10 Best Songs of the Week: Wye Oak, Modest Mouse, Wolf Parade, Neon Indian, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, December 9th, 2019  

10 Best Songs of the Week: Wye Oak, Modest Mouse, Wolf Parade, Neon Indian, and More

Plus Moses Sumney, Andy Shauf, Grimes, Hoops, and a Wrap-up of the Week's Other Notable New Tracks

Nov 15, 2019
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Welcome to another Songs of the Week. Lots of big songs this week from some notable artists, so the pickings weren't slim.

Don't forget to pick up our new print issue, the My Favorite Album Issue. It features Angel Olsen and Sleater-Kinney on the two covers and is a special issue where we speak to musicians and actors about their all-time favorite albums.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Tegan and Sara, Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron, Underworld, Isaac Delusion, and Allah Las. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

This week we also posted a new interview with The Joy Formidable and a The End interview with Kate Tempest.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 10 best the last seven days had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared in the last week. Check out the full list below.

1. Wye Oak: "Fortune"

On Tuesday Wye Oak (Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack) shared a brand new song, "Fortune," and announced some new 2020 tour dates, which they are dubbing the JOIN tour. For the first time since 2012, Wasner and Stack are now both living in the same city together, Durham, NC (home to their label Merge), which has allowed for renewed creativity and led to the band recording this past summer. There's no word on a new album, for now check out "Fortune" below and the tour dates here.

In a press release Wasner had this to say about the song: "Life is change. Change is loss. This song is about how hard it is to let go, and the feeling of celebrating and mourning it all at once."

Wye Oak released their last album, The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs, back in April 2018 via Merge. (It was our Album of the Week and one of our Top 100 Albums of 2018.) In February they shared a brand new song, "Evergreen," via the Adult Swim Singles series (it was one of our Songs of the Week).

Since their last album, Stack launched his solo project, Joyero, releasing his debut album as Joyero, Release the Dogs, in August via Merge. Wasner, meanwhile, has been touring as part of Bon Iver's band. The press release promises that the JOIN tour dates will feature an expanded live band and will find them not just performing Wye Oak songs, but also ones by Joyero and Wasner's Flock of Dimes solo project.

Read our 2018 interview with Wye Oak on The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs.

Pick up our current print issue (the My Favorite Album Issue) to read Andy Stack's essay about his all-time favorite album.

2. Modest Mouse: "Ice Cream Party"

Earlier today Modest Mouse shared a new song, "Ice Cream Party." It's out now via Epic. There's no word on a new album, but the band is currently on tour with The Black Keys.

The song juxtaposes a fairly poppy vibe with devastating lyrics sung from the perspective of a seemingly unpopular and abused child. "There's an ice cream party in my house, an ice cream party in my house, please come over/Well, my father doesn't bring the belt no more, it's alright, would you please come over?" Isaac Brock sings. "Sure you've heard that him and mom are separated and he's gone, he won't be around." Later Brock pleads: "I promise I won't tell any other kids that you did, but please, please come over."

In March Modest Mouse shared another new song for Record Store Day, "Poison the Well," which was followed in April by its short B-side, "I'm Still Here."

The Record Store Day single is the band's first new music in quite a while, their last album was 2015's Strangers to Ourselves. "Ice Cream Party" sounds a bit more like the first single to a new album than their Record Store Day songs, so we'll see if that what it is.

Modest Mouse's current lineup consists of Isaac Brock, Jeremiah Green, Tom Peloso, Jim Fairchild, Russell Higbee, Lisa Molinaro, Ben Massarella, and Davey Brozowski.

3. Wolf Parade: "Forest Green"

On Monday Wolf Parade announced a new album, Thin Mind, and shared a new song from it, "Forest Green," via a lyric video for the track. They have also announced some new 2020 tour dates. Thin Mind is due out January 24, 2020 via Sub Pop. It includes "Against the Day," a new song the band shared in October via a video (it was one of our Songs of the Week). Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as their upcoming tour dates, here.

Thin Mind is the follow-up to Wolf Parade's 2017 reunion album Cry Cry Cry. The band's current lineup is Dan Boeckner, Spencer Krug, and Arlen Thompson, after multi-instrumentalist Dante DeCaro amicably left the band in 2018 when their touring for Cry Cry Cry was complete. John Goodmanson produced Thin Mind at Risque Disque on Vancouver Island, BC. Goodmanson mixed the album at Bogroll Studios in Seattle and Noah Mintz mastered it at Lacquer Channel Mastering in Toronto. The album is out on Sub Pop worldwide, apart from Canada, where it's out on Royal Mountain Records.

Krug had this to say about the album in a press release: "Thin Mind refers to the way that being around too much tech has made our focus thin."

Boeckner adds: "It's opening one more page, scrolling one more thing, and the weird, sort-of hollow automaton feeling that you get from it."

Thompson further explains: "This record is very personal, but at the same time, we're all coming from the same place of a general sense of anxiety. How do you deal with the constant barrage of having your opinions swayed by all these different actors when you don't know who they are or what their purpose is? There is no normal anymore."

Read our 2017 interview with Wolf Parade.

Read our review of Cry Cry Cry.

4. Neon Indian: "Toyota Man"

On Thursday Neon Indian (aka Alan Palomo) returned with a brand new song, "Toyota Man." It's a Spanish language track (a first for Neon Indian) that's a satire of the immigration crisis and comes via an amusing self-directed video that was filmed on the U.S./Mexico border and features kids with bats chasing a man with a Trump piñata head, among other things.

The song's translated lyrics include such lines as "We came here to study, we want to work." Musically the track works in hints of "La Cucaracha" and "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Palomo had this to say about the song and video in a press release: "'Toyota Man' was filmed along the road map of what essentially was my path to American citizenship: Monterrey, the Nuevo Laredo border, San Antonio, and finally Austin. The process is a multiple decade commute known by many Latinos and other Americans. Though my music has always been generally apolitical, I realized when recording this song that it was impossible to write biographically (in the rhetorical context of the Trump administration) without being entirely that: political. The story of my family, which before felt commonly American, was suddenly politicized. Recognizing the absurdity of it all, I thought it would be refreshing to address the social narrative around immigration through comedy - nods to Benny Hill, misremembered San Antonio car commercials, and School House Rock. My family and I had a ton of fun making this and I hope it's equally as fun to watch. Enjoy!"

Neon Indian's last album, VEGA INTL. Night School, was released back in 2015 via Mom + Pop. It was #20 on our Top 100 albums of 2015 list. It seems like he's due for a new album.

Read our 2015 print article on Neon Indian, as well as our 2015 bonus digital mag Q&A with Neon Indian.

Also read our review of VEGA INTL. Night School.

5. Moses Sumney: "Virile"

On Thursday Moses Sumney announced a new double album, græ, and shared its first single, "Virile," via a self-directed video for the track. Græ is due out in two parts, with the first part coming digitally in February 2020 (exact date TBA) and then the second part coming on May 15, 2020, which is also when the full album is released physically via Jagjaguwar. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art here.

Græ is Sumney's sophomore album, the follow-up to 2017's full-length debut, Aromanticism, and 2018's Black in Deep Red, 2014 EP. Aromanticism was our #1 Debut Album of 2017 and one of our overall Top 100 Albums of 2017. The album is his first since relocating to Asheville, North Carolina.

The "Virile" video is Sumney's directorial debut. He had this to say about it in a press release: "In a post-human world, the last remaining man is caught between Beauty and Brutality's battle to dominate the earth and his body."

Read our 2017 interview with Moses Sumney on Aromanticism.

6. Andy Shauf: "Try Again"

Canadian singer/songwriter Andy Shauf is releasing a new album, The Neon Skyline, on January 24, 2020 via ANTI-. On Wednesday he shared another song from it, "Try Again," via an animated video for the track.

Gérald Fleury and Timo Hateau of Mizotte & Cabécou directed the hand-made video. The directors had this to say about the video in a press release: "Rather than illustrating the storyline, we imagined our own offbeat tale like a parallel to the song. Design, motion, colors and atmosphere are influenced by the pop and childish dream world of '70s French animation (Chapi Chapo, The Magic Roundabout)."

Previously Shauf shared the album's first single, "Things I Do." The Neon Skyline is a concept album featuring interconnected songs. A press release describes the album's simple plot as such: "The narrator goes to his neighborhood dive, finds out his ex is back in town, and she eventually shows up."

7. Grimes: "So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth"

Earlier today Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) shared an ethereal brand new song, "So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth," and has announced more details of her upcoming album, Miss Anthropocene, including its release date, tracklist, and cover art. "So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth" has been shared via a visual that makes a brief reference to Blade Runner's opening title ("Los Angeles, November 2019") and there's also a shorter version of the song. Miss Anthropocene is now due out February 21, 2020 via 4AD. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art here.

Last year Grimes shared a brand new song for our future AI overlords, "We Appreciate Power," via a lyric video for the track, and also stopped by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to perform the song (where she was joined by HANA, who is featured on the song). "We Appreciate Power" was said to be the first track from her forthcoming fifth album, the follow-up to 2015's Art Angels. In March she shared a new demo, "Pretty Dark," which she said was not from the new album. Then in September she shared the new song "Violence," via a self-directed video for the track. The song features i_o, a techno DJ/producer, and was #2 on our Songs of the Week list. "Violence" is on the album's tracklist, but "We Appreciate Power" isn't.

8. Hoops: "They Say"

Hoops never exactly split up, but they did announce in 2017, after the release of their debut album, Routines, the same year, that they were going on an indefinite hiatus to focus on other projects outside of the band. Luckily for fans of Hoops, on Wednesday the Indiana band came back with a new song "They Say," which is out now via Fat Possum. That's only a two-year break, which is a pretty standard gap between releases these days. They have also announced their first show in two years, on December 4 at The Dance in Manhattan. Hoops is Drew Auscherman (vox, guitar), Kevin Krauter (vox, bass), and Keagan Beresford (vox, keys, guitar).

9. of Montreal: "Peace to All Freaks"

On Thursday Of Montreal, the project of Kevin Barnes, announced a new album, UR FUN, and shared its first single, "Peace to All Freaks." UR FUN is due out January 17, 2020 via Polyvinyl. Check out the album's tracklist and cover art, as well as of Montreal's upcoming tour dates, here.

UR FUN is the follow-up to 2018's White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood. A press release says that the album is inspired by Barnes' relationship with songwriter Christina Schnieder of Locate S,1. Musical inspirations include Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual and Janet Jackson's Control, in that Barnes set out to have every song on the album a catchy single. Barnes recorded the album in his home studio in Athens, Georgia.

In the press release Barnes says "Peace to All Freaks" is a "protest song against totalitarianism, familial terrorism, and wastefulness in all its forms."

Read our review of White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood.

Read our 2016 The End interview about endings and death with of Montreal's Kevin Barnes.

10. Anna Calvi "You're Not God"

On Tuesday Anna Calvi has shared an atmospheric new song, "You're Not God," that features a lot of heavy breathing. It's been done for the soundtrack of the Netflix/BBC show Peaky Blinders. The soundtrack came out today via Universal. Calvi also did the score for the new season of Peaky Blinders and will also be scoring next season. The soundtrack also features her cover of FKA twigs' "Papi Pacify."

Previously we posted from the soundtrack PJ Harvey's cover of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds' classic "Red Right Hand" and a new solo song from Jehnny Beth, frontperson for British four-piece Savages, "I'm the Man" (which was one of our Songs of the Week). The soundtrack also includes music from David Bowie, Radiohead, The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, and more. The show stars Cillian Murphy and is set in the post-WWI era England.

Calvi released a new Mercury Prize-nominated album, Hunter, last year via Domino. Hunter was Calvi's third full-length album and the follow up to 2011's Anna Calvi and 2013's One Breath.

Read our exclusive Self-Portrait feature with Calvi from 2018, where she takes a self-portrait photo and writes a list of six personal things about herself that her fans may not know. 

Honorable Mentions:

These four songs almost made the Top 10.

Beck: "Everlasting Nothing"

Pet Shop Boys: "Burning the Heather"

Slowdive: "Golden Hair (live)"

Sons of Raphael: "He Who Makes The Morning Darkness"

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead: "Don't Look Down"

Baths: "Wistful (Fata Morgana)"

Frank Black: "Numbers On Paper" (Mose Allison Cover)

Camila Cabello: "Living Proof"

Caspian: "Flowers of Light" 

Danger and Sparklehorse: "Ninjarous" (Feat. MF DOOM)

Hannah Diamond: "Love Goes On"

Billie Eilish: "everything i wanted"

Envy: "A Step in the Morning Glow"

Bill Fay: "Filled With Wonder Once Again"

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: "Wandering Star"

Ms. Lauryn Hill: "Guarding the Gates"

Local Natives: "Nova"

Loose Buttons: "Something Better"

Okay Kaya: "Baby Little Tween" 

Peter Bjorn and John: "Reason to Be Reasonable"

Piebald: "(All I Want For Christmas) Is To Rage With My Friends"

Iggy Pop: "If You're Going to the City" (Mose Allison Cover)

Ratboys: "Alien With a Sleep Mask On"

Silverbacks: "Sirens"

Spoon: "Inside Out (Demo)"

Taylor Swift: "Beautiful Ghosts" and "Lover (Remix)" (Feat. Shawn Mendes) 

Thyla: "Lenox Hill"

Twin Peaks: "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" (Wilco Cover)

Upset: "Lucky Strikes Out"

The Whiffs: "Now I Know" and "Shakin All Over"

Emily Yacina: "Bleachers"

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