May 13, 2022
By Mark Redfern (with Joey Arnone)
Welcome to the 19th Songs of the Week of 2022. It was a stellar week for new tracks, thanks in part to some exciting album announcements and their corresponding singles. So this week we have a slightly super-sized Top 13.
In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums.
Covers of Covers, our first album, came out at the beginning of March on CD and digitally via American Laundromat. You can stream it here. You can also buy it directly from American Laundromat, via Bandcamp, or on Amazon.
Don’t forget to pick up our new double print issue, our 20th Anniversary Issue (which is out now).
To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 13 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. Crack Cloud: “Please Yourself”
On Wednesday, Vancouver collective Crack Cloud announced the release of a new album, Tough Baby, which will be out on September 16 via Meat Machine and Crack Cloud Media Studio. They also shared a strange video for a new single from the album, “Please Yourself.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here. We have included the video for the song, but also below is an embed of the Bandcamp audio, as in the video the song’s solo piano outro is partially obscured by dialogue from a fake sitcom.
In a press release, frontman Zach Choy states: “As a kid, my bedroom was an altar. The images on the wall represented much of what I idolized and aspired to be. This sort of deification of pop culture helped to reinforce my sense of self narrative, however fabricated. But it also provided a sense of solidarity…with a subculture that validated insecurities in a personable way. This is what makes the media industry such a profound paradox. It is as much a source of inspiration for people, as it is an engineered illusion.
“The subtext of the video is really as follows: art is a mechanism for healing and discovery. You learn through it, and you grow with it. In our culture we’re predisposed to quantifying art, to sanctioning it, and to manufacturing it. But underneath all of that, it is a form of living inquiry; it’s how we learn to unravel the extremities in life so that we may better understand ourselves, and each other.”
Crack Cloud’s debut album, Pain Olympics, came out in 2020. By Joey Arnone
2. Death Cab for Cutie: “Roman Candles”
On Wednesday, Death Cab for Cutie announced a new album, Asphalt Meadows, and shared its first single, the short and distorted “Roman Candles,” via a lyric video. The band also announced some new fall tour dates. Asphalt Meadows is due out September 16 via Atlantic. Check out the album’s cover art and the tour dates here. “Roman Candles” is probably the loudest, most punchy single from the Seattle band in years. Death Cab sound renewed here and it’s a good sign for their upcoming album.
“‘Roman Candles’ is about the crippling, existential dread that goes hand in hand with living in a nervous city on a dying planet. And that the only way to be in the moment is to let it all go,” the band collectively say in a press release.
Frontman Benjamin Gibbard adds: “The lyrics were cobbled from a couple of different songs dealing with my general sense of anxiety; the feeling that the fabric that weaves a functioning society together was crumbling during the pandemic.”
John Congleton (St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten) produced Asphalt Meadows, which is the follow-up to 2018’s Thank You For Today.
Tickets for their fall tour go on sale on Friday, May 20 at 10 a.m. local time, with presales beginning next Monday, May 16 at 10 a.m. local time.
Earlier this year Gibbard currated the Yoko Ono tribute album, Ocean Child: Songs of Yoko Ono, which featured 14 covers of Ono tracks from artists such as Sharon Van Etten, US Girls, Jay Som, Japanese Breakfast, David Byrne, Yo La Tengo, and Thao, among others.
Gibbard was instrumental in helping us all get through the first year of the pandemic, especially when we were all under lockdown, with his regular Live From Home livestream concerts performed in 2020 at first daily and then weekly from his home studio.
3. Stella Donnelly: “Lungs”
On Tuesday, Australian singer/songwriter Stella Donnelly announced a new album, Flood, and shared its first single, “Lungs,” via a video. She also announced new tour dates in North America, Europe, and the UK. Flood is due out August 26 via Secretly Canadian. Donnelly co-directed the “Lungs” video with Duncan Wright. View the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as the tour dates, here.
