14 Best Songs of the Week: Nilüfer Yanya, Moses Sumney, Cassandra Jenkins, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, July 21st, 2024  

14 Best Songs of the Week: Nilüfer Yanya, Moses Sumney, Cassandra Jenkins, and More

Plus IAN SWEET and Porridge Radio, Soccer Mommy, Confidence Man, Cola, and a Wrap-up of the Last Two Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Jun 14, 2024 Bookmark and Share


Welcome to the 19th Songs of the Week of 2024. We didn’t do a Songs of the Week last week for various reasons, so this list covers the best songs released in the last two weeks. This week Andy Von Pip, Caleb Campbell, Scott Dransfield, and Stephen Humphries helped me decide what should make the list. We seriously considered over 40 songs this week and narrowed it down to a Top 14.

Recently we announced our new print issue, The ’90s Issue, featuring The Cardigans and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth on the covers. Buy it from us directly here.

In the past few weeks we posted interviews with Tomer Capone of The Boys, Arab Strap, Sarah McLachlan, John Carpenter, and others.

In the last week we reviewed some albums.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last two weeks, we have picked the 11 best the last 14 days had to offer, followed by some honorable mentions. Check out the full list below.

1. Nilüfer Yanya: “Method Actor”

This week, Nilüfer Yanya announced a new album, My Method Actor, and shared a new song from it, almost title track “Method Actor.” My Method Actor is due out September 13 via Ninja Tune. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as her upcoming tour dates, here.

My Method Actor is Yanya’s third album and follows her 2022 album, PAINLESS, and her 2019 debut album, Miss Universe, (both released on ATO).

Yanya worked on the album with her regular creative partner, Wilma Archer, in isolation. “This is the most intense album, in that respect,” Yanya says in a press release. “Because it’s only been us two. We didn’t let anyone else into the bubble.”

When writing this album, Yanya was grabbling with hitting her late 20s and dealing with the pressures of being an established musician. “For me, writing is definitely problem solving—in the way they say that dreaming is like problem solving,” she says. “You’re like, ‘Oh, that sounds good. That looks good. That makes sense.’ But you don’t really know why. You’re kind of using that part of your creative brain that doesn’t have to make sense.”

Yanya had this to say about the new single “Method Actor” in a press release: “I was researching method acting—and from what I read, it’s based on finding this one memory in your life, a life-altering, life-changing memory. The reason why some people find method acting traumatic and maybe not safe mentally, is because you’re always going back to that moment. It can be good or bad but you’re always feeding off the energy, something that’s defined you—and that’s what helps you become the character. It’s a bit like being a musician. When you’re performing, you’re still trying to invoke the energy and emotion of when you first wrote it, in that moment. It definitely feels like you’re having to recreate or step into that headspace.”

The album features “Like I Say (I runaway),” a new song Yanya shared in April via a music video in which she is a runaway bride. Yanya’s sister, Molly Daniel, directed the video. “Like I Say (I runaway)” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

Yanya also announced some fall tour dates in North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe.

Read our in-depth interview with Yanya about PAINLESS here.

Read our rave review of the album here.

Yanya was also one of the artists on the cover of our 20th Anniversary print issue. By Mark Redfern

2. Moses Sumney: “Vintage”

Last week, Moses Sumney shared a new song, “Vintage,” via a self-directed music video. It’s the first taste of an upcoming new EP (its title and other details are still forthcoming).

Sumney had this to say in a press release: “‘Vintage’ is me sliding into the music I probably listen to most these days—progressive R&B. I crafted the video as a callback to the ’90s/2000s clips of my childhood, when men weren’t afraid to beg and plead. I am once again begging to join the pantheon of great yearners: K-Ci & Jojo, Omarion, Ray J, Jodeci, Jagged Edge. Desire has always been at the core of my work; now the desire has a little shimmering shimmy to it.”

On the video, Sumney worked with cinematographer Marcell Rév (Euphoria, Malcolm & Marie, Miley Cyrus’s “Flowers”) and Kodak, who provided them a “yet-to-be-released and never-before-used motion picture stock, which is similar to a beloved professional still photography film.”

In 2022, Sumney put out a live concert film, A Performance in V Acts. In 2021, Sumney released the live album, Blackalachia, via his own label, TUNTUM, as well as an accompanying film. His most recent studio album, græ, came out in 2020 via Jagjaguwar, and earned him a spot on the cover of one of our print issues.

Sumney has also been acting lately, and later this summer he’ll be in A24’s Ti West-directed MaXXXine, alongside Mia Goth, Halsey, Kevin Bacon, and others.

Read our 2017 interview with Moses Sumney on his debut album, Aromanticism. By Mark Redfern

3. Cassandra Jenkins: “Petco”

Cassandra Jenkins is releasing a new album, My Light, My Destroyer, on July 12 via Dead Oceans. Last week she shared its third single, “Petco,” via a self-directed music video.

Jenkins had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Petco’ is about looking for connection and coming up a little short. Writing from a pointedly angsty and existential place allowed me to be more playful with songwriting. I needed a space to explore the lizard brain, and deep down the song stems from the sincere belief that we are wired, on the most basic instinctual level, to love and to be loved.

“I wanted to capture the sense of uncanny malaise inherent to a place that puts a price tag on nature—simultaneously granting us access to the natural world while distancing us from it, all with the promise of companionship.

“I come back to the same ideas again and again in my songs, and Petco throws a new lens on a familiar thought: the further we distance ourselves from the natural world, the harder it is to find our way back. It’s easy to wonder if we’ve gone too far, and despite my anxieties, I can’t help but see the humanity in all of it.”

She had this to add about video: “The video is staged in three distinct locations: an NYC apartment with a window to the outside world, a pet store, and lastly, the dance floor—where the video provides a sense of closure that the song never gives us.”

Previously Jenkins shared the album’s first single, “Only One,” via a music video. It was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared its second single, “Delphinium Blue,” via a self-directed music video. “Delphinium Blue” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. She also announced some new North American tour dates.

My Light, My Destroyer follows Jenkins’ acclaimed 2021-released breakthrough album, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature, and its companion album, An Overview on (An Overview on Phenomenal Nature), released later in 2021. Both were released via Ba Da Bing.

In a press release announcing the new album, Jenkins says that An Overview on Phenomenal Nature was her “intended swan song,” that she was going to give up touring and releasing new music, but then was taken aback by the positive reception to that album and the attention it garnered her.

“I was channeling what I knew in that moment—feeling lost,” Jenkins says. “When that record came out, and people started to respond to what I had written, my plans to quit were foiled in the most unexpected, heartening, and generous way. Ready or not, it reinvigorated me.”

But when it came time to record a follow-up album, Jenkins initially had difficulty recreating the magic in the studio, saying that after two years of touring she was “running on fumes.”

“I was coming from a place of burn out and depletion, and in the months following the session, I struggled to accept that I didn’t like the record I had just made. It felt uninspired,” she explains, “so I started over.”

She abandoned the original sessions for the new album and with the help of producer, engineer, and mixer Andrew Lappin (L’Rain, Slauson Malone 1), Jenkins began My Light, My Destroyer anew.

“When we listened back in the control room that first day, I could see a space on my record shelf start to open up, because the songs were finding their home in real time,” she says on the second attempt to record the album. “That spark informed the blueprint for the rest of the album, and its completion was propelled by a newfound momentum.”

The press release mentions Tom Petty, Annie Lennox, Neil Young, David Bowie’s final album Blackstar, David Berman, and albums in her “high school CD wallet” (Radiohead’s The Bends, The Breeders, PJ Harvey, and Pavement) as influences on My Light, My Destroyer. And the album also features a large number of collaborators, including: Palehound’s El Kempner, Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy, Isaac Eiger (formerly of Strange Ranger), Katie Von Schleicher, Zoë Brecher (Hushpuppy), Daniel McDowell (Amen Dunes), producer and instrumentalist Josh Kaufman (of Jenkins’ An Overview), producer Stephanie Marziano (Hayley Williams, Bartees Strange), and director/actor/journalist Hailey Benton Gates.

Returning home to New York City after being on the road for so long also inspired the album.

“I feel most energized when I’m out in the world, in the mix of things,” Jenkins says. “Coming back home to New York, being with my close friends and community, riding the subway, and going to live shows made me want to channel the palpable feeling of the electricity in a room full of people—I need to be fully immersed in my environment. New York City is endlessly stimulating, and I’m very impressionable.”

Of My Light, My Destroyer’s album title, Jenkins explains: “Awe is a function of nature that keeps us from losing connection. Staying in touch with awe, that light, is the best antidote to fear, and the powers that try to control us with fear. So in that sense, staying in touch with awe is to keep my light intact, and that is my greatest tool for destroying and dismantling the parts of myself and the world around me that have the potential to cause harm. Frankly, this is what keeps me from quitting—it serves as a reminder to pause and appreciate my time on earth, for all its chaos and its beauty.”

Jenkins was one of the artists who took part in our 20th anniversary Covers of Covers album, where she covered Animal Collective’s “It’s You.”

