Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, April 13th, 2024  

12 Best Songs of the Week: Camera Obscura, Sunday (1994), Lionlimb, Beth Gibbons, and more

Plus Imogen and the Knife, GIFT, Goat Girl, From Indian Lakes, La Luz, and a Wrap-up of the Last Two Weeks' Other Notable New Tracks

Apr 12, 2024
Bookmark and Share


Welcome to the twelfth Songs of the Week of 2024. We didn’t do a Songs of the Week last week because we were working on other projects, so this week’s Songs of the Week covers the last two weeks. This week Andy Von Pip, Caleb Campbell, Matt the Raven, and Scott Dransfield helped me decide what should make the list.

In the past few weeks we posted interviews with Cheekface, Chastity Belt, Elbow, Julia Holter, Ride, Slowdive, 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 12 best the last 14 days had to offer, followed by some honorable mentions. Check out the full list below.

1. Camera Obscura: “Liberty Print”

Scottish indie-pop band Camera Obscura are releasing their first new album in 11 years, Look to the East, Look to the West, on May 3 via Merge. This week they shared its third single, “Liberty Print,” via a music video. Frontwoman Tracyanne Campbell wrote the song about her brother who died tragically at the age of 34. The song is the album’s opening track.

“I like ‘Liberty Print’ because I think it’s the song that sounds most unlike anything we’ve done before,” says Campbell in a press release. “It introduces a new direction. It sounds fresh and exciting, and it introduces Donna [Maciocia] on keys in a big way. It was important to us that if we were to have a new player, that she be allowed to make her own creative stamp on the songs.”

Previously Camera Obscura shared the album’s first single, “Big Love,” via a music video. “Big Love” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then they shared its second single, “We’re Going to Make It in a Man’s World,” which also made our Songs of the Week.

Camera Obscura released their first three albums via Merge, before switching to 4AD for their last two albums. The band haven’t released a new album since 2013’s Desire Lines, in large part due to the tragic and untimely passing due to cancer of founding member and keyboardist Carey Lander in 2015. Last year the band announced their return to Merge and announced some UK tour dates.

Tracyanne Campbell had a side-project, Tracyanne & Danny, with Danny Coughlan, that released a self-titled album in 2018 via Merge.

The band features founding members Tracyanne Campbell (vocals and guitar, Kenny McKeeve (guitar and vocals), Gavin Dunbar (bass), and Lee Thomson (drums and percussion), alongside newer member Donna Maciocia (keys and vocals). Maciocia has also become a regular songwriting partner with Campbell.

Jari Haapalainen, who produced Camera Obscura’s 2006 album Let’s Get Out of This Country and 2009’s My Maudlin Career, returned to produce Look to the East, Look to the West, which was recorded in the same room where Queen wrote “Bohemian Rhapsody.” A press release says that the album sees the band somewhat go “back to basics,” with no string or brass arrangements.

Read our 2006 interview with Camera Obscura.

Read our 2010 interview with Camera Obscura.

Read our 2010 interview with Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell on Grease.

Read our 2013 interview with Camera Obscura.

Read our 2013 joint interview between Tracyanne Campbell and Lloyd Cole.

Read our 2020 My Favorite Album interview with Tracyanne Campbell. By Mark Redfern

2. Sunday (1994): “Stained Glass Window”

British-American group Sunday (1994), built around the creative duo of Lee Newell (from Slough, UK) and Paige Turner (LA), were back last week with their latest track, an evocative slice of dream pop in the form of “Stained Glass Window.” This second single follows the success of their previous release “Tired Boy” and delivers another glittering infusion of their dreamy yet dark signature sound.

Replete with chiming guitar riffs, “Stained Glass Window” certainly evokes a sense of nostalgia for the golden age of introspective ‘90s indie pop. While the band draws inspiration from influential bands like The Sundays, Mazzy Star, and The Cure, they also have a cinematic sweep capturing the bittersweet emotions of young love reminiscent of classic John Hughes films.

Of the track, Sunday (1994) said: “’Stained Glass Window’ is a declaration of love. A personal story about defying the ‘sinful’ label given by old texts and preachers with bad breath. ‘I took some pictures of me and you and I super-glued them over scriptures, so I could worship something true.’”

“Tired Boy” was one of our Songs of the Week. By Andy Von Pip

3. Lionlimb: “Dream of You” (Feat. Angel Olsen)

Lionlimb are releasing a new album, Limbo, on May 24 via Bayonet. This week they shared its second single, “Dream of You,” which features Angel Olsen, who also appears in the video.

