Kamasi Washington Blasts Into a Fresh Era, and 13 More New Songs

Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at [email protected] and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage.

Kamasi Washington, ‘The Garden Path’ (Live on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’)

The Los Angeles-based saxophonist and spiritual-jazz revivalist Kamasi Washington, 40, made his American late-night TV debut this week, performing on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” With over a dozen instrumentalists and singers arrayed around him onstage, all draped in desert whites and golds, he presented a new composition, “The Garden Path.” Washington’s basic musical components haven’t changed since the release of “The Epic,” his breakout album: polyrhythmic funk and rock beats; a full blast of horns over a meaty rhythm section; scant harmonic or melodic movement in the song’s theme. The biggest source of magnetism here came from downstage right: It’s the voice of Dwight Trible, a Los Angeles jazz fixture, whose lush baritone carries the plangent lyrics in harmony with Patrice Quinn: “Bright minds with dark eyes/Speak loud words, tell sweet lies/Lost without a trace of a way/To get out of this misery.” GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Koffee, ‘Pull Up’

The Jamaican firebrand Koffee, who made history as the youngest person and first woman to win a Grammy for best reggae album in 2020, has good reason to arrive triumphantly on “Pull Up,” the beatific new single from her long-awaited debut album, “Gifted,” due March 25. A liquid beat from the masterful British-Ghanian producer Jae5 trickles between Afrobeats and reggae; in the video, Koffee grins from ear to ear, mouth full of braces, as she leans out of the window of a drifting car and lets the barbs flow: “Zero to a hundred in two/Yeah, so me flex pon you.” ISABELIA HERRERA

Machine Gun Kelly featuring Willow, ‘Emo Girl’

A love song in which both MGK and Willow bemoan falling for the emo girl who’s just out of reach, sulkily celebrating her the way songs in the 1950s serenaded the prom queen. If this doesn’t inspire and soundtrack a Netflix awkward-teen meet-cute rom-com by this time next year I’m canceling my subscription! JON CARAMANICA

Lucy Dacus, ‘Kissing Lessons’

The songs on Lucy Dacus’s 2021 album, “Home Video,” revisited childhood memories, many of them fraught with difficult self-discoveries. “Kissing Lessons” is more cheerful. It’s a two-minute pop-punk reminiscence of being in second grade and learning to kiss from a girl who was a year older, sharing childish thoughts about what grown-up romance would be: a fond, brief, revelatory interlude. PARELES

Tate McRae, ‘She’s All I Wanna Be’

Tate McRae has a dry, wiry voice that’s well suited to this convincingly mopey and skittish punk-pop thumper about envy: “If you say she’s nothing to worry about/then why’d you close your eyes when you said it out loud?” CARAMANICA

Sasami, ‘Call Me Home’

With each single she releases from her upcoming album “Squeeze,” the Los Angeles artist Sasami Ashworth shows off another subgenre of rock that she can pull off with effortless and idiosyncratic style. “Say It” was an industrial banger, “Skin a Rat” flirted with metal and “The Greatest” indulged in some slow-burning garage rock. Her latest, “Call Me Home,” is a lush, nostalgic blast of AM-radio psychedelia, suggesting that she’s not yet done revealing the many sides of her eclectic talent. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Arlo Parks, ‘Softly’

The track cruises along easily, with a light boom-bap beat, a sprinkling of piano notes, leisurely guitar chords and a canopy of strings. Arlo Parks tries to keep her voice nonchalant. But she’s all too aware that her romance is ending: “Has something changed? Have I just missed the memo?” She’s shattered, and all she can do is beg her lover to “Break it to me softly.” PARELES

Kassi Ashton, ‘Dates in Pickup Trucks’

A gifted soul vocalist hiding out in country music, Kassi Ashton sings with resonant wistfulness on “Dates in Pickup Trucks,” a lovely breeze of a song about what to do when there’s absolutely nothing to do. CARAMANICA

Obongjayar, ‘Try’

