12 Best Songs of the Week: Mannequin Pussy, IAN SWEET, The American Analog Set, and More | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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12 Best Songs of the Week: Mannequin Pussy, IAN SWEET, The American Analog Set, and More

Plus Lol Tolhurst x Budgie x Jacknife Lee, Caroline Polachek, Ducks Ltd., Emma Anderson, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Oct 20, 2023
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Welcome to the 34th Songs of the Week of 2023. This week Andy Von Pip, Austin Saalman, Caleb Campbell, Marc Abbott, Matt the Raven, Scott Dransfield, and Stephen Humphries all helped me decide what should make the list. We settled on a Top 12 this week.

In the past week or so we also posted interviews with Alan Palomo, Indigo De Souza, Squirrel Flower, Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service, Pale Blue Eyes, and others.

In the last week we reviewed some albums.

Remember that we previously announced our new print issue, Issue 71 with Weyes Blood and Black Belt Eagle Scout on the covers.

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, followed by some honorable mentions. Check out the full list below.

1. Mannequin Pussy: “I Don’t Know You”

On Tuesday, Philadelphia-based indie punk band Mannequin Pussy announced a new album, I Got Heaven, and shared a new song from it, “I Don’t Know You,” via a music video. I Got Heaven is due out March 1, 2024 via Epitaph. Mason Mercer and Anthony Miralles directed the “I Don’t Know You” video. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.

The band shared the album’s title track, “I Got Heaven,” in September via a music video. It was #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

Mannequin Pussy is Colins “Bear” Regisford, Kaleen Reading, Maxine Steen, and Marisa Dabice. John Congleton produced the new album.

Dabice had this to say about the new single in a press release: “This is simply a song about having a crush. About the excitement and playful fantasy that can come from meeting someone unexpectedly at a festival, or on the street, or in line at the grocery store. You don’t know when you’ll see them again but the rush of their possibility lingers, making you yearn to know more about them.”

Of releasing an album in such trying times, Dabice says: “There’s just so much constantly going on that feels intentionally evil that trying to make something beautiful feels like a radical act. The ethos of this band has always been to bring people together.”

She adds: ”We’re supposed to be living in the freest era ever so what it means to be a young person in this society is the freedom to challenge these systems that have been put on to us. It makes sense to ask, what ultimately am I living for? What is it that makes me want to live?”

Mannequin Pussy’s last album, Patience, came out in 2019 on Epitaph. In 2021 they released the Perfect EP. By Mark Redfern

2. IAN SWEET: “Smoking Again”

IAN SWEET (the project of Jilian Medford) is releasing a new album, SUCKER, on November 3 via Polyvinyl. On Tuesday, she shared the album’s third single, “Smoking Again.”

Medford had this to say about the new song in a press release: “I often put myself in situations that I know won’t be beneficial to me, just to get a rise out of myself. Almost like setting up obstacles just to see if I could overcome them.”

Previously Medford shared the album’s first single, “Your Spit.” Then she shared the album’s second single, “Emergency Contact,” via a music video. “Emergency Contact” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

SUCKER is the follow-up to 2021’s Show Me How You Disappear and 2022’s Star Stuff EP.

Medford says Show Me How You Disappear “was written during a really difficult period of my life after reckoning with a mental health crisis. I survived that very moment in my life through writing that record, and the extreme urgency to heal is reflected in the songwriting. With SUCKER, I felt more capable to take my time and experiment without being totally afraid of the outcome. It wasn’t life or death—it was just life, and I was lucky to be living it.”

SUCKER was co-produced by Alex Craig (Binki, Claud) and Isaac Eiger of Strange Ranger and was mixed by Al Carlson (St. Vincent, Jessica Pratt).

“I revisited the reasons why I started playing music to begin with,” Medford says. “I wanted to get more personal and showcase a more confident side musically and lyrically.”

