Nicki Minaj featuring Eminem, “Roman’s Revenge.” The standout track from Nicki Minaj’s debut, Pink Friday, is a duel for the ages. Well, not a duel so much as a tag team, with Minaj’s alter ego/“twin sister” Roman and Slim Shady trading combative verses—not at each other, but at rival female rappers (rumors are that Minaj’s second verse is directed at Lil Kim) and…some chick who stole Eminem’s music, apparently. Em’s trademark misogyny is back with a vengeance (he boasts about tying up said music pirate to a bed and pissing on her), as is his homophobia (early on he passes up the chance to rhyme “attack it” with “faggots,” but then goes on to use the word at the start of his second verse, claiming he’s “no homo,” all the while obsessing on his favorite subject: anal penetration). It would be all so yawn-inducing if Minaj and Eminem’s rhymes weren’t so tightly wound and if Swizz Beatz’s programming, thick synths, and angelic choirs weren’t so relentless. Sal Cinquemani
Mogwai, “Rano Pano.” It’s always difficult to encapsulate the Mogwai sound without pandering to vague labels like “art rock,” “math rock,” or “post-rock,” and it’s similarly tricky to describe their latest track without conjuring those same terms. Our first taste of their forthcoming seventh studio album, “Rano Pano” is a pulsating, five-minute instrumental track bathed in fuzzy guitar and dirty noise. And as is the case with oh so many Mogwai numbers, the fuzz and the dirt begin to multiply on top of each other before reaching an epic climax. In forgoing the serene preambles that decorate some of their more fondly remembered singles, “Rano Pano” catches Mogwai in an energetic and belligerent mood that hints at Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will being a raucous affair indeed. Huw Jones
Jim Noir, “Car.” There are enormously underrated musicians, and then there are those anonymous ones who receive neither acclaim nor attention for their consistent stream of tremendous music. Jim Noir is currently touring his Zooper Dooper EP, his third release and perhaps his most beguiling bout of gleeful electronic psychedelica to date, though last night he played to an audience that barely broke 25 in Cardiff’s Buffalo Bar. When listening to tracks like “Car,” it highlights how undervalued this screwy Mancunian really is: Noir’s voice is a lush drone stuck in 1969, his lyrics a charming tale of neighborly feuds, while the music swirling around them swells to an expansive synthetic arrangement. It somehow seems shorter than its four-minute runtime, and its irrefutable charm somehow demands repeated listens. HJ
The Radio Dept., “The One.” Some of the most exciting pop music in recent memory has come out of Sweden (Robyn, Peter, Bjorn and John, Air France), and Lund natives the Radio Dept. have followed up their excellent Clinging to a Scheme album with the short EP Never Follow Suit. The opener, “The One,” is the highlight, three minutes of Kraftwerk-style drum programming over some wonderfully bubbly and euphoric keyboard melodies that slowly build throughout the track. By the time Johan Duncanson begins to sing his shoegazing soul out, asking us to “carry on,” one is almost convinced that this is the only way to face a bleak Scandinavian winter. Michael Kilpatrick
This article was originally published on The House Next Door.