10 Best Songs of the Week: The Smile, Flasher, Andrew Bird, Young Prisms, and More | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, July 6th, 2022  

10 Best Songs of the Week: The Smile, Flasher, Andrew Bird, Young Prisms, and More

Plus Hovvdy, Arcade Fire, Bon Iver and Ethan Gruska, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Mar 18, 2022
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Welcome to the eleventh Songs of the Week of 2022. Whereas last week was the strongest seven-day period for new tracks so far this year, where we had a Top 15 songs, this week we almost didn’t do a Songs of the Week. With much of the indie music industry in Austin for SXSW, the week started slow (Tuesdays are usually the busiest days for music news, but it was fairly quiet). But things picked up big time on Thursday, warranting a Songs of the Week after all, with several of our Top 10 being released on Thursday.

In the last week or so we posted interviews with Feeder, Loop, and Raw Poetic.

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 new 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. The Smile: “Skrting on the Surface”

On Thursday, The Smile (a new group composed of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood along with Sons of Kemet’s Tom Skinner) shared a new song, “Skrting on the Surface,” via a video for it shot in a mine. Mark Jenkin directed the black & white video, which was shot on 16mm film and filmed at the disused Rosevale Tin Mine in Cornwall UK. The footage was hand developed in water from the mine.

“Skrting on the Surface” is the band’s third single. In early January, the band shared their debut single “You Will Never Work in Television Again,” which was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Later in January, they shared their second single, “The Smoke,” which again topped our Songs of the Week list. By Mark Redfern

2. Flasher: “Sideways”

On Tuesday, Flasher announced a new album, Love Is Yours, and shared its first single, “Sideways,” via a video for the song. They have also announced some North American tour dates. Love Is Yours is due out June 17 via Domino. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as the tour dates, here.

Love Is Yours is the follow-up to their acclaimed debut album, Constant Image, which was one of our Top 25 Debut Albums of 2018. Constant Image’s “Material” had a truly amazing and crazy music video.

Since their debut, things have changed for Flasher. Bassist Daniel Saperstein left the band and guitarist Taylor Mulitz relocated from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore and then Los Angeles, making the band (now a duo with drummer Emma Baker) bi-coastal. Flasher worked with Owen Wuerker, who, according to a press release, “also helped flesh out the instrumentation by contributing additional bass, percussion, synths, and guitar,” and recorded the album in Washington, D.C.

Camille Smura directed the “Sideways” video. Mulitz had this to say about the song in the press release: “Lyrically this song uses metaphors about driving as a means of escape/reflection. I’ve found that a lot of self reflection and big realizations come to surface during the course of a long drive where I’m forced to sit with my own thoughts (which is where the idea for the racing video came from).”

Read our review of Constant Image.

Read our 2018 interview with Flasher. By Mark Redfern

3. Andrew Bird: “Atomized”

On Thursday, Andrew Bird shared a new song, “Atomized,” via a video for his first single of 2022. Matthew Daniel Siskin directed the amusing black & white video. View Bird’s upcoming tour dates, including some previously announced summer shows with Iron & Wine (aka Sam Beam), here.

The song includes the lyrics: “Start making your apologies, blaming technology/They’re gonna try to get a rise to unseat you/They’ll demagnetize your poles and you know they’re gonna try to delete you…Here’s what I say to them: things fall apart.”

In a press release, Bird further explains his intent with Atomized,” saying: “Didion was updating W.B. Yeats for the fractious ’60s. This song takes it to the pixelated present where it’s not just society that is getting atomized but the self that is being broken apart and scattered.”

In 2021, Bird released an album with Jimbo Mathus, These 13, via Thirty Tigers.

Bird’s last solo album was 2019’s My Finest Work Yet. Since then he’s also gotten into acting, appearing on Fargo.

Read our interview with Andrew Bird on My Finest Work Yet. By Mark Redfern

4. Young Prisms: “Outside Air”

Young Prisms are releasing a new album, Drifter, on March 25 via Fire Talk. On Tuesday, they shared its third single, “Outside Air,” via a video for it. The band’s Gio Betteo (bass, guitar, synthesizer, drum programming) directed the “Outside Air” video, which stars vocalist/keyboardist Stefanie Hodapp.

Betteo and Hodapp had this to say about “Outside Air” in a press release: “‘Outside Air’ is about the struggles and difficulties in modern marriage, monogamy, and parenting at a young age. Resentment within a relationship can sink so deep and feel never ending but the work it takes can pull you out of a depression. At times it may feel like the only way out is to run away, but the payoff can sometimes save you from making irreversible decisions. This song was recorded during the California wildfires where the orange sky embodied these feelings of fear, anger, and disappointment.”

Betteo had this to add about the video: “The ‘Outside Air’ video is intended to be the second installment of a series we started with ‘Honeydew.’ Really an ode to Antonioni and Monica Vitti. Definitely leaning into the mystery and minimalism of the story telling style and how something so simple on the surface can offer so much complexity beneath.”

When the album was announced, the band shared a video for its first single, “Honeydew.” That was followed by its second single, “Self Love,” also shared via a video. “Self Love” was one of our Songs of the Week. By Mark Redfern

5. Hovvdy: “Everything”

On Monday, Austin, TX duo Hovvdy (Charlie Martin and Will Taylor) shared a new song, “Everything,” via a video for it. It comes after their 2021 album, True Love, and ahead of their U.S. tour dates, which start in April. Andrew Sarlo co-produced and mixed the song and Boone Patrello directed the video.

Taylor simply had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Everything’ is a song about having fun even when you miss the mark.”

True Love, which was released via Grand Jury, was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2021.

Andrew Sarlo (Bon Iver, Big Thief) produced True Love, which was recorded at his studio in Los Angeles throughout 2020. The band’s last album was 2019’s Heavy Lifter.

Previously the band shared the album’s title track, “True Love,” via a video. “True Love” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then Hovvdy shared two more songs from the album, “Junior Day League” and “Around Again,” both via videos. That was followed by “Blindsided,” also shared via a video and again one of our Songs of the Week. By Mark Redfern

6. Thom Yorke: “5.17”

On Monday, Thom Yorke shared a new song, “5.17.” It’s been reported that the haunting new song was written for the final season of the British crime drama Peaky Blinders. It’ll be paired with another new song, “That’s How Horses Are,” which Apple Music lists as coming out April 3.

Yorke and his Radiohead bandmate Jonny Greenwood are contributing music to the sixth and final season of Peaky Blinders, which stars Cillian Murphy. Yorke and Greenwood have also been busy of late with The Smile, their new band with Sons of Kemet’s Tom Skinner. So this marks Yorke’s second appearance on this week’s Songs of the Week, after The Smile’s “Skrting on the Surface.”

In 2020, Yorke teamed up with Burial and Four Tet for two new songs, “Her Revolution” and “His Rope.”

Yorke released a new solo album, ANIMA, back in June 2019 via XL (stream it here). ANIMA was accompanied by short film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, a “one-reeler” set to three tracks from the album. By Mark Redfern

7. Arcade Fire: “The Lightning I, II”

On Thursday, Arcade Fire announced a new album, WE, and shared its first single, “The Lightning I, II.” WE is the band’s first new album in five years and is due out May 6 via Columbia. Emily Kai Bock directed the black & white video for “The Lightning I, II.” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

We had mixed feelings about “The Lightning I, II.” The first half of the song is less involving, but then things pick up in part two, as the band embraces their classic sound. Throughout, however, the lyrics are a bit generic. In the end, we liked it enough to include on this week’s Songs of the Week, but not enough to have it in the Top 4.

WE is the band’s sixth studio album and the follow-up to 2017’s Everything Now. In the last five years various members of the band have kept busy with solo albums and side projects. In 2019 the band also contributed a cover of “Baby Mine” to Tim Burton’s remake of Dumbo.

Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne produced WE with Nigel Godrich. The album was recorded in New Orleans, El Paso, and Mount Desert Island. A press release says the album’s seven songs are split into “two distinct sides,” with the first side titled “I” and “channeling the fear and loneliness of isolation” and the second side titled “WE” and “expressing the joy and power of reconnection.”

In the press release, Win Butler says that working on WE was “the longest we’ve ever spent writing, uninterrupted, probably ever.”

Win Butler also issued this statement about the album, shared via an image (check it out here).

Arcade Fire’s full lineup is Régine Chassagne, Win Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, Jeremy Gara, and Will Butler.

Read our review of Everything Now. By Mark Redfern

8. Bon Iver and Ethan Gruska: “So Unimportant”

On Wednesday, Bon Iver (the project led by Justin Vernon) and Ethan Gruska shared a new song, “So Unimportant.” It is the latest release in the singles series from Psychic Hotline (the label founded by Sylvan Esso). Will McClellan engineered the song, which features strings from Rob Moose and percussion from Blake Mills and Matt Chamberlain.

Gruska (who produced Phoebe Bridgers’ two albums and has also worked with Paul McCartney, John Legend, and others) had this to say about “So Unimportant” in a press release: “Around March 10th of 2020 Justin was supposed to come to LA and we were going to spend a few days making some stuff. Obviously, that didn’t happen… We all went into lockdown shortly after. About two weeks into deep quarantine Justin and I connected and decided it would still be fun to send each other files and try something remotely. ‘So Unimportant’ was the first thing that came to fruition. Justin and I passed this song and session leisurely back and forth for a while to get it where it is now.

“The fact that I now have a song with Justin just completely blows my mind. He’s been my pie in the sky. I’d do anything to collaborate with artists for a really long time and having this song together is one of the most special things that has ever happened to me in my musical life. Life in general!

