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Wednesday, January 26 2011

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.


Thursday, December 2 2010

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.


Sunday, September 19 2010

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.


Tuesday, July 27 2010

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.


Thursday, December 3 2009

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.


Thursday, October 1 2009

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.


Thursday, August 6 2009

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.


Thursday, June 11 2009

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.


Sunday, September 30 2007

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.


Wednesday, March 14 2007

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.


Wednesday, January 10 2007

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".


Thursday, November 2 2006

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.


Thursday, August 24 2006

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.


Wednesday, May 10 2006

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.


Sunday, March 26 2006

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.


Thursday, February 16 2006

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.


Thursday, January 12 2006

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.


Thursday, November 17 2005

Cab Calloway: Original Rapper

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


Wednesday, October 12 2005

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.


Wednesday, March 30 2005

Messin’ With Texas: Some Sights and Sounds from SXSW

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.


Wednesday, March 9 2005

Mike Skinner’s Blues:  Traversing The Streets of Anglo-America

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.


Wednesday, December 29 2004

Growing Up With John Peel:  A Memoir

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.


Wednesday, November 10 2004

Send in the Clowns:  Subversive Rock Humorists

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.


Wednesday, October 13 2004

Influential Alternative Record Labels: Bloodshot Records and the New Traditionalism

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.


Wednesday, September 15 2004

G.B.V—R.I.P:  For the Love of Rock

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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