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song reviews

Bright Eyes

"Coyote Song"

7

A benefit single for the victims of Arizona's immigration laws, this protest song (about a lover stuck in Mexico) is as pretty as it is angry. Bright Eyes: King of Indie Rock | More »

October 20, 2010

John Legend

"Wake Up"

6

Legend and the Roots recorded Arcade Fire's anthem for their LP Wake Up!, but it didn't make the cut. This live version suggests why: Legend's vocals miss Win Butler's cracked frailty, and the groove refuses to swing. But it's cool to hear the song becoming a 21st-century standard. Video: The Roots and John Legend on Their Soul LP 'Wake Up' | More »

October 18, 2010

Brian Eno

"2 Forms of Anger"

7

This taste of Eno's new album nearly conflates his entire oeuvre: There's ambient drift, murky, data-storm rhythms and art-punk rave-up. Anger from the guru of chill? Bring it on. Photos: The Hottest Live Photos of the Week | More »

October 14, 2010

Steven Tyler

"Love Lives"

6

Tyler recorded his first solo single for Space Battleship Yamato, a Japanese sci-fi film set in 2199. But the song is stuck in 1997: It's a ballad with an orchestral sound so big you can see spaceships explode while lovers em- brace. It's no "Dream On," and it's not quite "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." Let's hope Tyler saved the rockers for Aerosmith's next LP. Photos: Aerosmith Bring the Hits to Cocked, Locked, Ready to Rock Tour Kickoff | More »

October 12, 2010

U2

"Every Breaking Wave"

8

U2 have made their current European tour a testing ground for new material. The best of the new live songs is "Mercy," cut during the sessions for 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb but not on the album. The band has reworked "Mercy" for the stage, turning it into a big bear hug of a ballad that almost sounds like it could have gone on Joshua Tree. "You're going to kill me, and I want to die," Bono sings against the Edge's spacey arpeggios. &qu... | More »

U2

"Glastonbury"

8

U2 have made their current European tour a testing ground for new material. The best of the new live songs is "Mercy," cut during the sessions for 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb but not on the album. The band has reworked "Mercy" for the stage, turning it into a big bear hug of a ballad that almost sounds like it could have gone on Joshua Tree. "You're going to kill me, and I want to die," Bono sings against the Edge's spacey arpeggios. &qu... | More »

U2

"Return of the Stingray Guitar"

8

U2 have made their current European tour a testing ground for new material. The best of the new live songs is "Mercy," cut during the sessions for 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb but not on the album. The band has reworked "Mercy" for the stage, turning it into a big bear hug of a ballad that almost sounds like it could have gone on Joshua Tree. "You're going to kill me, and I want to die," Bono sings against the Edge's spacey arpeggios. &qu... | More »

U2

"Mercy"

8

U2 have made their current European tour a testing ground for new material. The best of the new live songs is "Mercy," cut during the sessions for 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb but not on the album. The band has reworked "Mercy" for the stage, turning it into a big bear hug of a ballad that almost sounds like it could have gone on Joshua Tree. "You're going to kill me, and I want to die," Bono sings against the Edge's spacey arpeggios. &qu... | More »

October 8, 2010

Kanye West

"Lord Lord Lord"

6

Kanye visits the chill-out lounge, delivering a seven-minute-plus opus that's languid in the extreme: Psychedelic-soul synths float on a groove that wouldn't sound out of place on your smooth-jazz station. The rapping is equally laid-back: Mos Def purrs abstractions ("Ecstatic patterns in the calendar design"); Swizz Beatz slurs boasts about cars and suede attire; Raekwon muses on weed-smoking. Kanye, meanwhile, is full of punch lines — "If I'm a douche, then put me in yo... | More »

October 6, 2010

DJ Shadow

"Def Surrounds Us"

7

After secretly planting vinyl copies in record shops across Europe, the master of surreal, sample-drenched electronica drops a digital version of this single, his first in four years. It's a time-warping combo of hand claps, video-game bleeps, Nineties jungle break beats and a slow-mo electric-guitar arpeggio, all unspooling amid snippets of the spoken phrase "Though we are alive, death surrounds us." (Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Brightside!) "I've Been Trying,"... | More »

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »
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