The 10 Best Jock Jams

dancing

With the first NFL game tonight, we thought we would kick things off with our top ten jock jams, our favorite songs for sporting events. While many music fans tend to be a bit mum on sports, not so with LxL. All three of us enjoy sportball on some level. So here are 10 of our favorite songs that get us amped up for the big game.
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Perfume Genius Review: Too Bright

Perfume Genius

Too Bright

Perfume Genius Too Bright Review

Some albums are so great, they can overcome any personal biases. Such is the case with Too Bright, the third album from Mike Hadreas aka Perfume Genius.  I was pretty opposed to Perfume Genius’s music before Too Bright, finding it at worst boring and hard to listen to because of its extremely lo-fi quality and at best just not for me. But upon hearing “Queen”, the lead single off of Too Bright, for the first time, I knew Hadreas’ music was worth a second look.

The two-minute confessional of “I Decline” opens up Too Bright with the emotionally naked Hadreas we are used to,  but compared to his past work, his voice has been brought further up in the mix, and sounds as expressive and pure as ever. It’s amazing how slight changes in production or style can mean a world’s difference in how it’s perceived by listeners, and this was certainly the case with me and Perfume Genius’s music. “Queen” follows and is just a mammoth of a song. As Austin has previously discussed, its mix of visceral noise, shimmering glam rock, and heart-on-its sleeve emotion make this song pretty much perfect. And it might not even be my favorite song on the album!

That distinction belongs to “Grid”, the hypnotic rockabilly song from the robot apocalypse. The way this song starts from a mix between Suicide and Springsteen’s Nebraska and as minimal as it gets then only to turn into a full-on nightmarish monster is more thrilling every time. Fans of past Perfume Genius albums where Hadreas was more of a piano balladeer will be shocked by songs like “Queen” and “Grid”, but I think these songs offer up the sort of music only Hadreas can make: broken, glamorous, vulnerable, yet ultimately triumphant.

Hadreas has become somewhat of a gay icon, but his songs don’t only speak into that experience. “Fool” is a soulful breakup song about being left feeling stupid and used, but like so many of Perfume Genius’s songs, they start, stop, and completely change on a dime keeping you on your toes and emotionally invested. The complete shutdown on fool at two minutes that leads to a huge vocal exhale seems pretty unorthodox at first, but it’s the perfect thing to relieve the tension and split up the song. “My Body” has a similarly pulsing electric heartbeat like “Grid”, but its haunting and smothering in the best way rather than playful and devious like “Grid”.

The album ends on two ballads in the flavor of Perfume Genius’s old work, but in the light of the rest of the heaviness and brokenness of the rest of the album, “Too Bright” and “All Along” serve as an affirming and welcome change. This may seem like a diss, but Hadreas’s voice reminds me of the pure and expressive Art Garfunkel, which while he is the forgotten half of Simon and Garfunkel in terms of long-term duration, there is no denying he had one of the best voices in rock history. “All Along” serves as such an ideal closer in tone and sound, a beautiful look back at this relationship that affected Hadreas so deeply and a shining example of the new confidence Hadreas has found.

Too Bright is in limited company in 2014 with Sun Kil Moon’s Benji as the only truly unique albums I’m not sure I’ll hear anything like again. It’s so emotionally raw and unique to the personality behind it, which is the height of what art as expression can be. Probably my closest comparison would be Of Montreal’s Hissing Fauna, Are You a Destroyer, another album that is a true creation out of one man (Kevin Barnes) born out of a desperate situation.

Hearing Too Bright not only showed me a side of Perfume Genius I liked (the noisier, more experimental side), but it illuminated the rest of his catalog for me.  It was a real light bulb moment for me. The light was Too Bright for me to deny (sorry :).

LittlebyListen_Scores_95

Can’t Miss: “Queen”, “Grid”, “All Along”, “Fool”

Can’t Hit: “I’m a Mother”

 

Top Ten Thursday: Duets to Die For

duets 2

We decided it was finally time to make a list concerning the combination of kindred vocals.  Duets that is.  A guy and a girl is the most popular concoction, but there is certainly room to wiggle with that formula on this list.  For frame of reference, we attempted to stay away from two very specific types tracks that may be considered duets.  The first area is hip hop tracks.  R&B tracks are fine, as long as they don’t interfere with the next criteria, but it seems every hip-hop song has multiple rappers, or at the least one rapper and someone else for the hook.  Just seemed a little too muddled.  The second criteria we aimed to stay away from were artists that have two vocalists, where almost every one of their tracks might be able to be considered duets.  Sorry, but we were looking for duets where the source recording is at most part of a one-off album.  As always, I think we crafted a solid list, but am certain we missed something along the way.  Feel free to offer suggestions, and enjoy.

10.  The Postal Service & Jenny Lewis – “Nothing Better”

jenny lewis, postal service, nothing bettter

Ben Gibbard & Jenny Lewis combine for an electonic-infused back and forth on The Postal Service’s 2003 track “Nothing Better”.  The conversational tone of Gibbard and Lewis vocals is about as fun as it gets, and makes us thirst for more than just a Postal Service tour reunion.  Record a new album!
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LxListening: Girls

songs about girls, Neil Diamond

In all actuality, this Friday’s edition of LxListening contains songs that have “girl(s)” in the title, instead of just songs about girls.  This theme could also probably have innumerable sequels because as we all know, musicians’ favorite lyrical subject is romantic entanglements with the opposite sex.  I decided also to select one “girl” song from each of the past 6 decades for your listening enjoyment.  So whether girls are black, drunk, or fat-bottomed, they all deserve a song.  Enjoy!

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Top Ten Thursday: The Hologrammy’s

tupac, hologram, coachella, digital

All it took was the one and only Coachella music festival to bring Tupac back from the dead…at least in Obi-Wan Kenobi hologram form.  A hundred grand plus and the unequaled genius of Dr. Dre was what proved necessary to display Tupac’s hologram performing “Hail Mary” and “2 of Amerikaz Gangstaz” with Snoop Dogg (for those with a more technical interest in the technology used, see this article).  The shocker is that, from the youtube videos and first-hand reports, the hologram actually looked pretty good.  This may not prompt the esteemed writers of LxL to rush out and buy tickets for the inevitable tour of Tupac reborn (who am I kidding, I’m in), but it did get the ball rolling on which deceased musicians we would like to see show up at a music festival near us.  Our preference would be that these legends show up in hologram form, as opposed to zombified (aka Bob Dylan’s most recent tours), because zombies give us the willies.  Enjoy, and let us know who you would like to see brought to computer-generated life.

10. Notorious B.I.G./Ol’ Dirty Bastard

biggy, notorious, crown, king, close-up

Alright, so maybe the connection between Notorious and ODB are tenuous at best (Jay-Z sampled ODB’s “Brooklyn Zoo” for his track “Brooklyn’s Finest”, which contains a verse by Notorious).  But with the power of post-humus production, we would like to see a Watch The Throne-esque collaboration featuring Big Poppa and Big Baby Jesus in a feast for the ears.  Yes, ODB went by Big Baby Jesus for a period of time during his late-career nosedive. 

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Top Ten Thursday: Jockin’ Jams

Well, it is mid-to-late March, which for a lot of people is quite maddening. By this of course I mean that it is the time of year to celebrate college basketball. And whether or not you care about basketball, or even sports in general, March Madness will affect your life in one way or another. Maybe it’s picking up the slack of the co-worker watching games on his computer all day, or maybe you skipped a few classes at school to catch the games and missed a pop quiz, or maybe you haven’t watched anything on television in 3 weeks other than college basketball due to your roommates obsession. Some how, whether you watch the games, or you don’t, it will affect your life. So here at LxL, we decided to celebrate by listing our favorite songs that have made their mark in the sport world. Whether it’s the college basketball court, the football field (American or European), or maybe the karate ring … here are the songs that will jam your jock:
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Top Ten Thursday: Wedding Reception Favoritas

So, I have been traveling the past three weekends to various weddings in St. Louis and Omaha, and thought that after all the weddings I have been to this season, that we could do a list of top wedding songs. Now, you may question lack of slow songs on this list. That is because weddings are for party-dance, and if you are not the one getting married, emotions should be left in the dust.

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