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Towa Bird’s Bouncy Revenge Rock, and 10 More New Songs

EntertainmentTowa Bird’s Bouncy Revenge Rock, and 10 More New Songs


Towa Bird — a rock songwriter, guitarist and prolific TikToker who was born in Hong Kong and grew up there, in Thailand and in Britain — uses “Deep Cut” to take lucrative revenge on an ex. “I’ll take your words, turn ’em into a verse and get my check,” she announces, going on to declare, “I wish you the worst/I’ll make sure that it hurts ’cause I’m bitter.” With splashy cymbals and a nyah-nyah guitar hook, it’s victoriously spiteful.

Mia Berrin, the singer who leads Pom Pom Squad, balances between regrets and the perverse pleasures of self-destruction in “Downhill.” Over a bouncy beat that carries punk-pop guitars and neatly stacked vocal harmonies, she sings, “All my worst traits every worst case playing in my head/Overwhelm me — heaven help me, I’m in love with it.” At least for the moment, she’s incorrigible: “I never said I was done,” she vows. “I’m coming back from the dead.”

In “Hot Sun,” Jeff Tweedy wonders, “Shouldn’t I be doing something? What can I do?” That’s the chorus that lifts itself out of the droney, circling verses, and Tweedy doesn’t find an answer to what may well be questions about global warming. Instead of a bridge, a squall of noisy guitars erupts, voicing frustration and futility.

Everything’s going wrong, psychological and metaphysical, for the North Carolina songwriter Caleb Caudle in “Knee Deep Blues.” In a lean, modal, Appalachian-flavored tune, with his voice answered by slide guitar, he’s pursued by demons, bloodhounds and birds of prey, and he “can’t handle the evening news.” The chorus insists, “I don’t wanna think like that,” but there are still bleak verses ahead.

The 19-year-old Mexican American songwriter Xavi — Joshua Xavier Gutierrez — applies the acoustic bounce of regional Mexican music to social media. In “OOTD” (text-speak for “outfit of the day”) he savors the way a woman deploys Instagram to get back at an ex: “Look what you lost,” the photos taunt. “Now you will see.” He sounds amused and approving — a bystander to the drama.

“Let go of all your reservations,” Ravyn Lenae sings in her weightless soprano. “Give in to the temptation.” Over soothing, folky fingerpicking, she offers herself fully to a hesitant partner. Ty Dolla Sign doesn’t sound like he needs persuading when he takes a verse. But before the song ends, she whispers further encouragement anyway.

Kelsea Ballerini challenges the stereotype of manly stoicism in “Cowboys Cry Too,” a duet with the angst-loving songwriter Noah Kahan. With string-band fiddle and mandolin set amid an arena-country march, Ballerini and Kahan praise vulnerability as a different form of toughness, one that’s not encouraged by family or culture. “Blame it on the fathers, the ones that said they’d stay,” they sing in unison. “Blame it on the songs that tell you they all ride away.”

“Ever regret all the messing with my head?” Camila Cabello asks an on-again, off-again, possibly on-again boyfriend in “B.O.A.T.,” from her new album, “C,XOXO.” It’s an argument with him and with herself: “Just when I think I could fall in love without you/I forget why I try.” Sparse piano chords melt into a tangle of synthesizers as she realizes the attachment hasn’t gone away.

Maria Maita-Keppeler, Maita’s singer and songwriter, re-examines not one but three endings in “Breakup Song x3.” She grows into her own self-determination and confusion as her band revs up, from acoustic picking to driven folk-rock. In the first two breakups, she worries about what her partner wanted; in the third, she takes charge, only to realize, “I don’t know what I want/I don’t know what to take from you.” She’s still learning, and admits it.

Heems — the rapper Himanshu Suri, who was in Das Racist and whose Hindi-Punjabi family immigrated from Pakistan — explores a legacy of displacement and generational trauma in “Manto,” named after the Pakistani author Saadat Hasan Manto and harking back to the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan: “A border divorcing a soul and its sources/A nation divided, my people they riot,” Heems raps in a raw, desperate tone. The jazz pianist Vijay Iyer centers the track, a somber, pealing modal-jazz piece with its own diasporic heritage.

Wayne Shorter’s quartet — with Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums — takes on a movie theme (from “WarGames”) in this track from “Celebration, Volume 1,” a live set recorded in Stockholm in 2014 due for release on Aug. 23. On soprano sax, Shorter plays the ballad-like melody hushed and nearly unadorned, each note emerging like a cherished new discovery.





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