Tag Archives: indie rock

The Top 15 Best Liz Phair Songs (So Far)

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.

When I was 16 or 17 and girls my age called Alanis Morrissette “Alanis,” it irritated me in the way that smartass know-it-all insecure teenage boys frequently get unaccountably irritated. You don’t know her! I’d think. Or sometimes say out loud, in the way that smartass know-it-all insecure teenage boys frequently can’t keep their stupid mouths shut. At the time I, to paraphrase the song “Rock Me,” didn’t know who Liz Phair was. But I thought back to those moments when reading over our write-ups of the best Liz Phair songs—including my own. Pretty much all of us did it: We called her Liz, like we knew her. We don’t, of course. But that’s how good Liz Phair’s songwriting is: There’s something relatable yet specifically conversational about so many of her lyrics, as well as her unaffected delivery style and sometimes fret-squeaking arrangements. And as important as Exile in Guyville is, this kind of presumptuous rapport with your audience doesn’t automatically happen from one great album. It happens more often from a career full of high points, from one of our best (and sometimes most underappreciated songwriters). SportsAlcohol.com founders Marisa, Jesse, and Rob were joined by past ‘90s list voters Sara Ciaburri and Lorraina Raccuia-Morrison as well as Liz (and film) scholar R. Emmett Sweeney to pay tribute to our collective favorites, coinciding with the reissue of her first four albums on vinyl, an Exile-themed anniversary tour, a bigger tour in the fall, and hopefully a new album sometime soon. In the meantime, here is who Liz Phair is.

The Top 15 Best Liz Phair Songs So Far

Continue reading The Top 15 Best Liz Phair Songs (So Far)

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: They Might Be Giants

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.

Between our recent list of the 40 best They Might Be Giants songs and our accompanying list of the outliers in our voting process, you may have gathered that SportsAlcohol.com reps a pretty big They Might Be Giants fandom. And you would be right! So we couldn’t let the release of the band’s new record I Like Fun pass without a They Might Be Giants podcast discussing it, along with our listmaking methodology as well as some personal history in terms of formative TMBG experiences. TMBG superfans Jesse and Marisa were joined by list voters and fellow TMBG superfans Alan Scherstuhl and Karen Han for a wide-ranging, super-nerdy discussion of all things They Might Be Giants. Hear how we each got into the band, how we all love spending New Year’s Eve at their concerts, what oddball songs we love and don’t love, and how we think I Like Fun fits into TMBG’s canon. We promise not to kill you!

We are now up to SEVEN (7) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

Our Favorite They Might Be Giants Songs: The Outliers

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.

These aren’t runners-up in our list of the Top 40 Best They Might Be Giants songs. Far from it; these are all found much further down the full ranking of 160 or so tunes, because they all received exactly one (1) vote from one (1) participant. In some ways, especially with a band as original and idiosyncratic as TMBG, these outliers will tell you more about the artist than the stuff that nearly made the official list. These were the choices that inspired passionate devotion that, in turn, was not enough. Some of them are from the band’s best-selling record; others are newer songs that may not have had time to gain popular traction; one was chosen by a two-year-old who didn’t get to vote yet. What they have in common is that peculiar, wonderful connection between prolific band and attentive listener. Consider this an alternate top ten (er, eleven).
Continue reading Our Favorite They Might Be Giants Songs: The Outliers

The Top 40 Best They Might Be Giants Songs of All Time (For Now)

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.

We here at SportsAlcohol.com love indie rock, love lists, and love (with reservations) our teenager selves from years ago. So it’s a little bit strange to us that though we’ve tackled artists like David Bowie, Sleater-Kinney, Belle & Sebastian, Radiohead, and The Hold Steady, we have yet to make our definitive list of the best They Might Be Giants songs. It’s especially strange because of our founders’ history: Rob and Jesse went to see TMBG together on September 27th 1996, the night before Rob turned 17 and a few days before Jesse turned 16. There were TMBG t-shirts all over our high school for the next year-plus. One of the first times Jesse and Marisa met was at a TMBG show during college, and it was one of their most obvious initial common interests. Yet somehow it took us until 2018 to pull together a proper list.

This is probably because there never seems like a perfect time to make a They Might Be Giants list, because they’re almost always making music. I remember the gap between proper studio discs in 1996 and 2001 felt epic to me back in the day, but I didn’t realize how good I had it; the band released something— a compilation, a live album, an internet-only album, EPs, demos—literally every year of that “gap.” They have a new album called I Like Fun out right now, just a few months old, but still we’re not safe to make our definitive lists, because they’re going to be releasing more tracks through their Dial-a-Song service throughout the year, just as they did in 2015 alongside their album Glean.

