.

song reviews

The Shins

"Goodbye Girl"

8

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)"

5

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 »

Japandroids

"Younger Us"

7

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 »

J. Cole

"Who Dat"

7

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 »

Arcade Fire

"Ready to Start"

8

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 »

Jenny and Johnny

"Scissor Runner"

7

Real-life lovebirds Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice have been lurking in the background of one another's records since Lewis's 2006 album Rabbit Fur Coat, but the brisk and breezy "Scissor Runner" marks their first front and center collabo. And what's it about? Love, of course — but not the entirely healthy kind. Over bright, bounding, summery guitars, Rice sings, "She's an artist/ painting a portrait all over my heart" to which Lewis responds: "Colors bleeding/ so deceiv... | More »

Jay-Z feat. Swizz Beatz

"Ultra"

6

'Fuck the DA, the mayor know me,' Jay raps on this new mixtape track. 'Ultra' works the space between Roc Boy and society man, name-dropping Cosa Nostra and Obama over Swizz Beatz's police whistle and grinding static. | More »

Enrique Iglesias Feat. Pitbull

"I Like It"

7

Enrique is back with his most danceable fiesta since "Bailamos" swept the States more than a decade ago. Rather than getting his samba on, he's scouting for some forbidden nookie with a babe he can't keep his hands off of ­ while his girl's out of town. "No one can know the things I'm gonna wanna do to you," he swoons. And Pitbull gives us insight into his bedroom: "Tiger Woods times Jesse James equals Pitbull all night long." Cheating never sounded so fun! | More »

Prince

"Hot Summer"

5

A one-off jam Prince put out in celebration of his 52nd birthday, this vaguely beach-rock tune rides chirpy organ riffs and a bright melody that feels kind of kitschy. It would be great in an ad for a local water park, though. | More »

Seu Jorje

"Everybody Loves the Sunshine"

8

The Brazilian singer with the killer Bowie covers (see The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou) wraps his chocolate baritone around this blissed-out '76 Roy Ayers jam while Beastie Boys producer Mario Caldato Jr. makes the vintage synths sizzle like summer cicadas. More, please. | More »

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Song Stories

“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

More Song Stories entries »
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