15 Best Songs of the Week: The Beths, Naima Bock, Bartees Strange, Julia Jacklin, and More | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, August 18th, 2022  

15 Best Songs of the Week: The Beths, Naima Bock, Bartees Strange, Julia Jacklin, and More

Plus Jockstrap, Dry Cleaning, Marlon Williams, Whitney, Preoccupations, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Jun 17, 2022
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Welcome to the 24th Songs of the Week of 2022. This week’s list features several artists from Down Under, with some great tracks from artists from both Australia and New Zealand. There were too many fantastic songs this week, so we have a super-sized Top 15 main list and lots of strong honorable mentions too.

In the last week we posted interviews with Jonathan Higgs of Everything Everything, Roddy Woomble of Idlewild, L-E, and actor John Lithgow.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums.

Covers of Covers, our first album, came out at the beginning of March on CD and digitally via American Laundromat. You can stream it here. You can also buy it directly from American Laundromat, via Bandcamp, or on Amazon.

Don’t forget to pick up our new double print issue, our 20th Anniversary Issue (which is out now).

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 15 best the last week had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared in the last seven days. Check out the full list below.

1. The Beths: “Silence is Golden”

On Monday, New Zealand four-piece The Beths announced the release of a new album, Expert in a Dying Field, which will be out on September 16 via Carpark. They also shared a video for the album’s lead single, “Silence is Golden.” View the album’s tracklist/cover art and a full list of the band’s upcoming tour dates here.

In a press release, lead singer Elizabeth Stokes states that “Silence is Golden” is “about stress and anxiety manifesting as an intolerance to noise. Where each new sound makes you more and more stressed.”

The Beths’ previous album, Jump Rope Gazers, came out in 2020 via Carpark. Read our My Firsts interview with the band. By Joey Arnone

2. Naima Bock: “Campervan”

On Monday, London-based artist Naima Bock shared a video for her new single, “Campervan.” It is the latest release from her forthcoming debut album, Giant Palm, which will be out on July 1 via Sub Pop/Memorials of Distinction. Vocally speaking, the song is reminiscent of fellow Londoners Girl Ray.

In a press release, Bock states: “‘Campervan’ is another collaboration between myself and producer Joel Burton. This is a song about the falling apart of a relationship and the bleak impact that it seems to have on us as humans and the renewal that it can provide afterwards. We thought it would be fun to approach the song from a more tongue-in-cheek perspective; Joel’s arrangements draw on western cowboy nostalgia as well as orchestral influences such as ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ by Joaquin Rodrigo and ‘Pure Imagination’ from the 1971 Willy Wonka film. The process of writing the song was a joyful and creative one, turning something depressing into something that doesn’t take itself too seriously whilst preserving the poignancy and melodrama of heartache.”

In November, Bock shared the album single “30 Degrees.” By Joey Arnone

3. Bartees Strange: “Wretched”

On Tuesday, Bartees Strange shared a video for his new single “Wretched.” It is the latest release from his new album Farm to Table, which came out today via 4AD.

In a press release, Strange states: “This song is about the people who’ve always stood by me, even when I was wretched. When I was trying to be something other than myself—they saw me even through that and held me down. Folks from past lives, and folks who’ll play a big part in my future—I’m grateful for them and the love they’ve poured into me. This song is for and about them.”

Read our review of the album here.

Farm to Table includes “Heavy Heart,” a song he shared in March via a music video when he announced his signing to 4AD. “Heavy Heart” was one of our Songs of the Week. When the album was announced in April, he shared its second single, “Cosigns,” via a video for the song (which was also one of our Songs of the Week). He later shared the album track “Hold the Line,” also one of our Songs of the Week.

Strange’s previous album, Live Forever, came out in 2020 via Memory Music. Read our interview with Strange on the album. By Joey Arnone

4. Julia Jacklin: “I Was Neon”

Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin is releasing a new album, PRE PLEASURE, on August 26 via Polyvinyl. On Tuesday, she shared its second single, “I Was Neon,” via a self-directed video for the song. View her upcoming tour dates here.

