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.

June 29, 2007


Black Before Red - "Underneath Gold". I like songs where you can't tell if the handclaps are fingersnaps, if the trumpets are just the sound the singer makes when he opens his lips. Black Before Red offer a Broken Social groove, a before-the-night dancebeat, a series of eye contacts. "There's girls here in summer clothes." A string of necessary nothings: "Yeah / in your head yeah yeah yeah / yeah / oh-oh oh yeah (yeah)." Bodies passing through doorways, new hands in hands, a summer counted in heatwaves.



Elliott Smith - "Going Nowhere".

They sat on the couch in Wee's small living room and Wee played sad music on the stereo. Some of the songs were fast and some of them were slow. They were all sad. It was very warm in the room and Peter found himself loosening his collar, taking off his tie, folding it and putting it on his lap. He felt listless, hot. His belly was full, sated from soup and kreplach, as many kreplach as he wanted, but the rest of him – his arms, legs, neck, head, - felt filled with straw. Wee kept sitting down and standing up, putting on something new, pointing his finger at the stereo as a song approached the bit he wanted to draw attention to. When it arrived Wee would smile so unselfconsciously, nod his head and say "Yeah".
For a while, neither said anything.
"I was thinking maybe trip-hop. Did I say that?"
"Yes, you said that," said Peter.
"I'm thinking it could work."
Peter leaned his head back against the rear of the couch. Above the TV and stereo was the poster of a band, four men in beards, ivy weaving around their feet.
Later Wenceslas left to do something in the kitchen and Peter found himself alone in the room, a lamp in the corner, and a song was playing. Peter listened. He didn't realise he was listening until the singer sang and he felt himself reassured, the prick of fingerpicked guitar smoothed by a sorrowful voice. It wasn't one voice, it was several; double- and triple-tracked vocals, steadying.
"What is this?" Peter asked when Wee came back in.
"Elliott Smith," said Wee.
"It's good," said Peter.
"He's dead," said Wee. He sat down. "Killed himself."
"Oh." There was something disappointing in this. A sad song taken somehow too seriously.
"Stabbed himself in the heart," said Wee.
Peter grimaced.
"Yeah. Pretty emo."
But then they listened to Elliott Smith's voice and forgot about what happened to him and just sat until they felt tired, exchanging only a few words, feeling settled there, side by side, until the CD ended and it was quiet and Peter got up.
[buy New Moon, which is really excellent]

(photo by let's take your car)

Posted by Sean at 10:57 AM | Comments (6)

June 28, 2007

Too Much For One Day

Tune-Yards - "When You Tell the Lions That You Love Them So"

In the last few episodes of Sopranos, there was a bunch of appearances of Yeats' "The Second Coming" mostly from the state-of-the-world-obsessed AJ, who suddenly became an amazing character at the last minute, btw. This song reminds me of the feeling I get when I read that poem. Probably started by the lion imagery, it keeps on by the "slow thighs" the "gaze blank and pitiless as the sun", and, of course, the slouching. The beat is so dangerous, so black-eyed, and the vocals do not shy away. They start lilting, feathery, but quickly turns steely, armoured, awesomely powerful. Eventually they sweep right up into the sky like a great wind or something, and you're reminded of the constant presence of the possibility that you could, given the right circumstances, go completely mad. [MySpace]


Wet Nose Hero - "Roberto the Animator"

Here's where the title of today's post is more literally relevant. On any day, these two songs would be stars in their own right, but today they're put together, so one has to come first and one has to come second. But Wet Nose Hero can stand the test, she stands singing and strumming on cracked and cracking ice, warm toque and wool mitts in early March, the music being the only thing the air can carry, weak from a long winter. Here too, her vocals are brilliant, and they draw an ornate frame around the song, with grace, telling you where to look. When you go away, will you come back? [MySpace]

Posted by Dan at 1:36 PM | Comments (5)

June 27, 2007

Action At A Distance

The Starlight Gospel Singers - "Say a Word for Me"
Minus Story - "In Line"

Two songs separated by almost a century, yet not so dissimilar as one might first expect. The two compositions share one subject: a frightened march, by starlight, into an unknown world. And both achieve their power through density (acquired in the first case through enthusiasm and number, and in the second through technology not available at the time of the first song's making). Hear at 1:56 the accompanying voice, like a woodwind, of one of the Starlight Gospel Singers, harmonizing with his band mates, rising above in a most otherworldly way. Then listen at 1:00, 1:01, and 1:02 to the only three bass notes in "In Line," lending structure to that nebulous musical sketch and fortifying its underlying sadness. Two songs separated by almost a century, causing the same hairs to rise on this listener's arms, sending the same shivers up my spine.

[Buy Starlight Gospel Singers at emusic, Minus Story]

Posted by Jordan at 8:59 PM | Comments (1)

June 26, 2007

Out the Window and Into Traffic

Death Vessel - "Mandan Dink"

I'm asleep at the keyboard, and only my 6-year-old brain (born on a leap year) is left ticking out a tape that it takes an expert, clad in vest and gingham cap, to read. In this, the season of sunshine, giving up is a meal I'm suddenly considering on the menu, despite it's many usually unfavourable ingredients. Running away is a cool beverage that sits waiting for me in my fridge at home as I walk my bike all over a hilly busy town. And this song plays in all the passing windows, shops, and fanny-pack radios, and it sounds like the kind of song I would play for myself if I'd actually go through with it. On the way out of town, in the cab that takes me to any place worse than here, this lovely peach-eyed meadowlark of a man haws so clearly in my ears, you'd swear this is commitment to the right idea.
[Buy] [Sean on Death Vessel]

Posted by Dan at 1:57 AM | Comments (2)

June 25, 2007


Los Campesinos - "You! Me! Dancing!". Last December I wrote about an earlier recording of this song (a track that made by top 50 songs of the year), but this new version is rocketship to that one's horse-drawn carriage. It was recorded by Dave Newfeld, he of Broken Social Scene and You Forgot It In People, one of my favourite producers working today. And the finished result is a frantic mess, a deafening pop song, a band firing on twenty cylinders & adding new cylinders as they go. An electric guitar allumeuse, a bass-drum bricklayer, a glockenspiel chandelier, voices haranguing a violinist. It's like The Delgados are still around, ten years younger, stomping on the upper floor of a barn until the whole building collapses.

In Susan Cooper's The Grey King, Will, Bran and the Old Ones must hold back The Dark, all of 'em, even the mountain Cader Idris itself. And they do it: through magic, will, determination. But they should have got Los Campesinos on the phone; called them up from Cardiff to Gwynedd; and let them blaze their joy through the shifting ranks of evil, cleaving grief like a hot knife through butter.

They're a group that makes me wish I was in a band; it's a song that makes me wish I was a piece of vinyl.


Sandro Perri - "Dreams"
Fleetwood Mac - "Dreams"

When Stevie Nicks sings "Dreams", she's still trying to seduce him. There's something tilted in the way she sings "Who am I to keep you down?" She may not mean for the song to be so barbed, such an elbow in the gut of Lindsey Buckingham. But as she sings of a heartbeat that "drives you mad / in the stillness of remembering," the drum-beat is maddeningly clear, an over-and-over that brings you to rest in just that place. And she sounds very good, singing it. And you wonder what it would take to have the chance to harmonize with her.

But when Sandro Perri plays "Dreams", the drums are sparse - the heartbeat itself has almost been forgotten. It's the chorus - fleeting, familiar, gorgeous - that represents the stuff which has been lost. And it's his voice, and the guitars, and the wide open sounds. It's a fitting dream-sound, and there's nothing pointed in it. It's a eulogy without subtext. It's a sadness. He's more bard than former lover, singing the melancholy instead of an ardour.

(many thanks to Shane for the Sandro Perri song)

[buy Fleetwood Mac's Rumours / I highly recommend(ed) Sandro Perri's first EP, but unfortunately "Dreams" is from a limited edition tour-only CD-R]

(photo of Cwm Idwal by Dave JG)

Posted by Sean at 12:58 PM | Comments (5)

June 22, 2007

Self-Esteem, Itself a Steam

BOAT - "I Really, Really Think You Should Rethink Your Life"

"On 4 Feb 1831, Daniel Beirne was convicted with his master, Hugh Mulvey, and sentenced to 7 years in Carrick on Shannon for the crime of taking possession of a house. Beirne states his widowed mother and six children are dependent on his support. petition: Co Leitrum" [source]

