Category Archives: Fantasy

The Magicians

A step back to the future this week with Lev Grossman’s homage to and re-imagining of modern fantasy, The Magicians. A pop-cultured urban tale where secret magic and fantastical worlds are real, but so is all of boring old life’s other horrible stuff. And, best of all, the people who do magic don’t handle the real world stuff all that well. It’s a total thaumaturgic train wreck! Think Holden Caulfield does Narnia.

Just don’t call it an “adult Harry Potter mix” here.

“Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.”: Show the World – Apples in Stereo

Quentin Coldwater:  Danglin’ Feet – Devotchka
Huh, a socially awkward teenager obsessed with child fantasy novels is having trouble getting laid and feels sorry for himself. Go figure. At least he gets to do magic and stuff…when I was that age, I just sat in my basement waiting for AOL to load pics of Kathy Ireland.

Entrance Exam: Prove It – Television
Card tricks, inventing languages, and drawing things that suddenly come to life…now that’s my kind of test.  So much more fun than Christmas treeing the SAT.

Brakebills: College – Animal Collective / Freak Scene – Dinosaur Jr
Hogwarts mixed with Animal House. Okay, where do I sign up?

Elliot Waugh: A Drinking Song – Divine Comedy / Ballad of Big Nothing – Elliott Smith
“If he gets drunk on fine wine and plays Miss Misery one more time…I swear I am going to fireball his mopey ass.” Elliot’s clearly more of a Conor Oberst fan, but we aren’t, so he ain’t getting his dream theme song.

Penny: 30 Century Man – Scott Walker
My question is if one could master space, time, and dimensional travel, why in the world would they sport a mohawk?

Janet Pluchinsky: Because the Night – Patti Smith
Both Patti and Janet could probably bully me into making out with them and have it be the greatest moment of my life. Speaking of which, why does this never happen?

Josh Hoberman: When Jokers Attack – The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Its not such a bad thing to be the comic relief, especially when you are sporting some sort of untapped power within. People are more likely to be laughing WITH you if they know at any moment you can summon a terrifying portal.

Alice Quinn: Wallflower – Doug Sahm
I think it is impossible to read this book and not fall a little bit in love with Alice. I mean, its not like on weekends and most weeknights I sit at home writing several volumes of fan fiction detailing her crazy adventures and boy troubles in alternate universe or anything silly like that. I may have started a Tumblr page about her.

Physical Kids: Bad Reputation – Joan Jett
What?! Just cause we are brilliant, hedonistic, esoteric, narcissistic, recite spells in several dead languages, traverse continents as geese, have pet monster tattoos, and are generally so much better than you?

Life After Graduation: Just Be Simple – Songs: Ohia
Unending amounts of time and money and limitless powers may sound like a recipe for total happiness, but…well, wait. Yup, that really should bring you happiness. What gives?

Quentin & Alice: No Children – The Mountain Goats / No – The Wedding Present
Its always a little rough when the “doing it as arctic foxes” stage of the relationship is over. And who better than John Darnielle to write a song about ensorcelling unfaithfulness? Well, maybe that guy from the Weddoes. I reckon he can conjure up a trick or two about what to do when the magic disappears for a spell.

The Neitherlands: Holes – Mercury Rev
If I had the gang’s all-access magic button pass to any fantasy world I would totally head down to Middle Earth, then Oz, then Donkey Kong world, and finally, for dessert, Candy Land. Just got to make sure I avoid holes for Neverland Ranch, Jar Jar Binks’ planet, and Kansas. Ugh, worst vacation ever.

Fillory: This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) – Talking Heads
Looks like Narnia. Smells like Narnia. Weird talking critters like Narnia…just has a lot less religion and a lot more booze.

The Watcherwoman: Time is on My Side – Irma Thomas
Halting time forever is such delicious dastardly plot. Why don’t more villains work that angle?
I tried planting some clock-trees in my yard…that was a waste of a perfectly good Indiglo. Just in case you ever try it, remember: Swatches ain’t acorns.

The Beast: Prince of Darkness – Mekons
Classic “Obsessive English schoolboy turns into crazed world-destroying demigod” situation. If I had a quarter…

Alice’s Sacrifice: I Would Die 4 U – Prince
Alright, in full nerd disclosure, technically Alice didn’t die, rather she purposefully turned into a niffin which is some sort of a creature consisting of raw magic energy. Too bad Prince doesn’t have a song called “I Would Turn N2 A Niffin 4 U”.

Julia Wicker: I Don’t Love Anyone – Belle & Sebastian
Nobody wants to know about a magical kingdom and be told you can’t go there. This is basically how I feel about Canada. Also, one time, I heard there was a bar that served mixed drinks in fish bowls, but by the time I finally made it there it was against the law or something. Ergh. Julia’s story in Book 2 is great though. Hang in there.

The Real World Again/The End: You Were Right – Built to Spill
At some point, most of us figure out that even the greatest fantasies and aspirations can often be just sad dreams realized through jarring reality checks. But then again, of course, most of us don’t get to be kings and queens of our fanciful misconceptions, do we?


Game of Thrones

This week’s mix covers the first book of George RR Martin’s mega-fantasy series, Game of Thrones. Thrust out of the loving grasp of portly bearded geeks into pop culture lime light by HBO’s ultra bloody and sultry adaptation (brothel scenes for everyone!), GoT is an epic fantasy hit. Hopefully, this mix will lessen the sting of seven and a half year wait for book six.

Listen to the head-flying, back-stabbing, direwolf-mauling mix here.

“Winter is coming”: Listen, the Snow is Falling – Yoko Ono

Robert Baratheon: The Chase is Better than the Catch – Motorhead
It was between this song and Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”. Amazingly, King Bob manages to live like he is continually in an 80’s rap video despite existing in a fantasy novel.

Cersei Lannister: Femme Fatale – Velvet Underground
Malicious, rich, and beautiful are a dangerous combination (I would know). I’ve always imagined Cersei to look a bit like VU-era Nico (that was until HBO showed me exactly how she should look). One would hope Cersei to be a far superior equestrian than Nico was a bicyclist.

Jaime Lannister: Riding – Palace Music
The twincestous king-slaying child-defenestrating knight who we all love to hate! Or is that hate to love. I forget.

Tyrion Lannister: I’m Not Like Everybody Else – The Kinks
Seemingly everyone’s fav, Tyrion is a difficult guy to pin down with a song. Grandiose and small. Cocky and pitiful. Hilarious and philosophical. Altruistic and selfish. Here is the unworthy best I got for you good folks. Also, George RR, if you are listening, please don’t kill off Tyrion. Thanks.

Catelyn Stark: Our Mother the Mountain – Townes Van Zandt
The solemn pillar of the Stark family, Cat seems like the most reasonable of ladies in the seven kingdoms of crazy. I, for one, am hoping for a GoT spinoff, Real Thronewives of the Westeros.

Sansa and Joffrey, Part 1: Small Heads – Lisa Germano
Ah, young love! What could possibly go wrong for this fairytale betrothal?

Daenerys Targaryen: Happy and Bleeding – PJ Harvey
Yet another sister in this book who’s maybe had a little too much of her brother in her. By the end, Dany takes her brother’s bold wackiness and combines it with her husband’s sheer contempt of fear and pragmatism. I assume we’ll be having more dragon-suckling loopy-headed antics with her in book two.

Arya Stark: Little Trouble Girl – Sonic Youth w/ Kim Deal
Good advice in many matters….use the pointy end. Using the pointy end of a needle has been a Kim Deal specialty for going on two decades now, or the length of a short GoT winter.

Bran Stark: Horses – Sally Timms and John Langford
I got good news and bad news, Bran. Bad news: you are permanently crippled, will never be a knight like your awesome older brothers, and are going to be plagued by freaky prophetic dreams. Good news: free piggy-back rides from Hodor forever!

Littlefinger and Lord Varys: Shadowplay – Joy Division
One of my favorite aspects of the book is the political intrigue by these two. The constant  sneaking about, lies, and betrayals…a medieval soap opera. If these two were related and both had functioning genitilia, they’d clearly be screwing each other, right?

Jon Snow: Dressed in Black – Shangri-Las
This “know-nothing” bastard-born with boyish charms dresses like Johnny Cash, looks like Johnny Depp, and swings his sword like Johnny Bench (ugh…sorry). Unfortunately, his pent up rage and hormones take a few books to be fully unleashed. But when they do, watch out!

