11 Best Songs of the Week: Squid, Jess Williamson, Lindstrøm, Anjimile, Foo Fighters, and More
Plus The Mary Onettes, Clark and Thom Yorke, M. Ward, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks
May 26, 2023
Welcome to the 19th Songs of the Week of 2023. This week we lost the Queen of Rock. Tina Turner’s death was the kind of passing that makes the world pause and garners comments from world leaders.
There were a strong collection of new tracks this week, fueled by some new album announcements and a veteran band trying on a different sound. We settled on a Top 11.
In the past week or so we posted interviews with The Last Dinner Party, The Beths, and others.
In the last week we reviewed some albums.
Remember that we recently announced our new print issue, Issue 71 with Weyes Blood and Black Belt Eagle Scout on the covers.
To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 11 best the last week had to offer, followed by some honorable mentions. Check out the full list below.
1. Squid: “The Blades”
British experimental post-punk five-piece Squid are releasing a new album, O Monolith, on June 9 via Warp. Yesterday they shared its third single, “The Blades,” via a music video. Kasper Häggström (Radiohead, Kelly Lee Owens, Lindstrøm) directed the video, which stars British actress Charlotte Ritchie (of the original UK version of TV’s Ghosts).
Squid drummer/vocalist Ollie Judge had this to say about the new single in a press release: “It’s a lot more vulnerable than stuff we’ve previously done, which can be quite a daunting thing. Dan [Carey] and I were talking about vocal delivery and how it would be good to not completely let myself go, and not fall back on shouting because it’s more instantly gratifying. The end of the song is really soft and tender and I don’t think we’ve done something like that before. On the surface it’s a song about police brutality with the last section kind of inspired by The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe, although I’ve never read the book, I’ve just seen The Simpsons’ spoof of it. Narratively it follows a police helicopter pilot’s day, ending with him in bed hearing another pilot circling the skies as if he were taunting him. There’s a deeper meaning in there somewhere of my fear of ego, but I’m still working out which bit of the song that’s coming from.”
Previously Squid shared the album’s first single, album opener “Swing (In a Dream),” via a music video. Then they shared its second single, “Undergrowth,” as well as an accompanying video game. “Undergrowth” was one of our Songs of the Week. They also announced some new 2024 North American tour dates.
O Monolith is the band’s sophomore full-length and follows 2001’s debut album, Bright Green Field.
Squid features Louis Borlase, Ollie Judge, Arthur Leadbetter, Laurie Nankivell, and Anton Pearson. Long-time collaborator Dan Carey produced O Monolith, which was mixed by John McEntire (of Tortoise).
Squid started working on O Monolith just two weeks following Bright Green Field’s release. At the time the band was on tour, playing seated and socially distanced shows, as the pandemic was still very much a factor. On that tour they tested out some new material. “Without that tour we wouldn’t have any of these tracks,” said Judge in a previous press release. “People were so looking forward to seeing live music that we thought we could just play anything, even if it was unfinished. In some form or another we played about 80% of O Monolith, mostly without lyrics.”
Of the themes on the album, Borlase said: “There’s a running theme of the relation of people to the environment throughout. There are allusions to the world we became so immersed in, environmental emergency, the role of domesticity, and the displacement you feel when you’re away for a long time.”
Read our 2021 interview with Squid.
2. Jess Williamson: “Time Ain’t Accidental”
Texas-born/Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Jess Williamson is releasing a new album, Time Ain’t Accidental, on June 9 via Mexican Summer. On Tuesday she shared its third single, title track “Time Ain’t Accidental” via a music video. Rocco Rivetti directed the video.
Williamson had this to say about the new single in a press release: “The lyrics to ‘Time Ain’t Accidental’’ came pouring out of me because it’s the true story of a very special day when I was falling in love with the person who is now my partner. The chorus references a Raymond Carver book of short stories I was reading at the time, and to me the song itself feels like a short story. For the video, we wanted to make the album cover come to life. We shot it in one take on Pinto Canyon Road outside of Marfa, Texas during a storm. That specific stretch of highway is really special to me, because when I was working on the record I would go on long walks down this empty road listening back to my mixes and working out the album sequence. When I’m out there alone I feel like the only person inside of a vast painting, it’s surreal, and I wanted to share that feeling with the world,.”
