Prince, "Nothing Compares 2 U." Two years after Prince's death, his estate has raided his vault and made available the 1984 recording of the song that he first gave away to his side project the Family and that was later a 1990 hit for Sinéad O'Connor. Is Prince's version, which features a screaming guitar part and sax solo by Eric Leeds, as well as previously unseen rehearsal footage, truly great and a privilege to hear? Of course it is. But I'll risk sacrilege and say the overly busy arrangement distracts from its focus and that it is not better than O'Connor's look-you-in-the-eye version, which still packs an emotional wallop, all these years later.
King Krule. Time to take a listen to Archy Marshall, the now-23-year-old Brit songwriter who first emerged as the Zoo Kid in 2010 and who released The Ooz, his second album as King Krule, last year. Marshall excels in a brand of moody, dystopian punk-jazz that recalls down-in-the-gutter lounge acts like Tom Waits as well as darkly disconcerting acts such as Tricky. Wednesday at the Fillmore.
Soccer Mommy. Sophie Allison is the 20-year-old Swiss-born Nashville songwriter who put her NYU education on hold when people started paying heed to the songs she was posting on Bandcamp last year as Soccer Mommy. And for good reason: Clean, her new album produced by Gabe Cox and released on Fat Possum, is full of songs of arresting imagery, like "Cool," about a girl who literally eats boys alive, and "Your Dog," which she doesn't want to be, thank you very much. Thursday at Johnny Brenda's and opening for Paramore at the Festival Pier on June 24.
Calexico. The Tucson band that shares its portmanteau name with a town on the California-Mexico border is fronted by Joey Burns and John Convertino and has been making music and telling stories from both sides of that geographical line dating to their 1996 debut album, Spoke. On their new The Thread That Keeps Us, songs like "Voices in the Field" and "Luna Roja" blend elements of rock, jazz, Tejano, and mariachi music, sounding more timely than ever. Thursday at World Cafe Live.
Love, Forever Changes. Speaking of Calexico, the band's 2003 cover version of Love's "Alone Again Or" is its most popular song, if you're measuring by the number of Spotify streams. The sterling original leads off Forever Changes, the 1967 baroque pop masterpiece by the Los Angeles psychedelic folk band fronted by enigmatic singer Arthur Lee and that has just been reissued as a 4-CD, 1-DVD, and 1-LP boxed set that's purpose-built for Love obsessives. For those who want to check out one of the singular achievements of the counterculture without breaking the bank, it's also available as a single vinyl LP.