LxListening: Rocking and Rolling

rock-n-roll

Rock music has really fallen far in the last two decades, being replaced by hip hop, pop, and then electronic music as the primary musical language of the day. While it once ruled the musical landscape for about 40 years (about 1955-1995), rock music is quickly becoming like jazz, a genre for a sub culture, rather than popular culture. So in some ways, liking rock music makes me (and maybe you) a bit of an old fogy. Whether it’s the predominant music of the day or just part of a subculture, either way, there will always be vibrant, exciting rock music just as there is always vibrant, exciting jazz music.

Early 2016 is no exception. Several of my favorite rock bands going released albums or singles as well as a few new bands I’m excited about. Here are six songs from bands that keep rocking and rolling even into 2016.

 

“Mother of the Sun” – Black Mountain

Quite simply, this is a mountain of a song. If you are a fan of 70’s hard rock and heavy metal like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple, there really probably is no better modern band for you to listen to. Trippy, heavy riffs that just serve as body blows. The perfect male/female rock vocal duo in Amber Webber and Stephen McBean as if they were transported straight out of 1970. Yet they have enough experimentation and songwriting craft to not just be a carbon copy of those 70’s rock bands.

 

“Dust” – Parquet Courts

“Dust” is the perfect anthem for cleaning your house. What a strange, funny, and surprisingly existential song it is from the fine Texas band, Parquet Courts. They have some of my favorite guitar/bass interplay since the Strokes. Now you have no excuse not to clean.

 

“Black Lipstick” – Chicano Batman

Receiving the blessing of Jack White, L.A. band Chicano Batman isn’t just one of the best named bands around – they are also one of the most interesting bands around. Combining psychedelic soul, Brazilian tropicalia, Latin blues, and soul into one amusing musical melting pot, I can’t wait to see these guys live.

 

“The Wheel” – PJ Harvey

In a year of political division, alt-rock great PJ Harvey is making political anthems for the people. Her new album releasing this week, The Hope Six Demolition Project, is filled with catchy yet piercing rebel anthems standing up for the people of England and those around the world, continuing her political bent started on her last album, 2011’s Let England Shake.

 

“Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” – Car Seat Headrest

Young guitar and singer/songwriting prodigies appear to be popping up left and right. Courtney Barnett was our obsession the last two years, and I think its safe to say, Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest might be ours this year. In addition to writing my favorite rock song so far this year, “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” is a stunning two-sided song starting tender and coyly before finishing with triumphant and biting guitar.

 

“The Answer” – Savages

Measured in pure riffage and intensity, it’s really hard to beat Savages. Jehnny Beth looks pretty much possessed on stage, and the rest of the band plays with the precision of Joy Division and the force of the Stooges. They are truly a sight to see.

LxListening: Rocking and Rolling

LxListening: Sweet 2016

carseat-headrest

It’s been a modest yet somewhat surprising first few months of music in 2016. We had a crazy sloppy album release from the former best rapper on the planet (Kanye West with Life of Pablo), and a quiet surprise release from the current best rapper on the planet (Kendrick Lamar with Untitled Unmastered). We’ve had a lot of old favorites come out with some solid releases (M. Ward, Mavis Staples, Santigold), and a few breakout artists catch me by surprise (Anna Meredith, TEEN, Anderson .Paak). Here are five of my favorite songs so far to come out in 2016.

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LxListening: Sweet 2016

LxL’s Top 10 Movies of 2015

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The 88th Academy Awards will take place this Sunday, and although we at LxL loathe such one-sided, money driven, political award machines, we also love our movies. So here are our thoughts on 2015’s crop of fun films. Not all of us have everything we would have liked to have seen from last year, so as always feel free to call us out on what we missed. Also, sadly you will not see Star Wars on the list, but know that it does hold dearly a special place in all of our hearts. Onto the list:

10. Love & Mercy
love-mercy
If we are all being honest, biopics run a dime a dozen theses days and most of them are only about half as interesting/true as we want them to be. However, we are a music blog and have a soft spot for the post-fake surf and pre-bed ridden Brian Wilson years. Love & Mercy does a good job breaking the mold on the standard biopic, and really shows an interesting perspective of a mad musical genius ahead of his time, taken advantage of by friends and drugs… but not exactly in the party crazed rock n roll way you might be thinking.
Continue reading “LxL’s Top 10 Movies of 2015”

LxL’s Top 10 Movies of 2015

Kanye West Review: The Life of Pablo

Kanye West

Life of Pablo

the-life-of-pablo-album-cover

“Name one genius that ain’t crazy.” So says rap’s Donald Drumpf, Kanye West on his new album and self-proclaimed “greatest ever album” The Life of Pablo. Kanye’s last month of public behavior have certainly put into serious question his current mental health, Kanye is at least self-conscious enough to realize he isn’t the first artist to have some mental instability. Pablo Picasso has been an often made comparison in terms of creativity and behavior, and while on the surface it seems completely crazy to compare Picasso and Kanye, to his credit, Kanye has influenced the last ten years in popular music more than any other artist and has tried his hand in several styles.
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Kanye West Review: The Life of Pablo

3 Things the Grammys Got Right

Kendrick Lamar performs at the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Kendrick Lamar performs at the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Let’s be honest: of the four major award shows – the Emmy’s (TV), Grammys (Music), Oscars (Movies), and Tony’s (Theatre) – the Grammys is probably the worst and least representative of what is truly the best in its field. We’ve covered that plenty over the last five years but if anyone knows me, I like to focus on the positive. I’m a glass half-full type. That proved especially difficult with maddening snubs for Best Song, New Artist, and Album of the Year and just an overall boring broadcast. But I’ll do my best. So here are the three things the 2016 Grammy’s got right.

