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song reviews

Gayngs

"The Gaudy Side of Town"

7

No joke: Bon Iver's Justin Vernon sheds his folkie beard to croon this atmospheric slow-jam with Midwestern indie band Gayngs. They drip so much coital energy Prince nearly got onstage with them. But, no, he said — they don't need me. He was right. | More »

Perfume Genius

"Mr. Peterson"

7

On this ballad, Seattle newcomer Mike Hadreas conjures Morrissey as a haunted teen. "He made me a tape of Joy Division," Hadreas mewls, sketching a suicidal pedophile. Gus Van Sant: Your music supervisor needs to check this kid out. | More »

M.I.A.

"I'm A Singer"

5

Because tweeting the cell number of Lynn Hirschberg, the reporter responsible for an unflattering New York Times Magazine profile on her, wasn't enough revenge, M.I.A. released this dis track. Over murky electro, she calls out writers and Hirschberg in particular: "Journalists be thick as shit. . . . You're a racist, I wouldn't trust you one bit." "Singer" is bland as music, and though M.I.A. has a right to be miffed, it's less interesting than the raw audio about those tr... | More »

The Roots

"Dear God 2.0"

8

"This moody jam remakes the Monsters of Folk gospel-soul joint, adding fat ?uestlove beats and Black Thought's missive to God: "They said, 'He's busy, hold the line, please.'" Maybe try Twitter? | More »

May 25, 2010

Sara Bareilles

"King of Anything"

6

Like her 2007 hit "Love Song," this single shows off Bareilles' ability to tuck a heartfelt kiss-off into a perky piano-pop tune. Over an arrangement outfitted with hand claps and horns, Bareilles delivers smooth-voiced complaints about an overbearing acquaintance without losing her cool — the closing line, "Let me hold your crown, babe," is as mean as Bareilles gets. For introspective pop, sensitive adults and teenage girls could do a whole lot worse. | More »

The Gaslight Anthem

"The Boxer"

7

New Jersey's most buzzed-over young band drops a focused blast about a downtrodden creative type who finds "bandages inside the pen and the stitches on the radio." A hint of what's to come on Gaslight's upcoming American Slang, "Boxer" is one of the band's most immediately likable tunes yet: scrappy, catchy and hyperpassionate. | More »

M.I.A.

"XXXO"

7

With its ultraviolent video and synth-punk harshness, the Sri Lankan antidiva's most recent offering, "Born Free," suggested that her forthcoming third disc might be aimed at only her fringiest fans. So it's a big relief that the album's first official single is a frisky slice of dance heaven, with M.I.A. setting aside radical chic for a fiendishly sexy disco jam. Over sinewy and atmospheric future-techno throb from Baltimore producer Blaqstarr, M.I.A. drops uncharacteristicall... | More »

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

"I Should Have Known It"

7

Petty wasn't kidding about bringing a bluesier sound to Mojo, his new album (and 12th with the Heartbreakers). The CD's first single kicks off with a caustic riff that ZZ Top would love to have written, and Petty adopts a nasty sneer as he kicks aside a two-timing lover. The slow-boiling rage makes this one of his best bad-love songs, and when he declares, "It's the last time you're gonna hurt me," you know the man is hellbent serious. | More »

The Chemical Brothers

"Swoon"

7

Beloved British rave stalwarts rock the melancholy with indecipherable vocals and an awesomely squishy, spangled, descending-tone sample that hits your gut like cresting a roller coaster. A tune that definitely lives up to its title, for a world that needs to spend some time in the chill-out room. | More »

May 12, 2010

N.E.R.D. feat. Nelly Furtado

"Hot N' Fun"

5

The slinky dance cut rocks a fat, minimalist Eighties funk groove à la Liquid Liquid's "Cavern," with Ms. Nelly on the ephemeral hook. "We wrote this for a purpose," begins Pharrell. "Get high, get money, get sex, get real!" Duly noted. | More »

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Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

More Song Stories entries »
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