Archive for April, 2014

I Wouldn’t Want to Be Her Brother, But A Bit of Alright, Still.

April 25, 2014

Lily Allen is one of the cases where the hype machine, even if a bit too loud, was working for the right artist. Before she broke big, before she hit the States, there was buzz and internet hum about the new bright, young thing from England. She not only lived up to it, but more than took charge of it. A wise mix of good bad fashion choices, and just the right exploitation of her looks didn’t help.

Was she a music crush for a while? Most certainly. Any music geek with a thing for ladies in the mid 00’s had a thing for her. I was more of a Kate Nash man, though lately, Kate has gone a bit odd style wise. (BACK TO THE GINGER, LOVE! TA!) So she’s attractive and can generate celebrity. But is she any good?

Absolutely. Lily, besides pumping out delightful and varied music, is also good with the lyrics. And not bad at patter or rap, either. So, yeah.

Her first album, ‘Alright, Still,’ is a perfect debut. You get the sense of who she is,  just how sharp her lyrical teeth are, and a lot of fun music. Which also happens to have dark edges, broken glass, and enough snark to make you cough on your g&t. Think of her as Dorothy Parker for the Pot & Ecstasy generation. Take a gander at her video for ‘LDN’:



Whether you’ve lived in London, New York, or any really great city, you get the love for city just so wrong, and raw, and awful, yet why would live anywhere else? Another track to please, among many is ‘Alfie.’ About her brother, Alfie Allen. Theon Greyjoy, on ‘Game of Thrones.’ Take a listen. He might actually envy his character, who was only beaten, lamed, and castrated.

I just watched the video. Yup… insult to injury, all while Ms. Lily plays up the Bright Young Thing look.

The entire album plays smooth, easy, then hits you with nice jolts of darkness. It was followed up in 2009 by “It’s Not Me, It’s You.” A touch more electronic and dancey, and another great album. She’s back, making clear that she you to wrap your heart in a nice box, so she can stomp on it while you thank her for it. In fact, she’s just “Not Fair”Again, snark, wit, and someone either let Ms. Allen down, or is really worried she’s writing about them. Enjoy the music, pay attention to the lyrics, and take in a female artist not afraid of pissing people off. Usually for the right reasons. She’s ramping up for her next release “Sheezus” and yep… people are pissed off. I’m going to let them have their time, and argue, and check out the video that has confused everyone. But instead, I want to share her cover of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know.” I was shocked when she made the choice.. Lily doing one of the sweetest, most emotionally pure songs I have ever heard? And even if it’s not clear if the protagonist has salvaged the relationship, there’s a hope there.Lily nails it. The video’s balance of animation and the craft involved just speaks to the quality she’s always delivered, and the promise of more. I don’t know if “Sheezus” will be the disappointment some people really feel (or want) it to be. But I don’t care. Lily Allen is a great artist, with more range to explore, and I hope she keeps on exploring the less-snarky side. Even if she turns around, two fingers in a delightfully English lady like “FUCK YOU!”


Artist: Lily Allen

Album: Alright, Still
Year: 2006
Date Listened in Tour: 7/15/08
Rating: *****
Best Songs: “Smile”,”LDN”


Album: It’s Not Me, It’s You
Year: 2009
Date Listened in Tour: 3/20/09
Rating: *****
Best Songs: “Everyone’s At It”,”Not Fair”


For Those Just Tuning In:

April 24, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?

Friends, Rez and I just wanted to take a moment and thank those of you who have been tuned to the blog, and those of you who may be joining us mid-stride. I can’t speak for the readers, but I can say the writers have been having a GRAND time letting our nerd flags fly. We LOVE music, and we LOVE sharing that with the world. There have been some great moments of honest, open debate that have really sparked conversation, and some genuine intros made to bands people might not have known otherwise. A fantastic by-product of this project. So thank you for joining us on this savage journey into the heart of American Music.

I can also tell you this: Plans are being laid down as we speak for the next round of throwdowns. In other words: We like talking so much, we plan to do it some more.

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Week Four Results

April 22, 2014

Voting Extended for ONE MORE DAY

April 21, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?

Folks, for the first time in the existence of this blog…WE HAVE A TIE.



I will close voting at MIDNIGHT TONIGHT.

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Two Sides of Magic – World Building and Fantasy

April 19, 2014

Dreams of the Shining Horizon


This post was originally going to be just a follow-up on my recent post about internal consistency and the use of detail. In most ways, it still is. But where that post was about using those tools for the essentially defensive purpose of establishing plausibility, this post is about using them for the proactive purpose of world-building.

Once again, I’m going to use works from the fantasy genre as examples, because, once again, fantasy gives the most freedom when choosing what kind of world you want to build. Science fiction must give at least the pretense of being science-based, and horror must at least look like a familiar world, if only so the horrific revelation that that world is a lie has that much more impact. In contrast, a fantasy world – as Terry Pratchet’s Discworld and the world of the Exalted role-playing game, as discussed in the previous post…

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Matchup 14: The Southwest – Foo Fighters VS. The Runaways

April 16, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?

I’m a grown-ass man who has a framed Foo Fighters poster on my wall.

2014-04-15 17.07.53Dave Grohl played drums in Nirvana. Kurt Cobain died, and Nirvana was not a band that could just find another frontman. Grohl, an incredibly talented drummer, made a tape; A project to deal with the death of his band and his friend. He wrote all the songs, played all the instruments, and passed out all the tapes for free. Inside a year he recruited a band to tour behind the underground success of the tape. He brought on the rhythm section from Sunny Day Real Estate, and punk legend Pat Smear to create the beginnings of a band that would stick to a familiar format – heavy on the guitars, rooted in punk, a gift for melody, and always making sure that the audience had the best time. The lineup would evolve to include the former…

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Matchup 13-The Northwest-The Grateful Dead Vs. The Violent Femmes.

April 16, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?

I’ve heard it hundreds of times: “Oh God I hate the Grateful Dead”. Variations on the same theme – The Dead suck, and fuck those dirty hippies, their extended, indulgent jams, and their obviously high (because how else could you like them) fanbase.

I was 15 when I bought the double album cassette of Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty. I was a Mormon. Hadn’t touched an addictive substance (yet). These guys were speaking the same language my parents had, the language of the 60’s – peace, love, collaboration, good music for the sake of music and change. It was the same language, but with a very different dialect, one I could get behind. The music was very clearly (to me) based in the Great American Songbook – The Carter Family, Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith, etc. The equation was simple – rock n’ roll meets jazz – and initially…

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Week Three Results-Week Four Matchups

April 8, 2014

Matchup Number 12-The Northeast-The Stooges Vs. The Cars

April 4, 2014

I Wan

American Bands-Who are the best?

Rez sez The Stooges.

If there’s a family tree of modern music, the Stooges are the trunk. One of the trunks. Kind of a baobab tree with many trunks. I am explaining poorly that without the Stooges, nothing after them is possible. Iggy breaks all the rules with his simple little garage band, by barely even trying. There’s no manifesto, like the MC5. No grand artistic ideas like the Velvets. Just a guy revising the blues to fit his own idiom, rather than those of a poor black sharecropper circa 1930.

The Stooges are raw. We’ve gotten so used to overly produced slick tracks that possess very little life to them. If anything else, the Stooges were incontrovertibly alive. At the time, there were very few people who “got it”. By the grace of god, and yet another period of “no one knows anything” by the record companies, bands like…

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