Features | Awards

The Most Famous and/or Contentious (on the Internet) Album Made by People I Kind of Halfway Know (on the Internet) Award

By Christopher Alexander | 19 December 2008

Vivian Girls
Vivian Girls
(Mauled by Tigers/In the Red; 2008)

Whatever. Sure. Why not? 2008 saw the birth of my son, plus that whole Obama thing. Somewhere in there Isaac Hayes died while running on a treadmill, the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, people actually gave a shit about Sarah Palin, gas hit $4 a gallon, a team from Philadelphia won a championship, and Os Mutantes did a commercial for McDonalds. It’s not so much that I feel like I’ve now seen everything, but the sheer unlikeliness of events that I am seeing has produced in me such an exaggerated feeling of acceptance it can only be described as a defense mechanism. Time travel; alien contact; dogs lying with cats: these are things that I can handle. I have snappy oneliners for them all. But Chinese Democracy? The Hadron Supercollider? Kickball Katy and Foxcar landing in CMG’s top ten (spoiler?) right under my nose? What’s the proof on this shit I’m drinking, anyway?

I wish this story was more interesting, but: Katy and Ali (aka Boxcar [aka Foxcar]) of Vivian Girls posted on the same message board I did for a while, which (nominally) revolved around punk and hardcore shows in New Brunswick and the rest of New Jersey. They achieved a little bit of notoriety with their band, a willfully primitive two-piece called the Pot and the Kettle. I didn’t care much for the music, but they seemed like okay people. We have a few mutual friends who introduced us once at the Asbury Lanes. Apparently I talked to Katy on AIM, too, because her screenname pops up on my buddy list occasionally, but what we ever talked about I haven’t the dimmest notion. I can say, though, that they were quite a presence on the board, as much for their outspokenness as their music.

So I felt like the victim of an elaborate practical joke when I discovered a few days ago that they were two-thirds of Vivian Girls. It was a feeling that stayed with me, I confess, through my first listen of their album (Step 1: Acquire $40 reverb pedal, Step 2: ????, Step 3: Profit). All that dashed immediately on hearing the absolutely astonishing “Where Do You Run To.” I’ve listened it about it about twenty times in the last two days. The first ten were in disbelief, but by the eleventh I experienced something like relief, because I realized I could feel disbelief again. Now I just flat out love it, and I hope I never get sick of the chilling turn it takes at the end of its chorus. As for the rest of Vivian Girls, well, its immediacy is sorely needed in my present steady diet of ’90s alt-rock, but nothing is as arresting as that one song.

I look forward to reviving this award next year for Suz’s spoken word album of militant poetry.