Jan 06, 2023
By Mark Redfern
Welcome to the first Songs of the Week of 2023. It was a quiet week as the music industry slowly awakens from the holiday break. Hence we only have six songs and no honorable mentions. Happy New Year and we hope you all had a nice holiday season!
Check out our Top 100 Albums of 2022 list.
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 six best the last week had to offer. Check out the full list below.
1. Black Belt Eagle Scout: “Nobody”
Black Belt Eagle Scout (aka Swinomish Indian Tribal Community-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Katherine Paul) is releasing a new album, The Land, The Water, The Sky, on February 10, 2023 via Saddle Creek. Yesterday, she shared its third single, “Nobody,” via a music video. Evan Benally Atwood filmed and edited the video. Below is both the video and the Bandcamp audio (as the music video interrupts the song midway through for an interlude).
Paul had this to say about “Nobody” in a press release: “When I was growing up, I didn’t have very many Native role models to look to on TV or the radio. It was within my own community that I found inspiring role models through our elders and our community leaders. With Native representation in music and television slowly growing, I often ask myself where I stand within representation in music and how I want to be seen. This song is about the relationship I have with my own representation in music.”
Of the video, she adds: “We see the love that Indigenous families have and the laughter that brings us together. Evan’s work in capturing the meaning of kinship is incredible.”
In October Black Belt Eagle Scout shared the album’s closing track, “Don’t Give Up,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. When the album was announced in November, Black Belt Eagle Scout shared its second single, opening track “My Blood Runs Through This Land,” via a music video for the song (which was #1 on our Songs of the Week list).
The Land, The Water, The Sky is the follow-up to 2019’s At the Party With My Brown Friends, also released via Saddle Creek.
In 2020, Paul returned to her ancestral lands from Portland during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I created The Land, The Water, The Sky to record and reflect upon my journey back to my homelands and the challenges and the happiness it brought,” she said in a previous press release.
Read our interview with Black Belt Eagle Scout on her debut album, Mother of My Children, along with our 2018 politically themed interview with her.
Black Belt Eagle Scout was featured on our Covers of Covers compilation, which came out in 2022 via American Laundromat.
2. The Hold Steady: “Sideways Skull”
On Wednesday, The Hold Steady announced a new album, The Price of Progress, and shared its first single, “Sideways Skull.” The Price of Progress is due out March 31 on the band’s own label, Positive Jams, via Thirty Tigers. They have also announced some shows celebrating the band’s 20th anniversary. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as all The Hold Steady’s upcoming shows, here.
“‘Sideways Skull’ is a rocking song about rock and rollers,” says frontman Craig Finn of the new single, in a press release. “In this case, they’ve been taken out of the game for a bit of rest, but still keep their dreams alive as they discuss past glories. We loved the big sound of this when Tad Kubler brought it into the band, and the studio performance of it felt especially joyful. We’re happy to put this forth as a first look at The Price of Progress, and the album’s title even comes from this song.”
Longtime collaborator Josh Kaufman produced The Price of Progress, which was recorded at The Clubhouse in Rhinebeck, NY, and mixed by D. James Goodwin. The cover art features photos by Minneapolis-based photographer Alec Soth.
The press release describes the new album as such: “The Price of Progress stands as their most sonically expansive record thus far, while also remaining unmistakably The Hold Steady showcasing narrative rock ‘n’ roll tales of ordinary people struggling and surviving in a modern world.”
Finn adds: “These are some of the most cinematic songs in The Hold Steady catalog, and the record was a joy to make. I feel like we went somewhere we haven’t before, which is a very exciting thing for a band that is two decades into our career.”
The band’s last album was 2021’s Open Door Policy. In 2022, Finn released a new solo album, A Legacy of Rentals.
3. Frankie Rose: “Anything”
Yesterday, Frankie Rose announced her first new album in six years, Love As Projection, and shared its first single, “Anything.” Love As Projection is due out March 10 via Slumberland. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
A press release describes the album in more detail: “Painstakingly written, recorded, and engineered through some of the most tumultuous times in history, this new collection of songs harnesses the power and propulsion of Frankie’s early DIY-centric punk days without losing sight of the immersive, dreamlike world-building she’s been known for in recent years. Her love of new wave hooks and post-punk drive remain omnipresent, elevated by her utilization of modern production and an improved, polished palate of state-of-the-art instrumentation.”
Rose’s last regular album was the sci-fi themed Cage Tropical, released in 2017 via Slumberland/Grey Market. Although in 2019 she did release an album in which she covered The Cure’s 1980-released album Seventeen Seconds in its entirety as part of Turntable Kitchen’s Sounds Delicious series.
4. Death and Vanilla: “Looking Glass”
Swedish dream-pop trio Death and Vanilla are releasing a new album, Flicker, on March 17 via Fire. Yesterday, they shared its second single, the atmospheric and baroque “Looking Glass.” The first half of the song is a slow building instrumental before Marleen Nilsson’s vocals take hold. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as the band’s UK tour dates, here.
