Skip to content

Mitski’s Beautifully Moody Meditation, and 11 More New Songs


Mitski has a gift for singing serenely about troubled thoughts and finding large implications in small images. That’s what she does in “Bug Like an Angel,” a song from her next album, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We,” due Sept. 15. That bug is stuck to the bottom of a glass — which makes her reflect, in turn, on drinking and a relationship gone stale. The song is subdued and moody, mostly just Mitski and four guitar chords. But when she gets to a life lesson, suddenly a choir appears, as if there’s a chance of redemption after all. JON PARELES

The singer, songwriter and guitarist Towa Bird evokes feelings of social alienation on “This Isn’t Me,” a single from her forthcoming debut album. Out of place at the sort of gathering where there’s “a special spoon for caviar,” she sings in a lilting melody, “Sycophants and luxury, everyone’s a somebody, and I wish you were here with me.” Her vocal delivery is breathy and muted, but beneath that, her nimble guitar playing expresses her inner rage. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

“Go Go Go” isn’t a cheer — it’s a command, as an increasingly fed-up Jorja Smith decides, “I don’t know you that well/And I’m not trying to get to know you,” soon adding, “You gotta go.” Her voice ricochets off a backbeat that’s both pushy and lean, defined by a bare-bones, Police-like trio of drums, rhythm guitar and occasional bass, for a jumping, unapologetic heave-ho. PARELES

Post Malone — despite his face tattoos — has emerged as an old-fashioned rock songwriter, reaching for hooks. He’s also deeply committed to self-pity. “The harder I try/The more I become miserable/The higher I fly, the lower I go,” he sings in the ironically titled “Joy,” a bonus track added to his latest album, “Austin.” The beat pushes ahead, with a bass line that pulses like a 1980s Cure track, but Post Malone stays proudly mired. A choir arrives at the end to savor the word “miserable.” PARELES

“Am I ever gonna see you again?” Jeff Tweedy wonders in “Evicted,” a low-key preview of Wilco’s album due Sept. 29, “Cousin.” Apparently not: “I’m evicted from your heart/I deserve it,” he confesses. With a new producer, Cate Le Bon, what starts as basic Wilco country-rock — steady-chugging piano, strummed acoustic guitar — gathers a shimmery psychedelic aura while the singer’s despair deepens. PARELES

Halle Bailey — half of the sister duo Chloe x Halle — contrasts celestial perfection with earthly travail in “Angel,” a somber but determined self-affirmation that fuses the church and R&B. “Won’t let the troubles of the world come weigh me down,” she vows. When she sings, “Some might hate and they wait on your fall/They don’t know there’s a grace for it all,” it could well be her dignified response to the racist backlash she received for starring as Ariel in the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.” Quasi-classical piano arpeggios roll through the song, and Halle’s tremulous voice leaps up to high soprano notes as she declares herself to be an angel, “perfectly a masterpiece” even with flaws and scars. PARELES

Spirit, conjure, necromancy and memory seem to be some of the grounding ideas behind “Nite Bjuti,” the eponymous debut album from a new collective trio (pronounced “Night Beauty”) featuring the vocalist Candice Hoyes, the turntablist and percussionist Val Jeanty and the bassist Mimi Jones. They improvised all 11 tracks in the studio; by the last one, “Singing Bones,” Hoyes is inviting the dead to rise. Over a spare, electronic, six-beat rhythm from Jeanty and a plump, syncopated pattern from Jones’s electric bass, Hoyes almost whispers, then croons: “Rise up, singing bones/Shake yourself together.” Then the song is over, almost before it began. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

The first duo album from two longtime collaborators, the multidisciplinary artist Damon Locks and the trumpeter Rob Mazurek, was imagined as a pirate radio broadcast from the future. Or maybe from an alternate version of now, where a group of everyday anarchists might still have a fighting chance at repossessing a stray radio frequency. The music is about perception, not optimism. On “Yes!,” a slyly swinging drum loop clangs along beneath a cropped synth sample, until the music cuts out momentarily and Locks enunciates: “They got you where they want you: nowhere/Shrouded in confusion, grasping at straws.” The beat reappears. “When you’re living like this, you can’t envision/Blind to possibility, this is where the plan kicks in.” This album is supposed to make you long for another world, but like a good radio broadcast it also works well as background or ambience — putting questions in your head that you can’t articulate, without elbowing everything else out of your brain. RUSSONELLO

The Puerto Rican singer and songwriter Kany García has lately been dabbling in regional Mexican music; she had a hit 2022 duet, “El Siguiente,” with the Mexican singer Christian Nodal. Now she has another one: “Te Lo Agradezco” (“I Appreciate It”) with Carin Leon, a Mexican singer and songwriter who leans into the drama with tremolos and breaking notes. The song is a furious exchange of accusations, though they are sometimes shared in close harmony; apparently there were lies and betrayal on both sides. The arrangement stays elegant — with a sousaphone bass line, mariachi horns, a guitar obbligato and a hovering pedal steel guitar — while the singers battle. PARELES

The world is full of scorched-earth breakup songs, but on “Good Good,” Usher, Summer Walker and 21 Savage team up for something considerably rarer: a song about staying on decent terms with an ex. “We ain’t good-good, but we still good,” Usher sings benevolently on the hook, while Walker echoes the sentiment, adding, “We’re happier apart than locked in.” But it’s 21 Savage who makes perhaps the most generous offer: “If you wanna open up a new salon,” he raps, “I’d still help pay for the wigs.” ZOLADZ

Everything on the saxophonist and composer Jonathan Suazo’s new LP, “Ricano” — which finds him mining the intersections between his Puerto Rican and Dominican bloodlines — seems to be spilling energy out the top. This is richly built, effusively played Latin jazz, written from the heart and packed with complexity, always seeking the next level of altitude. On “Don’t Take Kindly,” as Tanicha López sings in billowy open vowel sounds and long, held tones, the ensemble’s three percussionists play around with a rhythm based in Puerto Rican bomba, while Suazo’s alto saxophone douses them in minor blues. RUSSONELLO

The swing is righteously loose and steamy on “Les Funambules,” from “Celestial,” the debut studio album from Knoel Scott, a longtime saxophonist and flutist with the Sun Ra Arkestra. On “Celestial,” Scott’s acoustic quartet is augmented by a special guest: the explosive alto saxophonist Marshall Allen, 99, who has led the Arkestra since Ra’s death. “Les Funambules” means “the tightrope walkers,” but nobody walks a tightrope like this: going every direction at once, limbs kicking out. But the title fits. As Scott and Allen’s saxes trill in wild harmony, you can feel a sense of balance in motion, of poise and danger and control. RUSSONELLO


Source link