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.

October 31, 2007

Far Northern Soul

The Tams - "Hey Girl Don't Bother Me"

"Hey 'Hey Girl Don't Bother Me,' don't bother me!", I implore the song, knowing full well it's too late, my position having been already compromised. By three-quarters-way through the song's first bar, I've already been made a dubious confidant of a confider either disingenuous or self-delusional - an unenviable position I'm sure we've all occupied at some point. A friend tells us that he or she is absolutely, finally done with his or her boyfriend or girlfriend, over it!, will not be hurt anymore. And we suppress our bitter laughter, bite our tongues, even though we've heard the same so many times before. No, we don't believe what we hear - and not just because we're ontological skeptics, and certainly not because we mistakenly believe in the unassailability of inductive proofs - but because we're wise, or perhaps just not foolish in love like our friend here, with whom, quite frankly, we're running out of patience. The resolve that Mr. Tams presents at the beginning of his song is a front; the conceit of the first verse - that he is repudiating, based on principle alone, the advances of the notoriously unfaithful, but undeniably sexy young woman at issue - is equally untrue. By the end of the song, Mr. Tams has all but articulated the futility of his resistance. Even as the steadfast and cool high-hat beat reinforces the distance between our protagonists, a clarinet sings impending romance, and, in a haunting minor, hints at its ugly, inevitable end.


Posted by Jordan at 4:49 PM | Comments (1)

October 30, 2007

A Blessed Space


Bedtime - "Fall, In a Shade of Red"

My Bedtime cd arrived in the mail today. It's different than I expected, having listened only to streams, and only parts of them. I knew I wanted to hear it clearer, and I listened over and over to "Fall, In a Shade of Red" while walking around today. The air, now cold enough to chill your nose, was right. The strangers, a mixture of business people and ben folds fans, were just right. The music, with pleasant vocal dekes and guitar solos like an old highway, strong and coolly crumbling, was grey and perfect. It's a song that doesn't pull you too far in one direction, which I liked, today I just want someone to stand with me, just stand there, not changing me.


Posted by Dan at 2:13 AM | Comments (7)

October 29, 2007


Whistle Jacket - "Say Hello". Your room's a mess and your hair's a mess and you're looking forward to talking to your friend on the phone, ready to be charming and kind and fascinating and witty as all hell, just as soon as they call you, any second now, and you're pacing over your dirty socks, and you're yelping to yourself, like for practice, and you're waiting for the piano-scales that will be your cue, and I WILL BE THERE, ba ba ba, c'mon already.

[for a limited time, the Stop Start Skip & Jump EP is absolutely free.]

The Baptist Generals - "Diminished". (previously) [buy]

Dear C.H.,

I wish I had something more to give you. I could write you a story, I could bake you a cake, I could take you to the movies. I could give you a call on the telephone. I could enter you in a raffle, I could take you apple picking, I could tell you a little about my own willowing sorrows. I could - I do - give you a song. But I wish I had something more to give you. And yet I know the only more you want, deep down, is the thing that's gone, that's not just disappeared but fled, and I have no place in that. I'm the distant stranger. I'm the sun, beaming down. I can't rescue love, or avert loss, or explain things. I can listen. I can answer. I can give you a sad song and make you the promise that somewhere far away, someone else is singing along with you, whispering the words you don't know how badly, and hearing the high, lost keening of the accordion, like a circling albatross.

And I can say: patience. And I can say: life. And I can say listen to the kindness in basslines and remember that even sad songs end.

And to all the brokenhearted out there, to all the bereft and shattered, to the travellers and the lonelyhearts - let's form a club. There is no membership fee, no newsletter, no clubhouse. There isn't an annual convention, or a hotel discount. But when we're in the same bar, we'll play foosball together. When we're in the same apartment, we'll play records for each other. We'll hold the door for each other, and share taxis, and pass the ball, and tell you when you've dropped your gloves on the bus. We'll teach you magic tricks and catch your spilled cutlery. And we'll introduce you to our friends, who are beautiful and funny and kind and smart and good, and with one of whom you will one day, I promise, fall redpetal and blushcheeked in love, because this is the way things will go. And your love will linger and last.

And I ask you to take care, while you wait.

And I say, for everything it's worth:



update: moseying around the web, it looks like the long-promised new Baptist Generals album might actually be on its way (!!!!!!!). It's called Jackleg Devotional to the Heart. At their myspace there's an instrumental that seems more like premonition than preview... the best place for news is probably this blog.


Dan wrote about Bad Flirt, the band beloved of Mary-Kate and Ashley, at Ajisignal.

Posted by Sean at 8:00 AM | Comments (10)

October 26, 2007


Photo by lilie-melo -

Radiohead - "Reckoner". Instead of heartbeat, I've got heartbeats. Instead of tomorrows, I've got tambourine. Every bang and scatter of drums is another movement of hands. That's what we do, us. We wander & wander, we get lost and try to get found, and we move our hands. From windowglass to desk-top to kitchen table; from handle bars to steering wheels; from bus-poles to tree-trunks. Clasp your hands at your chest, clasp them behind your back. Then in hush you'll move your hands from fumbling to touch, from shoulder, to hand. to hip, to fingers against her cheek. Clasp her hands and keep them clasped with yours. Don't tremble, don't blink. Instead of heartbeat, you've got heartbeats. Instead of tomorrows, you've got tambourines. "In rainbows," Thom Yorke sings, lingeringly, with his hundred reflections; and you can hear what it sounds like to come back to life.

[Photo by the marvelous lilie-melo]


Also: Dan wrote a piece on his friend N's band Bad Flirt at They have a show on Sunday at La Sala Rossa.

