11 Best Songs of the Week: Margaret Glaspy, Sufjan Stevens, Jamila Woods, Wild Nothing, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, July 14th, 2024  

11 Best Songs of the Week: Margaret Glaspy, Sufjan Stevens, Jamila Woods, Wild Nothing, and More

Plus Kevin Drew, Wings of Desire, Modern Nature, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks (Also a Bonus Mix of the Best Songs of the Last Month)

Aug 18, 2023 Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the 25th Songs of the Week of 2023. Songs of the Week was on hiatus for the last month because Wendy and I were on a much needed vacation to England and Iceland. I received several reader emails worried we had killed Songs of the Week, but have no worries, it’s back. As well as a regular Songs of the Week, we have put together an additional Spotify playlist featuring all the songs we also liked while Songs of the Week was taking a break.

In the past week or so we posted interviews with Bethany Cosentino, director/actor Amy Redford; Picture Parlour; Cowboy Junkies; black midi; Black Country, New Road; Local Natives; and others.

In the last week we reviewed some albums.

Remember that we recently announced our new print issue, Issue 71 with Weyes Blood and Black Belt Eagle Scout on the covers.

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

1. Margaret Glaspy: “Get Back”

Margaret Glaspy released a new album, Echo the Diamond, today via ATO. On Tuesday she shared its third single, “Get Back,” via a music video.

At the start of the song, Glaspy sings about not appreciating what you have: “Once I had it all, or did it all have me?/When you’re dripping in your privilege/You don’t know the difference/Between what you want and what you need.”

Later she beboams her former self-centeredness: “Once I thought I was the only/Oh I was so lonely/When you’re only thinking of yourself/You’re missing out on everybody else.”

And in the chorus she encourages the listener to reset their mindset to a more innocent, less corrupted version of themselves. “Get back to the place you started from/Get back to childhood, get back to what’s good,” she sings.

Glaspy says of “Get Back” in a press release: “The process of writing ‘Get Back’ helped lift me out of a dark time in life. Now, when I play it live, it seems to re-enact some kind of deep compassion and joy that I’m so grateful for. It is the most fun I’ve ever had on stage.”

Phineas Alexander directed the “Get Back” video.

Echo the Diamond was co-produced with her partner, guitarist/composer Julian Lage.

Glaspy previously shared the album’s first single, “Act Natural,” which was featured on our Songs of the Week. “Memories” was the album’s second single.

Check out Glaspy’s upcoming tour dates here.

2. Sufjan Stevens: “So You Are Tired”

On Monday, Sufjan Stevens announced a new album, Javelin, and shared its first single, “So You Are Tired,” via a lyric video. It’s being billed as Stevens’ first full on singer/songwriter solo folk album since 2015’s acclaimed Carrie & Lowell and is due out October 6 via Asthmatic Kitty. “So You Are Tired” certainly and gloriously sounds like classic Sufjan Stevens. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.

In 2021, Stevens released the five-volume album Convocations, as well as A Beginner’s Mind, a collaborative album with Angelo De Augustine. Read our digital cover story interview with the duo about that album. In 2020 he put out The Ascension. Earlier this year, Stevens released Reflections, his score for the Justin Peck ballet of the same name that was performed by pianists Timo Andres and Conor Hanick.

Adrienne Maree Brown, Hannah Cohen, Pauline Delassus, Megan Lui, and Nedelle Torrisi all provide harmonies on many of Javelin’s songs. Bryce Dessner of The National plays acoustic and electric guitar on “Shit Talk.” Album closer “There’s a World” is a Neil Young cover. Stevens recorded the album himself at home, but a press release points out that Javelin still sometimes has a big sound and that it “pairs musical sweep with emotional breadth.”

A 48-page book of art and essays all created by Stevens accompanies the album. It includes “a series of meticulous collages, cut-up catalog fantasies, puff-paint word clouds, and iterative color fields. The 10 short essays—alternatively funny, tragic, poignant, obtuse, and specific—offer little glimpses into loves and losses that have shaped him, and, in turn, these songs.”

3. Jamila Woods: “Boomerang”

Chicago musician and poet Jamila Woods is releasing a new album, Water Made Us, on October 13 via Jagjaguwar. On Wednesday, she shared its second single, “Boomerang,” via a music video. The song finds her in full on dance-pop mode. Jordan Phelps and Vincent Martell directed the video.

“I co-wrote this song with Nao, GRADES and George Moore on a sweet London day last year,” Woods says in a press release. “It was amazing to work with Nao and meet her longtime collaborators and feel the synergy that they have together. It’s a song about that kind of relationship that keeps popping back up throughout your life, that magnetic attachment you have to someone and the excitement and anxiety that comes with wondering ‘will we or won’t we?’”

