Top Ten Thursday: Best Albums of the Third Kind

close encounters of the third kind, music, album, clash, london calling, alien

In September of 2011, Wes, Austin, and I took a Facebook thread that we used to vent and express our opinions on current music to each other, and transferred it to this music blog. For some reason, people decided to read what we wrote. Now two years later we are still doing it. Typing out our thoughts on albums, describing our favorite songs as of recent, and making these lists on a weekly basis has become a part of our lively routine. So we thank all of you that are actually reading these posts of mindless musical dribble for making our opinions seem as if they actually matter. Now, as is tradition, we will celebrate with a list. In our debut list, we gave you our favorite debut albums. Approaching our second year, we made the sophomore albums list. Now as we approach our third year, we present to you this week’s list: our favorite albums of the third kind. Simply put, this is a list of what we consider to be the best third album put out by any band or artist. Thanks for your continued support, and we hope you enjoy:

10. Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antarctica
Modest Mouse - The_Moon_and_Antarctica, album, cover art
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Top Ten Thursday: Best Albums of the Third Kind

LxListening: I’m a Country Boy

five country, alt-country songs from 2013

Every year around this time of year, I find myself listening to country and country-inspired tunes. Why this is, I don’t know, but traditionally I haven’t been much for country music. I find much of it sappy and sentimental, and praising of a life I don’t identify with. However, about four years ago, I started getting really into classic country music like Hank Williams and The Carter Family, as well as 90’s alt-country bands like Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy’s Uncle Tupelo and Ryan Adam’s Whiskeytown. I’m growing to appreciate country of all types and appreciate the heart and storytelling behind much of it. So here are five country or country-ish tunesI’ve been listening to.
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LxListening: I’m a Country Boy

Titus Andronicus Show Review

Titus Andronicus

The Metro, Chicago, IL

May 4th 2013

 Titus Andronicus show review at the Metro in Chicago

Last year, we wrote extensively about the career of Titus Andronicus, an anthemic, progressive punk rock band from New Jersey that finds their roots in equal parts patriotic rock hero Bruce Springsteen and anti-establishment punk acts like Minor Threat and the Clash. The band delivered a brilliant concept album based around the Civil War that toed the line about as well as any album I can think of showcasing a conflicted relationship with your country, and followed that with the decent but still disappointing Local Business, which we listed as one of our biggest disappointments of last year. So going into Saturday’s show, I had tempered enthusiasm seeing a band whose last album I wasn’t crazy about, but a band I have seen whip a crowd into a frenzy a few years ago at the Pitchfork Music Festival. What Titus Andronicus delivered was far beyond what I expected, in one of the wildest shows I have been to in quite some time.

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Titus Andronicus Show Review

Top Ten Thursday: Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows

janet jackson top pic

Super Bowl halftime shows have had a pretty wide range over the years; starting out with mostly college marching bands and currently sometimes ending up in huge controversy (like the above or M.I.A. last year).  For the past twenty years or so, though, the halftime show has settled into two categories for the most part:  aging rock star or in-the-moment pop sensations.  There just hasn’t been a lot of imagination.  I truly believe, and so do Todd and Wes deep down even though they won’t admit it, the combination of Aerosmith, N’Sync, and Nelly was pretty electric, and a legitimate combination of current and aging talents.  Alas, they didn’t make the list.  Neither did The Who (decrepit), Madonna (mummified), or the Shania Twain, No Doubt, Sting combination (puzzling).  In fact, this list is not nearly as strong as we would have expected, so I ripped to some degree on several acts.  Enjoy, and as always let us know what you think in the comments.

10. 2006 – The Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones Super Bowl

After the 2004 Janet Jackson debacle (blessing?), the NFL decided to trot out a lot of very “safe” acts for some time.  Hence, a bunch of old bags of bones (stones?) took the stage in 2006 and sounded much smaller than the event demands.  As a consolation, the stage is phenomenal, and Keith Richards puppet-master continues to get paid for his superb work.
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Top Ten Thursday: Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows

LxL’s Top Ten Christmas Songs

The Best Christmas Songs of All Time

At 12:00 AM on Black Friday and not a second later, radio stations all across the country began blasting Christmas music, oh so ready to put the Thanksgiving holiday behind them and go headstrong into Christmas season. While we at LxL love the Christmas holiday, our relationship with Christmas music is a little more conflicted. I, for one, love Christmas music in doses but less doses of “Grandpa Got Run Over By a Reindeer” and “Chipmunk’s Christmas” and more pure Christmas carol classics. Austin, on the other hand, is a regular crotchety Scrooge, as he even balked at the idea of doing a Christmas list period. Luckily for you who love Christmas music, two-thirds is majority, and Todd and I won the day.
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LxL’s Top Ten Christmas Songs

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)

Meat Loaf Retro Review: Bat Out of Hell

Meat Loaf
Bat Out of Hell

meat loaf, bat out of hell, album, cover, art

While sitting in a halfway empty Chicago bar last Saturday afternoon, my friends and I were being treated to one of the most entertaining playlists I’d ever had the pleasure of listening too. It was simple, but brilliant. Spanning from Miley Cyrus to the Who, to Afroman and Whitney Houston, it seemed to be one long stretch of nostalgic sounds and a constant conversation piece.  It even erupted into a “Gangnam Style” dance off which fortunately did not end in a brutal blood bath of a shooting … although we did learn later from the waitress that shootings were in fact not a completely irregular occurrence for The Keg of Evanston. Perhaps the most life changing moment, other than the mind-melting discovery of a mash up of Michael Jacksons “Bad” and Ray Parker Jr’s most incredible “Ghostbusters” (which was incredibly confusing by the way), came when Meat Loaf’s “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” came on.  The track is one that is familiar to most everyone. After singing through a few verses, Meat Loaf found his way into being the sole topic of conversation for my friend Daniel K. Leeper and I (notice the striking name similarities to Daniel Day Lewis).  It was then I admitted that I had never heard the album Bat Out of Hell, and it was then I agreed to purchase it so that we could listen to it in its entirety on our drive the next day. It was a life changing moment, and one that I will now forever be thankful for.
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Meat Loaf Retro Review: Bat Out of Hell