The 10 Best Pitchfork 2015 Performances

 

pitchfork music festival 2015

Pitchfork Music Festival is consistent festival gold in my opinion. Despite me not being able to make it Friday, a torrential downpour temporarily delaying the fest on Saturday, and almost being conned out of a ticket on Sunday, PMF 2015 was no exception. With me as always, was LxL’s own Wes (who was able to attend all three days), and another LxL regular/frequent festival coverage guru, Riley Johnson. We three squashed our mind grapes together, and this list is the winey result:

10. Bully

bully pitchfork

I’m trying to think of a better way to start the day; I am. Female lead garage punk at it’s finest.
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LxListening: Q4 Finds

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Musical Treasure Finds

Every year, I devote the first half of December to catching up on any music I may have missed this year before we put together our end-of-year lists, a favorite exercise for any music fan. So I scour other publications lists (which always come out crazy early and sometimes miss out on a great release like Beyonce’s late surprise last year), ask friends for recommendations, and try to get a hold of any album that been on my to-listen list. Thus, here are five of my favorite song discoveries in that period, all which could find their way onto our end-of-year lists in a few weeks.

The Preatures – “Cruel”

Love the feverishly catchy sound of HAIM but could do without so much cheesy 80’s production? Give these Aussies a try. There is still the catchy 80’s pop sound, but the Preatures favor funk and disco production and just won’t slow down until you are thoroughly entertained. “Cruel” is a great example of this, certainly invoking a little Prince crossed with the Hives.

Luluc – “Small Window”

The Aussies are really come up strong this year, as Luluc is yet another late year discovery for me from Down Under. This comes appropriately from the world of NPR, which couldn’t promote the Aussie folk duo’s new album more in the last month with two of NPR’s finest critics citing Passerby as their favorite album of the year. I haven’t heard it enough to go anywhere near that far, but the still, calm beauty of songs like “Small Window” are undeniable.

King Tuff – “Black Moon Spell”

Who said rock is dead? T. Rex disciple Kyle Thomas released his third album under the moniker King Tuff called Black Moon Spell, and it’s full of full-blooded rock songs to bash in your head to. The title track has a Monster guitar riff with a capital M, a tour-de-force rock performance you rarely hear these days.

Allah-Las – “Follow You Down”

You can find L.A. rockers Allah-Las at the intersection of early 60’s surf rock and late 60’s psych rock. Their sophomore effort, “Follow the Sun” has the laid back vibe you would expect from that combination, but plenty of pop heft to make it worth your while.

Parkay Quarts – “Pretty Machines”

So this isn’t a discovery as much as an excuse to talk about Parquet Courts’s new album Content Nausea, released under the alter-ego Parkay Quarts. This song to me shows why Parquet Courts are sort of the heirs to the Strokes throne of coolest indie rock band around. While Parquet Courts don’t have the leather jacket cool of the Strokes, they do have the “no skin off my back” aloofness of the Strokes and make up for the lack of style with whip smart and irreverent humor both lyrically and musically. “Pretty Machines” even sounds like a Strokes song with its super melodic lead guitar riff and laid-back vocal.

 

The 10 Best Albums of 2014 So Far

LxL_TopTenThursdays_02_900x300Best Albums of 2014 So Far

This has been an odd year in music by all accounts. There have been nearly no big-time rap albums (except arguably Future’s Honest), it’s been a down year for electronic music (just months after I declared 2013 the year dance music became king), and rock music has made an unexpected comeback (with three albums on our list being unabashed guitar rock records). The albums on our list are also decidedly slower, and more relaxed, as I would say half the albums on this list are very melancholy albums (especially our top two). Without further ado, our top ten so far in this odd year of music.
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LxListening: Summer Road Trip 2014

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Summer Road Trip 2014 Songs

The summer is upon us, and as I set out for my first road trip of the year, I went looking for the best soundtrack to match. Here are five songs from this year perfect for your next trip out on the open road.
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Parquet Courts Review: Sunbathing Animal

Parquet Courts

Sunbathing Animal

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Brooklyn (by the way of Texas) rockers Parquet Courts burst onto the scene this time last year, with one of my favorite rock records last year in Light Up Gold. The band landed as our 5th favorite new artist last year and they have quickly whipped it around with another brilliant new record in Sunbathing Animal. Again, the band conjures a wily and free-spirited sound that your head and your feet can both agree on, with one of the most perfectly sequenced records I’ve heard in a while.

Dual vocalists Andrew Brown and Austin Savage combine humorous, philosophical, and  whip-smart lyrics on opener “Bodies”, which gets by on a bent Television-like guitar riff with an appropriately flat-lined guitar solo that would make Tom Verlaine proud. Lead single “Black and White” follows with what the band calls their “leather rhythm”,  a rugged and unruly rhythm from bassist Sean Yeaton and drummer Max Savage which is really  loose and feels like it could constantly fall apart. This is mastered on the title track “Sunbathing Animal” which has the backbeat so deep in the pocket it feels like it will constantly fall out, which makes it all the more thrilling of a listen.

Songs like “What Color Is Blood” and “Ducking & Dodging” showcase just how confident and cool Parquet Courts are, with “What Color Is Blood” leading with gnarly guitar interplay and “Ducking & Dodging” with some almost Chuck Berry-style wordplay.  People don’t spit fire and sing with this much attitude anymore, which makes Parquet Courts refreshing, even if most of the time they are doing so pretty irreverently.

“Up All Night” delivers a propulsive Krautrock beat that drops out into the sound of “Instant Disassembly” a melodic little guitar ditty that sounds like the Strokes slowed by a bottle of whiskey. Songs like “Instant Disassembly” and “Raw Milk” have the wistful and broken spirit of the Velvet Underground, a sound that is both pretty and slightly disturbed at the same time: a very interesting juxtaposition.

I mentioned the track sequencing here, as it truly shows how an album can be greater as a whole rather than individual parts even if it’s not some sort of concept record. The way the songs contrast each other (like “Up All Night” into “Instant Disassembly” into “Ducking & Dodging”), or propel each other forward (like “Bodies” into “Black and White”) is truly wonderful.  If you love the Strokes or are always in search of fresh new rock bands, you should give Sunbathing Animal a shot.

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Can’t Miss: “Instant Disassembly”, “Ducking & Dodging”, “Sunbathing Animal”, “Bodies”

Can’t Hit: None

LxListening: Best of Sirius XMU

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Whoever says radio is dead must not have a subscription to Sirius Radio. Spending an extended amount of time in your car can sometimes be damaging to your relationship with your personal music library. Especially if you have limited space capacity on your iPhone, iPod, or in most cases, your Zune. Sometimes you need a break from the mundane predictability of your own personal library, and let someone else do the legwork of exploring new music for you. That is why after the 30-day Sirius XM trial period ended in my bitchin’ new Honda Civic that I recently purchased ended, I splurged on the $8.99/month package and let the good tunes continue to roll.

Back in my college years while cooped-up working in the depths of a Best Buy warehouse in Muncie, IN, I used to blast a little channel known as Sirius XMU (very original station name by the way). It was how I was first introduced to Animal Collective in 2006 (yes, I can admit that I did not know of AC before Feels) and Vampire Weekend in 2008. Both brought to me by XMU’s very own Jenny Eliscu (@jennylsq). Jenny is still my favorite XMU DJ, but after merging with XM, Sirius XMU (then Sirius U) absorbed Jake Fogelnest and his show that was previously on XM know as Left of Center. (I think I have that right anyways.) This only made XMU stronger, and added a variety of radio shows that feature blogs that are slightly more popular than ours such as: Hipster Runoff, Brooklyn Vegan, Gorilla Vs Bear, My Old Kentucky Blog, etc. Now, a few years after graduating college, and graduating from that terrible establishment that most certainly does not provide the best of buys, I am back to consistently listening to Sirius Radio. And when I do unplug my phone from the AUX jack, XMU is usually my “go-to”. So after that long-ass introduction, here is a selection of a few of my favorite songs that are currently on heavy rotation within the XMU playlist. If you like them, you should be sure to check out the station as well.

Parquet Courts – “Black and White”

I was first introduced to these brilliant punk-asses from XMU on year ago. One year later, they are now pushing their newest treat of an album, Sunbathing Animal.
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Best 20 Albums of 2013

greatest, favorite, best, albums of 2013

As Austin noted in our introduction to our favorite songs of 2013 list yesterday, it is much more difficult to list a years worth of favorites than one might think. 2013 was quite an interesting year in music. Many big names (or at least big expectations) left a disappointing taste in fans’ mouths (Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, The Strokes, Jay-Z, etc.). This left the door wide open for smaller, and sometimes even unheard artists to really pave the way to a brighter future, and in some cases, all-out overnight stardom (Lorde, Savages, CHVRCHES, etc). This also left a lot of room for controversy. Who is worth the listen, and who is just going through the motions while filling our ear buds with noise? Well the controversy was not absent in making this list. With all three of us at LxL listing out our top 20 albums separately and then combining them into a normalized list, there was bound to be some peoples favorites left off. Mean things were said, blood was spilled, and opinions hotly thwarted. Nonetheless, the list must go on. Here is what we considered to be our favorite albums of 2013:

20. AlunaGeorge – Body Music
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Last year, Alunageorge’s “Your Drums, Your Love” ranked in at #20 on our favorite songs of 2012. This year, the soulful pop R&B duo returned with a full LP to support the single, as well as a grip of other ripe-for-the-shaggin’ type of tunes. The duo now garnered another #20 slot, but this time on our albums list with Body Music.
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