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.

August 31, 2007


Neutral Milk Hotel - "Naomi". Of all the musics I know, Neutral Milk Hotel's is the one that that thrives most unexpectedly in sunlight. You expect these hot & knotted songs to wither in the daytime - but no, no, every time I listen with the window open, all that shine streaming through, with kids' shouts outside and bicycles ringing and the full wild sound of traffic, the smell of flowers, I'm struck by how quick "Naomi" blooms. Long vines, new buds, curls of leaf that go stretching out and across the room; ivy come kissing over all of our hearts. [buy]

The Chordettes - "Mr Sandman". Some amazing things about Mr Sandman:

  • Man, girls! Baffling, huh? And so typical! Here the Chordettes spend a whole song talkin' about Mr Sandman, plotting and begging and dreaming, and then when he finally arrives - when like the Kool Aid Man he sticks his big head into the room to show he's listening ("YEEeeeSSss?"), - what do the ladies do? Very little! They keep on singin' the same song and don't let him get another word in edgewise. Women!
  • And seriously they want someone "with lots of wavy hair, like Liberace"?
  • The saxophones appear only briefly, but while on the scene my pulse doubles. Yow!
  • This song talks about a magic beam that brings you a dream. And you actually get to hear what the beam sounds like. (Exactly once.)
  • It sounds like this: "AHHHHHHHH."
  • What are "two lips, like roses and clover"? LEAF LIPS = HOT?
  • Little known fact: This is the perfect music for icing wedding cakes.

Happy long weekend, kiddoes. If you're in Montreal tonight you should join me at Cagibi in ninety minutes, where Alina Simone will be playing with Snailhouse and Michael Holt.

Posted by Sean at 7:33 PM | Comments (9)

August 30, 2007


Cody ChesnuTT - "Boils". It's Frosh Week in Montreal - that's like Freshers Week, but Canadian, - and all around the city are dewy-eyed kids who have stumbled into love-affairs. They're groping at each other with all kinds of astonished gusto. You see them making out at the bar and each half's internal narrative seems to be: wow; wow; wow; oh man, wow.

Cody presents a sermon - he sings the holy word of the Lord, - and yet his testifying reminds me not of church, but of these smoky shadowtouch brightlight scenes. Everything's a little lurching, a litle stop-start, with moments of spontaneous, unvarnished, trumpeted oh! It is the sexiest-ever song about BOILS.

[buy Plague Songs, with songs by King Creosote, Rufus Wainwright, Klashnekoff, Laurie Anderson & al]

Habitat - "Mess It Up". Habitat - and the couple who led it, featured here singing the words "Here's hoping we don't mess it up!" - have broken up. I guess this means that on some level... they messed it up. But forget that. Listen to the awesome way Habitat do this song, the glossola-la-lalia they layer over each verse. You need to like someone very much to let them loll that loud, all over you. It's easy to forget how much a relationship is an agreement - two parties in league with one-another. But here the consensus is writ large, and looping; a handshake sweet as a bowl full of cherries. [MySpace]


Things that are great:

Eleanor Friedberger doing the Fiery Furnaces' "Quay Cur" solo, introducing it in a robot voice that's so cute she might as well have slung me over her shoulder and carried me off to Denmark.

Old Time Relijun's funky-cracklin' Beefheart lunacy: "Daemon Meeting"

Posted by Sean at 7:43 AM | Comments (5)

August 29, 2007

Dan Talks About Last Saturday

Matthew Friedberger - "Up The River" [Buy]

I know what you're thinking: "What flighty and whimsical side is Dan going to bring to this jaunty tale?" Well, I'm gonna bring you the truth. I know we had this story worked out where we all talk about Cheese Mountain and gourmet food, and cheese courses and bacon broth and Italian wine, but I can't make any more jokes about it, they made two great posts, so I'm just gonna lay down the truth instead.

Sean and Jordan are liars. Yes, you raised 150.00, but the only "dinner" it bought was enough Pabst and Cheezies to fill 3 glad garbage bags to their breaking point. And it did. And we hauled our filthy trash bags full of "energy" all over the city, essentially looking for whatever trouble we could find. Yes, there were ivory-handled steak knives, but they were used to skin a squirrel under a tree on Sherbrooke, and to carve "StG" into every shop window we saw. Yes, there was laughter and merriment, but it only passed through us like an urge to vomit, and it was only after one of us would hurt themselves climbing a fence, or smashing a bottle, or tripping on the sidewalk. It was an ugly night, I'll say that. Jordan kept wanting to talk about "the commenters", Sean would recite his posts from memory in a high-pitched British accent and then finish each one with "WINNER!". I was embarrassed at times, but at times, I have to admit, I joined in. I was the one who prank-called all of our guest artists, in chronological order, and I had the idea to break into Wolf Parade's house because "they must be rich". It was kind of a horrible night, and I wish we had spent your money better, but I'm sure from reading this site, you really couldn't have expected anything else from us. In the name of the Party, the Beer, and the Holy Coke, right? Peace.

Brutal Knights - "We Have A Website" [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 1:57 PM | Comments (4)

August 28, 2007

Jordan Talks About Last Saturday

Having contributed $150 each to the StG dinner at the Cheese Mountain restaurant, Dearest Readers, I can't help but feel that you deserve a more detailed, accurate account of the night of August 18, 2007, than that perfunctory sketch provided by Sean yesterday.

