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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024  

Songs of the Week

11 Best Songs of the Week: Cassandra Jenkins, Loma, Tindersticks, Beth Gibbons, John Grant, and More

May 17, 2024

Welcome to the 17th Songs of the Week of 2024. This week Andy Von Pip, Matt the Raven, Mark Moody, Scott Dransfield, and Stephen Humphries helped me decide what should make the list. We seriously considered over 25 songs this week and narrowed it down to a Top 11.

Recently we announced our new print issue, The ’90s Issue, featuring The Cardigans and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth on the covers. Buy it from us directly here.

In the past few weeks we posted interviews with Arab Strap, Sarah McLachlan, John Carpenter, Sunday (1994), Sam Evian, and others.

In the last week we reviewed some albums.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 11 best the last seven days had to offer, followed by some honorable mentions. Check out the full list below.

1. Cassandra Jenkins: “Delphinium Blue”

Cassandra Jenkins is releasing a new album, My Light, My Destroyer, on July 12 via Dead Oceans. This week she shared its second single, “Delphinium Blue,” via a self-directed music video. She’s also announced some new North American tour dates.

Jenkins had this to say about the song’s lyrics in a press release: “Sometimes when I don’t know where to turn, I look for something reliably beautiful. Applying for a job at my local flower shop felt like survival instinct kicking in, and that job got me through one of the bluest periods in my life—being surrounded by flowers didn’t just make the weight easier to bear—it helped me understand it and myself better. I began to dream in Technicolor; flowers became the language of my subconscious. At times I felt like I was surrounded by a Greek Chorus while I went about my menial tasks—they took on an all knowing quality, like they held the keys if I was willing to listen, like they were porters of my grief, and delicate portals to awareness.”

She had this to add about the recording of the song: “The lyrics of ‘Delphinium Blue’ had a solitary residence in the back of my mind for years, and the recording process was very collaborative. The song felt like a crustacean crawling around the ocean floor, trying on different shells, until it finally found a home when I called Isaac [Eiger, of Strange Ranger]. We got together at his home studio and worked together to shape its form, before I sent it to Andrew Lappin and he agreed to sneak it onto the album as the paint was starting to dry. It felt like just the right outlier, so we worked in Andrew’s LA studio to bring it into the world of the album with players like Spencer Zahn on fretless bass, Kosta Galanopolos for some of the more bombastic percussion, and Michael Coleman on synths. It’s my melancholy bi-coastal bop.”

Previously Jenkins shared the album’s first single, “Only One,” via a music video. It was one of our Songs of the Week.

My Light, My Destroyer follows Jenkins’ acclaimed 2021-released breakthrough album, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature, and its companion album, An Overview on (An Overview on Phenomenal Nature), released later in 2021. Both were released via Ba Da Bing.

In a press release announcing the new album, Jenkins says that An Overview on Phenomenal Nature was her “intended swan song,” that she was going to give up touring and releasing new music, but then was taken aback by the positive reception to that album and the attention it garnered her.

“I was channeling what I knew in that moment—feeling lost,” Jenkins says. “When that record came out, and people started to respond to what I had written, my plans to quit were foiled in the most unexpected, heartening, and generous way. Ready or not, it reinvigorated me.”

But when it came time to record a follow-up album, Jenkins initially had difficulty recreating the magic in the studio, saying that after two years of touring she was “running on fumes.”

“I was coming from a place of burn out and depletion, and in the months following the session, I struggled to accept that I didn’t like the record I had just made. It felt uninspired,” she explains, “so I started over.”

She abandoned the original sessions for the new album and with the help of producer, engineer, and mixer Andrew Lappin (L’Rain, Slauson Malone 1), Jenkins began My Light, My Destroyer anew.

“When we listened back in the control room that first day, I could see a space on my record shelf start to open up, because the songs were finding their home in real time,” she says on the second attempt to record the album. “That spark informed the blueprint for the rest of the album, and its completion was propelled by a newfound momentum.”

A press release mentions Tom Petty, Annie Lennox, Neil Young, David Bowie’s final album Blackstar, David Berman, and albums in her “high school CD wallet” (Radiohead’s The Bends, The Breeders, PJ Harvey, and Pavement) as influences on My Light, My Destroyer. And the album also features a large number of collaborators, including: Palehound’s El Kempner, Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy, Isaac Eiger (formerly of Strange Ranger), Katie Von Schleicher, Zoë Brecher (Hushpuppy), Daniel McDowell (Amen Dunes), producer and instrumentalist Josh Kaufman (of Jenkins’ An Overview), producer Stephanie Marziano (Hayley Williams, Bartees Strange), and director/actor/journalist Hailey Benton Gates.

Returning home to New York City after being on the road for so long also inspired the album.

“I feel most energized when I’m out in the world, in the mix of things,” Jenkins says. “Coming back home to New York, being with my close friends and community, riding the subway, and going to live shows made me want to channel the palpable feeling of the electricity in a room full of people—I need to be fully immersed in my environment. New York City is endlessly stimulating, and I’m very impressionable.”

Of My Light, My Destroyer’s album title, Jenkins explains: “Awe is a function of nature that keeps us from losing connection. Staying in touch with awe, that light, is the best antidote to fear, and the powers that try to control us with fear. So in that sense, staying in touch with awe is to keep my light intact, and that is my greatest tool for destroying and dismantling the parts of myself and the world around me that have the potential to cause harm. Frankly, this is what keeps me from quitting—it serves as a reminder to pause and appreciate my time on earth, for all its chaos and its beauty.”

Jenkins was one of the artists who took part in our 20th anniversary Covers of Covers album, where she covered Animal Collective’s “It’s You.”

Read our 2021 interview with Jenkins, where she discusses An Overview on Phenomenal Nature. By Mark Redfern

2. Loma: “Pink Sky”

Loma are releasing a new album, How Will I Live Without a Body, on June 28 via Sub Pop. This week they shared its second single, “Pink Sky,” via an animated video.

Loma consists of Shearwater singer Jonathan Meiburg, alongside Emily Cross (of Cross Record) and Dan Duszynski.

Sabrina Nichols directed and animated the “Pink Sky” video, which features drawings by Cross.

Meiburg had this to say about the song in a press release: “This mischievous little song was a late addition to the album. We recorded it in a chilly, whitewashed room in southern England, and we didn’t have many instruments to work with at first—just a nylon string guitar, a two-piece drum set, a Casio keyboard, and a clarinet. But we liked the challenge.”

How Will I Live Without a Body follows 2020’s Don’t Shy Away. Previously Loma shared the album’s first single, “How It Starts,” via a music video. It was one of our Songs of the Week.

The pandemic found the band living on different continents, with Duszynski in central Texas, Cross in Dorset, England (she’s a UK citizen), and Meiburg in Germany to research a book. Remote sessions didn’t work and an attempt to reconvene in Texas after the pandemic didn’t garner much fruit when it was cut short due to illness.

