Friday, June 24th, 2022
10 Best Songs of the Week: Regressive Left, First Aid Kit, Stella Donnelly, Nightlands, and More
Plus Gorillaz and Thundercat, Stereolab, Living Hour, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks
Jun 24, 2022
By Mark Redfern (with Joey Arnone)
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 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 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. Regressive Left: “The Wrong Side of History”
Yesterday, England’s Regressive Left shared a video for their new single “The Wrong Side of History.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming EP of the same name, which will be out on July 15 via Bad Vibrations. The song has a definite LCD Soundsystem vibe and also channels their fellow countrymen W.H. Lung. Its lyrics come from a politicized place.
“I started writing it years ago,” states frontman Simon Tyrie in a press release: “It was more of a basic spoken word piece from a place of anger and bitterness. Over time it became more and more tongue in cheek, until it became something to dance to.
“What we wanted to highlight is that the subject of the story—your stereotypical sensationalist, controversialist white guy—is lamenting their fall from grace from a position of power—these people rule the world right now and they want us to feel sorry for them! But it’s because they know their time is running out.” By Joey Arnone
2. First Aid Kit: “Angel”
On Wednesday, Swedish sister alt-country/folk duo First Aid Kit (Klara and Johanna Söderberg) shared a video for their new single, “Angel.” It is the duo’s first release of new music since the release of their 2019 song “Strange Beauty.”
First Aid Kit state in a press release: “It feels special to release a song after such a long hiatus. Today we’re so thrilled to finally share our new track ‘Angel’—a hopeful tune for these crazy times about accepting other people even if you don’t always see eye to eye. It’s also about being kinder to yourself. We wanted it to feel really big, but vulnerable at the same time, something you can cry to and dance to as well.”
3. Stella Donnelly: “Flood”
Australian singer/songwriter Stella Donnelly is releasing a new album, Flood, on August 26 via Secretly Canadian. On Tuesday, she shared its second single, title track “Flood,” via a video for the song. Donnelly co-directed the video with Nick Mckk and Grace Goodwin. In it Donnelly and her bandmates rescue an exercise machine from the trash. View her upcoming tour dates here.
Donnelly had this to say about “Flood” in a press release: “This song feels like a sad little adventure. I wrote it in the dark depths of a Melbourne winter lockdown where it had been raining for consecutive weeks. Everyone around me was falling into their own version of depression at different times. It felt like a flood of trauma yet at the same time, we were given an opportunity of time to work through stuff that we’d been distracting ourselves with for so long prior to the pandemic.”
Of the video, she says: “This clip is pure ridiculous play, like going to your grandparents house where you and your cousins would get up to the most elaborate film projects. We always ran around the house making home movies that tried to re-enact other films and much like this clip here, they always ended in some sort of minor catastrophe. With this video for ‘Flood’ we have made a very feeble attempt at recreating the legendary OK GO video clip for ‘Here it Goes Again’ and we failed gloriously.”
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 the previous 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 said. “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. Nightlands: “Stare Into the Sun”
On Wednesday, Nightlands (the solo project of The War on Drugs’ Dave Hartley) shared a video for his new song “Stare Into the Sun.” It is the latest release from his forthcoming studio album, Moonshine, which will be out on July 15 via Western Vinyl.
“The spark for this song started when I heard ‘Human Nature’ (from Thriller) at a gas station,” states Hartley in a press release. “The chords in the intro of that tune activated something in my heart and I wanted to write something with similar modulating chords. There’s some surrealism happening here. Hundreds of vocals overdubbed creating an uncanny, fractured gospel vibe. The lyrics stand in contrast to the overall vibe, though: it’s a lush, melancholy song about pure anger. I love the arpeggiating synth solo in the break and I’m proud of the way the lyrics poured out. It didn’t feel like composition, it felt like therapy.”
Hartley’s last solo album, I Can Feel the Night Around Me, came out in 2017 via Western Vinyl. By Joey Arnone
5. Gorillaz: “Cracker Island” (Feat. Thundercat)
On Wednesday, Damon Albarn’s virtual band Gorillaz shared a new song, “Cracker Island.” It features Thundercat and right now is a standalone single. The band previously announced some North American tour dates for this September and October. View them here.
Virtual member 2D had this to say about the new song in a press release: “It’s nice to be back, I’m well into our new tune, it brings back weird and scary memories of stuff that hasn’t happened yet.”
Gorillaz co-produced the song with Greg Kurstin and Remi Kabaka Jr.
Gorillaz are also asking fans to join something they are calling “The Last Cult,” which could just be an elaborate way of getting you to sign up to their email list. Go here to do join up. Virtual member Murdoc is the cult’s “self-appointed Great Leader,” says the press release.
