Feb 10, 2023
By Mark Redfern
Welcome to the sixth Songs of the Week of 2023. There were lots of great tracks to choose from this week. I mean, M83 and Django Django each put out five new songs this week! We narrowed it all down to a Top 11.
Don’t forget to check out our Top 100 Albums of 2022 list.
In the past week or so we posted interviews with Pearla, Former Congressman Steve King (as interviewed by our Politics Editor Steve King), and Swedish band FEWS.
We also honored the passing of Burt Bacharach.
In the last week we reviewed some albums.
Remember that our current print issue, the My Favorite Movie Issue, is out now.
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. Jessie Ware: “Pearls”
On Thursday, Jessie Ware announced a new album, That! Feels Good!, and shared a new song from it, “Pearls,” via a lyric video. That! Feels Good! is due out April 28 via PMR/Interscope. “Pearls” is another infectious dancefloor anthem from the queen of nu-disco in which she wants to dance and “shake it til the pearls fall off.” Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
Stuart Price, Sarah Hudson, and Coffee Clarence JR co-wrote and produced “Pearls.”
“‘Pearls’ is a record that doesn’t take itself too seriously but demands you to have a dance,” says Ware in a press release. “It’s inspired by divas like Donna Summer, Evelyn Champagne King, Teena Marie and Chaka khan and I guess attempts to show—in lightness—all the hats I try to wear (usually at the same time). It’s the second song you will hear from my collaboration with Stuart Price and Coffee—with the wonderful addition of Sarah Hudson—and hopefully gives you a taste of the fun we have working together.”
Of the new album, Ware says: “That! Feels Good! stems from over 10 years of understanding who I am, and who I enjoy being as an artist and the thrill of performance.”
That! Feels Good! is the follow-up to the acclaimed What’s Your Pleasure?, which was #5 on our Top 100 Albums of 2020 list. A deluxe edition, What’s Your Pleasure? The Platinum Pleasure, came out in 2021 and featured eight bonus tracks, including six new songs (stream it here).
Last July Ware shared the album’s “Free Yourself,” a new song that was described as “a taster session” to her fifth album. It was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared a video for “Free Yourself.”
Read our print magazine article on Jessie Ware and What’s Your Pleasure?
Read our extended Q&A interview Jessie Ware on What’s Your Pleasure?
Read our 2017 Self-Portrait interview with Jessie Ware.
Read our 2014 interview with Jessie Ware.
2. Indigo De Souza: “Young & Dumber”
On Wednesday, North Carolina singer/songwriter Indigo De Souza announced a new album, All of This Will End, and has shared its first single, the powerful country-tinged ballad “Young & Dumber,” via a self-directed video for the song. She also announced some new tour dates. All of This Will End is due out April 28 via Saddle Creek. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the tour dates, here.
All of This Will End is the follow-up to 2021’s Any Shape You Take. “All of This Will End feels more true to me than anything ever has,” De Souza simply says in a press release.
Of “Young & Dumber,” she says: “‘Younger and Dumber’ is a flood beam of my emotional and spiritual human experience. My growing up defeated by a world brutally littered with trash, violence, and grief, and somehow finding beauty, purpose, and boundless love existing in the same place. This song felt really emotionally intense for me when I wrote it. I was sitting in my house and it kind of flowed right to me as if it had already been written by some other force. A lot of the lyrics are a nod to the idea that your experiences make you who you are. I endured some heavy darkness and dysfunction when I was a teenager. But if I hadn’t been through those things, I wouldn’t be who I am now. When you’re young, you don’t know any better, but you learn from your experiences, and then you become somebody who’s been alive and learning. It’s also about how heartbreaking that is; to start as a child with vivid curiosity, innocent imagination and joy, and for the world to end up being kind of brutal to be a part of. This song is a love letter to everyone’s inner child. No one can prepare us for how insane it is to be alive. How many times we will have to rise from the ashes and what courage it will take.”
De Souza and her mom, Kimberly Oberhammer, designed and constructed the clothing worn in the “Young & Dumber” video and Henry Shearon designed the mask. Oberhammer also created the album’s artwork.
Of the video. De Souza says: “I took psilocybin for the shoot. I have a very specific way of dancing when I’m on mushrooms. The movements feel like electricity rising up from the earth through ancient networks of mycelium. It feels like the trees and plants are moving my body for me and I am just surrendering. It feels so clear to me now more than ever, how important it is to unabashedly embody my truest spirit. Because I am not special, and I’m fleeting, and it feels like it’s my purpose to help mobilize others to come home to themselves. To wake from our societal sleepwalk and consider the importance in creating deep connection within community and relationships. To find a preciousness in the time we have and the earth we’re nourished by. To see nature in all its primordial magic, as something to learn from and grow with. Something to protect.”
Read our interview with De Souza on Any Shape You Take.
3. Django Django: “Complete Me” (Feat. Self Esteem)
On Wednesday, Django Django announced a new album, Off Planet, and shared its first five songs, including lead single “Complete Me,” which features Self Esteem and channels 1990s dance music. “Complete Me” was our favorite of the songs and makes the Songs of the Week list. Listen to all five songs here.
Similar to how Beach House released their last album, Off Planet is being released in four parts, with the first part out today, and the full album coming out on June 16 via Because Music. On Wednesday they shared the following songs: “Wishbone,” “Complete Me” (feat. Self Esteem), “Osaka,” “Hands High” (feat. Refound*), and “Lunar Vibrations” (feat. Isabelle Woodhouse). Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.
Off Planet also features Jack Peñate, Stealing Sheep, and Toya Delazy and a press release says it deconstructs ’90s dance pop. Self Esteem (aka Rebecca Taylor, formerly of Slow Club) previously appeared on the Django Django song “Surface to Air,” from the band’s 2018 album Marble Skies.
Django Django’s Dave Maclean had this to say about “Complete Me” in a press release: “The instrumental for ‘Complete Me’ was made sometime in 2020 or 21 when the world was in lockdown and I was making music in my garden shed studio. It was a dance track that I didn’t really know what to do with. I sent it to Rebecca and she loved the vibe of it and really quickly came up with some vocal ideas that kind of stuck straight away and locked well with the track. The production was inspired by a lot of ’90s breakbeat house and hip-house records that I’ve always been really into and loved Djing with over the years.”
Django Django’s last studio album, Glowing in the Dark, came out in 2021 via Because Music. Last year they released a 10th anniversary reissue of their self-titled debut album. It featured the original album along with a complete dub reworking by Mad Professor.
4. Sleaford Mods: “Force 10 From Navarone” (Feat. Dry Cleaning’s Florence Shaw)
British punk duo Sleaford Mods (Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn) are releasing a new album, UK GRIM, on March 10 via Rough Trade. On Wednesday, they shared the album’s second single, “Force 10 From Navarone,” which features Dry Cleaning’s Florence Shaw. It was shared via a music video that also features Shaw. Eddie Whelan directed the video. Shaw and Sleaford Mods are the perfect post-punk pairing you didn’t know you needed.
Williamson had this to say in a press release: “The track is a conversation with myself coming to terms with happiness and whether it is in fact a darker space than my negativity and depression. Coupled with that it explores the myth of activism and inaction of the majority in the UK in the presence of a corrupt government.”
Of working with Shaw, he adds: ‘We’re big fans of Dry Cleaning and knew Flo would be perfect for the track. She’s the real deal and conjures the inspiration I get from the likes of Wu-Tang in the way she uses one word to convey a whole story.”
“Force 10 From Navarone” shares its name with a 1978 World War II movie starring Harrison Ford. “She really does remind me of the early stuff that I used to do, just the way she uses one word to convey a whole story,” Williamson also says about Shaw.
Previously Sleaford Mods shared the album’s first single, title track “UK GRIM,” via a music video directed by Cold War Steve that satirizes the current state of politics, both in England and the rest of the world. “UK GRIM” was one of our Songs of the Week.
UK GRIM is the follow-up to 2021’s Spare Ribs. The duo began working on the album in 2021 during COVID lockdowns. Progress continued at the band’s regular work space (JT Soars) and concluded at Fearn’s home. A previous press release said “COVID ennui, life online, and experience of how the music industry works all folded into the album” and that “this could still be the angriest Sleaford Mods record yet.”
Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction also guest on the album’s “So Trendy,” a song Williamson says he’s “very wary of… a really weird track.”
