Billie Eilish Contemplates Distraction, and 10 More New Songs

“TV” — from a pair of modestly strummed but richly produced “guitar songs” Billie Eilish has just released — starts out like one of her hushed, breathy ballads about estrangement, self-doubt and a longing for numbness, this time using TV; she considers putting on “‘Survivor’ just to watch somebody suffer.” But she’s onto something larger — the ways entertainment nurtures distraction, alienation and apathy — and she turns pointedly 2022 topical: “The internet’s gone wild watching movie stars on trial/While they’re overturning Roe v. Wade,” she sings. But Eilish hasn’t forgotten she’s an entertainer herself; as she ponders her isolation in a closing refrain — “Maybe I’m the problem” — she dials in an arena audience, singing and clapping along. JON PARELES

Jessie Ware reaches for time-tested disco tools in “Free Yourself,” abetted by the stalwart producer Stuart Price (Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, Dua Lipa). There’s a bouncing-octave piano riff, a solidly thumping beat and eventually the sounds of a swooping, hovering string section, as Ware promises that freedom will feel good: “Keep on moving up that mountaintop,” she urges. “Why don’t you please yourself?” The breakdowns and buildups assemble with a sense of glittery inevitability, strutting toward a big finish that, startlingly, never arrives: “Don’t stop!,” Ware sings, “Baby don’t you …” Suddenly, she’s left hanging. PARELES

A Flo Milli song is like a Blingee filter: loud, flashy, and confrontationally femme. This week the Alabama rapper put out her major-label debut album, “You Still Here, Ho?,” a kind of spiritual sequel to her irresistible 2020 mixtape “Ho, Why Is You Here?” Following an introductory invocation of the muse, which in this case is the reality TV legend Tiffany “New York” Pollard, the album is a showcase for Flo Milli’s braggadocious humor and the chatty ease of her signature flow. Plenty of other rappers would slow their tempo when given a beat as dreamy as the one on “Hottie,” but Milli is relentless as ever, antically flirty while still taking a breath to set some boundaries (“I don’t text back if I’m cranky”). Here, as on other highlights from the record, she spits like a cartoon character gleefully gliding across a rainbow. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Three notable South African producers — Tyler ICU, Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa — worked on “Inhliziyo” (“Heart”), a spacious amapiano track built from shakers, sustained keyboard chords, sparsely tapping percussion and shadowy, nearly subterranean bass lines. What makes it even more haunting than most amapiano songs are the vocals by its songwriter, Nkosazana Daughter: quiet and nearly private, hinting at non-Western inflections and suffused with the inconsolable heartbreak of her Zulu lyrics. PARELES

The Sun Ra Arkestra conjures a loose communality, the feeling of mavericks gathering for a shared purpose. When the Arkestra recorded “Somebody Else’s Idea” during Sun Ra’s lifetime, June Tyson sang lyrics like “Somebody else’s idea of things to come/Need not be the only way.” The current Arkestra, led by the saxophonist Marshall Allen, reclaims the song without words, as a leisurely bolero with saxophones or wordless voices carrying the succinct melody over Afro-Caribbean percussion. They’re joined at times by Farid Barron’s floridly dissonant piano, by brass interjections, by flute trills, and by wavery strings, each adding its own contribution until, like a caravan at sunset, the tune settles into a resting place. PARELES

“You,” from the Canadian singer-songwriter Julianna Riolino’s forthcoming debut album, “All Blue,” is a twangy, deliriously catchy blast of power-pop. Riolino’s impassioned delivery and boot-stomping energy will appeal to fans of the more upbeat songs on Angel Olsen’s “My Woman,” but Riolino also blends the sounds of vintage country and jangly garage rock in a way that’s uniquely her own. “Everyone is fine until they are drowning in someone,” Riolino sings on this ode to devotion, with the intensity of someone hanging on for dear life. ZOLADZ

The indie-rock band Mamalarky, formed in Austin and now based in Atlanta, celebrates a deep, joyous friendship in “Mythical Bonds,” the first single from an album due in September, “Pocket Fantasy.” With a teasing smile in her voice, the guitarist Livvy Benneett sings, “I don’t care what I do so long as I do it with you.” The complications — and there are plenty of them — are in the music: stop-start meter changes, peculiar chords, gnarled counterpoint, all packed into two playful minutes. Mamalarky makes math-rock sound like fun. PARELES

“Mama, I’m adjacent to a lot of love,” the Los Angeles singer-songwriter Sabrina Teitelbaum sings, in one of several highly quotable lines from her second single as Blondshell. (Also: “I think my kink is when you tell me that you think I’m pretty.”) During the first half of “Kiss City,” Teitelbaum delivers these lines in an arch, somewhat self-deprecating croon, accompanied by an understated arrangement of piano and guitar. But around the midway point, “Kiss City” rips open and becomes a towering rock song, giving Teitelbaum the space to shout those same lines with all of her heart, as if she’s suddenly in a dream, confessing the sorts of things she’d be terrified to admit in waking life. ZOLADZ

Sometimes, amazingly, romances actually work out. With a pedal steel guitar sighing affirmations behind her, the plain-spoken country singer Kelsey Waldon rolls out images and similes — “like a monarch to a mimosa tree,” “simple as a cotton dress,” “patient as the moon” — to marvel at a reliable, nurturing love: no drama, just comfort and gratitude. PARELES

Recorded in Montell Fish’s bedroom in Brooklyn, “Darling” — from his new album, “Jamie” — is a love song infused with fragility, delivered as a serenely undulating waltz. “Did you fall out of love, my darling?” he wonders in an otherworldly falsetto, over acoustic guitar picking and low-fi string squeaks. A big, bedroom-grunge chorus arises as he begs, “Please don’t run away,” but the beat falls away and ghostly piano chords are his only accompaniment as he resigns himself: “I’m finally letting you go,” he decides. PARELES

TJ Hertz, the electronic musician who records as Objekt, uses the proudly unnatural tones of techno to generate constantly escalating tension in “Bad Apples.” He undermines the methodical predictability of most dance music. Even as the beat stays foursquare and danceable, sounds and silences keep arriving, accreting, suddenly vanishing or fracturing themselves. Buzzes, chimes, nagging nasal tones, deep bass cross-rhythms, slides and crackles, blips that turn into swarms: in the next two bars, anything might appear, from any direction. PARELES

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