12 Best Songs of the Week: Father John Misty, Wet Leg, Sun’s Signature, The Smile, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, May 29th, 2024  

12 Best Songs of the Week: Father John Misty, Wet Leg, Sun’s Signature, The Smile, and More

Plus Melody’s Echo Chamber, Florist, Horsegirl, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Apr 08, 2022 Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the fourteenth Songs of the Week of 2022. It was a fantastic new release day, with fresh albums by Wet Leg, Father John Misty, Jack White, Oceanator, Daniel Rossen, Orville Peck, Lucius, and others. Some of those artists end up on this week’s Songs of the Week, which is a Top 12 this week.

In the last week we posted interviews with Wet Leg, Orville Peck, Senate candidate Malcolm Kenyatta, and The Linda Lindas.

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 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.

1. Father John Misty: The Next 20th Century”

Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman) released a new album, Chloë and The Next 20th Century, today via Sub Pop/Bella Union. On Monday he shared one last pre-release single from it, seven-minute album closer and almost title track “The Next 20th Century.” It’s a rambling, but fascinating composition that mentions Nazi wedding bands, Val Kilmer as Batman, student debtors, and childhood’s end.

On Tuesday, Father John Misty also announced some 2022 and 2023 tour dates.

In January Father John Misty shared the album’s first single, “Funny Girl,” via a video. The song made our Songs of the Week list. Then he shared the album’s second single, “Q4,” via a video that plays as one long opening titles sequence to a classic movie from the 1950s or 1960s and announced two shows at New York City’s iconic Rainbow Room, both happening on April 14. Then he shared the album’s third single, “Goodbye Mr. Blue,” which was one of our Songs of the Week, and performed the song with a string section on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He also shared a cinematic video for “Goodbye Mr. Blue,” which was filmed in and around Sofia, Bulgaria.

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.

2. Wet Leg: “Ur Mum”

British duo Wet Leg (Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers) have released their self-titled debut album today via Domino. On Monday the band shared the last pre-release single from the album, “Ur Mum,” via an amusing video for the song. “Ur Mum” features Teasdale showing off her longest, loudest scream. Lava La Rue directed the video, in which Teasdale and Chambers work at a convenience store and have a run in with the cocky singer of another band.

Lava La Rue had this to say about the video in a press release: “The ‘Ur Mum’ video was all about bringing the viewer into the Wet Leg world—sprinkling details throughout the visual that not only reference at least 4 songs off the album but also plenty of inside jokes within the band too. Artistically it shows where the aesthetic of American indie films like Napoleon Dynamite fit perfectly in the scape of rural British settings—this concept first came to me when the band took me to IOW for the first time—I saw the connection and it all clicked into place.”

Also, today we posted our new interview with the band on the album and yesterday we posted our rave review of Wet Leg. Stream the album here and read the interview here and the review here.

Wet Leg features the songs “Chaise Longue” (which was one of our Songs of the Week), “Wet Dream,” which topped our Songs of the Week list, “Oh No,” and “Too Late Now,” the latter of which also topped our Songs of the Week list. Then they shared a video for “Oh No.” That was followed by another single, “Angelica,” shared via another one of their amusing self-directed videos. “Angelica” also made our Songs of the Week list.

Then the duo did a Tiny Desk (Home) Concert for NPR, performed “Chaise Longue” on Late Night with Seth Meyers, and stopped by SiriusXMU to perform a cover of Madonna’s “Material Girl.” Then in March Wet Leg stopped by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where they performed “Wet Dream” on the broadcast show and “Chaise Longue” as a web-exclusive.

“Chaise Longue” was #1 on our Top 130 Songs of 2021 list.

Read our 2021 interview with Wet Leg on “Chaise Longue.”

Also pick up our 20th anniversary print issue to read a separate article on Wet Leg.

3. Sun’s Signature: “Golden Air”

Sun’s Signature, a new project from Elizabeth Fraser (formerly of Cocteau Twins) and her partner Damon Reece, are releasing their self-titled debut EP on June 18 via Partisan. On Wednesday they shared its first single, “Golden Air,” which is also Fraser’s first original music in 13 years.

The EP was unofficially announced in February and is due out on Record Store Day, with a digital release to follow sometime in July. The EP features Fraser’s 2000 limited-edition single “Underwater” as well as two songs that she performed at the 2012 Meltdown Festival, “Golden Air” and “Make Lovely the Day.”

In 2016, Fraser and Reece composed the score for the British TV series The Nightmare Worlds of H.G. Wells. Fraser’s most recent solo release was the 2009 single “Moses.” In 2020, she was featured on the Jónsi song “Cannibal,” which was one of our Songs of the Week.

Reece has been the longtime drummer in Massive Attack, who Fraser has also collaborated with. He was previously a member of Spiritualized and Lupine Howl (an offshoot of Spiritualized), as well as Echo and the Bunnymen. He also recorded and performed with Baxter Dury, Goldfrapp, The Flies, Butch Vig’s 5 Billion in Diamond, and more.

The songs on Sun’s Signature have been in the works for over two decades, since the breakup of Cocteau Twins in 1997.

4. The Smile: “Pana-vision”

The Smile is a new group composed of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood along with Sons of Kemet’s Tom Skinner. On Monday they shared a new song, “Pana-vision.” The song premiered on Peaky Blinders last weekend. “Pana-vision” was shared via a video animated by Sabrina Nichols, but featuring the of artist Stanley Donwood (a longtime Radiohead and Thom Yorke collaborator).

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. Their last single, “Skrting on the Surface,” was also #1 on our Songs of the Week list.

5. Melody’s Echo Chamber: “Alma”

Melody’s Echo Chamber, the project of French musician Melody Prochet, is releasing a new album, Emotional Eternal, on April 29 via Domino. On Wednesday she shared its third single, “Alma,” via an animated video for it featuring stunning shots of nature and landscape. The song’s lyrics are in French and English. Hyoyon Paik directed the video.

Prochet wrote “Alma” when she was separated from her daughter, who was a one-year-old at the time, for a night. A press release describes the song as a “beautiful paean to motherhood concluding with resounding violins and ebow that together evoke the spirit of the eternal and the circularity of life.”

“To me this song is a butterfly,” Prochet says. “It feels more like a little poem to life than a song; it was the first song to arise from the echoes of silence since Bon Voyage. I think I recorded the emotion of that kind of spiritual experience of the essential yet heart-breaking separation from the pure love bubble to the world of others.”

Emotional Eternal features production from Swedish artists Reine Fiske (of Dungen) and Fredrik Swahn (of The Amazing). “Alma” features Gustav Estjes, also of Dungen. Of the recording of the song, Prochet says: “We recorded ‘Alma’ in Swahn’s studio in Stockholm again; I remember we gave special attention to the groove, to give it a swing and emphasis on the light side, with a minor sound of danger in the veil of the mist somewhere. Johan Holmegaard played drums, Gustav Estjes played the piano and little velvet flute; Josephin Runsteen created transcending strings and noises directed by Reine and Swahn.”

Previously Melody’s Echo Chamber shared a video for the album’s lead single, “Looking Backward.” “Looking Backward” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared its second single, “Personal Message,” via a video for it.

Prochet’s last album, Bon Voyage, came out in 2018 via Fat Possum.

Prochet had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “I hope the record has that uplifting quality. I wanted to be more grounded and mindful through the process. I guided the sessions with simplicity—a contrast with the maximalism of Bon Voyage and the wilderness of my delusions. I made some big and impactful decisions and changes to my life. It took me to where it is peaceful, and I think the record reflects this. It’s more direct.”

6. Florist: “Red Bird Pt. 2 (Morning)”

On Tuesday, Brooklyn-based quartet Florist announced a new self-titled album and shared its first single, “Red Bird Pt. 2 (Morning),” via a video for the song. Florist is due out July 29 via Double Double Whammy. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

Florist is Emily Sprague, Jonnie Baker, Rick Spataro, and Felix Walworth. Florist is the follow-up to 2019’s Emily Alone, which was essentially a solo album from Sprague.

“The trauma response to losing my best friend, my mom, was to feel really afraid to get close to anybody ever again,” she says in a press release. “It’s sort of cheesy, but I realized that life is better when you share it. The answer isn’t to isolate yourself and be alone.”

So Sprague reconvened with the rest of the band to record the new album in Hudson, NY in 2019.

Of the album title, Sprague explains: “We called it Florist because this is not just my songs with a backing band. It’s a practice. It’s a collaboration. It’s our one life. These are my best friends and the music is the way that it is because of that.”

Sprague also had this to say about “Red Bird Pt. 2 (Morning)” in the press release: “This song is the introduction to Florist, an album journey very much about the celebration of the people in our lives and the massive importance of connection. It is lyrically and spiritually a continuation of where Florist left off five years ago at the end of If Blue Could Be Happiness. We recorded the song to half-inch tape on a screened-in porch in June. The nature sounds are live. The birds really sang along.”

7. Hercules & Love Affair: “Poisonous Storytelling” (Feat. ANOHNI)

Hercules & Love Affair (the project of Andy Butler) are releasing a new album, In Amber, on June 17 via Skint/BMG. On Wednesday they shared the album’s second single, “Poisonous Storytelling,” which features vocals from ANOHNI. The song also features Budgie of Siouxsie and the Banshees on drums. They have also shared remixes of the song by Justin K Broadrick and Giant Swan.

Butler had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Poisonous Storytelling’ started as a song called ‘Sacral’—the music evoked sacred rites, but the word ‘Sacral’ also speaks to the one of the sources of our rootedness and stability.”

The press release says that ANOHNI’s lyrics “outline a constellation of systemic brokenness within global society. Addressing cultural narrators, newscasters, film makers and prophets.”

ANOHNI adds: “We must be careful with new narratives, because everyone is rotted out from poisonous storytelling.”

Previously Hercules & Love Affair shared the album’s first single, “Grace,” which featured vocals from Butler alongside Icelandic singer Elin Ey and was shared via a video. “Grace” was one of our Songs of the Week.

“In dance music, the focus tends to be more on celebration, joy, desire, heartbreak,” Butler said of the album in a previous press release. “But rage? Existential contemplation? Not so much…certain emotions seemed to be off limits. In some ways, In Amber is a record I didn’t know I had in me.

“As an artist that has always put my personal lived experience forward in my work, not to mention the chaos of living through these recent times, I could not in good conscience make something comfortable. I needed to express my discomfort. Making a ’90s sounding techno or house record, or an odd ’80s sounding dance track was not anything I needed to do.”

The last Hercules & Love Affair album, Omnion, came out in 2017 via Big Beat.

8. Horsegirl: “World of Pots and Pans”

Chicago-based rock trio Horsegirl are releasing their debut album, Versions of Modern Performance, on June 3 via Matador. On Tuesday they shared a new single from it, “World of Pots and Pans,” via a lyric video that features the band presenting the lyrics on an overhead projector.

Horsegirl is Penelope Lowenstein (guitar, vocals), Nora Cheng (guitar, vocals), and Gigi Reece (drums).

The band collectively had this to say about the new song in a press release: “‘​​World of Pots and Pans’ is the first love song Horsegirl has ever written—or the closest thing to it. We wrote it in Penelope’s basement while preparing to leave for our first ever tour. The lyrics, inspired by the misinterpretation of a Television Personalities lyric, imagine a (possibly unrequited) romance unfolding through references to Tall Dwarfs, Belle & Sebastian, and The Pastels.

“We made the lyric video in a couple hours. The three of us had a fully formed vision of what it should look like and were able to quickly execute the real-time ‘animation’ in only two takes. It feels special to showcase our creative chemistry, and Nora was able to finally carry out her childhood dreams of making an OK Go (ish) type video.”

