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, 2007

Said the Guests: Eleanor Meredith

Eleanor Meredith's work all but waved to me. I don't quite remember: perhaps it was a solitary mer-man, winking on his rock. Perhaps a mess of line & colour, like that dizzy moment just before you fall in love. She's an artist and illustrator who lives in Scotland and makes whimsy feel like something you could be serious about. Nothing makes me happier, she writes, than drawing people without them realising.

I asked her to choose two or three favourite songs, and make pictures for them. She did. We've had many artists share their work with us, but I'm not sure if any have captured the spirit of a song quite as precisely, quite as agilely, as Eleanor Meredith. These are three different images for three different songs, and it's like each illustration was made by a different hand. And each - I swear to you, do listen, you'll see, - is perfectly suited. It's like the picture manifested the song, not the other way around.

Please leave Eleanor your comments, and visit her website to see, talk, buy more.

Bibio - "Marram"
Eleanor Meredith- "Swingball Otter" (click for full size) (buy Bibio albums)

Matmos - "For the Trees"
Eleanor Meredith - "For the Trees" (click for full size) (buy The Civil War)

Samoyed - "Making Snow"
Eleanor Meredith - "Making Snow" (click for full size) (more Samoyed)

[Eleanor Meredith lives and works in Edinburgh. I'd really like to know anyone's comments on the pictures, she writes. If anyone's interested in getting hold of some work, do email me. I should have prints for sale from my website soon, and have shows in the pipeline for the summer, so watch that newspage...]

(Previous guest-blogs: artist Keith Greiman, artist Matthew Feyld, The Weakerthans, Parenthetical Girls, artist Daria Tessler, 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 8:54 AM | Comments (6)

February 27, 2007

Embedding the Manifold

Screamin' Jay Hawkins - "All Night"

The line between insanity and theatricality in the extraordinary case of Screamin' Jay Hawkins is as thin as the indistinguishable border that separates a scream from a laugh from the outright chortle that begins this song. Whether Hawkins' madman antics are real or performance makes no difference, since each possibility entails the other – if he is mad, then symptomatic of his instability is his compulsion to share; and if he is playing, then he is insane to present himself thus. This too: If Screamin' Jay Hawkins is a tenderhearted man, it's only because life repeatedly brought down a sledgehammer on the sinewy chunk of red meat that constitutes his heart. Hawkins takes the butcher's tenderizing violence and adds to it the stalker's violating tenderness, the combination of which yields a song of equal parts love letter and death threat. Each of the song's couplets reveals opposing sentiments: a desire to be with and to kill his "baby." Meanwhile, the band expresses the same tensions: the horns woo while the guitar barbs, the back-up singers grovel while the drums intimidate. Throughout, Hawkins delivers a thoroughly engaged comedic performance that, like much of the best comedy, verges on the frightening and hints at the tragic. [Buy]

Cat Iron - "O, The Blood Done Signed My Name"

The way I see it, Cat Iron was one of two things: a device for the unwrinkling of cats or a cat for the unwrinkling of clothes. Almost nothing is known of the great gospel-blues player's life or personhood, and unless James Cameron finds his bones, little is likely to be found out. We know merely what we can hear: a rich baritone by turns in unison and as counterpoint to a plaintive treble melody, set by sure fingers to strummed alternating bass notes. With children playing in the background, Cat Iron sings of blood, of Christ, of pursuit and arrival, impermanence and immortality; a transient singer, just passing through.


Posted by Jordan at 12:03 AM | Comments (2)

February 26, 2007


Julie Doiron - "The Wrong Guy" (Julie Doiron/Okkervil River EP version [2003])
Julie Doiron - "The Wrong Guy" (Woke Myself Up version [2007])

Julie Doiron is an artist whose work trades on two feelings: love, and sadness. Like Herman Dune (with whom she has recorded), she is a francophone who sings mostly in english. Unlike Herman Dune there is no silliness in the lilt of her language. Her english is fluent & ordinary. But there remains the ghosting of any second language, something that translates into her songs as care, consideration, pause. Pauses fill her music - silences lingering in rooms, words lingering on lips, fingers lingering on the hot strings of an electric guitar. Choruses are unwilling. Her lyrics appear one by one, like flat stones set on a table.

It's not a very catchy music, and outside of her work with Herman Dune, The Wooden Stars or Eric's Trip, it lacks any real instrumental sparkle. Unlike with Cat Power or Songs:Ohia, her voice doesn't feel like the manifestation of a platonic misery: a throat finally expressing what sadness feels like. No, what makes Julie Doiron among my favourite artists is the feeling of honesty in her songs. For those of us who value this (the impression that an artist "really means it"), Doiron is extraordinary. She does not say too much, or too little. She sings with great care. And she always seems to be telling the truth.

And so her love-songs (particularly in french, on Desormais) are breathtaking: rose-and-dusk pleasures strung together on a melody. Her songs of heartbreak or indecision resonate long, long, long, when played on the right afternoons. And the songs that began to appear in the past four years or so, songs of motherhood & children & family, they are so unadorned in their sweetness that it's very hard not to, well, melt.

For those of us who have followed Julie Doiron over these years, her new album - Woke Myself Up - is an excellent one, among her very best. And it's also devastating.

Less than half of the record is happy songs of the domestic: kids and swan-ponds, weeding and long drives. The rest is about the end of love, the breakdown of love, questions & doubts & occasional certainties. The collapse of a marriage, of that same love we heard toasted on "Ce charmant coeur". These are feelings that were touched on with 2005's Goodnight Nobody, but not like this. The final, untitled track - which, the press materials say, was added at the last minute, - is to me just ridiculously sad, personally sad, the kind of song I wish nobody ever had to write. ("And all those songs that I sung / well now I know they were wrong / and now I'm taking them all back.")

But if you're new to (or have never been convinced by) Julie Doiron, that song is not the best illustration of why she is great. (Without context it feels too casual, too pretty.) Instead, here are two recordings of another unhappy song - "The Wrong Guy". Taken together, they are a perfect manifestation of Doiron's unvarnished music: the same song, two or three years apart. Each one sung true, and different.

On the Split version (which doesn't feature any members of Okkervil River, before you get excited), it is her and a guitar, slow, still in mourning for the realisation that "he was the wrong guy".

On the new version, Doiron is less delicate. She is almost wry as she sings - describing a kiss, he-and-she, with a bitter humour. Years later, she doesn't feel the same way about her mistake. And now her old band, Eric's Trip, is here to be loud - guitars and drums and distortion, a noise of the inevitable, the past, the tragic. She is not for a moment sorry for herself. But she wonders at how easy it is for us to make such vast mistakes.

[buy Woke Myself Up]


Oh dear, a major RIP to Arthur magazine.

Posted by Sean at 7:58 AM | Comments (1)

February 23, 2007


The Underpainting - "The Underpainting".

First let us talk of "underpaintings".

An underpainting is a painting that lies hidden beneath another, on the same canvas.

If we add capital letters & definite articles to the above, we can get metaphysical: The Underpainting is the painting that lies hidden beneath The Painting, on the same canvas.

Or in other words, The Underpainting is the meaning of life.

The Underpainting is also the name under which Brian Michael Roff now records. Furthermore, The Underpainting is his new album, due soon (with artwork by Matthew Feyld). And "The Underpainting" is the title track.

So. Is "The Underpainting" the underpainting of The Underpainting's The Underpainting?


But listen, before I get too lost in my own silly circles, let's pay attention to the song. It's a gentle, thoughtful work, perhaps the best track Roff has ever composed. "Hey there Bobby Kennedy," he begins, "I wrote a song for you." It's a song, he explains, about "the long winter, small spring, and the persistent incumbent summer". And there it is: so much of my own work, encapsulated. Grappling with the long winter, small spring, and the persistent incumbent summer.

In a great run-on sentence, Roff then sings the "contour figure", the body of the song, the image that distracts us from the small secret of that opening. And a saw sings, and a piano plays, and an electric guitar makes things so simple - a man's hands singing all the loose parts together, whole.

[more information]


Groom - "Waking Up Before Her". "The Underpainting" is a song of great maturity. It says nothing foolish. Whereas the appeal of "Waking Up Before Her" is entirely in its foolishness. It's childish, playful, not-at-all wise. A guitar waggles through a barnyard, handclaps join shakers, someone ye-hoo-hoo-oos like it's his birthday every day of the year. And here's the dumbest, falsest, most naive line (and they make it the centrepiece of the song!): "I'm in love with you, and that's really all that matters!" By the end of the track, Groom have almost realised the lie - but still they're yelling it, all together, like fools, like fools, like lovesick fools.




  • J D Salinger's "Uncollected Writings" - namely the many out-of-print short stories and some things that are in print, too. Salinger has intentionally kept most of these works off the market (and we could be here all night arguing why), so it's important to note the following: this webpage not only infringes on Salinger's copyrights, it makes certain material available against Salinger's will. And yet... !!!!!!!!! Many of these are fucking marvelous.

  • I've not managed to download it, but someone's mp3-ified the cassette version of Little Wings' Light Green Leaves. Light Green Leaves is a funny, gentle folk record, and Kyle made three slightly different versions (for CD, vinyl and cassette). I've never heard the cassette renditions. Maybe you haven't either. (And maybe someone who successfully downloads could send them to me?) Yay for the internet!

  • Shearwater's magnificent 2006 album, Palo Santo, is now for sale for a ridiculous $4.00. Apparently they've now signed to Matador and will be releasing a "deluxe" version, but the original was one of the finest albums of last year and well worth four bucks!

    Posted by Sean at 8:23 AM | Comments (3)
  • February 22, 2007

    Utility Hand Holding

    Tokyo Police Club - "Citizens of Tomorrow (Space Ballad Version)"

    This is the only Tokyo Police Club song that I like. And this is the only version too. What bothers me so much about the band's other work is that it makes dancing feel like a mandatory requirement, like some kind of depressing dress code, so I just refuse to get into it on principle. This, however, drops that. He sings easily, almost to himself, and I'm finally free to float in the images, the clouds. The more you sound like the lost carnival dream of The Robot Ate Me, the better. [Buy]

    The Morning Benders - "Damnit Anna"

    This song has a very "introductory" quality. It's the first track on the new Morning Benders ep, but it's also inherently an "opener". What is it? Is it the lyrics passing by like a bus ad that doesn't sell anything? Is it the arcing refrain that melts and steams in the morning sun? Well, yes, it's these things, but the better question is why is it the 2nd song posted? No rules here. [2nd ep out March 13th]


    last chance to see Space Jail. ends this Saturday. make reservations or you won't get in.

    Posted by Dan at 2:05 AM | Comments (2)

    February 21, 2007

    on almosts

    Skúli Sverrisson - "Séria". Two weeks ago I almost died. We were skidding down a road near Selfoss, Iceland, on our way to Vik, and then suddenly as D accelerated we began, so softly, to slide. The car moved dreamlike, diagonally, over the ice. I touched D's hand where it held the wheel. I said something - I don't know what. And he said something to me. And then we were over, and over, and over. The sky flashed white in every window as our car fell off the road. It just fell. We flipped and flipped and flipped again, and I heard the sound of breaking glass.

    When I opened my eyes I felt to see if I was all right. I was all right. The inside of our car was a mess. I didn't know which way was up. I remembered that mountaineer's instruction, for those trapped in an avalanche: Spit to find out which way gravity falls. I almost spat. But instead I looked out the window. The snowy ground was at my shoulder - the passenger side window.

    It was with fear I turned to look at D. I didn't know what I might see. I thought of so many things before I looked at him: setting my life in order, touching this & that memory, before seeing what shadow might fall over the rest of my year. But there was D, shaken, shocked tears in his eyes, safe and hale and whole and my friend, hanging in the air by his seatbelt. We were ok.

    Skúli Sverrisson (with Ólöf Arnalds) - "Vaktir þú". The next day we went to 12 Tónar, maybe the best record shop in the world. We had spent the day on a guided tour - to the waterfalls of Gullfoss, to the lake Thingvellir, to the geysers of Geysir and Strokkur. Now we were back in Rejkyavik, the sun setting, and we wanted music. One of 12 Tonar's owners greeted us as we entered. He wore a neat beard and a professor's jacket. He introduced us to the shop, explained how things worked, then made us neat little espressos. And we browsed the racks of avant garde classical and jazz, of folk and rock, all this icelandic music with cover-art I wanted pinned to my walls. Whatever we wished to hear, we took downstairs. We sat on old couches with our coffees, portable CD players set in our hands, and we scrabbled off the CDs' plasticwrap and listened.

    Skúli Sverrisson's Séria is one of the CDs I bought at 12 Tonar, a recommendation of the owner. Many of the tracks are instrumental - webs of guitar-strings, organs, bass clarinets. Some, like "Vaktir þú", have vocals. (Though one song is sung by Laurie Anderson, most centre around the sad sea voice of Ólöf Arnalds.) I like it very much.

    The next day we rented a car again, for two nights. I did all the driving. We went north. We went looking for the Northern Lights. I said the place-names out loud: Reykholt, Stykkish, Borgarnes, Akureyri. We rounded fjords and wove through volcanic rock. Snow lay over everything. Steam rose from the ground here and there. I wondered where all the clouds had gone. We learned that in its long dawns and dusks, Iceland's sky is a sky of pinks. One night we stood by the ice outside Grundarfjorthur and listened to birdcalls and watched something green-glimmering beside the stars.

    As we drove we listened to the music we had bought - this album and others. "Séria" was our theme for the aurora borealis. "Vaktir Bu" was simply a song I love. There is something magic in this album. All things beautiful, glowing, but also vaguely disquieting. Songs of an absence. Ghost-songs, forget-me-nots, lullabyes for the days after an almost.

    [buy Séria]

    Posted by Sean at 8:49 AM | Comments (37)

    February 20, 2007


    Super Eagles - "Love's A Real Thing"

    The Ontology

    Love is a real thing. Expressible by

    The Aesthetic

    Actual psych shipped overseas, melted and sweated into something new. An organ played by a child; a guitar played by a skilled, overenthusiastic child, who, like the baby he is, insists on bending every note he plays. A skittering guitar solo in eight bars. Raw-throated Hendrix vocals. The force and manic energy of the American classic rock for which the Super Eagles' love is real. Doubt me?

    The Epistemology

    "Hold me tenderly and you will see/I'll prove it to you, my loving is sweet."

    The Teleology

    For us: to which to dance, love, and make merry. [Buy]


    Matt Baldwin - "She Was a Girl, She Was in Love"

    An open-tuned acoustic guitar and an aching melody, accompanied by the smallest intakes and slightest outputs of a guitarist's breath. Little is as lovely as listening to the breathing of a musician in song. A player's breath, breathed to an internal rhythm, can be a clue about the creativity of an artist - their own perception of rhythm and time, even pitch and space, embodied more profoundly than in any intentional music. [From American Primitive Guitar, available only on emusic]

    Posted by Jordan at 12:33 PM | Comments (2)

    February 19, 2007

    Warmth Like Fever Skin

    Frog Eyes - "Bushels"

