” via a video for the song (which also made our Songs of the Week list). Mike Christie directed the video, which features aerial footage of Pripyat, Ukraine, a town that was quickly abandoned in 1986 when the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant had a catastrophic accident. Alan Moulder produced The Blue Hour.

Suede reformed in 2010 and made a fantastic comeback in 2013 with the release of the excellent Bloodsports, which was their first new album in over a decade and was very well-received by critics. They released their last album, Night Thoughts, back in 2016. The Blue Hour is the band’s third album since reforming. Earlier this year the band also put out a 25th anniversary reissue of 1993’s self-titled debut album and frontman Brett Anderson also released his first book, the memoir Coal Black Mornings, via Little, Brown.

Suede made an immediate mark when they came on the scene in their native U.K., with them declared “The Best New Band in Britain” by the music publication Melody Maker in 1992 before their debut album was even released. That self-titled debut arrived on March 29, 1993 to critical acclaim and fantastic sales (it hit #1 on the U.K. album charts and at the time was the fastest selling debut album in over a decade). 1994’s sophomore album, Dog Man Star, is considered a classic of the era. 1996’s third album, Coming Up, continued the band’s success, also debuting at #1 on the U.K. album charts. The Blue Hour is the band’s eighth album.

6. Beak>: “When We Fall”

Beak>, the trio led by Portishead‘s Geoff Barrow (along with Billy Fuller and Will Young), released a new album, >>>, this week via Invada Records/Temporary Residence Ltd. As with some of the others on this list, “When We Fall” wasn’t released as a single this week, but the haunting album closer needed to be on this list. Diehard fans will argue that this song was already released as a single in 2015, from an EP under the band’s alter-ego <Kaeb, but that was a different, shorter version of the song.

Previously Beak> shared the album’s first single, “Brean Down,” as well as a video of the band performing the album’s “Allé Sauvage” live at Invada Studios.

Redg Weeks, Invada’s Label Manager, had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “>>> definitely sounds like a step forward. The production and feel of the first two albums was like listening through frosted glass; a band playing behind a curtain. Now we are hearing Beak> in sharp focus, but without forfeiting what the band see as its ‘wrongness.’ This could be the result of having played bigger stages and festivals - something that was never part of the plan - or perhaps it is just a reaction to the infinite cut & paste fuzz pedal kraut bands on the planet.”

7. Petite Noir: “Beach” (Feat. Danny Brown and Nukubi Nukubi)

Petite Noir (aka half-Congolese, half-Angolan, Cape Town-residing artist Yannick Ilunga) is releasing a new mini-album, La Maison Noir / The Black House, October 5 via Roya. Previously he shared its first single, “Blame Fire” (which was one of our Songs of the Week). This week he shared another song from the album, “Beach,” which features Danny Brown and Nukubi Nukubi.

Ilunga had this to say about the single in a press release: “‘Beach’ is a song about being reborn and how it took for me to fall to rise back up. In life we are constantly reborn. Every stage of our lives, from being a baby to adulthood.”

Petite Noir released his debut album, La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful, in 2015 via Domino.

Also read our 2015 Pleased to Meet You interview with Petite Noir.

8. Steve Mason: “Stars Around My Heart”

It’s hard to believe that The Beta Band‘s The Three EPs turns 20 this month. That EP collection/kinda debut album is still just as fun and challenging a listen two decades later and has just been reissued. But the Scottish band’s former frontman Steve Mason isn’t living in the past, in fact this week he announced a new solo album for release in the far off land of 2019. The album is titled About the Light and it’s due out January 18, 2019 via Domino imprint Double Six. To accompany its announcement, Mason has shared the album’s first single, “Stars Around My Heart,” via a video for the song. Brother Willis directed the science fiction-themed video, which a press release says is “Spielberg-meets ‘Ashes to Ashes,’” referring to the David Bowie video. And while the decade is right in that description, we get a bit of a 1980s Doctor Who vibe as well, at least in terms of the design of the alien spaceship.

Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur, The Cranberries) produced About the Light, which was recorded at studios in London and Brighton. It’s Mason’s fourth solo album, following Boys Outside (2010), Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time (2013), and Meet the Humans (2016).

Mason had this to say about the album in a press release: “It’s a beautiful, confident, positive, angry, loving, and gentle album which once again moves what I do forward. David Bowie said that you should always be slightly out of your comfort zone if you want to achieve greatness, and for the first time perhaps ever, I deliberately pushed myself into that place. Who doesn’t want greatness?”

Brother Willis had this to say about the video in the press release: “I’m a long-time fan of Steve’s work so it was an honor to make a video for him. The concept and inspiration were very much a collaborative effort with Steve. We share a mutual love for the textures and warm personality that outdated formats have in contrast to the crisp HD 8K of today. It was an incredible collaborative experiment to shoot on Tube Camera and modern camera and put it all out to tape and back to try and achieve the feeling of watching a beloved sci-fi movie from your youth. And a good excuse to have amazingly talented people build an alien vessel and hone their early ‘80s visual effects skills. We were aiming for an uplifting, Psychedelic Spielberg effect that hopefully we achieved.”

9. Matthew Dear: “Horses” (Feat. Tegan and Sara)

Matthew Dear is releasing a new album, Bunny, on October 12 via Ghostly International. This week he shared another song from it, “Horses,” which features Tegan and Sara.

Dear had this to say about the song in a press release: There was a small gallery on Crosby Street in Soho with beautiful large photographs of the wild Sable Island Horses. One photograph in particular was of a horse affectionately biting another, both of their sun-drenched manes flowing wildly in the ocean air. My wife and I passed the window many times over the years and would always say, ‘that’s us.’ Majestic animals, fitting our definition of love. Unpredictable paths with choices made together and other times miles apart. Above all else, we wanted to be those two horses, eternally connected at the end of it all. The song is as deep of an homage to love as I’ve written. I probably won’t write another like this one. It took years to finish. Thank you to Tegan and Sara for helping realize the vision, and to Greg Ahee (Protomartyr) for stripping it all away and reminding me of the simplicity. This one means a lot.”

Tegan and Sara’s Sara Quin had this to say about the song in the press release: “I love being in Matthew’s music brain and leaving little ideas of my own wherever it makes sense. His songs sometimes feel abstract, like puzzles that I can’t stop listening to. It continues to be a great privilege and honor for us to collaborate with him.”

When Bunny was announced Dear shared two songs from it, “Bunny’s Dream” and “Echo” (both were honorable mentions on our Songs of the Week list). The album includes another song featuring Tegan and Sara, “Bad Ones,” which he shared as a single last year (and was one of our Songs of the Week). The album also includes another 2017 single, “Modafinil Blues.”

Bunny is Dear’s first album under his own name in six years, since 2012’s Beams, although he released a second album under his Audion alias in 2016.

Dear previously issued this statement about Bunny: “Some bands have retired and come back in the amount of time since my last album. Hell, I’ve even played a part in making two more humans since Beams. But hey old man, why aren’t I rested? Why’s your boy so damn tired? Where’s the music? Did I finally succumb to the burn out you always warned me of? Well, I DJ’d a lot, put out an Audion album, and submitted a DJ-Kicks mix. Throughout it all, as has been the case since I was 14, I made loads of weirdo music. If it weren’t digital, there’d be boxes of tapes and tapes and tapes. See, that’s the thing. I’m a tinkerer. I’m a loop obsessed sound hack. The process is what I get out of bed for. So what gives Pops? Where is the music?

“‘I make music for people who like my music’ is something I recently tweeted. There is something I’ve come to love about my career. I really can do whatever I want. So long as I feel it’s the best use of time, or yields results that translate into good music later. That’s where you’ll find the music. It’s in my head. It’s on my hard drives. It’s in my car driving the girls to school in the morning. They even asked me how Tegan and Sara snuck in and out of the house without them noticing to make those songs with me. The music is always there. It’s just a matter of time before it starts to bubble over and finally get stamped ‘property of the people.’

“I’m calling this one Bunny. As always, it’s got a little bit of everything that makes me who I am. Why Bunny? Fundamentally, I love the way the word looks and sounds. I love the way it rolls off the mind and onto the tongue. It’s a funny thing too. Bunnies are cute. Bunnies are weird. They’re soft. They’re sexy. They’re lucky. They wildly procreate. They trick hunters, but get tricked by turtles. They lead you down holes. They adorn the headboards of children’s beds, lined up meticulously just as mom did when she was your age. Bunnies are seemingly with us from birth, and probably skitter past on our way out the big door. ‘Viste al conejito papá?’ ‘Sí, fue una buena sopa!’ Good one pops.

“So here is my album. Already a fading stamp on the passport of a time traveler. I do it all for you. I couldn’t quit if I wanted to. I’m only getting started.”

10. Connan Mockasin: “Charlotte’s Thong”

New Zealand’s Connan Mockasin is releasing his third album, Jassbusters, as well as an accompanying film, Bostyn ‘n Dobsyn, on October 12 via Mexican Summer. Previously he shared a video for its first single, “Con Conn Was Impatient,” which was also a clip from Bostyn ‘n Dobsyn. Now he has shared the audio for another song from the album, the nine-minute long “Charlotte’s Thong.” It’s perhaps a bit rambling and repetitive in parts, but perhaps that’s the point and it’s a nice song to get lost in.

The album is the follow-up to 2013’s Caramel, although in 2013 Mockasin teamed up with England’s Sam Dust (who records as LA Priest and is the former frontman of Late of the Pier) to form Soft Hair.

Bostyn ‘n Dobsyn was directed by Mockasin, was filmed in a Los Angeles disused hair salon over 10 days in July 2016 but took Mockasin 20 years to develop, and is Mockasin’s first publically released film. The film is about a fictional music teacher, Bostyn (played by Mockasin), and his student, Dobsyn (played by Mockasin’s childhood next-door neighbor, Blake Pryor). The film also features Gabriel Diggs from Celebrity Family Feud.

A previous press release says Jassbusters is “the concept of a record made by a band of music teachers, fronted by Bostyn.” It was recorded live in August 2016 (less than a month after filming Bostyn ‘n Dobsyn) at Studios Ferber, in Paris, and is Mockasin’s first album to be recorded with a band. The album took one week to record, but was then recorded live again and filmed for the end scenes of Bostyn ‘n Dobsyn. The album is designed to be listened to after watching the movie.

11. The Dodos: “SW3”

The Dodos are releasing a new album, Certainty Waves, on October 12 via Polyvinyl. Previously they shared its first single, “Forum.” This week they shared another song from the album, “SW3,” via a video for the track. Ryan Daniel Browne directed the dynamic clip, which features young female martial artist Queena Tran practicing. “SW3” is one of the best Dodos songs in years and the video is fantastic too.

A press release describes the video’s creation as such:” Working with a group of Shaolin teenagers, ‘SW3’ video director Ryan Daniel Browne initially had a vision of student Queena Tran practicing her form in the park and in front of her instructor. However two days prior to filming, Queena and her friends decided to choreograph an entire fight scene instead, and the music video quickly transformed.”

The Dodos are guitarist Meric Long and percussionist Logan Kroeber. This year they celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their breakout sophomore record Visiter, which was Under the Radar’s #3 best album of 2008. Certainty Waves is the band’s seventh studio and Long calls the band’s “midlife crisis record.” Back in May, Long released Barton’s Den, a new solo album as FAN, his first full-length under that name. The Dodos’ last album was 2015’s Individ.

A previous press release described the album as such: “Certainty Waves finds The Dodos going back to their Visiter roots, embracing the unlimited possibilities of a time when there were no preconceptions of what the band should sound like. The duo had to forget everything they knew about what it meant to be The Dodos —and quit worrying about the ‘right’ acoustic guitar to drum ratio—and what began to emerge from the band’s rehearsals felt new and different, yet somehow still fundamentally ‘Dodos.’”

12. Peter Bjorn and John: “Gut Feeling” (Plus “One For The Team” and “Every Other Night”)

Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John are releasing a new album, Darker Days, on October 19 via INGRID. When the new album was announced the band didn’t share any music from it, but they have more than made up for that by sharing three new songs from the album today: “One For The Team,” “Gut Feeling,” and “Every Other Night.” We had difficulty choosing the best of the three, waffling between “One For The Team” and “Guy Feeling,” but settled on the latter.

