13 Best Songs of the Week: DIIV, Waxahatchee, Jessica Pratt, Vampire Weekend, Maya Hawke, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, July 15th, 2024  

13 Best Songs of the Week: DIIV, Waxahatchee, Jessica Pratt, Vampire Weekend, Maya Hawke, and More

Plus Boeckner, English Teacher, Parsnip, Ride, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Feb 16, 2024 Bookmark and Share


Welcome to the sixth Songs of the Week of 2024. It was a stacked week for new tracks. Vampire Weekend released two songs and they both made the list (and might’ve charted even higher if they had just put out one song and not split the vote). Even most of the honorable mentions are great this week and would’ve made the main list on other weeks.

This week Andy Von Pip, Mark Moody, Matt the Raven, and Scott Dransfield all helped me decide what should make the list. We settled on a Top 13 this week, narrowed down from the 25 songs we seriously considered.

In the past week or so we posted interviews with Slowdive, Eaves Wilder, Heather Woods Broderick, Birthmark, Slow Pulp, Spiritualized, Mutual Benefit, and others.

In the last week we reviewed some albums.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 13 best the last week had to offer, followed by some honorable mentions. Check out the full list below.

1. DIIV: “Brown Paper Bag”

This week, DIIV announced a new album, Frog in Boiling Water, and shared its first single, “Brown Paper Bag.” Frog in Boiling Water is due out May 24 via Fantasy. “Brown Paper Bag” finds DIIV gloriously tumbling headfirst into choppy shoegaze currents and somehow staying afloat. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.

DIIV is Andrew Bailey, Colin Caulfield, Ben Newman, and Zachary Cole Smith. Frog in Boiling Water is the follow-up to Deceiver, which came out in 2019 via Captured Tracks. It’s been five years since that album and DIIV spent four of those making the new record, a procees that a press release says almost broke the band as they strived to push their sound. This is also the first album where the band acted as a democracy. “This journey left their relationships with one another fraying, with the many complex dynamics of family, friendship and finances entangled, coupled with suspicions, resentments, bruised egos and anxious questions,” states the press release.

The album’s title was inpsired by Daniel Quinn’s 1996 philosophical novel The Story of B. The band collectively explain more about the title in the press release: “If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will of course frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.

“We understand the metaphor to be one about a slow, sick, and overwhelmingly banal collapse of society under end-stage capitalism, the brutal realities we’ve maybe come to accept as normal. That’s the boiling water and we are the frogs. The album is more or less a collection of snapshots from various angles of our modern condition which we think highlights what this collapse looks like and, more particularly, what it feels like.”

Read our 2016 interview with DIIV. By Mark Redfern

2. Waxahatchee: “Bored”

Waxahatchee (aka Katie Crutchfield) is releasing a new album, Tigers Blood, on March 22 via ANTI-. This week she shared its second single, “Bored,” via a music video. She also announced some new European tour dates. Corbett Jones and Nick Simonite directed the video, which mainly features Crutchfield and her band performing in a bar. Check out all of Waxahatchee’s upcoming tour dates here.

Crutchfield had this to say about “Bored” in a press release: “I feel like my comfort zone when writing songs lies somewhere on the emotional spectrum of sadness and heartache. Writing from a place of happiness scares me. Too earnest. Anger scares me even more. I wrote ‘Bored’ about one of those situations where anger was called for and was the only authentic place from which to write about what I was experiencing. It was a challenge for me and ‘Bored’ is the end result.”

Previously Waxahatchee shared the album’s first single, “Right Back to It,” which features MJ Lenderman. It was shared via a music video and the track was #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

Tigers Blood follows Saint Cloud, which was #6 on our Top 100 Albums of 2020 list. In 2022 Crutchfield teamed up with Jess Williamson to form Plains and release their debut album, I Walked With You A Ways, via ANTI-.

The new album also features Spencer Tweedy, alongside Phil and Brad Cook. Brad Cook produced the album, which was recorded at the Sonic Ranch in the border town Tornillo, Texas. Brad Cook also worked on Saint Cloud at the same studio.

Read our 2020 interview with Waxahatchee on Saint Cloud. By Mark Redfern

3. Jessica Pratt: “Life Is”

This week, Jessica Pratt announced a new album, Here in the Pitch, and shared its first single, “Life Is,” via a music video. She also announced some new tour dates. Here in the Pitch is due out May 3 via Mexican Summer. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the tour dates, here.

