Saturday, November 20th, 2021
10 Best Songs of the Week: Cate Le Bon, Big Thief, Alex Cameron, Madeline Kenney, and More
Plus Sweeping Promises, Just Mustard, Aeon Station, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks
Nov 19, 2021
By Mark Redfern (with Joey Arnone)
Welcome to the 44th Songs of the Week of 2021. It was a fairly slow week for new songs, perhaps with Thanksgiving impending next week, but we found 10 we liked.
In the last week we posted interviews with Squid, The Weather Station, Alison Klayman (director of the new Alanis Morrisette documentary Jagged), Moby, and a The End interview with Tom McGreevy of Ducks Ltd.
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. Cate Le Bon: “Moderation”
On Wednesday, Welsh singer/songwriter/guitarist Cate Le Bon shared a video for her new single “Moderation.” It is the latest release from her forthcoming album, Pompeii, which will be out on February 4, 2022 via Mexican Summer.
In a press release, Le Bon states that “Moderation” is “a nod to the daily dilemma of trying to curb inherited and novel habits, when you want to eat the moon, and an essay written by the architect Lina Bo Bardi in 1958 that continues to kick hard.” The video for the song was filmed out of a window of Bo Bardi’s.
In 2019, Le Bon released an EP alongside Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound titled Myths 04. It featured the songs “Secretary” (one of our Songs of the Week) and “Canto!” (another one of our Songs of the Week). By Joey Arnone
2. Big Thief: “Time Escaping”
On Tuesday, Big Thief announced the release of a new studio album, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You, which will be out on February 11 via 4AD. They also shared a new single from the album, “Time Escaping.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You was recorded by the band over a course of five month across four separate recording sessions in Upstate New York, Topanga Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, and Tucson, Arizona. A total of 45 tracks were recorded, and the band ultimately whittled the tracklist down to 20.
Band member Adrianne Lenker states in a press release: “One of the things that bonds us together as a band is pure magic. I think we all have the same guide and none of us have ever spoken what it is because we couldn’t name it, but somehow, we are all going for the same thing, and when we hit it…we all know it’s it, but none of us to this day, or maybe ever, will be able to articulate in words what the ‘it’ is. Something about it is magic to me.”
3. Alex Cameron: “Sara Jo”
On Wednesday, Australia’s Alex Cameron shared a video for his latest single “Sara Jo.” It is the first new music from Cameron since the release of his 2019 album Miami Memory. The video was directed by Cameron and filmed in Croatia.
Cameron states in a press release: “Man, I used to be such an idiot. I still am an idiot, but I used to be one too. That’s the template of a Mitch Hedberg joke. The sentiment orbits around me constantly. Judgment in retrospect. Evolving identities that change just as much as they stay the same. I can even hate thoughts I’ve had and decisions I’ve made in the past. Cringe at the old me. Oblivious to how I’ll view this enlightened version of myself in hindsight. Cause man, I used to be such an idiot. Good thing I’ve improved since then. I put in the work. I listened. I learned. I’m malleable like that. Good for me. Those awful thoughts are no longer mine. Most likely they never were. Most likely they were learned and fumbled into a shape I could express like some genetic inheritance of a stupid idea—passed down from one idiot to the next. At my best I can convert my stupidity into wisdom. At my worst I hate it, and it’s useless, my short memory means I can’t even locate its origin. All I know is I hate the dumb fuck that convinced me of it. And so if I can hate the things I used to do, the ideas I used to spill confidently that should have been muttered regretfully then it makes sense that I can hate others for the things they do, and especially for the ideas they might have or have repeated. Cherished totems of dumb contemplation. The inextinguishable torch of bad ideas that will forever flicker as it’s exchanged between proud human hosts. What’s worse than an idiot? Someone who thinks they used to be an idiot—but aren’t anymore. In a clear moment I see it in myself. I’ll say things like ‘I can’t believe people think that’s true.’ Or ‘these fucken idiots.’ You can watch me do it. Watch me distance myself from ideas and actions that I find don’t align. I might have used to think a thing was true, or right, or just—but that was someone else’s idea. That was an idiot’s musing. I was the victim of dumb charm. And the perpetrator is to blame. If I could only remember who that idiot was. And so we have ‘Sara Jo’—a search for the person responsible for all bad ideas. Cause it sure as hell isn’t me.”
“Sara Jo” was produced and recorded by Cameron, co-written with Justin Nijssen, and mixed by Kai Campos of Mount Kimbie. By Joey Arnone
4. Madeline Kenney: “I’ll Get Over It”
In an interview with FADER, Kenney elaborates on the song, which deals with her uncertainty with regards to being a full-time musician during the pandemic: “The reality of that hit me sorta hard. And I had to step back and say, ‘Okay. What does making music mean to me? What do I prioritize? Am I chasing a career, or am I chasing a feeling? How do I want to look back on this part of my life, my growth as an artist?’”
She adds: “‘I’ll Get Over It’ was made in my basement. It’s about growing tired of myself, people growing tired of me—the pain that brings, and the acceptance that also comes from recognizing the constant nature of change.”
5. Sweeping Promises: “Pain Without a Touch”
On Wednesday, Lawrence, Kansas-based (Cambridge, Massachusetts-formed) band Sweeping Promises shared a new single, “Pain Without a Touch,” their first release for Sub Pop after signing to the label. They also announced a string of 2022 tour dates. View the full list of dates here.
Sweeping Promises are led by Lira Mondal and Caufield Schnug, with live touring drummer Spenser Gralla. The band’s debut album, Hunger For a Way Out, was released last year on Feel It. By Joey Arnone
6. Just Mustard: “I Am You”
On Tuesday, Irish five-piece Just Mustard shared a new song, “I Am You.” It is the first glimpse from the band’s forthcoming sophomore album, set to drop sometime in 2022, as well as being their first new music after recently signing to Partisan. They also announced that they will be the supporting act for Fontaines D.C. for their upcoming European tour. View a full list of tour dates for the band here.
“I Am You” was produced by Just Mustard and mixed by David Wrench (FKA twigs, The xx, Caribou). The band’s debut album, Wednesday, came out in 2018 via Pizza Pizza. By Joey Arnone
7. Aeon Station: “Fade”
On Tuesday, Aeon Station (the project led by Kevin Whelan of The Wrens) shared a video for their new single, “Fade.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming debut album, Observatory, which will be out on December 10 via Sub Pop.
Whelan elaborates on the new song in a press release: “I wrote this song in part to describe the myriad of emotions I was feeling when making the decision to move to Singapore with my family. My wife and I had just bought a house in New Jersey when I was presented with an opportunity from my job to live and work in another country. Once we let go of our fears and embraced the adventure of the unknown, we discovered the experience was better than we could have ever imagined.”
Director Briet adds: “The song reminds us that we all live with daily fear, disappointment and criticism and it’s up to us to rise above the negative chatter and break through our self-imposed limitations. What the protagonist in the video doesn’t realize is that these negative things…these ‘rocks’…are and will always be around her, no matter how far she runs. Eventually she overcomes the anxiety and learns to love and accept the challenges that will always be around her.”
8. A Place to Bury Strangers: “Let’s See Each Other”
On Monday, Brooklyn noise rock band A Place to Bury Strangers announced the release of their sixth studio album, See Through You, which will be out on February 4, 2022 via Dedstrange. The band also shared a video for the album’s lead single, “Let’s See Each Other.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art and a list of upcoming tour dates for the band here.
A Place to Bury Strangers’ previous studio album, Pinned, was released in 2018 via Dead Oceans. Later that year, they released a remixed version of the album, titled Re-Pinned. Earlier this year, they released the EP Hologram. By Joey Arnone
9. Horsegirl: “Billy”
On Tuesday, Chicago-based rock trio Horsegirl shared a video for their new single “Billy.” The song will be available on 7-inch vinyl, with a cover of Minutemen’s “History Lesson, Pt. 2” as a B-side, on March 25 via Matador. The trio also announced a March 2022 U.S. tour. View the full list of dates here.
The trio discuss creating the song and video in a press release: “There was a period last year where the three of us spent every day together writing and recording. It was during this time, when we practically lived in Penelope’s basement, that ‘Billy’ was written. Penelope had recently read about Nick Drake’s alternate tunings prompting her to detune her guitar, while Nora overlaid a rhythmic vocal line detailing the life of a fictional character, Billy. At the time, we had been listening to a lot of New Zealand underground bands (’80s/’90s Flying Nun). With that scrappiness in mind, we worked the rest of the song out through improvising together, and ‘Billy’ quickly fell into place.
“‘Billy’ is our first release with a label, and it feels particularly special that it is with Matador, whom we have admired since we were young. After a year of hard work, we are very happy to finally share music, especially with those who have uplifted Horsegirl in the last year. We feel so thankful to have been able to record this song with John Agnello, whose work we adore, at Electrical Audio, a Chicago institution. Recording this song was a dream experience for us, and John has become a very trusted mentor.
“We shot the ‘Billy’ music video with our friends on a rainy Chicago day and feel particularly thankful for everyone who danced the twist with us, and those who gave us their apartment, camera equipment, film expertise, and feedback. This video is a love letter to our city and friends. The song is a love letter to past music scenes we wish we could have witnessed. Please listen to ‘Billy’ in your kitchen with a group of good friends and dance along—we can’t wait to share it with you.”
Earlier this year, the trio shared a 7-inch vinyl release for their single “Ballroom Dance Scene.” By Joey Arnone
10. Silverbacks: “Rolodex City”
Dublin post-punk five-piece Silverbacks are releasing a new album, Archive Material, on January 21, 2022 via Full Time Hobby. On Tuesday, they shared its third single, “Rolodex City.” They also announced some new 2022 tour dates for the UK and Ireland. View the list of tour dates here.
The band features Daniel O’Kelly (vocals/guitar), Kilian O’Kelly (guitar/vocals), Emma Hanlon (bass/vocals), Peadar Kearney (guitar), and Gary Wickham (drums).
Daniel O’Kelly had this to say about “Rolodex City” in a press release: “‘Rolodex City’ is about a property mogul who has fallen on very hard times during a period where technology has changed the way his business and people work. Similar to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid getting caught out by the trains, bicycles, and an increasingly small world, Mr Rolodex is running out of options. He visits a town in a barren landscape with the hope of flipping a bit of land, posing as whatever character the people there will trust—Rolodex City. Ultimately, our anti-hero has no luck and reluctantly ends his trip at a line dance led by Emma—feel free to join in! To help set the scene, we used a live drum sound and contrasting drum machine claps and mechanical percussion. The guitars are inspired by the twang of country music with some Verlaine techniques employed on the solo, for the riff spotters.”
Archive Material includes “Wear My Medals,” a new song the band shared in September via a video partially made in claymation. “Wear My Medals” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. When the album was announced in October the band shared a video for its title track, “Archive Material,” which was filmed in Dunkirk, France. “Archive Material” also made our Songs of the Week list.
Archive Material is the band’s sophomore album and follows the 2020 release of their well-received debut album, Fad, which came out on Central Tones.
The album was recorded at Dublin’s Sonic Studios in November 2020. Girl Band (now known as Gilla Band) bassist Daniel Fox produced Fad and also recorded the new album. Reference points/influences mentioned in a previous press release include Neil Young, Weyes Blood, Bradford Cox and Cate Le Bon, Television, and Gang of Four. Some of the songs deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
Read our 2020 The End interview with Silverbacks. By Mark Redfern
These songs almost made the Top 10.
Beirut: “So Slowly”
DC Gore: “California”
Public Domain: “#AlcoholicBlues”
Single Girl, Married Girl: “Scared to Move” (Feat. Mary Lattimore)
Sun June: “Easy”
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:
100 gecs: “mememe”
ADULT.: “Fools (We Are…)”
Arca: “Queer” (Feat. Planningtorock)
Annie Blackman: “Drive”
Quinton Brock: “Touch”
Basia Bulat: “The Garden”
Cardi B: “Bet It”
The Districts: “Do It Over”
Snow Ellet and Quarter-Life Crisis: “Cannonball”
Hazel English: “Nine Stories”
FKA twigs: “Measure of a Man” (Feat. Central Cee)
Nils Frahm: “Late”
Freddie Gibbs: “Black Illuminati” (Feat. Jadakiss)
Alice Glass: “Baby Teeth”
Gordi: “Grass is Blue” (Dolly Parton Cover)
Ibeyi: “Made of Gold” (Feat. Pa Salieu)
Kavinsky: “Renegade” (Feat. Cautious Clay)
Kero Kero Bonito: “The Sneaker Dance”
Kramer: “The Rain”
Ted Leo and Jeppeson Airplane: “Into the Conquering Sun”
Mouth Congress: “Be My Hole”
William Orbit: “Starbeam (Extended Mix by Shocklee)”
Papercuts: “The Partisan” (Leonard Cohen Cover)
Jeff Parker: “Suffolk”
Shaina Shepherd: “Never Be Another You” (Lee Fields & The Expressions Cover)
Spoon: “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” (The Beatles Cover)
Earl Sweatshirt: “2010”
Tanya Tagaq: “Colonizer”
Eddie Vedder: “The Haves”
Wajatta: “Do You Even Care Anymore?”
Charles Watson: “Afghan Hound”
Weakened Friends: “Everything is Better”
Classic Song of the Week:
David Bowie: “Fantastic Voyage”
Lodger is probably the least heralded of David Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy (it’s hard to compete with such monumental classics as Low and “Heroes”—both released in 1977), but I’ve always had a fondness for it. It was released two years later, in 1979, as the final album of the Berlin Trilogy (even though it was mainly recorded at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland). The 2017 box set A New Career in a New Town included a new remix of Lodger by the album’s original producer Tony Visconti, who wasn’t satisfied with the original mix. “DJ” and “Boys Keep Swinging” were the big singles from the album, but instead I prefer album opener “Fantastic Voyage,” presented below in both the original mix and Visonti’s 2017 remix.