So, growing up, Liz Phair was one of my favorite artists. According to last.fm, I’ve listened to nearly 1,000 Liz Phair songs since November of 2005, making her poised to become my second most listened to artist* And, while I have a strong and sentimental love for Liz, her last few albums really haven’t clicked for me. At all. In fact, we’re nearing the point where Liz Phair is just an album away from making more albums I don’t like than albums I like.
Last weekend, Liz released her latest album, Funstyle, online only with little fanfare. You can sample the track “Bollywood” and buy the album for $5.99 here. I’ll be honest, on my first go around, I couldn’t even finish listening to “Bollywood” (which has Liz adopting a style not unlike Uffie or, perhaps more recognizably, Ke$ha.) I didn’t buy the album.
I did listen to Funstyle at work this morning, though. It’s a long 11 songs. Some people think it’s a concept album about fame and creative control and artist agency. Some people think it’s an album of weird demos/throwaway tracks from an upcoming “real” album. I’m not sure what I think, aside from not liking it.
Whenever Weezer makes a new album, Drew buys it, listens to it, gets bummed out, and then listens to a bunch of old Weezer demos. Which is a sad pattern, but an understandable one. So I thought in the wake of Funstyle it might be nice to remember Liz’s humble origins and revisit the Girlysound tapes.
I’ve uploaded all three of Liz’s Girlysound cassettes which collect 40 songs recorded on a 4-track in 1991. Many of the Girlysound songs were re-recorded/revisited on Liz’s first three albums (plus the Juvenilia EP), but many of the best ones can be found only on these cassettes.
The Girlysound songs mix self-referentiality with references to popular culture (“Speed Racer,” “Batmobile”) and popular music (“Fuck or Die” samples Johnny Cash, “Slave” has a nod to the Jesus and Mary Chain, “Wild Thing” reimagines the Troggs.) Next year, these songs will be 20 years old, but they still sound immediate to me. I can’t imagine the way I feel about songs like “Ant in Alaska,” “Speed Racer,” or “Elvis Song” changing any time soon.
* She would probably already be there if my college roommate hadn’t used my computer to listen to the Mountain Goats almost constantly while I was in class.