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.

October 31, 2006


White Flight is Justin Roelofs is a former member of The Anniversary, a band I've vaguely heard of. The album comes in a beautiful austere-splendid fold-out, all white and rainbows. And it sounds amazing: that electrifying combination of familiar influences and a genuinely fresh sound, something that staggers and leaps to exactly the dreamlands it wants to. This is music from Kansas (!), the press release attests, and it's almost impossible to believe. Much easier to hear the hallucinogenic Oz of Roelofs' visit to Guatemala - the way colours shook his head slanted then straight.

"Deathhands" begins as a swampland of noise, organ, DJ Shadow-style drum breaks. But alongside the brokenfaced weirdness of, say, Frog Eyes, White Flight shows all the singsongy play of The Unicorns (for sure) and early Beck. Raps mixed with yells, stumbles with melodica. If you're in a boat, you're gonna get surf in the face. If you're on a dance-floor, you're gonna slip into a flip, impress all the girls.

"Song for Augustine Pt. 2" is the plainer thing, the pretty-creeping acoustic song that albums like this always need to have. At the end of the track you hear some of the swirl of what's to come, but I love how Roelofs keeps this a secret: there's no 'underlying churn' to the rest of the song. There's just a dozy, doozy, almost Devendra Banhart ditty: psychedelia rendered in different shades of desert-gold.

White Flight is the debut release of Range Life Records, and yeah it is the kind of album that inspires you to start a label. Go go go go go buy it (downloadable is only $7.49) - this is one of the year's best new bands. (MySpace/MfR likes it too)

Posted by Sean at 4:26 AM | Comments (2)

October 30, 2006

I'll Be Punished

Pulp - "Pink Glove (Peel Session)"
the day's work


Of Montreal - "Requiem for O.M.M.2. (Daytrotter Session)"

NOTE: sample triangle will not work for this song. please visit the link to hear it.

This reminds me of hearing Fiery Furnaces acoustic stuff, where the simplicity and strength of the melodies come up to the surface like pulling a house out of a lake. Woah, that was down there? Of course! What did you think the fish were living in?

[the last time I wrote about this song]

Posted by Dan at 3:32 AM | Comments (7)

October 27, 2006

Ah! the Corner! Good One.

Matt & Kim - "Yea Yeah"

I've brought the cast of Annie in today to sing you guys their "marching band" song. Daddy (Warbucks) comes in for the verses, but the chorus is all urchin, gamin, and trash. [Buy]


Cadence Weapon - "Lisa's Spider"

I saw Cadence Weapon at Pop Montreal with Matty P. and KK, and it was a rumbling, throttling show, that pulled my lapels (and I was in a t-shirt) and bounced me up and down on the linoleum of the second-floor club. I got pretty scared halfway through when I literally felt the floor start to sag beneath my feet. That feeling of giving way is in this song; it's constantly about the burst open, like waking up 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 2 minutes before your alarm. But it counts down and says "wait.." for the entire 2:31, and then lifts its hand and says "see, there you go" with the best metaphor about art I've heard in a long time. [Buy Breaking Kayfabe]

Posted by Dan at 3:10 AM | Comments (1)

October 26, 2006

rasmussen says

Bowerbirds - "In Our Talons". Danger at Sea is the exceptional debut EP by Raleigh NC's Bowerbirds - a duo that roosts on fire-escapes, on garden paths and in holey sailing ships. Maybe in cherry trees, where all the cherries have already been eaten. "In Our Talons" is accordion and guitar, bass drum boom, voices twinned like wood and bark. Dee-da-dee da-da dee. So far away from the bloodless parade of The Decemberists: Bowerbirds have chirp and croak, true melancholy and truer hope, and the liberty with which they swing their drums reminds me of The Diskettes more than anyone else. Pop music that doesn't flinch at the first sign of storm: something to keep in your nets, your lockets, the flask over your heart.

Danger at Sea is hand-made and out now. It is very highly recommended. Buy a copy while you still can ($10!): we'll be hearing a lot more about this band.


Jason Molina - "Let Me Go Let Me Go Let Me Go". Human beings are off balance. Hearts on the left side - and what on the right to balance it out? Nothing. Liver? Kidneys? Nothing perfect. We are off balance. It is no wonder our hearts tip us over.

Our hearts live in the dark. They never see the light of day - not unless there is some horror accident, some ultimate autopsy. Our hearts would wither in daylight. We keep them hidden.

I see a sign by a long set of stairs and the sign advises caution for those with heart problems. At moments like this, what does the person with the other heart problems do? Do they trust that the sign refers only to weak blood pressure, heart disease, pacemakers - and climb? Or do they stay below? Standing in their shoes at the base of the stairs. Feeling their broken heart in their chests. Wondering if at the top of these steps there is an orchid in the shape of their true love's face.

Jason Molina usually works behind the curtain of Songs:Ohia or Magnolia Electric Company. He is one of my favourite singers. "Let Me Go Let Me Go Let Me Go" is by an album of the same name, released this year. The record is one of Molina's finest works. (The others are Axxess & Ace and Magnolia Electric Co.) It was recorded in the dark. And off-balance.

Molina takes drum machine, organ, voice, and plays an electric guitar that sounds, distorted and ozone arctic green, like the last puffs of the dying, dying, dying northern lights.



rbally announced this week that they are calling it quits. For some time now it has been the best mp3blog for high-quality, noteworthy concert bootlegs, and it is a great pity to see them go. Before it all disappears, you'd be well to go get (at the very least) the Cat Power gig on there now. Jennings calls it one of the "loneliest" shows he's ever heard. This is true - but listening to this version of "Sea of Love", I just want to slip into somebody's bed.

