Chuck Klosterman

  • White Stripes, 'Elephant' (V2/Third Man Recordings)

    The White Stripes' Elephant is not a good record. It seems like one for the first eight songs, but then you get to a song called "The Hardest Button to Button." This is when you realize that Elephant is, in fact, a remarkably good record, quite possibly a great record, and certainly the sexiest divorce-rock album since Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville. The beginning of "The Hardest Button to Button" almost feels like filler, which is normal; just about every album ever made has a few throwaway tracks.

  • Everclear, 'Slow Motion Daydream' (Capitol)

    If you were taking an undergraduate class on the music of Everclear, you would eventually come to two conclusions. The first is that you're probably never going to get a job. The second is that Art Alexakis is a storyteller in the tradition of Garrison Keillor, Spalding Gray, and that dude from Puddle of Mudd. The finest Everclear songs--"Santa Monica," "A.M. Radio," "Father ofMine," and maybe six or seven others--are hyper-specific first-person narratives. It's impossible to think that Alexakis' songs can (or should) apply to anyone else, because they aren't metaphors at all.

  • Liz Phair, 'Liz Phair' (Capitol)

    There is a song on Liz Phair's self-titled fourth album called "Rock Me," and it's a little like Steely Dan's "Hey Nineteen":Phair is dating a guy who's nine years her junior, and he's broke and not very smart, but he's good at ripping off her dress, and he likes to tell her how smart she is, and this is what she wants. And it's weird, because when Donald Fagen talked about hanging out with a girl too young to know about Aretha Franklin, he felt so guilty that he had to snort mountains of Colombian coke to get through the conversation. But Phair loves it. She just wants to sit on the floor of the boy's apartment and play with his Xbox. On her 1993 debut, Exile in Guyville, Phair deconstructed relationships with an insight that didn't seem mortal. Now she plays videogames with some slacker dude. This is not what I want to hear. But you know what? That's fine.

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