12 Best Songs of the Week: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, I LIKE TRAINS, NZCA LINES, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, October 25th, 2020  

12 Best Songs of the Week: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, I LIKE TRAINS, NZCA LINES, and More

Plus Jenny O., I Break Horses, Cut Copy, Westerman, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

May 08, 2020
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Welcome to the eighteenth Songs of the Week of 2020. It’s another week under quarantine, the same as the last week. There were more ridiculous politics and it still seems like the health of the economy is being put before the health of the people, with premature calls to scale back social distancing and reopen everything while COVID-19 still spreads. We’ll see how that works out. 

It was a strong week for new songs. And whereas last week we had one less than usual, with a Top 10, this week we’ve got two more for a Top 12. And some of the honorable mentions are quite worthy too.

This week we posted more interviews in our COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In series, including with Ariel Pink and Joan As Police Woman. We also posted a The End interview with Melkbelly.

Plus we spoke to Hrishikesh Hirway about Song Exploder and his new podcasts Partners and Home Cooking. And today we posted an in-depth interview with I Break Horses (aka Maria Lindén) about her new album, Warnings, which was released today.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Car Seat Headrest, Monophonics, Diet Cig, Broken Field Runner, Hazel English, I Break Horses, and Hayley Williams. 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 the latest episode of our Why Not Both podcast, featuring Alice Bag

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 12 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. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: “Falling Thunder”

Melbourne, Australia five-piece Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are releasing a new album, Sideways to New Italy, on June 5 via Sub Pop. On Tuesday they shared another song from it, “Falling Thunder,” via a video for the track. The video features vacation footage shot by Jamieson Moore, a friend of the band, in Italy, specifically Sicily, Sardinia, and the Aeolian Islands (which is the ancestral homeland of the band’s Tom and Joe Russo). Now sure how these Aussies do it, but they have become one of the most consistent bands out there, with every single a definite winner.

In a press release Tom Russo says “Falling Thunder” is “about pushing on through the relentless march of time, against the constant cycle of seasons. And the way people change and relationships change. It’s set in that time when autumn is turning into winter and the trees are getting bare.”
 
Tom also had this to say about the video: “Our friend Jamieson Moore shot the footage of Sicily, Sardinia, and the Aeolian Islands on her phone while on vacation last year. The Aeolian Islands is also where my and Joe Russo's ancestors are from. We were also planning to shoot the band playing in Eolian Hall in Melbourne (it’s a community hall founded by Aeolian immigrants). We got some practice footage but by the time it came to shoot the band, we were on lockdown. So it’s turned out as a kind of a love letter to a particular place.”

Sideways to New Italy is the band’s sophomore album and the follow-up to 2018’s debut album, Hope Downs, also released via Sub Pop. Hope Downs was our Album of the Week, one of our Top 100 Albums of 2018, and our #1 Debut Album of 2018.

Sideways to New Italy also includes “Cars In Space,” a new song the band shared in February via a video for the track co-directed by fellow Aussie musician Julia Jacklin with her regular collaborator Nick Mckk. “Cars In Space” was one of our Songs of the Week. When the album was announced they shared another new song from it, “She’s There,” via a video for the single. “She’s There” was also one of our Songs of the Week.

The band features singer/songwriter/guitarists Tom Russo, Joe White, and Fran Keaney, as well as bassist Joe Russo and drummer Marcel Tussie.

The album’s partial namesake, New Italy, is actually a village near New South Wales’ Northern Rivers, which is an area Tussie is from. A press release announcing the album described the town: “A blink-and-you'll-miss-it pit-stop of a place with fewer than 200 residents, it was founded by Venetian immigrants in the late-1800s and now serves as something of a living monument to Italians' contribution to Australia, with replica Roman statues dotted like souvenirs on the otherwise rural landscape.”
 
Keaney had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “I wanted to write songs that I could use as some sort of bedrock of hopefulness to stand on, something to be proud of. A lot of the songs on the new record are reaching forward and trying to imagine an idyll of home and love.”

Read our 2018 interview with Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.

 

2. I LIKE TRAINS: “The Truth”

This week Leeds, England post-punk five-piece I LIKE TRAINS announced their first studio album in eight years, KOMPROMAT, and shared its politically charged first single, the six-minute long “The Truth,” via a Michael Connolly-directed video for the new song. KOMPROMAT is due to be released on August 21 via Atlantic Curve. In a monotone voice over ambient grumblings and an array of clips featuring prominent political figures and key moments in history, frontman David Martin delivers what he thinks “The Truth” to mean: “The truth is an exercise in patience/The truth is not what we signed up for/The truth is no longer concerned with the facts.”

The track is I LIKE TRAINS’ first new single since their 2016 soundtrack for the documentary A Divorce Before Marriage. But this album is similar to that of the band’s last studio album, 2012’s The Shallow, as the creation of the album derives from one specific “theme.” KOMPROMAT’s genesis was spurred after following Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks in 2013.

“We didn’t set out to write a record about current affairs, but the path we set out on converged drastically with that daily discourse,” Martin says in a press release. “The album inadvertently became about populist politics across the world. Brexit, Trump, Cambridge Analytica, and covert Russian influence ended up at the centre of it all.” 

“The Truth” is a comeback track, nonetheless. And judging from the comments from the video, I LIKE TRAINS fans are more than eager to listen to the full LP. The band’s full lineup is David Martin (vocals/guitar), Alistair Bowis (bass), Guy Bannister (guitar/synths), Simon Fogal (drums), and Ian Jarrold (guitar). By Samantha Small 

 

3. NZCA LINES: “Real Good Time”

On Wednesday NZCA LINES, the London-based project of Michael Lovett, announced a new album, Pure Luxury, and shared a new song from it, “Real Good Time,” via a Leo Stamps-directed video for the track. Pure Luxury is due out July 10 via Memphis Industries. “Real Good Time” is built around a body shaking P-funk groove and is one of those songs (you know the ones) that simply challenge you not to get up and dance. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

Back in March NZCA LINES shared the album’s title track, “Pure Luxury,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then he shared a colorful video for the song that had shades of Pulp’s classic video for “This Is Hardcore.” Lovett co-directed the video with his wife Alina Rancier.

According to a press release “Real Good Time” surprisingly “channels concerns about agricultural chemicals and overpopulation.” Lovett sings: “It’s too late to save the bride/I guess she’ll just get buried alive/in waterfalls of pesticide/or gently suffocated by the groom/I just remembered how we die/I saw it on TV one time/But I guess we’ll just keep multiplying.” 

Lovett had this to say about the song: “‘Real Good Time’ stars an unhinged narrator arriving uninvited to a scary dance party. As the sweat soaks through his polyester suit jacket he perceives a blizzard of nightmarish, hallucinogenic images depicting his unease with the world. Yet he soon realizes that, despite the darkness around us, we deserve to have a good time—to make the best with what we’re given.”

It’s not the only song on Pure Luxury inspired by environmental concerns: “Larsen” is about “the breaking up of the Larsen C ice shelf in 2017.”

Things have been fairly quiet for NZCA LINES since the release of his last album, 2016’s sophomore release, Infinite Summer, also released via Memphis Industries. Over the years Lovett has also performed in Metronomy’s touring band and performed on some of Christine and the Queens’ work.

Read our recent COVID-19 Quarantine Check-In interview with NZCA LINES.

 

4. Jenny O.: “What About That Day”

Jenny O. (full name Jennifer Anne Ognibene) invites you into her cathartic daydream in her new music video for “What About That Day,” the third single from her forthcoming album New Truth, due out June 19 from Mama Bird Recording Co.

The video was shot on Kodak Super 8 film by filmmaker and cinematographer Sam Gerzai while on a beach trip to Malibu. But with Ognibene’s gentle timbre and ethereal harmonies wondering “What about that day?” the peaceful crashing of the waves lend itself to a more melancholic, semi-nostalgic vibe.

In a press release Ognibene says the song captures “an obviously bad partnership that has been riding on the fumes of one or two magical days, tops. The romance is done, but that one day kept us grasping at something that could have been and wasn’t.”

Ognibene adds: “I never would have thought this song would come out while the world was in isolation, but I guess this is its time. The only time I ever lived truly alone, I felt nuts. I am amused by obsessive rearranging and celebration of my things.” By Samantha Small 

 

5. I Break Horses: “Turn”

Sweden’s I Break Horses (the project of Maria Lindén) released a new album, Warnings, today via Bella Union. All of the album’s four singles made our Songs of the Week list, with three of them at #1. Now that the album is out, we can share one more song from it that we love, nine-minute long album opener “Turn.” It’s an atmospheric slow burner that leads you into the album (the pace really picks up with track four, “I’ll Be the Death of You”).

You can stream the whole album here. Also, today we posted our new interview with Lindén, yesterday we posted our rave 9/10 review of the album, and this week she’s shared two new live session videos for the album’s “Depression Tourist” and “Death Engine” (watch those here).

Previously Lindén shared Warnings’ first single, “Death Engine,” via a video it. It was our #1 Song of the Week last week. Then Lindén shared the album’s second single, “I’ll Be the Death of You,” also via a video for it. “I’ll Be the Death of You” was also our #1 Song of the Week. Then she shared the album’s third single, “Neon Lights,” via a colorful lyric video for the new song. “Neon Lights” was once again our #1 Song of the Week. Then she shared the album’s fourth single, “The Prophet,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Warnings is I Break Horses’ first new album in six years, the follow-up to 2014’s Chiaroscuro. “It has been some time in the making,” Lindén acknowledged in the previous press release announcing the album. “About six years, involving several studios, collaborations that didn’t work out, a crashed hard drive with about two years of work, writing new material again instead of trying to repair it. New studio recordings, erasing everything, then recording most of the album myself at home.”

For a while Lindén was working on instrumental tracks. “It wasn’t until I felt an urge to add vocals and lyrics,” she said, “that I realized I was making a new I Break Horses album.”

Eventually she got producer/mixing engineer Chris Coady (Beach House, TV on the Radio) involved to mix the album. “Before reaching out to Chris I read an interview where he said, ‘I like to slow things down. Almost every time I love the sound of something slowed down by half, but sometimes 500% you can get interesting shapes and textures,’” Lindén said. “And I just knew he’d be the right person for this album.”

 

6. Cut Copy: “Love Is All We Share”

Today Cut Copy shared a new song, “Love Is All We Share,” via a video for the track. It’s the Australian electronic band’s first new song in almost three years and is out now via Cutters Records/The Orchard. “Love Is All We Share” is a chilled out six-minute long track. Takeshi Murata directed the accompanying video, which features a lot of bubbles. The band’s last album was 2017’s Haiku From Zero.

Cut Copy frontman Dan Whitford had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Love Is All We Share’ is a song we made using only a handful of sounds, hoping to create an intimate and unworldly atmosphere. It was written a year ago about the anxieties of imagined future times, as technology becomes more all-consuming. But in light of recent events the song took on an eerie significance. Now, with our immediate future uncertain and people the world over self isolating, ‘love’ more than ever, feels like one of the best things we can share.”

Murata had this to say about the video: "Of the ideas we had, the floating bubbles stood out—representing elements of the song best with animation that’s meditative. For me, the bubbles point to our relationships and their fragility, relevant to the lyrics and time.”

7. Westerman: “The Line”

West London’s Will Westerman, who releases music simply under his last name, is releasing his debut full-length album, Your Hero Is Not Dead, on June 5 via Partisan. On Thursday he shared another song from it, “The Line.” It’s a song that tackles what crosses the line these days, in terms of what’s acceptable in modern society.

Westerman had this to say about the song in a press release: “I was thinking about moral relativism when I wrote this. The ever-shifting parameters of what is and isn't acceptable. This applies to many things—gender, human rights, parenting, politics. I don't believe that this means there's no right and wrong, but normative values are constantly in flux—hopefully as we continue to be more compassionate.”

Westerman recorded Your Hero Is Not Dead in Southern Portugal and London with his friend and producer Nathan Jenkins (aka Bullion). The album includes “Blue Comanche,” a new song Westerman shared in January. It was one of our Songs of the Week. Then when the album was announced he shared another new song from it, “Think I’ll Stay,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then he shared another song from it, “Waiting On Design,” which was also on our Songs of the Week list. He then shared another song from it, title track “Your Hero Is Not Dead,” which he said was inspired by the 2019 passing of Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis. “Your Hero Is Not Dead” was yet again one of our Songs of the Week

 

8. Hayden Thorpe and Joe Goddard: “Unknown Song” 

Today Hayden Thorpe, formerly the singer for British art-rockers Wild Beasts, and Hot Chip founding member Joe Goddard teamed up for a new single, “Unknown Song.” It combines Goddard’s dancefloor-ready music with Thorpe’s distinctive vocals, making for an interesting pairing.

In a press release Thorpe had this to say about the song: “The lockdown has really made it apparent how music allows us to feel a synchronicity with our fellow beings. In the absence of touch, music is that sensual meeting point.” 

