12 Best Songs of the Week: The Weather Station, Deep Sea Driver, Jane Weaver, and More | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, October 25th, 2020  

12 Best Songs of the Week: The Weather Station, Deep Sea Driver, Jane Weaver, and More

Plus James Blake, Maxband, Julie Byrne and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Oct 16, 2020
Bookmark and Share


Welcome to the 40th Songs of the Week of 2020. Last week we had a supersized Songs of the Week because it covered two weeks’ worth of songs. This week’s list is supersized because there were so many great tracks shared in the last seven days. Thus this week we’ve got a Top 12 (and could’ve easily had a Top 13 or 14) instead of a Top 10, as well as a lot of honorable mentions.

This week on our website we also posted a Pleased to Meet You interview with The Goa Express, a Self-Portrait interview with No Joy, and an interview with longtime Under the Radar writer Mike Hilleary about his new book on music journalism, On the Record

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums, including the latest by Nils Frahm, Sylvan Esso, Ipress, Semisonic, Hannah Georgas, Guided By Voices (a reissue), Hey King!, The Paul Collins Beat, Duncan Fellows, and No Joy. Plus every week we post reviews of various other things (some weeks including DVDs, Blu-rays, films, concerts, and TV shows).

The latest episode of the Why Not Both podcast we present featured an interview with Perfume Genius.

Remember that we recently announced our long-awaited new print issue, with Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney on the two covers. Find all the info here and buy a copy directly from us here.

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. The Weather Station: “Robber” 

On Wednesday The Weather Station (the project of Toronto-based singer/songwriter Tamara Linderman) shared a new song, “Robber,” via a self-directed video for it in her directorial debut. “Robber,” an atmospheric horn- and string-backed track, marks her first release for her new label, Fat Possum. It’s also the first release since her acclaimed self-titled and self-produced fourth album, released in 2017 by Paradise of Bachelors. The chill-inducing arrangements on “Robber” overwhelm and take The Weather Station to a new level of artistry.

Linderman had this to say about the song in a press release: “I think in my life I’ve been pretty naive, always tried to see the good in everyone (still do), always tried to make do with what is and not think of what can’t be (still do). But those attitudes are dangerous when applied at a societal level, especially at this moment in time.  I think we’re all in denial a bit, about where we are, and what is happening, because it’s easier on some level, easier to try and make do with what’s missing than to see what’s missing.  I think it’s hard to believe in the robber, hard to even see the robber; it’s easier to try and make love to or glamorize the robber.  It hurts too much otherwise. To put it straight; there are real human people who are literally robbing us and all future generations of everything that matters, right now. But we literally can’t see that as a society, because for one thing we’ve been taught not to value what is taken, and for another because we’ve been taught to glamorize and love the taker.  We love to love the taker.  We don’t know how to see the victim of the taking.” 

Jared Raab shot the video, which was filmed in one day in the forest on the property where Lindeman grew up. Linderman had this to say about it: “Throughout the video is a thread of denial, of people performing their roles even when nothing seems to make sense, and nothing is quite right, and we are quite literally lost in the woods; which feels like a pretty perfect summation of our year so far. From an emotional and mood standpoint, I wanted the video to feel like how 2020 does to me; steeped in a sort of omnipresent unease and a threat of distant violence, even as life goes on, performers perform, dancers dance, food couriers seek addresses. The threat is felt only by some characters, while others are curiously unaffected, seeming not even to notice. I wanted to capture the disorientation of participating in capitalism and performance in general, where it can feel like power and co-option, self actualization and violation, sometimes all at once.”

Read our review of The Weather Station.

2. Deep Sea Diver: “Eyes Are Red (Don’t Be Afraid)” 

Deep Sea Diver (the band led by Jessica Dobson) released a new album, Impossible Weight, today via High Beam/ATO (stream it here). Now that the album is out we can share one of our favorite tracks from it, the seven-minute centerpiece song “Eyes Are Red (Don’t Be Afraid),” which wasn’t released as a pre-release single. 

Previously Deep Sea Diver shared the album’s title track, “Impossible Weight,” which features a guest verse from Sharon Van Etten. It was shared via a video featuring both Dobson and Van Etten. “Impossible Weight” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then Deep Sea Diver shared another song from the album, “Wishing,” via a video that is made up of crowd-sourced footage of fans standing in front of 78 music venues closed because of the pandemic, in an effort to promote the Save Our Stages movement. “Wishing” was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared a video of them performing album opener “Shattering the Hourglass” in the studio. Previously Impossible Weight’s first single “Lights Out” was shared. 

