Eight Best Songs of the Week: The War on Drugs, Widowspeak, Bully, Yumi Zouma, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Eight Best Songs of the Week: The War on Drugs, Widowspeak, Bully, Yumi Zouma, and More

Plus Everything Everything, Deerhoof, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Aug 04, 2017 Bully Bookmark and Share

The War on Drugs’ last album, Lost in the Dream, was our #1 album of 2014 and a lot of other people agreed with us too. Based on the four singles shared thus far from their forthcoming new album, A Deeper Understanding, the band is already in strong Album of the Year waters for 2017. They’ll likely have stiff competition from Grizzly Bear, The National, and Father John Misty, among others. And who knows what surprises the fall may offer. In the meantime, The War on Drugs shared another great new song this week, as did Widowspeak, Bully, Deerhoof, Yumi Zouma, and others.

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

1. The War on Drugs: “Pain”

The War on Drugs are releasing a new album, A Deeper Understanding, on August 25 via Atlantic, their first for the label (previously they were on Secretly Canadian). This week shared another fantastic single from the album, “Pain.” It starts off slow and dreamy, but eventually gets more expansive, climaxing with a transcendent guitar solo.

Previously The War on Drugs shared the 11-minute long A Deeper Understanding cut (and Record Store Day single) “Thinking of a Place” and announced a fall tour. Then they shared another song from the album, “Holding On,” as well as performing the song on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and sharing a video for “Holding On” featuring actor Frankie Faison (The Wire, Luke Cage, The Silence of the Lambs). Then the band has shared another song from the album, atmospheric slow-burner “Strangest Thing.”

Pick up our current print issue (Summer 2017) to read our new interview with The War on Drugs on A Deeper Understanding.

The War on Drugs’ main creative force Adam Granduciel worked on the album in studios in New York and Los Angeles, with help from engineer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Weezer). Other members of the band (bassist Dave Hartley, keyboardist Robbie Bennett, drummer Charlie Hall, and multi-instrumentalists Anthony LaMarca and Jon Natchez) were also involved in the recordings from time to time and thus a press release calls A Deeper Understanding “a ‘band record’ in the noblest sense, featuring collaboration, coordination, and confidence at every turn.”

2. Widowspeak: “When I Tried”

Widowspeak are releasing a new album, Expect the Best, on August 25 via Captured Tracks. Previously the band shared a video for its first single, “Dog.” Today the band shared another song from the album, the hazy “When I Tried.” With frontwoman Molly Hamilton’s Hope Sandoval-esque vocals, it sounds like Mazzy Star given a psych-rock makeover.

A previous press release said of the band’s sound on the album: “Sonically, they exist somewhere in the overlap between somber indie rock, dream pop, slow-core, and their own invented genre, ‘cowboy grunge.’”

3. Bully: “Feel the Same”

Bully, the Nashville-based band fronted by Alicia Bognanno, announced a new album this week, Losing, and shared its first single, album opener “Feel the Same.” They also announced some tour dates. Losing is due out October 20 via Sub Pop, their first for the iconic label. In the short and grungy “Feel the Same” Bognanno rattles off various mundane (and not so mundane) tasks, such as masturbating, cutting your hair, and feeding the dog, but after each she “feels the same.” The song was shared via a visual featuring a water balloon that springs a leak.

Losing is the follow-up to 2015’s Feels Like. Read our 2015 interview with Bully on Feels Like.

4. Yumi Zouma: “December”

New Zealand’s Yumi Zouma announced a new album, Willowbank, this week and shared its first single, “December.” The song was another delightful slice of Yumi Zouma-branded indie-pop, which is exactly what we’ve come to expect from these Kiwis (and that’s no bad thing). Willowbank is due out October 6 via Cascine.

5. Deerhoof: “Come Down Here And Say That” (feat. Læticia Sadier)

Deerhoof are releasing a new album, Mountain Moves, on September 8 via Joyful Noise. Previously they shared its first two singles, “I Will Spite Survive” (which features Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes) and “Your Dystopic Creation Doesn’t Fear You” (which features Awkwafina). Today shared another song from the album, “Come Down Here And Say That,” which features Stereolab’s Læticia Sadier.

Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier had this to say about the song to She Shreds (who premiered the song), explaining that the title was inspired by something Bob Dylan once said onstage at London’s Royal Albert Hall in response to audience members angry that he had gone electric: “Dylan was centering the young and leaving the folk purists in the dust. Now the baby boomers he sang to have gone from being radical role models to being the generation that put Trump in office. The numbers say that the young and the poor are trying to save the world for everyone, and the boomers and the powerful are saying ‘you are dreaming.’ Of course they say it from a safe, elitist, corporate-sponsored, media-produced distance, so we wanted to say, ‘come down here and say that to our faces.’”

