Music & Clubs

Aimee Mann & Liz Phair

PHAIR GAME: From indie darling to on-off pop star, Liz Phair has had some wild career ups and downs.

THOUGH THEY released their first solo albums in the same year, and to many they might seem like two sides of the same girlie-alt coin, Aimee Mann and Liz Phair couldn't have approached their careers any differently. In fact, they're almost the bearded-Spock inverses of each other. Mann started out in 'Til Tuesday, who had the goofy (but damn catchy) hits like "Voices Carry." Then she found her singer/songwriter soul, dropped the pop stuff and started writing hard-hitting, wicked solo material, starting with 1993's Whatever. Since then, she's had more of a cult following, but it's a rabid one. Ironically, a cult director earned her a whole new wave of fans when she did some songs for the soundtrack to Paul Thomas Anderson's breakout film Magnolia, including "Save Me," which became her signature. Also in 1993, Liz Phair released her first album, Exile in Guyville, one of the best and most talked-about alt-rock records of all time. Though she developed a fairly big following over the course of three excellent indie albums, she shocked everyone by going for pop stardom on her fourth, self-titled album. Hipsters ran away in droves, even though the album was far better than most reviewers were willing to admit. On her next tour, I saw mothers and pre-teens who most definitely came out to hear pop hits like "Why Can't I?"; I'm sure "Fuck and Run" and "Flower" must have thrown them for a loop. Her most recent release, Funstyle, is the most schizophrenic of her career—critics piled on at her attempts at rapping and a Bollywood sound. But a bonus disc also has several of the songs from her legendary demos recorded under the name Girlysound. She's been reworking these early songs throughout her career, but has never released more than a handful, other than the original cassettes. Does that mean she'll play some of those Girlysound songs at this show? Longtime fans want to know.

Mountain Winery

Thursday, Aug. 18

7:30pm; $35-$55.

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