“We got lost,” says Meiburg in a press release, “and stayed that way.”

“It’s like a demon enters the room whenever we get together,” laments Cross.

Then, at Cross’ suggestion, they gathered in a tiny stone house in England, a house that used to a coffin-maker’s workshop and where Cross works as an end-of-life doula. They turned it into a makeshift studio, with a vocal booth made from a coffin woven from willow branches.

“There was a sense of, well, this is it,” Meiburg says of the stone house sessions. “And when the ice storm swept in I thought: here we go again, even the elements are against us. But sitting in our heavy coats around a little electric radiator, we realized how much we’d missed each other—and that just being together was precious.”

Legendary artist Laurie Anderson offered Loma an opportunity to work with an AI trained on her full body of work. The AI sent the band two poems in the style of Anderson, in response to a photo Meiburg sent from his book-in-progress about Antarctica. “We used parts of them in a few songs,” he says. “And then Dan noticed that one of its lines, ‘How will I live without a body?’ would be a perfect name for the album, since we nearly lost sight of each other in the recording process.”

Anderson gave her blessing for the band to use the title for their new album. “I think she was tickled that her AI doppelganger is running around naming other people’s records,” says Meiburg.

At the end of the day, the band’s resilience paid off.

“Making this record tested us all,” says Duszynski. “I think that feeling was alchemized through the music.”

“Somehow, out of the chaos, we made something that sounds very relaxed,” Cross says.

“I’ve never run a marathon,” she adds. “But I can imagine it’s kind of what that feels like.”

Read our 2018 interview with Loma. By Mark Redfern

3. Tindersticks: “New World”

This week, Tindersticks announced a new album, Soft Tissue, and shared its first single, “New World,” via a music video. The band also announced some EU and UK tour dates. Soft Tissue is due out September 13 via City Slang. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, plus the tour dates, here.

Sidonie Osborne Staples, daughter of Tindersticks’ frontman Stuart Staples, created the album’s artwork, which influenced the video for “New World.” Stuart Staples had this to say about the video in a press release: “Sid was making these tiny ceramic characters, so I asked her to make some of the band. Later I wrote this song ‘New World’ about somehow trying make sense of this strange world I felt developing around me and these little guys came back into my mind. Let’s take them on a stop motion journey across a strange land, from the barren rocks to the bountiful fruit that is not familiar and maybe poisonous. Sid put the landscapes together and moved the figures, millimeters at a time. Neil Fraser took the photographs, we edited as we went along.”

Soft Tissue is the band’s 14th studio album, not including their soundtrack work, and is the follow-up to 2021’s Distractions and 2016’s The Waiting Room. In 2020, they also shared an EP entitled See My Girls and 2022 they scored Claire Denis’ film The Stars At Noon.

Staples released a solo album, Arrhythmia, in 2018 via City Slang. In 2019 he scored the Claire Denis film High Life, which starred Robert Pattinson. Tindersticks contributed the new song “Willow” to the soundtrack and it featured the vocals of Pattinson.

Staples had this to say about Soft Tissue: “‘Baby I was falling, but the shit that I was falling through. Thought it was just the world rising.’ These are the opening lines of the album, it seems all the songs on Soft Tissue inhabit this confusion somehow—despairing at the destruction, suspecting you are responsible.

“Musically, it seemed that since 2016’s The Waiting Room, the band’s output had been reactionary. The last two tindersticks have been so opposed to each other—2019’s No Treasure But Hope was an extremely naturalistic recording process—due in part as a reaction to the previous few years of experimental projects (High Life, Minute Bodies) and in turn as a reaction to this purity 2021’s Distractions became one of the bands most dense, experimental albums.

“It felt like time to stop lurching to these extremes and to find a way to marry the rigor of the songwriting and the joy of the band playing together with a more hard-nosed experimental approach.”

The album includes “Falling, the Light,” a new song from the album the band shared on Valentine’s Day. By Mark Redfern

4. Beth Gibbons: “Lost Changes”

Beth Gibbons of Portishead released her debut solo album, Lives Outgrown, today via Domino. Earlier this week she shared its third single, “Lost Changes,” via a music video. Juno Calypso directed the video. She also announced some new UK and EU tour dates.

Previously Gibbons shared the album’s first single, “Floating on a Moment,” via a music video. “Floating on a Moment” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared its second single, “Reaching Out,” via an interactive music video. It was again 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. John Grant: “All That School For Nothing”

John Grant is releasing a new album, The Art of the Lie, on June 14 via [PIAS]. This week he shared its third single, “All That School For Nothing.”

Grant had this to say about the song in a press release: “This is a song I wrote for Blondie, but they didn’t want it, so I decided to reclaim it for myself. It was much more electronic at first but when I sang it, it became clear that it was much more of a Cameo or Whodini vibe, which I’m all for!”

Previously Grant shared the album’s first single, “It’s a Bitch,” via a music video. “It’s a Bitch” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then he shared its second single, “The Child Catcher,” which has an ominous Blade Runner-like undercurrent and was again one of our Songs of the Week.

The Art of the Lie is the follow-up to 2021’s Boy from Michigan (which was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2021). Grant worked with producer Ivor Guest on the album. The two met when Grant performed at the Meltdown Festival that was curated by Grace Jones and was produced by Guest. Guest produced Jones’ Hurricane and Brigitte Fontaine’s Prohibition. “Grace and Brigitte are two very big artists for me,” explains Grant in a press release. “I love the albums he did for them. Hurricane is an indispensable piece of Grace’s catalogue.”

This led to Grant suggesting to Guest that they work together. “I said, ‘I really think you should do this next record with me.’ He said, ‘I think you’re right,’” says Grant.

The press release compares the album to Laurie Anderson, The Art of Noise, Vangelis’ soundtrack for Blade Runner, and “The Carpenters if John Carpenter were also a member.”

The album’s title and its themes are inspired by the current political climate.

“Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal, is now seen by MAGA disciples as just another book of the Bible and Trump himself as a messiah sent from heaven. Because, God wants you to be rich,” Grant explains. “This album is in part about the lies people espouse and the brokenness it breeds and how we are warped and deformed by these lies. For example, the Christian Nationalist movement has formed an alliance with White Supremacist groups and together they have taken over the Republican party and see LGBTQ+ people and non-whites as genetically and even mentally inferior and believe all undesirables must be forced either to convert to Christianity and adhere to the teachings of the Bible as interpreted by them or they must be removed in order that purity be restored to ‘their’ nation. They now believe Democracy is not the way to achieve these goals. Any sort of pretence of tolerance that may have seemed to develop over the past several decades has all but vanished. It feels like the U.S. in is free-fall mode.”

In 2023, Grant teamed up with Midlake for two new songs: “Roadrunner Blues” and “You Don’t Get To.” He also guested on the CMAT song “Where Are Your Kids Tonight?”

Be sure to read our in-depth 2013 article on Grant, one of the most honest and personal interviews we’ve ever done.

Also read our 2015 interview with John Grant on Grey Tickles, Black Pressure.

Plus read our The End interview with John Grant. By Mark Redfern

6. The Decemberists: “Oh No!”

The Decemberists are releasing a new album, As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again, on June 14 via YABB Records and Thirty Tigers. This week they shared the album’s fourth single, “Oh No!” They also shared a live video for the song.

The Oregon-based band features frontman Colin Meloy, bassist Nate Query, keyboardist Jenny Conlee, guitarist Chris Funk, and drummer John Moen.

Meloy had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Oh No!’ is the sort of song that just tumbles out of you. It all started with the first line—‘It was on a wedding night / How they danced by the firelight’—and flowed from there. In my mind, the narrator of the song is channeling the two brothers from Emir Kusturica’s immortal film, ‘Underground.’ This song is about causing havoc, causing chaos, its narrator forever followed by an even greater form of chaos, a great darkness. But it’s a darkness you can dance to!”

In February the band shared the album’s opening track, “Burial Ground,” which features backing vocals from James Mercer of The Shins and was one of our Songs of the Week. They also announced some tour dates. When the album was announced, The Decemberists shared the album’s the epic 19-minute closing track, “Joan in the Garden,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared the album’s third single, “All I Want Is You.”

As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again is the band’s first album in six years, the follow-up to 2018’s I’ll Be Your Girl. Meloy produced the album with Tucker Martine. The album also features R.E.M.’s Mike Mills. As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again is the band’s longest album and is a double LP featuring four different thematic sides.

Read our interview with Meloy on I’ll Be Your Girl. By Mark Redfern

7. She Drew The Gun: “Howl”

This week, She Drew The Gun, the acclaimed musical project of musician and poet Louisa Roach, dropped a new video for their latest single, “Howl.” This release marks the first new material since their 2021 album, Behave Myself.

Heading to Margate for the recording process, She Drew The Gun collaborated with renowned producer Ash Workman, known for his work with artists like Christine & the Queens and Metronomy. The result is a track that showcases the Roach’s renewed energy and commitment to their craft. “Howl” opens with an undulating bassline, setting the tone for a direct and politically-charged musical journey. Roach’s adept lyricism and diverse musical influences are on full display, reflecting her passion for poetry and wordplay.

Talking about “Howl” Roach reveals in a press release: “The definition of Howl is to utter a loud profound mournful cry and howling has been used across cultures and time periods in a variety of rituals and practices as a way to connect with others and give rise to primal energy, as well as connect with the spiritual world, honor ancestors, invoke protection, and release emotions. “To me my howl is the thing I do to release emotions and connect, the howl as art form, song, poem, it makes the now, the present moment alive when I share that with those present with me. It’s also about the staggering amount of things that led to ones existence, how part of me, the things that make up my body were there at the beginning of time, the atoms, the elements of our bodies were formed in the hearts of long dead stars over billions of years. Then there’s what all of our ancestors lived through, the magic of consciousness, survival, all of the dangers that wired us the way we are, spirituality, respect for the earth, and I see the way life is organized through this historical understanding, how we got to this point, civilizations, feudalism, colonialism, patriarchal power, the witch hunts and how they were instrumental in the transition to capitalism, the crushing of indigenous traditions and knowledge, all of these histories and institutions shape who I am today, and I mourn for the suffering caused in the pursuit of power, but they can’t touch my soul and I have my howl to connect, release and invoke spiritual energy, most potently in the ritual of live performance.”

She Drew The Gun has a handful of festival appearances lined up this summer. By Andy Von Pip

8. Crack Cloud: “Blue Kite”

This week, Canadian art punks Crack Cloud announced a new album, Red Mile, and shared its first single, “Blue Kite,” via a music video. The band also announced some tour dates. Red Mile is due out July 26 via Jagjaguwar, their first for the label. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the tour dates, here.

Red Mile follows 2022’s Tough Baby. The band features Zach Choy, Aleem Khan, Bryce Cloghesy, Will Choy, Emma Acs, Eve Adams, and Nathaniel Philips, along with creative director Aidan Pontarini. Crack Cloud recorded the album at the outskirts of Joshua Tree, California and in Calgary, Alberta.

Choy had this to say about the album in a press release statement: “When we were recording the album Red Mile in the Mojave Desert, I spent nights reading about 20th century China. My grandparents migrated to Canada during Mao’s Great Leap Forward, and besides the photo albums and childhood memories, I have little basis for understanding their experience.

Beginning in the late ’80s there came to be a generation of Chinese filmmakers whose main subject was the depiction of life during the Cultural Revolution. The films from this time examine the growing pains of national identity, without the glorification that defined National cinema up until then.

“As the viewer with a degree of generational and cultural separation, I found an unusual sense of reprieve in the nuance of it all. And as our time drifted by in the desert, I continued to look inward.

“The music of Red Mile came naturally, and of its own volition. The Mojave had an elemental effect. The seemingly never-ending labyrinth of touring into exhaustion that characterized preceding years. And the externalization of Crack Cloud’s mythology, displaced and dismantled as we’ve grown out of ourselves, constantly, creatively reborn, by virtue and design. This is how I would describe Red Mile, and more generally, the group’s freefall, nearly a decade in the making.

“So when close friend and collaborator Aidan Pontarini pitched the skydiving punk concept for the album cover, it resonated deeply.

“‘Blue Kite’ was written with a cultural intersection in mind. In Canada in the early ’00s we grew up to Sum 41. Late night YTV. And the spectre of Woodstock 99. From the outside looking in: being in a punk band meant that you could be a jackass. Pick your nose on stage; play the drum like Energizer Bunny. My relationship to punk music as a teenager hinged on self-deprecation; an easy, destructive mode of confronting what I didn’t like about myself. And what I didn’t understand about the world around me.

“There’s a film that came out of China in 1993 and was subsequently banned therein, called The Blue Kite. It’s told from the perspective of a boy growing up in 1950’s Beijing. His environment is one of social conformity and political correctness, and he relishes in escapism when flying his kite. Eventually the boy succumbs to the social climate, and the kite itself is swept away into the branches of a tree. I thought the imagery was striking and wanted to incorporate it into a video with Aidan’s skydiving punk, in a hypnagogic way.


“We filmed the video in and around the Desert where the album was recorded, and the skydiving took place.” By Mark Redfern

9. Nada Surf: “In Front of Me Now”

This week, Nada Surf announced a new album, Moon Mirror, and shared its first single, “In Front of Me Now,” via a music video. The band also announced some new tour dates. Moon Mirror is due out September 13 via New West. Check outthe album’s tracklist and cover artwork, plus the tour dates, here.

Moon Mirror is the band’s first album for New West and comes out as the band celebrates the 30th anniversary of their debut single, “The Plan”/“Telescope.” The band produced the album with Ian Laughton (Supergrass, Ash), recording it at Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire, Wales.