“I do love observing human dynamics,” Donnelly says, in relation to “Lungs,” the album’s opening track and first single. “Dynamics between old best friends, or dynamics between housemates, or a relationship where the two people are broken up and haven’t spoken in years. I like getting into the mind of someone who we’ve all been at some point.”
Of the video for “Lungs,” Donnelly says: “Very loosely based on the Banded Stilts of my album cover, the character I play in red is a wobbly adult, doing their best with their new set of legs and responsibilities, trying to make it look easy but very much on unsteady ground. I wanted this video to celebrate the child, firm in their footholds, intimidatingly honest, not to be messed with, they are the strength and power of this video no matter how much I try to assert myself as the boss.”
Donnelly’s childhood friends—sisters Billie, Nikki, and Stevie Tanner—choreographed the video. They run the Tanner Dance Academy. “They weaved so much beauty in their choreography and also let the dancers apply their own take to the movements which really shines through in the static shots,” praises Donnelly. “Grace Goodwin, who produced, set-designed and costumed the clip, was integral in creating my stilted character and creating a point of difference between that and my child self.”
Flood is Donnelly’s second album, the follow-up to 2019’s debut full-length album, Beware of the Dogs. Donnelly co-wrote songs with her bandmates Jennifer Aslett, George Foster, Jack Gaby, and Marcel Tussie, and a press release says the process “at times felt like experimental kindergarten play.” Donnelly co-produced Flood alongside Anna Laverty and Methyl Ethyl’s Jake Webb.
The album was partially written during her time in the rainforests of Australia’s Bellingen, where she took up birdwatching. During her time writing new songs she also lived in Fremantle, Williams, Guilderton, Margaret River, and Melbourne and in total she wrote 43 new songs.
“I had so many opportunities to write things in strange places,” Donnelly says. “I often had no choice about where I was. There’s no denying that not being able to access your family with border closures, it zooms in on those parts of your life you care about.”
Also read our rave 8.5/10 review of Beware of the Dogs. By Mark Redfern
4. TRAAMS: “Breathe” (Feat. Softlizard)
British post-rock band TRAAMS are releasing a new album, personal best, on July 22 via FatCat. On Wednesday, they shared its third single, the nine-minute-long “Breathe,” which features guest vocals from Softlizard (aka Liza Violet of Menace Beach).
TRAAMS are Stu Hopkins (vocals, guitar), Leigh Padley (bass, vocals), and Adam Stock (drums, synths).
In a press release, Hopkins had this to say about the new single: “During one of 2020’s seemingly endless lockdowns once it was legal to do so, we began meeting up in Stu’s basement (due to our regular rehearsal space being shut). It was a strange time and we all felt palpably odd.
“We already had a couple of tracks from a previous session, but ‘Breathe’ felt new. It took us down a very different path, one that ultimately shaped the tone of the whole record—right down to the artwork.
“A soft, meandering lullaby, born out of a trip to the GP—waiting room imagery, mismatched furnishings, gaudy posters, and jarring slogans all coming together in a fleeting moment of calm, before expanding out into a celebration of life’s repetition.”
Personal best includes “Sleeper,” a new song TRAAMS shared in February that was one of our Songs of the Week. When the album was announced the band shared its second single, “The Light at Night,” which features Joe Casey of Protomartyr and was shared via a video directed by Lee Kiernan of IDLES and Charlotte Gosch. “The Light at Night” was also one of our Songs of the Week.
Personal best is the band’s first full-length in seven years, since 2015’s Modern Dancing.
“I couldn’t really write, and I didn’t have the motivation to do anything musical. I’m pretty sure I didn’t pick up a guitar for two years,” Hopkins said in a previous press release of the long gap between albums. “I was waiting for that feeling to come back.”
In 2020, TRAAMS shared the songs “The Greyhound” (which was one of our Songs of the Week) and “Intercontinental Radio Waves” (also one of our Songs of the Week). Neither is featured on the new album and both were leftover TRAAMS songs Hopkins finished.