Lionlimb is the New York-based project of Stewart Bronaugh and it also features Joshua Jaeger. Bronaugh and Jaeger have also both performed in Olsen’s touring band.

“Our new song ‘Dream of You’ featuring the astonishing Angel Olsen is out today. I wrote it about my dog I lost two years ago,” says Bronaugh in a press release. “I was having a recurring dream that he was still alive and I got to hug and kiss and smell him again. It was so realistic and though the song may not reflect it, it was the happiest feeling ever.”

“I’ve been a fan of Lionlimb since 2012, and for a time - part of the band toured with me and recorded on albums Burn Your Fire For No Witness, and My Woman,” says Olsen. “So naturally when Stewart asked me to sing on ‘Dream of You’ I knew it would be vibey and beautiful. I tried to enmesh myself in the recording and sing in more of a way that complemented the dreamy backdrop of the song and story of Limbo.”

Olsen’s last album, Big Time, was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2022. In 2023 she released the new EP, Forever Means.

Previously Lionlimb shared Limbo’s first single, “Hurricane,” via a music video. “Hurricane” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Limbo follows 2021’s Spiral Groove. A press release says the new album was “inspired by a palette of ’70s Italian film soundtracks, ’60s girl group music, and funk and soul ballads.”

“When I’m working on music, it’s like I’m trying to make my own world,” Bronaugh says in the press release. “It’s that feeling of wanting to exist somewhere else. I’m trying to express something and get out of my head and body.”

Of the new single, he adds: “‘Hurricane’ is about escapism and searching for THAT feeling that puts you in a flow state, away from the anxiety and uncomfortableness of being human. Creativity can help, and then there are other ways that are much more harmful. This song is about saying goodbye to those, but I feel like I’m always searching for that next thing.” By Mark Redfern

4. Beth Gibbons: “Reaching Out”

Beth Gibbons of Portishead is releasing her debut solo album, Lives Outgrown, on May 17 via Domino. This week she shared its second single, “Reaching Out,” via a music video. Weirdcore (Aphex Twin, Arca) directed the song’s interactive video. Watch a static version below or check out the interactive version here.

A press release describes the video in more detail: “The video features 4D models of Beth freefalling through a kinetic sci-fi spacescape. As the video progresses the models of Beth change to represent the different stages in her life, echoing the Lives Outgrown of the album title. If you click and hold down on your mouse button this allows you to interact and rotate the models to have a sense of trying to reach each other in impossible ways.”

Previously she shared its first single, “Floating on a Moment,” via a music video. “Floating on a Moment” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Portishead’s last album was 2008’s Third. In 2002 Gibbons teamed up with Rustin Man (aka Talk Talk’s Paul Webb) for the collaborative record Out of Season. In 2014 Gibbons teamed up with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki, to perform Henryk Górecki’s acclaimed 1977 symphony, Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs). An album and film documenting the performance, simply titled Henryk Górecki: Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs), was released in 2019. In 2022, Gibbons collaborated with Kendrick Lamar on the song “Mother I Sober,” from his Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers album.

Despite her decades-long career, Lives Outgrown is her first true solo album. Gibbons produced the album with James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Depeche Mode, The Last Dinner Party), with additional production by Lee Harris (Talk Talk).

The album was inspired by a decade of change, as she entered middle age and the vitality and hope of youth started to fade. As loved ones started to pass away much more regularly than when she was younger.

“I realized what life was like with no hope,” says Gibbons in a press release. “And that was a sadness I’d never felt. Before, I had the ability to change my future, but when you’re up against your body, you can’t make it do something it doesn’t want to do.”

Topics on the album include motherhood, anxiety, menopause, and mortality.

“People started dying,” Gibbons says. “When you’re young, you never know the endings, you don’t know how it’s going to pan out. You think: ‘We’re going to get beyond this. It’s going to get better.’ Some endings are hard to digest.”

Gibbons adds, more hopefully: “Now I’ve come out of the other end, I just think, you’ve got to be brave.”

Read our rave review of Henryk Górecki: Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs). By Mark Redfern

5. Imogen and the Knife: “Mother of God”

Imogen and the Knife is a rising alt-pop star originally from Newcastle, UK, and now based in South-East London. Her music is best described as powerful and personal.

