LxL’s 20 Best Albums of 2015

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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

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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

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

18. Jamie xx – In Colour

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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

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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

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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

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

14. Janet Jackson – Unbreakable

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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…

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

Todd – Baio – The Names

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

Austin – Jason Isbell – Something More than Free

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

 

 

 

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The Best Live Acts of 2015

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When it comes to end of year lists, you tend to just see half of the music world covered: recorded music. But many more people are interested in live music, and in turn want to know who are the acts I should be spending my hard-earned dollars to go see. That’s what we try to accomplish each year with our favorite live acts list. While certainly not comprehensive, these are the 10 acts we saw that we would say are definitely worth it.
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The 10 Best New Artists of 2015

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Every year when December comes around, we get excited like all other music fans about putting together our end-of-year lists. Of course we get excited about best songs and albums, but maybe the most exciting list is the best new artists. These were fresh and exciting new faces that surprised us with their debuts, and we can’t wait to see where they go next. For example, the members of our favorite new artists of 2012 list are now giants in their own right and will likely top our 2015 albums list (Kendrick Lamar, Alabama Shakes, Father John Misty, and who knows, maybe Frank Ocean will surprise us with an album release before 2016). So without further ado, our favorite new aritsts of 2015.
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The Top 10 Songs of 2015….so far

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best songs of 2015

2015 has been a solid year in music so far as we examined last week with our list of best albums up to this point.  This week, we take a look at some of the best tracks 2015 has had to offer.  I think we have a very nice diverse list, although many of the songs have some sort of electronic element, but that’s just been the trend in the music industry the past few years.  Enjoy the list, and please let us know your favorite tracks from 2015.

10.  Viet Cong – “Silhouettes”

We all like post-punk with some teeth, and Viet Cong is currently hearkening back to some of our favorite artists of the early 80’s.  “Silhouettes” is a great example of what Viet Cong has burst onto the scene with, not just settling into the genre, but expanding on it.
Continue reading “The Top 10 Songs of 2015….so far”

Best Movies of 2014

movies of 2014

I know what you may be thinking by the photo above, and yes, all of those movies did make our list. Now, as a brief disclaimer, there are quite a few movies this year that we have yet to see. Including the likes of Inherent Vice, Big Hero 6, 300: Rise of an Empire, etc, but the below is what we have seen from 2014, and what we feel was tops. Let us hear your qualms:
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LxL’s Best of 2014: Individual Edition

best albums of the year 2014

Here are our personal year-end best albums and songs from 2014. Be sure to check out our collective list of the best 20 albums of 2014 as well as our best new artists and best live shows.

Austin

Perfume Genius Too Bright Review

1. Perfume Genius – Too Bright
2.Beck – Morning Phase
3. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager
4. Jack White – Lazaretto
5. D’Angelo – Black Messiah
6. Run the Jewels – RTJ2
7. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
8. The Antlers – Familiars
9. Taylor Swift – 1989
10. Elbow – The Takeoff and Landing of Everything
11. Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots
12. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
13. Spoon – They Want My Soul
14. Courtney Barnett – The Double Ep: A Sea of Split Peas
15. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
16. Strand of Oaks – HEAL
17. tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack
18. The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream
19. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
20. Future – Honest

Songs:

1. Jenny Lewis – “Slippery Slopes”
2. Perfume Genius – “Grid”
3. Beck – “Blue Moon”
4. Marc Ronson featuring Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”
5. TV On The Radio – “Careful You”
6. Future – “Look Ahead”
7. Jack White – “High Ball Stepper”
8. Elbow – “Honey Sun”
9. Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off”
10. Run The Jewels – “Blockbuster Night Part 1”
11. First Aid Kit – “My Silver Lining”
12. Sturgill Simpson – “Just Let Go”
13. Perfect Pussy – “Interference Fits”
14. Courtney Barnett – “Avant Gardener”
15. Tinashe – “2 On (Featuring SchoolBoy Q)”
16. Perfume Genius – “Queen”
17. Vince Staples – “Blue Suede”
18. Sharon Van Etten – Everytime the Sun Comes Up
19. New Pornographers – “Brill Bruisers”
20. Lana Del Rey – “Brooklyn Baby”
21. Future – “Move That Dope”
22. FKA Twigs – “Two Weeks”
23. Alvvays – “Archie marry me”
24. Iggy Azalea – “Fancy”
25. St. Vincent – “Prince Johnny”
26. D’Angelo – “The Charade”
27. Spoon – “Do You”
28. The War on Drugs – “Under the Pressure”
29. Sylvan Esso – “Coffee”
30. Angel Olsen – “unfucktheworld”

