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song reviews

MNDR

"Cut Me Out"

8

New York electro-pop duo Amanda Warner and Peter Wade mix warm synth beats with a soaring chorus that sounds like what birds must be thinking. The fantastically bespectacled Warner manages the impossible: Gearheads and hipsters swoon. Listen to "Cut Me Out": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

February 7, 2011

Panda Bear

"Atiba Song"

7

This droning cut by the Animal Collective singer sets multitracked voices over silvery guitar and galloping drums. The result? Hypnotic mood music that feels like it could go on forever. Listen to "Atiba Song":  Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

February 3, 2011

Nicki Minaj feat. Lil Wayne

"Roman's Revenge"

7

Weezy leaps on the craziest track from his protégé's Pink Friday LP, an alter-ego spaz-out set over little more than bowed bass and skeletal percussion. Supplanting Eminem's bilious verses on the original version, Wayne sounds breathless, cackling, drunk on his new freedom. He boasts cleverly ("Life is a puzzle/Jigsaw/All I do is win/My name should be Victor") and rhymes the chorus, "Rahr! Rahr!/Like a dungeon dragon!" with — what else? — "Foie gras!/I hear... | More »

February 2, 2011

The Kills

"Satellite"

7

This scuzz-loving English blues-punk duo were on hiatus while singer Alison Mosshart howled alongside Jack White in the Dead Weather. Now they're back with bad vibes to burn and an even freakier new sound. On "Satellite," corrosive guitar skronk rolls out over a wickedly loping dub-reggae groove as Mosshart, singer-guitarist Jamie Hince and a spooky goth-gospel choir turn lyrics about a bootycall thwarted by crappy cellphone service into an S.O.S. from hell. Listen to "Satellite": ... | More »

February 1, 2011

R.E.M.

"Mine Smell Like Honey"

7

R.E.M. have found a new way to move forward: Sound like an awesome R.E.M. tribute band. "Mine Smell Like Honey" is all Monster-style guitar rumble, with a chorus straight outta Life's Rich Pageant and Michael Stipe belting, "Dig a hole!/Dig it deeper, deeper!" Listen to "Mine Smell Like Honey": Photos: R.E.M. Through the Years | More »

January 31, 2011

Robbie Robertson

"When the Night Was Young"

7

From How to Become Clairvoyant, Robertson's first album since 1998, this pretty, wistful reminiscence finds the former Band man longing for the days when he hung out with "card sharks and grifters" and thought he could change the world. Listen to "When the Night Was Young": The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time: Number 78, Robbie Robertson | More »

January 28, 2011

PJ Harvey

"The Words That Maketh Murder"

7

Fairly peppy for a PJ Harvey song about murder, this folky shuffle finds Polly Jean warbling about dead soldiers while hand claps and horns add to the oddly catchy melee. The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Number 405 — PJ Harvey, Rid of Me | More »

January 26, 2011

The Strokes

"Under Cover of Darkness"

8

Click to Listen to The Strokes' "Under Cover of Darkness" The lead single from the first new Strokes record in five years barrels into the bar with "Return to Form" written on its forehead. "Under Cover of Darkness" (set to be released February 9th on the band's website) takes the basic elements of their sound, breaks it down, builds it back up and expands it: the skinny-tie boogie bounce of "Last Nite," wave after wave of cute and sharp interlocking guitar, and a grand, gapin... | More »

Jessie J

"Do It Like a Dude"

7

Jessie J is no girly girl — she's a Brit newcomer who wears her hat low and often avoids pants. The 22-year-old already has a sugary hit on her resume (she co-penned Miley's "Party in the U.S.A."), but on her debut single she her stomps her way across the pond, presumably with tongue in cheek: "Do It Like a Dude" finds her grabbing her crotch and dropping MF-bombs over rock riffs while calling her girls "sugar" and throwing in a brawling pop chorus. Fierce! Listen to "Do It L... | More »

January 24, 2011

Best Coast

"When You Wake Up"

6

On this seven-inch single, Bethany Cosentino keeps up her hook-packed surf-pop revival with an artfully artless sketch of doomed puppy love: "Tell me you love me/Even if you don't/I need to hear it." Listen to "When You Wake Up": The 50 Best Songs of 2010: Number 20 — Best Coast, "Boyfriend" | More »

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

More Song Stories entries »
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