So eventually you just have to put your head down and get to work and not worry about whether the next Dial-a-Song would have become your new favorite if you just waited another week or two. There will always be more songs, or at least that’s what it feels like when you’re a TMBG fan. I’ve been a fan of a lot of bands and I don’t know that I’ve ever found loving any of them as rewarding as it is to love They Might Be Giants. There are hits, obscurities, arcana, and everything in between. They have a reputation as a band that attracts nerds, and while that’s probably somewhat true, I think they’re also a band that kinda teaches you how to be a nerd. The good kind: curious, offbeat, and joyfully obsessive rather than sour or myopic.

A dozen-plus such nerds submitted lists of their 30 favorite TMBG songs, a wonderful and impossible task that resulted in this list of 40. If this seems like a lot, consider that it’s only the top twenty-five percent of the 160 songs that received votes, and only the top ten (or less) percent of the 400-plus songs (probably closer to 500+; I had to stop counting) that were eligible. Almost everyone who participated complained that this was too hard; that it wasn’t enough. Because we really, really love They Might Be Giants. So think of this list less as an exercise in leaving some songs off than as an extended thank-you to a band who means a whole lot to a whole lot of people.

Speaking of which: You’re familiar with Jesse, Marisa, and Rob. Here are your other voting nerds and TMBG experts for this rock-solid list:

Jeremy Bent is a writer, comedian, and UCB performer and teacher.
Trillion Grams loves TMBG and does IT for HR in DFW, TX, USA.
Karen Han writes on film, TV, music, and games, and is based in NYC. She loves Tintin and TMBG.
Andrew Hassenger is a musician and artist from Upstate New York.
Matt Koff is a comedian and Daily Show writer.
Randy Locklair is a Brooklyn-based dad and software architect, who likes to play the cello, fly planes and race bikes for fun. If you can’t find him doing any of those things, you can probably find him at a concert.
Demitri Muna is an astronomer at large in NYC who is reasonably obsessed with indiepop and is in love with a too-tall girl.
Michelle Paul is Managing Director of PatronManager.
Dennis Perkins is a freelance film and TV writer for the A.V. Club and elsewhere, and lives in Portland, Maine.
Alan Scherstuhl is the film editor at the Village Voice.
Rayme Shore is an Obstetrician-Gynecologist (yes, really) who occasionally enjoys geeking out.

Let’s get this over with:
Continue reading The Top 40 Best They Might Be Giants Songs of All Time (For Now)

Track Marks: “Up in Hudson” by Dirty Projectors

Sara

Sara

Sara is big into reading and writing fiction like it's her job, because it is. That doesn't mean she isn't real as it gets. She loves real stuff like polka dots, indie rock, and underground fight clubs. I may have made some of that up. I don't know her that well. You can tell she didn't just write this in the third person because if she had written it there would have been less suspect sentence construction.
Sara

For the impending end of 2017, some of our writers are going back and talking about beloved songs from this year, especially from artists not covered on our upcoming podcast.

Remember February? I sure don’t. Woe to the artists who happened to release their albums so early in the year because I have mostly forgotten them in the midst of all the insanity, and great music, that’s happened since then. Anyway, if you’d told me last week that I’d still have patience for a sad white guy bemoaning his girlfriend leaving him I’d have laughed in your face. And yet “Up in Hudson,” from Dirty Projectors’ self-titled 2017 release, remains in my rotation despite fitting that description to a T. Because that also sells it short. At almost eight minutes, unfolding over a luxurious horn-based hook, it’s a break-up anthem that manages to be incredibly even-handed while also being honest about its creator’s pain, considering the girlfriend in question was an integral, and celebrated, member of the band.

The next move for Dirty Projectors has never been easy to predict: they’ve done jagged art pop on Bitte Orca; Dylan-flecked folk on Swing Lo Magellan; even a recreation of Black Flag’s Rise Above done entirely from memory. So it’s interesting to see what it’s morphed into now that Dave Longstreth is essentially a solo artist performing under an established name. The stripped down, distorted aesthetic on display here isn’t always easy to love in comparison to their past classics, but it does feel like a honest reckoning, and “Up in Hudson” is its early highlight. If Longstreth seems like he’s working out his own bitterness and resignation in real time, at least the end result is something we can all share in.

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Los Campesinos! Then and Now

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.

