Carly Rae Jepsen’s Summery Throwback, and 11 More New Songs


Remember malls? Carly Rae Jepsen — our millennial Debbie Gibson — and her fizzy ’80s-inspired pop have returned to remind us drab, homebound zombies what the hot sizzle of neon sounds like. “Dedicated Side B” is a collection of material that didn’t make the cut of the prolific songwriter’s most recent album, and while it isn’t quite the buried-treasure trove that was her last collection of castoffs, “Emotion Side B,” there are a few gems in the mix here. The sky-high chorus of “This Love Isn’t Crazy” is classic CRJ; even better, or at least a little more surprising, is the slick, pulsating synth-pop throwback “This Is What They Say.” Sword not included. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Tentative hope battles chronic depression and crippling self-consciousness in Phoebe Bridgers’ “I See You,” with musical jitters to match. A nervy, insistent string arrangement pulses behind her as she sings, “I get this feeling, whenever I feel good/It will be the last time”; pretty picking briefly takes over when she confesses, “I feel something when I see you.” The music surges ahead again, but don’t count on a happy ending. JON PARELES

Not long after releasing “Voyager” in 2012, the most accomplished album of her criminally underrated career, a close friend of the Canadian singer and songwriter Kathleen Edwards pointed out that the music business was making her miserable. “Half-jokingly,” he suggested that she throw in the towel and just open a coffee shop called Quitters. He — and Edwards’ fans — were shocked when she took him up on that offer, quite literally. Now, after a long silence (first broken when the Edwards devotee Maren Morris recruited her to help write “Good Woman,” a song that ended up on Morris’s hit 2019 album, “Girl”), Edwards is back with the gently upbeat “Options Open.” It’s the first single from a forthcoming album, “Total Freedom,” due in August. “For 39 years, I’ve been keeping my options open,” she sings with a shrug, summing up a career and a life that’s moved in her own time. Warm and wry, it’s a joy just to hear her voice again. ZOLADZ

“Wishing for a Hero” is built on the piano chords of Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is” and on 2Pac’s early 1990s revision of the song, “Changes.” It’s about the bleak options offered by present-day systemic racism, “the struggle of living black.” At top speed, as if his time is already running out, Polo G raps, “Every day might be the end of the road for me/We die young, so I couldn’t picture a older me.” 2Pac’s update of Hornsby’s chorus insisted, “Things will never be the same,” but nearly three decades after 2Pac, Polo G has even fewer expectations; BJ the Chicago Kid sings, “Some things will never change.” PARELES

The lead single from a forthcoming album by the bassist and producer Derrick Hodge, “Not Right Now” contains his signatures: chest-filling electric bass; production so bright and spatial that if you listen to it through headphones, you may feel like you’ve just strapped on a pair of VR glasses. But really this track is about the drums and keys: The two drummers, Justin Tyson and Michael Mitchell, nudge and tweak each other, inserting an element of play into a tightly grooving beat. And as the piece drifts on, the mix of Jahari Stampley’s piano, Michael Aaberg’s synthesizer and additional keyboards from Hodge create a ball of good tension. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Natalie Slade, from Australia, enlisted members of the jazz-R&B-rock band Hiatus Kaiyote for her debut album, “Control,” due June 5. “Gimme Ya Love” is a modestly insistent demand — ”I won’t take less/And I don’t need much” — setting her angular vocal lines to a double time vamp that hints at Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay,” circling through three ambiguous chords and merging agitation and cool, never finding satisfaction. PARELES

Like a stealthy D.I.Y. superhero, Jeff Rosenstock has a way of suddenly appearing when he’s most direly needed. The Long Island punk lifer surprise-released his previous solo album, “Post-,” on the first day of 2018 and now — in a year that’s making 2018 feel like a cake walk — he’s once again dropped a full-length without warning, the urgent, searching “No Dream.” The title track covers a lot of ground in just under four minutes, moving from a chiming, Against Me!-esque melody into a pummeling hardcore breakdown that will make you nostalgic for mosh-pit sweat. “It’s not a dream, it’s not a dream!” Rosenstock hollers, a refrain that becomes more prescient by the day. But the potent alarm clock of breakneck guitars certainly backs up his point. ZOLADZ

Neil Young has been opening up his archives and is about to release “Homegrown,” the much-bootlegged album he set aside in 1975 in order to release the far more tumultuous “Tonight’s the Night.” One of its seven previously unreleased songs is “Try.” On the surface, it’s a low-key, countryish shuffle, with Emmylou Harris joining him as a backup singer. But what he’s depicting, with enigmatic understatement, is the tentativeness of a wounded heart: “Darlin’, the door is open,” he sings, “to my heart and I’ve been hopin’/That you won’t be the one to struggle with the key.” PARELES

Public service announcements don’t get any catchier than “Attention Coronavirus!” Salif Keita has been a star in Mali since the 1970s, fusing West African (particularly Mande) traditions with international pop and making himself a public conscience in his lyrics. Over one of his typically springy modal grooves, Keita is joined by a younger generation of Malian singers and rappers, determinedly dispensing advice that’s familiar but still necessary. PARELES

Luke Schneider plays pedal steel guitar as a widely recorded Nashville sideman. But his solo album, “Altar of Harmony,” turns away from country and Americana, toward ambient and new-age music that luxuriates in his instrument’s edgeless tones and otherworldly sustain. The pealing, cascading, bendable notes atop the gorgeous “Lex Universum” are clearly from a pedal steel guitar, but so is the soothing, ever-so-slowly changing, organ-like drone that suffuses the track. PARELES

We could all use a moment of Zen right now. Let the heavenly sounds of Julianna Barwick’s “Inspirit” — from the forthcoming, appropriately titled “Healing Is a Miracle” — take you away. Barwick’s breathy, looped vocals recall the simple but profound experiments of her early albums, but the humming bass line that emerges halfway through the track adds an intriguing new element to her sound. ZOLADZ

A solo piano album by Matthew Shipp is a constant cycle of brewing and scattering; an action painting; an immersion in something so expansive and uncommon it feels like a genre unto itself. The full effect of ”Cosmic Juice” — the closing track on “The Piano Equation,” Shipp’s latest — won’t completely land unless you’ve already journeyed through the 10 pieces before it. But there’s a beauty at the end that you can’t miss as he lets things go: After a last bout of fierce, loose counterpoint on the low end of the keyboard, he settles back into the piece’s central harmony, his touch stern but melancholic. He plays a series of turbid minor chords and then lets them fade away, sending us into darkness. RUSSONELLO



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *