10 Best Songs of the Week: The Smile, Widowspeak, Sally Shapiro, Tess Parks, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, May 29th, 2024  

10 Best Songs of the Week: The Smile, Widowspeak, Sally Shapiro, Tess Parks, and More

Plus Ducks Ltd., The Weather Station, Warpaint, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Jan 28, 2022 Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the fourth Songs of the Week of 2022. Compared to the last two weeks, it was a fairly quiet seven days for new songs. Last week, for example, we had 12 honorable mentions on top of a Top 10 songs and the week before that instead of a Top 14 songs. Still, there were definitely some worthy tracks this week.

In the last week we posted interviews with Elizaveta, Tim Roth and Iazua Larios, and Imarhan.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums.

Don’t forget to pick up our new double print issue, our 20th Anniversary Issue (which is out now) and to preorder our first album, the 20th anniversary compilation Covers of Covers. Also check out our Top 100 Albums of 2021 list and our Top 130 Songs of 2021 list.

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: “The Smoke”

Yesterday, 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 single, “The Smoke.” Its accompanying lyric video was created by BAFTA-winning writer/director Mark Jenkin.

Earlier this month, the band shared their debut single “You Will Never Work in Television Again,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. By Joey Arnone

2. Widowspeak: “While You Wait”

On Wednesday, folk-rock band Widowspeak shared a video for their new single, “While You Wait.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming album The Jacket, which will be out on March 11 via Captured Tracks.

In a press release, the band describe their new song as being “sort of the opening credits scene, when the main character is going to their job and seeing the shift change of the city in the very early morning. Then in the second verse, they are leaving work and seeing nightlife start up again. Those simultaneous experiences are like cities within a city; there’s always someone ending their day as someone else’s is starting. It’s also about the day-to-day work that supports more creative pursuits, and how when that’s out of balance it can feel like you are on the outside looking in.”

Widowspeak shared the track “Everything Is Simple” upon the album’s announcement earlier this month. It was one of our Songs of the Week. Their 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

3. Sally Shapiro: “Down This Road” (feat. Highway Superstar)

On Monday, Swedish duo Sally Shapiro (the project of producer Johan Agebjörn and an anonymous singer who goes under the name Sally Shapiro) shared a video for their new single “Down This Road,” which features co-production from Israeli synthwave producer Highway Superstar. It is the latest release from the duo’s forthcoming album, Sad Cities, which will be out on February 18 via Italians Do It Better.

In a press release, the duo state: “‘Down This Road’ is a melancholic, jazz-influenced synthpop song that we wrote together with Highway Superstar (Alex Karlinsky), who has remixed us earlier and whose music we really like. Alex sent us an idea for the first verse, which we really liked, and we continued to build on the track over the net, sending longer and longer track ideas to each other. He also plays the electric guitar in the track. We had also been messaging with Jorja Chalmers about a collaboration, because we love the way she plays the saxophone. So Jorja recorded a great saxophone solo for it.”

Highway Superstar adds: “When I started thinking about ‘Down This Road,’ the setting and atmosphere was pretty clear to me and I had Sally’s voice constantly playing in my head to that song. I’ve known Johan and Sally for quite a while now, and I’m a big fan of their music. Naturally, I was quite nervous because the entire premise of this song depended on the fact it’s Sally who sings on it. I am thrilled with the outcome, and so happy and proud to be a part of Johan and Sally’s new album. This song took me on a journey, and I hope it takes you to a place you haven’t been to, as well.”

Previously shared singles from the forthcoming album are “Forget About You” and “Christmas Escape,” the latter of which was one of our Songs of the Week. In 2016, they released what was promoted as one last single, “If You Ever Wanna Change Your Mind.”

Revisit our 2009 interview with them. By Joey Arnone

4. Tess Parks: “Happy Birthday Forever”

On Wednesday, Tess Parks announced the release of her new album, And Those Who Were Seen Dancing, which will be out on May 20 via Fuzz Club. Parks also shared a video for the album track “Happy Birthday Forever.” View the album’s cover art here.

“In my mind, this album is like hopscotch,” Parks states in a press release: “These songs were pieced together over time in London, Toronto and Los Angeles with friends and family between August 2019 and March 2021. So many other versions of these songs exist. The recording and final completion of this album took over two years and wow—the lesson I have learned the most is that words are spells. If I didn’t know it before, I know it now for sure. I only want to put good out into the universe.”

