13 Best Songs of the Week: Marika Hackman; Slaughter Beach, Dog; CMAT; Olivia Rodrigo; and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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13 Best Songs of the Week: Marika Hackman; Slaughter Beach, Dog; CMAT; Olivia Rodrigo; and More

Plus The Joy Formidable, John Raymond and S. Carey, Metric, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Sep 08, 2023 Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the 28th Songs of the Week of 2023. Despite it being a short week due to Labor Day, there were plenty of new tracks to choose from. Some of our writers voted and we ended up with the Top 13 below.

In the past week or so we posted interviews with Coach Party, Grian Chatten, Steven Wilson, Michael Dinner (showrunner of Justified: City Primeval), Ratboys, 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 13 best the last week had to offer, followed by some honorable mentions. Check out the full list below.

1. Marika Hackman: “No Caffeine”

This week, British singer/songwriter Marika Hackman returned with a new song, “No Caffeine,” shared via a music video. It’s her first single for Chrysalis. Hackman co-directed the video with Natàlia Pagès. The song tackles anxiety and the conflicting advice for how to deal with it. “Occupy your mind, don’t stay home/Talk to all your friends, but don’t look at your phone,” Hackman sings, later adding: “Remember how to breathe, maybe try and fuck/Stay away from love, maybe take your clothes off.” The second verse ends with: “Don’t forget to wash, don’t become a write-off.”

Hackman plays almost every instrument on “No Caffeine,” apart from the brass and strings. She self-produced the song, with additional production from Sam Petts-Davies (Thom Yorke, Warpaint) and long-term collaborator Charlie Andrew (Alt-J).

A press release describes the song like so: “‘No Caffeine’ finds Marika in fetal position, rattling off tactics to prevent a panic attack while likening her anxiety to an abusive partner.”

In 2020 Hackman released a covers album, simply titled Covers, via Sub Pop. Hackman’s last album of originals, Any Human Friend, came out in 2019, also via Sub Pop. Read our rave review of the album. Any Human Friend was the follow-up to her 2017-released breakthrough release, sophomore album I’m Not Your Man.

Read our 2017 interview with Marika Hackman.

Read our My Favorite Album interview with Hackman on Warpaint’s The Fool. By Mark Redfern

2. Slaughter Beach, Dog: “Engine”

Philadelphia five-piece Slaughter Beach, Dog are releasing a new album, Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling on September 22, 2023 via Lame-O. On Tuesday they shared the album’s fourth and final pre-release single, the nine-minute long “Engine.”

Slaughter Beach, Dog is led by Jacob Ewald, who had this to say about “Engine” in a press release: “This song keeps changing for me. First, I didn’t think it was about anything. Then I thought it was about the van. Then I thought it was about [Slaughter Beach, Dog bassist] Ian [Farmer], and I couldn’t figure out why the guitar solo kept making me cry. Outside the Sinclair in January, I saw a flyer for a house show and remembered how long we’ve been doing this. Then my heart was in my shoes. Ten years of thinking a different life was right around the corner, selling off all this heavy machinery and making spreadsheets for somebody, futzing with chickenwire, everything more simple.

“Lately this song feels like. a eulogy for the change that never came. Ten years gone and I’m still squirming under freedom’s thumb, too easily forgetting rock’n’roll, my great hulking vessel, a framework to swing from, a history to make home inside of. Forms to learn, rules to break, comrades to find, mysteries turned over ad infinitum, inexplicable monsoons of the heart. I’m still finding myself inside this song, still learning to accept that I lived it. Some of it spooks me. I can hear it in the pain of belonging—standing in one place long enough to not take leaving lightly. Staying put when the outlaws arrive at night. Saying very quietly to no one, this is where I live.”

Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling is the band’s fifth album.

Craig Finn of The Hold Steady offered this early praise for the album in the press release: “There’s beautiful space in everything. It’s patient and aware. I’ve always admired Jake’s eye for detail and it’s on full display here. It’s an album filled with gorgeous imagery and vivid worlds are built within each song. I see it all. Most impressively to me, he consistently finds the divine and sacred in the everyday,

“It’s my opinion that every record is about growing up—we all have to get a little older before we make the next one. Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling examines a particular weightlessness that is part of spreading wings, putting down roots, trying to grab ahold of something. This is how it feels when you’re making the moves that you make while becoming the person that you’re going to be.”

Previously the band shared three other singles from the album: “Summer Windows,” “Float Away,” and “Strange Weather.” By Mark Redfern

3. CMAT: “Stay For Something”

​Ahead of the release of her second album, Crazymad, For Me, this week Irish singer/songwriter CMAT (aka Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson) released the album’s latest single, “Stay For Something.”