“I first wrote ‘I Was Neon’ for a band called rattlesnack, a short-lived much loved 2019 side project that I played drums in,” Jacklin says in a press release. “I rewrote it for my album in Montreal, during a time when I was desperately longing for a version of myself that I feared was gone forever. I was thinking of this song when I made the album cover, this song is the album cover really.”

Previously Jacklin shared PRE PLEASURE’s first single, “Lydia Wears a Cross,” via a self-directed video for it. “Lydia Wears a Cross” was one of our Songs of the Week.

PRE PLEASURE is Jacklin’s third album and the follow-up to 2019’s acclaimed Crushing and 2016’s Don’t Let the Kids Win. The album was written after the end of the world tour for Crushing and was concluded with several months of recording in Montreal with co-producer Marcus Paquin. “The songs on this record took either three years to write or three minutes,” Jacklin said in a previous press release announcing the album.

Members of Jacklin’s tour band—bassist Ben Whiteley and guitarist Will Kidman, who are both based in Canada and also in The Weather Station—played on PRE PLEASURE, as do drummer Laurie Torres and saxophonist Adam Kinner. Owen Pallett (Arcade Fire) provided the string arrangements, which were recorded by a full orchestra in Prague.

“Making a record to me has always just been about the experience, a new experience in a new place with a new person at the desk, taking the plunge and just seeing what happens,” said Jacklin. “For the first time I stepped away from the guitar, and wrote a lot of the album on the Roland keyboard in my apartment in Montreal with its inbuilt band tracks. I blu-tacked reams of butcher paper to the walls, covered in lyrics and ideas, praying to the music gods that my brain would arrange everything in time.”

Seemingly referencing the album’s title, PRE PLEASURE, Jacklin said: “A lot of the time I feel like I need to do all the work before I can enjoy my life. Whether that’s work on songs or sex, friendships, or my relationship with my family – I think if I work on them long and hard enough, eventually I’ll get to sit around and really enjoy them. But that’s not how anything works is it. It’s all an ongoing process.”

Following her huge Crushing tour, Jacklin spent some time reconnecting with music and finding her way back to the joy of listening. “Once music becomes your job, you can lose the purity of music fandom,” she explained. “I spent the last two years trying to reconnect with that. I didn’t play much, I just listened. Especially to a lot of big pop music like Céline Dion, Robyn and Luther Vandross—music that wasn’t so heavy, big feelings, big production. You lose sight of what putting on a big, beautiful song can do.”

Céline Dion was particularly important, with the Canadian singer’s 1996 hit “Because You Loved Me” being a favorite of Jacklin’s dad. She says that revisiting the song in 2020, “brought back a lot of nice, uncomplicated feelings about music. Pure joy and feeling. And as someone relatively introverted and trying to be cool, Céline was a good person for me to lock onto during this period, because she’s definitely not that. She’s dramatic as hell and incredibly cheesy. I think listening to her helped me get over myself.” If you look closely in the “Lydia Wears a Cross” video, Céline Dion is the background photo on Jacklin’s phone.

Of the themes on the new album, Jacklin said: “I care so much about the people around me, so much it makes me want to sleep forever, it feels so overwhelming. I wasn’t raised in an environment where language was used to express love and care, part of my songwriting process is me trying to rectify that, force myself to put words to those feelings”

Read our interview with Julia Jacklin on Crushing. By Mark Redfern

5. Jockstrap: “Glasgow”

On Tuesday, London-based duo Jockstrap (Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye) announced the release of their debut album, I Love You Jennifer B, which will be out on September 9 via Rough Trade. They also shared a video for a new album single, “Glasgow” in addition to announcing a North American tour in support of the album. View the album’s tracklist/cover art and full list of tour dates here.

In a press release, the band state: “I Love You Jennifer B is a collection of Jockstrap tracks that have been three years in the making. Everything on it is pretty singular sounding so we hope there is a track on there for everyone and something that speaks to you and says ‘I’m a banger.’”

They add, regarding the new single: “‘Glasgow’ is our coming of age, moving forward, long-distance, traveling, beautiful bosk, wonderful thicket song. Glasgow is a great city, perhaps my favorite in the U.K. Only downside is that it’s so damn cold all the time.”