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

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

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

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

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

Pratt adds of the song: “Life came and went and you didn’t land where you thought you would. “It’s the third act and you’re trying to climb back on the horse before it gets dark.”

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

4. Vampire Weekend: “Capricorn”

Vampire Weekend are releasing a new album, Only God Was Above Us, on April 5 via Columbia. As promised when the album was announced last week, today the band shared its first two singles: “Capricorn” and “Gen-X Cops.” Both songs were shared via music videos that reference the album’s cover artwork and feature vintage footage of New York City. Nick Harwood directed the “Capricorn” video and Drew Pearce directed the “Gen-X Cops” video. We liked both songs, with “Capricorn” getting the edge in the staff vote, although I think I slightly preferred “Gen-X Cops,” which is further down this list.

Previously Vampire Weekend shared a trailer for the album, as well as its tracklist and cover artwork.

Only God Was Above Us is the band’s fifth album, their first new album in five years, and the follow-up to Father of the Bride. Father of the Bride was our Album of the Week, it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart with the largest first week sales for any rock album in 2019, and you can stream it here. It was also nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys.

Vampire Weekend is Ezra Koenig, Chris Baio, and Chris Tomson. Koenig wrote most of the album’s lyrics in 2019 and 2020 and the band have been refining the album since then, recording in various cities around the world, including New York, Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo. Koenig produced the album with longtime collaborator Ariel Rechtshaid and it was mixed by Dave Fridmann and mastered by Emily Lazar.

A press release promises that the album is “direct yet complex, showing the band at once at its grittiest, and also at its most beautiful and melodic.”

The album’s cover artwork also inspired its title. It is a photo taken in 1988 by Steven Siegel at a subway graveyard in New Jersey. In the photo is a man sitting in a turned over subway car, reading the May 1, 1988 edition of The New York Daily News. The cover of the newspaper details an airplane accident on Aloha Airlines flight 243, when an explosion tore the roof off. The headline of the newspaper quotes a survivor saying, “Only God was above us,” which is now the title of the new album. By Mark Redfern

5. Maya Hawke: “Missing Out”

This week, singer/actress Maya Hawke announced a new album, Chaos Angel, and shared its first single, “Missing Out,” via a music video. Chaos Angel is due out May 31 via Mom + Pop. Alex Ross Perry directed the “Missing Out” video.

Chaos Angel is the follow-up to 2022’s MOSS. As with that album, Hawke co-wrote songs with Christian Lee Hutson, who produced the album. Chaos Angel also features regular Hawke collaborators Benjamin Lazar Davis and Will Graefe.

The 25-year-old Hawke had this to say about “Missing Out” in a press release: “There was actually a girl who went to Brown, where my brother goes to college, and we were all going around saying what our wish was for ourselves. She said, ‘I want to write the next great American novel.’ It was the moment where I felt older than everyone because I laughed so hard. I was like, ‘You are so far down the wrong track!’ Wish to write a novel. That would be a miracle. Don’t wish to write the next great American novel, that’s a nightmare! It made me feel I actually am a different place in my life than these people I was around. It totally inspired this whole song.”

Hawke, who is the daughter of actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, made a name of herself on the hit Netflix show Stranger Things. Last year she appeared in the acclaimed movies Asteroid City and Maestro. Upcoming projects from Hawke including starring as Flannery O’Connor in Wildcat (directed and co-written by her father Ethan), voicing the new emotion Anxiety in Inside Out 2, and the fifth and final season of Stranger Things (due out next year).

Read our review of MOSS it here.

Read our interview with Maya Hawke on MOSS and balancing acting and music in our My Favorite Movie Issue (buy the print version directly from us here). By Mark Redfern

6. Vampire Weekend: “Gen-X Cops”

And here’s the second song from Vampire Weekend, “Gen-X Cops,” named after a 1999 film made in Hong Kong.

Today, Vampire Weekend also announced a 2024 tour. The tour will feature various support acts, depending on the date, including LA LOM, The English Beat, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Mike Gordon, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Ra Ra Riot, Princess featuring Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum, Cults, a DJ Set By Mark Ronson, Turnstiles (a Billy Joel tribute band), and The Brothers Macklovitch. In select cities they are doing evening shows on a Saturday night, followed by a matinee show the next day. Check out the tour poster below for info on which artist is opening where. Check out all the dates here.

