Friday, June 11, 2004


I was driving back from lunch today, listening to talk radio and Liz Phair's "Extraordinary" was used as a bumper (is that the right terminology?) when they went to commercial.

My first reaction: poor Liz Phair. Her debut album is a masterpiece that she will forever live in the shadow of. It would be impossible for her to create something as honest and spontaneous as Exile In Guyville again, which are the album's two biggest virtues. And, really, when you're an indie-singer-songwriter eleven years removed from your masterpiece, what the hell do you do? I think most of the time, the answer is... fade away and release shit on the interweb for your loyal fans.
But not Ms. Phair. First she hires Michael Penn to sonically switch things up. Not totally content with the L.A. sheen that Penn brought to her songs, she hires the Matrix to really sweeten the sound. Which, of course, created an insane amount of press (which Liz totally courted) and a huge critical backlash.

That's the background, which I'm sure most of you already know. The point is: I'm sitting in my car listening to the Phair-bumper and I realize that it's not totally bad. In fact, I find it to be above-par for most of the crap that passes for pop-rock right now (it sure as hell beats Avril whining about how she's saving her coochie for the right guy).

So my second reaction to the song is: perverse pleasure for Liz. This fucking album has been out for a year now and I have never really made peace with it. I still don't think it's great or in the same league as Exile, but I do love the idea of this woman fucking with the paradigm and breaking rules and being totally punk-rock in the most unpunk-rock way imaginable. I've basically been reading that and hearing that from defenders for the past year, but it took me this long to really hear that.

Which then reminded me of this killer essay that my man Sasha Frere-Jones wrote in Slate on a similar theme(s). It was written last August or so and touches on the Liz debate, as well as the merits of Timberlake and Beyonce and pop vs. rock. I remember being really impressed with it and when I reread it today, I wasn't disappointed. So check it out.


At 5:32 PM, Blogger Dashiell said...

blah blah blah

At 5:37 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Yeah, I know PL. The post was about a girl-singer so it is blah blah blah. But it's my blog so I can blah blah blah about that shite. So get back to Poisonville and write a polemic about fuckin' Ted Leo, bitch. :)

At 6:10 PM, Blogger Dashiell said...

At least write about a good female singer, beth gibbons comes to mind.

You still have a lot of my cds. did you listen to the ted leo stuff or any of the rest of it? what did you think of "moon and antarctica"? Inquiring minds...


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