The band formed a decade ago in Malmö, Sweden, and also features Anders Hansson and Magnus Bodin. Flicker is the follow-up to 2019’s Are You a Dreamer? Previously Death and Vanilla shared Flicker’s first single, “Find Another Illusion,” which is also here.
A press release describes what to expect from Flicker in more detail: “Housed in a beautifully austere post-ironic de-constructed sleeve, Flicker is a modern reflection on these difficult times. World crises and lockdowns notwithstanding, Death and Vanilla return reborn, re-arranged and revitalized after assimilating dub reggae, the motorik spirals of Can, the modal meander of Philip Glass, and The Cure’s dreamier pop sounds; plus the twice removed symphonic ambience of Spiritualized and Talking Heads under heavy manners from Brian Eno. By osmosis their period of transition since 2019’s much darker Are You a Dreamer? has hatched new eclectic electronica anthems riddled with melody lines, and layered for lush love.”
5. James Yorkston, Nina Persson, and The Second Hand Orchestra: “The Harmony”
James Yorkston and The Second Hand Orchestra and Nina Persson of The Cardigans are releasing a new collaborative album, The Great White Sea Eagle, on January 13 via Domino. Yesterday, they shared its third single, “The Harmony,” as well as a live performance video for the song.
Yorkston and Persson consider “The Harmony” their favorite song on the album. Yorkston had this to say about it in a press release: “This is a duet love song that we recorded one evening, after most of the Second Hand Orchestra had left for home. It has that beautiful woozy sound music has when everything is just working together perfectly. It’s intimate, and a favorite.”
Previously Yorkston and Persson shared the album’s first single, “Hold Out For Love.” In November they shared its second single, “An Upturned Crab,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week.
In a previous press release, Yorkston had this to say about the album: “Everyone who was playing in The Second Hand Orchestra, in their own way they are all unique and colorful players. There was no one there who didn’t know what to do. I would bring them the songs, we would start one—I would play it, and second time round people would start singing and playing, and by the time we had done it three or four times we would hit record and we would be ready to go. And the thing that they all had was the ability to give each other space and to come up with their parts based on what other people were playing naturally was a very quick process, and they were all so open, nobody was egotistical. Everything was just happy. I love the wildness in it.”
James Yorkston and The Second Hand Orchestra released their previous album, The Wide, Wide River, in 2021 via Domino. Yorkston was also featured on our Covers of Covers compilation, which came out in 2022 via American Laundromat.
6. Peter Gabriel: “Panopticom”
Today, Peter Gabriel shared a new song, “Panopticom.” It’s the first single from his forthcoming new album, i/o, which will be his first album of original songs in over 20 years. “Panopticom” features Brian Eno. Longtime collaborators Tony Levin, David Rhodes, and Manu Katché also play on the track. Gabriel has also shared an artwork to accompany the song, by artist David Spriggs. Check out the artwork and Gabriel’s previously announced tour dates here.
“The first song is based on an idea I have been working on to initiate the creation of an infinitely expandable accessible data globe: The Panopticom,” says Gabriel in a press release. “We are beginning to connect a like-minded group of people who might be able to bring this to life, to allow the world to see itself better and understand more of what’s really going on.”
“Panopticom” was released in conjunction with the first full moon of 2023 and the plan is for the release of additional singles to also be tied to the lunar phases.
“Some of what I’m writing about this time is the idea that we seem incredibly capable of destroying the planet that gave us birth and that unless we find ways to reconnect ourselves to nature and to the natural world we are going to lose a lot,” explains Gabriel. “A simple way of thinking about where we fit in to all of this is looking up at the sky… and the moon has always drawn me to it.”
Gabriel will be sharing a different piece of artwork for each single from i/o. “We’ve been looking at the work of many hundreds of artists,” says Gabriel. “Panopticom” is accompanied by David Spriggs’ “Red Gravity.”
“It was the theme of surveillance that connected me with the work of David Spriggs because he’d done a piece relating to that,” explains Gabriel. “David does this amazing stuff using many layers of transparencies so you get these strange creations with a real intensity to them. Part of what he does is imagine what art might look like a few years in the future and then try and create accordingly and I think he’s done that very successfully in this particular piece.”
The release date for i/o has yet to be announced.
Gabriel’s last full-length album of original materials was 2002’s Up, although in 2010 he released the Scratch My Back covers album and in 2011 he released New Blood, which featured orchestral re-recordings of songs from across Gabriel’s career. Gabriel’s last full tour was 2014’s Back to Front Tour, which celebrated his classic 1986 album So.
The new tour will feature Gabriel’s regular band-mates Tony Levin, David Rhodes, and Manu Katché and will include songs from i/o, as well as ones across his back catalogue.
Also read our previous interview between Gabriel and Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry.
Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 6 in order: