Results for Lily Allen

interviews

Lily Allen

British import Lily Allen is Jim and Greg's guest this week. The hosts have been fans of the 21-year-old for over a year, however her album Alright, Still, was just released in the U.S. While Lily is now launching a full-blown American invasion with major label backing and major press and appearances, she started with more humble means. The singer/songwriter initially drew buzz after posting some songs on her MySpace.com page.

While her career is grassroots, Lily's upbringing still has star power. Her father is British comedian and personality Keith Allen, and she spent many of her family vacations with Uncle Joe. (That's Joe Strummer to you and me). In fact, the singer can boast that she has performed at Wembley with The Clash before she was old enough to buy herself a pint.

Jim and Greg are drawn to Lily's sound, which is a pastiche of pop, reggae, ska and even a bit of '60s“space-age bachelor pad”music. But, it's her lyrics that really“slay”them. Lily writes about everything from an average life in London to a failed relationship with a great deal of honesty, humor, and most of all, attitude. Listen to her performances of hits "LDN" and "Smile," and check out these exclusive bonus tracks.

Go to episode 65

James Mercer

You're in a beloved band at the height of success. Natalie Portman tells the world that your band will change lives. So what do you do? Blow everything up, of course. At least you do if you're James Mercer. The Shins frontman and founder followed up his Grammy nominated, Billboard charting album Wincing the Night Away with a decision to completely change the group's lineup and sound. He sought out producer Greg Kurstin, best known for working with Lily Allen and Kesha, and the result is Port of Morrow. As he discusses with Jim and Greg, this transition wasn‘t easy, but was necessary. And it’s not the first time Mercer made an unexpected collaboration. He and Danger Mouse (of Grey Album fame) joined together for Broken Bells. Check out video of Mercer performing songs from the album, as well as an oldie, but goodie.

Go to episode 338
specials

Turkey Shoot 2014

Turkey Shoot: It's Turkey time! Dip these albums in the deep fryers (safely of course). Here are the albums that most let Jim and Greg down in 2014:

Go to episode 468
reviews
It's Not Me, It's YouIt's Not Me, It's You available on iTunes

Lily Allen It's Not Me, It's You

After exploding out of MySpace and into the mainstream with her debut, Lily Allen is back with a new album cheekily named It's Not Me, It's You. Jim and Greg were both fans of Allen's first album Alright, Still, and were impressed with the sassy attitude displayed in their conversation with her on the show. But Jim was skeptical that Allen would be able to recover from such an over-hyped, over-exposed year. He was pleasantly surprised to hear that she still has novel insights and great stories to tell. Greg agrees, noting that the wisecracks and jabs at ex-boyfriends are still all over the songs, but so are authentic emotions. Both Jim and Greg give It's Not Me, It's You a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 167
Alright, StillAlright, Still available on iTunes

Lily Allen Alright, Still

This week, Jim and Greg wanted to review a whole bunch of new fall releases. The first is by British songstress Lily Allen. While her album Alright, Still is not yet out in the States, Allen is already receiving a lot of acclaim. Her grassroots success can be mostly attributed to her MySpace page, which allowed curious music fans to give her music a listen for free. So, while you cannot purchase Alright, Still in the States, Jim and Greg felt it deserved a proper review. Both critics highly recommend this album for its clever lyrics and unique reggae sound, but mostly for Allen's biting humor and breezy attitude. As Jim explains, it's hard not to smile when you listen to a song like "Smile." This set of reviews gets kicked off with a double Buy It for Lily Allen.

JimGreg
Go to episode 46
NEW (Deluxe Edition)New available on iTunes

Paul McCartney New

The end of The Beatles certainly hasn't slowed the output of Paul McCartney. This year, Macca releases his 16th solo album called New. He's teamed up with a stable of pop music super producers like Mark Ronson (Lily Allen and Bruno Mars) and Paul Epworth (Florence & the Machine and Adele). Greg thinks the recording sessions with these hotshot producers brought bits of brilliance to the album. But the other bits are too undercooked and tired to earn the record more than a Burn It. Jim also appreciates the sound of the record. However, lyrically, McCartney has done better. Jim doubts McCartney's team has the courage to tell him, making New a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 413
Pure HeroinePure Heroine available on iTunes

Lorde Pure Heroine

The newest wunderkind topping the charts is 16-year old New Zealand singer/songwriter, Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O'Connor; better known as Lorde. Her debut album, Pure Heroine, is out now, and Jim is a major fan. He likens her lyrics to existentialists like J.D. Salinger and her husky voice and minimal, electronic sound to Bats for Lashes crossed with Lily Allen. The combination of all those elements wins the album a Buy It from Jim. Greg, on the other hand, thinks Jim is smitten by the Kiwi teenager and is being overly generous with those comparisons. He also admires the record's minimal rhythms and drones, but he doesn‘t believe Lorde is quite yet the poet she’s setting out to be. It's a promising start, though, and Greg thinks the album is worth a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 414
lists

Desert Island Jukebox

All year long Jim and Greg hog the Desert Island Jukebox and play you songs they can't live without. In this episode, they flip the script and hand over the jukebox quarters to some of their musical guests. Slayer, LCD Soundsystem, Wild Flag and more took on the age-old rock question "What record would you take with you if stranded on a desert island?":

  • Troy“Trombone Shorty”Andrews - Louis Armstrong, "On the Sunny Side of the Street"
  • Alexei Perry of Handsome Furs - Doctor Alimantado, Best Dressed Chicken in Town
  • Dan Boeckner of Handsome Furs - Sonic Youth, Sister
  • Sam Beam of Iron and Wine - Harry Nilsson, Nilsson Schmilsson
  • Naomi Yang and Damon Krukowski of Damon & Naomi - Fairport Convention, Liege and Lief
  • Lily Allen - Squeeze, "Up the Junction"
  • Kerry King of Slayer - Ozzy Osbourne, Blizzard of Ozz
  • Dave Lombardo of Slayer - Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
  • Rebecca Cole of Wild Flag - Bill Withers, Just As I Am
  • Janet Weiss of Wild Flag - The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St.
  • James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem - Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure
Go to episode 317

Best Albums of 2009

Go to episode 211

The Best of 2009… So Far

Lists are just too much fun to do them only once a year. Here are Jim and Greg's mid-year best album lists.

Greg

  • St. Vincent, Actor
  • Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
  • Amadou & Mariam, Welcome to Mali
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
  • Maxwell, BLACKsummers'night
  • Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
  • Mastodon, Crack the Skye
  • Dan Deacon, Bromst
  • Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz

Jim

  • Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
  • Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
  • Lily Allen, It's Not Me, It's You
  • Morrissey, Years of Refusal
  • Franz Ferdinand, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
  • PJ Harvey and John Parish, A Woman a Man Walked By
  • Moby, Wait for Me
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz
  • Passion Pit, Manners
  • Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Metric, Fantasies
  • K'Naan, Troubadour
  • Cursive, Mama, I'm Swollen
  • Bob Dylan, Together Through Life
  • Leonard Cohen, Live in London
  • St. Vincent, Actor
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
  • Mastodon, Crack the Skye
  • Sonic Youth, The Eternal
  • U2, No Line on the Horizon
  • Wilco, Wilco
  • The Handsome Family, Honey Moon
  • Art Brut, Art Brut vs. Satan
  • Peaches, I Feel Cream
  • Screaming Females, Power Move
  • Dan Deacon, Bromst

A message from Jim: The following, LISTED IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, is my tally of albums mid-year in 2009 that have all warranted 3.5 stars or more on the Chicago Sun-Times‘ 4-star ratings scale (making them all very enthusiastic“buy its”on the“Sound Opinions”scale). I will mention that these are in no particular order (sorry, but that’s reserved for the year-end list), that this list is not all-inclusive (I will no doubt catch up with quite a few discs released earlier in the year by the time I tally the year-end list) and, also, because this always confuses people, THESE ARE IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER. Yet. But they're all really, really, really good albums.

Go to episode 190

The Best Songs of the Millennium - Mixtapes

Jim and Greg like to end every year with a good old-fashioned mixtape (presented as a new-fashioned mp3 stream). But this year they decided to go even further and compile their favorite songs of the entire decade. They pick highlights to play during this episode, and their entire playlists are below. You can also stream their full mixtapes:

Go to episode 214

Best of 2006

Jim

  1. Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll (Listen to the band's appearance on the show)
  2. Lily Allen, Alright, Still (Listen to the original review)
  3. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere (Listen to the original review)
  4. The Decemberists, The Crane Wife (Listen to the original review, or listen to lead singer Colin Meloy's appearance on the show)
  5. Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor (Listen to the original review)
  6. Grandaddy, Just Like the Fambly Cat (Listen to the original review, or listen to front man Jason Lytle's appearance on the show)
  7. Neil Young, Living with War
  8. Peaches, Impeach My Bush (Listen to the original review)
  9. The Dresden Dolls, Yes, Virginia…
  10. Rhymefest, Blue Collar (Listen to Rhymefest's appearance on the show)
  11. Cursive, Happy Hollow (Listen to the original review)
  12. Beck, The Information (Listen to the original review)
  13. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat (Listen to the original review, or listen to the band's appearance on the show)
  14. Van Hunt, On the Jungle Floor (Listen to the original review)
  15. The Raconteurs, Broken Boy Soldiers (Listen to the original review)
  16. Mission of Burma, The Obliterati (Listen to the original review, listen to the band's appearance on the show)
  17. Tom Petty, Highway Companion (Listen to the original review)
  18. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Listen to the original review)
  19. Secret Machines, Ten Silver Drops (Listen to the original review)
  20. Album Leaf, Into the Blue Again

Greg

  1. TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain (Listen to the original review)
  2. Clipse, Hell Hath No Fury (Listen to the original review)
  3. Mission of Burma, The Obliterati (Listen to the original review, listen to the band's appearance on the show)
  4. Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat (Listen to the original review, or listen to the band's appearance on the show)
  5. Midlake, The Trials of Van Occupanther
  6. Ghostface Killah, Fishscale (Listen to the original review)
  7. Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll (Listen to the band's appearance on the show)
  8. Girl Talk, Night Ripper
  9. Parts and Labor, Stay Afraid
  10. Lupe Fiasco, Food and Liquor (Listen to the original review)
  11. M. Ward, Post-War (Listen to the original review)
  12. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Listen to the original review)
  13. Love is All, Nine Times that Same Song
  14. Rhymefest, Blue Collar (Listen to Rhymefest's appearance on the show)
  15. The Decemberists, The Crane Wife (Listen to the original review, or listen to lead singer Colin Meloy's appearance on the show)
  16. Mastodon, Blood Mountain (Listen to the original review)
  17. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere (Listen to the original review)
  18. Tom Waits, Orphans (Listen to the original review)
  19. Lily Allen, Alright, Still (Listen to the original review)
  20. Cursive, Happy Hollow (Listen to the original review)
Go to episode 54

Best of 2006: Listeners' Picks

Jim and Greg sounded off on the best albums of 2006 a few weeks ago, and this week it is the listeners' turn. Sound Opinions H.Q. received many calls and emails telling us what Jim and Greg got wrong, what Jim and Greg got right, and what some other great albums were. During this show we hear from just a few of you.

  • John from West Virginia called in to take Jim to task on his choice of Neil Young's Living With War as one of the best albums of the year. He found it to be just terrible and one of the worst albums of the year. But he didn't disagree with everything, stating that he also really enjoyed Lily Allen.
  • Carl emailed his“Top 40”of the year: a very extensive list with great descriptions of each album. His number 1 album was by The Decemberists, but Greg asks Carl to explain why he chose Night Ripper by Girl Talk as another one of his favorites. He says it's“perfect for the no-attention span generation,”and adds that it“kicks ass.”We couldn't agree more.
  • Matt also wrote in with his five favorite albums. On that list were many alt-country bands like The Drams, the Drive-by-Truckers and Glossary. He and Jim also agree that The Raconteurs had one of the best albums of the year. Matt explains that one of the reasons Broken Boy Soldiers is so successful is that it is so concise: 10 songs all averaging three minutes. The short attention span of a listener is something Matt and Jim both agree is still an important consideration in the post-vinyl era.

Thanks to everyone who gave us his or her "Sound Opinion"!

Go to episode 59
news

Music News

The list of possible inductees for next year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony has been announced. Among the first-time nominees are Kiss, LL Cool J, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Genesis. But there are some old faces, too. ABBA, The Stooges, and Donna Summer have all been up for induction before. Jim and Greg think they deserve recognition, but also have a healthy dose of skepticism whenever they talk about the Hall of Fame. It's notoriously conservative and often overlooks more fringe genres. Plus, as Jim explains, winners always run the risk of being encased in glass and wax in Cleveland.

A heavy debate on piracy and the internet is brewing in Europe. First, the controversial“Three Strikes”law in France has passed in the French assembly. This means that if a French citizen is caught downloading illegally three times, he or she will lose internet access and be subject to fines up to $450,000. Their neighbors in the U.K. are also concerned about this issue. British pop stars like Radiohead, Annie Lennox, and Robbie Williams are members of the Featured Artists Coalition, which recently released a statement coming down firmly on the side of the consumer and defending internet file-sharing as a promotional tool for up-and-coming artists. But artists like Lily Allen and James Blunt have taken the other side. Jim and Greg find this to be a bit ironic considering Allen's use of MySpace early in her career.

