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.

February 28, 2005

from the tower of evil

Hello there! For those who have come to the blog since Jordan took over, I would like to bid you an eager hello. For those from way back - an even more eager howdy. It's been too long.

As Jordan and Dan have intimated, Said the Gramophone will shortly be the product of three authors, with occasional cameos. The three of us will trade up posting duties, guaranteeing that Gramophone will be updated every weekday (at the very least). Since this is an increasing rarity in the mp3blogging world, I hope you'll bear with us as we iron out the kinks and launch things properly. Which will be soon. I'll be blogging this week, we'll have a couple more weeks of surprises, and then, likely at toward the end of March, StG will be roaring, full-force, in its new mode.

For the next five days, though - me.

I do intend to go through the music I picked up when doing my Europe-hopping a few months ago, but that will be saved for later. This week will be dedicated to

Music That's Been Blowing My Mind, At Least A Little Bit [not literally]

Because I've been relatively offline for the past five months, I'd like to catch up and talk about some stuff that some of you may be sick of. But most, I hope, won't mind a few hundred words on some very worthy things.

I'm going to write about 4 or 5 things each day, albums and songs. Each day there will be at least a couple of mp3s to download. I'd share everything as mp3, but some of the stuff I downloaded from other mp3blogs anyway, and other things are major label - and I'm scared of them.

Enough prattle! Onward!


Music That's Been Blowing My Mind, At Least A Little Bit [not literally]:

Final Fantasy - Has a Good Home
--listen to "Please Please Please"
Final Fantasy sounds so fucking good that I can't believe there's not a slew of artists that are doing the same thing, carving out their own micro-genre. Singer-songwriter with violin and a smile. Joanna Newsom with the yawl turned down. I'm a long-documented fan of Les Mouches, but Owen Pallett's work here is much much more approachable, more friendly and catchy and plainly beautiful. It's not just that he sings with his sensitive everyboy's voice, or the elegance and restraint of those looped violins, the way the harmonies weave and curlecue into each-other: It's the simple loveliness of the songs. "Your Light Is Spent" is light and pizzicatto-jumpy, but then there's that groan of old wood, and toward the end that pastoral counterpoint... It sounds so effortless, but is of such a rare calibre. There's the Pärtesque close to "None Of You Will Ever See a Penny," the pluck (ha!) and pulse of "This Is the Dream of Win and Reg", the elegy of "Better Than Worse". And the album's only got one dud - the transitional "Learn To Keep Your Mouth Shut, Owen Pallett". Sixteen tracks and only one dud!

"Please Please Please" is the most riotous thing on the record - via Zoilus I saw that Owen plans to release "screamier" stuff on 7"s (which is irritating for those of us without turntables). But I love the way the way the cheery, Beach Boys-y middle tumbles into profane pleading, down-and-dirty yelling, men with clenched fists at the back of a room. I turn it up loud when the subway's coming, I let it toss me from murmur to shriek.

You can order the CD cheap-cheap-cheap from BlocksBlocksBlocks, and I can't understand why anyone wouldn't. Unless you're outside North America, and have noticed that it's still unlisted on the UK distributor's site. And Mr Kado isn't answering your email. sigh.


Kelly Clarkson - "Since U Been Gone"
While I was in Latvia, I was reading about "Since U Been Gone" at Clap Clap, but I was a long long way from hearing it. Maroon 5 was ubiquitous, Kelly Clarkson not. Eppy's got such a fantastic taste in singles, though, that it was one of the very first things I hunted down when I went to Canada. And hunting it down, as you all know, was not hard.

But I know I'm not alone on this one. On the Site Which Shall Not Be Named, I read a thread with indie kids asking "Is it ok if I like this?". The answer, of course, is yes, because "Since U Been Gone" is awesome.

I'm a total sucker for those pop-punky guitars, the buzz and vocal blast. I heard the line that Avril Lavigne wrote this (which is fine by me!), but I love the way that Kelly performs it, stripping any attitude from the lyrics, making the sassiness a weary pose. The "yeah yeah"s don't have any of the chorus' triumph - they're brittle shrugs. "No no, I don't really care. Course not." "Since U Been Gone" isn't about someone who's moved on - it's about someone stamping and shouting and dancing her way to the place where she's moved on. Someone who still can't talk about this stuff without a strained, flat-voiced (fake) non chalance.

But still! When she does that stamping and shouting and dancing, that roar, it's just as potent as the Flirtations' "Nothing But A Heartache." Who knew that that little American Idol girl could flare so bright? But that's the point, isn't it? Look how strong she can be, how big, how loud, how inflamed.

Why don't guys do songs like this?


Stars - Set Yourself on Fire
--listen to "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead"
This is a band that had been passing me by, mostly because I was nonplussed by the very-well-received Heart. But oh my, this record's not one to skip. Set Yourself On Fire is energized and melodic, with glad-making boy-girl harmonies, razzle-dazzle climaxes. It's got peach-fuzz and christmas lights and strings and horns. Electric guitars! A singer called Torquil! Reminiscent of The Delgados, only much more intimate - sexy, personal. For fans of the Postal Service, of soft pop choruses, of love.

"Your Ex-Lover Is Dead" lacks the thick electric hooks of the rest of Set Yourself On Fire, but instead there's melodica [?], cello and french-horn - oh, and drums. DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM. And when those drums are beating towards the chorus, or when the girl vocals come in (whoosh!), when everything twinkles and swoops and soars, there's fewer things I'd rather be doing than listening, a-listening, a-listening. [buy]


Destroyer - "I Want This Cyclops"
This was one of the very first tracks Jordan posted, way back in September, as I was fleeing the country. It's an astounding piece of music. First of all, it makes no clear sense - at least not to me. This is Dan Bejar, though, so I don't much care. "Two French sisters / on a DC-10 / sped from Dallas / just imagine them / peppering / their respec- / tive speeches with commas / and cupids / and I don't wannas / I don't think sos." The play of the words, the click and slur and assonant blur. But it's not that which most dazzles, nor the simple acoustic guitar strum, nor the boozy blushed buzz of sax and clarinet, two minutes in. No, it's the remarkable, the plain but flowering drums. It's the ring of cymbal, the dance of tom and snare and bass drum, the conversation going on behind, the story-telling and humour, the grins and history. I don't know how I hear so much in those drums, that simple jazz beat, but I do, I do, I hear a life with all its sorrows and joys. I hear a friend, a good one, or maybe the promise of someone I've not yet met. [buy on City of Daughters]


The Cay - "Hey Lady"
And speaking of Jordan, the man posted this about a month ago - a bootleg of his band, The Cay, at a show at La Sala Rossa in Montreal. I was at that show. And when I heard this tune I was floored, smacked, blown near over. And though the recording lacks the volume of the real show, though you hear the read-of-the-crowd's murmur a lil' too loud, you can still feel the tearing in each mounting verse. The first minute's pretty, pale, but when the vocals rip something open, send stuffing flying, I feel something jerk in my chest. Feel it at 1:28, and then again at 1:57, when the bassist yells his monster yell. The song's being tugged, punched, bruised, burnt; vocal chords can barely express it, then barely pinch it out. And then it ends with that reassuring fugue, the drums falling over themselves, the push to forget.

Please record this in a studio.


Still to come this week: Amerie, Okkervil River, the Sugarcubes, and more.

Posted by Sean at 9:13 AM | Comments (24)

Them Again?

Wooden Stars - "Outlaws"

Last night, the Wooden Stars:

1. Made me want to go home and play guitar. It had been a very long time since I?d seen a show as inspiring. It was also a guitar lesson.

2. Confirmed how entirely original the band was; complex (guitars running circles around eachother, wildly free and severely precise) and beautiful (voices pained and clear), with rare instrumental and songwriting virtuosity. The fact that they are criminally underappreciated might have been avoided had they not - as Wooden Stars lore goes - refused a Sub Pop contract in order to pursue their education.

3. Wore dorky white suits and looked middle-aged. Still sexy, though.


Sean will be writing StG for this week. I?m excited to see what he has planned for us. In three weeks, the new line-up (The Righteous Triumvirate (Dan, Sean and I)) will start and then never stop.

Posted by Jordan at 3:41 AM | Comments (2)

February 23, 2005


Okay - "Compass"

From the tentative clack, crackle and occasional tremolo guitar intro comes a song like a moebius strip, flowing and bending and twisting back onto itself. Okay sings in a sharp confident voice, cutting through the underlying bed of quiet, softly distorted hiss.

If you ever wondered what a collaboration between David Bowie and Brian Eno might sound like, look no further than Okay. Unless, of course, you want to look all the way to the Bowie/Eno collaborations Heroes and Low. [Buy]


Pokett - "Sand"

Pokett sings along with his guitar?s jaunty travelling bass notes, distracting somewhat from the vaguely creepy repetitive insistence of the treble line. At 2:05, the vocals cut out and free the guitar to explore new impressionistic paths, both beautiful and not entirely uncreepy, seemingly leading into a quiet but ever more unstable storm of rapidly panning electronic noise. [Info]

Posted by Jordan at 6:39 PM | Comments (5)

February 18, 2005

My Mom Used To Give Us A Chocolate Bar

Well, you did it. Spring Break.

Of Montreal - "Requiem for O.M.M.2"

You can lift the sun up with your hands. It's not even warm. [Buy]

The Books - "An Animated Description of Mr. Maps."

Dark and epic. Sean used the word 'sucks' to describe this. I will use the word 'human'. I know it's variations on a theme, but syllables and cymbals were never such a dangerous pair as in this song. Turn it up loud so "Stealer! Liar! Thief! Gambler! Fornicator!" will hit you as hard as it hits me. [Buy]

okay, that's my week. bye for now. God bless Mom, Dad, Meaghan, Stephanie, and Danny.

Posted by Dan at 2:21 AM | Comments (8)

February 17, 2005

It's Not All Bubble Gum, Sometimes It's Chewing Gum

La Bande à Benny - "Samedi Soir"

My friend David gave me this cd yesterday and this song's been on repeat. Seriously, I think my computer's broken. No, actually seriously, this song's great. It's a song about what to do, and what other people are doing, on a Saturday night. I believe they suggest reading comic books and listening to the "boys who make all the noise". They're clearly French, but their voices and tempo choices, for whatever reason, make me think they sound Japanese. That might be because there are other songs on the album like "Sexy Baby" and "Super Lady", which feel like oddly translated ideas, but I think are genuine. Daft Punk owes so much to these guys. [I'm not sure this record actually exists outside of David's house, but when he gets famous, he'll reissue it]

Calvin Johnson - "Angel Gone [Live]"

Let's take it down, and over, a few notches. Let me first say that this song is really important to me. I've had it for so long, but it's still great. It starts with 50 seconds of banter, in which he denies a few requests, saying "just listen to the record", but then gets into the broken, misstrummed, stuttering, version of a gorgeous tune that, combined with the noise of the traffic out some window or door, turns into this hypnotic elegy that just doesn't let go. This is an unmistakable voice. yeah. [His record label]

Fiery Furnaces - "Smelling Cigarettes"

Yes, cliche, I know. Let's get past that. And enjoy the constant marvel that is this band's lyrical and musical stylings. They can turn the embarrasingly ordinary (a billboard truck) into a smirking tool of cadence, and so effing cool. I get chills every time at "Is this your cat?" "Yeah, but sometimes it forgets." [Buy]


Elsewhere: GOLDKIXX is awesome. wow, it's good.

Posted by Dan at 3:22 AM | Comments (6)

February 16, 2005

I Prefer My Prose Terse, Like _________

Need New Body - "Show Me Your Heart"

It's very early in the morning. And Need New Body is not the way to get your day started. Unless you prefer driving electropulses and a freaking catchy percussion section this early in the morning. I prefer to start the day with a whimper, but to each, you know? I love the first 1:30 of this song, it's so promissory, but then the vocals kind of hurt the momentum ('cause we want your heart' said by monster = not cool). But then they stop speak-singing and let the song carry on its merry way. Through computer circuitry, or one of those tubes for sending messages around a big factory, full of turns. [Buy]

The Pauls - Cantankerous Brute

In the same way the last song throws you into motion, so do The Pauls. Best 2 lines: "I don't want to be with you all of the time, but I'd just feel a whole lot better if I was always on your mind". It's too bad they sound so much like Lou Reed singing for the Unicorns. Actually, it's not too bad, I like those bands. Thanks to Tim for this. [I don't think you can buy this, and they don't have a website that I could find]

Posted by Dan at 8:20 AM | Comments (11)

February 15, 2005

My Password is "Descartes Was A Pussy"

Frog Eyes - "New Tappy is Heard and Beheld"

I like, no love, Carey Mercer, but I don't understand him. His solo project, Blackout Beach, features mostly Frog Eyes-sounding stuff, but with less identifiable melodies. Which says to me if he had it his way, all his music would have less identifiable melodies. Which is unfortunately wrong. I chose this song specifically because it had one of the most attractive and climactic melodies on The Folded Palm. In the last thirty he becomes this great bird who is both mourning and heralding a beginning and a loss respectively (and respectfully). These songs create a whole world, and each album is a journey through that same world, over and over (every song is connected, and sounds similar). It took me a while to like what Frog Eyes does, but now I'm there, and it's a scary place, but it's so...cloudy..and marvelous. [Buy] [Buy Blackout Beach]

Dresden Dolls - "Bad Habit"

Valentinitis? No, that is dumb. This song, however, is a sprint through traffic, pushing mere peons out of the way, ripping through paper doors, all to get to a drawing (or a sculpture?) of whatever is holding you back, and just beating the snot out of it. With occasional throws to the camera to show how bad-ass you are. This album is old now, but I think didn't get enough credit*. Self-classifying one's music as 'Brechtian Punk Cabaret' is, I think, a mistake, when really all you're doing (in the same sense that 'all' they built was the Empire State Building) is getting teen angsty music absolutely spot on. [Buy]

the 'unrefined search' method of making playlists:
looking for this song, I searched 'bad ha', and came up with this delightful 19:42

Bad Habit - Dresden Dolls
Bad As They Seem - Hayden
The Bad Arts - Destroyer (from the album Streethawk: A Seduction)
Red Right Hand - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

*speaking of credit, thanks to Roger for this

Posted by Dan at 6:29 PM | Comments (4)

February 14, 2005

Feet on Gas, Heart on Brake

*see previous post below for exciting news*

In honour of the day that it is, February, today is a good day for sunshine, followed by the sunshine of the night.

And what better day for a new Diskettes album to come out. They will be touring all weekend, see their site de web for details, but if you live in any of those areas, not going would be so uncool it would stretch all the way into being cool again, past that, and back into not being cool. I believe the show in Montreal will be free and inside a metro station. Bells On!

This was also going to be a celebration of their recording place, Blocks, but then I realised Jordan's been posting a bunch of Blocks stuff anyway, so you're all well-versed. Speaking of well verse period period period

Diskettes - "Get Together"

The melodies bounce off each other so well, it's almost as if this song were standing in the middle of a room, all fat and happy, being tapped and strummed and thumped from three different sides. It's like the Strokes with the bones on the inside. If that makes sense. Yes I do.

Diskettes - "1 2 3 4 5"

This song sounds like hopscotch at recess. Or a flipbook being flipped really slowly (a face whose everything turns to hearts). Or being in the centre of one of those great big spinning metal discs with radial bars you used to find in kids parks, but which you only really see in horror movies now.

Diskettes - "Gymnasium"

From their first album, this is what you should listen to tonight, and slow dance with who(what)ever you can find.

p.s. i like you too.

Posted by Dan at 2:26 AM | Comments (5)

My Editor, Max Maki Is Both Friend and Foe (Mainly Friend, Also Foe)

Said the Gramophone news:

In the next few weeks, Sean will probably be returning to the blog and we will be sharing its authorship. This is very exciting and I think it will have a thoroughly rejuvenating effect on me and StG.

We will also be adding another occasional author: Dan ?Pantywaist? Beirne. Dan is a member of the awkward and sad (hilarious!) comedy troupe, Better Than Shakespeare, and is an excellent filmmaker whose documentary subjects have included such literary luminaries as myself.

As a sort of installation/celebration, Dan will be writing the blog for all of this week. He is certain to entertain you and to ask you for money (don?t give it to him, he?s a total mooch).

Be excited; I am.

Posted by Jordan at 1:35 AM | Comments (3)

February 11, 2005

Roots Have Roots Too

Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabate - "Catfish Blues"

In the summer, Sean posted a song from Kulanian the surprisingly beautiful collaboration between Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabete. I remember that he was very excited by the song ?Queen Bee,? which someone had sent him. I told him that I had the album and that it was consistently great, though I preferred the dusty, character drenched Taj Mahal vocals to the gregarious big smile of Diabate.

Mahal?s Guitar is a lumbering elephant and Diabete?s kora is a scurrying mouse. They are friends (though my editor, Max Maki, claims that they are certainly not friends).

One magical property of the album was brought to my attention on the occasion of Sean?s most recent visit to Montreal: when he asked if he could copy Kulanian, I explained to him that it had been taken from me when I was robbed for the first of two times a few years prior. He was disappointed and returned to Scotland in a thick haze of depression.

But today I found it; an unshaken survivor of two robberies.


Blind Lemon Jefferson - "Dry Southern Blues"

Blind Lemon Jefferson may have been interested in a lot of things. That?s a fact. But on ?Dry Southern Blues? he shows very little interest in singing a vocal line that relates in any way to his guitar work.

Dylan covered Jefferson?s ?See That My Grave?s Kept Clean? on his debut album. And John Fahey played guitar with Canned Heat for a while. Do I need to spell it out for you? Everything's connected!

Posted by Jordan at 2:50 AM | Comments (2)

February 10, 2005

Oh Where Am I?

Sorry for my absence this week - I've been having some mystery technical difficulties. I will try and make a post later this morning, but will definitely be sharing The Good with you by early evening.

Also coming up this week: exciting announcements about StG authorship (be prepared to be sent into a tizzy)!

Posted by Jordan at 5:27 AM | Comments (1)

February 4, 2005


The first thing I ever heard about Wolf Parade was from the Arcade Fire?s Win Butler who said something like that they were the best band in Montreal or the best band he?d heard in years. Knowing that Win is into very little indie-rock I was curious to hear what set Wolf Parade apart. The first time I saw them play, they were opening for the Arcade Fire in Toronto and I liked them, though Elvis Costello and David Bowie jumped out too immediately as influences. Then I heard ?Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts? and Wolf Parade went from being a band I was interested in, one with potential to do something good, to a band whose future output I wait for impatiently.

Upon listening to the tracks from their CBC session, I was struck by the sheer distinctiveness of Spencer?s voice - something that I didn?t take in listening to ?Sons and Daughters,? a song whose vocal sermonizing seemed so integral to the perfect whole. On lesser songs, the vocals can seem over the top and affected. His voice is both an asset and a liability; it goes some distance in giving the band its own sound, but also demands that the songs be strong enough to support it, so that the vocal style does not immediately become cliched.

Wolf Parade - "I'll Believe In Anything, You'll Believe In Anything"

My editor, Max Maki says that this song reminds her of Sharon, Lois and Bram. I don?t know what she?s talking about, of course, but in the spirit of sharing...

Wolf Parade - "Unknown Title"

The band?s other vocalist sounds exactly like Isaac Brock and Bruce Springsteen.

Posted by Jordan at 5:11 AM | Comments (29)

February 3, 2005

Friends are Friends and Other Logical Truths

Wooden Stars - "The Cigarette Girl"

The Wooden Stars are currently on something like a reunion tour. They will be playing in Montreal in March and I will be there, excited and nervous. Excited because the Wooden Stars are one of my favourite bands and I was afraid that they had broken up for good, and nervous because I so want them to be good, would be so disappointed if they didn?t live up to what I expect of them. After all, The Moon, though a good album, was less surprising and original in the songwriting and playing than their earlier work.

On ?The Cigarette Girl? we hear what makes the Wooden Stars such a great band. They move seamlessly from complex but straightforward musical interplay (jangly guitar, fat bass, banjo flourishes, weird bag of glass and springs drums) to restrained spiritual outbursts; notes held back until the last minute, appearing suddenly out of necessity, each a bright revelation. Their voices are strained, pushed to their voluminous and dynamic limits. The songs, though structurally unorthodox, remain entirely coherent and natural.

At 3:58, when the guitars come in slow and heavy behind the ?She?s a good cigarette? refrain, be jealous that, if you didn't, that you didn't grow up in their hometown like I did and that, if you won't be, that you won't be at their Montreal show like I will.


Jeff Hanson - "Just Like Me"

If Elliot Smith had been a man who sounded like a woman, he would have sounded like this man. Crisp acoustic guitar and impressive gender-bending vocals are what this song is about.

Posted by Jordan at 3:09 AM | Comments (10)

February 1, 2005

You Are Addressed

Sun Kil Moon - "Carry Me Ohio"

Singing nostalgic childhood remembrances above the tentative
bass/guitars/glockenspiel conversation, Mark Kozelek's voice can do
anything, easily fluctuating between the extremes of his impressive

Don't be lonely, in this song you have a friend.


Aislers Set - "Hit the Snow"

There's not a lot to dislike about this song. Do you dislike Beach
Boys vocal harmonies and deep, hollow tom/bass drum sounds? If so,
why (considering the fact that they are so good)? Would you count
displays of facility in songwriting and arrangement as likes or
dislikes? If you count them as dislikes, email me to apologize.

The Aislers set also show off some lo-fi Motown production and guitar
tones, just to prove to you that they know about the good and how to
set about engaging with it.

Posted by Jordan at 4:01 AM | Comments (5)