LxL is taking a short hiatus for the upcoming holiday weekend, but before we go we wanted to give thanks for our favorite songs that also happen to give thanks in their own right. Because this is not a Top Ten Thursday post, we decided to keep things short and sweet with five solid tracks in this edition of Weak List Wednesday: Thanks!. We feel these tracks best represent the spirit of thankfulness, glorified gluttony, and pilgrims eating Native Americans … I mean pilgrims eating WITH the Native Americans … wait how’d that go? Anyways, onto the list:
Editors note: This originally published in 2013. With the release of the new Walking Dead spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead, we revisit one of our favorite lists, our ten favorite apocalyptic tunes.
We all love us some Edgar Wright (and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost for that matter), so with the opening of The World’s End this weekend, we thought it appropriate to dig up the top ten apocalyptic songs. A few words about The World’s End first though. I am endlessly excited to see this movie, but it just has the worst title ever. The title is not bad in and of itself. It is descriptive. It is succinct. But unfortunately it is too similar to another apocalyptic comedy from earlier this summer (This Is The End) as well as a Pirates of the Caribbean poopcicle (At World’s End). This obviously won’t effect the quality of the movie, but its a pet peeve of mine from a differentiation standpoint.
Now that all that is out of the way, enjoy these top ten tracks for the end of times.
10. Prince – “1999”
Antibalas and Sonny Knight & the Lakers
July 2nd, 2015
Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park
Chicago’s big free summer series to its residents is Downtown Sound, a concert series displaying all genres of popular music every Monday and Thursday in June and July in the heart of the city, at Jay Pritzker Pavilliion in Millennium Park. This summer’s draw included sincere singer/songwriters (Hayes Carl, Andrew Belle), ambitious composers (San Fermin, Active Child), punchy indie rockers (Matthew Sweet, London Souls), and world music explorers (Poi Dog Pondering, Sierre Leone All Stars). Last week’s combination of classic soul revue with Sonny Knight & the Lakers and the straight-up filthy Afrobeat funk of Antibalas was one of the best shows I’ve seen in Millennium Park: a giant dance party for all ages, races, and shapes in the city of Chicago.
Sonny Knight & the Lakers follow in a long-line of recent soul rediscoveries, taking old soul acts that never got their full shot, backing them with a young (often white) band, and injecting new life into their music for a new audience. Think Charles Bradley, Lee Fields, and Sharon Jones. The Lakers were dressed like the Beatlesmania Beatles in their gray suits and blackties, a group of sharp young musicians probably straight out of jazz school. Sonny Knight recorded his first single at age 17 as Sonny Knight and the Cymbols, and now at age 67, Sonny has a new lease on his music career, but stays as cool as a musician whose been around for 50 years. Sporting a white leisure suit, Sonny Knight keeps it more low-key, without the flamboyance of Bradley or full-on belting of Fields. Still, Knight & the Lakers are super fun live, from doing the “Caveman” to bringing a funky take of the Beatles “Daytripper”.
Antibalas are a 12-member Afrobeat collective from Brooklyn, and the band is appropriately as diverse as you may expect. I’ve heard fine things about Antibalas live, but what I heard certainly sold the band short. They aren’t just a rehash of classic Afrobeat music, but actually push the genre to dirty, distorted, and interesting new corners. The band has now been around 15 years and play like it, but they seem to find a new enthusiasm each night. Like Afrobeat itself, the whole night played like slightly-political party music.
Front man Duke Amayo, a British-born singer with Nigerian ancestry, certainly brings the energy with his bejeweled white suit and face-paint, with the rest of the band serving as the perfect backbone. However, it’s not a matter of the front man having all the fun, as the band members get around the stage, playfully intermingling with each other, and also getting the audience interacting.
The biggest highlight for me came with their take on “Crosseyed and Painless”, the Talking Heads live classic. Antibalas served as the house band in Brooklyn for a Talking Heads tribute in March, and I really don’t think there is a better band on Earth suited to play this role. There’s plenty of Talking Heads cover bands (like This Must Be The Band) playing fun tributes and re-enacting Stop Making Sense scene for scene, but I would pay much more to see Antibalas play through the Talking Heads catalog. The band also rocked a cover of the one-hit-wonder 80’s classic “Sombody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell – which famously had Michael Jackson singing the chorus – sung by percussionist Marcus Farrar, a song obviously more relevant today than Rockwell probably ever expected. Thanks Obama.
Other highlights included the defiant “Dirty Money” and closer “Gold Rush”, where the horn players literally went digging for gold all around the stage before delivering their grand melodic statement.
As fun as watching the band was watching the crowd itself, as people of all ages, races, shapes, and dance styles got up and moving. From fathers dancing with daughters, old couples mamboing up and down the aisles, to stoner hippies (in for the weekend for the big Grateful Dead reunion) shaking their fists and hula hoops up in the air. Outside the church, it’s rare to see such a diverse group of people get up, have fun, and celebrate together. For that, we have the city of Chicago to thank (for the free show of course), and Sonny Knight and Antibalas themselves. Good on you.
Can’t Miss: “Crosseyed and Painless”, “Dirty Money”, “Gold Rush”
Can’t Hit: none
For any Midwesterners out there, spring is almost certain to be one of your favorite seasons. The summer is sweltering hot and humid. Winter (not this year fortunately) can be cold, wet, and depressing. Fall is probably my favorite season, because more often than not the past ten years it means I get to watch post-season Cardinals baseball. But spring means the birds are starting another long season, and the anticipation is at a fever pitch.
Continue reading “Spring Fever: The 10 Best Spring Albums”
Editor’s Note: With the Grammys coming up Sunday, we thought it best to re-run our favorite list about the consistently terrible award show.
It’s no secret, or even a matter of opinion at this point. It’s just a cold hard fact. The Grammys suck. Everyone knows and understands this, yet somehow, they still exist. Not only do they exist, but they exist on a larger than life scale. Yet not once have I ever heard someone in real life or media claim that the Grammys have ever held any sort of relevance in the music world … Ok, I take that back … I DO remember hearing hipsters last year claiming that Arcade Fire was “breaking barriers” and “proving something for indie musicians” when they won that worthless hunk of fake gold for whatever bull-spit category they won it for. In contrast, I also remember hearing Nickelback fans rant and start a blogspot called “Who the F*$k is Arcade Fire”. I think it’s fair to say that neither of these stereotypes should represent music anyways. Anyone who cares about music realizes that Grammys hold as much value as my MC Hammers savings account. It’s quite literally a song and dance put on by the record companies to maximize profit in an industry that isn’t very good at making profits anymore. So they do what they can, and exploit what songs made money in television commercials that year, and pray that people still think their input is worth anything.
Continue reading “The 10 Worst Grammy Offenses – or How We Learned to Loathe the Grammys and Love Music Again”