LxListening: Back in School

While plenty of people (students and teachers alike), just went back to school, this time of year usually is a great time for music discoveries. Here are five of my favorite songs from the last couple months, as well as a Spotify playlist including plenty more.

Low Cut Connie – “Back in School”

Can we talk about Barrack Obama having the best taste of music of any president ever? Who knows what Obama’s legacy will be 10 years from now, but I certainly won’t forget that. Obama recently included rabble-rouser bar band Low Cut Connie on his Spotify Summer Playlist, and he’s certainly all the cooler for it.

Leon Bridges – “Better Man”

Leon Bridges is probably the closest thing to a second coming of Sam Cooke we’ve had in 50 years. His songs are simple, innocent, and irresistible.

Mac Demarco – “A Heart Like Hers”

I used to not care for Mac Demarco and his stoner, goofball schtick, but then I actually saw him live and truly listened to his music. Turns out that stoner, goofball is an amazing songwriter, especially around heartbreak. “A Heart Like Hers” sounds more like Damon Albarn singing mournfully for the Gorillaz than anything, but it’s an extremely moving song either way.

Dr. Dre feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Genocide”

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This is officially the year of Kendrick Lamar and Oscar Isaac. Oscar Isaac because he’s now killed it in Ex Machina, A Most Violent Year, Show Me a Hero, and will soon blow up as big as Harrison Ford when the new Star Wars hits this Christmas. Kendrick, because he’s put out the best album this year, been on the biggest summer single in T. Swift’s “Bad Blood”, and totally dominated Dr. Dre’s new album to the point it should be called a Kendrick album. “Deep Water” displays a rapper simply out of his head, a once-a-decade rap talent. (P.S. Because of Dre’s billion dollar empire, of course he doesn’t make the song available on any outlet except Apple Music.)

Thundercat – “Them Changes”

Thundercat knows how to bring dat bass. The producer and bassist is sort of the unsung hero on To Pimp a Butterfly, but has made plenty of amazing music himself these past three years. Be sure to check out his Song Exploder episode on “Them Changes”, breaking apart all the different elements in the song.

For more music from the past few months, visit my 15-song Spotify playlist.

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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.
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The 10 Best Albums of 2015 So Far

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I just have to say, the first half of 2015 has been a monster. It’s rare in a year you get an album you will come back to constantly for years to come and so far in 2015, we have three of those. We’ll get to those with our top three thus far, but first, seven more albums to visit.
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The 10 Best Bonnaroo Performances of 2015

bonnaroo 2015

Another summer, another June, another great festival of music, arts, and debauchery. As always, Bonnaroo proves to be one of my favorite weekends of the year, as well as a one of my favorite music festivals in the country. And what to do now? Compile a list of course. Of course, when compiling this list, problems arise. Mainly because I was the only member of LxL to attend Roo this year, and as one man, I cannot make it to every show. No matter how badly I would like to have seen Tears for Fears, scheduling conflicts are real conflicts. So the following is a list of my favorites acts out of all the ones in which I was able to attend. Let me know if any of you saw something better:

10. Billy Joel
billy joel bonnaroo
Forever an entertainer. No matter how old this man gets, and no matter how much he looks like Pat Johnson (our friend’s dad), he will forever have that spark of a 23-year-old boy from the Bronx. Having a song like “Piano Man” for +80,000 people to scream back to you has to be one helluva feeling too.
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Kendrick Lamar Review Royale: To Pimp a Butterfly

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Wes’ Words

Nowadays in our crazy, interconnected world, it’s not even a week after a hotly anticipated album releases that we are already on to the next thing. With instant streaming, leaks before release, and the ability to listen on any device at any time, we are digesting music faster than ever, and getting bored and moving on to the next hot item over and over.
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LxL’s 10 Most Anticipated 2015 Albums

Kendrick Lamar Bonnaroo 2012

2015 is set to be a year we hear from a bunch of creative heavy-hitters. Last year was largely dominated by quiet contemplative records, this year I think will be full of big-time records. So here are our 10 most anticipated records of 2015.

10. Father John Misty

Father John Misty, live, bonnaroo, 2013

Father John Misty, aka Joshua Tillman, is a modern master of musical satire, a lost art these days. His debut of “Bored in the USA” on Letterman, which takes modern capitalist quasi-religious America to task, gets us super excited for his new album, I Love You Honeybear, out in February .
9. My Morning Jacket

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A longtime LxL favorite, My Morning Jacket is set to release their seventh studio album, and more importantly, it means a tour for one of the most electric live bands on the planet.
8. Radiohead

Radiohead

Thom Yorke and Radiohead has been creating afro-infused electronic music for the last few albums, but it seems like Yorke reinvents himself and the band every four or five years. We hope to hear an all-new Radiohead in 2015.
7. Grimes

Grimes, new album 2014

Grimes postponed her 2014 album for a very surprising reason. On the verge of a huge pop breakthrough, Grimes must have reached down into herself and released these new radio-friendly songs weren’t what she wanted to make, and scrapped the album altogether. She is expected to return this year with an entirely new album, a bold move for such a young artist.
6. Twin Shadow

twin shadow, new album, 2014

Like Grimes, George Lewis Jr, aka Twin Shadow, was set to release the followup to his fantastic 2012 Confess last year, but his album and tour both were postponed for personal reasons. While we had to wait longer, we still can’t wait to hear what Twin shadow has next.
5. Sufjan Stevens

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A week ago, Sufjan Stevens announced his first non-Christmas album in five years, since the inventive masterpiece Age of Adz. His latest, Carrie & Lowell, is named after his mom and stepdad, again has Sufjan covering a specific subject, but as usual, I’m sure the new album will speak to larger issues in profound ways.
4. Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson and Kevin Parker's "Daffodil"

“Uptown Funk” was one of our 20 favorite songs in 2014, and even had us pondering, what would it be like if Bruno Mars was given an entire album of good songs? With Stevie Wonder, Kevin Parker of Tame Impala and more on tab, Uptown Special is set up to be an album of nostalgic bliss.
3. Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar

This may be the year Kendrick takes the throne as best rapper in the game. While Kanye is still at the top of the game, Kendrick’s gift of flow and profound  lyrics may make him the best in the game, especially if the rest of his new album is as good as “i” and the untitled track he debuted on The Colbert Report.
2. Kanye West

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Kanye has been quietly hosting listening parties for his new album since late 2014, but we still don’t have the details yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a surprise release sometime in the first half of the year like Beyonce and D’Angelo’s last albums.
1. Modest Mouse

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It’s been eight long years since Modest Mouse’s last proper studio album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, and if “Lampshades of Fire” is an indicator, their new album Strangers to Ourselves, should be a return to the barking, vicious Modest Mouse of old.
Wes – Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean

Few debuts show as much pure promise and songwriting talent as  Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. I expect his follow up to reach the same or greater heights.
Todd – Unknown Mortal Orchestra

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The psych-pop trio has released two great records already, Todd is expecting a third.
Austin – Run the Jewels

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Two years. two hip hop classics. Here’s to seeing if El-P and Killer Mike can cement themselves as one of the best super groups of all time.

Flying Lotus Review: You’re Dead

Flying Lotus

You’re Dead

Flying Lotus You're Dead album cover art

The world of electronic music gets noisier and more crowded by the minute, with few artists truly standing out. Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus is busy creating his own universe, one that refuses to be defined by a category or genre, mixing jazz, hip hop, R&B, and experimental electronic music to make something new entirely. His fifth proper album, You’re Dead, pushes his metaphysical sound with a 19-song concept album, centered around Ellison considering his own mortality and mourning those he has lost.
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