Summing up the album and Sleaford Mods’ approach to art, Fearn says: “If there’s stuff there, we’ll keep going. It’s like what Andy Warhol said—just make it, don’t overthink it. Then you’ll make those connections happen.”
Listen to our interview with Sleaford Mods in a 2021 episode of our podcast.
5. M83: “Earth to Sea”
M83 (aka Anthony Gonzalez) is releasing a new album, Fantasy, on March 17 via Mute, but yesterday he shared the album’s first six songs, five of them previously unreleased. It’s being described as the first chapter of Fantasy and includes the new songs “Water Deep,” “Amnesia,” “Us and the Rest,” “Earth to Sea,” and “Radar, Far, Gone,” as well as the recent single “Oceans Niagara.” It was a bit overwhelming getting through five new songs at once, but the near-seven-minute long emotional epic “Earth to Sea” stood out from the pack and makes the list.
He also announced some new European tour dates. Listen to all the songs, followed by all his tour dates, here.
Previously M83 shared Fantasy’s first single, “Oceans Niagara,” via a music video directed by his brother Yann Gonzalez. “Oceans Niagara” was one of our Songs of the Week.
M83’s last regular full-length album was 2016’s Junk, although in 2019 he released the ambient album DSVII.
Anthony Gonzalez had this to say about the direction of the new album in a previous press release: “I wanted this record to be very impactful live. The idea was to come back with something closer to the energy of Before the Dawn Heals Us. The combination of guitars and synths is always in my music, but it’s maybe more present on this new record than on the previous ones…. I wanted to be more present lyrically and vocally even if that was daunting at first. I thought if I could achieve that, this album will be more personal than those that came before.”
Read our cover story interview with M83 on Junk.
6. Yo La Tengo: “Sinatra Drive Breakdown”
Yo La Tengo released a new album, This Stupid World, today via Matador. On Tuesday, they shared its third (and final pre-release) single, “Sinatra Drive Breakdown,” via a music video. The track opens the album and references the Hoboken, New Jersey waterfront boulevard. Curtis Godino directed the abstract video. Like the M83, it’s a seven-minute long near epic.
Check out the band’s upcoming tour dates here.
Previously Yo La Tengo shared the album’s first single “Fallout,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its second single, “Aselestine.”
Yo La Tengo’s previous album, We Have Amnesia Sometimes, was released in 2020.
Read our 2018 interview with the band.
7. Depeche Mode: “Ghosts Again”
Yesterday, Depeche Mode shared a new song, “Ghosts Again,” via an Anton Corbijn-directed video. They also confirmed the details of their new album, Memento Mori, including its release date, tracklist, and cover artwork. Memento Mori will be the first Depeche Mode album to be released since the death of the band’s Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher, who passed away in May at age 60. It was announced last October and now has a confirmed release date of March 24 and will be released on Columbia Records. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as the band’s upcoming tour dates, here.
“To me, ‘Ghosts Again’ just captures this perfect balance of melancholy and joy,” says frontman Dave Gahan in a press release.
The band’s Martin Gore adds: “It’s not often that we record a song that I just don’t get sick of listening to—I’m excited to be able to share it.”
Fletcher did work on the album before his death. Memento Mori is the band’s 15th studio album and the follow-up to 2017’s Spirit. The Memento Mori tour will be the band’s first tour in five years and the band’s 19th tour overall. With Fletcher’s passing, that makes the official lineup for Depeche Mode as Dave Gahan and Martin Gore.
Gore had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “We started work on this project early in the pandemic, and its themes were directly inspired by that time. After Fletch’s passing, we decided to continue as we’re sure this is what he would have wanted, and that has really given the project an extra level of meaning.”
Gahan added: “Fletch would have loved this album. We’re really looking forward to sharing it with you soon, and we can’t wait to present it to you live at the shows next year.”
8. The Golden Dregs: “Vista”
England’s The Golden Dregs (the project of Benjamin Woods) released a new album, On Grace & Dignity, today via 4AD. On Tuesday, Woods shared the album’s fourth and final pre-release single, “Vista.” The Graham Green short story The Destructors inspired the song.
Upon announcement of the new album in October, Woods shared its first single “American Airlines,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then in November The Golden Dregs shared the album’s second single, “Sundown Lake,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then in January the album’s third single, “Before We Fell From Grace,” was shared via a music video.
