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Arlen Specter stans are really gonna wanna check out this week’s 6 best new songs

Pharrell's favorite U.S. senator with some unhappy constituents.

Pharrell's favorite U.S. senator with some unhappy constituents. ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

It’s not every week I get to write about a dead U.S. senator and Kehlani. But it should be.

Adia Victoria – “South Gotta Change”

The brilliant Nashville-based blueswoman stakes a claim to her region and demands, over a track produced to an eerie and defiant pitch by T Bone Burnett, an overdue transformation. If you haven’t checked out her great 2019 album Silences, which I’ve raved about here plenty, I’ll encourage you just one more time to do so.

Luna – “Marquee Moon”

There’s something quintessentially too-on-the-nose about the most romantic guitar sculptors of ’90s alt-rock covering the signature song of the ’70s’ most elegant punks—it feels like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this to happen and also that it must have happened already. If anything it’s too straight a cover, but the guitars shimmer regardless, and I’m considering a Change.Org petition requiring the Dead to replace John Mayer with Dean Wareham. Next up: Drive-By Truckers’ “Freebird.”

Jealous of the Birds – “Something Holy”

Stylish but not fussy chamber-folk from Belfast’s Naomi Hamilton, who sings like Eleanor Friedberger with dirt under her fingernails as she gazes at the wide world around her. “Honey, don’t you think, it all seems so improbable?” she asks, exuding a sense of wonder that’s hardly naive. Which, in 2020, is saying something.

Pharrell Williams feat. Jay-Z – “Entrepreneur”

There is a spectre haunting Pharrell—well, more like a Specter. Remember how Pharrell sampled a pissed-off constituent from a 2009 Pennsylvania town hall meeting for Ariana Grande’s “The Light Is Coming” a couple years back? No? Well, trust me on this one, it happened. That event must have been life-changing for Pharrell, because for this celebration of black capital he’s looped a sound byte from the late Senator Arlen Specter, the pol who was being berated in the Ari tune. What does it all mean? Well you see, the wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails presents itself as “an immense accumulation of commodities,” its unit being a single commodity. Our investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a commodity...

CHAI & Hinds – “United Girls Rock’n’roll Club”

Two premiere crews of postmodern femme quasi-ironists, one from Japan and one from Spain, combine for a surprisingly midtempo but unsurprisingly rousing international pop overthrow of a solidarity anthem. 

Disclosure feat. Kehlani and Syd – “Birthday”

The British production duo have good taste in vocal collaborators and a knack for flattering, as showcased throughout their new album Energy, and here they gel with two of R&B’s sex-smartest vocalists. (This collab with the great Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara is a particular standout.) Really, though, do not call an ex on their birthday unless you are looking for trouble. Even a text might be too much.

Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2020 playlist.