“It’s basically just about questioning why I stayed/suffered in a bad relationship for as long as I did,” she explains in a press release, “trying to desperately find some kind of meaning in the mess and then being embarrassed when I remember the good parts. It’s not very lyrical or poetic, it’s just a lot of emotion and energy. This song, to me, sounds like going for a run at 1 a.m. with your headphones on full blast, screaming through the streets in order to get away from your problems. I hope that at least one person does that when they hear it.”

Crazymad, For Me is due out via AWAL Recordings on October 13. CMAT describes it as “an abstract break-up album—about what happens when you are still angry about something that happened 10 years ago.” By Andy Von Pip

4. Olivia Rodrigo: “teenage dream”

Olivia Rodrigo released her much anitcipated sophomore album, GUTS, today via Geffen. She only released two pre-release singles from the album, which left plenty of album track fodder for this week’s Songs of the Week. We settled on album closer “teenage dream,” in which the 20-year-old singer/songwriter agonizes over whether or not she’s already peaked. “Got your whole life ahead of you you’re only 19/But I fear that they already got all the best parts of me,” she sings.

“They all say that it gets better/It gets better the more you grow,” she sings at the song’s climax, before worrying, “But what if I don’t.”

We also considered the quite amusing “get him back!,” which is an honorable mention below.

Previously Rodrigo shared the album’s “vampire,” which was one of our Songs of the Week, and “bad idea, right?,” which channels Elastica and Wet Leg and was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Rodrigo’s 2021-released debut album, SOUR, scored the most U.S. audio streams for a debut album ever and garnered her multiple Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist.

“When I was making SOUR I was so new to the process and also so heartbroken; I’d just sit at the piano for hours and feel overcome with things I needed to express,” Rodrigo said in a previous press release. “But this album was much more about focusing on the craft of songwriting, which sometimes meant not taking myself so seriously and getting a little more tongue-in-cheek with my lyrics. We experimented so much with different approaches to writing and ended up with something that’s much more rock-influenced than anything I’ve done before.” By Mark Redfern

5. The Joy Formidable: “The Hat”

This week, Welsh alt rock band The Joy Formidable shared a new song, “The Hat,” via a music video. This single is out now via Enci/Full Time Hobby/Hassle/Soundly Distro.

The Joy Formidable are Ritzy Bryan (vocalist/guitarist), Rhydian Dafydd (bassist/vocalist), and Matt Thomas (drummer). Thomas directed the video for “The Hat.”

Bryan had this to say about the song in a press release: “I feel like your own inner reflections can take on a sensation like being in space. Alone in the gravity of your own uncertainty, drifting and off balance but aware of how beautiful and extraordinary life is. This track has that sensation of being transported but also moving forward. A nod to the new aperiodic tile that never repeats and your own vows of “never make the same mistake twice.”

“The Hat” follows “Cut Your Face,” a new song the band shared in The band’s last album was 2021’s Into The Blue.

The Joy Formidable are originally from North Wales and currently split their time between there and Utah, “in the middle of nowhere” and the closest thing they could find in the USA to their home turf. By Mark Redfern

6. John Raymond and S. Carey: “Chrysalis”

Grammy-nominated trumpeter John Raymond and Bon Iver member S. Carey have teamed up to release a new album, Shadowlands, which is due out September 15 via Libellule. On Wednesday they shared another song from it, “Chrysalis,” via a music video. Room 12 Productions directed the snowy video.

“When we were putting together the music for the album, producer Sun Chung had the idea of bringing in a preexisting song of Sean’s and trying to put a new spin on it,” says Raymond of the song in a press release. “‘Chrysalis’ came to mind right away, and I brought in some ideas to start. We changed the key and opened up the bridge section, but otherwise didn’t really know how it was going to turn out until we got in the studio with the full band. We ended up tracking the song on the first night we were all together. After playing it through a couple times, everyone’s parts started to emerge. Each musician contributed something special that brought it to life in a new way, from the opening piano chords by Aaron Parks to the driving guitar and bass lines by Dave Devine and Chris Morrissey and more. What came out was this sort of alt-rock meets progressive jazz aesthetic, and we ended up getting a magical take that highlights the band dynamic we had in the studio, not to mention the incredible musicianship of everyone involved.”

Previously the duo shared the album’s first single, “Calling,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then we premiered its second single, “Transient.” They also shared the album’s “Steadfast” (which features Gordi).

The album was produced by Sun Chung. For S. Carey and John Raymond, the opportunity to collaborate has been a long time in the making. They both started off as music students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau but went in different directions. The pair reunited in 2018, and after an initial round of sessions in 2019, the opening two tracks of the album were crafted. Most of the album was recorded in the woods of Eau-Claire.

