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Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Vampire,’ Fall Out Boy’s ‘Fire,’ and More New Songs

The first single from Olivia Rodrigo’s second album opens with a fake-out: “Vampire” at first appears to be a muted, heartbroken piano ballad in the vein of her 2021 smash “Drivers License,” but after its first chorus the song revs up and kicks into a satisfyingly melodramatic, rock-operatic gear. (She knows Billy Joel, and apparently Meat Loaf, too.) The subject matter — a sharp-tongued post-breakup assessment of a manipulative ex — stays squarely within Rodrigo’s comfort zone, but there are hints of grandiosity and a new sense of structural ambition that bode well for the forthcoming “Guts,” due Sept. 8. The verses’ chatty, run-on delivery is an instant reminder of the songwriting voice that turned Rodrigo into her generation’s everygirl, and as usual the admitted fallibility makes her all the more relatable: “And every girl I ever talked to told me you were bad, bad news/You called them crazy, God, I hate the way I called them crazy too.” But the song’s true moment of brilliance comes from that melodic ascendance in the chorus — “The way you sold me for parts as you sunk your teeth into me, ohhhh,” she belts — when Rodrigo reaches for and momentarily attains something beyond the reach of mere mortals. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Tainy — Marcos Efraín Masís — has been producing reggaeton hits since he was a teenager. But “Mojabi Ghost,” his latest collaboration with Bad Bunny, from Tainy’s new (and guest-packed) album “Data,” sets aside his usual beat for soft-edged synthesizer chords over a thumping march. Bad Bunny sings about “pretending not to think of you” even while he’s still smoking, drinking and hooking up; Tainy helps him sound more forlorn than boastful. PARELES

​​The Armed has made itself a voice of awkward but hardcore-rooted fury since the 2010s. Like other long-running hardcore bands, particularly Turnstile, the group has broadened its musical sources, recognizing electronic pop and admitting that melody matters. “Sport of Life” hops among electronic sustain, full-tilt rock and hand-played delicacy. The chorus asks a blunt, urgent question: “Does anyone even know you/Does anyone even care?” PARELES

Billy Joel has a complicated relationship with his infamous 1989 megahit “We Didn’t Start the Fire” — he has, in the years since writing it, called it “more annoying than musical” and likened its melody to a mosquito and a dentist’s drill — but even he should have a new appreciation for its composition after listening to the cover that Fall Out Boy released this week. The band attempts a “system update” of the track, keeping the instrumentation nearly identical but changing the lyrics to chronicle “newsworthy items from 1989-2023.” The most obvious problem is the structure: For all its absurd juxtapositions, Joel’s song is chronological and gives a real sense of cultural time passing; Fall Out Boy give us such temporal non sequiturs as “Fyre Fest, ‘Black Parade’/Michael Phelps, Y2K.” Such poetic license might be more forgivable for the sake of clever cadence, but this is a song that tries to rhyme “Brexit’‘ with “Taylor Swift.” The tone, too, is a head-scratcher: Fall Out Boy’s version is neither funny nor serious enough to make a cogent point. Updating “We Didn’t Start the Fire” is, by now, a stale conceit that has already been done much better in a variety of formats, from memes on pandemic-era Twitter to the 1975’s biting and more successful 2018 single “Love It If We Made It.” Joel was right the first time: I can’t take it anymore. ZOLADZ

The Brooklyn band Geese has crammed nearly every rock style of the last six decades into its albums, “Projector” from 2021 and the new “3D Country.” Prog-rock, glam, metal, post-punk, country-rock, ballads, psychedelia, grunge, arena-rock, roots, noise — they all arise somewhere in the turbulent album track lists. The seven-minute “Undoer” is a heaving, odd-meter, coiling and uncoiling stomp that moves on a jazzy bass riff, triplet percussion and an increasingly overwrought vocal from Cameron Winter. He repeatedly works himself up to howl, “It was all you!” Was it? PARELES

Eight years after the release of Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” the instant-classic LP that he helped produce, Terrace Martin is now a world-touring producer and multi-instrumentalist. Still, the higher he climbs, the more Martin seems to be digging into the soil that nurtured him: the Afrocentric community around South Central Los Angeles. “Degnan Dreams,” Track 1 from Martin’s new album, “Fine Tune,” is named for a boulevard in Leimert Park. (“Fine Tune” is the first of six LPs that Martin will release between now and the top of next year on his label, Sounds of Crenshaw.) Over a steady, Tony Allen-adjacent drum beat from Justin Tyson, a couple of nipping guitars, and a Dominique Sanders bass line that’s as tight as a leather glove, Martin’s alto saxophone harmonizes on a punchy pattern with Keyon Harrold’s trumpet (and what sounds like an unnamed baritone sax) before drifting into a gospel-tinged solo, full of blue notes and scraped tones. RUSSONELLO

Since his 2017 debut album, “Process,” the English singer and songwriter Sampha has lent his voice to assorted collaborations. “Spirit 2.0” signals a new album of his own. Over a jittery rhythm track of blipping electronics and double time drumming, Sampha sings about yearning, aspiration, hope and reassurance. “Waves will catch you, light will catch you/Love will catch you, spirit gon’ catch you,” he promises. But the music keeps him suspended in midair, unresolved. PARELES

In dire times, Becca Mancari offers determined reassurance with “Don’t Even Worry,” promising, “Give me all you got/I can handle it,” in a whispery, unthreatening voice that somehow isn’t overwhelmed by a brawny beat, a forthright string section or Brittany Howard’s vocal harmonies. “Don’t even worry” also sounds like “doing the work’; it’s a personal promise that’s underlined in the mix. PARELES

Hayden Pedigo, a guitarist from Texas, extends the folky, fingerpicking style of John Fahey, Davy Graham, Leo Kottke and a determined lineage of consonance-loving guitarists into the present. “Signal of Hope,” his new track, is a swaying, mostly three-chord piece that moves from 4/4 to waltz, with his acoustic guitar subtly underpinned by high pedal-steel affirmations. It’s warm, patient and uplifting. PARELES

Colter Wall may be country’s truest disciple of Willie Nelson, even though he’s a baritone rather then a tenor. His terse but thoughtful songs sound close-knit, casual and real time, and the lead guitar — sometimes doubled by a harmonica, à la Nelson — is modest and acoustic, not electric. Wall has time, memory and restlessness on his mind. “When things get slow you got to go/hear that highway whine,” he sings in “For a Long While,” an existential meditation in down-home garb. PARELES

S. Carey, a singer and songwriter long associated with Bon Iver, collaborated with the trumpeter John Raymond on an album, “Shadowlands,” due in September. In “Calling,” Carey’s whispery voice hovers above a jazzy, subdued, seven-beat pulse, whisper-singing about nature as revelation: “Wide-awake/the truth is verdant green.” His voice is answered and then gives way to Raymond’s trumpet, dissolving into wordless wonderment. PARELES

On Saturday, Chief Adjuah — the trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and New Orleanian culture-bearer formerly known as Christian Scott — will be anointed as the Grand Griot of New Orleans at the Maafa Commemoration, a ceremony in Congo Square. Congo Square is often called the birthplace of jazz, but Adjuah (who, like many musicians, rejects that four-letter word) would object to that description. It was, and remains, a sacred ground of cultural retention, reinvention and renewal. The music on Adjuah’s remarkable forthcoming album, “Bark Out Thunder Roar Out Lightning,” connects directly to that history, and it has no time for any jazz conventions. On “Blood Calls Blood,” he plays a lulling, threaded pattern on Chief Adjuah’s Bow — a double-sided stringed instrument of his own design, fusing the West African n’goni and kora with the European harp — over an ambient background of whistling wind and rustling leaves. Adjuah sings in a keening, plangent tone, but at one point he pauses to offer a spoken invitation: “Listen to the wind,” he says. “The voices calling to you from yesterday.” RUSSONELLO

JoVia Armstrong follows no one else’s playbook — not in jazz, not in Afro-Latin music, not even on the avant-garde. She’s an electronic musician who also plays age-old percussion instruments, which she assembles into a kit that is (of course) uniquely hers: a cajón, a couple cymbals and a floor tom. The title of her recent dissertation — which focuses on caves as sites of music-making and ritual — was “Black Space,” two words that also evoke the darkly mesmerizing sound she makes with Eunoia Society, her quartet of all electroacoustic musicians. The band’s most recent album, “Inception,” is a suite that Armstrong wrote tracking her life path, from conception through adulthood. There’s not a whiff of any literal representation here — and no lyrics — but you can hear traces of her personal history in the sound: It is in Chicago, where Armstrong is based, that Sun Ra patented his low, shuddering sound; in Detroit, where Armstrong was born and raised, that house musicians use samples and reverb to warp references to the past. On “Hide, Then Seek,” the last track on “Inception,” Armstrong’s cajón — literally a “box,” slapped with the hands to create a sound that’s sharply percussive but also resonant and resounding — teams up with Damon Warmack’s bass to build an insistent pulse that is also a zone of cavernous darkness, underneath the cosmic threading of Leslie DeShazor’s harmonized electric violin and Sasha Kashperko’s crinkly guitar. RUSSONELLO

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