Alternative Rock Cultures
So “Cool Cymru”, Part Three: Welsh Wits

Like that other seven-piece Welsh combo, Goldie Lookin Chain, Los Campesinos! are comedic chroniclers of a particular youth demographic.

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Bullshit Detectors! The Garage Is an Outside Place, and a Place for Outsiders

As the commune was to hippies, so the garage has been to garage bands and to their proto-punk, punk, and post-punk successors: an enclave where marginalized youth can fantasize or realize their visions of independent alternative art and lifestyles.

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Wales:  So “Cool Cymru” Part II

Not so beholden to British traditions, Welsh bands are as likely to be influenced by US music as UK music. Indeed, Cardiff is sometimes called the “New Seattle” due to its prevalence of (post-)grunge bands.

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Wales: So “Cool Cymru” Part I

While England was exporting the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and the Who '60s, Wales offered up Shirley Bassey, Mary Hopkin, and Tom Jones. Things changed, thankfully, and Super Furry Animals became the heart and soul of the Wales “Cool Cymru” movement.

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On the Sixth Day God Created Man…chester, Part Four.

Doves and Elbow register in the 9-to-5 tradition of working class Manchester, where respect is earned through hard work, and character is assessed by true-to-self authenticity and true-to-others selflessness.

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On the Sixth Day God Created Man…Chester: Part Three

Manchester's working class population showed the world that trade unions can resist authority. Such solidarity and class consciousness is heard in the arrogant sneers of the Stone Roses and Oasis.

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On the Sixth Day God Created Man…chester: Part 2

Punk-influenced performance poetry now thrives on both sides of the Atlantic, as open mics and poetry slams draw new generations of writers with combative tones, satirical perspectives, and rock-inspired rhythms in their lines.

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On the Sixth Day God Created Man…chester: Part 1

Boasting a plethora of bands whose creative imaginations have invariably left legacies of influence, pound-for-pound Manchester is the world’s greatest rock city.

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The Affectionate Parodies and Ironic Diss-Positions of Ween

Shock-humor abounds across Ween’s work, and dumb infantilism is worn as a badge of honor.

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The Rudest, Crudest, Lewdest, Drunkest Band in Christendom

Extreme was the nature of the Macc Lads' music, as was the nature of reactions to it. Within their deftly created insular world, traits of civility, sensitivity, and compromise were anathemas. Therein lay the foundation of their punk-inspired wit.

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Hit Me With Your Rhythm Shtick:  The Life and Rhymes of Ian Dury

Ian Dury's subversive humor gently ribbed the eccentrics within his own class-culture. His caricatures were vicarious self-parodies, pre-emptive strikes fending off a dominant middle-class inclined to more demeaning and patronizing portraits of its "inferiors".

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From the Mop-Top to the Walrus: Some Funny Sides of the Beatles

Manifested in child-centered humor, the Beatles offered candy for the kids, tapped into the regressive escapist instincts of the arrested adolescents of the hippy subculture, and offered "seemingly" unthreatening fare for adults.

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Bubblegum Pops the (Counter-)Culture

Fake and faceless, bubblegum pop in the late '60s and early '70s offended the prevailing rock myths of artistic creativity and rugged opposition to the powers-that-be.

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Lonnie Donegan and the Birth of British Rock

As skiffle's working-class trailblazer, Lonnie Donegan infused '50s British rock 'n' roll with a regional accent and music-hall comedy style missing from the popular American exports.

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The Redcoats Are Coming!  The British Invasion of SXSW ‘06

Ellis spends four days in Austin looking for the finest exports from Tony Blair's Cool Britannia. In lieu of monkeys, magic numbers, and Moz, his search yields Casio-pop, California harmonies, and communal sing-along epics.

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16 Feb 2006 // 10:00 PM

Wild Wanda Jackson

The self-described 'Fujiyama Mama' of '50s rockabilly was a hard-headed, bare-knuckled antithesis to the era's prevailing gender expectations.

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12 Jan 2006 // 10:00 PM

Chuck Berry: A-Merry-Can Rebel

Hail! Hail! One of rock 'n' roll's most innovative mavericks whose dissenting rebellion was fueled by subversive humor.

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17 Nov 2005 // 10:00 PM

Rhythmic emphases, rhyme infatuations, celebrations of decadence, slang, bling, and an overall manifestation of cool: Cab Calloway was hip-hop's preeminent godfather.

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Laughin’ Louis Armstrong: The Trickster

Satchmo's subversive humor struck multiple targets simultaneously: it commented on the very music he was transforming; and, as a survival tool, it presented a league of oppressors with unexpected resistance.

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As the final day unfolded, things grew more hazy as the rush to consume all one could in the final hours was not limited to the music.

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Noticeably absent from Streets stories are the guns, bling, fast cars and ho's that so many American rappers invoke to establish their credentials. Where U.S. rappers emulate the fast-paced content of American action films, The Streets is more in tune with the Mike Leigh sensibility in his scenes of working class desperation and blank nothingness.

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In John Peel I know that I (and many others) found a voice that championed the cultural margins and artistic mavericks; this voice, in turn, fostered a receptive sensibility with which to open-mindedly and open-heartedly appreciate marginal artists.

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From Chuck Berry to Eminem, I hope these 10 disparate acts suggest that the need for subversive humor has never been greater, and that rock needs to react with its own insurgence: re-arming, re-loading, and then sending in the clowns.

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Like a latter-day Alan Ladd as Shane, Chicago-based independent label, Bloodshot Records, has taken upon itself the role of savior of the sagebrush, mixing it up in the robber-baron world of corporate Country.

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Our newest music columnist pays tribute to dearly departed Guided By Voices and remembers their 20-year career as indie legends.

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//Mixed media
//Blogs

'True Detective': Maybe Tomorrow

// Channel Surfing

"True Detective, Season 2, Episode 3: Where does the kitsch end and the surreal begin?

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