Mavis Staples and Levon Helm’s Last Show, and 12 More New Songs

Back in 2011, Mavis Staples and her band visited Woodstock, NY, to perform at the barn-studio-theater of the Band’s drummer Levon Helm; they had appeared together at the Band’s “The Last Waltz,” in 1976. Helm’s band joined hers, which included her sister Yvonne Staples on backup vocals, and they recorded the show. More than a decade later, an album, “Carry Me Home,” is due May 20. Staples gave “You Got to Move,” a gospel standard, her full contralto commitment; The guitarists Rick Holmstrom and Larry Campbell traded blues twang and bluegrassy runs. It was just another good-timey show in two long careers, but it would be their last together; Helm died in 2012. JON PARELES

Nostalgia is not a concept often associated with Pusha T; even when he’s mining his coke-dealing past for material (and best believe, he usually is), his rhymes have the vivid immediacy of the present tense. But the classic, Old-Kanye production heard on “Dreamin of the Past” — revolving around a sped-up sample of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” — gives the song a halcyon glow that’s playfully at odds with his unrepentant flow. As ever, on this highlight from his latest solo album “It’s Almost Dry,” Push’s lyrics pop with poetic detail (“We hollowed the walls in back of bodegas”) and riotous cleverness: At one point, he boasts of keeping people “on the bikes like Amblin.” LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Robot love, funky bass lines, Rauw Alejandro’s head in a refrigerator: Welcome to Shakira and the Puerto Rican reggaeton star’s first collaboration. “Te Felicito” is a bitter send-off to a paramour whose love has been a charade that marries some of the superstars’ signature gifts: the Colombian singer’s eccentric choreography and Rauw’s penchant for funk-infused reggaeton. The Shak stamp of approval is a sought-after trophy for young artists ascending the ranks of the industry — just another sign that Alejandro is here to stay in all his freaky glory. ISABELIA HERRERA

Marijuana anthems abound on April 20. Here’s a lighter-than-smoke one from Nigeria, sung by the always-masked female songwriter Midas the Jagaban and a guest, Liya. The tapping, airborne polyrhythms of Afrobeats, topped by labyrinthine echoed vocals, provide just enough propulsion and haze as the women declare, “Whatever I do/I do it better when I smoke my marijuana.” PARELES

To capture the way a breakup can upend everything, PinkPantheress enlisted two beat experts — Skrillex and Mura Masa — to share production on “Where You Are,” along with Willow (Smith), who delivers full-throated hooks. They sing about the limbo between wanting to move on and longing to stay together: “I know it will never be the same,” Willow wails. The song is a vortex of obsession, with a brisk beat, a fingerpicking pattern (sampled from Paramore’s “Never Let This Go”) and vocals that diffuse into echoes and wordless syllables as PinkPantheress (breathy) and Willow (desperate and dramatic) toss around all the possibilities of separation, confrontation and wishing for a reunion. PARELES

Laura Veirs has been a folk-rock fixture since the early aughts, but over the past few years she’s experienced a great deal of personal and professional change. Shortly before the pandemic, she divorced her longtime collaborator Tucker Martine, who had produced many of her albums — including “My Echo” from 2020, which was partially about their split. Her forthcoming album “Found Light,” due July 8, is her first album without Martine and the first she co-produced herself. Veirs sounds fittingly reinvigorated and inspired on the lead single “Winter Windows,” an antsy, guitar-driven meditation on motherhood and moving on. “I used to watch them watch you light up every room,” she sings, a gritty resilience in her voice. “Now it’s up to me, the lighting I can do.” ZOLADZ

On the London group Sorry’s charming “There’s So Many People That Want to Be Loved,” Asha Lorenz sings with the sort of sweet, earnest guilelessness that Mo Tucker brought to the Velvet Underground’s “After Hours.” “See them in the nightclubs, barking up the walls, head in their hands in the bathroom stalls,” she notes of all the lonely people she observes. But as the song gradually builds from unassuming to epic, “There’s So Many People” becomes less a lament and more a celebration of communal human longing — a feeling to be cherished, and, ironically, shared. ZOLADZ

It’s been four years since the Chicago R&B singer Ravyn Lenae dropped her “Crush” EP, a Steve Lacy-produced release that stitched her sky-high vocals with funky bass lines and delicious electro-soul textures. For “MIA,” her first single from her debut album “Hypnos,” Lenae pairs with the producer Sango for something a little more breezy. Over a buoyant, syncopated Afrobeats production, a gleaming synth expands and contracts under Lenae’s airy falsetto, as she coos about finally making it: “I’m gonna run the town, ain’t nothing in my way.” HERRERA

“Is it easy to start over?” Ruth Radelet wonders on the chorus of her debut solo single, and it’s safe to assume that’s an autobiographical sentiment. For nearly two decades, Radelet was the frontwoman of the moody electro-pop group Chromatics, who disbanded last summer amid drama surrounding a mysterious (and possibly nonexistent) final album. On the glassy, ​​synth-driven “Crimes,” though, Radelet sounds ready to wipe the slate clean. The verses have a bit of a steely bite (“I know what they’re telling me is true/I know I could never be like you”), but the lush chorus is awash in her signature, dreamy melancholy. ZOLADZ

Helado Negro’s music may be dreamlike and crepuscular, but don’t confuse his songs for simple lullabies. “Ya No Estoy Aquí,” his latest single, revisits the celestial meanderings that have defined his work: soft, pulsing drum loops and wobbling, echoing synths. The Ecuadorean-American artist sings about isolation and melancholy alongside harmonic melodies from the Chicago singer-songwriter Kaina. “Ojalá me estoy volviendo loco/Por lo menos tengo con quien puedo hablar/alucinaciones,” he intones (“Hopefully I’m going crazy/At least I have someone to talk to/Hallucinations”). Underneath that soothing exterior, Helado Negro’s music holds a special power: the capacity to engage difficult feelings. HERRERA

The Los Angeles songwriter Lou Roy regularly juggles euphoria and disillusionment. Her debut album, “Pure Chaos,” is due April 29, and in “UDID” — “You don’t I don’t” — she probes a relationship that seems about to fissure. “I always want you here/but I’m starting to get the deal,” she sings. The track, which she co-produced with Sarah Tudzin of Illuminati Hotties, has an upbeat 4/4 pop thump, but some sonic elements — vocals, keyboards, guitar chords — linger like contrails, hinting that the romance may already be a memory. PARELES

One heavy day in 1973, Columbia Records dropped every jazz musician on its roster besides Miles Davis. The bassist and composer Charles Mingus (whose 100th birthday would have been on Friday) was among them. So were Ornette Coleman, Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans. But just months before that, the label had arranged to have a performance by Mingus’s new sextet recorded at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. The tapes were ultimately shelved. They’ll finally be released on Saturday, Record Store Day, as the triple-disc set “The Lost Album From Ronnie Scott’s.” On “The Man Who Never Sleeps,” Mingus is lit up by the antic virtuosity of the young trumpeter and Dizzy Gillespie protégé Jon Faddis, barely 19, who had just joined the band. Just before Columbia would press a final symbolic seal on an entire jazz generation, you can hear a torch being passed. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

“Freedom is too close to slavery for us to be easy with that jailed imagining,” the poet and theorist Fred Moten says in a coolly controlled voice, speaking over the rustle of Gerald Cleaver’s drums and the dark pull of Brandon López’s open bass strings. There’s a doom-metal energy here, and Sun Ra’s relationship to darkness — as a substance. López hangs on the high strings for a moment at the end of Moten’s phrase, aware that the thought needs time to settle and land, then comes home to the root of the minor key. In the past 20 years Moten has become perhaps the leading thinker on Black performance, writing volumes of poetry and theory that dance with the ways in which Diasporic expression resists definition and capture. “The Abolition of Art” is the first track from a new album, “Moten/López/Cleaver,” putting that engagement directly to music and sacrificing none of its complexity or wit. RUSSONELLO

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