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

June 29, 2005

That That 'That' That That

Holopaw - "Igloo Glass"

The members of Holopaw must have thick skin if their paws are in fact hollow. Otherwise, how could they play guitar with Nick Drake quickness and lightness? How could they play trilled bluegrass mandolin runs? How could they play cymbal-swells that last forever, ambiguous and unresolved? Wouldn't their unreinforced fingers collapse under the pressure? I think so.

At the end, when the back-up singer switches to "this little light of mine," I think of McCoy Tyner surprising John Coltrane with an unexpected and perfectly placed chord. [Buy]


Christine Maki - "Portuguese Soundscape"

For those of you wondering about Montreal's Portuguese community (I assume that's all of you):

My editor, Max Maki, makes radio documentaries. Some are serious and newsy and some, like this one, are hysterical and whimsical. She is a gifted observer of life's small incongruities and absurdities, and as such, makes radio that is very funny and just a little bit (and only obliquely) existentially significant. [Email]

Posted by Jordan at 11:17 PM | Comments (3)

angela desveaux: cor, yes

Angela Desveaux - "Wanderin' Eyes". Ohboy ohboy. For months I've been cherishing this track, holding it to my heart as I fell asleep, carrying it into new days. I listen and I listen, I listen so much that I keep digging for new ways to listen, new lights to listen by - sunlight, lamplight, eyelight, window-light, twilight, midnight. It's sad but it's glad, it's closure and beginning, it's a warning and a dare. It's sweet, but a little bitter. And it's a country song.

I think my favourite thing is the organ. It's just there, like leaves, like hands on your shoulders.

Okay, no, obviously not. The best thing is Desveaux's voice, her voice in each channel, her wildflower Emmylou Harris, her Montreal swagger. Or maybe it's the simple tapflattap of drums, the marvel of that plain sound. Oh heck, it's all great. And it's catchy, too. And upbeat.

Obviously, there's a reason I didn't share it with you sooner, and that's simply that I thought the person who sent it to me didn't want me to. It turns out I was wrong.

Angela Desveaux is a Cape Breton woman now dwelling in Montreal. This was recorded with Harris Newman on bass, Mike Moya (Hrsta/GY!BE) on organ, and Howard Bilerman on drums. I don't think it's the final mix. And should all go well, there will be much more to hear later this year or early next.


I can't believe I've never written about Ballboy.

Here are some truths:

* They were a favourite of the late John Peel.
* They are from Edinburgh.

The band is quite fairly lumped in with groups like Camera Obscura or Belle & Sebastian, softknit indie pop from a set of Scots. They've often got bite, however; the mangey scruff of a group like Sons & Daughters, the dry snark of Arab Strap.

But while they do jangly numbers and melancholily twee ballads, my most favourite thing that Ballboy do is spoken word tracks, like these, swelling sounds and Gordon McIntyre's so-committed wit, whimsical but stone dead serious, the deepest sort of jokes - the kind that mean something. It's poetry, really, like a daft conversation with your truest friend.

Ballboy - "A Day in Space". Taken from Ballboy's debut album, "A Day in Space" contains some of my favourite lyrics of all time, a conversation about what to do with £1,000,000, lyrics that when transcribed don't carry half the weight, the humour, or the meaning. This is a song about how awesome it would be to go to space. It's a meditation, a manifesto. It's been carefully considered, calmly assembled. He says "space-base" and I laugh. He talks about the training, "Hard? Hard my arse," and I laugh. But then he uses words like "brilliant" or "important" (he uses that word a lot), and something catches in my chest. Because what's important is, well, important. It's really, really important. When something's important to you - it's important. It's important! It's important! IT's IMPORTANT. Is this clear? Listen! What matters to you matters. Do it, live it, etc. And it's the most hackneyed thing in the world but it's so damn true and I'm so glad to hear someone say it with such skill and such wit, so casually that it sounds like both the most important thing in the world and the silliest throw-away of all time. To my friends: What's important's important! To anyone who might mock: Go fly a kite!

Ballboy - "A Europewide Search for Love". The band's got a bigger budget on A Guide For The Daylight Hours, so this time we've got moony swells of strings, vast swirling flowerfields of them, and a message of pure and melancholy romance. This is a lovesong for us all to sing, the chorus for the heartsickness of open Europe or post-9/11 Earth.

i didn't really care about the slump or the rally
it didn't mean anything to me
because tonight i'm thinking about much more important things
and they're wondering
if they can keep it if they find it
and if what they get will be what they want
and they're wondering if what they want is what they really need
And there's so much hope here, so much longing and so much hope, those sweeps of strings and those images of trains, those winding weaving trains, carrying window-gazers to the stations where they will step outside and see each other and yes maybe yes oh yes maybe fall in love.

If you live in Edinburgh, join me at their gig on July 2, as part of the G8-related RESON8 event.

[buy Ballboy stuff]

There are more mp3s you can download at their website, including an mp3 of the fantastic "I Hate Scotland".


SubPop has an mp3 from the upcoming Wolf Parade LP. [via catbirdseat] Speaking of which, Apologies to the Queen Mary has leaked and it is a great deal of spirited fun. Along with the EPs, it will allow me to make one heck of a Wolf Parade compilation album. My mega-huge standout super-fave is "I'll Believe in Anything", but no one else likes it as much as me.

From Pop Montreal come confirmation that The Unicorns' Nick Diamonds has been organising a compilation album (or just a charity single?) in support of UNICEF. (I think Alden's involved too.) It's called "Do They Know It's Halloween?". The project is definitely legit, as I heard about it a couple months ago from one of the artists involved, but who knows whether all the acts in this list are really gonna contribute. If they are, it's gonna truly rule. Dig:

The Arcade Fire, Beck, Thurston Moore, Karen O, Sparks, Wayne Coyne, David Cross, Spike Jones, Juliette Lewis, Devendra Banhart, Gino Washington, Nardwuar The Human Serviette, Clay Aiken, and more.
I was told that it was probably coming out this summer. (I know.)

If you are a LiveJournal user, please consider subscribing to StG's LJ Feed (tell your friends).

The last weeks' mp3s are still offline, and will remain so until Apple answers my emails. We're not going anywhere, though - not to worry.

Posted by Sean at 4:06 AM | Comments (26)

June 28, 2005

Only People Who Can't Sue Us

Jordan apologises, but can't post today. Sean apologises, but all of our songs have been taken down. We'll probably have to go day by day for now, so get the songs while you can. And we will (at least I will) be playing it safe as well.

The Captains - "Computer"

It's cut off from the recording, but this song was introduced: "We play this song digitally....with our fingers." You ever pass a bar and all you can hear is loud? Yeah, that was my roommate's band, probably. Dressed in full military pilot garb, two or sometimes three captains would shout their orders of "rock" to about 15 or 20 people every so often around Montreal. But this song is not without its merits. It's fun. In the way that it makes me want to chug an entire beer. And I'm a wallflower, so that's saying a lot.

Gregory Cochrane in Toronto

Gregory is unflinchingly witty. His delivery doesn't bat an eyelash, and he's often waiting for you (me) to catch up.

Posted by Dan at 1:46 AM | Comments (1)

June 27, 2005

stop! and stop!

We received a Cease And Desist this afternoon, for something that we posted, but I don't yet know what. I'm investigating. All mp3s are gone in the mean time.

Thanks for your patience.

Posted by Sean at 6:11 PM | Comments (11)

Sounds from L'Éclisse

These three songs have been extracted directly from the soundtrack of L'Éclisse. Watching it recently, I found I was able to just close my eyes and listen to the movie. The images were merely the perfect accompaniment to the fully-fleshed-out soundtrack. So away we go:

1. Opening Credits

The credits of the film are two minutes long, and cut into two halves: one minute of Italian go-go (i want a whole album) and one minute of science-fiction orchestral bursts and light, dusting piano. What makes it significant is that nothing in the visuals changes with the music. Any change in mood is intended to be done entirely through the song. And on its own, this song is something quite amazing; like eating a cupcake with a rock in it; not an accident, a sign of danger.

2. The Airport Café

Here's where the music, through the integration of the film's sounds, comes apart from the film and begins to walk around on its own. The sounds of footsteps, background conversations, and a few lines of dialog, combine with this would-be-mundane saxophone number to make a perfectly summery drink-sipping tune. It's better where it is. To explain the words: Vittoria (Monica Vitti) sees an American at a café at the airport. He, like most men in the film, says hello suggestively; she laughs and sits outside. Her friend sees her, says something like "What are you doing?" and she replies with 'È cita così bene qui': "It's so nice here". It even ends with a sigh.

3. Meeting Place

It's not important to know the context of this one (I was trying to make it unimportant for any of them, but it's difficult). Just let it wash over you, let it be a song. The trotting horse and the hoses watering lawns are just as much instruments as the piano, the footsteps.

[Buy] but if not, at least rent, it's so gorgeous.


Also: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah video for "Over and Over". I listen to this whole album almost daily now. I'm not a huge fan of the video, am I supposed to be tricked into thinking this is one take? I guess not. I do like stark colours and simple ideas, so maybe I have to be a fan of it. Thanks to Audri for this.

Posted by Dan at 1:00 AM | Comments (8)

June 24, 2005

Everything Always At Once

Kath Bloom and Loren MazzaCane Connors - "How It Rains"

Loren MazzaCane Connors plays music like this: he plucks a guitar string and bends it as far as he can while groaning in harmony. Simple as that. He's been doing it for years. It sounds like dying.

Kath Bloom sings like this: as if from within a hundred-year-old wax cylinder.

Goes together like a horse and carriage. [Buy]


Richard Youngs - "The World Is Silence In Your Head"

If Steve Reich and Coldplay... [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 3:07 AM | Comments (5)

June 23, 2005

56k: Heaven Knows When I'll Get My Voice Back Again

Matson Jones - "Welcome Back, Mr. Audio-Technica"

Both songs come to you today courtesy of Roger B.'s recommendations. They are low-fi in the worst way (in digital compression, not in recording quality) but the excitement of what they promise comes through. The first is from Matson Jones, a 4-piece of 2 cellos, a bass, and drums. Their formal make-up, however, is forgotten as soon as the song starts. It struts out the door with a little c'mon wave back at you.

Recorded well, they could really play up that scary edge that they have: those stabbing cellos could be big metal doors that rapidly open and close in a pattern, so that you have to time it just right to get past them. This song could be a fortress if they wanted it to. And I want them to want it to.


No Dynamics - "Josephine Baker"

If the first song has a strut, this song shows it a thing or two about being so cocksure. The whole band plays their instruments on treadmills facing the audience, so they are literally running at you as they play. No, they don't do this, but they should.

My best adjective for this, both a strength and a fault, is "relentless". So, it's a cool feeling for this song, like being punched in the same place twenty times, but seeing them live it got kind of tiresome. Unlike the Fiery Furnaces, they don't have a record that I can learn (and love) before seeing them play a samey set at a show. So I guess my one criticism of this band is that they have no dynamics.



I'm not posting this. I just feel like I can't go a day these days without a sad song. I miss my mother, my sisters, and my best friend.

Posted by Dan at 12:59 AM | Comments (5)

June 22, 2005

glass works

Hanne Hukkelberg - "Searching". The press materials would have her be the Norwegian Joanna Newsom, but no, that's not right. If anything, Hanne sounds like Cocorosie, wetmouthed, ringing, glimmering. There are, however, some differences: Hanne's one person; She would, I bet, would make you (good) breakfast; And instead of dating Conor Oberst, I can only imagine Ms Hukkelberg on the arm of Bill Murray. Some Slavic Bill Murray, I guess. He'd probably be an entomologist.

This song is underwater sunlight or a squirt of lime. It's scrapes and dings, Jon Brion organ, an unfliching brightbright faith. "But now that I can see / my man / will come to me." There's a true tenderness in these strange sounds, the squeezed voice, the theremin's distant sorrow -- I have the feeling we could break Hanne Hukkelberg's heart.

[buy from the Leaf Label]


I had no interest in liking Flotation Toy Warning's debut album, Bluffer's Guide to the Flight Deck. I hate the band name, I hate the album name.

But wouldn't you know it - it's great.

Popsheep already posted the record's best track, "Popstar Researching Oblivion", but there's much, much more to be heard. Maybe there's even too much - you better know what you're doing when your debut is seventy minutes in duration and most of the tracks are longer than six minutes.

Flotation Toy Warning - "Happy13". I guess the album is what the kids would call "avant pop", and this is a good label only inasmuch as it keeps things very vague. "Happy13" trudges a bit, never reaching euphoria, while "Popstar Researching Oblivion" lolls in silly wagging cornfields. "Donald Pleasance" is impressionist sorrowful, "How the Plains Left Me Flat" stamps like a one-man-band. What's terrific about "Happy13", though, is the way that synth line cuts right through, grabbing you by the collar from those very first notes. Flotation Toy Warning have a bevy of resemblances - The Eels, The Unicorns, The Flaming Lips, Grandaddy, the Polyphonic Spree, even Chad Van Gaalen, - but they're also very clearly their own thing. That knife-edge synthline gives way to dusty drums and a dustier lead vocal, but later it's resurrected in a bed of twinkles, rhodes and maybe even distant choir. The song ends abruptly, but that's because it's not a radio single - it's part of an LP.

Yeah - The biggest challenge that Bluffer's Guide... faces, other than its absolutely awful moniker, is the fact that it's really an album album. There are a very many musical ideas, vignettes of melody and timbre and mood, snatches of song that bump into one another like so many brightly coloured boats. Unlike Ian, I don't find myself reaching to play the same track(s) over and over, but instead I compulsively hit 'play' to listen again to the whole CD. I relish the moments that are already familiar, I am brought to attention by the unexpectedly brilliant sound.

The band is from London. You can buy the album on Misra as of August 16th, and if the label gets its website troubles sorted out, you can already order it from the UK label, Pointy.


Elsewhere, and perhaps of interest only to Canadians:

Rick Mercer's got a blog! And it's funny!

Posted by Sean at 3:09 AM | Comments (3)

June 21, 2005

If a Dislikes b, Then...

Chad VanGaalen - "Somewhere I Know There Is Nothing"

For those of you who love Early Music as much as you do indie rock, "Somewhere I Know There Is Nothing" will be for you what a baseball stadium full of ice cream is for me: a bringing-together of two great elements in the creation of an optimal aesthetic (or, in the latter case, architecturo-gastronomical) molecule.

Imagine a Sufjan Stevens/Josquin Desprez/Samuel Morse/birds collaboration. What?! You can't? Go back to school! [Info]


Tom Tom Club - "Genius of Love"

Is this the original version? I have this on record, but no working record player, so I haven't listened to it in ages. Anyway, I don't remember it sounding this way.

A Literal Interpretaion:

1. Girl gets out of jail.
2. Sex.
3. Girl discourses on the time-bending funkiness of Bootsy Collins's bass playing and the superior vocals of one "Smokey Raw-bin-sin."
4. Tribal chanting.
5. Boyfriend goes missing.
6. Girl relates anecdote about what it was like when she and Boyfriend did cocaine (they "went insane").
7. Japanese is spoken.
8. Girl spouts nonsense.
9. "Bohannon/Bohannon/Bohannon/James Brown/James Brown/James Brown/James Brown"

See you guys at the disco. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 3:04 AM | Comments (9)

June 19, 2005

wolf parade and the new pornographers: go!

It seems like only yesterday that we posted a Wolf Parade song on Said the Gramophone -- oh wait, it was our last post. Well, I apologise. But the season is ripe with new material, and they're the band that's making our blood buzz. Yes, the Wolf Parade's debut EP on Sub Pop, self-titled like the last two (this, I'm sure, is a tactic to fuck up eBayers) has leaked. And it's pretty fucking brill. Messy as puddle-water on a table-cloth, but so too has the band's pop elements have been greased and set spinning. We are in for one great treat when the album drops in the fall.

This is a band that play prog and brokenbottle garage rock, brown-grey and cut-lipped. Or, as I said in Plan B:

Theirs is a skewed rock’n’roll which is part New Wave schizo, part old-school rhythm ‘n blues. Spencer’s synths sneer, Arlen’s drums pound, Hadji’s theremin warbles, and Dan bursts open like a cocaine piñata.

Wolf Parade - "Shine a Light". The opening track of the new Wolf Parade, the opening song on their CBC Radio 3 set, and (who knows?) maybe even the opening cut on Apologies to the Queen Mary when it's released in September. It's a great opener, each element of the band entering in mud-caked gear. The drums are brilliantly up-down jerky, there's the sliding slur of organ, and then the sharp thrumble or guitar. The band's only got one guitarist, but in studio they can have a million - they chime, they claw-back answers, they keep the pace with Dan's monologuist voice. He sounds like a man who's gone blind, who's gone deaf, feeling music in his chest and then giving a manic sermon to the crowd. He's so serious. So drunk, and so serious. Perhaps most brilliant of all is the backing-vocals, Spencer's "wo-oh OH oh" and then the bluebright "oooh-oooh-oooh-ooh"s, something more restful and Beautiful just around the corner. "Shine a Light" sounds so smoky, but so gladly so, so celebratory in its smog and grit and mud.

And I know they don't sound like Spoon, but they do, too, don't they? Spoon after getting soaked to the skin, dumped, and beaten up? Yeah?

Despite the band's problems during the Isaac Brock recording sessions, I'm assuming this was produced by him.

[pre-order for less than $5!]


Yes, it's a new-releases kind of week. Look what else has arrived:

The New Pornographers - "The Bleeding Heart Show". So Twin Cinema is due on August 23, and delight-of-delights, is just as good (and just the same) as the last two Pornographer records. For some bands this would be a criticism, but me I don't want the Pornos to deviate from their formula. This is a formula that blows people down with galeforce pop winds, a wedding-cake in a pill, a rainbow in a lightbulb, a pony. Matt would call it joycore, but when it comes to the New Pornographers, for me it's sour-pop. It's so direct, so fierce, so strong - that blast of lemon to your tongue, lips, head. And then there's the notes, the intervals, or something - everything just a little sharp, somehow, a little weird, a little sour. It's engineered, of course. This sourness, this weirdness, it softens you up for the perfect tonal burst of the chorus' capping line, or something.

But let's talk about "The Bleeding Heart Show". Such a deceiving song, tiptoeing through the first minute-and-a-bit, serene niceness. But then the drums and organs poke their heads out of the meadow, and - boy oh boy, - do we know where Carl and Neko are headed now (hint: it is somewhere awesome!). And yet they delay, they delay... Oh yes, there we go. Anthemic arena ooohing. But wait! Did they ever get you. That's not the peak, no siree, that pleasantry. Nah - we've got a whole new drumbeat and some old-fashioned "Hey Jude" chanting for you. "Hey-la hey-la, hey-la hey-laaaaa!" There's no clouds, didn't you notice? There are kites flying, didn't you notice? In the wide open green of the Meadows this afternoon, I saw a girl do a cartwheel, for no good reason, just hanging around on her own. And here's Neko - it's a call-back to the opening and it's so joyous and so sour and it's like she's made something else appear, made the birds appear, or made them change colour, or just made me think they did.

(My only complaint with Twin Cinema, so far, is that despite the purported increase in the Bejar-quotient, Destroyer Dan still doesn't make nearly enough of an appearance. That is, we hear his voice, we hear his words, but I love when he reins the Pornographers to his own chalky-beauteous ditties - see "A Testament In Youth in Verse". And for that, I guess, I'm going to have to wait.)

[hopefully you'll be able to pre-order soon, at Matador and Mint]


Popsheep's got more Wolf Parade, kinda, in the form of Spencer's solo project, Sunset Rundown. The album's pretty great (we may post about it too). They've also written about the new record by Floatation Toy Warning (I know), which, well, I'm definitely going to be posting about as well. They steal all our ideas, and stuff.

Yesterday at Fopp I picked up the remastered version of the first Arcade Fire EP (with new Seripop artwork!) It sounds great. You should get it.

Posted by Sean at 5:23 PM | Comments (11)

June 17, 2005

Worst Knight Ever

Terry Jacks - "Concrete Sea"

Some of you will have read of my editor, Max Maki. That's because she likes to insert her name into as many posts as she can get her greedy (not to mention greasy) little bearpaws on. Yesterday, she was listening to the CBC (Max likes the radio) and heard an interview with Terry Jacks. Now, I'm not going to lie to you: I'd never heard of Terry Jacks. Max told me that he was the artist responsible for that insipid enemy of a song, "Seasons In The Sun," (best selling Canadian single of all time (boo!)) but that - as evidenced by his extraordinary song "Concrete Sea" - he was not a man of pure evil but a man divided between that extreme and its opposite. Needless to say, having never heard the latter song, I was sceptical (of her dubious claim (would you trust a new invention of Dr. Frankenstein's?) and of her existence (I'm an Ontological Skeptic)).

But, Good Lord! Was I ever wrong? Not before yesterday, I wasn't.

Add some vibrato to the voice, change the 4/4 shuffle to a slow waltz and convince Neil Young that he wrote "Concrete Sea" and he'd be real proud.

Turn it into a book, take out the ham-fisted rhymes and convince H.D. Thoreau that he wrote "Concrete Sea" and he'd be real proud.

It's short and it's simple - a formal reaction against the "concrete sea." Yesterday, Jacks described it as "simple and all acoustic." That, of course, is a lie. Electric guitars are not among the instruments we label as acoustic. But would you expect honesty from the man who brought us "Seasons In The Sun?" [Buy]


A cover of a Frog Eyes song from a Believer magazine music comp:

Wolf Parade - "Claxxon's Lament"

Wolf Parade plays a kind of caustic church music. A church music without the appropriate deference to greater powers. Fittingly, here their voice sounds like the voice of god, tentatively forming prayers in the imperative.

It sounds a bit like Bowie and a bit like Destroyer (the horns at the end are vividly evocative of City of Daughters), and it sounds a bit like a new kind of plainsong: unadorned, yet spilling over with feeling. They sound confident, doing much with little: a reverb-soaked harmony at 0:45, a moment's vocal vulnerability at 1:05, an aimless organ, a simple guitar counterpoint, the repetitive and dissonant interplay of the muted guitar and off-kilter saxophone squawks that bring the song to an end. [Buy/Info]

Posted by Jordan at 1:43 AM | Comments (12)

June 16, 2005

I'm Going Deaf

Hexes and Ohs - "The Shape Is Me"

You can listen to this and then say good-bye to something.

When I listen to this it's as if I'm having a morning where I don't have to go to work. It's sunny and I have the day to myself. But I'll stay inside, because my neighbourhood is a tragic, tragic place. I can only watch so many people give up before I start to think it's a good idea for myself. Have a place to go when you leave the house. Have someone to meet, someone to talk to. I think this song is kind of afraid.



Birdmonster - "Janine"

This should be the song we're all sick of by the end of the summer, but I'm glad it won't be, 'cause those songs are ruined forever. Either that, or indelibly tied to some setting or routine in which the song was often heard. Songs like REM's "Losing My Religion" and Crash Test Dummies "Superman", they're just completely silly to me now. You might as well show me a slide show of me on an RV trip with my parents and sisters. In fact, if you could arrange that, I would like it.

this song's about trying to cut strings you don't want to cut.


whoever's reading this, I'm going to call you pretty soon.


Posted by Dan at 12:54 AM | Comments (6)

June 15, 2005


As an appendix to yesterday's post about Three Gut -- I invited Guelph native Tim Kingsbury (of the Arcade Fire) to say a few words on the label's lowering-of-the-lights. And I'm very pleased to say that he has obliged.

I moved away from Guelph, Ont. in 1997 and Three Gut Records was born within a year or two. I always felt that Three Gut and I had a lot in common and thought it sort of took my place when I left. We shared alot of the same friends, the same musical interests and it involved a lot of people I really admired. Some were close friends and some I watched from a (short) distance.

Guelph is a town of around 100,000 people, so I was always impressed that the label had that many talented people working on a single project together just because they wanted to. I hadn’t seen that much up until then, and I still don’t see it often enough.

Although I've never asked them outright, I don’t think that they aspired to sell hundreds of thousands of records. I do know that they aspired to put out their friends’ records because they believed that they deserved to be heard. They were right. As a result, the people around them paid attention.

They moved to Toronto fairly early on and people were taken with them. People came to their shows and people talked about them. My Guelph friends went on to earn a lot of respect in Toronto and across Canada. Even some attention outside of Canada. It was very exciting to watch and listen. Oddly enough, I was never very close to Lisa or Tyler (the heart of Three Gut) at the time, but I always thought they did great work and really enjoyed watching the label grow. Part of me was sad that I never got to be more involved. It was through them that Arcade Fire played our first show in Toronto at Jim Guthrie's CD release for Now More Than Ever, and I also played my first show with Arcade Fire in Montreal opening up for Royal City.

Three Gut has put out some of the most solid records of any label I know and that’s something they should be proud of.

Thanks so much, Tim. And thanks again, Three Gut.

Posted by Sean at 4:32 AM | Comments (1)

Things No One Else Will Care About

John Cage - "Music of Changes (Book I)"

Me: Experimental Music.

You: Boo. Damn it, boo.

YOU ARE NOT WRONG. I go to mp3 blogs every day, and if I was forced to swallow "experimental music" I would do it with a grimace too. But hear me out: try not to listen to it in the same way you listen to regular music. And that doesn't mean seriously, and smoking or something. I prefer to think of that picture of John Cage and try to imagine what shape this music would be, how would it look if it fell out of a jar, what it would spell if it were somehow translated into language.

large sections of the whole Music of Changes piece were composed by a randomizer on a computer; the composition uses every key and every volume (is that the word? from pppp to ffff) on the piano. It's not enjoyable to listen to, by any means. But that might (but totally could also not) be the point. It's like putting a bra on an unbalanced washing machine and trying to enjoy its belly dance; you start to wonder what you were even thinking when you were dancing down the street to a series of notes. And then I think of his face again.



NMVF - "Gene the Machine"

We're getting a little more accessible. NMVF makes IDM (intelligent dance music?), but I don't like that genre, 'cause Autechre and Boards of Canada aren't making IDM, in my opinion, but I guess you gotta call it something.

This song is made using a modified Speak-n-Spell, and it's a squinky, almost twee little gem. Robo-kitty plans a dance and no one goes. Except Gene, the Machine, who dances a softshoe on a tarpaulin made of an oversized novelty cheque.

watch your ears on those high-pitched squeals. Fifteen Grand!

[How to Modify Sound-Producing Entities Into Instruments]


Animalmonster - "Jumangi"

This is supposed to be the most accessible song today. And it totally is, it's a hypnotizing, droning stretch mark that pushes up the sidewalk a bit as it rumbles underneath. It's like a pink wind that moves in ribbons. It's unnerving, but at least it's alive.

[out of print]


Also: if you live in Toronto, you should check out my friend Sarah's acclaimed experimental documentary Can You Love Me? at the Worldwide Shorts Film Festival. It does what any great short does: charms you, moves you, and makes it look so damn simple. It's playing today at 4.30 and Saturday (I'll be there!) at 9.15. check the schedule.

Posted by Dan at 2:19 AM | Comments (6)

June 13, 2005

the places i go to without you

Via Zoilus comes the exceptionally sad news that Three Gut Records is packing it in, later this year. Three Gut was (is) a fantastic label, warm and enthusiastic, totally without pretense. They released good music. They contributed a great deal to the indie rock in (Central) Canada. And from what I understand, they were very good people. I really wish them all the best in their future projects.

My favourite Three Gut band is Royal City.

Royal City - "O You With Flowers". On Royal City's debut, from which "O You With Flowers" is plucked, they were a simple band in white, silver and ink-blue. Their fragments of songs were sung as if they were whole ones, what's left out somehow getting left in. The band became something else, mustier and more alive, for their middle album. And then they came back to the white, silver and blue for Little Heart's Ease. (They added gold, too.) But I'm speaking in clumsy metaphors; let's turn to the matter at hand. This is a song as thin as Neil Young might write, and as beautiful. There's a harmonica that sounds sad but is as happy as you'll ever be. There are notes that ring out. There are words - "flowers", "wayward", "rain", "colour", "beloved", "crocodile". Aaron Riches sings: "I stumbled in / to the iris of your eye." Do. Do, please. Do.

(Win Butler once wrote a love-song called "Alligator Mine". He also once considered signing his band to a label called Three Gut. This is synchronicity, and it makes me glad.)

Royal City - "Bad Luck". I can't believe I've never posted this to Gramophone, this blinging scary-glad track - with skulls bending to kiss, skeletons rattledancing, last breaths joining in song. It's as if we're stomping the vegetable patch and staring at the gnarls of deadvined crops, the piles of earth, trying to be wry instead of sad. It's time to look Bad Luck in the eye and tell it to get lost. No more whispers: we'll sing its name out loud. "Bad Luck, Bad Luck, Bad Luck!" "Bad luck is a terrible laughing god," sure, but we'll say it with half a laugh, a whole grin. And here's the kicker, big guy (moan all you like), we're going to have a fluttering electric guitar and the ding-ding-ding of a piano, we're going to name all your hiding places, we're going to tell you all the things you can't do. "You will never know / the places that I go to without you!" Never! Tell him, banjo! (From 2001's Alone at the Microphone.)

More Three Gut mp3s, including Royal City's take on The Strokes' "Is This It".

[Buy At Rush Hour the Cars, Alone at the Microphone, or Little Heart's Ease (which I like a lot, too). Heck, buy the whole Three Gut discography.]



I've got two articles in the June/July issue of Plan B magazine, which hit shops last week: a capsule review of last month's Edinburgh Micah P Hinson gig, and then a longer piece about contemporary Canadian (indie-rock) identity, with words on/with Final Fantasy, The Diskettes, and Wolf Parade. After writing the two articles I was very happy with the former and less so with the latter, but seeing them in print my feelings have mostly reversed.

I'm extremely proud to be involved with Plan B, as it's the best music magazine I've ever read. Passionate and personal writing, full of conviction. Do pick up a copy if you can - and not for my sake.

They've also published online a review I did of Joanna Newsom's appearance in Glasgow on April 13.



One of the strangest things I've heard in a while is Bjorns Vanner's version of Weezer's "Across the Sea" (from Pinkerton). No idea if it's a cover or a spoof, as, well, it's in Swedish. Catch it at the quickly-becoming-essential swedesplease.

Carl's "Outsider music" piece in the Globe this week, is (like I said in the comments,) "tidy and insightful". That is to say, it's graceful and thoughtful. I like the way he was able to get a little wise on us. Better still, check his blog-post on the subject for a couple of replies from Irwin Chusid himself. I hadn't imagined Chusid to be so deferring, tolerant, or thoughtful (just passionate!).

Posted by Sean at 8:45 PM | Comments (9)

Fans of All Kinds

Leonard Cohen - "Passing Through (Live)"

About ten years ago now, my brother was the talent wrangler for the short-lived and mostly awful late-night program, the Ralph Benmergui Show. During his time at the show, Dave (my brother) was most excited about wrangling Leonard Cohen. He brought a baseball for Cohen to sign and upon presenting it to him, Dave said, “I guess you don’t sign one of these everyday.” To which Cohen replied, “What do you mean? I sign one after every game.”

This isn’t the best Leonard Cohen song - that would probably be “Suzanne,” a song whose construction is so pure and easy that, according to Dave, it seems as though Cohen always sings it with a smile. There are many others, too. Almost every song on New Skin For the Old Ceremony, one of my favourite albums, is brilliant. But you’ve probably heard most of these songs. Here you get to hear a playful Cohen slowly luring an unexpecting audience (an audience who came to mourn, not to celebrate) into a clap-along; an illustration of an essential element of Cohen's music: that sometimes mourning is a celebration. [Buy]


Sparrow - "This Is How It's Done"

Sparrow is Jason Zumpano’s latest project and it shares a lot in common with the work of his former bandmate, A.C. Newman. Both artists favour clean guitar and carefully orchestrated pop songs. I was not a fan of the Zumpano/Newman band, Zumpano, and sometimes Sparrow can’t avoid the Zumpano pitfalls: boring power-poppiness, general saminess. But sometimes he gets it right - like here - and evokes the simultaneous giddiness and melancholy of a late high school summer. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 8:59 AM | Comments (6)

June 11, 2005

While I Still Have the Mic

Saw Wolf Parade tonight. We are all in for a big treat. They're only getting better.

Spencer summed up the atmosphere of tonight's show very nicely: "it's like a party at the bottom of a swamp."

Wolf Parade - "A Day in the Life (Atlas Strategic cover)"

I never posted this because it was from such an early show that I thought maybe they just didn't have enough of their own songs to play. But then they played it tonight, so I'm sure they wouldn't mind.

Posted by Dan at 4:03 AM | Comments (11)

June 10, 2005

Perfection Shirt 15 1/2

I Need Sleep - "I Should Give Up"

This song is sung by a bleary-eyed truck. and the instruments are white and yellow, dotted and solid, lines. The truck is hungry, and looking for dogs and deer, to ask a dance. What happens when you don't sleep is a look underneath the veil of 'rest'. Feeling sick is feeling good.

Also, in a more literal sense, your submissions of music seem to be getting better all the time. Keep it up.



Honey is Cool - "Nach Heart"

If I were Swedish, created in 1997, and a piece of music and not a person, I might be this song. But if I were, I would sing like a girl, and I don't want to do that.

You can like it because it gets loud when it should, it's a morning anthem, it's a single. And you can hate it for the same reasons. Do what you want.

It's probably because 'harbour' is one of the few words I can decipher, but I think about being in the middle of the ocean, but having a shark-proof suit and a really good life jacket. Simultaneously in danger and safe.

The singer's name is Karin, and a fansite had this to say about her:

"they say that Karin is a small girl and a mature woman in same breath."

It's almost better when you don't know the language. Je suis désolé, je ne suis pas capable.

[Buy used]

Posted by Dan at 1:12 AM | Comments (4)

June 9, 2005

You Will Pay For Your Excessive Charm

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth"

this song is 5 minutes and 43 seconds long. the more prepared you are, the better.

It starts off normal enough, but you don't realise what kind of voice is waiting to stretch its legs. Striding alongside, pretending to catch up but being perfectly capable of running circles around the music, the vocals and the melody play like two brothers.

What's so great about it is how normal it is. It sounds like so many bands, but just way better.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - "Details of the War"

This has that restrained, rumbling power that gives me tingles when I'm walking down the street/trying to not be me. It stands behind you and puts its hand on your shoulder; you and the song can wait together for the awful things that are just up ahead. You can both watch trouble tie its laces.

I wanted to post 3 songs from this band, because there are three amazing songs on this record, and bunch of other great ones, but I thought better of it. Just get the album, it's very worth it.

and if you live in New York City (and you know it) you should go to their cd release party tonight.

Posted by Dan at 12:17 AM | Comments (20)

June 7, 2005

a sylvester cat caper

DANGERDOOM - "Mince Meat". Oh yes sirs, it's MF Doom plus DJ Dangermouse, a pentatonic flute sample and Doom's marshy words. There's something almost Seussian about how this sounds, a 5,000 Fingers of Dr T scene, dark courtyard and strange spires. "Give the drummer some rum / I'm sure he could use a shot / just to get his queues hot / and make sure he don't lose a spot." It's dirty, though, like worn shoes and worn jackets. Crunch and strut, solid enough to hang your hat on. Instead of hooks, it's got antlers.

This track's available on the Epitaph comp Punk-O-Rama [buy], and may be included on the duo's upcoming LP, which'll be affiliated with Adult Swim (?!).


Tunng - "Mother's Daughter". I first heard Tunng at a Stockholm record shop, browsing the racks before an Arcade Fire gig. The cover is gorgeous, an interwoven print of faces, flowers, a rabbit, an owl. this is... tunng, it reads, in inky letters. There was a clipping stuck up next to the stack of CDs. The review was in Swedish but I recognized the words "The Books", so I asked to listen. Swedish folktronica! Hooray! Only it's not. I questioned the record clerk and he explained that Tunng are from England. This was for the best, really, as I didn't have to pay in Swedish crowns but could order in plain old quid when I got back to the UK.

All this to say that I own Mother's Daughter and Other Songs and it's a fine, light piece of cloth, sewn with sequins. A long line of sound-alikes apply - The Books, The Beta Band, Kings of Convenience, Appendix Out, the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, - but the album's got a lovely breadth, bouncing between gauzy glitch and very trad britfolk ballads. "Mother's Daughter" is a great demo of all this: it opens with mixed up recordings and a skipping acoustic guitar, the grassy main melody appearing only half-way through, blended voices and the ebb/flow of sound. It feels at once like something here-and-now, something easy and tangible, and something that's just about to flickerdash away.

[The album seems sold out at Simbiotic, but if someone finds another buy link, I will update accordingly.]


Hope you didn't miss the new Arcade Fire track, below?


Sombrero! [via whimsy]

Posted by Sean at 6:47 PM | Comments (2)


Popdrivel has a 128kbps version of the new Arcade Fire song, "Cold Cold Wind," to be released on the upcoming Six Feet Under soundtrack album. To the best of my knowledge, it will air on the last episode of 6FU.

UPDATE 8/6 8:00: EMI asks Popdrivel to take the song down. I'm wary of receiving my own Cease-and-Desist, so I'm not going to host it. However, for the moment, you can still grab it here or here.

The track was produced (or at least mixed) by Chris Thomas (Pulp, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Pink Floyd), in Montreal. Also recorded at those sessions was a version of Barroso's "Brazil" but there's no word on when/how that will be released which will be released on a Merge 7" (with "Cold Wind") in July [thanks Martin!].

"Cold Cold Wind" is a short song, a sad song. It grows on you, or rather it lingers after it's left. The violin is sharp in your ear, and it's where all the feeling is. There and in Regine's backing vocal. It's raining, suddenly, brightly, devastatingly, everything flashing silver, you're blinking blinking blinking through. And then -- well, yes. "HEY HEY HEY." The rain stops and the sun slaps you in the chest so hard that your heart starts beating. "HEY HEY HEY!" Drum thump, chorus again, and there's that violin. They don't give us any more heys.

Posted by Sean at 1:26 PM | Comments (11)

Ask The Right Questions

The Evens - "Mount Pleasant Isn't"

It’s hotter than Hades in my bachelor pad. I’m going to go drink a tall glass of ice water in a bath tub full of ice water.

I write this from my bath. I’m eating grapes.

The production on "Mount Pleasant Isn't" is what Mount Pleasant isn’t anymore, unless Mount Pleasant isn’t anymore, in which case, suffice it to say that the production is pleasant. This song is like a philosophical problem Bertrand Russell would solve with predicate logic.

I can hear the string’s vibration decay, dust spring off the coated head of the snare. This drum kit is most pared down: I can’t hear a single tom, never mind a tom-tom.

The ice water is starting to boil. [Buy]


Uilab - "St. Elmo's Fire (Radio)"

You guys remember this one?

When I first heard it, I broke my brain trying to figure out how Uilab could be so good as to alter the space-time continuum such that they could compose the theme song for a film released ten years before their founding. Later, when I came to understand that it was a Brian Eno cover, I re-rented St. Elmo’s Fire, excited to hear the original in its original context. Needless to say, I was disappointed both with the theme song (David Foster) and the performances (Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy, Rob Lowe, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, et al).

It is a daring undertaking to cover a song from Brian Eno’s masterpiece, Another Green World. However, Uilab pulls it off with aplomb by applying their own trademarks (ethereal harmonies, congested synths and circular drumming) to Eno’s summer adventure song. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 12:34 AM | Comments (2)

June 5, 2005

because i'm gonna

Jeans Cover is a great new comp from Sweden's Groover Recordings*. It's fifteen new tracks by fifteen bands, covers of fifteen songs by fifteen other bands. There are Swedes and Americans, Scots and more. The covered artists are pleasingly diverse, from Depeche Mode to Probot, Jonathan Richman to Hall & Oates, Kelis to Wham. Better yet - most of the covers are good.

So here's two.

The Flu - "Hate to Say I Told You So". Swedes covering Swedes, popsters The Flu versus The Hives' growling punch-and-shove original. I say "popsters" mostly because they're Swedish. This cover isn't jangly-jangly, instead it's slightly country, slightly cross-eyed, everything a little bendy in the knees. Lots of voices knocking together, off-kilter next to the wobbly electric guitar and the back-and-forth bumpty-bump bass. There are hand-claps, of course. The lead vox are just a bit thick with drink, swayingly so, which is the perfect escort of the light shouting of the finale, the harmonica blaring, drunks in a cozy room, wearing themselves out. Happily.