Last November, the duo shared the album track “50/50.” They later shared the album track “Concrete Over Water,” which was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Their most recent music project was the EP Beavercore, which came out in 2020 via Warp. By Joey Arnone

6. Dry Cleaning: “Don’t Press Me”

On Tuesday, London-based post-punk band Dry Cleaning announced a new album, Stumpwork, and shared a new song, “Don’t Press Me,” via an animated video. Stumpwork is due out October 21 via 4AD. View the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as the band’s upcoming tour dates, here.

Stumpwork is the band’s sophomore album and the quick follow-up to their 2021-released debut album, New Long Leg (which was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2021). Peter Millard directed and animated the video for “Don’t Press Me.”

Vocalist Florence Shaw had this to say about the new song in a press release: “The words in the chorus came about because I was trying to write a song to sing to my own brain, ‘You are always fighting me/You are always stressing me out.’”

Dry Cleaning also features Nick Buxton (drums), Tom Dowse (guitar), and Lewis Maynard (bass). The band recorded the album in rural Wales, once again working with New Long Leg producer John Parish, along with engineer Joe Jones.

A press release describes Stumpwork in more detail: “The new album was inspired by a plethora of events, concepts and political debacles, be they represented in the icy mess of ambient elements reflecting a certain existential despair, or the surprising warmth in celebrating the lives of loved ones lost through the previous year. Surrealist lyrics are as ever at the forefront—but there is a sensitivity now to the themes of family, money, politics, self-deprecation and sensuality. Furious indie-pop anthems combine across the record with psych and prog influences, demonstrating the wealth of influences the band feed off and their deep musicality.”

Read our review of New Long Leg here.

Read our interview with Dry Cleaning on New Long Leg here.

In 2019, we interviewed them after the release of their two EPs Sweet Princess and Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks. You can check it out here. By Mark Redfern

7. Marlon Williams: “Thinking of Nina”

On Wednesday, New Zealand singer/songwriter/guitarist Marlon Williams announced a new album, My Boy, and shared a new song from it, “Thinking of Nina,” a song inspired by the Cold War spy drama The Americans. It was shared via a film noir-esque video. My Boy is due out September 9 via Dead Oceans. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as Williams’ upcoming tour dates, here.

In May Williams shared the album’s title track (also its opening track), “My Boy,” via an amusing video. “My Boy” was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Williams had this to say about “Thinking of Nina” in a press release: “This is a song about the dangers of wearing different faces in different places, of waging wars on multiple fronts; of having so many selves as to not be a self at all. Also at play is the dark phenomenon of White Knight Syndrome; the desire to simplify, infantilise, protect and ultimately commodify an object of desire. The video, imagined and concocted by the exciting duo who make up Sports Team and myself draws on the silliest stylings of the ’80s New Wave a la Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’ and Duran Duran’s ‘A View to a Kill.’”

Directors Sports Team had this to add: “We shot the bulk of it in one day, with Marlon going full Bogart, smoking a heroic amount of cigarettes for the part. Special mention must go to Alice May Connolly in the role of Nina, who transcended her small screen time to convince us this fictional ’60s spy show may exist? Or else it needs to.”

If “Thinking of Nina” is inspired by The Americans, the Emmy-winning drama about KGB agents posing as an American family in the 1980s that aired on FX from 2013 to 2018, then the song’s title could be referring to supporting character Nina Sergeevna Krilova (a KGB agent played by Annet Mahendru).

Williams opted not to record My Boy with his long-time backing band The Yarra Benders. Instead he demoed half the album with Mark ‘Merk’ Perkins. Then he worked with producer Tom Healy (Tiny Ruins, The Chills) at Neil Finn’s Roundhead studios in Auckland in late 2020. There he worked with LA-based drummer Paul Taylor (Feist), bassist Cass Basil (Ladyhawke, Tiny Ruins), and Healy on guitars and synths. There were also appearances from Delaney Davidson and Elroy Finn (on drums and percussion). Dave Kahn is the only member of The Yarra Benders to play on the album.

