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.

June 30, 2003

yoshimi battles the islamic folk-singers

So it seems I'm not crazy:

The Flaming Lips have been forced to turn over publishing royalties to Cat Stevens as part of a settlement in which Stevens (real name: Yusuf Islam) alleged that the Lips' song "Fight Test" bore a very close resemblance to his early '70s track "Father and Son."
Since the first time I heard "Fight Test," months ago, the similarity with "Father and Son" has been driving me nuts. Like, batshit crazy. I rant incoherently about it to anyone who will listen - Dan, for instance (who didn't know the Cat Stevens song); or Bryan (who didn't know the Flaming Lips track). I can't tell you how reassuring it is that lawyers have confirmed the intuitions of my critic's ear. :)

Posted by Sean at 2:04 PM | Comments (3)

June 29, 2003

a plea

So as of this evening, it looks like Google's been hacked.

Don't worry, it hasn't been. Evidence suggests that either a) every computer in my house (all of which are running MacOS 9, which no hacker in their right mind would waste time on) has been overcome by some adware, or b) our ISP's proxy was hit with some hacker juju. The odds are 6:1 for option b. Should you wish to bet on the outcome, google appears to have great solutions for online gambling!

Listened to a fun cover of the Flaming Lips doing the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army." The best part is that they substitute the lyrics from the Butthole Surfers' "Moving to Florida." Huzzah!

I tried using a Sharpie today to defeat the copy protection on my Broken Social Scene album - hoping I could then play it on my discman. Drew a line around the edge outer edge, covering what looked like the data zone of the disc. No dice - still won't play on the walkman, but is fine on the stereo. Anyone else have any luck with this kind of crap? I'm trying to decide whether I want to try it on my copy of Hail to the Thief (but if it doesn't work, I've just killed my chances at resale...).

Is there anyone out there who's interested in joining me at the Ottawa Bluesfest? As of right now, no one else seems to be going - and I'm not really looking forward to doing it solo. The pass is a steal, this year, given the acts on deck; if you'd like to enjoy ten days of shows, and want someone to sip beers with you, let me know...

Posted by Sean at 11:57 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2003

cast of thousands

So the Radiohead feature came across well, even though there were a number of cool people who didn't manage to get their fifty words in, as I had hoped. Next time!

I have to take back my complete slam of the Hidden Cameras record. One song - "Animals of Prey" is lots of fun, but mostly because of the "oh oh oh" that hides in the back of the chorus. It reminds me of a more fey Pavement, somehow. Even though they don't sound like Malmus & Co at all.

Currently stuck on my stereo, however, is the new album by Elbow, A Cast of Thousands. Their first album, Asleep at the Back, made my best-of for 2001, but this is a much much better, more elegant record. The band still sounds like something slow, dark and slights prog, but the new songs are more polished, thoughtful, complete. More late Radiohead, less Blur, in a way. Things open up in unexpected ways, or shut down in a way that's thick with images. As before, fantastic use of drums (they appear pounding, go all fluttery, bump against the chest-cavity, rattle and rock), and very tasteful swathes of acoustic guitar. As a bonus, their sense of humour is still quietly present (last heard on their xylophone-drenched cover of Destiny's Child's "Independent Woman"). Hopefully it'll stay good and I'll write a more complete review later.

Posted by Sean at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2003

good god

holy crap coldplay's parachutes sounds good on these new grado sr-80s. i may never again have to go to a concert.


also: bedhead's what fun life was seems to take everything that's good from their other albums, and, uh, make that into an album. blows bedheaded and transaction de novo away. slow-building fuzzwarm guitarguitarguitar.

knock knock
who's there?
the hidden cameras
the hidden cameras who?
major freakin' disappointment! these guys are hyped? why!? because of that stupid "gay church folk music" soundbyte? geez-gods - it sounds fine, but hello, okkervil river just released a split ep with julie doiron -- why is anyone talking about anything else??????

(can you tell it's 2am?)

Posted by Sean at 1:51 AM | Comments (1)

June 19, 2003

Five Years

My verdict on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars is that it's merely okay. But the first song, "Five Years," is something bigtime special. Apocalyptic chamber pop majesty, messy and spare at the same time. I can hear a lot of Radiohead in it (or, I suppose, the other way around), particularly when heard alongside to Hail to the Thief's not-quite-experimentalism. Bowie's lyrics are clearer than most of Yorke's - and weaker, in places - but he likes the same grotesque urban imagery:

"And all the fat-skinny people
And all the tall-short people
And all the nobody people
And all the somebody people
I never thought I'd need so many people
A girl my age went off her head
Hit some tiny children
A soldier with a broken arm
Fixed his stare to the wheels of a Cadillac"
I like the way that it's a lovesong and a deathsong in one, I love the way there's that frightening shriek of strings at the end (again, see Radiohead). It's the same spiritual landscape as "Wolf at the Door," I think - but Bowie sounds like he loves human beings rather more.

Posted by Sean at 11:24 PM | Comments (1)

June 17, 2003

the prodigal son returneth

So the trip was a delight. The biggest musical source of frustration was merely the plane rides: neither my old headphones nor the new ones (bought precisely for this purpose) were audible over the din of the engines. I know, I know - airplanes are loud - but o how i dreamed of a different way, o how i longed for it!

Beethoven was sold out on Sunday, so instead we hit the Upright Citizens Brigade for an hour and a half of outstanding long-form improv. It was my second time seeing "ASSSCAT," and it was certainly no less funny than the first. Appearances by UCB founder Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Horatio Sanz and Fred Armisen (as well as a host of other, non-SNL performers) spiced the brew, or something. We need to try the 'Harold' format in Montreal; there are a few people (Chris, Dustin - oh jesus, are they going to be gone? woe!) who would do terrific monologues.

Found a $2.50 copy of an Aroah CD in St Mark's place. She's a songwriter on Acaruela - sounds like the halfbreed child of Ani Difranco and Mazzy Star, or something. Still waiting to decide if I like it (I only "listened" to it on the airplane, which, as outlined before, uh, sucked). I almost cried at the sight of wrapped copies of this year's Kepler and Songs:Ohia records, going unsold (and for $2.50!), but couldn't find the heart to buy second copies for myself. A made fun of my sorrow, till she acknowledged that she had herself wept for unsold stuffed animals.

Damien Rice was a terrific show. Lacklustre openers (though Charlotte Martin will be a hit for the Tori Amos/intelligent-Jewel-listener crowd). He was there with full band - drums, bass, cello, and the lovely Lisa Hannigan on vocals. The songs from O came alive, and it was wonderful to hear Damien's music surrounded by people who not only knew it, but loved it. It was the last show of this tour, so midway through the encore, Damien declared the official show over, than critics should shut their notebooks, that the lazy should evacuate. He then went on to play six or seven increasingly silly, increasingly wine-stained songs. These included a surprisingly capable American spiritual, covers of "When Doves Cry," "Hallelujah" and Portishead's "Glory Box," as well as the svelte cellist's solo version of "Purple Haze." Damien said he was working on his new album (hooray!), and the little bit of new material sounded quite good. (One of the songs, however, was a mess - noise-by-numbers as an alibi for real emotion or craft.) He should be coming back later this year, and I'll try to catch him again then.

Oh - and, of course, Damien Rice played Letterman on Friday night. Which was very, very strange. Originally, he was slated to do Tuesday night - but got bumped by Bruce Willis. (At the show, he said he "Was glad, really," because he'd rather not share a stage with Willis' pro-war balderdash.) Friday it was, then - and with Tom Green (!?) as host. What the hell is Tom Green doing hosting David freakin' Letterman? As Tom put it himself, "everyone in Hollywood was busy." Still - to my great pleasure - the Ottawa boy did us proud, acting astonishingly normal, but still off-kilter enough to be engaging. He was very nervous, and must have been given threats ("If you sit there yelling "I'm the host! I'm the host!" for an hour, sucking margarine from a hose, your career is over, Green!") - and he certainly could have pushed the envelope a few centimeters further - but it was really great to see such a funny guy acting in a likable, non-infuriating fashion. It's been some time since Tom acted particularly human. Damien Rice then played two songs - an acceptable band version of "Volcano," and a solo take on "Cannonball" (which was actually, I think, better than the accompanied version at the show). I still don't know how what amounts to a self-released album scored a two-song spot on Late Night...

When I arrived home my Special Edition version of Hail to the Thief was waiting, but seeing as it's "copy protected," it won't play on my walkman. I'll have to rip and burn it. This shit is stupid. I'm still figuring out how I want to approach a review of it for TM - am considering asking several people to write 50 words (exactly), and collecting those... While I was in NJ, I missed Dan's Hail piece in the Ottawa Citizen - and I'm eager to read what he thought. Meanwhile, I'm not warming to the album as much as I hoped I would: it sounds great, really interesting to listen to, but I'm not feeling it as I did Kid A and Amnesiac. Resembles OK Computer in that way: HTTT seems preoccupied with a world that's noisynoisy, overrun with liars, cheats, gobblers and suits. Thom rants and raves - "dance you fucker" - about predators and prey, all endlessly birthing and gorging and dying... but I can't help but feel that my world is too empty, too full of open space, more wasteland than jungle. HTTT is about a place that jostles and speaks in mean tongues, whereas I'm living in a lonely reality that seems to rarely speak at all.

Where the hell is Julian?!

(Also: Public apology to Anne - I should have written you at least two emails by now, but instead I've been distracted and busy and lazy and stupid. Forgive me! I will write you soon!)

Posted by Sean at 10:00 AM | Comments (1)

June 6, 2003


So I leave later tonight for a week-long trip to see A in NJ. We'll probably be going into NYC most days - this means that I'll be happy. I really like New York City; it captures everything that's great about the Garamond font... It's old and proud and artsy and vast. Hopefully I'll be able to get in a proper visit at the St Mark's place record-shops, not to mention The Strand bookstore, Damien Rice at the Bowery Ballroom, maybe some Beethoven at the Town Hall, perhaps even a visit to see Conan O'Brien.

In honour of the flights I'll be taking to get there, as well as the new headphones I'll be picking up (Grado SR-80s, Sony Eggo D66s [more on that another time]), I made myself a couple of mix cds of proper-good listening music. Many of these songs are really long, and never made it onto other mixes because I simply couldn't spare the real-estate. They're great, great songs, though - the use every second of their six-to-fifteen minutes. Somehow I'm finding enough internal fortitude to hold off listening to them till I'm at the airport. I'm worried I'm going to crack.

01. The Velvet Underground - "Heroin"
The kick-drum continues to floor me. On a good pair of headphones/speakers, it's a thump stronger than your own heartbeat. The way this song rises and falls... the screech of viola... the sadhappy way the lyrics are sung. Hooboy. (I hear it's being used on a Nissan commercial. Ye gads!)
02. Radiohead - "There There"
What a fine first single this is. The drums pick up where Heroin left off, but they dive off the heat-blanched city streets and into the forest. A lullaby that turns loud.
03. Bedhead - "The Rest of the Day"
A blazing example of mellow guitar-playing that crescendos into hazy glockenspiel fireworks. I don't care about the lyrics: they're there to fill time until the seemingly-meandering guitar-line has worked its way into your bloodflow, your inner monologue. When it explodes, it's part of you.
04. Doves - "Pounding"
Trippy, bombastic, feel-good pop as only Doves do. Woo hoo!
05. Loose Fur - "Chinese Apples"
I didn't much like the noodling Loose Fur album. My sister heard this song on Ed, however, and asked me what it was. When I figured it out, what-do-ya-know, it was a lovely little folktune whose merits I had missed. The noodling is present, but harmless. Atmosphere atmosphere atmosphere. And Jeff Tweedy's brown voice.
06. The Microphones - "The Glow Pt. 2"
Noisy and grass-stained - out of disorder comes a clumsy beauty. I like the way the acoustic guitar strokes swing from speaker to speaker.
07. Kepler - "the changing light at sandover"
The Bedhead track's twin. This one changes on a dime, however - like Radiohead's "Creep" - the guitars suddenly thunderous bristling beasts (and the cymbals!). The murmured lyrics have that same irrelevance, though - they're sounds to coax you into the music.
08. Van Morrison - "Madame George"
As Michael Ondaatje recognized, this is one of the world's most marvellous songs, alongside "Sweet Thing" - both from Astral Weeks, and both beyond love, beyond memory, beyond passion and sorrow, well into the sublime.
09. The Dears - "We Can Have It"
It breaks like the sun over the horizon, red-purple. The drums and flute are Radiohead and The Delgados' bastard sons. The finale is huge.
10. New Order - "Temptation"
New Order's best song. Catchy and dancey and singy, with a guitar melody that drives you to grinning, and sillystupid lyrics that sound to me like poetry. The fade-to-snowfall ending sounds like something The Arcade Fire would do, but that's because Win likes New Order so much.
11. Elbow - "Newborn"
If this is prog, it's Dark Side of the Moon brit-prog, muscular and bold. This pop song visits a dozen different places, walks down a dozen different roads.
12. Iron & Wine - "Upward over the Mountain"
Live, from "Morning Becomes Eclectic". This is a song for fog in the streets.

01. Nina Nastasia - "Ocean"
With its peculiar, in-and-out strings, this song rises like the tide, and crashes against cliffs. that justifies the "alt": this is not honky tonk.
02. Sigur Ros - "Svefn-G-Englar"
A submarine that rises through the ice, mist rippling. It's a pop song for orchestras and angels and girls in comas.
03. Songs:Ohia - "The Tigress"
From the live record, mi sei apparso come un fantasma. The song is just as rich as on The Lioness, with the same lurches from angry-to-resigned, but stripped of the organ (replaced with a feral guitar), the track becomes direct, hard-eyed, fierce.
04. Wilco - "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"
A love-song scattered in the attic.
05. (Smog) - "Our Anniversary"
The best thing off Supper, this song is sentimental in the way that only Bill Callahan knows how to do. Deeply romantic, loving; it's also sad, funny, pure. It takes its time coming home. It looks at the sights.
06. Radiohead - "Paranoid Android"
The first Radiohead song I loved.
07. 16 Horsepower - "Horse Head Fiddle"
Churning, black-taffy atmosphere. Thick as dread.
08. Okkervil River - "West Falls"
A murder ballad that kicks its heels up half-way through, celebratory and unambiguously alive. (I get so much fucking joy out of this band. They are extraordinary. And soon - a split EP with Julie Doiron!!! !!!!!!!! !! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
09. Nina Nastasia - "Superstar"
Don't worry. I won't break my own rules. But this song - which you can download here - is too good to pass up. It's another that slow-blossoms, whose shuffle works its way into your breathing. Plaintive but free.
10. Aphex Twin - "Heroes"
Mad string cut-up of David Bowie's classic. Lush and strange, like Philip Glass on opium. Harrowing.
11. Gillian Welch - "I Dream a Highway"
A green crown. This fourteen minute epic is worth its seconds - it's a song worth living to, to put on repeat into forever. The sound of going home, and leaving it.

See why I'm excited?

Posted by Sean at 2:11 PM | Comments (9)

June 4, 2003


so yeah, I missed the Microphones show. I sat down to dinner with a beer, shortly thereafter realising that I could no longer drive, and thus no longer attend. I cursed. I howled. I sighed and went to my room. I was hoping I'd hear back that it was a major disappointment, but I knew that was unlikely. And now, Gareth says the Toronto show was extraordinary. *sigh* I regret missing it like crazy. I am such a knob.



Posted by Sean at 8:56 AM | Comments (3)