The 10 Best Jack White Songs

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Many Jack White Bands, Faces of Jack White, best Jack White Songs,

Editor’s note: This list was originally published in 2013, but with the release of the new Dead Weather record, we thought we would revisit one of our favorite lists and modern artists.

When Jack White releases something new, we are sure to break out all the bells and whistles to announce its arrival. Today, we update our best Jack White songs list with the new album and White’s last album in mind. While we certainly love a handful of songs on the new album (“High Ball Stepper”, “Temporary Ground”, “Entitlement”), the fact that we are still relatively new to these songs held them from back from making a stacked list.

So without further ado, the best of Jack White:
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The 10 Best Jack White Songs

Hot Chip Review: Why Make Sense?

Hot Chip

Why Make Sense?

hot-chip

Few bands churn out the dance hits like Hot Chip. In case you are unfamiliar, Hot Chip is five somewhat nerdy white Brits that know disco, house, and pop music like the back of their hand, releasing six infectious albums in the last ten years. The band has always been half-humor and half-heart, but especially with their last album, In Our Heads, they have really kicked up the heart. Why Make Sense?, their latest, continues the tender-hearted streak, turning to gospel and house music as inspirations for their danceable love tunes, their most consistent set of songs since 2006’s The Warning.
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Hot Chip Review: Why Make Sense?

LxListening: Odds and Ends 2.0

Odds and Ends 2.0 playlist

Around this time last year, I did an odds and ends playlist of just random music I was listening to, and this year you get the same. It seems this time early in the year, there usually isn’t a ton of releases and because of this, I try to use this time of year to explore some older artists I haven’t had a chance to. So without further ado, here are five songs that have really struck me this past month.
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LxListening: Odds and Ends 2.0

Jim James Review: Regions of Light and Sound of God

Jim James

Regions of Light and Sound of God

Jim James Regions of Light and Sound of God album cover art

Louisville native Jim James has made a name for himself by heading one of the best bands going today in chameleon Southern rockers My Morning Jacket, but that isn’t so say that’s all James has done. James has made himself known throughout the musical landscape, from singing and playing on records for Bright Eyes, Dr. Dog, Laura Veirs, and Preservation Jazz Hall Band, shacking up in supergroups with Conor Oberst and M. Ward for Monsters of Folk and Jay Farrar and others for a Woodie Guthrie project known as New Multitudes, and notoriously showing up as a guest seemingly everywhere, playing with a diverse range of acts from Erykah Badu to the late great Levon Helm. Not only has James made an imprint in music, but he has also made notable appearances in Elizabethtown and I’m Not There. So it’s a bit surprising that it has taken him this long to release a proper full-length solo album, but the wait is over with Regions of Light and Sound of God. The results are mostly positive, with James doing a very different type of record than he is known for with My Morning Jacket; a sweet, restrained, and spiritual 40 minutes of music that doesn’t hit you over the head, but gently ships you off to outer space.

The story behind Regions of Light and Sound of God has already become a bit of folklore, with the album being inspired by a period of time following a freak stage accident James suffered. James ended up in the hospital and was handed a copy of Lynd Ward’s 1929 wordless novel-in-woodcuts, God’s Man. God’s Man is about a young man who seeks redemption while struggling with personal demons, and then figures things out to only have death sneak up on him. Through the book and this time, James reconciled these weighty themes of love, mercy, suffering, art, and death in his life and has now used Regions of Light and Sound of God as a sort of pronounced meditation on these subjects. Often when artists tackle such themes they get a little ambiguous and messy, but for the most part, James shows a surprising amount o restraint to make a quiet and searching album that is still signature quirky James.

In terms of music, James plays every instrument on the record beside some of the orchestral arrangements, and covers a wide array of music genres but stays within a unified record sound. “A.E.I.O.U. (State of the Art)” builds around a serene jazz piano line and the stillness of James’ voice before slowly picking up steam to form one of Regions’ best tracks. The spacey shuffle of “Know Till Now” sounds like a disco taking place only in James’ mind or on a rocketship to the moon, but still sounds romantic even if it’s a bit dazed out. “Dear One” follows a pattern of My Morning Jacket tracks “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Part 1” and “Day Is Coming”: elementary, hypnotic pop songs that build off one mid-tempo yet entrancing melody. Second single “A New Life” is as good as Regions gets, with James doing his best hiccupy Buddy Holly impression singing a sweet and innocent love song about starting anew. It’s a not-so-distant cousin to classic love song Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me”, and sounds instantly just as classic.

