Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I'd love to manage to BS my way into throwing Vampire Weekend into the Honorable Mention slot here. They're so totally from New York, having met and formed at Columbia University, and I have no certain knowledge that any of the members are actually from Connecticut, although their debut album does include a song entitled Oxford Comma and Oxford is most assuredly a town in Connecticut...

Alas, I cannot bring myself to stoop in such a way after I tore down Colorado for it's blatant artist theft. Connecticut will have to stand on it's own merits, and the gentlemen of VW will have to be content with a shout out here, because there's no way they'll crack the New York list...

Digression aside, welcome to Connecticut!

Connecticut has spawned their share of musicians, yet very few whole bands. It seems that if you are going to connect with other musicians and create a group sound, you have to venture out to New York, or in the case of Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo, Los Angels, before you can meet folks to play with. As a result, the list is kind of solo-artist heavy in a justified manner, but more on that in a while.

First, we must delve into the deepest, darkest reaches of Connecticut's history, culture, climate, and useless factoids!!

From me:

- Although Connecticut is spelled with three 'c's, one of them is silent.

- It's the middle one.

- Connecticut is wedged firmly between New York's Yankee fans, and Massachusetts' Boston Red Sox fans. I must be tough to root for the Pirates in Connecticut.

- In the amount of time it takes me to write this blog post, you could drive across Connecticut.

- Twice.

From Wiki:

- Connecticut is known as 'The Constitution State', which gives me the right to assemble whist speaking.

- Connecticut's first European settlers were Dutch, and if it ain't Dutch, it ain't much...

- Connecticut was one of the thirteen original colonies, back when the stars were in a circle...

- Connecticut's state hero is Nathan Hale

- My Hero is Alan Hale Jr.

- Connecticut would like you to join it in a moment of silence for The Hartford Whalers

- North Carolina takes this moment to point at Connecticut, and laugh at them while taunting 'We stole your hockey team'!

- North Carolina is a bully... But their uppance shall come...

- Both George W. Bush and Ralph Nader were born in Connecticut. Below are some famous people from Connecticut I WOULDN'T like to kick in the nuts...

The Selections:

Solo Artist: Liz Phair

From the opening notes of 6'1" on her debut Exile in Guyville Liz Phair proves she's not just a pretty faced pop star.

Even when she tries to be.

Catchy hooks, the occasional shedding guitar riff, and a whole lot of acerbically witty and poignant lyrics just dying to be sung loudly whilst slightly inebriated. This is not a teen idol mall bunny, or a singin' for equality 'girl w/ guitar' This is Liz, and by God, Liz is good.

Many early Liz Phair fans have soured recently with her seemingly pop-centric forays into big selling chart worthy tunes on her most recent albums. However, as much as the nay sayers may wish to say nay, she's still unafraid to get her hands, and mouth dirty with tracks like the self-titled Liz Phair album's HWC (Hot White Cum), and Rock Me.

On a personal opinion note, perhaps all the folks out to give Liz Phair a hard time for selling out could have kept the dirtier, rawer, more cynical Liz if they would have... Oh, I don't know... BOUGHT SOME ALBUMS...

Exile, oft critically acclaimed as being a genre-defining album creating the chick-core movement popular for the more interesting acts at Lilith Fair did eventually go gold, but topped out at 196th on the Billboard album charts. The follow-up and most popular of Liz's albums has also achieved gold status, but despite two charting singles, the album topped out at #27. Continuing with her not-so-successful tell it like it is formula, my favorite Liz Phair album, her 3rd Whitechocolatespaceegg didn't manage a single chart hit, and topped out at number 35 on the album chart, still not achieving gold status.

Is it any wonder that she chose to try a new direction? Alas, not even that has worked with her two post-pop acceptance albums both falling short of those before it, but at least a little success on the singles chart accompanied the self-titled release with Why Can't I hitting #32 on the Billboard hot 100. Still, too artsy for the charts, too charty for the arts poor Liz just can't find the middle. Keep trying please, and I'll keep buying the albums, even if no one else does.

Band: Sonic Youth (via Thurston Moore)

My personal opinion of Sonic Youth is similar to my personal opinion of Radiohead. I want so badly to like them, because I really think I should, but ultimately, when it comes to the music, I just plain don't. That doesn't mean I don't respect what they have done for the landscape of modern music.

First off, a little fuzzy logic to grant New York's Sonic Youth to Connecticut. Front man Thurston Moore was raised in Bethel, CT. That mere association wasn't enough for me to give Weezer the nod based on Rivers Coumo's birth state, but New York is a lot closer to Connecticut than LA is, and I was going to have to draw the line somewhere, or disregard the Connecticut roots of some great rock performers.If you're not familiar with Sonic Youth, that might not be such a bad thing. In many ways, the existence of Sonic Youth, as a light bearer for the New York experimental rock scene far surpasses their actual song-for-song or album-for-album credits. that said, Sonic Youth has not been unsuccessful scoring some chart hits with tracks '100%' and 'Bull in the Heather'.

For additional info on the musical influence of Sonic Youth, check out the rockumentary 'Kill Your Idols' I really... ummm... watched it...

For what it's worth, regardless of my opinion of Sonic Youth's music, I am a big fan of Thurston Moore as a rock historian, and music collector. If you have a few extra bucks and are looking for a good read, pick up Moore's book Mix Tape, or Brett Milano's Vinyl Junkies featuring essays from both Moore and REM's Peter Buck. Both entertaining reads for music buffs.

Honorable Mention: Moby

I'm not a sample-heavy technorock hipster by any stretch of the imagination. That being the case, Moby is kind of the anti-Sonic Youth in my opinion. For all intents and purposes, there's really no reason for me to like Moby, but damned if I don't find myself enjoying his tunes...

In addition to a hugely successful album, 1999's Play Moby's got himself huge Connecticut cred, more than happy to discuss his hometown Darien when interviewed about his musical formation, and when discussing his love of Boston band Mission of Burma, huge in Connecticut due to their Darien-born co-founder Clint Conley.

That is where Moby, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, and I have something pretty significant in common. We're all serious music geeks, collectors, listeners, and opinionated unpaid pundits of pop. Where we differ is that one of us doesn't make music...

Enjoy Moby and Gwen singin' all about the Southside...

...and covering MoB

Up next: The Simpsons are going to Delaware! 'I want to visit Wilmington!' 'I want to visit the screen door factory!' Could this television reference be a CLUE???

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