Previously Williamson shared Time Ain’t Accidental’s first single, “Hunter,” via a music video. “Hunter” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared its second single, “Chasing Spirits,” via a music video. It was also one of our Songs of the Week.
Time Ain’t Accidental is the follow-up to 2020’s Sorceress, although last year Williamson teamed up with Waxahatchee (aka Katie Crutchfield) to form Plains and the duo released their debut album under that name, I Walked With You A Ways, via ANTI-.
The new album was partially inspired by a breakup at the start of the pandemic and her attempts at dating again after a long relationship. Williamson worked with Brad Cook (who’d produced the Plains album), recording in Durham, North Carolina. “I kept thinking, ‘My voice feels different now—it’s been liberated,” Williamson says of the recording sessions.
Read our 2021 interview with Williamson on Sorceress.
3. Lindstrøm: “Syreen”
This week, Norwegian space disco mastermind Lindstrøm (aka Hans-Peter Lindstrøm) announced a new album, Everyone Else is a Stranger, and shared its first single, the seven-minute instrumental track “Syreen.” Everyone Else is a Stranger is due out July 14th via Smalltown Supersound. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.
“I stumbled upon ‘Syreen’ when working on a new uptempo track for my liveset. It means lilac in Norwegian, a flower that symbolizes love & new beginnings,” says Lindstrøm of the new single in a press release. “Nothing is more welcoming than the spring after a cold winter. Enjoy ‘Syreen,’ the spring and life itself!”
Everyone Else is a Stranger is Lindstrøm’s sixth studio album and his first solo album since 2019’s On a Clear Day I Can See You Forever. The album’s title was taken from John Cassavetes’ original manuscript for his 1984 film Love Streams.
Lindstrøm explains: “When I read about it in Cassavetes’ biography, it felt like such a great title—and it felt so good to put it back out in the world again.”
Read our 2013 interview with Lindstrøm.
4. Anjimile: “The King”
On Tuesday, Anjimile (full name Anjimile Chithambo) announced a new album, The King, and shared its title track via a lyric video. The King is due out September 8 via 4AD, his first album for the label. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as Anjimile’s upcoming tour dates, here.
The King is the follow-up to 2020’s Giver Taker, Anjimile’s debut album, released via Father/Daughter. Anjimile worked on The King for a year in Los Angeles with Shawn Everett. Most of the songs are based around acoustic guitar and Anjimile’s voice, but the album also features contributions from Justine Bowe, Brad Allen Williams, Sam Gendel, and James Krivchenia (Big Thief).
“If Giver Taker was an album of prayers, The King is an album of curses,” Anjimile says in a press release.
In 2021 Anjimile announced that he had signed to 4AD and has shared his debut single for the label, “Stranger,” which is not featured on The King.
Read our interview with Anjimile on Giver Taker, and check out our podcast interview with him, where he discusses the Reunion EP.
5. Foo Fighters: “Show Me How” (Feat. Violet Grohl)
Foo Fighters are releasing a new album, But Here We Are, on June 2 via Roswell/RCA. Yesterday they shared its third single, “Show Me How,” which is surprisingly a dream pop song. It features guest vocals from Violet Grohl, the 17-year-old daughter of frontman Dave Grohl.
Previously Foo Fighters shared But Here We Are’s first single, “Rescued,” via a lyric video. “Rescued” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared its second single, “Under You,” and hosted a live stream event, Foo Fighters: Preparing Music For Concerts, where they revealed their new drummer is Josh Freese.
But Here We Are is the band’s first album since the 2022 death of the band’s former drummer Taylor Hawkins, who passed away at the age of 50 while the band were on a South American tour in Bogotá, Colombia.
Greg Kurstin produced the album with the band. The band’s last album was 2021’s Medicine at Midnight.
A previous press release describes the new album in more detail:
“A brutally honest and emotionally raw response to everything Foo Fighters endured over the last year, But Here We Are is a testament to the healing powers of music, friendship and family. Courageous, damaged and unflinchingly authentic, But Here We Are opens with newly released lead single ‘Rescued,’ the first of 10 songs that run the emotional gamut from rage and sorrow to serenity and acceptance, and myriad points in between.
“Produced by Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters, But Here We Are is in nearly equal measure the 11th Foo Fighters album and the first chapter of the band’s new life. Sonically channeling the naiveté of Foo Fighters’ 1995 debut, informed by decades of maturity and depth, But Here We Are is the sound of brothers finding refuge in the music that brought them together in the first place 28 years ago, a process that was as therapeutic as it was about a continuation of life.”
6. The Mary Onettes: “Forever Before Love”
Today, Sweden’s The Mary Onettes shared two new songs, “Forever Before Love” and “Future Grief.” The double single is out now on Welfare Sounds. “Forever Before Love” was our favorite of the two and makes this week’s list, but if “Future Grief” had been the only song they’d released this week it would’ve made this list instead and so is an honorable mention below.
The band features brothers Philip Ekström (vocals, guitar) and Henrik Ekström (bass), alongside Petter Agurén (guitar) and Simon Fransson (drums).
Philip Ekström had this to say about “Forever Before Love” in a press release: “‘‘Forever Before Love’ is about finding the way back to yourself after a very long relationship. The process of trying to connect with the person you were before that.”
“Future Grief” features Agnes Aldén, a close friend of the Ekström brothers. Philip explains: “This track has been around for quite some time. We recorded the vocals with Agnes in 2016 and we have been waiting eagerly to share this one. Agnes wrote the lyrics for the verse and I wrote the words for the choruses, which gives the story a nice two angel perspective.”
Earlier this year, the band released the single “Easy Hands.” In 2022 The Mary Onettes released the What I Feel in Some Places EP. Its title track was one of our Songs of the Week.
In 2018, the band shared the single “Cola Falls,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. The band’s last full-length album was 2014’s Portico:.
7. Clark: “Medicine” (Feat. Thom Yorke)
British electronic musician and producer Clark (full name Chris Clark) released a new album, Sus Dog, that’s been produced by Thom Yorke, today via Throttle. Today he shared a video for the album’s “Medicine.” The song and video both feature Yorke. Now that it’s out, you can also stream the whole album on our website here.
Dylan Hayes of Knucklehead directed the video for “Medicine” and had this to say about it in a press release: “Chris and I have always bonded over a common endeavor to conceal the digital. This is interesting considering we’re using a very digital medium as an element for ‘Medicine’—deepfake. I was intrigued in using AI in a way that remained subtle. Typically, when deepfake or another AI element is employed, it is the main focus whereas for ‘Medicine’ I wanted to bury the effect and layer it with additional textures, making it just one of the many components. Through the use of the technology Chris and Thom’s characteristics merge, which creates an uncanny synergy of both their faces and voices, causing a question of who’s who and a theme of the malleability of their voices.
“For the third video I’ve directed for Clark I wanted a shift of tone for ‘Medicine.’ In ‘Clutch Pearlers’ and ‘Dolgoch Tape’ there were strong singular themes. For ‘Medicine’ I wanted to adopt a complexity, looking at the degradation of the body and location with a heavy influence of Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Stan Brakhage’s Mothlight short film. As a trilogy they are held together by location and character forming.”
Previously Clark shared the album’s first single, “Town Crank,” which was one of our Songs of the Week. Then he shared its second single, “Clutch Pearlers,” via a music video (it was also one of our Songs of the Week). The album’s third single was “Dismissive,” also one of our Songs of the Week. “Dolgoch Tape” was the album’s fourth single.
Yorke had this to say about the collaboration in a previous press release: “Chris wrote me to say he’d started singing, looking for feedback/advice or whatever, cuz it was kind of new shark-infested waters for him. I’ve been into what he does for years, and I ended up being a kind of backseat driver as he pieced all the oddness of it together, which was fascinating…. I wasn’t surprised to discover he came at singing and words through another door completely, which to me was the most interesting and exciting part. The first thing he sent me was him singing about being stuck between two floors and I was already sold. To me the way he approached it all wasn’t the usual singer/songwriter guff thank god; it mirrored the way he approached all his composition and recording, but this time it had a human face. His face.”
Clark said that his thought process when making Sus Dog was: “What would it sound like if The Beach Boys took MDMA and made a rave record?”
He also added: “It’s a lifetime’s worth of listening to songs and working out how to make them, tuning into how to customise all the other elements to my tastes. It feels like my debut, in a way.”
In 2022, Clark remixed Mitski’s “Love Me More” (from her latest album, Laurel Hell).