Todd

St. Vincent Double Song Review

1. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
2. Ty Segall – Manipulator
3. Spoon – They Want My Soul
4. Run the Jewels – RTJ2
5. Jack White – Lazaretto
6. Courtney Barnett – The Double Ep: A Sea of Split Peas
7. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
8. The Antlers – Familiars
9. TV On The Radio – Seeds
10. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
11. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
12. D’Angelo – Black Messiah
13. Beck – Morning Phase
14. Perfume Genius – Too Bright
15. Ought – More Than Any Other Day
16. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal
17. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love
18. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
19. Arca – Xen
20. FKA Twigs – LP1

Songs:

1. St. Vincent – “Prince Johnny”
2. Ty Segal – “Tall Man, Skinny Lady”
3. TV On The Radio – “Careful You”
4. Courtney Barnett – “Avant Gardener”
5. Jack White – “High Ball Stepper”
6. Perfume Genius – “Queen”
7. Sylvan Esso – “Coffee”
8. FKA Twigs – “Two Weeks”
9. Ought – “Habit”
10. Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me (Featuring Kendrick Lamar)”
11. Spoon – “Inside Out”
12. Foxygen – “How Could You Really”
13. Run the Jewels – “Close Your Eyes”
14. Beck – “Blue Moon”
15. Sharon Van Etten – Everytime the Sun Comes Up
16. Modest Mouse – “Lampshades on Fire”
17. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks – “Little Fang”
18. SBTRKT – “NEW DORP. NEW YORK (featuring Ezra Koenig)”
19. Father John Misty – “Bored in the USA”
20. Kendrick Lamar – “I”
21. Perfect Pussy – “Interference Fits”
22. The Orwells – “Who Needs You”
23. Parquet Courts – “Black and White”
24. Sturgill Simpson – “Turtles”
25. Panda Bear – “Mr Noah”

Wes

Albums:

Perfume Genius Too Bright Review

1. Perfume Genius – Too Bright
2. D’Angelo – Black Messiah
3. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
4. Sun Kil Moon – Benji
5. Spoon – They Want My Soul
6. The Antlers – Familiars
7. TV On The Radio – Seeds
8. Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots
9. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
10. Strand of Oaks – HEAL
11. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
12. Beck – Morning Phase
13. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
14. Kelis – Food
15. The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream
16. Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Right
17. Courtney Barnett – The Double Ep: A Sea of Split Peas
18. Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son
19. Run the Jewels – RTJ2
20. tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack
21. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal
22. Ex Hex – Rips
23. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
24. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
25. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
26. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager
27. Hurray for the Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes
28. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
29. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
30. Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything

Songs:

1. Sharon Van Etten – “Your Love Is Killing Me”
2. Perfume Genius – “Queen”
3. The War on Drugs – “Under the Pressure”
4. Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me (Featuring Kendrick Lamar)”
5. Timber Timbre – “Hot Dreams”
6. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks – “Little Fang”
7. D’Angelo – “The Charade”
8. Courtney Barnett – “Avant Gardener”
9. Beck – “Wave”
10. Hurray for the Riff Raff – “The Body Electric”
11. tUnE-yArDs – “Real Thing”
12. St. Vincent – “Prince Johnny”
13. Strand of Oaks – “JM”
14. Jenny Lewis – “The Voyager”
15. Todd Terje – “Johnny and Mary”
16. Wye Oak – “The Tower”
17. New Pornographers – “War On the East Coast”
18. FKA Twigs – “Two Weeks”
19. Sun Kil Moon – “Carissa”
20. Sylvan Esso – “Hey Mami”
21. Jack White – “High Ball Stepper”
22. Spoon – “Do You”
23. Damien Jurado – “Metallic Cloud”
24. Sturgill Simpson – “Life of Sin”
25. TV On The Radio – “Could You”
26. SBTRKT – “NEW DORP. NEW YORK (featuring Ezra Koenig)”
27. Protomartyr – “Come & See”
28. King Tuff – “Black Moon Spell”
29. Lykke Li – “Never Gonna Love Again”
30. Ex Hex – “Waterfall”