Dobson’s Deep Sea Diver bandmates include her husband Peter Mansen (drums), Garrett Gue (bass), and Elliot Jackson (guitar, synth). Impossible Weight is the band’s third album. The band entered the studio not long after the touring cycle for their sophomore album, 2016’s Secrets

“We went into the studio pretty quickly after the tour ended, and I sort of hit a wall where I was feeling very detached from making music, and unable to find joy in it,” Dobson reveals. “I realized I had to try to rediscover my voice as a songwriter, and figure out the vocabulary for what I needed to say on this album.” 

Eventually she regrouped and co-produced the album with Andy D. Park (Pedro the Lion, Ruler), recording it at Seattle’s Studio X and The Hall of Justice. 

Dobson has also performed in The Shins and in Beck’s band. 

3. Jane Weaver: “The Revolution of Super Visions” 

On Tuesday, British singer/songwriter/guitarist Jane Weaver announced a new album, Flock, and shared its first single, the seriously funky “The Revolution of Super Visions.” Flock is due out in the far off land of March 5, 2021 via Fire. Weaver has also announced some UK tour dates for the even farther off land of June, 2021. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as the tour dates, here

A press release says Flock is the album Weaver “always wanted to make, the most genuine version of Jane Weaver, complete with unpretentious day-glo pop sensibilities, wit, kindness, humor, glamour” and that it was “produced on a complicated diet of bygone Lebanese torch songs, 1980s Russian Aerobics records, and Australian Punk.” 

“The Revolution of Super Visions” sports a Prince influence. Weaver had this to say about the song in the press release: “The revolution accidentally happens because so many people visualize the same ideals and something supernatural occurs. Everyone is exhausted with social media, inequality and the toxic masculinity of world leaders contributing to a dying planet.”

Weaver’s last two solo albums were 2017’s Modern Kosmology and 2019’s Loops In The Secret Society (which was a remix album of sorts).

4. James Blake: “Before” 

On Wednesday James Blake released a new EP, Before. The four-song EP was released with little advance notice and each of its four songs is accompanied by visualizer video (title track “Before” has a full on video). Before sees Blake returning to his dancefloor roots and London club days. In a press release Blake says the EP finds him “finally having confidence to put my own voice on dancefloor rhythms.” Ryder Ripps directed the visualizer videos and the “Before” video features various dancers dancing to the song in their living rooms, while under quarantine. The EP is out now on Republic.

Our favorite track on the EP was title track “Before,” which most embraced a club sound, and so that makes our Songs of the Week list, with the other tracks further below. 

Blake’s last album, Assume Form, came out back in January 2019 via Republic. In April he shared his first new single of 2020, “You’re Too Precious.”

5. Maxband: “Cut It Loose”

New York’s Maxband, the newest project featuring Max Savage of Parquet Courts and Patrick Smith of A Beacon School, first debuted in 2018 with its low-key tape release Perfect Strangers. The band has since played support slots for Sports Team, Bambara, Tokyo Police Club, The Men, and others. The band recently returned to the studio to record their forthcoming EP, Top of The Stairs, out November 20, and have released the first single from the project, “Cut It Loose,” premiering with Under the Radar on Wednesday. 

Savage, the longtime drummer of Parquet Courts, takes the lead with Maxband, playing guitar and splitting vocal duties with Patrick Smith who also plays bass. Longtime friends Tim Nelson and Eric Read fill out the lineup on lead guitar and drums respectively. Considering the band sports his name, it would be easy to pigeonhole Maxband as a Max Savage showcase yet, if “Cut It Loose” is anything to go off of, the band seems to be taking a more collaborative approach while carving their own lane independent of the nervy punk rock of Parquet Courts.  

The rapid-fire palm-mutes and clean guitar tone give the track a bright indie flavor, bolstered by Smith’s buoyant vocals. Savage’s vocals on the chorus offer a strong counterpoint, sounding not unlike his brother Andrew’s vocals with Parquet Courts. Add in some razor-sharp call and response guitar leads and the track has an undeniable hook. At the climax, the hook gains even more urgency as the whole band locks into the groove, and Savage’s vocals gain even more of a punk edge. Yet, the band keeps the energy locked down, striking a perfect balance between breezy and fervent attitude.