    This song is an open letter to the surrounding crowd. It says: I'll work with you, I'm willing to help, and I'll do it happily. I love each of you in a way, and hate each of you in another. We have been given a plan, and we'll see if the steps get followed, if everyone pitches in the right hands, the proper sweat. At dinner time, we'll sup and gain our strength. Some of you will read or make love to pass the time, or start fights. Weather will be a huge factor in our charge, and its fat stagger is as predictable as a sick dog. Who knows if we'll succeed, at anything more than turning the world inside out. But once you leave, I'll still be singing, and once you die, I'll mount my own projects, I'll play half in tribute, half in spite, to your stupid prayers, to your written leavings. [pre-order and free shirt!] [Daytrotter version]


    Laibach - "NSK"

    This is the national anthem to a theoretical state. Created in 1995, NSK is the state created by the art collective of the same name, seemingly a club with a membership card shaped like a passport. It's the last track to Laibach's album of re-interpretations of national anthems of the world. This track is by far the best, as it's the only one presented almost untouched, or as a new work if it never existed. It plays like you're watching it on TV, in an empty small shitty eastern European living room, with overly-decorated walls. The answering machine sings along, the most patriotic thing in the room, because it listens all day long, it knows only the hollow tone of a human speaking to a machine. [Buy]


    Posted by Dan at 2:04 AM | Comments (3)

    February 16, 2007

    The Uncaring and Me

    The Emanons - "One Heart"

    I apologize for my unromantic colleagues here at StG, but fret not mes amours, I have not forgotten about Valentine's week. "One Heart" is my Valentine to you, because I feel that it is a precise musical representation of the tender little relationship we've carved out for ourselves, you and I, here in this pistachio place of ours. Listen to me, I am the bass - endearingly nervous and puffed-up with peacock pride, yet irrepressibly, profoundly gentle, loving, even gooey. And listen to you, you are the vibraphone - poised, self-assured, certainly aware of your own charms, even coquettish. I'm a Pepé le Pew to your Penelope Pussycat, a Pat Garrett to your Billy the Kid, a Stanley to your Livingstone. I'm committed entirely to each and every one of you and to polygamy; let's get married! [Buy]

    Posted by Jordan at 1:08 PM | Comments (3)

    February 15, 2007


    Fulton Lights - "Breathe In, Breathe Out". Andrew Spencer Goldman sings like so:

    "And then

    just like that

    he fell in love
    with the city."

    These are three of my favourite phrases in the world:
    1. Just like that is miracle wrapped in a language of normalcy. Just like that the duke could visit. Just like that the ship could founder. Just like that the sky could fall. Or you could fall, yes, for me.

    2. He fell in love. In this idiom it's this word I like: "fall".

    3. With the city -- this is why I travel. This is why I go places. I am in London now, was in Iceland yesterday, Istanbul a week ago. Tomorrow I leave for Austria. And all that I seek in these places, by glaciers or in mosques, my face full of chocolate cream or my eyes lit with laughter, is to enter into a communion with the city. To lie with it a while: to see how it rests, how it wakes, how it wipes the sand from its eyes. To read the lines on its face, all the tracings of its past lovers. And to see how it breathes: soft, but soft.
    As Fulton Lights, Goldman takes city noise, rail squeals and tramway whispers, and to it he adds strings, vibraphone, piano, his own gentle voice. It's a kind of jazz: the basement improvising with the rush-hour, the singer-songwriter with the subway car.

    [more of Fulton Lights // pre-order the special edition of Fulton Lights, from Catbird Records. Only 150 copies, letterpressed, with a bonus disc.]

    Cem Karaca - "Namus Belasi 'Mogollar'". Cem Karaca was one cool cat. Look at his hand-gestures, his glasses, his suit. If I made those gestures, I would be arrested; if I wore those glasses, I would look dumb; if I wore that suit, I'd be the king of Panama. But Cem ("Jem") pulls it off like a lizard sheds its skin: no big deal, no worries. He's all 'just another day as a Turkish rock-star'. During my time in Istanbul, my friend Anne hummed this song at every opportunity. As our dolmus van careened down the freeway; as neat men rushed by, glasses of tea balanced on trays; as the sun set on Beyoglu and as the wind whisked up the Bosphorus. Every so often the city seems plain: greys caught under cloudcover, pigeons leaving a square, an apartment building sitting flat along the harbour. But then the sun comes, a kid runs by, a minaret pokes its head up from below the skyline. Or Anne starts to hum. A bassline starts to play. And Cem Karaca takes a bite out of my day - honey, pistachio, flakes of baklava everywhere.

    [more on Cem]


    This is pretty last minute, but I'm hoping to attend the Dirty Three-curated All Tomorrow's Parties in England at the end of April, and a couple of people have just dropped out of our prospective chalet. If there are any Gramophone-readers who are thinking of going, please get in touch ASAP if you're interested in joining myself and another (fine) Gramophone reader. Open to all gentle, funny souls who sometimes like to dance. (The lineup includes: Dirty Three, Nick Cave, Smog, Cat Power, Joanna Newson, Yann Tiersen, Lajko Felix, Low, Silver Mt Zion, Magnolia Electric Co, and water slides.)

    Posted by Sean at 1:15 PM | Comments (7)

    February 13, 2007


    Papercuts - "Take the 227th Exit"

    At ten in the morning, there's a paper thin line between "already drunk" and "still drunk". This song shows up on your steps, party in full swing, the morning light beating hot against its face, even in the early spring chill. Its wearing a worn leather jacket over a dollar-store tux, and speaks in smiles and slurs. A limo creeps behind, driving at a walking pace behind the stupor, the driver constantly gesturing "get inside, get inside". The marriage goes off without a hitch, though, because the bride's in no better condition, hair still wet from a wake-up shower as she slinks in sunglasses up the aisle. [buy from Gnomosongs] [Papercuts previously on StG from Owen Ashworth]

    Spalding Gray - "Monster in a Box" (introduction)

    He must have written the best suicide note in all history, if he wrote one at all. Suicide is such a personal exposure, like being a nude model and shitting yourself. It's completely grotesque, base, and primal, but also, to better connote, human. And I imagine that's what Spalding Gray would have done in his note, he would have made his choice seem slick but cold, pitiable but enviable, the rightest wrong choice you can make. Listen how he touches the future with a knowing smile, tells you his plan before enacting it; his life's a goddamn five-paragraph essay. There was never anyone more fit to deliver his own eulogy than Spalding Gray. [Buy]

    Posted by Dan at 3:32 AM | Comments (6)

    February 12, 2007


    Andrew Shapiro - "Detectors in the Eyes". The song's sound at first seems dated, dyed in the pastel shades of late-90s trance. But within moments the cascade's everywhere - these ringing bells, these glowing synths, like a room filled with butterfly wings. Much more The Knife than Paul Oakenfold, Shapiro's made a proper song - beautiful as get-out, like Douglas Coupland's "slot machines clanging out silver dollars, rubies, and sugar candies". A clarion of kisses.


    Honey Is Cool - "Something Above the Mountains". And here, meanwhile, is The Knife's Karin Dreijer Andersson from the days before she was in an electropop band. Dan's written about Honey Is Cool before, and he said then that it was "simultaneously in danger and safe". The same thing goes, here: it's dazey, dreamy, hammock-slung guitar rock, but then the cymbal slams and the glitter's almost blinding; something's deeply hoped as we swing on our swings, lay in our beds, ball our fists and, wet-faced, dream.

    [can't find their stuff for sale anywhere]

    Posted by Sean at 1:50 AM | Comments (3)

    February 9, 2007

    Wager, Smarmiest Elk!

    Great Lake Swimmers - "Put There by the Land" (removed by label request)

    The Great Lake Swimmers are slower than cars, slower than bicycles, than grass; they're about the speed of mountains, and maybe not that fast. They can be so simple, the Great Lake Swimmers - more simple than a proof of the Four Colour Theorem, or an ontological argument for the existence of god; they're about as simple as 2 + 3, and maybe simpler still. Here they're as monophonic as Josquin Desprez, exactly as linear as this ________________, and not even the sort of thing that can be as tautological as the argument I could give for the simple beauty of this song based on the true premise that it is possessed of a simple beauty.