Last year, Horsegirl shared the album track “Billy,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. When the album was announced in March, Horsegirl shared its next single, “Anti-glory,” via a video for it. “Anti-glory” was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Versions of Modern Performance was recorded at Electrical Audio in Chicago with producer John Agnello. The band explained in a previous press release: “It’s our debut bare-bones album in a Chicago institution with a producer who we feel really respected what we were trying to do.”

9. Oceanator: “The Last Summer”

Oceanator, aka Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Elise Okusami, released a new album, Nothing’s Ever Fine, today via Polyvinyl (stream it here). On Thursday she shared another song from it, “The Last Summer,” via a video for the song that features Okusami and her bandmates touring around Washington, D.C.

Ben Epstein and David Combs directed the video, which is a Baby Pony Food Production, and they collectively had this to say in a press release: “‘The Last Summer’s’ lyrics evoke aimless youthful nights in D.C., aimless youthful nights that we lived alongside Elise, so we tried to channel those memories and that energy as much as possible. We thought of this video as a love letter to Washington, D.C. and tried to cram in as many of our favorite places in the city as possible.”

Read our review of Nothing’s Ever Fine here.

Okusami co-produced Nothing’s Ever Fine with Bartees Strange and her brother and longtime bandmate Mike Okusami.

When Nothing’s Ever Fine was announced, Oceanator shared its first single, “Bad Brain Daze,” via a video that also features a cameo from Jeff Rosenstock (who plays saxophone on the song). “Bad Brain Daze” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared another song from it, “Stuck,” via a lyric video. “Stuck” was again one of our Songs of the Week.

Nothing’s Ever Fine is Oceanator’s sophomore album, the follow-up to her debut album, Things I Never Said, which initially came out in August 2020 via her own Plastic Miracles label and then was reissued physically in February 2021 by Polyvinyl. It was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2020.

Nothing’s Ever Fine was recorded at Falls Church, VA’s 38 North and at Mike Okusami’s space in Maryland, with the parts recorded separately as overdubs, rather than live. Most of the album’s tracks feature drums from longtime Oceanator collaborator Andrew Whitehurst.

Oceanator and Jeff Rosenstock are labelmates and toured together in 2021, which is how he ended up on “Bad Brain Daze.” Of touring with Rosenstock, Okusami says: “It felt like going on tour with a bunch of friends. It felt cool to know that even as shows get bigger, we could still have a little community.”

Oceanator is one of the artists on our Covers of Covers album, which came out in March via American Laundromat. She covers Elliott Smith’s “The Biggest Lie.” Check the cover out here.

Read our interview with Oceanator about Things I Never Said.

Read our rave review of Things I Never Said here.

10. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: “My Echo”

Melbourne, Australia five-piece Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are releasing a new album, Endless Rooms, on May 6 via Sub Pop. Now they are sharing its third single, “My Echo,” via a video for it that mainly features the band performing the song in a dark room, but some paper-maché heads are also involved. Regular collaborator Nick Mckk directed the video. Watch it below, followed by the band’s upcoming tour dates.

“‘My Echo’ is about being surrounded by phone screens, computer screens, tv screens, paranoia and loss of time and place,” says the band’s Fran Keaney in a press release. “The album recording is pretty faithful to the very first rough recording. Most of Tom’s leads were improvised but they became the DNA of the song.”

Previously Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever shared Endless Rooms’ first single, “The Way It Shatters,” via a video for it. “The Way It Shatters” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then they shared its second single, “Tidal River,” also one of our Songs of the Week.

The band features singer/songwriter/guitarists Tom Russo, Joe White, and Fran Keaney, as well as bassist Joe Russo and drummer Marcel Tussie.

Endless Rooms is the band’s third full-length and is the follow-up to 2020’s Sideways to New Italy and 2018’s debut album, Hope Downs, both of which also came out via Sub Pop. The album began with the band members trading ideas remotely during lockdown and it was recorded in “a mud-brick house in the bush around two hours north of Melbourne built by the extended Russo family in the 1970s.” The lakeside house also appears on the album’s cover.

