“No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross”

Indie folk auteur Sufjan Stevens is already a master at musical vulnerability, but on the first single off his upcoming album Carrie & Lowell — named for his mother and stepfather — Stevens finds a strikingly fresh way to rip open his wounds for the world. On the atmospheric “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross,” Stevens is in peak form, melding religious imagery with heart-wrenching allusions to his short-lived relationship with his mother. Guided by the gentle finger-picking of a guitar, the track moves like the impending gloom of an overcast day and sounds just as morose and picturesque as one.

From The Archives Issue 1230: March 12, 2015

RollingStone.com: Music Reviews

“One Time”

You only live one time, so Migos offer a straightforward strategy for getting the most out of your days on Earth: Avoid repetition. The Atlanta trio affirm that the first cut is the deepest, the first chain is the brightest and first party is the most turnt. Their case adds up to — what else? — a great single.​

From The Archives Issue 1230: March 12, 2015

RollingStone.com: Music Reviews

“Don't Wanna Fight”

The alluringly murky production on the Shakes’ new cut evokes the kind of schmutz-caked soul 45 you might discover in a rural junk shop that also sells M-80 explosives and candied hog jowls — the perfect funky feel for Brittany Howard’s beef-squashing plea. Over a guitar line that recalls James Brown’s “Cold Sweat,” she shouts and hollers and hits a five-alarm falsetto that would take the Mick Jagger of “Miss You” on a backwoods ride, bending history to her will with a force few singers can match.

From The Archives Issue 1230: March 12, 2015

RollingStone.com: Music Reviews

“The Metal East”

In their ’00s heyday, this Rhode Island noise-punk duo splattered audiences with quick, giddy blasts of DayGlo brutality — usually setting up on the floor right in the middle of the crowd rather than playing from a stage. They’re back after a six-year hiatus, hammering away like Sonic Youth gone speed metal to get your reaching for the Advil with a smile on your face.

From The Archives Issue 1230: March 12, 2015

RollingStone.com: Music Reviews

“Raising the Skate”

“I’m not bossy, I’m the boss,” commands frontwoman Sadie Dupuis on the first cut off New England pop-punk outfit Speedy Ortiz’s upcoming Foil Deer. While she’s not the first alpha female to echo the sentiment, her confrontational enunciation and ironic cooing over the track’s grungy, dizzying guitars are Dupuis’ own distinct brand of chaos. ​

From The Archives Issue 1230: March 12, 2015

RollingStone.com: Music Reviews

“Sarah”

“Every day, I’ll make promises that plague Sarah’s heart/So I can watch her fall apart,” indie-rock wunderkind Alex G sings. On this doleful bedroom-pop nugget (written a few years ago, before his Internet-driven career took off), he turns his passive-aggressive warbling into bright, blurry poetry that anyone could love — except maybe poor Sarah.

From The Archives Issue 1229: February 26, 2015

RollingStone.com: Music Reviews

“Black Sun”

Death Cab For Cutie’s new album is their first without founding member Chris Walla, and their first since frontman Ben Gibbard divorced Zooey Deschanel. So when Gibbard sings, “There’s a dumpster in the driveway of all the plans that came undone,” you know the sad realness is really real. But when defiantly raw guitar snarls start cutting through the song’s delicate remorse, you can feel him shaking off the pain — and the band remaking itself.  

From The Archives Issue 1229: February 26, 2015

RollingStone.com: Music Reviews

“False Hope”

Sleepless, lonely Laura Marling paints a bleak picture: Women go crazy, her neighbors beg for help through the walls and she hears animals dying — it’s like a folk-rock Walking Dead, right down to the chilling strings that swell around the song. By the time she reaches the final verse, she asks, “Is it still okay that I don’t know how to be at all?” But even if the world is crashing down around her, Marling can at least take some comfort in the fact that she has the sweetest singing voice in the whole apocalypse.

From The Archives Issue 1229: February 26, 2015

RollingStone.com: Music Reviews

“The Best Room”

Eight years have passed since Modest Mouse put out a new album, and if the urgency and absurdity of the Pacific Northwest crew’s new single is any indication, frontman Isaac Brock must be crawling out of his skin. It’s a frenetic onslaught of paranoia, silliness, endlessly elastic rhythms and swirling guitars — all of which adds up to some classic Modest Mouse. “Ain’t it hard feeling tired all the time?” Brock sings in the chorus, capturing both his restless state of mind and the feeling you get from listening to him zip through his every worry like a broken carnival ride.

From The Archives Issue 1229: February 26, 2015

RollingStone.com: Music Reviews

“Juicy Wiggle”

Some cite LMFAO’s bottom-shelf novelty hits as everything that’s wrong with today’s music. “Juicy Wiggle” (from the group’s Redfoo) makes the case that pop has been shamelessly silly all along, attempting an unlikely fusion of contemporary EDM and Fifties rock. This is how the hop would have sounded if your grandma knew about Jell-O shots.

From The Archives Issue 1229: February 26, 2015

RollingStone.com: Music Reviews

Recents

Videos of the Day

  • (GUITAR TUTORIAL) - No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross by Sufjan Stevens
    YouTube Video
    (GUITAR TUTORIAL) - No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross by Sufjan Stevens
  • No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross, Sufjan Stevens @ The Beacon 4/11/15
    YouTube Video
    No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross, Sufjan Stevens @ The Beacon 4/11/15