Check out our interview with S. Carey on fatherhood and his fourth studio album, Break Me Open. By Mark Redfern

7. Metric: “Who Would You Be For Me”

Metric are releasing a new album, Formentera II, on October 13 via Metric Music International/Thirty Tigers. Earlier today they shared its third single, “Who Would You Be For Me.” The band also announced some new tour dates, including some acoustic ones in Europe and some full band shows in South America. Justin Broadbent directed the video. Check out all the band’s upcoming tour dates here.

Metric is Emily Haines (vocals, keys), Jimmy Shaw (guitar), Joshua Winstead (bass guitar) and Joules Scott Key (drums).

Haines had this to say about the new single in a press release: “The song ‘Who Would You Be For Me’ is a throwback lullaby set in NYC in 2002. All the action takes place in Tompkins Square Park, in a subway car, and at the café on St. Marks Place where I worked as a waitress when we were getting our start.

“Automatic behaviors and patterns are often fairly easy to flag in others but can be a riddle to spot in yourself. In life and in love, all the emphasis in your mind can default to being what someone else wants until it dawns on you to consider your own desire. I could be the girl for you, but who would you be for me?”

This week is the 20 year anniversary of Metric’s debut album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?, and the band have re-issued the album on vinyl with new color variants (neon violet, hot pink, and tangerine.

Formentera II is the a follow-up to their 2022 album Formentera. When Formentera II was announced they shared a video for its first single, “Just the Once,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its second single, “Nothing Is Perfect,” also one of our Songs of the Week.

Formentera II was recorded at the band’s own Main Street Studios and completed at Motorbass Studios in Paris. Formentera II, which is Metric’s ninth studio album, will be released physically on CD and on limited edition marble blue vinyl as well as sea glass blue vinyl. Metric are also releasing a complete double vinyl set of both Formentera I & II on opaque white vinyl.

Read our 2020 interview with Emily Haines on her favorite album.

Metric’s Formentera also made our Top 100 Albums of 2022 list. By Mark Redfern

8. Sampha: “Only”

On Wednesday, London singer/songwriter and producer Sampha officially announced a new album, LAHAI, and shared a new song from it, “Only,” via a music video. He also announced some tour dates. LAHAI is due out October 20 via Young. Dexter Navy directed the “Only” video. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the tour dates, here.

LAHAI features an array of collaborators: Yaeji, Léa Sen, Sheila Maurice Grey (Kokoroko), Ibeyi, Morgan Simpson (Black Midi), Yussef Dayes, Laura Groves, and Kwake Bass.

The album includes “Spirit 2.0,” which was shared in June and was his first new solo song in six years (and also one of our Songs of the Week).

Sampha’s last solo music project was his 2017 debut album Process, which won the Mercury Prize.

A press release decribes the album in more detail: “If Process, Sampha’s 2017 Mercury-Prize-winning debut album, was an artist figuring out his own place in the world, engulfed in the shadows of grief and loss, LAHAI is an exercise in the radical acceptance and joy in the human condition, and the beauty in the journey itself. Welcome to Sampha’s next musical chapter: LAHAI.” By Mark Redfern

9. Melenas: “K2”

Spanish four-piece Melenas are releasing a new album, Ahora, on September 29 via Trouble in Mind. This week they shared another new song from it, “K2,” via a music video. Iker Insausti directed the video.

“K2” has some strong Stereolab vibes. Trouble in Mind cites various other reference points for the band as well: Hinds, Alvvays, Pastels, Heavenly, Shop Assistants, Look Blue Go Purple, Electrelane, and Grauzone.

Ahora is the band’s third album and its title translates to Now. In a press release the band say the album’s title aspires to vindicate “the importance of time, to reflect on how we live our everyday lives, with whom we share our moments and how we want (or don’t want) to do it” and that it’s about the importance of “togetherness, shared feelings and shared action.”

Melenas have previously shared the Ahora singles “Dos pasajeros” and “Bang.” By Mark Redfern

10. Coach Party: “Be That Girl”

With their debut album KILLJOY released today, earlier this week rising Isle of Wight band Coach Party released the final pre-release single from the album, “Be That Girl.” It was quite a contrast from their previous single, the pummeling “Parasite.” According to the press release, “Be That Girl” takes inspiration from “the epiphany that you’ve become a different person; one starkly separate from the version you previously knew yourself to be, and the people you used to share the company of.”

It arrives with a home-footage-style music video that acts as a visual diary of the band’s life onstage and backstage over the past year, as they’ve performed over 100 shows while opening for the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and Wet Leg, and played major festivals like Glastonbury, The Great Escape, and more.

