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song reviews

Cee-Lo Green

"No One's Gonna Love You"

8

The Gnarls Barkley belter remains a master of the unexpected on this knockout reinvention of the Band of Horses ballad. Green meets the lyrics' heartbroken drama head-on, transforming country rock into electro R&B and revealing a buried soul classic. | More »

July 22, 2010

Liz Phair

"Bollywood"

2

Is Liz Phair serious? As tabla-laden electro tinkles behind her, Phair tells a tale of music-biz misadventure, "rapping" in a voice that sounds like a soccer mom impersonating Ke$ha. The results are an insult to rappers everywhere, even the terrible ones. | More »

July 21, 2010

Mavis Staples

"You Are Not Alone"

8

Jeff Tweedy produces an album by a gospel-soul legend at Wilco's Chicago headquarters and writes her a couple of songs to boot. An odd pairing? Perhaps. But this first taste, a simple soul-folk tune à la Bill Withers' "Lean on Me," driven by acoustic guitar, celesta and piano, is the sweetest Tweedy song in a while. And Staples — a civil-rights-era front-liner who dated Dylan — sounds, at 71, as inspiring as ever. "Isolated and afraid/Open up, this is a raid," she sings. ... | More »

Brandon Flowers

"Crossfire"

5

In the genius video for the first single from Flowers' solo debut, Charlize Theron rescues him from evil ninjas, showing off her throwingstar chops and flashing him a brilliant, you-are-so-high-maintenance glare before she cuts him free. Sadly, it's wasted on a song that sounds like a Killers B side — standard-issue Boss-meets-Bono dance rock, with Flowers serving up so much meteorological-metaphor fury, you'll want to call FEMA: "Dark clouds roll their way over town/Heartach... | More »

July 20, 2010

Interpol

"Barricade"

7

Funky in a pale, heart-wrenching sort of way, this new single mixes a propulsive backbeat with Paul Banks' drama-packed moans about the fate of "thieves and snakes." | More »

Gucci Mane feat. Trina

"Vampire"

6

The persistent current popularity of blood-sucking bucks (and the chicks who love them) heads to the 'hood. Bypassing Team Edward and Team Jacob completely, teeth-barred Trina is "not remorsey" as she hops on Team Gucci: "Throw me in a movie/when you see me you salute true blood/ ooh-wee!" In turn, Gucci raps over tolling bells and casket-rattling bass in an appropriately undead rasp: "I believe in vampires/ lil' shorty stay up all night/ trying to build an empire." On that note, ex... | More »

July 19, 2010

Prince

"Bonus Track #77"

6

Having declared the Internet "over," Prince is releasing his new disc by giving it away in copies of European newspapers and magazines, such as Rolling Stone's German edition and Belgium's enticingly named Het Nieuws­blad. Sadly, 20Ten is all blad and no nieuws, wanly recapitulating Purple Rain's funk-rock sound while replacing its great theme (fucking) with windy lyrics about universal wisdom. Fitting the offbeat marketing plan, the best song is a hidden track, "Laydown," ... | More »

July 16, 2010

Trey Songz feat. Amerie

"Let's Chill"

6

This sparkly slow jam literally starts in the club: It's late and Amerie is ready to call it a night. But then she spots club-weary crooner Trey Songz, who offers the leggy songbird his immodest lullaby: "Rockabye baby when the beat drop/ don't let your friends know we about to creep off." When that beat drops and desire goes boom, Amerie and Trey soar, showing that like Donnie Hathaway and Roberta Flack before them, the pair have some serious harmony. | More »

July 15, 2010

KT Tunstall

"Push That Knot Away"

6

On the first single from her third studio LP Tiger Suit, the Scottish songstress ditches coffee-shop-flavored folk for a big dose of booming beats, electro textures and fuzzed-out bass. It's nice to hear Tunstall stepping out of her comfort zone: "Push That Knot Away" is a rousing, foot-stomping anthem that, while not as earworm-y as her breakout song 'Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,' would easily get a crowd of drunks riled up at the pub. But lyrically, Tunstall is still mire... | More »

July 14, 2010

!!!

"AM/FM"

6

On their first single from their new LP Strange Weather, Isn't It?, the Brooklyn dance-rockers (who pronounce their name "chk chk chk") deliver a fat slice of funk that has all the sleaze and residue of a '70s New York disco. You can hear the porn-star mustache on "AM/FM," from the chubby bassline to the ditzy backup vocals. Singer Nic Offer's vocals barely cut through the mix — his lyrics are too dunked in reverb. But this song is more about the groove than the lyrics. As it... | More »

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Song Stories

“Stillness Is the Move”

Dirty Projectors | 2009

A Wim Wenders film and a rapper inspired the Dirty Projectors duo David Longstreth and Amber Coffmanto write "sort of a love song." "We rented the movie Wings of Desire from Dave's brother's recommendation, and he had me go through it and just write down some things that I found interesting, and they made it into the song," Coffman said. As for the hip-hop connection, Longstreth explained, "The beat is based on T-Pain. We commissioned a radio mix of the song by the guy who mixes all of Timbaland's records, but the mix we made sounded way better, so we didn't use it."

More Song Stories entries »
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