Posted by Sean at 8:30 AM | Comments (12)

October 25, 2007

Identity Personified

(photo by kofka)

Kutiman - "Music is Ruling My World"

I feel like I've gotten away with a crime listening to this song, my booty like the wheels of a getaway car over lined pavement. This song is all asphalt, as in ass-fault, as in fault line, as in line of coke, as in coca-cola, as in brown syrupy liquid, dripping down the back of your hand, onto the dancefloor, mixing with the loose change, dripping from my pockets, 'cause I got money to burn. I'm rich when I listen to this, I'm hot-steppin', noose-preppin', you know what I mean? It's over, brother, and I'm taking all of this stuff with me, even your chair. That means you, and you, and you, are coming with me. Get it? I didn't come for the breakdown, I came for the verses, as in vs., as in we're fighting this out, this ends tonight! Time to test your addictions, see if they're still there. Watch out!! [Buy]

The Phonemes - "Pain Perdu"

The brilliant bursting Phonemes are bringing the sunlight on cafeteria trays today with "Pain Perdu". Translated, it is generally understood to mean French Toast, but I prefer "lost bread". Little slices of rye following the man in the brown jacket for 20 minutes before realizing that's not their father. Suddenly the crowd seems purposefully ignoring them, just any old slice of bread, and a frantic panic head-turning reveals no familiar face. Some lost slices run around crying, others simply wander, enjoying the sights for their new sad beauty. But a piece of bread cannot be a poet, at least not all of them, and surely it's only a matter of time before one goes stale. Then one can only hope to be softened slightly by holding eggs and milk, and settling into a routine. Every day, every day, every night, every night, all I want, all I want... [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 3:45 AM | Comments (7)

October 24, 2007

The Decline of Fall

Judee Sill - "There's a Rugged Road"

Judee Sill, in her spoken introduction to the California-folk ballad "There's a Rugged Road," offers this explanation for her song: "It's about everyone individually on their climb up, you know?" I'm reminded of the saxophonist Cannonball Adderley's spoken introduction to his album Inside Straight, in which he claims that he gave the album that particular title because "that's where I'm at, philosophically speaking, you know?" Obviously both introductions are unhelpful and somewhat annoying in that they both seek complicity, you know?, when, because of their obscurity, none can be given. In fact, the prologues are superfluous - Sill and Adderley are both much more articulate in their work than they are about it. Everything we need to know about Sill's song is contained therein: "There's a Rugged Road" is not, as the literal among you might think, the most general existential claim about a particular kind of road, but a study of one's struggle to stay righteous, despite the trials and temptations of life. A religious woman and a heroin addict (dead of an overdose at 35), Sill sings clearly and easily about a thing muddy and difficult: her climb up a short and rugged road to where? [Buy]


The Dirty Projectors - "What I See"

Ostensibly a cover of Black Flag's 1981 album, Damaged, the Dirty Projectors' latest record, Rise Above, sounds more like Prince playing Prokofiev with a juju orchestra than like the hardcore opus it's supposed to emulate (and, to be fair, it sounds only vaguely like Prince playing Prokofiev with a juju orchestra). What we hear in "What I See" is Dirty Projectors frontman Dave Longstreth's ability to seamlessly fuse seemingly irreconcilable musical influences (see the grasping, ultimately rejected description above) and to successfully plumb the ugly and the unintuitive for their latent beauty. Nat Baldwin, who once played contrabass in The DPs, and whose new album, Most Valuable Player, is a masterpiece, proves with his less difficult, more tender take on Longstreth's Melismatic beltings, that the Dirty Projectors' innovations are not just valuable in themselves, but serve as fruitful inspiration, too. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 5:59 PM | Comments (3)

October 23, 2007

Inevitably Speaking

Dan Deacon - "Wham City" [11:45]

"Wham City" is split distinctly into two parts. The first part is seven minutes, the second part is almost five. They seem like separate approaches to the same song, glued together, but their union evokes in me separate eras of a great and old city.

In Part I, we slowly enter Wham City, old stone pillars hold the sky resting just above the rooftops, and the town square is eerily deserted, tables and chairs empty, until (at 1:51) people, rows and rows of people, swoop into the carrefour from the woods and begin to sing, hands splayed, in tribute. They build a brass fountain in the center of the square, and it is the pride of Wham City. And in the infant days of this city, life is hard but worthwhile, as the citizens have found a common goal, and have successfully found a way to work on a community; with surrender.

In Part II (at 7:12), we return to Wham City, in the far distant future, where the poor have been replaced by robot slaves, and the rich that remain are organic humans. The poor sing a working song as they shove stacking blocks beneath their human masters elevating them higher and higher, as high as they can stack, digging up the dirt from the once-deserted square to make the artificial mountains even taller. Eventually they hit brass, and carefully sweep it away, to find the fountain, the one the original pioneers had built, and the robots are the only ones listening to the message that emanates from within, and they promptly stop their stacking and follow the newly-freed spirits of the city back into the woods outside of town. [Buy]


Neil Young - "The Way" [Buy]

these are the only words that come to mind

(Saiga Yuji)

Posted by Dan at 3:26 AM | Comments (6)

October 22, 2007


Bike crash

The Cotton Jones Basket Ride - "Had Not a Body". Page France's Hello, Dear Wind is a beautiful, dear album, and Said the Gramophone was an early and vocal proponent of Michael Nau's violet & silver pop songs. You may however have noticed a lack of coverage here of this year's And the Family Telephone or the past twenty months' countless MySpace-leaked demos, side-projects, solo outings and whatnot. And that's because none of that work has held a candle, not a flickering flame, to Hello, Dear Wind. Nau's greatest strengths - the heartbreaking, skylarking melodies; the ring & bell; the enfolded rhymes; the ripe, sacred imagery, - were cast aside in favour of, I dunno, modest singer-songwriter pop songs. Narrative songs, clever songs... Nothing like the elegies & fanfares that populated the debut. I can't help but think that the dismissive remarks about the album's religious imagery - especially at Pitchfork - spooked Nau and steered him away from his muse. I've still not heard anything from him that speaks to the potential in "Feather" - not the best song on Hello..., but the one that suggested the scale of his promise.

But Nau's new project, the mouthful known as The Cotton Jones Basket Ride, might yet redeem things. "Had Not a Body" is far away, very far away, from the glockenspiel psalms of Hello, Dear Wind, but instead Nau shows a hot, salt-and-pepper affection for the work of Harry Nilsson or even VU-era Velvet Underground. It's kitchen-counter soul with a Sunday night guitar-line, voices hangin' with voices, the mice coming out from the mousehole to teach the cats all how to dance. It's something to rub on your arms and neck before you go out into the cold; something to keep you warm and smelling of home.

[Cotton Jones MySpace]
[buy Hello, Dear Wind]


Of Montreal - "Voltaic Crusher/Undrum to Muted Da". Of Montreal already released perhaps the greatest album of 2007 and then they followed it up with an EP that's even better. Icons, Abstract Thee comprises five songs. One of these ("Du Og Meg") is a beautiful star-kissed love-story; one ("Miss Blonde, Your Papa Is Failing") is a tribute & apology & promise to a daughter; one ("Derailments In A Place Of Our Own") is a sad, confused, bitter plea; one ("No Conclusion") is no conclusion; and "Voltaic Crusher/Undrum To Muted Da" is a fond, self-deprecating (and even self-hating) prayer for an ex-girlfriend to find happiness. But what's extraordinary about all these is their joy: their sheer pop pop. Even "Derailments...", with its dark melodic monotone, feels like it could be the middle eight from a Beatles song. They are confessional, unvarnished, sincere, and yet resplendent, sonically dazzling, miles away from the singer-songwriter lope/mope the autobiographical lyrics might otherwise predicate.

"Voltaic Crusher/Undrum to Muted Da" is my favourite. It's two minutes long and expresses a feeling that's mixed-up and familiar and something I'm not sure I've ever in my life heard sung. Oh and it's hooky & catchy & fun as a thousand fucking circuses. The song starts by lamenting the death of a relationship, the way the singer has screwed things up. "If there's a god / he will repair your heart. / If there's a god / send her an angel." And we think we're headed to that expected conclusion - the boyo who hopes his girlo can fall back in love with him. But no, nay, nuh-uh. Kevin Barnes asks that the angel, essentially, be a hottie. "Someone to love her volcanically!"

Next we hit the from-all-sides-high-five hookapalooza the line: "AND PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE GOD DON'T BE A BASTARD!" and Kevin's explaining how Kevin ought to be banished to memory, to oblivion, smiling and cheering as he explains this, telling his former lover to find happiness ASAP. In the hands of a guy with acoustic guitar and tape hiss, this would be a tiresome, cliched self-loathing. But Kevin's on the fuckin' moon, jamming with a joy and fierceness that seems altogether new to me; a new way of singing these feelings, a new model for heartbroken hunks of flesh. Something akin to dancing your worries away, to mourning the loss of a love by loving everything you can, to seeing through your tears the world's every beauty. Last night I biked happily down the night streets, waving to the falling leaves, hooting at the owls, singing wide-smiled that "You gave me your heart / I gave you my fist / please don't lose any sleep over me / baby / I hardly exist!" Of Montreal have got even the unheartbroken singing along to heartbreak.



Elsewhere: I love the Listening Party song at Shake Your Fist.

Jess Harvell writes an overdue, honest and thought-provoking article on the 2007 music hype-o-sphere. At Idolator, of all places.

And finally -- Ola Podrida's new music video is absolute lunatic genius. Like the Incredible Hulk crossed with a back-porch strummer.

[photo source unknown]

Posted by Sean at 12:18 PM | Comments (10)

October 19, 2007

Long-Distance Drunk

MGMT - "The Youth"

On an AM radio in outer space, MGMT's Oracular Spectacular sounds pretty good. I'm dating an astronaut, and she heard this on her little clock radio the other night. Night for her is just when the earth is dark, she refuses to switch to "space time". But she had an interesting thought the other day in one of her letters (she still writes letters!) she was amazed at how much you can see from space. Just from using google maps and her good binoculars that I bought her before she left, she can follow what she calls "the spirit of the nation". She can watch as red states slowly fade to blue, as crimes and natural disasters spike and dip around the country, as money changes hands, as needless travel blows like a great wind, as families spread out like little fireworks shows. And with a now mountainous amount of data she really agrees: "the youth are starting to change." [Buy tracks]

Ham1 - "Clown-Shoed Feet"

Shuffly, scuffy, and pretending to be lazy, this is an awesome opening to an album. I couldn't hear if the rest of the album lived up to it, I was already out the door, rushing off to 28. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 3:48 PM | Comments (2)

October 18, 2007


Kudzu image - unknown origin

Orillia Opry - "I Lied"

Orillia Opry - "Shadow Shadow"

Orillia Opry isn't a person. It's two: Montreal's Daniel Noble and Emma Baxter. And Orillia Opry are releasing their second album, Lighthouse for the Stragglers' Eyes. And it's marvelous.

