Disappointing single from 'new' GNR album

Greg Kot
Chicago Tribune (MCT)

Guns N' Roses fans, the wait is over.

After 17 years of polishing - or whatever it is that rock superstars do when they sequester themselves in studios that cost millions of dollars for a decade-plus - new GNR music has finally, officially made its way to the public.

"Chinese Democracy," the title track from the band's first studio album since 1991, was released Wednesday to radio stations. The track was also available online, where it was streaming on various Web sites.

Was the wait worth it? Axl Rose is the only band member left standing from the band's original incarnation, which has sold 100 million records, and so this is essentially a solo project.

Rose sings in the lower end of his range, save for the introduction where his heavily processed voice sounds like a distant air-raid siren; otherwise, the wicked-witch cackle that defined his Sunset Strip bad-boy incarnation in the '80s sits this one out.

Nor is Rose's voice the track's most prominent feature. It sits inside layers of guitars that sound way fancier than anything original Gunners guitarists Slash or Izzy Stradlin might have played.

Rose has been working with a small army of musicians in recent years, so the guitars might have been played by any number of candidates, including Robin Finck, Richard Fortus and Ron Thal. Despite the noodling, the riffs are heavy.

The track indicates that Rose hasn't gone soft. But the wanky technical prowess is no substitute for a great song.

Beneath the six-string buzz there really isn't much of a melody, or even a memorable hook. After 17 years, this is the best tune Rose could conjure for the lead single?

Not a promising sign for an album that is supposedly going to be made available exclusively at Best Buy stores the week of Nov. 23.





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.