Of the song’s video, she adds: “The video was directed by my friends Vincent Martell and Jordan Phelps of VAM Studio. We shot it entirely in reverse at the Chicago Magic Lounge, which is known for its portals and hidden rooms. The incredible burlesque artist Po Chop directed the movement and helped me learn all the choreo forwards and backwards, quite literally.”

Previously Woods shared a video for the album’s first single, “Tiny Garden,” which features duendita. “Tiny Garden” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Woods had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “Water Made Us feels like the most personal and vulnerable piece of art I’ve ever made. I love creating from source material, diving deep into a subject and extrapolating from what I discover. We sat in the house for two years and I became my own source material. Shout out to the therapists, the astrologers, the family members and friends who listened, who helped me process and transform my journaled thoughts and questions into this body of work. I hope it feels like a playlist that carries you through the life cycle of a relationship, whatever stage of the journey your heart may be in.”

4. Wild Nothing: “Headlights On” (Feat. Hatchie)

On Wednesday, Wild Nothing (aka Jack Tatum) announced a new album, Hold, and shared its first single, “Headlights On,” which features Hatchie and was shared via a music video. He’s also announced a November tour. Hold is due out October 27 via Captured Tracks and is the first Wild Nothing full-length in five years. Nathan Castiel directed the “Headlights On” video. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the tour dates, here.

Wild Nothing’s last album, Indigo, his fourth, came out in August 2018 via Captured Tracks. Indigo was our Album of the Week and one of our Top 100 Albums of 2018. In 2020 he released the Laughing Gas EP, also via Captured Tracks.

Jorge Elbrecht (Japanese Breakfast) mixed “Headlights On,” which features drum production by Tommy Davidson of Beach Fossils, and backing vocals from Hatchie’s Harriette Pilbeam.

Tatum had this to say about the song in a press release: “This track was incredibly cathartic for me. It’s a song about your relationship reaching its most brittle moment and still trying to find even the smallest open window that can lead you back to that person. Musically I was drawn towards something that felt very body centric and could help get me out of my own repetitive thought patterns. It’s a propulsive and hopeful track that’s meant to act as a release valve, but the somberness that inspired the song remains intact.”

Tatum self-produced Hold and Geoff Swan (Caroline Polachek, Charli XCX) mixed it. The album also features Molly Burch, Becca Mancari, and Tatum’s his wife, Dana.

“I’ve sat with this record for a very long time now, so naturally I’m both excited and apprehensive to let it see the light,” says Tatum of Hold. “It’s my first record as a father. My first self-produced record since my debut. It’s a record that deals in existential themes but doesn’t always take itself too seriously. It’s not afraid of pop but it’s hopefully not afraid to be strange either. It has fun, gets sad, dwells in the quiet moments and embraces the loud ones. It’s me doing what I love and feeling grateful for it.”

Read our 2018 interview with Wild Nothing on Indigo.

Read our 2018 Anatomy of a Song article on Wild Nothing where he detailed Indigo single “Partners in Motion.”

Also read our review of Indigo.

Wild Nothing’s 2012 album, Nocturne, was Under the Radar’s #1 album of that year.

Read our 2016 interview with Wild Nothing.

5. Kevin Drew: “Out In the Fields”

On Wednesday, Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene announced a new solo album, Aging, and shared its first two singles, “Out In the Fields” and “Party Oven.” The former was our favorite of the two songs and so it makes this list.

Aging is due out physically on September 22, with a full digital release due on November 3. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as Broken Social Scene’s upcoming tour dates, here.

Drew recorded Aging at The Tragically Hip’s Bathouse studio near Kingston, Ontario with longtime collaborator Nyles Spencer. Initially he intended to make a children’s album, but soon it evolved into one about getting old.

“Pain is a hard thing to let go until you’re ready,” Drew says in a press release. “And that’s kind of where I was at with this record. Music, for me, is a release—it’s a place where I can go and express what it is that I want to say.”

This fall Drew will also be releasing Towards Everything, a new 75-page book that features “a collection of self-portraits and free verse ‘puke poems.’”

During Broken Social Scene’s fall tour dates, Drew will also be performing some Aging songs.

In 2021 Drew released Influences, an instrumental album under the name K.D.A.P. His last regular solo album was 2014’s Darlings. In 2022 Drew contributed to our Covers of Covers 20th anniversary album, where he covered Stars’ “The Loose Ends Will Make Knots.”

Back in 2019, Broken Social Scene released two EPs, Let’s Try the After Vol. 1 and Let’s Try the After Vol. 2, both on Arts & Crafts. The band’s last album was 2017’s Hug of Thunder.

6. Wings of Desire: “Be Here Now”

Earlier today, British duo Wings of Desire (Chloe Little and James Taylor) shared two new songs, “Made of Love” and “Be Here Now.” The latter is not an Oasis cover, but it was our favorite of the two songs and makes this list.

In a press release, the duo collectively had this to say about “Be Here Now”: “‘Be Here Now’ is a song about being exactly where you’re supposed to be. Being present means that instead of focussing on what happened to you yesterday or what could happen tomorrow, you are simply here, now. No one wants to be stuck on autopilot, it’s not good for the soul. As humans we need to be aware of the automatic actions and reactions we have become accustomed to, and find a place of clarity and calm. The present moment offers peace, it gives us space to transcend.

“Ram Dass first coined the term ‘Be Here Now’ in 1971, but the intention is infinite. You can feel completely in control yet have absolutely no say over your destiny, and that is a strange sensation to get used to. It goes against everything we’ve been taught in Western civilisation, but once you embrace freedom, the universe becomes your oyster.”

The new songs follow “Runnin’,” a new song the band released in January that was one of our Songs of the Week, and “Choose a Life,” a new song the band shared last year that was also one of our Songs of the Week.

In 2021, Wings of Desire released the EP Amun-Ra.

Pick up our current print issue, Issue 71, to read our Pleased to Meet You interview with Wings of Desire.

Check out the band’s upcoming UK tour dates, including some shows with Bleach Lab, here.

7. Modern Nature: “Cascade”

Modern Nature (the band led by Jack Cooper) are releasing a new album, No Fixed Point In Space, on September 29 via Bella Union. Yesterday they shared its second single, “Cascade,” via a music video composed of one mainly static frame.

Cooper had this to say about the new song in a press release: “‘Cascade’ is a link between the abstract colors of this record and the rhythms of the last one Island of Noise. The imagery is an attempt to convey how overwhelming the world can be when you make the time to really observe it. Beautiful, intricate and infinite. I was honored to be able to sing this round a microphone with the great Julie Tippetts… something I’ll never forget.”

Previously Modern Nature shared the album’s first single, the seven-minute “Murmuration,” via a music video. “Murmuration” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Of the new album, Cooper said in a previous press release: “I wanted the music to reflect nature: beginnings and endings, arrivals and departures, process and chance. I wanted the music and the words to feel like roots, branches, mycelium, the intricacies of a dawn chorus, neurons firing, the unknown.

“The way you see or hear music in your head is abstract and magic… often more beautiful than what eventually appears on tape. When you sit down with an instrument and begin translating an idea, it quickly conforms. I’ve tried to develop this music without thinking in terms of set rhythms, time signatures, folk or pop structures, syntax; the devices you associate with the music world which I come from. I wanted to make music that was abstract, free and honest, whilst still being predominantly tonal and recognizably song based. It feels like time to make something that no one has heard before.”

The musicians and collaborators for this record include Anton Lukoszevieze, Mira Benjamin and Heather Roche of Apartment House, Alex Ward (This Is Not This Heat / Spiritualized), Dominic Lash, Chris Abrahams of The Necks, and Julie Tippetts (FKA Julie Driscoll), as well as long-term collaborators Jeff Tobias (Sunwatchers) and Jim Wallis.

Read our interview with Cooper, where he discusses his previous album, Island of Noise.

8. The National: “Alphabet City”

Yesterday, The National shared two new songs, “Alphabet City” and “Space Invader.” They follow the April release of the band’s latest album, First Two Pages of Frankenstein, and are out now via 4AD. We liked “Alphabet City” best and it makes this list.

Read our review review of First Two Pages of Frankenstein here. Stream the album here.

The band features frontman Matt Berninger, as well as two sets of brothers: Aaron Dessner (guitar/piano/bass) and Bryce Dessner (piano, guitar), and Scott Devendorf (bass, guitar) and Bryan Devendorf (drums).

Previously the band shared First Two Pages of Frankenstein’s first single, “Tropic Morning News,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then The National shared the album’s second single, “New Order T-Shirt,” and also started selling a joint National/New Order T-shirt. “New Order T-Shirt” also made our Songs of the Week list. Then they shared its third single, “Eucalyptus,” via a music video. Then The National shared the album’s fourth single, “Your Mind is Not Your Friend,” which featured guest backing vocals by Phoebe Bridgers and was shared via a music video directed by Jackson Bridgers (Phoebe’s brother) and co-starring Tom Berninger (brother of Matt Berninger). Then they shared a lyric video for album’s biggest collaboration, “The Alcott,” which is a duet with Taylor Swift. They also performed “Eucalyptus” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. First Two Pages of Frankenstein also features Sufjans Stevens.

