The New York Times: The Playlist

Friday 13th July, 2018

Twenty One Pilots Jolt Awake, and 12 More New Songs

Extract taken from The New York Times, written by By Jon ParelesCaryn Ganz and Giovanni Russonello. Published online on July 13th, 2018.

Hear tracks from Childish Gambino, Tom Petty, Metric, Benny Blanco and others.

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Twenty One Pilots, ‘Jumpsuit’ and ‘Nico and the Niners’

You don’t need to be a Twenty One Pilots superfan to be curious about the imagery in the band’s video for “Jumpsuit,” one of two new songs heralding the arrival of its fifth album, “Trench,” in October. Every move the duo from Columbus, Ohio, makes is deliberate: so the color yellow, the figure on horseback smearing black paint on the singer Tyler Joseph’s neck, his direct-to-camera note, “We’ve been here the whole time; you were asleep” — that’s all meaningful in the band’s ongoing narrative, continuing from its 2015 album, “Blurryface,” which hit No. 1 and made the band an unorthodox pop-rap-reggae-prog-screamo sensation. (There’s a lot more plot exposition happening in the second track, “Nico and the Niners,” which features Mr. Joseph's ukulele and slippery, rapid rapping.) Josh Dun’s drums and Mr. Joseph’s bass pound on “Jumpsuit,” pausing to give Mr. Joseph space to anxiously sing about the nervousness and necessity of moving forward. One second he’s crooning sweetly, the next he’s ripping his throat raw. Regardless of your knowledge of the fictional city Dema, it’s a vibe that’s easy to relate to these days. CARYN GANZ

Childish Gambino, ‘Summertime Magic’ and ‘Feels Like Summer’

Summertime calls for smooth, good-natured grooves and unchallenging thoughts about dancing and romancing, right? Childish Gambino — Donald Glover — has followed up his dense, exegesis-inducing “This Is America” video clip with the audio-only “Summertime Magic” and “Feels Like Summer,” a pair of songs that deliver those grooves: a Caribbean-inflected bounce in “Summertime Magic” and a nod to Marvin Gaye’s falsetto seductions in “Feels Like Summer.” Romance suffuses “Summertime Magic,” with Mr. Glover catchily urging “do love me, do love me, do” as the track gathers layers of rhythm and electronics. Yet while “Feels Like Summer” starts out sounding just as suave and flirtatious, Mr. Glover has other ideas. In this song, that summer feeling is global warming, a portent of environmental disaster. JON PARELES

teddy<3, ‘I Was in a Cult’

Teddy Geiger was a pretty-boy teen-pop pinup before becoming a behind-the-scenes producer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter (lately with Shawn Mendes) and re-emerging as the transgender teddy<3. Her musical reappearance isn’t gentle. It’s a thumping, wailing, low-fi piano-pounding stomp that recalls — with pop concision — indoctrination, beatings, disassociation and escape. It’s not a commercial reboot but a catharsis and exorcism. “I wanna love tonight, now that I’m free,” she declares. J.P.

Metric, ‘Dark Saturday’

Over the course of 20 years, the band Metric — formed in Canada but quite well-traveled — has often given its songs a metronomic core: a pulse of steady eighth-notes or 16th-notes that can sound like new wave and punk-pop when guitars dominate, or like dance music and electro-pop when synthesizers take over. “Dark Saturday” cranks up the guitars — and their buzzing amps — for a rocker that claims new-wave common ground between the Go-Go’s and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as Emily Haines unleash her most sardonic tone, thinking about wealth and escapism while feeling “as anxious as ever.” J.P.

Bloods, ‘Feelings’

Bloods, an Australian garage-punk band, use three chords and women-together shouts to triumph in the aftermath of a breakup: “I’m learning to be happy!/Without you!” the band’s guitarist and bassist, MC and Sweetie, sing with implied exclamation points over surging major chords. In the video, ever-changing T-shirts proclaim their musical allegiances: Fleetwood Mac, Björk, Nirvana, Public Enemy and more. J.P.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, ‘Keep a Little Soul’

A Motown beat drives “Keep a Little Soul,” a previously unreleased song from 1982 that will be part of “An American Treasure,” a collection of Tom Petty rarities due in September. It’s typical Petty: rooted in the 1960s, sturdily constructed, urging, “Don’t be afraid to get up on your feet.” And while it wouldn’t have improved the 1982 album “Long After Dark,” it’s welcome now, particularly with a video clip full of the youthful Mr. Petty onstage and off. J.P.

Gurrumul, ‘Djolin’

The Indigenous Australian singer and guitarist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu recorded one final album before his death last year at 46. On that record, “Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow),” released in the United States on Friday, he leaps beyond the diatonic balladry for which he was known. Instead he interprets traditional Yolngu chants, raising and roughening his gentle voice while a Western orchestra plays churning, minimalist accompaniments around him. On “Djolin,” Gurrumul sings an explosive manikay — or traditional song cycle — celebrating the musical instruments of Yolngu culture, his overdubbed vocals piled on top of each other in a radiant mass. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Benny Blanco with Halsey and Khalid, ‘Eastside’

Benny Blanco, whose producer credit shows up in a lot of recent pop hits, takes top billing on “Eastside,” a mournful song about millennial struggles to make a living. Khalid and Halsey sing the parts of a couple that fell in love as teenagers but ended up in their 20s with dead-end jobs and bills to pay, desperate for a new start. Behind the scenes it’s even more of a collaboration; Ed Sheeran is among the songwriters. With its minor chords and some lonely guitar picking, it’s a distant descendant of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” plaintively facingeconomics. J.P.

Dessa, ‘Fire Drills’

A new video clip should draw attention to “Fire Drills” from “Chime,” the album that the rapper and singer Dessa released in February. It’s a seething, hard-nosed retort to those who counsel women to protect themselves by staying cautious, modest and vigilant: “We don’t say go out and be brave/Nah, we say be careful, stay safe,” she raps, and insists, “The big win is not a day without an incident/I beg to differ with it.” A snippet of Turkish music, a chorus with a brooding hint of Peter Gabriel, a gathering surge of piano and strings and an increasingly martial beat make her point clear. J.P.

Ibeyi featuring Meshell Ndegeocello, ‘Transmission/Michaelion’

“Transmission/Michaelion” is from the 2017 album “Ash” by Ibeyi, a duo of twin sisters born in France who spent their early years in their father’s homeland, Cuba. “Transmission,” with lyrics in English, turns them into a choir with an electronic foundation, invoking the power of music: “We sing and our tears dry/Facing a clearer sky.” Their new video clip adds another layer: the story of a tree that survived hundreds of years isolated in the desert in Niger, only to meet a modern fate. It transforms the song into an environmental lament. J.P.

Tyshawn Sorey, ‘Autoschediasms for Crash Ensemble, Part 2’

Tyshawn Sorey, an improviser and composer and 2017 MacArthur fellow, came together with the Crash Ensemble in April to craft an extended piece based in notation, group improvisation and in-the-moment conducting. It begins with a few held notes on various stringed instruments, all magnetizing and repelling each other. Over the course of an hour, energy gets passed lightly around the group, sounds drifting and evaporating like shadows. The full piece is available on PEOPLE, a new, free music platform founded by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and members of the National. G.R.

Lonnie Holley, ‘I Woke Up in a _______ America’

Here’s a howl of disbelief and fury at the state of the nation with a full title that’s unprintable here. Lonnie Holley is an improvisational songwriter who also makes found-object sculptures and other visual art, seen in the video clip. He sings in bluesy moans and rasps, edited together over an explosive backdrop of irregularly rumbling drums, splintered piano chords, noisy electronics and apocalyptic trombones; “Let me out of this dream,” he concludes, knowing that’s impossible. J.P.


Jon Pareles has been The Times's chief pop music critic since 1988. A musician, he has played in rock bands, jazz groups and classical ensembles. He majored in music at Yale University. @JonPareles

*A version of this article appears in print on July 16, 2018, on Page C3 of the New York edition with the headline: Songs From Twenty One Pilots and More.