13 Best Songs of the Week: boygenius, Wild Nothing, Yumi Zouma, Danielson, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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13 Best Songs of the Week: boygenius, Wild Nothing, Yumi Zouma, Danielson, and More

Plus Lost Under Heaven, Lala Lala, J Mascis, The Goon Sax, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

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This week’s Songs of the Week is packed. Firstly boygenius, the new supergroup featuring Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers, released three songs this week and all were worthy of the list. Thus we decided to expand it from a Top 10 to a Top 12, so that 10 separate artists were still included, be even that wasn’t enough, so we added one more for an unlucky Top 13. And even on top of that there are seven honorable mentions and several other songs we originally had in honorable mentions that we took out because that list was getting too long. There were lots of riches this week (Disclosure alone released five tracks in the last five days, although none of them made the main list).

Elsewhere on the website in the last week we posted a My Firsts interview with promising new Los Angeles-based neo-soul artist Joey Dosik, an interview with Tom Smith of the British band Editors, and a The End interview about endings and death with Sam Genders of Tunng. Tunng’s new album, Songs You Make At Night, was also our Album of the Week.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Interpol, Death Cab for Cutie, Colour Me Wednesday, Tunng, and White Denim. Plus we posted a review of Poland’s OFF Festival, as well as reviews of various DVDs, Blu-rays, and films.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 13 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. boygenius: “Me & My Dog”

Boygenius is a new supergroup featuring three amazing singer/songwriters: Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers. This week they announced their self-titled debut EP, which is due out November 9 via Matador. But you don’t have to wait until then to hear half the EP, as this week they also shared three of its six tracks: “Bite the Hand,” “Me & My Dog,” and “Stay Down.” All three are strong tracks made our Songs of the Week list, but spread throughout the list. Our #1 is “Me & My Dog,” which is led by Bridgers and takes the top spot due to its evocative lyrics. Bridgers opens the song with these scene-setting lyrics: “We had a great day/Even though we forgot to eat/And had bad dreams/And we got no sleep between the kissing.” That’s followed by the lines: “I had a fever/Until I met you/Now you make me cool/But sometimes I still do/Something embarrassing.” All three of boygenius have a way with words, so it makes sense that they’ve taken turns writing the lyrics and taking lead vocals on the various songs on the EP.

Los Angeles’ Phoebe Bridgers released her debut album, Stranger in the Alps, back in September via Dead Oceans. Memphis’ Julien Baker released her new album, Turn Out the Lights, back in October via Matador, her first for the label. It was our Album of the Week and more importantly it was #2 on our Top 100 Albums of 2017 list. Richmond’s Lucy Dacus released a new album, Historian, back in March via Matador. It was also our Album of the Week.

The trio met via tours together and mutual festival appearances. They hatched the idea of their November tour together (check out the dates here) and thought they should record some collaborative music to perform on the tour.

“It seemed obvious to record a 7-inch for tour, although many adult men will try to take credit for the idea,” explains Bridgers in a press release. “When we got together, we had way more songs than we expected and worked so well together, that we decided to make a full EP.”

Dacus adds: “A long time ago, before I even met Phoebe, Julien mentioned that she had a pipe dream of starting a band with both of us. Then we booked this tour and decided the time was right.”

Baker agrees that it was also down to good timing. “When we met, Lucy and Phoebe and I were in similar places in our lives and our musical endeavors, but also had similar attitudes toward music that engendered an immediate affinity,” Baker says in the press release. “Lucy and Phoebe are incredibly gifted performers, and I am a fan of their art outside of being their friends, but they are also both very wise, discerning and kind people whom I look up to in character as much as in talent.”

Of recording the EP, Baker adds: “Everyone seemed both confident enough to present ideas and fight for their individual vision, but considerate and humble enough to make decisions which ultimately served the song. It was a process that required a balance of determination and forthrightness with graciousness and pliability, and I think that we all did a good job of enacting that.”

Read our 2017 exclusive interview with Phoebe Bridgers and check out our photo-shoot with her.

2. Wild Nothing: “Canyon on Fire”

Wild Nothing (aka Jack Tatum) is releasing a new album, Indigo, his fourth, on August 31 via Captured Tracks. This week he shared another song from the album, “Canyon on Fire.” It’s safe to say that based on the four Indigo singles shared thus far, this album could be considered as a return to form, at least for those fans who most love his acclaimed second album, 2012’s Nocturne.

Previously he shared its first single and opening track, “Letting Go” (which was our #1 Song of the Week), as well as the 1980s-tastic “Partners in Motion” (which was also our #1 Song of the Week) and a strange video for “Letting Go.” That was followed by another song from the album, “Shallow Water,” a song about his wife that was #4 on our Songs of the Week list.

