Nov 05, 2021
By Mark Redfern (with Joey Arnone)
Welcome to the 42nd Songs of the Week of 2021.
In the last week we posted interviews with Self Esteem, Penelope Isles, and a The End interview with Sam Evian.
In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums.
To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 10 best the last week had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared in the last seven days. Check out the full list below.
1. Spiritualized: “Always Together With You”
On Tuesday, Spiritualized (aka Jason Pierce and backing band) announced the release of a new album, Everything Was Beautiful, which will be out on February 25, 2022 via Fat Possum. The band also announced a North American tour and shared a video for the album’s lead single, “Always Together With You.” Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as a list of select tour dates here.
“Always Together With You” actually has its origins in an earlier Spiritualized song, “Always Forgetting With You (The Bridge Song),” which was featured on the 2014 Record Store Day compilation Space Project, but that version plays more like a rough demo of the new song, which features different instrumentation and some updated lyrics. It also sounds like a classic Spiritualized album opener and it does open Everything Was Beautiful.
The new album features Pierce playing 16 different instruments, with more than 30 musicians and singers providing accompaniment, including his own daughter, Poppy. Pierce states in a press release: “There was so much information on it that the slightest move would unbalance it, but going around in circles is important to me. Not like you’re spiraling out of control but you’re going around and around and on each revolution you hold onto the good each time. Sure, you get mistakes as well, but you hold on to some of those too and that’s how you kind of…achieve. Well, you get there.”
Spiritualized’s last album, And Nothing Hurt, came out in 2018 via Fat Possum (and Bella Union in the U.K.). It was our Album of the Week. Read our review of And Nothing Hurt.
Read our 2008 interview with Jason Pierce. By Joey Arnone and Mark Redfern
2. Jenny Lewis: “Puppy and a Truck”
On Wednesday, Jenny Lewis shared a new song, “Puppy and a Truck.” It is out now via Lewis’ own label, Love’s Way. “Puppy and a Truck” is an unflinching and amusing portrait of what it’s like to be a mid-forty-something single woman with no kids. Whether or not it is autobiographical is up for debate.
Lewis opens the song with “My forties are kicking my ass/And handing them to me in a margarita glass,” before revealing “I was infatuated with an older man/And then I dated a psychopath.” Her solution to life’s ills, just get a puppy and a truck. (But make sure it’s “a dog that’s hypoallergenic/In the poodle milieu and photogenic/Don’t shed, don’t bark/And can play in the band.) Lewis is also reveling in her lack of responsibility and the freedom she has over some of her contemporaries, pointing out that she “don’t got no kids” and doesn’t have elderly parents to take care of. So don’t feel sorry for Lewis (or the narrator of the song if it’s not autobiographical). “Catch me if you can/I’m lacing up my boots,” she defiantly sings.
Lewis’ most recent solo album, On the Line, came out in 2019 via Warner. She has collaborated with rapper Serengeti several times in the past year on the songs “Unblu,” “Vroom Vroom,” “Idiot,” and “GLTR.” By Joey Arnone and Mark Redfern
3. Foals: “Wake Me Up”
Yesterday, Foals shared a video for their new single “Wake Me Up.” It is the first release from their forthcoming studio album, which is set to be released in 2022. It’s a very Foals sounding song, which is a good thing if you like Foals.
Frontman Yannis Philippakis states in a press release: “There’s a journey that the band has gone on experimenting with different palettes of sound. This time there was a desire to take it back to more of the initial idea of the band where the rhythm, the grooves and the guitars are interlocking architecturally. We wanted to tap into the physicality of music. And we wanted it to feel good.”
He adds, regarding the new song: “With ‘Wake Me Up,’ I just wanted to write a song about transporting yourself to a better, idyllic situation. I think we all had that feeling of the last eighteen months being like a weird fever dream that felt surreal but very affecting. I think we all wished we could have woken up somewhere else at various points.”
The band’s upcoming album features production from John Hill, Miles James, A.K. Cook, and Dan Carey. Hill, James, and Cook produced “Wake Me Up.”
Check out our interview with Foals on their 2019 album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1. By Joey Arnone
4. Christian Lee Hutson: “Strawberry Lemonade”
Yesterday, Christian Lee Hutson shared a video for his new song “Strawberry Lemonade,” which was produced by Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst. The song features backing vocals from Oberst and Sharon Silva, along with electric guitar from Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) and piano/trumpet from Nathaniel Wolcott, Oberst’s fellow Bright Eyes member.
Hutson elaborates on the song in a press release: “‘Strawberry Lemonade’ is a series of vignettes about memory, letting go and holding on. I remember talking to a friend, around the time that I wrote it, about the relentless repackaging of 1960’s culture; so some of that ended up in there. The laugh at the beginning of the song is my friend Harry who plays bass on the song.”
He adds: “I want people to feel like it’s okay: we’re all here fucking up all the time; we’re all just learning and living, and it’s going to be all right. I don’t even know if I fully believe that, but it’s the voice I always wished I had in my life.”
