10 Best Songs of the Week: The Smile, SASAMI, Gang of Youths, Sondre Lerche, and More
Saturday, January 8th, 2022
10 Best Songs of the Week: The Smile, SASAMI, Gang of Youths, Sondre Lerche, and More
Plus Father John Misty, Let’s Eat Grandma, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks
Jan 07, 2022
By Mark Redfern (with Joey Arnone and Hayden Merrick)
Welcome to the first Songs of the Week of 2022. We haven’t done a Songs of the Week in almost a month, as the holiday season slowed the release of new songs in mid December. But the first week of 2022 presented enough new tracks to warrant a return to Songs of the Week.
Just before Christmas we announced our new double print issue, our 20th Anniversary Issue (which is out now). We also announced our first album, the 20th anniversary compilation Covers of Covers.
In the last few weeks we posted interviews with Modern Nature, Arlo Parks, the music supervisors of Six Feet Under on the show’s 20th anniversary, Roddy Woomble, Billy Bragg, Japanese Breakfast, Tegan and Sara, and more.
In the last few weeks 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. The Smile: “You Will Never Work In Television Again”
On Wednesday, The Smile, a new group comprised of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood and Sons of Kemet’s Tom Skinner, shared their debut single, “You Will Never Work In Television Again.” It was produced by Nigel Godrich. “You Will Never Work In Television Again” is a bit rawer than most modern Radiohead tracks, harkening to the band’s mid-’90s work such as The Bends or the My Iron Lung EP.
The group also announced a set of three performances to be livestreamed within a 24-hour period from January 29 to 30 at Magazine London. Tickets go on sale today. By Joey Arnone
2. SASAMI: “Say It”
Yesterday, SASAMI (aka Los Angeles-based musician Sasami Ashworth) shared a new song, “Say It.” It is the latest release from her forthcoming album Squeeze, which will be out on February 25 via Domino.
In a press release, Ashworth states: “‘Say It’ is a rage anthem dance track about spinning out because someone isn’t communicating with you. I feel like when I hear the song I see a hot femme with a mystical flamethrower engulfed in emotional blue flames throwing elbows alone in an industrial dance club in outer space.” (That sounds like a good concept for a music video.)
Upon announcement of the new album in October of last year, Ashworth shared the songs “Skin a Rat” and “The Greatest,” the latter of which was one of our Songs of the Week.
Ashworth’s self-titled debut album, SASAMI, came out in 2019 via Domino. Read our interview with her on the album. By Joey Arnone
3. Gang of Youths: “in the wake of your leave”
Earlier today, Australian indie rock band Gang of Youths shared their new single, “in the wake of your leave.” It is the latest release from their upcoming album, angel in realtime., which will be out on February 25 via Warner.
Frontman Dave Le’aupepe states in a press release regarding the song: “I wanted to reflect on how I became dependent on grief for solace and inspiration. The cycle from numbness to acceptance to yearning plays a role in my approach to grieving my dad’s death. As a result, most of the time, I feel a bit futile as a person.”
Last October, the band shared the album track “the man himself,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Later, they shared the song “tend the garden,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Their most recent music project, the total serene EP, came out earlier this year via Warner. By Joey Arnone
4. Sondre Lerche: “Cut”
On Wednesday, Norwegian-born/American-based singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche announced the release of a new double album, Avatars of Love, which will be out on April 8 via PLZ/InGrooves. Lerche also shared two tracks from the album, “Cut” and “Turns Out I’m Sentimental After All,” along with a Jon Danovic-directed video for “Cut.” Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here. “Cut” makes the main Top 10 while “Turns Out I’m Sentimental After All” is an honorable mention below.
In a press release, Lerche states: “I originally wrote ‘Cut’ imagining a love affair between actors on a film set, where the lines are constantly blurred between what is real, what’s performative. I saw it as a film noir, but during the recording it no longer felt black and white, it felt colorful and erotic and it reminded me of some of Brian De Palma’s ’80s neo-noir films that I love. The music video also captures some of this.”
Lerche adds, regarding the creation of his new sprawling double album: “This is without a doubt the biggest, boldest, most complex thing I’ve ever done. At the same time, it was also the easiest, most natural, and most liberating. As an artist, it’s the kind of project you always dream about.”