“Justin is my favorite pen pal, person and artist, and I’m so grateful to have made this together!”

Vernon had this to add: “My dear friend and great drummer, JT Bates, showed me the music of Ethan Gruska a number of years ago. It’s not often that something IMMEDIATELY grasps you where you stand like his music did. It only happens a few times in one’s life. Ethan’s musicality and touch has magic in it. We have not yet met in person, but have exchanged the longest, flirtiest texts in history. I hope to be near the mine of his mind for as long as possible. This song is just the first thing I threw at the wall. He scraped it off that wall, and turned it into a song I’ll appreciate forever.”

The most recent Bon Iver album, i, i, came out in 2019 via Jagjaguwar. By Mark Redfern

9. Yumi Zouma: “Astral Projection”

New Zealand alt-pop group Yumi Zouma have released their latest album, Present Tense, today via Polyvinyl. On Wednesday, they shared its final pre-release single, “Astral Projection,” via a video that marks the third and final installment in a trilogy of videos from the album. As with the other two videos, Alex Ross Perry directs.

Singer/keyboardist Christie Simpson had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘When I let it come for me/I feel free’ – ‘Astral Projection’ is about leaning into bad feelings and the mixed results it brings. Learning to sit with the reality of a relationship not working out as you hoped. Looking towards the future and knowing there will be others, there will be better times, but sitting in the present moment, trying to make peace with that. ‘Hold me in your arms/I know this wouldn’t last/I know I shouldn’t feel safe, but I do.’”

When the album was announced, the band shared the new song “In the Eyes of Our Love.” Before that, the band shared the album tracks “Give It Hell” and “Mona Lisa,” the latter of which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another new song from the album, “Where the Light Used to Lay.”

Their most recent album, Truth or Consequences, came out in 2020 via Polyvinyl, and was featured on our Top 100 Albums of 2020 list.

Read our COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check-In interview with the band’s Charlie Ryder.

In March 2020, we posted our My Firsts interview with the band, which can be read here.

Read our 2017 interview with Yumi Zouma on their second album Willowbank. By Mark Redfern

10. Gentle Sinners: “Face to Fire (After Nyman)”

On Thursday, Gentle Sinners (the new project of Arab Strap’s Aidan Moffat and The Twilight Sad’s James Graham) announced the release of their debut album, These Actions Cannot Be Undone, which will be out on May 13 via Rock Action. They also shared a new single from the album, “Face to Fire (After Nyman).” View the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

In a press release, Graham states: “I wrote ‘Face to Fire’ the night Aidan sent over the music for it. I recorded it the next day. I had written down the words ‘fearlessly terrified’ on my phone a couple of days before. My anxiety had started to take over again—throughout my life I’ve been so scared of simple interactions with people yet I’m able to project my innermost feelings to the world on a regular basis. It doesn’t make sense to me. I’d been feeling physically ill for a few years, tired all the time and I had tried everything to feel better with no success.”

Arab Strap released their latest album, As Days Get Dark, last year via Rock Action. The Twilight Sad’s most recent album, IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME, came out in 2019, also via Rock Action. By Joey Arnone

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 10.

Ethel Cain: “Gibson Girl”

Lucius: “Dance Around It” (Feat. Brandi Carlile and Sheryl Crow)

Real Lies: “Dream On”

Sudan Archives: “Home Maker”

Syd: “CYBAH” (Feat. Lucky Daye)

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: “End Song”

William Basinski and Janek Schaefer: “...on reflection (one)”

Cave In: “New Reality”

Charli XCX: “Every Rule”

Congotronics International: “Where’s the One?”

Crosses: “Initiation” and “Protection”

Kevin Devine: “Hysteric” (Yeah Yeah Yeahs Cover)

Ducks Ltd.: “Head On” (Jesus and Mary Chain Cover) (Feat. illuminati hotties)

The Fixx: “Closer”

Frontperson: “Ostalgie (Für C. Bischoff)”

Haunted Summer: “The Tree”

HEALTH x EKKSTACY: “STILL BREATHING”

Norah Jones: “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most (Demo)”

Valerie June: “Use Me”

King Princess: “For My Friends”

Mary Lattimore: “Love Is the Tune” (Bill Fay Cover)

The Let Go: “Beabadoobee”

Lustmord and Zola Jesus: “Prime”

Melts: “Waltzer”

MUNA: “Anything But Me”

Muse: “Compliance”

oso oso: “pensacola”

Anna Prior: “Easier Alone”

Rosalía: “Hentai”

Sally Shapiro: “Forget About You (Johnny Jewel Remix)”

Mavis Staples and Levon Helm: “You Got to Move”

Hana Vu: “Parking Lot” and “Mr. Lonely”

Weezer: “A Little Bit of Love”

Jess Williamson: “Loretta” (Townes Van Zandt Cover) and “Texas River Song”

Yawners: “Rivers Cuomo”

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