Tag Archives: music

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Concertgoing over the years

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

SportsAlcohol.com founders Jesse, Sabrina, and Rob were joined by Sara from Boston to see Sleater-Kinney on their reunion tour. The next day, they reminisced about how great the show was and their history of concertgoing.

How To Listen

      We are up to five different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

    • You can subscribe to our podcast using the rss feed.
    • I’m not sure why they allowed it, but we are on iTunes! If you enjoy what you hear, a positive comment and a rating would be great.
    • I don’t really know what Stitcher is, but we are also on Stitcher.
    • You can download the mp3 of this episode directly here.
    • If you are lazy, like 35 year old who would rather just stay at home, you can listen in the player below.

TRACK MARKS BEST OF 2014: “Lights Out” by Angel Olsen

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

This week, SportsAlcohol.com writers are recounting the best music of 2014. Today’s Track Marks focus on individual songs from albums that didn’t make our collective top five, but did appear on our individual best-album ballots.

It took me awhile to get into Angel Olsen’s fantastic 2014 record Burn Your Fire For No Witness. This seems to be a pattern with me as I was late in discovering Waxahatchee last year, an artist who shares some surface DNA with Olsen. Both are lone females with shuddery but commanding voices and country-tinged compositions that seem to issue directly from the parts of the American South that rarely get visitors. To me, though, Olsen feels like the more risky, eccentric artist. Even after multiple listens to the album it’s impossible to predict from moment to moment what side of herself she’ll reveal next: brash and boot stomping, sinister and threatening, achy and longing. She could as easily back a bar fight as a slow dance.

“Lights Out” finds her in torch singer mode. It hits at the mid-point of the album and at first seems like something of a comedown before she’ll rev up again in the back half. It starts with a simple guitar line and drum beat, Olsen warbling to an indecisive lover, “If you don’t feel good about it then turn around. If you really mean it baby then stand your ground.” There’s resignation in her voice but also a whiff of impatience. Olsen has spent much of the record grappling with loneliness but she also knows indifference is no substitute for love. The song builds with each verse, adding texture and volume until it bursts open in a moment of fist pumping conviction: “No one’s gonna see your life through, there’s no way.” If Olsen’s voice sometimes sounds like a candle on the verge of going out, this is her as the fire about to consume the house. The torch she’s carrying turns out to be for herself.

TRACK MARKS BEST OF 2014: “Your Love Is Killing Me” by Sharon Van Etten

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

This week, SportsAlcohol.com writers are recounting the best music of 2014. Today’s Track Marks focus on individual songs from albums that didn’t make our collective top five, but did appear on our individual best-album ballots.

Sharon Van Etten may very well have amassed as many break up songs as Taylor Swift in her limited but uniformly excellent discography so far. The difference is when Van Etten sings about her pain, I believe her. Nowhere is that more evident than in this single from her 2014 album Are We There. It has a soft, dirge-y start, an organ grinding over a steady, ghostly beat. Van Etten has the sort of chameleon-like voice that can be both threadbare and galvanizing at any given moment and when she begins singing the lyrics here she’s barely above a whisper. That changes abruptly with the bridge, where the song’s title becomes more than just metaphor.

“Break my legs so I won’t walk to you,” she howls, her voice forceful but never strident. “Cut my tongue so I can’t talk to you.” This is not just a song depicting an abusive relationship but a song about the seductions of such intense bonds. It’s the harm we allow others to do to us but also the harm we do to ourselves, sometimes even the harm we need to do to ourselves. It’s a sledgehammer of a song and while its subject matter can make it a difficult listen, it’s also stunningly beautiful for the contradictions it inhabits: the strength in Van Etten’s voice against the vulnerability of her lyrics, a declaration of self living beside the destruction of it. The part of us that knows better and the part that doesn’t care. This is the state Van Etten’s music often finds her in and I’m happy to meet her there.

TRACK MARKS BEST OF 2014: “Blue Moon” by Beck

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

This week, SportsAlcohol.com writers are recounting the best music of 2014. Today’s Track Marks focus on individual songs from albums that didn’t make our collective top five, but did appear on our individual best-album ballots.

I know I’m in the minority on this but I like Beck most when he’s mopey. Sea Change was a very meaningful record to me in high school; to paraphrase Rob from High Fidelity, it takes a very particular kind of person to think they’ll be alone for the rest of their life at twenty-five, so it must take an extraordinarily neurotic one to worry about that at sixteen. But for whatever reason, I felt less lonely when I listened to “The Golden Age.” I suspect it has something to do with the fact that Beck, for all the gimmicky (and wonderful!) singles he released in the nineties, has a warm and inviting voice when he’s crooning. Morning Phase, his 2014 record, is full of that sound, and no song on that record more so than “Blue Moon.”

The song feels in many ways like a continuation of “The Golden Age.” They share a similar rhythm, which lacks the urgency of his more aggressive singles but is buoyed by a dreamy tempo that’s perfect for driving at night with the top down. “Blue Moon” has more playful instrumentation, with the main theme provided by a plinking charango and a swell of soulful “ooh-ooh’s” carrying along the chorus. I could listen to the jumpy clavinet progression near the end for hours. It’s so lush and swoony that you’d be forgiven for ignoring the lyrics, which invert the Rodgers and Hart classic of the same name from a singer finding solace in the skies above into a naked plea to the people who surround him. “Don’t leave me on my own,” Beck entreats, and by the time the song is over we’re sorry to go. While the rest of the album plays in a pleasant earthy register it’s with this song that it truly hits the stratosphere.

TRACK MARKS BEST OF 2014: “Scapegoat” by The Faint

Gripes
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

My love for this song is boundless, but my reasons for loving this song aren’t very deep. It’s just a burst of energy. The drums start off running; the vocal kicks in and match their pace. Just when I think I’m going to start to get tired of the shouty vocal, the melody suddenly gets catchier. (“We don’t even need to know each other.”) Then it takes a break for some laser noises and the chorus, and it’s over in two minutes.

I can’t pretend that I relate to what this song is about. Clearly there’s some control issues going on. (“We’re not actors in your movie.”) There’s also some betrayal. (“You say you’re a scapegoat…no! Turncoat.”) I don’t fully feel the nuances of all of this, but it’s loud and it’s angry and it always makes me want to stand up and run around, and sometimes that’s really all I need.

TRACK MARKS BEST OF 2014: “Lariat” by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Gripes
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

This week, SportsAlcohol.com writers are recounting the best music of 2014. Today’s Track Marks focus on individual songs from albums that didn’t make our individual best-album lists.

I contend that Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks is one of those bands, like the Strokes, that manages to have one amazing song—and possibly only one amazing song—on every album. On Wig Out at Jagbags, that song is “Lariat.”

“Lariat” might even be better than most of the other album highlights in that it actually seems to be about something. (I love “Gardenia,” but I still swear that it’s just a string a disparate commonly used expressions, like “curb appeal” or “damning with faint praise.”) Even better: That something is music.

I like hearing about Malkmus’ “Mudhoney summer” or living on the Grateful Dead. I might not agree with his assertion that the ’80s was the golden age of music, but I’m pretty sure the statement “we grew up listening to the music from the best decade ever” is something that all music fans have said at some point in their lives. For me, it was the ’90s—the decade of Pavement—which I admit doesn’t have the same ring to it or double meaning as the ’80s/ADDs, but thinking about the music of that era puts me in the same mood that “Lariat” does.

And yes, Malkmus. People do look great when they shave.

TRACK MARKS BEST OF 2014: “Mr Tembo” by Damon Albarn

Gripes
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

This week, SportsAlcohol.com writers are recounting the best music of 2014. Today’s Track Marks focus on individual songs from albums that didn’t make our individual best-album lists.

Damon Albarn’s had a lot of different musical reputations throughout the years. He was known for making rowdy, frenetic Britpop with Blur, then genre-blending mixed-media hip-hop-rock with Gorillaz, then for doing world music with whatever band/project that was. No matter what he was working on, though, he was always thought of as a serious musician. He’s never really been branded as the guy who makes uplifting, happy music. But all of my personal favorite Albarn songs have been soothing in one way or another.

“Mr. Tembo” fits squarely into this category. It’s light-hearted. When Mr. Tembo starts his trek up the hill, you’re there with him, but you’re confident you’ll both make it to the top. You can put it on a “cheer up” playlist, or listen to it while cooking dinner—it doesn’t really ask all that much from a listener.

The background story to the song is just as mood-lifting. Albarn wrote “Mr. Tembo” about a real elephant, one that had wandered into an airplane hangar in Africa and then was rescued by an elephant sanctuary in Tanzania. Albarn met the real Mr. Tembo, wrote the song for him, and also got to sing it to him once.

This year was a grim one. The news was often bleak. But, whenever you’re feeling blue about how 2014 went down, you can always remember that this is the year that Damon Albarn sang a song to an elephant.

TRACK MARKS BEST OF 2014: “Water Fountain” by Tune Yards

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.

This week, SportsAlcohol.com writers are recounting the best music of 2014. Today’s Track Marks focus on individual songs from albums that didn’t make our individual best-album lists.

It doesn’t seem right that when I think about tUnEyArDs, I think about Chuck Klosterman. When the band’s previous album landed at first place in the Village Voice music poll in early 2012, Klosterman wrote one of his patented meta-think pieces that’s mostly about how Klosterman thinks everyone else thinks, and to a lesser extent is about how this album and tUnEyArDs (referred to hereafter as Tune Yards) may well be forgotten as a novelty within a few years — not because Klosterman thinks it should be, of course, but because he understands how people think and remains, as ever, deeply in touch with that understanding at all times. He knows the pitfalls of indie-rock acclaim, and is just concerned about whether Tune Yards can ever match (or monetize) this early success. (He strikes such a faux-populist pose that he loses his grasp of apparently non-populist activities such as counting or even estimating; he opens by explaining that Tune Yards’ victory will mean something to “maybe 10,000 people.” Though record sales are notoriously difficult to come by compared to movie box office figures, it appears that whokill, the Tune Yards album in question, sold about 40,000 copies, meaning Klosterman (a.) was pre-supposing that only about 25% of the people who bought the Tuneyards album knew who Tune Yards was or (b.) was pre-supposing that only 25% of Tune Yards fans have heard of the Village Voice or know what a music poll is or (c.) did not even try to find out how many copies whokill sold because doing research isn’t populist.)

Other people have taken apart his reasoning more succinctly and intelligently than I can. But you know what’s even better proof than intelligent rebuttals of Klosterman’s stupid points? “Water Fountain,” by Tune Yards, maybe the most immediate song I heard in 2014. The rest of Nikki Nack is plenty good, too, but “Water Fountain” rollicks in a way unlike so much on the indie-rock landscape. It starts with the simplicity of a folk song (it even references a traditional tune called “Old Molly Hare”) but makes a beautiful tangle of chant, metaphor, and allusion as the drums keep clanging and a surprising number of verses accumulate. Anytime a song sounds like Graceland, Talking Heads, Bjork, and Busta Rhymes in equal measure, I’m probably going to get on board, and stay on board for a long while. If Chuck Klosterman and his imagined isn’t there with me, well, I can be thankful for small favors.

TRACK MARKS BEST OF 2014: “I’m Not Part of Me” by Cloud Nothings

Gripes
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

This week, SportsAlcohol.com writers are recounting the best music of 2014. Today’s Track Marks focus on individual songs from albums that didn’t make our individual best-album lists.

When I read about Cloud Nothings, the word that comes up most often is “dependable.” I can sort of see why writers use it to describe the band: They make straight-ahead rock music, no frills. Their songs are consistently good, but not really going to seep under your skin and become one of your very favorite songs of all time.

Until “I’m Not Part of Me.” With this song, Cloud Nothings still adhere to the straight-ahead rock formula, but this time they’ve achieved something greater. Everything about it adds a layer of excitement: the scratchy guitar intro, the way the drums are delayed until they make a triumphant entrance, the way the vocals simple announce “it starts right now,” the way it all builds into a shout-along chorus.

The best lyric, for me, is the one they plucked from this song to become the title of the album: “I’m learning how to be here and nowhere else.” That really hits on something about living in 2014, in an age where everyone always has one eye on their cell phones. But when this song comes on, I find it pretty easy to be in it, and nowhere else.

The SportsAlcohol Podcast: Turn Of The Century Music

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

At the risk of dating ourselves, the majority of the SportsAlcohol crew loves the music that was tearing up the CMJ charts during the transition of the Clinton to Bush 43 administrations because that’s when we were in college.  Sabrina, Marisa, Jesse, and Me (Rob) went to see one of our favorites from that time period, The Dismemberment Plan, on their current tour when it came through New York.

We were joined by Sara. Not the Sara that has been writing great pieces for us about unlikeability (among other things), but another equally excellent Sara that we’ve been going to shows with for about fifteen years. It is just dawning on me now how many Saras with no ‘h’ Jesse knows.  It’s at least three, which feels like a lot to me.

Afterwards, we sat down to talk about The Plan as well as other music from the turn of the century. What bands did we like back in the day? Which ones are still going strong and which ones fell by the wayside? What group’s lack of a promised second record is driving Sabrina insane? Was the world ever our oyster? How come Interpol is still together? All these questions and more follow.

How To Listen

    We are up to four different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast, hopefully five by the next one:

  • You can subscribe to our podcast using the rss feed.
  • I’m not sure why they allowed it, but we are on iTunes! If you enjoy what you hear, a positive comment and a rating would be great.
  • You can download the mp3 of this episode directly here.
  • If you are lazy, like a joke about Dashboard Confessional crying themselves to sleep, you can listen in the player below.