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Top Song of the Week: Thom Yorke Offers a Dreamy Embrace on “Dawn Chorus”

on June 29, 2019, 12:09pm

Each week we break down our favorite song, highlight our honorable mentions, and wrap them all up with other staff recommendations into a New Sounds playlist just for you. Be sure to subscribe here. This week’s top song, “Dawn Chorus”, comes from Thom Yorke.

Thom Yorke’s new solo album, ANIMA, is officially streaming. The new full-length record comprises nine tracks written by Yorke and produced by frequent collaborator Nigel Godrich. A few of the songs off the record have already been debuted in concert. Additionally, the project was released with a short companion film directed by no less than Paul Thomas Anderson and stars Yorke’s real-life partner, Italian actress Dajana Roncione. It premiered in a limited IMAX release and is now streaming on Netflix.

This week’s top song, “Dawn Chorus”, dates back to 2008 and was previously performed during a Radiohead soundcheck. The entire record is a slow build based on heavy electronic work, and “Dawn Chorus” is its pivotal moment. Yorke executes his characteristic polyrhythmic flare across the entire record, but this track feels moodier and heavier than all the rest.

Based on two definitions for ANIMA included in a press statement, the record is about 1.) “an individual’s true inner self that in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung reflects archetypal ideals of conduct” and 2.) “an inner feminine part of the male personality.” Yorke described his new material as “dystopian,” and that’s definitely prevalent throughout, but the feelings of anxiety, fear, and excessive introspection are most felt on “Dawn Chorus”. The song is a dreamy embrace that’s wistful, artful, and ultimately a warm reveal that demands to be listened to on repeat and on full-blast. It seeps into your bones like a persistent mist and spreads throughout causing an irrevocable chill in the body.

–Samantha Lopez
Contributing Writer

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OTHER SONGS WE’RE SPINNING

black midi – “Near DT, MI”

Media coverage of the Flint water crisis has mostly subsided, so it’s refreshing to know at least four young post-punk math rockers from London still care and, it would seem, passionately so. “Near DT, MI”, the shortest, most purposeful track on black midi’s debut, Schlagenheim, is righteous and railing, delivering no small amount of cathartic joy. “There’s lead in the water/ And you think that I’m fine?” bassist Cameron Picton shouts, “Are you losing your mind?/ Dead in the water.” –Sean Lang

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Ghost Orchard – “Station”

Michigan-based Sam Hall has been making music as Ghost Orchard for a while now. His last album, bliss, came out in 2016, and later this summer the artist is set to release a new record, Bunny. The song’s official first single, “Station” is lo-fi bedroom rock at its finest; the tune tells about the adventure of first falling in love from the perspective of someone who is looking back with sentimentality. “Station” is a two-and-a-half-minute configuration of swirly beats and plucky guitar to express the transformative fluttery feeling of those first moments of love. –Samantha Lopez

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Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “Beast for Thee”

Will Oldham is by now surely one of folk’s most prolific songwriters, having released 20 records in as many years (and with at least as many collaborators) under his Bonnie “Prince” Billy alias. This time around, Oldham is teaming up with The National’s Bryce Dessner and Eighth Blackbird, the Chicago-based contemporary classical ensemble. “Beast for Thee”, itself a rework of a song by the same name released in 2005, is the first we hear of the project, titled When We Are Inhuman, due out August 30th. –Sean Lang

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88-Keys, Mac Miller, and Sia – “That’s Life”

Rapper and producer 88-Keys shared a previously unreleased collaboration with him and the late Mac Miller this week. The track titled “That’s Life” also features Sia. According to an interview between 88-Keys and DJ Booth, the track was recorded in February 2015 in the middle of a session for Miller’s album GO:OD AM and came about when 88-Keys aimed to give Mac Miller a more ethereal Kanye West College Dropout-era beat and feel. The track originally leaked on the internet last month under a different title ( “Benji the Dog”) but has now been given an official release. –Samantha Lopez

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Angie McMahon – “And I Am a Woman”

Australian singer songwriter, Angie McMahon is set to release her full-length debut, Salt, next month. The record, due via Dualtone/AWAL Records, follows the A Couple of Songs EP, which came out in March. A few of its tracks have already been released, including “Pasta”, “Missing Me”, “Keeping Time”, and “Slow Mover”, and this week McMahon treated us to yet another taste of Salt with “And I Am a Woman”. The track utilizes McMahon’s raspy and emotive vocals — vocals that lure you in and make it so you can’t turn away. The song is a heart-wrenching burn that focuses on the perceptions of gender equality through a performance that induces chills up and down the spine. –Samantha Lopez

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Kim Petras – “Another One”

It would be remiss of us not to acknowledge the steady grind Kim Petras has been on. She has released a single per week since late April, and “Another One”, the last before Clarity’s release today, arrives as one of the best of the bunch. As much indebted to chillwave and vaporwave as it is R&B and pop, its opening notes perfectly evoke the nostalgic wobble of a moldy VHS tape. While the majority of the track is produced with the pop sheen characteristic of Petras’ work, that same melancholic, summer-night melody never disappears, making for a delightfully humid listen. –Sean Lang

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serpentwithfeet – “Receipts” (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)

Under the serpentwithfeet moniker, Josiah Wise crafts delicate songs that detail the intricacies of love, intimacy, infatuation, obsession, and heartbreak. Singing songs wrapped in the sonic equivalent of a deep-red satin, Wise’s vocal control never wavers. The same is true on the Ty Dolla $ign-featuring “Receipts”, serpentwithfeet’s first single since 2018’s excellent soil. Here, Wise balances melody and discord while seeking an answer to the song’s central question: “Who taught you how to love me?” –Sean Lang

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Brittany Howard – “History Repeats”

The prolific frontwoman behind Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard, is set to release her first solo album later this summer. The album, titled Jaime, is named after her late sister who passed away from cancer when the two were teens. In a press release, Howard says, “The title is in memoriam … and she definitely did shape me as a human being. But the record is not about her. It’s about me. I’m pretty candid about myself and who I am and what I believe. Which is why I needed to do it on my own.”

This week we were graced with the record’s first single. “History Repeats” is a reflection on how the mistakes we repeat can lead to our own demise. The song goes, “I just don’t want to be back in this place again,” through a glimmering and infectious funkadelic sound. If this single is any indication of what’s to come on the rest of the album, we’re in for a powerful and emotive collection of songs that won’t allow for a stationary listen. –Samantha Lopez

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Raffaella – “Hell Yeah”

Although it’s officially only the fourth song in Raffaella’s catalog, the NYC native radiates confidence throughout “Hell Yeah”, a laid-back jam that attempts to capture the blithe hypocrisy of rich-kid, pseudo-intellectual life. In the first verse, Raffaella deliberately misquotes, singing, “We’re the pretty bourgeois,” and the rest of the song follows suit, subtle jabs abundant and a “Hell yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah” chorus to boot. Throughout, though, Raffaella’s delivery is such that if you aren’t paying attention, you might miss the satire entirely, which is probably part of the point. –Sean Lang

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