“They had been left as instrumental demos with no vocal takes, and to be honest they were beginning to drive me a little mad,” Hopkins explained. “I needed them finished and out of my head.”
At the end of 2019 the trio reconvened to begin work on new music and they began recording in 2020 when pandemic lockdown restrictions in the UK began to ease.
“I like the fact that it touches on old ideas and new ideas, created in this weird middle period of our lives when we were locked down and didn’t know when we’d get on stage again,” bassist Leigh Padley said. “We focused more on the writing than we had done before.”
Hopkins added: “Lockdown heightened how much we realized we needed to do this, after so many years inactive. We realized that TRAAMS was something we all really needed.” By Mark Redfern
5. Kendrick Lamar: “Mother I Sober” (Feat. Beth Gibbons of Portishead)
Kendrick Lamar has released a new album today, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. It is Lamar’s first studio album since 2017’s Pulitzer Prize-winning DAMN. Among the album’s many collaborations is a song featuring Beth Gibbons of Portishead, “Mother I Sober.” The song deals with abuse, with Gibbons recognizable vocals in the background. Stream the full album here. By Joey Arnone
6. Gwenno: “Tresor”
Welsh musician Gwenno (full name Gwenno Saunders) is releasing her third studio album, Tresor, on July 1 via Heavenly. On Wednesday, she shared its third single, lush title track “Tresor,” via a self-directed video that features lots of gorgeous cross fades and multi-layered images.
Saunders had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Tresor’ is a song questioning what makes us human, and the conscious choice that we have to either have a positive or negative impact on our environment and everything around us. We live in a chaotic world and what impacts on our ability to make positive decisions is largely circumstantial, the song is about trying to connect with our ability to do the right thing at a point where everything is in-flux, in crisis, and the foundation of our society is changing. How do we connect with our responsibilities and instinct to commit to the collective in a largely individualistic society? ‘Tresor’ is an homage to an older, analog world, the soundtracks to European cinema, and a final fair farewell to the 20th Century.
“You must fall to rise again, rise again
Touching, extinguishing a flame
“The video is a scrapbook of sorts, these are moments that I’ve filmed over the past couple of years—my week recording in St Ives in 2020, our first lockdown at home in 2021, some Super8 clips from the Tresor film shot by Clare Marie Bailey. It stars my good friends Edward Rowe (Bait, The Witcher) and Pinar Ögün (Keeping Faith, Fflam) as Anima and Animus, and I’ve edited it to reflect the collage approach that I take to writing music, and to Rhys Edwards and mine’s recording process. We record everything at home, without the time-restrictions of studios and session musicians, it’s a very DIY approach and I think that this video reflects that honestly.”
Previously Gwenno shared a self-directed video for the album’s lead single, “An Stevel Nowydh,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared its second single, “Men an Toll,” which was only a minute-and-a-half long.
Tresor was written in St. Ives, Cornwall and features co-production from Rhys Edwards. Gwenno says that the new album primarily deals with “rediscovering oneself after the life-changing experience of becoming a mother.”
7. Bartees Strange: “Hold the Line”
Strange had this to say about the song in a press release: “I remember watching George Floyd’s daughter talk about the death of her father and thinking wow—what a sad introduction to Black American life for this young person. It was painful to watch her grow up in that moment, like all Black kids eventually do.
“‘Hold the Line’ was written over the course of three days during that first pandemic summer. Through this song I was trying to make sense of what was happening in the U.S., my neighborhood and my community at that moment. During the marches people were trying to stop the bleeding, locked arm in arm, doing everything they could to hold the line.”
Farm to Table includes “Heavy Heart,” a new song he shared in March via a music video when he announced his signing to 4AD. “Heavy Heart” was one of our Songs of the Week. When the album was announced in April he shared its second single, “Cosigns,” via a video for the song (which was one of our Songs of the Week).
