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.

March 30, 2007


John Convertino - "When Mass Was Said In Latin". Everything, when rung, resounds. Some things resound longer than others (piano-strings, alarm clocks, heartbreaks). But all things do resound for a time. And so listening to this track, an instrumental by the man who usually plays drums in Calexico (and at one time for Giant Sand), I must ask: these are bells, right? They're not rib-bones, or river-stones? They're not regrets, or wants, or lost homes? Occam's Razor says bells but I have to ask, I have to ask. There's definitely something with the piano here, making those wide choral sounds - a track as fine as any Rachel's have recently recorded. There's definitely something with the piano here; bells, maybe. Or years. Years, rung.

[buy Ragland]

Buck 65 - "Centaur (Acoustic Version)". Buck 65 steps to the plate. He don't pull no punches. He looks the subject-matter square in the midsection and then does what needs to be done. He takes the voice of the Centaur, that mythical man-horse; he struts through the city; and he notes what you're all lookin' at. Yes the centaur is "drastically endowed", "crotchety in more ways than one". He won't pretend he's not. Over day-in-the-life acoustic guitar, wheezy organ and a little thumb-piano, he admits it, he admits everything. He doesn't ask for sympathy but just for people to maybe get over it. "Way out of proportion / My heart is the warmest / unfortunately for me my private part is enormous."

[buy This Right Here Is]


Still thinking of going to the Dirty Three-curated ATP? Three of us need a fourth person to fill out our chalet. Email me!



Caketrain Press is publishing Dolls, a chapbook of prose poetry by Todd Whalen. It looks like something special - and has cover art by our friend Matthew Feyld.

And the inimitable, remarkable mp3blog Moistworks is once again holding a Writers Week, with words-on-music by the authors Dana Spiotta, Jenny Offill, Rick Moody, Christopher Sorrentino and Susan Choi.

Posted by Sean at 9:02 AM | Comments (2)

March 29, 2007

Lost At Sea With Your Parents

Normandy - "Kentucky Isolation"

I see great banners, or great pillars, or great lights. I see a mansion alone, no faces or bodies, but their presence implied, suggested, they could be four damn stories tall, who knows?

This song blares at whatever volume you set it. It doesn't wear a seatbelt. It's like writing an exam you know you've failed; it's oddly satisfying. It's just got some good vibrations in it, that's all. [MySpace]

MC Chris - "Ratz"

I never lived in a dorm. I also never went to summer camp, which I imagine is similar, except one of those has sex, the other, awkward sex. This may not be the "freshest" thing ever, but his eminemulating isn't forced, you see, it's just getting started. He's still in residence, for Pete's sake, let him get his footing! His self-conscious limpy strut, his elaborate geek-rhyming (Ween! Tatooine!) and his scheming smirk are all very precise and deliberate. Like going as "the life of the party" for halloween. [buy]

Posted by Dan at 3:22 AM | Comments (1)

March 28, 2007

Musical Chairs

Vic Chesnutt - "Vibratile Nerves"

Like a hollowed out outtake from Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, and therefore, obviously, like the musical equivalent of the skeleton of the John Merrick of dinosaurs. There's something very wrong with this song that goes well beyond Chesnutt's willfully bizarre lyrics. The words are merely outrageous vestments for a body as ill-formed as it is unformed, itself just a shell for an unsavoury soul.

[Available only at emusic]


Kilby Snow - "Greenback Dollar"

Get on your horse, turn up your horse stereo, plug in your horse iPod and ride ... slowly. This autoharp ditty is dense! [Buy]


Elsewhere, in dance craze related news: My brother's strange and hilarious brainchild.

Posted by Jordan at 2:24 PM | Comments (2)

March 27, 2007

Open Season on Free Time

Thee, Stranded Horse - "Fiend Over Your Knees"

And where does this fall, but putrid from out your drawer, long kept sealed and for good reason. It writhes and wriggles on the floor, moan-buzzing and gnashing, and warning of peril, of the horizon's coming struggle. It seems to bleed milk, or perhaps that's a natural discharge, but with all its little bumps and strangeness, you can't look away. It's beautiful having a stroke, which is still nothing but beautiful. [MySpace]

T.Rex - "Cadillac"

As with a lot of T.Rex's songs, this is about seduction. But all the "baybeh"s and "huh"s and "woo!"s in the world wouldn't make me want to go home with T.Rex, when that rhythm guitar is standing right there. Forget the soloing, the one playing the main riff, yeah, that one, wearing the unassuming Hard Rock Cafe Belfast shirt and basketball shoes. Yeah, I wanna go home with him. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 3:35 AM | Comments (5)

March 26, 2007


Ravens & Chimes - "Saint Jude in the Village Voice". Reichenbach Falls is one of the most charming debuts of 2007, a music that distinguishes itself not by the originality of its features but by its sheer fresh-facedness. Twentysomething indie-kids from New York: dime a dozen. But they sound like kids. Scrubbed, heartsick, rosy-faced, and maybe even a little naive. Far from a drag, this romanticism is downright refreshing - welcome respite in an industry where cool is often measured in nicotine stains and don't-give-a-fucks. When Ravens & Chimes play a love-song, when they sing of regrets or lusts, it's easy to imagine that they're singing of first loves, first regrets, even first kisses. Arcade Fire may on Neon Bible be wrestling with doubts and existential confusion, but back on their debut there was a similar stupid youthful determination - and so it's fitting that R&C chose to record Reichenbach Falls in the studio where AF made Funeral. (And the album opener, "This Is Where We Are", is very much a page out of Arcade Fire's book - songwriter Asher Lack even foresees Neon Bible's deluge metaphors.) But anyway: "Saint Jude in the Village Voice". No heavy drama here, no angst-filled pleas: this is an arcing, hoping, open-hearted popsong, chopped into pieces and scattered in a track of well-meaning white-kid soul. Lack's second-gladdest when he gets to yell "Whoa-oh!" at 1:27. And he's gladdest of all in the choruses, the love-song flying free, the whole band shaking the apples from a tree.

Ravens & Chimes - "Eleventh Street". I listened to this song so many times that I went looking on Flickr for pictures of Eleventh Street. Every now and then the lyrics feel precious, not-quite-right, but I don't know there's something magical in this not-quite-rightness, this groping around and not (not!) quite finding the right words for heartbreak. And while Lack tries to peel back months & years, like me just trying to find that Eleventh Street, the band plays the perfect other half to a song such as this. (The half that's missing from so many songs that look back at an evaporated ever-after.) The drummer makes a banging racket, those million fierce heartbeats compressed into two minutes. And deep in one channel a mandolin mandolins: strum and strum and strum, hard as it can, just like all of us, not knowing what the hell else to do.

[Reichenbach Falls will be released in June: homepage / myspace]


Archivists! Those who wish to explore the Said the Gramophone stacks are no longer relegated to the calendar view on the sidebar: you can now browse our archives bit-by-bit by clicking on "Older posts" at the bottom of the main page.


Arcade Fire's full freight-elevator Take-Away Show filmed in Paris, is now available. It's something special.


I have a feature on Arcade Fire in the April issue of Paste magazine, including an interview with Win & Regine and a visit inside the studio. I think it's now on stands.

Stalkers should also watch for the upcoming May issue of The Believer, which includes an interview I conducted last year with Okkervil River's Will Sheff. We talk about Sam Cooke, knife fights, Destroyer, and forming a band to spite your girlfriend.

Posted by Sean at 8:20 AM | Comments (6)

March 23, 2007


The Hidden Cameras - "Learning the Lie". With "Learning the Lie", The Hidden Cameras propose a hypothesis: The Velvet Underground, at their best, may be emulated by just mumbo-jumbo mumble-wacka-wacka'ing the lyrics. "Mumbo-jumbo mumble-wacka-wacka" is a phrase of my own creation, an attempt to formalise the bullshit Joel Gibb gets up to here. He's just tootling away, singing nothing at all, smirking in the confidence of his caricature. And I kinda want to sock him in the mouth for thinking that he can get away with this. A slouching guitar-line, a dented violin, forward-leaning drums: this is all you need to pretend to be The Velvets? He's "hilariously mistaken". But as I stride towards him, sleeve rolled up, cheeks sucked in so I look something like a death's-head Popeye, he gets me. Joel gets me. The swing's in my step and I can't shake it out, the hook's in my ears and I can't get them clear, I'm singing along and I can't help myself. "Ooo-do-do-doo doo, haw-aw oo-doo doo doo!" I feel like a square so I lean up against a building, put hands in pockets, wait for the man. Tap my foot and grin like a damn fool. [buy Awoo]

Low - "Belarus". Drums & Guns, the new album by indie careerists Low, is downright terrific, my favourite LP they've ever produced. It sounds real funny on headphones - mixed weirdly separate, far-right and left. But set it playing in a room and each channel catches the resonant frequency of a different object. They shattered my incandescents, my fluorescents, made my tables buckle, knocked tribal masks from my walls. All slow like, so I couldn't tell what was happening. I'd just feel a heat in my chest then hear splintering wood or shattering glass. It's a lulling music that's very, very hot - lows and highs in concert, like two candle flames touching. "Belarus" is trapped voices, canned drum loop, rehearsed vocals, bottled strings. The only thing that's free is the bassline, like the patrol around a field, the soldier whose been told to wait for the armies to arrive. [buy]


One of the best songs I've heard this week is "Alone Again", by Illinois, posted over at Molars. It's three minutes that sounds like less than one - the chorus only comes once, only once! And that moment is handclaps and oohs and red-hot guitars and voices singing in harmony that "I'm alone again / I'm alone again / I'm alone again / I'm alone again". Like it's a happy inevitable, a triumph, the sweetest fish that Fate could hook on your line. Maybe it's psychopathy, or reverse psychology, but it feels rightest to me as a song for someone who's too far gone to be able to handle anything else. A sleeping pill, or a love-letter to keep you alive.

Fluxblog's written about LCD Soundsystem's "Someone Great", one of my favourite songs of 2007 so far. Matthew nails the description of James Murphy's vocals - "shell-shocked ... utterly lost within himself and unsure of his every feeling", - but he neglects the interaction between Murphy's singing and the instrumental portion of the song. Murphy sings with an ambivalence that should be wrenching: a hollowness that would send a happier- of sadder-'sounding' song into the annals of the utterly depressing. Instead he's chosen to do something else. The bassline matches Murphy's tone - submerged, lost, - but almost everything else is just slightly optimistic. Drumsticks click-clack, glockenspiel dings, and synths do little stints of break-dancing. It's not unhappy - nor is it so saccharine that the irony wounds. Instead the song's instrumental is just on the far side of fantasy - trapped on the same side of the glass as Murphy, but in a place his vocals don't depict. It's in the future that never happened, the could-have-been where Murphy - even as he sings the no-it-wasn't - still spends his time. "Someone Great" is filled with the imaginary nostalgic.


La Blogotheque pulled it off: piece by piece they are sharing a Take-Away Concert in Paris with the Arcade Fire (english translation forthcoming, I'm told).


Still looking for one more kind soul to join a small Gramophone chalet at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival at the end of April. (In England.) The lineup's got everyone from The Dirty Three to Joanna Newsom, Nick Cave to Cat Power, The Art Ensemble of Chicago to Felix Lajko. Get in touch.

Posted by Sean at 8:20 AM | Comments (7)

March 22, 2007

My Affinity For the Confused

Habitat - "Concrete Love"

Habitat choose only to visit the woods, and not live in them. They choose to make-believe and draw in crayon, rather than to get naked and find out what's wrong with themselves. Do you know what I mean? And that's okay. You can strum and whistle and make sweet noises and smile, but wouldn't it be great if you became truly unafraid, truly honest? An easy thing for a critic to say. [MySpace]

J.A.C.K. - "Suicide Man"

With a name that looks like a third-person shooter, or a spy novel that spends too much time on the sex scenes, this band is something of a deception. Their cock rock stylings are exaggerated in all the right ways, especially with the vocalist screeching an entire verse, and their Southern Bar Rock veneer is thankfully a lie, like the way an MC introduces you, and you shake your head as you walk on stage. They rise above it, or sink beneath it, as in to a swamp, whichever is better. [MySpace]

Posted by Dan at 3:20 AM | Comments (2)

March 21, 2007

Said the Guests: Irina Troitskaya

If I lived in Russia, I would probably be a thief. Only - and I do mean this, only - because if I were sitting beside Irina Troitskaya on the Moscow subway, I suspect I would be unable to halt my compulsion to "borrow" one of her moleskine notebooks. For more than a year I've been watching them fill up on her flickr stream, and today the Russia I imagine is inhabited with her creations: full of feathers, light, animals and melancholy. The only thing that would stop me from nicking her creations is the knowledge that I'm already carrying them around with me, rolling like marbles in my head, or pressed into the back of my eyes like block-cuts.

I invited Irina to choose three favourite songs, and to make pictures for them. Here they are. I think you'll be as smitten as I was. Please tell her what you think.

Antony and the Johnsons - "Bird Gurl"

Irina Troitskaya - "Bird Gurl" (click for full size)
(buy I Am A Bird Now)

The Decemberists - "The Crane Wife 1 and 2"
Irina Troitskaya - "The Crane Wife" (click for full size)
(buy the Decemberists' Crane Wife)

Leonid Fedorov - "The Lamp"
Irina Troitskaya - "Red Lamp" (click for full size)
(more Fedorov)

[Irina Troitskaya was born and raised in Izhevsk, Russia - city of dead ends, sad electronic music and Finno-Ugric cultural roots. Her love of drawing led her to the Udmurt State University, where she studied arts for about five years. But it gave her nothing but weariness. For the first time in her life, drawing became an abhorrence. On graduating from university Irina quit drawing and worked for a couple of years as a TV journalist. She was a presenter of TV programs about artists and the culture of her native city. In the summer of 2003 she decided it was time for a change, packed up, and took a chance in Moscow. Since then she works and resides in the capital of Russia. She is a free-lance illustrator by day and an artist by night. "Life's too short to be someone you don't want to." (homepage, flickr)]

(Previous guest-blogs: artist Eleanor Meredith, 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 8:24 AM | Comments (5)

March 20, 2007

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa

Medicine Head - "His Guiding Hand"

A bass drum, a harmonica, and an electric guitar are three instruments one person can play at once. Medicine Head splits them up between two people and still can't seem to hit all the notes or stay in time. Doesn't matter to them. This is between one man, another man, and an unmoved mover. Passing judgment on their playing would be like passing judgment on your neighbours' lovemaking: weird and useless. Though not technically precise, Medicine Head are oh-so-careful in the manner in which they commune: soft attacks and long decays assure that no one and nothing will be startled; a simple snaky instrumental path is easy for all to follow; and a quavering Antony voice traces the border between the monastic and the trangressive, negotiates between the righteous and the human. [Buy]


American Analog Set - "Choir Vandals"

Very few members of the set of all songs containing the word 'coffee' or 'caffeine' are shared by the set of all songs that have the property of goodness. One exception to this principle is American Analog Set's "Choir Vandals," which belongs to both sets, as well as to the rather large set of all songs that achieve beauty through repetitive simplicity; the set of all songs that use the ride cymbal to its aching maximal effect; the set of all songs; and the set of all named things, to name just a few of the infinite elements of the set of all sets containing this song. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 3:24 PM | Comments (2)

March 19, 2007

My Hands Smell Like an Airport

Soko - "I'll Kill Her"

This song swings it legs, languid, over the edge of the bed, but then as the sheets drop, they reveal a smoky cute voice, the pouty girl version of Herman Dune. And as we're suzanne-vega'd through cloudy Paris streets, hands tucked inside our sleeves, 'growing up' seems like a place you end up, not a place you go towards. To quote a remark left on one of my papers for school, thing song is 'hilariously mistaken' in its resignation. If only my chair hadn't been destroyed, I'd have somewhere to sit down. [MySpace] [thank you Olwen]

Jay Reatard - "My Shadow"

I may not be right, but I know you're wrong. I look at your damn beautiful face standing there, spouting those barbs, call them promises, at me. And you're nothing but sweet to me, and your clothes all have my name in them, and your car is made out of a short story with my face in the title. But how dare you do that to us? Now this can never work, 'cause now I have to leave. Have my cake and throw it away. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 3:38 AM | Comments (6)

March 16, 2007


Bill Callahan - "Sycamore". It's a song that borrows its guitar-line from the song that James, Donna and cousin Maddy record in the living-room on Twin Peaks. And just like that Twin Peaks number it's a track filled with a diffuse and undirected love. Neither Bill Callahan nor James know who to thank for this moment*, for the magnificence of it, for a hot heart on a cold evening. "There's sap in the trees if you tap 'em / There's blood on the seas if you map 'em." Callahan sings crooked platitudes, half-wisdoms, blind man's advice - and do you have a better idea? He's like the guy at the bar who's toasting the bartender, the mirror, the pint-glasses, the hairdos, the everything. Because nothing is a suitable container for the heat that he's feeling; he might as well just share it how he can, and if it's meaningless at least it's still warm. Only one thing seems to bear even a hint of what it truly is to feel how he does. And that one thing is the word "sycamore". Forget "cellar door". Forget "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". Callahan borrowed one of my favourite words, but it's ok since he uses it as I would. To hold for a sec the can't-be-held.


1. The drums (Jim White, of course) are a lesson in stealin' my heart by playin' it straight. And the guitar solos (wait for them) are a lesson in stealin' my heart by sayin' it straight.

2. I don't normally criticise like this, but Woke On A Whaleheart is lazy, meandering, and an utter disappointment; this (awesome) song aside, it doesn't hold a candle to Callahan's last (remarkable) record, A River Ain't Too Much to Love. And this makes me very sad.

* Bill Callahan does seem to toy with thanking the Christian "Papa". But not with much gusto.



Cerberus Shoal - "Sweetie". A tundra song, a wandering song, a lover's chant - forlorn but utterly determined. Cerberus Shoal play a long, glinting round, a psych-folk of strum & thrum & bell & sour harmony. Interesting how it sounds like a ghost's song, but is a song for the still-living. The living ghost, I guess. The man with a piece of his heart missing. And "Sweetie"? "Sweetie"!?! It's a term of endearment that belongs at a diner, an aunt-and-uncle's house, or sixties suburbia - what's it doing here on the moor? Our narrator is clearly in over his head.

[from The Whys and The Hows, a split LP by Herman Dune and Ceberus Shoal]


Hi! You might notice something different at Said the Gramophone today. If you don't, try clicking reload a couple of times. Yes, we have a new header image, courtesy of artist (and guest-blogger) Keith Andrew Shore. He sent the image to us a year ago, but it's not til now that we've finally been able to make good on it. We now have two different headers: the familiar gramophone-and-butterflies, by our friend Neale, and Andrew's mesmerised gorilla. Every time you visit Said the Gramophone, one of these images will load at random. And in the coming months we hope to add a few more images to the rotation. Sincere thank-you to Adam R for helping us to get the code working, but really I want to thank Andrew Shore for his patience, generosity, and the flush, coarse brilliance that streaks through all his work. Visit his website to see more - especially notable is his contribution to the new Fantagraphics bestiary, BEASTS, and the accompanying letterpress set at Tiny Showcase.

Posted by Sean at 9:46 AM | Comments (15)

March 15, 2007

Polymath and Ignoramus

(The Ignoramus and The Polymath sit at either side of a chessboard. The Ignoramus (white) has just posed the Queen’s Gambit. They are listening to two songs by The Innocence Mission: “The Brotherhood of Man” and “Into Brooklyn, Early in the Morning”)

The Ignoramus: In what way is cheese produced?
The Polymath: Cheese comes from cows.
The Ignoramus: And goats, too, right?
The Polymath: Occasionally.
The Ignoramus: What about emotionally manipulative artists?
The Polymath: Them as well, Ignoramus. But you don’t have to milk Stephen Spielberg; he milks himself.
The Ignoramus: Oh. How about aesthetic innocents, seduced by viscerally appealing sound?
The Polymath: Yes. They make fine cheese, such as this.
The Ignoramus: Such as this?
The Polymath: The music we are listening to as we speak. It is a fine cheese – the fifth in my five fine cheese cannelloni. Can you not hear it?
The Ignoramus: Oh, Polymath! I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I did not recognize this auditory input as music.
The Polymath: (lets out a booming laugh) I have not since acted in as apt a fashion as I did on the day I named you, Ignoramus. You truly are an ignoramus!
The Ignoramus: (hurt) This is why I pretend to know things that I do not, so that you will not make fun of me so heartlessly.
The Polymath: Can you not hear the easy melody? The gently warmed guitars? Tambourines and accordions? That perfect voice, floating up from the music untethered and from great heights dropping lyrics as rich with cliché as half-melted brie is with flavour?
The Ignoramus: Polymath, I do not mean to presume, but is your pedagogical method not flawed? To me - an admitted ignoramus, mind you – what you have done seems the same as leading a monolingual Frenchman into a room full of objects and saying “Do you not recognize a bike, a toaster, a big foam finger?” Surely, he would respond, “Indeed, I recognize these objects, but as ‘une bicyclette’, ‘un grille-pain’, et ‘un grand doigt de mousse’.” For, though I recognize these sounds from having heard similar ones before, your utterance of the word ‘music’ was the first I had heard of it. Can you either define ‘music’ or give an exhaustive list of everything that might be referred to by the word?
The Polymath: You are right. I have shown poor judgment. To add insult to injury, I am also unable to provide an answer to your question “What is music?” As such, I propose that we complete my humiliation by switching names for all time. It only seems right.
The Polymath: As you wish, Ignoramus.
The Ignoramus: I am not sure what you mean by the word ‘wish’.



Please cross your fingers for me.


Thank you so much for your kind donations. We three truly appreciate it. Yet we remain so hungry.

Posted by Jordan at 3:13 PM | Comments (7)

March 14, 2007

Six Hours and Ten Minutes

Vic Thrill - "Circus of Enlightenment"

Let Vic Thrill, apparently a hippie now, squeeze you gently with his goldfish warble and his flighty ideals. Imagine peace + love were all you knew. Forget about those things losing their value, I wouldn't even know what to do with myself. I'd probably act something like this song. I'd start by grinning, looking around, tapping my foot. Then I'd start shouting "this is it! this is it! this is it!" I'd probably snowball into oblivion. I'd happy my heart to death at an early, early age. I'd live for about four minutes. [Site]


Almost luckily, we don't live in a world with only peace + love, so it stands out when it's present. Like you, readers. Thank you so much for funding us for another year. I know a bunch "didn't get" to donate, and I'll mention two causes I believe in strongly, if you're still feeling generous:

1. taking us out to dinner.

2. WFMU, over the past year, has become the only radio station I listen to. It started with Matthew telling me (us) about The Best Show on WFMU, and ever since the Best Show podcast was introduced, I haven't missed a show. So, WFMU is having their annual fundraiser where they, an entirely listener-sponsored station, raise their funding for an entire year in 2 weeks. It's worked before, and it needs to work again. Best Show is not doing anymore shows during the fundraising marathon, but Yo La Tengo will be taking requests for pledges on Friday (8-11), so you can pledge then, or any time really. But, I wanted to share with you this sound clip I extracted from one of Best Show's (host Tom Scharpling) fundraiser shows, because it reminds me of you (I'm speaking to the donors and would-be donors for this site). It gives me chills, and makes me proud to have pledged, all of us a soldier in the army of our choosing:

Tom Scharpling - on supporting truly independent art

How This Works...
Support Freeform Radio!
Your Name
Your Email
Your Pledge $
Add this banner to your site!
Posted by Dan at 1:07 AM | Comments (1)

March 13, 2007


In November, Said the Gramophone celebrated its third year as an mp3blog. The anniversary went unremarked. In 2005 we were already longer than Moby Dick, so I guess now we're basically its sequel. Moby Dick II: The Whiter, Whiter Whale.

On March 13th of last year, we held the first ever Said the Gramophone Funding Drive. Thanks to you, we raised enough money to keep StG online for twelve months.

But twelve months have now passed, and ole Ahab is rattling at our blowhole. We'd like to ask once again for your support. Click here to donate via PayPal. We are trying to raise $200 USD.


Update: Before I had the chance to blink twice, we raised the full $200. Our readers are amazing. All of our thanks, many, many times over. Seriously - thank you so much. We promise to stay out of your hair for another year.

Of course if you live in a later timezone and your wallet is leaping out of your hands, you're always welcome to take us out to dinner.


Said the Gramophone does not take any advertising. You may have noticed most other blogs do. This isn't because we're rich playboys, although Jordan is. It's because we don't like ads. We rely on your generosity to cover our bills, and we rely on our day-jobs to pay the piper.

It doesn't cost very much money for the server resources that run an mp3blog. (Only two hundred bucks!) Said the Gramophone's real cost is in time. In the past year, Dan, Jordan and I have together composed something in the order of 260 posts. We spend hours on each one - finding songs and writing about them.

Since March '06 we've posted more than 500 songs, introducing you (perhaps) to artists like Beirut, Horse Feathers, Basia Bulat, Parenthetical Girls, Sleeping States, The Low Lows, Ola Podrida, Red River, Fionn Regan, Coyle & Sharpe... the list's pretty endless. We've seen marvelous guest-posts by members of Arcade Fire, The Weakerthans, Clem Snide, Beirut, and more. Jonathan Lethem blogged for us. Eugene Mirman did. We welcomed the work of visual artists like Matthew Feyld and Daria Tessler.

And we tried to write like we had sparks in our fingers.

Please donate. There are even prizes! (Goal reached!)

(And once again - family members, ambassadors, zaidies, this is not for you! You already buy us birthday presents, bar mitzvah gifts, wedding bands. Please leave the donations to our daft, kindly readers.)

Said the Gramophone is a very peculiar website. We write nonsense, at length. We don't really talk about tour-dates or release-dates. We realise we're not going to be top of the charts. But it makes us feel so great to be read. And so regardless of dollars or cents, pounds or zloty, thank-you thank-you thank-you all for continuing to make this one of the most rewarding things in our lives.


"Heirloom" is a short story written and performed by Sean Michaels, early last year. In the background is music by Toumani Diabate and Stars of the Lid. It is low-tech and clumsy, but well-intentioned. Hope you like it. (It would be pretty hypocritical to say anything about copyright!)


The winners of the Fulton Lights Contest have been alerted. Our readers are such poets! So many beautiful entries, especially by Katy K, Todd L, Daniel S (!), Samuel H, Ryan O, Sam S, Adam R, Carlos d V, Donald J, Jacob R, Jason S, Maryam E, Emily B, Kris O, and Gregory P. I was reading sounds from all over the world; pretty magical. Thank you. The Fulton Lights album is of course now for sale here. The CD release is in NYC on Thursday. Andrew will be performing with strings and horns and guests, oh my. More info here.

Posted by Sean at 5:02 AM | Comments (18)

March 12, 2007

Henry Joost and Die Romantik

Both talents on their own, I'd like to focus today on the collaborations between the band Die Romantik and filmmaker Henry Joost. There are only 2, so it's appropriate, and they're both gorgeous, which is also appropriate.

[note: these video files can't be previewed obviously, so you'll need to have quicktime to watch them]

Die Romantik & Henry Joost - "Nachtmusik Für Linnea" (huge)
or (YouTube)


This is simply a soft and perfect treasure, a seamless visual dialogue. The man sings apparently to Linnea, the coy and smiling blond, about how he wants her, while she is clearly with another woman. However, upon reflection, it may not be that easy, he seems to be singing for someone else, he doesn't seem affected by her refusal. He's almost singing on our behalf, with his voice sounding like a male Astrud Gilberto, as if we, the newly introduced friend, have fallen immediately in love with Linnea, and he whimpers, half in warning half in lament, that we and he, and all the rest, want what will never be ours. But, that's content. Formally, it's edited like a tennis match. The tone, cadence, and colours are all brilliant. If you've seen F for Fake, you know that it starts like a jetplane, and goes non-stop for 40 minutes, and then lags bigtime for like 25 minutes during the Picasso part. This is what those 25 minutes should have been condensed to.


