"King of the Beach"
Wavves frontman Nathan Williams has only been making lo-fi bedroom punk for two years, but he's already generated a career's worth of hype and backlash, especially after his erratic meltdown on stage at the 2009 Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona. Fortunately, the clanging title track proves he's pulled his act together: "King of the Beach" features a big, bratty melody, booming drums and a catchy, lo-fi guitar hook that scrapes like sandpaper. Williams has also retained a t... | More »
The monochromatically dressed Swedes return with this cover of a 1981 tune by the Indianapolis punk band Zero Boys. The Hives' version is more polished than the original, but it's still as blazing as a rant about the world going to hell in a handbasket ought to be. Howlin' Pelle Almqvist lives up to his nickname as he spits lyrics like "Civilization's crying/And I won't try to deny it/We got a problem, son/Something's gotta be done." Sounds like he's as angr... | More »
Some people might have a hard time picking out "Misery" from a police line-up of Maroon 5 songs. Thankfully, Adam Levine helps us out by getting his ass kicked by a beautiful lady in the video. The song itself is classic M5: blindingly bright Jacksonian disco-pop masking brokenhearted lyrics that once again bridges the dance floor and the light rock station to turn your next elevator ride into a toe-tapping good time. | More »
Finally, the marketing strategy behind Vampire Weekend's name becomes clear: A remarkably anthemic song for the soundtrack to Eclipse, this week's edition of the teen-baiting Twilight vampire saga. With 12-string acoustic guitar, swelling strings, and lyrics that seem to have something to do with "blood," indie rock's poppiest preppies sound startlingly like a junior varsity U2 — which is pretty damn impressive, actually. | More »
Coinciding with a fierce set at this year's Bonnaroo, Jamey Johnson offers another peek into his sprawling, two-CD The Guitar Song, due in September. "Macon" gives voice to a wired, pedal-to-the-metal trucker achin' for his woman, joining a venerable country tradition (see "Six Days on the Road," "Willin'," etc.) over roadhouse piano, gospel backing singers and some hot-shit soloing. It feels like a Southern-rock classic straight out of the gate. | More »
The latest in a sweet freebie MP3 series via Levi's jeans (hail the new music industry!) gets James Mercer back with his pre-Broken Bells group for a perfect Squeeze cover, guitar jangle replacing new-wave keybs while the titular girl moves off to Seattle rather than Jersey. Mercer wishes he wrote it; here, it sounds like he did. | More »
Rich Boy feat. Polow Da Don
"She Luvs Me (She Luvs Mi Knot)"
Rich Boy struck gold with producer Polow Da Don on 2006's "Throw Some D's." The pair hasn't been able to repeat the feat on any of their three subsequent singles together, including 2007's cheery love jam "Good Things" and 2009's art-damaged Weezy-rip "Drop." "She Luvs Me (She Luvs Mi Knot)" switches his style up yet again for Polow's excellent approximation of a dancehall-infused Timbaland beat — and Rich Boy's unfortunate approximation of Timbaland'... | More »
Listening to a couple of young dudes wax nostalgic way too soon about their even-younger selves is usually obnoxious but this ferocious, garage rock duo out of Vancouver has so much fun reminiscing between fist-pumping drums and dirty guitar that they'll make you fondly remember all the way back to a couple of months ago too. | More »
North Carolina rapper/producer J. Cole is Jay-Z's first signing to his new Roc Nation imprint. Though Jigga sees Cole as rap's future, his debut single is lodged in the recent past. "Who Dat" echoes the timeless flamethrowing of early-2000s Roc-A-Fella tracks like Freeway's "What We Do" or Memphis Bleek's "My Mind Right": repetitive head-knocking beat, chopped-up soul-sample stammer, and no one bothering to croon a chorus. Hov himself says it reminded him of Biggie's ... | More »
"Ready to Start"
Relentless snare thwaps; a bass-line melody that would fit in an Eighties goth-pop tune. Enter Win Butler: "The businessmen drink my blood/Like the kids in art school said they would," Butler croons. (Damn you, art-school kids: always right!) But then Butler sings, "You say, 'Can we still be friends?' " and a postgrad panic attack is twined with sweet heartache while synths conjure a time-bomb ticking. It's a glass-half-full take on dissatisfaction and the catchiest trac... | More »