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.

January 31, 2006

Said the Guests: Kit Malo with Alden Penner

This week Said the Gramophone hosts a two-part guestblog that has long been simmering, carrots and potatoes and swede. Kit Malo is a Montreal artist. Alden Penner is a Montreal musician, who was one of The Unicorns (RIP). Today, and on Thursday, Kit and Alden are sharing things with you.

The music comes from Alden's as-yet-unreleased score for The Hamster Cage, an upcoming film by Larry Kent.

The paintings and drawings come from Kit Malo.

Alden's instrumentals are modest and kindly. There's some mischief but mostly it's a breezy, guitar-and-harmonica tra-la-la, something for Wind in the Willows river-rides and spring day picnics.

Or, if you were to ask Kit Malo, for other things.

Kit's art is a magic thing that only seems half-real: universes caught behind out own but peeking through. Small faces in the water, invisible responsibilities, secret friends, tails leading from one creature's heart to another one's belly (thick-and-thin as an ink line). Connections you can't, but do, see. And the implicit promise that the same thing that ties a peaceful raincloud to a sullen sailor, a mousy boat to a sandy sea, spoonfuls of siblings to their larger twin... might also connect you (hiya!) to them.

Alden's music here may seem too peaceful, almost incidental. But Kit has peopled it. And once peopled, a song's no longer just a song: it's something that binds all those who listen. It's like sharing a birthday. Or falling in love.

Two more songs and two more images on Thursday. Please make Kit and Alden as welcome as they deserve. -- Sean

Alden Penner - "Sourcewater"

Kit Malo - "Sourcewater" (click for full size)

Alden Penner - "Way Gone"
Kit Malo - "Way Gone" (click for full size)

[Kit Malo lives in Montreal. You can see more work at lambs among wolves. Some of Kit's work is currently on display, hanging on strings, f-f-f-floating, at Calgary's international arts festival, Mutton Busting. (look!)]

[Alden Penner lives in Montreal. He will be releasing the music from The Hamster Cage later this year. He will be playing some shows soon with a violinist called Adam. The first show is in Philadelphia on March 13th, at the First Unitarian Church. More dates to be announced. If you would like to write to Alden, please do: c.p. 61025, 4401 Notre-Dame Ouest, Montreal, Quebec, H4C 3N9.]

(Previous guest-blogs, in and out of the Said the Guests series: artist Rachell Sumpter, artist Katy Horan, David Barclay (The Diskettes), artist Drew Heffron, Carl Wilson, artist Tim Moore, Michael Nau (Page France), Devin Davis, Will Sheff (Okkervil River), Edward Droste (Grizzly Bear), Hello Saferide, Damon Krukowski (Damon & Naomi), Brian Michael Roff, Howard Bilerman (producer: Silver Mt. Zion, Arcade Fire, etc.). There are many more to come.)

Posted by Sean at 3:00 AM | Comments (8)

further blog notes

Some further blog notes:

We are still nominated for the silly 2006 Bloggies. If you are so inclined, please consider voting for us for Best Writing. This despite the fact that today's post is relatively free of it.

Secondly, several Said the Gramophone readers (and me) are going to All Tomorrow's Parties weekend 2, in May. I will probably be booking two 6-berth chalets. There are a couple of berths left. If you are interested in joining us, have ~£132, and meet all the requirements here, do consider joining us. In the past two weeks, acts like Destroyer, Dungen, Herman Dune and Mt Eerie have joined the already-amazing bill. Update: 6 February 2006: All spaces in the Said the Gramophone chalets have now been filled. See you there!

Thirdly, go listen to the gorgeous new Sunset Rubdown song at Popsheep. I ordered my copy of the EP a few days ago, already - damn you, atlantic ocean!

Posted by Sean at 2:59 AM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2006

Prove It If You Can

Alabama Sacred Harp Singers - "Sherburne"

"Sherburne," recorded in the early 1940's by Alan Lomax for the library of congress, is a masterpiece of counterpoint and cadence. It begins unportentously, as several men tune their voices to one another, then emit incomprehensible utterances in quick succession. What follows though, is something rather more impressive than the sum of its parts: a fiercely sung round of religious faith, that also reminds one of the horrors of war and the power of community in the face of adversity. Like a stunningly beautiful vocal "the wave". [Buy]


Old Crow Medicine Show - "Wagon Wheel"

There's not much interesting about the Old Crow Medicine Show, and this song could have easily been recorded by The Band, but luckily for OCMS, it wasn't.

Tender like the beef I'm chewing right now (filet mignon (avec sauce au poivre, et des asperges blanches)) and legal unlike the tender I used to buy it. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 4:54 PM | Comments (13)

January 27, 2006

night shades

We have another contest today. See below.


Manfred Hübler & Siegfried Schwab - "The Lions and the Cucumber". So originally I was going to do a long post, adjectives and adverbs ad nauseam, all typically overzealous imagery. It was going to be about how these horns and jangles, sitar and electric guitar, grunts and gurgles and moans, are the soundtrack for some sleazoid leopardprint party, shag carpets and big lamps, retro girls swooning as they drop acid, become lesbians, suck their partners' blood. But then I paid better attention and remembered that this track actually is the soundtrack to a film about lesbian vampires, released in 1971, so I wasn't doing music criticism so much as reading the subtitles.

A famed b-movie, a famed soundtrack, and easily the least german german music I've ever heard.

[buy the soundtrack to Vampyros Lesbos]

The Knife - "Still Light". Strange that The Knife are now most known for writing "Heartbeats" - not for themselves, but for José González. Still Light is such a different beast than Deep Cuts: the firework machines have been dismantled, broken into scrap, buried. The synthesisers have been put into dark rooms, windowblinds drawn. It's not at all depressing; just black and silver instead of pink and gold, more Liars than Robyn. And "Still Light" is the album's most cowardly song, that shies right away from the beats elsewhere on the record, that doesn't know how to dance. But there's something I love in that: the way it's a musky nothing that disappears once it's gestured to you in the dim. (The other thing I hear: the same spirit that possessed Imogen Heap in "Hide and Seek". But this time it's dying.)

[out soon / preorder]


A marvellous clockwork folk track by Shugo Tokumaru at No Frontin': he hears Sufjan Stevens and The Faces' "Ooh La La"; I hear friends runnin' in a flower garden.

Something Less Than Intended has droney, pinprick jazz by the Norwegian duo Opsvik & Jennings. And it's fantastic.

Grandaddy RIP :(


Cat Power - The Greatest (limited edition) Contest

The new Cat Power record, The Greatest, was released on Tuesday. Jordan wrote about the title track (mp3), and I think I've mentioned my thoughts here and there as well. I'm an enormous fan of Chan Marshall, and this is an album of great dusky sweetness, all lush violins and horns.

Thanks to the kind Cat Power PR, we (like YANP) have one copy of The Greatest to give away. It's the "super limited edition digipak". I will quote the PR fellow: "they're super slick -- gold foil embossing and a special bonus track (the only track that hasn't leaked yet)."

How to win the CD?

This is the title of a song I just made up: "Bluebird Liquor and Black Crow Wine".

To enter the contest, you must write a rhyming couplet for that song I just made up. In other words: two lines of rhyming lyrics. Whoever writes my favourite couplet wins.