Goddard also had this to say: “We are in the midst of a crisis but gaining that new appreciation of dancing together is a small positive that I hope to hold onto after all of this.”

Thorpe released his debut solo album, Diviner, in May 2019 via Domino (stream it here). In September Thorpe shared a brand new song, “Full Beam,” that was recorded during the sessions for Diviner but didn’t make the final tracklist (it was one of our Songs of the Week).

Goddard released a solo album, Electric Lines, in 2017 on his own Greco-Roman label, via Domino. Hot Chip meanwhile released a new album, A Bath Full of Ecstasy, in June 2019 via Domino (stream it here and read our positive review of the album here).

9. Woods: “Can’t Get Out”

Woods are releasing a new album, Strange to Explain, on May 22 via Woodsist. On Tuesday they shared another song from it, “Can’t Get Out.” A press release says it’s “a track about fighting to move past the low points of depression.” The propulsive song is backed by synths and might be the yummiest taste we’ve gotten of Strange to Explain thus far.

Previously Woods shared the album’s first single, “Where Do You Go When You Dream?” Then they shared another song from it, title track “Strange to Explain.”

Strange to Explain is the follow-up to 2017’s Love Is Love. Since then frontman Jeremy Earl has become a father and bassist/producer Jarvis Taveniere has moved from New York to Los Angeles. That makes it the band’s first bicoastal record.

10. Jessie Ware: “Save a Kiss”

Jessie Ware is releasing a new album, What’s Your Pleasure?, on June 19 via PMR/Friends Keep Secrets/Interscope. On Thursday she shared another song from it, “Save a Kiss.”

Ware had this to say about the song in a press release: “Save a Kiss has taken on a new meaning during these weird times and it seems like the right time to put it out. This track is an optimistic one for me, I hope it resonates with people wherever they are right now. It's an upbeat song to dance along to and have fun with. I know I’ve got plenty of kisses I’m saving up for everyone when this is all over.”

What’s Your Pleasure? is Ware’s fourth album and the follow-up to 2017’s Glasshouse. The album features an array of collaborators, including Kindness, Danny Parker, Shungudzo Kuyimba, Clarence Coffee Jr., Benji B, Midland, Morgan Geist (Storm Queen), Matthew Tavares, Metronomy’s Joseph Mount, and James Ford (who was the primary collaborator on the album).

The album includes two songs Ware shared last year. “Adore You,” which was produced by Metronomy’s Joseph Mount and mixed by James Ford (who’s also in Simian Mobile Disco), came out in February 2019. “Mirage (Don’t Stop),” which was produced and co-written by Benji B and Matthew Tavares (and featured additional production by James Ford and was co-written by Clarence ‘Coffee’ Jr.), came out in November 2019 and was one of our Songs of the Week. In October 2018 she also shared “Overtime,” another new song that was one of our Songs of the Week, but it doesn’t appear on the tracklist to the new album. 

When the album was announced she shared another new song from it, “Spotlight,” via a video for the track. “Spotlight” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared another song from the album, “Ooh La La,” via a lyric video. “Ooh La La” was again one of our Songs of the Week.

11. Gordi: “Volcanic”

“I have these moments where I panic/When I shut down and go manic,” admits Australian musician Gordi (aka Sophie Payten) on her new single “Volcanic.” “Volcanic,” which was shared on Tuesday, is the third single Gordi has shared (following “Aeroplane Bathroom” and “Sandwiches”) off her new album Our Two Skins, from Jagjaguwar and out June 26. Although she wrote the tune two years ago while wrestling with her identity and grasping with the paradox of her Christian family and Australia’s same-sex marriage vote, Gordi’s tension and anxiety is more appropriate than ever now. The gorgeous arrangement was born behind the kitchen at Berlin’s Michelberger Hotel during PEOPLE Festival. The same piano is even included in her newest record—you can even hear the clanging of pots and pans in the background of a few of the tracks. Notwithstanding, Gordi’s “Volcano” is painstakingly beautiful with her rich tone and candid lyrics. 

Our Two Skins, unsurprisingly, was written post a nervous breakdown on a flight from Australia to Europe back in 2017. Payten had just earned a medical degree—a degree that she hopes to use to help out during the COVID-19 crisis. Currently on standby with a variety of hospitals, she is eager to return to wards when possible.

“I’ll dig out my work backpack, make sure my stethoscope is functioning as it should and go back to my other life; it will likely be in a more frantic state than I left it,” Payten says in a press release. 

