Tag Archives: music

Track Marks: “MICHUUL” by DUCKWRTH

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

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.

I don’t write a lot on this website, but when I do I usually preface it by saying that I’m nostalgic for the music of my younger days. This year, though, I really tried to expand my horizons and engage with music culture like I used to. It probably says more about these times than my own intellectual curiosity that I replaced podcasts on my commute with new artists and tried to read the news less and music writing more. The bad news for me was that this was the year that trap music captured the zeitgeist. Particularly, Soundcloud and emo-influenced mumble rap has ruled the day in a way that’s about oppressive as possible in the streaming age. I’m not saying this music is bad; there is a compelling argument to be made that Young Thug and Future are the true rock stars of our time and kids churning out formulaic, minimalist jams on their laptop is more punk than anything white kids who can afford a whole bands-worth of instruments can make in 2017. These old ears aren’t feeling it, though. Pretty girls might like it, but I don’t think it’s for me.

Given this scenario, discovering an artist like DUCKWRTH is a breath of fresh air. Instead of Cash Money Records and Three Six Mafia,  his sound imagines N.E.R.D. and Outkast as having the biggest influence on hip-hop in the last two decades. DUCKWRTH cares about melody and rhymes as much as flow and swagger. He even sings and dances!

The song that turned me onto DUCKWRTH was “MICHUUL,” an ode in equal measure to both a hypothetical girlfriend and Michael Jackson. Kicking off with the sample of a child saying they want to be MJ when they grow up straight into a variation of a Pharrell four-count, “MICHUUL” clearly states its intentions from the jump. This is a party record like he used to get down to in his youth. A Neptunes-inspired beat is propelled by Triton-esque synth stabs and simple guitar riffs with some chill-sounding piano in the breakdown. Thematically, his subject matter isn’t that different from his contemporaries, but DUCKWRTH rhymes about desiring and enjoying the trappings of success as opposed to merely having them. He’s having fun and he wants you to have too. In 2017, that makes all the difference in the world.

(This clip courtesy of The Rundown With Robin Thede, which didn’t make our best of TV list but would have if Sabrina and I were voting).

Track Marks: “Love Galore” by SZA

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.

In case it wasn’t clear yet, single women are tired. Match, OkCupid, Tinder, Bumble; you can text multiple people for months and still never nail down an actual in-person date. And everywhere we look these days are, in the TLC parlance, scrubs. Or is it actually a bit more complicated than that? Is it also a matter of facing our own insecurities and acknowledgments before we can really accept love? Nobody embodied this ambiguity of being a modern, sexually “liberated” woman better than SZA in 2017. Her full-length debut Ctrl explores all of the contradictions and frustrations of modern romance and that’s never better encapsulated than in “Love Galore.”

While some of the other tracks on the album depict a woman grappling with being a “sidepiece” or revenge-fucking an ex-boyfriend’s bro on Valentine’s Day, “Love Galore” is the sound of gentle reclamation. Of time, of body, of peace of mind. Buoyed by backing vocals from Travis Scott, it’s an amiably slippery examination of dating in the digital age, when any given person is a well-timed message away. “Why you bother me when you know you don’t want me?” she assails her listener and it feels like a clarion call for everyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted “U up?” text. It works, though, because SZA isn’t afraid to acknowledge the vulnerability that lives just underneath her bravado, dramatizing in the most sonically pleasing way the belief that love is worth it because it requires so much work on our part to find it.

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Best Music of 2017

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.

It’s the end of the year, and you know what that means: music publications published their year-end coverage approximately one to three months ago. We here at SportsAlcohol.com do not have a list of our 200 Favorite Albums That Came Out Between January and Mid-October, though we will have some individual write-ups of songs we love throughout the rest of the month and maybe into January. But Marisa, Sara, Rob, and Jesse did sit down to talk about our faves (and other opinions) from this year in popular musics. (They also took selfies. See above.)

For our best music of 2017 wrap-up, we decided to take a different tactic and take a roughly chronological trip through the various live shows we all attended, together and apart, throughout the year, and let the discussion spring from there. You’ll find out who we went to see because we’re afraid of death, whose live show exceeded their disappointing album(s), which band(s) Sara cannot deal with right now, and which show got Rob feeling real emotional in a rough year.

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

Track Marks: “Younger Now” by Miley Cyrus

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.

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.

Is it really so ridiculous that Miley Cyrus would sing about feeling young? It might seem redundant, I guess, because she’s only 25, which to me, racing toward 40, sounds so impossibly fresh and dewy now. But I don’t know that I felt that way about 25 when I actually was 25. Bless anyone who maintains uncomplicated feelings about aging for 25 whole years.

Moreover: Miley Cyrus has been making music for a decade. Yes, she’s the kind of showbiz lifer who was born into it and made a beeline for the Disney machine, but Younger Now, the 2017 record whose title song I adore, is her sixth album. It’s the first one I’ve ever bought; I got Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz from whoever was kind enough to rip a free mp3 version from the free streaming version that was the only version available for a while (it’s now available as a paid download, and honestly, I kind of recommend it). I bought “Wrecking Ball” but not all of Bangerz. I downloaded “Party in the USA” from a music blog that encoded its source album as Shit Guys, Miley’s Done It Again!

There was a time when that fake title was only half-ironic. People like “Party in the USA” and especially “Wrecking Ball.” In the annals of teen or teen-like stars getting grown-up and weird, people do not so much like Dead Petz, the album where she fronted the Flaming Lips and (I assume) smoked a lot of pot, displaying a lot of vulnerability – and genuine, not overproduced, weirdness – in the process. People do not so much seem to like Younger Now so much, either. I gather that it’s considered kind of a clumsy, opportunistic pivot back to pop-country after a series of failed cultural appropriations. Though the record is country only insofar as it sounds kind of country-ish compared to the Flaming Lips, it is inarguably uneven. Miley Cyrus is not a savant who makes Top 40 pop that we wish actual Top 40 pop sounded like, like Carly Rae Jepsen. But then, Carly Rae Jepsen is 32. She knows things. This is why we (Rob and I, anyway) love her.

Which brings us back to “Younger Now.” Like the album of the same name, it’s not perfect. It has at least one production touch I actually hate: the fake or fake-sounding drum-ish fills that sound way too much like the fake record-scratching noises everyone started using around 1997 or so. (Again: I am not 25.) The lyrics are rife with clichés, especially in the chorus: “No one stays the same.” “What goes up must come down.” “Change is a thing you can count on.” But as on Dead Petz, the weakness and awkwardness in her music now feel achingly sincere, and both the melody and sentiment of “Younger Now” soar with an unforced wistfulness, and faux-drum stutters aside, the production lets that wistfulness breathe, showcasing Cyrus’s vocals. She’s never sounded more confident or comfortable or hopeful. You know, like how you feel for a few fleeting moments when you’re young, if you’re lucky.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Soundtrack: I Still Feel the Same (Anti!)

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

I know this is going to make me sound like a crotchety old lady who can’t lighten up and have fun, but we need to talk about the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 soundtrack. After the first movie blew up and its playlist hit the top of the Billboard charts, I ranted against the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 soundtrack. As time passed, I worried that, by calling the songs overdone and overplayed, I might have been missing the point. Maybe they were supposed to be like that? In college, when it would get nice out and everyone would sit outside on blankets on the lawn with tiny radios to play music, my friends and I started piecing together what we called The Generic Mix Tape, with those decade-agnostic tracks that transcend musical taste, like “Sweet Home Alabama” or “The Hurricane.” Maybe I’d overlooked some subtle nuance, and director James Gunn had been commenting on those kinds of songs with his Guardians needle drops.

Enter Vol. 2. Nope, I was right the first time. (Warning: The rest contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.)

Continue reading Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Soundtrack: I Still Feel the Same (Anti!)

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

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The SportsAlcohol.com Album of the Year: LEMONADE by Beyoncé

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.

In a fragmented, subgenre’d, and mix-heavy music culture, it’s notable whenever a full album is able to grab some attention for its full damn self, not just its killer singles or release strategy or guest stars or endless delays. Beyoncé’s Lemonade is such a record, showing up on all four individual SportsAlcohol Best of 2016 lists and warranting the kind of track-by-track exploration we last applied to the St. Vincent album in 2014. This does make us four white people talking extensively about Beyoncé, so we should preface this post, and our upcoming music-of-2016 podcast, by saying please go check this out. And then check out our albums six through two for 2016. And then enjoy four indie rockers drinking up Lemonade.
Continue reading The SportsAlcohol.com Album of the Year: LEMONADE by Beyoncé

The SportsAlcohol Podcast: Reliving the 1996 Billboard Chart

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

If you’re anything like us, this year has been a hard one for living in the moment. That’s why we’ve spent a number of podcast episodes reliving moments of the past, both in our own lives and in the culture. Today, Marisa leads Jesse, Rob, and Sabrina down a guided trip of a representative cross-section of Billboard Magazine’s top songs of 1996. It was a simpler time, one when we were all in high school and Bob Dole was the worst thing that could happen to us. Some topics covered:

  • Every band is someone’s favorite
  • Getting into a band you don’t like before they make it big
  • Sheryl Crow dishing dirt on the seedy underbelly of the music industry
  • Rob and Jesse’s AP English class
  • Mickey Rooney’s worst role is good argument for a 1984-style regime
  • Friends (both the tv show and the concept of a close bond with others)

How To Listen

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

As a bonus, here is some content we discussed below (please note: none of these songs are on the list)

Continue reading The SportsAlcohol Podcast: Reliving the 1996 Billboard Chart

TRACK MARKS: “So Long, Marianne” by Leonard Cohen

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

By just about any measure 2016 has been a rough year. In addition to the turbulent, terrifying political sea change of Brexit and President-elect Trump, we’ve lost many great artists this year, artists whose work in the years ahead would be especially welcome. While the passing of Leonard Cohen on November 7th was not as shocking as Bowie or Prince, given his age and his recent proclamation that he was “ready to die,” it is an immense loss nonetheless. Less a songwriter than a poet putting music beneath his words, Cohen made songs that are both legendarily melancholic and exquisitely beautiful, the cutting, cynical lyrics buoyed by delicate mandolins and soulful female-backed choruses. Often they have a confessional feel to them, particularly when he is plundering the lower moments of his own life (as in the epistolary “Famous Blue Raincoat” which, while not strictly autobiographical, is written as a direct address from Cohen to a man who ran off with his girlfriend, and is simultaneously affectionate and merciless to all three participants.) But that gives his work a generosity as well, the sense that he is pouring all of himself into every line, with the signature graveled delivery that makes a listener lean closer, hold it tight. It would be near impossible to put into words how much his music has meant to me; cliches about feeling less alone and better understood don’t seem nearly enough to honor such a talent. But I’ll try.

It’s tempting in these dark, uncertain times to write about one of Cohen’s more pessimistic, later period songs, and there are many to choose from – “The Future” (“I’ve seen the future, baby/And it is murder”); “Everybody Knows” (“Everybody knows the fight was fixed/The poor stay poor, the rich get rich”); hell his final album was called “You Want It Darker,” and apparently we do. But I’m choosing instead to focus on a song from his debut album, and one that was likely on his mind in his final days: “So Long, Marianne.”

Upbeat by Cohen standards, “So Long, Marianne” is a shimmering, strumming ode to a love that doesn’t always come easy. It’s fragile and fraught, the singer struggling to reconcile his wish for freedom to wander with a longing for the shelter that such intimacy offers, balancing both the yearning and loneliness that can creep in even after knowing your partner for decades. In one touching, wistful turn of phrase that speaks to Cohen’s origins as both a poet and novelist he says they met when they were “almost young” (something it’s difficult to think of Cohen ever being), and you can sense in every passing stanza how the years between the couple have created both an uncrossable chasm and a shared history that can never be forgotten. There’s a lived-in warmth that feels unique to the rest of Cohen’s catalogue, probably because it is based on a real woman, a real relationship that Cohen had over several years with Marianne Ihlen, whom he met in Greece and eventually moved to Montreal with, along with her young son. The relationship ultimately did not last but the song stands as a monument, not only to her and what they shared, but, to borrow from another Cohen number, to the cracks that let the light in, the beauty in life that makes the pain bearable even if just for a moment.

And so I’m going to close this by quoting, in full (which hopefully doesn’t break any copyrights), Cohen’s letter to the real Marianne, written when he learned she was dying:

“Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and for your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

In the years ahead, there will be many times when we might feel hopeless, despondent, scared, all of which is perfectly understandable, even advisable to a certain point. But let us also be the ones who stretch our hands out to one another rather than push one another away. I’ll see you down the road. Thank you, Leonard Cohen, for all you’ve given us and for getting there first. And for the love of God, 2016, please don’t take anyone else with you on your way out.

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Hot Takes on the Pop Music Canon

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.

Welcome to the internet! We have hot takes here. SportsAlcohol.com has plenty of contrary and bizarre opinions to go around, and for this podcast we focused on albums from the pop music canon. Rob, Sara, Marisa, and Jesse got together to chat about which albums they think are secretly inferior to other, less acclaimed albums by the same artist. It’s a simple formula that generates hot take after hot take! Here are just some of the artists we cover in this trim 40-minute session:

The Beatles!
Bruce Springsteen!
U2!
The Stone Roses!
Radiohead!
Sleater-Kinney!
Simon & Garfunkel!
Coldplay for some reason!
Liz Phair!

AND MORE!

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll become infuriated with our hotness.

How To Listen

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