Gramofriend David Gooblar's new band, Gooblar, are playing two shows soon in London - headlining Thu 2 Nov. at 333, and then Fri 17 Nov. at The Wilmington. I wrote about his song "Uh-Oh" a few months ago, and they're sure to play it. See a live version of "Uh-Oh" from a previous gig, over at YouTube. Londoners, do go.


Sean's favourite colour for a leaf: blue.

Posted by Sean at 4:05 AM | Comments (9)

October 25, 2006

Said the Guests: Daria Tessler

We came across Daria Tessler at a small shop/gallery in Edinburgh. In her prints, spirits stalked forests, trees grew from boats and flatbed trucks. I thought I could hear raining, on that sunny day, and that is always a good sign that you are on to something.

Daria lives in Brooklyn. She loves music, and she loves to make pictures. She whipped these drawings up within days of being invited, and from what I understand all the music was listened to via the cricklycrack of a vinyl turntable. Her musical choices are disparate, sparking, full of life. So are her images.

Over at Daria's website you can buy prints, books, custom painted shoes, t-shirts, and even some remarkably prescient gramophone stationery. So do.

Thank-you Daria. Please tell her what you think! - Sean

Gary Burton - "Some Dirge"
Daria Tessler - "Halibut Passing" (click for full size) (buy Gary Burton's A Genuine Tong Funeral)

Sun Ra - "Pyramids"
Daria Tessler - "Cloud Jelly" (click for full size) (buy Sun Ra's Solar Myth Approach, Vols. 1-2)

Hella - "1-800-GHOST-DANCE"
Daria Tessler - "Birds and Beasts" (click for full size) (buy Hella's Hold Your Horse Is)

[Daria Tessler lives in Brooklyn. This is her website, where many works are for sale. A couple of Daria's prints are in a show on right now at Giant Robot SF, but she is most excited about starting a Mix Of The Month CD Trade - swapping mix CDs with custom art.]

(Previous guest-blogs: Clem Snide, Marcello Carlin, Beirut, Jonathan Lethem, Will Butler (Arcade Fire), Al Kratina, Eugene Mirman, artist Dave Bailey, Agent Simple, artist Keith Andrew Shore, Owen Ashworth (Casiotone for the Painfully Alone), artist Kit Malo with Alden Penner (The Unicorns) 1 2, artist Rachell Sumpter, artist Katy Horan 1 2, 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 4:00 AM | Comments (4)

October 24, 2006

It's Still Going On

The Tragically Hip - "In View"

I've only heard this song twice. First time in winter, in a wet minivan, getting carpooled home from a ski trip, and we were all listening to the radio softly. Havre's mom's hair was hanging unnaturally over the back of the driver's seat, and I looked at it the whole time. Plus, Havre had just said "shit" accidentally a few minutes before, so things were a bit settled into silence. The next time I heard it was that summer, at the concert, when everybody started jumping when they played it. I didn't jump, but I did turn around and look out at the dark distance. I saw a plume of smoke, the concession tents, and the path to the parking lot with trees like curtains. Two older kids were making out, and an older couple standing so far back, just smiled and kind of swayed. When it was over, we went home, and on the way we heard Queen on the radio. [Buy]

Crayon Resist - "James"

The next day, I went even further backward in time. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 2:53 AM | Comments (2)

October 20, 2006


Jennifer O'Connor - "Tonight We Ride".

Pavement - "Secret Knowledge of Back Roads" (live at the Cat's Cradle, 9/11/92).

There's just a whole lot of sky.

Buy Jennifer O'Connor's new album. Buy records by Pavement and The Silver Jews (who first performed this song).

Have a good weekend.

Posted by Sean at 4:00 AM | Comments (2)

October 19, 2006

We Need To Talk

The Winks - "Nolan Ryan"

a certain fruit fly is not slave, for whatever, while possibly interesting, unfortunately not necessary to know, reason, needs not abide by the rule of inertia. Or rather, abides only by it. This fruit fly, understand, is unstoppable. Every path it flies, it disrupts the matter in its way, nothing in the universe can resist its movement. Of course it would wreak havoc on the fruit on your counter, hold out no hope of having that clementine, that plum. But furthermore, think of park benches and church pews, you would look at the old wood and see the paths the worms took; those squiggly, turny roads. This fly's whole life would be this, through cars, and purses, and unlucky children's dirty hair. Buses speed through it, and the fly wipes out 30 people at once. A sleeping supply teacher, twitching her nose, loses it clean off her face. Some would say, "But how then, without resistance, could this fly even fly?" To which I can only say, "You want to find out? It'll be the last thing you see." [Buy]


I'm in a new weekly comedy show at Theatre Ste. Catherine. 264 ste. catherine east, Fridays at 11PM, 5$. Anyone who says "Dan Beirne is a tasty dish" at the door this week gets a 2-for-1.

Posted by Dan at 3:54 AM | Comments (3)

October 18, 2006

The Oneness

1. Mahmoud's Philosophy: Monism

This is what I think: that Mahmoud Ahmed and Bobby Patterson are brothers. It goes without saying, of course, that Mahmoud is older, that Bobby idolizes him, that Mahmoud is in his second year of college, that Bobby is in his junior year of high school, that Mahmoud studies philosophy, that Bobby plans to study philosophy (though he doesn't know what it is). It's probably the case that after Mahmoud's first semester, he returned home to Philly for the first time since he left to study in Addis Ababa. It's certainly the case that he tried to explain to Bobby the concept of monism.

"There is only one thing," Mahmoud instructed. "Everything that you view as distinct from something else, is in fact identical to that thing and everything else."

Bobby: Wait a minute... What about mom and dad?
Mahmoud: The same.
Bobby: The United Nations headquarters and the fattest cat in the world?
Mahmoud: (holding up three fingers) How many fingers am I holding up?
Bobby: Three!
Mahmoud: Not even close, man.
Bobby: But...

