cancer of the liver
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.

 

It's the weekend and it's summer so let's listen to music from names we know. I wish I had a barbecue to go to (it's early evening here and the sky is blue).

Spoon - "Sister Jack". Don't bother listening to this song. Not until you burn it onto a CD or throw it onto your iPod and step into the street with somewhere to go. It's not simply a song for walking, it's a song for walking somewhere, because if you are, and you do, and this song is in your ears, it kills. It leaves dead suits like me in its wake. It makes you wince, it kills so much. Spoon have always been a band of songmakers, of melodymakers, but here's the sort of song that lives in a Platonic universe somewhere, where it kills people.

First of all, there's that guitar, drang drang drang, sounding like straight can-rock guitar, no joke, the Gandharvas or Treblecharger or, yeah, Sloan. It kills. And then there's the cracking drums, the tambourine, the stall, and Britt's gruff-lax nonsense-deep lyrics. He's like John Lennon here, John Lennon making a racket in his loft above a kebab shop in Austin.

And we mustn't forget the tape loop weirdness, the backward guitar squawks and whizzing and hiss that's the sound of the song's loose seams, the places where light bursts through and blinds you. These squiggles of sound like someone spun round and pointed at the Transformer who has a cassette-player in his body, ordering him to "Do a solo!". And the Transformer's caught off guard but he still does it, there he goes, manipulating his buttons and doing something amazing because unbeknownst to the pointer, Transformer's been practicing these solos for months, in his mirror at home, before going out in the pitch-black to learn to skate-board in the parking-lot near his house.

Phew!

Gimme Fiction's due on May 9. Pre-order and win cool stuff!

---

Sufjan Stevens - "Casimir Pulaski Day". Gosh. "Casimir Pulaski Day" is a coalescing, for me, of everything Sufjan Stevens does well. It's got all the trademarks: homorhythm, oboe, mandolin, wispiness, layers of harmony, repetition. But on this song these things rise out of their bodies into something so much greater than "pretty". Listen up, haters! Even if you've dismissed Sufjan in the past, even if you think he's a samey Iron & Wine prat, if you have any love for Smog or Mountain Goats, Leonard Cohen or Neil Young, I defy you to dislike this song (at least until the instrumental at the end) - it's a masterpiece. There's brilliance in the lyrics, in the way the words weave around and reappear, the way these domestic scenes flutter into view and then fade into memory, a cascade of sights/sounds/touches that accumulate... It's all repetition, the same chords over and over, but this too accumulates, until you notice the slightest change, until the playful everyday sound is for a moment erotic, sad, transcendent, or Sufjan's casual real-life images turn full-bodied with a sense of Love, God, or Death. It's a marvel, and I wonder at the fact that something so deep, so insightful, so rich, so human, can also sound so pretty, so light, the kind of trifle that you might ignore, forget, pass by. (This too, I suppose, is a metaphor.)

(Unfortunately, Sufjan's not really outdone himself with Illinois. Like Michigan it's pretty, it's proof of a mighty talented artist. But it's much the same, really - pretty, sometimes dazzling, too long and too repetitive. The shock and awe of Seven Swans (which isn't much different anyway) is absent. Some of you might have heard the single at TTIKTDA [keith, please update your StG bookmark!]. The album sounds like that. But "Casimir Pulaski Day" and a few other tracks... oh my.)

---

Went to a gig last night. Archer Prewitt and then Sam Prekop & Archer Prewitt literally put me to sleep, but they were very pretty lullabies. The Earlies were swirlies, the first English jam band I've seen (more Beta Band than Grateful Dead, mind, and half the band play synths/electronics, but-). Stealing the show, though, in amazing ways, was Micah P. Hinson, whom I'd hardly heard of but who seems pretty well know. (He must have hit while I was gallavanting in Hungary or something.) Apparently the album's all cello and singer-songwriterness, but on stage last night with drums and bass he was a small beast, a creature with an electric guitar that snarled and hissed, that roared (cf. Greg Macpherson), singing songs like a far fiercer Dallas Good, shout-singing three lines, over and over, till I thought my heart might burst. I will look into his stuff and share.

CONTEST! Apparently we can give away some Rilo Kiley and Idiot Jed CDs. Five of each. I have no idea who Idiot Jed are and I think Rilo Kiley totally suck, but some people like 'em. One CD goes to whoever suggests the best contest idea - post your suggestions in the comments.


Have a lovely weekend! (Especially the folks like me for whom it's a long one!)

Posted by Sean at April 29, 2005 1:20 PM
Comments

The contest should be that you detail how frequenting StG has increased your music consumption, meaning purchasing the CDs/LPs or going to the shows or telling other people about the artists posted on etc.

Posted by elliott at April 29, 2005 2:04 PM

The contest should be about who has the cutest cat

Posted by kurtie! at April 29, 2005 3:29 PM

i think it should be a polar bear wrestling contest in the arctic. i don't know if you guys have the kind of budget to arrange that but it would definitely be the best measure of who wants/deserves the cds the most.

Posted by drew at April 29, 2005 4:19 PM

I'm doing a barbecue on sunday, come along!

Posted by Matthew in London at April 29, 2005 4:22 PM

i had a good idea but it isn't nearly as good as the cute cat idea. if that wins can i win too for agreeing? plus my girlfriend likes rilo kiley and would be happy to get a cd.

Posted by troy at April 29, 2005 4:51 PM

contest idea: write a review of a song posted on StG which refers to as many other bands as possible. winner is the entry with the highest number of band names within a coherent review.

c'mon, that's gotta be worth a free cd. i'll even pick it up from your place and save you some postage.

Posted by GARETH at April 29, 2005 5:15 PM

the contest should be to write a mash-up of different songs to explain how much they love StG, why they frequent it, why it's the best music blog ever, etc.
wouldn't that be so cool? and it would show how creative the person was and how dedicated s/he is to indie music! and fun for the rest of us to see too!

Posted by stephanie at April 29, 2005 5:32 PM

i think a web-cam based dance-off would be ideal.

Posted by brent at April 29, 2005 5:48 PM

i STILL DONT UNDERSTAND IT !!

ZAIDIE

Posted by Zaidie Ben at April 29, 2005 5:50 PM

1. Draw a picture using only MS Paint basics (no cutting or pasting), incorporating the title "Said the Gramophone," and a bird of your choice.

2. Photos of the ugliest sweaters in exisistance, wearer must be holding a StG approved cd.

3. Make an iMix. your fave wins.

4. "Come up with the most contest ideas" contest.

Posted by jgriz at April 29, 2005 7:14 PM


Idea: design YOUR state's State Quarter.

Reason: Oregon's boring, lifeless reputation is being perpetuated by (let's face it) holes in the ground filled with water. There's more to us than that!

Proof: http://www.ost.state.or.us/news/newsreleases/2004/12-10-04%20Oregon%20Quarter.htm

Posted by karen blahblah at April 29, 2005 7:19 PM

The contest should be to rename both of these bands since their names are dumb.

Posted by Eric at April 29, 2005 7:27 PM

Camera phone pictures. With different categories and such.

Posted by Jore at April 29, 2005 8:28 PM

That "Transformers solo" bit is great, Sean. You and Mike Barthel are both neck and neck in terms of pulling out crazy but totally accurate comparisons like that.

Posted by Matthew at April 29, 2005 8:32 PM

how many marshmallows can you fit in your mouth at one time?

Posted by tim & sara at April 29, 2005 11:32 PM

The aim of the contest should be to go out and find as many people with Said the Gramophone in their internet history. Whoever finds the most visitors wins.

Posted by Tony at April 29, 2005 11:55 PM

contest: come up with a concept album:
Track listing, track by track synopsis, liner notes, album art, lyrics extremely optional(maybe just the booklet with "Lyrics TBA" inside) two prizes: most original and best executed.

Posted by walter at April 30, 2005 2:39 AM

Can the contest be who can cry the hardest after you say one of their favorite bands suck? :*(

Hehe, Rilo Kiley rocks!!

Posted by billy at April 30, 2005 6:39 AM

The contest should be to replace certain words in song titles by Morrissey or the Smiths with names of animals.

For example:

Heaven Knows I'm Marsupial Now.
Paint a Vulture Picture.
This Night Has Opened My Ais.*

And by the way, Sean, Rilo Kiley are great.

R.ss.

* For those of you who don't watch nature programmes, "ai" is another name for a sloth.

Posted by ross at April 30, 2005 9:15 AM

How about a 100 word essay composed only of song titles. You be the judge. Maybe bonus points for StG posted songs.
Annette

Posted by Annette McKinnon at April 30, 2005 4:43 PM

I took your dare and tried to dislike the Sufjan Stevens track. And I failed. Thanks for the recommendations.

Cheers

http://www.echo-and-fury.blogspot.com/

Posted by Adrian at April 30, 2005 5:35 PM

1) Come up with the greatest mix CD based solely on StG songs.

2) Haikus using lyrics from StG songs.

Posted by caley at April 30, 2005 10:59 PM

My contest:

Whoever can come up with the best two-song combo (transition, thematic relationship, quality of song, emotional journey all taken into account) wins.

Posted by E-Rock at May 1, 2005 1:37 PM

Match the band with the animal that best represents them (with justification). I'm thinking:

Cake - Narwhal, because seriously dude, without the horn no one would know who the hell they were.

Posted by lzayguy at May 1, 2005 8:38 PM

Your song summaries are always fantastic. Gorgeous descriptions.

Posted by Anon at May 3, 2005 5:36 PM

Hey, GRREAT description of Casimiar Pulaski. You took the words outta my mouth. The song's truly a masterpiece.

Posted by Phil at November 25, 2005 6:51 PM
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Sean Michaels lives in Montreal. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here.

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