The 10 Best Summer Albums


Beach Boys Summer Fun

Editor’s Note: This list was originally published in 2012, but works for any hot day, regardless of year.

So here we are, deep into this relentlessly hot and sticky summer of 2012, and hopefully you are enjoying it as much as we are. It’s the time of the year for swimming pools and popsicles, baseball and biking, and sweating your ass off not matter what, no matter where. Thus we bring you our favorite albums to accompany such occasions. What makes a summer album you ask? In our opinion it is somewhat upbeat, but not overly so. Something that you can groove too whether you’re too hot to do so or not. Since I was a young lad, Austin was only knee high to a grasshopper, and Wes was just a Pooh-cub scrounging for honey, there have always been these certain songs, artist, and albums that have always left their impression on our young summers. So we decided to list out some of our favorites. Making a particularly strong appearance are some favorites from the nineties. We aren’t really sure why, but I suppose some nineties artist just really know how to set the tone for a particular summer mood. Please feel free to tell us what does it for you …
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The 10 Best Summer Albums

The 10 Best Musical Trios


Editor’s note: This originally published in 2014. Thanks to Nirvana being back in the spotlight with the new HBO documentary, Montage of Heck, we thought we would bring back our list that celebrates Nirvana and many other trios.

The best things in life come in threes. Primary colors, three-piece suits, movie trilogies, and creators of this here blog all come in threes. Schoolhouse Rock, the bedrock from which we have built our collective cultural knowledge and fortitude, even went as far as saying “3 is a Magic Number”.  We at Little by Listen, just hit our three year anniversary, and are happy to still have this format to talk music with each other and you the reader. So in honor and thanks for three wonderful years, we give you our favorite musical trios of all time.

10. Rush


Beyond the quality of the music, an important criteria for this list was strong contribution from all three members, rather than it being more of a one-man show. Rush certainly fits this criteria to a T, even if I don’t think their music is of the highest quality.
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The 10 Best Musical Trios

Top Ten Thursday: Food & Drink Edition – Part I

Top Ten Thursday: Food & Drink Edition

With the approach of Thanksgiving, we decided it appropriate to offer up a list of our favorite songs containing food and drink references.  The pool of songs was way more impressive than we imagined, necessitating us splitting the list into two parts; the first highlighting food and the second focusing on drinks (check it out here).  What we found, at least while putting together this first list, is that almost every song referencing food is either inherently silly or sexual in nature.  We gravitated toward the sillier songs, so our apologies to Warrant for not recognizing their terrible strip club staple.

As a further note, since this list is of the less serious variety, I apologize for not giving too much legitimate information on the songs or artists that follow.  I pretty much just free associated, and it felt right.  Enjoy, and as always let us know what we missed or where we screwed up.

10.  “Ham N’ Eggs” – A Tribe Called Quest

ham n' eggs

A Tribe Called Quest was almost as forward-thinking in their dietary decisions as they were in their jazz-influenced hip hop beats.  “I don’t eat no ham n’ eggs, ’cause they’re high in cholesterol” are some words the LxL staff should heed a little more often to be completely honest.  “Ham N’ Eggs” is jam packed with more than 25 soul food references.  Yum!

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Top Ten Thursday: Food & Drink Edition – Part I

Top Ten Thursday: Top Ten Rick Rubin Produced Albums

rick rubin, portrait

No, that picture above is not Ernest Hemingway and Steve Earle’s love child.  It is in fact uber-producer Rick Rubin, the man who has successfully navigated alt-rock, hip-hop, country, and just about every other genre in music with startling success.  Currently on Rubin’s radar is helping Kanye fine-tune Yeezus, easily the most eagerly awaited hip-hop album of 2013.  This is interesting, because Kanye has always been a bit of a “do-it-your-selfer” which has served him very very well.  It makes sense though to bring in the man who produced some Public Enemy, Beastie Boys and Run D.MC. when Kanye is aiming for a more minimalist experience (explained more fully in the New York Times interview).  This minimalism Ye is going for highlights an overriding theme for the albums on our list:  Strip down artists to their most raw and basic qualities and build the album up from there.  Rubin may not have one musical style he can be attached to, but there does seem to be a way of making music that is very clear.

We tried to limit this list to albums Rubin had a large hand in producing, leaving off the likes of Jay-Z’s Black Album and JT’s FutureSex/LoveSounds where he only produced one track each.  We also left off sure top-5 Lucinda Williams album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road because Rubin only handled the mixing of the album.  The only other major qualm people might have with this list is the lack of a Slayer album.  Well, I personally just don’t like metal, and so even if Slayer is the cream of the crop, I’m not gonna listen to it.  Enjoy the list, and as always feel free to comment on albums you think we missed or erroneously included.

10. The Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker

shake your moneymaker

Interestingly, I read Rick Rubin wouldn’t allow his name to be put on as producer of Shake Your Money Maker until it sold one million copies.  Was he not happy with the outcome?  Did he think it was destined for commercial and/or critical failure?  I don’t know, but I do know The Black Crowes in 1990 did The Stones better than The Stones were doing themselves.  With the alternative scene blowing up at the time, Shake Your Money Maker was a nice respite from the uniformity of most everything else out there.
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Top Ten Thursday: Top Ten Rick Rubin Produced Albums

Top Ten Thursday: Arrested Development Characters…In Song!


We at LxL are all huge Arrested Development fans.  And while the highly-anticipated fourth season resurrection may have come in under expectations, we thought we would still honor the effort with a list.  Before anyone makes a nasty remark in the comments section, yes, Billboard (who did a fantastic job) did a list along the same theme as this, but we eschewed all their song choices except for one.  As for the content of the list, we just attempted to pair each character with a song suiting their character.  A little different than our other lists, we decided it would be pointless to put them in any particular order.  This list more than any other, we would love to hear your suggestions for additional pairings.  Thanks and enjoy.

Michael:  Sly & the Family Stone – “A Family Affair”

michael bluth

Michael’s goal has always been to “keep the family together”, but if the fourth season of AD is any indication, Michael may just turn out crazier than Sly Stone himself.

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Top Ten Thursday: Arrested Development Characters…In Song!

Top Ten Thursday: Life is a Highway (Best Road Trip Songs)

road trippin'

Wes is on a pretty epic 12-day road trip out to Seattle, then up to Vancouver, and back to Chicago.  Along the way, him and Jackie (his wife for the uninitiated) are stopping at Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, and many other beautiful places along the way.  In honor of this trip, and in hopes of his safe return, we put our heads together to come up with the top ten road trip songs to keep Wes and Jackie alert, energized, and most importantly awake on this endeavor.

We tried to limit our choices for this list to songs actually about traveling to some degree.  There are many songs and albums that we more abstractly view as road trip songs, but that would have opened this list up to too many options.  We hope you enjoy these songs of the road, and as always feel free to bring more road trip songs of your preference to our attention.
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Top Ten Thursday: Life is a Highway (Best Road Trip Songs)

Top Ten Thursday: Sophomore Surges

In honor of starting our second year as a full-functioning blog, we decided to make a top ten list of the best sophomore albums, in hopes of a sign of things to come for us.  We already tackled sophomore slumps, and hope to avoid the same fate of the likes of Puff Daddy, Hot Hot Heat, and Weezer (Pinkerton…YUCK!).  Hopefully you enjoy the next year of reading our little slice of internets as much as we enjoy these next ten albums.  One quick note; although we titled the list “sophomore surges”, we simply looked at the best sophomore albums more than the “surge”.  In a few cases the second album may not even be as good as the first, but is still great in its own right.  Thanks for reading, and as always feel free to give your suggestions on what we overlooked, over-included, or why we just plain suck.
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Top Ten Thursday: Sophomore Surges