It's true, I can't and I won't hide from it any longer. I met ol' Hugh Mulvey ('The Minge' we used to call him) at St. Davitt's where I took a reading class and mostly oggled girlies. We would sneak pints out the back door of Brady's Pub during the rush, and stumble down to Gravelside and throw rocks at each other. Eventually we got to talking, and The Minge could talk a pitter into a storm, believe you me, and by the end of it, I was the willing employee of Lord Mulvey, heir to the famous Mulvey fortune, and great landowner. He said that by just claiming to own land, we would own it. I'm reading it myself now, and I'm shaking my head at my own dear daft brain, but I believed it; I believed him. Ol' Carson Garvins, the rattiest ol' sod in all of county Leitrum, had just died in his sad little farm on Shieldstone Hill, so The Minge and I just moved right in. Took nothing but my leathers and a drawing my little sister had done of a crab that was too big for the sea, and sat our stupid little fannies down to rest. Well, I don't need to tell you we got nipped, and I spent 7 goddamned years in Carrick. But that's over now, and I'm picking myself up now. I'm learning something new once a week, just little things: for instance, I learned to tell a joke the other day. What's a nobleman and a stableboy have in common? They both shovel shite for a living. It cracked the whole gang up at Brady's. Mum and the kids didn't laugh so much.

[Boat previously on StG: Me, Jordan]

Posted by Dan at 2:02 AM | Comments (2)

June 21, 2007


Slaraffenland - "Polaroids". A hundred cannonballs in uneasy orbits above your head. You fired them only one by one, over the years, and not often. You thought nothing of it. You liked the fizz and boom. But now you wait for the bus, you lie in bed, and you imagine them swimming up there, each in a separate trajectory. You wonder when one of the things you set in motion will lunge at your resting form. It's the only thing you dream about. It's the only thing you hope for.

[buy Private Cinema from Hometapes (pre-orders come with a free poster)]

Detroit Cobras - "You'll Never Change". She sings this: "You walk around looking mean and evil, each and every day." But no one's walking, here; it's all slither. A golden slither in the guitar, a silver slither in the doobie-doobie-doo. Sin displayed in all its sweetness, all its pocketful of glimmer. (People were badder when the radio sounded like this.)




The motley cover-songs of Jacob M. Ruefer.

Carl Wilson on Hilary Clinton and Celine Dion.

And... Ill Doctrine is the outstanding new video blog by & WBAI's Jay Smooth. Hiphopmusic was of course part of a recent hostile takeover by Just Blaze. (Seriously though, the new lineup looks awesome.)

Posted by Sean at 10:58 AM | Comments (4)

June 20, 2007

You're Everywhere I Turn

Misha - "Shake a Little Looser" [mp3 removed by label request]

This is the only "strummy" song on Misha's Teardrop Sweetheart, but it's definitely the best. It's handmade quality is what sets it apart from the other blippy, disco-y songs (which are often good too, but not like this). He's got that George Harrison echo, and simple simple structure, but it's those little flicks, those little melodic winks, like the way your favourite person says your name, it's such a comfortable sound, so comfortable it makes you shiver. And the way this song ends, though understated, is what makes it great; it knows to give up right when the last word is said. It's so nice it's almost enviable. [Buy]


Liars - "The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack (Single Version)"

My ears can't really hear anything except this today. If you tried to call me, I'd answer (I have it on vibrate) but I wouldn't know when you were talking. If I saw you on the street, I'd think you were rude, like you were flapping your mouth in some sort of gesture of ridicule. I shouldn't try to cross the street or ride my bike, I certainly couldn't go to a movie or a guest lecture, or join in on the "Simon Says" tournament in the park. No, today I can only listen to this song, with its beat like giant swaying redwoods, its treble-y, almost hissy vocals like a coarse whisper. And I love the ambiguity of the lyrics, it sounds less like an offer of support, If you need me, I can always be found, and more like an admission of weakness, like he's disappointed in himself, that he'll always be there. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 2:52 PM | Comments (6)

June 19, 2007


by Matthew Feyld

Ray Rumours And The No-Eyed Deers - "No Way To Know". So you move to a new city - you're there and when you walk down the street you marvel at the colour of the asphalt, that unfamiliar grey, that new grey, your new grey. And you meet new friends: people like the history student who wears polkadot dresses, or the painter in the straw hat. You spend every weekend in conversation, clinking glasses, thinking about how much you like lamps, how they cast a better light than overhead bulbs. Every time you get a phonecall from one of your new friends, your heart gives a leap of excitement. It's new territory. It's literally new territory and you never know what's in the telephone ring.

And you've heard that one of your friends, a girl named Ray, has a band.* And you've never heard them, because it seems a little silly to ask, and instead you often walk down the street, staring at the asphalt, and wonder.

One day you go to Ray's house and everyone's there, all your friends and her whole little band. They're cross-legged on the floorboards and the lamps are on. Ray's got an acoustic guitar under her arm and she plays a little ditty when you come in, a welcome ditty, and Gill rattles his tambourine. And you realise that her voice is precisely the thing you hoped it would be, precisely the mouse-hole murmur. It's a voice with nooks, and smile, and the same peachfuzz fur that you find sometimes on the surface of flowerpotplant leaves. It makes you love your friends very much.

