LxListening: Q4 Finds

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Musical Treasure Finds

Every year, I devote the first half of December to catching up on any music I may have missed this year before we put together our end-of-year lists, a favorite exercise for any music fan. So I scour other publications lists (which always come out crazy early and sometimes miss out on a great release like Beyonce’s late surprise last year), ask friends for recommendations, and try to get a hold of any album that been on my to-listen list. Thus, here are five of my favorite song discoveries in that period, all which could find their way onto our end-of-year lists in a few weeks.

The Preatures – “Cruel”

Love the feverishly catchy sound of HAIM but could do without so much cheesy 80’s production? Give these Aussies a try. There is still the catchy 80’s pop sound, but the Preatures favor funk and disco production and just won’t slow down until you are thoroughly entertained. “Cruel” is a great example of this, certainly invoking a little Prince crossed with the Hives.

Luluc – “Small Window”

The Aussies are really come up strong this year, as Luluc is yet another late year discovery for me from Down Under. This comes appropriately from the world of NPR, which couldn’t promote the Aussie folk duo’s new album more in the last month with two of NPR’s finest critics citing Passerby as their favorite album of the year. I haven’t heard it enough to go anywhere near that far, but the still, calm beauty of songs like “Small Window” are undeniable.

King Tuff – “Black Moon Spell”

Who said rock is dead? T. Rex disciple Kyle Thomas released his third album under the moniker King Tuff called Black Moon Spell, and it’s full of full-blooded rock songs to bash in your head to. The title track has a Monster guitar riff with a capital M, a tour-de-force rock performance you rarely hear these days.

Allah-Las – “Follow You Down”

You can find L.A. rockers Allah-Las at the intersection of early 60’s surf rock and late 60’s psych rock. Their sophomore effort, “Follow the Sun” has the laid back vibe you would expect from that combination, but plenty of pop heft to make it worth your while.

Parkay Quarts – “Pretty Machines”

So this isn’t a discovery as much as an excuse to talk about Parquet Courts’s new album Content Nausea, released under the alter-ego Parkay Quarts. This song to me shows why Parquet Courts are sort of the heirs to the Strokes throne of coolest indie rock band around. While Parquet Courts don’t have the leather jacket cool of the Strokes, they do have the “no skin off my back” aloofness of the Strokes and make up for the lack of style with whip smart and irreverent humor both lyrically and musically. “Pretty Machines” even sounds like a Strokes song with its super melodic lead guitar riff and laid-back vocal.

 

LxListening: Q4 Finds

LxListening: Body and Soul

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My fall has been filled listening to two seemingly very different types of music: electronic music and soulful R&B. While on the surface this seems very much like a war between human and machine, the two find themselves in each others’ worlds quite often. So this is a mix of body (danceable electronic music) and soul (soul and R&B), and some that is both body and soul. While this has nothing in common with what I usually listen to in the fall, this is inevitably where I find myself, even though I am one of the least soulful and rhythmic people you will ever meet.
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LxListening: Body and Soul

LxListening: Fall’s Finest ’14

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With November and December usually being a dead period for new music releases, fall is really the last part of the year for big music releases, and it looks like there will be plenty worth talking about this fall. So as a quick look at some of the best stuff to come out thus far this fall and yet to come, here are five hand-selected songs for your cool and colorful fall.

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LxListening: Fall’s Finest ’14

LxListening: The Music of Rectify

The Music of Rectify

Rectify, Sundance’s the little-show-that-could, has quickly become one of the best shows on television, and its second season was the best thing on this summer in my humble opinion. Set in a small town in Georgia, Rectify covers the life and family of Daniel Holden (played by Aiden Young), a man adjusting back to life in a small town after coming back from Death Row when new evidence surfaced and brought his conviction into question.  The show is not for everyone as it moves at a very slow pace, but it’s depiction of life in the South and a complex, honest take on faith is both surprising and refreshing. The music of the show follows suit, bringing authentic, fragile folk and country music that captures the heart of the show. With season two having just come to a close, here are some of my favorite songs used thus far in the show.
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LxListening: The Music of Rectify

LxListening: Spoon-fed

best Spoon songs

Editor’s Note: This is a repost from two years ago, that highlights some of my favorite Spoon songs and why.

In the past, we have used these Friday playlists to highlight artists we love (the Beatles, Wu Tang Clan, Frank Ocean), and this week once again falls into that category. In getting an early First Listen of Britt Daniel of Spoon’s new side project Divine Fits (with Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade and Sam Brown from New Bomb Turks), it caused me to want to go back and immerse myself in Spoon’s catalogue, which is by all means consistently great for seven albums. I don’t think it can be overstated how difficult it is to make smart, well-crafted pop songs the way Britt Daniel has done consistently. Of course, this couldn’t be done without his tremendously capably band most notably with drummer/producer Jim Eno laying the base work for everything. So without further ado, lay back and get Spoon-fed.
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LxListening: Spoon-fed

LxListening: RIP Death Grips

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death grips retirement letter, break up
Retirement letter written by Death Grips

It was unfortunate news that came about last week when Death Grips posted on the interwebs a picture of a hand-written letter announcing their retirement as a band. Death Grips short-lived career began a few years ago in late 2010 (essentially 2011), but it wasn’t until they released two full LP’s in 2012, The Money Store and No Love Deep Web, until they really began creating a buzz nationwide. The albums were released within six months of each other, and both albums garnered a lot of praise across the board. Their highly sought after live shows were amongst the most insane and intense shows around, but quickly became controversial as they began showing up for their own shows less and less frequently. Self-described as a “conceptual art exhibition”, their music was anything but the normal brand of hip-hop or industrial punk that the band was normally categorized as. They successfully bread a new genre of music that hasn’t existed prior to their arrival to the scene. The Powers That B, their new double LP is still set for a full release later this year, but the tour they were set to embark on with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden (kind of a surprising bill anyways if you ask me) has been completely cancelled. Fortunately we were gifted with loads of great music in their short career span, with the second half of their newest still on the way. In tribute, below are a few of my favorites from this insane experiment that I will always love and remember. Thanks for the great art boys!
death-grips, live
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LxListening: RIP Death Grips