With Sean's tale my beefs are many. Yes, I wore a hat. But nowhere is it mentioned in yesterday's post the exquisiteness of that hat; nowhere the softness of the felt, nowhere the pathology of the hatter (madness). Furthermore, Michaels is milquetoast, sure, and Beirne is PG 13, but the utter baseness of my banter is by no means given its due. At one point while guessing what Sean had been up to since I'd last seen him, I overzealously pronounced the name of a sexual act, bringing on a sudden silence at the table next to ours. My hot cheeks flushed, and I considered while pouring myself another glass of wine whether I'd had enough. Of the red wine, Sean wrote several truths: the bottle hailed from Italy, and my father is Canada's ambassador to that country. However, contrary to Sean's report, that coincidence did not go unmentioned. No, after I excused myself under the false pretense of needing to go to the bathroom, I slipped into the kitchen and angrily explained to our waiter that the next time I set foot in Cheese Mountain, I expect to be walking into a literal mountain of cheese, or, at the very least, a hill of meat and cheese, and did he know that we wouldn't be paying for the wine for reasons related to diplomatic immunity. He responded that the restaurant's name, La Montée de Lait, translates more accurately to 'The Ascension of Milk.' A scoff and then my wordless reply: the presentation of a PhD thesis co-authored by Sean, Dan and me, entitled "On the Subtleties of Literary Translation Lost On the Common."

Dan looked awful. Haggard and pensive and twitchy. He wore a ridiculous tie. I would have worried had I not been utterly engrossed in my first course, tacitly inspired by Anaximander's genesis story, a duck liver stuffed to the gills with rabbit. Course two: sweet cheese gnocchi in a bacon broth, which, as Sean later explained, I should not have slurped from the bowl. Sean and I shared a diverse plate of cheeses - some soft, others hard, some new, others old, some mild, others sharp. None, of course, were as sharp as the two ivory handled knives that briefly graced our table, and with which, sweating, we intensely imagined skinning zebras on the steppe. For dessert I outordered my companions, choosing the poached peach with a palette-cleansing sorbet.

After our final course, we undid our belts, put our bellies on the table, talked and laughed and shouted and embarrassed each other. All thanks to you!

Sean's right that the three of us have never dated one another, that we've never made out, but in his insistence that our relationship is entirely unromantic, methinks the author doth protest too much ...

Before we left to catch a late showing of Supermalades, I asked the band to play our song.

The Elgins - "It's Been A Long Time"

Each of us with arms around the others, boy did we dance! The other diners held their breath, then applauded, panting, while, hand in hand, we three of StG skipped out the door. And so it was that we traveled to the theatre, all the way across Montreal.

Feist - "1 2 3 4"

[Buy The Elgins, Feist]

Posted by Jordan at 3:16 PM | Comments (7)

August 27, 2007


our cheese plate

Hiran'ny Tanoran'ny Ntao Lo - "Oay Lahy E! (O! Dear Friend!)" [buy]

Dan Beirne, Jordan Himelfarb and I are friends, but we are not lovers. We have never been on dates (with each other). We have high-fived and embraced - like bears, with grunts, and sparkle-eyes, and berries in fur, - but never, no, have we, like, made out. Or had we gone out to dinner. But on Saturday, August 18th, 2007, Dan, Jordan and I went out to dinner. Just the three of us, just the Gramophone trio, cozied up at a restaurant called La Montée de Lait, gorging ourselves on a meal - and a bottle of wine - paid for by some of you.

That night, we drank a toast - "To us!" - but we were being wry and backward-bashful, because really we meant: "To you!"

We had such a grand time. I don't know why we hadn't done it before. Dan showed up late, but wearing a tie. Jordan was wearing a hat. I had a large, framed etching of an iced-over river. We let the waiter (who might have been the owner) choose the wine. He chose something from Italy. Jordan's father is the Canadian ambassador to Italy, but we did not mention this. Jordan tasted the wine and: it was good.

Each of us chose four dishes. Let me repeat this: Each of us chose four dishes. This is how things work at La Montée de Lait. La Montée de Lait is a paradise. A couple of us had thin, raw-fresh slices of tuna. A couple of us had "Mac & Cheese", which did not include a single macaronus. A couple of us shared a cheese plate. One of us had a poached peach. One of us had some amazing chicken thing. One of us had something in bacon broth. Oh yes, readers, 'twas high & low cuisine at the Gramophone Dinner, and delight was a-dancing upon our tongues. Like fireflies on our tongues! Mouthfuls of fireflies! And did I mention the wine!

So we ate, we made merry. We talked about our lives, and our friendships, and about music and the internet, and about girls. We talked Business, and we talked dirty. (Jordan is the most lewd of us, Dan the middle-man, and I am a pure-as-linen monk.) We called the restaurant "Cheese Mountain". We ate almonds. They kept refilling our dish of bread. Did I mention that the wine list came in its own box? It did! And on two occasions the knives they gave us were ivory handled, like an adventurer's antique switchblade, and we imagined skinning zebras in the steppe.

The night would have been perfect if Hiran'ny Tanoran'ny Ntao Lo were there too, crouched around us in the dust, drinking a fine Chianti and singing an ode to us, to you, and to friends-in-general. There are several ways to communicate sincerity, in song: a particular kind of inflection, a thickness of voice, tears. The Hiran'ny Tanoran'ny Ntao Lo remind me of another way: to speak many syllables, rapidly, energetically, but without panic. Last Saturday night we were doing this, the three of us, and it feels good to hear the same thing in "Oay Lahy E". It feels good to know that others know the pleasure of dear friends, of O! Dear Friends, of birds of a fine fellow feather.

Thank you again for giving us the chance to be reminded of this.

Jay Reatard - "All Over Again" [buy]


Posted by Sean at 1:07 AM | Comments (6)

August 24, 2007

Getting In To Get Out

Aztec Two-Step - "Almost Apocalypse"

Garbage is one thing you might find in a real-life alley. Also rodents, friends on bicycles, glass(es of wine), children. Among the differences between the content of dystopian folk-rock songs and that of life is the relative regularity in the former with which heroes encounter sages in alleys. The hero of my own life, for instance, has found sages in classrooms, cubicles, bedrooms and a flower pot on my windowsill, but never in an alley.

I once told a story on this blog about a night in Montreal spent walking alone. I was horrified by the baseness of my surroundings, of the untempered rage and naked horniness of my peers. As frightened as I was depressed, I strolled through downtown streets until I came across a man, about my age, sitting silently on a street corner contemplating ... what? The order of being and essence? The relationship between the moral and the aesthetic? He opened his mouth; I didn't breathe. But what came out of his gaping maw was not the Truth, as I had anticipated, but his dinner, and then his lunch, and then his breakfast. He puked copiously and for a long time. We were just outside an alley, though he was more prophet of doom than straight-up sage.

"Almost Apocalypse" tells much the same story of alienated wandering and yet, despite itself, is ultimately uplifting. Unfortunately for the doomsaying Aztec Two-Step, their music belies their message; after all, how bad can the world really be when it contains such sweet vocal harmonies, rollicking telecaster licks, and especially those bass roots, rising up the scale and falling back down again.


Posted by Jordan at 4:49 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2007


flying cat

The Cay - "Company Store". We can't collect handshakes. We can't collect the times we've held someone's hand. We can't collect high-fives. Maybe there's somewhere someone with a Polaroid camera around their neck, documenting each one. A thousand snapshots of hands & hands. Maybe they decorate their room with the images, or decorate their Christmas tree. Maybe they keep the handshakes, handholds, highfives in shoeboxes under their bed. Maybe they burn them in their fireplace to keep warm in winter.

But most of us take these hands-on-hands for granted. We ignore the way they're each a small, distinct beauty. And so go our whole lives.

Not so The Cay. "Company Store" is a string of small splendours, like the line of white lights on a procession of bicycles, night-riding. It's a folk song that visits four seasons. In their knit of guitars, voices, rhythms, in their counterpoint and harmony, they're collecting each tiny moment. Each handclasp and gasp. "I see a bear and a child, and a baby grand." The small (big) pleasure in a long hard day where I can see the end. These are the beauties we forget & neglect, but they're the things that make a life. And before the end of the song, The Cay have marked each one with an exclamation point.

The Cay - "Littlest Hobo". The Cay is my friend Jordan's band. Here they cover the theme-song of a Canadian television show called "The Littlest Hobo". And while I snicker when they use the phrase "hobo-style", most of this song I spend just happy, simply happy. I feel such a pleasure in the scatter of shaker & guitarline, in the crooked voices, in the slang & slur. "Just turn aroun' an' I'm gone again," Christine sings, and I'm so glad to know her. There's a German word: Fernweh. The desire to be somewhere else. While wanderlust is the hobo's desire, a need to be on the move, Fernweh is just the opposite of homesickness. The wish to be distant. And as I listen to my friends' third CD, Don't Go Out Tonight, which is kind & complicated & beautiful & stirring (& without record-label!), - as I listen to this hobo's song, - I do not feel one tiny lick of Fernweh. I'm fine just here, with you. (Heck, come a little closer!)

[MySpace / email Jordan / say something in the comments]


I tweaked Said the Gramophone's RSS feed, so if anyone has any trouble let me know.


If you enjoyed the Luyas song I posted last week, you may be happy to learn that they now have a WEBSITE, featuring MORE MP3s (all great), and instructions for buying the CD. Faker Death is fast becoming one of my all-time favourite records of the year, dearer with every listen.

Posted by Sean at 6:40 AM | Comments (12)

August 22, 2007


girl and couch

Jens Lekman - "Your Arms Around Me". (Removed at label request.) We're projectors, all of us! Such persistent projectors! The band called the Dirty Projectors has got it right: that's the stuff of artists, of memory, of all of us considering, remembering, living and retelling our lives. Dirty projections. Messy, flawed, innaccurate projections. But so help us it's all we can do. So I hear Jens Lekman's startling little song, "Your Arms Around Me", and what I write says more about me than about Jens:

And amid harp and uke and "MMmbop" guitar, Lekman tells a silly story about a guy who ends up in hospital after an avocado accident. As with much of Lekman's work, he uses the ridiculous to try and undermine the sentimental. But schlock doesn't cease to be schlock just because there's a goofy Swedish punchline wedged in, and both of Lekman's LPs are marred by maudlin excess. (His singles/rarities comp, however, is fucking amazing.) And yet despite the regrettable avocado plotline, "Your Arms Around Me" is beautifully composed, majestically arranged, and basically great. Most stirring & strange is the affection in it - the romantic chorus, the idyllic melody, - because there's such a disconnect between this and the lyrics. "What's broken can always be fixed / what's fixed will always be broken"? That last part's not a banality. Or when he wakes in the hospital bed: "You're sitting next to me reading the paper / I put your arm around me." It's a broken relationship, one half more in love than the other.

And you could explain all this by calling the narrator deluded, blind to the nature of his own love-affair. Or you could see the song as something else: a recollection. A snapshot & a story. The desire to go back to another time, to swim for a while there, and to cast it in rosy light. The doomed, daft act of revisiting a lost place and gilding it gold.


Nina Nastasia and Jim White - "In the Evening". I don't think I'm still in love, these seasons later. But in the evening I sit and sometimes I realise I am wearing it again. My jacket like an awning. My love like a jacket. And every time I put it away in the wardrobe, the cedar closet, it does not stay there. I take it back out. I don't understand the syntax of what happened, of what continues to happen. What's past and what's present. The past is present. We made an end in breaking, as Nina Nastasia sings. We darkened up our home. And nothing here reminds me, but here I am, wearing that coat, looking at photographs and thinking I oughtn't, that they're such empty windows. A false light always fading. Yes. And Nina Nastasia sings with pessimism of the uneasy knowing. "A moth can live this way", she sings. So I listen not to pessimistic Nina, dark-haired and dark-eyed; I listen instead to wild, serious Jim White, perhaps my favourite living musician, as he makes a speech of optimism, change & progress; of wisdom; as he makes a speech only by hitting things with wooden sticks and metal brushes.



"As the hornet enters the nest, a large mob of about five hundred honey bees surround the hornet, completely covering it and preventing it from moving, and begin quickly vibrating their flight muscles. This has the effect of raising the temperature of the honey bee mass to 47 °C (117 °F). Though the honey bees can narrowly tolerate such a temperature, it is fatal to the intruder, which can handle a maximum temperature of about 45 °C (113 °F), and is effectively baked to death by the large mass of vibrating bees."

[photo by undertwasser]

Posted by Sean at 8:12 AM | Comments (7)

August 21, 2007

Growing Up Walls

Usman Achmad - "Stambul Naturil"

A long-unfolding, classical-sounding lead and a short, looping series of treble chords make up this acoustic guitar duet, which is unlike any I have heard before. It took only five seconds for this song to literally charm the pants off me: when the chordal part clumsily appeared, presenting a baffling counterpoint to the already established lead line, I laughed, but then, deadly serious, removed my pants. I was humiliated, but also excited, because, in truth, I search day and night for something so sublime as this - a song in 4/4, which seems also to contain all other time signatures within it. And that's just the guitars.

Do as I say = as I do = Put this song on repeat, lie back pantless and wait for a voice like a wicker chair and a linen suit and a gin and tonic and bask in the light of this singer of profound soulfulness and in his lyrics (Indonesian), which, though I don't understand a word of them, must deal with the dual themes of nature and mortality in much the same way as the early-medieval Japanese poet Kakinomoto Hitomaro - "Away I have come, parting from her/Even as the creeping vines do part" - or perhaps of the ideal and the abstract, of whether the number three is Julius Caesar, of infinite sets of varying sizes, and in precisely the same natural style, because the number three and infinite sets are just two more things in this man's world.


Posted by Jordan at 11:14 PM | Comments (2)

August 20, 2007


Ivan Ives - "Victory (ft. Vast Aire)".
Arcade Fire - "Surf City Eastern Bloc".

There's an effervescence to that old Russian sound - a shine & sparkle to the burnished brass swordhilts. It's the glitter on pocket-watches, tea-sets, tram-tracks, soviet medals. It's not just a music of triumph, or of potential triumph -- it's the holy-shit yes of a people's pride. When a good song comes on at a club, when the whole crowd dances to it right, you'd hear the same sound if you knocked on everyones' heads.

Russian-born Ivan Ives enlists the Hermitage's brassest trumpets to boost his bragadocchio. He's up on a stage throwing wedding-cakes at his detractors, crackin' Fabergé eggs between his molars, lighting a cigar with the czar's old chandelier. His rhymes aren't actually that clever, but when he breaks into Russian it sounds an awful lot like I'd sound, as an MC - spouting spirited gibberish, nonsense that'll knock ya flat.

And on the Arcade Fire b-side "Surf City Easter Bloc", an old song at last recorded, Win Butler is unable to express any kind of hooray until he brings a Hungarian men's choir on board. Most of the song is trudging, weary; it's hard work. He's caught in Neon Bible's fog, that cold war freeze, even as he sings about escape, escape, escape! So thank goodness there are some good, stern men, some men with moustaches, to lift their fists to the air and present an Eastern European HUZZAH, mouths open wide to celebrate the flight that Win's so reluctant to exalt.

[Ivan Ives MySpace / buy the No Cars Go 7"]


Dan and I are now writing for a website called Ajisignal, updating them with reports of up-and-coming happening in Montreal. We join Justin from Aquarium Drunkard, representing L.A., Liz in Minneapolis, and Ben & Christian in SF. Our first post is a piece on the marvo popsters Miracle Fortress.

OneByOne is a new mp3blog where there is writing & drawing about every single song. The picture for Of Montreal's "Oslo in the Summertime" is so right-on it hurts.

WEB 2.0-ers: A guy called greatslack has created a Said the Gramophone group on .

And finally: Pornography, Said the Gramophone-style.

Posted by Sean at 12:14 PM | Comments (4)

August 17, 2007

In A Vacuum We're Soulmates

Tchaikovsky - "Pieces, Op. 72: 14. Chant élégaïque" [Buy]

I was 16 when I first visited Budapest. No one believed me back at home when I told them it was a combination of two cities; Buda and Pest. I guess you're less likely to believe something about a foreign country than about your own. I got there in October, I was supposed to visit my Muka (we called her that) who was visiting an old friend, but I had taken the train a day early from Paris where my parents were touring. I didn't tell my Muka, I thought I would surprise her. I got to the station and got my bags from the porter who was very nice in his green suit and shook his hand. An older woman asked me for help with her bags and I put them into the trunk of the cab.

"I'll need someone to help me bring them in," she said, the tips of the fur on her hat swaying in the breeze like little lazy fingers, or grass. I said I would help and rode with her back to her apartment. I carried the heavy black one first, as I thought I'd have the most strength for the first one. Then as I went halfway back down the stairs, the woman was carrying her other two, and the cab driver was coming up with mine. I made a sound--

"Oh, don't worry," she interrupted, "you might as well come in for tea now." The cab driver didn't speak English so I didn't bother.

We had tea in the speckled sunlight of her small living room, and I looked around at the Goënberg novels and Reitmann paintings that peppered the peach walls and the chestnut bookshelves, irrespectively. I was sweating slightly in the warmth of my blue sweater that my Muka had bought me for my Ratification the previous year.

"I want to show you the best part," said the woman, leading me by the fingertips to the kitchen window. "Here, look at this," she said, her chin pointing to an ivy plant that sat beside the open window. The plant had grown out of its pot, out the window, and had covered almost the entire exterior wall of her building.

"That's neat," I said, immediately hating my childish choice of words. I noticed an urn with a nameplate on it next to the windowsill, but before I could ask, the woman had begun kissing gently the back of my neck.

We made love, or rather she made love to me, on the Zulu throwrug in her living room, the afternoon sun half warming us up to the knees. She insisted I have a spot of soup before I left, and I was still able to surprise my Muka by dinner hour. I've been back to Budapest twice since.


Collective Soul - "Good Morning After All"

I'm guessing it's not a secret anymore, but there was a time when I was championing the idea that Collective Soul was not-so-secretly harbouring the not-so-secret of being a Christian Rock band. I was much fought against in my opinion. But this is incontrovertible evidence. This is proof that Collective Soul is Christian Rock, and here is an instance of a genre being equal to an essence. The two words of that genre are the only two words I can think of to describe it. [old stuff]


My review of Stardust is up at The Movie Binge.


Happy Birthday, Roger. You're great.

Posted by Dan at 2:30 PM | Comments (5)

August 16, 2007

Practiced At

Japanther - "Challenge"

Japanther is a band that I never gave a chance. I had categorized them under "flighty hipster joycore" and written them off. But the problem with categorizing something is that you're always wrong. That's not to say it's not flighty hipster joycore, it is, but if you place something in a negative category it's always going to seem a little crappy. But this is not crappy, so why is it in the crappy section? Because a category is like a genre, it's a lasso that allows you to keep from going crazy or becoming dead bored with repetition, but it's hardly an essence. This is the essence; drums like a thousand heartbeats, a sweaty-backed guitar, and a teenage thump-stomping anthem chorus. At 2:58 it's the second-longest song on Skuffed Up My Huffy by a second, because these sprint-on-the-spot major-ragers don't and can't last much longer. Strike a match, watch it burn, bursting, out. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 4:54 AM | Comments (5)

August 15, 2007



The Luyas - "Dumb Blood". I'm all mixed up, Jessie Stein sings, and without distress. It's a state of the union address. It's like showing us the palms of her hands. This is how she is. And meanwhile I'm in my apartment on Parc Avenue and I stick my head out the window into the rainfall and I see her walking in her blue dress, soaked from the storm, hair dripping & lifting & curling. And I want to tell her hi, yeah, I see you. Hey there. And I want to tell her to step onto the cloud she's made, the little one floating beside her, and to go sailing into the gale. In spite of her dumb blood. In spite of all that's wrong and all the crash and want and blow and oh. Her friends are playing her pain with drums and french horn, the kids from Torngat and Bell Orchestre, but they'll trace her gladnesses too. This is the suggestion I'd make, the kindness I'd offer for a song as marvelous as this. I'd try to offer a trade: some hope in exchange for this great glowing ache.

[buy / MySpace. Faker Death is like Les Mouches, but further from death & closer to heartbreak.]

Sandro Perri - "Family Tree". I should not have to tell you anything but this: Sandro Perri's debut album is available for pre-order. I have written about music from both of his earlier EPs, but now there is something called Tiny Mirrors and boys, girls, lovers, fighters: his music's the summerest thing that this summer will bring. They're chilled-out songs - cool, smooth, silvergold, - but performed in a room with some of Toronto's finest improvisational musicians. Free and easy listening. Perri's sings in his mossy voice of trouble & its resolve; he kicks his kick-drum; and around him there's trombone, cymbal, a narcoleptic keyboard. A song for the passing of days, or seasons, or the passing from one time-of-life to another. Of searching for the things you've already laid eyes on.

On the final track they remake "Family Tree" as an instrumental, Perri not even in the room, all its stuffing laid bare. (And this you will have to buy.)



Tuwa's appeared at the Tofu Hut, to tell a beautiful lie about Betty Davis.

Posted by Sean at 6:30 AM | Comments (11)

August 14, 2007

A Cadre of Pachyderms

Michael Hurley - "Be Kind to Me"

A sloppy, lumbering country boogie, "Be Kind to Me" is a humble, but ultimately unreasonable plea for kindness. The specific form of kindness that Mr. Hurley is after is the reciprocation of his love for a particular woman - "the best ol' girl you've ever seen" - who for years has rebuffed him at every turn. "I hardly feel like a mustard seed," Hurley whines, "because your love is all I need." What kind of pain must this man be in to describe his status as sub-mustard seed? Unfortch for The Hurler, he doesn't quite understand the situation: "I told you once and I told you twice, why be mean when you can be nice?" he admonishes. Of course, what he needs is luck, not generosity; a requitement of love is not the kind of thing that can be given as a kindness.

"Be Kind to Me" is replete with the good things in life: Tiny Tim-like falsetto vocal leaps, Dave Coulier-style mouth-trumpet solo and a certain Leonard Cohen-improvising-at-night-with-friends-around-a- piano bohemian informality. [Buy at eMusic]


Sam Prekop - "Chicago People

"Chicago People" has been sitting in my metaphorical "to post" folder for several months, but always manages to get itself bumped by more melodically ambitious material. Sam Prekop writes songs that highlight the latent power in the everyday sounds of pop music: the rich trembling tone of a tremolo guitar, the round sound of a hefty and distinct bass note, the long-decaying hiss of a ride cymbal with chain, mallets and low-tuned toms, sticks and a high-tuned snare. Without hooks or riffs, just an elegant setting for tones and timbres too often taken for granted. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 6:22 PM | Comments (4)