    Shirley Collins - "A Blacksmith Courted Me"

    Time spoils almost all things.


    Posted by Jordan at 12:29 PM | Comments (5)

    February 8, 2007


    The Mountain Goats - "Whole Wide World". John Darnielle from the old days, when his music was something simpler, more familiar to those of us who don't get to hang around in studios or with electric bassists. I too could learn the acoustic guitar, scrawl some lines, then hit 'play' on a tape-deck and by the open window sing the smells, the feels, the sounds and the thump-thump-thump of my heart. But maybe I wouldn't be able to record something that stays rich so long, so far: a warm evening pressed into magnetic tape and humming even as it plays, softly, years after that June night.


    The 1990s - "You're Supposed To Be My Friend". The (modest) success of this Glasgow band has little to do with their songs - mostly so-so, sometimes lame, better packed onto a CD than played live to a big room, - and a lot to do with its members' origins in Yummy Fur. Be that as it may, this song is a brilliant mix of coos and burrs, passive-aggressive and aggressive-aggressive, puppydog Glasgow smiles and slick skinny-jeans moves. It's more pre- than post-Franz Ferdinand, but as scientists have long known: there's magic in disco-beat, overdriven guitars, and untrained voices united in sneer.


    Posted by Sean at 11:12 AM | Comments (7)

    February 7, 2007

    To Its Centre

    Adderley claims that "Inside Straight" is where he's at philosophically. He asks "Know what I mean?" But who could? Perhaps a more suitable title would have been "When the Fear Stops... You're Dead!" (a work of genius later composed as the tag line for the William Forsythe film, Relentless 3).

    Cannonball Adderley - "Inside Straight"

    Know what I mean?

    Though it at first appears to be a relatively standard (if particularly funky) Booker T and the MGs inspired soul-jazz, "Inside Straight", by its end, proves to be a surreal, frightening, and thoroughly fucked work. After the band runs through the theme once, Cannonball takes a solo that is a lesson in uniquely Southern dirtiness: his staccato is hot sticky fingers and his legato is lllllllllllubricated like... Oh my! And as Cannonball's playing becomes freer, the drummer rids the song of closed high-hat and rides the ride cymbal like a jockey rides a horse, or a mom rides her insolent adolescent son, or a mom rides an aspiring jockey (her son) for not riding his horse enough. The drummer rides the ride to the same extent that Magic Mountain is a ride. Then the drummer drops the ride, moves away from its indistinct clang, and returns to his eminently samplable funk. To take this as a return to home and to normalcy would be to ignore the monster that is simultaneously unleashed on all those in the live studio audience or listening at home - this monster, who now takes the lead, is some sort of half man-half half-brass horn; a bull in a china shop, huffing and chewing and slobbering and finally squealing like a pig. Frightening, I know. But what's more frightening is that this live audience of voyeuristic sociopaths only amplify their hollers and applause, loving every goddamn minute of the whole divine spectacle.


    Cupid: Miss Misery, meet Mr. Disgrace.


    [Buy Luke Temple's Hold a Match for a Gasoline World]

    Posted by Jordan at 12:19 PM | Comments (4)

    February 6, 2007


    Bodies of Water - "These Are The Eyes"

    Bodies of Water have just finished a 13-song LP due out by the end of April. They sent me this because they're very proud of the record. And it sounds to me like they're right to be so. It sounds like an overture to a musical, and it makes me curious to hear the rest. I almost hope it is a musical. I think it would be about forest animals, during the last few days before they lost another part of their forest. It wouldn't be about the fight to save their land, they'd never win, it'd be about learning to deal with the things you can't change, getting your affairs in order to totally change your life for a cause completely divorced from your own. It'd be about how much the rest of the world can affect you, and how much is in your control. There would be the deer, who are the most submissive to the situation, industriously packing and running away. The beaver, who would rather cry about it than do anything. The owl, who silently stays, even when they're cutting down his tree. It ends with the animals doing the closing number on a plastic kids' play structure, right where they used to have their "hidden glade". [site]


    So, Montrealers (and intrepid travelers), I'm in a new play. It's called Space Jail, and it opens tomorrow. It would be so great if you could make it out, it plays at Theatre Ste. Catherine every Wednesday through Saturday in February. It's actually the most fun play I've ever seen.

    Posted by Dan at 1:24 PM | Comments (1)

    February 5, 2007

    Totally Hilarious Super Bowl Ads

    Shaky Hands - "Summer's Life"

    This song has the replay value of an old stationwagon. The rhythm of a much-tar-stripped country road. A melody like the sun poking under the pulled-down visor. Lyrics like an old Babysitter's Club book, the only thing to read in the glove compartment. It's a car trip, a Sunday, warm when you close your eyes. And the air is much easier to move through than to breathe. [More]

    Destroyer - "From Oakland to Warsaw"

    Dear Roger,

    I'm sorry I ever said Your Blues sucked. I'm sorry I didn't believe you when you tried to defend it's glowing, pulsing beauty. When you said, rightly, that it's perfect for walking in the woods. I'm sorry it took me 3 years to understand the yellow, bejeweled and bejangling currents of this album.

    yours, Dan
    ps. hope you're well.


    Dear "From Oakland to Warsaw",

    Thank you for your strident, stalwart posture, and your howling bursts like striking diamond-studded windchimes with a rhinestone-studded leaf blower. Thank you for being the unassuming yet garish, lavish yet humble, chapter of the book that makes you finally realise "hey wait, this whole thing is genius."

    yours, Dan
    ps. hope you're well.

    [Destroyer deals at Merge]

    Posted by Dan at 3:22 AM | Comments (7)

    February 1, 2007

    You OK?

    Louis Killen - "The Trimdon Grange Explosion"

    Just what the doctor ordered. Or, what the doctor would have ordered had the patient been the small English town of Trimdon Grange (suffering from the the loss of most of its boys and men in the coal mine explosion of 1882), and the doctor been Hippocrates himself. After all, what better than a damp, mossy voice and the gentle call of a concertina to part sheets of rain, pull back black veils, and remind us that " Death will pay us all a visit/They have only gone before/We may meet the Trimdon victims/Where explosions are no more." [Buy]


    David Byrne - "Speechless"

    Yet another installment in David Byrne's infinite series of songs to prove the inadequacy of words and the capacity of the human voice to say what needs to be said. Here he is spouting nonsense again, as he did in the Talking Heads' "I Zimbra" or Robert Fripp's "Under Heavy Manners," and as in both of those songs, his meaning here couldn't be clearer. For instance, his doo-wop vocal riff in the song's last third is wordless but communicative (part of a dialogue with the drums and bass) of a loneliness speakable only in tongues. [Buy Byrne's soundtrack for the film Young Adam]

    Posted by Jordan at 9:58 PM | Comments (4)

    Guard Dead

    Crystal Castles - "Alice Practice"

    I can't tell you what I like until I hear it.

    I hear a teenage girl ripping her robot heart out in front of her parents. It's 4a.m. and they were asleep. That night, they had caught their android daughter in the arms of a human girl when they came home. Driving the human girl home, the father told her that her love was misplaced, that his daughter and her had nothing in common, that his daughter was computer-based and couldn't provide what another human girl (or boy, whatever you like) could provide, and that she should just leave her alone. Around 2:30 that night, on instant messenger, the android girl, hyperventilating from the tears, received the message that the human girl knew all about her android nature, and even kind of made fun of her kissing. It wasn't long before she completely unraveled, and climbed the carpeted stairs to her parents' bedroom. [site]

    webcam left on

    Posted by Dan at 2:38 AM | Comments (9)