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.

September 30, 2005

I Don't Understand Each Word In Your Sentence

The only kind of band I like is the kind that's American and sings in French. That's the way I was raised. Anyway, I never liked a band until the other night when I first heard Listing Ship on the advice of the enigmatic B Castanon. Today I will share their music with you, the readers of StG. Before I do that, however, I will continue to run late until I catch up (or will I? (c.f. Zeno's Paradox)), at which point the sun will set everywhere in the world simultaneously and my post will appear.

Posted by Jordan at 11:57 AM | Comments (14)

September 29, 2005

Marble Rolls

Viva K - "Ming"

I got the Viva K cd in the mail today. It's eleven mediocre songs, with a twelfth gem right at the end. Completely unlike the rest of the album, what was it doing there? The liner notes point out the only difference: it was mixed by one of the band members instead of the guy who mixed the rest of the album. Of course this doesn't make all the difference, but it certainly says a whole lot. This song knows restraint, it knows not to stand up right away. It's first sideways sideways sideways, then stand up straight. Behaving well for a single drop of water.

[Buy from iTunes]


Puffy AmiYumi - "True Asia"

YES. Japanese cartoon heros cum pop girl duo Puffy AmiYumi. Now, I don't speak Japanese, but I understand the lyrics perfectly: they are those of the most inspiring "peace is the new war" anthem dedicated to the whole frigging continent you've ever heard; it just takes a little imagination. And what else do I hear: a snazzy contrapuntal organ line like a purple silk suit, and those stampede-style Road To Nowhere drums? Wow, yes, I do. And so do you.

[their site]


Also, here's my PopMontreal schedule:

Tonight - Blocks Night (NinjaHighSchool, Hank Collective, etc), or Antony & Johnsons (haven't decided!)
Friday - Kosher Dill Spears, The Grates, and Think About Life
Saturday - North of America, Islands
Sunday - Architecture in Helsinki

(say hi if you're at any of these, I'll be the one drinking tap water and eating box after box of Goldfish)

Posted by Dan at 2:44 AM | Comments (8)

September 28, 2005

0 is the Number of Things That Are Not Themselves

Kaki King - "Can The Gwot Save Us?"

My interest in Kaki King was piqued by a young physicist named Darren. He recommended her song "Night After Sidewalk," and described her as a "more proficient David Pajo." Being a gumshoe by nature, I investigated.

One reviewer described Kaki King's music as "somewhere between funk and flamenco." Now, if you're disgusted by the very thought of such a music, fret not; I'm doubly disgusted. When Kaki King treads "somewhere between funk and flamenco" (and sometimes she does), she treads on dangerous and barren ground, and we needn't accompany her. But here, as on "Night After Sidewalk," she takes advantage of the considerable potential power of solo acoustic guitar music. We hear her fingers depress and pluck, their calloused tips against coarse metal strings. We hear her slow down and speed up, draw out and cut short, her timing unregulated by a band and her emotion unmitigated by the strictures of the pop song. [Buy]


Robert Charlebois - "Dolores"

Here's what I see when I hear "Dolores":

Porcelain beer steins, of course, and old dark wood. I see big billowing women in denim dresses with white skin and pink cheeks, dancing and smiling. I see skinny old men with combovers fiddling until their fiddles combust. Overalls catching fire, bottles of alcohol exploding on shelves. I see a consuming conflagration. The roof burns away, revealing a blue sky and the sun. The fire dies down. At 3:40 I see what Robert Charlebois sees: a little bird. Men in burnt tatters picking up their smoking violins, the party beginning anew. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 12:21 PM | Comments (4)

for the fanclub

Do go and dig the major site redesign at Arcade Fire dot com. Flash as heck and thus frustratingly unlinkable, but so, so beautiful. Vincent Morisset and Dominic Turmel - I salute you.

The photos-in-the-photo-gallery are great, too.

Posted by Sean at 4:30 AM | Comments (7)

September 27, 2005

The Winks and Hello Saferide

The Winks - "Abalone". Crooked is as crooked does. What does that mean? It means that if a song is crooked, it will do crooked - it will make crooked things seem straight, make straight seem crooked. It'll make a lawn seem like a crunched piece of paper; it'll make a flute and a giggle sound like a tugboat. The Winks are from Vancouver but they ought to be from the secret Cloud Level on Super Mario. You know the one -- it's got crackles and pops, mandolin and cello, pipes you can walk into, question marks that sprout into forests. This is chamber pop with its strings cut: P:ano's lilt, The Unicorns' ADD and Sufjan Stevens' sweet smile.

The band is signed to Swim Slowly (see also: The Robot Ate Me, Doveman), and have an LP out, but this track is from their new split EP with Tights, out today on the Ozzie label Drip Audio. The Winks are touring Canada. (montrealers: you have yr mission.)

Hello Saferide - "Get Sick Soon". Awwwww... Seriously. Here's a love song to make all the curmudgeons (Hi!) throw up their hands, cute as a bouquet of flowers and a cough in the face. It's a song about loving someone so much that they are allowed to be sick of all you. "I'm such a Florence / a real Florence Nightingale / I'll fluff your pillows / I'll buy you a Spider-Man comic and read to you til you fall asleep." It's sharp as a needle, funny as a raspberry, and the closing lines are lovely enough to make my heart go ping.

Hello Saferide's new album is kind, catchy and yes thank goodness silly. She's a fine songwriter; she has muddy hands; she has butterflies in her stomach, chest and coming out her mouth. Catch up with "High School Stalker" (if you missed it the first time,) here, and you'd do well to tune back in to that page when the mp3 for "San Francisco" goes live - it's a galloping handclapping cracker.

Introducing... Hello Saferide is out tomorrow and you can [pre-]order by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.

[Previously: Hello Saferide's Said the Gramophone guestpost / "Teen Line"]


Happy Birthday, Avril Lavigne!



I (Heart) Music is fairly new to the musiczine biz but has already won my (heart) by featuring Wolf Parade this week, and holding a contest to win their new record.

At the Architectural Dance Society you can still read Jeff's ruminations on Tommy James & the Shondells' "Crimson and Clover". He writes about the long version of the track, which he's in fact tweaked to match his vinyl recollections, about the way little musical choices can transform a song's feeling. And you can of course download the mp3. Jordan wrote here about the song in December.

Any of you who have missed a gig on the Zoobombs' current tour should be finding a way to kick yourselves in the head. I say this not because I caught their show (um, come to Edinburgh please), but because the fact is obvious. Keith was there in Montreal has got the Zoobombs' live disc, and he's even got a live (mp3) recording of my fave Zoobombs track, "Mo' Funky" (heard at Gramophone here). Bluzzy, rotoring Japanese fun(k)-rock. (There's still time -- Athens tonight, Columbus on Thursday, then back to Montreal on Saturday night.)

Todd clatters onto the scene with a new mp3blog called MERE PSEUD, starting with a neat shot of Guided by Voices and, inevitably, The Fall's "Mere Pseud".


Special Gramophone request: My little sister lives in Toronto and has discovered that Saturday's Architecture in Helsinki show is sold out. She is stricken - and understandably. If there's anyone out there in blogland who has a ticket for sale or something, please drop me a line.

Posted by Sean at 1:46 PM | Comments (6)

Wolf Parading

Eek! I completely forgot that today was Tuesday... My post will be up in five hours or so. Until then, do have a look at Coke Machine Glow's excellent interview with Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown. It's honest, insightful and - most surprisingly - funny. I look forward to Part 2.

Since I'm at work and don't have access to my mp3s, I'll also take this opportunity to indulgently mention the albums that are leading the charge for me, this year. Said the Gramophone is all about fresh individual songs, so we don't often follow up and tell you which albums we're finding enduring. The following records are all jockeying, and hard, for my album of the year. (There may yet be more contenders.) As I draft lists in my head, each one has held the top spot:

Broken Social Scene - s/t (Arts & Crafts) [what i said]
Final Fantasy - Has A Good Home (Blocks/Tomlab) [what i said]
Herman Dune - Not on Top (Track and Field) [what i said]
Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy (Jagjaguwar) [what i said] (what OR's Will Sheff said about Tim Hardin)
Robyn - s/t (Konichiwa) [what i said]
Smog - A River Ain't Too Much To Love (Drag City) [what i said]

Others jostling in the rear: Sigur Ros, MIA, Antony & the Johnsons, Damian Marley, Phantom Buffalo, Page France, The Clientele, Jon-Rae and the River, and doubtless many more than I'm forgetting.

(blast from the past: my favourite music of 2004)

addendum: OMG, "new" Bishop Allen song at You Ain't No Picasso!!!!one!1!

Posted by Sean at 8:21 AM | Comments (6)

September 26, 2005

A Wake Is Proof You've Been Somewhere

Boat - "After All"

Jordan wrote about Boat a while ago, but they haven't given up on being immediately interesting, perfectly catchy. Get into them, and they'll live at your house for a week or two. Their lo-fi-ness sometimes gets in the way like a great book written in comic sans. Get a little clearer recording, Boat, and Wes Anderson might consider you for the next movie.

Decisions are hard for Boat. This is the 2nd of 2, and hopefully more, songs celebrating the achievement of having come to a decision. Which I guess is valid, that is a hard thing to do. But once you write a song about it, you better stick to that decision. Otherwise, you'll have to write another song, and then you're in a different genre.

[Info/Buy] p.s. if you live in Seattle, go to their show on Wednesday!


Giovanni Fusco - "Happy Surf"

After posting tracks from L'Éclisse, Kieran contacted me with a huge wealth of actual recordings by Giovanni Fusco. This is called Happy Surf. It is clear why this is.

Posted by Dan at 1:57 PM | Comments (3)

September 23, 2005

What Do Bike Thieves Really Deserve?

Mt. Eerie - "Uh Oh! It's Morning Time Again"

We were talking in the comments about being able to imagine the look on someone's face, the way their mouth is moving, just by the way they say something. Well, this song is like that; it starts with a bunch of that "we're just lettin' the tape roll" stuff, which I, like a sucker, always find really evocative. But it's like getting to know the choir before they sing their song. Like sitting in the audience and just watching the band hang out before the song starts (but they can't know you're there, otherwise they're performing). And then when Elvrum hits the line "So if she's dead, then I'm dead too" you know exactly what he looks like, and you know what everyone else looks like, holding their breath and their bongos, waiting. Humanity (hilarious, gentle, cloying, annoying) is what makes this song g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s.



Neutral Milk Hotel - "Engine"

Sean talking about NMH yesterday made me want some of the real thing. I hope you haven't heard this song before, or you've listened to it once or twice, but never sat in it like a chair made of concrete, comfortable somehow. I hope because for me it was the last thing I found by this band, and it's the perfect last thing to find. Like a really compelling clip show (yes, I've been brought in by a clip show). It has everything: tea-stained imagery, a melody that's too simple to be true, the soundscape as music (sign of things to come) and the most insane intensity hidden under a veil of right notes and restraint. I know people say "i've been listening to this song on repeat" to make a point, but I'm not here to make a point (yes I am), it's true.


Posted by Dan at 2:50 AM | Comments (16)

September 22, 2005

ash + magic: Page France and Damian Marley

Page France - "Jesus". If someone were to ask me what kind of music I like, it would probably make a lot of sense to just say "THIS". I suspect that songwriter Michael Nau has precisely the same dreams as me. It's the only explanation for how his songs jolt straight to my brain's gladcentres. Last night he will have dreamed of a strange house with blue walls, where he lived with his parents, only they're not his parents. Who are they? Are they the parents from Buffalo 66? Maybe. And then the night before that he dreamt of math equations. And before that he dreamed of the brilliance of rising vocal lines and sudden thumps, glockenspiel and the harmonies that make one's spine Spring-tingle.

Page France are new to me. I owe Matthew and Cody some thanks. And Fall Records, too, because the CD is now in hand and it's such a joy. Such a joy. It's indie folky pop like a million cloudchanges condensed into minutes. It's great. "Chariot" is the marvellous opening song, and you can still download it at Fluxblog. It's great. (Did I mention that?) You can download the also-rad "Junkyard" here. And you can stream the whole rest of the album here.

"Jesus" is a song full of promise and zing. It's that greengrassy place where Ben Gibbard dances with Neutral Milk Hotel, both of them in flower-garland crowns. There are rings of melody and harmony - voice, acoustic guitar, electric, tambourine, - and one by one these rings are laid on top of each other. One by one until there's a stack of golden rings, which you can put on like a big bracelet. (You can then go propose to your love, or fly to the Fortress of Solitude, or make water spring from dry wells, whatever you want.)

It's also, admittedly, a song about Jesus. But it's a song about Jesus in the same way that "Mrs Robinson" is about Missus R. It's a song about the cool stuff Jesus might do, the ways he might surprise us. It's about the party he brings with him. When he appears he's like something dredged out of an Okkervil River or Royal City peat. In other words, he's a magic Jesus. "And Jesus will come through the ground so dirty / with worms in his hair and a hand so sturdy."

Lau is a remarkable lyricist. His rhymes are so good- Okay, imagine you have a twig, a good brown twig the breadth of your thumb. And you snap it in half. And you throw the two pieces of twig to either side of a forest. And then a lonely person comes along and picks up one of the pieces of twig. He thinks life's meaningless and lame. He wanders. At the other side of the wood he idly picks up the other piece of twig. And look! Lo! They fit together! Just. Like. That. And for a long moment he's in awe of the way the world can just make things come together in the rightest way.

Michael Lau's rhymes are like that.

"And the bears and bees and banana trees will play kazoos and tambourines. And Jesus will dance as we drink his wine / with soldiers and thieves and a sword in his side."

[buy for a mere $10 | more info]


Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley ft. Nas - "Road to Zion". Although "Welcome to Jamrock" may be scaling the worldwide charts, something tells me that the bulk of this site's readership hasn't been paying attention. So please do start. Welcome to Jamrock is almost certainly the best reggae album I've ever heard. This isn't saying much -- I'm woefully unschooled in reggae, familiar only with some Trojan box-sets and, well, Bob. Furthermore, there's not all that much reggae on this record: lots of hip-hop and r&b that leans in that direction, rocksteady and dancehall and yes Jamaican accents, but if you're looking exclusively for 2nd and 4th beat unhs, large chunks of Welcome to Jamrock will disappoint.

This is irrelevant, though. Fact is, Bob Marley's youngest son has made a CD of very consistent quality, of shining beats and perfumed melody, of bumpin' and wisdom. He's taken a card from - and made a better record than - Kanye West, bringing social conscience to the dance-floor. He lets himself get incensed (by politics and by women). He doesn't lecture: he sings.

"Road to Zion" is dry and sweet, terribly sad but not at all apathetic. Marley raps like it's the easiest thing in the world, sings like this is a song he's been singing for years. His voice is more ashen croak than croon, like an old soul singer sitting at the edge of his bed. Nas raps with equal earnestness - "Prostitutes stomp in high-heel boots / and badges scream at young black children / 'Stop or I will shoot.'" - and equal frustration. There's a resignation to the song - there's got to be! listen to that harp sample, the humming mother to the side, - but Marley and Nas aren't resigned to the awfulness of the world; instead they're resigned to the long long long fight.

It's reputedly been a very hard summer in Jamaica. Best wishes to the people there.

[buy (it's worth it)]



A generous dose of remixes from the upcoming Grizzly Bear album, at TTIKTDA.

Posted by Sean at 3:03 AM | Comments (12)

September 21, 2005

Not Where You Expect It, But Somewhere Else

Paul Duncan - "In A Way"

Here is the sequence of events that led me to write this:

I was sitting in my chair, at my desk, petting my cat (Bruno the Berber "purr-purr" kitty) contemplating what kind of song I felt like writing about. I picked up a guitar and played a simple part that reminded me of Tortoise: a hammer-on on the low E string, a big, meaty slide on the A string, a strange time signature. Then I opened my email and found this song.

I knew that I would post it as soon as I heard the wide-open drum overture yield to the guitars. I liked the way they paced back and forth. I thought that I shouldn't deny the cosmic significance of the fact that "In a Way" sounds like the Chicago post-rock Tortoise pioneered. When I discovered that it was in 10/8 time I burned the only extant copy of my novel. It was a masterpiece. I realize the inapproriateness of my reaction, but such is my insouciance in the face of 10/8 time.

At 0:53 there is a short build to a small crescendo - the kind that Tortoise was (is?) fond of and that brought me so much joy as a teenager. Impeccably arranged; a violin, a rhodes and a guitar playing at being a mandolin bring the song to a conclusion. [Buy/Info]


Fred Neil with Gram Parsons - "You Don't Miss Your Water"

Fred Neil and Gram Parsons sing about not knowing what you got til it's gone. Despite the abrasive blues-style, big bend acoustic guitar playing in the left channel, and the low mix of Parsons's voice, this still emerges as a simple, felt and trenchant song of regret. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 12:10 PM | Comments (6)

September 20, 2005

Handsomeboy Technique and a drowning

Handsomeboy Technique - "Season of Young Mouss". It was strange enough when the Go! Team exploded into my life last year, a joyous ragamuffin music I had never even conceived of before. But imagine my surprise when I discover that there's another band baking the cupcakes that the Go! Team have been selling, a rival team of Eighties bricoleurs and nostalgic twee-sters. And they're from Japan.

Yes, Handsomeboy Technique are gloriously doubledutching and furiously dancing, all of it garnished with a cherry-faced naivete, a childish pep. "Season of Young Mouss" has jazz flute breaks and spoken-word sampling, gamelan and rap and a "duh dit-dit doo" songline. It's fantastic, really, and Adelie Land deserves to be sitting on the top of cool-kid playlists across the land. There's a little more dance-music to "Season of Young Mouss" than on most Go! Team gunk, but surely that's a good thing when you feel like dancing. (Besides, tracks like "Adelie Coast Waltz" offer peachy-and-wistful alternatives.)

I can find almost nothing in English that has been written about Handsomeboy Technique. So honestly, we'd better get started.



King Creosote - "Grace". On October 3, Full Time Hobby release Dream Brother, a tribute to Jeff and Tim Buckley. The contributors are first-rate, from Sufjan to Micah P Hinson, Kathryn Williams to Adem, Matthew Herbert and the Magic Numbers. I'm not convinced that many of them achieve what they hoped - the Buckleys' originals shine a little too bright to be eclipsed (or even clouded), - but it's interesting to hear them try. I really enjoy Matthew Herbert & Dani Siciliano's take on "Everybody Here Wants You", and Sufjan is appropriately tender, but really it's King Creosote who steals the show.

This is unexpected. "Grace" is my favourite song by either Buckley, and it didn't seem likely I'd hear a cover which felt anything but redundant. Let alone a cover with accordion. But here we are.

King Creosote's made something dark as sea-water. His "Grace" has a Siren's eyes, her smile. The menace of the lyrics is plain, here; there's no missing the macabre promise that the narrator makes. No missing the way he sings of his love, his anaesthetised indifference to her sorrow. Creosote's had just enough wine for his voice to tilt with the demands of the song. His accordion's been polished. Carrion birds are circling. Oh aye, it will be a waltz - but a dead man's waltz, beautiful as a good drowning.



Also at StG -

I do hope you saw Dan's fantastic post yesterday, and I must also point you to the gorgeous Roy Harper track that Jordan posted on Friday.

Elsewhere -

At Tuwa's Shanty, listen to the powdered-sugar dumb-and-happy trot of "Sunday Morning", by Billy Preston.

"We, Emmanuel Light, Love Ocean", by the Inconsolable, is one of those instrumentals of such circular sadness that you could curl up with it and spend an afternoon of melancholy.

Calexico's Elliott Smith cover, at Chromewaves (look on the left sidebar), is surprisingly good [if a little traditional]. I am not usually a Calexico fan.

If you liked the Gareth Auden-Hole song I posted a month ago, he's got more up here. Rattle-creaking, flowering folk-pop.

Catch vids of the recent Arcade Fire appearances with Bowie on Fashion Rocks, and on Letterman, at Smudge of Ashen Fluff.

And a hearty, heartful, heartfelt first-time happy birthday to the lovely Svetlana Citta Bilerman. Welcome to the big ole' world.

Posted by Sean at 3:00 AM | Comments (9)

September 19, 2005

The Suicide Song

This is the story of a song that causes people to commit suicide. Hungarian composer Reszo Seress wrote the song Gloomy Sunday, apparently while depressed and during an actual gloomy Sunday, and soon after people started turning up dead.

Artie Shaw (with vocalist) - "Gloomy Sunday"

The sheet music was reportedly found close by, or witnesses heard or saw them listening to the song performed, sung, or even whistled, merely hours before their death. All unsubstantiated gossip of course, but interesting. Since then, 1932, the song has been much recorded, including the most famous rendition by Billie Holiday,

Billie Holiday - "Gloomy Sunday"

but also by other newer artists like Diamanda Galas and Bjork.

Diamanda Galas - "Gloomy Sunday"

and most recently, the inspiration for this post, by Venetian Snares.

Venetian Snares - "Öngyilkos Vasárnap"

The number of suicides, however, at least to my knowledge, has not increased, even though many more people have heard the song than in that time. If anything, it's gone from some to none (reported, anyway). So, why has Gloomy Sunday lost its power? Why aren't the bodies dropping the way they did in the old days? Well, in my opinion, there's no version here which truly captures what makes this song sad: the melody. That's why, if we were to make a chart, the body count goes steadily down from Artie Shaw's version (probably a tame version of what used to exist), because he is the only one who knows that the clarinet is essential (it should sing the song), and the melody should be forefront. The vocalist is tacked on for whatever reason, and the song devolves into what the others suffer from: huge sweeping melodrama, big band swell. There's no point in swelling, there's no point in making it epic, and there's no point in focussing on the lyrics, it only distracts from the tears I could be shedding. Especially since the lyrics are literally about contemplating suicide; let me get to that on my own! So forget Diamanda Galas (and Bjork, for that matter) this song isn't about screaming anguish, it's about covering your vision in a continuous dripping stroke of tunnelvisioned melancholy. THAT'S how we'll get the kids sad, Reszo. That's how we'll make the papers. You'll be famous again.

Posted by Dan at 4:48 AM | Comments (106)

September 16, 2005

Find It, Refine It

Mary Timony - "The Hour Glass"

There was a time when I would listen to this song over and over again. Sometimes I would just listen to 1:00 to 1:44, scan back, listen again. I was working in the Canadian Coast Guard's policy unit (man overbored!), was heartbroken, and was looking for anything to focus on other than myself. Mary Timony's Mountains was a savior for me.

"Can't you hear the birds calling from inside the anxious forest of delight?"

Yes, weirdly enough, Mary, I can. I can hear that and more. Just between 1:00 and and 1:44, I hear the viola play ripples on a stream, the bass, like a zombie, push up from beneath the earth, the keyboard (or affected guitar?) throw lightning bolts, and the drums clap like thunder. I hear all this happen, as you say, from within the anxious forest of delight. How have you brought me to this forest? Merely by uniting the only two things worth their salt on the whole of this god-forsaken earth: indie rock and prog? In any case, thank you; I'd much rather be here in this forest than back in my office filing inconceivable amounts of paper, obsessing about my own disintegrating life. [Buy]


Roy Harper - "Francesca"

And speaking of heartbreak: Roy Harper wakes up on a sunny day to find Francesca gone. He is able to move from being angry about Francesca's sudden betrayal to being thankful for the sunlight and, finally, for the time he did have with her. He sits up on his bed, takes his guitar, and writes an almost perfect 1:19 love song. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 11:53 AM | Comments (13)

September 15, 2005

fizzing skyline: Broken Social Scene and Thee More Shallows

Broken Social Scene - "Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Half)". Not since The Arcade Fire's "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" have I heard a song so triumphant, so boldly blazing. Certainly the best song Broken Social Scene have ever recorded and, if it weren't for Okkervil River's "For Real", a shoe-in for rock song of the year. The band's pedigree is perfectly manifested, from the blooms of post-rock sturm to the sinew of the melody; it's a wild stir of swirling noise, Leslie Feist calling from the very back, Kevin Drew's [?] voice stretched till it's windy, till it's a whipping Christo-canvas across the horizon. Their confidence is sick, their execution faultless. With all its psychedelic swirls, its battery of drums - not to mention the false ending and towering final climax, - "Ibi Dreams of Pavement" seems almost supersaturated with ideas, and it's a testament to the band (and to producer Dave Neufeld) that things knit so seamlessly together.

As for the subject matter, well, who knows! I've not heard any references to the band Pavement, but perhaps you'll better me. In the meantime I'll imagine the title as a reference to the pavement you meet when you're shot right in the fa-ace and no one's there. I hear Do Make Say Think, though, Sigur Ros and yeah The Arcade Fire. I hear hard psych and floppy-eared pop, I hear a blurring bundle of words that's there to declaim an absence and to long for a presence. I hear hope and excitement, an overture for the lifting of a curtain. I hear a song I want to hear again. I hear a song I want to hear again. I hear- Well, go on, listen! (Loud!)

(I've gotta say, too, that I can't really believe how excellent Broken Social Scene is. For some reason I thought it would be dull and jammy rehash of the last one, but lo and behold it's got so much zing and pow, so much forcefulness. "Ibi" leads right into "Shorelines", a doublepunch of pop, and things extend from here. Neufeld's done a remarkable job, again, sewing it all together, and despite the weaknesses of the respective Feist, Jason Collett, Metric and Apostle of Hustle records, this here is a cohesive gem. It joins Herman Dune, Final Fantasy, Okkervil River and Robyn as an album-of-the-year contender.)

[pre-order for the October 11 4 release (with bonus EP!)]

Thee More Shallows - "Walk of Shame". It's three years since I first heard Thee More Shallows. Back then, they had only recently gained the "Thee". Today, they're not just more comfortable with their own name - they seem much more comfortable with the music they're making, with their own voice. This confidence means that they can let plain things be plain, and they can let dazzling things dazzle. On "Walk of Shame" the plain thing is the song, the thump and brush of drums, the tender (late) Yo La Tengo tone. And the dazzle is in the final minute's swoop of viola. The song shimmers, it pitter-pats, but it doesn't move much - it seems frozen, paralyzed - until that viola at the end. Then there's the simplest of codas, the bringing together of disparate strands, a small knot, and there there, it's done.

[More Deep Cuts is out now -- buy (more mp3s at that link)]

Do tell me what you think of these - your opinions matter like crazy.

Posted by Sean at 3:00 AM | Comments (21)

September 14, 2005

This Is So Simple

Liliput - "Hitch-Hike"

This is so simple: whistles, horns, and power chords. What the train station in Lilliput would sound like, guaranteed. [Buy]


Mahalia Jackson - "A City Called Heaven"

The organ drones, the bass is bowed, the piano meanders, and Mahalia’s voice spills over without erupting. We are left tense, anticipating and hoping for cadence like Mahalia is anticipating and hoping for that city called Heaven. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 10:38 AM | Comments (1)

September 13, 2005

the world is gone: The Dirty Three

The Dirty Three - "Hope". It's like with faces, see? You look at a face and it's the saddest face in the world. And then the light changes and you look at your friend and you see that it's love, not sorrow, in their eyes.

So here's a sad song, a sad song till the light changes. Then it's dawn, hope, warmth, contentment. It's when you unlock the door to your home after a long trip away, setting the bags down on the floor, seeing your chair as it was left, by you, by your human hands. The sun's only just rising and the room is white, or blue, or- I don't know; the light keeps changing. Maybe there's a body in the bed, waiting for you. Maybe you lie down alone, hands above your head, and you stare at the ceiling. Maybe you listen as the city comes to life, maybe you sleep. Maybe it's sad, maybe it's really really not.

The Dirty Three play music with guitar, violin and drums. Maybe you've heard of them. (They have the best drummer in the world.) This is a song from Horse Stories, from 1995. (And it reminds me of Loren MazzaCane Connors.)


The Dirty Three ft. Cat Power - "Great Waves". This isn't from Horse Stories. It's from Cinder, due out October 11th, one month after Arvo Pärt's birthday. It's perhaps the best Dirty Three song ever, which is kinda too bad because it's basically a Cat Power song. But I don't know if I've ever heard Cat Power this mystical, so urgent without being desperate, so in control of her talents. It's startling to hear Jim White play behind her, the rattle and blur that leaps against my heart. Even more startling is that she sings of hurricane and flood, yes you got it, and there are so many images fresh in our mind. "The world is gone." A violin sounds like a ukelele or else it's a plain old mandolin and I imagine the smallest stories, the individual bodies that are exploding when Chan sings "the bodies are exploding", the individual humans running for cover when Chan sings "humans running for cover", the cars "intersect[ing] in the middle of the sky".

If there's going to be a song that makes me think of Katrina, me who was in Slovenia when the storm hit, me who doesn't have a TV, me who feels a million miles away and hasn't really been able to care, well then let it be a song that's a swamp, a morass, a thick soup of sound - and also a reservoir, a pool, a gift: every twig, leaf and raindrop, every brush of snare and thump of tom, everything unrehearsed and yet perfectly placed.

[pre-order Cinder] [donate to Modest Needs]



You really ought to grab the Page France track at Fluxblog.

Posted by Sean at 1:49 AM | Comments (4)

September 12, 2005

She's Terrible For You, And That's Not How It Should Be

this isn't music, but it's sounds that move me:

WWII Reporting - "Crossing the Rhine"

Did you ever have a friend that had a lover that just turned them into an unrecognizable, generally unpleasant person? Yeah, me neither. This is what this piece reminds me of. There's something so loving (lustful respect, let's say) about the way this man talks about the power of the tanks (the Buffalo, that strange, all-purpose vehicle) when they 'open up' to full throttle. This is from March 1945, a time, it would seem, when real evil and real good existed. There's so much 'glory' in his voice. It's like soldiers started dating Glory, and they didn't break up when they became veterans. So we just have to be nice to Glory, tell them they're good together, because at this point, there's no point in telling them otherwise, it would only hurt them unnecessarily.


Orson Welles - "Commercial"

This is a sound clip that floats around on the P2P servers when you search Orson Welles. It usually bears the title "Drunk Celebrity" or just straight-up "Fukkin-Drunk-Orson-Welles-Idiot-This-Guy-is-Crazy.mp3". Being a big Welles fan, this is completely unfunny to me, much rather like an old, ratty lion at a dirty crumby zoo. Some total perversion of something that should probably be really impressive, and an entirely depressing reminder that everything goes down hill one way or another. You can hear in every word how exhausted he is; how fed up he is with the "I'm just doing my job" expression on everyone's face. So he acts terribly to these poor gentlemen. It's as if he could already hear the downloaders laughing at his own pettiness, and just makes it worse, let them laugh, I'll be dead soon anyway.

Happy Monday, Everyone!

Posted by Dan at 3:06 AM | Comments (4)

September 11, 2005

The Arcade Fire perform "Maps"

A small Sunday afternoon update.

The Arcade Fire - "Maps" (Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover). This is an mp3 rip from the Arcade Fire's Friday performance on BBC radio. I remember Win and Regine talking over spaghetti about how much they liked this song, how it was just "one big looped chorus", and that it was the guitar-line that stuck your ears like glue. And now they've covered it and damn if it isn't one of the most potent things I've heard this year. (How I would love to hear it live.) The band's stripped away that central guitar line, stripped everything skeletal, and with the singers' trembling voices the vulnerability clangs between drumbeats. The harmonica, when it sounds, is so small and human - something you can take or leave. It's no longer just a song to hold in your heart - it's a song to cradle. As if the Arcade Fire decided to see what was left when all of the reassurance was cut away, musically and emotionally. "They don't love you like I love you" -- I can hear question marks at the end of that line, now, if I want.

(Substantiated) rumour has it that they're on Top of the Pops tonight. And they were on CBS earlier this weekend, with Bowie.

I've gotta say that I'm glad they didn't break up.

Posted by Sean at 12:52 PM | Comments (19)

September 9, 2005

clouds! (Akron/Family and The Softies)

Akron/Family - "Dylan pt. 2". "Dylan", says the song title, but me I think of The Beatles' Abbey Road. Because this is an epic thuddering march, jousting electric guitars, a swinging swell of singing voices. "Something", "Because" or "The End". Repetition is one of this year's things. People are finding that a few lines, repeated, can be stronger than verses and verses and verses. See Micah P Hinson, Wolf Parade and Grizzly Bear. "You've found / what you're looking for," Akron/Family sing, and it's like Silver Mt Zion's Efrim, straining cry, but then it's a chorus, a choir. And I can't tell whether it's happy or desperate, taunting or elegiac. It's all of these. That's what the repetition's for. There are many meanings in the knit. And then the music: swirling blooming psychedelic rock, lonesome hearted, a clay man falling apart.

This is a marvellous band, and I can understand why Michael Gira is so excited about them. This track is from his upcoming Angels of Light & Akron/Family record, due October 31st. Their self-titled debut is out now (buy).

Softies - "Holiday in Rhode Island". It's raining in Scotland. I've already written about The Clientele, who I will see in concert tonight, so The Softies will have to fill in a rainyday song, a tune about Rhode Island, a song in watercolour, greys and pinks. A jangle guitar (the guitar sits by the fire at the end of the day and quietly glows, but no one notices except the mice). A xylophone or something (the xylophone is new, bought for this song, but then someone forgets it at a gig and they only get to use it those four times). And a band of friends, all of whom are in love (every one), not with each other. (Thanks to Kate.)



A farewell to Carl's overtones column.

I am fascinated by Ramono Cordova, over at Songs Illinois, but they won't send the CD to the UK (nor is it available on iTunes UK), so I know nothing beyond what's there. What's there is magic, Joanna Newsom on a motorcycle.

I am counting the hours till the pre-orders are available for Catbird Records' first release (or would be if they had announced when that would be).

Kelly's conversation about his name with an employee of Lick's Homeburgers is one of the funniest, most human things I've read this year. Do read.

On holiday I read (or finished) several books. AFTER THE JUMP (will this work?), a few brief words, for the benefit of those who know them (and for some reason care about my opinion) rather than those who don't.

Herman Melville's Moby Dick - Melville's a magnificent writer, and his story's a very good one. As famous as the novel is, I didn't expect the ending, and it gave me pause. I could have done without some of the digressions into biology, cetology and colour, but when ruminating on life, the sea, humanity or his tale, Melville's prose was often so daring and funny that it took my breath away.

Zadie Smith's Autograph Man - While I liked the sobriety in this, ultimately I don't think it played to Smith's strengths. Despite my problems with White Teeth, that book felt like she had a much, much better time writing it (and this showed).

Steven Sherill's The Minotaur Took a Cigarette Break - a remarkable, melancholy book, freshly magic realist. Part Prufrock, part Auster, American and hopeful and always a few steps away from brokenhearted.

Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake - Some neat ideas, but so clumsily assembled into a story, the book feeling extremely imbalanced and becoming even more flimsy upon reflection.

WG Sebald's The Rings of Saturn - A dreamlike book, a string of pearls, a foggy holiday. Long-resonating and absolutely unlike anything else (except perhaps the New Humour).

Philip Roth's The Plot Against America - Not the masterpiece that some hailed it as, but certainly chilling, certainly believable, certainly an alternate history that feels like a personal tale, a worried memoir. Somehow, despite its being a fiction, the book made me feel very sad about the mid-to-late Twentieth Century.

Peter Carey's My Life as a Fake - Carey makes everything seem so effortless, from the breadth of his tale to the depth of the characters. Brown and orange and a remarkable tale.

Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle - Certainly Vonnegut's best work that I've read to date. Peculiar and funny and indeed very wise.

And I'm now knee-deep in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which I'm hoping bursts into sudden colour.

Posted by Sean at 2:04 PM | Comments (14)

September 8, 2005

crush and foam: Dalek and The Diskettes

So I'm only freshly returned from a near-three week foray into Slovenia, with a late stop in Venice. In Slovenia: sladoled, nyoki, caves and Alps. In Venice: thunderstorms, a regatta, canals canals canals. They are both beautiful places, and you ought to visit. More than once.

In my absence, I missed all sorts of things. Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie/Postal Service) told Wired magazine that he liked our blog. (Hi Ben! Please drop me an email if you are reading, as I would love to talk.) Okkervil River's Will Sheff wrote beautifully here about Tim Hardin. Dan and Jordan said graceful things about nice songs. New Orleans drowned. And then there's lots more, I suspect, particularly on other blogs, which you will have to point me to in the comments. My earliest glances show that Tuwa, in particular, has had a very busy few weeks.

I'm still in that reeling travelling limbo space, even after two days of work, so I'll write about two opposite songs.

Dalek - "Asylum (Permanent Underclass)". I saw Dalek live in Zagreb, last year, with my friends Oto, Tomislav and Petra. Oto's email seems broken, so I haven't talked to him since that week. There was snow on the ground, Croatians packed into KSET, and up on stage these American men with laptops, tattoos and a microphone. It was a swirling heave of noise - louder than anything I can remember, - a headache churn that you wanted to fall forward into. Dalek play gas giant hip-hop, iron dust hip-hop, haze and weight and an MC with nimble toes. His flow turns sideways and slips through the grit. He nods, points and spits at the sun.

"Asylum (Permanent Underclass)" is from this year's album, Absence. It's a song about imprisonment. There's drone and scream, cement clap drums, a bassline like a breadcrumb trail to livable life. There's also Dalek's voice, angry and totally certain. Amid the sonic squall it's Dalek who anchors us; whenever he speaks, we can breathe, we can listen. (It's scary when he gets diced and chopped, and when he goes away entirely.)

This isn't post-apocalyptic music. This is music from a time when we can still scream rage, demolish buildings, when we can still "combat". Words still have meaning.


The Diskettes - "How Bizarre". I scoffed then, but today I regret that I didn't go to the Electric Circus on the Rideau Canal ca. 1997, that I didn't do a teenaged dance on the ice. Who cares about intimidating twentysomethings in gelled hair and vinyl trousers. Who cares? OMC was playing and I would bet money, real money, that they played "How Bizarre". (What else would they play?) And even then, in secret, I loved that song.

So imagine my pleasant surprise that The Diskettes love it too. There's more than enough room for a bossanova version for "How Bizarre". This cover feels like it ought to precede, not follow, OMC's version. Paul Fuemana's lying on a beach in New Zealand, pissed off with his band, wishing for a hit, and in the bluesky sunshine he has dream. When he wakes, Maggie's percussion's in his ear, water on rocks, and there's a vague memory of Emily & Dave's harmonies. His dream was chaste, it was kind and very friendly, it promised kisses but did not kiss. So Fuemana sits on the sand and thinks of this sweetness, he thinks of the letter he just got from his friend in Melbourne, his friend who wrote "I miss you a lot" at the end, before the signature, he thinks about lyrics, and he laughs because he can only think of nonsense. But that's quite okay. "Freshly-pasted poster" almost feels like poetry. "How bizarre," he says to himself, giving it a drawl. (These are words he remembers.) He laughs again. "How bizaw / how bizaw." He nods.

[buy lots of Diskettes stuff by clicking the x on their website. "How Bizarre" is from a 90s tribute comp at Blod Records -- only $3 ppd!!]

Posted by Sean at 1:45 PM | Comments (6)

September 7, 2005

Begin the Beguine

Last week I saw Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! in Montreal. I taped the show (for all of us) and here's what I found.

first the show itself: my jaw did drop (see these songs), but not as much as I would have liked. they seemed tired. if you've ever seen Bob Dylan live, you know he sings the songs way different from how you recognise them, but that's because he's been touring for nigh on 3000 years, and it's pretty easy to cut the guy some slack. But CYHSY were doing the same, although not so extreme. Just not doing all the wails and yelps we love so much (when he did do them, the crowd went insane - maybe that's why he doesn't). I passed up seeing Sunset Rubdown to see them, and I can't help wondering if I made the right decision. However, these two songs are incredible, and performed incredibly well (they, like Frog Eyes, who I saw tonight - fucking amazing - I'll get to that later, seem to much prefer performing new stuff, with which I sympathize).

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - "Graceful Retreat (live)"

I will start by apologizing for the quality of the recording. What can I say, I'm not a professional.

It starts out normal enough, like a nice letter to an old lover. But then while writing it, reading the words just written and thinking of the ones to come, it all comes flooding in at once. It turns from replayed niceties into a yelling match with the page. The song just steadily blooms into swirly paint, and then back into a straight line for the second verse. But the feeling isn't all gone. We're all changed, and we're all bouncing. And bouncing. It never has to go away, it can come back every time you write a letter.

They go right into "Is This Love?" at the end there (this was there first song), but I faded it out, despite how energizing it is. We don't have all day!


Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - "Satan Said Dance (live)"

Next, a slight departure. The distorted synth is a very exciting character to have entered this song. It is the biggest difference I saw from other songs by this band, but here are a list of the friendly familiar elements that, combined with their friendship of the new character, make for a fabulous play:

1. the beat from Yellow Country Teeth.
2. the repetition from Tidal Wave of Young Blood (it sounds like both 'stay tuned, stay tuned' and 'satan, satan'. guesses?)
3. the delicious pap-pap from Is This Love.

I think we're all excited for what comes next, but I know that still not all of you have bought what is out already.

They played other new stuff, too, including a slow song that I really hope makes it on the radio, because I want high school dances to play it, that's its home.


Now, Frog Eyes. After tonight's show, I think they are currently my favourite band in the world. I didn't tape it (highly unfortunate, I left my house in a stressy way) so I can't share anything, but it probably wouldn't have turned out anyway, it was so loud. They just had so much power and frenzy, yet on this leash of melody, so that their heads were suspended right out over the audience, so they couldn't quite bite our faces off, though we knew they wanted to. I think they should call the next album The Monster King, or The Crowned Beast or something, because that's what the new stuff evokes in me; such insane destruction, but all for the betterment of us, like devastation for a genuinely good reason.


Posted by Dan at 1:34 AM | Comments (24)

September 2, 2005

Songs Courtesy of Sally Go (Pizza?)!

Rod Freeman and The Blue Men - "I Hear A New World"

Did you guys have any Smurfs albums growing up? Smurfing Sing Song, perhaps? Well, I didn't. I was raised on muesli and Strunk and White. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found this Rod Freeman recording with the Smurfs singing back-up. It's like the time I submerged myself in the Ikea ball room (an act which had been strictly forbidden by my parents, who insisted that I play only with cubes and never with spheres ("six is better than one")) while on break from my job working at the store's caf.

You're at a Hawai'i beach dance party and the sun is setting in colours you've never seen before.


Neko Case - "Wayfaring Stranger"

I posted the Papa M version of this song about six months ago. This one is better. Not only is Neko Case a better singer than David Pajo, but the banjo-guitar interplay is a playful and rich dialogue and in addition, the banjo solo at 1:04 is an indication that my general aversion to solos is a most unnatural aberration that must be remade in the image of a love for solos, and must be, in fact, what it appears to be.

Posted by Jordan at 12:09 PM | Comments (10)

September 1, 2005

Fall Colours : Video Games as Down : Out

John Prine - "It's a Big Old Goofy World"

About once a year, I listen to John Prine's The Missing Years and cry my frigging eyes out (with smiles, not tears). He's so virginal in his approach to songwriting; as if a song had never been written before ["hey guys, look what I learned to do"]. And this way of being, not ignorant but innocent in a way, makes his songs so fresh, so warm [red dress, slowdancing], so very true. Dignity is for winners. The rest of us can't afford it, so may as well stop trying to have it.



Subtle - "I Love L.A."

My sister first told me about Subtle a while ago. Her thoughts on Doseone (who is this guy?): "kinda sounds like Zack from Rage, but fronting Portishead and !!! 's baby". My sister, as this song's black and slick back, is cool. And it's dark, like a shark swimming silently next to, or around in circles, you, with "i'm gonna fuck you up" written in stock-ticker style led's scrolling across its body.

I highly anticipate the next Subtle album. Does anyone have any information on that for me?

[Buy A New White]

Posted by Dan at 4:04 PM | Comments (5)