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Romeo Santos’ melodramatic return, and 13 more new songs


By Jon Pareles, Jon Caramanica, Isabelia Herrera and Giovanni Russonello


Romeo Santos, ‘Sus Huellas’

“Sus Huellas,” the first single from Romeo Santos’ forthcoming fifth solo album, “Formula, Vol. 3,” finds him reprising the bleeding-heart theatrics he’s known for, recalling the kind of cortavenas (roughly, “wrist cutting”) torment of bachata classics. This time, the genre’s white-pants-wearing, antics-obsessed lover boy is trying to recover from the despair of a lost love, and the melodrama is in overdrive: “Come, pull out my veins/Because the plasma inside of me has the poison of her love,” he sings. “And take this lighter, I want you to burn my lips/Eliminate the taste of her tongue, which did me harm.” It’s not all tradition though; Santos drops in an EDM interlude that will have uptown clubs losing it.

— ISABELIA HERRERA



Jack Harlow, ‘Nail Tech’

Last year Jack Harlow went to No. 1 as the guest on Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby,” and he’s learned something from that experience. “Nail Tech” has echoes of that song’s horns, and Harlow approaches the beat similarly, with imagistic rapping — “You ain’t one of my dogs, why do you hound us?” — and a confidence that makes this song sound like a victory lap.

— JON CARAMANICA



C. Tangana, Omar Montes, Daviles de Novelda and Canelita, ‘La Culpa’

Spanish singer-rapper C. Tangana gets top billing on “La Culpa” (“The Blame”), a song added to the deluxe version of his 2021 Latin Grammy-winning album “El Madrileño.” But except for a brief, vulnerable bridge, he spends most of the song merged in harmony with three other singers who are more robust and closer to flamenco — Omar Montes, Daviles de Novelda and the especially gutsy Canelita — while rock drums and electric guitars join flamenco handclaps to pace the song. While the lyrics profess guilt and regret, they’re delivered with jolly camaraderie, suggesting that male bonding can easily overcome pangs of conscience.

— JON PARELES



Tame Impala, ‘The Boat I Row’

Kevin Parker, aka the one-man studio band Tame Impala, took so long to release his 2020 album, “The Slow Rush,” that of course he had outtakes. “The Boat I Row” is from his collection “The Slow Rush B-Sides and Remixes.” It shares the album’s stately, logy, time-warped sound — psychedelically phased drums playing a hip-hop beat, multitracked vocal harmonies suggesting both the Beatles and ELO — and its thoughts about dogged persistence. “Even if it takes a hundred thousand goes/The way’s in front of me ’cause that’s the one I chose,” Parker sings, at once diffident and determined.

— JON PARELES



Flock of Dimes, ‘Pure Love’

Jenn Wasner, who records as Flock of Dimes, ponders unsatisfied desire — material and emotional — in “Pure Love,” recorded with producer Nick Sanborn from Sylvan Esso: “I keep dreaming of a better moment,” she sings. She’s surrounded by looped voices and instruments, with ricocheting programmed beats that hit like 1980s drums; she sounds like she’ll persist.

— JON PARELES



Asa, ‘Ocean’

The songwriter Asa has forged a long career in Nigeria, singing about adversity and conflict as well as romance. But “Ocean” is pure affection. Asa is about to release her fifth studio album, “V,” and “Ocean” distills the ways Nigerian Afrobeats exalts minimalism. The percussion is just a few syncopated taps, the bass lines are only two or three notes and Asa’s breathy voice floats with professions of pure devotion: “Boy, you are the ocean,” she coos, and everything about the song promises bliss.

— JON PARELES



Yeat featuring Young Thug, ‘Outsidë’

Two generations of surrealists in one liquid pool of syllables. Yeat is still swooning over abstraction, and Young Thug, several years older, has learned how to form word-like shapes while still seeming to melt in real time.

