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song reviews

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 »

July 13, 2010

Best Coast

"All Summer"

6

"All year long, we wait for sun," sings Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino in this Converse-sponsored collaboration with rapper Kid Cudi and Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij. Well, here's some: A speedy blast of harmony-drenched guitar pop, "All Summer" exudes an undeniable beach-party vibe. Like a chocolate-dipped cone from Mister Softee, the tune's three-note hook isn't exactly built to last. (And Cudi's Chuck Taylor shout-out will make you cringe.) But for a de... | More »

Of Montreal

"Hydra Fancies"

6

Kevin Barnes has been slowly morphing Of Montreal into a straight-up white-soul band for a few years now, and with 'Hydra Fancies' — from the psychedelic Georgia band's upcoming False Priest — he's finally realized his vision. This funky, tight-harmony jam could be a lost Dirty Mind-era Prince cut — at least until Barnes tells his beloved, 'Touching you is like standing on a dragon's tongue.' Hot bonus: a vintage-synth freak-out at the end. | More »

July 9, 2010

M.I.A. feat. Nicki Minaj

"Teqkilla" (Lost my fone out wiv Nicki Minaj Remix)

6

An M.I.A. song rarely lacks bad-chick attitude and with its piercing storm-siren beat and its stoner-baiting shout-out to that 'sticky-sticky icky-icky,' this remix is no exception. Nicki Minaj drops by to lend 'Teqkilla' a shot of her street-sweet swag: 'I never, ever take 'em to my mattress,' she raps, sounding like she's had a few. 'I tell 'em, ‘Meet me in the sky, yeah, that's my address.'' Watch out for these two. | More »

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

More Song Stories entries »
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