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.

July 31, 2007


Bottom of the Hudson - "Rusty Zippers". We've never shared a meal, or had a conversation. I've never stood and watched them play their songs. Bottom of the Hudson were, and are, strangers to me. I cannot even name their members, without looking.

On June 29th 2007, outside Clinton, North Carolina, one of the tires blew out in a van carrying Bottom of the Hudson across the I-40. Their bassist, Trevor Butler, died in the accident. Their drummer, Greg Lytle, is in intensive care.

It seems tasteless to write a eulogy to a person you never knew. An obituary - okay. Just the facts. But a eulogy? Who am I to light a candle in a stranger's memory? A man whose eyes I've never seen?

At moments like this it feels so clear that music is a touch. If nothing else it is a hand placed on yours. How can I call this a band of strangers, they whose hands I've felt on mine? The men whose voices, whose fingers on strings & keys I've brought into my room after dark? They have given me these songs and me I have heard them with my heart held wide open.

Now Trevor Butler has passed away. I feel a pang of such sorrow - I don't know why. Perhaps it's just that a band who made beautiful, startling music has now met calamity. Perhaps it's sympathy for my fellow human beings. But perhaps it's that I know I will hear his absence, even on a recording. Where the bassline appears, there will be no shadow.

I'm not even certain he sat in on the Fantastic Hawk recordings; and yet my feelings are unchanged.

Trevor probably didn't play any bass on "Rusty Zippers" (I don't hear any). But the thing is, that might leave him some room to visit. The song is wide and sensuous, with clarinet and vibraphone and moss-filled guitar, and I wonder, part of me, if perhaps the man could rest with us here for a while, with jay's eyes and a body strafed with light. If he might find somewhere peaceful in the awning. And if he cannot put his hand on ours, perhaps we can incline our heads toward each-other and hear the same song, sung.

[buy the splendid Fantastic Hawk / send donations to Trevor's family and for Greg's medical bills by Paypal to / please, please, may everyone hurt be well]

Billy Bragg & Wilco - "Ingrid Bergman". Ingmar Bergman died yesterday. I realised that all my life I have confused him with Ingrid Bergman. The two figures - director, actress, were vaguely conflated in my mind. They are not related, and they are not the same, and yet in death I would rather let Ingmar keep the qualities I have endowed him with over all these years. Let him remain beautiful, and luminous, and desirable, and a figure who Woody Guthrie & Billy Bragg would long for. A face to launch a thousand ships, to bring men to islands and flash to cameras. Someone who teaches the rest of us about beauty, and in small, sure steps arrives wherever they are ever, ever going.


Stereogum has a new Weakerthans song which I like very, very much.

Posted by Sean at 2:07 AM | Comments (6)

July 30, 2007

Zeitgeist or a Waste of Time

Hall & Oates - "Rich Girl"

You're hearing this song everywhere. You only heard it for the first time last week, but now it's like buying a yellow car, or getting a certain kind of trendy shoe, you notice it all the times it was there before when you didn't notice it. This stretchy gold outfit fits like a plastic bag and dances knees-first like a once-sexy old timer. The melody is really nice, a little finger-wagging twilight disco, but the lyrics are a little off. I'm not sure Hall or Oates really understands the Rich Girl (as a species) when they sing "it's so easy to hurt others when you can't feel pain". That's all the Rich Girl feels, in my opinion, that's the problem. Any Rich Girls want to weigh in? [Buy]

Almeda Riddle - "My Little Rooster"

Long story short: I hated Harmony Korine for a long time without even giving him a chance. I recently saw Gummo and Julien Donkey-Boy and my opinion took a 180. I'm a huge fan now. go fig.

Korine describes his style as "creating an environment where chaos can happen so i can film it". That's true of his style, but the most important side-effect (nay, almost another word for) that chaos, is truth in the motivation of the performers. The flash in someone's eye just before they lunge to punch someone else in the face, the head-down smirking showing-off of a drunk shirtless redneck pounding the hell out of a chair, it's so thick you can rub it between your fingers.

And here is no different, save only in tone. The motivation is still there, this is a song that sounds like it's been repeated literally thousands of times, like more times than you've said "um" in your entire life. But everything is perfect, like books on a shelf, and you can hear the hot room in which it's sung, the metal-lined yellow table, the napkin holder, the ketchup packets.

[Buy Gummo]
after a 7-year absence, Harmony Korine will release Mister Lonely to this continent sometime later this year.

