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

February 28, 2006

Running A Gerund

A Day For Kites - "Bobby Pin"

This song is like a really busy day, where you wake up and the television is still on, but it's showing three shows at once, and you're late for your tap dance recital, and after there's a picnic, and then back home to do some dishes and waltz with the broom, then catch a plane (grab a nap) to someplace close enough to drive to, where you friend is getting a huge award the size of a bear, and then skating to celebrate, where you literally turn into a jewel and become part of the sky. [Buy for 5$!!! Yes!]

Carey Mercer & Carolyn Mark - "Claxxon's Lament"

This is the original, somehow unknown to me until recently, of the Wolf Parade cover posted about by Jordan way back in June.
I like the cover better, but the lyrical discrepancies between the two versions illustrate the sheer savagery of this song. In the cover, it's a last hug, it's a warm dying. But here, it's a cold grope, a gaunt-cheeked stagger. Consider the following:

Wolf Parade version: "nobody will die / while I've got money in my hands"
Mercer version: "nobody can die / till I've got money in my hands"

From the first, I get a tragic rich man, a delusional sick tycoon. From the second, I get a ruthless monster, harvesting the weak to stay alive. It's like those matchstick puzzles, where you have six matches in a square pattern, and just by moving two matches you can make, like, the devil's face.
[Buy Blackout Beach]

Posted by Dan at 2:40 AM | Comments (8)

February 27, 2006


Antony - "The Lake [live]". I wrote about this track in the summer of 2004. In the months since then, Antony's released a studio version of the song and of course with his Johnsons he's become famous, in a small way. But back in August 2004, nobody but me seemed much concerned with "The Lake". The comments on that entry are just a muddled dispute on James Joyce, with only Gretchen weighing in to say something about Antony. Now, a long time later, I still listen to this tune. Not to the studio recording - to this live one, a little blurrier 'round the edges, and better for it. And so I want to offer it again, for anyone who wants to take it.

My purple prose from last August needs to be dismissed, though. Forget "that darkbright still-lapping lake". Instead: a piano; an audience; and a singer with a voice that's light, light, light. When I saw Antony perform, what I was most struck with was this - that despite his melismas, despite his vibrato, nothing was weighed down. That there was nothing overbearing or heavy in what was sung. Just flight, flight, flight.

A song that flutters through the vents and out into the night - winding with the steam, the smoke, the city's sodium glow.

[buy Antony's The Lake EP (which features the studio recording, not this one)]

I also stumbled across this flash animation that is soundtracked by Antony's "The Lake". It is the story of a fox who is a knight and who falls in love with a goddess fox after being swallowed by a thornbush, but when he goes back to the real world he's old and he dies. There aren't any lakes in it but like i said there are two foxes who can wear clothes and ride horses and fall in love.


Alexander Tucker - "The Patron Saint of Troubled Men". Alexander Tucker's Old Fog, released on All Tomorrows' Parties newish label, is a prickly, spooky record - bluegrass, drone, old-fashioned brit- and psych-folk. He sounds like someone who crawled out of a green hill: moss in his beard, mandolin in his rucksack, mic and fourtrack in his hands. "The Patron Saint..." has the multilayered flora of bands like Akron/Family but in places the vocals are a thinned-out version of something almost heavy metal. And of course throughought it all the pluck and spark and spur of those back-porch guitar-strings.

What I like best is that there's nothing elfin about this music. No gnomes or pixies or goblins. Just a man with mud on his shoes, scrapes on his knuckles, drops of something strong and red at the bottom of his belly. And his fingers are playing at some wooden instrument's steel strings.

[buy uk/US]


"Mr. Himelfarb has served his country well during a period of considerable uncertainty."

This seems a truism of all Himelfarbs.


You Ain't No Picasso has a new song from Bishop Allen's upcoming February EP.

McSweeneys is taking submissions for "the best sentences written in 2005. This means the best sentences, period, from any source—book, blog, newspaper, journal, magazine. Anything published in 2005 in a verifiable medium." (Thanks Kevin.) has the entirety of Mika Björklund's found-sound album Gunkanjima for you to download. Drones, creaks, field recordings and a bit of electronics, all a soundtrack to Japan's freaking incredible Battleship Island. (via MeFi)

Posted by Sean at 3:00 AM | Comments (4)

February 24, 2006

little miss lonelyhearts

Is it Friday already? I am sick-stuffed-up and the week has passed in a bleary blur. Some songs, therefore, for all your recoveries:

The Hussys - "Snowboard". On Valentine's Day I went to see The Research play at Cabaret Voltaire. Before they went on there were two other bands, one which was mediocre and irrelevant, the other which was amazing and great. The latter were called The Hussys and they're from Glasgow and they play pop-songs somewhere between pop-punk and The Beach Boys, Avril Lavigne in a tryst with Beulah. On stage, they were kids, they were goofs, each of them making faces and hamming it up, taking what pleasures they could in the almost-empty room. But the key thing: the songs. These weren't just hammered chords and a girl with pink hair. They were a girl with pink hair and melodic delights: bridges and arrangements that pinged and zinged, rinkydink keyboard bits and sweet woo-oo-oo vocal harmonies, six musicians making something together. They have a new EP out next month - it's called Napoleon Dynamite and has a song about Napoleon Dynamite (seriously!) - but "Snowboard" is the hit from their first EP, called Tiger. The chorus is: "I can't touch my snowboard since you broke my heart." They bitch about it being "zero degrees". Julian, who hates pop music, says "it's really good". I, who like pop music, just wish I was an A&R guy so I could sign these guys and then retire to Malibu.

[buy / myspace]


The Research - "Lonely Hearts Still Beat The Same".

Russell (from The Research): "This is our new single. It's bound to be our biggest hit because it's the only song where Georgia sings instead of me."

Georgia (from The Research): [laugh]

Russell: "It's called 'Lonely Hearts Still Beat The Same'."

[they play: the keen press of synths and the cool rat-a-rat of Sarah's drums. Georgia sings like a robot whose heart is glowing pink under her skin.]

Russell: "Thanks."

Sean (from Said the Gramophone): "Excuse me--"

Russell: "Yes?"

Sean: "That was marvellous. Georgia? That was marvellous."

Georgia: "Er. Thank-you!"

Sarah (from The Research): "What about me?"

Sean: "You were good too. And you too, Russell. That's a great song."

All (from The Research): "Thanks!"

Sean: "It's like the opposite of a Wolf Parade song."

Georgia: (skeptical) "Who are Wolf Parade?"

Sean: "A band. They let energy go all over, heartbreak shattering things. You let trauma lead you down into a groove, into a certainty. They choose the roughest sounds, you choose the sweetest ones. They choose a crackle of electric guitar, you choose another layer of sugarwater synths."

Russell: "We're a rock band too." [throws his keyboard to the ground, kicks it a couple times. it makes mournful Grandaddy sounds.]

Sean: "You're a band that will sound best on portable radios."

Georgia: "What does that mean?"

Sean: "It means I should be able to hear you even when I'm walking somewhere, lost, tired, hesitating. Even when I've forgotten that you exist."

Russell: [thinks about this] "Okay, let's play it again. But this time I'll sing lead."

[buy the single. New album out soon.]