Hello Saferide - "Teen Line". It's such a pleasure to hear from Hello Saferide again, this time in the service of a song originally by The Shivvers. These are the american New Wave Shivvers, not the Bloc Party/Futureheads-supporting UK Shivvers. Sadly, I'm unfamiliar with the original "Teen Line", but Annika (aka Hello Saferide) says that it was "probably one of the best pop songs ever made". She also says that the lyrics were nearly impossible to make out, but she tried all the same. So here we are, carefree and simple, acoustic guitar and a squeezy pop voice, an organ and a bit of melodica, a strutting strum forward. A sunny day song, sure ("as long as you love me, nothing really matters at all"), but let's be more adventurous with our imaginings. Tonight we'll say it's an afterdark stroll through that creepy square downtown, the one outside the subway (T-line) stop, the one filled with drunks and ragamuffins, but your hair is swinging and you're listening to the song and no one can touch you, no-way, cuz, well, you're loved.


* Groover is also the scandinavian label for the greatest unsigned band in america, Bishop Allen.


I know I'm late to the party, but the much-ballyhooed Imogen Heap tune, "Hide and Seek", is really terrific. Vocoder blooming with just enough vocal beats coming in at the end. Even J liked it, and he hates the vocoder. I'm still ruminating over the rest of Speak for Yourself, trying to decide if there's something else worth bringing to your attention. The Annie-meets-Natalie Merchant/Postal Service-meets-Daft Punk's Discovery is a pretty interesting vibe (and certainly way better than Frou Frou).

Hopping on the podcast-subscribing boat. Anyone have any hot tips? (other than cbc radio 3!!!)

Also: If anyone knows anyone at, can you please tell them to update their freakin' saidthegramophone bookmark!

Posted by Sean at 8:20 PM | Comments (9)

June 3, 2005

Add Two (Make It Even)

Red House Painters - "Mistress"

My Bloody Valentine's distorted guitars sprawl outwards, billow and crash inwards, onto themselves in dense loops. The drums and bass don't clarify or organize, but merely add fuzz to the sheets of soft guitar crunch. The vocal crudely cuts out a melody which appears as a drain hole through which the chaos disappears.

Here the Red House Painters sound like My Bloody Valentine with the edges rounded off, the parameters set claustrophobically narrow, the gentle voice at a distance. [Buy]


Rahsaan Roland Kirk - "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone"

During Roland Kirk's last concert, just days before his death, he played three saxophones at once. Not bad. Probably more than not bad when you consider that he played from a wheelchair, one half of his body paralyzed. On "Ain't No Sunshine When You're Gone" he simultaneously sings and plays flute - such is the intensity of his love and mourning.

Bring me a man with more soul and I will give you something you can't buy in a store: my dignity. [Buy Blacknuss]

Posted by Jordan at 5:46 AM | Comments (7)

June 1, 2005


Cocorosie - "Bisounours". From the forthcoming Noah's Ark. The girls still have their attic sounds, their toy instruments, their creaks and creep-out lullabyes. But on this track there's more. The strange musical boxes open for a moment, all together, letting you get a good look at the machinery inside, the wheeling golden wheels of their emotions, of that attic's memory. Some of the sounds: the circling murmurs of a woman (she misses him), the tender blur of a squeezebox, the shudder of an organ, a blush of whispered noise, the clear sound of an opera singer, gramophone memory, a french rap. Yes. By a man. But it's much more Hood than IAM, more Notwist/Themselves than Coolio, more Books than Bjork. It's not music for ghosts, but for the mornings when the ghosts are waking up. It's the music they eat breakfast to, the music they ache to. And the music that we wake, eat, ache to, too.

(what is a bisounours?)


John Lee Hooker ft. Van Morrison, Booker T. Jones - "I Cover the Waterfront". Hooker sings like a widower, Morrison like a man in love. And Booker T. Jones's organ is just the waterfront. The last time I heard a track like this was ages ago, Vincent Gallo & PJ Harvey & friends playing "Moon River". Another song that sounds like an arrival, holding all the mystery of life's arrivals - will [s]he, won't [s]he, can I wait, the water's waiting. The fog.

When Morrison comes in, he sings that he "waited all night long / in the cold and rain". Hooker answers, "I did too." And it's not bragging - it's plain, sad solidarity. The sad solidarity of, well, sadness. Of the blues. And as lost as he may have been in the past twenty years, all of Morrison's talents come rushing back with the repetition of the song's first gladness, the "lord lord lord", ecstatic and breathless and [dis]believing.

But we turn back to Hooker to hear the events of the story clearly, "a ship / coming down the ocean / out of the fog / rolling so / so / so slow." Simply sung, calmly sung, but still his heart is swelling. Sometimes we can't cry when we should. Morrison hears the truth in this. "Yeah," he answers, a statement of recognition.


(Thanks so much, Matthew. From John Lee Hooker's 1991 album, Mr Lucky. [buy])

Salman Rushdie has a new book coming out in September and it is about a clown. I am so excited!

If anyone has suggestions for places to stay in Ljubljana/Bohinj, or where to rent a car in Slovenia, please get in touch.

Posted by Sean at 8:25 PM | Comments (17)

Broke Broke Broke in the Water

Bullette - "Show Me"

This was sent to us last week. I was skeptical at first (I usually am when the promotion is so professional) but Bullette withstands the test: every time I listen to a song I make a wish, and if I make the same wish twice I--- no, there's no test. Mathematically, it's good; write it down, map it out, you'll see. She's a completely competent musician interested in entertaining you. Worked on me. Plus, the rest of her album changes up the pace, so your brain is tricked into wanting more. MUSIC IS AN IRON LUNG AND HEAVEN IS A PRISON.



The Lay All Over Its - "Track 2"

There's been a lot of 'untitled' tracks posted recently. Who cares. Track 2 off of Love All Over It is head, shoulders, and long black tails above the rest of the album. Which is too bad, because I could listen to way more of stuff this good. I feel like I'm sitting, hiding, under stairs, listening to people go up and down, but they're doin' something really bad. Like bringing handfuls of something up to a sink to wash it, and then back down to get more (not laundry). I'm taken out of this at the disappointing intelligibility of "I love you I love you I love.." but it's not long before I can get back.



Kyla - "BC March"

I hope this is the only song she ever makes. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

Posted by Dan at 1:32 AM | Comments (12)