Expanding on the new track, drummer Guy Page says: “We were touring a lot last year, so a big chunk of the writing for KILLJOY happened in hotel rooms, such as ‘Be That Girl,’ of which the bulk was formed in a morning in Spain before heading out to play BBK Festival. It’s one of the more inward & self-reflective songs on the record, and the one with the softest sonic edges. Retrospectively, it feels like a step closer to our early style as a band, which is nice.”

The band previously shared other songs from KILLJOY “Born Leader,” “All I Wanna Do Is Hate,” and “Micro Aggression” and “What’s The Point In Life. ” “Born Leader” was featured on our Songs of the Week.

Read our new interview with Coach Party, as well as our review of KILLJOY. By Andy Von Pip

11. Sun June: “John Prine”

Austin-based band Sun June are releasing a new album, Bad Dream Jaguar, on October 20 via Run for Cover. This week they shared two more new songs from it, “Easy Violence” and “John Prine,” both via music videos. “John Prine” was our favorite of the two and makes this list.

Sun June is Laura Colwell (vocals), Michael Bain (guitar), Justin Harris (bass), Sarah Schultz (drums), and Stephen Salisbury (guitar).

Of “John Prine” the band had this to say in a press release: “‘John Prine’ is about appreciating something for the first time after it’s already over, and struggling to let it go. It’s also a shout out to my father who loves to say, ‘I’m not asleep, I’m just resting my eyes.’ The song was recorded in North Carolina by Alli Rogers and features Justin Morris (Sluice, Fust) on pedal steel. When Dan Duszynski mixed it he morphed the pedal steel into something more haunting and more ghostly (and more sleepy). We wanted the video to capture the feeling of coming down after a long night or a short visit with someone you miss, the kind of daze that’s a mix of longing and appreciation. I am not a morning person, but I really wish I were.”

The band’s last full-length album was 2021’s Somewhere.

Read our interview with Colwell on Somewhere here. By Mark Redfern

12. Mutual Benefit: “Untying a Knot”

New York based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Mutual Benefit (aka Jordan Lee) is releasing a new album, Growing at the Edges, on October 6 via Transgressive. Yesterday he shared the album’s third single, “Untying a Knot,” via a music video. Kai Macknight directed the video.

Lee had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Untying a Knot’ was partially inspired by a tweet that said something like ‘normalize taking in new information and changing your perspective’ and got me thinking about how difficult it is to clearly look at your own system of beliefs and make substantive changes to cause less harm. While there is currently a lot of focus toward ‘self-growth,’ I wanted the song to instead reflect the process as an ongoing unlearning and untangling of myriad internal knots collected through time.”

Previously Mutual Benefit shared the album’s first two singles: “Little Ways” and “Wasteland Companions” (which was one of our Songs of the Week).

Growing at the Edges was co-produced with Gabriel Birnbaum and features violinist Concetta Abatte. Other collaborators include guitarist Jonnie Baker (Florist), vocalist Eva Goodman (Nighttime), bassist Nick Jost (Wilder Maker, Baroness), and drummer Sean Mullins (Wilder Maker, Sam Evian).

Mutual Benefit’s last studio album was 2018’s Thunder Follows the Heart. By Mark Redfern

13. Pip Blom: “Get Back”

Amsterdam’s Pip Blom are releasing a new album, Bobbie, on October 20 via Heavenly. On Wednesday they shared another song from it, “Get Back.”

Pip Blom are a band, but it’s also the name of the band’s frontwoman and main songwriter.

Blom had this to say about “Get Back” in a press release: “One of the things I am most happy with on this album is the vocal sound. My voice sounds warm and intimate, but also punchy and fierce at other times. During the recording of the vocals in the chorus, we laughed a lot because it turned out to be quite difficult to say ‘Get Back’ so many times in a row. I love how ‘Get Back’ is both a rock song but still sounds very produced. A recurring phenomenon on Bobbie is the vocals with a lot of autotune, which can also be heard in the bridge of this song. ‘Get Back’ may be one of the loudest songs on the album, yet Claudius managed to give it an even bigger lift in volume and intensity in the last chorus. Hats off!”

Pip Blom previously released the Bobbie song “Is This Love?,” which featured Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand was listed as one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared the album’s “Kiss Me By the Candlelight,” as well as “Tiger.” By Mark Redfern

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 13.

Vince Clarke: “The Lamentations of Jeremiah”

Du Blonde and Samuel T. Herring: “Pelican Canyon”

Geese: “Jesse”

Glasser: “Easy”

Hotline TNT: “I Thought You’d Change”

ME REX: “Giant Giant Giant”

Sen Morimoto: “Bad State”

NZCA LINES: “Universal Heartbreak”

Olivia Rodrigo: “get him back!”

The Rolling Stones: “Angry”

SUDS: “Hard For Me”

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

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