Read our 2021 interview with Jenkins, where she discusses An Overview on Phenomenal Nature. By Mark Redfern

4. IAN SWEET and Porridge Radio: “Everyone’s a Superstar”

Last week, IAN SWEET (the project of Jilian Medford) and England’s Porridge Radio (the band led by Dana Margolin) collaborated on new track, “Everyone’s a Superstar.” The song was recorded at London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios as part of their annual Amplify x Pitchfork London series.

The series takes artists playing at the Pitchfork London music festival to Abbey Road to write and record a song with their engineers in a day’s time. Interviews on the process are conducted alongside film documentation that can be found below as well.

Medford had this to say in a press release: “We all went into this day with no expectations but also wide eyes and a lot of excitement! To be at Abbey Road was a dream, and to be reunited with Porridge Radio was also a dream, so it was so fun to see our old friends again in a totally new context and to make something special together. We all clicked in a really magical way right off the bat. Everyone sort of took their places and fit in where they had to. We came out of it with something I feel so proud of, and something I never knew would exist. Writing with Dana and seeing her process as a lyricist was really enlightening as well. It had been a long time since I’d written lyrics with someone else…I was excited to see where her mind went and how our two styles found one unique voice together.”

Porridge Radio collectively had this to add: “It was amazing to come into a room of seven musicians with absolutely no idea what was going to happen and lock-in together to write and record a song that we actually all love in one day. Creatively it was so exciting and such a fun process and we’re so proud of what we made.” By Marina Malin

5. Soccer Mommy: “Lost”

Last week, Soccer Mommy (aka Sophie Allison) shared a new song, “Lost,” via a lyric video. She is currently on the sold-out “The Lost Shows” tour, where Allison performs stripped-back and solo. She also has some UK and EU shows this summer. Check out her upcoming tour dates here.

“‘Lost’ feels like something new and something old at the same time,” Allison says of the song in a press release. “It’s a song that’s full of reflection and I wanted its production to really capture that feeling. I’m happy to have a chance to play it at these more intimate solo shows, because I think it really shines in that setting.”

Soccer Mommy’s most recent album, Sometimes, Forever, came out in 2022 via Loma Vista. Last year she teamed up with Bully (aka Alicia Bognanno) for the new song, “Lose You,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. By Mark Redfern

6. Confidence Man: “I CAN’T LOSE YOU”

Last week, London-based Australian electro-pop band Confidence Man announced their new album, 3 AM (LA LA LA), and shared its first single, “I CAN’T LOSE YOU,” via a music video. 3 AM (LA LA LA) is due out October 18 via Casablanca. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.

3 AM (LA LA LA) is the band’s third album, the follow-up to 2022’s Tilt. Since 2023, Confidence Man have released “On & On (Again),” co-produced with Daniel Avery, “Now U Do” with DJ Seinfeld, “Forever 2 (Crush Mix),” and the remix album Confidence Man Club Classics Vol. 1.

The band is fronted by Sugar Bones (aka Aidan Moore) and Janet Planet (aka Grace Stephenson). They are backed by masked producers Clarence McGuffie (aka Sam Hales) and Reggie Goodchild (aka Lewis Stephenson). The crazy video for “I CAN’T LOSE YOU” features Sugar Bones and Janet Planet singing the song nude (with the inappropriate bits pixelated out) in a helicopter above London.

In a press release, Sugar Bones says of the album’s title: “It’s 3am, it’s never not 3am, and we party all the time.”

Janet Planet adds: “We pretty much wrote every single song when we were wrecked. We’d get blasted and stay up till 9am coming up with music, but we noticed that 3am was the hottest time for when we were on it and the best ideas were coming out.” By Marina Malin

7. Cola: “Pulling Quotes”

Cola released their sophomore album, The Gloss, today via Fire Talk. Last week they shared another new song from it, “Pulling Quotes,” via a music video.

Cola consists of ex-Ought members Tim Darcy and Ben Stidworthy and Evan Cartwright (drummer with U.S. Girls and The Weather Station). Their debut album, Deep In View, was released in 2022.

Darcy had this to say about “Pulling Quotes” in a press release: “Ben sent us this demo with music based on the melodic limitations of the Uilleann pipes, which he is learning to play (the bassline is mimicking the drone of the pipes). He and Evan then recorded a demo together that they were really happy with. I’ll admit I wasn’t drawn to it initially but they kept reiterating their enthusiasm for it. I finally sat down and wrote the whole vocal in one afternoon, pretty nearly in final form which rarely happens.

“Lyrically, it’s a song about a relationship where two people are approaching each other like journalists, or perhaps even are journalists. The music is so bright and open I felt the lyrics needed to be a bit cheeky to match the tone. There is definitely some pathos, though, in the darkness of the bridge.”

Stidworthy had this to say about the song’s video: “For me, the video could be seen as a reflection on the cycles of desire and deception in our relationships, and the interference running through that arc - the endless doom scrolling and stalking and assumptions and projections and repeating all these roles we think we should be playing that we’ve seen on TV. It’s about navigating through all this mediation, and trying to make sense of what’s real in the density and mess of it all.”

The Gloss includes “Bitter Melon,” a new song Cola shared in March via a lyric video. The single was also available as a flexi disc (accompanied by a zine) and was one of our Songs of the Week. The album also features the band’s 2023 single “Keys Down If You Stay.” When The Gloss was announced Cola shared another new song from it, “Pallor Tricks,” via a music video. Then they shared another new song from it, “Albatross,” via a music video. By Mark Redfern

8. illuminati hotties: “Didn’t” (Feat. Cavetown)

The project of producer and engineer Sarah Tudzin, illuminati hotties announced a new album, POWER, last week and shared a new song from it, “Didn’t.” The song features Cavetown and is accompanied by a video. POWER is due out August 23 via Hopeless. Check out the album’s tracklist and album art, as well as some upcoming tour dates, here.

POWER includes the recent single “Can’t Be Still,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. The new album follows “Sandwich Sharer,” a new song Tudzin shared in 2022, and her 2021 album, Let Me Do One More, which was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2021.

Since her latest album release, Tudzin has produced and engineered records from boygenius, Weyes Blood, Speedy Ortiz, Cloud Nothings, and more.

Read our 2021 interview with illuminati hotties. By Marina Malin

9. This Is Lorelei: “Perfect Hand”

This week, This Is Lorelei, the solo project of Nate Amos of Water From Your Eyes, shared a new song, “Perfect Hand.” It was the final single from his debut album, Box for Buddy, Box for Star, before its release today on Double Double Whammy. This Is Lorelei has also announced some tour dates with Dehd. Find the fall tour dates here.

“Perfect Hand” follows the release of “I’m All Fucked Up,” “Dancing in the Club,” and “Where’s Your Love Now” from Box for Buddy, Box for Star.

Amos has this to say about the single in a press release: “‘Perfect Hand’ is about clarity in the muck—you’ve been headed in a direction so long you don’t know why anymore, and suddenly there’s a moment when you remember and it brings you peace of some kind, like waking up in a good way.” By Marina Malin

10. Fat Dog: “I am the King”

South London five-piece Fat Dog are releasing their debut album, WOOF., on September 6 via Domino. Last week shared its latest single, “I am the King,” via a music video.

Joe Love fronts Fat Dog and the band also features Chris Hughes (keyboards/synths), Ben Harris (bass), Johnny Hutchinson (drums) and Morgan Wallace (keyboards/saxophone).

“It was written in the toilets of the Wetherspoons pub in Forest Hill,” says Love about the song in a press release.

When the album was announced, the band shared its lead single “Running,” via a music video. “Running” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Love produced the album with James Ford and Jimmy Robertson. Influences mentioned in the press release include: Bicep, I.R.O.K, Kamasi Washington, and the Russian experimental EDM group Little Big. WOOF. includes the band’s previously released first two singles, “King of the Slugs” and “All the Same.”

“A lot of music at the moment is very cerebral and people won’t dance to it,” says Hughes. “Our music is the polar opposite of thinking music.” By Mark Redfern

11. Cults: “Left My Keys”

Last week, Cults (the duo of Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion) announced a new album, To the Ghosts, and shared a new song from it, “Left My Keys.” To the Ghosts is due out July 26 via Imperial. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the band’s upcoming tour dates, here.

To the Ghosts is Cults’ fifth full-length album and follows Host, which came out in 2020. The new album includes “Crybaby,” a new song the band shared in April that was one of our Songs of the Week.

Cults started work on the album during the pandemic, which was written and recorded in Oblivion’s apartment, before the band worked with Shane Stoneback, who co-produced the album with Cults. John Congleton mixed To the Ghosts.

Follin had this to say about “Left My Keys” in a press release: “It’s about growing up and feeling like you’re being left behind. You think you’re missing out on things and not accomplishing enough. You get a little bit older and realize you don’t care anymore. All those things you were worried about don’t matter. You become comfortable where you are. It’s freeing to let go of the feeling that you need to be a part of something.”

Oblivion adds: “It’s a bright spot. With this being To the Ghosts, ‘Left My Keys’ is dedicated to the ghost of your high school memories with an element of fondness.”

Read our interview with Cults on Host here.

In 2022 they released the companion EP, Host B-Sides & Remixes.

