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song reviews

R.E.M.

"We All Go Back to Where We Belong"

7

Click to listen to R.E.M.'s 'We All Go Back To Where We Belong' The last R.E.M. song (for now?), from the band's upcoming greatest-hits LP, sounds like an extra cut from the Collapse Into Now sessions – but it suits their breakup perfectly. Michael Stipe sings about missing the taste of the ocean on your skin over gentle, orchestral folk rock that recalls the shady-margined utopianism of mid- Sixties California pop (and their own Out of Time). Stipe sounds appropria... | More »

October 17, 2011

Bruno Mars

"It Will Rain"

6

Who better than Bruno Mars to lead the promotional blitz for Twilight's latest soundtrack? Mars' clean-cut looks and gently scuffed croon make him an ideal nonthreatening crush – and last year's smash "Grenade," on which he threatened to blow himself up for attention, proved his knack for overheated romantic dialogue. Mars gets similarly melodramatic on this ballad ("If you ever leave me, baby, leave some morphine at my door"), but the real point is the song's desper... | More »

October 14, 2011

Bon Iver

"With God on Our Side"

7

"The country I come from is called the Midwest," sings devout Wisconsinite Justin Vernon on his stately cover of Dylan's great anti-war lesson, performed live at a Portland gig. Vernon leaves Auto-Tune aside, setting the mood with Bill Frisell-style electric guitar and a mournful military trumpet. As timely as ever, regrettably. Listen to "With God on Our Side": Related• Why Bon Iver Had to Relearn Everything He Knows • Album Review: Bon Iver, 'Bon Iver' | More »

October 13, 2011

Rick Ross feat. Nicki Minaj

"You the Boss"

5

Bitches aren't the only things that Rick Ross loves. For one thing, there's alliteration: "Bottles, Beamers, brandnew Benzes/Barbies, ballerinas and Britneys/Barbra Streisand-edition Bentleys." (One might add booming beats and boasts as big as that beard.) The first of two singles from the Miami MC's fifth solo album – God Forgives, I Don't, due out December 13th – is topnotch Ross, with the rapper delivering a torrent of witty brags (about everything from his ... | More »

Rick Ross

"I Love My Bitches"

8

Bitches aren't the only things that Rick Ross loves. For one thing, there's alliteration: "Bottles, Beamers, brandnew Benzes/Barbies, ballerinas and Britneys/Barbra Streisand-edition Bentleys." (One might add booming beats and boasts as big as that beard.) The first of two singles from the Miami MC's fifth solo album – God Forgives, I Don't, due out December 13th – is topnotch Ross, with the rapper delivering a torrent of witty brags (about everything from his ... | More »

October 12, 2011

B.o.B. feat. Lil' Wayne

"Strange Clouds"

6

On the kickoff to his second LP, the Atlanta rapper slings references to Nancy Kerrigan, Inception and Top Chef over a blippy dubstep beat from Dr. Luke. Wayne drops a wink-nudge verse about getting blitzed, but it’s B.o.B who lights up with a charming, tenacious flow.  Listen to "Strange Clouds": Related• Photos: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »

October 10, 2011

Rostam

"Wood"

6

The Vampire Weekend talent pool runs deep. This elegant track from Rostam Batmanglij is a different flavor from his electro-pop project, Discovery, with its sitar, hand drums and strings; imagine David Byrne sleepwalking through a Bollywood musical. Listen to "Wood": Related• Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

October 6, 2011

Taio Cruz

"Hangover"

6

"I can drink until I throw up/And I don't ever, ever want to grow up," sings Taio Cruz – and can you blame him? Songs about partying yourself senseless are surefire these days, especially when bolstered by thudding production from Dr. Luke. Grimly effective, industrial strength party-pop. Listen to "Hangover": Related• Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

September 30, 2011

Olivia Tremor Control

"The Game You Play Is in Your Head, Parts 1, 2 & 3"

8

The reunited Georgia psych-pop crew's first single since the Nineties is a candy-colored daydream in three acts, totaling five minutes of exhilarating melodies and home-brewed sound effects. What a sweet surprise. Listen to "The Game You Play Is in Your Head, Parts 1, 2 & 3": Related• Live Review: The Olivia Tremor Control Bring the Old Magic Back• Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

September 28, 2011

Lou Reed and Metallica

"The View"

8

"I am the root/I am the progress/I am the aggressor," James Hetfield bellows like vengeance itself in the thundering spaces between Lou Reed's dry, unpitying harangue, in this song of destructive passion from Lulu, the strange-bedfellows record of the year. The full album runs the gamut of Reed and Metallica's respective extremes: his literary violence and love of drone, their wild-boy thrash and crushing power chords. But "The View" – with its crippled-march rhythm, sudden ju... | More »

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Song Stories

“Don't Dream It's Over”

Crowded House | 1986

Early in the sessions for Crowded House's debut album, the band and producer Mitchell Froom were still feeling each other out, and at one point Froom substituted session musicians for the band's Paul Hester and Nick Seymour. "At the time it was a quite threatening thing," Neil Finn told Rolling Stone. "The next day we recorded 'Don't Dream It's Over,' and it had a particularly sad groove to it — I think because Paul and Nick had faced their own mortality." As for the song itself, "It was just about on the one hand feeling kind of lost, and on the other hand sort of urging myself on — don't dream it's over," Finn explained.

More Song Stories entries »
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