Unreleased Chris Cornell, and 12 More New Songs

Posted September 23, 2018 4:08 p.m. EDT

Pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos.

Chris Cornell, ‘When Bad Does Good’

“Your final hour has come today/ Lit by the fire of your temples burning,” Chris Cornell sang in “When Bad Does Good,” one of the previously unreleased songs on a memorial boxed set, “An Artist’s Legacy,” due in November. “When Bad Does Good,” written and produced by Cornell, is a hymn and an argument, begun by sustained organ chords and building to a rock chorale. Cornell sings not as a lone human but as a wrathful, righteous deity.


Lil Peep and XXXTentacion, ‘Falling Down’

The voices of Lil Peep, dead at 21 from a drug overdose in 2017, and XXXTentacion, dead at 20 from a shooting this year, are resurrected from recordings on “Falling Down.” The song got started in sessions from an album Lil Peep was working on with iLoveMakonnen, and XXXTentacion added parts, in tribute, after Lil Peep’s death. They’re not rapping; they’re singing a folk-rock ballad about missing someone. Partway through, there’s a snippet of XXXTentacion speaking about posthumous fame: “Yo, when people die, that’s when we like ‘em.” Now a troubled love song has become a double eulogy.


nothing,nowhere. ‘Dread’

Joe Mulherin — who records as nothing,nowhere. — recently canceled his headlining tour because of what he described on Twitter as “severe anxiety and depression.” This new song goes deeper, a harrowing and beautiful distillation of what it feels like to collapse from within.

“I look into the mirror, all I’m seeing is a skeleton/ I keep losing weight, so they got me taking medicine/ I can’t go a day without relying on these sedatives/ Therapy and doctors, I feel like a specimen.”

Get well soon.


Kesha, ‘Here Comes the Change’

In a grand celebrity metamorphosis, Ke$ha the decadent party girl has turned into Kesha the social idealist. “Here Comes the Change,” from the coming Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic “On the Basis of Sex,” is an old-fashioned folk-rock anthem (complete with earnest harmonica), a millennial video display of multiethnic equality and, in the end, a voter-registration appeal.


Lil Uzi Vert, ‘New Patek’

Lil Uzi Vert is a slippery vocalist, sometimes a charismatic whiner and sometimes a snappish rapper. On the spectacular six-minute saga “New Patek,” he’s a girlfriend-stealer, a tongue-wagging braggart, and hopelessly under the spell of a true love, his watch. As trippy as he gets, the beat — an aquatic soother teeming with new-age piano fills — matches him. But the words, and how he squeaks them, are the stars here. When he exults, it’s thrilling, and his choice of descriptors is whimsical and fantastical: “Got cold, had to go get a mink/ New finger ring sit like a sink”; “I am a octopus, I cannot breathe without water/ So I put diamonds on my tentacles.”


180dB featuring Meredith Graves and Nick Zinner, ‘Road Trip’

Fay Milton on drums and Ayse Hassan on bass, from Savages, are the core of 180dB, a project that’s open to collaboration. Its first release has Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs cranking up guitar drones into buzz bombs and feedback screams, while Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy rails about power, thought crime, paranoia, desire and the moment “when someone keeps her promise and the world begins to burn.” It’s a beautiful barrage.


Allison Miller and Carmen Staaf, ‘MLW

“Science Fair” is the excellent debut album from the small ensemble led by drummer Allison Miller and pianist Carmen Staaf. The record features all original tunes, from melodically arresting contemporary jazz to gospel-tinged balladry. Near its center lies “MLW,” Staaf’s hot-stepping dedication to pianist Mary Lou Williams, which the pianist and drummer play in duo. With Miller playing a fast, rolling groove, Staaf capers and collides through the song’s blues form, paying homage to Williams’ starkly articulate right hand and peripatetic left.


Norah Jones, ‘A Song With No Name’

The new single from Norah Jones is a whisper that never takes flight. With Jeff Tweedy supporting on guitar, she moves lugubriously through a mournful march, singing breathily about the war between what you want and what you can’t have. It’s so tempered, so soothing, that you barely notice it’s meant to be desperate.


The Chainsmokers featuring Kelsea Ballerini, ‘This Feeling’

Oh baby, why don’t you just meet me in the middle of the Venn diagram of hypercommercial dance music and Auto-Tuned country? Look, at least it’s not featuring Kelsea Ballerini and J Balvin.


Little Simz, ‘Offence’

The English rapper Little Simz matches her escalating boasts — she’s “Shakespeare on my worst days” — with the track behind them. It starts with a swaggering drumbeat and an obstreperously distorted bass line that could carry her voice on their own, but she soon marshals a swarm of flutes, a cinematic string section, giggly backup voices and whizzing sound effects. It’s a show of power in word and sound.


Rosanne Cash featuring Sam Phillips, ‘She Remembers Everything’

In the somber title song of an album that’s due Nov. 2, Rosanne Cash sings about an archetypal woman who has survived a deep, unnamed trauma; the long-planned release turned out uncannily close to today’s news cycle. Cash ponders, “Before it all went dark/ Was she like a streak of fire, a pane of glass, a beating heart?” The woman faces “the third degree,” while the chorus notes that “she remembers everything.” But as the song’s descending minor piano chords create an undertow hinting at Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man,” there’s no promise of resolution or justice.


Magos Herrera and Brooklyn Rider, ‘Niña’

On the album “Dreamers,” released this week, the Mexican singer Magos Herrera and the string quartet Brooklyn Rider collect songs from former Spanish and Portuguese colonies and compose songs based on poetry from those countries. The smoky-voiced Herrera looks toward Spanish flamenco but is not confined by it. The lyrics of “Niña,” set to music by Herrera and Felipe Pérez, are by the Nobel-winning Mexican writer Octavio Paz, and they address a new daughter whose perceptions will recreate the world. Hand drumming meshes with percussive, modal motifs from Brooklyn Rider, as Herrera’s performance merges wonderment and disillusion.


Walking Distance featuring Jason Moran, ‘Feather Report’

All the tracks on “Freebird,” the sophomore album from the quartet Walking Distance, stem from Charlie Parker compositions, but good luck tracing most of them back to their source material. (Sound like a familiar idea? Not after you’ve heard the record.) Take “Feather Report:” The alto saxophonist and bandleader Caleb Wheeler Curtis started with the sunny melody to “Confirmation,” one of Parker’s best-known tunes, then made drastic alterations to its rhythm. Though he’s kept the order and pitch of the melody’s notes, the result is something utterly fresh. With Jason Moran joining as a guest pianist and the rhythm section stoking a slinky rock beat, the band moves from a hopped-up and apprehensive melody to a scattered Moran solo to a squalling, double-saxophone improvisation at the end.