CreditJacob Blickenstaff for The New York Times
Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos — and anything else that strikes them as intriguing. This week, Brian Eno and Kevin Shields join woozy forces, the R&B group Rhye returns and Sleigh Bells ditches the guitars.
And don’t miss Jon Pareles’s playlist of 12 essential Fats Domino songs.
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Gregory Porter, ‘Nature Boy’
Gregory Porter’s new album “Nat King Cole and Me” pays tribute to one of his strongest influences. With its hearth-like comforts and flawless elocution, Cole’s voice is almost quintessentially dated. But Mr. Porter manages to embody some of the same principles — poise, savvy, listener validation — while punching it up with some contemporary solemnity and world-weariness. On “Nature Boy,” Cole’s signature song, the swarming and enchanting string arrangements of Vince Mendoza echo those on the original 1948 recording, though they’re more abundant. After a climactic interlude, Mr. Porter repeats the song’s famous catch phrase one last time, his voice now measured and low: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn/Is just to love and be loved in return.” GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO
Brian Eno and Kevin Shields, ‘Only Once Away My Son’
How did this team-up take so long to happen? Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine and the producer-songwriter-conceptualist Brian Eno both cherish the resonant, the amorphous, the unmoored, the immersive, the destabilizing. “Only Once Away My Son,” an instrumental, has a deceptive opening, with an urgent drum-and-cymbal beat that soon evaporates. The rest blends tinkly bell tones and almost subliminally soothing low notes with what must be Mr. Shields’s swaths of hovering tremolo guitar: freneticism that begins on a far horizon, draws close and lingers, menacingly, before finding what sounds more like respite than resolution. JON PARELES
Clean Bandit Featuring Julia Michaels, ‘I Miss You’
Sometimes Julia Michaels sings like she’s choking on the words, as if she’s turning away from them as soon as they escape from her mouth. On “I Miss You,” an affecting collaboration with the austere British dance-pop outfit Clean Bandit, she’s at her most forlorn: “You weren’t a fan of pictures, so I hardly ever took ‘em/Got ‘em saved in my mind from the bedroom/So that way I can’t forget your skin.” JON CARAMANICA
The elusive R&B group Rhye, led by the singer Milosh, reappears with the insinuating “Taste,” a bedroom whisper — “I’m not awake, I’m not alone” — delivered in a perfectly androgynous falsetto. It’s got a subdued funk pulse hinting at Sly and the Family Stone’s “Family Affair,” interlaced with burbling chamber-pop woodwinds; it never gets anywhere near too pushy. J.P.
The Weather Station, ‘You and I (on the Other Side of the World)’
Tamara Lindeman, the Canadian songwriter who leads the Weather Station, sings as if she’s spent a lot of time pondering her way toward complicated conclusions. “You and I (on the Other Side of the World)” is a folk-rock meditation exploring the mysteries of an enduring marriage: “More intimate than I could imagine/But with space I cannot fathom.” The music harks back to the late 1960s, mostly clinging to two chords as string arrangements rise and subside in the background, mirroring hopes and uncertainties. J.P.
Snoh Aalegra Featuring Logic, ‘Sometimes’
The slow-and-low hip-hop-soul saunter of 1995-97 finds new life in “Sometimes,” one of the standout songs from the impressive new Snoh Aalegra album “FEELS.” On this song, she floats somewhere between neo-soul — its original incarnation — and trip-hop, singing breathily and with purpose. A slickly sneering verse from Logic adds acid and bite. J.C.
Sleigh Bells, ‘And Saints’
So long, power chords. “And Saints,” from a coming EP titled “Kid Kruschev,” sets aside Sleigh Bells’ usual drums-and-guitar bravado for a different minimal configuration: just motoric bass notes and high, filmy synthesizer tones enfolding Alexis Krauss’s distraught voice and elusive tidings: “Temple throb, dust lakes/Black gold, tigers and saints.” Whatever she’s going through is more than a headache. J.P.
Kap G Featuring Lil Baby, ‘Pull Up’
Kap G is one of hip-hop’s underrated melodists. He sing-raps with a slur, leaving his vocals round and a little fuzzy. “Pull Up” plays to his strengths — he sounds woozy, sweet, a little distant, easing between tight clusters of words and dreamy smeared syllables. Behind him, the beat — produced by Young TT & Squat Beats — tinkles and creeps while Kap G elegantly swerves. J.C.
John McNeil and Mike Fahie, ‘Can Do’
Here’s an item on the list of “things we don’t see a lot of anymore” in jazz: a close rapport between two musicians, forged on the jam session stage, week after week over a series of years. But that’s what John McNeil, a trumpeter, and Mike Fahie, a trombonist, have developed. They spent roughly a decade leading sessions at watering holes around New York, mentoring younger musicians and deepening a repertoire. Still, for their debut album together, “Plainsong,” they’ve put the focus on their original compositions, not standard fare. The tunes are harmonically snaked and rhythmically relentless; they highlight the horn players’ teasing interplay, and keep the stellar rhythm section — the pianist Ethan Iverson, the bassist Joe Martin and the drummer Billy Hart — on the move. Mr. McNeil and Mr. Fahie wrote the uptempo “Can Do” together, and it’s a highlight. G.R.