The album is the follow-up to 2016’s somewhat underrated Life of Pause. Virginia-bred/Los Angeles-based Tatum recorded the demos solo and then spent four days at Sunset Sound’s Studio with drummer Cam Allen and guitarist Benji Lysaght to track the record live (Tatum played bass). Then producer Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink, Gang Gang Dance, Japanese Breakfast) came on board to build out the rest of the album’s sound, including using parts of Tatum’s original demos. Elbrecht and Tatum mixed the album over 10 days in Denver and then Tatum put the finishing touches on Indigo at his Glassell Park studio in Los Angeles. Sonically, Tatum was going for a 1980s vibe.

“I wanted it to sound like a classic studio record, as close as I could get it there,” Tatum said in a previous press release. “It just boils down to me wanting to fit into some larger narrative, musically, in terms of these artists I love. I think about how my music will age. Ideas of ‘timeless’ are going to be different-so if Indigo is not timeless then it’s at least ‘out of time.’”

The previous press release described the album as such: “Indigo is its own cyborg world, utilizing the artful mechanisms of human touch with the precision of technology to create the classic, pristine sound Tatum has been seeking his entire career. It finds Tatum at his most efficient, calculated, and confident after a decade of making music as Wild Nothing. On one hand, Indigo is a return to the fresh, transcendent sweep of his debut, 2010’s Gemini, and on the other, a culmination of heights reached, paths traveled, and lessons learned while creating the follow-ups, Nocturne and Life of Pause.”

Wild Nothing’s 2012 album, Nocturne, was Under the Radar’s #1 album of that year.

Read our 2016 interview with Wild Nothing.

3. Yumi Zouma: “In Camera”

New Zealand indie-pop band Yumi Zouma released their sophomore album, Willowbank, last year via Cascine (it was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2017). This week they announced a new EP, EP III, and shared a new song from it, “In Camera.” As its title suggests, EP III is the third and final part of a trilogy of EPs that started in 2014 and is due out September 28 via Cascine.

The band issued this press release statement about the EP: “There is something really special about the EP format. It’s been so long since we worked on one that we all had forgotten how fun and liberating they can be. This EP, both in its material and how it was written and recorded, feels really close to EP I and II. Spread again between three countries, bouncing endless revisions of a song until it’s right, falling asleep on FaceTime trying to write lyrics together and the exhilaration of waking up to NEW SONG VERSION 5 - it threw us back to how we worked on material when we thought no one would ever listen. We’ve completed our EP family. It’s the little sibling none of us had growing up and none of us knew we could love so much.”

Back in April the band shared another new song, “France (Grand Boulevards),” from Dreams, a compilation that’s been put together by the New York-based website Stadium & Shrines that came out in June via Cascine.

Read our 2017 interview with Yumi Zouma on Willowbank.

4. Danielson: “Snap Outtavit”

This week Danielson announced the Snap Outtavit EP and shared its lush and quirky title track. Snap Outtavit EP is due out September 28 via Joyful Noise and includes five new tracks. It’s the band’s first release in seven years, since 2011’s Best of Gloucester County.

Daniel Smith fronts Danielson and his band for this EP mainly consists of family members, including his sisters Megan (bells, vocals) and Rachel (keys, vocals), and brothers Andrew and David (drums), with his wife Elin (vocals), as well as various kids in the family on vocals. Famed producer Kramer (aka Mark Kramer) recorded the EP.

A press release describes the EP as such: “Like in ecstatic religious poetry of another time, the new Danielson songs, on this EP, tackle the spiritual struggles of the everyday- growing older, having kids, momentarily losing hope, for which the route to salvation is music itself, the playing, the singing, the writing of music, and the listening to it as well.”

5. Lost Under Heaven: “For the Wild”

This week, Lost Under Heaven (who were formerly known mainly by their initials LUH) announced a new album, Love Hates What You Become, and shared a video for its new single, “For the Wild.” You’ll have to wait awhile to hear the full album, as Love Hates What You Become is due out January 18. But you can watch the “For the Wild” video below. The band have also announced some U.S. tour dates, which can be found here.

The album includes “Bunny’s Blues,” which the band shared back in May via its bloody video (it was one of our Songs of the Week) and “Breath of Light,” a new song they shared back in March (it was also one of our Songs of the Week).

The duo is Ellery James Roberts (the ex-WU LYF frontman) and Ebony Hoorn. They released their debut album, Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing, back in 2016 via Mute.

Love Hates What You Become is the follow-up to the duo’s 2016 debut, Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing. It was written in Roberts’ native Manchester and was then recorded in Los Angeles with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Swans, Sigur Rós), who brought Swans drummer Thor Harris into the mix, who plays on the album.

“We were without a drummer or a real band,” explains Roberts in a press release. “I just concentrated on writing the songs rather than making a sound. We turned up in LA with that as our starting point, this collection of guitar and piano demos that I’d sent through.”

Jamie Allan directed the “For the Wild” video, which was shot on hi-8 video and 16mm film and filmed over a series of sunrises and sunsets.

Roberts had this to say about the video in the press release: “It’s based off a short story I have been writing about an absurd preacher, whose lack of a charismatic populist message leaves him without a congregation. Alone and increasingly desperate to communicate his self-appointed duty, he ventures out into nature, surrendering to the wild, until eventually he embraces his and humanity’s insignificance in the cosmos.”

Read our 2016 interview with Lost Under Heaven and our review of Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing.

6. Lala Lala: “Water Over Sex”

Lala Lala is the project of Chicago-based Lillie West. Her new album, The Lamb, is due out September 28 via Hardly Art. This week she shared another song from the album, “Water Over Sex,” via a video for the song. Matthew James-Wilson and Toronto-based illustrator Ginette Lapalme co-directed the clip, which includes stop-motion animation.

James-Wilson had this to say about the video in a press release: “I know Ginette from the comics scene in Toronto and, since Lillie is a fan (with her stickers on her guitar case and a few tattoos of her drawings), I wanted to work on an animated music video with her for the new album. We spent a week straight shooting using fabric, photocopies, Ginette’s collection of miniatures and knick-knacks, and stuff we found at 99 cent stores in Chinatown. The video follows a lamb doll (which Ginette made) continually daydreaming about the objects around her while she tries to live a relaxing life. We wanted to sort of indirectly reference the conflict in the song about how your lifestyle changes after you quit drinking. Since we all live in three different cities and couldn’t film Lillie for it, I asked Lillie to send over webcam footage of her singing the song that we could animate over.”

West had this to say about the album in a press release: “The Lamb was written during a time of intense paranoia after a home invasion, deaths of loved ones and general violence around me and my friends. I started to frequently and vividly imagine the end of the world, often becoming too frightened to leave my house. This led me to spend a lot of time examining my relationships and the choices I’d made, often wondering if they were correct and/or kind.”

7. boygenius: “Stay Down”

Julien Baker fronts our second favorite of this week’s boygenius tracks, “Stay Down.”

Read our 2017 cover story interview with Julien Baker.

Also read our 2017 cover story bonus Q&A with Baker.

Read our rave 9/10 review of Baker’s Turn Out the Lights.

Read our 2016 interview with Baker and our 2015 Artist Survey interview with her.

8. J Mascis: “See You At the Movies”

This week J Mascis (of Dinosaur Jr.) announced a new solo album, Elastic Days, and shared a new song from it, “See You At the Movies.” Elastic Days is due out November 9 via Sub Pop. He’s also got some tour dates, which are here.

Elastic Days was recorded at Mascis’ own Bisquiteen studio. Mascis plays most of the instruments, although the album features Ken Miauri on keyboards and guest vocals from Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion), and Zoë Randell (Luluc).

A press release points out that Elastic Days is quite melodic and Mascis says of the album: “The biggest difference with this record might have to do with the drums. I’d just got a new drum set I was really excited about. I don’t have too many drum outlets at the moment, so I played a lot more drums than I’d originally planned. I just kept playing. [laughs] I’d play the acoustic guitar parts then head right to the drums.”

On Mascis’ tour for the album he’ll be performing solo, but this time he’ll do it standing. “I used to just sit down and build a little fort around myself—amps, music stands, drinks stands, all that stuff,” he says in the press release. “But I just realized it sounds better if the amps are higher up because I’m so used to playing with stacks. So I’ll stand this time.”

Dinosaur Jr. released their last album, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, back in 2016 via Jagjaguwar. Mascis’ last solo full-length was 2014’s Tied to a Star.

Read our 2014 joint interview between Dinosaur Jr.‘s J Mascis and The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus.

9. boygenius: “Bite the Hand”

Lucy Dacus leads our third favorite of the boygenius tracks, “Bite the Hand,” which opens the EP.

Read our 2018 interview with Lucy Dacus.

Read our 2016 Artist Survey interview with Dacus.

10. The Goon Sax: “We Can’t Win”

Australian trio The Goon Sax (Louis Forster, Riley Jones, James Harrison) are releasing their sophomore album, We’re Not Talking, on September 14th via Wichita. Previously the album’s opening track, “Make Time For Love,” was one of our Songs of the Week. This week they shared another song from the album, “We Can’t Win.”

11. Bill Ryder-Jones: “Mither”

This week Bill Ryder-Jones announced a new album Yawn, and shared its first single, “Mither.” Yawn is due out November 2 via Domino. “Mither” is about British multi-instrumentalist and producer’s mother.

“Mither” was shared via a video for the song directed by James Slater. Ryder-Jones recorded and produced Yawn himself. The album features guest vocals from The Orielles and Our Girl, cello by Rod Skip, and mixing by Craig Silvey (Portishead, The Horrors, Arcade Fire).

A press release describes the album as such: “Yawn is an album that looks for understanding - down the back of life’s sofa. These are everyday stories about situations we all fall from and into, out of, and back up against the wall again - and they are sung to us, up close, by a voice still in hock to a few uncomfortable truths.”

12. Interpol: “If You Really Love Nothing”

Interpol (Daniel Kessler, Paul Banks, and Sam Fogarino) released a new album, Marauder, today via Matador. This week the band shared one last pre-release single from the album, “If You Really Love Nothing,” via a video that stars Kristen Stewart and Finn Wittrock. Hala Matar directed the video, which was shot in Los Angeles. A press release says the video “channels the song’s nocturnal, nihilistic allure, with just a hint of the absurdism.” It mainly takes place at an Italian restaurant, with Stewart as a reckless and impulsive character. There’s also lots of smoking.

Banks had this to say about the video in a press release: “Hala is a young director I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago, and I’ve been a big fan of her short film work since. Her luscious use of colors and lighting, her insightful dialogue and playful direction, for me, are her hallmarks. There’s always humor, drama and atmosphere to spare in her work. I see all of these qualities in her video for ‘If You Really Loving Nothing.’ And speaking on behalf of Interpol, we are so proud to have had the opportunity of this collaboration. Kristen Stewart is the perfect actress for this part. I don’t think there’s anyone that could have better played the role. She nails it, and I love the performance from Finn Wittrock. Another wonderful casting choice - he plays the role of Kristen’s beleaguered companion beautifully.”

Marauder was announced via a live-streamed press conference from Mexico City. Previously they shared its first single, “The Rover” (which was one of our Songs of the Week), then they performed the song on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and shared a video for “The Rover” starring actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Girls, The Punisher). Then they shared another song from the album, “Number 10,” which is about an office romance and was an honorable mention on our Songs of the Week list.

Dave Fridmann (MGMT, The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Mogwai) produced the album, which was recorded in two-week spells from December 2017 to April 2018 at his Tarbox Studios in Upstate New York.

13. Villagers: “Fool”

Villagers (aka Irish musician Conor O’Brien) is releasing his new album, The Art of Pretending to Swim, on September 21 via Domino. He previously shared a video for the album’s “A Trick of the Light.” This week O’Brien has shared a video for another new song from the album, “Fool.” Bob Gallagher directed the video, which features O’Brien on a restaurant date, but shot from the point of video of his partner. At one point O’Brien literally rips out his heart and offers it to his date.

Gallagher had this to say about the “Fool” video in a press release: “The video is a surreal take on a marriage proposal, which is the ultimate gambit in love. The scenario pushes how much Conor’s character is willing to overlook his partner’s shortcomings, and convince himself that everything is fine. You could call it foolishness but you could also consider it a kind of optimism, striving to see the best in a situation.”

Honorable Mentions:

These seven songs almost made the Top 10.

Finn Andrews: “Love, What Can I Do?”

Helena Deland: “Rise”

Empress Of: “When I’m With Him”

Colleen Green: “I Wanna Be Ignored”

Hater: “Fall Off”

Menace Beach: “Satellite”

We Were Promised Jetpacks: “Repeating Patterns”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Mac DeMarco: “Honey Moon” (Haruomi Hosono Cover)

Disclosure: “Funky Sensation” (Feat. Gwen McCrae), “Love Can Be So Hard,” “Moonlight,” “Where Angels Fear to Tread,” and “Where You Come From”

Echo & The Bunnymen: “The Somnambulist”

Neil and Liam Finn: “Anger Plays a Part”

Calvin Johnson: “Like You Do”

Let’s Eat Grandma: “I Will Be Waiting (Baths Remix)”

Kevin Morby: “24th Amendment”

Shannen Moser: “Haircut Song”

Josh T. Pearson: “Cover Me” (Depeche Mode Cover)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: “You and Me (Clubhouse Version)”

Paul Simon: “Can’t Run But” (2018 Version)

Sir Babygirl: “Heels”

The Skiffle Players: “Local Boy”

Soccer Mommy: “I’m On Fire” (Bruce Springsteen Cover)

Soft Cell: “Northern Light”

Squid: “The Dial”

Third Eye Blind: “Blood Bank” (Bon Iver Cover)

Dean Wareham and Cheval Sombre: “Wayfaring Stranger” (Folk Standard Cover)

The Watson Twins: “Hustle and Shake”

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August 25th 2018

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