song reviews


"The Butcher"


Sorry, Radiohead fans — the band swears the only sequel you're going to get to The King of Limbs is these tunes. Both are superb electro ballads that would have fit King's moodier second half. "Supercollider" is familiar from the group's epochal 2008 tour; the stuttering drums on the new "The Butcher" evoke Prince's "Housequake," while Thom Yorke layers harmonies into a celebration of paranoid dread. Listen to "The Butcher": Photos: Fifteen Years of Ra... | More »

April 21, 2011




EMA — a.k.a. Erika M. Anderson — chants a love-hate letter to the state that's "so fucked it's 5150," complete with crashing piano chords and dirty synth drones. She's like the bastard daughter of Sinéad O'Connor, except twice as crazy and six times as funny. Listen to "California": Gallery: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »

April 20, 2011




The first single from the French electronic duo's long-awaited second album delivers a high- end baguette beat-down — it's a blistering track, part Daft Punk's "Aerodynamic," part the Who's "Baba O'Riley," and totally over-the-top. Listen to "Civilization": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

April 19, 2011


Don't Turn Out the Lights


To boy-band fans, New Kids on the Block getting together with the Backstreet Boys is like Moses teaming up with Jesus. And the gut-sucking supergroup's debut track is blue-eyed dance-pop whoosh. Every Boy and Kid gets a piece of the vocals, and we get a piece of the dream. Listen to "Don't Turn Out the Lights": Photos: A History of Heartthrobs on the Cover of Rolling Stone | More »

April 18, 2011

Lady Gaga



From its drone-smeared synth throb to its bizarro hook, Gaga's latest club-crusher is a feistier monster than "Born This Way." A bad-romance confessional about a lover she can't leave behind, "Judas" is Gaga in full-on provocateur mode. (The video's Mary Magdalene motif already has Catholicsbunching their undies.) But even when Gaga plays divider, she's still a uniter; despite lines like "In the most biblical sense, I am beyond repentance/Fame hooker, prostitute, wench," s... | More »

Jane's Addiction

"End to the Lies"


Getting the newest edition of Jane's Addiction off the ground hasn't been easy: Former Guns n' Roses bassist Duff McKagan recently quit the band after just six months. He was replaced by TV on the Radio sound whiz Dave Sitek, whose art-dude mitts are all over the first track from the band's first album in eight years. Over a sleek bass line and shards of post-punk guitar noise, Perry Farrell fights to relocate his Eighties-shaman form, singing, "You only become more like y... | More »

April 15, 2011

Jennifer Lopez feat. Lil Wayne

I'm Into You


A muy romantico chorus; a guest rap by Lil Wayne; a lithesome beat pitched somewhere between Puerto Rican reggaeton and Jamaican dancehall, cooked up by can't-miss hitmakers Stargate. "I'm Into You" should be a hot summer single. But the lyrics are painfully insipid ("You got me hooked with your love controller"), and the bland singsong tune fails to work its way into your mind's ear. Even Weezy, sounding as irrepressible as ever, can't coax any pep out of the desultory J.... | More »

April 14, 2011

Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi (feat. Jack White)

Two Against One


Jack White's most ear-grabbing outburst since the end of the White Stripes ain't punk blues. But it's some kinda blues, one of two leaks — Norah Jones' Nancy Sinatra-ish "Black" is the other — from Danger Mouse's latest fantasy, a spaghetti-Western song cycle with composer Daniele Luppi. "The mirror is a trigger, and your mouth's a gun," White sings over haunted Ennio Morricone-style backing vocals, spinning couplets about a mercenary character in a h... | More »

April 12, 2011

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 »

April 8, 2011

Thurston Moore



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 »

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

More Song Stories entries »