Tag Archives: rock and roll

The 90 Best Songs of the 90s (Part 1)

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 can get down with a good list, but we’ve never attempted one quite so expansive before: a list not just of a band’s best songs, but the best songs of an entire decade: the ’90s, which have been experiencing a major nostalgia boom over the past five years or so, and which we hope to cash in on in a major way with this very undertaking; we just haven’t worked out the specifics of how that will work. In the meantime, you can send us personal checks.

While we wait for those to clear, let me reiterate: yes, this is the biggest list project yet undertaken by this organization. As it turns out, though, even a big list of 90 songs can feel too short when you’re dealing with a whole and particularly eclectic decade. Over 500 songs received votes, and plenty of favorites were left off the final list. Participants were asked to send their ranked lists of the 40 best songs of the ’90s, and the votes (weighted by ranking) were diligently counted in Excel to come up with the list that kicks off today. No adjustments were made for any reason beyond math. No fudging the rules to include a song by a particularly important artist or to cut down on the number of songs by an over-represented ones. This is the list of 22 children of the ’90s, though many of us approach that designation from different ages, directions, and backgrounds.

Today we’ll unveil songs 90 through 51. Tomorrow, we’ll hit 50 through 11. And on Thursday, we’ll get to the top ten. Look for other Best Songs of the ’90s content on SportsAlcohol.com all week, including our biggest podcast ever where a bunch of us got together to hash out this list.

And before we get started on list itself, I’d like to introduce your Best Songs of the ’90s voters. The panel included beloved SportsAlcohol.com mainstays, editors, and contributors whose biographies and past contributions are available at the click:

Chris Adams
Sara Batkie
Jeremy Bent
Jason Forman
Jesse Hassenger
Craig Iturbe
Rob Kuczynski
Marisa LaScala
Sabrina Lauzon
Bennett Morrison
Nathaniel Wharton

Plus these great people I’ll introduce here:

Shelly Casper is an artist, photographer, and teacher.
Sara Ciaburri is a librarian and former DJ.
Kerry Cullen is a fiction writer and editorial assistant.
Derrick Hart is a music fanatic and librarian from Boston by way of Upstate New York.
Michelle Paul is Director of Product Development at Patron Technology.
Lorraina Raccuia-Morrison edits textbooks and makes pottery.
Cristin Stickles is a book buyer for McNally-Jackson who makes New Jersey look good.
Erin Styne is a teacher and mother.
Alex Templeton is a middle school teacher, voracious reader, and writer in Philadelphia.
Bayard Templeton is a teacher, Mets fan, and theater enthusiast.
Jennifer Vega is a birder, administrator, and Mariah Carey scholar.

I am especially proud of two things about our contributors:
1. The gender makeup is majority female.
2. None of us are professional music critics.

Now then:

The 90 Best Songs of the 90s (Part One of Three)

Continue reading The 90 Best Songs of the 90s (Part 1)

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: BIBLIOGRAPHY AND BIOGRAPHY IN BROOKLYN (JUNE EDITION)

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

They Might Be Giants is playing a show on the last Sunday of every month of 2015 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. Marisa and Jesse have been going to these shows and reporting on each one. Here is the sixth installment of our TMBG musical biography, which was a kids show. We usually don’t go to the kids’ shows, but the fact that Marisa is pregnant a) means that they’re trying to pack in every live concert they can before the baby makes them cut back on these kinds of outings, and b) makes them look like they’re less likely to be kidnappers.

Kid shows are a whole different jam. They’re more chaotic than punk shows, with an audience that truly does not give a fuck about how attendees are supposed to behave at a concert. If they’re bored, they will let you know about it. Here, the babies react to the TMBG set.

They Might Be Giants at the Music Hall of Williamsburg: 6/26/15

  Continue reading THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: BIBLIOGRAPHY AND BIOGRAPHY IN BROOKLYN (JUNE EDITION)

They Might Be Giants: Biography and Bibliography in Brooklyn (May Edition)

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.

They Might Be Giants is playing a show on the last Sunday of (almost) every month of 2015 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. Marisa and I have been attending them, and we will be reporting on each show. Here is the fifth installment of our TMBG musical biography, arriving more than a little late.

They Might Be Giants at the Music Hall of Williamsburg: 5/31/15

1. Climbing the Walls
This was a show spotlighting TMBG’s 2007 album The Else, an interesting conceit because their album-spotlight shows tend to revolve around the first three releases: the Pink Album, Lincoln, and Flood. There have been occasional Apollo 18 and Factory Showroom shows in the last decade, but none that I’ve been to, and anyway, that still doesn’t include any of their post-90s albums. In a recent SPIN piece I’ve already read several times (and no one is more surprised than I am to read that clause), Linnell mentions that he really likes The Else and how that record “in particular made [him] very concerned and worried subsequently about trying to match the quality of that recording,” especially interesting to me because it seemed like, at the time, the sparer and weirder Join Us was talked up as a corrective to the heavier, more rock-and-roll vibe of The Else, and a lot of TMBG fans (who do sometimes fetishize the band’s weirdness, experimental work, and/or lack of guitar solos) seemed to agree. So I’m pleased that the band was interested enough in revisiting a relatively recent album to plan a show around it. A song like “Climbing the Walls” probably won’t make many best-of-TMBG lists but, like a lot of these songs, it is a perfect example of what it sounds like to listen to They Might Be Giants.
Continue reading They Might Be Giants: Biography and Bibliography in Brooklyn (May Edition)

They Might Be Giants: Bibliography and Biography in Brooklyn (April Edition)

Jeremy

Jeremy's headshot looks better than the rest of ours because he is the type of talent that warrants a professional headshot. You can see and/or hear him do improv on the regular in New York City, and on some of the commercials that play in your web browser, but only the good ones.
Jeremy

They Might Be Giants is playing a show on the last Sunday of every month of 2015 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. Marisa and I have tickets to all of the Williamsburg shows that have been put on sale so far, and we will be reporting on each show. Here is the four installment of our TMBG musical biography, arriving just before the May show, where the band will play all or most songs from their 2007 The Else. For the April show, which spotlighted the band’s new record Glean, comedian, actor, writer, and SportsAlcohol.com contributor Jeremy Bent of Brooklyn takes up the TMBG-notation pen.

They Might Be Giants at the Music Hall of Williamsburg: 4/26/15

1. Can’t Keep Johnny Down
Great kick-off. “Can’t Keep Johnny Down” feels like it’s part of the “Modern TMBG Era” Canon. I’ve heard it frequently at shows over the last few years, and I’m never sad to hear it. It’s got that classic TMBG DNA of irresistible melody and weird lyrical content.
Continue reading They Might Be Giants: Bibliography and Biography in Brooklyn (April Edition)

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: BIBLIOGRAPHY AND BIOGRAPHY IN BROOKLYN (March Edition)

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.

They Might Be Giants is playing a show on the last Sunday of every month of 2015 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. Marisa and I have tickets to all of the Williamsburg shows that have been put on sale so far, and we will be reporting on each show. Here is the third installment of our TMBG musical biography, arriving just after the next show. We’ve been busy.

They Might Be Giants at the Music Hall of Williamsburg: 3/29/15

1. Dead
This show is a They Might Be Giants Flood show. I do not, even as a TMBG obsessive, disdain Flood, their most popular album. I find, in fact, that a lot of TMBG obsessives seem to love Flood just as not as, if not more than, their less popular albums. I can’t front; it was the first TMBG album I heard. I bought a used copy on cassette at a record store that is so far away from still existing, I could not even tell you. It was called Probe and a fair amount of their stock at the time was cassettes — used cassettes and also some bootlegs. I went to Probe because I was going to London with my family and I wanted to buy a new (used) tape for my Walkman to listen to on the flight. The vague idea was to get something British, but Flood was there and I’d heard about TMBG from Tiny Toons and, I think, my friend Jeff, so I got that instead. I still remember listening to Flood in several different airports on that trip. “Dead” is on the first side which, I recall from back in 1996, is generally better than the second side, but more in the sense that it has more of the immediately catchy stuff. It was still early enough in my TMBG fanhood that I very much looked forward to hearing “Particle Man” on every go-round of the tape. But I didn’t use fast-forward to go through the other songs. – JH
Continue reading THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: BIBLIOGRAPHY AND BIOGRAPHY IN BROOKLYN (March Edition)

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: BIBLIOGRAPHY AND BIOGRAPHY IN BROOKLYN (FEBRUARY EDITION)

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

They Might Be Giants is going to play a show on the last Sunday of every month at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. Jesse and I have tickets to all of the Williamsburg shows that have been put on sale so far, and we will be reporting on each show. Here is the second installment of our TMBG musical biography.

[Marisa’s Note: Jesse was away for the February show. He left it up to me to cover it. That’s why you didn’t get a report until the eve of the March show. I am the worst.]

They Might Be Giants at the Music Hall of Williamsburg: 2/22/15

The theme of this show was They Might Be Giants, the self-titled “pink album,” so there are lots of oldies here. My date for the evening was the always-up-for-a-TMBG-show Rayme. (The Instagram photos of the show are hers,) Off we go.

Continue reading THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: BIBLIOGRAPHY AND BIOGRAPHY IN BROOKLYN (FEBRUARY EDITION)

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Concertgoing over the years

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

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.

The 11 Best Sleater-Kinney Songs of All Time

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.

Sleater-Kinney woke up from a ten-year nap (during which Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, and Janet Weiss all accomplished more than any of us have in our lives so far) and reformed properly this year, with a recorded-in-secret new album No Cities to Love and a tour that just started this week and will continue into the beautiful spring. To celebrate this and our last month or so spent playing No Cities endlessly, the SportsAlcohol.com Sleater-Kinney core — that is, the editors and writers who have tickets to see Sleater-Kinney at the end of this month — put together our aggregate and completely definitive list of the band’s top eleven songs.
Continue reading The 11 Best Sleater-Kinney Songs of All Time

They Might Be Giants: Bibliography and Biography in Brooklyn (January Edition)

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.

I have been going to see They Might Be Giants in concert for almost twenty years. 2014 was the first year since I started seeing them (in 1996) that I did not catch their live show, mostly because they did just a handful of one-off shows. Through 2014, I had seen They Might Be Giants forty-six times. That number is about to shoot further up, as the band is putting out a wealth of new material this year, mounting a full tour, and also keeping a standing engagement to play a show on the last Sunday of every month at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. Marisa and I have tickets to all of the Williamsburg shows that have been put on sale so far (though I’ll have to miss the February edition), and we will be reporting on each show. Here is the first installment of our TMBG musical biography.
Continue reading They Might Be Giants: Bibliography and Biography in Brooklyn (January Edition)

The SportsAlcohol.com Album of the Year: St. Vincent by St. Vincent

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.

Our album of the year is St. Vincent by St. Vincent. Five of us put together wildly different album lists, and this was the common ground, appearing on every single one, often near the top. We were all at least somewhat familiar with St. Vincent’s work before this year, but her self-titled record blows her past, merely good albums off whatever planet she’s from. As gratifying as it’s been to see female pop artists completely take over the charts over the past couple of years, it’s hard not to see St. Vincent as the new-millennium female pop star (which is to say: pop star) for the smart set. Below, Marisa, Sara, Rob, and Jesse piece together what we love about this album from its eleven wonderful songs.

The SportsAlcohol.com 2014 Album of the Year: St. Vincent

1. Rattlesnake

From her robotic live show choregoraphy to the growth she shows on St. Vincent, it’s clear that Annie Clark enjoyed her time working with David Byrne. I may have mentioned this before, but I am big into opening tracks. I probably read too much into the chioce of “Rattlesnake” as the leadoff to this record, but who cares when the song is this good. Twilight Zone paranoia fights it way over layers of synths and guitars with a bouncy beat to boot (and, maybe most unnerving of all, apparently based on a true story). It’s like so many tracks on this album: so many great things at once. – Rob

2. Birth in Reverse

St. Vincent is by far my favorite artist prone to adding “in America” at the end of a phrase. I mean, that sounds like a go-to parody move for making your lyrics sound as all-encompassingly pompous as possible. And yet in “Birth in Reverse,” for my money the catchiest song on this record, it functions more as a locator. The song opens with a description of ordinary household activities (of a sort), and the chorus’s description of what she sees “through the blinds,” “a birth in reverse in America,” feels like a zoom-out to a Google Maps view of where-ever the hell you bide your downtime when you’re the lady from St. Vincent. (Bonus points for the phrase “birth in reverse” supposedly coming from Lorrie Moore’s Birds of America.) The view from St. Vincent’s window sounds especially jittery because the music moves at a relentless pace that sounds like a workout video going amok. Whether it’s making a sweeping statement about America or, potentially worse, making a sweeping statement about how we all view the world through a digital lens (see track 5), St. Vincent makes opportunities for pomposity sound palatable, and palatable things sound extremely fucking weird. – Jesse

3. Prince Johnny

True fact: I am the last one to turn in my St. Vincent write-up. That’s because I’ve spent a lot of time trying to sort through all my feelings about “Prince Johnny,” apart from the feeling that I love it. She starts off the song by saying, “You’re kind, but you’re not simple.” The same can be said for the song: It’s pleasant, but it’s not simple. That’s why music writers have twisted themselves into knots trying to describe it, layering on these really purple words, like calling it a “a luxuriant, rhythmic ballad with a melancholic, detailed narrative.” I’m not criticizing. It needs this kind of description. I would add these equally flowery words: haunting, longingly, soaring, enigmatic, elegiac,  and heartbreaking. Kind-but-simple words do not do justice.

When I saw St. Vincent at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland this year, we got there late and had a less-than-ideal position in the crowd. Much of my view was obstructed for most of the concert. But, when she played “Prince Johnny,” she climbed atop of a tower of amps and sang it from far above the crowd. I understand that Clark is known for crazy stage antics, but I’m glad she made sure that “Prince Johnny” got a big moment in the show, even though it’s a quiet song. – Marisa

St. Vincent 2

4. Huey Newton

I’ve always thought of politics as incidental to St. Vincent’s music. It’s certainly there, as in the Strange Mercy closer “Year of the Tiger,” but usually it’s subtextual instead of foregrounded. But she must have picked up on something in the air because in a year marked by racial strife and protests against police brutality she fortuitously named a song for one of the founders of the Black Panthers. Newton had no lack of trouble in his short life as an activist: he was jailed (and later acquitted) for the murder of a police officer, and eventually was shot and killed by a member of the Black Guerilla Family, a prison and street gang in Oakland, in a neighborhood he had once helped revitalize. St. Vincent’s music often walks the line between beauty and insanity and nowhere is that more evident than the brilliantly structured song that bears his name. The opening verses, unfolding over a spacey jazz beat as St. Vincent’s voice reaches higher into her register, are ominous and nonsensical, conjuring images of “cardboard cutthroats” and “fuckless porn sharks.” Then it makes a brutal break, a jagged guitar riff crashing in as she shifts into righteous fury, literally shredding everything that’s come before. We’re in “perpetual night” now among motherless creatures and misfits and she’s not afraid to leave us there. Though no explicit political statement is made, it’s pretty clear which lot St. Vincent throws herself in with and it’s not those who are “safe, safe, and safest.” – Sara

5. Digital Witness

If there can be said to be a through line in St. Vincent’s album it may well be a rejection of our current cultural consumption, or at least a pointed critique. Many of the songs sound like observational transmissions from an alien being and that hits its zenith with “Digital Witness.” Is there any mantra that speaks more to the anxieties of the modern age, and damns them more, than “If I can’t show it, if you can’t see me, what’s the point of doing anything?” The popularity of Facebook, Instagram, and all the other social media sites we congregate on has turned us all into digital witnesses of one another, less living life than performing it, and St. Vincent means to wrench us away. “I want all of your mind,” she commands, and the song is catchy enough that we’ll readily give it to her. The instrumentation bears some of the hallmarks of her recent collaboration with David Byrne with its swaggering guitar and bright stuttering horns. There’s something pleasingly artificial about the sound, which ends up embracing the synthetic texture of modern life as much as it sends it up. Any musician worth her salt is hyper aware of how she presents herself to her audience and for all her otherworldliness St. Vincent is no different. “Won’t somebody sell me back to me?” she asks at the song’s end but if anyone is in control here, it’s her. – Sara

6. I Prefer Your Love

Clark, queen of the slow jam! It’s a shame that mixtape-making isn’t the way that young people court each other anymore. “I Prefer Your Love” would be a good song to have stashed away for a deal-sealing cassette. Even if the intended could resist the “I prefer your love to Jesus” opening lyric on account of silliness, there’s no way the “All the good in me is because of you” wouldn’t work. Sorry, kids. You’ll never find anything as beautiful on Tindr. – Marisa

