Wilco Review: Star Wars

Wilco

Star Wars

Wilco Star Wars album cover art

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.
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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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Tweedy Show Review

Tweedy (with Sound Opinions Live)

July 17th, 2014

Lincoln Hall

Chicago, IL

Jeff and Spencer Tweedy Show Review

As the resident (and only) Wilco fan on this blog, I feel it’s my civic duty to bring you the Tweedy beat. What better way to do that than coverage of Jeff Tweedy (frontman of Wilco) and Spencer Tweedy ‘s (Jeff’s 18 year old son and drummer) interview and performance last night. The show was for Sound Opinions – one of the best radio shows/podcasts around – and took place at Lincoln Hall, certainly one of Chicago’s finest music establishments. Sound Opinions put on this event the day before the Pitchfork Music Festival last year with Savages and Parquet Courts (a one-two punch if there ever was one), and this year’s show was no slouch itself.
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The War on Drugs Review: Lost in the Dream

The War on Drugs

Lost in the Dream

The War on Drugs Lost in the Dream album cover art

Philly indie rockers the War on Drugs admittedly hit my sweet spot when it comes to their sound: they create dreamy psychedelic rock with an Americana soul, sort of Wilco’s experimental side under a cloud of guitar haze. The band started out with 2008’s freewheeling Wagonwheel Blues, where they had fuzz-rocker Kurt Vile in their band as sort of a lo-fi Dylan-worshipping indie band. Since, Kurt Vile has left to do his own thing (which we have loved every minute of), and since the War on Drugs have gotten even more similar to Vile’s music: hazy, sonic explorations filled with atmospheric guitar, synth sounds, and front man Adam Granduciel’s wistful vocals. On their latest, Lost in the Dream, the band has never sounded so confident musically and anxious emotionally, making this a thrilling and wistful ride.
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Bonnaroo 2013: A Full Recap

Bonnaroo 2013

Bonnaroo 2013 was quite the success. This is my fifth year attending what I believe to be America’s greatest music festival, and out of those five years, 2013 goes down as my favorite thus far. This is even aside from the fact I had to miss the entirety of Sunday, a day I know I would have enjoyed immensely, due to a work conflict. A lot of things fell into place very well this year. A great crew of friends, incredibly high caliber acts, a conducive schedule for my taste, more alcohol than I should have consumed, and some of the best collaborations I have ever seen. Paul McCartney shined as an untouchable legend, R Kelly reigned down from the heavens, and artists collaborated with each other in ways that I could never have imagined.

R Kelly Bonnaroo, 2012, fly, crane
I wasn’t lying, he literally came down from the heavens.

As our first recap, I decided to give a full, but quick breakdown of everything I saw last weekend. This is modeled after a successful post written by a fallen member of past Roo crews that could not be in attendance this year. Wes helped cover the acts I missed due to either physical or even mental absence. I don’t know what set me back more this year, work or whiskey. Anyways, onto the breakdown:

Thursday

JD McPherson, live bonnaroo, 2013JD McPherson

Retro rock and roll that will groove into your soul.

 

 

 

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Happy One Year Anniversary LxL!

american gothic parody with birthday cake

Tonight we will all drink from the chalice.  We will roast wild hare over an open pit, and feast on them without utensil, the juices slicking our arms with the sheen of victory.  We will fight bare-knuckle, urged on by spoils of our success and manly libido.  For today is the one-year anniversary of LxL, and we deserve a barbaric respite before persevering on, continuing to bring commentary on music to all ten of our loyal readers.
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Top Ten Thursday: Best Covers Albums

cover album art for william hung inspiration

After the painful experience of reviewing Neil Young’s new cover album, Americana, we decided to go back to some of our old favorites, and create a list of the top ten cover albums.  It was surprisingly difficult to find a comprehensive list of cover albums that have even been released, so I am certain we are missing a couple of classics, but also was very happy with strength of the list we came up with.  Another couple items of note is that the album needed to be 75% covers to be considered and a lot of 1950’s and 60’s albums were not considered.  A lot of early Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. albums were comprised mostly of covers because that’s just the way the music business was run back then.  Somebody would have a minor hit, then ten artists would cover it to bandwagon and try to copy its success. 

So what makes a great cover album?  There are a lot of opinions on that, but we firmly believe it is not enough to simply mimic already great songs.  What we like to see is an artist keep the feeling of the original but substantially change the arrangement.  Also great is when an artist manages to rescue a song from obscurity and make it completely their own.  There is not absolute formula to a great cover song or album, but as with most of our list the following selections hit us the hardest.  On to the list.

10. David Bowie – Pin Ups

album cover art for david bowie pin ups

Bowie’s lat album with The Spiders from Mars was a tribute album to some of his favorite tracks from the 60’s.  Pin Ups contains classic songs from The Who, a lesser known track from Pink Floyd’s most underrated era, a Kinks track for the ages, and some lesser-known bands that I probably would have never been turned onto otherwise such as The Pretty Things and The Easy Beats.  All of these things fused with the Bowie twist means it is a sure-fire instant eargasm.

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