LxL’s 10 Best Songs of 2016

 

For our favorite songs of 2016, we are going to let the songs do the talking. We have included music videos and live performances for them, as well as an Apple Music playlist. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Apple Music Playlist

  1. Childish Gambino – “Redbone”
  1. Beck – “WOW”
  1. Car Seat Headrest – “Drunk Drivers / Killer Whales”
  1. Mitski – “Your Best American Girl”
  1. Drive By Truckers – “Ramon Casiano”
  1. Kanye West – “Ultralight Beam”
  1. The Avalanches featuring Danny Brown – Frankie Sinatra”
  1. Angel Olsen – “Shut Up Kiss Me”
  1. Beyonce – “Formation”
  1. Chance the Rapper – “Same Drugs”

 

Honorable Mentions:

PJ Harvey – “The Wheel”

Margo Price – “Hands of Time”

Radiohead – “Burn the Witch”

DJ Shadow featuring Run the Jewels – “Nobody Speak”

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down – “Nobody Dies”

 

Just Missed:

Austin: Miranda lambert – “Running Just In Case”

Todd: MIA – Bird Song (Diplo Mix)

Wes: Parquet Courts – “Dust”

LxL’s 10 Best Albums of 2016

I’m certainly not the first person to say 2016 was full of loss and turmoil, both with losing several music legends and the world experiencing all sorts of violence and tragedy. Some of our picks speak to that turmoil, whether it be speaking to police brutality and racism in our justice system, or the fear and xenophobia against immigrants that has spread throughout the U.S. and around the world. Other picks of ours were a comfort and escape from the madness. Others were just flat-out great albums.

  1. William Tyler – Modern Country

modern-country

Fitting firmly in the escape category, it’s rare that an instrumental album makes our list for 2016, but William Tyler’s country-guitar picking is breathtaking and cathartic. I probably listened to Modern Country more than anything else this year.

  1. A Tribe Called Quest – Thank You 4 Your Service

tribe

A return almost 20 years in the making, influential rap trio returned just after the passing of the late Phife Dawg with an urgent, political album for Trump’s America. It’s warm and hopeful, but still cuts like a knife.

  1. David Bowie – Blackstar

david-bowie-blackstar-2016-billboard-1000

In truly prophetic fashion, David Bowie’s last album delivered 3 days before his passing speaks to death, mortality, and the afterlife like a man embracing it. With the help of Donnie McCaslin’s avant-jazz group, Blackstar was Bowie’s most experimental and best album in 35 years.

  1. Solange – A Seat at the Table

solange

Fair to say, it was a great year for the Knowles sisters…not so much for Jay-Z (see Beyonce’s Lemonade). We had a good conversation over which Knowles sister should make this list, so we sort of split the two, Beyonce on our songs list, and Solange on our albums list, for the more poetic album statement: about what it’s like being black in America and how to persevere when life gives you lemons.

  1. Drive By Truckers – American Band

americanband

Not many people wrote better about Black Lives Matter, anti-immigrant sentiment, and our current political landscape than the old white Southern rockers Drive-By-Truckers. Seriously though, Patterson Hood and his Southern compatriots sound like a band on fire on American Band, almost like Crazy Horse in their peak.

  1. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book

chance

A joyful and unique expression, Chance the Rapper released his 3rd mixtape Coloring Book, which is a celebration of growing up, becoming a father, and expressing faith in a child-like fashion. Few people exert more exuberance and joy about their city, their art, and their life as Chance, and the world is better for it.

  1. Angel Olsen – Woman

angel-olsen

Over her work with folk singer/songwriter Bonnie Prince Billy and her first three solo albums, Angel Olsen’s music has been expanding and becoming more of her own with each album. On Woman, Angel Olsen delivers song after song with her melodramatic voice and compelling arrangements for her best album to date.

  1. Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered.

kendrick-untitled

Even Kendrick Lamar’s scraps are better than other artist’s best feasts.  Kendrick surprisingly delivered untitled unmastered, the b-sides to our 2015 album of the year To Pimp a Butterfly, and even those made for our favorite rap album of the year. Suffice it to say, I’m not sure any musician is as exciting or talented as Kendrick Lamar right now.

