9 Best Songs of the Last Two Weeks: HAIM, Little Dragon and Moses Sumney, Taylor Swift, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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9 Best Songs of the Last Two Weeks: HAIM, Little Dragon and Moses Sumney, Taylor Swift, and More

Plus Julia Jacklin, The Besnard Lakes, Anna Burch, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Dec 18, 2020 Moses Sumney Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the 45th and likely very last Songs of the Week of 2020. We didn’t do a Songs of the Week last week because there weren’t quite enough inspiring songs to put together a full list, so this week’s list covers the last two weeks, but we still only came up with nine choices rather than a Top 10. This week we have quite a few holiday songs, as well as some reworked versions of previous songs.

In the last couple of weeks we finally got an approved vaccine, although it will still take many months for the majority of Americans to receive it. President-Elect Joe Biden’s win was officially confirmed by the Electoral College, although President Donald Trump still vows to fight the election results, despite providing no tangible evidence of fraud. And Congress, maybe, just maybe, inched closer to passing a new COVID-19 stimulus bill.

In the last couple of weeks we posted interviews with Anjimile, Dave Davies of The Kinks, Osees, and Beauty Pill. This week we also posted interviews with the creators or voice actors behind the original four Adult Swim shows, which all first aired 20 years ago this week. We spoke to Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Matt Thompson of Sealab 2021, Andy Merrill of The Brak Show, and Harvey Birdman creator Erik Richter. Plus we interviewed George Lowe, the voice of Space Ghost on Adult Swim precursor Space Ghost Coast to Coast and also presented lists on some of the best Adult Swim episodes and characters.

In the last two weeks we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by The Avalanches, Belle and Sebastian, Bloody Knives, Groove Armada, The VanishingLines, Micko & the Mellotronics, The Kills, Maxband, Lanterns on the Lakes, Miley Cyrus, Model Child, No Thank You, The Big Easy, and Alex Maas. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

Remember that our long-awaited new print issue, with Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney on the two covers, is still out now. Find all the info here and buy a copy directly from us here.

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

1. HAIM: “Christmas Wrapping 2020 (All I Want for Christmas is a Vaccine)”

Yesterday HAIM released a vertical video for their new holiday song “Christmas Wrapping 2020 (All I Want for Christmas is a Vaccine).” The song is a reworking or parody of the 1981 classic “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses, and it is being released as a part of HAIM’s 8 Days of Hanukkah celebration. “Christmas Wrapping 2020” features bass by Thundercat and was produced by Ariel Rechtshaid. Tony-nominated playwright Jeremy O. Harris (“Slave Play”) contributed to the lyrics. The song’s new lyrics wrap up 2020 and include references to the pandemic, the quarantine, the election, the hit Netflix show The Queen’s Gambit, and more. We don’t usually include covers in our main Songs of the Week list, and certainly not at #1, but this isn’t a straight up cover and it is very amusing.

HAIM’s most recent album, Women in Music Pt. III, was released back in June on Columbia, and earned them two Grammy nominations. Last month, the trio released a new song “Feel the Thunder” for the soundtrack to The Croods: A New Age. By Joey Arnone

2. Little Dragon and Moses Sumney: “The Other Lover”

This week Swedish electro-pop band Little Dragon teamed up with American singer Moses Sumney for the new song “The Other Lover.” The song is a duet with Little Dragon vocalist Yukimi Nagano and a rework of Little Dragon’s “Another Lover,” featured on their most recent album, New Me, Same Us, released back in March via Ninja Tune. “The Other Lover” is out now via Ninja Tune and is different enough from the original version that it’s worthy of inclusion on this list.

Little Dragon collectively had this to say about the song in a press release: “When we reached out to Moses we didn’t know what to expect. What we received was very stripped down, with his beautiful voice. We jammed along and sent it back. It bounced back from his end with added horns and sounded beautiful to our ears. We are very proud of this.”

Sumney had this to say: “I’ve been listening to Little Dragon for a very long time; as a teen, their first album impressed upon me just how infinite modern soul music can be. When they asked me to collaborate I was so honored and surprised (‘shook, as the kids say), that it took me a while to come around. They worked with me, egoless, to craft a new vision for their song. I’m proud of what we came up with.”

Sumney released a new double album, græ, back in May via Jagjaguwar, which earned him a spot on the cover of our current print issue. He recently performed the album’s “Bless Me” on the Soul Train Awards, which aired on BET. In July Sumney shared a video for the new track “Monumental,” one recorded for a new ad campaign for the fashion designer Thom Browne’s spring 2021 collection. “Monumental” was one of our Songs of the Week. In August, Sumeny also did NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts series and covered Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” for Amazon Music.

Read our 2017 interview with Moses Sumney on Aromanticism.

Previously Little Dragon shared New Me, Same Us’ first single, “Hold On.” It was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another song from the album, “Are You Feeling Sad?,” which featured Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis. Little Dragon consists of vocalist Yukimi Nagano, multi-instrumentalists Håkan Wirenstarnd and Fredrik Wallin on keyboards and bass respectively, and Erik Bodin on drums and percussion. The band self-produced and self-recorded New Me, Same Us in their home-built studio in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Also read our 2017 Self-Portrait interview with Little Dragon.

3. Taylor Swift: “evermore” (Feat. Bon Iver)

Last week Taylor Swift released her second album of the year, evermore, announcing it only the day before. Evermore is the sister album to July’s folklore and like that album has a bit of indie cred in terms of Swift’s collaborators on the album, featuring guest appearances by HAIM, Bon Iver, and The National, as well as contributions by folklore collaborators Aaron Dessner (of The National), Jack Antonoff, and William Bowery. Evermore, like folklore before it, has generally been well received. Our favorite tracks were the ones featuring notable collaborators and our favorite of those was probably title track “evermore,” which features Bon Iver and closes the album. The sublime vocals of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon pair wonderfully with Swift’s (as do those of Matt Berninger of The National on “Coney Island,” a close second and honorable mention below).

The album announcement came with a message by Swift on Instagram/Twitter:

I’m elated to tell you that my 9th studio album, and folklore’s sister record, will be out tonight at midnight eastern. It’s called evermore. To put it plainly, we just couldn’t stop writing songs. To try and put it more poetically, it feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music. We chose to wander deeper in. I’ve never done this before. In the past I’ve always treated albums as one-off eras and moved onto planning the next one after an album was released. There was something different with folklore. In making it, I felt less like I was departing and more like I was returning. I loved the escapism I found in these imaginary/not imaginary tales. I loved the ways you welcomed the dreamscapes and tragedies and epic tales of love lost and found into your lives. So I just kept writing them. And I loved creating these songs with Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, WB, and Justin Vernon. We’ve also welcomed some new (and longtime) friends to our musical kitchen table this time around…”

4. Julia Jacklin: “baby jesus is nobody’s baby now”

Last week Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin shared a new melancholic Christmas-inspired song, “baby jesus is nobody’s baby now.” It was shared via a video directed by Jacklin and Nick Mckk.

Jacklin talked about the inspiration behind the song in a press release: “2019 was a pretty rough one for my family. I was touring the whole year carrying a lot of guilt for not being able to be at home. Singing super sad songs every night was a blessing and a curse depending on the day. I was imagining Christmas as being this time where we all came together again and took a collective breath but then the bushfires hit and my family live in the country so it was a direct threat. I was living in Melbourne, still pretty new to it, and wasn’t able to go home, the roads were blocked and my family were being evacuated periodically for a month. At one point Melbourne was blanketed in smoke from the fires, the sun was this menacing red, it felt apocalyptic and pretty hopeless. I wrote this in my room looking forward to 2020, hoping it would be a reset of some kind lol.”

She also speaks a bit on the artwork for the single: “The costume was made by my mother Marion Crossman a couple of weeks ago when we were living together in rural NSW and the backdrop was painted by my younger brother Eamonn Briggs on Nick Mckks driveway.”

In October, Jacklin released two new songs, “to Perth, before the border closes” and “CRY,” for a Sub Pop Singles Club release on 7-inch. She released her most recent album, Crushing, in February 2019 on Polyvinyl. By Joey Arnone

5. The Besnard Lakes: “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again”

Montreal, Canada’s psych rockers The Besnard Lakes are releasing a new album, the impressively titled The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings, on January 29, 2021 via FatCat. This week they shared another song from it, “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again.”

Previously the band shared the album’s first single, “Raindrops,” via a video. “Raindrops” was one of our Songs of the Week. The 72-minute long album is their sixth and is due out via FatCat in the U.S. and Flemish Eye in Canada, their first release for both labels (the band was previously on Jagjaguwar for much of its career).

The band’s last album was 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, after which the band and Jagjaguwar mutually decided to sever ties, giving the band the freedom and time to work on a new album at their own pace. The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings is a double album and each vinyl side has a title: “Near Death,” “Death,” “After Death,” and “Life.”

Also read our 2013 interview with The Besnard Lakes.

6. Anna Burch: “Your Heart May Be Heavy”

Today Detroit singer/songwriter/guitarist Anna Burch shared a brand new song, “Your Heart May Be Heavy.” Burch says it’s a hopeful Christmas song to close out a tough year, one in which she was diagnosed with COVID-19 and recovered. The song follows her sophomore solo album, If You’re Dreaming, which was released in early April via Polyvinyl.

Burch had this to say about the song in a press release: “I knew I wanted to write a Christmas song after the difficult year we’ve all had, because of how emotionally potent they can be. When I hear Judy Garland sing ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ I can’t help but well up with tears while still remaining hopeful. I came up with the chord progression on piano, but then I got COVID. Thankfully I had a mild case, but not only was my motivation and creativity completely drained, I also couldn’t sing very well because of limited breath control. Luckily I recovered in time, and with the help and generosity of my friends and team I was able to finish this song in time to have it out just before Christmas. The song is called ‘Your Heart May Be Heavy’ which I didn’t consciously realize was an inversion of Judy’s ‘may your heart be light.’ Merry Christmas to everyone muddling through, I hope this song in its small way can be a gift of cheer.”

Read our interview with Burch on If You’re Dreaming.

Read our positive review of the album.

If You’re Dreaming was the follow-up to 2018’s Quit the Curse (also released on Polyvinyl).

Read our 2018 interview with Anna Burch.

Read our review of Anna Burch’s Quit the Curse.

7. Cherry Glazerr: “Rabbit Hole”

Last week Cherry Glazerr (the Los Angeles-based band led by Clementine Creevy) shared a new song, “Rabbit Hole.” It’s their first new song of 2020 and is out now via Secretly Canadian.

Creevy worked with Jenn Decliveo (Hinds, Beth Ditto, Porridge Radio) on the song. It follows the band’s 2019 album, Stuffed & Ready.

“‘Rabbit Hole’ is about clawing back my identity,” Creevy says in a press release. “I often find myself acting a certain way to get someone else’s approval. Then it’s hard for me to find myself again. That’s what I was meditating on with this song.”

A press release says that the rootlessness Creevy experienced as a young kid, before her family settled in Los Angeles when she was in middle school, also influenced the song. “Change and discomfort are something I thrive in but I’ve come to realize that there’s a futility of doing things just to please other people,” she says. “You can’t sacrifice your true self, it’s just unsustainable. Realizing this has been a big pill to swallow for me but it has given me a wealth of perspective.”

Summing up the experience of recording “Rabbit Hole,” Creevy concludes: “I feel like I’m growing into the artist that I’ve always wanted to be, it feels better than anything to do what you want with your own art.”

8. Charly Bliss and PUP: “It’s Christmas and I Fucking Miss You”

This week Charly Bliss joined forces with Toronto band PUP for a new and currently relevant holiday song, “It’s Christmas and I Fucking Miss You.” The video for the song features socially distanced footage of individual band members from a plethora of sources, including Zoom meetings and phone footage.

Frontwoman of Charly Bliss, Eva Hendricks, speaks about the song in a press release: “Our managers have been trying to get us to write a Christmas song for years and we’ve never followed through, but we decided that enlisting our friends in PUP would at least make it fun. We never imagined we’d be so proud and absolutely thrilled as we are by the results. We tried to write a song that reflects the absolute insanity of this year and the fact that everyone in the world is stuck missing someone this holiday season and probably feeling a similar combination of emo, angsty and vulnerable!!!!”

Stefan Babcock of PUP speaks on the collaboration: “I was so excited when Charly Bliss asked me to write a Christmas song with them. I don’t know if I’d be able to write a Christmas song under normal circumstances, but since Christmas is shit this year, seemed like it was right in my wheelhouse! Plus Charly Bliss are an amazing band and amazing people, so it was a no-brainer. If we’re judging it alongside other Christmas songs, I think we smashed it.”

Charly Bliss’ most recent release was Supermoon EP, which came out in October 2019 on Barsuk. Back in October of this year, PUP released their most recent EP, This Place Sucks Ass, which features the single “Anaphylaxis,” on Little Dipper/Rise. By Joey Arnone

9. Porridge Radio: “The Last Time I Saw You (O Christmas)”

Last week English rock band Porridge Radio shared an original Christmas song, “The Last Time I Saw You (O Christmas).” The band has performed the song live several times in the past and it has since become a fan favorite.

Frontwoman Dana Margolin had this to say about the song in a press release: “It’s a song about having a miserable time every Christmas and the same cycles of heartbreak and depression endlessly repeating themselves. We had a lot of fun with it—enjoy.”

Porridge Radio’s most recent album, Every Bad, was released back in March on Secretly Canadian. The band shared the new song “7 Seconds” back in September and were recently featured on “One For Regret,” a song from the first half of the new Lost Horizons album, In Quiet Moments. By Joey Arnone

Honorable Mentions:

These six songs almost made the Top 10.

John Carpenter: “The Dead Walk”

MF DOOM & BADBADNOTGOOD: “The Chocolate Conquistadors”

Taylor Swift: “coney island” (Feat. The National) and “no body, no crime” (Feat. HAIM)

Viagra Boys: “In Spite Of Ourselves” (John Prine Cover) (Feat. Amy Taylor)

James Yorkston & The Second Hand Orchestra: “Ella Mary Leather”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

A$AP Rocky: “Flacko Loko”

Courtney Marie Andrews, Liz Cooper, and Molly Sarlé: “America” (Simon & Garfunkel Cover)

Another Michael: “I Know You’re Wrong”

Black Midi: “Jingle Bell Rock” (Bobby Helms Cover) and “What Christmas Means to Me” (Stevie Wonder Cover)

Bill Callahan & Bonnie “Prince” Billy: “Sea Song” (Robert Wyatt Cover) (Feat. Mick Turner) and “I Love You” (Jerry Jeff Walker Cover) (Feat. David Pajo)

Chance the Rapper: “Who’s To Say” and “The Return”

The Chills: “You’re Immortal”

Casper Clausen: “Ocean Wave”

The Comet Is Coming: “Imminent” (Feat. Joshua Idehen)

Django Django: “Glowing in the Dark” (Hot Chip Remix)

Kevin Drew: “Depressed Unicorn Christmas Song”

The Drums & Jonny Pierce: “Ambulance”

Steve Earle: “Champagne Corolla” (Justin Townes Earle Cover)

Foo Fighters: “Run Rudolph Run” (Chuck Berry Cover)

Gang Starr: “Glowing Mic”

Georgia: “Running Up That Hill” (Kate Bush Cover)

Barry Gibb: “Butterfly” (Feat. Gillian Welch & David Rawlings)

Grimes: “Delicate Weapon”

Lande Hekt: “December”

Jon Hopkins: “Dawn Chorus” (Thom Yorke Cover)

Brittany Howard: “13th Century Metal (Michael Kiwanuka Mix)”

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: “If Not Now, Then When?”

Katy Kirby: “Cool Dry Place”

Kitten: “Daddy Don’t Take My Phone”

Lisel: “Inflate”

Madlib and Four Tet: “Road of the Lonely Ones”

H.C. McEntire: “’Til I Get It Right” (Tammy Wynette Cover)

MF DOOM: “Lunch Break”

Palberta: “The Way That You Do”

Caroline Polachek: “Breathless” (The Corrs Cover) and “Hit Me Where It Hurts (Toro Y Moi Remix)” (Feat. Chino Moreno)

Proper.: “Don’t”

slowthai: “Thoughts”

Sonic Boom: “I Wish It Was Like Xmas Everyday (A Little Bit Deeper)” (Feat. Dean & Britta)

Ringo Starr: “Here’s to the Nights”

Sumac: “Two Beasts”

Sun June: “Bad Girl”

This Is The Kit: “Bad Feeling” (Muzz Cover)

The Voidz: “Alien Crime Lord”

Why Don’t We: “Slow Down”

Hayley Williams: “Find Me Here”

(Thanks to Joey Arnone for helping to put this week’s list together.)

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