My Morning Jacket
A shimmering curtain of Eno-incensed atmospherics, a muted kick drum, a dry guitar figure. Then Jim James, dressed in reverb, declares he is "going back to my childhood way." And so he does on a track that recalls 2001's At Dawn more than 2008's genre-hopping Evil Urges: Vigorous acoustic strumming teases an arena crescendo, drops out for a verse, then all the guitars kick in, classic MMJ with a dash of the Edge and a dollop of Neil Young. The title track of the forthcoming LP will ... | More »
The lead track from Moore's Beck-produced solo record is strikingly tranquil – an acoustic rendering of a classic Sonic Youth chord progression and sweet singing. Sea Change-like flourishes subtly let you feel Beck's presence. Listen to "Benediction": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »
"Letters She Sent"
The Nashville-to-New York transplant sings of three women coping with regret: Donna, Julie and Mary (who got home with "her stockings on crooked/But she didn't care"). Recorded on a back porch, it's country music as homemade bread. Listen to "Letters She Sent" Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »
"Think You Can Wait"
The National have always had a grand cinematic element to their sound, so it's natural to hear them go widescreen for this theme from the film Win Win. With piano, strings and elevating backing vocals, Matt Berninger croons about spiritual struggles: "I'll pull the devil down with me/One way or another." Listen to "Think You Can Wait": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »
Thom Yorke, Burial and Four Tet
Released on a limited-edition 12-inch single, "Ego" gives a taste of three great experimenters: underwater grooves (Burial), webs of acoustic instruments (Four Tet) and fidgety beats (Yorke). It's a dance-floor come-on by a dude who may over-think his morning oatmeal: "The daydreamers, the dope smokers, the loose talkers," Yorke sings, apparently listing his competition, "I bet they just throw themselves at you." As DJ supergroups go, promising indeed. Listen to "Ego": The... | More »
Dr. Dre feat. Swizz Beatz
The last leak from Dre's eternally forthcoming Detox was "I Need a Doctor," a hard-rocker featuring Eminem that made Dre's return seem not just imminent but urgent. With "Chillin' " (as yet unconfirmed for Detox), Dre returns to his laaaaaid-back comfort zone (à la late-2010's "Kush"). Riding a percolating groove, it's serviceably succulent loungin'-in-the-club funk. But, c'mon, Dre. "Kush"? "Chillin' "? We get it. You like to relax. But could yo... | More »
Death Cab For Cutie
"You Are a Tourist"
Death Cab frontman Ben Gibbard made his name as an indie-rock anti-charismatic – a gawky master of melancholy. But on the first single from the band's eighth album, he tries out a new role: self-help guru. "When there's a burning in your heart. . . . /Build it bigger than the sun/Let it grow," he sings. The advice floats over a buoyant yet muscular groove, and ringing guitars push toward the arena-friendly rock of Coldplay and U2. The "inspirational" message feels flat –... | More »
"Brick By Brick"
The first taste of the Brit band's fourth LP, this oddly meat-and-potatoes rocker finds Alex Turner rhyming "rock & roll" with "steal your soul" over simple riffs. His Jim Morrison impression later in the song is only a minor improvement. Listen to "Brick By Brick": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »
Teen dream Ferreira isn't bugged by being "not a girl, not yet a woman." Her latest synth-pop confection bounces like a Stacey Q jam — and big-ups both nooky and the Almighty: "I pity the fools who realize too late/Love, sex and God are great." Listen to "Sex Rules": Gallery: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »