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BatiGol Weekly: The next big thing

In which we discuss calcio, 1990s-2000s indie rock, and pretty much everything you’d expect from this bastion of hipsterism.

SXSW Film-Interactive-Music - Day 1
Another product of the day and you won’t slow down.
Photo by Amy E. Price/FilmMagic

Everyone knows that Fiorentina is the ultimate hipster team. There’s enough history behind the club that you can show off your knowledge of events that happened before your parents were born. The colors are unique and unmistakable. There’ve been dozens of cult figures to prove that you’re a real calcio aficionado. And, if you’re a jerk, the trophy case looks awfully bare of late.

Given those qualities, it’s no surprise that Fiorentina tends to attract foreign fans of a certain stripe. I’m not going to say we’re all hipsters, because we’re not. Some of us are just regular people who support the Viola for various logical reasons. The rest of us have transcended hipsterdom so hard we’re not even sure if we’re reading Pitchfork ironically or not anymore.

As you may have guessed and/or feared, this is all a very long windup for today’s BGW exercise, which is linking each Serie A club for the 2021-2022 season to an indie or alternative rock band from the late 1990s or early 2000s. This is squarely in the wheelhouse for about 7 of you. For everyone else, I apologize and recommend that you scroll down to the poll.

Atalanta: The Strokes

I have no idea how Gian Piero Gasperini and company keep churning out success after success despite a minimal payroll and the constant poaching of their stars by bigger clubs, but la Dea is still out here qualifying for the Champions League. It’s kind of like how the Strokes manage to keep producing great songs despite the fact that Julian Casablancas can barely sing and Albert Hammond’s songwriting just plain shouldn’t work. Bonus points because, like the deeply international Bergamo outfit, the Strokes boast members who are either native or first-generation Brazilian, Italian, Spanish, Tunisian, French, Gibraltese, and Argentine.

Bologna: Vampire Weekend

A-Punk came out in 2007. I was back home, hanging out at a friend’s house and playing video games, when his mom came in and told us we should be more like the guys in Vampire Weekend, who were all students at Columbia and about my age. Given the impressive collection of young talent the Oscar-Meyers have assembled (Rodrigo Palacio aside), I couldn’t go any other direction with this. Vampire Weekend will always be a bunch of 21-year-olds in my mind, even though they’ve put out some really good and different stuff since that eponymous album.

Cagliari: Sigur Rós

They’re both from an island way the heck away from everything and speak dialects that are just about impossible to understand for outsiders, but you kind of like them anyways. And like the Isolani, Sigur Rós have had some brushes with the unsavory.

Empoli: Ben Kweller

He’s not actually all that famous, but he’s from right down the road (if you’re from central Texas) and blends heartfelt singer-songwriter stuff with a willingness to be a doofus. Like the neighbors, he’ll always be associated with youth; his band Radish signed to Mercury and Universal and played on Letterman and Conan before falling apart without ever experiencing any more than cult success when Kweller was a 13-year-old drummer.

Fiorentina: The New Pornographers

Everyone’s favorite indie band is a supergroup that’s charted a couple of singles on the alternative rock charts but, despite that apparent disinterest from the public, remains critical darlings. They’re perfect and I won’t hear anything otherwise, thanks.

Genoa: Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand are the AC/DC of indie rock. They keep on putting out songs that sound exactly the same, and they keep on making it work despite the fact that you know what you’ll get from them and it’s not actually all that good. There’s a lot to be said, though, for somehow hanging around forever without ever actually doing all that much.

Hellas Verona: Wolf Parade

It’s not a mastiff, sure, but Wolf Parade feels right. They split up in 2011 after putting out a couple of EPs and a couple of full length albums, but got back together in 2016 and have a new album out now. Verona dropped down for a few years before returning as well. And, given some of their fans’ political leanings (a bit too close to the Irreducibili for comfort), I’ll Believe in Anything takes on a bit of a darker meaning.

Inter Milan: Wilco

Always pretty good but mired by absolute lunacy, particularly in terms of recruitment. That’s settled down since Steven Zhang took over, but make no mistake. Inter was, is, and always will be pazza. I can’t imagine a better parallel than your dad’s friend’s favorite band, which has turned over the entire lineup multiple times outside of frontman Jeff Tweedy, who’s about as low-key dramatic as a rock star can be.

Juventus: Nickelback

Ubiquitous, despised, and somehow still the most successful outfit of the early aughts. Some people have no taste.

Lazio: Kid Rock

Brashly reactionary and somehow still in the public eye? Yeah, okay.

AC Milan: The Libertines

They made some really, really good music and were maybe the biggest band in the world for a minute, but Pete Doherty and company seemed like the least likable group of characters around and it didn’t take a genius to see that they were going to tear themselves apart. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. After a prolonged absence, though, and no shortage of individual struggles, they’re back together and seem like they’re recapturing their old magic as if they don’t know that it’ll all come tumbling back down. Yeah, there’s quite a narrative parallel here.

Napoli: Modest Mouse

A club that’s experienced incredible success but is often reduced down to a single figure feels about right for the Float On band (still a great song). When you factor in Isaac Brock’s self-conscious working-class roots and drug use, you’ve got the band to represent Maradona if you’re only looking at American bands from the 1990s and 2000s.

AS Roma: Death Cab for Cutie

Despite producing some fantastic songs and albums, Death Cab always felt like they were in this space between being stars and being that band your weird cousin’s too into. Also, pretty much all of Ben Gibbard’s songs are getting hurt, which is maybe a little too on the nose given the Giallorosso predilection for catastrophic injuries.

Salernitana: The Decemberists

I can absolutely imagine Colin Milloy writing a concept album about a team that’s mostly played in the second and third divisions, was busted into nothingness by bankruptcy, and made an astonishing return to Serie A twenty years later. The fact that their crest features a seahorse seals the deal. It’s just the whimsy, isn’t it?

Sampdoria: ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

If you like names that are hard to explain and Fiorentina’s just a little too mainstream for you, this is your stop. And hey, with Roberto D’Aversa at the helm now, maybe the Blucerchiati are emerging from their post-Marco Giampaolo funk just like ToD popped up with new material in 2019. You might even say that it’s coming together, in a relative way.

Sassuolo: Spoon

After getting dropped from Elektra in 1998, Britt Daniel and company have put together a heck of a portfolio without the resources that major label can bring, consistently producing entertaining and well-crafted pop hits. Similarly, since breaking into Serie A in 2013, the Neroverdi have nearly always trotted out attack-minded, fun-to-watch sides that every neutral can appreciate, even if it’s not quite your thing.

Spezia: The Thrills

So Much for the City is one of my favorite albums from the early 2000s. From the opening track, it feels like sitting on a California beach and drinking beer in golden sunlight, which feels quite odd from a Dublin-based band. Still, that attitude’s about as perfect a fit with Liguria as I can imagine. Let’s just hope that the Aquilotti can follow up their unexpected success with a bit more than the Thrills ever did.

Torino: Neutral Milk Hotel

There’s not a club in Italy that’s got a longer history of tragedy than il Toro, and NMH—always in a fine state of melancholy—has maybe the saddest song about planes you can find.

Udinese: The Shins

This might sound condescending and I really don’t want it to, but here goes: there is nothing wrong with the Shins. They make nice, easy-listening music that occasionally verges on good, but it’s hard for me to really feel all that strongly about them. They’re kind of the furniture on the scene more than something front and center. Bonus points because front man James Mercer is maybe better known for doing Broken Bells, which feels apropos for a club that’s had so many players experience greater success elsewhere.

Venezia: Hot Hot Heat

Bandages is one of the best pop punk songs of 2003, but the band never managed to get that followup. Venezia got sent down to Serie B in 2003 and are back now for the first time since. Hot Hot Heat have been broken up since 2016, but maybe this presages a reunion.

Latest news

While Patrizia Panico finished up her commitment to the Italy U16s, Fiorentina Femminile were left to sweat it out.

Fiorentina have a new coach (again)!

Fan favorites Riccardo Sottil and Alfred Duncan have returned from their year at Cagliari. We’re thrilled because they’re both good players, and also for some other reasons.

Okay, that’s enough sweating. Panico did indeed sign on as Viola manager, and we’re very excited to see what she’s got in store.

With an attack that still needs some reinforcements, Daniele Pradè may well be shopping at Crotone, where Junior Messias and Simy are both reportedly available.

And hey, while we’re talking about transfers, let’s talk about the guy who’s going to have a big say in them. Welcome to Nicolás Burdisso, Fiorentina technical director.

Pol Lirola wants Marseille. Marseille wants Pol Lirola. Fiorentina aren’t having it until L’Om stops trying to lowball them.

There is nothing more eternal than the Viola looking for a rightback. Daniel Muñoz is the newest option, and he looks quite good.

Must read

In what’s become a summer ritual, it’s time to look at all the surplus players on the roster and figure out which ones probably ought to move on.

With the Euros bringing Andriy Shevchenko back into the international spotlight, remind yourself of how much (not) fun it was to see him play against Fiorentina.

Podcast? Podcast. Podcast!

The mayor has stepped down. So long and thank you for everything, Borja.

Ahead of the Euro semifinals, we asked you if Italy was going to win the whole thing, and you answered.

Now that Italiano’s the mister, here’s an idea of what to expect from him based on his previous work at Spezia.

Lorenzo Venuti rocks.

We did another happy hour on Zoom. It was really, really fun. You should come to the next one.

Remember when Giorgio Chiellini was a gangly Fiorentina fullback with a fine head of hair? We do.

With training camp at Moena starting up, there are a lot of players who have everything to prove there.

8th place next year? Maybe. Did we jinx it? Also maybe.

Ahead of the Euros final, we asked you who’d win and you answered. And almost 75% of you answered correctly, which is pretty dang impressive.

Ever wonder why so many Florentines have a weirdly contentious relationship with the Azzurri?

But what the heck. Let’s celebrate the ragazzi bringing home the Henri Delaunay after some magic nights.

It’s not just the Euros, though. Fiorentina were right in the thick of Argentina’s Copa America win as well.

Comment of the week(ish)

Catalogue on Borja Valero. Dead on as always.

That’s it for this week, folks. Sit in the sun for a little while. You’ll feel better.