Once Bobby understood and everyone had opened their Christmas presents, Mahmoud returned to Ethiopia. Bobby went back to school and told all of his teachers and classmates about his brother and his wonderful idea. Almost all of them immediately recognized the obvious truth of monism, and only a few skeptical cohorts asked questions like:

"But what of lice and concepts? Surely these are separate?"

Or "Isn't a Michigan sandwich something other than the Brandenburg Concertos?"

To which Bobby would reply, "I'll ask my brother and get back to you tomorrow." And the next day: "Mahmoud assures me that lice, concepts, a Michigan sandwich, and the Brandenburg Concertos are all one thing."


2. Mahmoud's Music: Soul

After his first year, Mahmoud came home for the summer. He brought his band with him. Every night after dinner, Mahmoud and the band would set up their gear in the Ahmed-Patterson backyard and serenade the family with a rendition of "Tezeta." No matter how many times Bobby heard the song, he never tired of it. In fact, it seemed to him that each night's performance was significantly hotter than the previous night's. The bass always bored deeper, the organ grew ever more lively, the guitar more romantic, the vocals more fluid, and the glorious flute more... Until the intertwining pentatonic runs became so seamless that it rendered the individual parts indistinguishable from one another. By the end of the summer, Bobby could hear the song only as a whole. The various instruments, the late summer's breeze, the moonlight: all were one.

Bobby decided then that he would form a band of his own. After all, even though it probably wouldn't be as good as Mahmoud's, it would in some sense be exactly the same.

Bobby Patterson - "If I Didn't Have You"

[Buy Mahmoud, Bobby]

Posted by Jordan at 5:52 AM | Comments (7)

October 17, 2006


PAS/CAL - "Little Red Radio". The band's from Detroit and they sing of Christmas-time, so I can only assume that Detroit Christmases are full of blooming daisies, bounding ponies, picnics that turn into dance parties - everyone doing the twist on the red check blanket. "Little Red Radio" is a pop song of exquisite oomph, a dozen riffs arranged in starbursts on a plate. There's a touch of Of Montreal and mid-period Sloan, but mostly it's fuzz bass and organ, falsetto and overdubs, galloping drums. "Little Red Radio" is about as relentless as the New Pornographers, but whereas that band's like one long (glad) punch to the gut, Pas/Cal is more of a punch to the mouth: they'll make your flace flower.

If this song were a business card, then the person handing it out would be entitled a) to lots of dates; b) to lots of jobs. I know that business cards don't usually score you dates but usually business cards don't have sweet choruses that you can sing along to in the car.

[The Dear Sir EP is out on November 11 - pre-order / more info (and 2 earlier EPs to buy)]

Kocani Orkestar - "Mi bori sar Korani". This Macedonian brass band have influenced Balkans-come-lately like Beirut or Hawk and a Hacksaw, but I think it's more important to imagine the lovers they've inspired. Because while I can imagine a man sitting glumly and listening to "Mi bori sar Korani", nodding his head solemnly to the accordion solo, it seems much more likely that a girl with pepper curls might swing round on a clatter of horns, taking her cue from the four-tubas-and-drums to ask the fellow for a dance. This is gypsy wedding music. While you listen to the croon and the hard sparkle of horns, imagine the picture the liner-notes paint: "On the second day [of the three day wedding!], everyone gathers round the bride's house. Women are allowed to drink alcohol so they do drink a lot. Men paint patterns on their faces with lipstick and tear each other's shirts. The torn shirts are then arranged into a big pile which is set on fire. The band plays, everyone dance [sic]."

So don't be fooled. While there's something sensible in the croon of this song's singer, it's the madness of the trumpets that is most relevant. Because while the tubas tuba and the drums drum and the accordion accordions - with skill that could only be inebriated - the women are drunk, the men made-up, the shirts on fire, and everyone- well, everyone dance.



Some interesting discussion continues in the comments of Eef Barzelay's guestpost, mostly relating to gangsta rap and cute indiekid covers thereof.

Posted by Sean at 4:20 AM | Comments (9)

October 16, 2006

Be Normal

I got this marvelous collection of Coyle and Sharpe pranks for my birthday from a dear friend. Having never heard of them before, they combine so many of the things I like so much about old comedy, that I'm quite amazed something so completely representative of my taste in this genre remained so unknown to me for so long. They are great, and we will start with an appropriate introduction; the first track on the first disc (of 4):

Coyle and Sharpe - "Grevenz"

These radio pranks shine and twinkle with an innocence and a simplicity that feels like the invention of a martial art. At first, at base, only the most slight and deliberate movements are necessary. And this would not work anywhere else. With only audio as a tool, this is the perfect prank. Plus, the guy's name is Stephen King.

This is also unlike a lot of their others, because in "Grevenz" they are two different men: one host and one hypnotist. For the majority of their pieces, they are just two men, essentially the same, barraging the individual with one constant and persistent idea. Take this one, for example:

Coyle and Sharpe - "Human Sugar Bowl"

Many of their pieces are based on Coyle and Sharpe being obscure scientists, with advancements in science that they feel compelled to share with a certain selection of the population. The second most amazing thing about these tracks (second to their positivity and benign approach) is how eloquent their victims are. Listen how quickly this man gets them to admit that this experiment would probably kill him, and how successful that is for the bit, how it challenges them in their focus. This is the sign of pranking in its purest form, where the interaction between fake and real makes the humour, when the audience (and the comedian) can say "yes, look at them fight!"

Coyle and Sharpe - "Crawfish Boat Shirt"

And here this idea flip-flops where Coyle and Sharpe almost let their victim confuse them. They let him do all the work, let him keep talking until he says something they like, and then they just say "fine, yeah, we're asking you to give us your shirt". And then the last most delightful thing about some of these pieces: their break-down and confession to the victim. Something understandably absent from more recent artists' work in the form, but an interesting relic, kind of silly, kind of nice. They really don't want to hurt anybody.