Before they launch into reviews of new fall albums, Jim and Greg take a look at how things are going on the charts. The Beatles are still the big winners, selling more than 2 million albums worldwide in just five days. But, as Jim points out, this is a fraction of what they might have sold back in the CD heyday of 1992, and a fraction of what they might have sold digitally. Another big chart winner is Jay-Z, who sold almost 300,000 albums of The Blueprint 3. Hip hop still dominates the charts, with big-selling albums by Drake, Lil Boosie, and Kid Cudi, whom Jim and Greg discuss later in the show.

Go to episode 200

Music News

Jim and Greg discussed the great Kanye West/50 Cent sales battle a couple of weeks ago, and this week the results are in. Kanye took it in a landslide with a #1 spot on the Billboard charts and a whopping 957,000 copies sold. Kanye's album Graduation is the biggest selling album so far this year and is the 15th biggest sales frame since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991. 50 Cent's album Curtis only sold 691,000 in the first week, though for a hip hop debut that's nothing to scoff at. As Jim and Greg note, no one should shed a tear for 50 Cent. On Forbes' list of the biggest earning hip hop stars, Fiddy holds the #2 spot behind mogul Jay-Z. So, despite this recent loss, 50 Cent is laughing "Straight to the Bank."

If you've been surfing YouTube recently, you may have noticed Trent Reznor's call for more stealing. The man behind Nine Inch Nails is fed up with his record company's decision to hike prices for his album Year Zero and he let his grievances be known at an Australian concert. While he doesn't legally have the authority to give his music away, he does have a point; HMV in Australia is selling Year Zero for AU $32.99, which converts to about $28 in the States. That's definitely more than a music fan should have to pay for an album, especially one that utilized a web-based marketing campaign.

And while one musician embraces the web, another does not. Pop icon Prince plans to sue YouTube and other major web sites for unauthorized use of his music in a bid to“reclaim his art on the Internet.”In a recent statement his representative wrote:“YouTube … are clearly able (to) filter porn and pedophile material but appear to choose not to filter out the unauthorized music and film content which is core to their business success.”Prince obviously doesn‘t need to use the web to build a fan base, but to Sound Opinions H.Q., he’s beginning to sound like a cranky old man.

Also in the news is the death of longtime James Brown collaborator Bobby Byrd at the age of 73. One of the chief architects of Brown's trademark sound, Byrd is often referred to as“The Godfather of Soul's Godfather.”You can hear his contribution in tons of early Brown tracks. In fact, the repeating phrase“Get on up,”on "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine" was sung by Byrd. Byrd also had a successful solo career, and as Greg explains, his music can be heard sampled in countless late early hip hop songs. To pay honor to the soul/funk/R&B legend, Jim and Greg play his song, "I Know You Got Soul."

Jim and Greg speak with John Jurgensen, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. John recently wrote an article about how US visa procedures are squelching a British pop invasion. Artists like Lily Allen, M.I.A. and recent Mercury Prize winners The Klaxons have had to cancel tour dates and postpone recording sessions due to difficulties obtaining visas. John explains that this is partly due to Homeland Security crackdowns, which now mandate that artists themselves have to go to an embassy in person for fingerprinting and a retinal scan. John also says that artists have to prove that that they are legitimate,“internationally recognizable”acts. Jim and Greg wonder just how much more legit you have to be if Mercury Prize winners are getting hassled. The three reporters understand that these procedures are in place not just to protect Americans from danger but also from a loss of jobs, but unlike in the agriculture and technology industries, you can't sub one musician for another. And a loss of jobs and tour dates for one singer means the loss of many for the hundreds and thousands of promoters, roadies, sound engineers and teamsters here in the States.

Go to episode 95

Music News

For the third year in a row the Lollapalooza Music Festival took over Chicago's Grant Park for a weekend. Jim and Greg were both there to report on how the festivities went down, and both critics agree the highlight was, by far, Iggy Pop and the Stooges. The punk rocker's high-energy performance toed that line between good fun and danger, something Jim wishes there was more of in rock and roll. Something Jim also wished there was more of at the festival was less of a“shopping mall”environment. He asked Lollapalooza impresario Perry Farrell about the need for such extensive VIP sections and the effect that things like the“radius clause”have on struggling bands and struggling clubs. Greg actually thought the festival was run quite well and treated fans with respect; there was plenty of food, water and bathrooms — something he can‘t say about all other festivals. This critic’s major beef with Lollapalooza is mostly aesthetic. He would like to see fewer stages, fewer filler bands, and more emphasis on thoughtful bookings. We'll just have to wait until Lollapalooza 2008 to see if they take this free advice.

