10 Best Songs of the Week: Ryley Walker, Cassandra Jenkins, Ora The Molecule, and More
Plus Another Michael, Alex Lahey and Gordi, Allie Crow Buckley, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks
Feb 12, 2021
Welcome to the fifth Songs of the Week of 2021. The week’s big news was the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. The Democratic impeachment managers made a very strong case and Trump’s lawyers did not, and yet the former president is still expected to be acquitted due to the make up of the Senate and the need for 17 Republican senators to cross the aisle and vote for impeachment. And while it seems less likely that Trump will be barred from running for president again, at least the second impeachment trial truly puts the events of January 6 in the public record and it seems likely that history won’t regard Trump’s actions on that date (and leading up to it) fondly, nor will future historians look favorably on those Republican senators who fail to impeach Trump for political reasons.
It wasn’t a blockbuster week for new songs, but below are some pleasing tracks to check out.
In the last week we posted interviews with Heart’s Ann Wilson, legendary horror director and musician John Carpenter, British folk sister trio The Staves, British band South on the reissue of their 2000-released debut album, and actor/comedian Joel McHale.
In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, then be sure to dive into our Top 100 Albums of 2020 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. Ryley Walker: “Rang Dizzy”
This week Ryley Walker announced a new album, sharing a song from it titled “Rang Dizzy.” The upcoming album, Course in Fable, will be out on April 2 via Walker’s own Husky Pants label.
“Rang Dizzy” is made up of such poetic lines as: “I extend my hand to all probable possibilities/That I may be baptized in seltzer from glaciers” and “As the cherry water runs down my spine/I recall coupon codes from minimum wage jobs/Unionized by labor kept in sheep skin/Saving up for tires that light up when you drive them.”
Check out tracklist and cover art for the album here.
Walker’s most recent original solo album was Deafman Glance, which came out in 2018 on Dead Oceans. Later that year, he released The Lillywhite Sessions, a cover album of an unreleased 2001 Dave Matthews Band album. By Joey Arnone
Read our 2018 interview with Walker on Deafman Glance.
2. Cassandra Jenkins: “Crosshairs”
This week Cassandra Jenkins shared a video for her new song “Crosshairs.” The song will be featured on her upcoming album An Overview on Phenomenal Nature, out February 19 via Ba Da Bing. Jenkins channels a bit of Julee Cruise with her delicate vocals, which are backed by some beautiful string arrangements.
Jenkins speaks about the song and video in a press release: “I wrote ‘Crosshairs’ in the before times—not thinking about isolation. Listening to the song now, it reads more literally; I’ve never craved human interaction in the way I have over the course of the past year, and my experience of time has completely shifted. I decided to shoot this video over the weekend because I want to capture the snowy cityscape of New York in February of 2021 and how my inner landscape feels in this moment—simultaneously miniscule and expansive. I love talking to strangers, especially when there are no words exchanged. We have the opportunity to step outside of ourselves when we engage with a stranger’s gaze, in the same way that an artist like Cindy Sherman engages with a camera lens. And when we allow our identities to fall apart, we get closer to dissolving into something greater than ourselves.”
Jenkins previously released the songs “Michelangelo” and “Hard Drive” from the upcoming album. Her last album, Play Till You Win, came out in 2017 on Cassandra Complex. By Joey Arnone
3. Ora The Molecule: “Creator”
Ora The Molecule (aka Nora Schjelderup) has just signed to Mute, subsequently announcing the release of her debut album Human Safari. This week she also has shared the video for the album’s lead single “Creator.” Human Safari will be out on July 23. Tanmay Chowdhary directed the video for “Creator.” Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.
Schjelderup speaks about the new song and video in a press release: “The song is all about empowerment in the individual. You have to love the creator that is inside of the creature. I know there’s a lot of fear among kids. Greta Thunberg is a great example. She’s such a hero for so many young kids. It’s playing into that a little bit. In the video, my little sister, Tindra, is the adult listening to the news. I am a passive adult. She’s training me and doing all of these things to get us ready for the big day of catastrophe.”
Schjelderup’s most recent music project, the Sugar EP, was released back in 2019. By Joey Arnone
4. Another Michael: “Row”
This week Philadelphia-based trio Another Michael shared the song “Row,” another sneak peek from their upcoming album. New Music and Big Pop will be out next Friday (Feb. 19) on Run For Cover.
Frontman Michael Doherty speaks about the song in a press release: “‘Row’ is a song that I built around a rhythm guitar line that to me, resembles the feeling of rowing a boat. I wanted to create a song that allowed our acoustic and electric elements to ring out as one texture, and to showcase the range of musical styles that we’ve touched on since the start of this project.”