Farm to Table is due out digitally on July 17 via 4AD (his first for the label), with an LP and CD release expected in October. It is the second full-length album from the Washington, D.C.-based musician (full name Bartees Leon Cox Jr.), the follow-up to his highly acclaimed debut album, Live Forever, which came out in 2020 via Memory Music (a deluxe edition followed last year and included the new song “Weights,” which was one of our Songs of the Week). Live Forever was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2020.
A previous press release described Farm to Table in greater detail: “Where his 2020 debut record Live Forever introduced the experiences and places that shaped Bartees (Flagey Brussels, Mustang Oklahoma), Farm to Table zeros in on the people—specifically his family—and those closest to him on his journey so far. With his career firmly on the ascent, Farm to Table examines Bartees’ constantly shapeshifting relationship with life post-Live Forever. It also speaks to a deeper lore that says, don’t forget where you came from, and this album is why. Always remembering where he came from, across 10 songs Bartees is celebrating the past, moving towards the future and fully appreciating the present.”
Strange first garnered attention for covering a string of The National tracks, including on Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy, his EP of National covers released in 2020 on Brassland, a label run by members of the band. He was born in Ipswich, England, but grew up in Mustang, a largely the white and conservative rural town outside Oklahoma City, before launching his music career in Washington, D.C. In between he also worked in the Obama administration.
8. Ezra Furman: “Forever in Sunset”
On Tuesday, Ezra Furman announced a new album, All of Us Flames, and shared a new song from it, “Forever in Sunset,” via a video. All of Us Flames is due out August 26 via ANTI-/Bella Union. It includes the recent singles “Point Me Toward the Real” and “Book of Our Names.” Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as Furman’s upcoming tour dates, here.
Furman had this to say about “Forever in Sunset” in a press release: “The biggest influence on the lyrics of this song is a conversation I had with a friend of mine. When COVID was first hitting, she was talking to me a lot about how ready she felt. She was like, ‘People who have been comfortable in life are freaking out right now. But queer people like me have been in crisis before. I grew up poor and my family kicked me out when I was a teenager. My world has already ended plenty of times before, and we queers know what to do: we take care of each other, we help each other out, we have a network of support for the crises we know will hit us from time to time.’
“And then she lost her job and ended up moving in with me and my family for like three months. And she was right, we were okay and we were taking care of each other.
“That influenced a lot of what the whole record is about. But ‘Forever in Sunset’ is specifically a woman who’s been through some shit speaking to a new lover who is becoming attached to them, trying to warn the lover about how she is trouble, about how she has been through crises and they will come again. And that’s just how she lives, never settled, never safe, but also never defeated/finished—‘forever in sunset.’
“Sometimes it feels like crisis is hitting more and more of the general population. They think the world is ending. But people who have been through a personal apocalypse or two have something to teach them. The world doesn’t end, shit just happens and if we don’t die we have to take care of each other.”
John Congleton (Angel Olsen, Future Islands, Sharon Van Etten) produced All of Us Flames. Furman’s last full-on album was 2019’s Twelve Nudes. In 2021, Furman surprise released a new EP that featured songs she had written for season 3 of the Netflix show Sex Education. It was fittingly titled Sex Education – Songs from Season 3 and featured three new songs, alongside two songs previously released with her former band Ezra Furman & The Harpoons in 2011. Furman has done the music for all three seasons. In 2020, Furman shared the official soundtrack for seasons 1 and 2 of Sex Education, along with a video for the song “Every Feeling.”
Furman shared All of Us Flames’s “Point Me Toward the Real” in early March, which was her first single for ANTI-. “Point Me Toward the Real” was about someone getting out of a psychiatric hospital and made it to #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then “Book of Our Names” followed in April.
All of Us Flames is described as the third part of a trilogy, including 2019’s Twelve Nudes and 2018’s Transangelic Exodus.
“I started to think of trans women as a secret society across the world: scattered everywhere, but so obviously bound together, both in being vulnerable and having a shared vision to change a fundamental building block of patriarchal society,” Furman explains. “I’ve been building my world of queer pals, and it feels like we’re forming a gang.”
