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Sunday, February 25th, 2024  

8 Best Songs of the Week: Bat For Lashes, MGMT, Sunday (1994), Bonny Light Horseman, and More

Plus Adrianne Lenker, Khruangbin, Drahla, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Feb 23, 2024
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Welcome to the seventh Songs of the Week of 2024. This week Andy Von Pip, Caleb Campbell, Mark Moody, Scott Dransfield, and Stephen Humphries all helped me decide what should make the list. We settled on a Top 8 this week, narrowed down from the 20 songs we seriously considered.

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

In the last week we reviewed some albums.

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

1. Bat For Lashes: “The Dream of Delphi”

This week, Bat For Lashes (aka Natasha Khan) announced a new album, The Dream of Delphi, and shared its title track via a music video. The Dream of Delphi is due out May 31 via Mercury KX. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.

The Dream of Delphi is the sixth Bat For Lashes album and follows 2019’s Lost Girls. The album is named after her daughter, who was born in 2020. “I thought motherhood would take me away from my art, but it opened up this massive world,” says Khan.

Khan had this to say about the new single: “This is the manifesto of the album. It’s like a spell being cast. It’s the conjuring, the manifestation, the drawing-down of Delphi from the ether. This is me calling on her soul. It’s about going up into the stars and down into the underworld simultaneously, how celestials and deep guttural sounds can come together, how that reflects the journey I went on. It’s about what happens when you’re stretched physically, mentally, even vaginally! I think it’s just humbled me, too, becoming a mother. It’s made me feel more vulnerable than I’ve ever felt before. But I feel more human, more embodied. I can’t escape life by making beautiful things as much as I did. But there’s sort of a beauty to my mortality now.”

Bat For Lashes was one of the artists on the cover of our 20th Anniversary Issue, which you can still buy directly from us here.

Also read our 2016 interview with Bat For Lashes, as well as our 2007 one. By Mark Redfern

2. MGMT: “Dancing In Babylon” (Feat. Christine and the Queens)

MGMT (Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser) released a new album, Loss of Life, today via Mom + Pop. Earlier this week they shared its fourth single, “Dancing In Babylon,” which is a duet with Christine and the Queens. It was shared via a decidedly 1980s-styled music video that also features Christine and the Queens.

Ray Tintori directed the video and Tintori previously made videos for MGMT’s “Time to Pretend,” “Electric Feel,” and “Kids,” from their 2007-released debut album, Oracular Spectacular. The video also features John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), British actor Julian Morris (Pretty Little Liars, New Girl), and his real-life husband, artist Landon Ross.

Christine and the Queens had this to say about the collaboration in a press release: “I always loved MGMT’s multiverse, their freedom and talent, their limpid songwriting and killer soundscapes. Regal, inspiring. When they reached out for this power ballad, I was honored and also excited to dive into their dream, because I have the same all-encompassing approach with my work. I loved the backstory of the lyrics as well, and I work my lower register here more than usual. I felt invited into their cool movie, and I’m glad to be now a part of the galaxy. Let’s work on more love in the love galaxy.”

Of the music video, Christine and the Queens adds: “I went back for the second day of shoot—the day where they decided to reinterpret a war scene, but with delirious soldier fits, very Cronenberg, with mushes of brain as knickers and, on my own armor, a pussy-shaped flesh. I love how the video developed into this baroque odysseus of love. I love how personal and insane it gets with them. Very rejuvenating and liberating. And also, more utopias like this. Resistance is in our imagination. We can alchemize all this world’s pain and turn it into hope, for a better future. Literally, put flowers back at the end of guns. This is a good song for that. Love songs cure despair. End of transmission.”

MGMT collectively had this to add about the video and its sandwich: “Creating the ‘Dancing in Babylon’ video with Chris and Ray was a prodigious affair (love), requiring everyone involved to operate in six dimensions at once, all while simultaneously making a simple turkey sandwich with Dijon mustard. The sandwich that emerged is a cosmic mille-feuille that would be presentable in most high-end French diners.”

Previously MGMT shared the album’s first single, “Mother Nature,” via a music video. “Mother Nature” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its second single, “Bubblegum Dog,” via a music video that pays homage to some of the classic 1990s alternative music videos. “Bubblegum Dog” was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its third single, “Nothing to Declare.”

Loss of Life is the band’s first new album in six years, their fifth album, and the follow-up to 2018’s Little Dark Age, which many viewed as a return to form and was released via Columbia (as were their previous albums). Little Dark Age’s title track became a viral hit during the pandemic and is the band’s third most streamed song of all-time, behind their early hits “Electric Feel” and “Kids.”

This time the duo worked with producer Patrick Wimberly (Beyoncé, Lil Yachty) and longtime collaborator Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Spoon). As he’s done with all their previous albums, Fridmann mixed Loss of Life. There also additional production work done on the album by Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never), Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) and James Richardson. Miles A. Robinson was also an associate producer and engineer on the album.