Posted by Dan at 3:58 AM | Comments (5)

July 27, 2007


Hot 8 - "Sexual Healing"

I can't help but feel like I've been taken advantage of a little bit. I feel impressed at first by the brassy posing and vamping of the first 3 minutes, like watching a peacock or a dude showing off how he can do that thing where you run up a wall and flip onto your feet. Then I feel nothing short of sweet-talked for the next 3 minutes, as I'm shouted at, just into my ear so I can hear above the music, that I'm the best thing out there. That sex is better than sushi for your constitution, and that I need to get healthy. Then the next 3 minutes, I hear nothing except the slow bassy tension beneath the brassy wowzy-towzy. Wait a 9-minute cover, I'M BEING MADE LOVE TO! And suddenly it's over, and whether it's the sushi (I did have that for dinner, to be fair) or what I do feel pretty good. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 1:34 AM | Comments (5)

July 26, 2007


Frankel - "Thermostat". This is not the sound of 2007. It's not even the sound of 2006. Frankel have here unearthed the feel-good guitar-pop of 1997, a time before I had these stresses & melancholies, before I had to cook & clean, before I had to put on a tie when I got up in the morning. It's effortless verse and chorus, catchy in five places at once, unthreatening and blue-eyed. It's as good an argument as any that I've heard for playing with tamagotchis, listening to "Mmmbop" and "Tubthumping", watching Titanic, reading the first Harry Potter, and goin' to Neale's house every lunch-hour to play Tekken on his Playstation. Frankel suggest I don't need a time-machine: just a new pair of shoes.

[buy / MySpace]

Kelly Clarkson - "Irvine". I don't know that Kelly Clarkson quite out-feists Leslie Feist, here. But she certainly feists Feist. It's a beautiful, beautiful song, smally sung, its rhymes like so many red-brown berries in a briar bush. A prayer sung like a goodbye - And maybe to you, our readers, so often silent, this seems like a vapid thing to say. "A prayer sung like a goodbye" -- what does it mean? what does it mean? What's a song like a prayer sung like a goodbye? But what I hope is that, like me, you can lie there and know of what I speak. The way a thing that's not a goodbye can sound like one; the way words, farewelled, go feisting past your ribs and sink into your heart. The way I can sit in the dark at a rock concert and listen to a woman happily sing the words "Marry me", and yet find tears at my eyes, a not-so-distant goodbye suddenly traced in charcoal on my mind's grey glass.

Where's Kelly's Irvine, I wonder. Or who.



The band named Da Bears, whom I was thrilled by here, play Ottawa tonight and Montreal's Absynthe (1738 St-Denis) tomorrow, Friday. I suggest that you go.

I highly recommend that you read and listen to Jordan's post of yesterday. The upcoming Sleeping States album is not ordinary (it is v good).

Posted by Sean at 2:10 AM | Comments (14)

July 25, 2007

Dark Meal, Tin Larks

Sleeping States - "I Wonder" [Removed at label request]

The Hyperbolic Aphorist: Markland Starkie is a jack of all trades, master of one.
Said the Gramophone: I'm afraid I don't follow.
THA: Shall I ruin the enigma by spelling it out?
StG: Please.
THA: Very well. As you may know, Sleeping States is the bandonym of Markland Starkie, a player of several instruments, all without virtuosity, and a recording engineer with clear limitations...
StG: (interrupting) Well, you're sort of editoriali...
THA: (clears throat) There is no difference between an interruption and a volcano's eruption, except that in the latter case it's burning lava that turns the bystander to ash, as opposed to the scorching proximity to rudeness in the former. If you'll allow me to continue, my point is just that the one area in which Markie is an indubitable master is that of composition.
StG: Well, we agree that Starkie is a master composer. His vocal melodies are as elegant and as easy as Catherine Deneuve in Belle de jour, and his occasional forays into simple dissonant instrumental harmonies are always doled out judiciously and are integral to the song.
THA: Blah, blah, blah.
StG: But I would argue that he's also a master vocalist, rangy and capable of subtly meaningful phrasing, and that though his guitar playing is often simple and imprecise and his drumming tends to be brutally minimalistic, his lyrical noodling on strings and his rhythmic guiding on skins both serve his songs maximally.
THA: God, you talk like a fucking essay. This is why I don't read your site.
StG: Anyway, in that sense he's a master of at least two or three metaphorical trades. Thus, The Hyperbolic Aphorist, I must dismiss your aphorism as hyberbolic.
THA: The only thing more obvious than the Obvious is the Obvious itself.


Sleeping States - "The Next Step"

Whereas "I Wonder" is an active, dreaming sleep taken in a restless prone position, "The Next Step" is a blissful, dreamless sleep slept in a graceful supine. Everything is built around one interval, one glorious step up, one of the shortest choruses you will ever hear. At 1:03, several Starkies sing "Please" in unison and then, begging, they sing, "C'mon, please" - a little bit higher, a little bit longer, a little bit strained. When the Starkies do it again, at the end of the song, they sing it in such an unexpectedly lush harmony that you don't have time to catch your breath before the song ends and another overcast musical reverie begins.

[Buy the album in September from Misra (North America) or Tome (Europe). Highly recommended!]

Posted by Jordan at 5:52 PM | Comments (2)

July 24, 2007

I'll Take Bad Hosts For Two Hundred

The Whiskers - "The Idle Rich"

How shall I describe this world for you? It's very much like this world. It's based on isolation, and it gives the impression of connectivity. You would think these layers are connected to each other, that the pulsing organ and the steppy-step guitar and the one-two dance beat, you'd think they were chosen because of the way they connect with each other, but you'd be wrong. They work together the way roots of different trees work together; they take up the space the other isn't consuming. It's a harmony of necessity. It's dirty. It's hypnotizing like riding in a car.

The singer is alone with his two twin brothers. Their arms and legs entangled in such a way that they can still play their disgusting instruments, and their single voice echoes like in an empty chapel, or community centre.

I like this song because it makes me feel okay about the orange heavy rain that falls hot all around outside. So much will get done, but so will so much not.



The art above is by Michael Rytz who, along with Said the Guests alumnus Matthew Feyld and other great people, will be featured this week at the new show at My Hero Gallery. The vernissage is Friday, and you really shouldn't miss it if you live in Montreal. It's such a great little gallery, so full of life, it brings the pink out in art, makes it blush.

Posted by Dan at 12:33 AM | Comments (3)

July 23, 2007


Image by Jessica Williams -

Blood Red Shoes - "It's Getting Boring By The Sea". The "death disco" genre of 2003-2004 kind of kicked the bucket when people decided normal disco was more fun. But I still love the stuff, the kohl-eyed pop-song roar of it. Often it's a disco for the apocalypse, or for the dying; but here Blood Red Shoes have made a song for the dead - the ones hurtling toward oblivion. And there's enough tambourine, cow-bell, handclap, stampstamp and yell to make the dead start crawling their way back. It's hard to believe this is just a demo. I adore the crowded thud of it, the hot spray of voices, the english accents with their sharp corners. The fire running fizzing into the tide. (And they're a two-piece?!)

[homepage] (thanks to Andrea at Warped Reality for the tip-off!)

Jim Bryson - "All the Fallen Leaves". The new album by Jim Bryson, one of Canada's finest singer-songwriters, is the most intimate he's yet recorded. The band recedes to the background and Jim stands quietly in the front, his throat hoarsening. He sounds more like Wilco's Jeff Tweedy now, and though I miss the electric guitar flare-ups that make his live show so great, a song like "All the Fallen Leaves" is rescued by its retraint, made altogether special. It has a modest Ottawa Valley funk, a backbeat and swing that would be grating if they were not so shy. But instead it's just lovely. "All the Fallen Leaves" could coax a non-dancer into dancing, a non-singer into "ooh-ooh"ing, a girl into smiling. Let's hope.

[buy Where the Bungalows Roam on CD, vinyl or mp3 / Jim will be playing Cambridge, Mass on the 26th; NYC on the 29th; and then the Blue Skies and Wolfe Island festivals in early August.]


I like Blog For Dogs' Short Story Saturday - this time with William Faulkner and Ola Podrida & friends.

As you may be able to see (if not, reload the main page), a new Said the Gramophone banner has been added to the rotation alongside the ones by Keith Shore and Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. This one is by Daria Tessler and it's pretty wonderful.

The initial lineup for Pop Montreal 2007 has been announced. October 3-7 we've got the likes of Patti Smith, Cody ChesnuTT, Pere Ubu, Half Japanese, Mort Sahl, Sunset Rubdown, Grizzly Bear, The National, A-Trak, Born Ruffians, Tiga, Bobby Conn, DJ /Rupture, Magnolia Electric Co., Chad VanGaalen, MSTRKRFT, Ndidi Onukwulu, Miracle Fortress, Ted Leo, Basia Bulat, &c, with many more to be announced. And, um, you never know... Said the Gramophone might be involved somehow too. I suggest you buy your plane-tickets now.

[photo by Jessica Williams]

Posted by Sean at 12:57 AM | Comments (4)

July 20, 2007

Flagship Father Figure

The comedy album is having a very good year. I've selected 5 things I want you to hear:

Paul F. Tompkins - "Elegant Balloons"

What I love about Paul F. Tompkins is how friendly his comedy is. He makes me feel safe. Not in a timid way, just more like he's the opposite of the kind of comedian who's looking for people to make fun of. That's why he wears a three-piece suit every time he performs. He's a gentleman, and he's dressed up for the occasion of this his comedic performance. His album feels classical without feeling retro, it's completely comfortable in its skin, in its suit. [Buy Impersonal]

Patton Oswalt - "Physics For Poets"

The cover of Patton Oswalt's Werewolves and Lollipops is an illustration of his face, removed from his head like a marble, and the only thing left in the hole for his face is a row of teeth, with fangs. This is a perfect cover, because crossing Patton Oswalt is a bad idea, he takes down hecklers in a more harsh and overdramatic way than I've ever heard, but as long as you're not asking for it it's okay. Like in this bit, for example. It's just a completely seamlessly crafted little story about a college exam that involves Star Trek and physics. It's exactly what college was like for me, there were courses like that, and questions like that. [Buy Werewolves and Lollipops]

Stewart Lee - "90s Comedian (excerpt)"

An oddly under-appreciated comic. He seems to run into more controversy than he deserves, and it's gotta be getting old for him at this point. His anger isn't unfocused or hateful at all, it's very calm, very examined. You can hear that here, especially in the explanation of the fact that you can't send a friend to have investigative surgery in your place. He's like a philosopher, he'll go over the simplest details with dignity and patience, and it's hilarious, because he's nice about it, no matter how stupid it is. [Buy 90s Comedian DVD]

Maria Bamford - "Mental Makeup"

Maria Bamford is perfect. She's heading up the stand-up division of the ongoing revolution of female comedians. Her comedy, while inherently female, has none of the former hang-ups that a lot of female comedians had. It's just incredibly funny. Her role-playing is, while maybe her best, just one element in her style. Her voices give instant depth to the characters and we're suddenly interested in them, but when we come back to bits just about her, she's just as interesting. fantastic. [Buy How to WIN!]

Scharpling & Wurster - "Jock Squad (sample)"

And of course, my favourite. This was the first piece I heard on Fluxblog over a year ago now, and it's now on the Best Show 2006 compilation. I was so taken in by this, the simultaneous feelings of spontaneity and genius calculation, the always-surprising fluidity and integrity of the character work, Best Show has inside it a graduate thesis just waiting to be written (but first we need comedy, like film, to be studied, so that those who fail at doing comedy can study it instead). [Buy the new Scharpling & Wurster cd Art of the Slap]

Posted by Dan at 12:23 AM | Comments (5)

July 19, 2007


Vic Chesnutt - "You Are Never Alone".
Vic Chesnutt - "Glossolalia".

The new Vic Chesnutt album, North Star Deserter, was recorded in Montreal with the entire lineup of Silver Mt. Zion, Guy Picciotto from Fugazi, and various members of Franki Sparo, Hangedup, and Godspeed!. It was a brilliant idea, - (let's please get Leonard Cohen to collaborate with the same gang,) - but what's happier still is the way the idea has translated into reality. Chesnutt's lyrics have never sounded better than in this bed of straw and rust, with the Hotel 2 Tango's attic glow and the occasional squeal of Mile End noise. A singer-songwriter of eminence and poetry playing with musicians of bristle and shriek - fingers and throats in search of the sublime.

Vic Chesnutt - "You Are Never Alone" is the record's most easygoing track. "It's okay," Chesnutt sings again and again. It's okay if you take this drug or that drug, or if you take a condom; it's okay. Keep on keeping on. And before you have the chance to wonder if he's beying sincere, if he really so deeply wishes you well, there's a chorus from all sides. You are never alone, they sing, with smiles on faces and arms wide. A reassurance that makes it possible to imagine putting down the cannister of pills, even with the knowledge that it would be okay if you took them.

Vic Chesnutt - "Glossolalia" is a different creature; one with claws, fangs, slick black organs. Strings wait with predator patience, settling into their footing. When finally they rise and really emerge, when everyone's singing and the contrabass is prowling, you feel all the rightness of a longed-for terror. The satisfaction of standing on balled feet by the window when the lightning strikes.

[Pre-order the singular North Star Deserter on gatefold CD or 2x180g vinyl. Highly recommended.]

[Photo by Jessica Williams]

Posted by Sean at 2:49 AM | Comments (5)

July 18, 2007

Ape Vs. Ape

Windy and Carl - "You"

One should always absolutely call a spade "a spade". After all, when one calls a spade something other than "a spade" one runs the considerable risk of being misunderstood - potentially dire in an emergency gardening or gambling situation. Thus must I point out that of the titular two behind Windy and Carl, Windy is the more strangely named. 'Carl' is a totally normal forename and one that I'd be proud to give to at least one of my sons. Whether Windy's parents meant that 'i' to be an 'e' or that 'd' to be an 'n' or that 'w' to be some other consonant, I can't be sure, but I do know that they did at least one thing right: they raised their child to be like Moses. Carl's parents, my heroes, raised a little god. Their son, out of wood and string, electricity and circuit boards, builds seas of sound, which his friend Windy then parts, humbly, with her voice. Her vocals, straight up and down, will guide you for as long as it takes, for forty days and forty nights, until you reach the other side of Carl's creation, too wide to navigate around and too deep to wade through. [Buy]


The Spiritualaires - "I've Done What You Told Me"

Besides simple, beautiful songs, the best gospel groups have this in common: a propensity for apparently accidental unruliness, for downright uncleanliness. What's a gospel jam without a bass losing his place, a baritone singing a falsetto beyond his means? If you told me that some of the singers here woke up the next day embarrassed, and sought, to no avail, the destruction of this recording, then I'd reprimand you for stating the obvious.

Q: How lovely is it when, at 0:42, the fine lead vocalist steps into an aching ascending solo?
A: Not quite as lovely as when, amid coughs and throat clearings, the rest of the group comes back in, too early, too many, ecstatically. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 6:36 PM | Comments (2)

July 17, 2007

The New Needs Friends

Little Wings - "Gone Again"

Shhhhhhhhhhhh....lie down. See the ceiling? Feel the still heat? Hear the quiet? This song's for me, and this paper airplane's for you. Written on the paper is a contract between you and the person who catches it. You can toss it at whoever you choose, and then you're set for life. You can either toss at it your long-term boyfriend, or you can let it go up high in a stadium and see who you get. You can mail it to someone famous, though I wouldn't recommend it. But for now, in the still heat, the quiet, looking up at the ceiling, I'm about to fall asleep (I roll, watch out) because I'm tired from imagining all the ways to find out you chose me. [Pre-Order]

Mannequin Men - "22nd Century"

I was hoping something on the new Fresh Rot would stand out enough to be worth telling you about, because Mannequin Men have a lot going for them. The last piece they were missing was just to appeal to me. And here they've done it, with a beat like a mountain range, and a tambourine like a natural snaking river, and vocals like an indication of harmony. You know, like humans needs oxygen and trees needing carbon dioxide, that kind of indication. And I love it because it evokes in me a feeling that something you want is just out of reach. Of all the centuries left in time, the 22nd is the one that's just out of my reach. [more]


My review of Captivity is up at The Movie Binge. That movie depressed me so much I had to stay to watch Ratatouille after it. THAT was fantastic.

Posted by Dan at 4:07 PM | Comments (4)

July 16, 2007


Spoon - "Don't You Evah". The first few times I listened to Spoon's new record, an album called Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (these are, as Mike Powell has sagely pointed out, a baby's first 5 words), I thought that this song was addressed to a person called Evah. Don't you, Evah. Don't you dare. And I was very jealous of this Evah. To have a song like this dedicated to her: a song of jerk and handclap, of leap and slide. A song with a guitar solo that sounds like the electric guitar sprang up from the floor and played itself.

I stood in line with the multitudes at NYC's Port Authority, grimy white-tile & humid, waiting to leave the myriad harbour, listening to this song on my headphones and feeling the floor squeak under my shoes. It was almost one a.m. and everyone but the bootleg DVD seller looked pissed off and sweaty. We were staring at each-other bug-eyed, like children on a bus. All eyes were on eveyrbody. Me I was listening to "Don't You Evah" and panging in my heart with envy for the girl called Evah, wondering whether if I found her I could date her, and I was actually dancing there in line. I felt the urge - oh man i kinda want to dance - and then I made the conscious choice - oh fuck it i don't know anyone here - and then I began. It was a modest dance, hopefully not too obnoxious. Under scowling New Yorker scrutiny, in little movements, wrists and toes, like a man in snowshoes or like a general who's retired, like a cat on a saturday, trying to live my life through in small slip steps, to do as Britt Daniel instructs and not evah, not evah attempt to cheat death.

[buy Spoon's exemplary Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, which reminds me more of the wit & rock of The Beatles ca. White Album and Let It Be than any album I can recall in the past 15 years]

Konie - "History/Science". A song about a guy who is going to cease his moping, forsake his carping, dismiss every distraction in favour of Learning Stuff about Stuff. He'll develop machines for playing these guitar riffs, derive formulas for selecting the snippets of archival sound, determine the optimal dance-moves for his skinny-jeaned legs. He'll run the whole thing on a grapefruit, electrodes plunged deep, a traveling rock'n'roll show that's powered by citrus.



Anyone within leaping distance of Paris: La Blogothèque will host its first ever Soirée on July 30th, and it's a show that's just about worth flying across the ocean for. The lineup's not yet been made public but they are giving us short little teaser-tastes, the first of which is now online...

Blogothèque/Take-Away Shows' filmmaker of record, Vincent Moon, is also looking for recommendations of the world's most amazing music festivals. Events like Guca, Gnaoua, ATP... If you have any tips, particularly in South America or Asia, please get in touch with him.


Last week the art/design blog It's Nice That invited me to recommend a couple things and share some of my own work. So I talked about a zine and an artist I like, and I also wrote a short story called "FRESH FLOWERS, AND CINNAMON," or "JOEY FRIEDMAN'S GIRLFRIEND". It's about how heartbreak doesn't explain itself. (Thank you Anna, Jez and Will.)

[Ink drawing by Guilherme Kramer]

Posted by Sean at 12:38 AM | Comments (10)

July 13, 2007

A Set of Tissues Makes an Organ

Fiery Furnaces - "Pricked In The Heart"

This song's refrain, spoken clearly and with eyes straight forward:

"I gathered all the tokens of a passion people waitin' for the promise of a father where have you heard of me in the past? John baptised with water not with wine but don't weep he'll make sure, pricked in the heart the Wednesday after last."

But it sounds like flipping a flipbook, or like spinning your niece under your arm on the dancefloor at a wedding reception, or like hearing a melody hummed by your grandmother, some old and foreign song that sounds nothing like you've heard but feels comfortable.**

In fact, the title and the religious imagery makes me think of a story my grandmother once told me. But I want to tell it in this fantastic cadence-speak (I can't call it rap, because rap is so based in rhyming, this is something else): growing up in Ballinamore, little Nora-Marie went to St. Garry's everyday for church and school, basically the same thing in those days. Sister Mary Garber and old Mother Master Frances ran a tight ship, tighter than little Ruth Trenton's secret corset that she wore under her uniform and one time showed to Benjamin Bryson while walking home through Kennery Woods. Every third Thursday Sister Mary Garber made the girls kneel down in a line and undo the tops of their dresses. Then she'd walk down the line and prick their bare breasts with a needle, only to show them that they were to treat their breasts as burdens, they were sins, and not fun. Nora-Marie was first in line and only got the dirt from the tip of the needle, which was taken from Mother Master Frances' red special sewing pin-cushion, but the rest of the girls got the blood of all the ones before.

**This song sounds like growing up, and growing up is probably my favourite thing in the world.

[their YouTube account] [Buy]

Lightspeed Champion - "All To Shit"

The low bitrate here gives the soft sounds a soft edge that I like more than I would if it were clean. It feels like it would go well with old stock footage of a flower opening to the dawn. Or going to bed at dawn. [MySpace]

Posted by Dan at 2:27 AM | Comments (5)

July 12, 2007


Alina Simone - "Country of 2". In the twenty-three months since I first wrote about Alina Simone, she has gone out of her house on the occasion of every thunderstorm and she has brought a mason jar. She stands under the low dark needles of a spruce and she leaves the jar in the open, with the lid off. Rain doesn't fall in the jar. She collects thunder and lightning dust. She collects the low cracked heat and the sharpness of the wind. When she went into the studio to record her debut LP, Placelessness, she again brought her mason jar. She put it on the studio floor and she opened it. But this time she did not collect lightning; she loosed it. She stood at the microphone with her guitar and felt the electricity like sharkfins. When the drummer hit the kick-drum the air flashed. She swallowed and sang, feeling the air tingle in her mouth. With every rhyme her heart thumpthumped. She closed her eyes and she longed, and she tried to sing the greyblack of what she had weathered.

[order Placelessness]

Robin Allender - "The Memory Trap". I'm not sure Robin Allender can tell us anything that we've never heard. The vocabulary of guitar and voice is not, as some might think, limitless. But there is much in the reminder: reminders of autumn nights, or the Red House Painters, or love, or loss, or lying in your bed as evening falls and waiting for the world to sway against you. The way a nightingale can remind you of all nightingales, or the way the idea of nightingales can remind you of one in particular. The way a beauty can shock a forgotten feeling out of you: a certain walk, a certain laugh, a certain sky, a certain place. Robin Allender used to be called The Inconsolable but he sounds like someone who has been consoled. Someone who remembered the names of the constellations, who remembered night after night that he could pick up his guitar and summon every memory he had ever had.

[buy the very beautiful Bird and the Word, now out on Dreamboat Records. More mp3s are available here.]



Tuwa writes about a young Elizabeth Mitchell, walking on her hands, playing songs. (Jordan on Elizabeth Mitchell.)

Posted by Sean at 8:32 AM | Comments (5)

July 11, 2007

Wait For It

Al Green - "Jesus is Waiting"

The first eight songs on Al Green's Call Me are about women. The ninth and last is about Jesus. This divergence in subject matter is not matched by a divergence in sound; the song is as salacious as Stephen Dedalus. Tension between godliness and horniness is a favourite theme among soul singers - Sam Cooke sang it, as did Marvin Gaye, just as James Joyce wrote it, or even St. Augustine. St. A was a hedonistic young man with a predilection for petty theft and pretty ladies, but he found god in his twenties and later wrote a big book chronicling his conversion and everything else that ever happened to him ( c.f. The Confessions). "Jesus is Waiting" is Al Green's Confessions, except that one gets the sense that the sins being confessed (i.e. the subject matter of the previous eight songs) are so fresh that there's something, not disingenuous, but conflicted about his position. Green sings "Jesus is waiting" as if he's lying in bed with a naked woman saying, "Baby, I wish I could stay, but Jesus is waiting over at the diner, so I really gotta go." The song is a thank you to the son of god for being so patient in waiting through, not only Green's bawdy dalliances in life, but in song as well. The Reverend Al Green is a man of genuine religious faith, of course, but he only knows how to love in one, very sexy, way; what goes for women goes for Jesus, too. Hence, the track's undeniable seductiveness: just as Green repeatedly incants "Call me" on the album's first track in an attempt to assume himself into a carnal rendezvous, here he sings "Help me Help me Help me Help me," trying to assume himself into eternal light and god's good graces. Of course, the whole effort is pointless: either god doesn't exist, or he loves Al Green already, at least enough to give him a voice so sublime and a mind so musically refined.

At 3:26 he requests that the band "bring it", after which, confusingly, the music gets much quieter. Then he sings, "way, way, way, way down." The band knew, before Green could tell them, that he had something very important and very quiet to say: namely, it turns out, a wordless prayer in seven notes: a favourite child's perfect apology to a patient parent.


Posted by Jordan at 5:42 PM | Comments (8)

July 10, 2007

An Inheritance Worth Tens of Dollars

Port O'Brien - "I Woke Up Today"

On the Port O'Brien one-sheet it explains that these songs were written while at sea. There was trend back in 2004-ish of a lot of bands giving their work a nautical aesthetic (Picaresque, Blueberry Boat, BOAT) but where they presented "what life must be like out at sea", Port O'Brien is explaining that "it's still life, it's just out at sea." There's a song about accidentally catching a puffin in the nets, there's one called "A Bird Flies By", and I'm convinced. These are the thoughts you have in this kind of isolation, these events take the foreground and have no competition, so they mean everything. "I Woke Up Today" has a barefoot, wooden plank kind of feeling, lit by lantern, an orange light. I know it's the most unlikely case, but I imagine this recorded at sea too, and the loneliness, even of their collected voices, is unyielding in the persistent, empty landscape of the human part of the ocean at night. [Site]

School of Language - "Rockist Part I"

Half of Field Music, David Brewis, is School of Language. And this feels academic to me, so it's cohesive. It's kind of dressed in a uniform, it feels single file, it's on the clock. It's a bell-ringer, a study group, a five-minute washroom break. It's a contained kind of emotion, it looks up to sky but dares not reach. And for that reason, kind of fades out without ever really reaching its full potential, it merely does good enough. [MySpace]

Posted by Dan at 2:11 AM | Comments (4)

July 9, 2007


Shelby Sifers - "Blackberry". A song with distractions: unwanted phone-calls, a glockenspiel, a joke, a clever rhyme, a chorus. Shelby doesn't need this stuff. She's trying to impress us but she doesn't need it. She wrote a perfect first verse - if one could knit words onto a wall, and I could knit, I would knit the first verse into my wall. I'd lie in my bed with the sun coming in and watch the curling wool. She sings it strangely, slowly, beautifully. Her words are deliberated, like the notes of her guitar. Her feelings are measured into syllables. We can only feel so many things in a day and this first verse gives me all I need for Monday. It meets all my dietary requirements. I'm not hungry any more.

From this
blackberry bush
we can pick flowers in June.
or harvest berries in October.
and bake cobblers for our lovers.
and spill sugar on the tables.
[buy Shelby Sifers' new album "soon", or her terrific previous one "now", or both / MySpace]

Mixylodian - "River of Milk". This song's finest moment is when the room suddenly starts to spin at 1:45ish. He sings the lines with a greedy desperation, like someone who really wanted this to happen. And then the synths and drum machine pile on and you can see all the little automaton parts of the party he's at - the taking off the shoes, the hey dude!s, the fridge opening, the hunting for the bottle-opener, the bottle-opening, the tired cheerses, the two people left alone in a room when everyone else leaves for the kitchen & who don't want to talk to each other but do so out of social obligation & pretend like it's fascinating & the guy misunderstands her enthusiasm and goes home that night wondering if maybe he should track her down on Facebook and see if she likes good movies & if so then ask her out - but when the breakdown stops, the protagonist is in the street, drunk as Stephen Dedalus, doing a Sunset Rubdown impression, waving goodbye. The next morning he wonders where the hell he left his clarinet and why he keeps doing this. Is he an alcoholic? Does he still love her? Does he hate himself? That night he buys another old keyboard and stays up till 1:30 am eating Ritz crackers, listening to each drumbeat in turn, waiting to hear the right right right one.

[Mixylodian is from Montreal - MySpace]

Posted by Sean at 8:46 AM | Comments (6)

July 6, 2007

We Like to Be Liked, Don't We Like That?

Brighton, MA - "Good Kind of Crazy"

Jordan Himelfarb once said to me (about writing for this blog) that one begins to run out of ways to describe music. A lot of music is like a road, like a kiss, like a dream, like a movie, like a glance, a smell, a breeze, a memory, joy. I agreed with him, thinking of all the times I'd listened to songs and thought, "no, I've said that before". He hasn't run out of new ways to describe music and neither have I, so maybe it's just something you say when you want to seem humble, or you want to relate to someone, or you're tired. This song has both the feeling that I've heard it before (it's like a road, and also brown pants, and Bob Dylan) and the feeling that I want to relate to someone, that I'm tired. It's a lovely left-alone kind of song, in the backseat of a car, in your bedroom (decorated a year ago), could I hear the phone from here even if it rang? Yes I could. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 2:38 AM | Comments (11)

July 5, 2007


Cassie - "Me & U (siik remix)". This remix's crisscross of synths are like so many shafts of stained glass light, Cassie pussyfooting from one illuminated square to another. She boasts and she offers and she promises and she moves so that certain parts of her catch the light in certain ways; and it's like the song's been remade out of scraps of desire, patches of hope, everything sewn into a single shimmering scene.

[siik = great]

Vincent Gallo - "I Wrote This Song For The Girl Paris Hilton". I don't know who Paris Hilton was when Vincent Gallo recorded this song in 2001. Was she really still a girl, then? Was she already the faint-spirited, banal creature she is today? Was Gallo writing a song for a previous Paris, The Girl Paris, some distant memory? I do not know. But let us conceive of this song as a kindness, as a gift. Whether retroactively or no, Vincent Gallo imagines a life for Paris that is different than the one she chose. He paints this life in guitar, piano, saxophone, vintage organs. He measures it in tom and bass drum. He imagines a patient life, a lush one; he imagines a life of will and accident; he imagines splendour, crocus, thrush. A bell she could have rung. A song she could have sung. A dream she could have had, soft.

[buy When]


Many belated but sincere congratulations to Simon and Liz at Spoilt Victorian Child. It is good to see kind people made happy.

Posted by Sean at 8:30 AM | Comments (4)

July 4, 2007


Basia Bulat - "In the Night". An unreleased song, a living-room demo, four walls & a floor and sounds bravely sounding. It's a lighthouse desperately seeking its ship: that brave white beam scouring a million nighttime wave-tips, grazing two hundred low-flying birdwings. Too much hope, love, fate, joy, fear for one voice; instead it's a host of them. Too sick to be seasick, too awed to be awestruck - the song just whirls and whirls, the light-house-light spins and scours, and the drums & autoharp gallop with the whole breathless pace of possibility.

I raved Basia Bulat's Oh My Darling in January, and my enthusiasm remains steadfast. It's now out in Britain, and a North American release will follow in the fall. (Some cool tour-dates are also in store.)

[buy! / MySpace / website]

The Children's Hour - "SOS JFK". This one's a ship in search of its lighthouse. And the personal ad runs like so:

SINGLE TALL SHIP seeks, has long sought,
GENTLE PORT. I am prsistnt, patient,
hmbl and possess a hold full of salts &
sweets. R U my "Ithaca"? R U all tht I
hope for & crave? R U whr the sea
is silver w fish & the sun lays
harp-strings along the horizon? Will
u speak to me in semaphore and morse?
Be the one constellation I will never,
ever forget. Mailbox 911.

Josephine Foster's voice is wind in sails, whales in tide.

[buy The Children's Hour's single (?), exquisite LP.]

Posted by Sean at 8:35 AM | Comments (4)

July 3, 2007

The Unmoved Mover

The Red River - "The Birds and the Boats"
The Red River - "The Birthday Song"

Canada turned 140 on Sunday and I, like most Quebecers, celebrated by moving house. What began as a humanitarian effort to save tenants from the inconvenience and indignity of being evicted and left without a place to go during the winter, has persisted in the quaint form of Quebec's Moving Day. Every July 1, while the rest of the country drinks Molson beer and oohs at firework displays, Quebecers pack up and move out, en masse. The sight of streets shut down by tens of behemoth moving vans, hundreds of sweat soaked men and women dragging dollies overloaded with cardboard boxes - themselves filled mostly with junk - underscores the surreality that is the interswitching of dwelling places we call Déménagement.

I write this from my new writing place. I used to write on a big white desk, facing a wall and bulletin board with important numbers I never called and menus for pizza restaurants I often did. Now I write on a small red table, facing an open window through which I currently see a woman on a bench on the street a storey below. She's wiping what is either blood or ice cream from her knee with a napkin. Beyond, I can see two trees of equal height, separated by about ten feet - one is full and forest green, the other sparse and the colour of iceberg lettuce. They're swaying in the wind, always, unfailingly in time with The Red River's new ep, On Your Birthday. This is weird, I know; I've listened to the ep three times through now to make sure.

Past the trees, my sightline extends forever. I can see rolling green hills tens of miles away, and Maine beyond them. With a good pair of binoculars and a strategically placed mirror, I could probably see all the way to California, where The Red River's Bill Roberts would be ever so carefully recording an acoustic guitar with a four track.

Roberts, like his clear inspiration Phil Elvrum, writes songs about people and about nature and songs about people disguised as songs about nature, and in so doing necessarily confronts our relative and absolute impermanence. People change, people falter, people die; the sea keeps flowing, the mountains keep standing, the sky keeps watch overhead.

But then, as Roberts knows, the distinctions are not always so easily delineated. As much as people change, they don't; as much as they falter, they are redeemed; as much as they die, they live on.

Moving is like a birthday in that it confronts one simultaneously with an end and a beginning. All that we bring from the old to the new - our books, our records, our friends and family - is a tether, tying us to ourselves; but at the same time, our new stomping ground promises a new us, the us who will have lived here in this as of yet unexplored place.

The Red River's new work is less joyful than his previous one, last year's Some Songs About a Flood. Roberts's ep is sadder and more contemplative than his earlier effort, though not without hope. If he were a sea, he would be slightly drained, but still flowing; if he were a mountain, he'd be eroded, but still standing. After all, to paraphrase the philosopher, you can't step in the same Red River twice.


Posted by Jordan at 8:11 PM | Comments (5)

July 2, 2007

Albeit With Sparks

It's July 1st this weekend, and all three of us are moving. Forgive us, but it's elsewhere today.

In case you haven't seen already, Daytrotter has a new section of "Bookery Readings". It's eccentric voices reading eclectic pieces. And it's wonderful. So far, there are only 2; Essie Jain reading Herman Hesse and Jarvis Cocker reading an Icelandic Folk Tale. It's not so much the pieces themselves that I love but the possibilities this form presents. Just think of it:

Bill Callahan reading Simone de Beauvoir
David Berman reading the business cards in his father's wallet, with history of each person
Eleanor Friedberger reading Spinoza's Ethics
Dan Bejar reading his favourite parts of Lord of the Rings
...literally endless. I can't wait for more.

Posted by Dan at 2:11 AM | Comments (1)