In the Heart of the Nation: The Titanic Spectacle of Taylor Swift

The first impression is a memory from high school. My mother and I attend a sold-out performance of Mamma Mia! and cursory examination reveals I am one of a dozen men in the audience. Rarely in my life have I felt like such an interloper.

Taylor Live

Saturday night was this multiplied by fifty-five. Soldier Field is jammed with women and girls, wearing a mix of official merchandise, homemade T-shirts, and their finest dresses. There is plenty of red lipstick and homemade electric signs casting light in the darkening sky. This is Taylor Nation, and they have come to experience the biggest singer-songwriter in the world.

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The Grand Budapest Pharrell and Other Matters: The Best and Worst of the Grammys

This happened.

This happened.

One key idea I’ve always stressed in writing about the Grammys for the Recorder is that the awards themselves are nonsensical. Just go back to my Album of the Year reviews and tell me how to compare Ed Sheeran and Beyonce. It’s impossible. We care about these awards not for what gets given (as in the Oscars) but for the performance factor, the chance to see all the biggest names in music on one stage, seeing who rises to the occasion and who…doesn’t.

With that in mind, here’s our official recap of the best and worst moments of last night’s show. And congratulations to Beck for winning Album of the Year for the difficult, but lovely, Morning Phase! And for getting all Simon and Garfunkel with Chris Martin on a lovely “Heart is a Drum!”

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Three Poppy Punk Chicago Bands to See This Month

At a recent Swimsuit Addition show, someone turned to me and very sincerely asked “What if there are no rules anymore?” The four-piece sprawls over their music, and they’re in absolute control of evil beach punk.

Swimsuit Addition is celebrating the release of their new 7 song TANKS! EP with a free show at Emporium Barcade this Thursday, Dec. 11th. It’s great if they’re the only ones who know the rules.

Oh no, a pop punk band with fun synth bits who mention pizza. People do it, and Absolutely Not does it so much better. Their longest song is 2:39, but the number of stop-and-gape hooks they jam into each one is staggering.

They’re headlining a great (and free) Chicago Singles Club lineup at the Empty Bottle on Monday, Dec. 29th. If you don’t dance, you’ll be trampled.

The meanest band here, Meat Wave favors music that drives along non-stop until your chin is on the floor. Don’t worry, the payoff is consistent, and you’ll get up for more.

Go see them for a New Year’s Eve show at Reggie’s ($25-$30) before they kick off a U.K. tour. Then check back on their new EP landing around January 19th.

New Year Bonus Round: Ian’s Party starts January 1st and ends on the 4th. All the bands mentioned here will be playing various venues around Logan Square. Even if you dive in with no direction, you’ll get a fistful of quality local music.

Four Men, One Woman, and a Bit of Meh: The 2014 Grammy Album of the Year Nominees

One of these people may be winning Album of the Year again, and it isn't one of the dudes in  helmets.

One of these people may be winning their own Album of the Year Grammy this year, and it isn’t one of the dudes in helmets.

Last year, I wrote a review of all five Grammy nominees for Album of the Year. This year, in the Addison Recorder’s never-ending endeavor to always stay culturally abreast, I’m doing it again. (I’m also doing it again because no one else is crazy enough to try this.)

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