Then they're playing a song called "No Way To Know" and they ask you to play melodica. The first time round, someone shows you how it should go. After that you're on your own. You stand awkwardly as they play the first verse, listening, waiting, tapping your sneaker at the same time as everyone else is tapping their sneaker. And suddenly Ray nods to you, grins, and you furrow your brow and concentrate and try your goshdamnedneess to get the solo right. You're concentrating so hard, staring into Ray's eyes and Gill's eyes and everyone's eyes, that your whole history disappears. There were no years before this one, no places before this one. There were no other homes. You play the melodica and a smile's on your lips and you get it wrong but you know, with certainty, you're getting it right.

Caz Mechanic - "If I See a Bear". A song like a secret casually disclosed; a "So there!" murmured so quiet that the pride is lost. Sounds gather above Caz Mechanic's head, crowding like clouds. If she ever sang this song before You, the You of this song - the bear, the no-longer, - she would stare him right in the eyes. "And ok if I see you, and you look really great, 'Don't worry' I'll say. But you're a dangerous hesitation - so get out of my way." Like the most important thing about de-clawing a bear is learning that it can be de-clawed.

* Ray is actually in three bands: this one, Sisisi Sisi, and a little group called Electrelane.

[These songs are from a terrific split CD EP by Caz Mechanic and Ray Rumours. The CD also has v hot cover art. You can buy it from Tome Records for just 5 squid.]

[bird image above by matthew feyld]

Posted by Sean at 12:49 PM | Comments (5)

June 18, 2007

Acid And Bass

Fontella Bass - "Hold On This Time"

Despite first appearances, "Hold On This Time" is a song of surpassing dignity. Yes, Bass sings of being cheated on, of being lied to and made a sucker. She admits to having been abandoned and used and then, more or less, having begged for more. The history she recounts is one of continual self-abasement in the course of maintaining a relationship in which she clearly holds the lower hand. On first listen, it may seem that Bass is being pathetically dependent and hopelessly undignified when she admonishes this unrepentant cheater to "hold on" and stay with her. But listen up:

Fontella Bass loves the miserable bastard, and she sees his presence in her life, so long as he is faithful and honest, as a positive one. She is willing to forgive past misdeeds, but by no means to tolerate new ones. She sings her words with firmness and a full voice, without hesitation, but with confidence and resolve. Stay or don't, she says, but no more fucking around. Most importantly, Fontella herself is not fucking around; indeed, she sings with a cocky surety that communicates the knowledge of a self-worth degraded by dude's philandering and contains the implicit threat of a last chance. She asks him to stay not for her sake, mostly, but for his (he's wrong to think she'll always be there to take him back). And she sings that sweet, straight melody so well that this man, whoever he is, recedes into the background, an incidental, probably unworthy inspiration for something rather special.

Shockingly, Fontella Bass is as good at singing as her parents were at naming children.


Posted by Jordan at 4:58 PM | Comments (3)

June 15, 2007

Tear-Stained Sheets

Turbo Fruits - "Know Too Much"

I feel like my mouth is full of drum fills, my mind racing towards a drink, the smell of smoke. A song for, perhaps, near misses and old mistakes. [Site]

Virgin of the Birds - "You Haven't Talked to Tara"

Sounds like Destroyer at age 17. More nerves than flourish, more trepidation than flashing teeth. But the kind of potential in a mysterious polaroid, or a cool person's younger sibling. [Site]

Posted by Dan at 1:57 PM | Comments (3)

June 14, 2007


Taken By Trees - "Too Young". Peter Bjorn & John's "Young Folks" is still a song that makes me dance every time I hear it; and because of the joy "Young Folks" engenders, I can't now hear Victoria Bergsman's voice without some part of me unfolding. "Too Young" is far away from PB&J, and not even in line with the sleepy pop of Bergsman's former band, The Concretes. She sings sadly, haltingly, with just the barest of drum snaps. Organ and hum suggests just the earliest, silvering dawn light. And it's a song about growing up, a song where the unsteeled try to steel themselves, a longing for your parents as you once had them. Its second half is recounted entirely without words: stumbling piano, chattering shaker, sensing bones in arms and hope bred deep. It's a compelling mirror to Arcade Fire's coming-of-age anthems: none of their desperation and all of their want.