The National’s previous album, I Am Easy to Find, came out in 2019 via 4AD. Last year the band shared a new single, “Weird Goodbyes,” which was a collaboration with Bon Iver (the project led by Justin Vernon) but is not featured on the new album.

Read our 2018 interview with The National.

Read our 2017 interview with The National on Sleep Well Beast.

9. Future Islands: “Deep in the Night”

On Tuesday, Future Islands shared a new song, “Deep in the Night,” via a music video. Right now it’s a standalone single on 4AD. The band are currently on tour in the UK and Europe. Albert Birney directed the black & white video. Check out the band’s upcoming tour dates here.

The band’s last album was 2020’s As Long As You Are, which made it to #17 on our Top 100 Albums of 2020 list.

Read our interview with Future Islands on As Long As You Are.

In 2022 the band shared a brand new song, “King of Sweden,” and performed it on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. They also shared a cover of Wham!’s “Last Christmas.”

Read our 2014 cover story article on Future Islands.

10. Cherry Glazerr: “Ready For You”

Cherry Glazerr (aka Clementine Creevy) is releasing a new album, I Don’t Want You Anymore, on September 29 via Secretly Canadian. On Tuesday she shared its second single, “Ready For You,” via a music video. Sarah Ritter directed the video.

Creevy had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Ready For You’ is about being so ashamed of yourself that you can’t look people in the eye, and it’s also about pushing people away because of being scared of hurting them with your own bullshit. Sometimes I feel scared about infecting people with my own troubles, and I just want to hide because then I can save them from myself. This song helps me move through it and confront those feelings of inadequacy, I hope it does that for other people too.”

Previously Cherry Glazerr shared the album’s first single, “Soft Like a Flower.”

Yves Rothman (Yves Tumor, Blondshell, Amaarae) co-produced I Don’t Want You Anymore. The collaboration with Rothman began with a cover of Metallica’s “My Friend of Misery” and grew into this record. “The songs on this one are songs I’ve dreamed of making,” Creevy said in a previous press release.

After years of being on the road, the pandemic offered a sense of solace for Creevy, where she was about to take a step back to really think about her life. “I guess I’m coming to terms with a lot of my bullshit,” she said. “When you’re always leaving, you don’t have a great sense of where your relationships stand, romantic or otherwise. You’re not thinking about the work that goes into maintaining them.”

It’s been four years since a Cherry Glazerr album, but the band shared their single “Soft Drink” in 2021.

11. Death Cab for Cutie: “An Arrow In the Wall”

On Wednesday, Death Cab for Cutie shared a brand new song, “An Arrow In the Wall,” as well as a CHVRCHES remix of the single. CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry recently launched her solo career and will be opening up for some of Death Cab’s co-headlining tour dates with The Postal Service this fall.

Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard had this to say about the new song in a press release: “‘An Arrow In the Wall’ is about the warning signs all around us in the 21st century that society-at-large is in decay. The arrow lodged in the wall might have missed this time, but it would be naive to assume the next one won’t also.

“We have been good friends with CHVRCHES since touring together in 2019. They took our maudlin little dance track and turned it into a major key club banger.”

John Congleton produced “An Arrow In the Wall.”

Gibbard is of course the frontman of both Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service and this fall the two bands will be embarking on a joint tour. Death Cab for Cutie will be performing their 2003 album, Transatlanticism. The Postal Service will be performing their 2003 album (and only full-length), Give Up. Both are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year.

Back in March, Death Cab for Cutie released an acoustic version of their 2022 album, Asphalt Meadows, which was considered by many to be a true return to form, and shared the album’s cover of Low’s “The Plan,” as well as an acoustic version of the band’s own “Pepper.” Andy Park (Pedro the Lion, Joseph, Noah Gunderson) co-produced Asphalt Meadows (Acoustic) with the band.

Asphalt Meadows was released last September via Atlantic. Read our rave review of it here. Read our interview with the band about it here. Death Cab for Cutie’s current lineup also includes Nick Harmer, Dave Depper, Zac Rae, and Jason McGerr.

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 11.

A Beacon School: “KITM”

Eyedress: “The Dark Prince” (Feat. Mac DeMarco)

Shamir: “Obsession”

Slaney Bay: “The Fall”

Sun June: “Get Together”

John Raymond and S. Carey: “Transient”

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

Here’s a bonus Spotify playlist featuring 38 of our favorite songs released between July 15 and August 11, the weeks that we didn’t do Songs of the Week posts. So consider these songs to have been Songs of the Week:

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