From time to time, people ask me where I find the music in my collection. Back in the old days, it was different - there were several Tower Records stores in town, and after that Dimple Records. Browsing through the stacks of records (CDs later, but that was never as much fun) is one of the best memories of my lifetime. Sometimes, I'd buy an album based solely on the album cover - The Pretenders' debut album comes to mind. When you looked at that cover, how could you not think "this is going to be good?"
Well, those days are over, and in this town (Sacramento) there's no longer a store that stocks enough records or CDs to make browsing worth one's time (or even possible, for that matter). Today, I rely on several different online publications - Pitchfork, American Songwriter, No Depression, even Rolling Stone at times (especially when Rob Sheffield is writing) - for recommendations on new artists, or artists I'm not familiar with. And then there are the old reliables, and in this case I do mean old - Greil Marcus and Robert Christgau. Marcus doesn't write album reviews much any more, but his Real Life Rock Top Ten - wherever it may be residing at any given moment - has always been an indispensable source of what I'd call "fringe music." And Christgau, nearing 80 now, is still plugging away with a new version of his Consumer Guide, which he is now publishing using a subscription model.
What does any of this have to do with Soccer Mommy? Think of it as a roadmap - in order to discover an artist like Soccer Mommy (real name: Sophie Allison), you've got to put in the work. And in this case, it was well worth the effort. The album "Clean" took a few listens to sink in for me, but "Your Dog" made an impression right away. It's the kind of song where you catch a fragment of a lyric on first listen, and then you're almost afraid to find out what it's all about. As this piece on NPR notes, "It's a song reclaiming agency and identity taken by another person's condescension, control and abuse." That tells you what you need to know.
Think of it as the link between Liz Phair and Taylor Swift.
Top 50 Songs of the Decade, #49 - "Your Dog," Soccer Mommy.