Die Romantik & Henry Joost - "A Die Romantik Christmas"


Admittedly sillier, this video is still filled brimming with greatness. Looked at on the whole, it's three men sharing a Christmas meal with an elf. Looked at from inside, it's a swirling waltz and cackle about holiday cheer. The eerie haunt of the carol-cum-dirge sways the camera back and forth, towards and away, from the grins, the knives, the meat. The elf, whose house it is, seems possibly imaginary, so these men's psychosis brings them together, to laugh and drink and devour. It's Holiday Halloween. Or more accurately, a cute argument for Christmas as cult ritual.


Henry (I like that his name sounds like "Juste") has informed me that he's working on a video for the title track from Die Romantik's new album, Narcissist's Waltz. The song begins where "Nachtmusik" ends, and throws open the beige shutters and greets the sun,
like this.

[Die Romantik's website] [Henry Joost's website]

Posted by Dan at 2:12 AM | Comments (2)

March 9, 2007


Leopold and His Fiction - "Miss Manipulation"

Doesn't it feel like the world's in a giant foam party? Except minus the party part. It's a constant physical effort to see what's right in front of you. And after you make it to the kitchen, your lunch is still covered in foam. Driving is tougher, but you get used to it right away, your eyes, now useless, glaze over, and your mouth bunches and flattens, you still, inexplicably, signal. At this point, we pull back from you, and realise that this song is about all of us getting along in this foam party world.

Leopold and His Fiction - "Be Still"

If the Pauls made songs in straight lines, if Alden Penner's sweetness weren't hiding in a tomb somewhere, if drumsticks could tap dance, then there would be no need for this song to exist. But there is a need. Please stay.


Posted by Dan at 2:21 AM | Comments (2)

March 8, 2007


Here in Krakow, there's no internet at home. Though last fall I spent several months waiting for broadband to be hooked up, forced onto the patio (in the rain) to leech wifi from upstairs, this is the first time in years where I've been living somewhere that there's simply no access. I know, I know: what a difficult life I lead! The reason I bring this up is not to talk of personal fortune or mis-, but rather to reflect on how it's changed some things.

I have a laptop and so often download my emails at an internet cafe, then answer them (leaving them queued and unsent) when at home. These days someone mentions an unfamiliar name - "Ira Glass", say, - and I can't just google them to find out who they are. No, I sit here trying to figure it out. Wasn't he the bad guy in Unbreakable?, I wonder. Or: He sounds like the kind of dude who would be involved with Mad About You, with Paul Reiser. The one thing I'm certain: He's a radio guy. Or a writer. Or maybe a psychiatrist. He's definitely got a good sense of humour. Ira Glass. I wonder for a moment if he's one of the siblings in a Salinger story.

Similarly, when I'm writing something, I sometimes lack a fact. What's the name of the Budapest airport? Sometimes it's something I should know, but I've just forgotten. What's the name of that hat that flappers wear? My memory's soft from years of Wikipedia and search-engines. I don't retain anything. Who needs to remember Ferihegy Airport or cloche hats? Well writers do, apparently. So sometimes I'm stuck for something, unable to google it - "What's a city on the Black Sea?!!" - and since I can't answer I get frustrated. I'm unable to just let it lie, unable to leave it blank to fill in later, and I just throw the whole thing out the window. Fuck that idea! Whatever I'm writing - email, story, novel! - takes an abrupt swerve. No longer are they visiting Bulgaria. Screw that! Now it's to Croatia, where I know there's a coastline.

So not-having-internet is affecting things more deeply than I would have expected.

And then there's the matter of music. I have some stuff I've only recently got. Or only recently am revisiting. And I don't know much about it. Normally I would just look the bands up on Wikipedia, speak eloquently, and appear knowledgeable. But here, right now in my apartment on ulica Wielopole, I can't. There's no pulling a fast one on you guys. I have no idea what I'm listening to. Or in other words: I have no idea what I'm talking about.

How, I wonder, does that affect the music? Is it a purer listening? Is it a truer one, to be without any truths? What do I hear?

Fóstbræður - "Swing Low". In Rejkyavik I bought a three-CD set by Fóstbræður. They are an Icelandic mens' choir: this much is clear from the booklet art, where they're tuxedo'd to the hilt. And this is some sort of anthology, tracks from 1916-2006. "Swing Low" is from 1960. On a set of 73 songs, all but this and one more cut are sung in Icelandic. It's 2 minutes 39 seconds long. And that's it. That's all I know. Everything else is made up.

"Swing Low" is sung by a men's choir not accustomed to singing jazz. Not accustomed to lightness and sunshine. It starts plausibly: a high male voice, balanced on a rafter. But the first wobble comes with the tenor that answers it - a tremor in the pronunciation, a dip toward sadness. Soon the whole choir's there and we're at least somewhere familiar - a chapel, a concert-hall. This ain't jazz: it's a hymn, melodious and fluid. But just past the minute mark, things get kind of crazy. The choir BELLOWS. They turn into bellowing men with hands in fists. (I can't even make out the lyrics and don't actually know them, and can't google them, so -) "...swing low, sweeeET CHERRY ROSE, COMING FORWARD TO CARRY ME home". This isn't some pansy bunch of Austrians or Canadians. No, kids. These are Icelanders. These are fishermen's sons. And they have SEEN THE SUBLIME. They've seen it in seas and icebergs and whales' breath. And so when Fóstbræður sing of that "sweet cherry rose", they sing it like it's the great fucking SUBLIME, beautiful and terrible, heavy as volcano spit. [info]

Lost in Hildurness - "Floods". Another purchase from Iceland. This one I forgot the liner-notes with my luggage in London. So what do I have: recollections. Lost in Hildurness is the work of one woman, responsible for all the droning gambas, basses, cellos; the dulcimer and percussion; the gusts of vocals. The cover art is an expressionist painting, naive, almost psyhedelic. And every song is like this ione: thick as sea-water, live as sea, beautiful as sky. There's something you can mistake for dread, for loneliness, but after enough listens you recognise it as a different feeling: that same "sweet cherry rose" as Fóstbræður, found, hard and terrible and so utterly splendid. [buy / myspace]

The Gongs - "The Dinosaur". This is probably not Icelandic. It was sent to me months back as a submission to our Best Songs of 2006 contest. I can't even double-check who submitted it! (Thanks!) And it's great. It's a minute and twenty-two seconds long and it's so lo-fi that you hear the vocals feeding back, the drum-sound scraping.

So who are these people? Who are The Gongs? Let's make it up: they're three linguistics majors and a physics major. They're all taking a class on dinosaurs, because they like them. And they all have to do a presentation before the class on the subject of dinosaurs. And as they're meeting at the library one day the physics dude - who is a music-head, a dandelion, a wannabe indiepop star, - he convinces the linguistics girls to do a song. He writes the tune and plays the glockenspiel. They write the lyrics, sing, play drums and piano. And they gather round his computer, the iMac's built-in mic, and they sing a song of boundless optimism. Meredith's imagining her shitty ex-boyfriend, Claire's remembering piano class with Miss Levine, Suzi's wishing she had a friend as kind as the protagonist of this song, and Pete - Pete's reflecting on how awesome 'twould be to be pals with a dinosaur! [myspace]

Posted by Sean at 7:36 AM | Comments (15)

March 7, 2007

August Möbius and Max Planck

Elizabeth Mitchell - "Three Little Birds"

This is a song for kids. As I don't know any kids or understand what they like, I have no way of evaluating how successful it is at achieving its intended purpose. For this adult, the cutesiness of the kid's voice is a little grating at first, but then takes on a very different dimension halfway through the song. At 1:05, when the Hammond organ reggae opens up into a strummed family folk, the parents and the kid start into a call and response. Only at this point does one begin to hear how difficult it is for the kid to form words with his tiny little mouth. He hasn't been speaking for long, and he's not quite used to it yet. When he sings "I woke up this morning," we understand that this is still a relatively new state of affairs for him. He saw three little birds - probably the 89th, 90th, and 91st since he learned the word 'birds'. He sings the exact same words as his parents, but he means something very different by them. He is still sensitive and obtuse and receptive. And here are his proud parents - just as hopeful, but far more wary - singing "don't worry about a thing, 'cause every little thing is gonna be alright."

Also: What's up with that funky krautrock bass line? Who let Moebius and Plank in the house (cf. Rastakraut Pasta)? Seriously, who? There's a child on the premises! [Buy]


The Mighty Hannibal - "Trying to Make it Through"

Four facts about "Trying to Make it Through":

Staccato is the soul of soul. Every note is an island. The rhythm section builds little legato bridges and the scorching guitar burns them down.

Raise my body from this seat, then raze my body to the ground.

James Brown, alone in a hotel room after a Night at the Apollo, thirsty.

The Mighty Hannibal knows how to grunt and moan and clip and suppress, but he's at his absolute best when he turns inward and sings. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 5:09 PM | Comments (5)

March 6, 2007


Ariane Moffatt - "Montréal"
Ariane Moffatt - "Terminus"

"Montréal"'s the one that will be of instant interest. There's not much that needs explanation: here's rat-a-tat percussion and a piano back-beat, Moffatt singing not unlike some French-Canadian Lily Allen. There's the same sparkle, the same toss of hair and flash of stockings. It's a song of return - the best kind of return. "Je reviens à Montéal," she sings. "Je rentre à Montréal." In short: she's back! She's wiser, more adaptable, at once all-new and still-the-same. The melody's marvelous, the loll of her vocals irresistible, the sun shining. The airport runway's been transformed into a model's runway, a springtime runway, a place to stroll. Man, as someone returning soonish to Montreal, this is the reception to dream of: this sun, this girl, this weird squeezy wheezy sound at the 1:00 mark.

And with "Terminus", later on the same album, Moffatt does something unexpected. She presents an imagining of just the opposite. The worst kind of return. The one I suspect (sadly) that we've each experienced. "Le succès peut être amer (Success can be bitter)" she sings, a mirror reversal of "Montréal"'s jubilance. It goes on:

Je me réveille au terminus
sans caresse
sans chorus.

Je me réveille au terminus
dans le premier autobus.

I wake up at the terminal
without caress
without chorus.

I wake up at the terminal
into the first bus.

It's a horrible image she evokes. A nightmare. The return after a long journey, but with no one waiting. When you stagger through the automatic doors and find - strangers. Just strangers. You heave your bags, always look-look-looking, even if you expect it, just in case maybe someone (someone?) might have surprised you.

Perhaps you arrived in an airport knowing no one would be there, but thinking that maybe all the same they might have come. That maybe your life would be given a different spin than the earth's sad ole' inevitable.

But they didn't. No one's there. And you sidle to the bus-stop and lug your bag on board and sit with your head against the glass. And Ariane lets the guitar riffs give way, gone, replaced by a sound that's much more kind than any you hear in real life, alone on that bus. In real life there's no coo or sigh: just the vehicle engine, your own breath, absence like a hand in your hand.

(Thanks Bryan & Ken.) [buy]


Fulton Lights Contest!

I wrote about the debut album of Fulton Lights a few weeks ago. Today Fulton Lights is available to buy, from Android Eats Records. It's a really strong record: creaks and groans, melancholy and fierceness, Andrew Spencer Goldman's murmurs atop droning production (helped in part by Oktopus, of apocalyptic hip-hop crew Dalek).

Anyway, we have two copies to give away. To enter, email with the subject-line "Fulton Lights contest". Tell me your favourite city sound. The Montreal subway screech? The Buenos Aires tide? The Sarajevo call to prayer? My favourite two will win copies of the CD, as it's being released by Android Eats. Deadline is Friday, March 9.

The rest of you can and should just order one.


Right here:

Uh did you guys not hear how precisely on-the-money Dan was vis-a-vis Ford & Fitzroy? For any of you (like him, like me) with any affection whatsoever for "yelp rock" - Dan's right, singer is amazing.



A group called Pink Nasty recorded a song with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, which obviously got some play on the blogs. It's not particularly strong, though. But You Ain't No Picasso has by far the best thing I've ever heard out of Pink Nasty: a sincere, unironic, sort of country-pop take on Usher's "Burn". Really good. Even if it doesn't have Will Oldham.

There's no way to know whether or not she's back for real, but Abby's updated PopText with a write-up on the new Avril Lavigne single (a song I've still not heard). And man it's written like there's a parade in town, like fireworks are still hanging peppery in the sky: I mean it's written with beautiful vim. "This song may try and trick you into thinking it’s a harmless cherry popsicle – all spring quickstep double-handclaps, dripping sweet sugar rush, but..." Well, I'll leave it to her.

Posted by Sean at 8:53 AM | Comments (4)

March 5, 2007

Why The Capital Letters

Page France - "Here's a Telephone"

Rolling out of the cup as always with lyrics like a tap-dance, this is the 1:21 with the most fury (yes, even a distorted electric guitar) on the new Page France album. So much fury for his little all-carpet room, his little duck mouth, that it takes another 1:21 to calm down. Sweating, "gosh, I was so angry I almost swaggered." [Buy tour EP]

Holy Fuck - "Lovely Allen"

I went to the show tonight. Had some great moments, mostly driven to and found by the drummer. This is the first song off their new EP, which is a huge, and isolated, departure from their other stuff. It seems to have an intention aside from throbbing atmosphere and totally nerding out, which is highly unexpected, and a bit off-putting. Had Malkmus been on stage with them adding freestyle vocals (instead of the always-charming Subtitle) he would have started Baba O'Reily lyrics over top, out here in the fields, I fight for my meals... [Buy, Tour]

Ford & Fitzroy - "Handbags and Handgrenades"

I know a lot of you will write this song off too quickly. Yes, it's 6:53. Yes, it repeats its structure one too many times. But you know just as well as I do, that that singer is bloody awesome. His vocal pulls and tugs that can rip tears out of the words, his yelps and warbles that curve better than terrible posture. And his screams, god, his screams, they have the urgency and fear of a young Isaac Brock, and (think what you may of him) the presence and passion of a young Conor Oberst. And though normally I would ne'er want the two conjoined, like a Taurus and a pick-up, this guy is his own thing, and he deserves more; more space, more silence dedicated to him, more time to build and break. [site]

Posted by Dan at 4:00 AM | Comments (4)

March 2, 2007


Essie Jain - "Indefinable". If you slow a diamond enough, slow it right down, you begin to see a different glitter: there, beneath the prettty, something sad and beautiful and smelling of coal. On her album Essie Jain seems drawn to both the nice and the weird (both of which can be traps), but here she's found something perfect, flickering, and slow, slow, slow. There's a desolation to the song, a stillness that recalls the earliest (spooky) work of Kathryn Williams, and Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek". Just Jain singing to the mines, tides, a doomed love. It's not those deep cellos that root the song: it's the guitar, uninterrupted, unflinching, inevitable. Breathtaking. [buy]

Cathy Davey - "Sing for your Supper (demo)". One of my favourites of last year, falling just shy of the list posted to StG. How you like it depends entirely on how two things feel against your ears: the folds of Davey's voice, indie-girl cute; and the martial press, the Western Front. It's rare that you hear a song of not-yet-requited love where the power lies with the lover not the beloved (that is, other than stalker songs). But Davey claims strength, conviction and bombast (drums, guitars, her own voice in chorale): "one way or the other / I'll be making eyes at you". You feel like she'd knock down warehouses just for the chance to stand and see you. (Thanks Shane.) [more of Cathy Davey]



With "The Five Magical Sex Acts of Cory Kennedy", The Cold Inclusive continues its series of absurd, mesmerising, almost magic-realist celebrity fan-fiction. It's masterfully written, and very, very funny.

Nick Sylvester (not the biggest Funeral fan) writes something pretty on-the-money about the appeal of Arcade Fire.

Matthew Perpetua talks with Rob Sheffield about mix-tapes, music, zines and blogging. It's fun to read two people talking who clearly just love good songs. But my favourite line is a throw-away that Matthew makes about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps": "the vocals are like subtitles". Yes.

Locust St. has a remarkable entry on the last days of Buddy Holly. The prose is spry, evocative, moving. (Unfortunately the rare Holly mp3s aren't half as interesting.) It's these kind of stories (albeit with a few more lies!) that probably make up my favourite kind of writing-about-music. (Thanks to Amy for the tip.)

Please do leave a comment for Eleanor Meredith, our guestblogger earlier this week.

Posted by Sean at 8:15 AM | Comments (2)

March 1, 2007

The Address, The Actress, Theatrics

James Yorkston - "Woozy With Cider"

Playing one of these James Yorkston songs is like only hearing about someone you were supposed to meet. Your impression is skewed and you can't be blamed if you don't like it, you never saw the side you liked that makes the side you didn't like worthwhile. But listening to these both, you'll find something you like, they're like two very different days to the same wonderful weekend. The first day, Saturday, is spent feeling mildly sorry for yourself, the morning full of thoughts like waking up with a stack of books in your mouth, most of them Allen Ginsberg collections. The white light and chiffon curtains and plush smoke carpets of a hotel morning. And Sunday, by the crick, the dapples grow big and round and soft and completely out of focus, as the breeze blows hotter than the air, and the shade is the clothes you wear as you think about the coming school day, the end of things.

James Yorkston - "Summer Song"

[Buy from Domino Records]

Posted by Dan at 2:27 PM | Comments (4)