Billie Eilish’s Portrait of Energy Abuse, and 11 Extra New Songs

Cozy, immaculate Laurel Canyon-style acoustic guitars accompany Billie Eilish as she whispers, “Try not to abuse your strength.” Then she outlines a creepy, controlling, exploitative, and possibly illegal relationship. The quiet damn accusations pile up: “You said she thought she was your age / How dare you?” Meanwhile, in the video she made, an anaconda slowly contracts around her. JON PARELES

The return of Willow – daughter of Will and Jada – is lively, airy pop-punk that throbs famous children with a very special kind of agony. She beats up deceptive ex-friends (and maybe some current ones as well) who “smile on my face and then put your cigarette on my back”. JON CARAMANICA

Whatever pops, Girl in Red – Norwegian songwriter Marie Ulven – can use it. In “Serotonin” from her new album “If I Could Do It Quiet” she sings about trying to stabilize her wildly lashing, self-destructive emotions with therapy and medication: “Can’t hide from the corners of my mind / I’m afraid of what’s inside, ”she proclaims. The music ranges from punk-pop guitars to EDM crescendos to bass drops, from distorted rapping to ringing choruses. PARELES

It is perhaps the strongest testimony to DJ Khaled’s A&R expertise that he opts for the infinite on an album of shiny cameos from Megan Thee Stallion and Lil Baby and contemplative older moments from Nas and Jay-Z charismatic and immensely famous to include Cardi B on “Big Paper,” a song that sounds like she’s knocking on an old DITC beat. It is relentless, sharp-tongued and smooth: “House with the palm trees for all times when I was shaded.” CARAMANICA

The power of “If You Care” does not lie in the conventional presentation of texts like “If you care, you get a little closer.” It lies in the persistent rhythmic shift from top to bottom: the way in which the beat, bass line, vocals and rhythm guitar each suggest a different downbeat increases the disorientation from bottom to top. They are only aligned when the singing turns into rapping in the end. it had to end somewhere. PARELES

If you didn’t know better, you’d think young country singer Priscilla Block was always grim, the sum of one bad decision after another. That’s the mood on their impressive debut EP, which is robust, shamelessly pop-oriented and full of songs about regrets like “Sad Girls Do Sad Things”:

Don’t get me wrong, I love a beer on a Friday
But lately I’ve been more at the bar than at my place
One more lap to turn it off
Two went too far for one

Block has a clear and expressive voice, and she telegraphs the fear well. But this EP skips the loud cheers and hot twinks of their groundbreaking single “Thick Thighs”. That said, there’s more to Block’s story than just heartbreak. CARAMANICA

The youthful pop songwriter and producer Brye Sebring lolls through the rubble of an overly long relationship in “I would rather be alone”. Everything is clear: their diction, their rhymes and the pinging syncopations of an arrangement that ranges from individual keyboard tones to percussion and hand clapping to harmonies going back and forth. “I doubt you’ll even bother hearing this song,” she notes, another good reason to break free. PARELES

The drama never stops building in “Swimmer” from the upcoming album “Mythopoetics” by Half Waif: electronics-driven songwriter Nandi Rose Plunkett. It’s a song about eternal love – “they can’t take that away from me,” she swears – that evolves from a fearful rhythmic pulse to a chord hymn, all larger than life. PARELES

Well-known bassist Christian McBride has just released “The Q Sessions”, a collection of three songs that he recorded in high definition for Qobuz, an audiophile streaming platform. The EP contains three top-class improvising musicians who, like McBride, already play their instruments in HD: saxophonist Marcus Strickland, guitarist Mike Stern and drummer Eric Harland. The group chases McBride’s syncopated bass line through the ever-changing funk of “Brouhaha,” which he clearly wrote with Stern – and his roots in the playful fusion scene of the 1980s – in mind. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

The singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu draws on jazz, Asian music and much more. Her new album “Zero Grasses: Ritual for the Losses” reflects loss, memory and perseverance. It begins with “Living’s a Gift,” a series of songs with lyrics written by middle school students during the pandemic: “We’ve lost our minds, lost our time to shine.” The music is awesome and resilient; Shyu leads her jazzy quintet Jade Tongue and transforms her voice into a playful, intricately contrapuntal choir that folds up angular phrases as neatly as origami. PARELES

Elusive English electronics producer Burial has re-emerged and shared a four-track EP, “Shock Power of Love”, with producer Blackdown. “Space Cadet” suggests a post-pandemic optimism – a brisk club beat, arpeggiators pumping out big chords, voices calling for “take me higher” – but Burial shrouds everything in static and echo-like darkness and leaves the beat repeatedly collapse until the track falls back into the void. PARELES

As she was preparing to make her upcoming album “Umbral”, Sofía Rei made her way through Chile’s mountainous province of Elqui. She brought a charango and two backpacks full of recording equipment; As she traveled, she recorded herself playing and singing, as well as the chattering noises of the natural world around her. The album begins with “La Otra”, which will be released as a single on Friday and on the Rei will set a poem by the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral to music. Flutes flutter over bouncing synth basses, a stop-and-start beat and jingling charango, while Rei’s overplayed voice harmonizes with itself in violent exclamations and hits the sky like a flame. RUSSONELLO

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.