Tag Archives: Grammys

DIRTY COMPUTER is our album of the year. Here’s why.

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

JESSE:
So generally we don’t cover the Grammys very much here on SportsAlcohol.com except for the occasional entreaty to Maybe Just Don’t. But the Grammys do provide an awkwardly timed opportunity to reflect on the best music of an awkwardly constructed eligibility period that we will simplify to just “2018” (although, real talk: did any of us love an album that came out in November or December of last year?). And as it happens, the general consensus choice for SportsAlcohol.com Album of the Year is, in fact, nominated for a Grammy! That would be Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer, which is one of this year’s eight nominees for Album of the Year. Why are there eight this year instead of the usual five? Because otherwise there might not be room for the Post Malone album, of course! (Seriously though, I have no idea. Was 2019 the year that the Grammy Olds were finally like “hey, there’s a LOT of music out there? What with the Post Malone album, et cetera”? In the words of a diffident, opaque Lorne Michaels: Why now?)
Continue reading DIRTY COMPUTER is our album of the year. Here’s why.

Grammy Week Track Marks: “The Stove and the Toaster” by the Hold Steady

Jeremy Beck

Jeremy Beck runs the website MovieManifesto, where he writes many, many movie reviews that nobody reads.

The Grammys are happening this Sunday, and in celebration (?!), a few SportsAlcohol.com folks will be offering up some words about some of our favorite songs of 2018.

Music purists of a certain age and disposition are currently frustrated with The Hold Steady, given that they’ve spent the past five years dribbling out a couple of songs at a time rather than holing up in the studio and releasing, you know, an album. But as desperate as I am to finally unwrap the band’s seventh LP and see what Holly and Charlemagne are up to, I can’t be too mad at The Hold Steady, not when they’re releasing songs as spectacular as “The Stove and the Toaster,” another of Craig Finn’s propulsive adventures in sleazy criminality. At just three-and-a-half minutes, it’s a remarkably dense song, packing in the usual torrent of verbiage and somehow still finding room for an epic guitar solo. Finn’s lyrics are as sharp and flavorful as ever, but it’s important not to overlook the band’s musical flourishes, like the sudden squalls of piano, or the horns that punctuate each line of the chorus, a sort of subliminal reminder that declares, “Hey folks, we aren’t just talk-singing poets; we’re a goddamn rock band.”

But Finn’s storytelling will always be the heart of The Hold Steady, the way he weaves tales of extraordinary specificity—geographic, personal, architectural—and spins them into music. “The Stove and the Toaster” is so teeming with detail and suspense, it could practically double as an episode of Breaking Bad, and not just because of the southwestern locations. The premise is simple: Finn wants to rip off some drug dealers, and his girlfriend has inside info that will allow them to pull off the perfect heist. (In some characteristically piquant Hold Steady minutiae, the stash is in the stove, the cash is in the toaster.) The problem is that they’re in over their heads; their marks are “earpiece dudes in a fortified fortress / A wholesale crew that does pretty big business.” This makes their fates a foregone conclusion—“We came to the kitchen and we knew it was over / I didn’t see any stove, no sign of the toaster”—but it also makes their recklessness oddly tragic. Finn just wanted to show his girl a good time, but he never stood a chance. Only a songwriting pro could conjure such a clueless amateur.

Grammy Week Track Marks: “Mistake” by Middle Kids

Jeremy Beck

Jeremy Beck runs the website MovieManifesto, where he writes many, many movie reviews that nobody reads.

The Grammys are happening this Sunday, and in celebration (?!), a few SportsAlcohol.com folks will be offering up some words about some of our favorite songs of 2018.

As lousy as 2018 may have been for America, it was quite the year for Australia, or at least for Australian three-pieces. Not only did Camp Cope deliver a blistering sophomore album, but the little-known outfit Middle Kids arrived onto the scene with Lost Friends, a ferociously catchy debut full of taut, intricately composed bangers. There’s nothing especially revolutionary about this trio’s music; they write straightforward songs that bounce from verses to choruses and back. But art doesn’t need to be original to be great, and “Mistake,” the record’s second single, weaponizes your familiarity against you. You think you’ve heard it before, and all of a sudden you’re tapping your foot, banging your head, and belting out its refrain at the top of your lungs.

Naturally, the pet trick of lead singer Hannah Joy is an oldie but a goodie: She loves to draw out single syllables for seconds at a time, right from the “Ooooh darling” that opens the song. Joy’s lyrics aren’t fancy—she repeatedly rhymes “back” with “back”—but they’re evocative, efficiently revealing a woman crippled by confusion regret (“Thought I was healthy but I’m choking / It must be catching up, my smoking”); she also drops in some sly bits of Swiftian pronoun-switching. But the sound is the key here, the way the drums and guitars seem perfectly unified, propelling Joy forward as she pushes toward each electric chorus. The band knows exactly when to crescendo and when to downshift, resulting in a song that snakes and curls before finally erupting with euphoria. It’s perfectly constructed, yet it doesn’t feel engineered or excessively polished. It’s a hell of a thing: Musicians have been banging on drums and strumming on guitars for decades, and without altering any of that basic technique, Middle Kids have somehow produced something fresh and exciting. Maybe it’s telling that the word “mistake” never actually appears in “Mistake”. On multiple levels, it’s nowhere to be found.

Maybe just don’t watch the Grammys?

Rob

Rob

Rob is one of the founders of SportsAlcohol.com. He is a recent first time home buyer and it's all he talks about. Said home is in his hometown in Upstate New York. He never moved away and works a job to pay for his mortgage and crippling chicken wing addiction. He is not what you would call a go-getter. This may explain the general tone of SportsAlcohol.com.
Rob

You are messing up my twitter

2014 Grammys are evilFor the reasons outlined below, I’ve already decided not to watch the Grammys. That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to check in on my social media at some point. People are always using the internet to post things I’m not interested in, but I was taken aback about how many people care about the Grammys in this day and age. I don’t need to hear about how Macklemore is overrated or underrated.  I don’t need to hear pretty much anything about Taylor Swift ever again. I have nothing against these people, but I hear more than enough than any person needs to about both of them by virtue of the fact that I’m an American with an internet connection. The night of the Grammys, I’m somehow getting extra Macklemore & T Swift in my life.  All I wanted was to check the news and I was just flooded. I come into work the next day (the in person version of twitter and facebook) and everyone is still talking about it. I can’t escape.

Sherlock was on!

Sherlock The Sign of ThreeThe night of The Grammys was the American broadcast premiere of the one where John gets married. I don’t care if you were one of those people who used Dirty Internet Tricks to watch the episode beforehand or one of those people who doesn’t care about Sherlock. IT WAS THE ONE WITH JOHN’S WEDDING. The shortest stag party ever. The best best man’s speech ever. Sherlock thinking his morning tea just appeared. That hug! Mrs. Hudson’s hat! Molly’s bow! And yes, there was also a clever mystery of some sort. Something so much better was on TV for the whole land to see, even if you were seeing it for the second time. I also watched Downton Abby and it was maybe the best episode of this lackluster season, but I wouldn’t fault you for not watching that.

Why were you surprised there wasn’t a real Lou Reed Tribute?Metallica at The 2014 Grammys

One of the things that people complained about was the lack of a true  tribute to Lou Reed beyond whatever weird thing Metallica did. Lou Reed was a true rock iconoclast. His work was dedicated to deconstructing all that came before and building something new from the wreckage. His influence was greatly responsible for the garage, punk, post-punk, alternative, and indie movements (among others). He was basically the godfather of all the recording industry was against in the 70’s and 80’s before they figured out how to profit off of it. There’s nothing the Grammy’s could have done to properly honor his legacy, especially paying him tribute. I’m not interested in the Grammys because they are structurally unable to appreciate Lou Reed.

If you have an opinion about this, it is meaningless

Just look at this list.  Eighty-Two Categories! How can you get mad that “Royals” lost Record of The Year when it won Song of The Year? Do you even know what the difference is? Scroll farther down and see how ridiculous some of those categories are. Don’t forget that there’s also a Latin Grammys on top of this. If you created an award show you cared about, is this how you would structure it? In some ways, all awards shows are meaningless. The Grammys seems to elevate this meaninglessness to new heights. I want to be upset about how much crap gets honored over what I like, but it’s nothing to get worked up about. 

It’s not even fun

This structural issue also means that you can’t easily do a Grammy pool. Think about it. Do you know anyone who has a Grammy party like people have Oscar parties? In my cantankerous old age, I have soured on awards shows in general (obvious, I know). That being said, I can understand the fun of an Oscar party.  I think a Grammy party is my version of hell.

Feeding The Beast

The Grammys are like Tinkerbell: they only exist because you believe in them and clap real hard. Maybe we should demand something better. Instead, this wave of social media I was inundated with perpetuates them. In a day and age when DVRs should help us from staying up late on a Sunday, people instead watch awards shows live for the express purpose of live tweeting and interacting with other live tweeters. This creates trending topics in social media and breathes new life into events that should be passing by the wayside. The internet was supposed to give us the tools to create and explore what we wanted on our own without corporate interests gatekeeping. Right now, we’re stuck in a feedback loop and it’s painful.

This is the 21st Century

I don’t think that technology killed music, but it did deal a mighty blow the music business. The Grammys are just a leftover of a bygone era. They have tried to adapt by downplaying the actual awards and promoting the types of performances other ceremonies have been doing for years. Some of them are even enjoyable. But why sit through hours of acceptance speeches and stuff you don’t care about to maybe catch something inspired when I promise you it will be online the next day, even the dope commercials.

Death to the record industry!

Home Taping is Killing MusicI’m sorry. I know how this last part makes me sound, but it’s a pretty inescapable truth. The Grammys never are and never were a celebration of music. They are a celebration of the recording industry as it existed in the previous century. At some point, their business model shifted from exploiting artists to protecting the intellectual property those exploited artists generated. For decades major record labels leveraged their recording, distribution, and promotion resources to create a system where they profited much more than the actual music makers. In an era when all of those activities can be done to some extent in a bedroom with a personal computer, we should question what value the corporate music industry provides and why we would want to celebrate that.