The band has previously shared the songs “Big Pop,” “I Know You’re Wrong,” and “New Music” from their upcoming album. By Joey Arnone
5. Alex Lahey and Gordi: “Dino’s”
Today Australian artists Alex Lahey and Gordi shared a video for their new single “Dino’s,” named after an East Nashville dive bar.
The two artists speak about the song in a press release: “This song has been two and a half years in the making. We wrote it on a very humid summer’s day in Nashville before breaking for late night pasta and beer. The eccentricity of Dino’s makes it a place where it feels like anything could happen and anyone could walk through the door. The song captures the feeling of being totally captivated by the person sitting across from you while the world spins madly on. Anyone who has been to Dino’s knows that there is genuinely a Dolly Parton cardboard cutout that lives in the bar and she is a Nashville icon.”
Lahey released the EP Between the Kitchen and the Living Room last year on Dead Oceans. Gordi’s most recent album, Our Two Skins, came out last year on Jagjaguwar. It included the songs “Volcanic” (one of our Songs of the Week), “Unready,” and “Extraordinary Life.”
Check out our My Favorite Album print issue to read our interview with Lahey on her all-time favorite album, along with our 2017 interview with her. By Joey Arnone
6. Allie Crow Buckley: “Moonlit and Devious”
This week Los Angeles-based artist Allie Crow Buckley dropped a new single “Moonlit and Devious” that will be the title track of her new album, Moonlit and Devious.
Buckley speaks about the track in a press release: “This song is a love song! Though sonically it takes on a rather menacing feel, I think that illustrates the duality of a relationship well; there’s a sort of moonlit devoted side, and a mischievous and devious side, this push and pull of independence and devotion.” The song is composed of layered and distorted guitar, heavy synth, and a powerful buildup all while Buckley’s vocals accompany the darkness throughout the piece.
The haunting and hypnotic “Moonlit and Devious” follows a previously released track in January titled “Nothing Sacred,” which will also be featured on the upcoming album. Moonlit and Devious was produced by Buckley in collaboration with Jason Boesel (of Rilo Kiley) and Mike Viola, and features Sharon Van Etten and guitarist Dylan Day. By Emma Goad
7. Dry Cleaning: “Strong Feelings”
This week London-based post-punk band Dry Cleaning announced the release of their debut album, New Long Leg, which will be out on April 2 via 4AD. The band also shared a video for “Strong Feelings,” a new single from the album. The video was directed by guitarist Tom Dowse. Check out the tracklist and cover art for New Long Leg here.
Frontwoman Caroline Shaw speaks about the album in a press release: “The title is ambiguous; a new long leg could be an expensive present or a growth or a table repair. It’s not just sheer pent-up energy all the time in the way that the first two EPs were. I feel more confident with leaving gaps.” She also talks about “Strong Feelings,” stating, “it’s about secretly being in love with someone who doesn’t know it, and Brexit’s disruptive role in romantic relationships.”
New Long Leg was produced by John Parish. The band released “Scratchcard Lanyard,” the first single from the album, in November of last year, and it made it to our Songs of the Week list. In 2019, we interviewed them after the release of their two EPs Sweet Princess and Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks. You can check it out here. By Joey Arnone
8. Brijean: “Hey Boy”
This week Oakland-based duo Brijean (comprised of percussionist Brijean Murphy and multi-instrumentalist Doug Stuart) shared a video for their new single “Hey Boy.” It is the latest offering from their upcoming album Feelings, which is set to drop February 26 on Ghostly International. Murphy directed and illustrated the animated video.
Murphy speaks about the process of creating the video in a press release: “My visual art style really developed when I began making hand-drawn flyers for a nightclub in Oakland. I hosted a recurring jazz night every Tuesday for a few years. The bands were always amorphous and always centered around percussion. That left a lot of elasticity in the genre—the musicians were often rooted in different cultural and musical backgrounds (Salsa, Gospel, Blues, Hip Hop, etc.)—and in turn, that attracted a wide range of dancers and drinkers to fill the space. This music video is a homage to that club and its people, infused with some psychedelic and cheeky moments.”
She adds: “The idea of shared experience, though a virtual reality, had shifted my perspective of shared space, which informs the visuals. Seemingly isolated dancers move within the compartmentalized windows and grids of a surreal Technicolor world. We’ve all found ourselves here in this time, sorting through complicated information and synthesizing our inherited and undulating present. For me, I’ve found comfort and inspiration in tethering to the playful stuff.”
