New Album Reviews: The Decemberists, Gregg Allman, Smith Westerns

Plus: Reviews of new singles from Britney Spears, Drive-By Truckers and Kanye West and Jay-Z

January 19, 2011 10:25 AM ET
New Album Reviews: The Decemberists, Gregg Allman, Smith Westerns

The highlights from this week's Rolling Stone album reviews include The Decemberists' The King is Dead, which Will Hermes praised for its sumptuous harmonies and unfussy arrangements; a reissue of the Jayhawks' overlooked alternative country classic Tomorrow the Green Grass; and the second album by Rolling Stone Band of the Week Smith Westerns, which Jon Dolan describes as "an overpowering blast of glam-rocking gorgeousness."

On the singles front, Rob Sheffield loved the new Britney Spears hit "Hold It Against Me," but Jody Rosen was not very impressed by Kanye West and Jay-Z's "chest-thumping" on "H.A.M.," the first track from their upcoming record Watch the Throne.


The Decemberists - The King is Dead (stream full album)

The Jayhawks - Tomorrow the Green Grass: Legacy Edition (Reissue) (stream two songs)

Gregg Allman - Low Country Blues (stream full album)

Smith Westerns - Dye it Blonde (stream full album)

Braids - Native Speaker (stream one song)

White Lies - Ritual (stream live performance of one song)

Tennis - Cape Dory (stream two songs)


Britney Spears "Hold It Against Me" (stream)

Kanye West and Jay-Z "H.A.M." (stream)

Timbaland and Missy Elliott "Take Ur Clothes Off" (stream)

Lykke Li "Get Some (Remix by Beck)" (stream)

Drive-By Truckers "Used to Be a Cop" (stream)

Stevie Nicks "Secret Love" (stream)

Wanda Jackson "Thunder on the Mountain" (stream)
Pre-order the vinyl record from Third Man, or buy it from iTunes.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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