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song reviews

Bon Iver

"Come Talk To Me"

7

This B side revives a 1992 Peter Gabriel original with acoustic banjo plucks and Justin Vernon's layered cries. When Vernon sings, "The heart, it will not be denied/Till we're both on the same damn side," and summons the yearning chorus, it's damn near unearthly. Listen to "Come Talk To Me": Related• Bon Iver Kick Off Tour With Magnificent Milwaukee Show• Review: Bon Iver, Bon Iver• Why Bon Iver Had to Relearn Everything He Knows | More »

July 29, 2011

DJ Shadow feat. Afrikan Boy

"I'm Excited"

4

Shadow's music used to be touched by the uncanny; this may be the clunkiest thing he's done. Stray, seemingly found noises give the groove ridges, but it's so busy it never finds its footing. Listen to "I'm Excited": Related• Photos: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »

July 27, 2011

Common feat. Nas

"Ghetto Dreams"

7

Rap-ignorant pundits should defame Common more often, if it'll result in songs like this. The Chicago native's latest knocks harder than anything on his last album, thanks to leering No I.D. production that samples pre-funk George Clinton (the Parliaments' "Let's Make It Last"). The song's around-the-way woman-worship ("Baby in one arm; the other is a skillet") echoes that of "Fried Chicken" by Nas, who raps somewhat reluctantly about "dimes" while touting his n... | More »

July 26, 2011

Girls

"Vomit"

8

Don’t let the title turn you off: The first taste of the San Francisco band’s second LP (out September 13th) is a lovesick mini-epic that has nothing to do with retching. Frontman Christopher Owens moans softly to someone who’s forsaken him, sounding as lonesome as anyone since Neil Young made On the Beach. But then waves of fuzzed-out guitar and soothing harmonies lift him up to a state of gospel-tinged ecstasy. Listen to "Vomit": Related• Random Notes, Rock's H... | More »

July 25, 2011

Britney Spears feat. R. Kelly

"Till the World Ends [Remix]"

7

Kelly slithers in with no shame: Does he actually sing, "It's a party right here hosted by Mr. Sex Addiction"?! Not as fab as the Ke$ha/Nicki Minaj remix (best use of chicken clucks this year!), but not as scene-stealing, either. He's a gentleman. Listen to "Till The World Ends [Remix]": Related• Britney Spears: A Life in Photos | More »

July 21, 2011

Jay-Z and Kanye West

"Otis"

8

Jay-Z and Kanye West prove again that they’re one of rap's all-time great tag teams — up there with Run-DMC, OutKast and EPMD — on this teaser from Watch the Throne (due August 8th). West twists a few seconds of Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" into a Blueprint-style barrage, setting the stage for some slick collar-popping from Jay-Z ("Photo shoot fresh, looking like wealth / I’m about to call the paparazzi on myself"). Jay’s performance, in tur... | More »

Cobra Starship

"You Make Me Feel..."

5

Except for a riff that suggests Pink's "Raise Your Glass," guitars take a timeout from the pop pranksters' new one. Gabe Saporta drops weak pickup lines, but guest diva Sabi calls herself "the baddest baby in the atmosphere," and is right. Listen to "You Make Me Feel...": Related• Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

July 20, 2011

The White Stripes

"I've Been Loving You Too Long"

7

Jack and Meg have called it quits, but there's good news: Third Man Records plans to gradually roll out a load of unreleased White Stripes songs. The newest offerings — covers cut in 1997 — prove the Stripes sounded like themselves from the get-go: On Love's druggy ballad "Signed D.C.," Jack moans about addiction over a beat that's minimalist even for Meg. Their take on Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long" is livelier: Jack's vocals ar... | More »

The White Stripes

"Signed D.C."

6

Jack and Meg have called it quits, but there's good news: Third Man Records plans to gradually roll out a load of unreleased White Stripes songs. The newest offerings — covers cut in 1997 — prove the Stripes sounded like themselves from the get-go: On Love's druggy ballad "Signed D.C.," Jack moans about addiction over a beat that's minimalist even for Meg. Their take on Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long" is livelier: Jack's vocals ar... | More »

July 18, 2011

Red Hot Chili Peppers

"The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie"

6

Click here to listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers' "The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie" It's reassuring to realize just how little the Chilis have changed in the five years since their last album—or in the two decades since Blood Sugar Sex Magik, for that matter. So what if guitarist John Frusciante quit (again) during their most recent hiatus? The remaining members seem to be the same lovable goofballs as always. Their big comeback single, from August 30th's I'm ... | More »

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »
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