The 10 Best Fall Songs

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Editors Note: This was originally posted in 2011.

One year ago, LxL brought you our top ten albums of autumn, which we posted again this morning because we still feel it is a very strong list.  Never ones to sit on our laurels though, we thought we could tackle the best songs of autumn, which is a much more convoluted conversation.  Do we insist the song make mention to falling leaves, postseason baseball, or pumpkin patches?  Do we go by feeling?  We did exactly what we always do, which is whatever the hell we want.

Fall brings about a lot of different emotions, memories, and feelings for everyone.  For Todd, Wes, and I, autumn is probably most closely tied to our rural Indiana upbringing, where hooded sweatshirts, Friday night football games, bonfires on the peninsula, and homecoming were the most important thing in our lives for years.  Luckily our horizons have expanded, but that in no way taints the memories of humble beginnings.  We are and will always be Midwesterners at heart, and these are a few of the songs that take us back to those glorious days.  Enjoy our top ten songs of autumn, and as always remind us what we missed or errantly included.
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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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Shakey Book Review

Shakey

Jimmy McDonough

Shakey book review, Neil Young's biography

Maybe more than any artist, over our near two year span, we have heaped piles upon piles of praise on Neil Young, landing on ten of our top ten lists, including the top spot for best fall albums (Harvest), best memorial song (“Needle and the Damage Done”), and even best solo career. We even dedicated a week to top ten Neil Young albums. So it’s probably no surprise, I spent the last four months reading the goliath biography Shakey, one of the most in-depth and thorough biographies I have ever taken on.

Jimmy McDonough, the book’s biographer, has a definite dog in the fight with Shakey: he is a long-time fan of Neil and doesn’t believe any other artist can reach the highs Neil Young can reach. But fortunately for the book, he also knows Young has created the lowest of lows, giving this book a very clear and balanced voice. Shakey was named after Young’s nickname among his closest peers, and McDonough writes as if he has been let in the inner circle, which with Neil, isn’t easy to do.

Shakey starts down the Young family tree and works its way all the way through to Young’s music in the late 90’s. McDonough points to his mother Rassy particularly as the reason for many of Young’s harsh and independent ways. The book points to this independent spirit and need to keep moving forward and changing as Young’s greatest asset and weakness: it’s the reason Young has never made a concession with his creative direction but also the reason he has left so many friends face down and bloodied in his path. Even with all the times he has turned his back on his closest friends, whether it the members of Crazy Horse, his manager Elliott Roberts, or producer David Briggs, he still works and keeps his closest friends near him on Broken Arrow Ranch in Santa Cruz.

I especially loved McDonough’s depiction of all the drama with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, from Young’s strange rivalry with Stephen Stills to his dismay with the prima donna ways of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Also, learning in depth about the weirdness of the Tonight’s the Night sessions and the real family reason behind Young’s 80’s career slump really speaks volumes about the human behind that brute façade.

What really separates Shakey is McDonough’s ongoing interview with Young that goes through the entire book, sort of like reading a book with DVD commentary from the protagonist. Young’s comments are honest, heartfelt, and often blunt, but that’s who Young is, and why we at LxL love him so much.

Top Ten Thursday: Folk University – A Primer in Folk Music

folk music

Today, we are looking at the top ten folk artists of all time.  I think at the end of piecing this list together, none of us were particularly happy that some of our individual favorites didn’t make it.  But that’s what happens when three individuals make a list this comprehensive.  Setting that aside, let’s venture into the wonderful world of folk music through a little exercise I like to call Folk University – or Folk U.  Sorry about the bad pun, but I couldn’t help myself this time.

Folk music has a lot of definitions, so we tried to stick to artists that have a wealth of material that would widely be considered “folk music”.  This cut a couple borderline people out, but thus is the process of trying to form these lists.  Each of the next ten artists holds a special place in our heart for one reason or another.  Let us know who we left out, and who some of your favorite folkies are.  Enjoy!

10.  Nick Drake

nick drake

Nick Drake burned extremely bright for a few years before dying of a drug overdose. He remains mysterious in almost all ways except for his talent, highlighted by his breathy vocals and vocal style that Trey Anastasio has clearly taken a few cues from.

Folk U Mandatory Listening:  “One of These Things First”
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Kurt Vile Review: Wakin On A Pretty Daze

Kurt Vile
Wakin On A Pretty Daze

kurt vile, walkin on a pretty daze, album, cover art, new

Kurt Vile left the band The War on Drugs back in 2008 after the release of his self-recorded debut album Constant Hitmaker garnered a fair amount of critical success. Since then, he has not turned back to his past band and instead fully embraced his solo career with his backing band the Violators. I for one am glad he did so. Vile has a knack of slipping in bits and pieces of Americana folk into grungy psychedelic pop tunes, all with a modern twist to it so it seems current, yet somewhat timeless. His styles have changed slightly from album to album, and with his newest release, Walkin On A Pretty Daze he has found a way to chill out more than ever. The album title is a proper summation for the feel of the album, which it perfectly encapsulates a very dreamy daze-like ambience floating through entire +60 minutes. His pop-grunge vibe is still there, but in a longer and more relaxed fashion. This makes for one of my favorite efforts from Kurt thus far.

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Top Ten Thursday: Best Solo Careers

Han Solo, solo career

After dropping our Review Royale of the new Justin Timberlake album this week, we thought it would be a good idea to tackle artists that have gone solo for our list this week.  We already broke down the best albums released by an artist after going solo in honor of Jack White releasing his first solo record.  So we thought, “Why not just look at solo artists career as a whole, after leaving their band/group.”  Easy enough to find plenty to pick from, but exceedingly difficult to pick just ten for this particular list.  We had to axe a couple that simply didn’t have enough solo material to justify putting them above more established solo musicians (Dan Auerbach and Jack White).  We just can’t be sure which direction people with just one solo album will go.  Back to the band or keep going on their own.  Either way, there were some very tough cuts, but we think we came away with a list worthy of your attention.  Enjoy, and let us know who we missed, left off, or shouldn’t have included at all.

10. Justin Timberlake

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Following the “hiatus” of ‘N Sync in 2002, JT quickly released his solo debut Justified.  I know of at least a few sophomores and juniors in high school who couldn’t resist the former boy-bander’s cool pop sound.  Little did we all know, Justified would serve as merely a bridge to even more progressive and layered pop sounds.  FutureSex/LoveSounds and The 20/20 Experience have done more than show off JT’s love of the backslash, affirming Timberlake as pop icon.
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Top Ten Thursday: Best Winter Songs

Top 10 Best Winter Songs

Not sure where your neck of the woods is, but where I am (the Chicago area), it got mighty frigid this week. So in honor of our prickly cold weather, we give you the best songs for this time of year, our favorite winter songs. In evaluating these songs, much like how we evaluated  our top ten albums of winter last year, we tried to find the ten songs that best encapsulate the look, feel, and sound of the season; not just our ten favorite songs that just so happened to mention winter. So without further ado, the ten best songs for this frisky weather.
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