Most of “Hackney Diamonds,” the Rolling Stones’ first album of their own songs since 2005, is a romp that celebrates their sheer tenacity, their guitar riffs and their tight-but-loose musical reflexes — the way the band still kicks, defying mortality. True to Stones album tradition, Keith Richards takes lead vocals on one song, “Tell Me Straight,” and as usual it’s a little more ragged and unguarded than the rest. “I need an answer — how long can this last?” he sings. “Don’t make me wait — is my future all in the past?” He could be singing about a longtime friendship, a strained romance, or maybe a band that has endured, despite friction, through six decades.
Kali Uchis, ‘Te Mata’
The Colombian American songwriter Kali Uchis has proved herself in both up-to-the-minute Pan-American pop and retro excursions. “Te Mata” (“It Kills You”) is richly retro, a cha-cha that gracefully and emphatically rejects an abusive ex. “If you’re looking for the culprit, then look in the mirror,” she taunts in Spanish. “I’m with someone who makes me happy.” Strings, horns and jazz-tinged piano back her as her vocal rises from aplomb to icy contempt, never sacrificing sheer elegance.
Caroline Polachek, ‘Dang’
One percussive syllable — “Dang” — sums up the sound of this track, an outtake from “Desire, I Want to Turn Into You,” the album Caroline Polachek released earlier this year. Polachek, Cecile Believe and Danny L Harle concocted a staccato, stop-start production laced with full silences and out-of-nowhere samples. A repeated “dang” is also the bulk of the lyrics of the chorus; elsewhere, Polachek allots some melodic phrases to toy with permanence and impermanence, observing, “Maybe it’s forever, maybe it’s just shampoo.” The tone is casual; the construction, impeccably zany.
The French-Chilean songwriter Ana Tijoux lost her sister Tania to cancer four years ago. “Tania” — from Tijoux’s album due in November, “Vida” (“Life”) — is a fond, celebratory tribute; Tijoux recalls her sister struggling in hospitals, but chooses remembrance over mourning. “Your memory always lives in the memories you wanted,” she promises. “We sing here, we dance here, we feel you here.” The track melds Andean rhythms with reggae, and envisions a solace “beyond every earthly plane.”
Helena Deland, ‘Saying Something’
Helena Deland ponders language, friendship and time in “Saying Something.” It’s a soothing, folky song about a fraught moment, when “Knowing what to say isn’t easy/Words feel like treacherous footing.” Her acoustic guitars and close-harmony vocals promise solace, even as she confesses her need: “Say something to me.”
Nailah Hunter, ‘Finding Mirrors’
The harpist, singer and songwriter Nailah Hunter floats enigmatic portents in “Finding Mirrors,” a single from an album, “Lovegaze,” due in January. “Don’t wanna fight you, don’t wanna win/Gold inscriptions all on your skin,” she sings. She’s cushioned by low synthesizer tones, illuminated by glimmering harp notes and prodded by undercurrents of percussion; the song stays suspended in its own limbo.
Julie Byrne with Laugh Cry Laugh, ‘Velocity! What About the Inertia?’
“What ever happened to slow, slow dancing?” Julie Byrne asks in a song that’s made for it: a two-chord reverie with echoey guitars and subdued percussion. Written by Laugh Cry Laugh’s bassist, Emily Fontana, with some lyrics by Byrne, the song finds bliss in the stasis of a long romance: “I’ll love you always/Our names carved in the table,” she muses.
Dawn Richard, ‘Babe Ruth’
A rap comparing herself to a sports hero (and a candy bar) is the least innovative component of “Babe Ruth” from Dawn Richard’s new EP, “The Architect.” Everything else stays in creative flux. A blurry, glitchy intro segues into an electro thump, a house bounce and a jazz-rock guitar solo that ends as if awaiting another metamorphosis.
Olof Dreijer, ‘Cassia’
Olof Dreijer, the electronic producer who’s half of the duo the Knife, has released a frisky solo instrumental EP, “Rosa Rugosa,” that toys constantly with riffs, rhythms and permutations. The melodic lines of “Cassia” use sliding, wriggling tones that always feel a little slippery, and Dreijer subverts them further with syncopated cross-rhythms and blipping countermelodies; the 4/4 motion is constant but cheerfully contested all the way through.