The news takes a slightly darker turn next, with two stories involving Adolf Hitler and Hitler memorabilia. The first concerns the pop purveyor of all things dark: Marilyn Manson. The goth-glam rocker is being sued for $20 million by his former keyboardist, known to fans as Madonna Wayne Gacy. He claims that Manson spent band profits on personal items, including coat hangers used by Adolf Hitler, a handbag owned by Eva Braun, and the full skeleton of a four-year old Chinese girl. Manson says the claims are ridiculous, adding, "I would never spend my money on a Chinese girl skeleton… That would be crossing the line. It's a Chinese boy, for the record.‘’

Another surprising news item: Around 100 records apparently belonging to Adolf Hitler have been discovered in a former Soviet intelligence officer's attic. The collection reveals that while Hitler was publicly heralding“racially pure”German music, his musical taste included some artists forbidden in the Third Reich. Some of the findings were not shocking: Wagner, Beethoven and Anton Bruckner. But, the dictator also appears to have owned works by Jewish and Russian performers like Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Sergei Rachmaninov and Artur Schnabel.

To quote Elton John's own song, "The Bitch is Back." The singer/songwriter has popped up in the news again, this time expressing his beef with…the Internet, of all things. In a piece in British tabloid The Sun, John contends that the web has destroyed music, and explains, "I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole Internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span." Sir Elton adds that he's doing his part by shutting out iPods and cellphones, and, we can only guess, communication with the world. Apparently this musician hasn't had the same experience with music on the internet as fellow Brits Lily Allen or Pete Townshend.

Just a week after Jim lauded his new album Cake or Death, psychedelic cowboy Lee Hazlewood died of cancer at the age of 78. The musician is best known for writing and producing hits for others, including "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" for Nancy Sinatra. But, Jim and Greg discuss how he developed a cult following in later years, and became legendary for his innovation and independence. This earned him the adoration of a new generation of rock musicians that includes Nick Cave and Sonic Youth. Jim and Greg pay tribute to Hazlewood by playing his song, "Some Velvet Morning."

Go to episode 89

Music News

While more visual spectacle than musical, the MTV Video Music Awards have come and gone again, and what's most interesting is what didn't happen, rather than what did. And by“what”we mean controvery. After the Parents Television Council urged MTV to avoid a repeat of last year's Miley Cyrus twerk-fest, the watchdog group announced that they were mostly pleased with the more family-friendly content. But, the PTC did express concerns about the way women were portrayed. Guess they missed Sofia Vergara's Emmy posing.

And there were still some naked performances…Deadspin released the isolated vocals from both Taylor Swift and Beyonce's appearances. They added a spectrum analysis layer to show how well each singer stayed on pitch. Beyonce fared better, but Jim can sympethize with Miss Swift; only a capella singers sound great without musicians.

bush

Also making news, music fans around the world are celebrating the comeback of the great British singer Kate Bush. After 35 years being offstage, she received an enthusiastic response after announcing "Before the Dawn," a run of 22 shows, which sold out in 15 minutes! Fans (some say including Madonna, Lily Allen and Bjork) watched as Bush opened the first show at London's Hammersmith Apollo with "Lily," from the 1993 album Red Shoes. Bush says she was encouraged to return to performing by her son, Bertie. The show was incredibly elaborate and theatrical- hopefully not too exhausting for Kate.

We also say welcome back to Prince and his longtime frenemy Warner Bros Records. His Purple Majesty will release two new albums at the end of September, marking the end of one of the longest-running employment disputes in musical history. Prince fell out with the label in the early 1990's, prompting him to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol and appear in public with the word“slave”across his face. Now he plans to release two albums: Art Official Age and Plectrumelectrum with his all-female band, 3rd Eye Girl.

Rounding out the news, Jim and Greg discuss the idea of the perfect length for a pop song. Long ago technology dictated the length of a tune. A 78 vinyl record came in two sizes—a 10-inch that held 3 minutes of music and a 12-inch that held 4. Midway through the rock ‘n’ roll era, songs like "Stairway to Heaven" blew out those conventions. And certainly, with the digital music revolution, all bets should be off, right? Not so. Brevity is the soul of Top 40. And a radio station in Calgary, Alberta is taking that philosophy to the extreme. 90.3 AMP is telling listeners they will no get“twice the music.”In fact, they'll hear half a song. The station will be editing its plays in order to keep listeners from getting bored. In effect, this is the 140 character limit of music.

We don‘t endorse this approach, but here’s our own celebration of "Short but Sweet" tracks

Go to episode 457