With The Smith Street Band releasing their new album, Don’t Waste Your Anger, today, frontman Wil Wagner has taken us through 20 songs that inspired their latest release.

COVID-19 has undoubtedly left the world in a state of shock right now, with countless lockdowns turning the music scene into a veritable ghost town, and leaving music fans left wanting. Always ones to think on their feet, Melbourne’s The Smith Street Band have come to our rescue, with their new album being unleashed today.

More than three years on from the release of More Scared of You than You Are of Me, their fifth album – Don’t Waste Your Anger – was originally set to be released in June, but has been brought forward due lockdowns and an uncertainty about when the band will be able to tour it.

Perfect listening for these dull days indoors, Don’t Waste Your Anger is out today, and features the band at their best, with songs such as ‘I Still Dream About You’ showcasing what it is that’s made them so popular amongst Aussie crowds.

Certainly one of their finest releases to date, the question that some fans may have now is just what was it that inspired the album? Obviously, with such varied influences up their sleeves, this is an impossible one for us to answer, so we spoke to The Smith Street Band frontman Wil Wagner himself, who offered up a list of the 20 songs that inspired the band’s new album.

Perhaps you might find some new favourites in the list, or maybe you might revisit a classic anthem that allows you to gain a deeper understanding of what went into the album’s production? Either way, it’s a pretty exciting playlist to accompany an equally exciting album!

20 songs that inspired The Smith Street Band’s Don’t Waste Your Anger

‘Sexual’ by NEIKED, Dyo

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Okay this is what you need to do. Get your best headphones/music playing device, enjoy some marijuana if that’s something you enjoy and then close your eyes and listen to this song as loud as possible. I think this is my favourite sounding song ever, the production is phenomenal and it’s so simple and subtle.

The single note guitar part, the tight bass line in the choruses, that insane lead synth line that comes in half way through, what a song.

‘Rush’ by Big Audio Dynamite

I love this song for its uniqueness and unbridled creativity. What begins as a catchy and simple rock song takes the most insane twists and turns.

‘The Bends’ by Radiohead

We listened to this album a lot while building the studio. I love all the different eras of Radiohead but damn could they write an anthemic rock tune.

‘Tied Up In Nottz’ by Sleaford Mods

A more recent discovery but a band that inspired this album a lot nonetheless. Simple, poetic lyrics yelled over simple, impactful beats. I heard or read them described somewhere as “the only punk band in the world” and I can’t help but agree with that.

‘Honey, I’ by Big Smoke

Fantastic rock and roll band from Melbourne who released a brilliant and heartbreaking album called Time Is Golden that means a hell of a lot to a lot of people. RIP Adrian Slattery.

Check out ‘Honey, I’ by Big Smoke:

‘Reagan’ by Killer Mike

This is such a well constructed, smart, catchy and impactful political song. Making a banger with a message is fucking hard and Killer Mike smashed it with this one!

‘These Days’ by Nico

I love how lush the production on this song is which definitely inspired me while making this record. Trying to add textures and colours to songs that are mainly just a voice and guitar, something this song does masterfully.

‘Youth Against Fascism’ by Sonic Youth

Listen to how fucking thick that bass tone is! I love it. This is just a cool, catchy Sonic Youth song, but I really love how the rhythm section sounds.

‘Don’t Do Me Like That’ by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

I’m a real latecomer to Tom Petty and I could have picked about ten different songs of his to put in this list. Damn The Torpedoes was another record we listened to a lot while building the studio and this is just such a great song.

‘The Underdog’ by Spoon

Another song I love for its experimentation and originality. I love anything that is unique and interesting but still catchy and poppy. How ’bout those fucking horns as well, they sound so good.

Check out ‘The Underdog’ by Spoon:

‘Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales’ by Car Seat Headrest

I wish I wrote this song.

‘I Love It’ by Icona Pop and Charli XCX

I love this song because it’s just a big, fun, loud pop song but for some reason it makes me very emotional! There is something very bittersweet about it and also I DON’T CARE. I LOVE IT!

‘Sitting Still’ by R.E.M

I listened to a heap of R.E.M. while writing this album and could have picked a few different songs of their’s but that jangly riff and the way it picks up for the chorus made me choose this one! Also I don’t understand at least 80% of the words.

‘Anthems For A Seventeen Year-Old Girl’ by Broken Social Scene

This song is off an album called You Forgot It In People which is one my all time favourites. I love how this song just washes over you. It builds and swells and is full of interesting sounds.

‘Wrecking Ball’ by Bruce Springsteen

I’m a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen and I just love how goddam Bruce Springsteeny this Bruce Springsteen song is. Inspiring and uplifting, lyrics about the New York Giants and loving your home town. “Hard times come and hard times go” gets me every time.

Check out ‘Wrecking Ball’ by Bruce Springsteen:

‘EARFQUAKE’ by Tyler The Creator

Tyler is not someone I’ve ever really understood, I’d heard bits and pieces here and there and he’d just never clicked for me (except that song Who Dat Boy which is so funny). But I fucking loooooove IGOR, it’s such an interesting album.

And it’s probably lame to pick the massive single from it but “don’t leave, its my fault” has been stuck in my head for like six months.

‘Sunday Bloody Sunday (Live)’ by U2

There is a hilarious podcast hosted by Scott Aukerman and Adam Scott called R U TALKING U2 2 ME? which serves as a comprehensive and encyclopaedic guide to all things U2. That podcast made me go back and listen to U2 again for the first time in years and they have some absolute belters. This is a very inspiring song and performance.

‘Landslide’ by Fleetwood Mac

One of the greatest songs of all time.

‘But Does It Work?’ by Drug Church

Witty, sardonic, catchy and heavy. Drug Church are a really interesting band and one that I love.

‘Wastes of Time’ by Elvis Depressedly

This is such a sweet, fragile and perfectly distilled piece of music. Another song I wish I’d written.

Check out ‘I Still Dream About You’ by The Smith Street Band: