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7 New Songs You Should Hear Now

The day after Labor Day has got to be one of the worst days in the American calendar year. (Not quite as bad as the first workday after New Year’s, but worth mentioning in the same breath.)

Each year, on this grim and sobering Tuesday, I am haunted by all the summery things I did not get a chance to do this past season. I didn’t go on a single boat! Not to mention zero roller coasters! Nor did I play any beach volleyball — not that that’s something I especially enjoy, but just knowing that my opportunities to do so will greatly diminish as soon as September arrives feels like something I should mourn. I know that this feeling will pass, and that as soon as the morning breeze carries those first stirrings of fall, I will remember that I am actually an autumn person anyway. But for today — like the Tuesday after any holiday — a little seasonal crabbiness is allowed, even encouraged.

Since you’ll probably need an extra boost to get you through this day, here it is: a playlist featuring some of my favorite new songs released in the past few weeks. Though it’s only seven tracks long, it covers a lot of ground: country, soul, jazz, rock, rap, K-pop. It features some names you might already know (Sufjan Stevens; Zach Bryan) and also an artist literally called Noname. Talk about something for everyone.

It also features an opening track that is likely to boost your mood from the get-go: How can you be grumpy while listening to the Rev. Al Green covering Lou Reed? May this playlist, then, turn your imperfect day into a slightly more perfect one.

(And if you need a reason to get excited about upcoming fall music — well, we’ve got 35 of them in our freshly published Fall Preview. Check it out.)

Listen along on Spotify as you read.

Here is the 77-year-old Al Green’s first single in five years: a sumptuous reimagining of Lou Reed’s 1972 classic “Perfect Day.” Green’s rendition is gently jubilant, smoothing out the prickly edges of Reed’s delivery and changing a lyric about sangria to “drink wiiiiine in the park.” Al Green: no fan of sangria, apparently. (Listen on YouTube)

The first single from the great singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens’s forthcoming album, “Javelin,” is — following the electronic-based 2020 release “The Ascension” and a series of experimental collaborations with other artists — a stirring return to form. “So you are tired of us,” he begins, addressing a departing lover of 14 years atop an intricately patterned composition of piano and acoustic guitar. That his tone is quietly accepting rather than melodramatically anguished somehow makes the song all the more heartbreaking. (Listen on YouTube)

The contrasting textures of Zach Bryan’s ragged croak and Kacey Musgraves’s opalescent trill bring a tension to this wrenching duet from Bryan’s new self-titled release. The imagery is as vivid as a series of Polaroids — a beach towel trying on a clothesline; a beat-up old Ford; a ratty basement sofa — while the emotion these two singers bring to the tale makes the song downright haunting. (Listen on YouTube)

The Mexico City-based musicians Mabe Fratti and Hector Tosta recently formed a new duo called Titanic, and they’ll release “Vidrio,” their debut album under that name, on Oct. 20. “Anónima,” one of two introductory singles, features nimble vocals, resonant slashes of Fratti’s cello and a compositional playfulness punctured by occasional moments of disquiet. (Listen on YouTube)

The Chicago rapper Noname crams quite a bit of commentary into “Namesake,” an incisive highlight from her new album, “Sundial.” In her nimble, spitfire flow, Noname’s words weave around the song’s antic percussion and upright-bass backbone; barely pausing for a breath, she criticizes faux-revolutionaries, a litany of pop stars for supporting the military-industrial complex and even herself for accepting a Coachella gig after swearing she wouldn’t. “That’s you, that’s me, the whole world is culpable,” she raps, as her uncompromising candor hits like a gust of cool air. (Listen on YouTube)

Here’s a last blast of summery pop from the South Korean girl group Aespa, who will headline Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Tuesday night. “I’ve got better things to do with my time than you,” they sing, sassily, as a buoyant, tropical house-inspired piano riff keeps things moving ever forward. (Listen on YouTube)

And, finally, Jeff Rosenstock brings an almost operatic intensity to this furiously anxious punk song, which kicks off his latest album, “Hellmode.” “Will you still love me,” he asks, as a chorus of voices shout along with him, “after I’ve given up?” (Listen on YouTube)

Labrador hanging out the passenger door,


Listen on Spotify. We update this playlist with each new newsletter.

“7 New Songs You Should Hear Now” track list
Track 1: Al Green, “Perfect Day”
Track 2: Sufjan Stevens, “So You Are Tired”
Track 3: Zach Bryan featuring Kacey Musgraves, “I Remember Everything”
Track 4: Titanic, “Anónima”
Track 5: Noname, “Namesake”
Track 6: Aespa, “Better Things”
Track 7: Jeff Rosenstock, “Will U Still U”

I was not previously aware that Jamaican authorities once opened fire on Jimmy Buffett’s plane while Bono was on board, mistakenly taking them for drug smugglers, but I’m glad that particular tale ended without further incident. In honor of Buffett, the feel-good bard of Margaritaville who died on Friday, might I suggest spinning the incredibly named song he wrote about that whole affair, “Jamaica Mistaica”? Then you can read Jon Pareles’s tribute to Buffett, who, Pareles writes, “helped listeners feel like they’d earned the good times just by holding on long enough to enjoy them.”

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