The duo has previously shared the songs “Ocean,” “Day Dreaming” (one of our Songs of the Week), and “Moody” from their upcoming album. By Joey Arnone
9. Cool Ghouls: “The Way I Made You Cry”
Cool Ghouls, the San Francisco-based band that once lived on house gigs and barbeques in Golden Gate Park, is going on their tenth year together and in lieu of this decennial celebration, they are releasing their fourth album, At George’s Zoo. This week they shared “The Way I Made You Cry,” the second single off this album. At George’s Zoo is set to be released on March 12 via Empty Cellar (and Melodic in the UK). The song has a bit of a retro Foxygen and The Lemon Twigs vibe.
The band shared the album’s first single, “Helpless Circumstance,” last month, which set the tone of the rest of their upcoming album. The group aims to capture the romantic essence of the city, as well as the historical psychedelia that once dominated the music scene in San Francisco. At George’s Zoo will be a reminder of the before times when gigs took place in a friend’s living room rather than on stage or now—through a screen.
Their third and previous album, Gord’s House, was released in 2017. By Emma Goad
10. Cherry Glazerr: “Big Bang”
This week Cherry Glazerr (the Los Angeles-based band led by Clementine Creevy) shared a new song titled “Big Bang.” It marks their first music release of 2021, and is out now on Secretly Canadian.
Creevy speaks about the song in a press release: “Some songs take on a lot of forms until they finally end up the way they do and this was one definitely one of those. It lived a few different lives for sure, I just kept changing up the rhythms until I was like, ‘oh yeah that’s it right there!’”
She adds: “I wanted to give it a sort of early ‘aughts pop production feel, with the interplay between the acoustic guitar figure and the bass synth and the 808 hits during the choruses. The lyrics came from feeling like I was growing apart from someone who was close to me in my life, and the song is essentially about heartache, but it’s euphoric at the same time. That’s what I like about it—the intensity of those very personal feelings paired with a sort of huge, exposed energy. I feel like I was able to let a lot out with this song. It feels really special to me.”
The band released a new song titled “Rabbit Hole” in December of last year. Their most recent album, Stuffed & Ready, came out in 2017 on Secretly Canadian. By Joey Arnone
These seven songs almost made the Top 10.
Citizen: “Blue Sunday”
Madi Diaz: “Man in Me”
El Michels Affair: “Ala Vida”
Danny Elfman: “Love In the Time of Covid”
Floatie: “Catch a Good Worm”
Middle Kids: “Cellophane (Brain)”
Mogwai: “Pat Stains” (Feat. Colin Stetson)
Other notable new tracks in the last week include:
Ethel Cain: “Michelle Pfeiffer” (Feat. lil aaron)
Claud: “Guard Down”
Corvair: “Unsubtle Lake”
Django Django: “Waking Up” (Feat. Charlotte Gainsbourg)
Dua Lipa: “We’re Good”
Francis of Delirium: “Let It All Go”
Fruit Bats: “The Balcony”
Ross Gay and Bon Iver: “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude”
Rhiannon Giddens: “Calling Me Home” (with Francesco Turrisi)
Glitterer: “Life Is Not A Lesson”
Hand Habits: “i believe in you” (Neil Young Cover)
Hannah Jadagu: “Think Too Much”
Yves Jarvis: “Projection”
Kings of Leon: “Echoing”
Katy Kirby: “Portals”
London Grammar: “Lose Your Head (Dave Glass Animals Remix)”
Major Murphy: “In the Meantime”
Jimbo Mathus and Andrew Bird: “Poor Lost Souls”
Men I Trust: “Tides”
Nervous Dater: “Tin Foil Hat”
Sarah Neufeld: “Stories”
Liz Phair: “Hey Lou”
Potty Mouth: “Let Go”
Remember Sports: “Pinky Ring”
slowthai: “CANCELLED” (feat. Skepta)
Alex Somers: “Deathbed” and “Sooner”
Sonic Boom: “On a Summer’s Day (Remix)”
Matt Sweeney and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy: “Hall of Death”
Taylor Swift: “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)”
Leon Vynehall: “Mothra” and “Ecce! Ego!”
Nick Waterhouse: “Very Blue” and “Medicine”
Westerman: “Drawbridge (Unknown Mortal Orchestra Remix)”
X: “True Love, Pt. 3” and “Strange Life” (Feat. Robby Krieger)
Ya Tseen: “Close the Distance”
(Thanks to Joey Arnone for helping to put this week’s list together.)
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