This is a musicblog. Every weekday we post a couple of mp3s and write about them. Songs are only kept online for a short time. This is a page from our archives and thus the mp3s linked to may not longer be available. Visit our front page for new songs and words.

March 30, 2003

hail to the thief

It is indeed a dubious title for a record, but the cuts off Radiohead's new record have begun to leak.

And it's good.

Posted by Sean at 4:38 AM | Comments (1)

March 28, 2003


Nude as the News interviews Sigur Ròs:

NATN:I hear you have some famous fans.

OPD: Lars Ulrich sent us a letter once. You know, the drummer in Metallica. He came to our show in San Francisco and then sent us a letter. We have it up on our "wall of shame" in our studio. We have Tom Cruise. A picture with him and us. And a wonderful picture of Courtney Love and [lead singer] Jonsi [Birgisson]. That?s a good one. We laugh at that one all the time.

Posted by Sean at 2:42 PM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2003

in one sentence

My faves from this killer 'summarize-a-band in one sentence' thread on ILM:

Belle & Sebastian: "Och, the pencil sharpener's snapped the lead again. I guess I'll just have to colour her blouse in green instead.

The Ramones: "1, 2, 3, 4"

Tori Amos: "Mumbleglurgy. Stiletto. Purple money dishwasher. Meep meep."

Springsteen: in the heart of the cold steel city with nothing but a bag of dreams.

The best of all is the ode to Jeff Magnum (we kid because we love):

Neutral Milk Hotel: "Jesus cum sister two-chords"

I wish I was feeling witty enough to contribute, but my attempt at Cat Power ended up reading like bad 16-yr-old-girl-poetry.

Posted by Sean at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2003

current fixations

Some things I've been listening to lately:

Iron and Wine - "Such Great Heights": Iron and Wine does a lake-soft cover of the Postal Service track for the Such Great Heights EP. Suddenly, the song becomes astonishingly beautiful -- the chorus, excrutiatingly slow, is like an oyster that creaks open, the pearl revealed.

Kid Koala - Nufonia Must Fall: i haven't yet read the graphic novel for which this short CD was composed, but even on it's own, Nufonia Must Fall is special. Replacing Kid Koala's kooky sampling are slow pulses of wurlitzer, touches of piano, strings and trumpet. They are very short tracks, samey in their melancholy, but I think that Kid Koala may have recorded the single best record for falling asleep to, ever. this isn't a criticism but an enormous compliment - this music is a landscape for my dreams. Creatures coalesce out of the rain, wooden robots creak out from behind corners as Kid Koala throws in creaks, whirrs, and strange, abrupt noises. it's wonderful.

The Weakerthans - Left and Leaving: on my walkman, this record keeps oscillating from jesus-god-it's-brilliant (and I mean brilliant, as in the sounds are brilliant: distinct and golden, almost tangible beams that follow the lyrics, match guitarlines to the waving of newly-leafed trees, match drum patter with my footsteps) and boy-oh-boy-this-is-dull. when i first put it on at the end of last week, i thought i had found another record that my semi-swanky portapro headphones improved exponentially, but the next day everything i had heard that was extraordinary was no more. instead, blurred-together sounds and a voice that grated on my nerves. i don't know if i'm even up for another listen in the near future.

Montgolfier Brothers - The World is Flat: I've been trying to excavate the greatness that Alex heard in this record. When I first listened to it a year ago, I dismissed the album as boring. It's one that Alex writes about a lot, however - and the way he speaks about it, it sounds like it should match my love of good, sad music. So I'm listening again, working hard to find something more in it. And I have - but so far, only that it's good, not that it's great. The title track is wonderful - i'll try to write about it later - but the rest floats in a queer place that doesn't resonate for my in a big way. The World is Flat seems to speak to this strange purgatory following a relationship, after anguish and before resignation... and I just can't feel it right now.

Loo & Placido - "DJ Love Affair": My faith in mash-ups restored by this delight. Curtis Mayfield croons alongside bits of Daft Punk and a gleaming chorus intro by the Notwist. What's more, it sounds like a genuine song, not some hastily-glued-together mess. Guitar rock and soul ache. hooray! (download it)

Posted by Sean at 7:04 PM | Comments (4)


So I'm officially obssessed with the song "Brazil". My friends and I got hooked after hearing the Arcade Fire do a cover, 18 months ago. Two days later and I had downloaded Geoff Muldaur's version that's used in Terry Gilliam's great film of the same name. I was familiar with the track, but had never really realized the magnitude of its awesomeness. The sky-sailing guitar track, the whistling, the muted latin drums... it's like a summer breeze, a multicoloured kite. Muldaur's vocals are overdramatic and silly, plump as a pompadour. The rolled r's are tropical birds, the guy who jumps in with "thrills" (?) is like a flying-fish that pops out of the ocean. The off-key, tuba-farting finale seals the deal, demands another listen.

See that? It's so amazing awesome that I'm comparing rolled r's to toucans.

Cornelius did a nice, chill version on Point - sort of a laptop interpretation - and I've also grabbed James Last's bland electric guitar version. Last's cover is instrumental, which was disappointing to me at the time... this past week, I finally scored a recording of the Xavier Cugat original, from which all other "Brazil"s followed. It's surprisingly mediocre - basically big band samba, but the groovy, ghostly choir definitely hints at the direction Muldaur takes it in. To my astonishment, though, it too is instrumental - I had always assumed the vocals had been passed down from the original, not that they were Muldaur innovations. Did he really make them up? Or did somebody in between add lyrics?

The newest addition to the "Brazil" collection is a Benny Goodman recording, with Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian (I think). The clarinet lead carries the melody really well, and the soloing's absolutely solid. Sooner or later, I'll be able to make a "Brazil" mix CD, and I will be able to commit seppuku a happy man.

Posted by Sean at 12:05 AM | Comments (3)

March 21, 2003

re: anti-war tunes

Alex writes about songs about child abuse, picking up on very similar ideas to the ones I expressed about anti-war music. He has much more faith in the power of the "precise," however - and he's right that "Names" is a very powerful song.

Posted by Sean at 4:52 PM | Comments (0)

march of death

It seems DJ Shadow and Zach De La Rocha have jumped onto the download-our-new-anti-war-song bandwagon. "March of Death" is a hilarious title, but much can be redeemed by the pairing of Shadow's outstanding ear and Zach's nearly hysterical, nearly self-parodic passion.

Still, I have yet to hear an anti-war song from the past year that moves me in the least way. Actually, forget moving me - nothing's made an impression at all. The activist music seems to be trapped between two poles. It's either vague or specific: the former (as seen in "March of Death"'s lyrics) feels like a cheesy (if enraged) Hallmark card; the latter (see: The Beastie Boys or John Mellencamp) feels like a bad SNL satire.

This has always been a problem for me; while many hail Bert Jansch's "Needle of Death" as his best work, I've always been put off by the fact that it's obviously, ostentatiously about heroin. I know, I know -- that's the point! -- but I still find the 'needle of death' schtick to be a vulgar intrusion on the resonance of the song. I suppose it's the same principle that makes K unable to listen to Gillian Welch's beautiful "Everything is Free" since I told her it was about Napster.

The consequence of all this is that the music that has best answered my feelings about tragedy and war in the past two years has been classical music - Glenn Gould's early Goldberg Variations in particular. It speaks to fear, anger and hope, without making some eye-rolling metaphor linking Bush with Faust. There's more power, for me, in the subtlety. It's odd, though, that the music most affecting when it comes to the here-and-now's current events isn't the music of the here-and-now, but that of the distant past...

The folk tradition compels artists to sing about what's going on, I guess. And the legacy of the 70s anti-war songs is felt (and appreciated) to this day. But there's a reason, I think, that people remember the simple chorus of "Give Peace a Chance" and not its convoluted verses. Maybe Zach, John, Bruce and the Beasties have something to learn... (maybe so do I).

Posted by Sean at 4:01 PM | Comments (1)

March 20, 2003

indie love

What josh says is true true true. I remember.

Posted by Sean at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

Goldfrapp - Black Cherry

The new Goldfrapp record (Black Cherry) is really disappointing. I guess they've moved on from the straight Portishead-style trip-hop of Felt Mountain, but where they've gone instead isn't any less derivative. Felt Mountain was sexy and dangerous and luscious, and there was always this delicious film noir aspect to it - there's even a violinist in the band. Black Cherry, on the other hand, whips out 80s synths and drenches each song in them. Nothing's poignant or sultry - everything's cheesy and dance-fever-filled.

If electro is the new trip-hop, however, with synthesizers standing in for string samples, then maybe this 80s revival is gonna happen for real. We've already seen grasy rock revived, as well as new penchants for metal (Andrew WK) and rawer blues-based r'n'r (the white stripes)... maybe new wave will take over the charts (and maybe The Arcade Fire's Neil-Young-meets-New Order dreams could climb the pop billboard...).

I just wish I didn't think the eighties sucked.

Posted by Sean at 1:17 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2003

"Clark Gable"

Current Best Song in the World: "Clark Gable" -- Postal Service

It's when the horns blow and the strings rain down that this pop song achieves near-transcendence... it's all the bluster and passion and velocity of love, tacked on to that nonstop synth rhythm. Gibbard's reassuring vocals sound like they're trying to convince themselves... the breakdown into handclaps and straight drumming is like that descent into status quo, stepping away from the sublime, into livable life (where we forget about the Great and the Scary).

Posted by Sean at 1:25 AM | Comments (1)

waiting with nathan

Dan and Nathan Lane talk about the Pavement DVD. Nathan's non sequiturs underline the soul of the scene, like guitar feedback under lyrics.

And "Carrot Rope" is my favourite. (Well, after "Shady Lane.")

Posted by Sean at 12:52 AM | Comments (1)

March 18, 2003

It's Purim

Montreal's Mile-End, where I live, is full of Hasidic Jews who wander the streets at all hours of the day and night, always (always!) striding -- determinedly en route to some important affair. The boys are always dressed like men, serious in their long black coats, wide black hats, peyes dangling at either side of their faces.

Today, however, is Purim. The Jewish Halloween, when one dresses up, gets drunk, eats jam-filled treats. Consequently, the kids - well, suddenly, they're kids! Little people in tiger costumes, fat king disguises, fireman helmets and the tartan skirts of Scottish dancers. As the sun sets and long shadows fall across the face-painted children, it feels like a Tom Waits song made real: klezmer meets carnival; strange kids who speak in guttural, gibberish german.

At home, I listen to the St. Thomas' I'm Coming Home, touted by Magnet as the next Norwegian thing to look out for (after the Kings of Convenience and Royskopp). He plays that's not dissimilar to Josh Rouse or Will Oldham Don't get me wrong, though - it's terrible. The opener - it's called, yes, "The Cool Song" - sounds like the Swedish Chef after a three week course on English, stoned on valium and shrill with helium. "I've never seen a cowboy before / never told a story so sore / hey baby take a look at me / i tink [sic] i'm ready for de kickdown / i can never give you in / have you ever seen my chin / an umbreller is dancing on the corner / now everyting is beyond her." You can't make this stuff up. It reminds me quite a lot of the sad horrors unleashed by Siggi Armann, who opened for Sigur Ros on tour last year. He was the worst big lug with a guitar I had ever heard... With pained, closed eyes, he crooned that "Even big boys cry / when their friends die."

Oh... doing a google search, I find that Pitchfork said this of "The Cool Song":

"The Cool Song", has a catchy, campfire appeal that, combined with its urgent, compact melody, impels sympathetic foot-stomping, a background of curious percussion, fiddles and a drum circle on "Bookstore" are pure essense-of-Oldham.


Posted by Sean at 6:06 PM | Comments (0)

This is my new weblog

So it begins: a new place to write.

Posted by Sean at 12:26 AM | Comments (0)