We were the first nationally distributed print magazine to interview Vampire Weekend, way back in 2007, and you can revisit that article here. By Mark Redfern

7. Boeckner: “Euphoria”

Boeckner (aka Daniel Boeckner of Wolf Parade) is releasing his debut solo album, Boeckner!, on March 15 via Sub Pop. This week he shared its second single, “Euphoria.” He also announced some new tour dates. Check out the tour dates here.

Previously Boeckner shared the album’s first single, “Lose,” via a music video. “Lose” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Randall Dunn produced, engineered, and mixed the album, which was recorded at Circular Ruin in New York City and mastered by Heba Kadry in Brooklyn. The album also features Matt Chamberlain on drums, Medicine’s Brad Laner, and Jeremy Gaudet of labelmates Kiwi Jr., who co-wrote the song “Dead Tourists.”

“As a teenager, I imported cassettes of Medicine’s flawless shoegaze noise records, and I absolutely loved Brad Laner’s sandblasting, Chernobyl guitar,” says Boeckner in a press release.

Of working with Dunn, he says: “I’d been a fan of his forever, especially the Sunn0))) records he produced. Working with Randall really unlocked some suppressed musical urges, things that I enjoy in my private life but don’t normally weave into what I’m releasing—like occult synth, pseudo-metal, krautrock, and heavy psych influences.”

Outside of Wolf Parade, Boeckner has been involved in several other projects, including Operators, Divine Fits, Atlas Strategic, and Handsome Furs.

“This record is like an autobiography—Atlas Strategic music concrete synth explosions, lush synth stuff from Operators, the noise guitar from Handsome Furs, drawing influence from everything from Stockhausen to Tom Waits all at the same time,” Boeckner says.

“I think in a lot of ways in my mind I’m still playing in a punk band in Vancouver,” Boeckner adds. “Starting back when I was a teenager, my life in music has been trying to develop my own musical language, and this record is the beginning of presenting that.”

Wolf Parade’s last album, Thin Mind, came out in 2020 via Sub Pop.

Read our 2017 interview with Wolf Parade. By Mark Redfern

8. English Teacher: “R&B”

Leeds, England-based four-piece English Teacher are releasing their debut album, This Could Be Texas, on April 12 via Island. This week they shared another new single from it, “R&B,” via a music video. An earlier version of the song was released in 2021, but it was reworked/re-recorded for the album. Since we didn’t cover the original version of the song, we decided to make it eligible for this week’s Songs of the Week list. Sarah Oglesby directed the video.

English Teacher is Lily Fontaine (vocals, rhythm guitar, synth), Douglas Frost (drums, piano, vocals), Nicholas Eden (bass), and Lewis Whiting (lead guitar).

“Despite appearances, I haven’t got the voice for R&B,” Fontaine sings in “R&B,” tackling the preconceptions and prejudices she’s grappled with in the music industry.

As Fontaine explains in a press release: “There’s a lot of judgment that I had early on. Being a woman of color fronting a band shouldn’t even be a thing to talk about; we need to just get on with it—only then will the narrative around that change.”

The song is also inspired by a breakup, as Fontaine explains: “When I was with him I had writer’s block and to add insult to irony, the only idea I had was for an R&B top line—the genre people always assumed I worked in. As soon as he ended it, I converted that top line into the lyrics and riff for ‘R&B,’ and took it to my three best mates. Putting the effort that you could potentially put into a partner, back into yourself and your career, is cool and sexy and gets you signed to Island Records and writing press quotes in a tour van in Holland and you get to meet Jools Holland. Thanks lad.”

This Could Be Texas features three previously released singles by the band: “The World’s Biggest Paving Slab,” “Nearly Daffodils,” and “Mastermind Specialism.”

When the album was announced they shared a new song from it, “Albert Road,” via a music video. “Albert Road” was one of our Songs of the Week.

“I want this album to feel like you’ve gone to space and it turns out it’s almost identical to Doncaster. It’s about inbetweens, it’s about home, and it’s about Desire Paths,” said Fontaine in a previous press release. By Mark Redfern

9. Parsnip: “The Light”

This week, Melbourne four-piece Parsnip—who comprise Paris Richens (bass), Carolyn Hawkins (drums), Stella Rennex (guitar and saxophone), and Rebecca Liston (keys)— announced a new album, Behold, which arrives on April 26th via Upset The Rhythm. They have also revealed the lead single, “The Light,” a playful, poetic, and propulsive DIY punk anthem.

“‘The Light’ represents a revelation, a moment of seeing things with blinding clarity,” explains drummer Carolyn Hawkins. “‘The Light’ is about having the wool removed from your eyes and seeing everything as it really is, blindingly clear, for the first time. I was thinking a lot about the transformative power of anger in grief and healing, and I guess I also just wanted to express how I was feeling. Rage always produces the catchiest songs.”

Hawkins draws inspiration from diverse sources: Rumi’s quote “The wound is where the light enters you,” Leonard Cohen’s poignant depiction of heartbreak in “Paper Thin Hotel,” and even a cheeky nod to Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown” with a sly interlude. An eclectic mix which fuels the song’s raw energy and vulnerability.

Behold marks Parsnip’s sophomore album, drawing influences from bands like The Field Mice, The Raincoats, The Troggs, and The Kinks. Alongside their label mates and friends Terry and Primo, the band delves into themes of loneliness, longing, and the mysteries of the ordinary, transforming everyday experiences into vibrant musical tapestries. By Andy Von Pip

10. Ride: “Last Frontier”

Legendary British shoegazers Ride are releasing a new album, Interplay, on March 29 via Wichita and PIAS. This week they shared its second single, “Last Frontier,” and announced some new tour dates, including some North American ones this May. Check out the tour dates here.

Ride formed in 1988 and its lineup remains guitarist/vocalists Andy Bell and Mark Gardener, drummer Laurence “Loz” Colbert, and bassist Steve Queralt.

Bell had this to say about “Last Frontier” in a press release: “This was the runt of the litter of the very first jam session from Mark’s OX4 Studio, and I didn’t even include it on my shortlist of the best tracks. It was our producer, Richie Kennedy, who saw the potential of the song, and we attacked this with a vengeance at Vada studio. A complete revamp of the backing track and arrangement was needed and we took it right back to basics, more towards a pounding Joy Division feel.

“For the topline, I tried improvising at the mic, singing it all different ways, and coming up with new parts on the spot. I felt really exposed but kind of said to myself, ‘you’re among friends, it’s good to push yourself to try new ways to write.’ It feels different to every vocal I’ve ever done. It’s still a new way of working for me but it’s something I want to continue trying as I think it makes for better vocal lines; a good mixture of written and improvised.”

Previously Ride shared the album’s first single, “Peace Sign.” It was one of our Songs of the Week.

Interplay is the band’s third album since reforming in 2014, following 2017’s Weather Diaries and 2019’s This Is Not a Safe Place. Ride produced the album with Richie Kennedy and Claudius Mittendorfer mixed the album.

Bell had this to say about Interplay in a previous press release: “This album has taken a long time to make, and has seen the band go through a lot of ups and downs; maybe the most of any Ride album. But it has seen us come through the process as a band in a good place, feeling able to shake off the past, and ready to celebrate the combined musical talents that brought us together in the first place.”

Ride are currently on a co-headlining U.S. tour with The Charlatans. It’s something they did last year as well. The Charlatans are performing their 1992-released sophomore album, Between 10th and 11th, and Ride are performing their 1990-released debut album, Nowhere.

Read our interview with Ride’s Mark Gardener on This Is Not a Safe Place.

Also read our 2013 interview with Ride on Nowhere and our 2015 interview with Gardener where he went through Nowhere track-by-track. By Mark Redfern

11. Sam Evian: “Rollin’ In”

Sam Evian is releasing a new album, Plunge, on March 22 via Evian’s own Flying Cloud Recordings imprint and Thirty Tigers. This week he shared the album’s second single, “Rollin’ In,” via a music video. CJ Harvey directed the video.

Evian had this to say about the new single in a press release: “The song is a box of memories, and a meditation. I grew up on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, and often went down to the ocean to commune with myself, a habit I picked up from my mother. It’s a reflection of that time of my life, and who I’ve become in the years since. I started writing about a simple relationship theme, but quickly realized I was examining myself and my own disillusionment with who I thought I would become, versus the person I am today.

“Initially I did not plan on a sax solo, but Wayne Shorter passed away the day I was finishing the mix, so I felt inspired to put it in at the last minute. I did my best to pay tribute to his sensitivity, lyricism and restraint. I wanted it to feel like big rolling waves.”

Evian previously shared the album’s first single, “Wild Days,” which was one of our Songs of the Week.