Aaron MacDonald - "Bluebird Liquor, Black Crow Wine". Yes, another. But see the thing is, friends, that even though this is just a song made from lyrics submitted to Said the Gramophone for a contest, it's really fucking good, like good as normal songs that get posted here. I do not exaggerate. Aaron's made a beautiful track that is "acoustic guitars, banjo, accordion, mandolin, bass, drums, moog, birdsong... harmonica, and [him] singing a few times" - it's part Okkervil River and part Lambchop, vocals dry as twigs over a backing that's green and mossy as forest ground. You'll slip it onto mix-tapes, you'll play it for friends, you'll lie on your back in the middle of the living-room and imagine birds circling, twittering, wheeling into the kitchen and then round back again, black masks over their eyes. And maybe you'll spot the flutter of someone's skirt, just out the corner of your eye.

[Aaron releases a song every day, but unlike most such projects, his songs are often actually great. Listen to them here, or follow them via his blog. He is in the Portland band The New Mexican Revolution.]


There are a couple of (new) prints available at Evah Fan's website. I bought this one (only 25 to be had), and it arrived today. It is lovely, small and good in your hands, and much nicer in person than on the screen.

Otherwise Unavailable is a new mp3blog writing about very interesting things. Live recordings and out of print stuff by bands I've never heard of - Hubcap City's free and artful rock, or the Pounding Serfs - an early K band that inspired Phil Elvrum.

Schedule Two is a new website that I think I like. Clean and well-meaning, with videos of John K Samson playing Weakerthanks songs, or a full Julie Doiron live recording, there for the taking.

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

February 23, 2006

Me And Trudy We're Truly A Pair

Fiery Furnaces - "Nevers"

(spoken over broken harpsichord with perfect enunciation)
I invented a language with my family
We would speak it to each other on trips
So none of the other tourists could understand us
To Zimbabwe, to Munich, to Parson's Ridge in Indiana,
I tried to teach it to Benjamin Benton Bradley
My next-door neighbour with a limp and a Game Boy
He just called me a gimp and a tomboy
I'll see if I can remember some to show you, listen:
(. . . . . . . .)
I moved to Precinct with my boyfriend
Went to church and yard sales on St. Fleet
Mrs. Cadell, our landlady,
Used to talk about seeing Humdinger Grant,
The old boxer from back in the day,
Walk around naked in the parking lot,
Between the Accords and three-door Saturns,
Picking up phone cards and arousing himself,
And I swear I saw him too, speaking the same language,
As me, my parents, and my little brother Grant


Posted by Dan at 1:49 AM | Comments (7)

February 22, 2006


Snailhouse - "The Silence Show"

Bertrand Russell rolled over in his his grave when Snailhouse sent him a copy of his penultimate release, The Opposite is Also True.

Upon receipt of his own promotional copy of said album, Frege had a very different reaction. He decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to invoke his favourite rule of logic: reductio.

Reductio ad absurdum is not only Frege’s favourite rule, it’s also objectively the best rule. It allows you to conclude anything and everything from a contradiction. So if, as Snailhouse claims, and as surely is often the case, the opposite is also true, then so too is it true that you’re not reading this right now, or that I’m a 6’10 adonis with impressive pectoral muscles (true regardless, btw).

“The Silence Show” is a lonely song. It’s about how we necessarily experience so much of life alone, about the limited extent to which we can share ourselves. Mike Feuerstack plays guitar with the reverb turned up, and maybe with just a slight chorus effect, and he sings sweetly, shifting easily between his upper and lower registers. The song might have been unbearably desolate if not not for the accompaniment of a fluttering, tape-saturating keyboard. Feuerstack sings of loneliness not alone, but with company. And songs this pure and gorgeous make our lonely times less so.

Because, though life is lonely, the opposite is also true. From which we can conclude that 3 plus 8 is a million and everything else too. [Info]


Geeshie Wiley - "Last Kind Word Blues"

One should have a blues to sing for any blue situation that one might find oneself in. Here’s a blue situation: your daddy is conscripted to fight in the Great War, and just before leaving, he requests that, if he dies, he not be buried, but that instead you should let buzzards eat him whole. If, god forbid, you find yourself in this situation, I feel that no blues would be more appropriate than the ominous and winding masterpiece, “Last Kind Word Blues.” [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 4:15 PM | Comments (7)

February 21, 2006

Much Different Than The Walls I See Now

Micah P. Hinson - "The Leading Guy"

(I had Sean and Jordan over to my house yesterday. We played scrabble (Jordan won), we sat on a pink carpet by a fire, and listened to these two songs. I recorded our conversation, and here's a transcript of what we said)

Me: I chose this one because it just felt like the penultimate example of gramofolk.

Jordan: Penultimate?

Me: Yeah..

Jordan: So what's the ultimate?

Me: Oh. Did I misuse that?

Sean & Jordan: Yes.

Me: Oh, oops.

Sean: Is that the only reason you like it? Gramofolk was kind of a joke.

Me: No, it's like a really good Mars bar. 'Cause you're going along, and everything seems pretty normal, and then you realise you're listening to a really great song. It took a few listens before I got the narrative about letting go.

Jordan: You mean the chorus?

Me: Yeah, I guess. But it took a while to sink in. I can hear him missing someone. Everyone who's gone.

Jordan: Yeah, I'll agree with that. Is that Rochester I hear in the background?

Me: Rochester...from the Jack Benny Program?

Jordan: Yeah.

Me: I don't think so.

Jordan: I think it is.

Sean: No, no, no. There's no Rochester, there's no Mars bars, this is a story told by a Giant to his nieces and nephews, all giant children, about their father who was run out of town. The story goes that he turned evil, but the Giant gives a wink and a smile as he tells it, and you can hear the giant children clapping in the middle. There's hope for the worst of us.

Me: Hm.. Uh, yeah.

Jordan: An argument for this song's being good: 1) I think it's about Bob Dylan, 2) Every song about Bob Dylan is good, therefore 3) This song is good.

Me: Uh, I like the song, but can I contest premise 2?

Jordan: No. It's an axiom.



Kimya Dawson - "My Rollercoaster"

Me: Too precious?

Jordan: Possibly. I don't know if it's time for a medley.

Me: But I thought it was fitting--

Jordan: That since her singing style is that of a double-dutch rhyme, that her song structure begins to mimic that?

Me: Yeah. I find it endearing.

Sean: Yes, she's cute. She takes our hand and we jump into a mine cart that travels backwards through our high school top 40s and radiobuzz hummings. And she likes video games!

Me: Yeah, see? Sean agrees.

Jordan: Is it a novelty song? What else moves you?

Me: I think it's her love of fearlessness. When I think about her loving that in someone, I imagine that maybe she's kidding herself, and that everybody that loves me loves something that might not actually be there.

Sean: Her frenetic pinball synapses are like the ADD kid in elementary school before ADD was something diagnosed. Just hilarious, hyperactive, constant infatuation. One second drawing on the wall with marker, the next running down the hall after a friend who passes by.

(long pause)

Jordan: Okay. I still won, though.



it's also my sister's birthday. happy birthday, meg.

