Favorite New & Old Tracks of the Week

Wet Leg (left) [photo by Hollie Fernando for Stereogum]; Harvey Danger (right) [photo by Ryan Schierling]

Before we get started – I don’t know who needs to hear this, but stop trying to convince yourself that the new Avril Lavigne album is good.

These are my favorite new songs of the week and one old one I like, you know the drill. I’ve spent the last 30 hours on planes packed with children incapable of speech but fully aware of what a good scream does, and Russia just bombed a nuclear power plant – I’m tired.

Ezra Furman borrows a bit from old school soul on her new ballad “Point Me Toward the Real”. Over an echoey guitar she tells the tale of someone being released from a psychiatric hospital and not really being sure of what to do next. It’s not as depressing as it sounds, striking an oddly hopeful chord. This isn’t too far from what Furman has done on the “Sex Education” soundtracks, but it’s certainly a new wrinkle to her sound that I’m into.

Sydneysider singer-songwriter Butter Bath has a knack for writing sugary earworms. “Anchor in the Clouds” is another prime example, a dreamy cut about having someone to hold you down. Butter bath has released a string of solid singles since 2019 – looking forward to an album one day.

I usually can’t stand chipmunked vocals used as much as they are in “Holding Back”, Banks’ new single. Maybe it’s the harmonies on the chorus that make it work for me because it’s definitely not the lyrics on the verses, which I’ll admit border on Chainsmokers level cringe in moments.

I think it’s fair that I had high expectations for a Jack White x Q-Tip collab, expectations which “Hi-De-Ho” did not live up to (probably could’ve guessed from the title). They tried to though – this track is weird, dynamic and nearly works. There’s a few too many ideas though, with none of them getting enough time or fleshing out.

“Black Radio III” is definitely an enjoyable experience. It’s smooth, sometimes thoughtful, often expressive. The sound palettes Robert Glasper crafts behind his latest collection of performers blend into each other way too much for any track to stand out, which makes for an album full of cohesive, yet somewhat bland jazz rap. “Black Radio III” is an album worth listening to. It just only works in full, paired with a certain mood.

Favorite New Track of the Week: “Angelica” by Wet Leg

Wet Leg are the first act with a hat trick for favorite new track of the week, with “Chaise Longue” & “Too Late Now” taking the spot previously.

“Too Late Now”, however, grew stale for me pretty quickly and I was never crazy about the B-side to that single “Oh No”. The appeal of the first of those tracks was that Wet Leg were branching out a little bit, showing us a touch of their more serious side.

“Angelica” sits somewhere in the middle of the more playful persona that blew the band up and “Too Late Now”, leaning a bit more in the playful direction. It’s a ‘I don’t like being at this house party’ song – a rock cliche at this point – which is so in Wet Leg’s wheelhouse.

There are no laugh out loud lines, but you’ve at least gotta smirk at “I don’t even know what I’m doing here, I was told there would be free beer” coming after everyone else at the party gets vaporized by a raygun (Angelica stays strapped). Wet Leg aren’t a comedy act, they’ve just got a ton of personality that shines through in their un-self-serious songwriting, which I appreciate.

The mid-tempo, surf rock influenced guitar fits the offbeat tone of the song perfectly. It’s another slight stylistic shift that’s keeping me excited for the rest of their self-titled debut due next month, even though we’ve now already heard almost half of the tracklist.

Favorite Old Track of the Week: “Flagpole Sitta” by Harvey Danger

There was a time in my life where I thought this song was a figment of my imagination.

It’s one of those early noughties, late nineties post-grunge rock songs I remember hearing as a kid, listening happily with no idea who the band was or even the name of the track. Songs like “If You Could Only See” by Tonic, “Sex & Candy” by Marcy Playground, “Debonair” by The Afghan Whigs, anything by Daughtry – plenty of radio play but not much exposure for the bands elsewhere.

The difference between “Flagpole Sitta” and those songs? Y’know, that ‘oh this is that song’ feeling you’d get when you re-discover a song from your early childhood? When I got older I found those songs again, learned their names and the names of the bands. “Flagpole Sitta” remained some phantom melody I’d made up in the backseat of my mom’s car.

Until, in some of my earliest cultural education after moving to London, I was exposed to a little series called “Peep Show”. And there it was. I wasn’t crazy. This song existed.

But…it wasn’t on streaming services. Had I somehow seen “Peep Show” or at least the opening credits sequence fifteen years before and somehow decided I’d heard it on the radio instead of TV?

Nope. It just disappears from Spotify et al. for months at a time. I haven’t been able to find a reason why, although it probably has something to do with the minutia of the rights deal Harvey Danger signed when gifting the song to “Peep Show”.

And no – I am not about to gush about the “Peep Show” song. It’s not that deep. It reappeared on Spotify this week. It’s a fun song. Enjoy it while you can.

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