MGMT had this to say about Loss of Life: “All joking aside (never!), we are very proud of this album and the fact that it was a relatively painless birth after a lengthy gestation period, and are happy to be releasing this baby into the world with Mom+Pop. Musically speaking, we are running at around 20% adult contemporary and no more than this, please.”

Writer/director/The Best Show co-host Tom Scharpling has written an essay about Loss of Life and had this to say: “Simply put, the guys did it again! They’re now five-for-five, which last time I checked gets you into virtually any Hall of Fame. This record projects an aura of undeniable warmth throughout, an album brimming with comfortable confidence. There are epic tracks and intimate portraits, a little bit of glam here, some psych-folk there. It’s a slice of magic that fits perfectly into the MGMT oeuvre while expanding the boundaries once again.”

The album’s cover artwork is a 2006 painting by John Baldessari, Noses & Ears, Etc. (Part Two): Two (Flesh) Faces with (Blue) Ears and Noses, Two (Flesh) Hands, and Hobby Horse, 2006.

Read our 2018 interview with MGMT on Little Dark Age. By Mark Redfern

3. Sunday (1994): “Tired Boy”

Sunday (1994) are new band with something to say about the magic hidden in everyday life. Today they released their debut single, “Tired Boy.” It is a captivating blend of confessional lyrics, sparkling melancholic guitar, and cinematic indie vibes.

“Tired Boy,” paints a relatable picture with its tongue-in-cheek lyrics: “You painted your nails just to look like a rockstar / You sing in a band and your voice is like nails on a chalkboard / But you’re something to die for.” It’s a bittersweet anthem for the complexities of modern life, wrapped in a melody that lingers long after the last note.

The band consists of Paige Turner, Lee Newell, and the enigmatic drummer X, who prefers to remain anonymous. Turner and Newell, drawn together by their shared perspective on “the charade that is modern life,” find inspiration in the “bittersweet nostalgia of 90s romance films.” Their music, written and recorded in their cozy one-bedroom apartment, already resonated with a passionate online audience before their official debut.

Newell reveals “We uploaded a few songs to Tik-Tok to finally see if we were criminally insane or if indeed these songs could mean something to someone. Instantly we had thousands of views and people begging us to release them. We picked our jaws up off the floor and got to work.”

The accompanying music video, shot on Super 8, offers a glimpse into the band’s world. Vintage cartoons interweave with scenes from their daily lives, inviting viewers to experience their unique perspective. By Andy Von Pip

4. Bonny Light Horseman: “When I Was Younger”

This week, Bonny Light Horseman shared a new song, “When I Was Younger,” and announced some tour dates. It is the band’s first single for Jagjaguwar, which has just announced they’ve signed the band. The song deals with growing up and putting aside more reckless days as you become a parent, among other things. Check out the tour dates here.

Bonny Light Horseman is Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson, and Josh Kaufman. Kaufman produced the song, which was recorded at Levis (pronounced: “leh-viss”) Corner House, which is a century-old watering hole in Ballydehob, County Cork in Ireland.

The band collectively had this to say about the song in a press release: “There’s a whole genre of trad songs with this ‘domestic frustration’ sentiment, like ‘Single Girl Married Girl,’ ‘Wish I Was a Single Girl Again,’ etc. This song is inspired by those, but we wanted to write it as a duet, to tell two sides of a story. We recorded it live, so you can hear coughing, cars, and the whole audience did that wordless wail with us in the middle. It felt like a primal collective shake-off. Next morning we were collecting our things from the pub and the owner Joe was out front in flip-flops sweeping up the cigs from the street singing, ‘When I was younger, I used to dress fancy…’”

Bonny Light Horseman’s last album, Rolling Golden Holy, came out in 2022 via 37d03d.

Kaufman is also a member of Muzz (read our interview with them). By Mark Redfern

5. Adrianne Lenker: “Fool”

Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief is releasing a new solo album, Bright Future, on March 22 via 4AD. This week she shared another song from it, “Fool.” It was shared via a video directed by Lenker’s brother, Noah Lenker.

Philip Weinrobe, the album’s co-producer, had this to say about the song in a press release: “I feel like I can hear her laughing and smiling when I listen back to this song. The joy is palpable. It’s easy to forget that Adrianne can do unbridled ecstatic happiness just as deftly as every other emotion in the human experience.”

“Fool” was one of the few songs from the album recorded at night and one the first songs recorded for Bright Future. Weinrobe describes the scene: “The fireplace was ripping, Oso was barking, and the vibe was just right. After we captured this one I knew we were gonna make a special record.”

In 2020, Lenker released two solo albums, one simply titled songs and another simply titled instrumentals, via 4AD. Bright Future will be her first solo album since then. Philip Weinrobe co-produced the album, which also features contributions from Nick Hakim, Mat Davidson, and Josefin Runsteen.

In the autumn of 2022, Lenker was pleased that three of her friends (“some of my favorite people,” as she describes Hakim, Davidson, and Runsteen in a press release) had the time to take a break from their own music careers and join her at Double Infinity, an analog studio in a forest. The three musicians didn’t really know each other that well. “I had no idea what the outcome would be,” Lenker admits, but says the results turned out well. “It was magical,” she says.

Of Davidson, Lenker says: “I’ve known Mat a long time. It doesn’t matter what instrument, his spirit just pours through.”

Lenker has known Hakim since she was 17. “The way Nick would hold my songs, he would put every ounce of love,” she says.

Of the trio of collaborators, Lenker adds: “I think the thing these people have in common, they are some of the best listeners I know musically. They have extreme presence.”

Summing up the recording of Bright Future, she says: “It felt like everyone’s nervous systems released. Once we were IN the song, somehow we just knew. No one stopped a take. We didn’t listen back. I only listened after everybody else left.”

Bright Future includes “Ruined,” a new song Lenker shared in December via a music video. “Ruined” was one of our Songs of the Week. When the album was announced, Lenker shared “Sadness as a Gift,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. She also announced a whole lot of North American tour dates for this summer and fall.

In September 2023, Big Thief shared a new song, “Born For Loving You.” It followed “Vampire Empire,” a new song the band shared in July 2023.

Read our 2016 Pleased to Meet You interview with Big Thief.

Read our 2017 interview with Big Thief on Capacity. By Mark Redfern

6. Khruangbin: “May Ninth”

Khruangbin are releasing a new album, A LA SALA, on April 5 on Dead Oceans in partnership with Night Time Stories Ltd. Thus week they shared its second single, “May Ninth,” via an animated music video. Jenny Lucia Mascia and Jeremy Higgins directed the video. Check out the band’s upcoming tour dates, including some newly announced shows, here.

Previously Khruangbin shared the album’s first single, “A Love International,” via a music video. “A Love International” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Khruangbin’s last regular album, Mordechai, came out in 2020. Read our interview with them about it here.

In 2022 Khruangbin teamed up with Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré for the collaborative album, Ali. By Mark Redfern

7. Drahla: “Second Rhythm”

This week, Leeds, England-based experimental rock band Drahla unveiled their new single, “Second Rhythm,” the second offering from their highly anticipated sophomore album, angeltape, scheduled for release on April 5 via Captured Tracks.

“Second Rhythm” marks a distinct yet thematically connected follow-up to their 2019 release “Primitive Rhythm.” According to vocalist and guitarist Luciel Brown, the new track represents “a bridge and a disconnect” between their critically acclaimed debut album, Useless Coordinates, and the forthcoming angeltape. Brown further characterizes the song as “reaching the handsome landscape and no longer being able to find it, but finding something else instead.”

The single builds upon the frenetic energy established by the album’s lead single, “Default Parody.” Both tracks showcase the band’s signature sound, characterized by unconventional guitar work, erratic saxophone lines, and Brown’s captivating and metallic vocals.

In conjunction with the single release, Drahla announced their upcoming May/June tour across Europe. The tour includes stops in major cities such as Berlin, Barcelona, and London, culminating in a performance at their hometown venue in Leeds on June 15. Check out the tour dates here. By Andy Von Pip

8. Girl and Girl: “Hello”

This week, Australian four-piece Girl and Girl announced their debut full-length album, Call a Doctor, and shared a new song from it, “Hello,” via a music video. Call a Doctor is due out May 24 via Sub Pop.

Girl and Girl features frontperson Kai James (singer, guitarist) and his Aunty Liss (drums), along with longtime friends Jayden Williams (guitar) and Fraser Bell (bass). The album was recorded at Sundowner Sound in Melbourne over the course of two weeks with producer Burke Reid (Courtney Barnett, Julia Jacklin). The band even ate and slept in the studio complex.

James had this to say about the new single in a press release: “‘Hello’ is the story of a young man who requires daily consults with health professionals in order to rationalise his self-destructive thoughts and routines. It’s about romanticizing your own misery. Letting those deep, dark, dirty thoughts take over. Understanding that even if you could pull yourself out, you wouldn’t because the constant stress and worry are all too familiar and comfortable.” By Mark Redfern

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 8.

angelic milk: “Diana Ross”

Another Michael: “Is There a World?”

A Place to Bury Strangers: “Change Your God”

Bored at My Grandma’s House: “Show & Tell”

The High Llamas: “Sisters Friends” (Feat. Rae Morris)

The Jesus and Mary Chain: “Girl 71”

Real Estate: “Flowers”

Still Corners: “Crystal Blue”

Swim Deep: “How Many Love Songs Have Died In Vegas?”

Paul Weller: “Soul Wandering”

Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 8 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:

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