“Mother of God,” her debut single, came out this week and serves as an introduction to her musical world, with more music arriving later this year. The song dives deep into a recurring dream Imogen experienced during a challenging personal transformation. Weaving vulnerability and strength into her lyrics and passionate vocals, the track showcases her talent for storytelling. There are moments of quiet contemplation alongside rich, dynamic instrumentals that bring her poignant songwriting to life.

Of the track, she shares, “The images were already there: the boat-shaped house, the knife with my initials on it, the mosaic of faces. ‘Mother of God! This can’t be the only one’ is a waking realization that unless addressed, the dream, and the pain, won’t leave. Which is apt because after it was written, the recurring dream at least, did.”

The track is accompanied by a striking video created by Imogen and long-time collaborator Harv Frost (The Last Dinner Party, Baby Queen). “It made sense to reference 1920s surrealist films and artists such as Man Ray and Dora Maar,” Imogen explains, “where the uneasiness is conveyed through lighting, deliberate placement and distortion of objects, and extreme close-ups.”

Frost adds: “Imogen is one of those artists that can say so much with her eyes, so I wanted to make them the star of this video. I’m very excited for this era of Imogen’s creative expression and can’t wait for more.” By Andy Von Pip

6. GIFT: “Wish Me Away”

This week, Brooklyn-based psych-rock quintet GIFT shared a new song, “Wish Me Away,” via a music video. It’s the band’s first single for Captured Tracks, which has just announced that they’ve signed GIFT. Andrew Gibson directed the video.

GIFT features vocalist/guitarist TJ Freda, multi-instrumentalists Jessica Gurewitz and Justin Hrabovsky, drummer Gabe Camarano, and bassist Kallan Campbell. The band released their debut album, Momentary Presence, in 2022 via Dedstrange.

Freda had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Wish Me Away’ is about giving into the feeling of everything slipping away. Just take it all away, put me out of my misery, wish me away. While this all seems daunting and sad, there’s a feeling of optimism in this song, holding on for dear life and refusing to give up hope.” By Mark Redfern

7. Goat Girl: “motorway”

South London trio Goat Girl are releasing a new album, Below the Waste, on June 7 via Rough Trade. This week they shared the album’s second single, “motorway,” via a music video.

Goat Girl is Lottie Pendlebury (she/her), Rosy Jones (they/them) and Holly Mullineaux (she/her).

In a press release, Pendlebury says “motorway” was “born out of a desire to write a song where the main focal point was the voice. In listening to lots of music where the vocal line commanded all the attention through unexpected turns and developing melodies, I knew I wanted to try something similar. I sat with a simple sub bass line and experimented with letting the voice move however it wanted and recorded a video of myself to capture the moment. ‘Driving on the motorway’ were initially the only lyrics I had and would annoy everyone by repeatedly singing them. It became this really catchy riff that found its place as the track’s opening line and of course, main theme. It conjured up feelings of being a kid in the backseat of a car, not knowing where you’re heading but feeling content, or the fleeting moments you spend in new cities, and how the journey rather than destination sometimes feels like the main component.

“Instrumentally writing together, we naturally gravitated to a more electronic sound which suited the pop-esque style of the track. As a band we have a shared love for pop music of the noughties and would reference tracks like Kid Cudi’s ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ or ‘Day n Nite’ to try and reflect in the song. We really lent into the epicness of this track and its pop sensibilities, through holly’s melodic sub bass synth that constantly weaves between the vocals, rosy’s drum beats that in their space create heaviness, and the Juno 60 that chimes away throughout the chorus. Whilst leaning in we also wanted to subvert the classic pop ballad trope and include organic instruments, like the air organ that plays the main chords heard in the chorus, placing the sonic in a unique place.”

Holly Blakey directed and choreographed the video and had this to say: “Goat Girl are some of the coolest and most inspiring people I’ve met recently. We wanted to make something that had a continual exasperation to it, rooted in fantasy, slightly broken and a playful reimagining of our ride on the motorway. The band spoke about these long drives they would go on as children or on tour and it reminded me of the times in my life when I’ve arrived at places, and also when I’ve left. I suppose in those moments I’m always observing, and when I do that, I find this curiosity into my own life. I guess I wanted to exploit the privacy we assume of our anonymous lives, our obsessions, our avoidance, our need for togetherness.”

Previously Goat Girl shared the album’s first single, “ride around,” via a music video. It was one of our Songs of the Week.

The trio co–produced the album alongside John ‘Spud’ Murphy (Lankum, black midi). Below the Waste is the band’s third album and the follow-up to 2021’s On All Fours and 2018’s self-titled debut.

Most of the new album was recorded at Ireland’s Hellfire Studios, which a press release says is “in the shadow of the infamous Hellfire Club—one of Ireland’s most haunted buildings.” Additional instruments were recorded at various locations, including at the band’s South London studio and in a barn in Essex. They include strings by Reuben Kyriakides and Nic Pendlebury, woodwind instruments by Alex McKenzie, and vocals (“including a choir made up of family and friends,” says the press release).

Read our review of Goat Girl. By Mark Redfern

8. From Indian Lakes: “The Lines”

From Indian Lakes (the band led by Joey Vannucchi aka Joe Vann) are releasing their first album in five years, Head Void, on May 15. Last week their shared the album’s latest single, “The Lines.”

Mike Adame directed the song’s video. Vann had this to say about the it in a press release: “I think the video taps into the hardcore/punk energy we grew up on that embodies the underlying vibes in FIL songs. Whichever direction the songs go on every album, there’s always a sort of sweaty warehouse/basement/house show influence there as much as the indie or folk stuff that comes out because that’s all we knew coming up.”

9. La Luz: “Poppies”

La Luz are releasing a new album, News of the Universe, on May 24 via Sub Pop. Last week they shared its second single, “Poppies.”

The band is led by guitarist, singer, and songwriter Shana Cleveland, who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years after the birth of her son, which led to the postponement of shows in 2022. She had this to say about the new single in a press release: “‘Poppies’ is about the surreal feeling of going through the horror and isolation of a cancer diagnosis and treatment and then suddenly being out in the bright world again, trying to make sense of it all, feeling like I’m walking through a waking dream, seeing the first wildflowers come out and feeling a similar sense of rebirth.”

Previously La Luz shared the album’s first single, “Strange World,” via a music video. “Strange World” was one of our Songs of the Week.

News of the Universe follows 2021’s La Luz, which was released on Hardly Art, Sub Pop’s sister label, which makes this their debut on Sub Pop proper.

“Seeing the cycle of life, seeing things grow out of decay, the decay of other living things—was super comforting to me. I had to get to a place where I felt more comfortable with the idea of death,” Cleveland said of the new album in a previous press release.

News of the Universe features a changing of the guard in terms of La Luz’s lineup—it’s the first appearance for drummer Audrey Johnson and the final ones from longtime members Lena Simon (bass) and Alice Sandahl (keyboards).

La Luz worked with producer Maryam Qudos (Spacemoth) on the album and the collaboration went so well that Qudos has joined the band as their new keyboardist.

“There are moments on this album that sound to me like the last frantic confession before an asteroid destroys the earth,” said Cleveland, summing up News of the Universe.

Read our 2021 interview with La Luz. By Mark Redfern

10. Kamasi Washington: “Dream State” (Feat. André 3000)

Modern jazz icon Kamasi Washington is releasing a new album, Fearless Movement, on May 3 via Young. Last week he shared its third single, “Dream State,” which features André 3000, who plays flute.

Last year, André 3000 released New Blue Sun, an instrumental album featuring his flute playing. He had this to say about the collaboration in a press release: “When you receive a text from a wind friend something beautiful usually transpires. The day Kamasi invited me to a session for Fearless Movement I was so geeked and honored. Now, every time we get together something interesting happens. We first played during a recording session for New Blue Sun and it’s been fruitful ever since.”

Washington had this to say: “‘Dream State’ is a celebration of life and the opportunity it gives us to explore new possibilities. We created this song together instantaneously as we improvised off the music we made in the moment. It was such an honor to work on this song with one of my heroes, the great André 3000. And what an amazing experience André 3000, Brandon Coleman, Tony Austin, Mono/Poly and I had gliding freely through this world of sound not knowing where we would end up, but joyful in the journey itself.”

Fearless Movement features “The Garden Path,” a new song he shared in 2022. The day after the song was shared, Washington performed it for the first time on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which was also his TV debut. “The Garden Path” was one of our Songs of the Week. When the album was announced, Washington shared its second single, “Prologue,” via a music video. “Prologue” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Various musicians contribute vocals to Fearless Movement, including George Clinton, BJ The Chicago Kid, Inglewood rapper D-Smoke, and Taj and Ras Austin of Coast Contra (who are the twin sons of California rapper Ras Kass). The album also features regular collaborators Thundercat, Terrace Martin, Patrice Quinn, Brandon Coleman, and DJ Battlecat.