  1. Nick Cave – Skeleton Tree

skeleton-treejpeg

The story behind Skeleton Tree is simply devastatling: Cave’s 15-year-old twin son Arthur tragically died after falling off a cliff near the family’s home. Cave, who has always dealt with death, God, and the afterlife in his music, now had to face it head on. On Skeleton Tree, the mourning and emotion is palpable in Cave’s voice, and the music is simply devastating. But there are moments of tremendous humanity and slivers of hope amidst the tragedy.

  1. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial

carseat

2016 isn’t exactly the golden age for rock music, but 24-year-old Will Toledo aka Car Seat Headrest delivered the most riveting album of the year, a concept album on adolescence that is sharply written, inventively composed, and full of good-old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll energy.

Honorable Mentions:

Beyonce – Lemonade

Mitski – Puberty 2

Anderson Paak – Malibu

Sturgill Simpson – A Sailors Guide to Earth

Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

 

Just Missed:

Wes – Jamila Woods – HEAVN

jamila-heavn-compressed

Chicago singer, rapper, and spoken-word artist Jamila Woods first became known on Chance the Rapper’s joyful “Sunday Candy”, but she showed what she’s made of in her debut album HEAVN, a beautiful, and personal expression about her life as a black woman in Chicago that also keys on musical influences from surprising places.

Austin – Lucy Dacus – No Burden

lucy-dacus

Richmond’s Lucy Dacus debut No Burden was a true surprise: a well-written rock album fronted with Dacus’s classically beautiful voice.

Todd – Whitney – Light Upon the Lake

whitney

Chicago duo Whitney is as soft and soothing as it gets, sort of a 70’s soft rock throwback, which makes this pick extra surprising for former wannabe-punk Todd. I guess he’s becoming a softy in his old age.

LxL’s Top 10 Movies of 2015

Screen-Shot-2016-02-26-at-12.40.16-PM

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 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.
Continue reading “LxL’s Top 10 TV Shows of 2015”

LxL’s 20 Best Songs of 2015

bestmusic2015-albums
We may be running a bit behind already in 2016, but better late than never. Here is what we at LxL agreed were the top tracks of 2015:

20. Alabama Shakes – “Don’t Wanna Fight”
From the moment Brittany Howards screeching intro to beers into your ears, you can feel in your bones that this track is going to be great. It does not let down one bit throughout either.

Continue reading “LxL’s 20 Best Songs 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

LxL’s 20 Best Albums of 2015

bestmusic2015-albums

We are nearly two weeks into the New Year which many would classify as late for end-of-year lists, but we’ve chose to wait for two reasons. First, we want to get it right and make sure we aren’t missing any last second releases like D’Angelo’s Black Messiah last year or Beyonce’s self-titled surprise the year before as well as giving everything a thorough listen. Second, frankly the holidays get in the way and we haven’t had a lot of time. This year was one frontloaded with monster releases that have topped our list, though there are a couple surprises in our top 20. Unfortunately, years like 2015 where there are all-time great releases like those we got from Kendrick Lamar and Courtney Barnett, frankly these lists aren’t as exciting as years where the best album of the year is more subjective.

20. Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy

titus-andronicus

The New Jersey punk-rockers led by Patrick Stickles put out a double album that is somehow not even their most ambitious album. The Most Lamentable Tragedy is a 29-song rock opera around the subject of Stickles own mental illness.

19. Sleater Kinney – No Cities To Love

SleaterKinney_NoCitiesToLove_cover

The powerful female rock trio Sleater Kinney returned from their 9-year hiatusfor their most rocking album yet.

18. Jamie xx – In Colour

jamie-xx

The best dance record of the year, British producer Jamie xx delivered the goods on In Colour with club jams like “Gosh”, “Loud Places”, and “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”.