Listen to all three below. In a press release, each band member has given commentary on a different song and you can read that below too.

Peter Morén had this to say about “One For The Team”:

“It’s a pep-talk sort of song. A positive call to arms really. It’s been a ‘bumpy ride’ as the song says. But the good thing you’ve found together is really worth fighting for, especially after all this time. We really ARE stronger together. We all GAIN from helping each other out. We CAN’T make it ourselves. At least not as good or as vigorous. All very corny but also all very true, most of the time. And the title is kind of corny too but I love calling a song ‘One For The Team.’”

Björn Yttling had this to say about “Gut Feeling”:

“The story of ‘Gut Feeling’ begins at the first gig in the U.S. after our last album, Breakin’ Point. Backstage in the club in Nashville I was waiting for soundcheck and started writing what was to become ‘Gut Feeling,’ the words came subconsciously: ‘I think we need to talk about it, if we don’t wanna live without it.’

“We actually did talk on that tour, and conflicts were resolved. It all became fun again”

John Eriksson had this to say about “Every Other Night”:

“This song is about what’s keeping you awake between the midnight hour and the hour of the wolf. It’s like a warning sign in neon letters.

“Sonically it’s a homage to my indie-pop/rock-heroes and the opposite of the snappy arrangements on our previous album (Breakin’ Point). What you hear is just the three of us, Peter on guitar, Bjorn on bass, and me on drums and vocals.”

Darker Days is the follow-up to 2016’s Breakin’ Point. A previous press release described the album as such: “The title was the starting point and became the central theme of the album, with each member bringing their interpretation into the studio and playing on each other’s songs. Each member’s take on darkness is distinctive, Peter tackling what’s happening in the world right now, Björn delving into relationship issues, and John, the most existential, exploring the shadows of our own psyche.”

Honorable Mentions:

These 5 songs almost made the Top 12.

Charly Bliss: “Heaven”


Miya Folick: “Stop Talking”

J Mascis: “Everything She Said”

Chad VanGaalen: “Stuttering Light”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

180dB: “Road Trip” (Feat. Meredith Graves & Nick Zinner)

Advance Base: “Christmas In Nightmare City”

alt-J: “Last Year (Feat. GoldLink) (Terrace Martin Version)”

Arcade Fire: “Peter Pan (Equiknoxx Remix)”

John Carpenter: “The Shape Returns”

Cat Power: “Stay” (Rihanna Cover)

Charli XCX: “Focus (Yaeji Remix)”

Christine and the Queens: “La Marcheuse”

Clark: “Harpsichord E.C.S.T.”

Cloud Nothings: “Leave Him Now”

Dead Can Dance: “The Mountain”

Doe Paora: “Cage of Habits”

Marianne Faithfull: “The Gypsy Faerie Queen” (Feat. Nick Cave)

Father John Misty: “I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain (Live at Third Man Records)”

Florence + the Machine: “Cornflake Girl” (Tori Amos Cover)

Gallant: “TOOGOODTOBETRUE” (Feat. Sufjan Stevens & Rebecca Sugar)

Georgia: “Mellow” (Feat. Shygirl)

Goshen Electric Co.: “The Gray Tower” (Songs: Ohia Cover)

Norah Jones: “A Song With No Name” (Feat. Jeff Tweedy)

Mumford & Sons: “Guiding Light”

Mutual Benefit: “Waves, Breaking”

The Natvral (The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s Kip Berman): “Know Me More”

Yoko Ono: “I Love All of Me”

Open Mike Eagle: “Relatable (peak OME)”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: “Gainesville”

Pip Blom: “Come Home”

William Shatner: “Jingle Bells” (Feat. Henry Rollins) (James Lord Pierpont Cover)

Richard Swift: “Sept20”

Thought Gang (David Lynch & Angelo Badalamenti): “Woodcutters From Fiery Ships”

Weezer: “California Snow”

Yowler: “Where Is My Light”

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September 24th 2018

This is a wonderful song list. By the way, recently I’ve tried myself in the composer’s field. I used <a >https://edubirdie.com/paraphrasing-tool</a> to find the best combination.  My friends say it’s quite a good song.

September 24th 2018

<a >wiki</a>