— JON CARAMANICA



Sigurd Hole, ‘The Presentation Dance’

Like so many, the Norwegian bassist Sigurd Hole — a nimble-fingered player and a composer of sonically expansive, thoughtfully paced music — has been overcome with dismay at the fast-worsening climate crisis. Like too few, in the face of it he’s sought out wisdom and theory from non-industrialized societies. “The Presentation Dance” comes from his newest album, “Roraima,” which he made after reading “The Falling Sky,” a book by the Yanomami shaman and mouthpiece Davi Kopenawa. The rain-like pitter-patter of a marimba interacts with a small corps of strings, playing fluid and intertwined melodies that sometimes fall into a pizzicato repartee with the marimba’s mallets.

— GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO



Ed Sheeran featuring Bring Me the Horizon, ‘Bad Habits’

Last week Ed Sheeran released a new version of his song “The Joker and the Queen,” accompanied by Taylor Swift. Pfft. Predictably pretty. Plain. This is more like it. “Bad Habits” is maybe Sheeran’s most anodyne pop hit, and this version, which is theatrically stomped all over by the British metalcore band Bring Me the Horizon, rescues it, recalling the essential and overlooked “Punk Goes Pop” compilation series.

— JON CARAMANICA



Frontperson, ‘Parade’

Frontperson is the indie-rock duo of Kathryn Calder, from the New Pornographers, and Mark Hamilton, from Woodpigeon. Blooping, calliope-like keyboard arpeggios and layers of nonsense-syllable vocals give “Parade” a blithe, circusy tone as Calder and Hamilton sing about anticipation, connection and disconnection, accepting it all: “Sometimes you’re left/Sometimes you leave.”

— JON PARELES



Ambar Lucid, ‘Dead Leaves’

Ambar Lucid’s music bottles youthful longing. The 21-year-old, whose debut album, “Garden of Lucid,” collected stories about escape and radical self-acceptance, seems to know exactly how to stir the soul. “Should I even bother letting anybody know how I feel?” she wonders on “Dead Leaves.” It’s soft winter balladry that contains all the pain and promise of the change of seasons.

— ISABELIA HERRERA



Hurray for the Riff Raff, ‘Jupiter’s Dance’

“Jupiter’s Dance” is from the newly released “Life on Earth,” the seventh album Alynda Segarra has made as Hurray for the Riff Raff. The new songs contemplate the natural world and humanity’s toll on it. “Jupiter’s Dance” is a quasi-mystical reassurance — “Celestial children coming through/You never know who you’ll become” — with a glimmering bell tones and an undercurrent of Puerto Rican bomba, a brief benediction.

— JON PARELES



Javon Jackson featuring Nikki Giovanni, ‘Night Song’

Poet Nikki Giovanni selected the repertoire for “The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni,” a new album by the strapping tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson that explores the lineage of Black American spirituals and hymns. But her voice appears on only one track, and it’s the one that’s not a church melody: “Night Song.” Rather that recite her own poetry, Giovanni sings this ode to unbelonging — a favorite of her old friend Nina Simone — with wistful conviction, picking up where Jackson’s gentle treatment of the melody leaves off. Her voice crinkles up on the high notes but loses none of its gravitas or tenderness as she sings: “Music, by the lonely sung/When you can’t help wondering:/Where do I belong?”

— GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO



Chris Dingman, ‘Silently Beneath the Waves’

For the vibraphonist Chris Dingman, solo playing was becoming central to his practice even before the pandemic hit. Since then, it’s been his primary mode, and he’s increasingly sought to use the big, chiming instrument as a vehicle for transcendence. That pursuit has guided him into a close study of a far tinier instrument: the mbira, a thumb piano with spiritual applications across southern Africa. On “Silently Beneath the Waves” — the opener to a new album of solo performances, “Journeys Vol. 1” — you can hear evidence of that research, as he repeats fetching, hypnotizing patterns that pull you into their force field before gradually giving way to a different shape.

— GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

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