In a press release frontman Matthew Caws had this to say about the Neilson Hubbard and Joshua Britt-directed video for the new single: “We know the pandemic is over, but we made a Covid-era video to save on gas. Made on location (i.e. where we live) in Cambridge, England, Sarasota, Florida, Ibiza, Spain, and Austin, Texas, we bring you ‘In Front of Me Now,’ my diary of not being a great multi-tasker and wanting to be present for everything from now on if possible.”

Of the new album, Caws says: “Every time we make an album, I’m asked (and ask myself) what it’s about. I never know how to answer that question. I’m still trying to figure everything out, and that’s probably as close to a theme as there is. Looking back over the years, I know what our songs are about in theory: trying to reach acceptance (of circumstances, of oneself, of others), connection, a constant search for possibility and the bright side, a willingness to change, forgiveness, curiosity, checking in with one’s mortality, motivations and judgements, etc. But in the moment when making one up, I have no idea what I’m doing and maybe that’s ok. I’m just trying to stay honest with myself and take my best guess at making sense of the world.”

And of signing to New West, Caws adds: “We’ve been lucky to be on some really wonderful record labels over the years, and so far New West sure feels like another one of those. We couldn’t be more fortunate.”

For the past three decades Nada Surf’s main lineup has remained: Matthew Caws (vocals, guitar), Daniel Lorca (bass, vocals), and Ira Elliot (drums). Longtime collaborator Louie Lino is also part of the current lineup. By Mark Redfern

10. London Grammar: “Kind of Man”

British trio London Grammar are releasing a new album, The Greatest Love, on September 13 via Ministry of Sound. Earlier today they shared its second single, “Kind of Man.”

Frontwoman Hannah Reid had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Kind of Man’ is about watching somebody descend into the sort of glamour and slight corruption of Hollywood. The song is obviously about misogyny but it’s about sexism in a tongue-in-cheek way. That’s kind of what I love about the song. I didn’t want it to be melancholic in any way. So, yeah it’s quite an upbeat way of saying that. I like the fact that it’s talking about a pattern of relationship where you could maybe expect a man who might not respect you and who might be the exact kind of man to fall in love with you—and it’s kind of that dichotomy.”

The Greatest Love is the band’s fourth album and the follow-up to 2021’s Californian Soil. Previously they shared its first single, “House,” which is also below.

Listen to our 2021 podcast interview with London Grammar.

Read our 2017 interview with London Grammar about Truth Is a Beautiful Thing.

Also read our 2013 interview with London Grammar. By Mark Redfern

11. of Montreal: “Soporific Cell”

Of Montreal, the project of Kevin Barnes, released a new album, Lady on the Cusp, today via Polyvinyl. Earlier this week he shared its third single, “Soporific Cell.”

A press release says the song is “influenced by the Afro-Futurism of Saul Williams’ [film] Neptune Frost, the novels of Ursula K Le Guin, and the band Hot Chocolate.”

Previously of Montreal shared the album’s first single, “Yung Hearts Bleed Free,” via a music video. Then he shared its second single, “Rude Girl on Rotation,” via a music video.

Lady on the Cusp is the follow-up to 2022’s Freewave Lucifer f<ck f^ck f>ck and 2020’s UR FUN. A press release says Barnes “will answer to any pronoun you proffer,” including he, she, and they. A fixture of the Athens, Georgia music scene since 1996, Barnes and his partner, musician Christina Schneider (aka Locate S, 1), recently left the South for the more progressive state of Vermont. The move informed the new album, as it was written and recorded as they were making preparations to relocate, with Barnes reflecting on his nearly three decades of making music in Athens.

Read our 2016 The End interview about endings and death with of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes. By Mark Redfern

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 11.

J. Bernardt: “Don’t Get Me Wrong”

Empire of the Sun: “Music on the Radio”

Peggy Gou: “Lobster Telephone”

Nap Eyes: “Feline Wave Race”

+/- {Plus/Minus}: “Calling Off the Rescue”

Strand of Oaks: “Future Temple”

This Is Lorelei: “Where’s Your Love Now”

Trentemøller: “A Different Light”

Wishy: “Love on the Outside”

Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 11 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:

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Songs of the Week

10 Best Songs of the Week: Miki Berenyi Trio, Good Looks, Dehd, Sour Widows, and More

May 10, 2024

Welcome to the 16th Songs of the Week of 2024. This week Andy Von Pip, Caleb Campbell, Matt the Raven, and Scott Dransfield helped me decide what should make the list. We seriously considered over 25 songs this week and narrowed it down to a Top 10.

Recently we announced our new print issue, The ’90s Issue, featuring The Cardigans and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth on the covers. Buy it from us directly here.

In the past few weeks we posted interviews with Arab Strap, Sarah McLachlan, John Carpenter, Sunday (1994), Sam Evian, and others.

In the last week we reviewed some albums.

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, followed by some honorable mentions. Check out the full list below.

1. Miki Berenyi Trio: “Vertigo”

This week, Miki Berenyi Trio—led by the former singer/guitarist with1990s shoegaze, dream pop, and Britpop sensations Lush—shared their debut single, “Vertigo,” via a music video. It comes ahead of the group’s previously announced U.S. tour dates.

After Lush, Berenyi was also in the band Piroshka and for the trio she is backed by two members of that band—Berenyi’s life partner KJ “Moose” McKillop (of ’90s shoegazers Moose) and guitarist Oliver Cherer. McKillop is sitting out the U.S. tour because he doesn’t like to fly due to both environmental concerns and a fear of flying, so bassist Mick Conroy (Modern English and formerly of Piroshka) is standing in.

“‘Vertigo’ is about anxiety and the efforts to talk myself down from the precipice—the usual cheerful stuff,” says Berenyi of the new single in a press release.

Of the recording the song, she adds: “It’s a challenge to not have a drummer, and to use more programming, but the essence of the music is still guitars and melody—as it always has been, particularly in mine and Moose’s bands.”

French director Sébastien Faits-Divers made the “Vertigo” video, filming it in the Consortium Museum (Contemporary Art Center) in Dijon, in one of the Isabella Ducrot exhibition rooms.

On their tour, Miki Berenyi Trio will be performing both Lush and Piroshka songs, as well as some new Miki Berenyi Trio originals, including “Verigo.”

In 2022, Berenyi released her acclaimed memoir, Fingers Crossed: How Music Saved Me From Success, and the trio was partially born out of the need to perform at book events. Fingers Crossed is now finally available in America via Mango Publishing.

Berenyi does a joint interview with Australian dream pop artist Hatchie in the current issue of our print magazine, The ’90s Issue, where she discusses her memoir and Lush. Buy a copy directly from us here.

Pirohska, which also features former Elastica drummer Justin Welch, released their second studio album, Love Drips and Gathers, in 2021 via Bella Union. Read our interview with them about it here.

Pirsoshka also contributed to our Covers of Covers album in honor our 20th Anniversary, where they covered Grandaddy’s “The Crystal Lake.”

Last year, 4AD reissued Lush’s three full-length studio albums—Spooky (1992), Split (1994), and Lovelife (1996)—on vinyl.

In April, Lush and 4AD also teamed up with The Criterion Channel to release A Far From Home Movie, a new short documentary film on the band based on Super-8 footage filmed by bassist Philip King during their tours from 1992 to 1996.

Lol Tolhurst x Budgie x Jacknife Lee—which is Lol Tolhurst (formerly of The Cure), Budgie (formerly of Siouxsie and the Banshees), and producer/musician Jacknife Lee—will support most dates. Their debut album together, Los Angeles, came out last November via Play It Again Sam. Read our review of the album.

Berenyi was one of the artists on the cover of our 20th Anniversary Issue.

Read our 2015 interview with Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson of Lush on Lovelife and the final days of the band.

Read our 2015 interview with Lush on Split.

Read our 2016 interview with Lush on their reunion.

2. Good Looks: “Can You See Me Tonight?”

Austin, Texas four-piece Good Looks are releasing a new album, Lived Here For a While, on June 7 via Keeled Scales. This week they shared its third single, “Can You See Me Tonight?,” via a music video.

In a press release frontman Tyler Jordan says the song is about his relationship with his mom and “the connection to why I write songs and perform them, and how it affects my other relationships, turning darkness to light in the process.”

Riley Engemoen directed the song’s video and had this to say in a press release: “My friend Liz and I met Dan & Doris at the Broken Spoke and have since been creating a documentary on them called Forcefield of Love. Dr. Dan is known as ‘Austin’s coolest marriage and family therapist.’ Him and Doris are enamored with one another, always color-coordinated in a honeymoon state. They spend most evenings dancing through Austin’s honky tonks and jazz clubs—blissfully and unabashedly forming a quantum energy field of Love—hypnotizing all of those in their orbit.”

Previously the band shared its first single, “If It’s Gone,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its second single, “Self-destructor,” via a music video. It was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Lived Here For a While is the band’s second album and the follow-up to 2022’s Bummer Year.

The album was influenced by an accident lead guitarist Jake Ames had just after the band’s hometown record release show for Bummer Year, when he was hit by a car outside the venue and ended up in the hospital with a fractured skull and tailbone, along with short-term memory issues.

“We were in the hospital with him every day,” says frontman Tyler Jordan in a press release. “It wasn’t clear how bad it was gonna be for Jake. We had no idea how this traumatic brain injury would affect him until the swelling went down. We even wondered if we’d ever play music together again.”

Luckily Ames made a full recovery and joined by drummer Phil Dunne and bassist Robert Cherry, they set out to record Lived Here For a While at Texas’ Dandy Sounds with producer/engineer Dan Duszynski (of Loma and Cross Record). Harrison Anderson has since joined the band as their new bassist.

3. Dehd: “Dog Days”

Chicago trio Dehd released a new album, Poetry, today via Fat Possum. Earlier this week they shared its fourth single, “Dog Days,” via a one-take video.

The band’s Jason Balla had this to say about the song in a press release: “This song is a celebration for the messiness of life and the search for companionship. It’s about opening your heart and letting it be pummeled. It’s taking risks, receiving rejection, dealing out disappointment. It’s about being brave and sometimes making bad decisions. It seems like everyone I know is out here grasping at love and often, fucking it up, breaking hearts and having ours broken along the way. It’s just the rules of the game and I wanted to make an anthem for people on the same rollercoaster, just trying their best, losing fast and loving hard.”

Previously the band shared the album’s first single, “Mood Ring,” via a music video. It was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its second single, “Light On.” The album’s third single was “Alien.”

Poetry is the follow-up to 2022’s Blue Skies (also on Fat Possum) and 2020’s Flower of Devotion (which was released by Fire Talk).

Dehd is Emily Kempf, Jason Balla, and Eric McGrady. After they finished touring Blue Skies, the band embarked on some writing sessions in remote locations. “Eating, sleeping, breathing, living—our only purpose was to write,” says Kempf in a press release.

Ziyad Asrar of Whitney co-produced the album alongside Balla, recording at Palisade Studios in Chicago. Charles Bukowski’s poem “The Laughing Heart” inspired the album.

Read our interview with Dehd on Flower of Devotion.

4. Sour Widows: “Staring Into Heaven/Shining”

Bay Area trio Sour Widows are releasing their debut album, Revival of a Friend, on June 28 via Exploding In Sound. This week they shared its latest single, the over eight-minute long “Staring Into Heaven/Shining,” via a music video. It’s the album’s closing track.

The band’s Susanna Thomson had this to say about the song in a press release: “After my mom passed in late June of 2021, I went on a trip in August of that year in an attempt to put physical distance between myself and the pain of what I had just experienced. I was searching for relief wherever I thought I could find it; ultimately, that trip taught me that grief cannot be outrun. ‘Staring Into Heaven/Shining’ is a confessional song, written at a time when I was desperate to gain control over my life through ideas I had about grieving the ‘right’ way. As I tried and failed to reconcile feelings of regret and unanswerable questions, it became clearer to me that all I can do is choose to simply observe the experience of grief. The lyrics are searching, but come to their natural end in a place without resolution; it wasn’t until after finishing the song that I realized there can be hope in accepting that there are things we cannot know about death.”

Previously the band shared the album’s first single, “Cherish.”

5. Jay Som: “If I Could”

The new A24 film, I Saw the TV Glow, was released to select theaters last week and today the soundtrack was released. It features new songs by Bartees Strange, Jay Som, The Weather Station, Proper., Sloppy Jane featuring Phoebe Bridgers, Florist, Caroline Polachek, and more. Stream the whole thing here.

Jay Som’s “If I Could” was one of our favorites of the tracks not yet released as a single.

Previously we posted Polachek’s contribution to the soundtrack, “Starburned and Unkissed.” Alex G’s original score for the film is coming out on May 16.

Jane Schoenbrun directs I Saw the TV Glow, which is the follow-up to their acclaimed 2021 film, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair. The horror film stars Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine, with Ian Foreman, Helena Howard, Fred Durst, Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan, and Danielle Deadwyler in supporting roles. Bridgers and Sloppy Jane also appear in the film as themselves.

6. Ducks Ltd.: “When You’re Outside”

Toronto-based duo Ducks Ltd. released a new album, Harm’s Way, in February via Carpark. This week they shared a new song, “When You’re Outside,” that was recorded during the Harm’s Way sessions but didn’t end up on the album. It features backing harmonies from Julia Steiner (of Ratboys) and Margaret McCarthy (of Moontype).

Ducks Ltd. is Tom McGreevy and Evan Lewis.