[Buy the marvelous set]

And hurting people has been the way pranking has been going, with some still delightful exceptions. Tom Green had a lot of innocent bits, which were by far his best (lying in one place so long people called an ambulance comes to mind), and though they employ almost strictly bewilderment, Tim and Eric are great, and while I feel it may not all be this way, I'm confident that Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat will have plenty of this; letting the weirdness come from without rather than within. But I'll let you know if I'm way wrong after seeing it.

Posted by Dan at 3:16 AM | Comments (7)

October 13, 2006

quietly into friday

Continental Divide - "The Days Fade, But He's Old". Sometimes I record music. Or at least I've been known to. Just silly little things, sometimes with a few friends but often just me toying with GarageBand in my room at 2am, yelling into my iBook's internal microphone. I love to have my headphones on, something playing, and me just singing for myself, yelling fuzzy, slipping off the beat, too loud or too quiet, like wine sloshing in a glass.

The boy at the head of Continental Divide sings in just this way; there's an organ that sounds like Sunset Rubdown's, drums surprisingly taut, but the greatest satisfaction is in the vocals' slip and buzz. The way it's so amateur it feels hand-sewn: a voice that knits knots.



Brave Radar - "Teton Ocean". A song of murmurs and then dawn's first fingers, more glow than light. It's easy to sing soft, sweet - to sound something like The Robot Ate Me, P:ano, The Microphones. The tricky bit is that glow. How to make a lamplight that won't bore the listener, that will keep on drawing them close. You need not just the right lamp, but the right lamp-lighters. The reason I'm posting this song is the triangle at 3:01, and then the clicks that are either a computer hiccuping, popcorn popping, chairs creaking, or a city's skies all full of fireworks as the sun's coming up.

[Brave Radar are from Sydney, Australia]


Chris Garneau-"Not Nice". I had finished writing this post, had uploaded the songs and everything, when the newsletter appeared in my mailbox from Cory at Absolutely Kosher. He didn't talk much about the album called Beast Moans (by Swan Lake, which is out on his label for sale in November, which I heard for the first time today, which is remarkable, which is so much more beautifully messy than I had even hoped, which is of course Wolf Parade's Spencer K and Frog Eyes' Carey M and Destroyer's Dan B). Instead he talked about a couple of new signings. One of them is this man, Chris Garneau. And Cory in his newsletter he shared an mp3 by Mr Garneau. And Sean in the cold of his Edinburgh patio, where he steals wireless internet because his home broadband isn't yet hooked up, heard a sound that he knew he wasn't going to shake.

By the time I'd listened twice I was pretty sure it was one of my favourite songs of the year.

That's a self-absorbed introduction for a song that is much more important tonight than I am. I mean it: forget me. Just turn off the lights. See what Chris Garneau heals with piano and peculiar elocution. Listen as he sings, tongue folded, like he's taking flowers from his mouth and arranging them on a plate. Orchid, chicory, bluebell, nightshade. This is the inverse of Antony (& the Johnsons). It's as if Garneau's been gathering songs like this, stillness and piano and cello, and he's been collecting all the gaps in these other peoples' tracks. And then with care, yes with pain, he makes his own song - a song made just of the gaps. Of the pauses that make something flicker instead of shine.

What a beautiful and sad song.

[pre-order Music for Tourists and get it ahead of its January release/ more info]

Posted by Sean at 4:10 AM | Comments (9)

October 12, 2006

Doing Time

Robert Pete Williams - "Prisoner's Talking Blues"

Game theorists, listen up! The prisoner's dilemma is not as you have it, but is, at least as described by Robert Pete Williams (a higher being than any of you), Hamlet's own. Williams wonders if he's better off alive or dead. Alive, he is sick, he is imprisoned, he is a burden to those of his family who still live, and is separated from those who are dead. Yet, being alive allows him to visit with his little kids, with his sister who is like a mother to him, and whom he loves. His parents are dead, and though he misses them, he feels they might be better off ignorant of his misdeeds and of his consequently unfortunate circumstances. If being human means, as some have suggested, that we are what we choose, then our personal potential is restricted by limitations on our physical freedom, and so Robert Pete Williams considers regaining his humanity by relinquishing it.

Williams talks and talks and talks. He talks so long, examines his predicament so thoroughly, that though he never states it explicitly, it becomes clear that his question is whether to be or not to be. He divides up his many words with serious, thoughtful breaths, meant to hold back the emotion from his consideration. He picks here and there at his guitar, playing something recognizable as blues, something lost underneath his words. He talks until you forget that he could communicate in any other way.

And then, more than three minutes into his song, he starts to sing. He sings of thoughts of suicide. It's barely different from his talking. And though he's merely making explicit what we already knew, his singing - so restrained, so gentle, so heavy that it sinks to the deep core of his trouble - reveals something new: his fear. He doesn't know what to do, he doesn't want to die, he wants to change, change while he's young, so that he may become old.

His guitar locks into an astonishing riff. As subtle as his singing, it has an equally devastating effect. Slow and circular, it anticipates the dry, eerie style of Malian blues guitarist Ali Farka Toure. Whereas Williams' singing communicates fear, the light drive of his guitar is a burgeoning resolve, an answer to his own cry for help. [Buy]


Washington Phillips - "Paul and Silas in Jail"

It is not known what instrument Washington Phillips used to make the otherworldly carnival sound that serves as a backdrop for his lullaby sermons. That's between Washington Phillips and god. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 7:49 AM | Comments (4)

October 11, 2006

Said the Guests: Clem Snide

Eef Barzelay is the maestro of Clem Snide, a band of folksy pop, rock, and wry suburban want. I'm an enormous fan of the band, particularly of Your Favourite Music and the more recent End of Love. The musicians are sensitive, skillful, and have scraped knuckles. They're prone to sudden bolts of joy, twangs that carry all the way down telephone wires. Eef's lyrics, meanwhile, like those of The Weakerthans' John K Samson or The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle, can be the sorts of things you'd want engraved over your door, or stitched into a welcome mat. Bitter, beautiful, cracked as black pepper.

My friend Ross told me he had been in touch with Eef for an interview, and the words were scarcely out of his mouth when I was asking if he thought I might be able to snare the feller for Said the Gramophone. It gave me such great pleasure when Eef agreed.

So here is Clem Snide's Eef Barzelay on the subject of two tunes he loves. Plus: indie guilt! Dr Dre! irony! race! Bush! Jesus! Teenage girls! All we need now is some saxophones.     --Sean

Ben Folds - "Bitches Ain't Shit". I think there is much that us white people can learn about ourselves if we reflect on this song and why Ben Folds is generally dismissed and sometimes loathed by the indie rock illuminati.

What makes someone’s music more meaningful than someone elses? Or more to the point what is the aesthetic/philosophical value system that informs most music journalists?

In the same way that the neo-cons are reacting to the failed liberal dream of the 1960’s, today’s critics and taste-makers seem to have rejected humanist expressionism as the foundation for rock and roll credibility. I can understand the seductive power of this post-modernist frame of mind. To view one’s self as beyond or above history, like some self-assured librarian who’s mastered the Dewey decimal system of culture. Yet this promise of soulfulness without the sorrow is a hollow promise and, I propose, a more subtle reaction to that age-old white guilt and shame. A shame which stems from a life of comfort and privilege and has drawn several generations of white people to seek redemption in American black music.

In taking the hard gangsta rap of Dr. Dre and lovingly wrapping it in a sweet mournful melody Ben Folds offers a humble tribute to an oppressed people and their co-opted culture. To dismiss this song as cheap irony is to miss the larger implications and proves that most rock critics are no different than Joan Rivers on the red carpet, interested only in what’s on the surface, and afraid or unable to confront the complicated and conflicted heart of the matter.


The Louvin Brothers - "The Christian Life". I can’t think of a more beautiful expression of spirit vs. flesh than this song by the Louvin Brothers from their landmark record Satan is Real. Charlie and Ira’s perfectly matched voices seem to me the very incarnation of this timeless duality. In their bold and clear eyed evocation of this conflict they do succeed in easing the burden of our forever chattering consciousness. This song offers any listener who can embrace it without prejudice, a more than fleeting wisp of the transcendent. Certainly as much, if not more so, than the contrived clatter of Dionysian rock n roll, which only ever really worked for pre-teen girls suffering from what was then known as the vapors.

It’s exciting to consider this song in the present day whereby Caesar i.e. Bush is aligned with Christ. The defiant hopefulness of Charlie in the face of "buddies who shun me since I turned to Jesus" seems quaint in today’s climate of jihads and global crusades. But ultimately it’s the (albeit, slightly bitter) humility that permeates the song that is its true lesson. And one that all of us, Christian and non-Christian alike, would be wise to soon learn.

[buy Satan Is Real for $7.99]

[Eef Barzelay is the principal songwriter for the band Clem Snide. This is his MySpace page. This (mp3) is "All Green", a love song by Clem Snide that Sean loves very much.

Clem Snide's new album, Lose Big, is now completed and looking for a label. Eef is meanwhile (as previously reported) on a solo tour in the US and Canada.

10/11 - Hoboken, NJ (Maxwells)
10/12 - North Hampton, MA (Iron Horse)
10/13 - Montreal, QC (Club Lambi)
10/14 - Toronto, ON (Rancho Relaxo)
10/16 - Chicago, IL (Schubas)
10/17 - Madison, WI (High Noon)
10/18 - Columbia, MO (Mojos)
10/19 - St Louis, MO (Duck Room)
10/20 - Nashville, TN (The Basement)
11/01 - Seattle, WA (Crocodile Cafe)
11/02 - Portland, OR (Doug Fir)
11/03 - Eugene, OR (Sam Bonds Garage)
11/05 - San Francisco, CA (Cafe du Nord)
11/07 - Los Angeles, CA (Hotel Cafe)
11/16 - NYC, NY (Irving Plaza - Daily Show concert with Mountain Goats and Superchunk)Check local listings as these dates are with various other kick-ass acts: Casey Dienel here, Jon-Rae and the River there. I can happily report that when I saw Clem Snide play Le Petit Cafe Campus a few years ago, it was a brilliant, noisily moving show.]

(Previous guest-blogs, in and out of the Said the Guests series: Marcello Carlin, artist Johnnie Cluney, Beirut, Jonathan Lethem, Will Butler (Arcade Fire), Al Kratina, Eugene Mirman, artist Dave Bailey, Agent Simple, artist Keith Andrew Shore, Owen Ashworth (Casiotone for the Painfully Alone), artist Kit Malo with Alden Penner (The Unicorns) 1 2, artist Rachell Sumpter, artist Katy Horan 1 2, 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)

October 10, 2006

Dealt With With Poise

Neko Case - "Favorite"

Doesn't this sound like she's stopping the clock? Right from the beginning, it's as if she's singing to a room full of people who just stopped doing whatever they were doing (my guess is drinking and socializing just a little too much after a funeral) to listen to her. With a swipe of her arms, she's silenced the crowd, a banjo has started from the top of the stairs, and the tambourine's just shakin' in its boots. But she just wants you to know her pain, she sings from behind a long black veil, and paces up and down the bar, putting people's drinks down with her foot as they try to take a sip. We're not done yet.

This is the first track off the new otherwise-not-worth-it compilation from Mint Records of some CBC Radio 3 sessions. Largely, the sound is so good, that this sounds more like a collection of album versions rather than live, which is in part an unfortunate contradiction, and part just coincidence that these bands didn't have live "versions" of these songs (for instance, Radiohead's live album was composed, I think, entirely of slightly different version of songs, ones that played well live). [I can't find a place to buy this]

Katie Moore - "Getting Older"

Jordan, when posting Katie Moore before, spoke of how her voice sounded. I will instead speak of her delivery: this sounds like a lie to me. Such sad words, about walls closing in, strangers instead of friends, changes all around. But I don't believe a word of it. The drums are grinning with their eyes shut, the guitar is soloing across the floor like someone who feels they should dance a little bit while crossing the dancefloor. And her, she's leaning up against the wall, her hair falling in her face, singing this song. But her hair's not there to hide the tears, it's there to hide the smile, she loves that she can sing this song, she loves how much it sucks. You're not fooling anyone, Katie Moore. Let's dance. [site]

Hot Springs - "Gotta D.J."

Woah, Giselle Numba One has been singing a rock band this whole time, and I never knew. She's my new Doseone. Selfish girls do get everything done. Her magnet voice, the way it quivers when it gets close, repels from your ear, slides down your cheek (you catch it with your lip) fits so well with the guitars like big canvasses, rigid flags, big planks that fall, flap, and wave by. [site]

Posted by Dan at 1:34 AM | Comments (4)

October 9, 2006


Of Montreal - "The Past is a Grotesque Animal". These days we at Gramophone are very nervous about posting songs without permission ahead of album releases. Labels v often collaborate and collude with blogs when it comes to promoting releases, but advance leaks are still a touchy subject. So we're cautious; we try to do it only when we're really, really excited, and can't help but share that excitement with you. (See, most recently, Joanna Newsom.)

(Can I also say that two more of my favourite albums of the year aren't going to be out, I don't think, until 2007? And although they're unknowns and the artists are in touch with me, the labels don't want anything leaked early? So I won't? And how one of these artists was told explicitly not to send me anything, because I am a sneaky criminal music pirate, but they did anyway? And yet still I can't tell you about it? Just sometimes maybe drop hints? Argh.)

Ok ok ok but I'm getting distracted by talk of piracy (arr) from the matter at hand. The matter at hand is a set of synth scales that have been built like an Escher staircase, rising over-and-over-and-over-and-over. If I knew my music theory I'd be able to tell you how Of Montreal do this, the name of the cheap Godpseed You! Black Emperor trick they're using. (Anyone out there want to help?) But since I don't know music theory I just have to listen slack-jawed, feeling the song reformulate my spinal fluid.

Because seriously, this is a twelve minute Of Montreal song that leaves me feeling something close to awe. Until Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? leaked to the internet (it's due out on Polyvinyl in late winter 2007), I was only the most ambivalent of Of Montreal listeners. I liked that depressing, uncharacteristic song actually about Montreal. I liked to hear their stuff, occasionally, at indie dance clubs. I liked to hear of them from a friend who talks about this one line about wizards, and I kept meaning to listen again. But yeah - largely ambivalent. And now? Like I said: awe.

Hissing Fauna has many excellent tracks, but "The Past is a Grotesque Animal" is what forced my hand and made me write about the record tonight, months too early, risking fines and jail-time and being added to some indie-rock No Fly list. I do this not for your sake, not for Of Montreal's sake; just because there's some stuff I need to get down:

  • I always think of grooves like this as being krautrock-like. But I only pretend to know very much about Can or Neu. Can it be said to be krautrock-like? Is this a motorik? Probably not. I hope it is, because then I will buy every Neu and Can record.
  • I think I'd be willing to dance so hard to this that it makes me sick.
  • The song hooks me, like, gets me to swallow the hook, right at the moment where Mr Barnes sings: "Standing at a Swedish festival". That's the moment. You can hear me gulp, if you listen close enough.
  • Kevin Barnes reminds me of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, in places. The way his voice creaks open at 3:19. Or how he sings silly-manic with himself; bipolar excited and lacrimose.
  • I just want to dance till I'm sick.
  • What is this? Psychdance? Synthpop? Psychedelic indie dancepop? I guess? Is there even a real bassline? Really there's just that overandover synthline, Kevin Barnes' singing, a bass-snare beat, and then random swirly noises. Ok and occasional organ solos. It doesn't seem complicated enough to even bear writing about. What's complicated is how it's making my blood flow backwards, turning my red bloodcells white. That's right: red bloodcells suddenly turned into fighters, getting into sweaty dancefloor shoving-matches with the mitochondria. And did I mention this reformulating-my-spinal-fluid thing? Crazy.
  • I read someone complain that the song doesn't go anywhere. They were frustrated because they said that so much tension was built up that even tiny changes could feel amazing, and yet instead the track just repeats all static. ARE YOU CRAZY? This is like one of those optical illusions where everything swirls. You know? Where you look deeper and deeper and then realise you're in the World of the Elder Gods and there are tentacles everywhere and you're dancing so hard you're sick?
  • I wish the last Flaming Lips album was this good.
  • The lyrics are great! What they are like is a relationship breakdown, an existential crisis, a new love-affair, but all communicated only in semafore. Sentences that need to stand alone as you wait for your flag-waves to be transmitted from hill to hill. "The mousy girl screams 'Violence, violence!'" / "The cruelty's so predictable." / "Somehow you've Red-Rover'ed the gestapo circling my heart!" / "Sometimes I wonder / if you're mythologizing me / like I do you." / "None of our secrets are physical." Wisdom tied with string to nuggets of nonsense.
  • This song makes me suspect that if the messiah is ever (finally) born, s/he will live exactly 11 minutes and 53 seconds.
  • And then what?

[see them on tour! / buy other Of Montreal things and maybe lobby Polyvinyl to release Hissing Fauna ahead of next February, so you do not turn blue holding yr breath]


Death Vessel - "Later in Life Lift". Recipe for finding friends:

  1. Obtain one (1) wagon.
  2. Place this song in wagon.
  3. Go for a walk. (Take the wagon.)
People occasionally bitch that this blog is too opaque; that we write all metaphorical and stuff. But there's no metaphor here. This song will make you friends. Just put it in a wagon. It's the way those Providence voices blend over the acoustic guitar and tin drum kit; the way the folk-pop melody promises that you'll have fun, light-and-easy. The sweetest song you'll hear today.

[buy Stay Close]


I noticed a few days ago that you can buy a print of the image that Keith Andrew Shore did for Said the Gramophone (illustrating Leonard Cohen's "The Old Revolution"). Only $35 - and it looks beautiful. Many months ago Keith also did a new banner for this here site, which we're implementing just as soon as Neale figures out the code.

At Giant Robot there is also an array of astonishing new works by another of our guestbloggers, artist Rachell Sumpter. It's honestly among the most exciting stuff I've seen this year. I've already ordered the print, but if anyone wants to get me a present...

Posted by Sean at 3:00 AM | Comments (18)

October 6, 2006

Back at 3

Takka Takka - "We Feel Safer at Night"

My stereo's wearing an Autumn Sweater, on its way to practice with the church choir. Only this church choir all speak-sing like Malkmus and they finally bring a little showmanship to this dull parish. Not too much, though, just a few smiles, a few swells, a few "allright"s. [Buy]

Les Angles Morts - "Kaleidoscope"

I was on a panel today as part of the Future of Music Policy Conference. It was pretty okay. I didn't say a whole lot, I said about as much as I usually say on here. One thing that was said was something like: "there should be more old and out-of-print stuff on mp3 blogs". I thought I'd take that advice and celebrate this dead band with an out-of-print song off their debut and only record. It takes off like some great jagged bird, flies at you and out of sight, then swoops up under your chin and tickles your nose on the way by. I think the title comes more from the idea of spinning to get results than reflections and colours.


I also saw Joanna Newsom tonight (first time). It was my little present to myself after a really busy week. It was, in short, incredible. She doesn't so much play the harp as gather it together, pull it to her. She runs across it like a field. She cradles it like a giant stupid baby, and sings to it, literally. No other instrument really allows one to sing to it like that. It's as if these songs are written for her instrument, as well as for it. In any case, I'm for it. Have a good weekend.

Posted by Dan at 3:04 AM | Comments (4)

October 5, 2006

What's Possible Is Real

Dave Van Ronk - "Hang Me, Oh Hang Me"

1. There are more cello voices than trumpet voices in this world and many more trumpet voices than woodwind ones. Double reed voices are more rare than the raw steak I'm eating right now, so sell Dave Van Ronk's voice on eBay; it'll fetch a fortune.

2. Ronk tends toward the lightest vocal skronk - the air tightening up, escaping thick and congested from Ronk's bronchus. Ronk's name is very funny, but his song is very sad. I'm laughing through my tears as I write this, alternately seduced by the suicidal impetus of Ronk's sonk and saved by the very hilarity of Ronk's nomenronkture.

3. "Hang Me, Oh Hang Me" is a perfect driving song if the vehicle is a horse and the destination is your own execution. "Put the rope around my neck/hung me up so high/last words I heard him say/'won't be long now 'fore you die.'" Sensitive. [Buy]


Cat Power - "Remember Me"

Normally a big fat genius of interpretation, Cat Power here plays Otis Redding's "Remember Me" too slowly, too loosely, too formlessly. Even still, her many vocal flourishes (including her appropriation of Redding's patented I-can't-keep-it-inside-anymore ascending slide) are gifts of which - I'm sorry to say it - we are undeserving. [Available for exclusive download at eMusic.]

Posted by Jordan at 4:11 AM | Comments (7)

October 4, 2006

silver and spinning

Arcade Fire - "My Heart is an Apple". People talk about their favourite songs. Tonight I feel more like asking this favourite song what it says about me. What's locked in those lyrics. What's behind the paper apple stuck to Win's guitar.

"My Heart is an Apple" starts with apology, homesickness, confusion. These twists of language that mean one thing and then the reverse. Just so much yearning.

And then Win goes outside.

The bridge of "My Heart is an Apple" is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I know. Here it's birds and trees, shoreline and splash, the darkening late afternoon. The band used to lower their eyes and move aside, fingers making gentle snaps. And you'd really see Regine for the first time, standing behind the organ wound with red lights. And her eyes would be lowered too as she considered the notes. So slow, so slow. So       slow. The audience silent as hopes. Stars coming out behind and over our eyes. They snapped their fingers and she sang (like a secret so excited to share): "Your mouth is full / my heart is an apple."

It's a wide song. The way it's written, it could be a tune about unrequited love: a mouth too full to take a bite of mine. But the way it sounds when the bridge comes - no. No it never was and couldn't be. For Regine's song is the slow, glimmering sound of the one certain thing: of the appleness of my heart. Love at its most beautiful, there for all your feasting.

[Order the Arcade Fire's self-titled EP, remastered earlier this year.]


Neutral Milk Hotel - "Where You'll Find Me Now". Okay I realise this is a typical blog/rock'n'roll request, but please do turn this loud. Not now, probably. No - when you are feeling like shit. Turn it loud on your speakers or your headphones and then the thing that you might find is that in all the lulling fuzz and mellotron, amid the accordion and acoustic guitar, well there's enough electricity to make lightning bolts. And your limbs will jerk and you will toss your head and you'll strain your mouth open to feed on all this muddy pretty psychrawk, and the only thing that you'll taste is no, no, no, no, no, no. This isn't a recipe for happiness, kids: this is a recipe for no, no, no, no, no, no. For giving yourself the hot shakes.

[Order Neutral Milk Hotel's underrated first album, On Avery Island]


Clem Snide's Eef Barzelay is about to dive into a solo North American tour. He sent us an exclusive, and outstanding, live recording of "Jews for Jesus Blues". It reminds me of the old Mountain Goats and the hesitating bits of Johnny Cash and inevitably of the new Clem Snide. And it reminds me of looking at a great piece of art and wondering how you'll ever be able to take with what you just learned. (Those occasional thumps are the sound of the other shoe dropping.) "Now that I'm found / I miss being lost."

More of Eef soon.

See Eef here:

10/7 - Vienna, VA (Jammin Java)
10/8 - Philadelphia, PA (World Cafe)
10/10 - NYC, NY (Mercury Lounge)
10/11 - Hoboken, NJ (Maxwells)
10/12 - North Hampton, MA (Iron Horse)
10/13 - Montreal, QC (Club Lambi)
10/14 - Toronto, ON (Rancho Relaxo)
10/16 - Chicago, IL (Schubas)
10/17 - Madison, WI (High Noon)
10/18 - Columbia, MO (Mojos)
10/19 - St Louis, MO (Duck Room)
10/20 - Nashville, TN (The Basement)
11/01 - Seattle, WA (Crocodile Cafe)
11/02 - Portland, OR (Doug Fir)
11/03 - Eugene, OR (Sam Bonds Garage)
11/05 - San Francisco, CA (Cafe du Nord)
11/07 - Los Angeles, CA (Hotel Cafe)
11/16 - NYC, NY (Irving Plaza - Daily Show concert with Mountain Goats and Superchunk)

Posted by Sean at 4:00 AM | Comments (8)

October 2, 2006


The Radio Four - "How Much I Owe". The newest issue of the book-length journal known as Yeti has great drawings by Julianna Bright and Nicole J Georges, a collection of amazing pre-1950 photos (of Sydney, Australia crime-scenes and criminals), a conversation with Octavia Butler (rip), a suprisingly medicated tour-diary by Okkervil River's Will Sheff, and a hysterical, fascinating interview of Destroyer's Dan Bejar, by an 8 year old kid. It also has a free compilation CD with unreleased tracks by Page France, Okkervil River, We/Or/Me, The Blow -- and weirder things too. There's at least a couple of songs I'll probably end up sharing with you.

This is one of 'em.

As the liner-notes attest, these days "Radio 4" is likely to evoke either the BBC or a NY garage-rock band of the same name. But if we roll back to 1955, this was Radio Four: a "family quartet" about whom "not a whole heck of a lot" is known. I will infer what Mike McGonigal restrains himself from doing: if it was a family quartet, called the Radio Four, then clearly their last name must have been Radio. That's as far as I'm willing to extrapolate, so I'll turn to plain fiction as I name them, the Radio Four. Pop will be ole' Aloysius Radio, and maybe his younger brother Ishamael ("Ishkabibble") Radio. Aloysius' sons are both members of the Four: Marcus Radio later quits music to become an architect, specialising in steeples; Little Shelley Radio wins a trip to France when working as a refrigerator salesman and while there tries a truffle mushroom for the first time. He and his wife both decide that truffles are the truest signs of God they've ever seen, and devote the rest of their lives to the fungus.

And while Marcus' steeples still stand; while Ishkabibble's burbling laugh is still remembered by citizens of Cranberry, MS; while Aloysius' grave-stone sits in strange proximity to the oldest weeping willow in the United States; and while Michelin-starred chefs across the American south will tell you of the Mr Radio who taught them everything they know about the truffle... it's "How Much I Owe" that had the greatest lasting impression on the happiness of humanity. Because every time the song is played, a soul is saved, an angel born, a lame man lifted to his feet and a bird kissed by the gold hot sun.

[buy Yeti / try to buy the Radio Four on CD]

The Frames - "Bad Bone". This is a song laced with the full & terrible, wine-red and cocoa-black temptation of the downward spiral. When I listen to it: I sink.

It starts so simply, so dully twilit, Glen Hansard singing his silly lines about a "bad bone inside of [him]". Please. And yeah then the violin comes in, the bass and drums - but still, no, there's nothing to trap you. A few lines catch your (my) ear, things that hook parts of your minds' eye - "You were naked on the balcony"... But no it's not until the closing minute and a half when you realise that all that came before was promise; the muddy moody indie rock just a path to a starry, sick sweet blur. "To die with you upon the vine," Hansard sings, and it is so fucking enticing. The guitars bloom like nightshade and the strings coax you all the way to where you break your own red beating heart.

The new album by Ireland's The Frames is out now in Ireland. (Anti will be releasing it abroad in 2007.)

[buy / The Frames' Glen Hansard is on a semi-solo tour in the USA in October]



Tuwa's story about Shuggie Otis is absolutely one of my favourite posts of the year. Something that we struggle for on these very pages: a fiction about a song, saying more than the truth could. (If you like Said the Gramophone, I suspect you'll like this.)


By the by, I'm not in Montreal but these would be my Pop Montreal picks (oh, what a lineup!):

Wednesday, Oct 4. - Orillia Opry and Vashti Bunyan (Bunyan is really unexpectedly awesome, live); or else I'd do some hopping between Two Gallants, The Winks, and Damien Jurado

Thursday, Oct 5 - Under Byen and Joanna Newsom (obv, but seriously bust over to see Basia Bulat's set when it's done)

Friday, Oct 6 - Mocky and the Handsome Furs, but then def Islands in a hometown show

Saturday, Oct 6 - man! Beirut and Akron/Family!

Sunday, Oct 7 - Think it's possible to do The Acorn, Sunset Rubdown and The Constantines? Do try.

Oh, and you kids might also be into seeing our own Mr Dan Beirne in conversation with Matt Fluxblog, Carl Zoilus, Andrew Pop and some other luminaries at this panel at McGill on Thursday. I guarantee it will be better than the biggie. (Sorry, Frank!)

Posted by Sean at 3:00 AM | Comments (5)