Lou Reed’s Folky Velvet Underground Demo, and 9 More New Songs

Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at [email protected] and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage.

Lou Reed, ‘I’m Waiting for the Man – May 1965 Demo’

“‘I’m Waitin’ for the Man,’ words and music, Lou Reed,” announces a familiar voice at the beginning of this recording, the first known demo of what was destined to become a rock ’n’ roll standard. Then just 23 years old, the aspiring poet and rock star had a practical reason to brand this recording as such: He would later mail the reel-to-reel tape to himself, to secure what was sometimes called “the poor man’s copyright.” This previously unreleased version of “I’m Waiting for the Man,” which kicks off Light in the Attic’s illuminating new Reed archival collection “Words & Music, May 1965,” is stylistically quite different from the jangly rocker that would appear two years later on the Velvet Underground’s indelible debut, “The Velvet Underground & Nico” two years later. The endearingly sloppy, acoustic-guitar-driven demo is essentially a folk song, occasionally kicking into an almost country-tinged gait. For all the differences in the arrangement, though, what’s remarkable is how complete Reed’s vision of the song already is here, and how few changes he’d have to make to turn this unassuming blueprint into a countercultural classic. Reed’s then-new friend and future VU bandmate John Cale can be heard singing backup, learning and occasionally forgetting the words to this nascent number in real time, furthering the uncanny feeling that to listen to this demo is to witness rock history being born. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Weyes Blood, ‘It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody’

Natalie Mering’s soft, clarion voice sounds like a delayed transmission from 1970s AM radio, blending the searching tone of “Court and Spark”-era Joni Mitchell with the celestial calm of Karen Carpenter. She uses that instrument to stirring effect on “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody,” the first track and single from the upcoming album “And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow.” “It’s been so long since I felt really known,” Mering admits with plaintive candor, playing wallflower at a party where everyone else seems immune to the loneliness she feels. But the song suddenly blossoms into a balm for that sort of pain when Mering realizes, a little paradoxically, that loneliness is one of the most universal human conditions: “Yes, we all bleed the same way,” Mering reassures herself, as Mary Lattimore’s harp provides additional, and luminous, company. ZOLADZ

Mightmare, ‘Enemy’

The pandemic project for Sarah Shook, who leads the band the Disarmers, was a self-played, self-produced, self-engineered solo album under the name Mightmare, due Oct. 14. “Enemy” is a blunt, stomping, bitter breakup song — “I’d rather be your enemy/Than fade away like a childhood friend” — with a hint of Appalachia in its modal melody. Shook’s production isn’t as stark as it seems at first; behind the implacable beat and the distorted guitar, electronics and other instruments lurk like unwanted memories. PARELES

Bomba Estéreo and Manu Chao, ‘Me Duele’

Any pain seems downright bearable in “Me Duele” (“It Hurts Me”), a breezy collaboration between the Colombian band Bomba Estéreo and the French-Spanish singer Manu Chao. They complain about false assurances — “Don’t ask me to wait for you if you’re going to leave me” — over a beat that laces strummed Andean mini-guitars through lightly syncopated drums, with an electric-guitar hook snaking behind the voices. “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts,” Chao and Bomba Estéreo’s Liliana Saumet sing, only to add, “until it doesn’t hurt any more.” PARELES

Jessie Reyez, ‘Mutual Friend’

Vintage elegance, measured sweetness and an underlying fury mix in “Mutual Friend,” a song about how “this heartbreak morphed into hate” from Jessie Reyez’s new album, “Yessie.” Pizzicato strings and a classic doo-wop chord progression signal retro restraint, though they’re punctuated by sampled shouts. Reyez treats an ex’s attempt to reconnect with contempt — “Guess what? You’re about seven months late” — that escalates into a full-scale counterattack, moving between icy dismissiveness and raspy regret. PARELES

Kelela, ‘Washed Away’

The elusive follow-up to the avant-garde R&B artist Kelela’s excellent 2017 debut “Take Me Apart” has been so intensely anticipated that even Kelela herself recently posted a winking compilation of all the “where is Kelela” memes (set, cheekily, to the “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” theme song.) That was her way of setting the scene for her first new song in four years (that’s half the time since “Anti”; chill out, people!) the pulsing, aqueous mood piece “Washed Away.” The song is an immediate reminder not just of Kelela’s singular, stone-smooth voice, but also of the confident restraint of her artistry. Here, as ever, she’s moving at her own pace. ZOLADZ

iLe and Mon Laferte, ‘Traguito’

A “traguito” is a drink, and alcohol makes a troubled romance even more confused in this not-quite-traditionalist, passionately ambivalent bolero by the songwriters and singers iLe, from Puerto Rico, and Mon Laferte, from Chile. A pair of elegantly intertwined acoustic guitars, joined by bass and percussion, propel and offer counterpoint to the singers as they sketch a love-hate relationship that might still end in desire. PARELES

Hand Habits, ‘The Greatest Weapon’

The dreamy “Greatest Weapon,” from Meg Duffy’s one-person indie-folk project Hand Habits, covers a lot of ground in just under three minutes, transforming from a modest, acoustic ballad into a psychedelic pop anthem on its layered, billowing chorus. Perhaps that efficiency is a sly rebuke to the titular “greatest weapon of all time,” the identity of which Duffy reveals in the middle of the song: “It’s time itself, time is the ruler of my hell.” ZOLADZ

Ouri, ‘Ossature’

The Canadian electronic musician and singer Ouri traces a medical and mental journey in “Ossature,” a song she has said was inspired by a treatment with the consciousness-altering drug ketamine. The track, from her album “Frame of a Fauna,” is slow, steady, surreal. In the video, she awakens to meet “grandmothers” and leaves them with a weapon in her hands; in the audio, her voice glides, echoes and multiplies itself over clinking, throbbing electronics and, eventually, cellos that still connect to physicality. PARELES

Dafnis Prieto featuring Luciana Souza, ‘Guajira en Sol’

How many drummers write full-fledged songs with lyrics and melodies (along with a beat)? Dafnis Prieto, a drummer (and MacArthur fellow) born and educated in Cuba, who has sparked New York City jazz since his arrival in 1999, joins them with “Cantar,” his new album featuring the Brazilian singer Luciana Souza; she sings in English, Spanish and Portuguese. The album opens with “Guajira en Sol” (“Country Girl in the Sun”), a tribute to a beautiful girl that’s also a marvel of acrobatic musicianship, with Souza’s voice hopping and gliding across tricky but joyful melodies, a glorious match of percussive angularity and tuneful allure. PARELES

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