Evian recorded the album at Flying Cloud Studios in the Catskills in Upstate New York with various friends and collaborators, including Liam Kazar, Sean Mullins, El Kempner of Palehound, and Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief.

“No-one knew the songs or what the plan was. We kept it loose and fun. This was the spirit of the sessions. No headphones, no playback, minimal overdubs, or bleed. Fast and loose,” says Evian in a press release.

“I wrote the songs so that I could just play them and sing them on a guitar. I wanted them to be like really focused, classic songs,” he further explains.

“Wild Days” was written from Evian’s mother’s perspective and the whole of Plunge sees Evian writing “from the eyes of his creative musician parents, tracing their complicated love story and adding his own ruminations throughout,” as the press release puts it.

Plunge is the follow-up to 2021’s Time to Melt, which was released on Fat Possum.

Read our The End interview with Evian from 2021. By Mark Redfern

12. Warpaint: “Common Blue”

On Wednesday, Warpaint shared a video for a new song, “Common Blue,” in honor of the band’s 20th anniversary. They also announced some new tour dates. It will be released as a 7-inch on March 22, with “Underneath” on the B-side, via Rough Trade, marking their return to the label. It was 20 years ago on Wednesday that the band was born in a small studio on Fairfax Blvd. in Los Angeles. Check out the tour dates here.

Warpaint is Theresa Wayman (vocals, guitar), Emily Kokal (vocals, guitar), Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass, vocals), and Stella Mozgawa (drums).

Wayman had this to say about “Common Blue” in a press release: “It started with the chord progression on guitar. Jen and I jammed it in her living room in Echo Park and it became a song. We sent it around the houses (Stella and Emily’s houses) and all its elements were brought to life. It’s intended to inspire freedom! Common blue. Rising up again and again, climb a ladder to the sky, catch the view like a butterfly! Everything is possible… it ain’t over till it’s over!”

Warpaint released their first three albums with Rough Trade, but then their last album (and fourth overall), 2022’s Radiate Like This, was released via Virgin.

The band collectively had this to say about returning to their old label: “It makes us smile to release them in collaboration with friends and family at Rough Trade. It feels like a perfect return to where it all began! With these new songs we tie a bow around this time in our lives, and all the experiences and songs we’ve shared over the years. It’s been an incredible journey and taken us all over the world sharing good times with beautiful people. Our hearts are full!”

Listen to our Under the Radar podcast interview with the band’s Stella Mozgawa here. By Mark Redfern

13. Goat Girl: “ride around”

This week, South London trio Goat Girl announced a new album, Below the Waste, and shared its first single, “ride around,” via a music video. Below the Waste is due out June 7 via Rough Trade. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the band’s upcoming UK tour dates, here.

Goat Girl is Lottie Pendlebury (she/her), Rosy Jones (they/them) and Holly Mullineaux (she/her). The trio co–produced the album alongside John ‘Spud’ Murphy (Lankum, black midi). Below the Waste is the band’s third album and the follow-up to 2021’s On All Fours and 2018’s self-titled debut.

Most of the new album was recorded at Ireland’s Hellfire Studios, which a press release says is “in the shadow of the infamous Hellfire Club—one of Ireland’s most haunted buildings.” Additional instruments were recorded at various locations, including at the band’s South London studio and in a barn in Essex. They include strings by Reuben Kyriakides and Nic Pendlebury, woodwind instruments by Alex McKenzie, and vocals (“including a choir made up of family and friends,” says the press release).

Pendlebury had this to say about “ride around”: “I dreamt of conversations that stripped away all the etiquettes and went below the surface to where the most interesting parts of ourselves tend to be suppressed. At the time, I was listening to lots of Phillip Glass and Deerhoof, music that plays with the relationship between tensions and resolution, which definitely influenced this song.”

Read our review of Goat Girl. By Mark Redfern

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 13.

Bess Atwell: “Release Myself”

bdrmm: “Standard Tuning”

Dent May: “Coasting on Fumes” (Feat. Jordana)

Four Tet: “Daydream Repeat”

Kim Gordon: “I’m a Man”

Mike Lindsay: “lie down”

Meatbodies: “Billow”

Real Farmer: “Consequence”

Devon Ross: “Mine Not Yours”

Sheer Mag: “Eat It and Beat It”

Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 13 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:

Subscribe to Under the Radar’s print magazine.

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.