The Golden Dregs’ previous album, Hope Is For the Hopeless, came out in 2019.
9. Miss Grit: “Nothing’s Wrong”
Miss Grit (aka Margaret Sohn, who uses they/she pronouns) are releasing their debut album, Follow the Cyborg, on February 24 via Mute. On Tuesday, they shared the album’s fourth single, “Nothing’s Wrong.”
Follow the Cyborg was self-produced and features musical contributions from Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint, Aron Kobayashi Ritch of Momma, and Pearla.
In September, Miss Grit shared the album track, “Like You,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. In November, they shared the album’s title track, “Follow the Cyborg,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. The album’s third single, “Lain (Phone Clone),” was shared in January via a music video and was again one of our Songs of the Week.
In 2021, Miss Grit released the EP Imposter.
10. LIES: “Resurrection”
LIES is the new project of Mike and Nate Kinsella, cousins and band members in American Football and Joan of Arc. Last year they released a few singles and on Wednesday they announced their debut album, Lies, and shared a new song from it, “Resurrection,” via a music video. Lies is due out March 31 via Polyvinyl. Atiba Jefferson directed the “Resurrection” video, which features the heads of Mike and Nate superimposed onto the bodies of female dancers, filmed via mirrors. If we honored the best music videos of the week, this one would probably come in at #1.
Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as the band’s upcoming tour dates, here.
In a press release, Mike Kinsella says “Resurrection” took extra effort in the lyrics department than he usually expends. “I’m not used to putting any gold-linings or much of any positive spin into my songs (there’s already enough of that garbage existing in the world),” he says, “but writing about conquering whatever shame and guilt I have for whatever wants and desires I have, felt cathartic/almost therapeutic for me. The process of writing it and expressing the value in actually believing it has helped me feel more confident and assured with who I am and what I want (dare I say, ‘need’…).”
In regards to the music video, Nate Kinsella says: “‘Resurrection’ is a celebration song about reawakening a part of the self that has been hidden away in hibernation. We used mirrors and some camera angle trickery to superimpose our heads onto the bodies of a couple of professional dancers, whose movements illustrate a kind of unselfconscious joy and freedom—feelings that maybe we have a hard time accessing, or tapping into. I hope the video transmits the sense of fun and liberation that we envisioned (and experienced!) when making it.”
Upon announcement of LIES in May, the duo shared the singles “Blemishes” and “Echoes.” They later shared the song “Corbeau,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. In November they shared another new song, “Camera Chimera.” All are featured on the album.
11. Lonnie Holley: “I Am a Part of the Wonder” (Feat. Moor Mother)
Lonnie Holley is releasing a new album, Oh Me Oh My, on March 10 via Jagjaguwar. On Wednesday, he shared the album’s second single, “I Am a Part of the Wonder,” which features Moor Mother.
Holley worked with producer Jacknife Lee (The Cure, REM, Modest Mouse) on the album. Holley wrote “I Am a Part of the Wonder” alongside Camae Ayewa and Lee and the song also features Lee on percussion, drums, bass, marimba, kalimba, vocals, keyboards, and synthesizer programming.
Previously Holley shared the album’s first single, near title track “Oh Me, Oh My,” which features Michael Stipe and was one of our Songs of the Week. The album also features Sharon Van Etten, Bon Iver, and others.
Holley had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “My art and my music are always closely tied to what is happening around me, and the last few years have given me a lot to thoughtsmith about. When I listen back to these songs I can feel the times we were living through. I’m deeply appreciative of the collaborators, especially Jacknife, who helped the songs take shape and really inspired me to dig deeper within myself.”
In 2021, Holley released Broken Mirror: A Selfie Reflection, a collaboration with singer/producer Matthew E. White, via Spacebomb/Jagjaguwar. In 2020, Holley released the Richard Swift-produced EP, National Freedom. In 2018, Holley released the solo album MITH.
These songs almost made the Top 11.
Coach Party: “Micro Aggression”
Kate Davis: “Call Home”
The Faux Faux: “Cold Hearted Woman”
Philip Selway: “Strange Dance”
Bartees Strange: “Tisched Off”
Squid: “Swing (In a Dream)”
Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 11 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions: