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.

May 31, 2004

adieu my baby

This is Canadian turf, here, so no Memorial Day holiday for me - I'll be taking a day off on Wednesday, as I zoom down to Montreal for university convocation. That said, best regards to our American neighbours who are on holiday, and to those men and women overseas who are trying to do the right thing for human beings everywhere. I wish them luck.

Jean Leloup - "I Lost My Baby". And since my Canadian-ness is on show today, here's a wonderful ditty from the 'hood, an ode to "une fille d'Ottawa" - a girl who fled monsieur Leloup for the greener pastures of Hawkesbury, a town downriver from the Capital. While this song's bilingual, it evades the pitfalls of a lot of such music - rather than using English and French together for some universal, harmony-and-rainbows appeal, it's a self-serving musical tactic that lets English reign for the American-style choruses ("I lost my baby / I lost my darlin'"), turning to the flow of French for its narrative verses. There's humour in the silly tale, the lightest touch of melancholy, a cheerful strum of guitar, a woman's giggle, boy-girl vocals. Jean Leloup is a familiar face from the Quebec alt music scene, till he announced in December that he was committing "musical suicide" and ending his career. A live album and DVD have just been released, but the story goes that Jean Leloup's recording and performing days are over. On the other hand, he will be continuing to work (in some form) under his real name, Jean Leclerc. I'm not really sure what this means. "I Lost My Baby" is from 1996's Le Dôme. [buy]

The Poozies - "All I Want". An astonishing reinterpretation of "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," the fine song from Lerner/Lowew's My Fair Lady. Where the original is contemplative but rather bouncy, here it has been transformed into something slow, heartbreaking, and full of longing. Eilidh Shaw's got a soft, slightly throaty voice, like wind through rushes. The Scottish band is known for its energetic folk repertoire, but everything's been stripped away here - two voices in harmony (Shaw with Kate Rusby), sleepy keys, and a perfect, restrained bridge on some sort of squeezebox. (I realize that it is incongruous to speak of a "perfect" squeezebox solo, particularly within a song as hushed and wistful as this one. But it's true.) Somewhere between Sufjan Stevens' "Flint" and Xiu Xiu's "Fast Car" cover. From the band's latest record, Changed Days Same Roots. [buy]

I realize I'm way behind the times here, but for anyone (like me) who missed it, Tiny Mix Tapes interviewed the Arcade Fire in January, and if nothing else, it seems to have sewed the seeds for the title of their upcoming debut on Merge...

Win: I hope our music is uplifting in a really full sense. We don?t just wanna make people feel good. Being scared or confused can be uplifting too. Music has this rare potential to be creative and completely non-destructive at the same time, which is a really powerful idea, even though it is rarely seen. I know most people in the world would probably not get much from our music, but you can hope right? Funerals are a lot more important than records.

Régine: But there?s almost always music at funerals. I like to sing for funerals. I sang for my mom?s funeral, I sang for my grandma?s funeral.

Win: Can you imagine if there was a publication like Spin Magazine or Rolling Stone about funerals? There would be articles about hot new trends in funeral services, and profiles on hot up and coming funeral directors, as well as lots of stuff about people who have been in the business for years, and keep doing quality work. Then in the back there would be reviews of services. "The first 15 minutes were really meaningful, but then the brother stood up and said some really cliché played out stuff." Maybe there could even be a rating scale about how meaningful or useful the persons life had been. I hope I get 7.5 out of 10...

Through most of June, the band is on a US tour with The Unicorns. You should go see them. If you live in Houston, they play on the 12th with The Unicorns and the Fiery Furnaces. Which is probably just about the show of the year. (Add Okkervil River to the bill and there would be no doubt.)

Later this week, fresh Okkervil River and 'new' Nick Drake.

gmail swap update: The Times (London) [l/p: laexaminer/laexaminer]

Posted by Sean at 1:09 AM | Comments (4)

May 28, 2004

Friday twangday

Western music with a dark tone. Uncle Tupelo. Named after a janitor from Wyoming who spent his life savings on coke and prostitutes.

Richmond Fontaine - "Allison Johnson". I couldn't decide whether to post this or "The Janitor," also from Post To Wire, but ultimately decided "Allison Johnson" was a better match with Oh Susanna. This song staggers from bass-thump to bass-thump, a moribund waltz on a deserted street. Though Will Vlautin keeps singing of some domestic peace (hear the piano buried deep in the back), the song seems to trend inevitably downwards; it's like we're staring into a grave, moving toward an inevitable collapse. "Don't fade on me!" he sings. "Don't fade." But there seems little hope that Allison will return: those strokes of cello and electric guitar are too heavy, far too heavy. Uncle Tupelo, paralyzed with nostalgia; Clem Snide after too much heavy drinking. Thanks so much, David. [buy]

Oh Susanna - "All Eyes On Baby". From Oh Susanna's first EP (a short, rich thing from 1997). Suzie's finally getting some wider attention, with actual music videos and things like that, but I'm still very partial to this early, bare-bones work; I like the full, nimble vocals, the halting finger-picked acoustic guitar. Like Neko Case - who wasn't born in British Columbia, but who we pretend was, - Oh Susanna has a clear, powerful river of a voice, but it's pulled in, sent lilting over this rocky hillside. The bitterness is never too thick, simply sad; there's some Gillian Welch here, too. [buy]

Hard 'n Phirm - "Rodeohead". And just because I feel like it's going to be a silly weekend, here's a country/bluegrass/hillbilly medley of Radiohead songs, found here. They run the gamut from Pablo Honey to Hail to the Thief (I think), dashing madly from a banjo-led "Everything in Its Right Place" to a whistle-toothed bit of "Karma Police" and on and on. Even if the kitsch factor depresses you, be at least a little uplifted by the madcap energy and ambition of the thing. [via stx]


Sidewalker is a band that writes, records and releases a new song online every Monday. They show talent - golden notes, squiggly electronic bits, a warm and slippery voice. Radioheady, sure, but in the experimental-angst-pop kind of way, not the whiney artrockers sense. I like the long thrum of "Tiny Digits Missing Bones," as well as the liquid atmospherics of "Boxcar, Boxcar, Hopper, Flatcar."

An mp3blog that somehow dodged my attention, curated by Freaky Trigger's Tom Ewing, among others: A Million Love Songs.

Rob Grayson - "The Beatles, A to Z". Following the tragic assassination of John Lennon ... my station ... aired a memorial tribute. It aired on the weekend after the tragedy, and included a ten minute period of silence, followed by this piece. ... It is a montage of all The Beatles songs, edited from A to Z. The version here has been updated to include material from the Anthology series. It's certainly a collage (and not, say, a mash-up), but for we Beatles fans, any excuse to listen to these songs is a good one.


Albums I am listening to a lot right now:

Sia - Color the Small One - it's new to me, and lovely.

The Killers - Hot Fuss - see.

The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free - i like the sparer production, but not the handful of dud-after-five-listens story tracks. All the sweeter stuff, though ("Blinded by the Lights," "Could Well Be In," "Dry Your Eyes," second half of "Empty Cans" etc) - wow wow wow!

Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin - so much better than Let Go because she doesn't let go of that electric guitar. Swooning pop punk. "My Happy Ending" = ace.

Magnetic Fields - i - good.

Bishop Allen - Charm School - I will write about this soon because it is absolutely fantastic.

Posted by Sean at 12:09 AM | Comments (30)

May 27, 2004


It's been too long in coming, so here's a three-song, thirteen-minute update that puts the spotlight on Hayden.

Hayden's a packed-house star up here in the frosty Canadian wastes, and he can't be too fringe a figure in the American singer-songwriter arena, but his records still aren't mentioned in the sorts of places they should be. He's released five solid albums of brooding, mumbly music, and while his lyrics can be hit-and-miss, his melancholy sincerity is perfect for stormy Thursday afternoons, or as a relationship slowly comes apart. He lets little guitar sounds carry the pauses between words, lets the unsaid speak. And he rarely screeches. (Of course there's also the growly and raging "When This Is Over" which is whiney and abrasive, but in a Tom-Waits-as-teenage-angster kind of way.)

In chronological order, then:

Hayden - "You Are All I Have". My favourite Hayden song, recorded twice - an angrier, rawer version on Moving Careful, and again here on The Closer I Get. This is an exceedingly careful love song, as tentative as fingers brushing hair from a face. It's long and steadfastly simple, bold words over the a tickling, blossoming mandolin. Hayden takes such time letting the song fold open, letting it stretch and ripple and glow. Each time a line of the chorus is delivered, it's a pulse of something bigger, as Douglas Coupland wrote (about something else), "silver dollars, rubies, sugar candies." A man in front of a house at night, lit only by the dim porch light, his heart in his two hands. [buy]

Hayden - "Bass Song". From 2002's Skyscraper National Park. This one is a little more upbeat, at least in a musical sense. Live, it's led by the ringing piano sound, but on record it's a strange, macabre little thing, guitars and drums pulling the quiet piano around, introducing it to the cold, wet, twisting strings. It's a silly story: Hayden in his home as burglars break in. "I couldn't hear them / with my headphones on / recording a song." But things go queer in the second half, as he "grab[s] [his] bass guitar by the neck," to be found "five days after [he] hit the ground." The same cautionary guitar tootles along, but in come the strings again, wheeling and winding, a slow-motion dance, dark violet figures on a candlelit floor. [buy]

Hayden - "Home by Saturday". Finally, the second track from Hayden's 2004 record, Elk Lake Serenade. Here he is in his slightly more rustic mode, with the kind of urban country-folk that landed him the soundtrack for 1996's Trees Lounge (with Steve Buscemi! As an unemployed drinker who's down on his luck!). There's an affectionate ring to Hayden's voice, in the long highways he imagines beyond the end of the song. A pedal steel underlines the man's not-quite-weariness, his not-quite-longing. As everything tramps casually forward, you can't help but feel it's holding back, ultimately much more divided than, say, Tom Waits's "Long Way Home". Listening to Hayden's lazy Ontario drawl, however, it's easy to understand why the girl would feel attached in the first place. [buy]

The bad side to Hayden is that since his comeback explosion a couple of years ago, I get the feeling he's coasting. Live, he's gone smug and lacklustre, carelessly tossing out songs, fully aware that the audience will lap it up regardless of effort. There are bits of Elk Lake Serenade where he's spinning his wheels, not putting the work into finishing the song. Hayden's written some excellent tracks that consist basically of a chorus: he sets a half-song spinning, gently reflecting light, and doesn't fill in the verses or give it an arc. But while this can sometimes succeed, other times it feels like a lazy habit or a lack of craft; the trick can wear, especially when overused. So while Greg Macpherson does astonishing things with his voice, his instrument, his words, Hayden's gone sloppy, resting too much on his cute-indie-boy laurels. Pull yourself together, dude: work a touch harder. I beg.

Posted by Sean at 2:08 AM | Comments (9)

May 26, 2004

i'm on tambourine

Happy Wednesday to all.

First of all, John sent me a totally transcendent track by Washington Phillips, called "Lift Him Up That's All." It's a jumbly, rickety piano and Phillips' bright-moon voice, neither preacher nor minstrel, a hallelujah to the deep, good things that are there if we want them. Scratchy gospel that's humble enough for we jewish nonbelievers to get behind. (I'd share it with you, only he may well be planning the same!)

I also managed to hear the whole of Joanna Newsom's loved-and-maligned record. Me, I think it's terrific - that strange woman with her scritchy voice and sour words. Though I don't know if anything ever beats the yawling open line of "Inflammatory Writ," it's an album of strident and peculiar tunes. Devendra Banhart + Dan Bejar, but a girl. With harp, xylophone, guitar, harpsichord, and other things. I'd post bits, but most of the album's been seen on one blog or another, so go get it yerself!

Camera Obscura - "Keep it Clean". June 12th, Camera Obscura plays in a Glasgow garden with Belle & Sebastian, Trash Can Sinatras, and others. Which is apt, and should give you a fair idea of who and what they are. Indeed, they're Scottish and twee, Traceyanne Campbell's soft vocals over light-and-jangly guitars, organ, the occasional trumpet. Whereas at first they seem like throwaway imitators, however, Underachievers Please Try Harder makes it clear that they have their own bright talent: it's a better album than Belle & Sebastian have made in years. These are relaxed, fine songs, and "Keep It Clean" is no exception. The vibe slowly accelerates, Campbell's earnesty grows, the organ plays in the grass. "It's clear / you don't want me here." This is a break-up under blue skies, when things are stark - clear as broken glass. Circling clouds in the shape of new lovers. [buy]

The Killers - "Indie Rock and Roll". I first heard these Las Vegas kids on Music for Robots, and now here's their LP, Hot Fuss. It's many minutes of synth-laden indie rock, like The Strokes-Interpol-Jet-etc and with a definite Julian Casablancas influence on vocals. Completely great, though - like on the magical Is This It?, the band simply nails the hooks, the bridges, the little things that make fantastic things from simple tools.

And "Indie Rock and Roll" is something else. Not only is it an unabashed anthem for and of indie rock, not only is it conscious of itself and yet still sincere, but it's also - and most importantly, - totally awesome.

This'll even be enjoyed by those pop-listeners who (like me) enjoyed "All the Things She Said" or "Sk8er Boi". Drums stomp while guitar and piano ticktock like clockwork, electric guitars surge and soar and wave flags, pedals are pressed, "oohs" fly out of the wings, the pyrotechnics go off. Above it all, Brandon Flowers shouts his heart out, laying out the sorry facts and yet celebrating them all the same:

all the boys
electric girls with worn-out toys
making up, breaking up
oh what do you care?
I take my twist with a shout
a coffee shop with a cause
then I'll freak you out
no sex, no drugs, no life, no love
oh don't be shy, let's cause a scene
And you can be sure the band's aware these these are slightly silly cliches. As Flowers sings in the opening seconds, "two of us flipping through a thrift store magazine / she plays the drums, I'm on tambourine." "Scene" isn't used casually, nor is it an accident that there's the requisite, laid-back-and-love-sick bridge. No, The Killers understand the absurdities of the "indie rock and roll" to which they are pouring their libations, but so too are they certain it's a worthy idol, an acceptable absurdity, something they really-truly love, NO MATTER WHAT.

And the song's so excellent, so sumptuous and rocking and indulgent, that we're going to hear it at the parties where we should, in those staggering early-morning moments as the pint-glasses empty, as thick-framed-glasses come off and faces are rubbed. As everyone gets back on the wet floor and tries to figure out how to dance. [buy]


Check Justin's wonderfully autobiographical defence of Marilyn Manson, and then scroll down to Say Hi To Your Mom's "Let's Talk About Spaceships", which is a tumbling late-90s rock song with lyrics that are serious and whimsical, like something that Ballboy might do, but American and tending slightly toward emo. Good.

Stereogum's got a great Decemberists b-side, but then stick around and help the man out with bandwidth. He deserves to stay online, for sure.

Marx vs the Monorail is a terrific new mp3blog with a terrifically European bent. Hooray.

ps: i am so fucking excited.

Posted by Sean at 2:17 AM | Comments (8)

May 25, 2004

out past the party lights

Listened to the quite-good Nick Drake Special on BBC2, today. For the first few minutes I was reeling with cognitive dissonance (it's narrated by Brad "huge admirer of [Nick Drake] records" Pitt), but eventually settled in to enjoy the things that people other than Brad had to say. There was something very sad about the affection that lingered in the voices of Nick's (former) friends and colleagues. Definitely a better piece than 1999's A Skin Too Few doc.

At the end of the show, I resolved to post Norah Jones's "Day is Done" cover to the blog. When I went and listened to it properly, however, I changed my mind. Much too smooth, by the end; much too funky. In short - not noteworthy. For those of you who are still interested, however, seek out guitarist Charlie Hunter's 2001 record, Songs From the Analog Playground.

Instead of Norah-doing-Nick, then, here's Tom-that-Norah-did; a terrific track from the soundtrack to Big Bad Love, covered by Norah on Feels Like Home.

Tom Waits - "Long Way Home". This is neither Tom Waits at his most boisterous nor Tom at his most loony-romantic - instead, he treads the middle ground of Townes Van Zandt or Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen. A bass rocks back and forth, footsteps shuffle, and when the trumpet joins in it's as if the first fingers of orange light are breaking up the shadows. Tom's not desperate, or apathetic, he's just quietly determined - he'll not stop, he'll not stumble, he'll make it there eventually. [buy]

Broken Family Band - "The Perfect Gentleman". This Cambridge band fakes an American twang and swaggers like a mopey English cowboy. The song's methodical movements break down at the end in an appealingly noisy way - an organ warbles, darts and loops with a Grandaddy/Radiohead confidence. I don't quite know what the song's trying to say, but whatever it is, it sails unerringly through its choppy brown waters. (From the King Will Build a Disco mini-album. Thanks, Kieran!) [buy]

A Toronto woman has gone missing after attending a Billy Corgan show in Chicago. If you think you might possibly be able to help, please drop by Billy's blog for a photo, as well as the contact info for police, should you have any information. Let's hope she gets home safe. [via aaron]

Posted by Sean at 2:22 AM | Comments (7)

May 24, 2004

lose sight of you

Five Dollar Soul - "Wait For Me". Lurching indie rock that hunts for a cresting chorus amid dead-end guitars and a stark, taunting melody. It feels like a stunted melancholy, a sadness, anger or jubilance that's not yet free to blossom: "Wait. Please wait." Very remniscent of some of Idaho's work, the murky feedback sound and then a clear main line that rises out. Radiohead would throw in ninety seconds of dripdroppy electronics, but Five Dollar Soul don't bother; they let things slowly play through, never making it out, bumping into walls with a desperate man's blindness.

Tim Easton - "Carry Me". An ballad with soft hands. Fingerpicking, mellotron, snaps and backwards-flowing guitars blend like the Chemical Brothers' "Where Do I Begin," only this time there's regret and ache in the place of Beth Orton's bright-eyed potential. Easton's got a terrific voice, Ryan Adams' with the edges sanded off; gravel, smoothness, and a poet's care with words. A bass joins the weave, drums join in, and things slowly lift. It's Jay Bennett (formerly of Wilco) on backup guitars and mellotron, and we hear his penchant for pop experimentalism (closer to Revolver, of course, than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot). It's a beautiful song, gently churning. From 2001's The Truth About Us. [buy]

Into the Groove is a fantastic new pop mp3blog, finding excellent, underappreciated tunes. I'm really happy to see it around - the songs are great, and it's a wonderful counterpoint to some of the rest of our indie-centric habits.

Grab the Shout Out Louds track at Listen Closer. It's 90s alt.rock with a scratchy and wry Eef Barzelay voice, pop guitars that play with your expectations, scrambling toward a chorus and then falling back into weird surf flourishes. The organ hums like that friend who always has the best ideas.

New to me: Mark's Classical Gasp is a mp3blog that uses ogg vorbis instead of mp3, and boasts the radio-style format. Digging the righttogether blend of old and new. (Rickie Lee Jones! Franz Ferdinand! Cornelius b-side!)

Obligatory gmail swap update: USA Today, NPR, Baltimore Sun, MPR, Techweb, iMedia, #5 on Daypop. Almost 100,000 unique visitors in its first week. (I'm looking for a php hacker to help me out with something. Please get in touch!)

Posted by Sean at 3:10 AM | Comments (5)

May 21, 2004

keepin the flavour fresh

The Trouble With Sweeney - "Evelyn Rochman". There's an Ottawa band called As The Poets Affirm. Isn't than an awful name? If it was emo satire, it would be genius. But it's not, so it isn't. "The Trouble With Sweeney" reminds me of that. One wonders what the band was thinking:

"How about we name it Sweeney?"
"That's your name, dude."
"Yeah, but it's kinda cool. Kooky, you know, but not too kooky."
"Like us."
(the serious one) "I don't like it."
"What? Why not! What's the trouble with 'Sweeney'?"
(chortle) "Dude - let's call the band that!"
(all, save serious one, in unison) "YEAH!"
Happily, however, this is the case of a poorly named band turning out a highly listenable piece of indie rock, chiming electric guitars that gather round tunesome backing vox and Joey Sweeney's Tweedy-esque singing voice. It's hard to hate anything that opens with a lyrical reference to the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, following up with the Modern Lovers and Richard Hell. It's like Mrs Robinson, or, I guess, the mum at the end of American Pie. But with more cred. "I know you're my dad's wife's friend / ... / but you're giving me this crazy kind of confidence / I don't know why." [from Fishtown Briefcase, which isn't quite out yet]

David Byrne - "Glass, Concrete and Stone". Because a lot of people (like me) might have written Byrne off a while ago, here's the stunning opening number from his new album. It's pretty wonderful, quick-footed and melodic, with toothsome jumbles of lyrics and a terrific arrangement. Byrne plays capably with classical, world and rock instruments, but rather than falling into the rocker-emeritus tendencies of Peter Gabriel, say, the arrangement doesn't sink too far into its own concept; everything's delivered with aplomb. The strings, hand-drums and xylophone (as well as the Magnetic Fields-like "oo-oo-oo-oos" around 3 minutes) seem dedicated to the song's altpop hook, the rising crest of the chorus. [buy]

A great new mostlyfolk blog, kittytext.

The Streets are coming to Montreal (can I persuade myself to pay the $43 bus ticket?), and Wilco's coming to Ottawa (can I persuade myself to pay the $2.50 bus ticket?). Thanks to Aaron and Frank for the heads' ups.

Gmail Swap stuff: articles in the Washington Post and at Wired News. The lunacy continues. (4,301 swaps have been posted since Monday morning.)

Posted by Sean at 3:31 AM | Comments (7)

May 20, 2004

wandering blues

The Be Good Tanyas - "The Littlest Birds". The gorgeous, lift-me-up opening tune from the Be Good Tanyas' debut, from the days when Jolie Holland was still a Vancouver-dwelling member. (There's also a solo Jolie version on Catalpa.) This thing scampers and smiles, hopping from rounded stone to rounded stone, tree-leaves fluttering with the darting of small birds. The women play as they sing, the banjo laughs in the back, the drums clap their brush hands and a guitar slides in between the lake-splashes. A free-wheeling delight, a song for the first moments of morning, for slipping into a day that will be rosy and blue and happy and free. These "wandering blues" are tricky things - wonderful, even if the sunset's eventually going to come (later! later!). "I love you so dearly / I love you so fearlessly. / ... / I don't want to leave you / I love you through and through." A violin scampers in at the end, for a little twirling dance. [buy]

The Waifs - "Up All Night". Another Australian track from Laura, albeit in a different vein than Cat Empire's slinking pop. The Waifs are a three-piece from Melbourne, with sisters Donna and Vikki who handle most of the vocals. Here, however, it's Josh Cunningham doing a slow, gravelly tune - like M Ward on a long and dusty trail. A guitar twangs remorsefully, brushed drums drag. This song is for a long night, a small fire, a full belly, and eyes that flicker with nostalgia. [buy]

In the mail today, I received samples of's Sumosonic sampler series. As Matthew said, these are some really fine comps - tracks by Andre 3000, The Streets, Von Bondies, Telefon Tel Aviv, Dntel, the Secret Machines, Dangermouse and Jemini, etc etc. More than a few things I've heard via other mp3blogs, too - and at least one track (El-P and Cage's "Oxycontin Pt. 2", off Def Jux III) that I had planned to post here. In short, they're well worth the USD$3.33 postage to bring them to your door - and I say that honestly, not as a corporate shill, - but probably not whatever rip-off premium they'll ask to ship them to Canada. Thanks to Matt @ heavy for the hook-up (and I hope yr cat is doing ok).

Gmail Swap's been metafiltered, kottke'ed, slashdotted, sensible erectioned, and if the referrers are any indication, will be farked imminently. Spoke to the washinton post today. As for the impact on Gramophone - extremely negligible. All of 72 people have hopped from gmail swap to here, (keep in mind that g.s. is receiving more than 10,000 unique hits a day). And I'm kinda glad. We don't need the hordes elbowing in. (PS: Blogger is once again offering Gmail invites. So if you [unlike me] are an "active" blogger, go and nab one)

Congratulations to Mystical Beast, Tofu Hut and Largehearted Boy for winning the Morning News' Awards for Online Excellence (Music Blogs).

Posted by Sean at 12:39 AM | Comments (7)

May 19, 2004

moshi moshi

Two tracks today from Moshi Moshi Records, a British label doing good things with folktronics and indie rock, and, um, other stuff.

Matt Harding - "What I Meant to Say". Starts as a lukewarm, echoing folk thing, like a Reindeer Section b-side, but then that ends as soon as it started, reemerging with clicks, careful picking, and warm baths of sound. "Cause I'll be the one who's here for you," Harding repeats, over and over. It's a mantra that doesn't need much fuel, it seems - there's enough here, in these little sounds, to push it forward, to make the assertion true. Glimmers of Four Tet, shades of Sam Beam, and the shiny black eyes of a longing lover. From Committment. [buy]

Pedro vs Kathryn Williams - "Demons in Cases". Kathryn Williams is one of my very favourite English singers - just as soon as I get my hands on her new covers record (Pavement! Nirvana!), there will be a whole Said the Gramophone post devoted to her restrained, cloudy delivery. In the mean time, though, here's a track from her collaboration with the DJ James Rutledge,. Her words break apart, tumbling over cliffs and into pink-fiery pits. Squelches bump up against Books-like string-samples, an electro vibe drifting through like neon gas. Pedro's part of Twisted Nerve-signed DOT (whom I've never heard); the production's by Joe Robinson (Badly Drawn Boy/Lone Pigeon), and you can hear a little of that pre-Bewilderbeast play. (Note: Robinson didnt produce anything pre-Bewilderbeast. But still.) Pretty, diving, and thick as chocolate cake. Ends a little prematurely, though. [buy]

People should definitely go out and grab Mase's new track, "Welcome Back." It's jovial, abashed, totally likable. In other words - good.

RIP, Elvin Jones! And for those who don't know his work enough - like me - start (or resume) your listening with some tracks at The Suburbs Are Killing Us. I'll be listening to A Love Supreme a lot, tomorrow.

gmail swap update: I spoke today with reporters from Wired News and the Ottawa Citizen. The Canadian Press story made the front page of Google News. It's mad!

Posted by Sean at 1:27 AM | Comments (3)

May 18, 2004

Where are the Holograms?

I'm a bit rushed tonight: Gmail Swap is blowin' up a bit, and I want to try to keep on top of it. Still - I've got time for you, dear readers, if you'll just spare me your ears.

Two tracks by Jem, a terrific Welsh singer who takes a tiny bit of Avril Lavigne, a little bit of Nelly Furtado, a larger bit of Beth Orton (or maybe Sia), and then makes the product her own. Finally Woken is a delightful, varied album - and she wrote and co-produced the whole thing. Terrific. [buy]

Jem - "24". Worked-up strings with crunching TaTU guitars and a beat that surges like something from the soundtrack to Alias. Subtle production touches - a muted bell, the flicking guitar-strings that open the song - give it an unexpected weight, a surprising dark pop power. I like the way the song's both strong and soft, a firebomb sort of tune that's could borrow heavily from the video for "Toxic."

Jem - "Wish I". Something completely different, much closer to the summertime feelgood music of, say, Sugar Ray. (and by the way, Sugar Ray = good. all you haters can go home and be frowny.) "Wish I / Wish I / Wish I was going too," Jem sings, like surf on a beach. A lap steel guitar nods along beside her, helping to wash all that city ennui away. This is a song that should have colourful straws nearby, a breeze in one's hair, sweetened iced-tea.

Posted by Sean at 12:57 AM | Comments (7)

May 17, 2004


Isobel Campbell - "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)". From her recent This Is Just The Same EP, here's the former Belle and Sebastian member doing a feather-soft rendition of Sonny Bono's dark Western tune. This cover is most interesting when taken next to the Nancy Sinatra version, last heard in Kill Bill. On first listen, I'd surely take Nancy's over Isobel's - there's more tension in the former, more steel within the coo, - but there's something affecting in the innocence of Campbell's song, the lurid words in a breathy Marilyn Monroe whisper. The tragedy is underlined, but so too, perhaps, is an element of mystery. What really happened here? Why am I uneasy when that small woman's teeth catch the light? "Now he's gone / I don't know why..." [buy]

The Tiger Lillies - "Reap What You Sow". From the group's 1998 record, Brothel to the Cemetery. The band plays a peculiar blend of russian folk music, falsetto Tom Waits, proto-punk, and um, Bertolt Brecht. This is a dark, woody, almost claustrophobic ballad, its ebb-and-flow of acoustic guitar undercut by string scrapes and the foreboding upright bass. While the lyrics aren't all darkness - there's something reassuring in the tale's conclusion, - there's also a deep and weary sadness. On a dark night, Martin Jacques' chorus - "You reap what you sow!" - seems forlorn, almost desperate, a lie to let you fall asleep. [buy]

(You'll notice I've started doing "buy this album" links. I'll continue to do so, where it's applicable. If you like the music you hear here, you should really, most definitely, fo' sure, support the artists responsible. It's a cliche, but I mean it: please go to their shows! please buy their records!

And as John and Justin have pointed out, I might as well make it easy.

I'll link to the artist's personal webstore where I can (ie, when it exists and ships affordably to North America [ie, me]), but otherwise will use InSound or Amazon. Links to the latter two will be tagged with a code that will give me a tiny commission. If that makes you uncomfortable, please don't use them. Furthermore, if such profits ever rise above basic server costs (which is unlikely, but possible, as I don't pay for the mp3 hosting), I'll change the system. I'm not comfortable earning income through this blog.)

Saw The Unicorns on Friday. They did a good show, but as a studio-recording kinda guy, I gotta say that there were only a few numbers ("I Was Born a Unicorn," particularly) that improved upon the album versions. Noteworthy, however, was a new one towards the end - Alden starting solo before everyone else jumped in. Wistful, suprising, three-legged indie rock. The surprise of the night was Toronto's Controller Controller, who despite their clumsy name played a really tight set of disco guitar-rock, like a much heavier version of Franz Ferdinand (and with lacklustre, "creamy" female vocals). Much, much better live than on CD.

Oh, a new little web project of mine:

Gmail Swap - because people are nice.


Bhangra mp3s out the wazoo. [via mefi]

See you tomorrow!

Posted by Sean at 1:42 AM | Comments (13)

May 14, 2004

Josh Rouse and Jim White

Two dusty-voiced singer-songwriters to carry us into the weekend.

Josh Rouse - "1972". First off, the softglimmering title track from last year's 1972. It starts out with strums and piano and organ, but things rise out of the calm, a beautiful melody on worn voice and reined-in strings. "She was feeling 1972 / groovin' to a Carole King tune." This impresses me in much the same way as Is This It? impressed me. Such simple ingredients - Rouse playing with the conventions - and yet the songcraft carries it up and into the truly great. For all of us who wish there was more craft to MOR, richer stuff in the fabric of John Mayer or James Taylor's songs. (This is, after all, a tribute to the seventies' pop folk. But it's very, very good.)

Jim White - "Static on the Radio". Taken from Jim's new album, Drill A Hole In That Substrate And Tell Me What You See. Yes, that's a terrible title. And while the record is uneven, this opening track is dusted with genius. on a desolate midnight road, a wailing clutch of instruments (pedal steel, vibraphone, Your Blues-style synths,) that add mystery to the noir bassline. Aimee Mann's backup vocals make the song, really - it's the tickle of better things round the bend, or better things left behind. This song is the loneliness that comes from past fullness: better to have loved and lost, right? Right? "Ain?t praying for miracles, I?m just down on my knees. Listening for the song behind everything I think I know. ... Everything I think I know is just static on the radio."

Better Propaganda - like Epitonic only, uh, with better indie cred. (Free, legal mp3s by the guys who founded, then sold, Epitonic.) Via mefi.

Benjamen Walker, the man behind NPR's musicblogging story a couple of weeks ago, has edited and released a longer version of the piece. He digs deeper into the legal ramifications/possibilities for the movement, and it's quite well done indeed.

See you Monday!

Posted by Sean at 2:31 AM | Comments (14)

May 13, 2004

nominated for a gold gramophone

Talib Kweli ft. Michelle Williams - "Lonely People". Talib must have had a fine time trying to get this past the sample clearance people. His saddened but sanctimonious raps would have been ok, but I'm not so sure about whole minutes from the instrumental track of "Eleanor Rigby," not to mention, uh, Macca's forlorn chorus. Which is sort of too bad, because while this isn't a spectacular track, its heart is in the right place, and above and beyond the appreciable "Michelle" synchronicity, Miss Williams is a fine partner for Paul's melancholy. Kanye owes George Martin some thanks, certainly, but his production is simple and effective: the slow drums give a threatening undercurrent to the slicing strings, a good match for Talib's berating verses. I'm told that the album version of "Lonely People" swaps Ray Charles in for Mr McCartney. Which is fine, I guess, but a whole lot more conventional. [via guerilla]

Also - I would like to thank whatever it is that is motivating this recent spate of hip-hop Beatles love. They are two things that I enjoy, and I like that they are getting together. (Without sucking.)

The Cat Empire - "All That Talking". Laura passed me word about these fine Australians, and here they are with a smoky cheshire-grinning bit of cabaret. This is a brilliant track - each of its sections is realized with aplomb, with alleyway style. Felix speak-sings like an ozzie Jean Leloup, the rhodes pumps, a trumpet mournfully toodles - then there's the unflappable piano solo, Glenn Gould after a night with Picasso, and ("divine!")
the tremendously wonderful, full-bodied brass blast. If only Ottawa was this cool.

Saw P:ano tonight, found them very nice. Was completely blown away by the grandness of their songs-with-guitar, though. (NB: These songs-with-guitar have not been released.) As a gauzy folk band they're good, but as an indie pop band P:ano rule - I want more boy-girl homophony! more songs about being evil! more fun! They're like Yo La Tengo pop-songs without the old person hangups; The Archies after a Fiery Furnaces concert, only macabre and baroque. Wonderful.

Liked "Holiday Road"? John points us to the John Hughes MusicBlog.

Oh yeah - download an unreleased version of College Dropout: early demos and some things that didn't make the final release. (recommended: the slippery track 10.) won't be available for long, i bet.

Posted by Sean at 2:50 AM | Comments (12)

May 12, 2004

Ezra learning to play bassoon.

Nico - "I'll Keep It With Mine". I had a wonderful afternoon, this afternoon, and it's a recipe I can share. Take Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, add Nico's Chelsea Girl, garnish with thick white sunlight through the window. And let it sustain you for hours: like fresh pieces of apple, cold wine.

I'm astonished that I didn't know about Chelsea Girl, that despite my out-and-out love for Astral Weeks and Nick Drake it wasn't till this that I thought to seek it out. The album is fine, thoughtful, cold/warm like narnian turkish delight. Nico's voice is so wintry, Cale's production so spring. Crisp, brisk, sharp, silvergold, sublime.

Brian Michael Roff - "Magazine Memories". This Mass. songwriter throws all of himself into his dusty roots folk songs; he wheels his tunes down the road with an ache in his back. The banjo walks alongside, a fiddle swoops in with a sympathetic glint in its eye. It's a song that asks for a drink on the table, some drink down your throat. Smudged dreams, dented hopes: things sawing and fighting inside, before they finally find rest. "I blast off." (From 2003's A Sweet Science.)

Tofu Hut's main man is finished his move - he's back, he's rearing to go, and my behind-the-scenes-curating days are over! Welcome back, John!

I echo John's endorsement of the Dopplebanger "Yeah"/"Requiem for a Dream" bootleg.

Loving the Crooked Fingers track at Listen Closer.

Some fine new-to-me mp3blogs (will the bubble ever burst!? [i hope not!]):

Tried and True Attention-Getting Tactics has a very motley one-a-day selection (Soft Cell! Terry Callier! Peanut Butter Wolf!), and wow do i love his intro writing: smart, funny, good, different.

The Lusitania has got terrific honesty, an eager voice, and some damn fine selections. A slight hip-hop bent, but then there's Caetano Veloso and Sunburned Hand of the Man and indian flutes. So indeed - do yourself a favour and drop in.

Oh right, for the hipsters who keep track of such things, I forgot to mention in yesterday's comments babble that The Cay were the headliners in The Unicorns' first-ever Montreal show. Indie-rockers of a feather flock together.

Posted by Sean at 2:43 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2004

The Cay and Masta Ace walk into a bar...

Masta Ace - "Good Ol Love". Been a little while since I've posted any hip-hop. Following up on Cocaine Blunts' post of "Beautiful", here is another elegant scorcher, a 9th Wonder slow jam with asphalt bottom. Masta Ace's upcoming record looks to be something amazing. The raps in these tracks blow most of Kanye's stuff out of the water - it's all just easier, simpler, wiser. "My limo driver's white / my attorney's black / show me some love, like Bernie Mac." To my ear there's the same conscious thug, but he doesn't sound like he's as worked up, so desperate to prove himself. And it's all spread over that indomitable, flush soul sample. Listen to the shout out, like a calm, welcoming nod: "New York, New Jersey, Philly, DV, Virginia, Chi-town, St Louis, Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, England, Scotland, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Slovenia, Japan, Austria, Africa. / Show me some love." But why is Austria mentioned twice? (269,000 results!)

The Cay - "Bird Yard". The Cay is an Ottawa-Montreal-Toronto three-piece with two self-released albums under their belt. They play pondersome indie pop, strain and nostalgia blended in with crisscrossing guitars. The Wooden Stars and middle-period Velvets and a little, um, Billy Cobham. This is my favourite track from Pine Trees Are Electric Guitars, an instrumental whose distracted, sprouting melody stumbles into Spring at two-minutes forty: buds creaking open, sun glancing through leaves, a weight lifting from shoulders. It's joyous and restrained, a small smile with lowered lashes. Something coming awake and then settling back into sleep. In short - undemandingly lovely.

A fine, revelatory ILM thread: "Famous Folks who are Unlikely Fans of Your Favorite Artist". I don't know why I hadn't guessed that Nick Nolte was a Smog fan, but I guess I should have.

Posted by Sean at 1:52 AM | Comments (5)

May 10, 2004

a stranger's mistaken kiss

Lindsey Buckingham - "Holiday Road". For Scott (et al), because it's good and I feel like it. He was a member of Fleetwood Mac. But it's famous cuz of National Lampoon. Or maybe, (so I hear), from an American Idol ad. This takes nothing away from the "oh-oh-ohs", the handclaps (note that they chose to use fake, not real ones. there must be a reason for this. the artificiality of the backing track emphasizes the jouissant humanity of the main melody/harmony???) or the dogs who bark. And as I listen to the chopped-up delivery of the verses I just want to treadmill on the spot, to bop my head, to point at random strangers, to "oh-oh-oh-oh" at them, then to lead a parade of bicyclists. I want to do strange, silly things. And I'm glad.

The Bruces - "The Electric Halo". Opening track from Alex McManus' recent record, The Shining Path. It's music for green fields in twilight. Bear with it through the run-of-the-mill opening - the middle-voiced singer with acoustic guitar and a Nick Drake bassline. Backing vocals drift through. But as we approach two minutes, percussion rings, a fiddle strides, and horns jut out from the unlikeliest of places. A small thing, but good.

Dismemberment Plan - "Back and Forth". If I'm going to post a third song, better make it great. Classic indie rock, doubtless familiar to many, but I'm putting my hands in the air, waving 'em like I just don't care - it's a glorious pop song with mile-a-minute "End of the World" verses and the bestest easiest melody the Plan ever conceived. It's so sweet but so bitter, drums that hurtle like tumbling stars, it's the night where you dance and there's the endless sky and you've let everything go but it's still right there whispering in your ear. It beautiful and wild. And then there's that bit where everything stops, where we hold our breaths and dip underwater, but the voice keeps going and crash we're back, trapped in this bliss, this hopeful finite life, a sweet and sour synthesizer at our side, a bass like a ticking clock, the guitar like a neon sign that points to the end.

Some further notes:

1. Destroyer & Frog Eyes was a wonderful, wonderful show. Better than I had even anticipated. Frog Eyes looked far more interesting than I expected them to, but didn't in fact sound as good as I hoped. The songs became very similar, and the sound was mashed together. When they joined Dan Bejar, however, it was magic - the tunes on Your Blues gained an amazing new breadth and depth. Singer/guitarist Carey Mercer was particularly good, letting flickers of guitar solo waver around Bejar's witchy vocals. As a special bonus, Mercer looked a little like Conan O'Brien gone to seed. (Bejar's solo acoustic finale, "There's Certain Things You Ought To Know" was also beautiful; a final pushing earnest glimmer for 1:45 am.) In short: go go go!

2. I think I get Your Blues now. That all that noise and complexity is locked inside those songs, but it's locked inside those shiny mundane synthesizer sounds, like the way our noisy and complex hearts are locked inside such shiny mundane synthesizer lives.

2. To my British readers (and anyone else, really) - is all of Maroon 5's stuff as good as the infectious i-love-it "This Love"?

3. The music I listened to in the car this weekend sounded very, very good. It was: [day] Weezer - Pinkerton; [night] Vincent Gallo - When, Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans.

4. Good music found elsewhere on the internet:

Les Mouches - "Carload of Whatever". Sample a track from the new LP from this crashfolk Toronto group. I'm still waiting to get my hands on it. I like this band a lot, and you'll see them hear again.

Shakka Zombie - "Siroi Yami No Naka". "JAPANESE HARMONICA RAP." Via the terrific listen closer. Timbaland meets the Zoobombs.

Vulcan Dub Squad - "Comet in Moominland". Canadian band with a terrible name records an astonishingly elegant tribute to one of the finest children's books of all time. Wistful instrumental indie rock - a cello that squeezes in among hedges of guitars. (The first half is the best.)

5. Mystery & Misery is a great musicblog that's new to me. Insight into both undiscovered and familiar indie acts.

6. Addition to my concert schedule: The Unicorns next weekend (thank-you CBC), and DFA on June 19th.

Posted by Sean at 1:08 AM | Comments (19)

May 7, 2004

the deadly snakes: I ATE THE DOCTOR'S LETTERS

The Deadly Snakes - "I Can't Sleep At Night". I first heard the Snakes at a "rearing, frenzied, soulful" show as part of last year's bluesfest. And here they are on record with that same bat-wild energy - the stomping rhythm&blues riffs, the thudding drums, the rooting sax. Max ("Age Of") Danger is one of the band's two vocalists, here presenting a fantastically cracked croon, a persuasive-but-crazed shout. As one of their labels puts it, "Maybe they're the mongrel sons of 1960s Stax soul, Them era Van Morrison, The Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indian Band, and The Band backing Bob Dylan. But that?s just what I think. Ask the boys, and they probably think they?re the Stones." This song is red-eyed and raw, fuelled by an insomniac's madness. There's an exhilerating delirium in the chorus, as the band yells back and forth to each other: "Hey!"/"Hey!"/"Hey!!". Everyone spins and tumbles into an unconscious heap.

The Deadly Snakes - "Oh My Bride". Also from Ode to Joy, "Oh My Bride" is punched through with handclaps and even more group hollering. This time it's Andre Ethier on lead vox, crying out a moonshine-soaked blues. He's kicking himself in the pants, rolling his eyes, feverishly grabbing at pills. There's a gospel fervour, shaking arms, and an electric guitar's vigorous, commanding yell (BOOM BOOM BOOM go the drums). If the White Stripes recruited a gang of ne'er do wells, turned in guitar hooks for gnashing, ebullient raving.

Andre Ethier - "She Will Never Be Your Girl". A short clip from Ethier's solo album, released this year on Sonic Unyon. The record (which is burdened with a stupidly lengthy title), wanders away from the Deadly Snakes' garage soul and towards Dylan, Waits, and other drunk-but-clomping singers. "She Will Never Be Your Girl" is a bittersweeter number, Ethier's plain voice above a flimsy ukelele strum, piano notes like drops from a tap in an empty kitchen. The lyrics are fast coming, with fine rhymes and an accelerating, resigned sadness. "And even Jesus Christ himself / would be loosening his belt / and even Stalin in his tomb / would rise inside her womb. / But she's never been a girl." It's enough to break a drunkard's heart. (I mean it.)

Did I mention that they're from the deep South Toronto?

Posted by Sean at 1:46 AM | Comments (14)

May 6, 2004

left all alone with nought but a tear

I guess the Minus Story and The Diskettes aroused no feelings in people, whatsoever! :)

The Bees - "Chicken Payback". And now the Bees do something completely different. I've expressed my Bees love before, but here they are again, doing something new that's old. It's grabby squawking funk that wouldn't be out of place beside James Brown & the JBs, ca. 1970. Well, they're a lot more white, and Vectians, but the group's fetish for analog authenticism is rewarded here: nothing's smoothed out, everything's live, a ragged voice calling with electric guitar for some pink-elbowed payback. The organ oomphs; the guitars toodle, jive and sing; horns send out zings between cheeky manmade whoops. And lyrically everything's rather silly. From the group's new record, Free the Bees.

The Amalgamated Sons of Rest - "My Donal". The ASOR are Will Oldham (Palace), Jason Molina (Songs:Ohia) and Alistair Roberts (Appendix Out) - in short, sad indie.folk dukes. In 2002 they released a gorgeous little EP from which I slip you this track, originally by the Scottish folk revivalist Owen Hand. It's a whaling song, mournful guitar over the lulling pulse of an organ. The whole track feels like an impending disaster, the shadow of a stormcloud (or a plane?): the organ tremor broods, waits, continuing on even as ghosts' voices rise behind Oldham on the last verse. Lovely and haunting, both (and available for a measly $9.00 at galaxia).

Alex has written an eloquent and meditative piece on the (im)possibility of silence, and John Cage's 4'33". "Thanks to John Cage I now know an answer to the famous koan "What is the sound of one hand?". In the morning it would be the birds singing. In a stormy autumn night the wind blowing..."

Fred Durst's secret blog.

I've only just now seen Marcello's take on Kanye West ("I suspect that The College Dropout might well be the wisest and best of hip hop albums"). I like Marcello's writing a lot - not just because he's unabashedly verbose, nor because he seems so damn knowledgeable, but because he's not afraid to assign motives, to make connections, to listen deeper. He connects Kanye's dopey skits to Sufjan Stevens; "Last Call" to James Joyce. So it's with great interest that I absorbed his perspective on Kanye's anti-scholasticism. That is, Marcello doesn't see any.

[I]n the wrong hands ["Lil' Jimmy"] could sound like a grumbling Sun columnist moaning about sponging students who never attended The University Of Life. But there?s an underlying sadness which reminds us of the subsidiary message ? what kind of society is it where people with degrees end up homeless, and specifically what kind of society is it when black people with even one degree end up waiting at Cheesecake or slaving away on minimum wages at Gap?
Which is a sadness I hadn't heard before - I had heard only frustration and an antagonism towards education that really turned me off. So now I'm listening again.

I've moved back to Ottawa for the summer. My concert schedule, then, as of right now (let me know if there's something else I should catch:

Tomorrow - Frog Eyes and Destroyer
May 12 - P:ano
June 6 - Gomez
June 11 - Matt Haimovitz
June 11 - The Microphones (double-booked... uh-oh)
June 18 - Jonathan Richman (?)
July 9-18 - Bluesfest, if I go (Huur Huur Tu, Tragically Hip, Keb' Mo', Manitoba, Jim Bryson, Weakerthans)
July 31 -The Arcade Fire

Posted by Sean at 1:05 AM | Comments (17)

May 5, 2004

caught in your looks

The Minus Story have come a long way. Cf. this Delusions of Adequacy review, where the writer finishes by saying "On more of a positive note, the artwork and layout of the CD were done in a very professional manner." Moebius Syndrome, the group's second record, was certainly a challenging work. Electric guitars stagger and fall into the drums, twined voices wail. Like the Frog Eyes drowning, Modest Mouse after twenty years stranded in Siberia. There's a lot to explore, strange notes to learn to understand, yet I couldn't help but hope they would pull things together a little for their next LP. And here we are in 2004 - The Captain is Dead, Let The Drum Corpse Dance has been released on Jagjaguwar, and while the band's "Wall of Crap" sound is still clearly present, the pieces slip more coherently together. An expressionistic mess that hints at (or even points to) meaning: it's only as confused as your own shakingblinking mind.

The Minus Story - "It All Ends". This fractured track from Moebius Syndrome shows the band stepping down their familiar trail - a conventional indie-rock guitar in the middle, gnarled engines in the ditches, sharp&ugly bushes to either side. While the guitars sound a bit like Pinback, you'd never confuse Jordan Geiger's whine for Rob Crow's chant. Someone's crying for help, berating the clouds, tearing and scratching at canvas. It's sour and gnashing, but skillfully so. (And when it comes to the Moebius Syndrome artwork, Delusions of Adequacy is absolutely right. One of my favourite album covers of all time [and you may recognize some cough sympathetic imagery...])

The Minus Story - "Gravity Pulls". Like the bulk of The Captain Is Dead..., this is much easier to listen to than the above track: it's neither alienating nor even unpleasant. Backwards spinning guitars weave into a xylophone-dingling pop song, lyrics both desolate and warm. It's like a reassembled mirror; a dilapidated disco ball. There are shades of Olivia Tremor Control in the bustle, or even, by the time things really hit their stride (cue the choir!), the Flaming Lips. A gloomyjubilant hang-your-hat single.

The Diskettes - "Girl with Sunglasses". The Diskettes are on a cross-Canada tour from most-of-the-time home Montreal to some-of-the-time home Victoria. Go see them. This is a clip from their lofi debut (the follow-up's on the way) - an orangesegment of sweet and near-perfect pop: boygirl harmonies, vinyl strings, road sounds in the background, a photosnap of love's highs. The Diskettes make it look so very easy; behind bedroom recordings and muffled laughs, we can forget the sheer genius of Dave's tumbling vocal melody at the chorus. Over Emily's soft held note, he speeds giddily by: "I really wanna go outside / just find a place so we can hide." Gosh!

Slatch/Chromewaves broke the news this morning, and I confirmed it with the label this afternoon - Montreal's grandest band, The Arcade Fire, has signed to Merge. A 7" in June and a new LP in September. Colour me deliriously excited.

A fond farewell to The Rub.

Many, many thanks to those who contacted me about a gmail account. You deserve to have bands named after you.

Posted by Sean at 1:30 AM | Comments (4)

May 3, 2004

a recompense for what's done

two songs for a long night (or for your cheery morning, i suppose). thanks for stopping by.

Nick Drake - "Fly". An alternate version of "Fly," taken from one of Nick Drake's home recordings. It's a hopeful song, a song of lovely visions. Here, however, the Bryter Layter orchestration has been stripped away. and Nick's voice is more urgent, set too close to the mic. When he pleads ("Please!" he says), there's a desperation that's almost painful for me to hear. The music breaks me in half - one side goes winding out along sunlit paths, the other's left alone in the wood, cheeks stained with tears. Really, Nick seems closer to the former feeling than the latter, but listening, I'm not.

The Small Faces - "Ooh La La". One of the finest folk-pop songs ever recorded, a song of such bursting optimism, such reassuring candour. A song that's seen sunsets and the sunrises on the other side. A song for bruised hearts creaking open. Guitars jangle, piano trots, Stevie Marriott Ron Wood singing like your closest friend, rallying you (and rallying himself). For many of you this will be a familiar treasure, but for those who don't know it - listen, revel, live. As for me - this is a song I simply need.

Benjamen Walker prepared an excellent introduction to the mp3blog thing, which aired on NPR this weekend (scroll to the bottom). I said a few words, and you can also hear from Matthew Perpetua, among others. Many thanks, as well, to Douglas Wolk at the Village Voice, who mentioned StG in an article last week. With all this growing attention (there's been talk of Reuters and the NYT doing articles), I can't help but wonder when the Canadian media will begin to pick up on the story. Maybe once the election's been called they'll have more time to dedicate to the minutia of the blogosphere. :)

update: Matthew's post about his new email address reminds me - I'm still waiting for the chance to nab a gmail account. If anyone out there has got an invite that they'd be willing to pass my way, I'd be very, very grateful. Apparently my old blogger account isn't enough to earn me an invitation. Thanks!

Posted by Sean at 11:57 PM | Comments (20)

words and a few old bones

Kevin Coyne - "The World is Full of Fools". Courtesy of Dave comes this introduction to Kevin Coyne, an English songwriter whose reputation has floundered in the twenty years since he released the bulk of his music. This 1979 song most strongly recalls Van Morrison - a plaintive, roughshod voice over the straight strum of an acoustic guitar, a burbling organ. There's a lot of frustration in this melancholy, a lot of sublimated rage. While Tom Waits' curmudgeon persona shouts and snorts at the grey gristled mess around him, Coyne seems affected by it, terrified by it, made desperate by it. Fingers scrabbling at a heart.

Clive Holden - "De'ath at Neepawa". In 2001, Winnipeg's Clive Holden recorded an album of his poetry, with music by Christine Fellows and Jason Tait & John K Samson of The Weakerthans. An accompanying series of films was recently released. This is a beautiful, whitesky piece, contemplative as leaves. "I didn't expect to be moved by your gravestone," Holden says to the earth where Margaret Laurence lies. He talks of dark hair and a dark gaze ("from a 50 cent postcard"), of the unexpected pulse of feeling that can suddenly strike you. Samson's electric guitar stirs like a small breeze, lifting at the collar of your shirt.

Clap Clap writes much, and wisely, on Eamon's "Fuck It".

Listen Closer is a very fine new mp3blog that's started things with some brilliant posts. Beck's "Tropicalia" is one of my very favourites by Mr Hansen, and I had intended to profile both Harvey Danger and Joanna Newsom. He's beaten me to all three punches, so you should definitely go see (and listen). Welcome, Justin!

Never Came Home is a new and well-intentioned mp3 blog that doesn't know how to spell 'gramophone'.

Posted by Sean at 7:23 PM | Comments (3)