Mavis Staples and Levon Helm’s Last Show, and 12 More New Songs


In 2011, Mavis Staples and her band traveled to Woodstock, NY, to perform at band drummer Levon Helm’s barn-studio-theater; they had appeared together on the band’s “The Last Waltz” in 1976. Helm’s band joined his own, which included his sister Yvonne Staples on backup vocals, and they recorded the show. More than a decade later, an album, “Carry Me Home”, is due out on May 20. Staples gave “You Got to Move,” a gospel standard, his full contralto engagement; guitarists Rick Holmstrom and Larry Campbell swapped blues twang and bluegrassy tracks. It was just another good time show in two long careers, but it would be their last together; Helm died in 2012. JON PARELES

Nostalgia is not a concept often associated with Pusha T; even when he taps into his coke-dealing past for material (and best believe he usually is), his rhymes have the crisp immediacy of the present. But the classic Old-Kanye production heard on “Dreamin of the Past” — revolving around a sped-up sample of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” — gives the song a halcyon glow that’s at odds with its unrepentant flow. As always, on this climax of his last solo album “It’s Almost Dry”, Push’s lyrics appear with poetic detail (“We dug the walls behind the bodegas”) and an overflowing intelligence: at one point given, he brags about keeping people “on bikes like Amblin. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

​​Robotic love, funky bass lines, Rauw Alejandro’s head in a fridge: welcome to Shakira and the Puerto Rican reggaeton star’s first collaboration. “Te Felicito” is a bitter farewell to a lover whose love has been a charade that marries some of the iconic superstar gifts: the Colombian singer’s eccentric choreography and Rauw’s penchant for funk-infused reggaeton. The Shak seal of approval is a sought-after trophy for young artists rising through the industry ranks – just another sign that Alejandro is here to stay in all his bizarre glory. ISABELLE HERRERA

Marijuana anthems abound on April 20. Here’s one lighter than the smoke of Nigeria, sung by still-masked singer-songwriter Midas the Jagaban and a guest, Liya. The tapped, airy polyrhythms of Afrobeats, topped with echoing labyrinthine vocals, provide just enough propulsion and haze as the women declare, “Whatever I do/I do it better when I smoke my marijuana.” Talk

To capture how a breakup can turn everything upside down, PinkPantheress tapped two rhythm experts — Skrillex and Mura Masa — to share production on “Where You Are,” with Willow (Smith) delivering full-throated hooks. . They sing about limbo between wanting to move on and wanting to stay together: “I know it’ll never be the same again,” Willow moans. The song is a vortex of obsession, with a fast beat, a guitar-like fingerpicking pattern (from Paramore’s “Never Let This Go”), and vocals that ripple out in echoes and wordless syllables like PinkPantheress ( breath) and Willow (desperate and dramatic). ) stir up all the possibilities of separation, confrontation and the wish for a reunion. Talk

Laura Veirs has been a staple in folk-rock since the beginning, but over the past few years she has gone through many personal and professional changes. Shortly before the pandemic, she divorced longtime collaborator Tucker Martine, who had produced several of her albums — including 2020’s “My Echo,” which was partly about their split. Her next album “Found Light”, scheduled for July 8, is her first album without Martine and the first that she has co-produced herself. Veirs sounds rightly invigorated and inspired by lead single “Winter Windows,” an anxious, guitar-driven meditation on motherhood and moving on. “I used to watch them watch you light up every room,” she sings, gritty resilience in her voice. “Now it’s up to me to choose the lighting I can do.” ZOLADZ

On London band Sorry’s lovely “There So Many People That Want to Be Loved,” Asha Lorenz sings with the kind of sweet, earnest ingenuity that Mo Tucker brought to the Velvet Underground’s “After Hours.” “Seeing them in nightclubs, barking against walls, head in hands in toilets,” she notes of all the lonely people she observes. But as the song gradually transitions from modest to epic, “There Are So Many People” becomes less of a lament and more of a celebration of common human desire – a feeling to be cherished and, ironically, shared. ZOLADZ

It’s been four years since Chicago R&B singer Ravyn Lenae released her EP “Crush,” a Steve Lacy-produced release that stitched her giddy vocals with funky bass lines and delicious electro-soul textures. For “MIA,” her first single from her debut album “Hypnos,” Lenae teams up with producer Sango for something a little more airy. Above a dynamic and syncopated Afrobeats production, a brilliant synth expands and contracts under Lenae’s airy falsetto, as she coos to finally do it: “I’m going to run the city, there’s nothing on my way.” HERRERA

“Is it easy to start over? Ruth Radelet ponders the chorus of her debut solo single, and it’s safe to assume it’s an autobiographical sentiment. For nearly two decades, Radelet was the lead singer of whimsical electro-pop group Chromatics, which disbanded last summer amid drama surrounding a mysterious (and perhaps nonexistent) final album. On the glassy and synthesized “Crimes”, Radelet seems ready to wipe the slate clean. The verses have a bit of a steely bite (“I know what they tell me is true / I know I could never be like you”), but the lush chorus is awash in its signature, dreamy melancholy. ZOLADZ

Helado Negro’s music may be dreamy and twilight, but don’t confuse his songs with mere lullabies. “Ya No Estoy Aquí”, his latest single, revisits the celestial twists and turns that have defined his work: smooth, pulsating drum loops and oscillating, resonant synths. The Ecuadorian-American artist sings of isolation and melancholy alongside the harmonic melodies of Chicago singer-songwriter Kaina. “Ojalá me estoy volviendo loco/Por lo menos tengo con quien puedo hablar/alucinaciones,” he intones (“I hope I’m going crazy/At least I have someone to talk to/Hallucinations”). Beneath this soothing exterior, Helado Negro’s music holds a special power: the ability to engage difficult feelings. HERRERA

Los Angeles songwriter Lou Roy regularly juggles between euphoria and disillusionment. Her debut album, ‘Pure Chaos’, is due out April 29, and in ‘UDID’ – ‘You don’t I don’t’ – she probes a relationship that seems on the verge of cracking. “I still want you here / But I’m starting to get the deal,” she sings. The track, which she co-produced with Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin, has an upbeat 4/4 pop sound, but certain sonic elements — vocals, keyboards, guitar chords — linger like trails, hinting that the romance is a little off. – already be a memory. Talk

On a busy day in 1973, Columbia Records dropped every jazz musician from its roster besides Miles Davis. Bassist and composer Charles Mingus (whose 100th birthday would have been on Friday) was among them. Just like Ornette Coleman, Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans. But a few months earlier, the label had arranged for a performance by Mingus’ new sextet to be recorded at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. The tapes were eventually shelved. They will finally be released on Saturday, Record Store Day, as the three-disc set “The Lost Album From Ronnie Scott’s.” On “The Man Who Never Sleeps”, Mingus is illuminated by the ancient virtuosity of young trumpeter and Dizzy Gillespie protege Jon Faddis, just 19 years old, who has just joined the group. Just before Columbia affixes a final symbolic seal on an entire generation of jazz, we hear the passing of the torch. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

“Freedom is too close to slavery for us to be quiet with this imprisoned imagination,” says poet and theorist Fred Moten in a coolly controlled voice, speaking over the rustle of Gerald Cleaver’s drums and the dark pull of Brandon López’s open bass strings. There’s a doom-metal energy here, and Sun Ra’s relationship to darkness – as a substance. López clings to the high strings for a moment at the end of Moten’s phrase, aware that the thought needs time to settle and land, then returns to the root of the minor key. Over the past 20 years, Moten has become perhaps the foremost black performance thinker, writing volumes of poetry and the theory that dance with the ways in which diasporic expression resists definition and capture. ‘The Abolition of Art’ is the first track from a new album, ‘Moten/López/Cleaver’, putting that commitment straight to music and sacrificing none of its complexity or spirit. RUSSONELLO

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