H.E.R.’s Soulful Suspicions, and 11 Extra New Songs

HER (Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson) has a rich understanding of soul and R&B history, aided by her old school musicality as a singer, guitarist and keyboardist. On their new album “Back of My Mind” there are 21 songs, but most of them cling to a narrow palette: ballad tempo, two-chord vamps, narrowed melody lines. “Cheat Code” is still a ballad, but a bit more extensive. The narrator grapples with a partner’s infidelity – “What you’ve done is probably something I disagree with” – and warns, “You have to get your story right.” The arrangement blossomed from acoustic guitar to silent studio band, with wind chimes and horns, only to get thinner again and leave her alone with all her concerns with only backup voices and a few piano tones. JON PARELES

An insightful look at how some relationships become places of push and pull, one promise being exchanged for another, one disappointment giving way to the next. “Sober & Skinny” is lonely and sad (despite some slightly melodic borrowings from Rihanna’s “Umbrella”), the story of two people who are bound by their habits and to each other and how that can be the same: “I empty the fridge, you empty it Bottle / we stack a mountain of hard pills that we have to swallow. ”JON CARAMANICA

The music is methodical and transparent: percussion constantly ticking, grumbling piano chords, spindly high guitar interjections, a melody line that hardly moves. But Aldous Harding’s intention and demeanor remain cheerful, persistent, fascinatingly opaque. “Old bowl, no deal / I won’t speak if you call me baby”, she sings completely expressionless and enjoys the distance. PARELES

Yves Tumor, the indescribable and daring experimentalist, pays Prince his reverence again in “Jackie”, another endeavor in masterful rock that clings to devastating greatness. Using gender-neutral pronouns, Tumor takes on the role of a tormented ringleader who leads the audience into their surreal world of sexual and musical provocation. One almost overlooks the reality of the song: a complaint about the end of the relationship, in which the agony of tumors makes eating and sleeping difficult. “Those days were tragic,” they lament, longing for the possibility of a return to the biological rhythms of their bodies and the promise of being whole again one day. ISABELIA HERRERA

A return to croaking boasting for Tyler, the creator, over a beat that heavily samples “2 Cups of Blood” from Gravediggaz’s dark gothic debut album. Tyler’s boasting takes the shimmering aesthetic excess that Pharrell once celebrated and gives it a bitter note: “Rolls-Royce pull up, Black boy hop out”; “Salad-colored emerald on your finger, the size of croutons”; a credit card that “really can’t get the most out of it”. It’s an attitude he’s earned:

That’s my nuance, used to be the weirdo
She used to laugh at me, listen to me with closed ears
He used to treat me like the boy Malcolm in the middle
Now I’m zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero


Stiff Pap is an electronic duo from Johannesburg: producer Jakinda and rapper and singer Ayema Probllem. On “Riders on the Storm” they are joined by the Soweto band BCUC (Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness), who add harsh voices and percussion salvos to both deepen and destabilize a track that is already distorted and sly. In the midst of humming, bouncing keyboard lines and restless drumming, the song addresses, among other things, the eternal pursuit and fear of social media, doubled by music that is constantly moving underfoot. PARELES

A false start, a piano hook on tiptoe, a video about a golf course invasion: With “Diri” the Bronx rapper Chucky73 put together an easy home run. The chubby, radiant Lothario shines here, his gossip-loving personality is only reinforced by his self-confident, nimble baritone and punch lines about the booty of his success: “En do ‘año’ me hice rico / El dinero me tiene bonito.” I get rich, ”he says. “The money makes me look cute.” HERRERA

Elsewhere on her debut EP “Baby Goat”, Young Devyn draws on her Trinidadian roots and soca singer past, and also plays with Brooklyn drill music. But on “Like This” she only raps – pointed, nimble, rolling her eyes: “I don’t even talk to my Pops / How the hell would you think I would talk to my exes?” CARAMANICA

Cochemea Gastelum, the saxophonist of the soul and funk band Dap-Kings, claims his legacy for “Baca Sewa Vol II”, his upcoming solo album. “Mimbreños” is named after its ancestors from the Mimbres Valley in New Mexico. It’s a call-and-answer, its saxophone melody is answered by a vocal la-las, carried by a calm six-beat percussion. Then a marimba with offbeats delivers a vamp for Cochemea’s saxophone improvisations, supported by biting electronic timbres. It’s untraditional, but it feels ingrained. PARELES

Leon Bridges, the Texas-based singer whose voice traces back to Sam Cooke, investigates his misfortune in “Why Don’t You Touch Me” while a lover’s desire subsides. A patient beat and meager electric guitar chords accompany him as he asks, apologizes, complains and begs. “Don’t leave me unfulfilled out here, because we’re slowly losing the connection,” he says, desperately longing for physical exertion. PARELES

“Westward Bound!”, A collection of never-before-released concert recordings from the early to mid-1960s in the Penthouse Club in Seattle, offers the opportunity to review Harold Land’s overlooked career. A coolly expressive tenor saxophonist, Land left his mark on bands led by Max Roach and Clifford Brown and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, but his own career as a bandleader was never entirely ruined. In a way, “Happily Dancing / Deep Harmonies Falling”, an original from Land, is the epitome of hard bop: the swing feeling in waltz beat, caught between elegance and weight; the collaboration between Land and trumpeter Carmell Jones; the mixture of hard blues play and balladic poetry. But what sets this recording apart is Land and its way of articulating each note with just enough restraint and shrewd timing to draw you closer. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Clarinetist Ben Goldberg arranged “Everything Happens to Be.” In such a way that everyone plays a leading role in his quintet. Guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek and saxophonist Ellery Eskelin all carry different melodic parts, while drummer Tomas Fujiwara pushes things forward with a light note and reflects Formanek’s cadence without straining him. RUSSONELLO

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