Check out our COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In with Medford. By Mark Redfern

3. The American Analog Set: “Camp Don’t Count”

This week, Austin, Texas-based indie band The American Analog Set announced their first new album in 18 years, For Forever, and shared its first two singles, “Camp Don’t Count” and “Konika and Maliko.” The former was our favorite of the two and makes this Songs of the Week list. For Forever is due out October 27. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.

The album was written and recorded in frontman Andrew Kenny’s home studio and the band’s lineup includes members that played on 2001’s Know By Heart and 2003’s Promise of Love. The American Analog Set was covered in Under the Radar’s early print issues, but they haven’t released an album since 2005’s Set Free (which was released by Arts & Crafts).

The band collectively had this to say about the new album in a press release: “For Forever folds time and space. While the sounds and stories will be recognizable to fans, they arrive with considerable bruises incurred on the journey from Set Free until now. For those unfamiliar with The American Analog Set, this should be a simultaneously dark and vibrant introduction. Troubled lyrics permeate throughout, and the accompanying sounds are occasionally damaged and snarling. Not all things languid and dreamlike from past records have been abandoned or forgotten, but the dreams represented here are darker. While the previous eras of the band are referenced, they are carried forward and incorporated without a hint of patronizing nostalgia. For Forever is a document of a group that acknowledges their past while they advance into new territories and evolve.” By Mark Redfern

4. Lol Tolhurst x Budgie x Jacknife Lee: “We Got to Move” (Feat. Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock)

Lol Tolhurst (formerly of The Cure), Budgie (formerly of Siouxsie and the Banshees), and producer/musician Jacknife Lee have all teamed up to release a debut album together, Los Angeles, on Nov 3 via Play It Again Sam. On Wednesday they shared another song from it, “We Got to Move,” which features guest vocals from Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock. It was shared via a music video also featuring Fred Armisen. Daniel Rashid directed the video.

Budgie had this to say about the new single in a press release: “This is one of the more existential tracks on Los Angeles. It’s an homage to Philip Glass, Ron Fricke and Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi, with words by Isaac Brock.”

Jacknife Lee says: “Isaac is one of the most unique voices that we have. He’s brilliant. He gave us this weird, anxious, beautiful rush of a song. To pump up the duality within the song my daughters and I came up with a chorus that made us giddy with its ridiculousness. The song is absurd. The sound is absurd. And it’s about bugs.”

Tolhurst adds: “Where else do you get strings, DAF synths and Bhangra-Punjabi style percussion? Plus you get Isaac Brock and Jacknife and his daughters singing up a beautiful storm of a track.”

Of the song’s video, Budgie says: “The video has me and Lol as Clockwork Orange Droogs drumming on a Cadillac, while Fred Armisen takes a sledgehammer to a WC.”

Armisen adds: “I loved being a part of this. I feel very lucky that I got to work with Budgie and Lol… It gave me a feeling of ‘drummers unite!’”

Previously Lol Tolhurst x Budgie x Jacknife Lee shared the album’s title track, “Los Angeles,” which features James Murphy. Then they shared “Ghosted At Home,” which features guest vocals from Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie and was one of our Songs of the Week.

Los Angeles also features an array of other notable guest stars, including: The Edge (U2), Lonnie Holley, Mary Lattimore, Arrow de Wilde (Starcrawler), Mark Bowen (IDLES), and others.

Tolhurst also recently released a book, GOTH: A History, in the U.S. via Hachette Books. He was a founding member of The Cure, but left the band in 1989. By Mark Redfern

5. Caroline Polachek: “Dang”

On Wednesday, Caroline Polachek shared a new song, “Dang,” which she performed the night before on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert with the aid of a slide show. Check out both the song and Colbert performance below.

Polachek and Cecile Believe (SOPHIE, Shygirl, Dorian Electra) produced “Dang,” with additional production by Danny L Harle (Charli XCX, Rina Sawayama, Flume).

Polachek (formerly of Chairlift) released an acclaimed new album, Desire, I Want to Turn Into You, earlier this year via Perpetual Novice.

Read our rave 9/10 review of Desire, I Want to Turn Into You.

Polachek’s previous album, Pang, came out in 2019. By Mark Redfern

6. Ducks Ltd.: “The Main Thing”

This week, Toronto-based duo Ducks Ltd. shared a new song, “The Main Thing,” via a music video. The single is out now on Carpark. Colin Medley directed the song’s video.

Dave Vettraino (Deeper, Lala Lala, Dehd) produced “The Main Thing.” Singer/lyricist Tom McGreevy had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘The Main Thing’ is about growing apart from someone whose perspective you once shared. Being in lockstep with another person and then suddenly realizing you are no longer aligned. That you’re watching them throw themselves into the same losing battles over and over again, but also recognizing that all that losing might be the right thing to do.”

The band, which also features Evan Lewis, last released a new single in 2022, “Sheets of Grey.” It was one of our Songs of the Week. Their latest album, Modern Fiction, came out in 2021 via Carpark and was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2021.

Last year the band launched a cover song series, The Sincerest Form of Flattery. It included a cover of The Cure’s “In Between Days,” which featured Jane Inc (the project of Carlyn Bezic), as well as a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s 1989 song “Head On.”

Ducks Ltd. also have two upcoming shows announced: at TV Eye in Ridgewood, Queens, New York on December 2, with The Ophelias supporting, and at the Moth Club in London, England on May 27, 2024.

Read our The End interview with Tom McGreevy. By Mark Redfern

7. Emma Anderson: “The Presence”

Emma Anderson, the co-founder of shoegaze icons Lush, released her debut solo album, Pearlies, today via Sonic Cathedral. On Saturday she shared the album’s third single, “The Presence,” via a lyric video.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Anderson had this to say about the song: “It’s one of the album’s catchiest moments and also the one that possibly/probably sounds most like my previous bands thanks to the layers of guitars.”

James Chapman (aka Mute Records artist Maps) produced Pearlies.

Some of the songs for Pearlies were actually written for a Lush reunion album that wasn’t meant to be. Lush reformed in 2015 for some touring and released a new EP, Blind Spot, in 2016. But the reunion came to a somewhat abrupt end that year, with plans for a new album or any more touring scrapped.

“I thought we were in it for the long term, so some of these songs—or even just parts of them—were actually going to be for Lush,” explained Anderson in a previous press release. “That didn’t happen, so I had these songs and bits of music that I didn’t know what to do with.”

At first Anderson worked on home demos with cellist and string arranger Audrey Riley. Then Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins (who produced Lush’s 1992 album, Spooky) helped with some further recording, but insisted Anderson sing her own songs. Initially she had planned on getting another singer involved, which she had done with her post-Lush band Sing Sing.

“He basically said, ‘If you don’t sing, I am not going to do it,’ so I decided I would,” said Anderson. “I am not someone that feels comfortable in the spotlight, so for me to take center stage, metaphorically speaking, was quite a big leap.”

Then Sonic Cathedral suggested James Chapman produce the final album.

“He turned out to be exactly the right person,” said Anderson. “People tend to view James as primarily an electronic producer but he has a lot more strings to his bow. He has a wide range of tastes and also an encyclopedic knowledge of music, which meant he was able to bring a huge amount to the album. He really got it.”

One of the final pieces of the puzzle was some additional guitar contributions from Suede’s Richard Oakes.

“I didn’t know Richard back in the ’90s, but it turned that he was a bit of a Lush fan,” said Anderson. “I have a part-time day job as a bookkeeper, and I do bits of work for the Suede camp. I got to know him through that and we became friends. I asked if he would play some guitar on the record and, to my delight, he said yes!”

Previously Anderson shared the album’s first single, “Bend the Round,” via a music video. “Bend the Round” made a special Songs of the Week playlist. Then she shared the album’s second single, “Clusters,” via a music video. “Clusters” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Check out our interview with Lush on their 1994 album Split. By Mark Redfern

8. IDLES: “Dancer” (Feat. LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and Nancy Whang)

On Wednesday, IDLES announced a new album, TANGK, and shared its first single, “Dancer,” via a music video. TANGK is due out February 16, 2024 via Partisan. Jocelyn Anquetil directed the “Dancer” video. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the band’s upcoming tour dates, here.

LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and Nancy Whang contribute guest vocals to “Dancer.”

Frontman Joe Talbot had this to say about the single in a press release: “‘Dancer’ is the violence that comes from the pounding heart of the dancefloor and rushes through your body and gives you life from music, from love and from you.”

Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, The Smile, Beck) and Kenny Beats (Denzel Curry, Vince Staples, Benee) co-produced TANGK with IDLES’ Mark Bowen. TANGK (which is simply pronounced as “tank”) follows CRAWLER, which was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2021.

Talbot had this to say about the new album: “TANGK. I needed love. So I made it. I gave love out to the world and it feels like magic. This is our album of gratitude and power. All love songs. All is love.” By Mark Redfern

9. Kurt Vile: “Another Good Year For Roses”

Earlier today, Kurt Vile announced a new EP, Back to Moon Beach, and shared its first single, “Another Good Year For Roses,” via a music video that features actors Michael Shannon and Kevin Corrigan. Vile also announced some new 2024 tour dates. Back to Moon Beach is due out November 17 via Verve. Check out the EP’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the tour dates, here.

Back to Moon Beach features nine tracks and is almost an hour long, making it an album by most definitions. But Vile is still calling it an EP, perhaps because it “collects new songs, one-offs, covers, and newly reworked versions of beloved tracks,” as a press release puts it. For example, it includes his cover of Charli XCX’s “Constant Repeat,” which was originally only available via Amazon Music, although you have to buy the deluxe double vinyl edition of the EP to get the track (it’s not included on the CD/download/streaming version of the EP, nor the regular LP).

Cate Le Bon co-produced and features on “Another Good Year For Roses” and the song also features Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint, Courtney Barnett). The song’s video culminates at New York City’s Otto’s Shrunken Head, which is where Vile performs with Michael Shannon and Kevin Corrigan.

Vile’s most recent album, (watch my moves), came out in 2022 on Verve. Read our interview with Vile on the album here.

Back to Moon Beach was recorded at various times in various studios in various parts of America. Four of the tracks were recorded in the fall of 2019 at Panoramic Studios in Stinson Beach, California alongside Rob Laakso, Stella Mozgawa, and Chris Cohen, with co-production by Cate Le Bon on three of them. The Stinson Beach recordings are the final unreleased recordings by Vile recorded with longtime creative partner Rob Laakso, who died in early 2023.

Later Vile worked on the songs with bandmate and producer/engineer Adam Langelotti, as well as “Farmer” Dave Scher and Mikel Patrick Avery. Work was also done at Vile’s Philadelphia studio, OKV Central, and at Mant Sounds in Los Angeles, which is run by Rob Schnapf and features Matt Schuessler as engineer. “Cool Water” was originally on (watch my moves) but gets a more radio-ready mix by Schnapf for the EP.

The EP includes covers of Wilco’s “Passenger Side” and Bob Dylan’s Christmas song, “Must Be Santa,” which was a Spotify exclusive last year and features vocals by Vile’s daughters Awilda and Delphine Vile.