Washington says Fearless Movement is his dance album, but that doesn’t mean he’s switched to electronic music. “It’s not literal,” Washington says in a press release. “Dance is movement and expression, and in a way it’s the same thing as music—expressing your spirit through your body. That’s what this album is pushing.”

Another big influence on this album was the birth of Washington’s daughter a few years ago. She is even featured on the album in that she wrote the melody to the album’s “Asha the First” when she was first experimenting on the piano.

“Being a father means the horizon of your life all of a sudden shows up,” says Washington. “My mortality became more apparent to me, but also my immortality—realizing that my daughter is going to live on and see things that I’m never going to see. I had to become comfortable with this, and that affected the music that I was making.”

Washington’s last album was the acclaimed double album, Heaven and Earth, released in 2018. It was our #1 album of 2018. Read our 2018 cover story interview with Washington.

Washington was also one of the artists on the cover of our 20th Anniversary Issue (Issue 69).

He’s also in the supergroup Dinner Party, alongside Terrace Martin and Robert Glasper, and they released a new album, Enigmatic Society, in 2023. By Mark Redfern

11. The Lemon Twigs: “How Can I Love Her More?”

The Lemon Twigs (aka brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario) are releasing a new album, A Dream is All We Know, on May 3 via Captured Tracks. This week they shared another new song from it, the horn-backed “How Can I Love Her More?”

The band collectively had this to say about the new track in a press release: “With ‘How Can I Love Her More?’ we tried to bridge the gap between professional Brill Building writing and the more off-the-wall writing style of the post Sgt Pepper psychedelic scene. There are a lot of musical ideas but it’s still a catchy pop song. We’re very excited for people to hear it!”

A Dream is All We Know includes “My Golden Years,” a new song they shared in January via a music video. The band performed it on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which is when they first announced the new album. Watch the performance below. Then the band shared the album’s second single, “They Don’t Know How to Fall in Place,” via a music video. It was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another song from it, almost title track “A Dream is All I Know,” and announced some new tour dates. “A Dream is All I Know” was also one of our Songs of the Week.

A Dream is All We Know is the quick follow-up to Everything Harmony, which came out last May via Captured Tracks and was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2023.

The D’Addario brothers mixed and mastered the album themselves, recording it on period-specific equipment.

The band previously released 2020’s Songs For the General Public (read our review of it here), 2018’s concept musical Go to School, and their 2016-released debut album, Do Hollywood.

Read our 2016 interview with The Lemon Twigs in our Pleased to Meet You section. By Mark Redfern

12. Grace Cummings: “A Precious Thing”

Australian singer/songwriter/actress Grace Cummings released her third album, Ramona, last Friday via ATO. Last week she shared one last pre-release single from it, “A Precious Thing,” via a music video.

Cummings had this to say about the dramatic song in a press release: “I wrote this song on Christmas Eve in 2022. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. This song used to feature the screech of an eagle. We decided to take that part out and replace it with a Timpani.”

Cummings is also an accomplished theater actor, which explains some of the theatricality in her music and the power of her voice. Jonathan Wilson produced Ramona. The album’s title and title track was inspired by Bob Dylan’s 1964 song “To Ramona.”

“I didn’t want to be myself so I decided to be Ramona instead, full of intensity and melodrama,” Cummings explains in a press release. “For me there’s a lot of safety in putting on a costume or a mask; sometimes it feels like the only way to express any true honesty or vulnerability.” By Mark Redfern

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 12.

Amen Dunes: “Round the World”

Bad Bad Hats: “Bored in the Summer”

Caribou: “Honey”

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: “Song For Amy”

Cola: “Pallor Tricks”

Dehd: “Alien”

Lizzie Esau: “Wait Too Late”

Idaho: “On Fire”

Iron & Wine: “Anyone’s Game”

LA Priest: “City Warm Heart”

Mike Lindsay: “table” (Feat. Anna B Savage)

Parsnip: “The Babble”

Pet Shop Boys: “Dancing Star”

The Pill: “Bale of Hay”

+/- (Plus/Minus): “Borrowed Time”

total tommy: “Losing Out”

Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 12 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:

Subscribe to Under the Radar’s print magazine.

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.



Comments

Submit your comment