6. Stereolab: “Robot Riot”
Yesterday, ’90s indie icons Stereolab announced the fifth installment in their Switched On compilation series, Pulse of the Early Brain [Switched On Volume 5]. It will be out on September 2 via Warp in a variety of formats, including a mail order/lottery edition which contains the compilation on Duophonic UHF disks. The band also shared a new track from the upcoming album, “Robot Riot.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
In March, the band announced a North American tour. Last year, Stereolab vocalist Laetitia Sadier announced the release of a solo album set for release some time this year, sharing the track “New Moon.”
Read our 2014 interview with Sadier and our 2010 interview where Sadier and Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox interviewed each other. By Joey Arnone
7. Living Hour: “No Body”
On Wednesday, Canadian shoegazers Living Hour shared a video for their new single, “No Body.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming album, Someday Is Today, which will be out on September 2 via Kanine. The band’s Sam Sarty directed the video.
In a press release, Sarty states: “This song is about dissociating at a restaurant and feeling completely isolated and alone in the experience. Close friends all around but you can’t reach out, you can’t say anything, hands numb, mind far away and foggy. Trying to ground myself with observations and saying my middle name; focus on something small like the rainbow floating through the glass. The background voices are calming, more positive thoughts pushing the mind into a softer world. A diner is a diner, your friends love you, the sky is still out there.”
8. Kiwi Jr.: “Unspeakable Things”
On Wednesday, Toronto-based band Kiwi Jr. shared a video for their new single, “Unspeakable Things.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming album, Chopper, which will be out on August 12 via Sub Pop.
Frontman Jeremy Gaudet states in a press release: “People are always trying to sign into my email. What do they think they’re gonna find? The public appetite for dirty laundry is wild. Having moved the world online has not helped. Dan Boeckner had the idea to use the Moog sound for the hook, which was originally on guitar, and that sound brings the song into a sort of new-wave territory that was fun and different for us. We kept referencing the vibe of Michael Mann movies when recording the album, and then Morgan heard this and came up with the idea of making the video look like the movie Heat. Somehow TSN’s Jay Onrait, Jonah from Fucked Up, and comedians Tom Henry and Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll were convinced to cameo in it. We also were wearing these hockey masks filming all day next to a busy road getting a lot of car honks and didn’t realize until much later that we filmed on an actual Friday the 13th.”
Upon announcement of the new album in May, the band shared the album track “Night Vision,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Their previous album, Cooler Returns, came out last year via Sub Pop. By Joey Arnone
9. Cheekface: “Pledge Drive”
In a press release, vocalist Greg Katz states that the song is about “what it means to say the right thing if others think you’re virtue signaling, especially if you’re worried they might be a little right.”
He adds: “Last year, me and Mandy [Amanda Tannen, co-songwriter and bassist] were in the practice space vibing on Television and came up with this groove. It was the first song we wrote in-person together since the pandemic started and I think you can tell from the way the guitar and bass weave in and out of each other and meet on a couple of notes.”
Last year, the band shared the song “We Need a Bigger Dumpster.” Their most recent album, Emphatically No., came out in 2020 on New Professor. By Joey Arnone
10. The Mars Volta: “Blacklight Shine”
On Tuesday, The Mars Volta shared a video for their new single, “Blacklight Shine.” It is their first new song release in 10 years. The duo have also announced a set of upcoming North American tour dates. View the tour dates here.
Band member Cedric Bixler-Zavala states in a press release that the new song is about “a wave of rolling blackouts washing memories onto shore, a heartbeat that still remembers everything.”
The video includes an extended percussion outro not featured on the actual song, so we’ve also included the simple audio of the song.
The Mars Volta’s most recent album, Noctourniquet, came out in 2012. By Joey Arnone
These songs almost made the Top 10.
Frances Chang: “I Quit Cigs”
Christine and the Queens: “Je Te Vois Enfin”
Amanda Shires: “Take It Like a Man”
Jacob Turnbloom: “Balboa Park”
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:
Alex G: “Runner”
Katie Bejsiuk: “Onion Grass”
Beyoncé: “Break My Soul”
Built to Spill: “Fool’s Gold”
Delicate Steve: “I Can Fly Anyway”
Marketa Irglova: “My Roots Go Deep”
Tony Molina: “I Don’t Like That He”
Moor Mother: “BARELY WOKE” (Feat. Wolf Weston)
Mush: “Group of Death”
Angel Olsen: “Greenville” (Lucinda Williams Cover)
Ozzy Osbourne: “Patient Number 9”
Richard Reed Parry and Susie Ibarra: “Field II: Slow Drift”
Secret Machines: “Day 21” and “Dreaming of Dreaming (Mavrogeorgis and Sclavunos Version)”
Sylvan Esso: “Your Reality”
Tame Impala: “Edge of Reality” (Elvis Presley Cover/Remix)
Wilco: “Kamera (The Unified Theory of Everything Version)”
Wolf Alice: “Feeling Myself (Lullaby Version)”