Robert Arryn (the boy): Uncorrected Personality Traits – Robyn Hitchcock
Attachment parenting gone wrong wants to see the little man fly. (Shivers)

Eddard Stark: Ed is Dead – Pixies

An ode to GRRM’s propensity to suddenly kill off main characters. A little like Lost…except they don’t come back (well, mostly).

Khal Drogo: Goodbye Horses – Q Lazzarus
Okay, so this song is undeniably linked to Buffalo Bill, but it happens to also describe the Dothraki horselord perfectly. Plus BB and KD have a lot in common: killing all the time, awesome long hair, and undying devotion to their precious (it rubs the horse blood on its skin).

Sansa and Joffrey, Part 2: Bruises – Lisa Germano
Yeah, so, it turns out young Joffrey is a bit of a psycho. Well, I am sure unmitigated evil is just a stage that he’ll soon grow out. (Cough)

Robb Stark: The Payback – James Brown
Robb running Winterfell is kind of like taking over your old man’s hardware store . . . after he’s been viciously beheaded by a boy-king. Stark revenge is a dish best served cold. Wait, that might be gazpacho I’m thinking of.

The Wall, the Wildlings, and the Walkers: Winter – Ein Heit
Its a hard life for a man with no wife…Its a harder life when you’re permanently serving on freezing 100 foot ice cliff fighting barbarians (on good days) and ice zombies (on bad days) and still have no wife.

The War of Five Kings: Forever – Titus Andronicus
A preview of things to come in the next book. Spoiler alert…more people die.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy


This week’s Tape on Book is for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. High fantasy’s high point gets the mixtape treatment. (Official disclaimer: No Zeppelin allowed for this one. That would be just too easy…kind of like using the giant Eagles to simply fly over Mount Doom).

One mix to rule them all…here.

The Shire: Happy Homes – Kevin Coyne
Kevin Coyne’s inclusion is automatic as he is, in fact, a direct descendant of the hobbits.

Hobbits: Wasn’t Born To Follow – The Byrds
3 feet of ring-toting raw power. Elevenses anybody?

Gandalf the Grey: Magician in the Mountain – Sunforest
A carefree pipe-toking, peace-loving bearded fellow who loves to hang out with lil’ folk would most certainly listen to heavy psychedelic funk, right? That totally makes sense.

Tom Bombadil: Sing a Little Song – Desmond Dekker
TB was always my favorite character. Whimsical enough to always be tro-lo-loing and wear giant yellow boots, but rough enough to slap down the barrow-wights and score a river nymph.

The Ring of Power: Ring Thing – Pearls Before Swine
Dissonant bagpipes and tape effects…and one creepy songwriter to in the darkness bind them.

Rivendell: The Magic Place – Julianna Barwick
I imagine that if the Elves made indie music, it would pretty much sound like this.

The Fellowship: All The Right Friends – REM
“…And you have my jangly guitar!”

The Mines of Moria: In the Hall of the Mountain King – ELO
“When in doubt, Meriadoc, follow your nose….or listen for the sweet PROG-ROCK”

Gollum: Creep On Creepin’ On – Timber Timbre
The movies made Gollum a lot more CGI-y lovable than he really was. Shame…he was so damned horrid in the books.

The Ents:  Invoke the Throne of Veltheimia – Botanist
Why did it take years before someone figured that they should write songs exclusively about how plants will rise up to put an Ent-like crushing on everything. Thanks to Botanist, the wait is over.

Gandalf the White: The Wizard – Black Sabbath
Gandalf’s second edition was considerably darker and meatier. Apparently, smiting the Balrog and returning from the infinity does great things for your self-confidence.

Sauron: Iron Fist – Motorhead
If Sauron’s evil flaming eye was actually a evil flaming mouth, then it would sing with Lemmy’s voice.

Return of the King: Rise Above – Black Flag
So, Greg Ginn probably wouldn’t appreciate his song being used to represent a fictional King inspiring his peoples to come together to defeat an imaginary orc army to preserve a rather sexist, racist, and radically right society. But who knows…he might be cool with it.

Mordor: Black Smoke Rise – Wooden Shjips
“One does not simply rock into Mordor.”

Sam and Frodo: You’re My Best Friend – Queen
I don’t use the term “Bromance” lightly…but when Sam carries Frodo, I want to hug someone.

Prequel Bonus! The Hobbit: Ballad of Bilbo Baggins – Leonard Nimoy
Never has a story been so perfectly told in a horribly spectacular 2.5 minute pop song.