Hamilton gets its moment in the spotlight

Hamilton has been the biggest musical smash since Book of Mormon, and it rightfully crossed over from the Tony’s into the Grammy’s for a live performance and incredible rapped acceptance speech from creator and star Lin Manuel Miranda. It was a big wakeup from the first 1.5 hours of the awards show that was nothing but snoozy adult-contemporary singing.

Genre awards were largely correct

Whether it was Alabama Shakes winning Best Alternative album, Kendrick winning Best Rap Album, Chris Stapleton winning Best Country Album, or D’Angelo winning best R&B album, several great songs and albums actually won awards. In terms of sub-categories, this is probably the highest hit-rate a Grammy night has had in the last 10 years.

Kendrick getting awards two years after getting snubbed out for Macklemore

Two years after getting snubbed  for all the rap awards to white-rapper Macklemore, the Grammys do what the Grammys do best: make up for a previous wrong. Not completely, but at least in part. This has been done time and time again, and it usually happens with rock bands 30-40 years after their heyday, but fortunately, the Grammys actually got it right with Kendrick Lamar sweeping the rap categories. They certainly screwed up Album of the Year going with Taylor Swift over Kendrick, but that’s not a huge surprise (Speakerboxx/The Love Below by Outkast was the only time a rapper has won Best Album of the Year, and half of that album isn’t really hip hop at all).

Kendrick also delivered easily the best performance of the night, starting by pointing to the injustice towards Blacks in our prison system with “Blacker the Berry”, than going crazy with a huge bonfire and tribal dancers with the Grammy-award winning song “Alright”, and finally debuting a new song where Kendrick raps better and faster than anyone else. It was one of the few thrilling performances in a largely drowsy night.

3 Things the Grammys Got Right

LxL’s Top 10 TV Shows of 2015

tv-shows

Award season is upon us, with the Golden Globes just in the rearview mirror and the Oscars upcoming. It’s the one time of year we allow ourselves to move away from music and dip our toes into movies and TV. We are still very much in the golden age of television, and these 10 shows are just the tip of the iceberg of all the great TV out there.
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LxL’s Top 10 TV Shows of 2015

Best of 2015: Personal Favorites

kendrickHere are our personal top 10 albums and songs of 2015:

Wes

Songs:

 

10. Grimes – “Kill V. Maim”
9. CHVRCHES – “Leave a Trace”
8. Jidenna – “Classic Man”
7. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Extreme Wealth and Casual Cruelty”
6. Jamie xx – “Loud Places”
5. Tame Impala – “Let It Happen”
4. Vince Staples – “Summertime”
3. Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta”
2. Courtney Barnett – “Pedestrian at Best”
1. Sufjan Stevens – “Fourth of July”

Albums:

courtney-barnett-sometimes-i-sit-and-think-sometimes-i-just-sit

10. Low – Ones and Sixes
9. Wilco – Star Wars
8. Tame Impala – Currents
7. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment – Surf
6. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06
5. Kamasi Washington – The Epic
4. Grimes – Art Angels
3. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
2. Courtney Bartnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

Todd

Songs:

10. Baio – “Sister of Pearl”
9. Death Grips – “On GP”
8. Ought – “Men for Miles”
7. David Bowie – “Blackstar”
6. Kurt Vile – “Pretty Pimpin”
5. Grimes – “Kill V. Maim”
4. Jamie xx – “I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times”
3. Courtney Barnett – “Pedestrian at Best”
2. Tame Impala – “Let It Happen”
1. Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta”

Albums:

kendrick-lamar-to-pimp-a-butterfly

10. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment – Surf
9. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
8. Baio – The Names
7. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
6. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
5. Grimes – Art Angels
4. Kurt Vile – b’lieve i’m goin down…
3. Courtney Bartnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
2. Tame Impala – Currents
1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

Austin

Songs:

10. Dr Dre – “One Shot One Kill”
9. Grimes – “Easily”
8. Jason Isbell – “The Life You Chose”
7. Viet Cong – “Silhouettes”
6. David Bowie – “Blackstar”
5. Titus Andronicus – “Lonely Boy”
4. Courtney Barnett – “Pedestrian at Best”
3. Jamie xx – “I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times”
2. Vince Staples – “Lemme Know”
1. Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta”

Albums:

Summertime-06

10. Death Grips – Jenny Death
9. Janet Jackson – Unbreakable
8. Viet Cong – Viet Cong
7. Jason Isbell – Something More than Free
6. Joanna Newsom – Divers
5. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
4. Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy
3. Grimes – Art Angels
2. Courtney Bartnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
1. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06

Best of 2015: Personal Favorites