August 13, 2007


Okkervil River - "Unless It's Kicks". It's not just one of the greatest songs of the year - it's one of the wisest. Sheff sings with an urgency that is like an underlining of key phrases, like two hands tugging to make sure all the seams hold. And whereas wisdom's so often dull, here it's knotted up in the work of a band who love the Shangri-Las, and Sam Cooke, and the craft of a pop song. I'd not be sad if every Okkervil River song sounded like this: shaker, tambourine, a revelation at the moment you go leaping off the stage and onto the raised hands of the crowd. It's the gladness of art & kicks & true-feeling lies, the way a good song is a hand grabbing desperately for your arm. It's the hardest-hitting kind of hit. Glorious. [buy The Stage Names, with bonus disc and free downloads and stuff]

The Octagon - "The Narrow Road to Oku". It's a little disoriented, this sandy rock-song. It went wandering into the desert with a bottle of red wine, a Pavement album, and a few hours later is like: what the fuck? Whoever it was supposed to meet with didn't show up; whichever stars it was expecting to see didn't make an appearance. And now its shoes are tied in unfamiliar knots, its hair is filled with grains of unfamiliar minerals, and it's got a catchy song in its head - something it found in a dune, burnished and hopeful and even a little buddhist. Whereever the hell it came from, The Octagon's gonna carry it around for a while. (Tip o' the hat to former Montreal drummer, Will Glass.) [pre-order]

St Vincent - "Marry Me". This was better at Montreal's Sala Rossa, just Miss Saint Vincent and a baby grand, but we make do, we make do. Each of the opening lines is like a little glass of water, and we drink each one in turn. At its best this is a song of strange but unstumbling love - the sort of thing that makes me heartsick with envy for "John", the dude Vincent's batting her big eyes at. All the vocal effects, strings and muted horns are nice enough, but we're listening for the simple lilt of the chorus, the way the words balance on St Vincent's tongue, and that coy climax line: "Let's do what Mary and Joseph did / without the kid". [buy]

Fanfarlo - "Devil Town". I can't figure out if this lovely 1:55 ditty, piano & bass & horns & strings & glockenspiel & thunder-sheet & choir, is forlorn or resigned; if it's the first thing you sing at dawn or the last thing you sing at dusk, stumbling your way home. I'd like to sew it into a card and send it to all my wronged friends, the ones with stolen bikes or broken hearts. Fanfarlo have recorded such a pretty, pretty blues. (ps: shhh, it's a Bright Eyes Daniel Johnston cover.) [buy the "Fire Escape" single]


Happy Birthday, Dan Beirne. I'd say more but for the first time in a three years I was here, Sunday, to give you my well-wishes in person. I'm happy for that.


The full suite of videos from the Blogotheque's Soiree a Emporter is now online, in English, with amazing footage of David Herman Dune, Zach Condon, Kocani Orkestar, and many more. I even wrote a little blurb for them about a Sidi Ali clip.

Andrew Rose's story of seeing Leonard Cohen on the street seems to me either a) a true thing about Montreal; or b) a true thing about living in a world where artists dwell. Either way: good.

"After all that, how does live octopus tentacle taste? A little like fury fused with fear."

Posted by Sean at 1:09 AM | Comments (11)

August 10, 2007

Leave the Body Here, Right Here Is Fine

Mark Snow - "Skateboard Theme (Instrumental)"

I'm here to provide for you. I know what you're looking for. I know you're looking for sneakers and big socks. I know you want an orange-and-tan disco that skips and shimmies and shines. I know you're looking for a good time. Well, look no further, it's the theme to the movie Skateboard. A pumpin' little beat covered in little trebly dustings in a wah-wah sauce. A Friday night never dressed itself in front of the mirror like this before. [out of print]

Jefferson Starship - "Fast Buck Freddie"

If perfect disco doesn't get you positively turned right on, try some never-bothered-to-revisit Jefferson Starship on over that sweet fancy torso of yours. Put it on like an old boyfriend's band shirt, wear it cause it's there and you need the warmth. But also 'cause it's not terrible, and Grace Slick, mad drunk driver though she may be, can sing like a thunderstorm and she only uses melodies that fit like tetris in her voice. The lyrics, though, ye-ikes. The verses are such fake-trip drug talk, but the chorus is passable. Sing it now while you still have a song. Your time is running out. [out of print]


My reviews of I Know Who Killed Me and The Bourne Ultimatum are up on The Movie Binge.

Posted by Dan at 3:34 AM | Comments (5)

August 9, 2007



And you say nothing because you don't know the words to say; and you know that the wrong thing, said, would become a regret; and you wonder who invented the word 'goodbye', and whether the first syllable is a lie or a kindness; and you think that if you had hours and a pen, perhaps you would be able to find the right thing to say; and perhaps you would not; but you do not have a pen, or hours, just yr lips and someone else's; and a kiss is too quiet to speak with; or I don't know, maybe it's just right; and you want to say a dozen things, all of them like bridges, stone and iron, and wood, things that you can leave behind & intact; and you want to say a dozen things, all of them like breaths on a cold night, misting & then gone; and you want to tear off your tie; and you want to throw your shoes at something; and you want to be on a street of pinkpetaled trees, singing, voice a-resoundin', a song of carefree la and these days' easy joy; because they were such an easy joy; and so full-feeling, her face; and so often hidden, her face; and you, dodging wry; and skipping stones; and lines on hands; and then; and then goodbye; and



this is the alternate photo to accompany this post.


This animation starts so sad it's uncomfortable and then the bottom falls out and the walls fall away and you no longer know what to think, except maybe awe or i hope wonder. (via Michael)

If Said the Gramophone were a video-blog, if we made videos for every song, and I had made this music video for Fionn Regan's "Be Good Or Be Gone", it would be one of my best posts ever.


[photo by Darek, in iceland]

Posted by Sean at 6:30 AM | Comments (7)

August 8, 2007

Under the Wire

Ruby Johnson - "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)"
Ruby Johnson - "I'll Run Your Hurt Away"

In the the late sixties Ruby Johnson recorded twenty-seven sides for Stax/Volt. From those, Stax could have made four cubes and a triangle, but they could not make a hit, and Johnson was thus dropped from the label. Too bad. Her voice has that proper congestedness for a soul singer - one of the few jobs in which inarticulate displays of emotion are encouraged. Whether through a hoarseness of voice or a reticence in the rhythm of phrasing or simply through the use of grunts and moans where most normal, stable people use words, a soul singer should show us how she feels, in part, by not being able to explain it.

Johnson's soulfulness quotient (her SQ, like Gauss' IQ or Oprah's EQ) is not only benefitted by her employment of all of the above techniques, but also by the Stax house band (note the drumming, in particular, which is powerfully minimal in approach and so perfectly strikes that elusive balance between crispness and resonance in tone) and the Stax house songwriters, who showered Johnson with catching hooks and deep grooves despite her utter inability to overcome her inexplicable public unpopularity.


Posted by Jordan at 10:41 PM | Comments (2)

August 7, 2007

A Crutch With Your Name On It

The Lightning Bug Situation - "Hitting's Not Very Effective When You Don't Have Much of a Punch"

One half of The Speakers has made a very personal album formed around the event of having a child. There are about 9 straight-ahead songs, and about 6 of these audio interludes, that sound more like little radio documentaries, and in that genre, they are very effective. This feels a little like an Errol Morris-type moment; an extremely vulnerable revelation, which the music staring back at the subject, so both you and them can think about what they've just said. Some days there is no dancefloor. [Buy]

Radiohead - "Kid A"

Arguably the amount of times you see someone before they die can always be more. Maybe not reasonably, maybe you live far apart, but theoretically it can always be more. A friend of mine died suddenly this weekend, and I find myself imagining all the times we were apart. I just imagine him going places, no expression to speak of, just regular movements, glances, touches, purchases, short phone calls, preparing a snack, standing in a doorway, taking off or putting on shoes. It's this graceful kind of motion, the automatic and unexamined, that I'm mourning right now. Because his smile, his humour, his perfect quietude, his undeniable genius, is just too much to talk about. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 3:46 PM | Comments (7)

August 6, 2007


Wooly mammoth

M.I.A. - "Paper Planes". FORGET IT'S SUMMER. Just forget it. THERE IS NO SUMMER. Summer's done. Come 2010 we'll only have one season anyway: THE HOT SEASON. So let's start early. Starting now, in 2007, l'été est passé. We'll just act like it's this all the time. Like it's awesome all the time. Like you can eat ice-cream and dance in shorts-and-t-shirt all year round.* In the once-words of my good friend Dave: FUN TIMES FOREVER. And the sky will crisscross with sparkling jet-planes, and M.I.A. will be playing on the roof of the YMCA, just her and a sampler and a girl with a bass drum. And I'll learn to play electric guitar so I can learn to play this song - a high, keening guitar-line, lazy-crazy, useless for anything except "Paper Planes", but the only part you can learn. Because the sing-along chorus is literally impossible to sing along to: it's machine-gun pow and cash register kaching, and yet still the summer's second anthem, the best thing since ella-ella-ella. Sorry Dan: if "Paper Planes" is "filler" then it's like the cotton batten that fills yr favourite doll, the sap in the greening tree, the high-fives that make it worth getting up in the morning.

Hear M.I.A.'s KCRW recording of "Paper Planes" via Gorilla vs Bear - you can hear the way she's already singing it different, romping all through it, finding new swing-sets hidden in the pop-song's nooks and crannies.

* - I guess in some places you can ice-cream and dance all year round. But it's more fun if it's in Montreal.

[pre-order Kala, which is, unexpectedly, totally amazing]

Fleetwood Mac - "Walk A Thin Line". Jordan calls it The Summer of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, but as I say in the comments to that post - for me 'twas the spring of Rumours and 'tis now the summer FUN TIMES FOREVER of Tusk. I do not know what this says about my life other than the need for a harpsichord in it, and my love of wooly mammoths.

On "Walk A Thin Line", Lindsey Buckingham sings in that mode which Fleetwood Mac perfected: a jubilant sorrow, a melancholy joy, an addicting lament. There's a dozen voices there with him, glad and ruined, talking about fate, want & wonder, all as the beat clomps on & on, at once trudge and soar. And with some of the most magnificent drums I have ever heard on a song, the wisest drums I can remember, the stumble &: smile of a man as goes to hug his unrequited love: oh heart, beat on, foolish and dear, oh oh & oh no & yes.

Apparently Buckingham blamed Tusk's commercial "failure" (only 4 million sold!) on home taping. If you're reading this Lindsey, I hope that you warm a little bit to Said the Gramophone.



Join me at this Friday's Bollywood Bike-In at Montreal's McAuslan Brewery. Cheap beer, projected films, and DJs under the stars.

It's been a few days of birthday! A verily and merrily, then, to Matt Perpetua, Andrew Rose, and Dan Zabbal.

[mammoth drawing by Christina McSherry]

Posted by Sean at 7:46 AM | Comments (12)

August 3, 2007


photograph by Sara Padgett

Low - "Breaker (Daytrotter session)". Low are on vacation, somewhere very hot and dry. They were driving all day in the rusted-out van. They arrive at the hotel they booked weeks before, on a dry strip of yellow sand with the ocean just visible at the horizon. The building's made of white concrete. There's no one there to book them in, just a whiteboard in the lobby saying: LOW -- ROOM 310. They let themselves into 310. There isn't any furniture. They set up their instruments. Sweat's dripping down their arms and falling in drops when it reaches their wrists. They wish they had something cold to drink. They open the little window as wide as it will go and they pick up their guitar, bass, drum-sticks. They start to sing without even having warmed up. Alan and Mimi don't even look at each-other when their voices meet a little sharp. They're all just staring through the haze at the window, and beyond the window to that distant bar of sea. They sing the song with clenched fists and call the ocean closer, tide by tide.

Low - "Hatchet (Optimimi Version)". Later they go for a swim in the pool.

[buy Low's Drums & Guns, presently my fourth-favourite album of the year / check out the rest of the triumphant Daytrotter session / try to find the Hatchet 7"]


The first Concert a emporter video from last week's Blogotheque concert has the Kocani Orkestar playing their hearts out with Beirut's Zach Condon, thick in the throng of Parisians. If I was there I would have turned to leaves.

(photo above by Sara Padgett)

Posted by Sean at 2:06 AM | Comments (7)

August 2, 2007

Always Open To "Never Again"

M.I.A. - "Bird Flu"

I told you to listen to this, didn't I? Well, I know you all ignored that, I know you were too busy walking quickly and carrying your very important papers. But you can't ignore this. This track is in a kind of scaremongering hysteria, it's circled by crazy-eyed kids stamping their feet and saying ha! and rolling their tongues. This track isn't fun, it's gnashing, thrashing, and hot. The sweat just drips off and down, leaving a black puddle on the black ground. The rest of the album feels like filler compared to this. [Buy]



Antonio Vivaldi - "Concerto RV 425 for Mandolin I. Allegro"
Children Eating Birds - "Is That?"

Michelangelo Antonioni died on Monday. I realized that all my life I had been confusing him with Antonio Vivaldi, the two had become conflated in my mind. They're not related, they're not the same, they really only share three phonemes, and a country of origin. Antonio is full of flourish, constantly playing notes, where Antonioni is a lighter touch, one note sustaining, like a gaze, fixated. From what I can find, he sounds, his films sound, as if the images could be musical, more like Children Eating Birds. I should have known just from their musical differences (once converted) that they were not the same, but I only realize now. So instead I'll let them live on in my mind as one; an artist of densely layered compositions or often simple lines, inventing new devices while often using classical devices turned starkly on their head.

Posted by Dan at 2:45 AM | Comments (7)

August 1, 2007

The Objectivity Bomb

John Fahey - "Sligo River Blues" (1959)
John Fahey - "Sligo River Blues" (1964)

If you're listening to a version of John Fahey's "Sligo River Blues" right now, I can only assume that you don't understand the most basic fact of the here and now: Today we slip into the august August of The Summer of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. Don't do anything else: don't go to work, don't clean the house, don't check the post, don't eat a meal; just listen to "Second Hand News" and don't stop listening until you've heard the last notes of "Gold Dust Woman," at which point, if you have any interest in maintaining a modicum of happiness in your life, I recommend starting the process anew.

John Fahey had his summer, but this is not it, so keep on scrolling, there's nothing to hear here.

Do you remember The Summer of The Milk-Eyed Mender? Since The Summer of Rumours = The Ultimate Summer, this was our preantepenultimate summer, and, it just so happens, it was the last summer that Sean, Dan and I lived in the same city. That city: Ottawa. Pretty much every night Sean and I would go to a bar and play Scrabble. (Sean is a fine Scrabbler, but an incorrigible cheat.) I'm not sure why we went to bars so often, since we rarely got drunk (Sean is also more or less a teetotaller (i.e. BORING)), but there we were: me embarrassed, Sean ordering a hot chocolate. It was, with the exception of Sean, The Milk-Eyed Mender, and a few other saving graces, a truly awful time.

I don't know what Dan was doing - dictating a novel to his secretary through a megaphone? - but we rarely saw him.

I also wrote four songs that summer. The first, fourth, fifth, and last on the album that my band will release in the next few weeks.

There is a tension in art between inspiration and technique that comes into stark relief for me as I prepare to release upon the expectant masses these songs I've been working on for three years. Even as the songs have been, in some sense, vastly improved through the stages of creation - arranging, practicing, recording, mixing, mastering - they have also, to some extent, become alienated from the ideas that inspired them. The me who continues to edit is necessarily different from the me who wrote - I haven't seen or spoken to Sean in over a year, and all of the turmoil of that time has subsided and faded away - and as I revise and redact, how can I be sure of which me to trust. Surely some artists must continue to believe that their work is interesting and vital beyond the point when it ceases to be so. It's a sad fact that, with few exceptions, mathematicians do all their important work before the age of forty. Sad, too, the unlikelihood that they are able to perceive that anything has changed in themselves. Scary!

Undoubtedly, Lindsey Buckingham has listened to Rumours and thought to himself Oh man, I wish I'd done x or y differently. But do we trust Now Lindsey Buckingham - so removed from the album's emotional inspiration, his aesthetic re-shaped by the intervening years - to make a change to Then Lindsey Buckingham's masterpiece?

Even John Fahey, the great purveyor of the Beautiful Mistake, was prone to re-recording his songs years after the original with better equipment and improved technique. And, almost always, the second versions are worse than the first, even when they were recorded at a time when he was doing other, more interesting original work. Yes, "Sligo River Blues" (1964) is played more precisely, more densely and recorded more perspicuously than the original. And yes, the marshaling rhythm is tighter and the verses more achingly syncopated in Fahey's second attempt, but there's something essential to the original that Later Fahey couldn't recapture. Specifically, the moment between 2:55 and 2:59, when, maybe by mistake, maybe not, Fahey gets stuck in the first half of the riff he's been repeating throughout the song, and what is played is a small circle of sound, a snake eating its tail, a tautology, something necessary in the song that only its inspired, unrefined author could perceive.


Posted by Jordan at 6:53 PM | Comments (5)