A Break from the Election Blues: LxListening

This election season couldn’t be over soon enough. This fall’s music has offered both a respite from the political ugliness and also has spoken straight to the urgency of it like the David Egger’s led 30 days for 30 songs now 40 songs in 40 days for a Trump-free America. Whether you are feeling righteous anger towards this election cycle, feeling existential and maybe a little hopeless, or just seeking some peace and quiet, this fall has delivered good music for all three. Here are a few of my favorites.

 

Amber Coffman – “All To Myself”

The eclectic Dirty Projectors have been one of my favorite bands in the last 10 years, and I’ve always thought their guitarist and co-vocalist Amber Coffman should split off for a solo career. She finally has here in 2016, with a solo album to come soon, but led by “All To Myself” a lovely mid-tempo ballad which isn’t a far cry from her sound in Dirty Projectors. The Dirty Projectors themselves are coming out with an album soon, and it appears based on their lead single, frontman Dave Longstreth doesn’t seem too pleased about Coffman going solo.

Moses Sumney – “Worth It”

LA’s Moses Sumney is one of the more refreshing up-and-coming artists today, mixing soul and folk in creative ways. A Sufjan Stevens touring mate and disciple, Sumney’s songwriting is similarly informed by his faith, with his debut EP Lamentations finding him wrestling with God, and lead single “Worth It” sort of being an open-hearted, auto-tuned confessional.

Jim James – “Same Old Lie”

My Morning Jacket’s Jim James’ musical heroes (Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Sly Stone, Roger Waters) have a knack for writing politically urgent yet timeless lyrics to fit their time and to last beyond. James strikes that balance well on his first single “Same Old Lie” for his upcoming second solo album Eternally Even, singing a Mayfield-esque protest against the hatred and violence that perpetrates our world.

Swet Shop Boys – “T5”

One of the most surprising new duos in music is Swet Shop Boys, which combines world-class British actor Rez Ahmed aka Rez MC (hot off starring in HBO’s stellar Night Of and soon to be star in Star Wars Rogue One) with Himanshu Kumar Suri aka Heems 1/3rd of goofball rap troupe Das Racist. What the two have in common is being of South Asian descent, with Heems being an Indian-American from Queens and Rez being a Pakistani-Brit from London. On “T5”, the two furiously and humorously break down what it’s like to be brown post 9/11, facing Islamophobia, xenophobia, government surveillance, racial profiling at the airport, and much more.

Nick Cave – “Skeleton Tree”

For those feeling straight-up existential and depressed this election, maybe wait to listen to Nick Cave’s latest Skeleton Tree until November 9th. While Skeleton Tree is certainly the saddest listen of 2016, it is also the most moving and human. In the summer of 2015, Cave experienced unbearable tragedy with the loss of his 15 year old son Arthur who fell of a cliff to his death while on LSD. This happened in the middle of the recording of Skeleton Tree, and was captured in Andrew Domenik’s black-and-white documentary One More Time With Feeling. Over spare piano ballads, Cave pours out his soul, the sort of primal scream album like John Lennon’s therapeutic Plastic Ono Band. It’s certainly not for everyone, but music was made for healing, and hearing Cave work out his tragedy can help someone else going through hardship to know they aren’t alone.

For more of my favorites from the fall, check out my Spotify playlist.

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Spring Fever: The 10 Best Spring Albums

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spring

For any Midwesterners out there, spring is almost certain to be one of your favorite seasons.  The summer is sweltering hot and humid.  Winter (not this year fortunately) can be cold, wet, and depressing.  Fall is probably my favorite season, because more often than not the past ten years it means I get to watch post-season Cardinals baseball.  But spring means the birds are starting another long season, and the anticipation is at a fever pitch.
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Adult Jazz “Springful” Review

Adult Jazz "Springful" Review

One of the most interesting new bands to come out of the summer is Adult Jazz, the young Leeds experimental pop quartet that just released their debut, Gist Is. While I thought about covering the entire album here, the nature of this album is I think it’s going to take 20 more listens to figure out where I truly stand on it, since it’s so jam-packed with twists and turns I have had a hard time deciding whether I like it or whether it’s a bit too much. The song “Springful” however is the instant exception.
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Top Ten Thursday: Best Bonnaroo Acts of 2013

Bonnaroo, main stage, 2013, Paul McCartney

This one is pretty self explanatory. As our final recap of the event, here is our favorite acts of our favorite festival. I’ll give you a hint, Mumford and Sons didn’t make the list … or did they.

 

10. Tame Impala
Tame Impala, live, Bonnaroo, 2013

Tame Impala’s groovy Aussie vibes translate well to the stage. Especially for an afternoon festival setting. There is no doubt these guys will only be growing in fans as the years progress. I wouldn’t be surprised seeing them graduate to a stage soon enough.
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Individual Best of 2012 Lists

Twin Shadow Confess Best Album of 2012 cover artEl-P Cancer 4 Cure Best Album of 2012 cover arttame impala, lonerism, album, cover, art

We gave you are collective Top 20 songs and albums of 2012 yesterday, but here are our separate lists:
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LxL’s Best Albums of 2012

Top 20 Best Albums of 2012 including El-P, Jack White, and Fiona Apple

2012 turned out to be a pretty great year in music.  I think all three of us would agree the offerings in 2012 were deep in really good albums, without many albums rising to the level of true greatness.  That being said, I think I would rather have a pool of 60-80 really good albums come out in a year than 9-10 great albums.  Around here, we like variety, and we certainly got it this year.  There was a surprisingly surge of good hip-hop released in the second half of the year (Killer Mike, Nas, Meek Mill).  There was the long-awaited return of all-timer female singer songwriter types (Fiona Apple, Cat Power, Regina Spektor).  And there were also several much-anticipated sophomore wide releases (Sleigh Bells, Tame Impala, Beach House, Twin Shadow).  All in all, there may not have been a lot of perfect albums this year, but it was still a great year in music.  Enjoy the top 20.
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LxL’s Best Songs of 2012

Songs and Artists of 2012

Well, after a short Holiday hiatus, we are back! And our end of year coverage continues with the most difficult list to assemble: our favorite songs of 2012. Why is a songs list so difficult to construct you say? Because there is so friggin’ many of them, it’s very hard to reach a consensus. For example we may absolutely love two songs on an album fairly equally, like First Aid Kit’s “Lions Roar” and “EmmyLou”, but we might split our vote causing neither to make the list. But even with the challenging aspects of making this list, it was a blast to make and look back at all the songs that colored our year. Here are our favorites:

20. AlunaGeorge – “Your Drums, Your Love”


New London electronic duo AlunaGeorge, consisting of singer Aluna Francis and producer George Reid (naturally), hit the electronic field by storm in 2012 with an EP and hopes of a full-length to come in the upcoming year. “Your Drums, Your Love” wrings of the slick, wry, and pretty production that Lilly Allen brings to the table, but with an added dimension of electronic touches and an unshakable chime of voices repeating “your drums” to take it over the top.
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