The band self-produced the record, working with engineer and collaborator Matt Duffy. “The result is a collection of songs permeated by the spirit of the place; punctuated by field recordings of rain, fire, birds, and wind,” stated a previous press release.

The band collectively added: “It’s almost an anti-concept album. The Endless Rooms of the title reflects our love of creating worlds in our songs. We treat each of them as a bare room to be built up with infinite possibilities.”

Read our interview with Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever on Sideways to New Italy.

Read our review of Sideways to New Italy.

Hope Downs was our Album of the Week, one of our Top 100 Albums of 2018, and our #1 Debut Album of 2018.

Read our 2018 interview with Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.

11. POLIÇA: “Alive”

On Monday, Minneapolis’ POLIÇA announced a new album, Madness, which will be out on June 3 via Memphis Industries. They also shared the album’s lead single, “Alive.” Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.

The band features singer Channy Leaneagh, producer Ryan Olson, bassist Chris Bierden, and drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson. The album was recorded in 2020 and 2021 in Olson’s Minneapolis studio, with the lyrics written and recorded by Leaneagh.

Leaneagh had this to say about “Alive” in a press release: “Bad things happen, the fire goes out; even with the best flammables it stays dark until nothing matters becomes the fire itself.”

In February, POLIÇA shared the track “Rotting,” which isn’t on the album. Their previous album, When We Stay Alive, came out in 2020 via Memphis Industries.

12. SOAK: “purgatory”

SOAK (Northern Ireland singer/songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson) is releasing a new album, If I Never Know You Like This Again, on May 20 via Rough Trade. On Tuesday, Monds-Watson (who uses they/them pronouns) shared the album’s second single, “purgatory,” via a video for it.

In a press release, Monds-Watson says “purgatory” is “about the weight of time and the perpetual fear of reaching the end of your life, unsatisfied with how you’d spent it. The song came out of a slump phase, I wasn’t really a fan of myself and honestly just felt rather lost. In ways that felt like it’s own purgatory. I was trying to figure out how to make myself feel better, become a ‘better version’ of myself. So I guess whilst this song is about panic, it’s equally about the pursuit of change.”

When the album was announced, SOAK shared the album’s first single, “last july,” via a video.

If I Never Know You Like This Again is the follow-up to Monds-Watson’s sophomore album, 2019’s Grim Town. Read our review of Grim Town here.

Read our My Firsts interview and 2015 interview with SOAK.

Honorable Mentions:

These songs almost made the Top 12.

Elf Power: “Undigested Parts”

Ezra Furman: “Book of Our Names”

Hovvdy: “Town”

Interpol: “Toni”

Sunflower Bean: “I Don’t Have Control Sometimes”

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: “Main Theme”

Arca: “Cayó”

Ethel Cain: “Strangers”

Anna Calvi: “Ain’t No Grave”

S. Carey: “Sunshower”

Cola: “Water Table”

Empress Of: “Save Me”

Floating Points: “Grammar”

Katie Alice Greer: “FITS/My Love Can’t Be”

Gwenno: “Men an Toll”

Gretel Hänlyn: “Apple Juice”

Grace Ives: “Lullaby”

Joyce Manor: “Gotta Let It Go”

Wiz Khalifa, Big K.R.I.T., Smoke DZA, and Girl Talk: “Ain’t No Fun”

Midnight Radio: “Now You’re Gone”

Nina Nastasia: “Just Stay In Bed”

Pink Floyd: “Hey Hey Rise Up” (Feat. Andriy Khlyvnyuk)

Porridge Radio: “The Rip”

Maggie Rogers: “That’s Where I Am”

Seratones: “Pleasure”

Joan Shelley: “The Spur”

Oliver Sim: “Fruit”

SPICE: “Recovery”

TOPS: “Perfected Steps”

Sharon Van Etten: “Starman” (David Bowie Cover)

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