This “other life” is the crux of Our Two Skins. As evident from the blend of Gordi’s frustration and confusion found in the “Volcanic” video (shot by Madeleine Purdy around Payten’s hometown of Canowindra), the album is a journey through an intense and life-changing realization of just who Payten really is and how she fits in the world.

Payten had this to say about “Volcanic” in the press release: “It speaks to a rush of anxiety—about why, about what is real and what is not, about the drama of it, about the vortex of it. When it surges you can feel paralyzed and out of control at the same time—‘shut down’ and ‘manic.’ Its self-destructive nature can be so crippling. I wanted the song to feel like a wave of anxiety. The tempo never changes but the piano solo starts at half-time and rushes until it is double the speed, though the beat never changes. And then suddenly; it’s over.” By Samantha Small

12. Gum Country: “Tennis (I Feel OK)”

Los Angeles-based duo Gum Country are releasing their debut album, Somewhere, on June 14 via Burger and Kingfisher Bluez. This week they shared another song from it, “Tennis (I Feel OK).” The band features vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Courtney Garvin (The Courtneys) and multi-instrumentalist Connor Mayer. They describe their sound as “harsh twee.”

In a press release Garvin says the song is inspired by her love of tennis: “Kinda goofy, but in all honesty my relationship with tennis is so meaningful to me on a spiritual level. It's my meditation practice. The game makes you present, you're repeating movements, and finding a rhythm. And it's so creative. I think all athletes are artists. Plus you get to be outside, getting exercise, hanging with friends and all of those things are so good for you. So the song is pretty much about how tennis just makes my life better. I love tennis. If anyone reading this wants to play (after the pandemic) please hit me up.”

Previously Gum Country shared the album’s title track, “Somewhere,” via a video for the song. “Somewhere” was one of our Songs of the Week.

The duo began in Vancouver, where they quietly made lo-fi four-track recordings in an apartment. Then they relocated to their current home of Los Angeles. There they recorded the album with Joo-Joo Ashworth at Studio 22. A press release cites the following as influences and reference points: Stereolab, The Replacements, The Breeders, Beat Happening, Yo La Tengo, Meat Puppets, and The Magnetic Fields.

Honorable Mentions:

These seven songs almost made the Top 10.

Bad Moves: “End of Time”

Jehnny Beth: “Heroine”

Fontaines D.C.: “A Hero’s Death”

Lianne La Havas: “Paper Thin”

Cass McCombs: “The Wine of Lebanon”

 

Momma: “Habitat”

Nation of Language: “The Wall & I”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Lydia Ainsworth: “Forever”

Ariel Pink: “Iron Worrier”

Glen Ballard: “The Eddy” (Feat. St. Vincent)

Matt Bellamy: “Tomorrow’s World”

Bibio: “Sleep On the Wing”

Charli XCX: “I Finally Understand”

Christine and the Queens: “Heart of Gold” (Neil Young Cover)

Deap Vally: “Space Age Love Song” (A Flock Of Seagulls Cover)

Dirty Projectors: “Lose Your Love”

Bob Dylan: “False Prophet”

Tanya Donelly: “Here Comes Your Man” (Pixies Cover)

The Flaming Lips: “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (George Jones Cover)

Gorillaz: “How Far?” (Feat. Tony Allen and Skepta)

Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber: “Stuck with U”

Jon Hopkins: “Singing Bowl (Ascension)”

Hundredth: “Idioteque” (Radiohead Cover)

Christian Lee Hutson: “Get the Old Band Back Together”

Kehlani: “Grieving” (Feat. James Blake)

LA Priest: “Beginning”

The Magnetic Fields: “I’ve Got a Date With Jesus”

Willie Nelson: “I’m the Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised” (Johnny Paycheck Cover)

No Joy: “Birthmark”

Overcoats: “Fire and Fury (Local Natives Remix)”

Sam Prekop: “Circle Line”

Rhye: “Beautiful”

Sia: “Saved My Life”

Sleaford Mods: “Second”

Sonic Boom: “Things Like This (A Little Bit Deeper)”

Squirrel Flower: “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” (Caroline Polachek Cover) and “Take It or Leave It”

The Streets: “Where The F*&K Did April Go”

Tei Shi: “Die 4 Ur Love”

Thurston Moore: “May Daze”

Weezer: “Hero”

Gillian Welch: “Happy Mother’s Day”

Paul Weller: “Village”

Wire: “The Art of Persistence”

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