12 Best Songs of the Week: Stella Donnelly, GIFT, Will Sheff, Panda Bear & Sonic Boom, and More
Plus Hot Chip, Young Jesus, Whitmer Thomas, Hans Pucket, Suede, The 1975, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks
Aug 05, 2022
Welcome to the 30th Songs of the Week of 2022. There were lots of strong contenders this week, although there was a pretty clear #1 and our #2 was a new band we’d never even heard of before this week. We settled on a Top 12 again this week, like last week.
In the last week or so we posted interviews with Mckenna Grace, The Range, Melanie D’Arrigo, Steve Pink, and Superorganism’s Orono Noguchi.
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 12 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.
(Note: Next week we won’t be doing a Songs of the Week because I’ll be on vacation, so the following week will cover two weeks’ worth of songs.)
1. Stella Donnelly: “How Was Your Day?”
Australian singer/songwriter Stella Donnelly is releasing a new album, Flood, on August 26 via Secretly Canadian. On Wednesday, she shared its third single, “How Was Your Day?,” via a video for the song. Nick Mckk and Claire Giuffre directed the video. View her upcoming tour dates here.
Donnelly had this to say about “How Was Your Day?” in a press release: “This is my attempt at building a song out of a very specific dynamic between two monogamously involved people. The verses are just excerpts from real conversations, fragments of what two people talk about when they both know they need to have a real talk but neither wants to be the one to bring it up. This song came out of lockdown and seeing a lot of friends break up or get married.”
Of the video, she says: “This video does a really good job of portraying how annoying I am! We shot it from opposite sides of the world which was a little bit stressful but a lot of fun.”
Previously Donnelly shared Flood’s first single, “Lungs,” via a video. “Lungs” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared its second single, title track “Flood,” via a video for the song. “Flood” was also one of our Songs of the Week.
“I do love observing human dynamics,” Donnelly said in a previous press release, in relation to “Lungs,” the album’s opening track. “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.”
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.”
Read our interview with Stella Donnelly on Beware of the Dogs.
Also read our rave 8.5/10 review of Beware of the Dogs. By Mark Redfern
2. GIFT: “Gumball Garden”
On Wednesday, Brooklyn-based psych-rock quintet GIFT announced the release of their debut album, Momentary Presence, which will be out on October 14 via Dedstrange. They also shared a video for the album’s lead single, “Gumball Garden.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
“I wrote this song way before most people knew what the word pandemic meant,” band leader TJ Freda says of “Gumball Garden” in a press release. “I had a dream in late 2019 where I woke up one day and there was nobody on earth. I was walking around looking for any forms of life to no avail. It was sad but also strangely peaceful. When the pandemic happened, this song took on a whole new meaning. We did wake up one day and the streets were empty. Everyone had gone away. This song is about finding peace in solitude.” By Joey Arnone
3. Will Sheff: “Estrangement Zone”
On Tuesday, Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff announced the release of his debut solo album, Nothing Special, which will be out on October 7 via ATO. Sheff has also shared a video for the album track “Estrangement Zone.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
In a press release, Sheff elaborates on the new album: “When I was just a kid, I got caught up in the dream of being a rock and roll star. Like so many other young people, I fell in love with the idea of being called to this glorious path outside of ordinary life. And I ended up in a band with people who felt this same cal— especially our brilliant drummer Travis Nelsen, who was like a brother to me. We would trade tales of hilarious antics and outrageous excess and tragic death like they were almost scripture. Travis and I fell out painfully, and he died in the early weeks of lockdown. I think a big part of Nothing Special centers around grieving for him, grieving for everything my friends have lost, grieving for the rock and rock and roll myth, and trying to open my eyes to a more transcendent reality.”
Nothing Special features musical contributions from guitarist Will Graefe, bassist Benjamin Lazar Davis, Christian Lee Hutson, Dawes drummer Griffin Goldsmith, and Death Cab For Cutie pianist Zac Rae. The album also features guest vocals from Cassandra Jenkins and Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats and Bonny Light Horseman. It was engineered by John Congleton, Matt Linesch, and Marshall Vore.
Okkervil River’s most recent album, In the Rainbow Rain, came out in 2018 via ATO.
Read our The End interview on endings and death with Will Sheff. By Joey Arnone
4. Panda Bear & Sonic Boom: “Edge of the Edge”
On Wednesday, Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox of Animal Collective) and Sonic Boom (aka Pete Kember, formerly of Spacemen 3) shared a video for a new single, “Edge of the Edge.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming collaborative album, Reset, which will be out on August 12 via Domino.
Upon announcement of the album in June, the duo shared its lead single, “Go On,” which was one of our Songs of the Week.
Panda Bear’s most recent solo album, Buoys, came out in 2018 via Domino. Read our interview with Panda Bear on Buoys. In 2020, Sonic Boom released the album All Things Being Equal via Carpark. By Joey Arnone
5. Hot Chip: “Freakout/Release”
Hot Chip are releasing a new album, Freakout/Release, on August 19 via Domino. On Tuesday, they shared its third single, title track “Freakout/Release.” “Music used to be escape, now I can’t escape it,” sings frontman Alexis Taylor at the start of the truly funky song. View the band’s upcoming tour dates here.
Taylor had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Freakout/Release’ is about pent-up energy and the need for release, and escape. It’s also about making sense of music, and at times being plagued by the thing you focus on—music never leaves my head for a second, which is usually a good feeling, but it can feel claustrophobic at times too. It’s also about finding your place in relation to music and to performing. The riff should feel brutal and dumb and elemental and Joe [Goddard] was thinking about [The White Stripes] ‘Seven Nation Army’ and the simplicity of that swinging from quiet to loud and back and forth.”
Previously Hot Chip shared the album’s first single, “Down,” via a video for it. “Down” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its second single, “Eleanor,” also one of our Songs of the Week.
Hot Chip features Owen Clarke, Al Doyle, Joe Goddard, Felix Martin, and Alexis Taylor. Freakout/Release is the follow-up to 2019’s A Bath Full of Ecstasy. It was recorded at the band’s own Relax & Enjoy Studio in East London, which Doyle had put together before the pandemic and during COVID-19’s first year. The sound of the album was inspired by the band’s cover of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” which they often perform live. “The idea of being out of control is always there in dance music, in a positive sense,” said Doyle, in a previous press release, of the cover’s influence on the album.
“By the time we were able to be back together, we were turning on a tap and having a lot of ideas being poured out quite quickly,” added Taylor.
Goddard said current times influenced the album’s lyrics. “We were living through a period where it was very easy to feel like people were losing control of their lives in different ways,” he explained. “There’s a darkness that runs through a lot of those tracks.”
The album features Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon on “The Evil That Men Do,” British DJ and musician Lou Hayter on “Hard to Be Funky,” and production duo Soulwax on the album’s title track.
In 2020, Hot Chip teamed up with Jarvis Cocker for the new song “Straight to the Morning,” which was #1 on our Songs of the Week list but isn’t featured on the new album. They also shared a Dillon Francis remix of the song. In 2021, Goddard teamed up with New York City based singer/songwriter Amy Douglas as HARD FEELINGS and they released their self-titled debut album in November via Domino. Last year Hot Chip also produced Girl Ray’s “Give Me Your Love” single and this March Ibibio Sound Machine released a new Hot Chip-produced album, Electricity. By Mark Redfern
6. Young Jesus: “Ocean” (Feat. Tomberlin)
On Wednesday, Young Jesus announced the release of a new album, Shepherd Head, due out on September 16 via Saddle Creek. They also shared a video for the album’s lead single, “Ocean,” which features Tomberlin. View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
The band’s founding member, John Rossiter, elaborates on making the album in a press release: “I would pitch things down an octave and add strange reverb. If a dog barked, I would isolate it and make it part of a beat. I recorded a voice singing on the street just walking by a storefront and autotuned it. Some guitar parts are just mistakes from voice memos that I chopped, stitched, and looped. I used sounds of rivers, people walking, friends talking. It was a lot of fun. I didn’t care about the fidelity of the recording. Whatever wanted to be in came in.”
Young Jesus’ previous album, Welcome to Conceptual Beach, came out in 2020 via Saddle Creek. By Joey Arnone
7. Whitmer Thomas: “Rigamarole”
On Wednesday, musician/comedian Whitmer Thomas announced the release of a new album, The Older I Get The Funnier I Was, which will be out on October 21 via Hardly Art. Thomas also announced a tour in support of the album, and has shared a video for the album’s lead single, “Rigamarole.” View the album’s tracklist/cover art and a full list of upcoming tour dates here.
In a press release, Thomas states: “‘Rigamarole’ is a song about trying to shake depression with routine, and ultimately accepting I’ve got no choice but to sink into it. If I try to just live with it, like a roommate who’s constantly trying to give me a regrettable haircut, it helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
He adds, regarding the album: “As a comic, I used to test out new songs during sets to see if the funny bits were hitting, but since I wrote this in isolation I ended up writing lyrics and worrying less about making jokes.”
The Older I Get The Funnier I Was was produced by Jay Som. “Rigamarole” features additional musical contributions from Al Menne, Christian Lee Hutson, and Harrison Whitford. By Joey Arnone
8. Hans Pucket: “My Brain is a Vacant Space”
On Thursday, New Zealand four piece Hans Pucket announced the release of their second album, No Drama, which was produced by Jonathan Pearce of The Beths and will be out on November 4 via Carpark. They also shared a video for the album’s lead single, “My Brain Is a Vacant Space.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
Band singer/guitarist Oliver Devlin states in a press release: “‘My Brain is a Vacant Space’ deals with social anxiety, the fear of boring other people, and the struggle to say anything you really mean. I think part of it comes from worrying about people’s expectations of you, so you act in a certain way. The whole thing is exhausting.
“This song took the longest route of any on the album. We had a basic guitar pop arrangement down pretty fast, but our drummer Jono Nott suggested we start again. Our engineer and producer Jonathan Pearce had encouraged us to push the boat out as far as we can, make mistakes, we can always reign it in later. We did some studio experiments, a morning spent looping a bunch of misc percussion; Jono hunched over a synth playing a bizarre hard-sync drone; I hooked up a whammy pedal and Callum (on bass guitar) and I staggered our riffs against each other. Jono also put up a set of bongos over his kit so he had even more toms to play with in his busy fills. When I think of this song I’m proud of how collaborative that discovery process was.” By Joey Arnone
9. Suede: “15 Again”
Suede are releasing a new album, Autofiction, on September 16 via BMG. On Wednesday, they shared its second single, “15 Again.” In a press release, frontman Brett Anderson describes it as “a song about falling in love with life for the first time.” View the band’s upcoming tour dates here.
Previously Suede shared the album’s first single, “She Still Leads Me On,” which was #1 on our Songs of the Week list.
The Britpop originators and survivors legally have to go by the name The London Suede in America, thanks to an American jazz singer also named Suede. Longtime collaborator Ed Buller, who has produced many of the band’s albums, including their first three, produced Autofiction. The album is the follow-up to 2018’s The Blue Hour.
Suede—Brett Anderson (vocals), Mat Osman (bass), Simon Gilbert (drums), Richard Oakes (guitars), and Neil Codling (keyboards)—began the album in a rehearsal studio in the Kings Cross area of London.
“Autofiction is our punk record,” Anderson said in a previous press release. “No whistles and bells. Just the five of us in a room with all the glitches and fuck-ups revealed; the band themselves exposed in all their primal mess.”
“Autofiction has a natural freshness, it’s where we want to be,” Anderson added.
“When we were rehearsing and writing this record it was this sheer, physical rush,” said Osman. “That thing where you’re hanging on for dear life.”
“She Still Leads Me On” is about Anderson’s mother and the lyrics to Autofiction as a whole were fueled by Anderson’s two acclaimed autobiographies, 2018’s Coal Black Mornings and 2019’s Afternoons with the Blinds Drawn.
