Top Ten Thursday: Best Live Acts of 2012

St. Vincent Best Live Act of 2012

Our best of the year coverage continues with our favorite rockers of the road, highlighting the ten best live shows we saw this year. This year LxL was able to get out to Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and the Pitchfork music festival, which many shows on this list stem from. So without further ado, here are our ten favorite live acts of the year.
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Weak List Wednesday: The Top 5 Biggest Disappointments of 2012

David Bowie, Is Dissapointed, labyrinth

So here we are, with our newest and shortest “End of 2012” list. A list of what we at LxL consider to be the biggest musical disappointments, let-downs, blunders, and missteps of 2012. With all the goodness that resided in the world of music in 2012 (which we will get to later, in the next few weeks), there was also a fair amount of disappointment. For this list we really pulled at what killed our expectations this past year. Yes, Lana Del Rey didn’t fully live up to what we expected, but she still had a few good tunes and looked amazing throughout the year.

Lana Del Rey, Hot Photo, sexy

Yes, the Divine Fits weren’t as good as either Spoon nor Wolf Parade, but then again, how rare is it that a supergroup live up to the expectation anyways? You see, for this list, we chose what really cut us deep. Those artists or albums that we really thought were going to help define the year in music, or dig an artist out of the trenches, but instead fell totally flat. That is what this “Weak List” is really made up of … weakness. If you’d like to get a bit of a more in-depth analysis these blunders, each “disappointment” is linked with our review or write-up explaining exactly why the artist, album, or show didn’t live up to our expectations. Now, onto the list:
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Sufjan Steven’s Christmas Spectacular Show Review

Sufjan Stevens’s Christmas Spectacular


The Metro

Chicago, IL

 Sufjan Stevens Christmas Show review at the Metro in Chicago

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about indie singer/songwriter Sufjan Steven’s conflicted fascination with Christmas and how conflicted relationships fits with his persona in general taking on numerous subjects with views of both reverence and contempt. This split-personality is ever apparent on the wild live show Sufjan has put together to accompany his latest Christmas collection Silver & Gold, a tour he has coined in typical weird Sufjan fashion as the “Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant on Ice.”  At the Metro show this past Saturday, Sufjan packed plenty of production and personalities into one show, resulting in a sometimes exhilarating sometimes frustrating mess.
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LxListening: Falling Through the Cracks

missed music of 2012

Throughout the year, we at LxL try hard to stay up on the latest in music and especially the stuff that we here friends and the music community buzzing about. But still, there is always tons of great music that falls through the cracks, and every December and bleeding into the following year, I am always catching up with the wonderful albums I missed. Here are five songs from five albums I discovered this month that could land among my favorite of 2012.
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Top Ten Thursday: Best New Artists of 2012

Carly Rae Jespen, hot, new artist
‘Cmon, we all know she should be #1

Last year, EMA, Cults, Yuck, and A$AP Rocky headlined our list of best new artists.  For the most part, the break out artists of 2011 toured to support their 2011 material in 2012, hitting the festival circuit particularly hard.  And by the stipulations we determined this year, a couple of the artists wouldn’t have even been eligible (The Weeknd & A$AP).  For this year’s list we explicitly only allowed artists who released their first proper studio album within the calendar year, unfortunately disqualifying artists such as Grimes, Ab-soul, and Schoolboy Q.  In addition, previous mixtapes do not prohibit an artists eligibility, allowing Frank Ocean and Meek Mill to be eligible despite extensive previous exposure.  These guidelines were not decided on lightly and may be changed for future lists, but we wanted to define this category as narrowly as possible.

Its debatable whether this year’s crop is as strong, but there have been plenty of new artists to break onto the scene.  Several artists of note also missed the list, but you’ll just have to hit the jump to see who.  Enjoy, and as always, let us know who we omitted, forgot, or shouldn’t have included.
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Big Boi Review Royale: Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors

Big Boi
Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors

big boi, vicious lies, dangerous rumors, album, cover, art

Todd’s Take:

For many years, Big Boi was the slightly lesser half of one of my favorite hip hop acts, Outkast. It’s not that he wasn’t a crucial part of every Outkast album; he just seemed to be a little more one-sided than Andre 3000. Big Boi focused more on dominating the rap game with a strikingly smooth and original flow, all while incorporating his tack-sharp wit. Andre, on the other hand, covered a lot of the musical bases and focused more on fusing genres by incorporating elements of jazz, funk, and blues into the hip hop world.  This contrast was exemplified on their 2003 double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, in which each album belonged to a different member; Speakerboxxx was Big Boi’s project and Andre’s was The Love Below. Although Speakerboxxx was very enjoyable, Andre’s efforts on The Love Below cast a shadow over Big Boi’s work, essentially leaving Speakerboxx in the dark.

After Andre’s 6 year absence, Big Boi has stepped up his game, continuing on with what he does best but also taking over Andre’s role of fusing additional elements of music into his own brand of hip hop. Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors is Big Boi’s third solo album (if you inlcude Speakerboxxx, which you should) and further proves to show us that he can very well hold his own, and not just in the rap game. Big Boi manages to branch out musically, blending multiple genres together in a new way.
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Shit the Cow Review: volume/cow EP

Shit the Cow
volume/cow EP

volume/cow EP by Shit the Cow

In the almost year and a half now that my fellow LxL’ers and I have been writing this blog, we have had our fair share of spam mail from bands across the world asking for a plug here and there. Most of the time it is a generic blurb about how they love our blog and would appreciate a little promotion, even though it is clearly a mindless email that had been sent out to any and every music website that the bands promoter had come across. Further more, after attempting to listen to the first few bands that were sending us these emails, I quickly realized why they were turning to a small blog for promotion, and that’s because nobody else could bare to listen to them. Well uponst receiving one of these random emails last week, something caught my eye. At first it was the senders name: Shit Cow. We had just received a message from Shit Cow. “Interesting,” I thought while pondering how this could not become anything but more interesting. Then the subject: New Swedish Rock! Again, something told me I HAD to dig further. I am not particularly familiar with Swedish rock music (other than The Cardigans of course), and I figured that was a problem. Especially if Swedish rockers are naming their bands things like Shit Cow. Well after opening the email I quickly realized the bands name was not simply Shit Cow, but rather Shit the Cow. And as if that didn’t make the band more enticing enough, this is how they described themselves in their email:

“We come from Kiss’ disco days, Queens of the Stone Age’s first album and early PJ Harvey. But first and foremost we try to sound like the rusty old evil truck from Steven Spielberg’s 1971 Duel.”

It was at that moment I decided that yes indeed, I will certainly be giving Shit the Cow the good ole’ college try. The music comparison alone was enough to peak my interest, but the fact that they had even heard of the pre-Jaws 1971 made-for-TV Spielberg masterpiece Duel appropriately “pushed me over the edge”.

^Spielberg should have retired after this, just so War Horse was never made.
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