28 August 2008

i don't even know who liz phair is

a/k/a mincetapes likes/loves/hates the ninetees edition

first, i didn't see radiohead. they played in camden two weeks ago - i think it was the pablo honey 15th anniversary tour. i've been trying but i can't quite manage to regret it nearly as much as i regret not seeing them two years ago, when it was because i couldn't, rather than because i didn't quite feel up to it at the time (and didn't have anybody to go with.) sort of a shame about that (the not regretting), but i guess i'm just not quite as hyped about live concerts (and/or rock music) as i used to be...

[come to think of it, much as i certainly enjoyed in rainbows and will happily welcome further developments from the band in the future, there would have been something rather nice about them calling it quits after hail to the thief; a perfect ten-year run, an impeccable career-summarizing album to cap things off, possibly the tipping point starting from which the hype and hoopla generated by their past triumphs as the quintessential millenial exponents of rock>otherthanrock will inevitably overwhelm and overshadow their future musical endeavors]

then, i went on a 1.5 week road trip through new england, which some dude told us should be a movie soundtracked by vampire weekend. it was a couple times, that being nava's go-to pick, often, but also maybe my favorite "normal" album of the year yet - it's pretty normal, isn't it?, in a um 90s indie rock /popsense - i haven't managed to get sick of it, except for the yelps in "a-punk" which i never liked to begin with. we also scanned recent transmissions from some old '90s crustys: beck, spiritualized, portishead, all albums which i bought new-ish (but cheap-ish) out of some vague sense of obligation, and all perfectly pleasant. the pleasure receptors in question may lean a little backfacing on the nostalgia-to-newness scale, but ain't nothing wrong (or new) with that. (third, to be precise, successfully manages to not quite qualify as pleasant, but i have gotten to the point where i enjoy it despite the still-uncomfortable resonance of s/t.)

we also listened a couple times to that "certifiable indie roadtrip classic" [not really sure where the "roadtrip" part comes in though...], exile in guyville. it does sound pretty good in the car, and it gets the gang good and riled up in that golden midsection ("fuck and run" > "divorce song") though a bunch of it sort of fades into the background, too textural and wispy to carry well over the road hum. though, the point presumably, it is an impressively solid eighteen tracks - which is pretty much what it takes to be a road-trip-worthy contender against hand-picked mixtapes: no obvious skippables.

anyway, guyville is fifteen years old this year, in recognition of which fact liz phair and her fanbase have decided to overlook the fact that they've more or less been ignoring each other for the last decade, and have a couple of tentative trial get-togethers to reminisce about the good ol' days (and laugh awkwardly about that whole 'selling out' business.) philly was one of five cities that liz graced with live performances of her debut, in its entirety, this summer, and i dutifully and enthusiastically bought my tickets as soon as i found out.

the show was a lot of fun. not surprisingly, and there aren't really many surprises to report. i'd been curious of how some of the more "experimental" stuff would come off live - it is, in general, an album whose recording and production (viz, ramshackle and lo-fi) are fairly central to its character - but it all came across pretty faithfully in a standard four-piece rock set-up, with some pedals and a decent array of guitars to provide the requisite timbral variety, piano where necessary. she did the album, with a bit of banter along the way (mostly, unnecessarily, apologetic - her noted stage nervousness was in evidence but thankfully not dominant), invited a guy up to sing the high bit on "flower" (he did a good job too), asked us how many had bought the album back in '93-'94. i couldn't raise my hand (i mean, i was only 11!), but i did get it probably around '97, so i felt pretty down with the nostalgia vibes. then she did an encore with an ok new song ("ding dong the witch is dead..."), and "chopsticks" and "polyester bride" (!), both of which i first heard on mixtapes made by my first girlfriend.

so yeah. good stuff. it will be very interesting to see how she navigates the apparent attempt to regain indie favor of which this (reissue+concert series) seems to be the opening gambit. she's got a new album in the works, back on an indie (dave matthews' ato, also the current home of radiohead, and fellow '90s refugee mike doughty), and i imagine there will be some amount of crit-scene fanfare when that comes out. so, when she tours it, will she play stuff from s/t and somebody's miracle? (aka the sellout albums, though truth be told liz phair is really not that far a cry from her 'classic' stuff - it's really just the production sheen - plus it totally rocks.) or will she stick to her '90s canon and try to pass off the intervening years as a shameful misstep?

somebody shouted out "rock me all night!" at the tla show and she just chuckled, nervously, probably unsure whether to take it as a request, an ironic jeer, or a cheeky come-on.

will be interesting to see. and if this falls flat, we can always look forward to the whitechocolatespaceegg anniversary tour in 2013. right liz? (er, pretty please??)

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