[buy: US/UK]

Damian Weber - "Rickshaw". I can't quite make out what Damian Weber is saying. His lyrics are like nuts I find in a bowl and put in my mouth without looking at, without knowing what they are, and I feel their brown taste on my tongue, curves and corners, and when I chew & swallow I smell fall leaves burning. He whistles like a man on the road but plays guitar like a man who's stopped travelling. Folk music that's sugar taffy, a giant trout, a single cloud in a cornflower sky.

[MySpace (thanks Tawrin)]


If anyone hasn't heard, McSweeney's is in troubling financial straits and everything they sell is on sale. You could buy me pretty much anything they sell, or if you're buying for youself, perhaps you have not yet read my interview with Will Sheff? For all the reasons there are to criticise Dave Eggers' publishing empire, I think that what they do is amazing, amazing, and strongly encourage you to help them out.

Posted by Sean at 12:26 PM | Comments (6)

June 13, 2007

An Octopus Fax

Foday Musa Suso - "Apollo"

Use a bird's eye to listen to the kora playing of Foday Musa Suso and you will hear something simple, repetitive, stuttering and lovely. But press your ears against your speaker, I say, and you've done the aural equivalent of putting your eyeballs against an M.C. Escher drawing. A close examination of the song's component parts and their complex interrelationships initially makes for a more stressful listen than does a passive appreciation of the whole, but eventually gives way to something more hypnotically soothing. A wide, mind-boggling array of rhythmic and melodic paths slowly makes itself heard, and yet despite the extraordinary technical virtuosity displayed in the playing of this song, the dominant impression it leaves is of a sad kind of playfulness; a man wading out into musical infinity. [Buy]


Bikeride - "Moonracing"

Bikeride's Tony Carbone is perhaps the greatest proponent of the Early Music/Baroque practice of "word painting" at work in pop music today. Throughout his music, when Carbone sings "high", he sings high, and when he sings "quick", he does so quickly. Here, he sings "harmonize" and layers his voice on top of itself, forming a rich chord. Carbone is such a skilled word painter that when he sings of a late summer night, amid hand-claps and xylophone, Iron and Wine guitar and airy organ, the sun actually sets and the spring shrinks away. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 6:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2007

Bodies Of Water

Bodies Of Water - "Our Friends Appear Like the Dawn"

What waves, what splashing, what gowns that fall and flow, what wine-coloured majesty, what grace. Such intensity in your silent weeping, such blazing open-eyed crying, shouting, upheaval. Bodies Of Water have cultivated (as in, grown from mere seeds) an album of almost unbearable beauty. Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink is a fantasy painting of a landscape lush, wide and foreign, an epic journey, a heroic undertaking, an accomplishment. I've posted them before, but this is their time. They have truly arrived, and I'm so glad I was here when they did.

Bodies Of Water - "We Are Co-Existors"
(song removed at request of artist. too early yet!!)

See how they charge, choirs blazing, through walls and roadblocks and anything set up to slow them down. Over mountain ridges and down the steep side to the valley. Across the valley to the forest, and through the forest like drums. Past the forest and to the field, and through the field and out to sea. "We Are Co-Existors" seems to be about the cost of loving someone, but sung by an army, a mob. As if you could enlist, if you fit the prototype, if you've been hurt, or if you've hurt in turn.

[Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink comes out on July 24th (I'll remind you). buy what you can for now.]


If interested in a discussion of a less mature and interesting approach to marriage, check out my review of Hostel: Part II on the The Movie Binge!

Posted by Dan at 12:47 PM | Comments (3)

June 11, 2007


The Leaning Towers - "Rich Enough to Ignore It". In music, in art, the why-didn't-wes are rarely meted out like this. Usually it's dragging feet, dusty drums, a weary man hounded by flashbacks. Here: tambourine, tuba, synths, fanfare, and of course that golden guitar-line. The guitar never leaves the moment of open possibility; it curls back over and over it, like a life can always be remade. The song seems... happy. Resigned to its regrets, comfortable in its shoes. Nostalgic in a pool of warm tender sun. "Probably should be singing redemption songs / instead of filling out exemption forms."

[download The Leaning Towers' entire album]

Miranda Lambert - "Desperation". This song's beautiful and low-key, and it's about stuff that pop-songs usually keep secret. Truths rarely sung: that persistence is dangerous, that sometimes the only reason we hope is so we can forget, that often we love half-heartedly. Over drum-thump and guitar-glitter a country-pop princess explains this, subtle truths in simple words, and at the end of every chorus her advice falters - at the end of every chorus she can sing just one thing, that she's still "desperate for you". And I don't know, it's beautiful and sad & in its way wise, but I wonder if perhaps the greatest kindness "Desperation" offers is just in its use of "you". A song for the lonely, and its narrator longing for "you".



The remarkable artwork of Betsy Walton is currently in exhibition at the Compound Gallery in Portland. You're looking at some of it above.

Posted by Sean at 12:40 PM | Comments (3)

June 8, 2007

Never Take a Vacation

Telefauna - "Under the Underground Water"

I see Telefauna performing this in the desert, with tons of unnecessary zoom-ins and candles (in the daytime!). Saharan nobility, they're oddly dressed for winter. Toques and wool coats and mitts. I also see them becoming completely and unbelievably famous in a foreign land for this song, and they just go to live there and perform, and we never see them in Montreal again. If only there were any "foreign lands" left to allow this; facebook has taught us that no one really disappears anymore, so we can rest assured we'll hear from Telefauna again. [MySpace (listen to "Some Of Your Love"!!)]

M.I.A. - "Hit That"

It's like meeting the parents of the last song. Not as young, but with a steadier hand and a sure aim. A lot of songs shoot at the spectral target of "making a room dance", often taking as many shots as possible in order to increase their chances of hitting something. But here, it feels like M.I.A. knows her target so well, she's shooting once, and with her eyes closed. And the refrain becomes a challenge: "boys, let me see you hit that". [MySpace (listen to "Bird Flu"!!)]


Elsewhere: my co-review with Matthew Perpetua about Crazy Love is up at The Movie Binge.

Posted by Dan at 4:25 PM | Comments (1)

June 7, 2007


Michael Barthel- "Hallelujah". Although the catalyst may have been his EMP paper on the movement of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" through pop culture, Mike Barthel's full-length reimagining is a joy in its own right. There is none of the sadness of Cohen's, Buckley's or Wainwright's versions, and whereas the intimacy of those renditions rested on their acheing slowness, Barthel places the song's eroticism in a landscape of fun, whimsy, and easygoing pleasure. The call and response in the track's opening verse ("And it pleased the Lord" "He's a bit picky.") may at first seem irreverent, almost undercutting, but it's in some ways one of the sexiest sections of any "Hallelujah" ever: a man and woman united not in po-faced transcendence, but in play. (Swagger-smiling: "There was a time when you let me know / what was really going on below...") Through falsetto, synth washes, fake drums, we never lose track of that weird, great melody at the song's core, and in places it feels liberated for the very first time; I love the eagerness in Barthel as the song accelerates and he sings lines that have (bafflingly) never been allowed to sound excited before: "I remember when I moved in you / and the holy dove was moving too / and every breath we drew was Hallelujah." Like true love's not just souls caught unmoving in trembling moonlight - it's a dude in a smile and a girl in a sundress, a park full of dandelion & hibiscus.

[read Mike B's "Hallelujah" paper / read Clap Clap / read his excellent piece on Amerie and Rihanna]

Säkert! - "Sanningsdan". Säkert!'s a band with an exclamation mark and "Sanningsdan"'s the kind of song that makes you stamp your foot in exclamation marks, each toe-tap leaving an aspirate gasp in the air. "Safe!" the band-name means, like safety is something awesome and amazing, which I guess it is, or like you're playing hide-and-seek and you totally just won. It's a new project by Annika Norlin, aka Hello Saferide, aka a voice who is dear to Said the Gramophone, but here singing in Swedish. And at 1:19 she squawks like a buzzard and at 1:43 the drums start playing fast enough to turn the worlds' oceans to ice, and the chorus is horns and ahhs and drums and harmonies and the certainty of new splendours always just around the bend. !!! ! !

[$7 digital download / swedish blog / Hello Saferide guestpost on Said the Gramophone]

Posted by Sean at 12:09 PM | Comments (5)

June 6, 2007

The Vicious Circle

The Kingsbury Manx - "Pageant Square"

There's a hill near the University of Oxford, which, if you clap at it, will squeak at you in response. You clap, it squeaks: an ancient dialogue of seemingly negligible importance. What the clapper should understand, however, is that her conversational gambit sets into motion a chain of events so complex and inconsistent that its outcomes cannot possibly be predicted. Amid a field of perfect green grass, and rose bushes in full bloom, the clapper finds something deep within the Oxford earth: a silliness verging on the sinister.

After this writer first clapped at the hill, and listened attentively to its response, the idyllic town of Oxford took on a decidedly disquieting aspect. For instance, one night, after drinking pims and lemonade at an outdoor pub peppered with peacocks and oak trunks, I walked back to my sister's apartment along the banks of the Thames, as a mathematician sculled abreast, reciting Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark" from memory. The sun was setting. Suddenly, to my great surprise, I had come under physical attack. The culprit: a white swan whose rotundity was surpassed only by its belligerence. The swan opened its beak wide and growled like a jaguar, as if to say "You will not pass, Farbs!" We traded blows for several minutes until I had thoroughly knocked that bird out.