“Having new personalities in the room allowed me to escape myself,” says Williams. “When everyone’s still working out each other’s roles, there’s an unsettling and exciting tendency to go off in different directions…. It happened naturally. I was listening to more steely, New Romantic stuff, like Duran Duran, John Grant, Perfume Genius, the Bee Gees. All those things fed into the machine.”

Of the themes on My Boy, Williams says: “There’s a lot of male shapes on the record. Growing up an only child, I had to outsource my brothers and build a world around me. So while masculinity is a big theme, it’s really subsumed by broader explorations of vitality, and the social and cultural value placed on legacy.”

Williams’ last full-length was his sophomore album, Make Way For Love, released back in February 2018 via Dead Oceans. In 2019 he released his first official live album, Live at Auckland Town Hall.

Williams has also been acting of late, appearing in the Netflix DC Comics TV adaptation Sweet Tooth, as well as acting in the films The True History of the Kelly Gang, Lone Wolf, and The Beautiful Lie. Williams also appeared in the hit Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga musical romance A Star Is Born, playing himself as a younger star tapped to lead a Roy Orbison tribute at the Grammys instead of Cooper’s somewhat aging rocker Jackson Maine.

“I’ve always explored different character elements in my music,” says Williams. “And I think the more I get into acting, the more tricks I’m learning about representation and presentation. I’m trying to make my worlds feed into each other as much as possible. To get braver and bolder with exploring shifting contexts and new ways of doing things.”

Read our 2017 interview with Marlon Williams on Make Way For Love.

Read our 2016 interview with Marlon Williams. By Mark Redfern

8. Whitney: “REAL LOVE”

On Thursday, Chicago duo Whitney (Julien Ehlrich and Max Kakacek) announced the release of a new album, SPARK, which will be out on September 16 via Secretly Canadian. They also shared a video for the album’s lead single, “REAL LOVE,” in addition to announcing a tour in support of the album. View the album’s cover art/tracklist and full list of tour dates here.

The duo speak about the new album in a press release: “We had time to just sit and watch the body of work grow in real time. We were just stacking stronger and stronger songs on top of each other. Our favorite way to make records, the way we made the first one.”

Ehlrich adds regarding the new single: “Max and I wrote ‘REAL LOVE’ in June 2021 right after a cross country move back to Chicago. I was experiencing heightened levels of anxiety and panic, while the entire city was re-emerging from isolation. I’ve been running away from and self medicating my anxiety for as long as I can remember, but for whatever reason, it felt like it was time to dive straight into it. During late night sessions over a two week period, we captured the embrace of anxiety and fear in a way that resonated with us immediately. We spent the next few summer nights driving on Ashland with the windows down and the song turned up. It felt like an emotional and musical burst of light and we’re so grateful to finally be sharing that with people.”

SPARK features production from Brad Cook and John Congleton. Whitney’s previous album, Forever Turned Around, came out in 2019.

Read our My Favorite Album interview with the band. By Joey Arnone

9. Preoccupations: “Ricochet”

On Tuesday, Preoccupations announced a new album, Arrangements, and shared its first single, “Ricochet.” The band has also announced some fall tour dates. Arrangements is due out September 9. In Canada Flemish Eye will be putting Arrangements out and the band will self-release it in America and the rest of the world. View the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as the tour dates, here.

“The lyrics are pretty conspicuous and self explanatory on this one, but it’s basically about the world blowing up and no one giving a shit,” says vocalist/songwriter Matthew Flegal in a press release, in regards to “Ricochet.”

Arrangements is the band’s fourth album (and their third under the name Preoccupations). It follows 2018’s amusingly titled New Material. Flegal, guitarist Danny Christiansen, and guitarist/keyboardist Scott Munro convened in 2019 at Munro’s Studio St. Zo in Montreal to start work on the album. Then drummer Mike Wallace joined in. COVID-19 derailed continued in-person work on the album, so the band finished the album remotely, with Munro recording at a makeshift studio he set up at his parents’ house. Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck) mixed Arrangements, and Mikey Young (Total Control) mastered it.

