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.

April 29, 2005

cancer of the liver

It's the weekend and it's summer so let's listen to music from names we know. I wish I had a barbecue to go to (it's early evening here and the sky is blue).

Spoon - "Sister Jack". Don't bother listening to this song. Not until you burn it onto a CD or throw it onto your iPod and step into the street with somewhere to go. It's not simply a song for walking, it's a song for walking somewhere, because if you are, and you do, and this song is in your ears, it kills. It leaves dead suits like me in its wake. It makes you wince, it kills so much. Spoon have always been a band of songmakers, of melodymakers, but here's the sort of song that lives in a Platonic universe somewhere, where it kills people.

First of all, there's that guitar, drang drang drang, sounding like straight can-rock guitar, no joke, the Gandharvas or Treblecharger or, yeah, Sloan. It kills. And then there's the cracking drums, the tambourine, the stall, and Britt's gruff-lax nonsense-deep lyrics. He's like John Lennon here, John Lennon making a racket in his loft above a kebab shop in Austin.

And we mustn't forget the tape loop weirdness, the backward guitar squawks and whizzing and hiss that's the sound of the song's loose seams, the places where light bursts through and blinds you. These squiggles of sound like someone spun round and pointed at the Transformer who has a cassette-player in his body, ordering him to "Do a solo!". And the Transformer's caught off guard but he still does it, there he goes, manipulating his buttons and doing something amazing because unbeknownst to the pointer, Transformer's been practicing these solos for months, in his mirror at home, before going out in the pitch-black to learn to skate-board in the parking-lot near his house.


Gimme Fiction's due on May 9. Pre-order and win cool stuff!


Sufjan Stevens - "Casimir Pulaski Day". Gosh. "Casimir Pulaski Day" is a coalescing, for me, of everything Sufjan Stevens does well. It's got all the trademarks: homorhythm, oboe, mandolin, wispiness, layers of harmony, repetition. But on this song these things rise out of their bodies into something so much greater than "pretty". Listen up, haters! Even if you've dismissed Sufjan in the past, even if you think he's a samey Iron & Wine prat, if you have any love for Smog or Mountain Goats, Leonard Cohen or Neil Young, I defy you to dislike this song (at least until the instrumental at the end) - it's a masterpiece. There's brilliance in the lyrics, in the way the words weave around and reappear, the way these domestic scenes flutter into view and then fade into memory, a cascade of sights/sounds/touches that accumulate... It's all repetition, the same chords over and over, but this too accumulates, until you notice the slightest change, until the playful everyday sound is for a moment erotic, sad, transcendent, or Sufjan's casual real-life images turn full-bodied with a sense of Love, God, or Death. It's a marvel, and I wonder at the fact that something so deep, so insightful, so rich, so human, can also sound so pretty, so light, the kind of trifle that you might ignore, forget, pass by. (This too, I suppose, is a metaphor.)

(Unfortunately, Sufjan's not really outdone himself with Illinois. Like Michigan it's pretty, it's proof of a mighty talented artist. But it's much the same, really - pretty, sometimes dazzling, too long and too repetitive. The shock and awe of Seven Swans (which isn't much different anyway) is absent. Some of you might have heard the single at TTIKTDA [keith, please update your StG bookmark!]. The album sounds like that. But "Casimir Pulaski Day" and a few other tracks... oh my.)


Went to a gig last night. Archer Prewitt and then Sam Prekop & Archer Prewitt literally put me to sleep, but they were very pretty lullabies. The Earlies were swirlies, the first English jam band I've seen (more Beta Band than Grateful Dead, mind, and half the band play synths/electronics, but-). Stealing the show, though, in amazing ways, was Micah P. Hinson, whom I'd hardly heard of but who seems pretty well know. (He must have hit while I was gallavanting in Hungary or something.) Apparently the album's all cello and singer-songwriterness, but on stage last night with drums and bass he was a small beast, a creature with an electric guitar that snarled and hissed, that roared (cf. Greg Macpherson), singing songs like a far fiercer Dallas Good, shout-singing three lines, over and over, till I thought my heart might burst. I will look into his stuff and share.

CONTEST! Apparently we can give away some Rilo Kiley and Idiot Jed CDs. Five of each. I have no idea who Idiot Jed are and I think Rilo Kiley totally suck, but some people like 'em. One CD goes to whoever suggests the best contest idea - post your suggestions in the comments.

Have a lovely weekend! (Especially the folks like me for whom it's a long one!)

Posted by Sean at 1:20 PM | Comments (26)


today's post will be up late - another 4 hours or so.

Posted by Sean at 8:28 AM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2005

eight days of fortune

Lucky Luke - "Remember Me". A few weeks ago I saw Glasgow's Lucky Luke perform at the Caledonian Backpackers (of all places), in Edinburgh. I reviewed the show for Noise, but I don't think the write-up ever made it to print. The gist of it was that three of the four bands were tedious, but one - Lucky Luke - sent me reeling.

I mean that almost literally. As the band stamped and pushed, drums crackling unpredictably in the back, harmonium pulsing, I wanted to stamp and push along with them, I wanted to crackle and pulse. My feet started marching, my heart started panging, and with Lucy's vocals so strident and alive, I felt like throwing my arms open, inviting in a gale.

Lucky Luke live somewhere between Fairport Convention, Nico and White Magic. They're also a sort of much wispier Okkervil River, all that fury put into a fisherwoman's silken barbs. They're a band that heave. (Oh, look at 'em.)

"Remember Me" is taken from Patrick the Survivor, which will be released in May. It may be the album's throngingest song, those surges of saxophone, the clapsnapping percussion. I think of the sun rising, light raking the ground, setting trees aflame, ravaging the land, making you remember. [order Patrick the Survivor]

Brian Michael Roff and the Deer - "This Yellowed Yield". Gramophone friend BMR will soon be releasing his fourth LP, Inventory. It's his first with the Deer, a top-notch and understated backing band that includes David Michael Curry (Willard Grant Conspiracy, Thalia Zedek's band) on viola, Gregg Porter (Tigersaw, Hotel Alexis) on drums, Jim Reynolds on guitar/bass/banjo, and Casey Dienel on piano.

Okay, so that's the background - now download this song. It's a simple tune, words wrapped into a dusty circle, but the more I listened to it, the more I was compelled to listen to it some more - the more I need to hear the guitar and the drums, Brian singing with sudden insistence. "And you try to get on." The viola sneaks up on you, faltering. The drums show you the way. And Brian sings better than I've ever heard him before, voicing his resigned truths as if they're things that he's just realized, words that sprang from heart to mind to lips. It grows on you, so let it
play, let it go, and it'll soon be caught in your chest, the song that's always on the tip of your tongue.

(Please do listen!)

MA residents, take note - he'll be on the radio at the end of May, and there's a CD launch in June.

update: Catbirdseat has got another new BMR track (and a new look! ooh-er!)



A new mp3blog discovery (and sidebar addition) is popsheep, with writers from Toronto and Vancouver, who are indie-rocking from coast to coast. Big big big ups to Jay for previewing the new P:ano stuff.

Yet another is Daily Reckless, who have been pointing to some excellent, particularly scottish, tunes. I will have to meet the author!

Relaunch and new writers at Moistworks, as well as a post about sean-fave Washington Phillips.

Finally, Neale's blog-post on the poetic potential for Google Maps is absolutely beautiful, totally brilliant, and makes me so excited. I love the way this brings together a City and its spirit, the way the cultural consciousness gets spread out onto a map. I am desperate to see some other cool work on this.



I am STILL waiting for broadband internet to get hooked up at home, and it will be a while yet.. Apologies if my email/blogging behaviour is consequently erratic.

I've decided to set aside my "musical tour of europe" posts and space them out a little. I was getting really frustrated with it, and I think it'll be better if I just post about my european musical adventures when I'm feeling motivated (instead of out of obligation). I wasn't very happy about the quality on several of the entries, and there wasn't much feedback, so I'll put it on the back-burner. Great songs still to come, though - from Bosnian hip-hop to Italian prog-folk.

Very busy this week, as Triptych's come to town. Tonight - The Earlies, Micah P Hinson, Archer Prewitt and Sam Prekop. Tomorrow - Arab Strap and Mugison. Saturday - the, um, Beltane Fire Festival. And Sunday - Cat Power.

Speaking of shows - how were those darn Arcade Fire/Wolf Parade/Final Fantasy gigs!? There was an extraordinary lack of updates from the people I know. What rocked, what didn't? "Dinner Bells" with strings!? Win's mom on harp?! Dish!

update: i see there's been some talk about the first two Toronto shows, but neale's minireview is the only thing i've seen (other than boring forum posts) about Montreal...

Oh, and - what do you think of these songs?

Posted by Sean at 8:07 AM | Comments (6)

April 27, 2005

Only These

Smokey Robinson - "You Really Got A Hold On Me"

I've seen the Platonic form of the pop song and it closely resembles "You Really Got A Hold On Me." It's as if Smokey is singing about how I feel about his song. Except my relationship with his song is not so tumultuous: it has all the loving, kissing, squeezing; but none of the fighting, crying, wanting to split.

A few notes on restraint and simplicity:

1. The piano's insistent 1-4-5 is a strong argument for the merit of that progression.

2. The bass rises and falls with Smokey (nothing fancy), underscoring the contradictory nature of the subject relationship.

3. The guitar - one strum on every second downbeat and an occasional riff (minimal in space and time, maximal in effect) - remains physically unexerted, while emotionally exhausted.

4. Technically speaking, Smokey is no Marvin or Sam, but when he sings it, he means it.

Will this song still be here tomorrow? Did I dream its existence in a fit of idealistic revery? I post mostly to confirm the suspect data given me by my senses. [Buy]


Magnetic Fields - "All My Little Words"

A long day of banjo playing leads me to post this banjo-flecked ballad about the frustrating limitations of our influence over others.

No matter how much we love someone, we cannot make them ours. "Not for all the tea in China." Though I understand that to be a great deal of tea (some of it quite good-tasting, I'm sure). [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 3:12 AM | Comments (11)

April 26, 2005

It Was Here, But Now It's Gone

Tara Jane O'Neil - "The Poisoned Mine"

Alternating between the major and the minor, O’Neil’s guitar gives the impression of overall stasis; one step forward, one step back. Her singing is confident and knowing; subtly, maturely aching. In the higher register, her voice is so clear and cool that I thirst for the drink she sings of (this despite the fact that I abhor water in general, and am well aware of the taint of poison in the metaphorical water at the heart of this song).

At 2:34 join me in welcoming a guitar line that bridges her math-rock past with her lyrical, pastoral present. [Buy]


Charles Mingus - "Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Solo Dancer)"

A pulp fiction in song, Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is dramatic and soulful, full of lusty implications and transgressive prescriptions. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 4:11 AM | Comments (3)

April 25, 2005

The Extra Action Marching Band

Fat Sexy Guy

You should know this about me (not many do): I love parades. And not in a casual way, either. I seek them out. Strangers waving at you, mini-cars, slightly off-time choreography. And marching bands.

This, however, is not a regular marching band, as you can hear. I can't imagine them marching. Rather, circling. like predators.

I saw a picture of them at Burning Man, and I immediately felt like my life was missing something by not having seen that show.

Both tracks fade in, as if the band's always been playing and these are the most song-like portions of their chaos. (though these are probably just samples of larger tracks)

This band, while I would listen to them on their own, could be magic backing up another band (which, hopefully, they will).

[both tracks are available at their site]


elsewhere: David now has web radio. a playlist of his choosing. a nice replacement to (R.I.P.) cbcradio3 (though they still put up all their radio playlists, and host the magazine's archive, which is a lot of music)

Posted by Dan at 4:08 AM | Comments (5)

April 23, 2005

One Hundred Steps

Crackpot - "Unknown Title"

Seeing this band live is frightening. They run around, climb everything in view, throw themselves against walls. On more than one occasion I’ve retreated from the stage for fear of being drop-kicked or trampled or both or worse. There’s also the disconcerting possibility of a consuming conflagration arising from the friction of calloused fingers moving rapidly against Indian rosewood.

Here Crackpot accomplishes the difficult task of translating their energy onto record. They do this not through force, but through playfulness: wayward and lazy guitars, fat and loping rhythm section, meandering and engaged vocals.

At 1:29 the singer laughs at his own silliness and I’m reminded of Dylan’s “All I Really Want To Do.”

At 2:39 the song ascends to its rousing climax and I’m reminded of a drunken Pavement, inebriated to the point of sincerity. [Info]

(I've been told to tell you that this is a very rough mix of a work in progress.)


Harris Newman - "The Butcher's Block"

A scenario in which I come off looking good while putting you down, though you may in fact be on to something:

You: Might this woodland glade ramble be Chekhov inspired?
Me: Certainly not. What a strange question.


Harris Newman is like the Woody Allen of Takoma-style finger-pickers (anxiety seems the dominant emotion in his work). [Info]

Posted by Jordan at 5:09 AM | Comments (5)

April 22, 2005


Hi team.

Jordan should be posting something later today. In the meantime, Stefan's posted a fantastic translation of the Siekiera song I posted, in the comments for that entry. (Highlights include: "Is there a horse riding here?" and "Did they eat a Negro here?")

Elsewhere, um, I've not really been on top of things lately, as I wander around looking for a job and trying to get our freakin' internet hooked up, but you could do a lot worse than downloading Fluxblog's track from the new Herman Dune. It's fantastic and you better believe that if I had heard it first, it woulda been here. (Sadly, the Herman Dune's on the long list of records that I want to hear but haven't yet, alongside Akron/Family, Oneida, Greg Macpherson, Estelle... argh.)

If any of you talk to the band at one of the Arcade Fire gigs in Montreal/Toronto this weekend, please say hello from me (for real)!

And now, a rant on Coldplay:

Dear god, band! Why do you do this to me? For years I have stood by my assertion that "Parachutes" was one of the finest albums of that year, standing tall alongside "Kid A" or "Agaetis Byrjun", or whatever else came out that year and I've forgotten. I fought for you in arguments, even in those early days when people weren't so skeptical. I yelled that "Parachutes" was brilliant, joycore, an album that is like a hit of pure heat, feeling, light. The songs may grate individually, sure, but give me the whole thing, loud and in my ears, and it's like a sunburst of bold song.

The critics said you guys were pap, boring, MOR nonsense. No! I yelled. No! Listen to "Parachutes" with your skepticism off. Let yourself love it! It's simple - guitars, piano, voice. No nonsense, just heart.

But then you released "A Rush of Blood to the Head", which wasn't entirely crap, but close. I liked "In My Place" and maybe "The Scientist" (or at least the Aimee Mann cover). But the rest - blurgh. Exactly as the critics had claimed. Beige and boring. Yet the fanbase went wild, the sales soared - it's as if the world was proving all those skeptics right. Oh well, I said, and I kept yelling that "Parachutes" was great, in spite of it all.

But now! Now! Jesus! Listen to that single thing, "Speed of Sound". Even the piano has an adult contemporary gloss, a pukey shine, and the chords are pretty, sure, but they don't go anywhere, the song stays like dull, happy-shiny music, nothing of power, nothing of substance. This new album is going to suck so hard, clearly so, and I'm going to be left even more desperate as I defend "Parachutes". Why do you do this to me? Oh Chris Martin, why do you do this to me!? Is it Gwyneth that makes you do it? Apple? Why do you smear your own reputation by transforming into the very caricature your enemies drew? Why do you make your great first album so difficult to listen to, without bias? Why!? Please stop!

ok, i'm done.

Posted by Sean at 9:42 AM | Comments (18)

April 21, 2005

Three Men and A Baby

My intro was going to be:

How are things? Cosmically speaking, things are not so good. Chinua Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart, and it’s true, they do. Speaking of sub-Saharan Africa, I was cheering for the Nigerian Pope hopeful. I was also an Expos fan. My support is a curse.

But then I read about Cardinal Francis Arinze’s politics and it all fell apart.


Archer Prewitt - "I'll Be Waiting"

Here Archer Prewitt attempts to bludgeon us into a state of inane, giddy nostalgia. He forsakes subtlety in exchange for sappiness and sweetness. Dangerous, sure. But neither is maple syrup subtle, and so too is it sappy and sweet. And we like it anyway. Consider me bludgeoned. [Buy]


Wooden Stars - "Uncivilized"

(From the Exclaim! 13th Anniversary Cross-Canada Concert Series mix CD)

The Wooden Stars drop lead guitar notes as if dropping paint onto a stenciled canvas. In the chorus their voices are like balloons inflating and deflating side by side, always maintaining harmonious ratios: a third, a fifth, a perfect octave. [Info]

Posted by Jordan at 3:27 AM | Comments (3)

April 20, 2005

Walter Murch Makes People Geniuses

Man From Delmonte - "Drive Drive Drive"

Don't be fooled by the giddy opening chords, this is a bitter song. And not in a "oh, this is so mean it's funny" kind of way either. Because he's not just focused on hating the one he's with. No, it's "I need somebody new who needs me too"; this is anger, mixed with conviction, and sung in a lovely lilt. And it's this very lilt that keeps me coming back. Just as it does, I'm sure, for the Man from Delmonte's wife or girlfriend. Like he sings this song to her while she takes a shower, and he's brushing his teeth, so the toothpaste foam covers up most of the words, and she hums along to the melody.
[Buy from Vinyl Japan]

Atlas Strategic - "Jesus Christ"

This song might end your life. There are three characters (important!): the singer, the preacher, and that fucking sweet-as-sundae organ (both are one). Play it loud, the sun is out.
[Buy before they run out forever!]


Also: I've been listening to Björk's Post for like the first time in my life. so forgive me while I catch up to the rest of the world and call it amazing. thanks to Kerri for forcing me to listen to björk tapes in the car. they prepared me well.

Posted by Dan at 3:36 AM | Comments (13)

April 19, 2005

down the oubliette!

Okkervil River - "The Latest Toughs". Recently I wrote about "For Real", the lead-off single from Black Sheep Boy, Okkervil River's fourth LP. I hadn't yet heard the record, but my hair had been blown back, my heart turned hard and black, from that song. Now, however, the album's in my hands, and I'm even more affected. Black Sheep Boy is a marvel, wider in scope, deeper in sentiment, than anything the band's done before. Whereas I got annoyed at Down the River of Golden Dreams, wishing the non-Sheff parts of the band hadn't been shunted to the side, here they're cooperating like the finest pirate crew off the American east coast. It's a song cycle about a freakshow kid, or maybe the devil, about fear and violence and boldness and inevitability and rebirth. It's folk music and rock 'n roll, it's the fiercest record I've heard this year, and probably the one most intensely felt. Some of it shimmers and shuffles, but a surprising amount of it bursts, explodes, roars. Lots of critics have commented on Sheff's over-abundant voice, but I don't hear any of Bright Eyes' spitting insanity. No - he's quiet in the right places, he sighs and goes numb, he fades to grey, and then when the words crackle, when they flame, he's there putting voice to them.

"The Latest Toughs" is fantastic just because of how pop it is. When the band climbs their hilltop and crunches into the chorus, when the guitars are sunstabbing and the spirits are singing backup in those ridiculous high-pitched voices, when the tambourine shakes and the rhymes are rhyming, it's crazy catchy, it's glad, it's wonderful, it'll shove you over and then pick you right up. It'll punch you in the face and then stitch up the wounds.

(And I didn't even mention the album's artwork! William Schaff has outdone himself. It's a beautiful object - go buy it.)

Cranebuilders - "Public Space". Gloomy indie rock from Liverpool - not gloomy like rain, like Radiohead or Coldplay, but gloomy like Glencoe when the clouds are hanging but not doing anthing, gloomy like Nick Cave or Smog when he's down. Since I don't make things easy for myself, "Public Space" isn't really gloomy, actually - it's one of the lightest things on Sometimes You Hear Through Someone Else. Tommy Roberts has a bit of a growl to his voice, just enough rasp to ground the ethereal harmonies. Chugging to the chorus, things break into a glittering place, a numb-and-dreamy dancefloor narrative, the hook like a hook. I imagine a tired, cathartic dance at the two minute mark, one man alone on the silver floor, drink in hand, trying to let his feelings out. [buy]

Posted by Sean at 8:37 AM | Comments (3)

April 18, 2005

one way or another

Sons and Daughters - "Medicine". Boy oh boy! Tongues were wagging, sure, when Sons and Daughters released Love the Cup, a mini-album, last year. But would you listen to this! The lead off-track from their upcoming LP, "Medicine" is just over two minutes of stomp-kicking joy - well, joy in the musical sense. The bass drum is one neverending thump, a dancefloor heartbeat, the voice in your head that makes you want to throw yourself off that cliff. (And if you wait for the throaty bolt of guitar in the left channel, you'll get a glimpse of what happens if you do go head-over-heels off the edge.) Adele and Scott sing, they yell, and it's gloriously glaswegian - at last a band that sounds like the streets they trudge through. I could reach and make a reference to Johnny Cash, to old-fashioned country, but despite the mandolin I won't. I'll only say that there's danger here, the mild danger that leaves you breathless, that I want to get through that scary night and break into a hall full of people, this music in the speakers, all of us stamping and dancing and clapping and shouting, with all our hearts. I don't just want to be hearing this raucous melodious noise - I want to be making it. [pre-order The Repulsion Box (due in June) / buy other stuff]

Iron & Wine - "Evening on the Ground (Lilith's Song)". Hold your horses. First of all, Iron & Wine junkies (metallurgists and oenophiles, I guess), you needn't read this. You hold Mister Sam Beam in such high esteem that you heard this months ago. For the rest of us, however, - and I hold myself in this group, - don't go skipping off before you've listened to this song. I liked Creek Drank the Cradle well enough, I even loved it at first, but as time went on I stopped listening to it. Iron & Wine make warm and pretty music, but other than the KCRW recording of "Upward Over the Mountainside", or maybe those Flaming Lips/Postal Service covers, the hazy whispered folk never reached over and into my chest, really touching my heart. After sinking my teeth into last year's Our Endless Numbered Days, I gave up interest in the guy. His music seemed to be circling on itself, always the same thing, at the same level.

So I didn't listen to the Woman King EP till this past weekend, away in Glencoe, prompted by John's post at ILM.

But it's marvelous! Certainly the best thing that Beam has ever released. In beside his hushed vocals is a jittering array of percussion, the thrum and strain of piano, violin, electric (!) guitar, and other voices. More than any of this, however, what excites me is the feeling of menace on the recording. For the first time there's the tang of evil in Iron & Wine's songs.

"Evening on the Ground (Lilith's Song)" is brilliantly brief, a story compressed into a icy flashing question-mark. Beam says "fucking" within the first few lines, and then it's all about spider-bites, dying, a waterside... Something's approaching, or fleeing, or promising to return. The fiddle juts in before you're comfortable, then the bound thrash of the guitar. Beam's croon is suddenly scary, a fearful or fearsome whisper. It's rich, dark and full. It's a thicket. It's fine. [buy]



Stylus gets it exactly freakin' right on the new Magnolia Electric Co. It's a fantastic review.


Welcome to visitors from the Ottawa Citizen (especially anybody I know!). Please consider saying hello in the comments - and please do stick around. You'll hear from Jordan (and maybe Dan) later this week.

Posted by Sean at 8:29 AM | Comments (22)

April 15, 2005

czech it

[this is the sixth in a continuing series, exploring the music i discovered when travelling in europe last fall]

It seems kind of stupid to say that Nase Vec's Horky Menu is one of the best hip-hop albums I've heard this century. I mean, I don't understand any of the raps. They're in czech. I haven't even been able to find translations.

So maybe I won't say that; maybe I'll hold out for the day that I understand every word, that I can nod in time with the wit and wordplay. In the meantime, I'll say simply that Horky Menu is fucking fantastic.

It's almost seventy minutes of cool and scuffling beats, the insistent force of the raps by Drone, 2Jay, Scissal, Tafrob, Apoka, Janek, Kolpa and Dup. The scratching is great, wild and whirling, with chunks of sound that arrive like pianos to pavement. The rhymes tumble over each-other, standing in line like dominoes. Maybe it's like Talib Kweli, maybe the Cunning Linguists, maybe Tribe. Since I can't understand them, everything sounds like a gesture toward something else, a nod, but so too could it all be brilliantly original, a hoarse eastern-european birth.

Horky Menu is almost seventy minutes long. It was released in 2003. Here are three tracks.

Nase Vec - "Intro". These are the overlapping shades that open the record, folds of sound and the fading echo of a saxophone. There's a crew here, too, first one voice and then a gang, a group to nod and ruminate while DJ Opia scratches. A group to wait as things stutter to a stop - this is just an intro.

Nase Vec - "Bez Nadsazky". Dup's production is a lacework of czech folk guitar, short tumbles, then the sneering of saxophone, that friend whose sarcasm you admire. Dup and Drone synchronize their flow, a strut down a hill. They mention Fubu, that I can read in the liner-notes, but the rest is a push of words. Listening, I feel propelled despite myself, like theirs are sounds I once knew but forgot. It means something - I know it means, I'm sure of it, - but I'm left grasping at what that might be. Noumenal.

Nase Vec ft. Illuzionists - "Tisicdvestedeset". Here's DJ Opia showing off, a DJ instrumental, with DJ Nneser and DJ Chocolatic as "Scratchpart" (scratch partners?). It's all surges and diversions, a rocketburst down the road then a sudden jerking stop, people crossing the intersection, men on bikes and women in heels, bureaucrats and double-dutching kids. Entering the city-center, there's more people lingering on street-corners, cowboy hats and gangstas, all lounging under Prague's absurd architectural majesty. Conversations in back-rooms, then the traffic bursting behind them, the green-light red-light flow, everywhere, dialogue governed by it. A journey, a trip, a life.

Visit Nase Vec's website.



if anyone knows anyone at Web Nymph, Kinja,, or any of the other mp3blog amalgamators, could you please ask them to update the saidthegramophone feed to our new domain? thanks.

Posted by Sean at 7:46 AM | Comments (8)

April 14, 2005

If My Calculations Are Correct, Then Motion Must Be An Illusion!

Frankie Sparo - "Send For Me"

Frankie Sparo is like Jethro Tull. Each is a man comprised of a band comprised of men.

Frankie Sparo is unlike Jethro Tull. Whereas the Tull is mostly about fantastical literary conceits and ferocious flute solos, Frankie Sparo is about the slow chug of steam engines, the crash of rusty anchors into water, the echo of long gone factories, playing slow waltzes. [Buy]


Mecca Normal - "Ice Floes Aweigh"

“What I really wanna know is, 'Why did you throw that huge glass of chocolate milk at me when I said I was moving out at 17?.'”

That she chooses to mention the hugeness of the glass of chocolate milk is like a huge glass of chocolate milk (i.e. good).

(This song comes courtesy of my editor, Max Maki.) [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 4:46 AM | Comments (1)

April 13, 2005

Caps Off

Yes - "Heart of the Sunrise"

Sometimes I wish that my life contained within it the events necessary to make listening to this song (during them) actually pertinent. For instance, running from the police. Or being a hero.
I think the people who write books on how to write a good short story must love this song. It starts with blinding excitement, gets into good character development (he can really wail) and has something besides the excitement to back it up (I feel lost in the cit-aayyy). And of course a great ending, both bookending the start and finish, but bringing some new interest in as well.
I'd like to see you make a better 10-minute track.

Actually, please do, and e-mail it to me. (see sidebar)

[free from]
[Buy Buffalo '66]

speaking of Vincent Gallo, he's curating the 2nd All Tomorrow's Parties festival of this year, and again, he's a complete mystery to me (Kid Koala? Buck 65? wha?)

Charles Manson - "Eyes of a Dreamer"

What is probably supposed to be the most whimsical line in the song, "it's all in the eyes of the dreamer", takes on new meaning when you think of the eyes he's talking about. This is the most melodic (and musically capable) song on LIE (titled later, I think, this was never released - yikes, pun) the rest of the album is not that good. very very angry.


elsewhere: My sister sent me a song by Subtle (that's two for DoseOne, he's in), but I have nothing interesting to say about it, except that I love it. watch the radiohead-esque (and beautiful) video here

Posted by Dan at 3:07 AM | Comments (6)

April 12, 2005

straw pole

[this is the fifth in a continuing series, exploring the music i discovered when travelling in europe last fall]

To Poland!

We arrived in Warsaw before dawn. We walked to our hostel through the worst snowstorm that Poland's seen in decades. But that was okay. Warsaw is a heavy city, almost oppressively post-communist in feeling, everything squatting concrete or, like the Palace of Culture, top-heavy and looming. The old city is handsome, but even there I couldn't escape the knowledge of the sprawl all around us, the people packed into coats, the endless stretches of sidewalk.

Krakow, meanwhile, was one of the most joyous experiences on my trip. Wawel Palace and the older districts are individually characteristic, elegant, but then there's the sense that as the city extends, so too does a vivid cultural life, arts and individuality. We ate cheap pierogies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We saw posters for the Cool Kids of Death. I bought music.

Siekiera - "Ludzie wschodu".

Siekiera's fantastic 1986 album, Nowa Aleksandria, was entirely unknown to me, and it comes to my hands because of Paulo's comment on this blog. Thank-you, Paulo, wherever you are.

"Ludzie wschodu" is icy and hot, it quickens the blood. It's cold wave from communist Poland, both awkward-hip and disorientingly alien. They sing in Polish, but amid post-punk keyboard stabs or the growl of the guitar, it's easy to understand the simple human noise of "hey!", "da da da" or "hey-ha". Joy Division is certainly a major touchstone (especially in the drums), but there's a greater fury here - unlike the Manchester boys, these Poles are expressing some of their pent-up feeling. A train-car rattles and then we're off, soles on a pavement, the arc and flare of street-lights, the long lure of an alley. 'Siekiera' means 'The Axes'. There's violence in the music, but also the ache of violence unexpressed. It's a chill that you shake off, a rage you vent spastically, in a basement. (And, like the whole of the album, it's awsesome.) [buy]

On the other side of the spectrum - ROBOTOBIBOK.

ROBOTOBIBOK - "Skipping C". This is a contemporary Polish alt.jazz combo, and "Skipping C" comes from 2004's Nawyki Przyrody. It's a wheeling mix of horns, drums, and a boiling vibraphone, energy and flowing feeling, then the skittering human fade-out of vocal sounds and song. Instead of being bored by the track's circular energy, I love it - there are brave stabs amid the repetition, streaming impulses that make each repeat a renewal, a reincarnation. It's a city's flow, the silver threads of streets, dawn's burst of population, swirling lanes, then the fade-out of sun, the emptying-out of those valleys. It's no surprise to me that the band's played next to both Fennesz and the Chicago Underground trio. Visit their website to buy the album, and to grab some more mp3s.



John at the Tofu Hut is looking to try something new. He is one of the hardest working mp3bloggers, spending countless hours on research and composition, far beyond the average amount of writing and scavenging. He is soliciting donations - regular donations - to see if he can't make a micropayment go at Tofu Hut full-time. I applaud his decision to resist advertising, and so too do I suspect he's the mp3blogger most deserving of financial support. Please head on over there and consider helping to support the work he does. (While you still can, you must also download Xn.'s glittering, stunning live cover of Sufjan Stevens' "Vito's Ordination Song".)

Also loving this track at Stereogum, by (sixeyes faves) the Akron/Family.


After yesterday's total silence, could someone comment today so that I know that the new comment system is working? (Thank-you!)

Posted by Sean at 8:55 AM | Comments (8)

April 11, 2005

pitbull monday

Coming soon, the music of Poland. On this Monday morning, however, as I complete the unfinished business of the host-move, I feel like talking about hip-hop. From the United States.

Pitbull ft. Lil John - "Toma". I'm not sure why I'm so moved by Lil' John's fat crunk beats. I find something so alienating in those moon-man metal beachball bounces, the inhumanity of it. And yet here I am just as I was with Usher's "Yeah", not just moved but propelled, sent spinning into Toma's hot landscape. It's a party beat with the typical misogyny, Lil John yelling like a glorious moron, Toma explaining that "with these women I'm O.J., I get away with murder". The half-rasped spanish chorus is fierce and compelling, this thick vocal embrace - the track lifts you and then puts you down, it slaps your back so hard you're shoved around, and all along that little bronze electric guitar line, the real scale of your mischief. [buy M.I.A.M.I.]

The next track comes to me entirely via Rap Nerd, an awesome (and fairly new) mp3blog, where there's been an extended series called "Beatlemania," showcasing hip-hop tracks with Beatles samples. Yeah yeah, gimmicks, blah blah blah, but I like that kind of stuff. Besides, as with everything at Rap Nerd, the writer is knowledgeable, articulate, and picks the wheat from the chaff.

Nas ft. Pitbull - "Imagine". In many ways the total opposite of "Toma", "Imagine" is build around that most twentieth-century of samples - John Lennon's tune of the same name. For me, however, there's much more to this track than the cribbing of a good melody -- as a serious, focused response to 9/11, it's one of the best I've heard. I'm pretty skeptical with songs that aim to speak directly on the Twin Towers, some singer/rapper's composed monologue on the tragedy and our new future. But Nas and Pitbull more than justify this track's existence - it's earnest, it's got pretty wise things to say, and more than that, the rhymes are great. Nothing's been sacrificed in either man's flow, for the sake of a "political" rap. Instead it's just sad and strongly felt. Pitbull seems on the verge of tears. Weepy as it may be, emo has hell, I'm compelled by their passion, their strength of feeling. There's real grace in the poetry. "We breath the same air / we bleed the same blood / imagine all people treated equal / imagine one love."

If anyone finds anything broken on the new s.t.g pages (I know the search pages look kind of weird), please let me know in an email.

Posted by Sean at 5:57 AM | Comments (1)

April 8, 2005

Hi. I apologize for our disorganization as we move StG from our hold host at tangmonkey, to a dedicated place at

Most things seem to be almost worked out, but sadly it looks like there are going to be a lot of broken google links and things. If you have any old bookmarks pointing to the tangmonkey address, please update them to Thanks!

More later.

Posted by Sean at 6:57 PM | Comments (1)

April 7, 2005

Damon Krukowski Writes Said The Gramophone, Jordan Makes Triumphant Return With Introduction

[Sorry for my absence. I hope that Dan and Sean took good care of you while I was away. I hope you didn't feel abandoned. I'm still your dad. You're still my kids. I'll still pay for college. You'll still drink and philander, though it shames me.

Anyway, what I wanted to do was organize a guest week before Sean came back and things got serious. That proved harder than hoping, and in the end I received only one submission. It is, however, a very good submission.

The author of today's blog is half of Damon and Naomi, he runs Exact Change Press (a small publishing house devoted to 20th century experimental literature), and was Galaxie 500's drummer. He is Damon Krukowski, and not only did he come through by submitting to the site as he said he would, but he worked to make a deadline. That was very kind of him.
- Ed. Himelfarb

Mr Krukowski wrote:

I've never contributed to a blog before, but from reading a few, it seems like an opportunity to express your innermost crankiness. (Isn't that a good cranky start? I've already insulted blogs, now I'm going to insult the independent music business.) I'm just back from SXSW, 1300 bands crammed into a few square blocks of Austin Texas, and the overwhelming cranky feeling I had there was: there's too much music in the world. No, wait, I'm someone who enjoys subway musicians, AM radio in Newark NJ, cantors, even people singing to themselves in the car in front of me in traffic. There can't be enough music in the world. But there are too many bands! In Austin, I heard bands that made me never want to hear clever postpunk again; bands that made me hate sensitive singer-songwriters; bands that made me regret I ever played a slow backbeat on a drumkit; bands that made me crave silence. But amid the cacophony, I did hear two things that made me happy: happy for music, happy to be making music, happy for the world of sound.

A Hawk and A Hacksaw - "Portlandtown"

A Hawk and A Hacksaw perform as a duo; she (Heather Trest) plays violin, and he (Jeremy Barnes) . . . he plays accordion with his hands, and percussion with his feet, knees, and head (by means of a hat, with bells and a stick strapped to it). He also sings, on occasion, in a vibrato-less baritone that recalls Clive Palmer. The rhythms feel like Eastern European folk dances. The melodies sound like Child ballads. The attitude is subway musician meets Newark AM radio meets cantor meets someone singing to themselves in a car in front of you. [Info]

Gram Parsons - "Hearts on Fire"

The other joyful noise I heard was on the radio -- 2 a.m., driving away from the live music capital of the world, Emmylou and Gram Parsons singing Hearts on Fire in the black Texas night. I want to sing, right here in the car, and I don't care if anyone sees me, much less hears me! [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 2:26 AM | Comments (9)

April 6, 2005

Clichés Are There For A Reason

Neil Young - "Bandit"

from Greendale. it's the only song I've heard in it's entirety, but it knocked me down/around. Apparently the rest of the album is more guitarry, well...fine.

The following are all good things:

It's so tired. This song is the end of the rope, and it's like wishing you luck as it pries loose your fingers. There is so much unsaid, it's as if the chorus is missing words: "someday you'll find / everything you're looking for / because I didn't, and people should". Even the guitar is tired, it rattles like it has trouble breathing. And I want to listen to every word like it's true; like it's been proven by a lifetime.

[Buy the cd, dvd, and book]

The Robot Ate Me - "You Smile"

Lullabies are supposed to be sad, 'cause then you want to go to sleep to escape it.

Posted by Dan at 1:59 AM | Comments (4)

April 5, 2005


[this is the fourth in a continuing series, exploring the music i discovered when travelling in europe last fall]

You take a ferry from Finland to Estonia. We took it twice, because we forgot things in Finland. This sort of forgetfulness is not recommended.

Tallinn, capital of Estonia, lies on the tense border between picturesque medieval town and sprawling, coughing post-communist city. The Old Town is beautifully preserved, lovely for walking, but when we ventured out into the greyness of urban Tallinn, we were not very charmed.

I bought a record by Urmas Alender at a supermarket in a shopping mall. I bought it based on the artwork, and by how many other Urmas Alender records were on the wall. And although I don't entirely regret my purchase, I kinda do, because it's not really to my taste.

He started as a member of Ruja, one of the country's most important bands, playing guitar and then later leading the prog group. Their career spanned decades, lasting through perestroika and into the early 1990s. In 1994, however, Urmas Alender was among those who died when a ferry sank en route from Stockholm to Tallinn.

Although I didn't know it at the time, Kohtumine Albertiga is a (clearly) posthumous release, gathering songs from Alender's other early groups - Andromeeda, Varjud, Teravik, and DATA. This is the opening track -

Urmas Alender - "Varjude revolutsioon". The repeated guitar strains at the beginning of the song remind me most of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail theme, but that feeling soon diminishes. Alender sings amid a rising wail, joined by trumpet and psych organ, a brew of sound. I can hear traces of Genesis, but it's folkier than that (Yes? This really isn't my genre.). The most important thing is the lazy power of the track, the way these chill hippie elements coalesce into a folsky potency, a revolutionary fervour. [I can't find a website for ordering this CD, but if anyone does, please let me know in the comments and I'll update accordingly.]

From Tallinn we traveled to Riga, the beautiful capital of Latvia. It's a wonderful city, rising organically out of the water and the stone of the old town, parks in strips that run toward the Liberty monument. The market is astonishing, four airplane hangars full of fish, grains, meat, vegetables, surrounded by hundreds of stalls that sell everything from pet food to bootleg CDs. Julian bought an mp3-cd with every Leonard Cohen album. I bought dumplings.

Later, though, I bought a CD by Prãta Vetra. When they try to crossover to the anglo market, they call themselves Brain Storm. (I know.) They are essentially the Coldplay of Latvia, the Radiohead of Latvia, the winner of Latvian Grammies, the commercial radio superstars.

In the CD liner notes, it reads:
"Paldies: (thanks) ... No Doubt, Oceanfall, Bob Marley un Dave Matthews Band par inspiraciju." So there you go.

More importantly, though, they write pretty catchy tunes.

Prãta Vetra - "Pa Pareizãm". I look forward, I really do, to the day when a computer can generate songs like this. Because in the meantime I'm forced to wait for bands to get their shit together, to find a studio with appropriate resources, and to get their music to my ears. There's some surf guitar in "Pa Pareizãm," but it's been neutralized, sugar-coated, tag-teamed with a good-natured synth-line. Renars Kaupers (uh, Reynard Cowper) plays it coy till the chorus zing, then taking every pleasure at the roll of an R, the zooming silly buzz of the hook. [buy 2003's Dienās, kad lidlauks pārāk tāls]

Oh - and a needless caveat about all this music (and what follows). I speak english, french, and some latin. I don't know latvian, polish or hungarian. I have no idea what the vast bulk of these lyrics mean - if any of it's hateful, or just mind-numbingly inane, I apologize. I'm just a naif.

Elsewhere -

Whether or not you read french (and especially if you do), listen to Alex's fine "Easy Like Sunday Morning" mix at ORTF. Rare tracks by Four Tet, Mum, Chet Baker, and more. (Max de Wardener, too!)

Posted by Sean at 9:27 AM | Comments (5)

April 4, 2005


[this is the third in a continuing series, exploring the music i discovered when travelling in europe last fall]

We flew from Dublin, via London, to Tampere, Finland. "Manse" is Tampere's nickname - it's the country's Manchester. Tampere is concrete and grey, but like all of Finland (at least the little bit I saw), the space gives everything a feeling of freedom, of life.

Later we went to Helsinki, where boats sat like contented hens in the bay. Parks line the boulevards, with strange and evocative statues - Sibelius, communism, swans.

Between the two cities we took the ultra high-tech high-speed train. And I watched as tall, tall trees spinned past my window, like the stoic older cousins of the familiar Ontario and Quebec landscape. There were knotted forests, fading to blue in the distance.

The CD I bought in Finland is by an avant folk group called Kemialliset Ystävät. I went to a record shop in Tampere and picked albums based entirely on their art. Then I listened. And Alkuhärkä won.

It's a difficult record. From Panda Bear to Black Dice, this sort of psychfolk needs a certain state of mind to take seriously - just what the psych implies. (I've never understood why acts like Devendra Banhart or Joanna Newsom are given the same label. The differences are really, really clear.) Instruments blend and circle, half-melodies worming out of the soil, receding into it.

Kemialliset Ystävät - "Kiimaniityn Kutsu"
Kemialliset Ystävät - "Kamelin Hikeä"

For me, listening to Kemialliset Ystävät becomes an exercise in fictional ethnography. I don't just imagine the music, the manifestation of the synths, piano, strings, and drone, I imagine a culture that might have produced it. I try to situate the sounds in those tall, leafless trees, down the empty, wide and blowing city streets. It's the sound of the electric cables that run through the woods, and of the people who live in huts under them.

Read more about the record at Fake Jazz.

Elsewhere -

the legend is true: Montreal's grand, big, glowing cross turns purple when the Pope dies. I think it's beautiful that such an enormous monument is on a slow-time, half-century calendar, flickering briefly into a different, ghostly state. I wish I was there to see it.

Unreleased Sam Beam (iron & wine) at buked and scorned.

ftrain updates: the death of a cat. beautiful, very sad.

(main photo taken in the sculpture garden at Tampere's Sara Hilden Art Museum.

Posted by Sean at 8:44 AM | Comments (4)

April 2, 2005


Indeed, yesterday's April 1 post about Gramophone-Going-Pay was entirely a poisson, a gag, and I'm relieved that not many of our readers believed it. (Contrast this with the people who seemed unsure about the sincerity of Fluxblog's awful april fools songs.) StG will never have ads or subscription fees, and we've never made a dime from InSound or Amazon. I just don't think it's cool.

It's quite possible, however, that while you were reeling with consternation or amusement, you missed Dan's other April 1 post, with real music/poetry to hear. It's here.

Elsewhere -

Via Tofu Hut, I just discovered the fantastic RIFF CENTRAL, a goof-off mp3blog-of-sorts that's half drew, half uh something else. Fake interviews with music bigheads, silly and stupid and smart and - most important of all, - genuinely funny. He snarks Matthew Herbert so hard. My favourites: the Game, Prefuse73, Sasha F-J. I just wish he updated more often.

GOSH: Pokey the Penguin is for sale.

Have a great weekend.

Oh. And even though I really do mean that righteous anti-corporate stuff, we just sprung CND$169 for a new .mac account, to keep the music flowing. If anyone is feeling generous enough that they want to help us cover that cost, you can PayPal Any amount is appreciated. (Nothing more will ever be said about this.) We really, really, really appreciate all of your support - verbal, monetary, sincere.

Posted by Sean at 7:52 AM | Comments (1)

April 1, 2005

We All Knew it Would Happen

Due to server bandwidth, upload/download expansion, and CVI (computer visitation increase), Said the Gramophone will be a members-only site from now on. Please choose from any of the convenient plans below:

"StG-mini" Plan (29.99?/yr.) - full access to all the standard songs, and a synopsis of every review.

"Full Gramo" Plan (59.99?/yr.) - full access to all songs, including the 'adults only' songs which will be a weekly fixture, and full reviews from every contributing author, plus a picture of us writing the review.

"Pay-by-Post" Plan (2.99?/entry) - entries can be purchased individually, for those who can't commit for one reason or another. there will be no previews offered for p-by-p purchases.

So, the last free entry is below. Please don't think of this as the end of something free, but rather the start of something better.

at your soonest convenience, please e-mail us with your choice of plan.

- StG staff

Posted by Dan at 1:36 AM | Comments (25)

on a fender with Julien Alexander

Sunset-Valley - "Mr. Extreme Jeans"

My body is starting to react to the amount of time I've been spending at the computer. Wrist pain, then eye pain, and now, wait for it, a blister on my thumb from pressing the spacebarsomuch. So, in case I die before the end of this paragraph: WHAT A CHORUS! I've noticed recently that people will quickly relate a song's being really catchy to it's potential to sell something. "That song will probably be in a commercial" etc. I'd look down my nose at this, but I did the exact same thing when I heard this song. But maybe it's good, that way, ad people will be bowing to OUR standards as opposed to setting trends. Party in the street! (no cameras allowed, ever again)

Jack Kerouac - "an excerpt from The Subterraneans"

There's not really many author-celebrities today, are there? I guess Dave Eggars does his thing, and lots of people know who he is, but he doesn't like, go on tv and stuff. No one who's just an author enjoys the kind of attention that Kerouac....experienced.

Hearing him read was really the key to enjoying his writing for me. I could listen to him read for hours, often ceasing to listen to the words and hear only the sounds. Which I think he started writing like eventually, after the midpoint in the chronology of books, stuff really starts to lose sense. But not this one, Mardou is one of his most vivid characters in my opinion, entirely because of the lack of description she receives. He felt he had her figured out, I guess.

Posted by Dan at 12:57 AM | Comments (3)