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Alanis Morissette’s Agonized Ballad, and 10 More New Songs


Alanis Morissette’s Agonized Ballad, and 10 More New Songs

“Smiling” was written for the stage adaptation of Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill,” and it sounds like it, with its theatrical crests and ominous, minor-key verses, but it’s also easy to imagine it becoming a powerful in-concert moment recalling some of Pink’s most poignant, raw ballads (Morissette will be on tour this spring celebrating the 25th anniversary of “Jagged” and the May 1 release of her first album in eight years, which includes “Smiling”). On Broadway, the new song soundtracks one of the show’s most spectacular scenes, a housewife’s “Groundhog Day” of chores and drudgery — shopping for food and opioids — acted out in slow-motion reverse. Sung here by Morissette, it’s still an excruciating document of a life slipping beyond reach. CARYN GANZ

The little frictions of a continuing relationship crest and subside and continue to smolder in “Lilacs” from “Saint Cloud,” the forthcoming album by Waxahatchee due in late March. It’s an unhurried folk-rock tune, with a ticking two-chord vamp for verses, that has Katie Crutchfield examining every lingering slight and potential ambivalence while sizing up her own obsessiveness. Instead of a happy ending, there’s a tentative reckoning: “If my bones are made of delicate sugar/I won’t end up anywhere good without you.” JON PARELES

Everything stays off-kilter for the two and a half paranoid minutes of “Switched Off” by Oliver Malcolm, a 20-year-old one-man studio band who already has a string of production credits. The drums lurch toward the offbeats, some looped guitar picking tugs against that pulse and Malcolm’s voice is a rattled, quavery moan as he complains, “Nowadays I just don’t know who my friends are.” A pitched-up snippet of the Gettysburg Address is not reassuring. PARELES

A pair of cheerful gimmicks animate “Yes!”: a punchy surf-rock guitar line and a charming whistle motif that recalls Juelz Santana’s “There It Go (The Whistle Song).” Kyle is perhaps the only rapper working who could pull these choices off — he’s chipper, melodic, soft-touch and a little wry. Rich the Kid and K Camp try to keep up, but it’s Kyle’s beach-blanket party. JON CARAMANICA

The Avalanches slow down their usual manic sample-guzzling and ease back on irony in “We Will Always Love You.” It’s a plush compendium of longing. Dev Hynes raps glumly about dreaming of another life but being too fearful to leave his house, Smokey Robinson croons about missing someone (“Every day we’re apart seems like a week”) and the Roches, of all people, provide the chorus. The textures are dense, but mood — not ostentation — prevails. PARELES

A jittery rock song that quickly finds its legs, like Tom Petty via TV on the Radio, from the Nashville trio’s April 3 album, “Celebration.” GANZ

Cabane is the project of a Belgian composer, Thomas Jean Henri, with indie-folk affinities; his guest vocalists include Will Oldham (Bonnie “Prince” Billy). “Take Me Home (Part 2)” is an atmospheric wisp of a song, with glimmers of Leonard Cohen and Serge Gainsbourg. Shimmering vibraphone, dusty keyboard tones and fragile acoustic guitars circle behind Oldham’s perfectly understated metaphysical confession: “When the darkness came I made a pledge to stay/Before I slipped away so silently.” PARELES

Pat Metheny has always been a graceful pilot of lush harmonic skies, starting in the 1970s, when he worked with the keyboardist and arranger Lyle Mays, who died this month. On “From This Place,” his new album, Metheny passes through cycles and rhythms so fluidly, you hardly notice how elaborate an apparatus he’s got running behind him: He is being supported by Joel McNeely and the Hollywood Studio Symphony, as well as his mutable multigenerational quartet. Finding some kind of humbly transcendent glory in the mythos of America has always been a goal of Metheny’s music, and on the Meshell Ndegeocello-penned title track, the song’s author sings in sincere, resolute tones about the challenge of the moment: “Here I’ll stand with thee until hearts are truly free/Until hearts” — and here Ndegeocello drops to a tired, still-steadfast speaking voice — “are truly free.” GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

The pianist George Burton has a shadow identity as a singer-songwriter, but he outsources the singing bit. In general, Burton likes to use his jazz quintet to ends that don’t always fit a jazz quintet’s typical method, pulling indie rock and chamber music and occasional electronic soundscaping into the mix. On “Reciprocity,” his new album, the vocalist Alexa Barchini sometimes steps in to sing Burton’s compositions. At the start and end of “Finding,” a couple extra layers of Barchini overdubs create a small ensemble of voices, matching the quintet as she sings of lasting love and never-ending awe: “I get older and never wise,” the song ends. RUSSONELLO

Well, this certainly … exists. Last year, Ozzy Osbourne had a guest appearance on Post Malone’s “Take What You Want” and it was good! Osbourne is real-time decay personified, and his singing was anguished and distant, a great match for Post Malone’s. But this completion of the favor trade feels like an unfair swap — Osbourne is in his most maniacal mode, and the production is frenzied, cluttered and agonized. Whatever Post Malone had nudged out of Osbourne has gone back into hiding. Evil Ozzy is back. CARAMANICA

Defying formats as usual, Arca has made her latest single, “@@@@@,” a 62-minute excursion of ambiguous intent; near the beginning, she whispers, “psycho construct experimental diva FM.” The track pits vulnerability against brutality, prettiness against noise, whispery blurriness against brute-force distortion, continuity against rupture. Around 42:14, there’s a contentious, percussive, carnivalesque push and at the end, just when it seems cacophony might prevail, glassy, soothing harmonies arrive. Arca ends it with the sound of a kiss. PARELES

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