Obongjayar is Steven Umoh, who was born in Nigeria and moved to London in his teens. He won’t be pinned down; “Try,” from his debut album due in May, jump-cuts among spacious, quasi-orchestral ambience to gently crooned electronic R&B to deep-growl toasting to a big, yearning chorus with an Afrobeats undertow. “All we do is try,” he sings, and there’s palpable ambition in every stylistic leap. PARELES

My Idea, ‘Cry Mfer’

My Idea is a duo of two prolific New York-based indie musicians who also happen to be friends: Nate Amos of the experimental dance band Water for Your Eyes, and Lily Konigsberg of the art-rockers Palberta (who also released an excellent solo album, “Lily We Need to Talk Now,” late last year). “Cry Mfer,” from a forthcoming album of the same name, is less confrontational than its title might suggest, revolving around a looping, hypnotic track and Konigsberg’s reflections on a collapsing relationship: “I could be the one that makes you cry, I could be the one that makes you — ouch.” ZOLADZ

Illuminati Hotties, ‘Sandwich Sharer’

To describe the genre of her eclectic project Illuminati Hotties — or perhaps just to thumb her nose at the absurdity of genre itself — Sarah Tudzin coined a term: “tenderpunk.” “Sandwich Sharer,” her latest one-off single, oscillates restlessly between those two adjectives. At first it seems like this song will showcase the softer side of Illuminati Hotties: “Restarted kissing,” she begins over a dramatically strummed, slow-motion chord. But before the listener can gain footing at that tempo, Tudzin suddenly kicks the song into a spunky gallop, punctuated by her humorously offbeat lyrics (“You thought I was bleeding but that’s just my spit!”). Tudzin often paints vivid and lifelike portraits of modern human relationships, and the shape-shifting nature of “Sandwich Sharer” captures the feel of one that’s constantly in flux. ZOLADZ

Whatever the Weather, ‘17ºC’

Whatever the Weather is a new pseudonym for the English electronic musician Loraine James, who thrives on concocting dance-floor rhythms that she skews with gaps, interjections and disorienting shifts of texture. “17ºC” — from a coming album of tracks named after temperatures — ratchets up a beat from hisses, thumps, boops and blips, but continually disassembles and reformulates it: with hollows of reverb, with street and party noises, with disembodied vocal syllables, with clusters of keyboard tones and with sudden drum-machine salvos. The pulse persists, even when it’s only implied. PARELES

Ayver, ‘Reconciliación Con la Vida’

For nearly two decades, the Peruvian label Buh Records has showcased the esoteric and avant-garde sounds of Latin America, from forgotten electroacoustic legends of the ’70s to contemporary noise artists. That mission returns in its latest release, a compilation of new faces in the Peruvian electronic scene. “Reconciliación Con la Vida,” its standout, bottles a wide spectrum of emotional textures. Lying somewhere between profound tragedy and wistful wonder, tender piano keys and sweeping string crescendos bleed into trembling beauty. It is intimate but heart-rending, like the soft caress of a lover you may never see again. HERRERA

Peter Brötzmann, Milford Graves, William Parker, ‘Historic Music Past Tense Future, Side C’

“Historic Music Past Tense Future” is the first in a planned series of albums on the Black Editions Archive label that will exhume previously unreleased live recordings of Milford Graves, the drummer and polymath who died last year amid a late-career re-emergence. This is the first album featuring Graves alongside the saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and the bassist William Parker — all lions of the avant-garde. The third of four freely improvised, quarter-hour-long tracks, “Side C” starts as a quiet conversation between Graves and Parker, then gets lit up by Brötzmann’s tone-smashing saxophone. Midway through, Graves guides things back down to a simmer, Brötzmann drops out, and Parker begins to play a repetitive, rhythmic drone, almost like something you’d hear in Gnawa ritual. Stroking his deeply resonant, hand-altered drums, Graves brings the energy back up slowly by playing around Parker’s plucks, adding rhythms that keep his drone dancing. RUSSONELLO

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