Hutson’s latest album, Beginners, came out last year via ANTI-. Read our My Firsts interview with him. By Joey Arnone
5. Silk Sonic: “Smoking Out the Window”
Silk Sonic are Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak (aka California musician/producer Brandon Paak Anderson) and today, they shared a new song “Smoking Out the Window,” via a video for it. It’s the third single from their forthcoming debut album, An Evening With Silk Sonic, which is due out November 12 via Atlantic. “Smoking Out the Window” is another winning and smooth retro ’70s soul cut featuring amusing lyrics, this time about a lover who’s taking advantage and using the song’s narrator. “Got her bad ass kids runnin round my whole crib like it’s Chuck E Cheese/Put me in a jam with her ex-man in the UFC,” Mars sings. Mars co-directed the video with John Esparza.
In March the duo shared their debut single together, “Leave the Door Open,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then in July they shared their second single, “Skate,” which also landed on our Songs of the Week.
The legendary Bootsy Collins came up with the name Silk Sonic and is featured on the album. By Mark Redfern
6. Cassandra Jenkins: “American Spirits”
On Wednesday, Cassandra Jenkins shared a new song, “American Spirits.” It is the latest release from her forthcoming compilation album, (An Overview on) An Overview on Phenomenal Nature, which will be out on November 19 via Ba Da Bing and is a companion piece to her most recent album, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature.
“American Spirits” is the sole new song to be featured on the upcoming compilation, which primarily consists of alternative tracks and outtakes. The song was originally recorded as a demo in early 2019.
Jenkins states in a press release regarding the inspiration behind the song: “I woke up one morning with a voicemail from an unknown number while I was on tour in 2018. The area code was from the Texas border, and I had a sinking feeling my friend had gotten arrested on his way to come see us play in Joshua Tree. I’m fortunate to be close to someone who can speak so candidly about their incarceration, and how the prison system has continuously affected their life. When we spoke recently about the voicemail in this recording, I asked him what he was feeling in that moment. He said ‘I was really scared. So I called you, and I called a lawyer.’
“I cherished this voicemail for years because, even in that difficult moment, I could hear a tenderness in his voice as he confessed, as well as avoided, reporting that he had spent the night in jail. What resulted is the poetic ambiguity that can arise from the struggle of searching for the words to tell someone we love exactly what has happened.”
Jenkins’ most recent studio album, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature came out earlier this year via Ba Da Bing. Read our interview with Jenkins, where she discusses the album. Last month, she shared a revised version of album track “Hailey” upon announcing the compilation. By Joey Arnone
7. alt-J: “Get Better”
On Wednesday, alt-J shared a video for their new contemplative song “Get Better.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming album, The Dream, due out on February 11, 2022 via Canvasback/Infectious Music. The video was created by Hamburg-based pixel artist Stefanie Grunwald.
Frontman Joe Newman states in a press release: “‘Get Better’ is the union of two songs. The first was an improvised song I sang in 2018 to my partner. To her I sang ‘Get better my Darcy, I know you can.’ She filmed it and I kept revisiting the fragment with a plan to write more. The second was a chord structure I worked on in lockdown that focused on someone living through a bereavement. I felt a nervous heat when writing ‘Get Better.’ The context of the Coronavirus pandemic lent my words a chilling weight and gave me a new sense of responsibility as a lyricist. Whilst the direct events described are fictional, I believe—or I hope—that it’s emotionally the most honest song I’ve written.”
Upon announcing the album in September, the band shared the track “U&ME,” which made it to #2 on our Songs of the Week list. Later, they shared a Baauer remix of the song. Their previous studio album, Relaxer, came out in 2017.
Read our interview with alt-J about Relaxer, our review of the album, and our Album of the Week write up on Relaxer.
Plus read our 2014 cover story interview with alt-J and our 2014 cover story bonus Q&A with the band. By Joey Arnone
8. Charli XCX: “New Shapes” (Feat. Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek)
Yesterday, Charli XCX announced the release of a new album, CRASH, which will be out on March 18, 2022 via Atlantic. She also shared a new single from the album, “New Shapes,” featuring Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek, and announced a 2022 U.S. and European tour. Check out the album’s artwork and the tour dates here.
“New Shapes” was produced by Deaton Chris Anthony and Linus Wiklund. CRASH features collaborations with a plethora of other artists, including A. G. Cook, George Daniel, Lotus IV, Oscar Holter, Digital Farm Animals, Rina Sawayama, Ian Kirkpatrik, Jason Evigan, Justin Raisen, Ariel Rechtshaid, Ilya, Oneohtrix Point Never, Jon Shave and Mike Wise.
Charli XCX previously shared a video for the song “Good Ones” in September. Her last album, how i’m feeling now, came out last year via Atlantic.
9. Curtis Harding: “Explore”
On Monday, Atlanta-based neo-soul artist Curtis Harding shared a new song, “Explore.” It is the latest release from his new studio album, If Words Were Flowers, which came out today via ANTI-. Harding also announced a string of January 2022 U.S. tour dates. Check out the list of dates here.
Previously released songs from the upcoming album are “Hopeful,” “Can’t Hide It,” “I Won’t Let You Down,” and “With You” featuring SASAMI. Harding’s previous album, Face Your Fear, came out in 2017 via ANTI-. By Joey Arnone
10. Kristine Leschper: “Ribbon”
On Tuesday, Kristine Leschper (formerly known as Mothers) announced the release of her new album, The Opening, or Closing of a Door, which will be out on March 4, 2022 via ANTI-. Leschper also shared a self-directed video for the album’s lead single, “Ribbon.” Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
Leschper states in a press release: “I found myself wanting to explore love songs, and this is really the framework of The Opening, or Closing of a Door. ‘Ribbon’ is a love song that holds a certain tension—it is the taut line of attempting to read the intentions of another, built with imagery of opposing materialities: a knife meets a ribbon, asking for a kind of vulnerability. A suggestion of something new emerging at this intersection.”
She adds, regarding the video: “This was my first experience writing and directing a video, as well as designing and fabricating the set. I wanted to play with the perceived reality or unreality of a space, using an absolute economy of materials. When does an environment begin to lose its ‘realness’ and slip into the imaginary? There’s something interesting in the posturing of lip sync in music videos—I wanted to throw the microphone out of frame, as if to say: this is not a real performance, it is a performance of a performance, it’s pantomime! This is not a table, it is a painting of a table! Objects come and go, shifting between hard and soft, flat and dimensional, in a setting that provides little more than an abstraction of interior space.”
Leschper’s most recent studio album under the Mother moniker was Render Another Ugly Method, released in 2018 via ANTI-.
Read our 2018 Self-Portrait interview with Leschper. By Joey Arnone
These songs almost made the Top 10.
Black Country, New Road: “Bread Song”
Chastity Belt: “Fear”
Frances Forever: “Certified Fool”
Franz Ferdinand: “Billy Goodbye”
Generationals: “I Was a Tunnel”
Pictish Trail: “Melody Something”
Sea Oleena: “Untethering”
Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 10 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:
Other notable new tracks in the last week include:
Arca: “Prada” and “Rakata”
Cat Power: “Pa Pa Power” (Dead Man’s Bones Cover)
Cola: “Blank Curtain”
Converge and Chelsea Wolfe: “Coil”
Claire Cronin: “Feel This”
Indigo De Souza: “Ivy” (Frank Ocean Cover)
Deap Vally: “Perfuction”
Bryce and Aaron Dessner: “I Won’t Remember?”
Madi Diaz: “Crying in Public (MUNA Remix)”
Flower Face: “Cornflower Blue”
Nils Frahm: “All Numbers End”
Green Day: “Holy Toledo!”
Steve Gunn: “Dust Filled Room” (Bill Fay Cover)
IDLES: “CAR CRASH”
Land of Talk: “Calming Night Partner”
Lorde: “Helen of Troy” and “Hold No Grudge”
Post Malone and The Weeknd: “One Right Now”
Terrace Martin: “Drones” (Feat. Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Ty Dolla $ign, & James Fauntleroy) and “Leave Us Be”
Sinead O’Brien: “GIRLKIND”
Papercuts: “Try Baxter’s Bliss”
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: “It Don’t Bother Me” (Bert Jansch Cover)
Radiohead: “Follow Me Around”
The Reds, Pinks and Purples: “Don’t Come Home Too Soon”
Dawn Richard: “Loose Your Mind”
Rostam: “Kinney (A.G. Cook Remix)”
Scowl: “Seeds to Sow”
serpentwithfeet: “Fellowship” (Remix) (Feat. Ambré & Alex Isley)
Shame: “This Side of the Sun”
Amanda Shires: “Home to Me”
Sitcom: “Wakey Jakey”
Squid: “America!” (Bill Callahan Cover)
Stabbing Westward: “I Am Nothing”
Rosie Thomas: “It’ll be Alright”
U2: “Your Song Saved My Life”
M. Ward: “Birthday” (The Sugarcubes Cover)
Classic Song of the Week:
The Concretes: “You Can’t Hurry Love”
The Swedish indie pop band The Concretes had a bit of a Brill Building and Motown meets The Jesus and Mary Chain kind of vibe, so it makes sense that one of their best known songs is titled “You Can’t Hurry Love.” No, it’s not a cover of The Supremes classic. Instead it’s an original, released as a single in Scandinavia in 2003 and featured on their self-titled debut album, which came out internationally in 2004. Lead vocalist Victoria Bergsman left the band after their sophomore album, 2006’s In Colour, focusing on her Taken By Trees solo project. The Concretes went on to release two more albums with Maria Eriksson taking over on lead vocals: 2007’s Hey Trouble and 2010’s WYWH. Wikipedia don’t list them as broken up, but the band’s website doesn’t work and they haven’t put out an album in over 11 years, so it’s not looking good alas. By Mark Redfern