McGreevy had this to say about the single in a press release: “This was one we wrote pretty early in the process for Harm’s Way, which was a period when a lot of country-leaning ideas were working their way into our arrangements. I’d demoed the harmonies in the chorus (badly), and when we were working on backing vocals with Julia and Margaret they immediately understood what we were trying to do and really elevated it. The song didn’t end up quite fitting in the sequence for the album, but it does a couple things we’ve never done before in a Ducks song so I’m glad we’re finding a way to put it out. It’s about trying to support someone who is making that difficult to do. Unconditional love in a sense. Or at least love with limited conditions.”

Harm’s Way is the follow-up to Modern Fiction, which came out in 2021 via Carpark and was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2021.

McGreevy had this to say about the rest of the tracks on the album in a previous press release: “They’re songs about struggling. About watching people I care for suffer, and trying to figure out how to be there for them. And about the strain of living in the world when it feels like it’s ready to collapse.”

Ducks Ltd. previously shared the album’s first single “The Main Thing,” via a music video. “The Main Thing” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its second single, “Hollowed Out,” via a music video (it was also one of our Songs of the Week). The album’s third single, “Train Full of Gasoline,” was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared the album’s fourth single, “Heavy Bag,” via a lyric video. It was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Dave Vettraino (Deeper, Lala Lala, Dehd) produced the album, which was recorded in Chicago.

Read our The End interview with Tom McGreevy.

7. Hinds: “Boom Boom Back” (Feat. Beck)

This week, Madrid-based band Hinds announced a new album, VIVA HINDS, and shared a new song from it, “Boom Boom Back,” which features Beck. They also announced some North American tour dates. VIVA HINDS also features Fontaines D.C.’s Grian Chatten and is due out September 6 via Lucky Number. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the tour dates, here.

VIVA HINDS features “Coffee,” a new song the band shared in February. VIVA HINDS is the band’s first album since becoming a duo again. Hinds was founded by co-vocalists and co-guitarists Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote in 2011, but for most of their career they’ve been a four-piece. Ade Martin and Amber Grimbergen left the band in 2022, returning them to a duo.

Pete Robertson (The Vaccines, beabadoobee) produced the album, which was mixed by Caesar Edmunds (The Killers, Wet Leg) and engineered by Tom Roach. It was recorded in rural France.

“This isn’t a rational album, this is made with emotions, in no specific order,” Cosials says in a press release. “We never sat down to think what we should write about, we sat down to write about what we were going through. We didn’t choose a ‘new look,’ we didn’t wanna pretend to be mature, or appear as a more sophisticated band. To me it is cohesive, but it’s not a fairy tale or a brainy narrative. It’s heart-driven.”

Of keeping the band going despite the line-up change and other challenges (the pandemic, no label), Cosials says: “We started the band because we are so safe and comfortable with each other. Our relationship is unbreakable. This connection between us hasn’t changed since the very beginning. We still finish each other’s ideas, laugh at each other’s jokes and rhyme each other’s lines. Maintaining that enthusiasm for music and for Hinds through the years may seem extremely difficult to find, but it’s something that only can happen with your very best friend.”

Hinds’ last album, The Prettiest Curse, came out in 2020. Read our interview with the band about it.

8. Bartees Strange: “Big Glow”

Another previously unreleased song from the I Saw the TV Glow soundtrack we liked was “Big Glow” by Bartees Strange.

Bartees Strange released a new album, Farm to Table, in 2022 via 4AD. It was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2022. Stream it here and read our review of it here.

Read our interview with Strange on Live Forever.

9. Bonny Light Horseman: “Old Dutch”

Bonny Light Horseman are releasing a new double album, Keep Me on Your Mind/See You Free, on June 7 via Jagjaguwar. This week they shared its third single, “Old Dutch,” via a lyric video.

Bonny Light Horseman is Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson, and Josh Kaufman. Kaufman produced the album, which was partially recorded at Levis (pronounced: “leh-viss”) Corner House, which is a century-old pub in Ballydehob, County Cork in Ireland. JT Bates (drums), Cameron Ralston (bass), and recording engineer Bella Blasko joined them in those sessions. The album was finished Dreamland Recording Studios in Upstate New York, which is where they completed their first two albums. Those sessions included Mike Lewis on bass and tenor saxophone and Annie Nero on upright bass and harmonies.

The band collectively had this to say about “Old Dutch” in a press release: “This song began as a backstage voice memo when we were performing at the Old Dutch Church in Kingston, NY, so iPhone named it for us. It came together fast with the three of us just finger-painting until there it was. It took a few fits and starts before we realized that it should be a duet and–importantly–a conversation. We recorded it live at Levis’ and when the whole crowd started singing ‘yeah I got a feelin,’ we all experienced a moment of collective lift-off. Josh looked over at Joe’s [bar owner] partner Caroline behind the bar, eyes wide open, arms outstretched, singing along and deeply feeling it. We’d never had that kind of moment tracking a song for a record before, seeing and feeling the connection (beyond the musicians in the room) in real-time as it’s all going to tape. It feels like this recording has some of that ‘real-life’ energy to it.”

The album includes “When I Was Younger,” a new song the band shared in February that was one of our Songs of the Week. When the album was announced they shared its second single, “I Know You Know,” via their first ever music video.

Bonny Light Horseman’s last album, Rolling Golden Holy, came out in 2022 via 37d03d.

Kaufman is also a member of Muzz (read our interview with them).

10. Wand: “Smile”

This week, psych-rockers Wand announced a new album, Vertigo, and shared its first single, “Smile,” via a music video. Vertigo is due out July 26 via Drag City.

Cory Hanson leads the band, which also features Evan Backer, Evan Burrows, and Robbie Cody. The album was formed from 50 hours of live improvisations. Vertigo follows 2019’s Laughing Matter.

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 10.

Amen Dunes: “Rugby Child”

beabadoobee: “Take a Bite”

The Bug Club: “Quality Pints”

John Cale: “Shark-Shark”

Cola: “Albatross”

Efterklang: “Plant”

fantasy of a broken heart: “Ur Heart Stops”

Kaeto: “HERO”

Martha Skye Murphy: “Pick Yourself Up”

Proper.: “The 90s”

Quivers: “Apparition”

The Weather Station: “Moonlight”

Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 10 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:

Subscribe to Under the Radar’s print magazine.

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.

Spacey Jane

Spacey Jane – Listen to Our Interview in the New Episode of Our Under the Radar Podcast

Mar 30, 2023

Caleb Harper, frontman of the Australian band Spacey Jane, is our final artist interview for Season 3 of our Under the Radar with Celine Teo-Blockey podcast. The fast rising band—which includes Kieran Lama, Ashton Hardman-Le Cornu, and Peppa Lane—had six songs off their recent sophomore album, Here Comes Everybody, break into the Triple J Hottest 100 listener’s poll for 2022. Three of those songs were also in the Top 10—an impressive feat only three other bands have achieved since the Australian radio station launched the popular, annual poll three decades ago.

Their 2020 debut, Sunlight, broke the Top 10 albums on the ARIA charts, while Here Comes Everyone went to Number One. A single from their first record, “Booster Seat,” is a sunny jangle about a dark period that won Song of the Year at the 2021 ARIA awards, proving how resonant their music was, particularly for young people who felt the twin stresses of COVID and climate change at what was meant to be the best time of their life.

The global pandemic might have prevented Spacey Jane from touring their first album but the album’s reach helped grow their popularity internationally and meant that the release of their follow up was met with sold out shows across America, last October.

On the podcast, Harper talks about being labeled the poster child for the COVID generation—kids that came off age during the pandemic—because he sings transparent songs about his own anxiety (“Booster Seat”), mental health (“It’s Been a Long Day”), the culture of binge drinking among young men (“Lunchtime”), and his sometimes difficult childhood (“Good Grief”) growing up part of a strict, religious community in rural Australia.

“It’s fine if people say this or that about it,” Harper says, referring to the label, “I might not always agree…but I’ll just keep making the music that I want to make…for the fans.” The band are currently on a Los Angeles sojourn to write new music, and have already been booked for Shaky Knees festival in Atlanta, with more festival dates expected to follow.

Listen to the episode below.

Please write to [email protected] if you would like to share your thoughts on this episode.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts and rate the show. You can also listen to us on Spotify and podcast apps such as Podchaser.

Each monthly episode of Under the Radar features an interview with a different musician conducted by host and producer Celine Teo-Blockey.

Season 3 launched with episode one and our interview with Warpaint. Season 3, episode two featured Seratones. Season 3, episode three featured Marlon Williams. Season 3, episode four featured Bloc Party. Season 3, episode five featured Phoenix. Season 3, episode six featured Tim Burgess. By Celine Teo-Blockey

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.

Tim Burgess

Tim Burgess – Listen to Our Interview in the New Episode of Our Under the Radar Podcast

Feb 09, 2023

Author, solo artist, and Charlatans frontman, Tim Burgess is our latest guest on Season 3 of our Under the Radar with Celine Teo-Blockey podcast, talking about his sixth solo album Typical Music. Clocking in at more than 120 mins, this 22-track double album is anything but typical. “It was always going to be considered tongue in cheek,” explains Burgess of the album title, “but during COVID…I kept thinking, typically, music can save the day.”

The Charlatans have lost two founding members (keyboardist Rob Collins in a tragic accident in 1997, at the height of the band’s popularity and drummer, Jon Brookes in 2013, from a brain tumor), the first one delivering a seismic shift to the band, and Burgess also recently lost his father, who died during the pandemic. Tim’s Twitter Listening Party grew out of his need to want to connect with people at a time when all live gigs were being cancelled. It quickly became for Burgess, his coterie of musician friends, and music fans everywhere a much needed distraction, then source of joy. The positivity of the listening parties inspired the optimistic tone of Typical Music.

On a more somber moment on the podcast, Burgess reveals the toll that Collins’ fatal accident took on him, “I just drank a lot…after Rob’s death.” Now sober for 15 years, Burgess’ joie de vivre is most apparent when he discusses his love for old records and growing up in Northwich with a mother as the unlikely conduit between him and one of his favorite bands, New Order. He admits that his teenage obsession for listening to full albums from cover to cover with his friends was rekindled during the pandemic when Tim’s Twitter Listening Party became a beacon for people looking to connect with others while in isolation.

Now that Twitter has somewhat imploded with Elon Musk, Burgess was unsure of the Listening Party’s future, “I have no idea. I mean, I’ve disengaged a little bit from Twitter…who knows what’s going to happen? But I mean, the Listening Party kind of is continuously evolving anyway.” They’ve done live shows and Burgess reveals that there are plans for the Listening Party to continue as a radio show.

Listen to the episode below.

Please write to [email protected] if you would like to share your thoughts on this episode.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts and rate the show. You can also listen to us on Spotify and podcast apps such as Podchaser.

Each monthly episode of Under the Radar features an interview with a different musician conducted by host and producer Celine Teo-Blockey.

Season 3 launched with episode one and our interview with Warpaint. Season 3, episode two featured Seratones. Season 3, episode three featured Marlon Williams. Season 3, episode four featured Bloc Party. Season 3, episode five featured Phoenix. By Celine Teo-Blockey

Check out our interview with Burgess about his Twitter listening parties, along with our COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check-In interview with him from 2020.

Read our First Issue Revisited interview with Burgess about The Charlatans’ Wonderland.

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.

Phoenix

Phoenix – Listen to Our Interview in the New Episode of Our Under the Radar Podcast

Dec 05, 2022

Frontman Thomas Mars of French band Phoenix is our latest guest on Season 3 of our Under the Radar with Celine Teo-Blockey podcast. The band—which also includes Deck d’Arcy, and brothers Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz—released their seventh album Alpha Zulu, on Glassnote Records last month and have been relishing being on tour together and playing live, post-lockdown. Recorded in a room at the Louvre Museum in Paris over the course of the pandemic and several strict lockdowns in France, Mars explains the significance of Alpha Zulu’s title and how the songwriting relates to themes of death, aging and trying to “manifest the light at the end of the tunnel.”

On a Q &A session on the band’s Facebook, Mars revealed that the vocal take for the synth-heavy single “Winter Solstice” was recorded “in the fetal position, under a table”—a hint at the mood of the track, which was recorded in the depths of the pandemic and California fires. Though Mars now resides in New York with his wife, filmmaker, Sofia Coppola and their family, the foursome always write together in the same room. This was their first where Mars was unable to leave Northern California and join the others in Paris. “The light in this song,” Mars explains on the podcast, “is loyalty.”

Yet Alpha Zulu is not all doom and gloom. Like their previous album—2017’s Ti Amo, which was written in the aftermath of France’s brutal year of terrorist attacks—Alpha Zulu is life-affirming and filled with moments of pure joy and euphoria, songs designed for the dancefloor. In the end Mars says, “That is the function of art.”

Poignantly, Mars also reveals the lasting impact that the death of his grandfather had on him as an 11-year-old, and he talks candidly about growing up in the “judgy” suburbs of Versailles—how that bonded the four bandmates to make music and their families to become close friends.

Listen to the episode below.

Please write to [email protected] if you would like to share your thoughts on this episode.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts and rate the show. You can also listen to us on Spotify and podcast apps such as Podchaser.

Each monthly episode of Under the Radar features an interview with a different musician conducted by host and producer Celine Teo-Blockey.

On top of being available on all podcasting platforms the podcast also airs on WLUR, an NPR affiliate based in Lexington, VA (the city where Under the Radar is currently based).

Season 3 launched with episode one and our interview with Warpaint. Season 3, episode two featured Seratones. Season 3, episode three featured Marlon Williams. Season 3, episode four featured Bloc Party. By Celine Teo-Blockey

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.

Bloc Party

Bloc Party – Listen to Our Interview in the New Episode of Our Under the Radar Podcast

Nov 07, 2022

Frontman of everyone’s favorite British post-punk rock revival band, Kele Okereke of Bloc Party is our latest guest on Season 3 of our Under the Radar with Celine Teo-Blockey podcast.

Consider the hell-scape which has been the news cycle for the last five years and its cast of villains—Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, Boris Johnson—everywhere you looked it seemed people were trying to outdo or take each other down. Where money talks and people with means get away with murder. It was in this climate of chaos that Okereke wrote Bloc Party’s sixth album, Alpha Games.

On the podcast, Okereke discusses this coarsening of public discourse that he’s witnessed from the political class, which has trickled down and infected everybody. As a result, he refused to dress up the songs and the stories they tell—of predatory sexual behavior in “Traps,” of people who should received their comeuppance in “Callum is a Snake,” and of the nouveau riche and their hangers-on in “Rough Justice.”

Okereke also shares stories of his childhood growing up in an East London estate where a lot of time was whiled away with his sister in the local playground or with his mother at church. And he reveals that the first time he realized that music could really take him somewhere else was when he heard Suede’s second album, Dog Man Star.

Alpha Games is out now via Infectious/BMG.

Listen to the episode below.

Please write to [email protected] if you would like to share your thoughts on this episode.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts and rate the show. You can also listen to us on Spotify and podcast apps such as Podchaser.

Each monthly episode of Under the Radar features an interview with a different musician conducted by host and producer Celine Teo-Blockey.

On top of being available on all podcasting platforms the podcast also airs on WLUR, an NPR affiliate based in Lexington, VA (the city where Under the Radar is currently based).

Season 3 launched with episode one and our interview with Warpaint. Season 3, episode two featured Seratones. Season 3, episode three featured Marlon Williams. By Celine Teo-Blockey.

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.

Marlon Williams

Marlon Williams – Listen to Our Interview in the New Episode of Our Under the Radar Podcast

Sep 30, 2022

New Zealand singer/songwriter and actor, Marlon Williams is our latest guest on Season 3 of our Under the Radar with Celine Teo-Blockey podcast. Williams released his third album My Boy on the Dead Oceans label, earlier this month. Written in the safety of his hometown during lockdown, Williams reveals on the podcast that he felt “he was onto a good thing” and as such, it was one of several reasons he turned down the opportunity to audition for one of this year’s biggest musical biopics despite having the vocal chops for it.

Williams appeared as a young country singer, in the mold of Roy Orbison, in Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star Is Born—a role that Cooper had in mind specifically for Williams after having heard one of his songs over the radio. Other acting roles on movies such as True History of The Kelly Gang and Lone Wolf, plus on the Netflix drama, Sweet Tooth, have since followed. He now shares the same acting coach as Nicole Kidman and remarks that recently it’s “feeling like it’s standing on its own two feet—the acting.”

On My Boy, Williams employs skills he’s gleaned from acting to help build worlds and characters that have roots in his boyhood, as a Maori, growing up in Lyttelton. My Boy is a departure from his 2015, self-titled, country-indebted debut. Its palette of choice is the synth-pop fodder from the early 1980s. Elsewhere, Williams admits that Duran Duran was the first album he ever owned but he never quite appreciated its New Romantic allure. Perhaps being back home and closer to his parents again, reignited childhood memories and prompted his ruminations on masculinity, traditional hierarchies, and climate change. Heady as these themes may be, Williams talks us through some of these inspirations and we can see clearly how he employs the over-the-top ’80s sheen as a Trojan Horse to conduct more sobering interrogations.

In May Williams shared the album’s title track (also its opening track), “My Boy,” via an amusing video. “My Boy” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then in June he shared the album’s second single, “Thinking of Nina,” a song inspired by the Cold War spy drama The Americans. It was shared via a film noir-esque video and was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then Williams shared the album’s third single, “River Rival,” also one of our Songs of the Week, as well as its fourth single, “Easy Does It,” again placing on Songs of the Week. My Boy’s fifth single, “Don’t Go Back,” shared via an amusing self-directed video, was again one of our Songs of the Week.

Read our review of My Boy.

Williams’ last full-length was his sophomore album, Make Way For Love, released back in February 2018 via Dead Oceans. In 2019 he released his first official live album, Live at Auckland Town Hall.

Listen to the episode below.

Please write to [email protected] if you would like to share your thoughts on this episode.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts and rate the show. You can also listen to us on Spotify and podcast apps such as Podchaser.

Each monthly episode of Under the Radar features an interview with a different musician conducted by host and producer Celine Teo-Blockey.

On top of being available on all podcasting platforms the podcast also airs on WLUR, an NPR affiliate based in Lexington, VA (the city where Under the Radar is currently based).

Season 3 launched with episode one and our interview with Warpaint. Season 3, episode two featured Seratones. By Celine Teo-Blockey

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.

Seratones

Seratones – Listen to Our Interview in the New Episode of Our Under the Radar Podcast

Aug 31, 2022

Seratones frontwoman A.J. Haynes is our next guest on Season 3 of our Under the Radar with Celine Teo-Blockey podcast.

Haynes’ Shreveport, Louisiana-based band (which also features bassist Travis Stewart and drummer Jesse Gabriel) released their disco-inspired third album, Love & Algorhythms, earlier this year via New West. At the time of writing the album, Haynes was also working full-time as an abortion advocate in the last standing abortion clinic in Louisiana, an experience that brought her close to burnout and informed much of the record’s theme of liberation, Afro-futurism and radical joy as a form of protest.

“Good Day,” the album’s uplifting lead single, blends gospel with bright polyrhythms. It was written in part as homage to author, documentary filmmaker and civil rights activist, Toni Cade Bambara—whose 1980 novel The Salt Eaters chronicles the emotional and psychological toll of women at the forefront of social justice movements. For the propulsive disco of “Pleasure” she turned to Octavia Butler’s science fiction series Xenogenesis (Lilith’s Brood)—an epic tale of transformation involving alien beings (the colonizing Oankali and the sexless ooloi) and the last surviving humans. It underpins issues of race, colonization, and gender.

The rich sonics of Love & Algorhythms proved that producer Paul Butler (Michael Kiwanuka, Devendra Banhart, Caroline Rose) was the ideal complement for Haynes, encouraging all her interests, especially in astrology and divination. Yet, at its core, Haynes admits that she wants “to 100 percent center Blackness,” as she believes that when Black people thrive, all of society does too.

In the episode, Haynes also reminisces about her childhood growing up in the Deep South, among the pine and pear trees of her grandmother and great-grandmother’s homes. And how that matrilineage owned property and their families ate off the land, thus giving Haynes a glimpse into what she’s fighting for, for herself and for her community.

Haynes is the President of the Board at the New Orleans Abortion Fund, fighting for reproductive rights and raising funds for abortion access. Seratones are currently on their national tour. The band’s previous album, Power, came out in 2019.

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Each monthly episode of Under the Radar features an interview with a different musician conducted by host and producer Celine Teo-Blockey.

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Season 3 launched with episode one and our interview with Warpaint.

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