Read our 2016 interview with Preoccupations.

Read our 2018 interview with Preoccupations on New Material. By Mark Redfern

10. Lambchop: “Police Dog Blues”

Yesterday, Lambchop (the project of Kurt Wagner) announced the release of a new album, The Bible, which will be out on September 30 via Merge. They also shared a video for the album’s lead single, “Police Dog Blues.”

Director Isaac Gale states in a press release: “White privilege and apathy in the face of disastrous reality. I don’t think it’s stretching it to compare the police in Minneapolis—where myself and the producers of the record, Ryan Olson and Andrew Broder, all live—to a human-made catastrophic disaster.

“We took the police dog from the song title literally and imagined a city, post cop-apocalypse, overrun by German Shepherds just kinda doing their thing. The process of directing this video for me was similar to watching a friend playing video games and chiming in with ideas that might help get them where they need to go. We needed to produce this in a virtual reality as opposed to live-action to achieve the most grotesque imagery possible from these ideas. Using 3D models and software made it possible to visualize the cold, horrible, detached-from-reality feeling that we wanted from the empty city and suburbs. Joe Midthun used Unreal Engine and Visions of Chaos to set up events like dogs just hanging around or a tidal wave of police flowing into a suburb, and we’d hope for happy accidents from the AI.”

Wagner adds, regarding the song: “During the unrest surrounding the horrific injustice in Minneapolis in 2020, I had been re-listening to a song by Blind Blake, ‘Police Dog Blues.’ Of note, it was originally recorded in 1929, the year my father was born, and it seems John Peel played it on his show on Sept. 11, 1968. It was deceptively upbeat musically and not what I remembered at all. Then I remembered a police dog is a Shepherd.”

Lambchop’s previous studio album, Showtunes, came out last year via Merge. By Joey Arnone

11. Sun’s Signature: “Apples”

Sun’s Signature, a new project from Elizabeth Fraser (formerly of Cocteau Twins) and her partner Damon Reece, are releasing their self-titled debut EP this Saturday via Partisan. On Wednesday, they shared its third single, the seven-and-a-half-minute long “Apples.”

Previously they its shared its first single, “Golden Air,” which was also Fraser’s first original music in 13 years. “Golden Air” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its second single, “Underwater,” via a lyric video. The song was originally released in 2000 as a limited-edition single but we still added it to our Songs of the Week list.

The EP was unofficially announced in February and is due out on Record Store Day, with a digital release to follow sometime in July. The EP features Fraser’s 2000 limited-edition single “Underwater” as well as two songs that she performed at the 2012 Meltdown Festival, “Golden Air” and “Make Lovely the Day.”

In 2016, Fraser and Reece composed the score for the British TV series The Nightmare Worlds of H.G. Wells. Fraser’s most recent solo release was the 2009 single “Moses.” In 2020, she was featured on the Jónsi song “Cannibal,” which was one of our Songs of the Week.

Reece has been the longtime drummer in Massive Attack, who Fraser has also collaborated with. He was previously a member of Spiritualized and Lupine Howl (an offshoot of Spiritualized), as well as Echo and the Bunnymen. He also recorded and performed with Baxter Dury, Goldfrapp, The Flies, Butch Vig’s 5 Billion in Diamond, and more.

The songs on Sun’s Signature have been in the works for over two decades, since the breakup of Cocteau Twins in 1997. By Mark Redfern

12. Fresh Pepper: “Seahorse Tranquilizer” (Feat. Destroyer)

On Wednesday, Toronto group Fresh Pepper, led by Andre Ethier and Joseph Shabason, shared a new single, “Seahorse Tranquilizer,” which features Dan Bejar of Destroyer. It is the latest release from their forthcoming self-titled debut album, which is out today via Telephone Explosion.

Fresh Pepper also includes Robin Dann and Felicity Willams of Bernice, along with members of Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s band and The Weather Station.

Read our interview with Destroyer on his 2020 album Have We Met. By Joey Arnone

13. The Mary Onettes: “What I Feel in Some Places”

Today, Sweden’s The Mary Onettes announced the release of a new EP, What I Feel in Some Places, which will be out on July 1. They also shared the EP’s title track. View the EP’s tracklist and cover art here.