Posted by Dan at 1:44 AM | Comments (13)

February 20, 2006


Joom II - "Bluebird Liquor, Black Crow Wine". A couple of weeks ago, Said the Gramophone held a contest, asking people to submit lyrics for a song I had imagined - a song called "Bluebird Liquor, Black Crow Wine". A couple of days ago I was idly browsing the web and to my great surprise came across a song by the same name. It's a song of overgenerous sounds - fuzzy strokes of acoustic guitar, a big and giving voice, a piano that rinkydinks so tinnily that I mistook it for steel drums. I was even more surprised when I listened to the lyrics, and found by some extraordinary coincidence that the words were identical to the ones submitted by the StG contest winners. How strange that Joom II (aka Mr Christpher Farstad) might independently derive these same scraps of words. It is synchronicity at work, coincidence harnessed to a attic-room pop-song that would sound appropriate on that recent Kelley Stoltz album. Shulgan sounds that happy kind of drunk - more bluebird liquor than black crow wine, - dancing in the early hours with a girl who has grass in her hair.

mc DJ - "Bluebird Liquor, Black Crow Wine (Electrosymphonic Mix)".
mc DJ - "Bluebird Liquor, Black Crow Wine (Tendo Mix)".

mc DJ has done two remixes of Joom II's "Bluebird Liquor". The "Electrosymphonic Mix" is a sea anenome kind of mix, warm and fluid and stuttering. The "Tendo Mix" is better, blipblooping its way to work, Joom II's vocals circling in the sky.

[NB: The above talk of coincidences is of course nonsense. Mr Farstad's song is an original work inspired by Said the Gramophone's contest lyrics. And we tip our enormous fur hats to him. If anyone else uses these lyrics for a song, of course let me know!]


Angela Desveaux - "Heartbeat". Montreal's Angela Desveaux is now all but done her first album, a record of sunbursting country pop, a warm sweater for wearing outside when it's cold. The recordings were made at the Hotel2Tango with Brian Paulson (Wilco, Gastr del Sol, Rosebuds, Beck, Rock*A*Teens, Uncle Tupelo) and Gramophone-friend Howard Bilerman (Silver Mt. Zion, Arcade Fire, etc) behind the boards. I do this name-dropping in an attempt to articulate the sweetness of this sound, the way Angela's voice heats and lingers, the way the sky clears for the chorus. A deeper twang than Kathleen Edwards, a stronger grip than Sarah Harmer; here's a song for carrying in your basket when you hike with a lover to the top of those hills. (Angela Desveaux previously on StG.)

[not yet out, exciting label details to be announced soon / more info]


The new music video for the Arcade Fire's "Tunnels" is by far their best yet: watch it. [medium-res WMV, imperfectly synced] I suspect that as with "Laika", it was made by former band-member Josh Deu.

Posted by Sean at 1:00 AM | Comments (7)

February 17, 2006

choosing the right questions

There is a website called Ask For Cents. One day you will have to pay for the service, but for the moment it is free. The gist is this: If you email a question to, a human being will email you back an answer. Usually, in fact, you get two answers. And usually within minutes. The question-answerers are users of Amazon's Mechanical Turk service, and are being paid a few cents for every question they answer.

The answers aren't vouched for, aren't necessarily true. They're simply answers. And you can ask them whatever you like: advice on love, driving directions, gift recommendations, Excel problems.

Some questions I have asked, for you, dear readers (all q & a's, throughout this post, are true and real and from

q: If Kelly Clarkson's 'Since U Been Gone' was a fish, what fish would it be?

a: Flatfish

q: What is your favourite song, what animal would it be if it was an animal, and if that animal could talk what would it say?

a: My favorite song is "Daniel" by Elton John. This reminds me of a dog and it could talk it would say "I miss you".

q: Why should people have 'guilty pleasures' in music? Isn't the pleasure you take from one given song as legitimate as the pleasure from any other?

a: From a perfectly pragmatic point of view, the popularity of something has no bearing on itself the thing itself, assuming that the thing is macroscopic and does not change with observation. So it's absurd to judge anything by its popularity.

q: What is hip-hop?

a: Hip-Hop is music that makes you want to drink 40s drive an escalade and commit felonies.

As you will doubtless have observed, Ask For Cents is also - given Said the Gramophone's rather unconventional taste in aesthetic descriptors - a most beautiful source of music writing.

And so here we are.


Gene Vincent - "I'm Goin' Home (To See My Baby)".

q: If Gene Vincent's song "I'm Goin' Home (To See My Baby)" was riding a vehicle, what kind of vehicle would it be? And where would it be going?

a: A huge, purple semi on its way to San Francisco. (Source: imagination)

The beginning of the song is a trick. You think it's a blues tune, that we're going to circle round and round, listening to the lonesomeness of that electric guitar. But no, no no. Oh no. Because then the drums storm out of the closet, the saxophones pop out from behind the furniture, keys are grabbed from the hook by the door - and out we go, all piled in, heading crosscountry. There is a cactus by the on-ramp, sunlight in the air, not a cloud in the sky.

q: If Gene Vincent's song "I'm Goin' Home (To See My Baby)" were a meal, what would that meal be? Would the saxophones eat the same thing as Gene, or something else?

a: The meal would be a turkey. The saxophones would eat the same thing as Gene. (Source: Gene Vincent)

[buy (thank you "P")]


Young People - "Your Grave". It's night, there's an open window, and the curtains are waving, slow-slow, in the breeze. Watch, watch, watch, til' the watching becomes a trance and the curtains become a lesson.

Young People are here just bass, guitar, voice, and a strange circulatory system of beats in the deep, buried background.

A blues that you can't put your finger on, can't keep track of; just something you'll feel one night, after which you'll spend years waiting to feel it again. I think of a tiny hotel-room in Hull, Quebec, friends falling asleep, dawn just suggesting itself. The sliding door to the balcony is open and it's cold.

A constellation: Vincent Gallo, Cat Power, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Liars.

Bits and pieces.

q: In the Young People song "Your Grave," what is the electric guitar saying at the end?

a: It is singing the lyrics of Morphine's "Do Not Go Quietly to Your Grave":

Listen young people I'm 74
And I plan to live 60 or 70 more
Yeah I've been all around I've done a few things
And I spent a few nights on the floor, oh!



Moistworks, that finest of mp3blogs, is doing the extraordinary: Writers Week(s). Including contributions by Jonathan Lethem (!) and Christopher Sorrentino, writing about songs.

At Amazon, you can buy a Badonkadonk Land Cruiser. The reason I point it out is the reviews.

How to make Garfield funny: remove his thought balloons. (My favourites: 1 2 3 4)

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

February 16, 2006

Paule Bites Her Wrist

Shelley Short - "The Sunny Side"

Yes, this song is sung by Shelley Short, but to be more accurate, it's sung by Shelley Short's smile. She's a bird flying pressed up against the ceiling, a child in a swimsuit humming to themselves. This should totally be a national anthem of somewhere. A stadium full of people singing this would be great. [Buy]

Bound Stems - "Risking Life and Limb for the Coupon"

I'm reminded of the review I would have given "Razorblade" by the Strokes if it hadn't been done by such a famous band (dangerous!). And that was to communicate the idea that my enjoyment of the song increases like a steady climbing hiker as the song rolls out like a carpet in front of me. I start in the standard brush and nice, worn path, soon reaching the steeper parts, drum bursts like rocks falling away under my feet. Eventually I crest the peak and I can shout that Isaac-Brock-ish yell part, so that it'll come back to me. And then a quick climb down (oh, an elevator!). [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 2:45 AM | Comments (3)

February 15, 2006

Said the Guests: Owen Ashworth

Owen Ashworth is the soul of the burgeoning Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, and he is here today to share some songs and stories. They are stunning, suprising, and completely new to me. Enjoy.

Gordon Wilson Ashworth - "Battery Point Light House"

In January, my brother Gordon and I drove my '92 Dodge Ram from Redwood City, California to my new home in Chicago. On the first day of our drive, we took a detour off of the highway to visit a cement factory that John Fahey wrote a song for more than forty years ago. The Portland Cement Factory isn't actually there anymore at least not the way that Mr Fahey saw it; it's been rebuilt and renamed since then, but looking on the massive structure that stands outside of Monolith, California, simultaneously futuristic and absolutely prehistoric, was overwhelming and desolate and sad and beautiful. I took my brother's picture in front of the factory from across a dusty road and then we got back in the car and watched what used to be the Portland Cement Factory recede into the landscape. I hope he saved me a double, even though I don't think I'll ever forget the sight of him, dwarfed under those towering stacks in the view finder. It's funny how a thing like a cement factory can inspire a sense of absolute reverence. Anyhow, this here is one of my brother's songs. Whenever I listen to it now, I think of our field trip to Monolith, California. [site]

The Papercuts - "Oh, So That's What They Meant By Humid"

This is one of those songs so full of hurt and memory that listening to it in any company at all somehow feels like a betrayal. So, please, put on your headphones for this one. Here is my dear friend Jason from those good old dark days when we both had more hair and less serotonin working for us. Listening to this song immediately takes me back to crumbly old apartments and late summer night walks to the liquor store and the ghosts of so many friendships and loves. It took me some years to decipher all of the words of this song and also to really recognize just how depressed we both used to be. We sure were some sad bastards back then, and I sure am proud that we have seen each other through. [site]

The Papercuts - "Another Thing To Dust (Live)"

Here's one more from Jason. This song was recorded live at the Che Cafe in San Diego last Spring. Jason just happened to be in town the night of a Casiotone show, and I begged him to jump up and sing something. Jason was drunk on tiny mini-bar bottles of white wine and he jumped onstage with a borrowed guitar and played this. God bless Alex deLanda for having some tape rolling. If this song doesn't slay you, then I don't understand anything. A slightly more psychedelic version of this song will be on the next Papercuts album, which is mercilessly gorgeous, by the way. [site]

Pablo Neruda - "Untitled"

This is an untitled track from Jherek Bischoff (from The Dead Science, The Degenerate Art Ensemble, Xiu Xiu, and most recently CFTPA)'s long-standing solo project, Pablo Neruda. I don't know that any of the Pablo Neruda songs even have titles, but every so often I'll get an unadorned CD in the mail with some of the most raw and ingenious song-making I've ever heard. I think this was the one that made me want to make an album with Jherek. The clatter and ring of the percussion just sound so perfect to my ears. It feels like a gondola ride through an elegant junkyard. I want to live inside those sounds.

The Donkeys - "Black Cat (Demo)"

Here is a demo from San Diego's The Donkeys, who will be touring across the US with me in March. A hi-fi version of this song will be on their soon-to-be-released first album, but there's a warmth and sadness in this version that I just love. It's that choked-up, sorry feeling that only someone who's got your blood can lay on you. It's family, man. [site]


Casiotone For The Painfully Alone and The Donkeys will be embarking on a U.S. tour in March, in support of the truly marvelous new CFTPA album, Etiquette. more information at especially check out the scrumptuous video for The Subway Home.

Posted by Dan at 1:51 AM | Comments (9)

February 14, 2006

On Its Head

It's Valentine's Day today and so I hope you're all making love right now. If you're not, I warmly (and somewhat off-puttingly) suggest that you do.


Nugrape Twins - "I Got Your Ice Cold Nugrape"

Here's a love song about a drink. When you write a love song about a drink (c.f. my "My Beautiful Diet Pepsi") you do so from the purest regions of what is probably an otherwise rather blackened heart. I say "purest" because you can't expect anything in return for your effort. You will not endear yourself to the drink, and the drink will not weep with gratitude and then write you a love song, quid pro quo. A drink just never would. I say "blackened heart" because if you're going to have a heart, you might as well have it as the Cajuns would. Or perhaps because I am an adherent of the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. I can't remember now why I said it.

The love the Nugrape Twins have for nugrape is an ideal love, and their song makes me want to drink a tall glass of ice cold nugrape - whatever that is.

Musically speaking: nobody exploits cadence like the Nugrape Twins. The descending resolution of each phrase is so satisfying that I actually sigh after every fourth bar. [Buy]


13Ghosts - "Three Little Birds (After Bob.Marley)", followed by 13Ghosts - "Nobody's Hero"

These songs were meant to be heard one after the other. I mean both that they were intended to be heard that way by the band and meant to be heard that way in the teleological sense. Please, for your sake, use your computer to make it happen. 13Ghosts achieves delicate and beautiful (difficult) and then rowdy and drunken (surprisingly difficult). Like that time I saw Bob Marley open for the Band. Or was that just a dream? It was? OK, then: like that time I saw fine china open for Errol Flynn on a bender. [Info]


Also: A big welcome to all new readers coming to us from StG friend Kelly Nestruck's nice little piece in the National Post about Sean's nice big My Funny Valentine contest/post.

Posted by Jordan at 2:57 PM | Comments (5)

February 13, 2006

a pocketful of carpenters

Jo Mango - "My Lung". I'm writing this on a Sunday night but you, I bet, are entering into a Monday morning, drops dripping outside your window or else a full and lazy sun. And so I give you Jo Mango, the opening song on her debut LP, a song that's pretty and girlish but which more importantly has a distorted thumb piano, yes the thing of Konono no. 1 and Laura Barrett. Here it's not used for buzzy-booty-shaking or for wry indie-pop observations: it's just the sound outside Jo's window, like the one outside yours. Icicles dripping and then clattering to the ground, puddles filling, morning slowly slowly warming your bones. Wobbly notes that echo echo echo, gleam gleam gleam, that make me wish I was part harp, part viola. That make me wish I had strings that could be plucked.

[Out soon! Go see her gigs and buy her EPs.]

The Flaming Lips' "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song", which you can just go and download at one of the other indie rock mp3blogs, is terrific, exactly the sort of thing for people like me who don't have much time for Lips albums but who love their best singles. (eg: "She Don't Use Jelly", "Do You Realize") It's a straight-ahead pop-song with lunatic interjections, a demented yah-yah-yah-yah hook, squelches of synths and a fantastic, fantastic bit in the third minute where there's a fool singing, like a fool, but also like me. While the last Lips show I experienced was among the best gigs I've ever seen (LINK FIXED), I'd been hemming and hawing about paying £18 to peer at them from the almost-sold-out balcony of Usher Hall. But now - well, I've got phone-calls to make.

I'm also not sure if I fully articulated how awesome this song from Moe Rex is (offered here to help spare his bandwidth):

James Murphy & Munk "Kick Out The Chairs (Replayed by WhoMadeWho)"

Moe says it got passed around mp3blogs two years ago, but it's new-new-new to my ears, and man, yeah, good. A ginger electric guitar, the requisite LCD Soundsystem cow-bell, some hoarseness of voice, and - oh so sweetly, - a truly-sung chorus to truly-sing along to. "Kick out the chizz-airs, motherfuckers!" He means it so kindly. "Sign me up!" Oh I can hear the smile. It makes me want to dance, obv, but when James begins to cheer his partner (Munk?) along, toward the end, what I want to do is be in the studio with them, being cheered along too. So I just imagine that I am, that as I walk down the street, yelling "All right!" like a madman, headphones on head, fast-footworking to the organic funk unhs, there's a gang of pals behind me, (carrying guitars and amps and horns, one guy with a drum-kit on his back,) who really really really want me to express the song's awesomeness, loud and glad.

Moe Rex provides context out the wazoo, the who-what-and-where of this remix, and you should be reading his site super-regularly anyway, because it rules.



mc DJ wrote me after my last post to point out his Regina Spektor remix. It's really, really good! Over at his site there are also Jens Lekman, Wolf Parade and Feist remixes to be had.

There's a new William Schaff print for sale at The Drama.

The Stypod ruminates on Spencer Krug and (new) Sunset Rubdown.

I have a few pieces in the latest issue of Plan B - a big review of a Belle & Sebastian gig a few weeks ago, and shorties on the Grizzly Bear and Yo Zushi records. (You need to buy it to read them.) Also some new stuff in The Skinny: [live] Regina Spektor, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Herman Dune; [album/single] Jo Mango, Mitford Girls, Audio Bullys, The Pipettes, The Hazey Janes; a Broken Social Scene preview/interview, and my Easy Gramophone column. Phew. The live writeups are the things I'm happiest with.

Posted by Sean at 12:01 AM | Comments (16)

February 10, 2006

Tub Thumping and Thumb Humping

P.O.S. - "Stand Up (Let's Get Murdered)"

This song is a constant climax, like one of those circular songs that manages to continually ascend without ever hitting that final note. Because it's a good lesson, the time to dance is when the fuse is burning down, not after the explosion, so if the whole song is just fuse burning, then we can keep dancing, no matter how early we work tomorrow. [Buy]

Nethers - "Daybreak Hallelujah"

I know it wasn't too long ago that I posted about Nethers before, and there's nothing new to tell you, except to stress again that this album is so worth getting. This is the last track, it's a kind of release, while still remaining focused. Like happy teamwork, smiling and passing along the bucket of water to the next in line. [Buy]

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

February 8, 2006

tuwa is real

Clinic - "Jigsaw Man". A guitar tuned to sitar, a voice tuned to ghosts. And the melodica? The melodica's just a melodica, that inbetween instrument that appears in the strangest of places, here creeping among the weeds toward the Wicker Man. The fire leaps at the Man's knees, leaps toward the weeds, but the melodica's not gonna get too close. If you're smart, you'll stay back beside it. If you're brave (brave and not smart), you'll dive in with the guitar and the voice, doing a dance in the dust, flames glinting in your eyes. And you know what that means.

This is the b-side from Clinic's new single. The a-side, "Tusk", is exceedingly different - a trashy rustynail punk song, - and I love setting the two tracks next to each other, listening to them in sequence, imagining them as siblings. Tusk could beat Jigsaw Man in a fight. But Jigsaw Man, oh Jigsaw Man could swallow Tusk right down, quick as silver.

[Hear "Tusk" at Clinic's website, anticipate their upcoming LP.]

Peasant - "Joanna". A song with the quietest handclaps I've ever heard, but they're enough to pull me in. It's a song where everything rests upon the modest hummability of the chorus, just how sincere the sincere singer sings. "Joanna / forever. / You'll be / remembered." It's earnest almost to the point of caricature. "You'll never be a sad song." No it's earnest to the point of caricature. But what counts is not the silliness. What counts is whether I believe it, and want to hear it again. And I do. A song to snuggle into.

I think the best description would be the description composed by my friend P, writing about a different song, and making fun of me: If a song can remind you what it felt like to be buying cheap snails at the shellfish market during a primary school field trip, this song would surely be one of the top two choices of that specfic genre.

[buy Fear Not, Distant Lover / myspace has NY/PA tourdates]


Bishop Allen, the best unsigned rock band in America, are releasing an EP a month for a year. They are lunatics. But boy, does Justin Rice have an ear for song. "Corazon", which you can listen to at their site, is good - but "The Bullet and Big D", for which you need to pay yr measly $5, is even better. Go on then - there are only 1000 to be had.

Posted by Sean at 7:46 PM | Comments (4)

Right to Left

Lylas - "Darling Do You?"

'Muted' and 'naturalistic' are two adjectives that immediately jump out at me. Not so immediately, but just as vividly, 'off-kilter' and 'Smile-ish' make themselves felt. ‘Sweet and sour’ is probably more clearly embodied in certain soups or sauces, but is not entirely out of place here. Adjectives that don’t present themselves to me as I listen include (but are not limited to): ‘courteous,’ ‘tardy,’ and ‘sylvan.’

'Banjo,' 'pedal steel,' and 'snare drum' are nouns. 'Sing' is a verb. 'Whistle' is a noun and a verb. So is 'boogie'. [Info]


Roscoe Holcomb - "Little Maggie"

Imagine, if you can, how breathtaking it would have been to hear this music in its natural habitat. To hear Roscoe Holcomb's wail and pick bouncing off the green appalachian hillside. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 2:31 PM | Comments (1)

February 7, 2006

i loved you first / i loved you first

Regina Spektor - "Samson". So I went to see Ms Spektor last week, urged by a friend, and I knew next to nothing going in - a smidge, a smidgen; a peck, a kiss. I'll say it simple: I was dazzled. She was an artist of astonishing confidence, of deserving confidence, who despite her cold sang high and low, joked and cursed and lullabyed. I can't remember the last time I saw a performer who held such a fine conversation with the audience; a conversation made up of choruses and cadences, applause and laughter, eye contact and wide-mouthed grins. Who would swagger ballsy into a song, a mouthful of nonsense, knowing exactly how to lead it into tenderness and hush. I was hanging on every word - like an infatuated fool, a hooked fish.

I've spent the past week trying to find the same sparkle in her recorded material. I must admit that I've not had remarkable success. While her songs are sound, the strut and whimsy intact, something's missing in many of these recordings. The CD manufacturers were unable to catch the flash of her brown eyes. So it goes.

But there are exceptions, friends. "Samson" is one of these.

A piano ballad, yes, but one that's too oblique to just melt on your tongue. Instead it sits there like a pebble. Careful if you swallow it. Careful.

For a short time as a kid I was haunted by the story of Samson, I think mostly because of a depiction of Delilah that I saw in some bible-story comic book. She was very pretty, yes, but there was an evil in her dark eyes and plucked eyebrows. Forget the Ice Queen, forget Cruella Deville - it was this, the traitorous girlfriend, the lover who isn't - that terrified me.

Now, however, how willingly I give myself to her. In Regina's hands, the story is inverted. Delilah's lilting, dangerous name is never spoken. Samson goes to her willingly, tenderly. "You are my sweetest downfall," he says, looking into her brown eyes, at her red, red hair. He goes to her willingly, presents his head, and as she snips there's a new future unfurling. No collapsing columns, no fable to terrify poor little Sean; just lovers in a bed, limbs entwined, and a dawn that can stretch on forever.

[buy Songs]


The Isles - "Eve of the Battle". When the boys from Interpol (the band, not the agency) wake up and go into their walk-in wardrobes, trying to choose a suit to wear, a song comes on the radio. It's a little distant, a little faraway, on the other side of the wardrobe door. But the boys from Interpol sing along, coming up with some fun and lazy lyrics to this fun and lazy guitar-pop beat. They're really getting into it as they try on neckties and dress-shirts. One of them tries a bit of handclaps. They grin into their mirrors. They remember the chorus and sing that. "Yeah," they think, tying the double Windsor.

Each one of them arrives to the studio with every intention of sharing the song they've come up with, but as they see the others arrive, everyone in suit and tie; as they remember the moody muddle that Interpol records are supposed to be; they let that pop song flutter away. This is no time for something like that.

But on the bright side someone else is walking down the NYC streets, scarf wrapped around his neck, and in comes that song, jerking-and-jangling, and it gets caught in this fellow's hair. His pal notices it there: "What's this?" And they start a band.

[buy stuff by The Isles]


Last night? Clap Your Hands Say Mediocre. Could you at least have tried, fellows?



After hearing Lajko Felix's "Etno Camp" at this blog, Ajit Anthony Prem went and cut a trailer for his short film, Dear Stranger, using guess-what as its score. The trailer looks every bit as sensuous as it ought to. Go see.

After a month's absence, Moebius Rex has returned with two terrific posts. Unmissable is the song that goes by the mouthful
James Murphy & Munk "Kick Out The Chairs (WhoMadeWho replay)"
. A sweeter pop-song than anything on the LCD Soundsystem LP (or singles!), Murphy struttin' like Charles Wright, organic funk with a chorus like fruit salad on a greygloomy Monday.


Cat Power contest

A little over a week ago, I announced a contest for a copy of the new Cat Power album, The Greatest. The terms of the contest were that you had to submit two lines of lyrics for an imaginary song called "Bluebird Liquor and Black Crow Wine".

The response was amazing. We received well over a hundred entries, a remarkably high proportion of which I would love to hear in song. Sadly, for the moment, I must but imagine.

I enquired with the generous folks at Matador Records, and they have agreed to send out Cat Power posters to three runners' up.

Unfortunately, tonight there also comes the news that Chan Marshall has cancelled her US tour due to "health reasons". Matador is tight-lipped on the details, but Chan being Chan, I worry. Said the Gramophone hopes you get better soon, soon, soon. Be well.

But, yes, the contest winners. Without further ado -

"Blubird Liquor and Black Crow Wine"

First Prize (Cat Power - The Greatest [deluxe edition])
and we spun and we cried 'neath the oak and old pine
till the bluebirds bled brandy, and the black crows, sweet wine

by Yoshi

First Runner-up (Cat Power poster)
you can't farm sorrow, as dry as a bone
it gets stuck in your boots on the long walk home

by Merchant Marine

Second Runner-up (Cat Power poster)
we'll murder that bottle of blood-bellied drop,
and passion will steel us til pause turns to stop.

by Tim Byron

Third Runner-up (Cat Power poster)
We spent all summer in a run-down mine
Making bluebird liquor and a black crow wine

by Red Ruin

Fourth Runner-up (my applause!)
Lilac and moss shrouded our faces
Drunken and slurred, I undid her laces.

by Jeff

Fifth Runner-up (a dozen dozen tipping-of-hats)
Drunk on the poison that floats in the air
Her feathered robe's torn, there's smoke in her hair

by jane

Congratulations to the winners and thank you for all of the marvellous submissions. If anyone decides they want to draw upon this bounty to record a song, do let me know.

You can buy The Greatest at the Matador Store.

(To view all of the submissions, click through below the fold on this entry.)

"That Ole Bluebird Liquor spoke and told me you were mine,
Guess I should'na barfed up the Black Crow Wine."

One stone, two birds, one better than the other.
Both fall, down the wall, down the hatch flying southern.

Been dyin' from the Bluebird Liquor,
Black Crow wine just makin' me sicker.

I saw my honey at the five and dime
But she said "Buddy you're wasting your time."

The black bird and the bluebird bottled,
together all these troubles throttled.

Jesus was a rednecked Indian sinner/by the time he was through with me
And if you've ever been to Gary, Indiana/then you know about the Land of the Free

A hiss, a lisp, a blackened prayer
I washed the moon out of my hair

watching through glass bottle bones he's found no enemies
just fragrant, tangled stalks of his jostling memories

Twisting, swirling, drunk - hiding in plain view
Flailing through this field –trying to find you

My mirror girl, she's Lewis Carroll reincarnated
Moon babbled it to me when we were in the car naked

On toasty quills and clover stills where groggy flyers climb,
The moon is shining as it swells and sips the air of time....

She said, you look different when the shine wears off
but I can still love you through the forest frost

we'll murder that bottle of blood-bellied drop,
and passion will steel us til pause turns to stop.

Out of the brier and off the vine
Comes Bluebird Liquor and Black Crow Wine

Bored and broke with prom pictures in my head
Pour me a potion to free the things I should've said

I tried to reach by mail
But, they said you went to jail

wings scratch my throat, I wonder which is the acider and which is the baser
the bluebird jabs down, loses a feather, so I follow it with a black crow chaser

I tell you all of my stories and you don't seem to mind
We'll dance after dinner if you'll spare the time

fly into the bottle like you're flying into power lines.
wings were made for singers who have lived and died in pines.

summers lost through an alcoholics lust
smiles rain down and turned his dreams into rust

Riding high on the wings of inebriation
Falling deeper into a world of intoxication.

Chase a shot of Bluebird Liquor with a bottle of Black Crow Wine,
Celebrate that you’ve gone and I’m feeling just fine.

Diaphragm choking on the drip grey
...the syllable that squandered the matinee

Lilac and moss shrouded our faces
Drunken and slurred, I undid her laces.

They saved the bluebird liquor for that fraud Herr Frankenstein,
While Igor, and the monster, and I swill black crow wine.

rising rasping birdsong in this glass somehow--
here's one for tomorrow, and one for now.

The bluebird liquor went down the fastest,
but the black crow wine made night the blackest.

Bluebird crying sounds like an ocean's break
Blackbird breathes just for breathing's sake

the stickier the liquor
the finer the whine-uor

...og mér mun ekki líka gjörðir mínar sveittur
þegar ég vakna á morgun, hlandblautur og þreyttur


Two for a bruise and none of a kind
Booze by his words matched the slack of her mind

Methinks the crow knows too much, the bluebird
doesn't stand a chance.
all he can do is sing and dance...

It was not my love of ornithology
That led to Friday night's apology...

When I slam back this concoction it goes right down to my spine,
but to bring myself together I just might have to bump a line

Swinging slowly in time with the laughing beat
i lifted the bottle and both of my feet

Acataleptic syntax rifles like wind through my hair
rhythm grounds the meaning and my feet in the air

Me and epsilon over three /
are drinking incoherently.

We found them drowned in barrels; their wings bound with twine
In the woods behind the water tower, the crescent sickle shines

The battle was lost on a liquor world tour
when it failed in Europe cause they hated liqueur

I flew off, lifted by its vapours
Far from my troubles, on the wing of a liquor

"CAW!" the old bird cried, as I crushed the grapes between my feet /
Cobalt juice to be distilled, aged then served -- but only ever neat.

Heady perfumes permeate the love-drunk air;
Twilight falling as bluebirds and black crows fix their gaze in a bittersweet stare.

Red beak told the dream and said,
"Drink its song. The bird is dead."

Only two reasons birds drink booze
Beaks you win; tails you lose

That hawk you caught, it ran off with our favorite turquoise cuff
And so I dreamt to take revenge on all: get out the old bathtub

Blood red earth and a blackbird sky
Bluebird whispers, it don't know why

You looked like you been twisted for a day if not a week
Instead of smoke, when we kissed, I could only taste his beak

This will take more than just one drink.
There ain't enough liquor to let her know what I think.

Drank, Drunk, Drink
Alcohol and liquor, can't stand the stink

Yes, feathers everywhere: starts in the ears;
Down the back like an ink-blot, catching the beers...

He's wearing birds for beards and a glint in his eye;
a dynamic twist on wanting to die...

'Pulled herself out the floor, said "You all smell of brine -
now lend me twelve farthings for bible-black wine..."'

there were birds in my mind there was nothing I said
she just drank the thounghs up right out of my head

The gurglings of my old man's bluebird still,
Twisted copper tubes creakin' crow's songs over foggy Johnson's hill.

You had no reason and you had no right
But you had enough drink for one night

Drip drops the feathers and I’m caught in tumbles
Treehouse that fell my wine sold in numbers.

my favorite pub, this winter night, him hunched over his wine.
I took a breath and said hello, the pleasure is all mine.

somedays the sky fills up with everything that's passed us by,
and I play drinking games with every bird that sounds its cry

I dont think I can make such bird juice
but with cat power I should not lose

Bird-drained whiskey works twice the quicker,
But bruises and bone-aches need two drinks thicker.

Drunk on the poison that floats in the air
Her feathered robe's torn, there's smoke in her hair

ain't got much to crow about
the change in the couch don't even count

the raven, that villain, with mawkish propriety,
obsequious, pallid did quoth - "no sobriety"

The bird died even so. The bird died even so.
The wasted empty bottle fell discarded to the floor.

The Riddler spoke of motion as intelligent fire-but no measure of mine
Could prevent the blue nail polish shards that dipped in black crow wine.

i was drinkin' all night almost got in a fight
But by dawns light everything seemed alright

A Cranberry Apple curved slightly at the tip
was a suitable space for a Black Crow to sit

But the phyche of the Bluebird was external.
encountering and distorting the deranged and delusional.

Hold me, shaken soul of mine.
What started out so pretty, now my deadly crime.

Go right ahead but I don't think you're able,
Cuz these two birds'll put ya under the table.

I met a raven-haired girl with a crow on her sweater,
Over the shirt is *nice*, BUT.. underneath is much better.

Inky frantic feathers in a window montage,
She left me on the bed by her discarded corsage.

you can't farm sorrow, as dry as a bone
it gets stuck in your boots on the long walk home

i flushed my tired tainted intelligent design
with a case of bluebird liquor and blackcrow wine

We shed our feathers in your cellar drowned in Black Crow County wine,
While the bluejays sang the weather our innocence slowly died.

the bluebird liquor went down the fastest,
but the black crow wine made night the blackest.

Driftwood rickshaw rubs over frozenmud,
Cellar lamps throw shadows like spilled blood.

I promise to be here tomorrow to see off the black crow that keeps you awake,
The fear that you feel is as right as it's real but the bluebird is easy to shake!

Cardinal Rum, Sparrow Beer, and Finch Tequila are all fine
But nothing compares to Bluebird Liquor and Black Crow Wine

drunk on the trees, whispering your name
neck stretched on this rope, i claw at my pain

in his drink induced stupour the bad haired barber
slipped on crows feet through the ashen faced harbour

Whilst the Bluebird drank her liquor, and the Black Crow drunk his wine
The Green Finch sipped from the absinthe bottle and lo' his eyes did shine

The drugged river follows you down through the hills
Snake saints and coiled guns lay in wait at the stills

In far valley away stand the giants with liqueur
Invite you in for the night, stay for twenty years or more

the blurbird liquor stole his mind;
he said "I'll get her back with this Black Crow Wine"

The essence of aviarian delight
aged with wings soaring in flight.

the smile sitting on my window sill
has nothing on the brew is in my basement still

never was green-faced sicker with blackout blinds
can't remember your touch but this drink reminds

under the influenza too thrushed to walk or to drive
gonna have to wing it this time if I want to get home alive

Tom Tit said I better leave it alone
but a little birdie told me there was nobody home

I can wish and can beg and can fight for that moment to stay,
but the bird is out of the bottle and she's flown away,

You got your tastes and I got mine
We're sky-high drunk all of the time

Your favorite song, forgot. That daydream god is raw...
Or is he a dog? His feathered mouthful snatched your unflown thought.

I went pirate for to stay
on seas filled to keep me at bay.

Under the apple, a bird on its back,
stuck in red meat, those beak points black.

we slapped and wrestled all night
no one won the sexual frustration fight

that bottle at your feet
has never tasted so sweet.

when there's something interceptin' on the telephone line
babah's paddin' out his bed things with wet paper and pine

Down in the holler where my sweetheart bides
My face in the mud, coughin' up my insides

She says we can't marry and no I can't kiss her
So gone are the nights when I'll lie with my sister

I'll wash down my sorrow with pleasures refined
Like bluebird liquor and black crow wine

"drown my sins in bathtub gin,"
prays the weak, above the din.

my dream, my liquor,thank you blurbird
my awaking, my wine, crow you blackbird

black crow wine, it comes from the hills
bluebird liquor, it comes from the mills

When we took to the sky we gave up the pleasure of ground/
Not a loss, just a trade, floating azure for standing brown.

The bird whispered I know what your thinkin',
Maybe it was me but I know I'd been drinkin'

Blurbird liqour and Black Crown Wine,
Bundled in wicker and golden twine.

Always drives me out of my mind, that
Blurbird liquor and Black Crow wine.

Drink of the bluebird til morning comes,
Yum Yum Yum, Cannibalism!

Biotech chef's beverage menu free prize
64 oz. with purchase of cuckoo fries

Go, drink the potion, sip the flame,
To understand that you are the same.

I was so sick I drank the wine,
I couldnt see but I was fine

She was looking fine after Black Crow Wine,
but the Bluebird Liquor got her in my bed quicker.

she sipped till she shimmered, till her soul fit to shine
and to wit whispered "hither" and collapsed into mine

and we spun and we cried 'neath the oak and old pine
till the bluebirds bled brandy, and the black crows, sweet wine

Raven haired and fair, sipping cabernet,
shy smiles to hide a heart of cold dismay

ashplant lover on the deepening night,
your eyelash flicker in the breath of black light.

Drown your minions, surrender the crush
Paint your mirrors with that old toothbrush.

Walking down the street again with my good old friends
bottles clanking, feet dusty, grins never end

I prefered Bluebirds, and she prefered Crows,
But crows are superior, as everyone knows.

We spent all summer in a run-down mine
Making bluebird liquor and a black crow wine

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

February 6, 2006

Who Do I Treat Worse: You or Me?

MGMT - "Time To Pretend" (4:29)

I saw these guys open for Of Montreal and they sucked. But when I saw the name of their cd, Time To Pretend, I thought it was so honest of them. They don't play instruments (literally, a guitar hung from strings and they strummed it with a drumstick), they can't really sing, they just want to be cool, so they buckle down and start pretending. And it's only fitting that the song of the same name, the only good song on the disc, is actually quite fun to listen to. So pretending is being, and everyone's wrong about being right. The Wizard of Oz reminds us that we're all fakers in some way, and MGMT reminds us that if you're willing to pay, you can have it. [Buy]

Karl Blau - "Crashing Waves" (7:28)

I feel so welcomed when this song begins, like I belong here. It's as if the song were made of older kids that were going to protect me, because I'm suddenly very young again. I feel so safe that we can all take a nap, while someone goes on a car trip to pick up the horns, and the songs starts again once the horns arrive back at camp. We're either going fishing tomorrow, or playing Frustration, depending on whether or not it rains. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 1:00 AM | Comments (17)

February 2, 2006

rahat lokum

Bülent Ortaçgil - "Suna Abla". In 1973 and early 1974, Nick Drake was alive. In Turkey, Bülent Ortaçgil was alive too. Drake visited France, he visited Milan. Ortaçgil recorded Benimle Oynar Mýsýn. They didn't meet, I don't think. But I like to imagine that Nick changes his plans, that he and Françoise Hardy altered course en route from Bologna. That they made a quiet, secret trip. It looks so difficult, there on the map - by boat from Italy to Greece to Turkey, or by road through the Iron Curtain, through a mess of Eastern European countries. But Nick coulda done it. He could have rented a baby blue car, driven with the windows down, long hours of happiness, his friend Françoise sitting next to him, she singing "Northern Sky" and he smiling at the silliness of it, smiling and driving.

And imagine they make it. They arrive in Istanbul. Françoise has heard about this folk club, down near the university. So they drop in and meet the owner. He's pretty hip, with a long moustache and thick-frame glasses. He serves them a strong tea in small cups. He speaks english pretty good. They ask about music and he says: "Oh-yes, oh-yes. There is music here. Tomorrow night. There is open mic." And they grin at this, Nick and Françoise, at the idea of an open mic in Istanbul. They walk through the streets that evening, smelling smells, seeing mangy cats on old stone walls. In the morning they are woken, in separate rooms, by the muezzin's call to prayer. They walk around, to the market. Nick Drake buys a handful of cardamom pods, just to hold in his hand and smell, till he finally lets them fall off and into the breeze.

When night falls they go back to the club. They are excited, buzzing in their bones, giddy with the feeling of a new city - with the room full of strangers singing songs.

Nick decides to play. He's one of the first and he shuffles bashfully to the stage, taking the offered guitar. Françoise claps heartily. He clears his throat and he plays "Which Will". And he's no more than a few lines in when already there are some murmurs in the room. There are exclamations of surprise, whispers. Nick is not used to having his songs recognised and for a moment he misunderstands, thinking he's offended them in some way. But then he sees the nodding faces; the handful of them that are singing along, under their breath. Some of them know him. Nick's always wanted to be famous, always wanted to have people sing along, but no not here on this day of strangers, on this night in Istanbul. He finishes the song but his face is downturned, hair over his eyes, and he is quiet when he goes back down to sit with his friend and sip his tea. Someone offers them a hookah and he says "No, no," turning away into the shade.

Bülent is next. They all know him there. The Turks clap for their friend. He nods to them. "Thank-you," he says, in turkish. Then he turns to Nick and Françoise. "Welcome," he says to them. Françoise smiles, "Teßekkür ederim," she says, clumsily. Nick says nothing. Then Bülent Ortaçgil plays.

He plays "Suna Abla". He plays it tenderly, carefully, but also gladly: he takes pleasure in the chorus and especially the short syllables at its end. His girlfriend's there on stage, hands held behind her back, relaxed as she sings. "La da-da," they go. Bülent's thinking of Five Leaves Left, which he loves so much, and there's Nick Drake in front of him, Nick Drake hunched over, staring at his fingers. Bülent Ortaçgil sings in turkish but he sings for anyone who will listen; anyone who knows dawns, dusks, entre chien et loup.

Six months later, Nick Drake is dead.

(And Bülent is still performing.)

(Thank you Dylan.)

[buy Benimle Oynar Misin]


The Knife - "Heartbeats (OneMusic Session)". The Knife, twice in one week?! Why yes. A year ago, The Knife played on BBC's One Music, and on the show they performed "Heartbeats". It's a strange version, so much heavier than the pinball fizzing of the original, like all of the song's joy has been sunk deep deep in the ocean, where only anchors can trawl. While the synth-lines still run up and down, a voice twisted up in itself, it reminds me more of José González's acoustic cover than of The Knife's original take - they're both tugging the same threads from the song, pulling till there's nothing left in their hands. It's a song for a love dead and buried; yeah, for something drowned.

[pre-order Silent Shout (where this does not appear) / buy Deep Cuts, where "Heartbeats" originally appears / buy José González's Veneer]


Dave at Popsheep has posted some lovely tracks by Colin Blunstone, which he says reminds him of Final Fantasy, but there's a ton of Joao Gilberto there, too.

My friend Steph is selling a bunch of funky valentines she designed. I choo-choo-choose you.

Winner of the Cat Power contest to be announced next week. Wonderful submissions (and lots more by email, too). Go a-browsing.

Posted by Sean at 6:41 PM | Comments (22)

Said the Guests (2): Kit Malo with Alden Penner

We find here Part Two of the collaboration between artist Kit Malo and musician Alden Penner, formerly of The Unicorns. For Part One - and an introduction to the material, - click here.

Of the four pieces submitted by Kit and Alden, "Opening Door" is the one that most makes me stammer. I listen to its thirty-one seconds of sounds (fingers on guitarstrings, fingers on bass strings), stare into Kit's drawing, and find oh such a promise: that what's cherished can last forever, that what's together can also be separate, that gentleness can be love, that doors will keep opening.

Oh my words are so clumsy, late at night. Forget me: look, listen.

Thank you Alden. Thank you Kit. -- Sean

Alden Penner - "Opening Door"
Kit Malo - "Opening Door" (click for full size)

Alden Penner - "Take Up Thy Pen"
Kit Malo - "Take Up Thy Pen" (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 (6)

February 1, 2006

As Much As I Don't Like To Fly

Young and Sexy - "Conventional Lullabies"

I try to time my breakfast so that I finish my eggs, toast, and hashbrowns all at the same time. Like some kind of breakfast tax collector, I visit every home in the area (the egg home, the toast home, and the potato home) and take my due. Eventually on the last day of the year (the end of my breakfast) all the homes will be taxed to death. This song is equally tidy, nothing is left behind; each promise will be equally filled before we're gone for good. [cd release Feb. 23rd]

The Kevins - "My First Glass of Champagne"

It's weird 'cause I know a Kevin just like this. Honest lies and all. It sounds like Jason Schwartzman as a guest on the Titanic. [site]


woah, Matthew Friedberger is doing two solo albums. yes.

See below for Amazing Alden Penner and Kit Malo guest post (more tomorrow!), and below that for one of Jordan's best sentences to date.

Posted by Dan at 3:09 AM | Comments (1)