The band says, “‘Cut It Loose’ was the first song we wrote for Top of the Stairs, and it functions as a good mission statement for where we are as a band: it was our first fully collaborative effort that was fleshed out from an idea that Patrick brought into a practice space, and the first song where Max and Patrick split vocal duties.”  By Caleb Campbell

Maxband · Cut It Loose

6. Julie Byrne and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma: “Love’s Refrain” 

On Thursday Julie Byrne and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma teamed up for the new track “Love’s Refrain,” which is a new version of Cantu-Ledesma 2016-released instrumental song of the same name, this time featuring lyrics and vocals by Byrne. It was shared via a video for the track and is part of Mexican Summer’s new Looking Glass singles series on Bandcamp. The series is meant to celebrate “the human condition through remote connection.” Byrne made the video at her home with her friends, Thea and Lydia Kegler.

Byrne had this to say about the song in a press release: “Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's original version of ‘Love's Refrain’ is a song that always felt limitless to me. When I first started writing the lyrics for the collaborative version, I would walk and listen to the song at dusk, sometimes I would walk for hours, playing it over and over again on headphones like I did with music I loved when I was a teenager. 

“Initially the song was written about desire, the requisite distance embedded in the experience of desire, the feeling of really believing in someone and risking oneself in order to be guided by that belief. But as I moved through that time, it became clear that the experience of writing these lyrics and making this video had so much more to do with the healing of aloneness. The walks in and of themselves had become a therapeutic process for me, a space where I would practice my aloneness. I would set out to walk a distance not for the sake of destination but to feel embodied. At this pace I sought to restore the breaks in my spirit, cast another illusion onto the pyre, feel the necessity and possibility in that, where I would turn my words over and over again in my mind until they became deliberate, where I would sometimes so clearly feel a sense of horizon breaking through me.”

Byrne’s last album was 2017’s acclaimed Not Even Happiness, where as Cantu-Ledesma’s last album was 2019’s Tracing Back the Radiance.

7. Quinton Brock: “To the Moon”

This week Brooklyn-by-way-of-Buffalo singer/songwriter Quinton Brock shared a new song, “To the Moon,” via a video for the track. “To the Moon” is touted as Brock’s debut single (although he has previously released music) and was inspired by a particularly bad week in Brock’s life. Brock co-directed the video with Shauna Presto. 

In the same week Brock’s dog died and then his girlfriend left him and that inspired “To the Moon.” Brock was previously in the band The Get Money Squad, who released two albums before breaking up. He then lost his desk job, sending him back to restaurant work until the pandemic swept New York City. Isolated alone in his apartment, and inspired by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, he began working more on his solo work and “To the Moon” is the first fruit from that time, with more to come.  

8. Tunng: “Scared to Death”

Tunng are releasing a new album, DEAD CLUB, on November 6 via Full Time Hobby. It’s a concept album about death and grief that’s also tied to a podcast of the same name. On Thursday thet shared the album’s third and final single, “Scared to Death.” This week they also shared episode 7 of the podcast, which features Swiss-born British philosopher and author Alain de Botton (listen to that here).

Tunng’s Sam Genders had this to say about “Scared to Death” in a press release:

“It's inspired by my relationship to life, death, fear and acceptance and how my relationship to those four things has shifted in recent years, and especially since we began this project. On one hand I'm hugely drawn to rational thought and scientific knowledge as a way to solve problems and navigate life. On the other hand, I only seem to make real progress when I accept how little I know and really embrace that unknowing. 

“Maybe the unknowing helps me deal with life's contradictions?

“I'm unafraid of being dead but afraid to die.

“Life scares the crap out of me and yet I love life so much.

“Trying to make intellectual sense of the huge range of positive and negative feelings I have about life and death doesn't always seem possible. Accepting the flow of experience however, without trying to understand it, does sometimes seem to work for me and make it all more manageable.” 

Tunng have also announced a livestream Q&A event for November 6. Details and tickets are here.

Previously Tunng shared the album’s first single, “A Million Colours,” accompanied by an animated video. “A Million Colours” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its second single, “Death is the New Sex,” which also made our Songs of the Week list.