There are only two rules for the lyrics:
1. The two lines must rhyme.
2. They must be for the song called "Bluebird Liquor and Black Crow Wine".

There is only one rule for entries:
1. Please don't steal lyrics from existing songs.

Entries must be left in the comments to this post or emailed to with the subject line: CAT POWER CONTEST.

Entries can be in any language, but I am most likely to like ones in English. Lines can be as long as you like, but I am most likely to like lines that aren't absurdly long. Don't bother sending me an entire song or verse or anythin'; I am judging individual couplets for the song "Blurbird Liquor and Black Crow Wine".

Contest ends at 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, February 2nd. Good luck! Contest is now over. Results soon.

Posted by Sean at 3:00 AM | Comments (81)

January 26, 2006

Just Wait

National Eye - "ag1"

Enough has been said about the drawings of children being somehow more honest than the work of any great artist. We don't need anymore stories about how it's healthier, and cheaper mind, to cook for yourself. It's no longer news that people ought to be good parents, at least at first. But it seems National Eye have the rare ability of being able to breathe new life into things I thought were 'tired'. Group humming, little pieces of backwards music, big decisions. I want to go on a trip with National Eye, to some brown mountains, windy roads. [Buy Feb. 14th] [Promotional Podcast]


Don Edwards - "Coyotes"

In a similar way to one of those change shakers that separates coins, you need to separate the obvious 'old cowboy dies' story and rather uninspired guitar picking from the extremely effective Whoo-Yip, Whoo-Yip, Whoo. This is from the film Grizzly Man which, however, should not be distilled in the same manner. The film, with all its own imperfections and unsightly possibilities, should be drunk like milk, not savoured, but something you check the glass after to make sure you got it all. The film and its best song are in counterpoint. Like the smartest kid in class is also usually the dorkiest. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 3:23 AM | Comments (10)

January 24, 2006

popularity contest

David Tattersall and André Herman-Düne - "Our Perfect Lovers". Argh; I got CDs everywhere. In binders, stacked on the stereo, piled on the couch, all over my desk. CDs I've owned for years, CDs I've just bought, CDs that arrived in the mail, CDs I need to review for people, CDs I already reviewed... Things get lost and forgotten them remembered and celebrated. I pick up the phone and then notice an album underneath. I open the blinds and find CDs on the windowsill. I'm not complaining - having CDs everywhere is hardly a bad thing. But I am bemoaning. I'm a bemoaner. Because things get misplaced and then I spend two weeks not enjoying something I could have been.

Case in point: "Our Perfect Lovers". I went to see Herman Düne play in Glasgow at the beginning of the month and it was a fantastic gig. Like I say in an upcoming issue of ze Skinny:

French-residing Swedes in a crowded Glasgow bar, and they’re making a gangly folk-sound that’s part birthday party and part broken-down car. It’s four men with bags under their eyes: David-Ivar is chicken-legs and unfeathered elbows, playing guitar and hooting. André is bedraggled, long-armed; he smokes a wilting cigarette. There’s a drummer and a percussionist too, who sometimes swaps in on trumpet. And they play their songs: twisty songs with mispronunciation and pop-culture references, so tender and so human, songs about birds and winter ice and long-distance love. Sometimes a tune goes on a moment too long, but then a few beats later there’s a stamp of snare and a guitar solo outta nowhere, golden and thrilling. So we dance, we nod, we think of our silly lives, our chicken-legged and bedraggled lives, and we hear them sung: right there, in front of us.
What I don't say is that a british band called The Wave Pictures opened, and that I bought a CD-R called Streets of Philadelphia which is by André Herman-Düne and David Tattersall (of the Wave Pictures), and which does indeed contain a cover of the fine Bruce Springsteen tune. (That night I also bought the Junip EP, finally, which in turn has a Bruce cover. 2006 is the year of the Boss: I say this with certainty.)

Anyhow, "Our Perfect Lovers" is a Tattersall tune, with backup vocals by madam Clemence Freschard. And it's a song about using a salt-shaker to christen a tomato. The tomato's name? Chewbacca. The singers adore Chewbacca. They adore Chewbacca in a quiet, slightly trembly way, like a clothes-line looking longingly at the knickers and collared shirts that just blew away on the wind, twistywhirling down the streets.

It looks like you can buy The Streets of Philadelphia by following the instructions on this page. And look at what else is available! André Herman-Düne sings the songs of Dido! Et cetera! Holy. Moly.


The Guillemots - "Trains to Brazil". The UK's going crazy for the Arctic Monkeys but man it makes me so glad that they're going at least a little crazy, buzzy and chattery, about The Guillemots. Forget snickery working-class wit and songs about your mate's girlfriend: The Guillemots sparkle with bombast and gaiety and whimsy. Whimsy is such a fine tradition in british rock'n'roll - see The Beatles, see (yes) The Cure, - but it's so rare on the rock charts these days, where we're overrun by greyfaced sincerity and nudge-nudge-wink-winking tracksuit chaps. The Guillemots sound so much like they're having fun, exulting in the chorus and the horn toodle-oos, the piano trills and phone-rings. They're yelling along at the back of the room, hammering along on the drums, bobbing their heads back and forth and then stampstampstamping when the bass-drum comes back. The Mystery Jets had the right idea but The Guillemots truly cheer. They take the song wherever it wants to go, so playfully: to the train-station, to the parade float, to the swan lake, to the surprise party.

James sent me this and when he was writing about "Trains to Brazil", a month ago, he pointed to "Come on Eileen", the Arcade Fire, and ELO's "My Blue Sky". Me, I point to that time when you ran, ran straight down those wet streets, straight as an arrow, and as you ran from where you were coming from to where you were going you realised there was a true and real smile on your face, just there, true and real, like I said. And you were running straght as an arrow and you jumped, for no other reason but because.

(I see Dodge talked about The Guillemots too, just a couple weeks ago. Blogosphere on the case!)


We are humbled and so, so warmed to learn that we are a finalist at the 2006 Bloggies, in the category of Best Writing. This is thanks to you. So thank-you. (Truly.) I'm a little surprised at how happy this made me. (Us? Who knows.)

The competition includes the formidable Dooce, who is also nominated for Lifetime Achievement, and another blog that posts photographs of celebrities and then talks digustedly of their "Incredible Sinking Breasts". Needless to say, our mixed metaphors stand little chance of victory. If you are kind, however - if you are a friend of this blog, or a lover, - please do vote for us.

Very few of my nominees made it to the final list. Which is baffling and makes me feel embarrassed. Nevertheless, if you are looking for some more people to vote for, might I recommend the foodblog Chocolate & Zuchini (best european weblog), indie-rock news-and-reviewblog Chromewaves (best canadian weblog), Indie Interviews (best podcast), You Ain't No Picasso (best teen weblog - oh matt, you are so cu-ute!), and Boing Boing (motley things).

Aaron Wherry wrote by far the most extensive and compelling essay on the Canadian election, Ashlee Simpson and Barack Obama that I have read this week. It is definitely advanced and quite possibly a Marvel.

The Lipstick of Noise is a poetry mp3blog!!!!!!

Come Pick Me Up is a new mp3blog with an emphasis on unsigned acts. Please therefore ignore the front-and-centre post on Ryan Adams. There are so many mp3blogs these days, of such diverse quality. Some have bold and beautiful writing; others have an amazing perspective, casting light onto genres I would never otherwise hear; others simply have great taste. And the rest are awful. Don't tell me about another MySpace band that sounds sorta like a given indie rock band. Share only treasures with me. Come Pick Me Up has taste, and is worth reading. Go.

Owen-Final-Fantasy says he's a couple of days away from finishing his new album, He Poos Clouds. "It sounds funny, glorious and much like career suicide. Every time we work on it me and Leon get feelings of jumping off cliffs. ... Pitchfork will hate it, the UK will ignore it and France will call it the Album Of The Year." I have been privately advised that a proposed alternative title was Alan Rickman: The Album. Grab some fresh FF live stuff here.

Beautiful China.

Posted by Sean at 7:50 PM | Comments (11)

Conservative Riding

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - "Bobby Malone Moves Home"

Casiotone has a direct line to my brain, like that place between your thumb and finger. That webby part, that kids in school told you would kill you if you cut it. Putting on Etiquette for a 7AM Sunday on a snowy highway, it's like a pressure point or something. Immediately paralyzing, all you see is white, all you feel is failure, all you want is that piano line to come back. Just please come back. [Pre-order]

Parenthetical Girls - "Here's to Forgetting"

Forgetting is something like burying, I think. It's not like the images and sounds you used feel just disappear, it's just that they get so weighted down by other things that you can't lift them up anymore. If you want to forget something or someone, how much other things do you need? About 6 feet worth should do. Lots of people are about 6 feet tall, so about one person's worth.
I feel like those little drums are little hands, digging down through the filler, down to those things. And there's amber light, rain streaks, and twisted sheets down there. [Buy]


The New World, go. It's one, big, beautiful and terrifying idea. This guy's the best thing to happen to movies since political strife.

I'm sure this is old news by now, but for the few of you left, go listen to the Ricky Gervais podcast. I heard about it through Goldkicks, of all places.

Posted by Dan at 3:37 AM | Comments (7)

January 23, 2006

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

John Coltrane Quartet - "Afro Blue"

Sean having set the stage by posting a six hour song on Friday, I now follow suit with this, the shortest cut off my favourite release of 2005, "Afro Blue" from John Coltrane's One Down, One Up: Live at the Half Note. Recorded in the Spring of '65, just after Coltrane's year of unsurpassed brilliance, this live set showcases the classic Coltrane Quartet in top form, pushed stylistically beyond what they had done on Crescent and A Love Supreme, right up to their limit, as it would turn out. These are longer, freer, more exhaustive investigations than the band or almost anyone else had done previously. Coltrane does not cease to surprise - just as you feel he has explored all a theme has to offer, he will approach it from a new, more oblique angle, showing you something about the song that was there the whole time, that you'd never heard but that you'd felt. Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones provide an erratic, tense heartbeat, while McCoy Tyner furiously bangs out storms on the piano. When the radio announcer's voice interrupts the end of the song, we are presented with a very strange juxtaposition indeed: the immanent, earth-bound voice of a radio dee-jay and the transcendent, inter-stellar sounds of the best band of all time.

The band would take on a new form before the end of '65. Where Coltrane was going next he would need a drummer who would abandon traditional rhythms altogether, and horn players whose fluid and continuous shredding and skronking would provide a bed and a foil for his experiments. For me though, this moment, this night at the Half Note, is the high point of an arc, the lowest points of which themselves exist on a higher plane. [Buy]


Arthel "Doc" Watson - "Hicks' Farewell"

Arthel "Doc" Watson is known primarily as a master of flat-picked, rather milquetoast country music. But here, accompanied by a lone scratching fiddle, he unflinchingly examines his own mortality. Soon he will die, and though he will miss his wife, children, and friends for the short time he is separated from them, those he loves will come to join him soon enough, and for all eternity. He is absolutely sure of this. His voice is rich with bitter herbs, wet grass, moss, dirt, ash. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 2:33 PM | Comments (6)

January 20, 2006

forget kindling: lumber

Félix Lajkó - "Etno Camp". What kind of drums are these? A racket of drums. What kind of horns? A tuba. What kind of fiddle? A firestarter, a sparkspitter, a flint, a tinderbox, a live flame. Lajkó Félix and his band play for fourteen minutes and while at first they are sustained by surprise - the forthright beauty of the theme, the thrill of the harmony, the brownbottle brassworks, the rattle-thump of drums, the glimmering-glong of dulcimer, - soon these things fall away and there's just the sustained marvel of their performances, their spirits, the way their heels kick up fireflies and their instruments are generators. Fire, flame everywhere - flashing in the dusk and the dark, setting the heavy velvet curtains alight. People talk of eastern European music, of hungarian folk music, of gypsy music - they talk about it in hallowed tones, like it's always brilliant, always moving, always great. It's not. But this is. It's wounded and joyous, it's startling and unflinching. It's breathless, guys, grounded in dance but doing other things too - a moment that recalls a Bach violin sonata, another where Lajkó shreds his violin to pieces (and then makes it whole again). Round and round it goes - and how do you dance? No line-dancing here, no rehearsed moves. You stomp and shove and reel and gasp and take your partner in your whole arms (not just by the hands, not lightly round the waist: with your whole arms), and you kiss her him them on the lips, sudden and fierce, so hard that your teeth click together and in the hall they spark. A white spark in every mouth, sweat down every back, shoes that are pieces of leather tied together with thread. A band on the stage that squeezes ten years of life into fourteen minutes of feeling.

Like I said: Yugoslavian born, mostly based in Budapest. He goes through labels like he goes through violin strings. The owner of a record shop in Pest told us about how they played a big gig and the power went out and the band kept going, for an hour, more. The light had to come from somewhere.

[more info (I cannot find an online source for this cd.)]

Christian Kjellvander - "Alleluia". It's easy for a man with an acoustic guitar to record a warm song. "Alleluia" isn't just warm - it's at first the easiest sort of warm. The way Kjellvander emphasises the beginning of each line, withdraws toward the end. The way his voice is only slightly burred, only slightly twanged, the way it recalls Damien Jurado and Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen. So the reason I love this song isn't its warmth: such warmth is almost effortlessly achieved. The reason I love it is the little distance it travels in the chorus. A chill comes to the room, suddenly. Something strange and icy, but still sweet. A spectral voice, theremin, prayer. Recalling Leonard Cohen not only in the lyric - but in the moment where Kjellvander submits to the immanent. It's a song that acknowledges something bigger than a song.

[more info / buy Cowboys In Scandinavia: The New Folk Sounds From Northern Europe]


Good Weather for Airstrikes has done something beautiful and absurd, writing up his 65 favourite music videos of 2005. He's having some problems with hosting, but essentially all but 2 of the videos are also available to download. Remarkable.

Said the Gramophone recently wrote about Peter Case's track on the new John Fahey tribute. In some pleasing symmetry, Songs:Illinois has a few songs from the upcoming Peter Case tribute album.

Oh, and any Scots who have missed it: It seems Silver Jews will be playing Edinburgh and Glasgow as part of Triptych in April. (Also London.) Yee-haw!

Posted by Sean at 3:00 AM | Comments (19)

January 19, 2006

The Sphere: Equally Tall In Every Direction

New Buffalo - "Recovery"

New Buffalo starts her song with rolling hand claps and monotonous metal clangs. In so doing, she promises sugar-coated tweeness. Promises mean nothing to New Buffalo, who delivers something altogether different, beginning with a driving and strangely legato bass line. This other thing - the thing that she gives us in lieu of the pretty little song that she promised - is something much bigger, more complex. It’s a tight cyclical sequence of crescendos that moves, not over great distances, but over significant ones. And it’s just a little bit sinister. Don’t get me wrong, the song sheds a pure light - it’s not at all melancholy or sad - but it’s a bit scary. It’s like the fantasy scenes in Heavenly Creatures in which the girls run around exuberantly, elated by Caruso’s voice, or giddily frightened by Orson Welles lurking around the bend; the sun shines and we laugh with them, despite the thick inevitability of crime and tragedy. Or like a surprising sequel to Dancer in the Dark - Dancer in the Light - in which, guess what?, the hanging didn’t work and Bjork survives and she and her son and Peter Stormare board that train and ride it all the way to Paddington Station, whereupon they are lavished with gifts by sympathetic viewers of the first film, which they sell on eBay, procuring enough money to buy sight-restoring surgeries for all, including Stormare. Though he doesn’t need it, he gets it anyway. Still though, none will soon forget about the framing, or the wrongful conviction, or that Bjork was hanged - these facts still weigh heavy. [Buy]


Reverend Gary Davis - "Candy Man"

Reverend Gary Davis has some trouble hitting several of the notes in his song. Some might say his elocution leaves something to be desired. I can’t understand most of the words in the song - I get “candy man,” and “fattin’ hog,” “big-leg otter(?)” and “salty dog.” But he communicates surpassingly well, I think, that he’d give anything at all just to have his candy man home. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 2:10 PM | Comments (5)

January 18, 2006

Said the Guests: Rachell Sumpter

Rachell Sumpter is an artist and when I saw her work for the first time, I didn't think "Ooh, that's pretty." No - her painting startled me. I felt something jolt; I don't know what. Something.

I explored her paintings in silence. I imagined them on a wall in LA, little pieces of paper on a big wall, and these figures on them. Bright colours, but so soft. Figures crouching or kneeling, standing or lying down. Figures that might be sad or in love or terrified, terrified, riding sharks or posing proud on polar bears. Somehow I recognised the images, recognised the silence and the colour and the way the figures - the Inuit - stood together. I'll often forget about a dream and then remember it as true. But these small paintings, these scenes of jellyfish and weaponry and quiet purpose, I think they must be things that are true but that I'm remembering as dream.

Every weekday, we at Said the Gramophone try to paint in words what we hear in the songs we love. Sometimes we invite guests - musicians, critics - to do the same. And sometimes we invite artists. But we ask the artists to paint not in words but to paint in paint. Or in ink, or in pixels.

Rachell Sumpter has painted in paint. These are three paintings for three songs, three songs that seem still but underneath are moving. Like the sea can be. Or the ice. Or a human face.

Rachell's work humbles my own chickenscratchings. I'm honoured that she agreed to do something for us. See more work at her website, SixSpace, or at the Motel Gallery in Portland, where these three paintings also appear. If you can, go see them in pulp-and-dye: I wish I could.

Rachell - thank-you.

-- Sean

Cat Power - "The Party"

Rachell Sumpter - "Settle Down Seahorse" (click for full size) "Melancholy memories and thankfully wasted time."

Smog - "The Well"
Rachell Sumpter - "Thirsty Man" (click for full size) "Summertime in the sticks, letting it all slide away."

Silver Jews - "Horse Leg Swatikas"
Rachell Sumpter - "Hazing" (click for full size) "Some things are very complicated."

[Rachell Sumpter lives in California. These images are currently on exhibit at the Motel Gallery in Portland OR. You can also see more of Rachell's work at]

(Previous guest-blogs, in and out of the Said the Guests series: Hello Saferide, Edward Droste (Grizzly Bear), Will Sheff (Okkervil River), Devin Davis, Michael Nau (Page France), artist Tim Moore, Carl Wilson, artist Drew Heffron, David Barclay (The Diskettes), artist Katy Horan, Brian Michael Roff, Howard Bilerman (producer: Silver Mt. Zion, Arcade Fire, etc.), Damon Krukowski (Damon & Naomi). There are many more to come.)

Posted by Sean at 3:00 AM | Comments (10)

January 17, 2006

A bittersweet longing for

Mulatu Astatqé - "Tezeta (Nostalgia)". Quinn says he was listening to this on a snowy day in Montreal, a snow-and-icy day and there in the bitter cold it stopped him dead in his tracks. And so I imagine him on rue Parc, just at Prince Arthur, across the road from the cinema, at the moment his boots come to a stop on the saltspeckled sidewalk. And he blinks and looks up at the sky, a puff of steamy air leaving his mouth. He stops breathing he's listening so hard. He stops feeling cold. He starts feeling warm. Quinn's stopped because he can't believe the tenderness of the song. He listens to the buttery sax, feels it like fingers on his chest.

I'm projecting. I'm sorry, Quinn. You told me the first part but the rest I made up. But here's a true thing. Listen: Sean's on a street in Scotland and the sun's not come up and the streets look wet but there's no rain. And he stands at the bus-stop and he imagines a man in Montreal, walking along rue du Parc and turning onto Prince Arthur and just stopping there, right in his tracks, across from the cinema. He exhales steam that rises between the apartment buildings. He listens to the slow guitar and bass, the careful piano, the dark rose of Astatqé's saxophone. And the world around him is stepping back or maybe forward, receding or appearing. Montreal's getting clearer or foggier, he can't decide. The man in Scotland can't decide. But there it is.

Mulatu Astatqé is Ethopian, and has been picking up a lot of Western press thanks to his contributions to the soundtrack of Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers. This song is from Ethopiques. [buy]


Camera Obscura - "Books Written For Girls". I went to see Camera Obscura on Friday. It was at the Edinburgh student union. Since I'm not a student, I had to sign in at the door and then get lost. When I found the basement bar it was full of young people -- am I allowed to say that? "Young people"? Younger people. People just about my age. People no younger than some friends of mine. But so many of them, in one spot, that the three or four years between me and them yawned and yawned and yawned. I watched them. Groups of friends, couples. A girl on a couch surrounded by four guys in corduroy jackets and specs. A boy with hair down to his waist, with a Delgados t-shirt on. Three girls in earrings and smiles, laughing, sipping from their big lagers, looking around.

Camera Obscura got on stage. Tracyanne looked out into the crowd with a steady, steady gaze. She had a flapper bob, a black frock, a frown that twisted and twisted. What was she evaluating? Me? The rest of the band didn't look so serious. The drummer laughed. They looked like they felt old, like me, but they looked okay. But Tracyanne's mouth twisted and twisted, and she stared at us.

When they started playing, nothing else really mattered; it felt like they were pumping memories out, into the air. Songs slipped from the folds of my brain into plain view; and Tracyanne sang them. It wasn't just that there was unexpected familiarity, though. Something in their soft-then-glittering music seemed dredged out of a forgotten corner of my heart. Long days walking, music in my ears. Sitting on a long car-ride, listening. A girl's voice, wry and longing. A piano that follows you down open alleyways. And then as you're becoming glum - drums that shuffle to standing, a trumpet that pipes up, that dips and dances, that casts sunlight. A guitar solo that's gold and golden.

It felt good, suddenly, feeling out-of-place in that room. It felt familiar.

There was a couple standing near me, much older than me, older than all of us. She was silent but friendly, nodding to the beat. But he was happy, so happy. He was fucking ecstatic. He squeezed her shoulder and sang along. He was tough-looking, but he crooned. The band would start a song and he would shout "Oh!", thrusting his drink into the air.

In the silence between songs, the man said that they had driven up from northern England to see the band. Camera Obscura nodded at him, glad that he had come. So he yelled a request. "Books Written For Girls," he yelled. He yelled it again and again, in a working-class shout.

"Sorry," they said. "We- We don't really remember it."

They played some more, and whenever there was some chatter in the crowd, or another request was called, the man bellowed out his request: "Books Written For Girls!"

"I'm sorry," said the guitarist. He looked truly sorry.

"It's all right," said the man. "Where y'from, then?"

"Somewhere not as hard as you," said the guitarist. And a smile.

"Oh, I'd love if you played 'Books Written For Girls'."

"I know," said the guitarist. "But if we don't play it, would you kill me?"

"Yep! [laugh] No, no. Naw. Naw. It's all right."

Eventually, inevitably, they played the song for him. They hadn't rehearsed it. They just looked at each-other, Tracyanne still so dark and steady and glum and bitter and wry, the guitarist happy to be playing music, the pianist doubtful. Here was a man with a big pint of lager sloshing, a man with big shoulders and a hard head, a man who yelled and roared with every bob of soft twee melody, who sang along at the top of his lungs. He loved the band so passionately, this tough man. So they played it for him.

I didn't remember the song from the song-title. I wondered what song he was requesting, all night. "Books Written For Girls"? Which one is that? Me, my favourite is "Keep It Clean", which they played, and played brilliantly. And new songs, too, which were good. But what's this one about books? What's the song that brought this man several hours in the car, with his partner?

Here. It's this one. When they played it, the room went calm. Maybe it was just me - maybe just me going calm. I felt like I was floating. Tracyanne sang. I listened, and I could feel something opening up all creaky inside me. Shutters unshuttered, blinds lifted. As Molly Bloom says - Yes.

I looked over at the man-who-yelled. We all did. As Camera Obscura played their beautiful, quiet song, glances came from all over the room. I saw Tracyanne look. I saw Carey look. I looked.

He was holding his sweetheart in his arms and their eyes were closed and they were smiling, piece piece peaceful.

[buy US / europe (the latter with more samples]


It's very important that you not miss Lavender Diamond's "You Broke My Heart", posted by Matt at You Ain't No Picasso. It's so many things I love: strident and pressing, jingling and jangling, a woman singing at the top of her range; either happy or sad I can't tell. You all listened to the Dorian Hatchet song that Dan posted, too, right? The one sung by guppies? Isn't it amazing? I'm totally ordering their EPs.

Eppy has written SOME THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MUSIC CRITICS (especially if you are a member of a (local) band), and he's right.


Felix Lajko's 14 minute "Etno Camp" will follow later this week. I'm really chuffed that enthusiasm was expressed. I promise it's good.

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

January 16, 2006

Im Ni Da

Harmony Trowbridge - "No Photographs"

I feel like my head is being forced down when I listen to this. The feeling you get when you're sitting at the breakfast table in the quiet of the morning, looking at the toast in your hand, waiting for your body to finish eating so you can go to work: there are many things I won't do today. It's nice to imagine that you can miss someone this much. It's nicer to imagine that someone misses you this much. [site]

Pink Mountaintops - "Cold Criminals"

Normally, I wouldn't have posted this song, but since I needed to post the first song, this is like a perfect companion piece. It sounds so good right now, the swirling ambient background and the truck-backing-up beep are suddenly necessary, not excessive. The length is no longer a chore, it's an intriguing novel, a page turner. I saw him open for Destroyer forever ago and paid no attention. Now I really want to see this live, give. [Buy 1st album]

Posted by Dan at 2:20 AM | Comments (2)

January 13, 2006

I Wear A Sugar Coat

TTC - "Dans Le Club"

After Ceci N'est Pas Un Disque, TTC only want to party. Or provide the party, rather, their position does not allow them to actually party. They are the prime-ministers, presiding over the representative government in charge of the picking up of fine ladies and being really important. I don't catch every word, but I'm confident this is an exact French translation of "In Da Club", split into three parts, with something about a VIP pass thrown in. I respect it, I feel cool when they're yelling at me, but it's true that I don't get it. [buy] [great video]

Dorian Hatchet - "Fast Runner"

I can't listen to this song, it makes me feel all Sunday-sad. But you should listen to it, it's good.
This is incorrect, but I keep thinking a guppy is singing the song, and that this stuff is happening to a family of guppies. It's still raw, unnerving imagery and blasting, careening melody changes, it still affects me deeply, makes me worry, worry, but it's just that everyone has guppy faces. Um, and guppy bodies. [site]

Posted by Dan at 4:48 AM | Comments (11)

January 12, 2006

don't bother just whispering

Ann Sexton - "You've Been Gone Too Long". Funny how sometimes it's not the centre of the song that keeps your attention. Here's Ann singing in a coffeecream voice, just the right amount of nicotine burr, but me I'm looking somewhere else. She's in the spotlight, the others are falling in love, but I'm just staring dumbly at the electric guitar. Listening to the golden over-and-over; the persistent hope; the shaking free. I feel like a dope, standing there. This is soul music! A dusky voice, bedroom eyes, noNOnos and yesYESyeses of horns! So why do I keep being drawn away, like a man chasing through a wood for his sweetheart? I dunno, I dunno. All I know with certainty is that the song's got to fade out. Because it can't end. (Thanks, Milo.)

[Buy the Ann Sexton Anthology]

Felix Lajkó es Bandaja - "Untitled". Felix Lajkó aka Lajkó Felix is a part-gypsy violinist who was born in the former Yugoslavia but has since established himself as one of the biggest forces in contemporary Hungarian folk music. One of my favourite pieces of instrumental music is his "Etno Camp", in which Lajkó seems to fiddle Rome to the ground, his band wearing their shoes out as they dance behind. But tonight I don't have the tenacity for that fourteen minute epic, that glorious and furious thing. Instead tonight I turn to the final track on Játszanak - two minutes long, more mood than song, a piece that falls away like a scene you might see from inside a bus. You drive by and then it's out of sight; it's gone.

An old woman sings in Hungarian, each phrase a tentative hop. Piano, fiddle and other stringy things set the yellow glass blowing. And it's like she's calling down a storm, inviting it quietly so that we can laugh when it doesn't arrive. Ha ha ha? (This was actually and truly recorded in a forest.)

(Let me know if you'd like to hear "Etno Camp".)

[more info / buy]


You really oughta grab the Pineapples song at Green Pea-ness so you can italo-disco till the sun come up.

If anyone missed the message about the Said the Gramophone chalet at All Tomorrow's Parties...

Posted by Sean at 3:00 AM | Comments (12)

January 11, 2006

Comme Avant

Puerto Muerto - "Jean Lafitte"

She's so brave! Clearly drunk, she is promising the impossible; there's no way she could defeat the Spanish, nor could she avenge her relatives, nor is she an old man. But Jean is the bravest little girl in the green, smoke, shakey-plank tavern, and she's a delight to watch as she sings her song, it reminds you of a passion you always wished you had. [Buy]

Eugene Mirman - "Russia and Atari"

Spurred on both by Greg's recommendation of him, and Sean's recent mention of him, I thought it was time we all listened to Eugene Mirman in our own home. What's interesting to me here is the honesty of his story. He has a perfect sense of both how true the suffering of his family (mostly his parents) was, and how literally no one in the audience is probably acquainted with that amount of poverty. Usually, when comics are making "I was so poor" jokes, it's cause they grew up about as poor as most of the audience, but here it's not true. But he doesn't hold it against them; he's really a positive person. Yes. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 4:58 AM | Comments (3)

January 10, 2006


I hate novelty songs. So here are two:

TBC Poundsystem - "Losing My Sledge". Yes, it's a Christmas song! I'm well out of date, aren't I? But this made me smile so persistently that I can't help but share it. There are jingle bells, there are dumb gags, but most of all there's such a good-natured imitation of James Murphy's LCD Soundsystem voice, such a successful dubbing of merry ideas onto the obssessive original. "I was there for the first canned snow / in Cologne." ... "I hear that everybody that you know is more festive than everybody that I know". If you don't know the original "Losing My Edge", perhaps this will have no appeal, but I like to think that for 8 minutes it will still make you grin - oh and still make you boogie. (Thanks Quinn, thanks Bill, thanks Santa.)

[TBC Poundsystem is a collaboration between Jeb (£50 Note podcast) and Tim B (Radioclash podcast)]

Dokaka - "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Okay we've all heard those goofy covers by college acapella groups, jazz-hands fellows doing vocal acrobatics 'round "Creep" or, yeah, this one too. But what makes Dokaka special is that he's a Japanese beatbox guy who sounds totally insane. As he loops and loops his voice, it's as if a goblin is ripping its face off, running from the dragonflies, a demon being devoured by the rock'n'roll that Nirvana brought. I do clowning when I can, I really do - a theatrical clown in the tradition of LeCoq and stuff, - and Dokaka reminds me of a clown's reaction to a tune like this. Too much feeling to keep it in - being driven gladly, gladly mad by the whoosh of music, gibberish streaming out of your voice like a cartoon-bubble of epithets and delirious grinning birds. And I swear that in the chorus he's speaking italian, offering a friendly "Bona sera!" "Buonasera!"

[Dokaka also sings the main theme of Nintendo game "We Love Katamari", and appears on Bjork's Medulla. Check his website - and download a bundle more mp3s, - here.]


Excellent songs at Catbirdseat, lately - particularly enjoying the oldschool Bowie of the track by The Battles. And yeah, Catbird Records is coming on strong. Great work, Ryan.

If you're not sick of Best Ofs, The Big Ticket's good taste, flashy graphics and free downloads continue to impress.

It's not being advertised very well, so a head's up to any Edinburghers who missed the news that Camera Obscura are playing with Dot To Dot this Friday, for 5 quid. I will also be hitting Glasgow for Herman Düne on Thursday, Belle and Sebastian on Friday.

And finally, a return to the topic of...

All Tomorrows Parties 2006

All Tomorrows Parties is a series of music festivals where the day's events are curated by invited artists. The first one was the Bowlie Weekender, organised by Belle & Sebastian. It took place at Camber Sands, England, which is a seaside holiday village. While there have since been ATPs in NYC, LA, etc, Camber Sands is where things started. And it's the site of the two ATP weekends this May.

I will be attending Weekend 2, May 19th-21st. (There is another the week before.) Here is the deal:

probably 30-40 acts, who will gradually be announced as the dates approach



  • £125 + travel + some other fees
  • includes lodging in an on-site chalet
  • chalets include rad things like a TV whose programming is also selected by the day's musical curators

The appeal of ATP is that it's a fairly small festival and nobody needs to trek off to tents or what-have-you. Everyone's staying in chalets, on site. You can go wander on the beach and then listen to Broken Social Scene. You herky-jerky to Clinic and then go crash on your own bed. There's also a pub.

Now the trouble is that you need to buy at least four tickets at a time - that is, you need to book a 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 berth chalet. I don't have 4 friends here who can come.

So, spurred by Nat,

I am currently considering organising a Said The Gramophone chalet.

Update: 6 February 2006: All spaces in the Said the Gramophone chalets have now been filled.

What does this mean?

Basically nothing. Just that if you are considering coming to Camber Sands, perhaps you would like to get in touch with me and maybe share a chalet with some other Said the Gramophone readers. There does exist a formal share a chalet option, direct from ATP, but who knows what kind of crazies you could get saddled with. The hope is that the StG Chalet will be a collection of kindly, music-mad, sympathetic people. Who aren't crazy.

If you're interested in reading a bit more, please follow me after the jump.

Requirements of anyone who wants to join the StG chalet:

1) You are kind.
2) You are friendly.
3) You are not crazy.
4) You read this blog (hi!) or are the good friend/partner of someone who does.
5) You are not a thief.
6) You are not a junkie.
7) You are not a junkie-thief.
8) You like tea, hot cocoa, coffee, ovaltine, or mulled wine.
9) You have £125 + £7 booking + whatever other ATP/PayPal fees are charged.
10) You trust Sean enough to send him this money (by PayPal or by money order) your share of the chalet costs, and can do so when asked.
11) You will be responsible for yr own transportation to Camber Sands.
12) You are also prepared to bring your own food and all other appropriate ATP stuff.
13) You understand that the StG Chalet is nothing official, makes no promises, and is basically just the ganging-up of several like-minded ATP attendees.
10) You want to come to weekend 2 (I am not going to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs/Devendra Banhart/Mudhoney weekend 1.)

What will happen at the StG chalet?

Meals! Conversation! Discovery! Friends! Yay! Maybe parties? Maybe dancing? And music!

What to do next?

If you're interested, please email me. Please try to give me an idea of how interested you are. The cut-off will be sometime soon; I want to book a chalet very shortly because this weekend will sell out.

Update: 6 February 2006: All spaces in the Said the Gramophone chalets have now been filled.

Have a question?

Feel free to email me about that, too!

Posted by Sean at 3:00 AM | Comments (13)

January 9, 2006

Two Gallants

Two Gallants - "Waves of Grain". So there's this movement of furious young men who holler country tunes over a thrum and crash of noise. The White Stripes are the band that have brought this most into the mainstream, but others are fishing in the same waters, reeling up fish that are even browner, even bigger, that buck and thrash with even more spirit. There's something tremendously exciting about this genre, to me, and it feels new, like something's changed since the mediocre Pogues-derived punk-irish bands of the 90s. Now there's Sons & Daughters, Uncle John & Whitelock, Jon-Rae and the River, even Okkervil River in bits, licked by the flames of folk, blues and country; hammering against their guitars; shouting poetry into their flimsy microphones.