Vile had this to say about the EP in a press release: “Hi! Here’s the opening track from my upcoming EP… ok, it’s longer than an EP… now I call it a KV comp. The first 6 tracks — which are the ones that fit on a single LP — are new to the world, with one foot in the not-too-distant past and the other with one tiny toe pointing toward the future. Together my feet are like a couple spanning time together. This song was started at Stinson Beach, CA in September 2019 for a few days of recording with Rob Laakso, Stella Mozgawa, Chris Cohen, Cate Le Bon (and Adam Langellotti floating as a fly on the wall as well). Adam and I being the two overseers across this entire endeavor: we finished it on our own (and with some friends along the way). We ended up demonically overdubbing for weeks straight at OKV Central, Philly (my studio)... this was all of May 2023… so many magic moments.” By Mark Redfern

10. Picture Parlour: “Judgement Day”

UK band Picture Parlour, currently touring with The Last Dinner Party, follow up their debut single “Norwegian Wood” with their brand new single, “Judgement Day,” released on Tuesday. It arrived with a sumptuous video that sees singer Katherine Parlour dressing up in a suit of armor whilst channelling her inner lounge lizard.

She explains the meaning behind the song thus: “It’s a love letter. It’s about being swept off your feet by someone you never expected to meet and surrendering to that all-consuming feeling. It’s a dramatic statement that on judgement day, at the end of time, you want to stand hand in hand with your lover.”

You can read our interview with Picture Parlour here. By Andy Von Pip

11. Say Sue Me: “4am”

This week, South Korean indie band Say Sue Me shared a new song, “4am,” via a black & white music video. It comes ahead of some U.S. tour dates in November. The single is out now via Damnably. Check out the tour dates here. Yo La Tengo’s James McNew illustrated the single’s cover artwork.

The band’s Sumi Choi had this to say about the song in a press release: “Byungkyu wrote the intro line of the song about five years ago, and it was finally completed this year. This is a song about anxiety and sleeplessness. It contains the sadness and anxiety that come at that time when you close your eyes to fall asleep at night, and the restlessness of not being able to easily.”

Back in July, the band shared another new song “Mind is Light,” via a music video. It was one of our Songs of the Week.

Last October, in honor of the band’s 10th anniversary, Say Sue Me shared the 10 covers EP, featuring songs from Yo La Tengo, Pavement, Daniel Johnston, Silver Jews, Grandaddy, and Guided By Voices, along with two re-recorded versions of their own songs. By Mark Redfern

12. Dawn Richard: “Babe Ruth”

On Wednesday, Dawn Richard shared two new songs, “Babe Ruth” and “Your Love / Legends,” with the former shared via a music video and our favorite of the two. The songs join “Bubblegum,” a new song she shared in April, to form the new EP (or epoch as Richard is calling it), The Architect, which is out now on Merge.

Richard had this to say about The Architect in a press release: “I’ve always had a fascination with the concept of a ‘traditional single release.’ How the industry tells you, in order to have a successful single, it has to be a certain amount of minutes to be played on radio, or streamed, or on a chart. I say fuck that. I never agreed with that construct. I wanted to create a single that was similar to a conceptual album. If you take away the idea that it has to be for radio, that it has to be a clean edit, that it has to be a specific thing in order to be successful, what would be the outcome? Epoch 1.”

Of “Babe Ruth,” which is inspired by Richard’s career as an All Star Softball catcher, she says: “I wanted to collaborate with more women producers and DJs. I really appreciate Gina Jeanz and what she’s creating, and contacted her to see if she’d work with me on this record. Between Wes and Taylor, Gina Jeanz and I, we wanted to make a hybrid of sounds that make you want to shake your ass.”

“Bubblegum” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Last year Richard teamed up with Spencer Zahn for the collaborative experimental album, Pigments, which came out in October via Merge.

In 2021, Richard released the solo album Second Line: An Electro Revival. By Mark Redfern

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 12.

Julie Byrne with Laugh Cry Laugh: “Velocity! What About The Inertia!?”

Drop Nineteens: “The Price Was High”

Harp: “A Fountain”

The Klittens: “Universal Experience”

Office Dog: “Gleam”

The Polyphonic Spree: “Shadows on the Hillside (Section 48)”

Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 11 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:

(Note: The American Analog Set song is not currently on Spotify and so isn’t on this playlist.)

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