A Thrilling, Rediscovered Nina Simone Set, and 9 More New Songs

just a week later play Supporting James Meredith’s College at Historic Black Togaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi march to terrorOn July 2, 1966, at the Newport Jazz Festival, Nina Simone was on fire as she strode across the stage to perform to a very different audience. Her interactions with the bourgeois New Englanders in Newport were anything but warm. Midway through a pickled version of “Blues for Mama,” she brushes them off—”I guess you’re not ready for that,”—and then shuts them up. “shut up shut up”. But she puts all her biting words into the performance, especially on her “Mississippi Goddam.” She released the song for the first time in her 1964 and felt that two years later the song was still as popular as ever. Meredith had just been shot while marching in Mississippi, sparking unrest in black red-light districts across the country.At Newport University, she modified one of her poems to refer to the oppression of black communities in Los Angeles: “I’m so irritated because of Alabama/and Watt It’s keeping me from resting/We all know about Mississippi, damn it! The entire Newport performance was made available for the first time as an album titled You’ve Got to Learn. It’s captivating, her heartbreaking, and a reminder of how much Simone still mourns.Giovanni Russonero

Snow Allegra sings about the inability to let go of feelings of helplessness on the slow, rolling “Be My Summer.” She confessed, “I can’t change her mind/I tried to get ahead of her, but I’m here where I left off.” The song begins with a complex voice, some in tune, some in deviation, then returns with a never-unanimous chorus, alluding to the anxiety behind her plea to “protect me from the rain.”John Pareles

British R&B songwriter Ama Lou dictates, “Bring silence until you start hearing sounds,” in a song that veers between sadness and malice. The production isn’t quiet, but it feels sparse and empty. Her vocals spill over her two chords hinted at by sustained bass and a hollow stop-start drum beat. Bursting with a vocal melody reminiscent of Janet Jackson in her prime, Ama Lou mixes her accusations and regrets, making it clear she’s no traitor. “I think you were pretty sure you were going to be okay,” she sings, trembling in disbelief.parel

“Looking back at my life, all I could see was that you weren’t coming back,” sings a subtly confused Damon Albarn at the beginning of “The Ballad,” a clear highlight of Blur’s new album, The Ballad of Darren. Guitarist Graham Coxon’s lush backing vocals and drummer Dave Rauntree’s punchy percussion give it a floating feel, while layers of sonic detail give “The Ballad” a sort of dreamy, weightless feel.Lindsay Zoraz

Filipino-British songwriter beabadoobee keeps a light touch while singing in a whisper about crumbling relationships like “The Way Things Go.” Her bouncy, folky guitar picking accompanies her, and the romance, she claims, is just “a distant memory of what I once knew.” But then she gets to the point of accusation–“I didn’t expect you to stoop so much”–while the distant orchestra of galloping flutes floats around her, providing a fantastic backdrop for her sharp indifference.parel

Before Bon Iver, Justin Vernon was a member of DeYarmond Edison, who also included Brad Cook, Phil Cook and Joe Westerland, who would go on to form the band Megaphone. Recorded in 2005 and 2006, “Epoch” is the title track of the forthcoming box set and heralds Bon Iver. The song is a cautious ballad of resignation, with cryptic lyrics that ponder death and technology. “Out with the old with the new / Wavelengths rest at their nodal points.”parel

In 2002, The Mountain Goats (then Jon Daniel’s solo project) released All Hail West Texas, one of the most beloved albums in their vast catalog. This is a collection of poignant portraits shoved into a boombox accompanied by a hurriedly played acoustic guitar. More than 20 years later, with a full band, Darniel will revisit the same characters on their next album, Jenny from Thebe. His first single, the vibrant “Clean Slate”, suggests he has no intention of returning to his previous album’s lo-fi sound. The new song has the grandeur of rock opera and the brightness of 70s AM radio. The lyrics are full of closely observed despair and stubborn glimmers of hope. So classic Darnielle. “It’s still not light outside when they get in the van,” he sings. “Remember at your peril. Forget what you can forget.”

There are worse things than running out of space on your phone full of photos of your ex. But that’s the situation with “Ojitos Rojos” (“Little Red Eyes”), the latest collaboration by Mexican-American band Grupo Frontera from Texas. This time it’s a collaboration with another cumbia band from Argentina, Que Personajes. To a hooting accordion and a clip-crop cumbia beat, the singers exchange complaints about maxed-out memory capacity and lingering stalker-like devotion. “Even if you say no to me and deceive yourself with another baby/I know I’m the love of your life,” sings Emmanuelle Noir of Que Personajes.Is it a heartache or can cloud her storage help?Parel

One beat, three big names and SEO-optimized titles make up ‘K-Pop’. This is a calculated round of boasts and characters by Travis Scott, Bad Bunny and The Weeknd. Produced by behind-the-scenes hitmakers like Bynx, Boi-1da, Illangelo and Jahaan Sweet, the track alludes to a breezy Nigerian Afrobeat, spurring three different topline strategies. Travis Scott is quick, percussive and melodically narrow. Big Bunny jumps and moans. Persistent, moody and brand loyal, The Weeknd sings, “Mix the pain with drugs,” and promises energetic, alienated sex. Like K-pop, hooks are flaunted and thrown aside when new hooks come along.parel

Since the late 1990s, Texas band Explosions in the Sky have relied on patterns, textures and dynamics to make up for the absence of lyrics, playing instrumental rock, or “post-rock.” “Ten Billion People” is his one of those perfectly paced wordless stories. It starts out clockwork and skeletal, builds up with keyboards and guitars, seesaws with a stereo dueling drum kit, pauses the beat, and then rebuilds towards something more majestic and reassuring. It’s minimal yet dramatic.parel

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