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

The 10 Best Summer Songs

LxL_TopTenThursdays_02_900x300Top Ten Summer Songs, Best Songs of Summer

Summer of ’69. Boys of Summer. Under the Boardwalk. Summer in the City. Wipeout. These are all hugely famous summer songs, and strange enough, you won’t find a single one on this week’s Top Ten Thursday: The Best Summer Songs. Not that all these are bad songs, but we just happened to find ten better songs for you to jam to now that things start to heat up.

Editor’s Note: This list originally published in 2014.

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The 10 Best Summer Songs

I Can Be Your Hero, Baby: The 10 Best Music Superheroes

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Editor’s Note: This list originally published in 2013, but with the new Avengers movie releasing tomorrow, it seemed like a great time to revisit the list.

In a concerted effort to make it seem we do not take ourselves too seriously, perhaps out of a fear of taking ourselves too seriously sometimes, we like to mix up our more scholarly lists with those that make us out to be a handful of nerdy jackasses.  This is one of those lists.  There has been a lot of hysteria surrounding superhero movies this summer.  I mean, damn, a Batman, Spiderman, and Avengers movies all in the same summer.  We are all extremely partial to Batman, especially those of the Nolan/Burton persuasion, and decided to save this dopey collection for around the time The Dark Knight Rises was released.  As comic-book/superhero movie fans,  we thought we could fantasize a little bit about which musicians would make the best superheroes, and speculate a little bit about their key attributes.  For awhile there, we considered doing a joint heroes/villains list, but ultimately decided to make two separate lists, with the heroes list today, and the villains list coming at you next Thursday.  Enjoy.
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I Can Be Your Hero, Baby: The 10 Best Music Superheroes

2014 Super Bowl Halftime Show Recap

super bowl halftime show 2014, bruno mars, red hot chili peppers

Like every first Sunday evening in February, most Americans were glued to their television two nights ago, transfixed on the most-watched event of the year: The Super Bowl. But what is normally a guaranteed night of non-stop entertainment, was quickly turned into a 4 hour snooze-fest after the Denver Broncos simply decided to sit this one out. An odd choice in games to not show up for given that it is, ya know, the Super Bowl, but everyone needs a break once and again I guess. So what could make TV’s biggest night even worse? The backup entertainment options, those being the commercials and the infamous Super Bowl halftime show, offered up almost zero entertainment value as well (aside from a surprisingly hilarious effort from Jimmy John’s and an incredible two part comeback performance featuring Stephen Colbert from the Pistachio company, after the horrendous attempt of comedic relevancy with the “Cracking Gangnam Style” disaster of of 2013). When it is all said and done however, I guess the least surprising of the three disasppointments was in fact the halftime show. I suppose that is what you get for booking whom fellow LxL’er Wes, has deemed “the modern day Frankie Valli” (Bruno Mars) with a band that hasn’t actually been relevant for almost eight years (Red Hot Chili Peppers).
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2014 Super Bowl Halftime Show Recap

Top Ten Thursday: Top Ten Rick Rubin Produced Albums

rick rubin, portrait

No, that picture above is not Ernest Hemingway and Steve Earle’s love child.  It is in fact uber-producer Rick Rubin, the man who has successfully navigated alt-rock, hip-hop, country, and just about every other genre in music with startling success.  Currently on Rubin’s radar is helping Kanye fine-tune Yeezus, easily the most eagerly awaited hip-hop album of 2013.  This is interesting, because Kanye has always been a bit of a “do-it-your-selfer” which has served him very very well.  It makes sense though to bring in the man who produced some Public Enemy, Beastie Boys and Run D.MC. when Kanye is aiming for a more minimalist experience (explained more fully in the New York Times interview).  This minimalism Ye is going for highlights an overriding theme for the albums on our list:  Strip down artists to their most raw and basic qualities and build the album up from there.  Rubin may not have one musical style he can be attached to, but there does seem to be a way of making music that is very clear.

We tried to limit this list to albums Rubin had a large hand in producing, leaving off the likes of Jay-Z’s Black Album and JT’s FutureSex/LoveSounds where he only produced one track each.  We also left off sure top-5 Lucinda Williams album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road because Rubin only handled the mixing of the album.  The only other major qualm people might have with this list is the lack of a Slayer album.  Well, I personally just don’t like metal, and so even if Slayer is the cream of the crop, I’m not gonna listen to it.  Enjoy the list, and as always feel free to comment on albums you think we missed or erroneously included.

10. The Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker

shake your moneymaker

Interestingly, I read Rick Rubin wouldn’t allow his name to be put on as producer of Shake Your Money Maker until it sold one million copies.  Was he not happy with the outcome?  Did he think it was destined for commercial and/or critical failure?  I don’t know, but I do know The Black Crowes in 1990 did The Stones better than The Stones were doing themselves.  With the alternative scene blowing up at the time, Shake Your Money Maker was a nice respite from the uniformity of most everything else out there.
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Top Ten Thursday: Top Ten Rick Rubin Produced Albums

Top Ten Thursday: 90’s Knockouts

kurt cobain from the band nirvana, 90's band
Ohh, the nineties. How we all miss the “whatever, who cares” attitude you bestowed upon our generation. Baggy shirts, and even even baggier pants. The rebirth of “chucks” and a noisy, dirty, fuzzy new breadth of music that will never be forgotten. Not to mention other rarities in music that can never be replicated, and will always be legendary. Alanis Morissette may not have made the list, but her new release this week was the inspiration for it. Our criteria for the list was simple: nineties tunnel vision. This means that we had to block out any knowledge of anything that happened outside of 1990-1999. For example, the Beastie Boys were prevalent in the nineties, but how did their nineties material stack up against the rest? This list is for the bands that we felt left their strongest marks on the decade with no regard. As per usual, let us know if you agree.
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Top Ten Thursday: 90’s Knockouts

Top Ten Thursday: I Can Be Your Hero, Baby

In a concerted effort to make it seem we do not take ourselves too seriously, perhaps out of a fear of taking ourselves too seriously sometimes, we like to mix up our more scholarly lists with those that make us out to be a handful of nerdy jackasses.  This is one of those lists.  There has been a lot of hysteria surrounding superhero movies this summer.  I mean, damn, a Batman, Spiderman, and Avengers movies all in the same summer.  We are all extremely partial to Batman, especially those of the Nolan/Burton persuasion, and decided to save this dopey collection for around the time The Dark Knight Rises was released.  As comic-book/superhero movie fans,  we thought we could fantasize a little bit about which musicians would make the best superheroes, and speculate a little bit about their key attributes.  For awhile there, we considered doing a joint heroes/villains list, but ultimately decided to make two separate lists, with the heroes list today, and the villains list coming at you next Thursday.  Enjoy.
Continue reading “Top Ten Thursday: I Can Be Your Hero, Baby”

Top Ten Thursday: I Can Be Your Hero, Baby