Chicago’s hometown heroes Wilco surprised the city and the world at large this month with a surprise drop of a completely free album of new material out of nowhere late on a Thursday night. Not only was the drop surprising, but so was the album title and design: named Star Wars which was certainly the result of some goofy late night conversation the band had, and it boasts a furry white cat and some flowers on the cover (which certainly will help them avoid any lawsuits from Disney). The band surprised further by boldly playing straight through their new album to start their set the night after its release at Pitchfork Music Festival, a move that baffled the general audience but went straight to the heart of Wilco diehards like myself. If that’s not enough surprise talk, the real honest surprise comes in the music itself: a distorted, noise rock album that channels Sonic Youth, T. Rex, and Velvet Underground more than the pleasant alt-country sound they are best known for. Continue reading “Wilco Review: Star Wars”
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”
This week marks the celebration of our favorite Beatle, George Harrison. This coincides with the release of a box set of Harrison’s early solo work on Apple Records called The Apple Years, as well as Conan’s week long ode to the quiet, spiritual Beatle, with cover performances by Beck, Paul Simon, Norah Jones and more. The most notable is a tribute concert called George Fest, and is a charity concert for Sweet Relief in Harrison’s spirit (the Godfather of the charity show). So in honor of the often underrated Beatle, here is our favorite Harrison songs, including Beatles, solo, and Traveling Wilburys songs.
Even in a town best known for their love of country and gospel music, the Beatles cannot be denied. We went on a family vacation with my parents to Branson, Missouri, aka the “Christian Vegas”, and enjoyed the unique and odd experience of seeing the Liverpool Legends, a Beatles tribute band presented by Louise Harrison, George’s sister and a Missouri local. It was a pleasure hearing such a wide-ranging set of Beatles songs live, even with a fairly low-budget presentation and uneven performances from the impersonators. Continue reading “Liverpool Legends Show Review”
Who Is Harry Nilsson? (And Why Is Everyone Talking About Him)
Who Is Harry Nilsson? (And Why Is Everyone Talking About Him) has to be one of the best titles for a documentary I can think of, speaking on the fact that nobody knows who he is and the title playing on his biggest hit, Midnight Cowboy’s title sequence track “Everybody’s Talkin”. The documentary covers the life and trials of Harry Nilsson, one of the greatest American singer/songwriters of all time and famously Lennon’s favorite musician, who we have highlighted on twotop ten lists. The Brooklyn-born singer/songwriter had a tragic and tragically underappreciated career, so it’s great to see a documentary completely devoted to gushing about Harry Nilsson. While I love that this exists, it’s a pretty bland documentary that plays more like a Behind the Music than something that deserves to be a free standing documentary. Continue reading “Who Is Harry Nilsson? Review”
Sir Paul got lambasted last year on this blog for his dreadful valentine album, Kisses On The Bottom, landing as our biggest disappointment of 2012. But the most enduring singer rock history doesn’t rest on his laurels, but instead hit the road last year, with fellow LxLer Todd and I seeing a show of a lifetime this summer as MACCA headlined Bonnaroo. Now, the legendary Beatle releases New, an album giving new modern twists on McCartney’s tried and true musical strengths, my favorite album from Paul since the early 70’s (not that I was alive then, or have heard every album in between).
What makes New so fresh is a combination of Paul playing to his strengths and challenging himself with new sounds. With the help of Mark Ronson, title track “New” toys around with jaunty Beatles sounds from songs like “Penny Lane” and “We Can Work It Out” with a little more buzz and reverb to make this a fresh take on a nostalgic sound. “Queenie Eye” takes Paul’s famous sound of heavily punctuated piano pop and adds an air of mystery and a growing symphony of sound. On songs like “I Can Bet” and “Everybody Out There”, Sir Paul sounds 40 years younger, full of energy swinging along some folk-tinged pop with a funky edge. “Turned Out” is reminiscent of the best Traveling Wilbury’s tunes, except Paul doesn’t need three other legends: his charismatic presence fills the room plenty. “Get Me Out Of Here” is Paul doing his old playful lonely dog blues.
Giles Martin, longstanding Beatles producer George Martin’s son, produced the lion’s share of these songs, and it’s clear that he understands what it takes to Paul to step out of his shell but still get the most of what has made him the most enduring artist of all-time. Remove “On My To Work” and “Road” which are minor letdowns, this album his remarkably consistent and memorable for a 71 year old, or even a 31 year old for that matter. For a guy that has accomplished everything under the sun, it’s wonderful to see such a legend continue to push himself artistically.