She adds: “I really felt discouraged to complete this album. I stopped listening to music for honestly about a year altogether and turned to painting instead. I really had to convince myself again that it’s important to just share whatever good we can—having the faith in ourselves to know that our lights can shine on and on through other people and for other people. The thought of anyone not sharing their art or being shy of anything they create seems like a real tragedy to me. Even if it’s not perfect, you’re capturing a moment.” By Joey Arnone

5. Ducks Ltd.: “Sheets of Grey”

Yesterday, Toronto-based duo Ducks Ltd. shared a new single, “Sheets of Grey.” It is their first new music since the release of their most recent album, 2021’s Modern Fiction.

In a press release, frontman Tom McGreevy elaborates on the new song: “This song is actually one of the oldest in our catalog. We wrote it around the same time as Get Bleak, or maybe a little bit after, and played it live a bunch, but never quite finished it. We kept poking at it for a long time until we finally got it to where we wanted it to be, which happened during the Modern Fiction sessions.

“We ended up leaving it off the record as it didn’t quite thematically fit with the other songs, but I’m excited we’re finally getting to put it out as I’ve always liked it. It’s about the inertia of depression, and how hard it can be to break out of those cycles, but also about the pleasure of embracing that state. There is a certain, temporary comfort to be found in the abyss! Somewhere right before it inevitably becomes extremely awful.”

Modern Fiction came out last year via Carpark and was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2021. It features the songs “18 Cigarettes,” one of our Songs of the Week, “How Lonely Are You?,” which features The Beths and also landed on our Songs of the Week list, and “Under the Rolling Moon,” which also features The Beths and was one of our Songs of the Week.

Read our The End interview with Tom McGreevy. By Joey Arnone

6. Ty Segall: “Story of the Century”

On Monday, Ty Segall shared the new instrumental song “Story of the Century” from the upcoming soundtrack to the Matt Yoka documentary Whirlybird. The soundtrack is Segall’s first ever feature film score, and it will be out on February 22 via Drag City.

Released last year to general acclaim, Whirlybird documents the story of Zoey Tur and Marika Gerrard, former partners and founders of the Los Angeles News Service. The film highlights their revolutionary use of helicopters in reporting, noting their coverage of the 1992 OJ Simpson car pursuit, among other sensational news story events. The film has recently begun streaming on MUBI.

Last August, Segall surprise released the album Harmonizer via Drag City. By Joey Arnone

7. The Weather Station: “Endless Time”

On Tuesday, The Weather Station (the project of Toronto-based singer/songwriter Tamara Lindeman) announced the release of a new album, How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars, which will be out on March 4 via Fat Possum. Lindeman also shared a self-directed video for the album’s lead single, “Endless Time.” View the album’s tracklist/cover art here.

In a press release, Lindeman states: “When I wrote Ignorance, it was a time of intense creativity, and I wrote more songs than I ever had in my life. The songs destined to be on the album were clear from the beginning, but as I continued down my writing path, songs kept appearing that had no place on the album I envisioned. Songs that were simple, pure; almost naive. Songs that spoke to many of the same questions and realities as Ignorance, but in a more internal, thoughtful way. So I began to envision How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars, a quiet, strange album of ballads. I imagined it not as a follow-up to Ignorance, but rather as a companion piece; the moon to its sun.”

She adds, regarding the album’s lead single: “In Toronto, I live in a world of overwhelming abundance; fruits and fresh vegetables flown in year round from Chile, California, Malaysia. Standing outside a neighborhood fruit stand one day, I found myself wondering how I would look back on this time from the future; if I would someday remember it as a time of abundance and wealth I did not fully comprehend at the time, and I wondered how it would feel to stand at that threshold of change. I wondered too if we were not already there. The song was written long before the pandemic, but when we recorded it, on March 11, 2020, it began to feel eerily prescient. The day it was recorded truly was the end of an endless time, and as ever, I don’t know how the song knew.”

How Is It That I Should Look Up At The Stars was completed in just three days at Toronto’s Canterbury Music Studios. The album was self-funded and created with Lindeman’s own hand picked band, which consisted of Christine Bougie on guitar and lap steel, Karen Ng on saxophone and clarinet, Ben Whiteley on upright bass, Ryan Driver on piano, flute, and vocals, and Tania Gill on wurlitzer, rhodes, and pianet. It was co-produced by Jean Martin.