The upcoming album features guest appearances from CHAI, Felicia Douglass (Dirty Projectors), Mary Lattimore, Rodrigo Alarcon, and Ana Müller.
Back in October, Lerche shared the 10-minute album track “Dead of the Night,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. His most recent album, Patience, came out in 2020 via PLZ.
Lerche is among the artists featured on our Covers of Covers album, which will be out on March 4 via American Laundromat. By Joey Arnone
5. Father John Misty: “Funny Girl”
On Wednesday, Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman) officially announced the release of his upcoming studio album Chloë and the Next 20th Century, which will be out on April 8 via Sub Pop/Bella Union. The announcement was accompanied by the release of a video for album track “Funny Girl.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
Chloë and the Next 20th Century was produced by longtime collaborator Jonathan Wilson. It was engineered and mixed by Dave Cerminara and features arrangements by Drew Erickson.
The album will be released in a variety of formats, including a boxset release which features the album on double vinyl cased in a hardcover book, alongside two 7-inch records featuring covers of album songs by Lana Del Rey and Jack Cruz. The album will also be available on regular gatefold vinyl, cassette, and CD.
Father John Misty’s last album, God’s Favorite Customer, was released in 2018 via Sub Pop, and it was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2018.
Read our 2017 cover story interview with Father John Misty.
Read our 2017 cover story bonus Q&A with Father John Misty. By Joey Arnone
6. Let’s Eat Grandma: “Happy New Year”
On Monday, British duo Let’s Eat Grandma (Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth) shared a video for their new single “Happy New Year.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming album, Two Ribbons, which will be out on April 8 via Transgressive.
Walton elaborates on the new song, which reflects on her friendship with Hollingworth, in a press release: “I wrote ‘Happy New Year’ after a breakdown between us that lasted for a long period of time, to communicate to her how important she is to me and how our bond and care for each other goes much deeper than this difficult time. I used the setting of New Year as both an opportunity for reflection, looking back nostalgically through childhood memories that we shared, and to represent the beginning of a fresh chapter for us. I’d been struggling to come to terms with the fact that our relationship had changed, but as the song and time progresses I come to accept that it couldn’t stay the way it was when we were kids forever, and start to view it as a positive thing—because now we have been able to grow into our own individual selves.”
Previously released singles from Two Ribbons include “Hall of Mirrors,” which made it to #1 on our Songs of the Week list, and the album’s title track, which was also one of our Songs of the Week.
Read our 2018 interview with Let’s Eat Grandma on their previous album I’m All Ears. By Joey Arnone
7. British Sea Power: “Green Goddess”
On Wednesday, Sea Power (who were formerly known as British Sea Power, but last year shortened their name partially due to “a rise in a certain kind of nationalism in this world”) shared a new song, “Green Goddess.” It’s the latest single to be taken from their upcoming new album, Everything Was Forever, which is due out February 18 via the band’s own label Golden Chariot.
Vocalist and guitarist Jan Scott Wilkinson had this to say about the new single in a press release: “‘Green Goddess’ was written with [guitarist] Noble. He had the initial idea for the music which I helped arrange and add vocals to. It is a love song about everything green from the Lake District to the New Forest. The places I love to be which are quiet and restorative. It is also a love song for my wife whose favorite color is green. A rumination on human and non-human muses. There are dark and complicated things going on but sometimes it is good to forget this and go to the places and where you are happy. A hope that the future doesn’t have to be at odds with the past.”
When Everything Was Forever was announced the band shared its first single, “Two Fingers,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared a video for “Two Fingers.” That was followed by its second single, “Folly,” which also made our Songs of the Week list.
The band collectively and previously had this to say about the name change in a statement on their website.
Sea Power features Jan Scott Wilkinson (vocals/guitars), Neil Hamilton Wilkinson (vocals/guitars), Martin Noble (guitars), Matthew Wood (drums), Abi Fry (viola), and Phil Sumner (keyboards/cornet).
Sea Power’s last album (released as British Sea Power of course) was 2017’s Let the Dancers Inherit the Party. By Mark Redfern
8. Yard Act: “Rich”
Today, English rock group Yard Act shared a video for their new single “Rich.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming album, The Overload, which will be out on January 21 via Island/Zen F.C.