8. M. Ward: “New Kerrang” (Feat. Scott McMicken of Dr. Dog)
M. Ward is releasing a new album, Supernatural Thing, on June 23 via ANTI-. On Tuesday he shared its second single, “New Kerrang,” which features Scott McMicken of Dr. Dog.
“This is ‘New Kerrang,’ a song about a drummer facing a crisis of faith in her sound,” Ward says in a press release. “It’s inspired by used-bin Ray Davies records and by all the musicians I know who are chasing perfection by following whatever sound is crashing around in their head.”
Previously Ward shared Supernatural Thing’s first single, title track “Supernatural Thing,” via an animated music video.
Supernatural Thing features First Aid Kit, Jim James, Neko Case, Shovels & Rope, and Kelly Pratt. It includes two covers: “I Can’t Give Everything Away” from David Bowie’s final album Blackstar, and a live rendition of Daniel Johnston’s “Story of an Artist.” Ward previously covered Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” on his acclaimed third album, 2003’s breakthrough release Transfiguration of Vincent.
“Bowie and Johnston are constant sources of inspiration for me, have been for I don’t know how many years,” Ward said in a previous press release.
Summing up Supernatural Thing, Ward said that “the title comes from an early thought as a kid that radio traveled the same airwaves as messages from supernatural things—and music, especially remembered music, is somehow tied up in this exchange. The sending and receiving of messages from memory and dreams seem to move along this same often broken-up wavelength. I see this new record as an extension, 18 years later, of my Transistor Radio record, but this new record is better because its more concise and has more voices and more moods—the way my favorite radio was and still is.”
Supernatural Thing follows two albums Ward released in 2020, Migration Stories and the Billie Holiday covers album Think of Spring. In 2022 he also released Melt Away: A Tribute to Brian Wilson via his duo with Zooey Deschanel, She & Him.
9. Teenage Fanclub: “Foreign Land”
On Tuesday, Scottish veterans Teenage Fanclub announced a new album, Nothing Lasts Forever, and shared its first single, “Foreign Land,” via a music video. Nothing Lasts Forever is due out September 22 via Merge. Donald Milne directed the “Foreign Land” video. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork here.
Nothing Lasts Forever is the band’s 11th album and the follow-up to 2021’s Endless Arcade and 2016’s Here. Merge is putting out the album in America, but in the UK and Europe it’s out on their own label, PeMa.
Teenage Fanclub is led by its main songwriters and founding members Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley. The current lineup also features Francis Macdonald on drums, Dave McGowan (who’s been with Teenage Fanclub since 2004) on bass, and Euros Childs (formerly of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci) on keyboards. The bulk of the album was recorded last August at Rockfield Studios, in the Welsh countryside. Additional work was done at McGinley’s place in Glasgow.
“We like to get something out of where we go, and you can definitely hear a stamp of Rockfield on the record,” says McGinley in a press release. “We recorded our album Howdy there in the late ’90s. Prior to that I’d been a bit reluctant to go as everyone seemed to record there, especially if you were signed to Creation, but I thought I’d go and have a look at the place. When I went down there, I loved the fact that there’s no memorabilia about anyone who’s ever been in the studio. The only visual musical reference is a picture of Joe Meek on their office wall. Anyway, over 20 years after our first visit we decided to go back. When you’re there, it feels like your place. We’re really rubbish at trying to find words to describe how our music sounds, but maybe because we recorded in Rockfield in late summer, there’s something pastoral about the record.”
McGinley says they had no fixed plan for the album when showing up at the studio. “When we got offered 10 days in Rockfield, we weren’t ready in our minds but then we just thought, ‘Fuck it’ and went for it. If you’re sitting around waiting for the stars to align, you can end up never doing anything. We turned up and worked our way through ideas, and came up with some while we were there. The song ‘Foreign Land’ was born in the studio. If we hadn’t gone there at that point through happenstance, that song wouldn’t exist. We like to let things happen. As people, we find a deadline inspiring. We like to put ourselves on the spot and see what happens. We usually get away with it. This record is the cliche of the blank canvas, which thankfully we managed to fill.”
Blake adds: “We’ve all been playing together for such a long time. In the past, whoever had written the song would have been the director. ‘This is how I’m hearing the drums, if you could play the bass like this…’ We don’t do that now. Raymond or myself would just bring in the idea and people would listen and play what works with it. We’d play for a couple of hours and that would be the arrangement. There’s a trust that comes from knowing each other such a long time, a kind of telepathy. Everyone knows where they fit in the puzzle.”
Coincidentally and independently McGinley and Blake found themselves tackling similar themes in their songwriting for Nothing Lasts Forever. The press release says one of the recurring themes on album is “light, as a both a metaphor for hope and as an ultimate destination further down the road.”
“We never talk about what we’re going to do before we start making a record,” McGinley explains. “We don’t plan much other than the nuts and bolts of where we’re going to record and when. That thing about light was completely accidental; we didn’t realize that until we’d finished half the songs. The record feels reflective, and I think the more we do this thing, the more we become comfortable with going to that place of melancholy, feeling and expressing those feelings.”
Blake adds: “These songs are definitely personal. You’re getting older, you’re going into the cupboard getting the black suit out more often. Thoughts of mortality and the idea of the light must have been playing on our minds a lot. The songs on the last record were influenced by the breakup of my marriage. It was cathartic to write those songs. These new songs are reflective of how I’m feeling now, coming out of that period. They’re fairly optimistic, there’s an acceptance of a situation and all of the experience that comes with that acceptance. When we write, it’s a reflection of our lives, which are pretty ordinary. We’re not extraordinary people, and normal people get older. There’s a lot to write about in the mundane. I love reading Raymond Carver. Very often there’s not a lot that happens in those stories, but they speak to lived experience.”
10. GUM: “Race to the Air”
On Wednesday, GUM shared a new song, “Race to the Air,” and announced some new U.S. tour dates. GUM is the solo project Australian psych-pop musician Jay Watson, who is also a member of both Tame Impala and POND. The tour dates happen this October and you can check them out here.
Watson had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Race to the Air’ was originally called ‘Running to The Cure.’ I have this memory of going to the toilet at Glastonbury and The Cure started their set by playing ‘Plainsong,’ which is my favorite Cure song, so I was running from the portaloo to the stage. I couldn’t call a song ‘Race to The Cure’ after COVID though, I didn’t want people to think I was making an album about the pandemic!”
GUM’s last album was 2020’s Out In the World, released via Spinning Top.
In 2020 we interviewed Watson as part of our COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In series and you can read that interview here.
11. Buck Meek: “Haunted Mountain”
On Wednesday, Buck Meek of Big Thief announced a new solo album, Haunted Mountain, and shared its first single and title track, via a music video. Haunted Mountain is due out August 25 via 4AD, his first solo album for the label (although Big Thief is already signed to them). Riley Engemoen directed the “Haunted Mountain” video. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover artwork, as well as Meek’s upcoming tour dates, here.
Haunted Mansion is Meek’s third solo album and the follow-up to 2021’s Two Saviors. Jolie Holland co-wrote five songs on the album, including “Haunted Mountain.”
A press release says the album is about love, among other things, even though Meek admits that love songs are hard to write. “Not break-up songs, but an actual love song written in earnest? That is taboo now,” he says. “Sometimes it can feel like all the great love songs have already been written.”
Mat Davidson produced the album and also plays pedal steel guitar on it. He’s joined by guitarist Adam Brisbin, drummer Austin Vaughn, bassist Ken Woodward, and Meek’s brother, Dylan Meek, on piano and synthesizers. Adrian Olsen mixed the album.
Davidson had this to say about producing the album: “The music here is an expression of a group. I asked for the job because I felt strongly that we shouldn’t bring in someone from outside the band. Otherwise, the only personal desire I had was that we be able to explore space, that we let the music open up and slow down in contrast to previous records—not in terms of tempo but rather overall movement, information between the beats.”
These songs almost made the Top 11.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy: “Bananas”
Jenny Lewis: “Cherry Baby”
Little Dragon: “Gold”
The Mary Onettes: “Future Grief” (Feat. Agnes Aldén)
Arlo Parks: “Devotion”
Here’s a handy Spotify playlist featuring the Top 11 in order, followed by all the honorable mentions:
(Note: We couldn’t find the Bonnie “Prince” Billy honorable mention song on Spotify, so it’s not included on the playlist.)
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