Last year, The Weather Station released the album Ignorance. It featured the song “Parking Lot,” which made it to our Top 130 Songs of 2021 list. By Joey Arnone

8. Warpaint: “Champion”

On Wednesday, Warpaint announced the release of their first new album in six years, Radiate Like This, which will be out on May 6. They also shared the album track “Champion.” Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

In a press release, the band state that their new song is about “being a champion to oneself and for others. We are all in this together, life is too short not to strive for excellence in all that we do.”

Radiate Like This was recorded remotely by the band as a result of the pandemic. They recorded each of their vocal parts separately, and spent time honing the songs that comprise the album until they were able to tour again. The band’s previous album, Heads Up, came out in 2016 via Rough Trade. By Joey Arnone

9. Hater: “Something”

On Tuesday, Swedish quartet Hater announced the release of a new album, Sincere, which will be out on May 6 via Fire. They also shared a video for their new single, “Something.” View the album’s cover art here.

The band’s most recent album, Siesta, came out in 2018 via Fire. By Joey Arnone

10. Papercuts: “I Want My Jacket Back”

On Tuesday, Papercuts (singer/songwriter Jason Quever) announced the release of a new album, Past Life Regression, which will be out on April 1 via Slumberland. Quever also shared two songs from the album: “I Want My Jacket Back” and “The Strange Boys,” the former of which has a music video directed by David Enos. Check out the album’s tracklist/cover art here.

Quever elaborates on the new songs in a press release, stating about “I Want My Jacket Back”: “It started out as a bit of absurdist fun, as I was feeling at my wits’ end during the end of the U.S. election cycle. I was thinking about someone I met in L.A. who seemed to believe every absurd conspiracy theory they heard, even some that seemed to contradict each other. At the same time, I was for the first time considering leaving the U.S. I felt robbed of a sense of security and faith in humanity, and was missing a sense of normalcy. It may have been an illusion in the first place, but a pleasant one.”

On “The Strange Boys,” he adds: “I pictured a Twilight Zone style black and white story about a group of teens that communicate with a supernatural entity. Later I realized it’s probably an analogy about what happens to the spirit upon death. Anyhow, it shows off what real mellotron flutes sound like when you abuse the pitch knob.” By Joey Arnone

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 10.

Franz Ferdinand: “Curious”

Pinegrove: “Habitat”

SOAK: “last july”

Tank and the Bangas: “No ID”

Tomberlin: “idkwntht”

Toro y Moi: “Postman”

Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 14 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

Bloc Party: “The Girls Are Fighting”

Charli XCX: “Beg for You” (Feat. Rina Sawayama)

Cloakroom: “Doubts”

The Cool Kids: “It’s Yours, Pt. 2”

Denzel Curry: “Walkin”

Disclosure & Zedd: “You’ve Got to Let Go If You Want to Be Free”

Julie Doiron and Dany Placard: “Mayo”

Dropper: “Ok Ok Ok”

Ex-Vöid: “Churchyard”

ginla: “Carousel” (Feat. Adrienne Lenker)

Alice Glass: “Love Is Violence”

Grimes: “Shinigami Eyes”

Japanese Breakfast: “Nobody Sees Me Like You Do” (Yoko Ono Cover)

Maneka: “Winner’s Circle”

Walter Martin: “The Bear”

P.E.: “Blue Nude (Reclined)”

Poolside and Brijean: “Better When We’re Close”

Saba: “Survivor’s Guilt” (Feat. G Herbo)

Stereophonics: “Forever”

Thyla: “Kin”

Toro y Moi: “Magazine” (Feat. Salami Rose Joe Louis)

Tove Lo: “How Long”

Vein.fm: “Fear in Non-Fiction” (Feat. Thursday’s Geoff Rickly)

Classic Song of the Week:

Black Box Recorder: “The Facts of Life”

Our 20th Anniversary Issue includes a section where we conduct new interviews with most of the artists originally interviewed in our first issue. Included is Black Box Recorder, who we interviewed about their sophomore album, The Facts of Life. Here is the album’s title track, “The Facts of Life,” via its music video. Also below is a remix of the song by Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey of Pulp, going under the name The Chocolate Layers, that works in clips from sex education type films.

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