It's a record that seems modeled on one thing: on the harmony of Daniel and Emma's voices, on the smoke signals and sparks that their duets evoke. Sometimes their singing require a soft song, sometimes a loud one, often a little of each. And yet the result is not a glut of midtempo grey; it's a limber, supple thing, an album with moss on the north side and a hand on the east. Folk, and folk rock, that you could wear swinging on your neck as you bike down rue Bernard, screeching to a stop at the sight of your love's rosy face.

"I Lied" is the prettiest, and bitterest, break-up song that you'll hear this year. They sing their sadness with the plainest of adornment, with the evenest of tones. Such a fearsome, gentle chorus: "If you come back / come back with a heart attack". A heart attack! Like it's the easiest thing to sing, like there's nothing tightening in their chest as they stare you down. Like they're not going to go home and do the dishes, and put on a kettle, and forget to make the tea, and like they're not going to sit staring out the blank glass of the window reminiscing, and angry, and like they're not going to go in to the kitchen and see the cold kettle and boil some more water and like as the tap shushes at their fingertips they're not going to begin to cry like a dog, banging their fist against the sink in fury at themselves

"Shadow Shadow" is a rock song with a Neil Young poster on the wall, and it's a slow fade-in to the album, and it's more gold than silver. I want to own a small bell, a hand bell, and for that bell to rest on a shelf in my house. And inside the bell I'll hide "Shadow Shadow", and every time I ring it, the song will be there, ringing like a cathedral carillon, shaking all the burrs from my limbs, all the sand from my eyes, all the innocence from my blood, all the blood from my innocence. It's a song-title that ought to be written in all caps. "SHADOW SHADOW." An electric guitar solo that's already written in all caps. "RADADADA RARADADA DA OH DA DA OHOH fuck YES."

[ORILLIA OPRY have their album release on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30th, at SALA in MONTREAL. You should GO. It will even end early enough to take the metro home, if that's your thing. In two weeks you can order the album but in the meantime buy their previous LP, Pandion Haliaetus.

And if you want to hear the rock song that will storm the Canadian indie charts just as soon as it gets the chance, visit the Orillia Opry MySpace and listen to the one called "Riverside 2". Oh lordy, let's have a bonfire by the train-tracks. (You're all invited.)]

[Photo of kudzu in the American south, of unknown origin.]

Posted by Sean at 8:00 AM | Comments (6)

October 17, 2007

Thoughts On Things Like Joni Mitchell

Robyn Hitchcock - "My Favourite Buildings"

The scary thing about Robyn Hitchcock's special breed of insanity is that it very nearly passes for lucidity - he buries his absurdities in verses of seemingly meaningful, but ultimately ridiculous, lyrics. Hitchcock is deceptive too because he presents his words in a trust-inspiring naive pop, like a British Jonathan Richman. At first his song seems to be an analogue of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," where, unlike in the latter song, paradise isn't nature, but Hitchcock's preferred architecture. Hitchcock sings, "My favourite buildings are all falling down/feels like I dwell in a different town," and maybe the listener gets a bit choked up, moved by the thought of the collateral damage of human progress. Then, with the same sad conviction, Hitchcock intones, "But why should I bother with painting them brown/when they'll all be pulled down in the end?" Uh, who said anything about painting them brown?! Still, what a nice song, so the listener gives him the benefit of the doubt, and immediately regrets that decision upon hearing the following similes: "My favourite buildings stretch upward for miles/remind me somehow of your favourite smiles/like oak leaves in autumn/cascading on stiles/in the rain." Poetic license be damned: Common sense has been contravened! The last verse confirms that the song is literally nonsensical and, if metaphorical, only incomprehensibly so. The listener is left nodding her head to this melancholy pop song, wondering how she could have been so affected by the product of a mind not bound to our particular modes of understanding. [Buy]


Erin Costelo - "The Trouble and the Truth (Part 1)"
Erin Costelo - "The Trouble and the Truth (Part 2)"

Perhaps this speaks more to the unusual musical proclivities of my adolescence than it does to the quality of Erin Costelo's baritone voice, but when Costelo sings, she reminds me most of all of Genesis-era Peter Gabriel. Costelo doesn't sound like Gabriel exactly, and more often than not, her jazz-inflected, sprawling pop songs owe a greater debt to the composer of "Big Yellow Taxi" than to the man behind "Carpet Crawlers." It's in the way Costelo acts the parts of her songs' protagonists that she recalls Gabriel and his ability to inhabit his many characters and convincingly sing in their voices. In the two versions of "The Trouble and the Truth," the careful ballad that begins and ends Costelo's new EP of the same name, the singer and pianist shows us how a melody's meaning depends upon its frame. The first part - rumbling organ, lonely and reflective - sounds like a distant but formative memory; while the second part, in which Costelo sings more vigorously, accompanied by church-reverb piano and an affectingly unsteady male voice, seems vital and immediate. Only because of the Gabriel-like evocativeness of Costelo's arrangements and delivery can we hear that she begins her album at its end and ends it at its beginning. [Info]

Posted by Jordan at 5:38 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2007

More Lies For Sunny Windows

by Scott T.

Unknown Artist - "Sorban Palid"

Every night my grandfather would retire to the living room, the carpet worn from heavy traffic, and the tassels of the lampshade filled with smoke, and he would light his pipe and listen to this song. He never outright said he wanted to be alone, but I always assumed. One afternoon, the grey outside thick with fall, I sat just around the corner and listened. I stared at the floral print wallpaper and wondered what he was thinking about. Perhaps he was in a war I never heard about, and this was his song with a lover he had had over there. Or maybe he understood the language and it was an elegy to his own life. I peeked my head slowly around the corner, seeing his feet first, then the arms of the chair, and I saw him hunched over, bent focused, playing a scratch ticket. It was better than I thought. [Buy from K Records]

Posted by Dan at 12:25 PM | Comments (6)

October 15, 2007


[Continuing the talk about Said the Gramophone's Pop Montreal series of concerts, and the artists thereof.]

Those who spent Friday, October 5th at the Ukrainian Federation were rewarded with a whole heatwave of song - enough sweat & steam & beauty to raise a crop of hothouse flowers. Yeasayer were as singular & special as I had dreamed: I watched the audience's eyes go wide. Who are these guys? they murmured, while the band loosed quadrupled hollers, redoubled chants, synth-pad drums and slip-knots of melody. The only thing I'm not sure of is the front-man's hand gestures. Then Plants and Animals warmed our fingers and toes, three guys making enough jam for a hundred sandwiches. And though it took a few songs to settle their feet into the soil, Grizzly Bear, o grizzly bear, let everything grow and curl and rise like ivy. They were as beautiful and stray as I had ever hoped, and this my first time seeing them. Owen Pallett guested on "Marla" in its first-ever live performance, "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" hit harder and gleaminger than ever, and "Fix It" was like waking from headache into dream. The night had such a perfect crescendo; at the very end we were all so hot, and so at peace, and if our hearts were seeds our veins would have been filled up with leaves.


And then there was Sunday. Dan wrote about it, precisely. Carl has now, too. It was in a church chapel, older than electricity, four bands running on a single flimsy breaker and all of our fingers crossed that the place would not go abruptly dark. The pews were made of wood and there was no booze. The first three bands offered hushes of varying degrees. Casey Dienel's new songs are autumnal and subtle and sensitive to light: a jazz of smiles, bicycle baskets and want. Her band's freer than you'd guess, worthy of its own name, and when their album is released next year you'll hear what I mean (from under all that snow). Elfin Saddle's lull and racket feels Montreal-born (even if it's not), the sort of stuff that can only grow near our particular train-tracks. And Horse Feathers - their performance was such that I could sense all of our internal candles flickering. So much fury, hurt and longing locked in a set of songs that seem so sweet, so heartbreakingly lovely. Like a hand stuck into a fire.

Okay but Clues.

Clues promo photo, from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

This is the new band by Bethany Or (Liederwolfe), Alden Penner (The Unicorns), Brendan Reed (Letlowns, Les Angles Morts, etc), and at least on Sunday a fellow on bass who plays in Anemones and whose name I thought was Steven but about which I must have been mistaken. And they were fucking amazing. The most exciting rock band in Montreal right now, seems to me, and that was clear even a night after seeing Sunset Rubdown play Le National. There's been some controversy about between-song fucking around, about performance and acting out, but for me that was the stuff of a band trying on its mantle, of artists who have a lot to say and are in a rush to say it even before they've figured out all the words. Before they went on stage they were playing with the chapel's wireless priest-mic, trying to figure it out, and to those of us in the pews (or behind the sound-board) it sounded like the speakers were melting. When I went back to ask them what the hell was going on there was such a funny expression on their faces. Telling me "It's fine, Sean, sorry," with utter friendliness, but knowing I could see the glint in their eyes. (In the glint: an acknowledgment of the necessity of mischief.) When Alden later donned a "cape", I'm pretty certain it was the priest's cloak from backstage, and my grin was unholy in its breadth.

Clues - "[Unknown title - "Blues Clues"] (live)" (recording by "thewalrusnp")

But anyway these details are accessories to the fact of Clues' songs. They're wide and fierce and fun and reach very deep. Hysteria, certainty and pleasure tied up in the same old mail sack, tossed into a leaping sea.

There's an urgency to most great pop music - but it takes something else for a song to become beloved, for it to be a hero and not just well-respected. And it's there in Clues: in their gusto, bravado and play you get the feeling that they could hoist themselves out of the water by grabbing the napes of their own necks. Like Baron Munchausens in overlarge capes, carrying drumsticks, accordion, an eyeblue electric guitar.

Clues are gonna break hearts, and suture them.


Eef Barzelay (once-of-Clem Snide) wrote me in reference to some recent posts here and wanted me to invite our British readers to definitely go see him when he plays London this month:

Oct 23 - Water Rats, London, UK
Oct 17 - KoKo (with Broken Family Band), London, UK

The self-titled album will hopefully be out in the US in early 2008, but will "be out in Spain shortly". The Spaniards love me, he says, and I love them right back.

Eric makes a modest state-of-the-mp3blog-union address. Right on, my brilliant & eggheaded friend.

Posted by Sean at 11:53 AM | Comments (6)

October 12, 2007


Photo from vivoshop's Etsy shop

Last week, Said the Gramophone played host to its first ever concerts. If you were there, you know how splendid they were. If you weren't, imagine the most splendid thing you can, and then multiply by a dozen roses. Our thanks go out hard & hearty to all the bands; to Hil, Dan, Patricia and Lisa at Pop; to Andrew Rose; to Matthew and Frank; to other Matthew for graphics; to sound-guys Christian, Drew and especially Dan Lagacé; and to everyone who showed their face for short or long whiles.

Christine Fellows - "What Makes the Cherry Red". On Wednesday night some of us gathered at a room called Le Gymnase, a place of wood and concrete and gold banding, and amid lamps and lamplight listened. There was a performance by Julie Doiron + drummer, bashful stories interrupted by bouts of furious playing, gnashing at notes, the bitter & the sweet. There was a show by Ola Podrida, all the way from Brooklyn, who made their weariness insistent. (A reminder that some of our fiercest feelings happen at the end of long days, when hopes are worn threadbare.) And there was first, flush, an hour with Christine Fellows and her friends.