The band’s Philip Ekström states in a press release: “‘What I Feel In Some Places’ was one of the first songs we experimented with when we wanted to explore the direction for the new album. We had some idea to take inspiration from Peter Gabriel’s typical ’80s rhythms and let it blend with the more dreamy The Mary Onettes landscapes.

“The song is about always being a bit unsure about your surroundings. Having the feeling that you take in everything. That the room eats you up. Buildings fall over you. That the world constantly points at you like a spear.”

In 2018, the band shared the single “Cola Falls,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. By Joey Arnone

14. Mice Parade: “Eyes See Stars” (Feat. Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir)

Mice Parade (the project led by Adam Pierce) are releasing lapapọ, their first album in nine years, on July 1 via Bubble Core. On Wednesday, they shared its second single, “Eyes See Stars,” which features Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir, formerly of múm and a collaborator with Avey Tare. It was shared via a video featuring dancer Samantha ‘Connor’ Speetjens.

Janessa Clark, Gregg de Domenico, and William Miller directed the “Eyes See Stars” video and Clark choreographed it.

A press release describes the video in greater detail: “The movement was created through a series of improvisational exercises exploring themes of duality, such as the universal experience of having to choose between things that are in conflict and opposition with each other. The resulting film footage captures a floating ‘in between’ space that could be seen as taking place in the mind, in the body, or somewhere metaphysical.”

Previously Mice Parade shared the album’s lead single, “Eisa Dancers,” as well as “Bushwick & Knoll.” Lapapọ, also features guest vocalists Angel Deradoorian (formerly of Dirty Projectors) and Arone Dyer (Buke & Gase). By Mark Redfern

15. Badge Époque Ensemble: “Zodiac” (Feat. James Baley)

On Monday, Toronto’s Badge Époque Ensemble announced the release of a new album, Clouds of Joy, which will be out on September 9 via Telephone Explosion. They also shared a Colin Medley-directed video for their new single from the album, the seven-minute long “Zodiac,” which features James Baley. Check out the album’s cover art and tracklist here.

The nine-track album consists of three vocal-led compositions, three instrumentals and three choral arrangements. The band’s previous album, Self Help, came out in 2020 via Telephone Explosion.

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 15.

Art Moore: “A Different Life”

beabadoobee: “10:36”

black midi: “Eat Men Eat”

Drugdealer: “Madison”

Foals: “Crest of the Wave”

La Luz: “San Fernando Shadow Blues”

Bret McKenzie: “Dave’s Place”

Katy J Pearson: “Float”

Σtella: “Nomad”

Tank and the Bangas: “There Goes the Neighborhood”

Why Bonnie: “Sailor Mouth”

Wombo: “Snakey”

Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 15 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

David Bowie: “Starman: Top of the Pops Version (2022 Mix)”

Claud: “Go Home!”

Miles Davis: “What’s Love Got To Do With It” (Tina Turner Cover)

Dawes: “Everything is Permanent”

DC Gore: “Sisyphus”

Drake: “Falling Back”

FKA twigs: “Killer”

Flying Lotus: “You Don’t Know” and “The Room” (Feat. Devin Tracy)

Nils Frahm: “Right Right Right”

Friendship: “Alive Twice”

Katie Alice Greer: “Flag Wave, Pt. 2”

Hercules & Love Affair: “Dissociation”

High Vis: “Fever Dream”

Linn Koch-Emmery: “Falling Down”

Steve Lacy: “Mercury”

LIFE: “The Drug”

Lightning Seeds: “Sunshine”

Royksopp: “Sorry” (Feat. Jamie Irrepressible) and “Unity” (Feat. Karen Harding)

Santigold: “Ain’t Ready”

SBTRKT: “BODMIN MOOR”

Simple Minds: “Vision Thing”

The Soft Moon: “Him” (Feat. fish narc)

Sports Team: “Cool It Kid”

Starcrawler: “She Said”

Titus Andronicus: “We’re Coming Back”

Why Bonnie: “Hot Car”

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