STRUNG ALONG AND OUT
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.

 

Safe Home - "Me and the Bees". Soft pop from Germany The Netherlands, in just the right shade of morning. It's from a beautiful album called The Wide Wide World and All We Know; 16 light, acoustic songs with glimmers of laptop sounds, touches of flute. Not since the Kings of Convenience's debut (or maybe The Notwist's Neon Golden) has something like this worked so well - Tunng and Adem have their moments, but their albums don't hold a candle to Safe Home's new one (nor, for that matter, did the last Kings of Convenience record). This is a cover of the song by The Softies, and it's as milky as the way my sister used to drink her tea. But sweeter. Yes, sweeter. And much more warmly still.

[I highly recommend that you buy The Wide Wide World and All We Know]


The Burdens - "Lonely Town". I have a friend called Karin. And another Karin reads this blog as well. (Hi!) And in this band, a band called The Burdens, a girl called Karin plays drums. It is extremely unlikely that these three Karins are the same person. They have different last names, probably different haircuts. But I have to admit that when I listen to this song I imagine my friend Karin K behind the drums. Not because The Burdens sound like how I imagine Karin sounds, playing music. But because a Karin is a Karin, and the drums sound so, so, so trustworthy here. Richard Scullin sings and plays his guitar and he doesn't have to look back for even a second. He can sing about being lost, about being unsure, about "hey now / hey now / let it go". But he needn't ever question the friend behind him with her bangs in her eyes, who shakes her head as she hits the snare and smiles little glints of white on those rare moments she strikes a cymbal.

There's something very right in "Lonely Town" - like a melody that's fitted to your pocket. Alt.country without any country, or any alt. It's just the things you can't adequately write in words: want, home, wanderlust, the comfort of singing a sadness to friends.

[buy Living It Up]

---

Amy at Shake Your Fist wrote a really exceptional piece on Frida Hyvonen - and then was asked to take the mp3s down. Ridiculous. But do check it out. I wrote about Frida a few weeks ago.

I'm really enjoying the Meg Baird track that Kyle posted, paired with a silly cartoon and Chris Garneau's (still wonderful) "Not Nice".

Tonight at the Tranzac in Toronto, Fig Records is putting on a show with Simon Finn (of Current 93 etc), The Saffron Sect, Castlemusic and Gramo-fave Wyrd Visions. All these artists are to appear on an upcoming album of reinterpretations of trad folk songs. I suspect both of these things will be ace. I, however, will still be in Scotland.

Marathonpacks is inviting various people to detail "bizarre" concert experiences. I wrote (clumsily as ever) about the upsetting and sublime release gig for the Arcade Fire's first EP, but I really like Cindy's story of vomit and Rilo Kiley.

I Heart Music's poll of the "Hottest Canadian Acts of 2006" is online. Final Fantasy tops the list, as all knew he would. I saw Owen again in Glasgow last week and there's no doubt in my mind that he deserves to be there. The rest of my ballot was: Swan Lake, Destroyer, Basia Bulat, The Winks, Sunparlour Players, Arcade Fire, The New Pornographers, Sunset Rubdown and Broken Social Scene. Some of my comments weren't published and if you like you can read them here, below the drop. I must admit that being so far away from Canada there are a lot of artists on that list whom I've never heard.

My I Heart Music 2006 ballot (with comments where appropriate):

1. Swan Lake
The most anticipated Canadian 'super-group' record of the year is more than the sum of its parts (so is Frankenstein's monster, a pocket-watch, or beast moans captured in a mason jar). Dan Bejar and Carey Mercer's music is reined in, songs made into something coherently pop; the screws on Spencer Krug's songwriting, meanwhile, are loosened - and all sorts of windy ghosts get in. It's a record of stray sounds and automaton laughs, beautiful and weird and wintry-warm. And it's the best LP that Krug (who's become one of the countries best lyricists) has ever made. And not yet released!