9. ViVii: “Rendezvous”

On Tuesday, Swedish dream-pop trio ViVii shared their expansive new single, “Rendezvous,” off of their forthcoming sophomore LP due out in spring 2021, and we were pleased to premiere it. Built around a diaphanous keyboard melody, the song entrances as it gradually deepens. 

On the making of the track the band had this to say: “It brings us back to the mixtapes days. The feeling of pushing play and then entering into the world of whatever that song would give. Some songs would take us to our favorite places that no-one knew about, but we haven’t been back there for a long time, this song brings us right back to that same spot, hopefully it will take you on a trip as well.” 

The trio consists of husband and wife Emil and Caroline Jonsson and their friend Anders Eckeborn. The group previously released two EPs, an eponymous debut album, and a bunch of singles, plus a cover of Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times” for The Mahogany Sessions. By Stephen Axeman

ViVii · Rendezvous

10. Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas: “Martin 5000”

Norwegian space disco mastermind Lindstrøm (aka Hans-Peter Lindstrøm) and Norwegian producer Prins Thomas have teamed up again for a new album, III, and on Wednesday they shared its first single, “Martin 5000.” III is due out November 20 via Smalltown Supersound. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here

III is the duo’s first album together in 11 years and the follow-up to 2009’s II. Since then the two have been very busy with solo projects, but they have slowly collaborated on the new album over the years.

“There's a different process with every album,” Thomas explains in a press release. “With the first two albums, we had a door between separate rooms in the studio, so I could open my door and play him something. We also toured together a lot after the first album, and after that experience we realized that we work better together at a distance. We're doing our best work by not worrying too much about what the other one of us is doing.” 

Thomas adds: “Our partnership is very democratic—we never turn down each other's ideas. And if it goes wrong, we blame it on the other guy. The tracks that Lindstrøm sent me this time were almost like standard house tracks. I already had an idea of what I wanted to do, so I forced those tracks into new shoes and dresses.”

11. Stevie Wonder: “Can’t Put It in The Hands of Fate” (Feat. Rapsody, Cordae, Chika, and Busta Rhymes)

Stevie Wonder hasn’t released a new album in 15 years, since 2005’s A Time to Love, although since then he has put out a couple of singles and guested on other people’s songs. But on Tuesday he returned with two new songs, “Can’t Put It in The Hands of Fate” (which features Rapsody, Cordae, Chika, and Busta Rhymes) and “Where Is Our Love Song” (which features Gary Clark Jr.). The former is a Black Lives Matter-inspired protest song, a call to action, and that makes our main Songs of the Week list. 

Wonder self-produced both songs and they are being released on his own new label, So What The Fuss Music, which is marketed and distributed by Republic Records/Universal Music Group. For most of his career he’s been signed to Motown. All of Wonder’s proceeds from the record royalties of “Where Is Our Love Song” are to be donated to Feeding America. 
 
Wonder had this to say about the songs in a press release: “In these times, we are hearing the most poignant wake-up calls and cries for this nation and the world to, please, heed our need for love, peace and unity.”

12. Rostam: “Unfold You”

On Wednesday, Rostam (full name Rostam Batmanglij, formerly of Vampire Weekend) shared a new song, “Unfold You,” via a video for it. Rostam self-directed the video, which features himself and actress Hari Hef (You, Room 104). “Unfold You” was inspired by a Nick Hakim song and features saxophone playing by Henry Solomon. Sax sells! Meaning, the sax part sent the song over the edge and into Songs of the Week territory. 

Rostam released his debut solo album, Half-Light, in 2017 via Nonesuch. Since then he’s produced the latest albums by Clairo and HAIM. 

Rostam had this to say about “Unfold You” in a lengthy press release statement:

“In November 2017 I played a show with Nick Hakim at Cafe De La Danse in Paris. This was the first Rostam show outside of America. I wasn’t familiar with Nick’s music but I was immediately drawn to it. Later that night in my hotel room I was winding down after the show and listening to some of Nick’s records. The song ‘Papas Fritas’ came on, it’s an instrumental track, and I suddenly found myself singing a melody over it and recorded that in my voice memos. Anyone writing songs probably has a few hundred voice memos on their phone. I kept coming back to this one though, and when I returned from a North American tour in February 2018 I booked some days at my favorite Vox Studios in Hollywood.  

“That’s where I first met Henry Solomon, who came in to play sax on ‘Unfold You.’ I had written out some sax lines for a few sections of the song, but others we arranged together in the studio. I wasn’t exactly sure where ‘Unfold You’ would land. I hadn’t finished writing the song, but I continued building out the track with Nick’s ‘Papas Fritas’ as its backbone. I decided I’d let the recording process take me where it would.

“‘Unfold You’ was the first thing me and Henry worked on. A year later, I’d ask him to come back to Vox and record some sax lines I sketched out for the song ‘Summer Girl,’ which I was producing for HAIM. Henry can also be found playing himself in PTA’s [Paul Thomas Anderson] video for the song.  

“‘Summer Girl’ came out within a few months of us starting to record it, but ‘Unfold You’ took years. In some ways it had to—because the recording of the song tracks an evolution and a metamorphosis for me. As I write this, I’m finishing a record that deals a lot with the subject of change and for this whole album, change was what I was searching for musically.

“In the summer of 2016, I was sitting on a park bench on Commercial street in Provincetown, Massachusetts. I found myself in conversation with a stranger who left me with a piece of advice that has stuck with me. ‘Change is good,’ he said, ‘Go with it.’”

Rostam had this to add about the video: “Hari and I found ourselves in the same quarantine pod in Massachusetts this past July. We also found we had a bunch in common, having gone to the same college nine years apart. The video was shot on the Dune Shacks Trail during the last several days of the trip.”

Honorable Mentions: 

These 13 songs almost made the Top 10. Clipping and Sharon Van Etten came closest to making the main list.

beabadoobee: “Together”

CARM: “Land” (Feat. Justin Vernon)

Clipping: “Pain Everyday” (Feat. Michael Esposito)

Django Django: “Spirals” (MGMT Remix)

Iris DeMent: “Going Down To Sing In Texas”

Julia Jacklin: “to Perth, before the border closes” and “CRY”

Local Natives: “Lemon” (Feat. Sharon Van Etten)

Ohmme: “Mine” and “Miasma”

 

Steady Holiday: “Living Life”

 

 

Sharon Van Etten: “Let Go”

Viagra Boys: “Ain’t Nice”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Anjimile: “Baby No More (NNAMDÏ Remix)”

Anjimile · Baby No More (NNAMDÏ’s Dream)

Bad Religion: “What Are We Standing For”

Benny Sings: “Rolled Up” (Feat. Mac DeMarco)

James Blake: “I Keep Calling,” “Do You Ever,” and “Summer of Now”

The Body: “A Lament”

Leon Bridges and Lucky Daye: “All About You”

The Bug Ft Dis Fig: “You”

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: “Hesitating Nation” and “Thousand Oaks”

Claud: “Gold”

CLAVVS: “Dance in Place”

Cloud Nothings: “Am I Something”

Elvis Costello: “Newspaper Pane”

Lana Del Rey: “Let Me Love You Like a Woman”

Dirty Projectors: “Lose Your Love (Chromeo Remix)”

DVC Refreshments: “Wasted on the Real Thing”

Chris Farren: “FALL IN LOVE2NIGHT”

grouptherapy.: “watercolor.”

Guided By Voices: “Mr. Child”

Lande Hekt: “80 Days Of Rain”

The Hold Steady: “Separate Vacations”

King Princess: “Only Time Makes It Human”

Lost Under Heaven: “Alpha Omega”

Middle Kids: “R U 4 Me?”

The Mountain Goats: “Picture of My Dress”

Martha Skye Murphy: “Yours Truly”

Nap Eyes & NNAMDï: “Blood River”

No Thank You: “Everything or Nothing”

Pink Siifu & Fly Anakin: “Mind Right” (Feat. Liv.e)

Portugal. The Man: “Who’s Gonna Stop Me” (Feat. “Weird Al” Yankovic)

Jeff Rosenstock: “Old Cold” and “Fox in the Snow” (Belle and Sebastian Cover)

 

 

 

Serena Ryder: “Waterfall”

SALEM: “Red River”

Sinai Vessel: “Shameplant”

Squirrel Flower: “Chicago” and “Explain It To Me” (Liz Phair Cover)

Sun June: “Karen O”

M. Ward: “For Heaven’s Sake” (Billie Holiday Cover)

War On Women: “White Lies”

Wilco: “Candyfloss (Demo)”

Stevie Wonder: “Where Is Our Love Song” (Feat. Gary Clark Jr.)

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.