7. Regret

Annie Clark claims she’s thirty two years old, but it’s more likely that she’s an ageless visitor from another planet. The clues go beyond her increasing comfort in loosening her human façade and dressing more like one of our new otherworldly overlords. Take “Regret” for example. There is a level of reflection and knowing world-weariness to these lyrics that I just don’t see coming from someone my little sister’s age. Musically, she has experimented more with her sound than most rock stars do during their entire career. “Reget” sees her try out a bunch of new guitar tones and play with rhythm by having the bass line in the chorus go against everything. She also shows off her vocal range here as well just for fun. “Regret” is so next-level, there’s no way she hasn’t been secretly working on her music for at least decades. I bow down to our new ruler. – Rob

8. Bring Me Your Loves

DRONE 1: DID YOU LISTEN TO THIS MESSAGE? ST. VINCENT IS ORDERING ALL OF US TO BRING HER OUR LOVES.

DRONE 2: OH, LIKE, WE SHOULD EACH BRING HER ONE OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS?

DRONE 1: SHE SAYS ALL OF THEM.

DRONE 2: ALL OF THEM?

DRONE 1: YEAH. SHE SOUNDS PRETTY SERIOUS.

DRONE 2: DID SHE SAY WHAT SHE WANTS TO DO WITH THEM?

DRONE 1: SHE WANTS TO LOVE THEM TOO.

DRONE 2: WELL THAT SOUNDS PRETTY HARMLESS.

DRONE 1: I THINK YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO THE MESSAGE.

DRONE 2: OH JESUS. THIS SOUNDS SERIOUS.

DRONE 1: YOU SEE?

DRONE 2: THIS SONG IS NOT THAT LOUD IN THE BROADER SCHEME OF LOUD MUSIC, BUT IT STILL SOUNDS LIKE IT’S HAPPENING IN ALL CAPS.

DRONE 1: STOP WASTING TIME, WE NEED TO BRING OUR LOVES TO HER IMMEDIATELY.

DRONE 2: I’M REALLY GOING TO MISS MY PUPPY. – Jesse

9. Psychopath

I have listened to this album countless times. I have listened to the Lady Gaga song “Edge of Glory” exactly as many times as I’ve heard it in a public place since it was released (I would estimate about ten). Yet every single time I hear St. Vincent sing “…’cause I’m on the edge of a heart attack” in this song, her intonation leads me to expect her to sing “on the edge of glory.” This is embarrassing because St. Vincent is vastly superior to Lady Gaga and annoying because it sometimes actually manages to get “Edge of Glory” into my head, but also, finally, a useful point of comparison, because Annie Clark, as St. Vincent, does all of the weird, inventive, artsy shapeshifting that Stefani Germanotta does as Lady Gaga. Hell, the transition from the stuttering verses of “Psychopath” to the lusher orchestration of its chorus and back again to minimalist beats and angular guitar is more dynamic than most of Gaga’s costumed-up club boilerplate. Of course, 2014 is kind of a silly time to be picking on Lady Gaga; St. Vincent makes it plentifully easy to just listen to something better.

10. Every Tear Disappears

This song is also very good, but instead of writing about it, I wanted to share with you a sampling of some of Annie’s magnificent hairstyles from this year. – Rob
SV1
SV2
SV3

11. Severed Crossed Fingers

A lot of St. Vincent, the album, is hepped-up and robo-dance-y; even the slow jams feel like they’re about to explode into something more menacing (and by virtue of being followed by “Huey Newton” and “Regret,” they do). But the album closer feels like the St. Vincent version of a torch song or a Broadway finale. I know those things sound (a.) contradictory and (b.) not particularly descriptive of a song with so much evisceration imagery. But can’t you just imagine Annie Clark in a semi-robotic pose with a handheld microphone, arm outstretched to the crowd as she warbles matter-of-factly yet emotively about her crossed fingers lying in rubble? (I have to imagine it, because the two times I saw St. Vincent in concert this year, she neglected to play this song.) Lush but unsentimental, glorious and strange: this is St. Vincent closing up a near-perfect record. – Jesse