Her new album, Nevertheless, is front-parlour and porcelain duck. That is to say it's a record about an elderly protagonist, or of her, or for her; an old woman called Betty who's still deeply alive, eyes wide open. Christine sings the woman's songs with deference, affection, and even a certain glee - a lightness that is often absent from this subject-matter.

But "What Makes the Cherry Red", set in the centre of Nevertheless, is not a song lodged in narrative. Instead it is a caesura, an interruption, a little breath. It is a moment where Christine takes us aside to say something vital and generous. She makes a string of assertions I desperately wish to be true, and makes them from a fabric of sound that is so beautiful it verges on the sublime; the sort of bloom and rise that'll shake you as you sit there, that'll prick tears in your eyes, that'll make you uncertain of where pretty becomes beautiful; that'll make you wonder again if perhaps a sunset can redeem a day.

Someone said that lately my posts here have been diary-like. And there's some truth to this; I've been talking to myself, writing things out loud. I've been wondering about love - love fierce, fickle, falling, flying, failing. I've been inspired and disappointed by it. It's Friday and in Montreal this week I feel a little jaded, a little grey; a little less than I was. So what I want is to sew "What Makes the Cherry Red" onto my every sleeve, to find it written on every mirror, to see it in clouds and on the bellies of birds, in a girl's eyes, in the bottom of a cup of coffee. I want to see and feel this song in places other than a recording; I want to see it in places where its promises become incontrovertible truths. I want to know it to be true, what Christine sings. That one day what makes the cherry red will tie a knot in me, and forgive us our decay.

[Christine's MySpace / Nevertheless is released in early November on Six Shooter Records, and is available from her on tour.]

[This is too long, already. I will write about the other two concerts on Monday.]


As previously stated, our own Dan Beirne appears in the play Legend of the Barbarian, presently mounted at the Theatre Ste-Catherine in Montreal. I saw the play on Thursday night and it's just about the most fun you can have in a room with a concubine, a goblin, a blind seer, and a bunch of people wearing furs. It's ridiculous but even more absurdly it's fraught - all these barbarians and mercenaries caught up in genuine internal struggle, melodrama painted on the insides of peoples' kohl-rimmed eyes. It runs until the 20th, and includes one decapitation, two eye-gougings, and a generous quantity of loincloths. Go on!


[You can buy the cherries in the photograph above.]

Posted by Sean at 8:00 AM | Comments (5)

October 11, 2007

Tin Crinkle

Red Pony Clock - "Don't Forget Who Your Friends Are"

Red Pony Clock have returned after a couple years away (when they released one of 2005's best albums), and they've grown up a little bit. David Barclay is in the band now, which is proof that they're very aware of what's good for them. They've shed their lo-fi fuzziness for undersea xylophones and warm brass bursts. The self-loathing is still rampant, even moreso, on this album. Sometimes lyricist Gabe Saucedo gets me a little worried about him. Seriously, Gabe, if you're reading, I hope you're okay, you can email me if you need to talk. And listening to the rest of the pink and charming God Made Dirt you come to this song with a different perspective. The implication of the lesson in this song isn't so much "don't forget who your friends are when you get famous" but rather "don't forget who your friends are for when you're not famous anymore". Like, literally don't forget which ones they are, to cling to, as in to pant legs. [Buy God Made Dirt]

The Monks - "Cuckoo"

If you were reading in 2004, you may remember Sean talking about this album back then. Or if you were living in Germany in 1966, you may remember its release, but I'm just discovering Black Monk Time right now, and I'm shocked, amazed, and running scared. The Monks seem to have written songs that they couldn't find a way to sing about. Much of their lyrics are sound-holders, just excuses to shout and wail and speak-sing over these strutting and pounding melodies. Like in "Cuckoo", the lyrics are almost nonsense, like a Devo song with even less attention to meaning, but they're perfect somehow. That hoo-ing man doo-ing the chorus has the exact right idea for what the surf/war drums need, what the guitar's jank-jank is hoping for. This music comes comes howling at me from so long ago, I feel connected to it, like I'm there, in a sweater vest nervous with a cigarette, out on a Friday in Munich, looking at grown men with weird shaved patterns in their heads, wondering at how far this stuff can go. [Buy directly from The Monks]


Elsewhere: Powerful supporter of all things worthwhile and now longtime "ami du Gramo" Patricia Boushel produced the new Socalled video directed by Benjamin Steiger Levine, which is gorgeous in its restraint, with flares of subtle, unassuming, yet extraordinary beauty.

Posted by Dan at 3:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2007

To Whom It May Concern

The Barons - "Some Kind of Fool"

The Barons blushed when the Baronesses from whose wombs they sprung first heard "Some Kind of Fool." Not because of the messiness of the beginning (a cacophony of skittering guitars, clanging cymbals, booming tom drums) - no, the Baronesses had long been accustomed to the Barons' untidiness, particularly as manifest in the carelessly strewn laundry that covered their bedrooms, neatened nightly by the titled matrons since the baby barons' births - but because of the dirtiness of the slow and syncopated guitar line that appears at the half-minute mark and, despite the urging of the prudish, simply won't quit. That and the obvious irony of the falsetto vocals that follow, which denote not emasculation, but its opposite. If I could ask the Barons one question, it would be this: When once, on a stage and under a spotlight, I said the words "Frau Reich had assuredly milked my balls clean," while my mother sat in audience, what, exactly, did I do?