In a press release, frontman James Smith elaborates on the new song: “‘Rich’ is the natural successor to ‘Payday.’ That’s the end of the story right? Success! Status! Security! Except, there’s always more money to be made, and you’re deemed a failure if your life starts to head back in the direction it came from. It’s about being so lost you’re sure you know exactly where you are and how you got there. I also wrote it because I thought it would be quite funny if Yard Act made a shit ton of money after I’d written an anti-capitalist concept album. It’ll be funny if I’m singing this song on stage when I’ve made my mint.”
He adds: “At worst it makes no sense, at best it comes off as pretentious, but that’s the point I’m trying to make when I write anything really. Things only really make sense if you exclude the bits that don’t back up the point you’re trying to make. I’m a hypocrite just like everyone else. I don’t have the answers and I’m just trying to do the best I can. It’ll never be good enough though. Enjoy the ride, life is short and you never know what’s round the corner.”
Previously released songs from the upcoming album are “The Overload,” which was one of our Songs of the Week, “Land of the Blind,” also one of our Songs of the Week, and “Payday,” which made it to #2 on our Songs of the Week list.
Pick up our 20th Anniversary Issue to read our interview with Yard Act. By Joey Arnone
9. alt-J: “Hard Drive Gold”
On Wednesday, alt-J shared a video for their new song “Hard Drive Gold.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming album, The Dream, due out on February 11 via Canvasback/Infectious Music.
In a press release, Newman elaborates on the new song: “‘Hard Drive Gold’ is a slightly tongue-in-cheek song written at what we thought was the height of the cryptocurrency gold rush. It’s the story of the ultimate childhood fantasy, the schoolboy who becomes a millionaire overnight, and the different interactions he has with people in his life from teachers to neighbors. How ironically you interpret its message is entirely up to you….”
He adds, regarding the video: “Growing up enjoying cinema greatly, I saw our music videos as opportune moments for directors to create stories purely and so we the band did not appear in our videos. By avoiding cuts to a band playing in an ‘airplane hanger,’ the audience could focus on the cinema over the indie band music video tropes. I had ideas for videos that I passed on to directors to develop, watching these directors execute some of these ideas inspired me, and now I want to understand and experience the process at a deeper level.”
Upon announcing the album last September, the band shared the track “U&ME,” which made it to #2 on our Songs of the Week list. Later, they shared a Baauer remix of the song. In November, the band shared the track “Get Better,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Their previous studio album, Relaxer, came out in 2017.
Read our interview with alt-J about Relaxer, our review of the album, and our Album of the Week write up on Relaxer.
Plus read our 2014 cover story interview with alt-J and our 2014 cover story bonus Q&A with the band. By Joey Arnone
10. Widowspeak: “Everything Is Simple”
On Tuesday, folk-rock band Widowspeak announced the release of a new album, The Jacket, which is due out in March. They have also shared a video for the album’s lead single “Everything Is Simple.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
The band state in a press release: “At the beginning of something (a relationship, a project, a job, a new place) you have this very pure feeling toward it. Everything feels less complicated because you’re oriented wholly toward that potential. It’s undefined, and that makes it easier to understand, because you can’t see the problems yet. As time goes on, you learn more, you experience more, and you see where the limitations exist: not even necessarily ones imposed upon you, but where you draw your own lines. Maybe you can’t see what was holding you back until it’s in the past, and by then others’ perspectives contradict your own. Everyone is constructing their own versions of reality. The song was originally going to feed into the drama of the imaginary band, but it’s about our own band too. I was thinking about how I’m an inherently unreliable narrator about my own life, and at the same time maybe there are no ‘true’ stories.”
Director OTIUM adds that the video is “centered around the idea of trying, knowing that even if things turn out differently than you intend, the very act itself is what you are striving to achieve.”
Widowspeak’s previous album, Plum, came out in August 2020 via Captured Tracks. It featured the album’s title track (which was one of our Songs of the Week), “Money,” “Breadwinner” (which was also one of our Songs of the Week), and “Even True Love” (another one of our Songs of the Week). By Joey Arnone
These songs almost made the Top 10.
Jake Xerxes Fussell: “Rolling Mills Are Burning Down”
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: “Black Hot Soup (DJ Shadow ‘My Own Reality’ Re-Write)”
Sondre Lerche: “Turns Out I’m Sentimental After All”
Modern Nature: “Performance”
Pictish Trail: “In the Land of the Dead”
EMA: “Trailer Trash” (Modest Mouse Cover) and Grandaddy: “Blindness” (Metric Cover) from Under the Radar’s Covers of Covers Album
In late December, since our last Songs of the Week post, we announced Covers of Covers, our first album. We also shared its first two singles: EMA’s cover of Modest Mouse’s “Trailer Trash” and Grandaddy’s cover of Metric’s “Blindness.” While we don’t include cover songs in our main Songs of the Week list and it would be a bit of a conflict to highlight songs from our own album in the Top 10 anyway, we wanted to bring attention to them here.
In honor of our 20th anniversary we approached some of our favorite musicians and asked them to cover any song by any artist who had been on the front or back cover of our print issue over the years. Covers of Covers is due out March 4, 2022 via American Laundromat. The album also features Cassandra Jenkins, Alex Lahey, Peter Bjorn and John, Hatchie, Nation of Language, Cults, Kevin Drew, Black Belt Eagle Scout, Sondre Lerche, Girl Ray, Piroshka, Strand of Oaks, Oceanator, C Duncan, NZCA LINES, Ora the Molecule, James Yorkston, and Water From Your Eyes.
Covers of Covers will be available on CD and digitally, with cassette tape and vinyl releases in the works too. Visit www.alr-music.com to preorder the album. We are also donating $1.00 from every physical album sold and every full album download purchased to Sweet Relief Musicians Fund (www.sweetrelief.org), which “provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians and music industry workers who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.”
Grandaddy’s main creative force Jason Lytle had this to say about his cover: “Apparently my band Grandaddy was on the cover of issue #1 of Under the Radar and continued a cozy relationship with the mag so it seemed a no brainer to be involved with this Covers of Covers project. I thought it was a good idea in general too.
“I’m a big Metric fan. One time I drove from Bozeman Montana to Salt Lake City Utah (nine-hour drive) to see them play live. I don’t even like going to shows. That says a lot. I chose to cover the song ‘Blindness’ as it has been one of my favorite songs of theirs since I first heard it in 2009. I recorded and mixed it all in my garage and enjoyed treading that line of trying to emulate some of the original sounds and ‘feels’ but also make it mine for a bit and have a little fun with it.”
EMA is the project of Erika M. Anderson and she had this to say about her Modest Mouse cover: “This song reminds me of a person I used to be in love with. We were teenage robo-buddies. We drove around on gravel roads, pulling over at abandoned barns and country cemeteries. We weren’t physical, except once when I started crying, gave them a kiss and then ran out of the car. Very dramatic. People used to say we were going to end up married and living like the ‘trailer trash’ couple in this song. It didn’t happen…” By Mark Redfern
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:
Bats: “Golden Spoon”
Beirut: “Fyodor Dormant”
The Body & OAA: “Barren of Joy”
Bonobo: “From You” (Feat. Joji)
Broken Social Scene: “Curse Your Fail”
David Byrne & Yo La Tengo: “Who Has Seen the Wind?” (Yoko Ono Cover)
The Cactus Blossoms: “Everybody” (Feat. Jenny Lewis)
Brittany Campbell: “Eternally”
Elvis Costello & The Imposters: “Farewell, OK”
EELS: “Amateur Hour”
Guided By Voices: “Excited Ones”
MARINA: “Happy Loner”
MICHELLE: “EXPIRATION DATE”
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds: “Trying to Find a World That’s Been and Gone: Part 1 (Demo)”
Röyksopp: “(Nothing But) Ashes…”
Spoon: “I Can’t Give Everything Away” (David Bowie Cover)
Swamp Dogg: “Soul to Blessed Soul”
Earl Sweatshirt: “Titanic”
Vein.fm: “The Killing Womb”
Young Guv: “It’s Only Dancin’”
Classic Song of the Week:
The Replacements: “Skyway”
“Skyway” is The Replacements’ ode to the merciful skyways of their native Minneapolis. The system of elevated tunnels allows pedestrians to move between buildings unhindered by the snot-freezing temperatures of a Midwestern winter. Perhaps the most tender two minutes ever offered by the rambunctious bar rockers, “Skyway” is found at the stern of their 1987 genre smoothie, Pleased to Meet Me, which turns 35 this year. The track remains an agreeable warmth generator to guide you through January’s chillier days. By Hayden Merrick