2. Destroyer

3. Basia Bulat
I've not seen her live but she's one of the most ravishing discoveries of the year: hot folk-pop songs that clatter with all the clatter clatter clatter of a fine set of drums. And a voice like the moon, that time.

4. Final Fantasy

5. The Winks
Their new album received funding from the Canada Council, not from FACTOR: this means it's a 'specialised music', not the sort of thing for mass consumption. Funny, because these are pop songs: vocals that slide like cello-strings, cello-strings that slide like voices; stormy and weird and glad-glistening spooked.

6. Sunparlour Players
Their live show is by all accounts mesmerising, and the live version of "Talk It To Death" is one of the greatest songs of the year. If only their studio album matched the threadbare ache of the best of this.

7. Arcade Fire
I don't think this band released anything in 2006. But among my most joyous musical moments of the entire year was in the pub at All Tomorrows Parties in Camber Sands, England, some 3:30 in the morning, when amid all our sweat-and-starry dancing the DJ threw on "Rebellion" and I felt all my memories shake, just shake, splendid through my
body.

8. The New Pornographers
I've never been a cheerleader for the New Pornographers but this spring I saw them live for the first time and I was - and this is the right word - gobsmacked. Such a glad, pummeling pop sound, drums everywhere, plus Dan Bejar and minus Neko but none the worse for wear. Remarkable; mountains better than on record.

9. Sunset Rubdown
A thorough disappointment - after their ramshackle debut and an EP with spots of utter brilliance, the first 'full band' album of Sunset Rubdown is terribly inconsistent, very Sufjan-like in its reliance on mere aesthetic. And yet, and yet, and yet - the best songs bloom glorious, acheing and sharp and realer than a knifecut, sunrise, tonguekiss.

10. Broken Social Scene
They toured like crazy this year, and by all accounts are coming apart as a result. And I like this: this playing something till it breaks. (Eventually it's all going to break.)

Posted by Sean at November 3, 2006 4:59 AM
Comments

safe home are from the netherlands, actually... their album is indeed really really lovely.

Posted by jg at November 3, 2006 6:10 AM

oops! thanks!

Posted by Sean at November 3, 2006 6:53 AM

funny thing, today was the first time I've been able to read StG in a while (I've been hanging out in the boons here in France) and look what I come back to find. Beautiful song by the Burdens, I think I know how he feels. Travelling does make me feel a little unsure of myself, but in sharing this you've made it possible to be alone, together. thanks Sean :)

Posted by karin k. at November 3, 2006 7:14 AM

I was disappointed Basia didn't make the top 33...I really liked what you said about her, plus I have a mad crush on her. But next year, she should be up there for sure...I'm sure the album is going to sound great, and being on Rough Trade won't hurt, either.

Posted by matthew at November 3, 2006 11:17 AM

Hi Sean!

I was going to reply to this post before even reading the second selection, but holy cow, a mention of me! (or maybe a different reader Karin, but I'm taking it as me) Anyways, I love both of these songs. Another thing I really love is Tunng, but not having heard the Safe House album I can't exactly disagree with you about their relative merits. My problem (or pleasure, maybe) is that with writing as beautiful as this, it is quite difficult to disagree with you on anything.

Karin

Posted by Karin S. at November 3, 2006 5:07 PM

I believe the Winks were #7 on my list. Hopefully they'll garner more attention once their album has been officially released.

Posted by luisa irene at November 3, 2006 7:33 PM

Lovely post with some lovely songs. I'll certainly be checking out the Safe Home record very soon. Thank you!


cheers, baby
http://www.musichawk.com

Posted by Baby at November 5, 2006 3:20 PM

Nothing clumsy about it, unless I have no appreciation for good prose. Amy's story was good too.

And is this the same Secretly Canadian who've sent me tracks to post? No, must be another. Oh, good.

Posted by Tuwa at November 9, 2006 6:30 PM

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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