You may have gathered from our obsessive list-making that we here at SportsAlcohol.com are in love with Los Campesinos! Naturally, our obsession didn’t end with listmaking. Rob, Jesse, Marisa, and Sara went out to see the band play in Brooklyn, then sat down for a conversation about the gig, new album Sick Scenes, the evolution of the band’s sound, and how indie rock itself was faring back in 2008 when the first Los Campesinos! record came out. You’ll also find out: How do we process rumors and our own fan-fiction about band members? What was in contention for Rob’s best-ever Valentine’s Day? Which LC! albums does Marisa find underrated? What did LC! newbie Sara think of all this? And what band does Rob reveal he hates (not the Eagles) (well, the Eagles, but also another one)?

How To Listen

We are now up to SIX (6) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

The 20 Best Los Campesinos! Songs (So Far): Our Post in Lists

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.

You must know by now that we here at SportsAlcohol.com love a good list. And while some of our recent comprehensive career-spanning list projects have addressed legends or beloved modern masters, we also have plenty of indie rock cult favorites who we love and obsess over just as much. So when Los Campesinos! emerged from their longest band hiatus ever to put out their new record Sick Scenes and do a proper U.S. tour, the first thing we knew… well, OK, the first thing we knew was that Rob, Jesse, and Marisa were going to listen to Sick Scenes at least a thousand times collectively over the next year, and the second thing we knew was that we were going to get in the ol’ soft mosh pit for their New York City tourdate. But the third thing we knew was that we were going to enlist some fellow fans of this seven-piece English indie-punk-tweemocore band and put together a list of their best tunes. Because they have so many, and because we perpetually wish more people would pay attention to them. Then again, I won’t deny that it sometimes feels good to flat-out worship some obscure-by-top-40-standards indie rock outfit and glory in their continuing existence. As one of the write-ups mentions below: People who don’t dislike or ignore this band tend to love the ever-loving fuck out of this band. This, I think, is how indie rock stays alive – not by selling out Radio City Music Hall.

Though they’ve only been around for about a decade, Los Campesinos! have released six studio albums as well as at least an album’s worth of B-sides, rarities, EP tracks, and Christmas songs. And honestly, even if they weren’t closing in on 100 to choose from, many of their songs have such an explosion of wordflow, energy, vocal byplay, and shout-along hooks that a mere 10 or 15 would seem too few. So we decided to make this list a muscular 20 songs long. Happily, the results reflect our LC! fandom at their every stage, from the youthful brio of 2008’s Hold On Now, Youngster… to the dire break-up stories of Hello Sadness to their more reflective, but still exuberant, 2017 incarnation. So get to reading and get to listening and maybe get to weeping angrily, if that’s your thing. We also have a podcast about our experiences with this band in general and at their recent live show in particular, as well as some discussion of other indie rock that popped out back in 2008. But first, our day in lists.
Continue reading The 20 Best Los Campesinos! Songs (So Far): Our Post in Lists

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Best Music of 2016

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.

Though we’re all eager to put 2016 in the rearview mirror, Rob, Sara, Marisa, and Jesse nonetheless got together to discuss the year in music on its way out: musician deaths, long-awaited returns, scrappy little sisters, and everything in between. This is our Best Music of 2016 podcast and it’s a good one, but we are glad it’s over.

How To Listen

We are now up to SIX (6) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

SportsAlcohol.com’s Top Six Best Albums of 2016

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.

The SportsAlcohol.com music core is small but passionate, which means rather than issuing a bloated Top 50 Records of 2016, we’ve gotten it down to a simple six. There were other good, very good, even great albums that came out last year, but these are the half-dozen that meant the most to us, that we kept coming back to throughout the year, even when said albums didn’t arrive until relatively late in the game. If there’s a theme here, it’s veteran musicians returning to the fold in new, exciting, inventive ways that validated our initial love for a diverse range of old albums. Maybe that means we’re all past our prime, looking to past favorites for comfort. But I don’t think anyone could listen to these six albums and come away thinking that any of these artists are relying on past glories. 2016 is over; let it live on in these albums (and perhaps no other ways).

The Top Six Best Albums of 2016

Continue reading SportsAlcohol.com’s Top Six Best Albums of 2016

TRACK MARKS: What the Hell, You Weirdos Are All Too Good For “Creep,” by Radiohead?

Marisa
Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

Latest posts by Marisa (see all)

I used to have a long-ish commute. As expected, sometimes traffic would snarl to a halt. On one particularly backed-up day, I looked up and realized I had no idea where I was. Even though I was overly familiar with every inch of scenery on my way to and from work, having driven the same route every day, I never really had the chance to stop and look closely at some of the things I was passing.

After seeing our Best of Radiohead list, I realize that “Creep” is that stretch of landscape. People pass by it so often that they don’t stop to really listen to it anymore.

Continue reading TRACK MARKS: What the Hell, You Weirdos Are All Too Good For “Creep,” by Radiohead?