LxListening: Road Trippin’

Last night I completed my seventh cross-country road trip in 7 years. For one reason or another, a road trip from Indiana to California (or vice versa) has been necessary for me quite frequently in recent years. Sometimes it’s to accompany a friend, sometimes for fun, and sometimes it’s simply necessary to get myself to-and-fro. This time it was the latter, and since my schedule had changed dramatically at the last minute, I had no one to ride with me. So I packed up and shipped out on the 36-hour journey solo-style. The solo trip actually turned out to be much more fun than expected. I definitely had some hang-ups along the way, but I also got to make numerous stops to see good friends (LxL’s own Austin included) and also had plenty of time to listen to some good music. In some cases, I managed to wipe out multiple bands complete discographies. Below are some of my favorites from this road trips playlist selection. Also, I’d like to apologize in advance if the title causes some confusion, but I unfortunately will not be talking about the Red Hot Chili Peppers in this article … sorry.
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Top Ten Thursday: Spring Fever

spring into spring, spring, picture, image

For any Midwesterners out there, spring is almost certain to be one of your favorite seasons.  The summer is sweltering hot and humid.  Winter (not this year fortunately) can be cold, wet, and depressing.  Fall is probably my favorite season, because more often than not the past ten years it means I get to watch post-season Cardinals baseball.  But spring means the birds are starting another long season, and the anticipation is at a fever pitch.

It was a little bit hard for us decide which albums really fit in with the tone of spring, but we kind of decided on more upbeat, hopeful and lighter fare all around.  Not a lot of options in those regards from some of my favorite artists like Neil Young, Nine Inch Nails, or Something Corporate (I kid, I kid).  But there is still some amazing music in this vein, and here is what we have decided is some of the best of the best.  As always, let us know what we missed, neglected, or stupidly included in the comments.  Enjoy.

10. The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow

the shins, chutes too narrow, album, cover, art

Oh, Inverted World put The Shins on the map, but Chutes Too Narrow condensed their sound even more to tiny, poppy bit-sized pieces.  Songs like “Turn a Square” and “Pink Bullets” are the songs that any good spring is made of.

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The Song of Ice & Fire Review (Books 1-5)

The Song of Ice & Fire Review (Books 1-5)

iron throne, game of thrones, hbo
The "Iron Throne", as depicted on HBO's Game of Thrones

I’m doing a bit of a fill-in post for today, and didn’t have anything directly on point as far as music goes, so I thought I would give my thoughts on a book series I have just finished, The Song of Ice & Fire.  And to at least act like this has something to do with music, just realize that the word “song” is in the series title, and the theme song for the television adaptation, Game of Thrones, is pretty epic in its own right. 

I should also probably give a little bit of context for this review.  The book series is written by George R. R. Martin and the series is planned to after the seventh novel is completed.  I would have waited on a full series review, but it will probably be ten more years before the last two novels are completed.  Let’s not kid ourselves, in ten years Google will have bought our blog, and we will be exclusively writing reviews on Top 40 Artists; but only the really crap ones.  Also, as a further disclaimer, each one of these five works deserves its own 40,000-word thesis, but I am going to attempt to do all the books justice in less than 1,000 words.  Alright, here we go.

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The Head & the Heart Show Review: Kind Of

The Head and the Heart Show Review

March 25, 2012

The Pageant:  St. Louis, MO

the pageant, st. louis, photo, picture

I’m trying to remember the last time a true opening band so utterly blew me out of the water, like Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives did when opening for The Head and the Heart.  I think the last time that the main act was so completely outshined in my eyes was when I saw Howie Day, and he was overshadowed by a little unknown named Missy Higgins.  As embarrassing as it may seem now to have chosen to go to a Howie Day show, his early work was solid and contained some cool use of looping.  Disappointingly, he almost completely forsook looping for the live show, his set really sucked except for “Ghost”, and Todd accidentally hit on a 15-year old that was there with her dad (honest mistake, and we were only 18 or 19 when we went to this show – still embarrassing). 

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Rocket Juice & the Moon Review

Rocket Juice & the Moon

Rocket Juice & the Moon

Rocket Juice & the Moon album cover art

Damon Albarn is a man who has worn many hats. In the last ten years, he has released albums with four different bands (most notably Gorillaz and Blur), all projects which have been more than respectable. Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers fame is another person who has started spreading his wings, having played with Thom Yorke’s super group Atoms for Peace and now with this new project with Albarn. Rocket Juice & the Moon is a space funk super group from Damon Albarn, Flea (bass), and Tony Allen (drums) from Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti’s band. For their self-titled debut release, the funk trio also pulls in plenty of guests from rappers to brass bands to world music artists, for what is no doubt a fun listen but not much beyond that.
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LxListening: I’m a Wu-Tang Man

wu-tang clan, wu tang, symbol, logo

For some reason I have found myself listening to the work of the members of The Wu-Tang clan a lot recently.  Mind you, I have not been listening to any collaborative Wu-Tang albums, but instead the solo works of the various members, which is quite an overwhelming endeavor.  I really like Wu-Tang, but it is difficult to sift through some of the muck and mire that has been by the various members over the years.  For instance, say I wanted to get a greater base of knowledge on Inspectah Deck’s body of work.  I have to then decide which of his FIVE studio releases I am going to try to dig into.  I can look at other people’s ratings of his albums all I want, but rap is just such a crap shoot anyway, there is no way I am going to be successful finding what I’m looking for. 

Since I am just starting to make progress of Wu-Tang solo albums, most of what follows is more of a list of some of my all-time favorite Wu-Tang member’s offerings, and not so much any hidden gems that I have found.  Maybe once I am all the way through the solo catalogues I will be able to offer a LxListening Wu-Tang sequel.  Enjoy.

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Top Ten Thursday: Jockin’ Jams

Well, it is mid-to-late March, which for a lot of people is quite maddening. By this of course I mean that it is the time of year to celebrate college basketball. And whether or not you care about basketball, or even sports in general, March Madness will affect your life in one way or another. Maybe it’s picking up the slack of the co-worker watching games on his computer all day, or maybe you skipped a few classes at school to catch the games and missed a pop quiz, or maybe you haven’t watched anything on television in 3 weeks other than college basketball due to your roommates obsession. Some how, whether you watch the games, or you don’t, it will affect your life. So here at LxL, we decided to celebrate by listing our favorite songs that have made their mark in the sport world. Whether it’s the college basketball court, the football field (American or European), or maybe the karate ring … here are the songs that will jam your jock:
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