The 10 Best Summer Albums

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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

Top Ten Anti-Establishment Songs

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We at LxL don’t like seeing anyone pinned down by “the man”, so we wanted to repost this list in honor of the current events in Ferguson, MO. This list was originally put together during our governments shut down in early 2014, so it may be more relevant for that type of situation rather than what is currently going on, but we find it fitting for both. As always, let us know what we missed out on:
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Top Ten Anti-Establishment Songs

2013: The Year Dance Music Became King

2013: The Year Dance Became King

It’s been a steady shift over the past few years, but I believe 2013 was finally the year dance music (more specifically of the electronic persuasion) took the throne from hip hop as the most dominant genre in music today. There were multiple signifiers to me throughout the year that this shift has finally occurred, and below I will lay out the four biggest signs the robots have finally taken over.
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2013: The Year Dance Music Became King

M.I.A. Review Royale: Matangi

M.I.A.

Matangi

M.I.A. Matangi album cover art
Nearly two years after the release of  “Bad Girls”, one of M.I.A.’s biggest singles to date, as well as a slew of three additional pre-releases, we now finally have the mother album to go with these albumless tracks, Matangi. After the non-success of her last album, MAYA (which I personally thought to be great) M.I.A. hit a creative wall, in which she was not only struggling with studio execs pressuring her to make another Kala, but was also suffering from some mild writers block. The good news is the frustration between artist and studio didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on the overall outcome of the album.  After a trip to India she found inspiration from her Hindu roots in the goddess Matangi, the Hindu Divine Mother that governs music, knowledge and art. Fairly fitting I’d say, and her inspiration has led to yet another solid effort from our favorite English-Sri Lankan dub/electronica/world/hip-hop artist.
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M.I.A. Review Royale: Matangi

LxListening: Fall’s Finest Tracks

 

LxListening's Finest Fall Tracks: M.I.A.

It’s been a surprisingly busy fall in terms of new music releases, and with a three-man crew, we have been unable to cover all the notable releases this fall. So in order to make up ground, I figure I would highlight five of my favorite tracks from this fall. So without further ado, here are some of my fall recommendations.
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LxListening: Fall’s Finest Tracks

Top Ten Thursday: Top Ten Songs for the Government Shutdown

government shutdown

With the Congress bringing the almighty U.S. government at a stand-still (you know, except for Congress receiving their own paychecks), we decided to craft a list of the top ten songs to accompany this government shutdown.  The last time the government took this route, there were actually some fitting tracks ruling the airwaves:  “Another Night” by Real McCoy, “Run-Around” by Blues Traveler, and “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio are just a couple where the title rings all too true.  Not to be outdone, 2013 gives us “Blurred Lines”, “We Can’t Stop”, and “Radioactive” to appropriately jam to.

Pop corollaries aside, we decided to make this list for those that are mighty frustrated, and want to rage against this inefficient mess.  Not much lighthearted fare on this list, just bombast after frustration, followed by some heavy indictments.  Whether this shutdown affects you or not, get your riot gear on and hit the streets (or at least your nearest dive bar).  Enjoy, and as always shoot us some favorites of yours that we missed.

10.  M.I.A. – “Born Free”

MIA

Contrary to the beliefs of the uninitiated, flipping off all of ‘Merica during her Super Bowl performance was just a mild dose of M.I.A.’s anachronistic career.  M.I.A. has always had strong views, but her big coming out party for her views may be her lead single for her third album Maya.  Accompanied by a shocking video, “Born Free” takes to task the ever more oppressive role of government.

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Top Ten Thursday: Top Ten Songs for the Government Shutdown

Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 Recap

Pitchfork Music Festival, 2013

On the surface level, I think it’s natural to have some preconceived notions of what a festival put on by Pitchfork may be like. Pretentious I would imagine is the first thing that would come to many people’s minds. An uppity crowd filled with music snobs and young folks more focused on style than substance. You’d probably also assume that following suit with any other festival/venue it would provide nothing but overpriced food and beverages that would be moderately annoying to wait in line to get as well. The lineup can also be a bit off-putting for some. Unsure of all the names on the lineup seems to be a problem for even dedicated music followers at times as Pitchfork likes to stick with very highly acclaimed (even if it is themselves in fact acclaiming them) list of acts. Not to mention the staggeringly small number of acts for a three day festival that pales in comparison to that of a Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, or Coachella.

After attending this festival for the second time, I have to say that I am continually amazed at how far off base all of these notions are. Every one of them. The crowd is amazingly genuine. It is smaller than most fests, but people there seem to be genuinely into music. I attribute this largely due to the fact that Pitchfork’s lineup is not conducive for the teenie-bopper types that are looking to attend a three day festival to simply see one show a day whether that be Monsters of Men or fun.. All of the fans at Pitchfork seem to genuinely be there to enjoy all music. As far as price goes, there is hardly a bar in Chicago where you can get craft beers for $5, let alone a spectacle venue. Food is also moderately priced, from local Chicago restaurants, and very delectable. The lineup, whether you know the artist or not, is wonderful. Every act you see there (or at least that I saw there) is someone I would pay a full priced ticket to see as headliners. And the fact that this number of acts on the list is smaller than most, only provides strong set times, and less conflict from overlapping acts. All-in-all it has to be the US festival with the most bang for your buck. Now let’s get down to brass tax shall we?

I attended this year on Saturday/Sunday only. Friday I was at a Pearl Jam concert at Wrigley Field that will be worthy of it’s own post at a later time. So below is my quick few-sentance recap of what was one of the more surprisingly great festivals/weekends of my 2013:
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Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 Recap