Not only are all the lyrics spiritual in nature, but the music itself lays steeped in sounds from the otherside. One of James’ biggest musical heroes is my favorite Beatle, George Harrison (James even has a Harrison tribute EP called Tribute To), who was also famous for spiritually searching music, pulling influence from Ravi Shankar and Hindustani classical music, gospel music, and folk spirituals. James does much the same here, pulling New Age sounds for “Of The Mother Again”, Middle-Eastern sounds on “All Is Forgiven”, soul and gospel on “Actress”, and airy meditative folk on “God’s Love To Deliver”.  While across the board spiritually, the album doesn’t feel jumbled or messy but rather wholly cathartic.

Probably my biggest issue with Regions of Light and Sound of God is not the concept or overall sound of the record, but rather the songs themselves. Every My Morning Jacket record usually delivers at least 3-4 gripping and instantly epic songs that I will play for years, and outside “A New Life” and maybe “A.E.I.O.U. (State of the Art)”, the songs are pleasant and moving but not stuff I feel like continually retreating back to. James is usually not one for restraint, and he uses it here which I think helped with dealing with huge themes, but I think it also removed some of his oddball personality which is one of the most endearing features to James’ music.

Regions of Light and Sound of God is definitely worth a listen, but isn’t guaranteed to warrant repeated listens the way much of James’ other work does.

7.5/11

Can’t Miss: “A.E.I.O.U. (State of the Art)”, “A New Life”, “Know Till Now”

Can’t Hit: “Exploding”, “Actress”

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Jim James Review: Regions of Light and Sound of God

Top Ten Neil Young Albums

The Top Ten Best Neil Young Albums

This week, our Top Ten Thursday is an ode to LxL’s favorite Canadian, and no it’s not Alan Thicke. In honor of Neil Young’s latest release, the epic Psychedelic Pill, we give you our ten favorite Neil Young records. Neil was no doubt one of the three or four most important artists of the 70’s, but has still released his share of good-to-great albums in the past three plus decades as well. Young’s 40+ studio albums plus even more live albums comes second in productivity only to Bobby Dylan. We also made the decision to just include solo Neil Young records to clean things up a bit, but it goes without saying that Neil has released some classics with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Buffalo Springfield. So without further ado: the best of Mister Young.
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Top Ten Neil Young Albums

Spiritualized Review: Sweet Heart Sweet Light

Spiritualized

Sweet Heart Sweet Light

Spiritualized, Sweet Heart Sweet Light, album cover, cover art

Often the greatest work comes out of the toughest circumstances. That broken relationship, lost job, or life-and-death situation repeatedly fuels art more than anything else because of the insight and stories gained from such traumatizing experiences. Much is the case for Jason Pierce, front man of British psych-rock band Spiritualized, who underwent treatment for a degenerative liver disease since his last album, 2008’s brilliant Songs in A&E. The result of such a life-and-death experience is Sweet Heart Sweet Light, a true triumph of an album that trades off between the unbearable darkness and light at the end of the tunnel in the most frightening of circumstances.
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Spiritualized Review: Sweet Heart Sweet Light

Top Ten Thursday: Jack White Out

Top Ten Thursday: Jack White Out

 Many Jack White Bands, Faces of Jack White, best Jack White Songs,

Continuing our week of unabashed love and adoration for Jack White, we thought what better than to bring an all-Jack list to the masses (or…our friends’ basements), and a day early at that. Our discussions were actually much longer and vicious than our usual list quarrels, really feeling the weight of making such a jam-packed list as this. We discussed a few songs off of Blunderbussmaking the list (primarily “Love Interruption”, “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” and “Trash Tongue Talker”) before finally settling on leaving them off, since they have only had a week to sink in, unlike these other songs, which we have loved and rocked out to for years. So without further ado, the best of Jack White:
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Top Ten Thursday: Jack White Out