Cults were featured on our Covers of Covers album, which was released for our 20th anniversary and is out now via American Laundromat. By Mark Redfern

12. Heartworms: “Jacked”

UK musician Jojo Orme, under the moniker Heartworms, returned this week with a blistering new single, “Jacked.” Her first release since last year’s “May I Comply,” this track delves into a haunting darkness, described by Orme as “an entity you’re running from, yet it’s you who holds it.” Produced by Dan Carey, “Jacked” melds propulsive gothic rhythms with sharp, intense lyrics.

The accompanying music video, directed by Gilbert Trejo, further amplifies the song’s unsettling energy through a visually arresting and surreal aesthetic. Trejo explains, “‘Jacked’ is the soundtrack to a paranoid fever dream. The song’s relentless movement and energy demanded a visual translation. We wanted to portray Heartworms in flight, yet utterly isolated, so I scratched out everyone else’s faces from the film emulsion with a safety pin. It evokes a feeling of loneliness and the unknown—frightening, yet darkly humorous.” By Andy Von Pip

13. SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE: “LET THE VIRGIN DRIVE”

This week, SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE announced their new album, YOU’LL HAVE TO LOSE SOMETHING, due August 23 on Saddle Creek. This week they shared a video for the album’s first single, “LET THE VIRGIN DRIVE.” Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, plus their tour dates, here.

Zach Schawrtz of SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE had this to say about the single’s theme: “It’s about unrequited love and making up a situation or whole life in your head. The other person finally ‘sees you’ and your ‘problems are solved,’ but they aren’t, really.”

Brennan had this to say about the video: A video about trying to cure your loneliness through material means, courage, impulsivity, and chopping your finger off after cutting an avocado.”

Available exclusively from Saddle Creek, 500 copies of four vinyl variants will be available on the street date. By Marina Malin

14. Hamish Hawk: “Nancy Dearest”

Scottish musician Hamish Hawk is releasing a new album, A Firmer Hand, on August 16 via Fierce Panda. This week he shared its second single, “Nancy Dearest,” via a music video.

Hawk had this to say about the song in a press release: “Many of the songs on A Firmer Hand are marked by the presence of another: a lover, an authority figure, an enemy, or a confidante. ‘Nancy Dearest’ is defined instead by an absence. On the one hand, it’s a bitterly defiant song, an ego trip, a narcissistic flight of fancy. On the other, it’s a song about sheer loneliness, isolation, and ultimate loss. Either way, it’s a cry for help.

“We all tell ourselves stories about who we are and who we are not. On occasion something will cause our visions of ourselves to short-circuit. In ‘Nancy Dearest,’ our hero is spiralling. ‘I’ve seen the well of emptiness and I have had my fill’... Tell me about it, stud.”

Previously Hawk shared the album’s first single, “Big Cat Tattoos,” via a music video. It was one of our Songs of the Week.

A Firmer Hand is the follow-up to 2023’s Angel Numbers.

Hawk had this to say about the album: “Writing this album, I opened up my closet, and a skeleton came out. The thing that links all of the songs is a sense of the unsaid, whether out of guilt, shame, repression, embarrassment, coyness, whatever it might have been. I realized: I am going to say these things, and not all of them are going to make me look good. The album made so many demands, and I just gave myself over to it.

“Once I’d given myself over to the idea, I thought, I have to stick to this. I can’t hide anything from it. I can’t clean it all up for consumption. It felt uncomfortable for me – and that’s exactly how it should feel. That’s a really strong position.”

Read our 2022 interview with Hamish Hawk.

Read our review of Angel Numbers.

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 14.

ANOHNI and the Johnsons: “Breaking”

Avey Tare: “Vampire Tongues” (Feat. Panda Bear)

Caribou: “Broke My Heart”

Cursive: “Up and Away”

Font: “Natalie’s Song”

Goat Girl: “words fell out”

GUM / Ambrose Kenny-Smith: “Dud”

>

HEALTH and Lauren Mayberry: “ASHAMED”

Jamie xx: “Treat Eachother Right”

Joan As Police Woman: “Long For Ruin”

Los Bitchos: “Don’t Change”

Maxim Ludwig: “Mercury Avenue” (Feat. Angel Olsen)

Mercury Rev: “Patterns”

OK Cowgirl: “Forever”

Pale Waves: “Perfume”

>

Picture Parlour: “Face in the Picture”

Storefront Church: “Tapping on the Glass”

The The: “Cognitive Dissident”

Hayden Thorpe: “They”

Toro y Moi: “Tuesday”

Wings of Desire: “OUTTAMYMIND”

Wishy: “Triple Seven”

Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 14 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:

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