!!! unplugs for new single
!!!, ''Myth Takes (Acouth Take)''
!!! are one of the last bands you'd expect to go unplugged, given how heavily their dance-rock sound relies on inexorably building basslines and feedback-driven guitar freakouts. Still, if Korn can do it, anyone can. For this new B-side, !!! boiled the title track of their most recent LP down to restrained, echo-laden acoustic picking. Turns out they pull off stark atmospherics as well as explosive rhythm. Even the lyrics not always the band's strong suit sound appropriately haunted here: ''Sometimes it really glitters and sometimes it's even gold/Baby when it isn't, then it must be rock'n'roll,'' frontman Nic Offer growls in a Waits-esque tone. (Buy it on iTunes)
DJ KHALED FEAT. AKON, R. KELLY, T-PAIN, LIL KIM, AND YOUNG JEEZY, ''We Takin' Over (Remix)''
There's a reason why DJ Khaled's upcoming solo album We the Best (due June 12) has a collective title: The mixtape master's appeal is all about his friends. Khaled does very little rapping or producing of his own, but he's a first-class networker. ''We Takin' Over,'' the album's lead single, rounds up a typically impressive assortment of this season's hottest cameo artists, including Akon, T.I., Lil Wayne, and Fat Joe. For the new remix, Khaled called a few of the ubiquitous stars he missed the first time around. R. Kelly, T-Pain, and Young Jeezy all turn in solid performances but best of all is Lil Kim, who shows her recent stint behind bars didn't dampen her fire-breathing attitude in the least: ''I'm a boss b---h,'' she raps, ''my last name should be Soprano.'' (Stream it at DJ Khaled's MySpace)
COLD WAR KIDS, ''A Change is Gonna Come''
''That was a real risk-taker,'' lead singer Nathan Willett admits at the end of this live recording. It sure was: Not many young rock bands would have the audacity to do a straight up-and-down cover of Sam Cooke's classic soul cry even fewer could pull it off as well as Cold War Kids. Willett's no Cooke (who is?), but his ragged voice strikes just the right note of weary determination. Maybe Cooke's passionate secular hymn isn't so different from what the Kids do on songs like current single ''Hang Me Up to Dry,'' after all. (Buy it on iTunes)
MARIO, ''How Do I Breathe''
This clean-cut crooner scored one of the most likeable R&B hits of the past five years with 2005's ''Let Me Love You.'' The first single from his follow-up album has a familiar feel, from Mario's earnest vocals to the warm, bleeping track from Norwegian producers Stargate, and its bridge might as well have been transported intact from the midsection of ''Let Me Love You.'' It's a worthy successor, even if those tricks don't sound quite as fresh as they did two years ago. (Stream it from AOL Music)
JENNIFER GENTLE, ''Electric Princess''
Contrary to what the name might imply, until recently Jennifer Gentle was not an individual artist but a psychedelic band, hailing from northern Italy. To make things even more confusing, founding member Marco Fasolo has now decided to record a solo record under the Jennifer Gentle name. Don't let any of that distract you from the quality of the music, though. As this teaser track from the forthcoming The Midnight Room demonstrates, Fasolo's trippy, retro-pop arrangements and studio-warped vocals would sound as captivating by any name. (Download it from Sub Pop)