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song reviews

Weezer

"Memories"

6

It's odd how Rivers Cuomo and Eminem always seem to drop new records at the same time. They both represent a lost golden era to their fanboy cult, and they get knee-jerk hostility from the same Stans who wildly overrated them 10 years ago. But the rest of the world still likes them as much as ever. "Memories," the first single from the forthcoming Hurley, is a clever goof that skewers the Weezer cult by making fun of Nineties nostalgia. Over a chugging groove built on synths and power ch... | More »

Soundgarden

"Black Rain"

8

Cut in 1991 but never released (it'll be on Soundgarden's forthcoming best-of), this grunge nugget finds Chris Cornell rocking like Sammy Hagar on a three-state killing spree. Obscure demo? No way — this burns as much flannel as anything in their canon. | More »

August 11, 2010

Taylor Swift

"Mine"

8

Yes, we know: It's tough watching the kids grow up. And here's Taylor Swift, once the voice of heartbroken fifteen year olds everywhere now singing about living in sin with a college dude, imagining "a drawer of my things" at his crib while her dude assures her "we'll never make my parents' mistakes." (Uh-huh.) Sure, it's formula: spare, acoustic guitar-driven opening; big fat chorus; lyrical perspective-shift, from hers to his, for the feel-good final verse. But it&#... | More »

August 10, 2010

Menomena

"Taos"

8

"Show me your teeth, I'll show mine," Menomena's Justin Harris yelps in this blues-rock epic. The Portland, Oregon, trio fulfill their end of the taunt, clamoring like the Black Keys if they had recruited an angry sax player. | More »

August 9, 2010

Bryan Ferry

"You Can Dance"

6

As the former frontman of Roxy Music, this arch romantic sets a mighty high bar. He doesn't reach it on this slow-grinding single, but the layered guitars and Ferry's suave croon make for an elegant celebration of sexual tension. | More »

August 6, 2010

Maximum Balloon feat. Aku

"Tiger"

7

On the debut single from his new project, TV on the Radio's David Sitek comes up with the killer dance anthem TVOTR never quite delivered. Guest vocalist Aku growls over steely electro, and the "meow-meow" refrain offers a feline response to George Clinton's funk classic "Atomic Dog." | More »

August 5, 2010

Lauryn Hill

"Repercussions"

5

Hill has been showing life on the road lately, but "Repercussions," apparently an old outtake, is disappointing — an undercooked jam about struggling through a world that's full of good intentions but devoid of hooks. | More »

August 4, 2010

Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses

"Depression"

5

Bingham and producer T Bone Burnett — who together won an Oscar for co-writing "The Weary Kind" for Crazy Heart — reconvened for Bingham's Junky Star LP. The first single is about a jobless romantic who refuses to crack: "I'd rather lay down in a pine box," Bingham croaks, "than sell my heart to a fucking wasteland." Call it a modern Dust Bowl ballad — raw-boned heartache that's just right for these times. | More »

August 3, 2010

John Legend

"Wake Up Everybody"

8

"Wake Up Everybody" turns back the clock in all the right ways: The lead single from Legend's album with the Roots is a sparkling cover of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' 1975 hit. Over string-drenched retro-funk, Legend splashes his ultrawarm croon all over, cool-rocking the pulpit like he owns the church. Guest rapper Common, meanwhile, stays right on message: "Even in this generation livin' through computers/Only love, love, love can reboot us." | More »

August 2, 2010

Robert Plant

"Angel Dance"

7

Plant is a Zen master who has always marched to his own flute. So it's almost fitting that he's forgoing a much-rumored Led Zeppelin reunion tour in order to revive the band he fronted in the mid-Sixties. First time around, Band of Joy were a British blues-rock footnote. Now they're an American roots crew in which Plant shares vocal duties with alt-country star Patty Griffin. The first offering from Plant and Band of Joy's forthcoming album, "Angel Dance" is a bluegrass co... | More »

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

More Song Stories entries »
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