Suede initially broke-up in 2003 following the release of their poorly received fifth album, 2002’s A New Morning. They reformed in 2010 and made a full on comeback in 2013 with the release of Bloodsports, which was their first new album in over a decade and was very well-received by critics. That was followed by 2016’s Night Thoughts and 2018’s The Blue Hour. This makes Autofiction the band’s fourth album since reforming and ninth album overall (not counting 1997’s two-disc B-sides collection Sci-Fi Lullabies).
Read our review of The Blue Hour.
Read our interview with Suede on The Blue Hour.
Read our 2013 interview with Suede’s Brett Anderson on Bloodsports.
In 2019 we reflected on the 25th anniversary of Suede’s second album, Dog Man Star, and you read that retrospective here. By Mark Redfern
10. The 1975: “Happiness”
On Wednesday, The 1975 shared a video for their new song, “Happiness.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language, which will be out on October 14 via Dirty Hit. The band have also announced a North American tour in support of the album. View the full list of tour dates here.
Upon announcement of the album, the band shared the single “Part of the Band,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Their previous album, Notes On a Conditional Form, came out in 2020 via Dirty Hit/Interscope. By Joey Arnone
11. LIFE: “Duck Egg Blue”
On Wednesday, Hull, England-based band LIFE shared a video for their new single, “Duck Egg Blue.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming album, North East Coastal Town, which will be out on August 19 via Liquid Label.
In a press release, vocalist Mez Green states: “‘Duck Egg Blue’ is a realist’s love song. The journey of trying to navigate through each other’s feelings and emotions, the strains of close quarters trapped in a tiny flat, the minutiae of everyday life. The overarching sentiment is that no matter what happens, after all that is said and done, we love each other, and we are there for each other.”
Upon announcement of the album in March, the band shared the single “Big Moon Lake.” They later shared the album track “The Drug.” By Joey Arnone
12. Ela Minus & DJ Python: “Pájaros en Verano”
On Thursday, Ela Minus and DJ Python announced the release of a collaborative EP, ♡, which will be out on September 16 via Smugglers Way. They also shared a video for the EP’s lead single, “Pájaros en Verano.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
In a press release, Ela Minus elaborates on the inspiration behind the EP’s lead single: “I made a list of things I was grateful for. Clouds (and the time to look at them), quietness, sleep, books, food. I wanted to celebrate that ‘after all the days that never happened and the nights that didn’t exist,’ we are here, alive, and together.”
“We literally didn’t talk about how the tracks should sound,” DJ Python adds, regarding the EP. “I sent her instrumentals and she sent them back with perfect vocals. It was this unspoken communication, a process to know the self and the other endlessly.”
Read the extended version of our Protest Issue interview with Ela Minus. By Joey Arnone
These songs almost made the Top 12.
Marina Allen: “Or Else”
John Cale: “Night Crawling”
CHAI: “My Dream”
Frankie Cosmos: “One Year Stand”
The Lounge Society: “Upheaval”
The Mars Volta: “Vigil”
Meditations on a Crime: “Crime Seed” (Feat. Gang Gang Dance)
The Mountain Goats: “Mark on You”
Okay Kaya: “Spinal Tap”
Peel Dream Magazine: “Pad”
Spielbergs: “The New Year’s Resolution”
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:
2nd Grade: “Strung Out on You”
Actress & Mount Kimbie: “AZD SURF”
Bonny Light Horseman: “Exile”
Boris: “My name is blank”
Brijean: “Take a Trip”
Chemical Club: “Hell in a Heatwave”
Dazy: “Rollercoaster Ride”
Ducks Ltd.: “In Between Days” (Feat. Jane Inc) (The Cure Cover)
EKKSTACY: “wish i was dead”
Gordi: “Stranger” and “Visitor”
Housewife: “I’m Spent”
Carly Rae Jepsen: “Beach House”
The Killers: “boy”
Pale Blue Eyes: “Little Gem”
Panic! At the Disco: “Local God”
Piranha Rama: “Placate”
Silversun Pickups: “Alone on a Hill”
Son Little: “6 AM”
Tropical Fuck Storm: “Ann” (The Stooges Cover)
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