In September, Chicago rocker Annie Fish dropped Weird Like Me, an album full of rippers that would’ve clinched 16-month leases on WXRT’s airwaves during the 90s alternative boom. She also created a parallel universe where the album was an improbable cult hit: her Bandcamp page includes a link to a fictional oral history that spends more than 7,000 words explaining how Weird Like Me became a sensation in 1994. In this world, Fish is a fallen star who struggled with (and was ultimately undone by) industry misogyny, label subterfuge, and a complicated relationship with an explosively growing audience that only wanted to mosh. The fictional Fish went into hiding after getting booted from her label, so the real Fish constructed the oral history without her—it relies on a cast of supporting characters, including bandmates, a manager, and a music critic named Barry Krudup. (Do I think Krudup is named after actor Billy Crudup, who played Stillwater guitarist Russell Hammond in Almost Famous? Yes! Am I reluctant to ask Fish about it, in case I’m wrong? Also yes!) Fish’s illustrations capture early-90s Alternative Nation style, and she nails the feel of a rock oral history with awkward segues between speakers and people backing up over their own words—world-building that works so well in part because Weird Like Me also sounds great. The swaggering “Down Town Drive” will have you wishing it’d gotten airplay 30 years ago alongside the Smashing Pumpkins and Hole.
Annie Fish describes Weird Like Me as “a high-concept trip through the music that first made me,” inspired in part by the pop-cultural trajectories of Billy Corgan and Courtney Love.