Much of the new album was written in the early months of the pandemic. “I had no time alone anymore; my house was super crowded,” Furman says. So she went for drives around Massachusetts to find quiet places to write songs.
“This is a first person plural album,” Furman says. “It’s a queer album for the stage of life when you start to understand that you are not a lone wolf, but depend on finding your family, your people, how you work as part of a larger whole. I wanted to make songs for use by threatened communities, and particularly the ones I belong to: trans people and Jews.”
Check out our 2020 interview with Furman in episode two of our official podcast’s first season.
Read our 2018 interview with Furman. By Mark Redfern
9. Julia Jacklin: “Lydia Wears a Cross”
On Tuesday, Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin announced a new album, PRE PLEASURE, and shared its first single, “Lydia Wears a Cross,” via a self-directed video for it. She also announced some new tour dates in North America, Europe, and the UK. PRE PLEASURE is due out August 26 via Polyvinyl. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as the tour dates, here.
Jacklin had this to say about “Lydia Wears a Cross” in a press release: “The song is about a lot of things but mainly being a seven-year-old Jesus Christ Superstar fanatic attending catholic school trying to figure out which way is up. The music video was filmed by my constant collaborator and friend Nick Mckk at Splitpoint lighthouse. I played a show close by recently and asked on stage if anyone could let me film inside. Someone in the crowd knew a guy and that was it. The rest was filmed in the streets of Northcote, Melbourne.”
PRE PLEASURE is Jacklin’s third album and the follow-up to 2019’s acclaimed Crushing and 2016’s Don’t Let the Kids Win. The album was written after the end of the world tour for Crushing and was concluded with several months of recording in Montreal with co-producer Marcus Paquin. “The songs on this record took either three years to write or three minutes,” Jacklin says.
Members of Jacklin’s tour band—bassist Ben Whiteley and guitarist Will Kidman, who are both based in Canada and also in The Weather Station—played on PRE PLEASURE, as do drummer Laurie Torres and saxophonist Adam Kinner. Owen Pallett (Arcade Fire) provided the string arrangements, which were recorded by a full orchestra in Prague.
“Making a record to me has always just been about the experience, a new experience in a new place with a new person at the desk, taking the plunge and just seeing what happens,” says Jacklin. “For the first time I stepped away from the guitar, and wrote a lot of the album on the Roland keyboard in my apartment in Montreal with its inbuilt band tracks. I blu-tacked reams of butcher paper to the walls, covered in lyrics and ideas, praying to the music gods that my brain would arrange everything in time.”
Seemingly referencing the album’s title, PRE PLEASURE, Jacklin says: “A lot of the time I feel like I need to do all the work before I can enjoy my life. Whether that’s work on songs or sex, friendships, or my relationship with my family – I think if I work on them long and hard enough, eventually I’ll get to sit around and really enjoy them. But that’s not how anything works is it. It’s all an ongoing process.”
Following her huge Crushing tour, Jacklin spent some time reconnecting with music and finding her way back to the joy of listening. “Once music becomes your job, you can lose the purity of music fandom,” she explains. “I spent the last two years trying to reconnect with that. I didn’t play much, I just listened. Especially to a lot of big pop music like Céline Dion, Robyn and Luther Vandross—music that wasn’t so heavy, big feelings, big production. You lose sight of what putting on a big, beautiful song can do.”
Céline Dion was particularly important, with the Canadian singer’s 1996 hit “Because You Loved Me” being a favorite of Jacklin’s dad. She says that revisiting the song in 2020, “brought back a lot of nice, uncomplicated feelings about music. Pure joy and feeling. And as someone relatively introverted and trying to be cool, Céline was a good person for me to lock onto during this period, because she’s definitely not that. She’s dramatic as hell and incredibly cheesy. I think listening to her helped me get over myself.” If you look closely in the “Lydia Wears a Cross” video, Céline Dion is the background photo on Jacklin’s phone.
Of the themes on the new album, Jacklin says: “I care so much about the people around me, so much it makes me want to sleep forever, it feels so overwhelming. I wasn’t raised in an environment where language was used to express love and care, part of my songwriting process is me trying to rectify that, force myself to put words to those feelings”
10. Danger Mouse and Black Thought: “No Gold Teeth”
On Wednesday, Danger Mouse and The Roots frontman Black Thought announced the release of a joint album, Cheat Codes, which will be out on August 12 via BMG. They also shared a video for the first single from the album, “No Gold Teeth.” View the album’s cover and tracklist here.
Cheat Codes will feature guest appearances from A$AP Rocky, Run The Jewels, MF DOOM, Michael Kiwanuka, Joey Bada$$, Russ, Raekwon and Conway the Machine. By Joey Arnone
11. The Smile: “Thin Thing”
The Smile, a new group composed of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood along with Sons of Kemet’s Tom Skinner, have shared a stop-motion animation video for their new single “Thin Thing.” It is the latest release from their debut album, A Light For Attracting Attention, which is out today via XL.
In a press release, directors León and Cociña state: “Hearing the song for the first time, we imagined a frenetic fluid that carries machines, pieces of human bodies and carnivorous plants. When presenting the idea to the band, Thom told us about a dream that made him write the song. We believe the video is the conjunction of these two things.”
Previously released singles from the album are “You Will Never Work in Television Again,” which was #1 on our Songs of the Week list, “The Smoke,” which again topped our Songs of the Week list, “Skrting on the Surface,” which also topped our Songs of the Week list, and “Pana-vision.” Upon announcement of the album in late April, they shared the album track “Free in the Knowledge,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. By Joey Arnone
12. Viagra Boys: “Troglodyte”
In a press release, frontman Sebastian Murphy states: “People look down at apes as primitive life forms, but we’re just this horrible, lazy society killing each other and starting wars, while they’re able to love and feel. Does that make them the true ape or us?”
Their previous album, Welfare Jazz, came out last year via YEAR0001. By Joey Arnone
13. Wombo: “Backflip”
On Tuesday, Kentucky-based trio Wombo announced the release of a new album, Fairy Rust, which will be out on July 29 via Fire Talk. They also shared a video for a new single from the album titled “Backflip.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
In a press release, the band elaborate on their new single: “It’s about being stuck in a loop, continuously running back into yourself. The video ties into ‘Below the House’ in that it is an extension of the nightmarish-dream world experience we wanted to convey.” By Joey Arnone
These songs almost made the Top 13.
black midi: “Welcome to Hell”
Rosie Carney: “tidal wave”
JB Dunckel: “Zombie Park”
Gentle Sinners: “Landfill”
Bret McKenzie: “A Little Tune”
Night Moves: “Feel Another Day”
Revelators Sound System: “George the Revelator”
Say Sue Me: “No Real Place”
Σtella: “The Truth Is”
Wilco: “Tired of Taking It Out on You”
Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 13 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:
Other notable new tracks in the last week include:
Naomi Alligator: “Blue For You”
Kate Bejsiuk: “Feels Right”
Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler: “Seven Red Rose Tattoos”
Cave In: “Reckoning”
Brandon Coleman: “Be With Me”
Ece Era: “Chero”
Katie Alice Greer: “Dreamt I Talk To Horses”
Kendrick Lamar: “The Heart Part 5”
MONO: “The Place”
mxmtoon: “Coming of Age”
My Chemical Romance: “The Foundations of Decay”
Nina Nastasia: “This Is Love”
Post Malone: “Cooped Up” (Feat. Roddy Ricch)
Mark Ronson: “Too Much” (Feat. Lucky Daye)
Antonio Sánchez: “I Think We’re Past That Now” (Feat. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross)
Luke Steele: “Listen to the Water”
Jennifer Vanilla: “Body Music”
Wet: “Tell Me Why”
Scout Larue Willis: “Woman at Best”