Mountain Moves also features Juana Molina, Xenia Rubinos, and Matana Roberts. The 15-song album features 12 originals and three covers of songs by Bob Marley, The Staple Singers, and Violeta Parra.

6. Midnight Sister: “Daddy Long Legs”

Midnight Sister, the promising new Los Angeles-based duo of Juliana Giraffe and Ari Balouzian, are releasing their debut album, Saturn Over Sunset, on September 8 via Jagjaguwar. Previously they have shared videos for their first two singles, “Leave You” and “Blue Cigar.” This week they shared the audio for another song from the album, “Daddy Long Legs.”

Pick up Under the Radar’s current print issue (Summer 2017) to read our Pleased to Meet You feature on Midnight Sister.

Midnight Sister’s art-pop would appeal to fans of Broadcast, influential ‘60s pioneers such as The United States of America and The Free Design, and Charlie Hilton. The duo is based in the San Fernando Valley. Giraffe is 23 and the daughter of a Los Angeles disc jockey. A previous press release said she “was raised almost exclusively on disco and Bowie. Her lyrics and lyrical melodies, informed very much by her filmmaking background, were composed gazing out from a tiny retail window on Sunset Boulevard. Her Rear Window-like longing allowed her imagination to run wild and cook up the wild narratives that would fill Balouzian’s compositions.” It’s her first time writing and performing music. Balouzian is 27 and a classically trained musician who has done arrangements for Tobias Jesso Jr. and Alex Izenberg, this is his first real attempt at playing true pop music.

7. Everything Everything: “Desire”

British art-rockers Everything Everything are releasing a new album, A Fever Dream, on August 18 (via RCA in the U.K.). Previously they shared a video for its first single, “Can’t Do,” as well as the audio for “A Fever Dream.” This week they shared another new song, “Desire,” via its video. Dave Tree directed the video, which features the band performing the song in a tight square room with floor to ceiling video screens and a light up floor.

Singer Jonathan Higgs had this to say about “Desire” in a press release: “A desire for something so strong you have to have it, and don’t care about the consequences of getting it. Only desire separates the living from the dead.”

8. Trailer Trash Tracys: “Siebenkas”

London-based duo Trailer Trash Tracys (Susanne Aztoria and James Lee) are releasing their sophomore album, Althaea, on August 11 via Double Six (an imprint of Domino). Previously they shared a video for its first single, “Eden Machine.” This week they shared another song from the album, “Siebenkas,” via its video, which was shot in and around Manila and features locals seemingly worshiping a glowing orb.

Lee directed the video himself and had this to say about it in a press release: “The narration for the video was supposed to be a rivalry between people who represent the moon, and people representing the ‘tiger,’ which features prominently in Philippine folklore. The video, however, has parallel meanings. Not to give too much away, we kept the narrative loose. The moon in the video could metaphorically represent knowledge (represented by the illumination) or something more spiritual. In fact, I liked the idea of the moon falling to earth, and people passing it around like a toy.

“I was initially influenced by a scene in Woody Allen’s Sleeper film in which a group of hedonists enjoy a futuristic drug shaped like a ball. I wanted to echo some of the political issues surrounding the death penalty for drug users in the Philippines as well.

“The video was shot in various locations around Manila - a lake, a cave, rural roadsides and remote areas - and features various artists I befriended - the Hernandez Brothers, Nika Dizon, Keren Oo, Juluis Valledor, Cenon III and Mavs.”

Althaea arrives five years after their dream pop-leaning debut, 2012’s Ester.

Other notable new songs this week include:

Billy Bragg: “King Tide and the Sunny Day Flood”

Car Seat Headrest: “War Is Coming (If You Want It) [March Mix]”

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis: “Snow Wolf” (from the Wind River soundtrack)

Ducktails: “Map to the Stars”

The Duke Spirit: “Houses”

Hercules & Love Affair: “Fools Wear Crowns”

Io Echo: “Harm”

Hamilton Leithauser: “Road to Nowhere” (Talking Heads Cover)

Liars: “Coins In My Caged Fist” and “The Grand Delusional”

Motörhead: “Heroes” (David Bowie Cover)

Gary Numan: “What God Intended”

Kele Okereke: “Grounds For Resentment” (Feat. Olly Alexander)

Phoenix: “Un Peu Menteur” (Christophe Cover)

Weaves: “#53”

Neil Young: “Hitchhiker”

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