Two Gallants are from San Francisco, named after a James Joyce story, just a duo on drums and guitar. And the guitarist plays harmonica, too - raised on Bruce Springsteen as well as Johnny Cash, the Violent Femmes alongside Uncle Tupelo. "Las Cruces Jail" is the song that introduced me to them. It's their "Hotel Yorba", their tune for stomping and spitting. Their single. Go find it. But it's "Waves of Grain" that made me sit straight up and resolve to follow everything they do for the next five years. Because this isn't just garage-blues kicks - this is beautiful, fierce, elegiac music, full of longing. It's youth - not childhood, no, just this inbetween time that already feels full of regrets, that's simultaneously full of hopes. Here are kids like me, singing of the noisy days that make you want to rip out your heart and then stuff it right back into your chest, that make you long to be anywhere else and yet right, right here, stars popping gold-and-silver over your head.

"Waves of Grain" is nine and a half minutes but it never repeats itself. It's discovery after discovery, moment after moment. Adam Stephens snarls a poetry that's almost purple, too much!, and yet as he hurls his lyrics at you they hit and hit and hit. He plays his glittering guitar and blows long proud blasts into his harmonica. And the drums, Tyson Vogel's glorious drums! Smashcrashcrashing till you can believe that maybe this rock music means something, maybe it can break something down to smaller pieces, maybe it can help you to be. It's music that makes me wish I was better at writing about music. Maybe I'll try again later.

[What the Toll Tells is due out in February. Buy other stuff at Saddle Creek. Go see them on tour, including Edinburgh on Feb. 5 with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.]

Posted by Sean at 1:19 PM | Comments (15)

January 6, 2006

Ask Me Anything

The Teeth - "Oh, Bessie!"

Now, I've been playing a lot of Katamari Damacy, so I might be a little drunk right now, but this song is exactly like this game. The song starts tiny (little guitar) and rolls upon itself until it's as big as the sun. Little guitar leads to big guitar, which can then handle vocals, and the bassline (a bassline is smart, the foundation to dance!) comes next, which enables the song to handle galloping drums (more excited dance!) which rolls up handclaps next (for the join-along-ers) the whole while the lyrics are also a rolling ball, first growing up, then dating, then entire oceans (the earth, and you, are mostly water!) then marriage. By this point, the song is as big as the sun, and you can tell it is because it is so hot the singer screams, and without this scream we would not know the song is as good as it is. [Buy]


Ponies in the Surf - "Gov't Brand #2"

This song is a difficult task. It's hard to get finished (they almost don't make it). It's an awkward dancer, but every so often, through sheer force of will, it moves just right, smiling to itself. "wwwwwwWEEE've been staying at your momma's house" is like cresting back into form, assuring us they had it the whole time. It's satisfying. To watch the loner kid kickin' it with themselves in the corner.

their cd release is tomorrow in NYC (at The Archive). I don't live there. maybe you do. [Buy from Asaurus (amazing label!)]


happy birthday, sean.

Posted by Dan at 3:24 AM | Comments (5)

January 5, 2006

"SPEAKERS" as in "ear-to-felt"

Today is my birthday. Do I take a day off? No, my friends, I do not. So please don't breeze on by. I have something for you.

What do I know about The Speakers? Little, so little. They have six recordings; I have heard but one. They perform live; I've never seen them. Brian Miller and Peter Musselman have played with the wonderful Jolie Holland, and she contributes sometimes to their songs; I don't know how much.

The things I know best are the easy things, but they're also the things that matter. Yeats is Greats, released toward the end of last year, is the best album I've yet discovered in 2006. I know, it's only the 5th, but the magnificent Destroyer's Rubies makes more sweeping statements difficult. So let me put it another way - in the last couple months, months when I first heard recent/upcoming albums by Jens Lekman, Islands, Belle & Sebastian, Cat Power, Konono No. 1, The National, Uncle John & Whitelock, Lil Wayne, Two Gallants, The Strokes, The Physics of Meaning, Kayo Dot, (and many many more), Destroyer's Rubies and The Speakers' Yeats Is Greats are certainly the best LPs to grace my ears.

You've not heard of it, probably. The mp3blog aggregators come up empty. Maybe that's because people already talked about them, months ago, when I was snoozin'. Or because the album opens and closes, Clap-Your-Hands-style, with a stupendously stupid spoken word goof (there's also another one in the middle). Or because most of the lyrics were written by William Butler Yeats.

But the point remains. These songs are beautiful, fragile comforts. They're not joycore, no. They're just things to lean up against on these long midwinter days. Or in the nights. Trifles, I guess, in the same way that streetlamps are trifles. Or cherry trees. Or stars.

Voices fall across each-other, whispers blossoming into smiling song, folk that's crisscrossed just enough with foreign sound, shadows of accordion or clarinet, horns and drone. Hear a bit of Iron & Wine, but better. Maybe Sufjan circa Seven Swans. Grizzly Bear without the fear, Elliott Smith with a gang of kindly friends. Like Mt. Eerie, maybe, or The Robot Ate Me. But different.

Oh fuck it - just listen.

The Speakers - "The Mountain Tomb". "Bring fiddle and clarionet" - they do. "Pour wine and dance" - okay. The song's tender as new grief, as easily opened up. We know the tomb's down there, across the bay; we took the rowboat, remember? But now we'll leave it, we'll come into this room. We'll eat, we'll smile. We'll play. We'll remember life - remember life? We'll draw the blinds and not see the sun set. We'll take shelter: horns and guitar and xylophone, your friend the singer. "Our Father Rosicross is in his tomb." Yes. All right. But for now let's persist. Let's not speak of death; let's sing of it. (Yeats' words.)

The Speakers - "Lost in a Crowd". The trick's in the way a man's persistence turns cold things warm, sharp things soft. He persists - gently, gently, - and the strings turn in the light. No more whispers of Shostakovich; no scrapes, no glares, no theremin shiver. Just glow, gleam, glimmer. And even if the closing lyrics are feel-good, trite (they're not Yeats), that's ok. Coming away from confusion, there's a role for optimism. Stepping out of the rain, sunshine's fine. Leaving the comfort of strangers, I'll take an embrace.

Go buy Yeats is Greats, the album with that absurd name, for only $14. Do, do, do!


William Schaff, perhaps my favourite living artist, finally has cheap prints for sale. Lots of politics, lots of horrors, but I bought the one of St George.

edward o's top 100 singles of 2005 is an amazing, amazing, work.

You Ain't No Picasso has new (ok) songs by Page France.

As others have pointed out, the 2005 Bloggies are now accepting nominations. The awards mean nothing, but it probably makes the nominees feel a little happiness. So do go and nominate some of your favourites. My favourites are on the sidebar. Like Fluxblog, I very much endorse Tom Ewing for the Lifetime Achievement prize.

If for some reason you feel like voting for us, the category that would mean something is the "Best Writing" category. My favourite blog writing, this year, has been by Abby, Carl, Eppy, Paul, Ash, John, Nick, Matthew, Kevin, Tuwa, Marcello, Kelly, Matt. And Dan and Jordan. And everyone else to the right (matt, jay, neale, et al). Except the podcasts and art-blogs. Because they're not about writing, see.


And yes, it's my birthday. This year I want only fond wishes (and maybe some art). (My address? Oh why am I doing this? Well, it's 2F2, 15 West Newington Place, Edinburgh EH9 1QU. Now stop making me feel foolish!)

Posted by Sean at 3:00 AM | Comments (33)

January 4, 2006

Long Rectangles, Big Fat Spheres

Richard Buckner - "Loaded at the Wrong Door"

Listening to the first verse of this song lumber forward with all instruments perfectly in line, you can’t possibly be prepared for the chorus that awaits you in which everything spreads out on a bed of synth, the bass steps out of line, plays counterpoint to the vibraphone (so much power in the mere addition of one quarter note).

Every instrument is used sparingly, except Buckner’s weary voice. His vocals are warm, but removed - a fire seen through a delicate fabric. He sings with cobwebs in his throat. He is not in the least bashful about vocal flourishes, rarely limiting himself to one note per syllable. He’s the Mariah Carey of alt-country. [Buy]


John McGlinchey - "Spider"

“Spider” is a playful song, in the way that the Unicorns were a playful band. That is, the song is playful, but not silly. Playful, but still serious, dark, spooky. It takes bizarre turns, follows unexpected, treacherous paths into dark woods and pitch-black back alleys. The off-kilter chord changes, guitar digressions, and multi-tracked vocal experimentation are reminiscent of Syd Barrett.

OK, but who is John McGlinchey?

John McGlinchey plays all of the instruments on “Spider.”

John McGlinchey emailed me this song a few days ago. His email was four lines long. It was at least curt, and at most hostile. He did not mention whether or not “Spider” is from an album, nor did he provide a website. He is pretty much unGoogle-able. He is a mysterious psychedelic troubadour who inspires fear in my tender heart. Say his name three times, I dare you.

Posted by Jordan at 1:29 PM | Comments (8)

more cowbell

While we wait for today's post proper, do dig the long-thought-mythical DFA-produced Britney Spears demo.

James "LCD Sounsystem" Murphy and Tim "just awesome" Goldsworthy spent an afternoon in studio with the lady, but the result was quickly cut from In the Zone. It was, quoth the label, "too hip".

"That was weird," says Goldsworthy. "Won't do that again. No offense to her—she's lovely. Got a foul mouth, though!" The brief session came to nothing, through lack of common musical ground. "When we work with people, we hang out, listen to records, share stuff," says Murphy. "But with Britney we had absolutely no way of communicating. She didn't know anything that we knew." (Village Voice)

Britney Spears - "DFA (Demo)" [Removed at the request of parties involved.]

Oh, and how does it sound? "Too hip", really. Cool-as-Snoop beats over a cowbell ring-a-ding-ding, Britney cooing like a lady lost in a mirrorwall maze who thinks she can coo her way out. Which is probably true.

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

January 3, 2006

Said the Guests: Katy Horan

Katy Horan lives in New York City and makes art. I've never met her, though I'd like to, but one day I stumbled head-over-feet onto her art. And I swooned, as one does, because there were animals and clouds, ships and zeppelins, people singing heart-songs and hedehogs murmuring secrets. It's a collage full of play and winks, a whimsy that's more hopeful than nostalgic, a liveliness that belongs in forest-bed or whirligig farm, in book or canvas.

Katy's going to illustrate at least one more song for us, soon enough, but it would be foolish to sit on this one - not when it's a new year and a good song and a picture full of friendships and promises.

Thank you so much, Katy. -- Sean

Devendra Banhart - "Mama Wolf"

Katy Horan - "Hey Mama Wolf" (click for full size)

[More of Katy Horan's art can be found on her website, or you can keep track of Katy-developments on her blog. A little bit of her work is still on sale here. It's great. And you can write to Katy at]

(Previous guest-blogs, in and out of the Said the Guests series: Hello Saferide, Edward Droste (Grizzly Bear), Will Sheff (Okkervil River), Devin Davis, Michael Nau (Page France), artist Tim Moore, Carl Wilson, artist Drew Heffron, David Barclay (The Diskettes), Brian Michael Roff, Howard Bilerman (producer: Silver Mt. Zion, Arcade Fire, etc.), Damon Krukowski (Damon & Naomi). There are many more to come.)

Posted by Sean at 1:27 PM | Comments (6)

inaugural harroo!

Just one because there is another (better) post coming later today --

März - "Everybody's Had a Hard Year". Monica sent me this about a year ago. Scott sent it about a week ago. I woke up a couple of days ago and it was 2006, and all around me peoples' relationships were coming to pieces, debris everywhere, and yet there's a clapclapclap in order because rosy clouds were in the sky, birds winging it all over, friends only a phonecall or an emailtap away. I went to Oslo and saw snow, slipped on ice, clinked glasses with a reader of this-here-place, and then back in Edinburgh I new-yeared with fireworks zip-popping all around, all around, a panorama of colour and spark and us in an empty golf-course, running through it, and i wonder wonder wonder what will come next.

März (or Maerz) cops from John Lennon's bit of "I Got a Feeling", but instead of strain this is all ease, stretching limbs out into the morning, the spring, the new year. put down that ship-in-a-bottle, that baggage, that oof. everybody's had a hard year: snap your fingers to the push of voice, the kind glimmer of organ and guitar, and light popsong lyrics that will teach you a thing or two about life.

[maerz's baffling site]


A hilarious Eugene Mirman comedy clip at No Frontin' - we caught Mirman at this year's Edinburgh Fringe and his surreal (non)sense gags had me feeling glad to be alive. And I too am full of hate.

New mp3blog Red Ruin has a fantastic piece of "ethereal daydreamcore" by Japanese singer Ua. Waterbucket tictoc, says I; fancydress clockwork bjork. Red Ruin's author is the guy who sent through that great Downy track, some months ago.

Seripop has a most-wow poster for sale from the album launch for their band (AIDS Wolf).

Matt at You Ain't No Picasso has his best-of-the-year up, and the new-to-me thing that is most wonderful is the soft-fingered Shins-pop of Sambassadeur's "Between the Lines", which you can download there.

RIP NYLPM, which changed the way I listen to music. Thank you so much, Tom.

Also RIP Splendid, which was the boldest and most lunatic music ezine in the universe.

happy new year.

Posted by Sean at 5:02 AM | Comments (1)

January 2, 2006

Dragged Across A Parking Lot

Nethers - "Breastfeathers"

Headphones let you pretend your life is a movie. Here are some scenarios in which putting this song on would be cinematically apt:

i) you begin drawing for the first time in three years.
ii) you lose a baby (any kind).
iii) you decide to clean up an overturned garbage can.

Her confident, steady call (it's not a voice, it's more of a prayer) displays unused power, she shows restraint. I like that. [Site]


Frank Stokes - "I Got Mine"

Frank Stokes is just a big sinner. He feels he deserves every bit of punishment that he gets. The guitar, tapping its toe, nods its head in agreement. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 11:46 AM | Comments (1)