Tag Archives: Liz Phair

New Liz Phair video: The Game

Video: Liz Phair – “The Game”

Directed by Angela Kohler. From Soberish, out now.

Liz Phair is back with a new Brad Wood-produced album that’s she’s been calling her “first proper, thought-through, totally crafted album since Whitechocolatespaceegg.” That sounds like a load of horseshit to me.

She’s dismissing Liz Phair (2003), Somebody’s Miracle (2005), and Funstyle (2010). Of those three, Somebody’s Miracle is the least interesting but it was mostly recorded at the Village Recorder with producer John Alagia; to say it wasn’t “thought-through” or “totally crafted” is revisionist baloney.

Not to mention that Whitechocolatespaceegg was recorded in five different studios with three different producers. And Brad Wood only produced five of the album’s 16 songs. But whatever. The narrative is that Soberish is a return to form and maybe it is. It sounds good and that’s what really matters.

“The Game” doesn’t sound like anything on Exile in Guyville or Whip-Smart but, like a lot of the material on Soberish, it shares some DNA with Whitechocolatespaceegg. “Polyester Bride” specifically.

If you’re hoping for a sonic sequel to Exile and Whip-Smart, you’re going to be disappointed in Soberish. “Sheridan Road” is stripped down and emotionally raw, the title track features Wood’s classic dry, natural drum crack, and there are a couple of songs that feature Casey Rice on guitar, but overall it’s got its own identity. Phair’s unique song structures are set against lots of programmed beats and pretty guitars. It sounds more grown up. More thought-through and crafted.

But as we can see in the video for “The Game,” even almost 30 years after she stepped into the Rainbo photobooth for the cover of Exile, Liz Phair is still rebellious enough to slip the slightest hint of an areola into the shot. And why not? Don’t be a prude.

Continue reading New Liz Phair video: The Game

New Liz Phair: Spanish Doors

Video: Liz Phair – “Spanish Doors”

From Soberish, due June 4 on Chrysalis.

It’s great that Liz Phair has reconnected with Brad Wood, who produced Exile, Whip-Smart, and a most of the best songs on whitechocolatespaceegg. In the liner notes for Girly Sound to Guyville, Phair talks about how unlike previous producers she had tried to work with, Wood “wanted to make a record the way I wanted to make a record. [Wood and engineer Casey Rice] didn’t want to tell me what to do.” Which is why the music they recorded together is so distinctive; the guys didn’t try to tell “the girl” that what she wanted to do was wrong.

I remember hearing that the reason her early songs sound so weird is that she didn’t know how to play guitar when she wrote them and was just making up chords on her own by putting her fingers wherever they sounded cool. If that’s true, it’s awesome.

The quirkiness of youthful experimentation doesn’t last forever, especially when you have major label honchos breathing down your neck, but that’s why after finally being “released” from Capitol Records, 2010’s Funstyle was such a welcome change of pace (even if half the songs were ridiculous).

But now she’s teamed back up with Brad Wood and the three songs we’ve heard so far from their collaboration are giving us a picture of what this new phase is like. It’s mature but not boring. There’s still a playfulness in the production. There are familiar “classic Liz Phair” guitar tones, but nobody’s trying to recreate Wicker Park in the 90s.

The best song on Exile, “Divorce Song” was written at least five years before Phair got married and this new song, dealing with a similar subject, is coming out twenty years after she got divorced.

Phair says, “I drew inspiration from a friend who was going through a divorce, but the actions in the lyrics are my own. I relate to hiding out in the bathroom when everyone around you is having a good time but your life just fell apart. You look at yourself in the mirror and wonder who you are now, shadows of doubt creeping into your eyes. Just a few moments ago you were a whole, confident person and now you wonder how you’ll ever get the magic back.”

I don’t know if it’s ever really possible to fully get the magic back. But if you can manage to keep on keeping on, and every once in a while grasp a little bit of the magic you once possessed, maybe that’s good enough.

We’re all grownups now. It’s probably greedy and unrealistic to expect to be able to rekindle whatever it was that seemed to come so easily when we were young. But it can be fun to try.

New Liz Phair: Hey Lou

Video: Liz Phair – “Hey Lou”

Directed by Toben Seymour. Single out now on Chrysalis.

Woo hoo new Liz Phair! Other than a couple of silly little twitter voice tweets last summer, this is her first new song since 2019’s “Good Side” single.

And it’s been over a decade since she released Funstyle, her last full-length album. I remember I was at an Independence Day party on a rooftop in the West Loop of Chicago, and during a quiet moment alone I happened to check my twitter (I know, I know) to see that Maura Johnston had retweeted something from somebody saying that Liz Phair had surprise-released a new album. I downloaded it the next day and quickly realized that she must be smoking assloads of weed again. Aloha, Ms. Phair!

That was a long time ago, a lifetime really. Lou Reed was still alive back then and as prickly as ever.

No one knows what to think
When you’re acting like an asshole

Her new song is sung from the point of view of Reed’s wife, the great artist Laurie Anderson. According to Phair, the song “imagines a day in the life of two music legends, whose union was an inspiration for rock fans.”

She adds, “I was a huge Lou Reed/VU fan, huge Laurie Anderson fan. Both had a big early influence on me musically. When I discovered later that they fell in love & married I was captivated by two icons, two strong personalities, balanced. But was curious, too. Just loved thinking about it.”

Think it’s disrespectful to treat a revered dead hero so cavalierly? Tough shit. Lou Reed was an asshole; that’s irrefutable. “Hey Lou” is irreverent and ridiculous but it sounds great. Liz Phair is playing her own guitar again, and nobody plays like that.

Continue reading New Liz Phair: Hey Lou

Riot Fest 2018: Whole Lotta Shakin’

I’ve been attending big music festivals in Chicago every summer since 2005, but it’s been many many years since I arrived anywhere near early enough to see the opening wave of bands. There’s always bands I’d kinda like to see who play before 2:30pm but 3-day music festivals are work and you have to make sacrifices for your health and sanity.

Riot Fest scheduled Liz Phair to play at 2:10 on Friday this year. That’s early. Especially for a Friday. And even more so since I no longer live in Chicago. But I love Liz Phair, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen her in concert. In fact, I had tickets to see her in Detroit on Thursday but once the Riot Fest lineup was released, I decided to skip it. But that made it mandatory to arrive in Douglas Park in time.

I didn’t need to worry. Getting in to the park this year was easier than ever before. In fact, we made it inside with plenty of time to see festival opener Speedy Ortiz, who coincidentally is opening up for Liz Phair on her current tour. They were fun and cool. And their 30-minute set flew by.

The best thing about Riot Fest is that it’s got a small enough footprint that you can run around from stage to stage in no time. Five or ten minutes is all you need to get from one to the another. Unfortunately, this also means there’s soundbleed from other bands if you’re not standing directly in front of the stage. But it’s great to be able to skip around and get a sampler platter of everything that’s happening.

Continue reading Riot Fest 2018: Whole Lotta Shakin’

Liz Phair recording new music

Reporting on somebody’s Twitter comments seems a little silly, but I guess GLONO has a long history of writing about musicians’ unofficial announcements (see “Ryan Adams: New Whiskeytown Album?” or “Mooney Suzuki’s Souls Stolen by Satan”). Anyway, it’s 2015 and stalwart old establishments like Billboard and Rolling Stone spend half their time scraping Instagram and Tumblr for juicy celebrity gossip. What once was the domain of bloggers has been co-opted by the major publications and now passes for journalism. So it goes.


It looks like our beloved Liz Phair has been recording new music again!

On April 8, Phair tweeted that “in 3 days I’m going rafting in #GrandCanyon w no wifi, no toilet & no way out.”

She also solicited requests, and said “We’re recording the music.”

Looks like she was off the grid from April 11 through April 21 when she tweeted a bunch of photos of the Grand Canyon and mentioned that “we recorded new songs in amazing locations.”

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Watch Liz Phair’s Revenge Fantasy Against Former Capitol Records Exec

Video: Liz Phair – “And He Slayed Her”

Almost two years after she self-released the album, Funstyle, Liz Phair finally got around to making a video for its best song, a hateful attack on Andy Slater, the man who convinced her to turn her back on her fans and work with the Matrix to re-invent herself as a second-rate, “20-years-later” Avril Lavigne. My reaction at the time was exactly like Duckie when Andie goes out with Blane. But here’s the thing: Slater was never like Blane; he was totally Steff. It pisses him off that he can’t buy people’s respect.

Anyway, just like Duckie, I threatened to stop caring about Liz Phair (“Maybe for the first time in your life I WON’T BE THERE!”). But of course, just like Duckie, I came back. When she released the outrageously quirky Funstyle, I got the joke and reviewed it positively. “And He Slayed Her” is one of the highlights of that album.

I mean, what kind of kid were you when you were a kid?
What kind of man would do what you did?
What kind of life did you think you were gonna live
When everyone in town put a price on your head?

In other Liz Phair news, she’s streaming a new song from an upcoming soundtrack album.

Stream: Liz Phair – “Dotted Line” with A.R. Rahman

The movie is called “People Like Us” and its soundtrack is due June 19 on Lakeshore Records.

In even more potentially exciting news, Phair recently tweeted (to Ryan Adams of all people!) that she’s got some new demos and she’s “going home (Chicago) to record them old school.” So…feel free to get cautiously excited about that.

New songs from Fiona Apple and Liz Phair: Do you believe in third chances?

Two of my favorite artists released songs to the internet last weekend. Fiona Apple posted a song from her upcoming album to Soundcloud, while Liz Phair sent an MP3 to the administrator of her biggest fan site and announced via Twitter that it’s “a stand-alone track, not what new record will sound like at all.”

Soundcloud: Fiona Apple – “Every Single Night”

MP3: Liz Phair – “Avalanche (Stereo Romance)” via Ken Lee’s Mesmerizing

Apple’s official “leak” was clearly part of an established technique for rousing excitement for a new album, which now includes weekly updates to keep us thinking about her.

• January 22: Record label exec unexpectedly tweets “Welcome back Fiona!”
• January 24: Label spokesperson clarifies new album will “absolutely be this year”
• February 14: South By Southwest showcase announced
• February 21: “Mini tour” dates announced
• March 7: Album title announced
• March 14: South By Southwest showcase features new songs
• March 19-27: mini tour
• April 2: Album track list, artwork, release date revealed
• April 9: North American tour dates announced
• April 23: “Every Single Night” posted to Soundcloud

It worked, of course. June 19 can’t come soon enough. But it’s hard not to feel like you’re being played with each step in the process generating new tweets, blog posts, and news items.

Contrast that precisely executed digital marketing roadmap with the seemingly haphazard Liz Phair release. The prevailing narratives tell us Fiona is the uncontrollable artiste, while Liz is the calculating careerist. But Phair used her personal Twitter account to give away a free song for no particular reason. She’s got nothing new to promote. Funstyle came out close to two years ago, and while she’s apparently finished a new video for “And He Slayed Her,” this new song has nothing to do with that.

It would be unfair to fail to point out that Apple is constricted by a major label contract while Phair is free to do whatever she wants with hew new songs. But it’s cool to see an artist taking advantage of that freedom.

Lots of Links: Twitter Roundup #17

Tweet tweetBelow are the things we’ve posted to Twitter recently. 219 tweets including 138 links and 97 retweets. In reverse chronological order, just like Twitter…

Jeff Sabatini and Mike Vasquez are tweeting for GLONO from the All Good Festival in West Virginia, although word from Sab is that network connectivity there is awful. But tune in for updates.

# Internet success requires trust. RT @annkpowers: Prince and the Internet, a history (tragedy?) http://tinyurl.com/2bn54a5

# RT @Johnny_Marr: World Premier of Inception in Leicester Sq, London last night. Guitars on the score by Johnny Marr.

# Everything here is leaning on an angle because of the mountain. It’s disconcerting to say the least. #allgood

Lots more below, and you might consider joining the 841 other people following us on Twitter so you can keep up with this stuff as it happens…

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Liz Phair attempts “something a little more Chicago”

Liz Phair - FunstyleLiz PhairFunstyle (ATO?)

I was at a party on Saturday night, and during a quiet moment alone I happened to check my Twitter (I know, I know) to see that Maura Johnston had retweeted something from somebody saying that there was a new Liz Phair album available at LizPhair.com. I downloaded it the next day and quickly realized that she is smoking assloads of weed again. Aloha, Ms. Phair.

Crazy timing, since just last week I had been inspired into a Liz Phair YouTube fit after reading Michaelangelo Matos’ Flavorwire piece about albums overlooked by the National Recording Registry. He included the video for “Never Said” while nominating Exile in Guyville. I had never realized it was shot at the Garfield Park Conservatory here in Chicago, a place I hadn’t visited until recently. I spent the next hour or so watching grainy 90s videos and wallowing in nostalgia. Three days later, she releases a new album.

Continue reading Liz Phair attempts “something a little more Chicago”