Kate Bush - "Cloudbusting"

[Buy The Barons, Kate Bush]

Posted by Jordan at 4:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 9, 2007


I'm going to try to find some words about Pop Montreal, and the Bleating Heart Shows, a little later this week. Dan did a really fine job yesterday.

I will say: go, go, go see Horse Feathers, playing this week in New York, Ridgewood, and Denver.


The Limes - "Beyond Blue". The Limes finally altogether, literally in one room, a long-distance band making a song when they're at last close enough to high-five, shake hands, kiss lips, bang heads, jitterbug; whatever's appropriate. I can imagine them shy, tentative, playing their cherry-red and mint-green parts, standing at a distance. But the drums won't stand for this hesitation. People are shoved, coerced, cajoled. They're rumbled & tumbled. It's like what they sing, deep in their wall of sound: Loving until you're blue, til you're beyond blue, til you've been shaken & stirred to a place where you ache and show a crisp, bright, hard-sky glow.


the army

Minus Story - "We Are Both Dead". [buy]
Billy Bragg - "Walk Away Renee". [buy]

Every time you stop loving someone, your heart loses some of its blush. It vanishes. It's cancelled. You're a little colder, a little older, a little harder. You're a footstep closer to death. Both of you are. & you wonder which of your feelings you'll no longer have the capacity to feel again. How much less am I, today, than I was yesterday?


Said the Gramophone has two more amazing banner graphics added to its rotation. Click reload a few times to see the work of Danny Zabbal and/or Matthew Feyld.

Posted by Sean at 12:05 AM | Comments (8)

October 8, 2007

A Moment Crucible


As I write this, the last few afterparties for Pop Montreal are swaying in the breezy rain, and all the tired happy faces are headed to bed. I was running errands tonight getting ready for the last Bleating Heart Show, and it struck me how hard everyone works at this festival, and how there's a perfect understanding of help and mutual support. It's quite wonderful.

I missed the first two Bleating Heart Shows, as I was in a play those nights, so I'm sure Sean will be able to give the full deal on those (all I know is they went marvelously), but I made it to the Sunday show tonight, and it was really incredible. Moments of pink and glowing beauty (see the Casey Dienel clip), red and sinking beauty (see Horse Feathers), and flashing, gnashing beauty (CLUES played a wild set).

The show took place in the Birks building, part of McGill campus, in a little chapel on the second floor. The old stone and hardwood pews and perfect sound made the silence as important as any of the bands. There was so much quiet that it lit up the artists better than any light.

Casey Dienel - "La La Song"

this clip is unwatchably dark, I know. But the visuals are just a formality, because the mood in the chapel during this song wasn't about what anyone could see, it was about the sound of 90 people singing along nervously but with grins to Casey's last song, being left on their own to sing, and laughing when they get it wrong. [Site]

Elfin Saddle - "Gods/Sky"

Elfin Saddle were really remarkable. They have a gentleness to them, and they build their songs like little sandcastles. Taking great care to make details right, carefully switching instruments to add little dings and crashes when needed, and every time kicking them into heaps when they're done. [Site]

Horse Feathers - "Mother's Sick"

Horse Feathers sounded like they had built this church for their songs. Every whisper, every movement, was clear as day, and felt intentional, full. I can't imagine a better way to have seen this band. [Site]

Clues - "Preview"

Clues were insane. They laid songs down like traps all around us, and unwittingly we set them off. I'm not quite sure what happened; capes were worn, drums were thrown, people were pinned under a giant xylophone at one point, but we all went through it together. Including the band. I think they were watching themselves play, wondering at their own fervency, confused at their own personae, elated by their own undeniable talent.

It was a great show. One I, we, will never forget.

Posted by Dan at 2:48 AM | Comments (5)

October 4, 2007

To Sleep On A Bed For Ten Hours

I know this album came out in February, but I've never been a big Yoko fan (no reason, just didn't think of it) so forgive me that it's gone unmentioned all this time. Her album of remixes and re-visits, Yes, I'm A Witch, has some startling stuff on it. Truly wonderful things. Here are two:

Ono with The Flaming Lips - "Cambridge 1969 / 2007"

This instrumental is introduced by Ono, sounding as if she's on stage at a recital, and then is consumed and spirited away by The Flaming Lips. The song takes off, as many songs by The Flaming Lips tend to do, like a spaceship, and keeps whirring and pulsing the whole way. But with the kind of smiling excitement found in Je Suis France or Holy Fuck, it's currently unlike them as a band. This sounds like their old material, and it's the greatest song they've made in a while.

Ono with Cat Power - "Revelations"

The new Cat Power with the same old Ono. If this song were a face, and I think it is, it would be tender and a bit saggy, and wrinkled in all the good places. The piano would be the shape of the skull, the cheekbones, the "line" of the face, Cat Power's slender carved beauty and almost-perfect symmetry. The smile and the speech would be Ono's, her little mouth giving the pink-love-cloud lyrics and warm grins in between. And the eyes, I think would be John Lennon's, no telling how much of this beauty came from him or rubbed off on him, but his soul present nonetheless, looking out silent and without opinion or gender.

These are the kind of revelations you make apart from something, the kind of things you see after a long time, on a deathbed. Nice, valid, but pointless.



I'm in a play that starts tonight. If you're in Montreal and you're already sick of Pop Montreal, come to Legend of the Barbarian at Theatre Ste. Catherine (264 Ste. Catherine E.) at 8pm tonight. 6$. It officially opens next wednesday and runs for 2 weeks.


Posted by Dan at 2:10 AM | Comments (5)

October 3, 2007


Kudzu, photographer unknown

Roberta Flack - "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face". Roberta sings this so slow, so slow. She sings it slower than the string section even imagined she could. Even when she gets loud, and big, she sings it so slow. She is a wiser woman than I am a man. She savours it, she dwells in it - this first time ever she saw your face. Me I would sing the song so fast. I would try to go hoarse, singing it. I would try to get all the words out and into my lover's ears, as quickly as I could. I would want her so badly to know this. That: The first time ever I kissed your mouth / I felt the earth turn in my hand. But Roberta is wiser. It is not patience she shows; it is instead the sureness of her love. It is there at the beginning of the song, and it will be there at the end. She could kiss her love for a thousand years and still they would love each other at the end. It's a love measured in something longer than days, than months, than years, than decades. (It's measured in heartbeats.)


Ravens &Amp; Chimes - "So Long, Marianne". My only Leonard Cohen trivium is that "Marianne", in this song, is the rue Marianne, in Montreal, near where I used to live. And so when he, and when Asher Lack, sing to "you", they are not singing to a girl called Marianne. Perhaps they are actually singing about you. Perhaps it's you that has left them in this state of disarray, wa-ah-oh-oh-oh-oh'ing. Ravens & Chimes have added to the song a ridiculous velocity, an outright hunger, an impatience that sends the bass drum thumping all through the tune. It's the opposite of Roberta Flack, above; they're tied in knots and want a solution pronto. They show none of Cohen, or Flack's patience. They've got the same nerves as me. C'mon.

[buy Reichenbach Falls]


Tonight we are presenting a concert by Julie Doiron, Christine Fellows and Ola Podrida, here in Montreal. It's only ten dollars, which is a little crazy. If you live here, please, please, please do please come. I promise it will be a comfort to you on this Wednesday. And say hello!

If you follow that link you also have a chance to listen to a new song by Christine Fellows, from her upcoming record.

You can also learn about our other concerts - Friday, with Grizzly Bear & Yeasayer & Plants and Animals; and Sunday, with Casey Dienel & Elfin Saddle & Horse Feathers & Clues. There is now an mp3 available, offering a medley of songs from Clues' upcoming record. It will strike you dumb, friends, and full of awe.

Also recommended, Chromewaves' Thursday show and i(heart)music's Saturday presentation!

Posted by Sean at 8:00 AM | Comments (10)

October 2, 2007

Your Nights and Your Mares

(photo by the wonderful Jay Shuster)

Spider - "The Bitter One"

Spider doesn't own a car, she doesn't ride a bike, and she certainly doesn't take the subway or the bus. She rides a horse wherever she goes. It's not for the attention, or because she wants to be eccentric, she doesn't have to try at that, she's just herself. Here she's tossing the saddle onto Gabe's Ol' Jodie, a chestnut Halflinger, at daybreak, the air cold as ice and a thick dew runs down the leather like it's crying, and rides to the supermarket. There she buys dried onion flakes and club soda, for the horse, and a basket of plums for herself. Then she rides up and over the highway to the other part of town and checks on all the places she used to live, to see what's changed. A lot has changed if you know what to look for. [Buy]

Spider will be playing at Pop Montreal, and you can see her at My Hero Gallery Casa del Popolo on Sunday. But you can only go if you promise to come to the Bleating Heart Show that night too, there's time to catch the best parts of both.


Hot Springs - "38th Adventure"

The Hot Springs album is way more "radio-friendly" (who even cares?) than I thought. Giselle Webber, by way of biographical information, is the child of Sas(s) Jordan and Robert Plant, and is dating Candi & The Backbeat. Come to think of it, this is the only song she could have made. But seriously, this is surprisingly fun and hits a different emotional spot (pointing to my bubble gum and power chords) than expected. But I like it, it hums and warbles and bops, and that's more than enough. [Buy on iTunes]

Posted by Dan at 2:21 AM | Comments (5)

October 1, 2007


Froggystein - "The Flowers are Blooming!". This song might make you jump. It might make the flowerseeds in your eyes germinate. It's soft and yet it has a kind of pugilistic potency. It'll punch holes in walls. It's like falling, like falling in love, like falling dead. You're up and then suddenly you're down, or you're down and then suddenly you're up. You're stepping into the cradle someone's made with their hands and they're heaving you to lips-on-lips. "So flowers are blooming / and it's time to rise. / So get up to go on being you and me / you, me." This song has many sections, one for each time of day. You can wear it as a talisman as you swing your machete, cut through the jungle, wade through the lake, inflate your bike-tires, go inside, find her in the crowd, and kiss her on the mouth.

[MySpace - "Influences: jokes, xiu xiu, coffee, raymond carver"]

Eef Barzelay - "Lose Big". The narrator of this song - Eef himself? - is willing to stop his touring, to quit it all, just to linger with you. Only if: you really love him. "Do you really love me?" he asks, many times, and he never says "because I really love you". No, instead his love is in the rose and violet shades of the lyric at 1:09: "I told her all about you". I want someone to sing to me in those shades, but not with those words. Not quite with those electric guitars. I want more thunderclaps, more ivy. But the song's so good. It's Sunday afternoon as I write this and I'm feeling scattered all over the map.

[Clem Snide RIP. Eef's MySpace. (thanks, ross.)]


There's an excerpt from Carl Wilson's upcoming Celine Dion book, over at 33 1/3. Great point about the opacity of the "quebecoise" as a cultural reference for most of the world.


I am dumbstruck and baffled that so few of you had anything to say about our posts on Jay Bharadia or Ezra Furman.


The Bleating Heart Shows are just a few days away! I hope we'll see all of you Montrealers there and with sparks in yr eyes. Did you know there's an exclusive track from the upcoming Christine Fellows album?

Posted by Sean at 7:49 AM | Comments (10)