"And when quarrels arose/as one frequently finds Quarrels will..." the mathematician continued.

Carroll himself once clapped at that Oxford hill, I'm sure. As did Monty Python and Ludwig Wittgenstein. And what delight they must have taken at the mound's unexpected reply. There's no gift quite so sweet, after all, as that of complementary sound. Whether the feedback loop of insanity that I put into effect with my clap was initially physical or psychological, I'm not sure (in the end, it's just the same), but I do know that such is the power of a simple sound, pointed in precisely the right direction, when the world is at ready with an answer in harmony.


Posted by Jordan at 7:54 PM | Comments (7)

June 5, 2007


The Wrong Trousers - "Video Killed the Radio Star (live)". Some would say that you need to see The Wrong Trousers to appreciate them. But this is a lie. Yes, you should watch the video of them busking - because they look funny, and nice, and like a lot of fun. However the people who say you need to see them are doing the band a great disservice. They've not been listening to the way they play this song, how well and brightly and gut-wrenchingly they play this song. At the end of the clip, amid all the applause, a woman exclaims "Yea-ah!", amid a kind of laugh, and this isn't the exclamation of a girl who's just been amused by a novelty, by a kind of musical Star Wars Kid. It's a "Yea-ah!" that says: I can't believe how much that music was fucking great. A "Yea-ah!" of surprise & pleasure, of respect, of wonder come burbling happily from the gut. Because ok The Wrong Trousers are high-school kids who don't look anything like rock-stars; they're a trio on harp and ukelele mandolin and upright bass; but they have Herman Dune's instinct for the true, for making awkward things, peculiar things, feel affecting and real. It's in the way their voices jostle together, "aw-AW-AW-aw" and "oh-a oh!", sounds we feel every day and which usually go unsung.

[originals at their MySpace / a couple more covers here]

Charlotte Hatherley - "Behave (Luke Smith remix)". Sometimes love is a robot with a giant top-heavy box head and spindly legs. And you're in that box head, your whole world is in that box head, and as the robot lurches through the downtown you're thrown across the room - from floor to ceiling to wall, knocking over the floor-lamp and crashing through the coffee-table and splayed sideways over the chesterfield. And some joker's standing at the door flicking the lightswitch off & on & off, just to fuck with you, friends.




Forget LOLCATS: The Architectural Dance Society has invented LOLDERRIDAS.

Somehow, without any campaigning or even knowing it was going on, -- I don't know a single person who voted! -- Said the Gramophone came in at no. 7 in the Montreal Mirror's Best Montreal Blog poll. (And on write-in votes!) And "Space Jail", starring Dan Beirne, was voted 7th-best Montreal Play (coincidence?). Anyway - thank you so much to all who voted. What a nice surprise.

I've enlisted the aforementioned Herman Dune to thank you properly: see here.

(Or send your own beautifully sweet "Wish That I Could See You Soon" greeting.)

illustration from "i loved you at all the wrong times", by (of course!) sam brown

Posted by Sean at 12:03 PM | Comments (7)

June 4, 2007

Pre-Established Harmony

Instructions: start the song. start the flash thingy. every time you hear the musical cue indicated by the text, press the button, and the next part of the interactive visual accompaniment will play. it's supposed to be fun!

Architecture in Helsinki - "Debbie"

[Buy old stuff]


Elsewhere: I'm writing for The Movie Binge this summer. Last week, I helped review Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, this week, I'll be doing Crazy Love in tandem with Matthew Perpetua.

Posted by Dan at 2:00 AM | Comments (15)

June 1, 2007

On the Front Stair

Maurice Ravel - "Bolero" [Buy]

Dear Son,

I hope this letter finds you well. As I write this, the air is clear and cold, like spring water. The broadbeaks and the sparrowlarks have returned to the tips of still-bare branches, and we're all a little better for it. And a little worse, mind, given the racket they make in the morning, and sometimes I fear they'll give us away to the enemy. The sky is still, like a lake at dawn, except for their chirping. This morning I ate my applesauce with my finger because yesterday even the clinking of the spoon against the tin would set off their nonsense. Nice, though, to look at. And the way the grass ripples like the earth were shivering at the thought of another summer. Terrain like you've never seen. Like home, only more like the home you see in your dreams: bright colours, rolling hills, white clay houses with thatched roofs. Thatched roofs, boy, what a century this is!

I've enclosed this picture of your mother and I, as we're no longer in safe enough territory for it to stay with me. Don't show it to her. Keep it for yourself, in your drawer, or throw it away. Think of it like that story I told you about when I was thirteen and met a girl from Braybush; a little golden secret, like a lone beetle or a pet ant. I'm not as young as I once was and the promises I've made add up to the equivalent of being put in stocks in the town square. But a happier man I could not be, son.

Ah, son, I long for the warm bright days of last August when we were all together, riding that automobile at the fair. I think I've figured out a way to bring automobiles to our feet, but I won't write it here, as they screen the letters. I'll say only that it will take a real man to maneuver this invention, so I know your knobbly-kneed friend won't be using it anytime soon. I like that young man, but I don't trust him, you see. If he were here right now, I wouldn't turn my back on him, that's sure. Not for a second. Not even to lower my head to see what I was writing. I'd write whilst looking him dead in the eye.

I've seen so many wonderful things on my trip, boy. Things you'd never imagine. All the giants and monsters you've read about in Uncle Gilbert's old books are real, by God. Not a word of a lie, I shot a monster as tall as the bell tower at St. Bazin's yesterday! Not before he killed three of our men, though. I came up behind him in the fray, we had him pincered, see, in the front yard of this poor farmer whose house and daughter were flattened, and shot him right in his ass. Right in his ass, boy! Think of it! Grampap never thought of such a thing when he was killing cows, did he? Oh, I'm laughing right now, if you could only see. You can probably see the spittle stains on the paper, those are from laughter. Emotions run high here, lad, make no mistake. You may be laughing hard at what I wrote, and that's fine, but it's nothing compared to out here. Where tears and hugs are the blinks and breaths of my old life. Around every corner a monster, over every horizon a beast. Death hovers like a spit-rain cloud, and there's no telling if some blasted warlock will curse one of your men into monsterhood, or if their transformation hasn't already begun. I took a swing at Lloyd Linton three nights ago, when I thought his shadow looked bigger than it ought to, but it was only the dusk playing its tricks. I haven't apologised yet, and we haven't spoken. Silence is a swimming hole that we all go down to once a day, contemplating whether to jump in or stay on the shore. I've been skin-dipping with many, but merely watching with others. I'll apologise tomorrow, if he looks deserving. No matter, he's a weak ropesman anyway, and the next Wolfwind or Bridgehawk will certainly do him in and I won't have to worry about it.

When I get home, son, I'll give you my gun. It's so powerful, it shoots for miles! I caught a Batchet from what must have been 30 paces. Sure, it's a mere Batchet, but that's working alone, my boy. When I get home, boy, that's not the only thing I'll give you. I'll give you a hug strong enough to snap your neck, though by that time you'll probably be twice my size, and a kiss sweet enough to rot the teeth out of your head. I'll take you to market, if it's still standing, and we'll get whatever season's fruit, and bushels of it! We'll eat raspberries like nothing ever happened. Like I didn't ever send half of a town's sons as bait to the wrong side of Firecrest Forest, or laid out my childhood chum like so much chunked meat for a Hoggish to devour, and run screaming in the other direction. Like I never tossed a woman's newborn babe to the mouths of a pack of bloodthirsty Mangecats to show them we were not a threat. Or stole the ration pouches of every man in the brigade, only to cry and confess the next morning, covered in palm extract paste. I'm not proud of these things, son, but may the Lord suck the blood from your eyes if you judge me for it. It's lawless out here, this is a new kind of nation. Don't be scared for your father, boy, I'm fighting for what's right, and no matter what happens, that's what's important. If I didn't do this, they would get you, these hideous beasts, and your mother too. And ol' Tippy, in Braybush. I think about her sometimes, boy, when I'm killing. Don't tell your mother. I'll hack off a jaw or a snout (for food, see) of some horrible urchin, and I'll think about her beautiful face, still fifteen years old. I'm not afraid anymore, boy, not of anything. And I'm too old now to be wrong.

Give the four fenceposts a kiss for me, for luck, and say the rosary before every meal, even today. Get the shovel from my tools and dig a trench in the shape of a heart around the house. I'm afraid I won't recognise it when I come back, and that will tell me for certain. I can feel myself growing stronger, as I finish this letter, boy. I know a brighter tomorrow will make brighter these todays, which will so soon be yesterdays. And may God keep us all on the path, the track, to Heaven.

Heave ho!

- Da

Posted by Dan at 2:33 AM | Comments (12)