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(A later attempt at re-recording the Girly Sound tapes failed after arguments between Henderson and Phair.) After asking Wood who the "coolest" indie label was, Phair called up Gerard Cosloy, co-president of Matador Records, in 1992 and she asked him if he would put out her record. It was a fairly primitive recording, especially compared to the resulting album. K." Cosloy offered a $3,000 advance, and Phair began working on a single, which turned into the 18 songs of Exile in Guyville. The album received significant critical acclaim for its very blunt, honest lyrics and for the music itself, a hybrid of indie rock and pop.

Phair has also completed a new documentary DVD, "Guyville Redux." This DVD features an introduction by Dave Matthews, founder/co-owner of ATO Records, and describes the making of the album, in the male-dominated, Chicago independent music scene of the early 1990s (which included Urge Overkill, Material Issue, and Smashing Pumpkins), associated with the Wicker Park neighborhood where many of these bands often performed. Exile in Guyville sat at the center of a culture in transition." In May 2009, Phair released a new song "Faith and Tenderness," sold exclusively at Banana Republic.

"Exile in Guyville is miles more complex than the porn-star manifesto it was often considered," said Alan Light (former editor-in-chief of Spin, Vibe, and Tracks) in an essay written for the reissue. In recent years Phair has broadened her career by serving as a composer for television dramas.

In 2003, her self-titled fourth album was released on her new label, Capitol Records.

Following Whip-Smart, Phair released Juvenilia, a collection of some early Girly Sound tracks and several B-sides, including her cover of the 1980 song by The Vapors, "Turning Japanese".

Phair's entry into the music industry began when she met guitarist Chris Brokaw, a member of the band Come.

Brokaw was dating one of Phair's friends, and stayed at their loft in Soma one weekend.

In the same year, she performed the Dragon Tales theme song for the hit PBS kid show.