17. Low Cut Connie – Hi Honey

lowcutlp4

A return to the rock ‘n’ roll of old, Low Cut Connie lovingly revives the sound of Jerry Lee Lewis and the Rolling Stones, even making a fan out of the most powerful man on Earth.

16. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

father-john

Josh Tillman aka Father John Misty is bringing a much-needed sense of humor back into the independent music world.

15. Kamasi Washington – The Epic

kamasi-epic

The L.A. saxophonist revived our love of jazz in 2015.

14. Janet Jackson – Unbreakable

janet-jackson-unbreakable-album-cover

Our biggest surprise of 2015, Janet Jackson returned with one of the best R&B albums of 2015, full of great guest stars and even greater songs.

13. Viet Cong – Viet Cong

VietCong

Who knew Canadians could pack such a punch. Calgary newcomers Viet Cong absolutely bring the hammer on their self-titled debut.

12. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love

umo

New Zealand’s Ruban Nielson, the man behind Unknown Mortal Orchestra, continues to expand his psyschedelic pop sound to invigorating new territory.

11. Death Grips – Jenny Death

Jenny_Death

Back from a surprise early breakup, industrial hip hop duo Death Grips delivered two albums: The Powers that B and Jenny Death with the latter being our favorite of the two.

10. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment – Surf

donnie-trumpet

2015 will be the year that Chance the Rapper broke out big, even cementing himself as Chicago Magazine’s “Chicagoan of the Year”. He especially made a big impact in his role in friend Nico Segal aka Donnie Trumpet’s debut album, one of the most joyous albums of the year.

9. Kurt Vile – b’lieve i’m goin down…

kurt

Kurt Vile may just look like a stoner in your high school that skipped class, listened to Pink Floyd, and worked fast food (and he may have indeed been that guy), but he is also one of the hardest working and best songwriters going right now.

8. Bjork – Vulnicura

bjork

Bjork’s Vulnicura is just like it’s title: a vulnerable breakup album which is made all the more affecting with Bjork’s chilling voice and the help of the mysterious and experimental Venezuelan producer Arca.

7. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

sufjan

Speaking of vulnerable, it doesn’t get a lot more vulnerable than talking about your late mother who left you due to addiction. Sufjan sings about darkness and brokenness with as much grace and beauty as anyone since Elliott Smith.

6. Joanna Newsom – Divers

Joanna_Newsom_-_Divers

Joanna Newsom is certainly not for everyone (her voice upon first listen sounds like a frog and her songs are long and complicated), but if you allow yourself to suspend disbelief and go into her world, you will truly be blown away by her magical music world.

5. Tame Impala – Currents

tame-impala

Three albums in, Australian psych-rockers have quickly become one of our favorite bands. Currents moves their band in a more dance pop direction, further proving they can’t seem to do no wrong.

4. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06

Summertime-06

If it wasn’t for the larger-than-life brilliance of Kendrick Lamar, Vince Staples’ double-disc debut would be an easy pick for best rap album of the year. Vince Staples raps and sometimes croons about the danger and confusion he faced growing up with serious conviction.

3. Grimes Art Angels

grimes

Few artists are bold enough to throw away a year’s worth of work, but that’s exactly what Claire Boucher aka Grimes did when she wasn’t happy with the album she was set to release in 2014. Instead, we waited and were rewarded with Art Angels, an album only Boucher could make.

2. Courtney Bartnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

Cournetbarnett

Pure joy to listen to, Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett sings, writes, and plays like no one else on her brilliantly-titled studio debut.

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

kendrick-butterfly

What more do we need to say that hasn’t been said. Kendrick Lamar is embracing his African-American musical heritage yet pushing music forward to a bold new frontier.

Just Missed:

Wes – Wilco – Star Wars

star-wars

The first Star Wars of the year was also my favorite (sorry JJ Abrams).

Todd – Baio – The Names

Baio-The-Names

Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio released a surprising and fun solo debut in The Names.

Austin – Jason Isbell – Something More than Free

jason-isbell

Something More Than Free somehow flew under the radar even though Jason Isbell really couldn’t be blowing up any more right now.