What are these Baltimore art-school punk kids on? A creative roll, for one thing. "Easy Peasy" is nearly six minutes of mayhem, mixing up King Crimson-style riffs, African soukous beats and New Wave synths, while Molly Siegel steals the show with her David Byrne-meets-Bikini Kill howl. Listen to "Easy Peasy": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »
Death Cab For Cutie
"Codes and Keys"
This new ballad (heard here in a live, solo-piano version) proudly bites Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Ben Gibbard follows minor falls and major lifts to the cold and broken refrain, "We are a-live" — sounding both fragile and optimistic. Listen to "Codes and Keys": Gallery: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »
You might expect the first studio leak from this group of well-established indie rockers to be one part aggro-daydream (Helium frontwoman Mary Timony) to two parts rocket thrust (Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss) with a taste of garage-pop sugar (the Minders' keyboardist Rebecca Cole). Actually, "Glass Tambourine" — half of a seven-inch vinyl single due out on Record Store Day, April 16th — sounds like some wicked 1960s acid-rock yard-sale discovery, wi... | More »
It's as if they never left. "Sad Song" — the lead single from Move Like This, the Cars' first studio album in 24 years — opens with a rolling-machine groove that sparkles like 1978's "My Best Friend's Girl" with a fresh coat of chrome. But the Cars — especially singer-guitarist Ric Ocasek — were a deceptively dark ride, with a bleak undertow in Ocasek's songwriting and the band's sleek, noirish minimalism. "Too many clowns saying everythin... | More »
Matching the young-adult tumult of Kelly Clarkson with the wind-swept angst of Florence and the Machine, Perri's 2010 smash hit "Jar of Hearts" was bad-boyfriend-crushing piano pop — the kind of thing that you crank as you decide which local cliff to jump off when your high school love dumps you for a Cheerio. Her newest blast of feelings-napalm is a ballad that starts out placid and folky, then picks up intensity and volume, as grand melodic swooshes (and timpani!) imply romantic ... | More »
Tyler, the Creator
Who says the kids are all right? Over a dark, chorus-free drone, the 19-year-old Angeleno (who heads up blog-beloved rap crew Odd Future) shouts out his therapist and dreams of stabbing "Bruno Mars in his goddamn esophagus." It's gleeful psychodrama that makes Kanye seem well-adjusted. Listen to "Yonkers": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »
"E.T. (feat. Kanye West)"
The best thing about this version of Perry's leaden electro-pop jam is Yeezy flinging a pitch-shifted 16 before the song really begins — though rhyming "astronaut" with "get ass a lot," he sounds like he's checking his diamond-profile wristwatch. Listen to "E.T. (feat. Kanye West)": Gallery: Katy Perry's Best Looks | More »
The Decemberists-R.E.M. lovefest continues with one of the latter's great sleepers (from Life's Rich Pageant), covered live for Morning Becomes Eclectic. Pretty faithful — except for Jenny Conlee's accordion, which adds a gentle brauhaus bounce. How about a dual tour? Please? Listen to "Cuyahoga": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »
"Till the World Ends"
Click to listen to Britney Spears' "Till the World Ends" You want a party song, call a partier. Written by Ke$ha (with Max Martin and Dr. Luke), the second single from Femme Fatale is ginormously pumping uber-Euro uber-disco: sky-sucking synth streaks, a beat that sounds like blimps fucking and a thousand shirtless drunken sailors chanting along on the chorus. Her gauzy vocals kind of drown in the tsunami track. But so would Pavarotti. Britney Spears: A Life in Photos | More »
Timbaland feat. Brandy
A month into his track-a-week "Timbaland Thursdays" series, Timbo already seems stretched thin. "808" is Tim-boilerplate: some kind words for his favorite drum machine, a few breaths of Brandy and a bland skitter beat. Listen to "808": Gallery: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »