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.

December 31, 2007


Sebastian Errazuriz - 'The Tree'

Destroyer - "State of the Union". In Destroyer's song, it's raining. He asks: "What did you learn?" And answers: "Girls are great / grated on my plate / and boys are best / served / with a stake through the chest." It doesn't sound like he had a very good year, no, and like I said it's raining. On New Year's Eve it should snow. If anything, it should snow. Or the sky should be clear as a lens, and dark as a friend holding her hand over your eyes. And when the champagne pops, the thing to remember is that this is not your year's punctuation - the period at the end of 2007, your momentum's full stop. Instead it's the sound of something being dislodged, of spirits finding an opening, of the doors of your life coming unstuck. The sound of a dam bursting.

Patrick Wolf - "The Magic Position". The best so far of the things I missed, and a song I hope you're able to take with you into two oh oh eight. What matters: the joyfulness of the over-and-over, the splendour of the start-and-restart. It's a song of relentless repetition - in handclap and major scales and ever-thumping drums and the sky-seizing yip of fiddle. But as Patrick Wolf shouts: "HEY!" Because somersaulting into a new morning, a new month, a new year, dancing even the same steps to the same songs, there's newness waiting; there's happiness; there may even be bliss. Sooner or later you're going to dance on over onto the right person's toes, or into the right person's arms, or just in a circle of friends so dear that the sparks in their eyes are all the light you need; and you'll not be searching for lighthouses any more: you'll have found the shore.


Abby writes, no, sings?, beautifully about Okkervil River's "Unless It's Kicks".

Eric Marathonpacks talks about favourite albums of the year, but the thing that glints & gleams is the way his words on Spoon & LCD Soundsystem become a canvas for his heart's particular beat. I remember the day after everything went down, I somehow made the connection in my mind with the song, and although I knew it would be too painful to listen to, I couldn’t get it out of my head with a crowbar if I tried. I know everyone in the world has been through the exact same situation, maybe more than once, but this was the first for me, and man was it fucking awful. Art didn't redeem the hardships of 2007: but it was there with him, yes, as he pushed on through them.

[photo is of Sebastian Errazuriz's "The Tree", in Chile.]

Posted by Sean at 12:37 PM | Comments (4)

December 28, 2007

The Language of Art

"Can I Change My Mind," in which a rhythm section betrays a singer's subconscious:

Tyrone Davis is an incorrigible Lothario, a player and a cheat - not even he will deny it. Faced for the first time with pangs of regret, thoughts of what might have been with the latest in a long line of ousted lovers, he sings plaintively over an incongruous instrumental. The guitar: Uncontained joy manifested in too many notes in too little time, bars overflowing with slides and runs and syncopated strums. The drums, bass: Jackson 5 at their most elated. From where is this joy derived? Is it from a memory of past happiness or the anticipation of future reconciliation? Perhaps from a realization that Davis's romantic wandering was not in vain, that there's more to feel than flesh, that under certain circumstances this guitar line can be played with conviction.


Posted by Jordan at 1:12 PM | Comments (4)

December 27, 2007


Chris Garneau - "Love Zombies". I'm very nervous to recommend any song with "zombies" in the title, particularly if the meaning is semi-literal, but here I am, smitten. It's probably the first great song he's recorded since the sublime "Not Nice" (mp3 here), but "Love Zombies" shows once again why I put faith in Chris Garneau; why I hold onto the conviction that this guy may one day record a masterpiece LP. His voice is often a shadowplay, holding up silhouettes of Antony, Regina Spektor, Sufjan Stevens, yet there's something much more robust in it than that; turn the lights on and his unique shadow would be there, flickering blue like a gas-lamp. "Love Zombies" is serious without being humourless, funny without being gutless. Garneau sings pretty, sings angry, sings playful, and in each of these modes he's a virtuoso, stirring any listener willing to be stirred. There's a glissando at 0:42 as he sings the word "wholly" and that alone would be reason to share this track with you.

[buy the C-Sides EP]

Posted by Sean at 8:00 AM | Comments (4)

December 26, 2007

Said the Guests: Aaron Sewards

Aaron Sewards is the only guest-artist I've ever discovered in a friend's living-room. There's a lovely Montreal apartment where two cats live. Their names are Jasper and Franklin. Jasper & Franklin most of the time tolerate the presence of my friends Neale and Raffi. And above the couch in the living-room where Jasper & Franklin & Neale & Raffi play, there's a little framed drawing. It makes you long for either a magnifying glass or a larger pair of eyes. The better to see it with, my dears.

This tiny illustration was drawn by the English artist Aaron Sewards. I'm not sure if Aaron has a magnifying glass, or large eyes, or just very small fingers. But he draws eensy-weensy windows, microscopic portholes into the world we already dwell in. His pictures remake our ordinary lives as sites of tenderness, care, and pattern. In his works, the details add up to something. Mixed-up visions and empty rooms become the places where our emotions have the space to breathe.

Aaron played for Raffi the music of Sleeping States months before the rest of the world (myself included) had heard of the man. He shared other secrets too. And so I was eager to ask Aaron to share a few more secrets with Said the Gramophone's readers & writers: to choose a few favourite songs and to make drawings, paintings and sketches that speak to his favour, that express his convictions in ink and line. These are the three songs he chose, and the images he created for each one.

If you can spare a moment, please do leave a comment to tell him what you think.

My Two Toms - "I Was At School"

My Two Toms artwork by Aaron Sewards
Aaron Sewards - "I Was At School" (click for full size)
(more of My Two Toms)

Maher Shalal Hash Baz - "Kamakura"
Maher Shalal Hash Baz artwork by Aaron Sewards
Aaron Sewards - "Kamakura" (click for full size)
(more of Maher Shalal Hash Baz)

François & the Atlas Mountains - "We're an Army"
Francois and the Atlas Mountains artwork by Aaron Sewards
Aaron Sewards - "We're an Army" (click for full size)
(more of François)

[aaron joseph sewards is an artist who lives mainly in bristol in england and sometimes in canada. he works mainly with drawing and sometimes with film and animation. he plays in the band i know i have no collar and sort of ran the label stitch-stitch records. his friend tom is helping make a website for his drawings as such, and that should be on the internet soon. his email address is]

(Previous guest-blogs: artist Corinne Chaufour, "Jean Baudrillard", artist Danny Zabbal, artist Irina Troitskaya, artist Eleanor Meredith, artist Keith Greiman, artist Matthew Feyld, The Weakerthans, Parenthetical Girls, artist Daria Tessler, Clem Snide, Marcello Carlin, Beirut, Jonathan Lethem, Will Butler (Arcade Fire), Al Kratina, Eugene Mirman, artist Dave Bailey, Agent Simple, artist Keith Andrew Shore, Owen Ashworth (Casiotone for the Painfully Alone), artist Kit Malo with Alden Penner (The Unicorns) 1 2, artist Rachell Sumpter, artist Katy Horan 1 2, David Barclay (The Diskettes), artist Drew Heffron, Carl Wilson, artist Tim Moore, Michael Nau (Page France), Devin Davis, Will Sheff (Okkervil River), Edward Droste (Grizzly Bear), Hello Saferide, Damon Krukowski (Damon & Naomi), Brian Michael Roff, Howard Bilerman (producer: Silver Mt. Zion, Arcade Fire, etc.). There are many more to come.)

Posted by Sean at 11:08 AM | Comments (5)

December 25, 2007

Everything That Rises

St. Thomas - "Take a Dance With Me"

There’s not much room up there, above the tremulous falsetto of St. Thomas. An uncertain violin occasionally rises above, as do a few high plucked notes on an acoustic guitar, but the saint’s own voice tends toward the heavens most consistently. And the heavens tend toward it: I think I speak for the strange man sleeping beatifically in the Greyhound seat next to mine when I say that, muffled by headphones or not, the song’s softness – strummed old guitar strings almost indistinguishable from brushes on snare, reverberating chains – is complemented by the bath of sunlight in which we now sit. My initial lede for this post was “Aquinas does it again!” but then I heard sympathy and gentleness in the music and couldn’t find the severity and scholastic rigour one might expect from a St. T.A. composition. This music is more toned-down Tiny Tim than St. Thomas, or if it must be a saint’s, then why not St. Francis, who talked to and serenaded the animals and probably tiptoed through the tulips, too. [Buy]


The Anomoanon - "Sixteen Ways"

Also on the bus: text messagers and cell phone talkers, magazine readers and perfume wearers, silent sleepers and very loud ones, heads on strangers’ shoulders and faces turned out toward the receding landscape. Most are going home, where, among family, love will mix with security and booze and their opposites. In his ode to the domestic, Will Oldham’s brother Ned sings of the complex emotional climate of the home, where things are at once “coming together at the seams” and coming apart, where a cry is both an indication of sadness and a proof of life. He does this in the wobbly drawl of his brother, while letting his lead guitars wander untethered over a backdrop of square-wave dynamics. Thus does he mirror the reassuring untidiness of home with this blessed mess of song. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 11:32 AM | Comments (5)

December 24, 2007


The Owls - "Welcome to Monday". This song is a greeting card, The Owls' cheery omniscient hello on your strained Monday morning.

Welcome to Monday
We hope you are working hard again.
Welcome to Monday
We sent you a card to let you know we're thinking of you.
And it's nice of them to do so, to send a pop song telegram in shades of blue and rosy pink, with mildly jangling guitars and a jetstream swirl of synths. If it's God singing (and She sings in the first person plural, so there's a hint of She-knows-something-we-don't-know), well despite Her insensitivity to how much Monday sucks, She's sweet to be taking this personal interest. Something in Her dry, pretty voice suggests Mia Doi Todd, or maybe just a world that's kind & good but not flashy in its offerings. A Monday that will provide for you only if you ask it to, demurely.

The Owls - "Isaac Bashevis Singer". Isaac Bashevis Singer: author, humourist, Nobel Laureate, Jew. Were he still with us he would probably be doing the same thing as I'm doing on this Christmas Eve: noshing on mixed nuts, Ferrero Rochers, waiting at a loved-one's house for a matriarch to return with some cabbage rolls. It's a good life.

But one of the things I like to do with this song, this tender portrait, is to disconnect it from the "real" Isaac Bashevis Singer, the I.B.S. known and beloved, and instead to give the song to an anonymous Isaac: one who aged and died in NYC without ever becoming famous, who smiled and shook his head whenever he read an article about the famous writer who shares his name. Our Isaac, this gentle bachelor who works as a watchmaker or a newspaper seller or a watercolourist, this guy too has a wide circle of friends, has lady callers and superstitions and on Christmas Day he throws a feast for all his cherished ones, gentiles and Jews and a solitary Hindu, serving fruitcake and gefilte fish, kosher wine and Austrian bubbly, Ferrero Rochers and mixed nuts. And his turntable never stops spinning.

[buy Daughters and Suns, absolutely the most diverse & pretty a group of pop-songs you'll hear before the end of the year]

Posted by Sean at 12:46 PM | Comments (1)

December 21, 2007

Make Way For Romance

Born Ruffians - "Barnacle Goose"

Have Born Ruffians become separated from their souls? Yes! Their souls now live outside their body, in guitar and drum form, and their mental state is now dually displayed by both the verbal cadence and bright shining shouts, combined with the clawing guitar, slashing. They oscillate between synchronous and opposite motives, as in many songs of any kind, but now with their inner struggle so clearly displayed, old standards become new again, something to rediscover, and this has become some kind of Broadway number meets campfire rounds meets Moxy Früvous-style vocal group, but has the clear vision, and calm panic to be way way better than any of those things. I did recently watch The Golden Compass, but I think this song's daemon is indeed a goose (note the lovely interrupting honk). Also, side note, the Born Ruffians album is great. Anticipate it. [Buy other stuff]

RickoLus - "Sir Real"

Half School House Rock, half David Bowie on a day sail. I think this song is playing some kind of "walking game" where you can never have more than one foot on the ground at one time. Kind of a hopping, jokish goose step. But I like it, it's snappy and geeky. And it ends with a delightful kerfuffle of puffling horns. [the album (and two others) is free, and quite nice]

Posted by Dan at 4:03 AM | Comments (1)

December 20, 2007

His Many Voices

Johnnie Taylor - "Rome (Wasn't Built In a Day)"

Miami was hot even in winter. So we dressed like it was summer underneath our coats and mittens and scarves, denuding once inside. What an appropriately named bar!

Inside - this was the last time I saw her before I first spoke to her - she was dressing to leave. A white tuque and a red pea coat. Her young cheeks were flushed from drink and she sang along to "Crazy," which played on the jukebox. From what I could hear, her approach was more Janis Joplin than Patsy Cline, and it didn't suit the song at all.

Later, when I first approached her, she ignored me. "Hi," but she walked right past me. So I went back to my g and t and tried to cool down. This happened three more times.

Her first words to me were slurred only ambiguously in my direction. "Guess my middle name!" This had something to do with a separate conversation, not involving me, and on which I'd been conspicuously eavesdropping.

"Elizabeth," I proffered and immediately regretted it. An old woman's name.

"Starts with an 'm'"

"Oh. Mandy!"

She didn't speak to me again for three weeks. We were outside; though I'm not sure how we got there. My roommate, Joel, was talking to some acquaintance of hers and then whispering and then we were out in the cold, standing in a circle composed of Joel, me, her and four of her friends (douches). They were passing around a joint. I'd never smoked before, though I wasn't about to let anyone know that. Once the smoke hit my lungs, it wasn't long before I was talking too much and calling her Mandy again, which didn't get the reaction I was hoping for.

It's true that we never exchanged another word - if you define 'word' in the traditional sense. It's also the case that, from that point on, she always eyeballed me in a way that most people reserve for weirdos who may pose a threat of some kind. And then, at some point, she was gone from the city, then I was gone from the city. But I wouldn't say, as you probably would, that I blew it. I prefer to think of it as having planted a slow-germinating seed of love.

Persistence, I understood even then, is paramount. "Where there's life, there's hope," I always say, and then study the faces of my audience to see how quixotic/creepy I am coming across. After all, it occurred to me one day, years after I first smoked pot just outside of Miami, that Rome wasn't built in a day. It took many days to build Rome. And ever since, I have been deeply heartened by this analogy, for if our love is Rome then yes, it will take time to build and no, neither of us can escape it. No matter where we stray or what our (her) instincts or preferences or circumstances might dictate, inevitably, all roads, etc.

Pere Ubu - "SAD.TXT"

[buy Johnnie, Pere]

Posted by Jordan at 11:12 PM | Comments (3)

December 19, 2007


Magnetic Fields - "Old Fools"

This may be a letter from a melancholy thundercloud, it maybe be a beach party bonfire turned cold, it may be a nap. It may ask you for your hand stepping onto the curb, or into a bi-plane, it may wish you well as it goes off to a boring old war. This song may arrive too late, too tired, jacket ripped, to a date long wilted and blown over. It may leave a garbled message to come home to, late-night leftovers and a TV on mute. It may go on telling itself the same things, fooling itself, fine. It may do and be all these things, but it must be important, an end and not a means, because it is enough, I'm well-supped beside this sad beast, the two of us, backs against the bricks, knees to our chests with the last one of one too many. [Pre-order]

Posted by Dan at 2:06 AM | Comments (2)

December 18, 2007

2007's Best Music: Albums

StG Favourite Albums 2007 - photo (c) Louis Vest

Yesterday, we shared some of our favourite songs of the year. Today the three of us talk in fewer words about our favourite albums.

I've heard almost all of them and they're all fuckin' rad. Go buy some music for Christmas, late Hannukah, New Year, end-of-world, or your wedding night.


  1. Group Inerane - Guitars From Agadez (Music of Niger) (track: "Kuni Majagani")
  2. Frog Eyes - Tears of the Valedictorian (Sean posted "Bushels")
  3. Fiery Furances - Widow City (track: "Japanese Slippers")
  4. Paul F. Tompkins - Impersonal (track: "Alternative Pets")
  5. Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover (track: "The Mending of the Gown")
  6. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible (track: "My Body is a Cage")
  7. Times New Viking - The Paisley Reich (Sean posted "Devo & Wine")

I know what you're thinking: "Dan, you have impeccable taste". Well, you're right, keep talking. "I notice you've started strong out of the gates with an album no one cared about, and no one can even get ahold of. How eccentric! And then a bunch of canadian bands you've been talking about for three years, mixed with a Brooklyn band you've been harping on for three years, and a new Brooklyn band. And mixed in there, taking up one of the seven slots for the year, the 4th no less, is an album of stand-up comedy. Seriously, you know what you're talking about." Okay, stop talking.

I'll explain the ones I think need explaining. Group Inerane's Guitars From Agadez is the most affecting group of songs I've heard all year. That album is a document of perfect expression, it's like listening to the invention of the electric guitar. After I heard it I went looking for something like it, and though there are many imitators, nothing comes close to this. Paul F. Tompkins is on there for two reasons; he's representing the comedy album, and he made the best one (simple, straightforward, yet formal, classic, like a three-piece suit).


My past 365 days have been profoundly enriched by the following pieces of music (in no particular order):

Nat Baldwin's Most Valuable Player (Info)
Feist's The Reminder (Sean)
The Sleeping States' There the Open Spaces (me)
Sandro Perri's Tiny Mirrors (Sean)
Frog Eyes' Tears of the Valedictorian (Dan)
Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, Tusk (Sean, me, Sean, me)
The Band's The Band (me)
Robert Pete Williams' Graveyard Blues (me)
Revenant's American Primitive, Volumes 1 & 2
Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey" (Buy)
Percy Sledge's "Come Softly To Me" (me)
Medicine Head's "His Guiding Hand" (me)

This year was also musically notable for me because: After three years of work, my band, The Cay, finally finished Don't Go Out Tonight. Here are two songs from that album.


  1. The Luyas - Faker Death [mp3/info/buy]
  2. Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? and Icons, Abstract Thee [mp3/buy]
  3. Vampire Weekend - Blue CD-R [mp3]
  4. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga [mp3/buy]
  5. Basia Bulat - Oh My Darling [mp3/buy]
  6. Low - Drums & Guns [mp3/buy]
  7. Shearwater - Palo Santo [mp3/buy]
  8. M.I.A. - Kala [mp3/buy]
  9. Feist - The Reminder [mp3/buy]
  10. Sandro Perri - Tiny Mirrors [mp3/buy]
Runners up: Ola Podrida, Orilla Opry, Sleeping States, Julie Doiron, Miracle Fortress, Nina Nastasia & Jim White, Ravens & Chimes, Do Make Say Think, The Owls, Colourbook, Burial and Phosphorescent

In more ways than one, this was for me a year about coming back to life. I want to thank the artists who made living seem easy - Spoon, Basia, Vampire Weekend, Feist, Miracle Fortress. I want to thank those who found new ways to sing the ways it is hard - The Luyas, Of Montreal, Low, Shearwater, Sandro Perri. And I want to thank as well the two or three who I left behind with the ghosts; Burial and Phosphorescent, artists I've not been quite able to look in the incandescent eye.

[photo by Louis Vest]

Posted by Sean at 3:46 PM | Comments (6)

December 17, 2007

2007's Best Music: Songs

Best of 2007 - photo courtesy of *M*I*R*R*O*R*W*O*R*L*D*

We really only have one rule at Said the Gramophone: write about songs you love. In 2007, Dan, Jordan and I wrote about more than 500 tracks. Some of these we have loved for years, others we loved for a few moments, when they hit us just so with the palm of their eye.

Here are my fifty favourite songs of the year.

2007 was a marvelous year for music and I could have easily written about another hundred wonders. But fifty is enough. Lists are arbitrary and sudden. I tried to just be honest with myself. And I made a few rules, the most significant of which is that no artist is represented twice, even though several should have been. (See also my 2006 and 2005 lists.)

The best way to browse this list is to click the little arrow beside each song and then listen as you read. The things you like you can then download by right- or ctrl-clicking with your mouse. Please buy albums, singles and EPs by bands that you enjoy.

You can also download a complete zip of the fifty songs here, via SendSpace. If someone can figure out how to host a torrent, I'll link to that as well.

Tomorrow we will be sharing some words on our favourite albums of the year. I hope we'll see you then.

  1. Yeasayer - "2080" [buy]
    It's been a long time since I first heard "2080", dwelling in the grey-whites of Krakow and receiving a communique by email from a friend in Los Angeles. In May I did the namedrop: Fleetwood Mac, Akron/Family, Paul Simon, Arcade Fire, Cree chant, schoolyard song. And the song's still got a thousand sunrises in it.

  2. Rihanna - "Umbrella (ft. Jay-Z)" [buy]
    One of the best things about 2007 was how ubiquitous this song became. You'd be walking along the street, sorry for yourself, and as the traffic waited at a red light Rihanna's voice would come ribboning out. And you'd be singing "ella ella ella" before you could stop yourself. (I wrote a short short story about "Umbrella" in April.)

  3. Basia Bulat - "Snakes and Ladders" [buy/info]
    In January I said it, that the drums hurtle at double-speed, ratatat-tat, chasing the singer breathless. So many female songwriters take-it-always-easy, languishing in slow piano chords and then the occasional strident bit. Here it's like the band (Basia, drums, strings) are throwing themselves down a hill, feet scarcely keeping up with their feelings, this close to tumbling head-over-heels into something. And indeed so it is: "like we didn't even notice / oh / the way we'd come undone."

  4. Okkervil River - "Unless It's Kicks" [buy]
    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.

  5. Feist - "I Feel It All" [buy]
    Yes, the girl from the iPod commercials, the girl who against all expectations made an album rougher than her debut, her lavender mixed through with black pepper. I said: The joy of a maybe, of all those million maybes, of a world too big for fate to contain it. For the wild card that's already "in sight"/"inside", the way even a string of heartbreaks makes a necklace, makes a life, makes a subway map. (plus I still say she's nicked her miss piggy ha! yells from arcade fire's regine.)

  6. Animal Collective - "Fireworks" [buy]

  7. Vampire Weekend - "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" [not yet for sale/info]
    "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"'s named after a Congolese dancebeat but the song's not in fact a kwassa kwassa, nor is it a slow jam, although it's basically about making out, pale and collegiate, and wondering what the heck you're doing. ... And in the song's final moments we have the sweetest love-scene of any song this year: a scene of white sheets and pink lips and fingers slipping round the curve of an ear, a few bars where we hear just Hammond hum and hands on skin and the bluebird coos of a boy slipping out of one skin & into another.

  8. Avril Lavigne - "Girlfriend" [buy]
    So Avril was sued for copping a bit of someone else's song. In this case that's basically just getting sued for copying the way someone else was totally awesome. Because when this song goes pounding, girl-grouping into the chorus, everything else is obliterated. And I just want to stay there, happy, and for sixteen bars feel like I can do anything. (Okay, except for actually being someone's girlfriend.)

  9. M.I.A. - "Paper Planes" [buy]
    Time-travel to August: 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.

  10. LCD Soundsystem - "Someone Great" [buy - $8.97!]
    If this weren't here, "All My Friends" would be. But it's here, and it's great; a song of melancholy and shell-shock sung with click-clack sticks, glockenspiel dings, a circulatory system of synths. James Murphy sings a feeling he doesn't yet seem to inhabit: the peace he imagines tomorrow, yesterday, & on the other side of the mirror's glass.

  11. Spoon - "Don't You Evah" [buy]
    When I wrote about this song, I wrote about dancing at 1 a.m. at New York's Port Authority.

  12. Frog Eyes - "Bushels" [buy]
    Most of the songs on this list are just songs. But "Bushels" feels like a whole album, a whole novel, the kind of thing that takes a year to fully feel and set to wax. Carey Mercer is at once horseman and horse, ridden and riding, traversing with his band a landscape of want, lust, loss and loneliness. Past groaning icebergs and screaming peaks, eyries and trenches. And at last in the final 1:15 he finds his home! With his wife he finds it, there where the jingle-bells shake, and it's the most beautiful sound I've heard this year. (Dan taught me about this song.)

  13. Christine Fellows - "What Makes the Cherry Red" [buy/info]
    Sometimes I walk past my roommate's room, when her door is closed, and I hear this song playing inside, and it makes me so happy to know for certain that she will be okay. (I wrote more here.)

  14. Hot 8 Brass Band - "Sexual Healing" [buy/info]
    A song that blows my synaesthetic senses to smithereens: it's all stretch and touch, sweetness and joy and those free fucking drums stripping all the leaves from the trees. And a persistently sexy tuba. When Hot 8 finally sing Marvin Gaye's lyrics, it's like the words have crawled right out their throats, desperate as magnets for their lovers' earringed ears. (Dan's post about this song, and the comments that ensued, are grand.)

  15. Radiohead - "Reckoner" [buy on January 1/info]
    Instead of heartbeat, I've got heartbeats. Instead of tomorrows, I've got tambourine.

  16. Of Montreal - "The Past is a Grotesque Animal" [buy]
    In October of 2006 I risked fines & jail-time to present a bulleted list of why this song rules. I just want to dance till I'm sick. Of Montreal's Hissing Fauna... LP and their Icons, Abstract Thee EP are two of 2007's great masterworks, together both honest, jubilant, fevered and fucked-up.

  17. Katie Dill - "The Body's Only Rental" [info]
    It's the way of girls with ukeleles, I think; there's something inherent in them. ... And the song's greater message, this holistic, almost karmic stuff; well it's like the Salinger stories I was reading, weeks ago: Seymour's reassuring buddhist certainties. His gentle. Or the way Salinger can write "I think love is a touch and yet not a touch", and me I don't imagine the inside of a greeting card -- I feel my whole world give a little tremble.

  18. Britney Spears - "Piece of Me" [buy]
    The curl, creak and creep of her consonants; that feral timbre; the slink of her technicolour coat and all its dusky velveted furs. This song deserves to be here if only for the way she slurs "extra extra", selling so finely a song written about herself but by someone else, the 90s' greatest popstar warped & vocoded into Xenomania cyberpop, the stuff of Aly & AJ and The Knife.

  19. Miracle Fortress - "Next Train" [buy/info]
    Perhaps there are better songs by Miracle Fortress, one of Canada's great new artists, but "Next Train" includes my favourite five seconds of any song released in 2007. The five seconds recur three separate times, at 0:55, 2:09 and 2:38. It's just a simple "With you," there in the fog of bedroom psych, of kindly noise, in kaleidoscopic pop song. "With you," sung high and soft, a secret faintly traced.

  20. Bill Callahan - "Sycamore" [buy]
    It's a song that borrows its guitar-line from the song that James, Donna and cousin Maddy record in the living-room on Twin Peaks. And just like that Twin Peaks number it's a track filled with a diffuse and undirected love. Callahan sings crooked platitudes, half-wisdoms, blind man's advice - and do you have a better idea? He's like the guy at the bar who's toasting the bartender, the mirror, the pint-glasses, the hairdos, the everything. Because nothing is a suitable container for the heat that he's feeling; he might as well just share it how he can, and if it's meaningless at least it's still warm. Only one thing seems to bear even a hint of what it truly is to feel how he does. And that one thing is the word "sycamore". Forget "cellar door". Forget "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". Callahan borrowed one of my favourite words, but it's ok since he uses it as I would. To hold for a sec the can't-be-held.

  21. Amy Winehouse - "Love is a Losing Game (acoustic version)" [buy]
    Amy Winehouse is not, in the end, in our newspapers because of drugs or drink; not because of Mark Ronson's hot, brassy production; not because of our hunger for celebrity and breakdown; but because of this. Because of what she can do with six strings, her voice, and her heart. (Previously)

  22. Jay Bharadia - "Snowy Day" [buy/info]
    For when you wake up one night with spraypaint on your igloo, with grafitti streaked and swirling in the sky. For when you hunch down by the hole in the ice, wait for a seal to surface, rap in french. For when you are the only human being for a hundred miles and yet have a song so good that you can already hear people tethering their sleigh-dogs to get the hell over here. The press release says British, thrift shops, French and Indian parents. But me I hear an awesome inuit hip-hop, an iceberg funk, the soundtrack for the night of a lunar eclipse. It's not often I hear a song and pronounce, out loud, the word: "Siiick."

  23. Orillia Opry - "I Lied" [buy/info]
    "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

  24. Nico - "Little Stone" [info]
    By a boy who seems to maybe call himself Nico, who's 17 and from New York and definitely not the German femme fatale. It sounds like a song first dreamed, then made; like Nico spent two months in fields & attics & alleyways, trying to find the sounds he dreamed those weeks before, in black and white. It's Hood, Liars, Amnesiac, Animal Collective, and a phone ringing down the wire.

  25. The Luyas - "Dumb Blood" [buy]
    The Luyas' debut is my favourite album of 2007. A singer-songwriter descends into gnash & noise, she lingers in the thick of all the things it's scary to linger in. And "Dumb Blood" is the frayed end of a heartstring. (Previously)

  26. Ola Podrida - "Instead" [buy]
    Ola Podrida's album finally came out this year. I wrote about the demo of this song in June of 2006. I said then that sometimes the horizon's a hook. I had no idea.

  27. Low - "Murderer" [buy]
    Imagine a person you hate getting punched in the face. Imagine the flower of blood. This is a very beautiful song about that, and it's not supposed to let you get comfortable.

  28. Jose Gonzalez - "Fold" [buy]
    This is why when we listen to sad songs we sometimes do not sing along. We pretend they're other peoples' stories. ... It's the thing we all hope, selfishly, secretly, as we take our lovers in our arms. Please don't let me down.

  29. Arcade Fire - "Keep the Car Running" [buy]
    I thought I'd end up writing about "Ocean of Noise" or something like that but no, no, I gotta be true: forget the flaws of the lyrics, and Dan's ambivalence, this is the one with its galloping drums its hurrying mandolin its perfect pop piano. (When the piano finally changes at 2:29 - !!!) It's the one with hollers and heave, with doubletime "told-it-to-them", my friends' dear band making sure every fucking candle is lit.

  30. Essie Jain - "Indefinable" [buy]
    I said in March: If you slow a diamond enough, slow it right down, you begin to see a different glitter: there, beneath the pretty, something sad and beautiful and smelling of coal. There's a desolation to the song, a stillness that recalls the earliest (spooky) work of Kathryn Williams, and Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek". Just Jain singing to the mines.

  31. SoKo - "I'll Kill Her" [info]
    A jilted lover in heavy eyeshadow and a hungover French accent. SoKo's hate-song recalls Herman Dune but without that band's warm whimsy - her wry wit is more like a hidden shiv, something she can't wait to slip between her adversary's ribs. The year's most unhappy smile. (Dan's take.)

  32. Parts & Labor - "Fractured Skies" [buy]
    Outside my window there's a blizzard and I can almost, almost imagine "Fractured Skies" as its soundtrack. Only it'd have to be a firestorm, a snow of ash, soot and flame; and there would have to be a million plows, coughing smoke; and there would have to be sirens all around.

  33. Alasdair Roberts - "River Rhine" [buy]
    A love-song for the one you really, really, really like; the one who makes you feel like you've found your source. (Previously)

  34. Sandro Perri - "Dreams (Fleetwood Mac)" [buy other works by Sandro Perri]
    Waking and finding your chest is as empty as her wardrobe. (Previously)

  35. Samamidon - "Levi" [buy]
    If bible stories were shot as photographs, one every ten years. If a family tree was only ever shown in woodcuts. If an old song could be sung, rustling with new winds.

  36. Los Campesinos! - "You! Me! Dancing!" [buy]
    A new recording of one of my favourite songs of 2006, by Broken Social Scene's wundermensch Dave Newfeld. In June I wrote of a YA fantasy novel: In Susan Cooper's The Grey King, Will, Bran and the Old Ones must hold back The Dark, all of 'em, even the mountain Cader Idris itself. And they do it: through magic, will, determination. But they should have got Los Campesinos on the phone; called them up from Cardiff to Gwynedd; and let them blaze their joy through the shifting ranks of evil, cleaving grief like a hot knife through butter.

  37. Julie Doiron - "(untitled)" [info]
    When you lie with a friend and they tell you the outline of their heart in a way you had not heard before, the truth a different colour than you thought. And you cannot heal them. This is a song I find it very hard to write about. (Previously)

  38. Bowerbirds - "Olive Hearts" [buy]
    A party song wrought in bass-drum, acoustic guitar and accordion. A song of hygge, that Danish word which means good times, close friends, hot fires, cold beer.

  39. The New Pornographers - "Adventures in Solitude" [buy]
    We know that the New Pornographers can make pop songs, songs as carefully engineered as the newest high-tech roman candles. But here they make a song that's tender, blushing, more first stars than fireworks.

  40. Meg Baird - "Do What You Gotta Do (Jimmy Webb)" [buy]
    Like Roberta Flack (and unlike Nina Simone), Espers' Meg Baird sings "Do What You Gotta Do" as if the goodbye can itself sustain her; as if by singing farewell she can undo the loneliness before it occurs. (She can't.)

  41. Froggystein - "The Flowers are Blooming!" [info]
    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.

  42. Wilco - "Impossible Germany" [buy]
    Even if Sky Blue Sky never sky-blued my sky, Jeff Tweedy remains one of my favourite singers and lyricists in indie-rock. Here however he is terribly upstaged by not one but two swan-necking electric guitars.

  43. Ravens & Chimes - "Eleventh Street" [buy/info]
    Every now and then the lyrics feel precious, not-quite-right, but I don't know there's something magical in this not-quite-rightness, this groping around and not (not!) quite finding the right words for heartbreak. ... And deep in one channel a mandolin mandolins: strum and strum and strum, hard as it can, just like all of us, not knowing what the hell else to do.

  44. Times New Viking - "Devo & Wine" [buy]
    When all your best laid plans fall apart and something even better takes its place. (Like developing a taste for frostbite.) (Dan's great take.)

  45. Grizzly Bear - "He Hit Me (The Crystals)" [buy]
    A remarkable, beautiful, terrifying cover; lust, menace, tenderness and dream. Grizzly Bear's music this year is so savage and so lovely - proof of the breezes that flatten cities, the caresses that break jaws.

  46. Amerie - "Gotta Work" [buy]
    Only in a year like 2007 could "Gotta Work" be only the 46th best song of the year. A song that will not, will not, will not ever let you collapse. Horns like Moses on the mountain, and Amerie like the girl in the clouds above him.

  47. The Henry Clay People - "The Man in the Riverbed" [buy]
    This is life, kids: lurches, boo-boos, faceplants, the stares of strangers. And The Henry Clay People explode with their knowledge of this, of life loose, staggering and ripe.

  48. Sleeping States - "The Next Step" [buy]
    So that you can finally tell them that you love them. (Per Jordan)

  49. Modest Mouse - "Dashboard" [buy]
    It's not "Float On" but Modest Mouse are trying here for a similar crow-footed pop, nothing too clever but frantic enough to knock the books off yr shelves, yes even the heavy ones.

  50. Throw Me The Statue - "Lolita" [buy]
    And finally, finally, at number fifty it's the bedroom pop of Throw Me The Statue, of falling blush-over-hiccup for a girl, like boys have been doing since the dawn of time, like let's all keep doing forever - here's to that, cheers & happy new year & amen.
Thanks for reading. The comment section is right down there.

[haystack photo is from mirroroworld]

Posted by Sean at 6:32 PM | Comments (45)

December 14, 2007

Jersey Shore Trash

Pink Mountaintops - "Single Life"

A car with tambourine wheels pulls jagged out from under the rising blue garage door. In it rides a rich-looking chauffeur and God's Forgotten Son. The rich-looking chauffeur takes his orders from no human in the world, instead he reads The Bible like a road map, bike lanes be damned. Meanwhile God's Forgotten Son sits shotgun and bounces his knees nervously, arms crossed and eyes ringed darkly, feathers from his coat whisking his pale pale face. The rich-looking chauffeur stops for a 2L Coke and a bag of neon green Doritos, and they're off. Barreling through the city like some kind of grimacing laser beam, they rumble out into the country to find a way OUT, you know? The rich-looking chauffeur finally stops, in not-quite-the-middle of a muddy field, gets out, wipes his hands and opens the trunk. He takes out a shovel and an umbrella and tosses them on the ground. As God's Forgotten Son gets to digging, and the chauffeur rides off, it begins to spit rain and the farmer in the distance has stepped onto his back porch. [Out of Print]

Aidan John Moffat - "Good Morning"

From Aidan John Moffat's (ex-Arab Strap) album of erotic poetry I Can Hear Your Heart. Yes, an entire album of erotic poetry-songs. It's kind of nice. There's a strong theme of adultery, but it's more taken for granted, like the way your beer comes with a coaster. But many of them are very evocative, and here I can feel the warm morning sun, the soft fabrics, the many senses of this story. Premium-grade mix cd material, if you're still, like me, pretending to be that age. [Preview Site (Adults Only!)]


Elsewhere: Zac Pennington of Parenthetical Girls has compiled an hour-long mix of holiday music from his, clearly immense, Christmas music collection. It's called A Rough Guide to Xmas and it's a joy, really. I hadn't heard a single thing from it before (and I thought I was into Christmas music!) and it took me on a ride from laughs to goosebumps to lovely lovely cloud-ish drifts. Christmas or no, it's a great listen.

Posted by Dan at 1:58 AM | Comments (6)

December 13, 2007


Half-Handed Cloud - "Cut-down". The making-of this song could have been one of two ways:

  1. Half-Handed Cloud gathered a group of his friends, drummer and pianist and jingle-beller and clarinetist and electric bassist, and he bought some crullers to sate them, and they spent all night making a racket. Together they sang a song of sinning and asking forgiveness; and they sang with humour and contentedness about avoiding lust, of God's cleansing rays, knowing that guff to be less important than fast friends & dear moments;
  2. Or else "Cut-down" was a song recorded alone, a million instruments in piece-by-piece overdub. And it is the bedchamber-pop of a wary Christian, a man without friends but so good-natured that there seem to be lovers through every door - more devils to avoid, more desires about which to record great and jumping songs. The world's most reluctantly eligible bachelor.

[Winding Currents is part of the Seven Inch Project, which offers 7" vinyl + 320 kbps mp3s + lovely, limited edition jackets. BUY]

Brainstorm - "You Know Who You Are". A song which in its kindness recalls Badly Drawn Boy, which in its playfulness evokes The Eels or even Kanye West. The coup's not in the flimsy lead vocals - it's in the opening guitar riff, twisting, and the constant bassline, marching, and the chipmunk voices that sneak, squeak, and speak to all the promise hidden in a three-minute running time. It's a song that could go further; a silver medal, something I'd still be proud to wear on my chest.

[thanks conor - let me know if there's a link i should point to.]



Shake Your Fist's 50 favourite songs of 2007.

Posted by Sean at 1:50 AM | Comments (3)

December 12, 2007

A Jaw Full of Gum

Stella Chiweshe - "Njuzu"

Stella Chiweshe, the Queen of the Mbira, sings in Shona, a language I don’t understand, so I can’t say for sure that her lyrics ask the question that her music begs, i.e. Who plays video games in the middle of a construction site? but I can say for sure that her song is as sad as a manatee is mammalian, a ‘mom’ palindromic. Ancient sounds are thrown against an electric fence, while, in fugue, the vocalist debates herself, takes losses in direct proportion to victories. [Buy]


El Perro Del Mar - "I Can't Talk About It"

Usually, the purpose of speech is to communicate a message, so it is therefore generally undesirable to say the opposite of what you mean (irony excluded). It’s somewhat perverse then that in “I Can’t Talk About It,” that salty sea dog El Perro Del Mar sounds like she’s singing, “I can really talk about it,” as if she were a western European medievalist preparing to answer a question on the Bayeux Tapestry. Though the intention is somewhat more depressive and dispossessed, the woman sounds like a braggart, a braggadocio, full of bravura, if not like a bravo, some bracken, a broadside. For fans of modern-day Motown, latter-day Christmas, Xanax, Zoloft, etc. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 4:53 PM | Comments (3)

December 11, 2007

The Wonderful Video Contest

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

It's been in the works for many months, but it's finally here: The Wonderful Video Contest. We at StG know that you, the readers, are not just passive music dabblers. You may not have a giant music collection, or even listen to music very often, but if you're a reader here, music has an effect on you. You have memories, moments, tingles and sparks associated with music, it's a part of your life like any other. And we have decided to throw a contest to celebrate that.

We want you, the Said the Gramophone reader, to make a music video. Make it for any song you've ever loved, the one song that changed everything, or even just a song that inspires you cinematically. Make it a story, make it a poem, make it an experiment, just make make make it. It doesn't have to be slick, it doesn't have to have money in it, it just has to be beautiful, honest, great. The first and golden rule: make a video you love for a song that you love.

This contest is open equally to professional and amateur filmmakers. I know some of you readers are utterly wonderful film artists, and we're asking you (through the paper-towel tube of prizes prizes prizes!) to make us a labour of love. I know you're familiar with those, and I know that at the end of the day, those are why you're here anyway. Think of it as a reason to start a project that will feel fresh in your lungs.

On the other hand, you may have never made a movie before, and that may be intimidating. But if you've ever wanted to, now is the time. Music videos are short, they're as much or as little work as you want, and the whole process of making a movie, especially when it doesn't matter, is great fun. We were inspired to hold this contest because of a couple of unsolicited submissions, which were so beautiful, and fun, and the kind of great that we're talking about, that we had to know what else you readers would have in store for us. The second golden rule: everyone will be judged equally to a standard that has nothing to do with experience at making music videos.

And the winners are in store for some seriously astounding prizes. The Wonderful Video Contest is sponsored by, is in cahoots with: 4AD, Absolutely Kosher, Arts & Crafts, Dead Oceans, Dreamboat, Jagjaguwar, Matador, Merge, Misra, Oddica, Polyvinyl, Rough Trade, Secret City, Secretly Canadian, Sennheiser, Sub Pop, Vice, and Young God Records. There are cds, vinyl, signed stuff, extremely rare, limited-run singles and 7-inches, limited edition posters, a one-of-a-kind art calendar, premium headphones, even a special birthday phonecall! We're not kidding around here, these are BIG prizes. Everything is outlined in detail (including rules and fine print), on the main contest page.

How To Enter:

1. make a music video
2. upload it to a web-based video outlet (like Vimeo, Dailymotion or YouTube)
3. send an email to that points us to it so we can watch it.

These are videos from gramophone friends that inspired us to hold this contest. These are not entries, but they're a further example of what we're talking about.
Ola Podrida "Lost and Found" (by Todd Rohal)
Jerome Minière - "Trains" (by Dan Popa)
Herman Düne - "Suburbs With You" (by Cassandra Long)
Sunset Rubdown - "Us Ones in Between" (by Dan Beirne (if we can do it, you can do it))
Feist - "My Moon My Man (Boys Noize remix)" (by Sofia Szamosi)
Wolf Parade - "Shine a Light" (by Matt Moroz)

and lastly, note that The Wonderful Video Contest closes February 5th, 2008. So spend your holidays listening and dreaming, and then get down to work, because we're already excited to see your results.

Posted by Dan at 2:25 AM | Comments (2)

December 10, 2007


bird killer

We'll start our week with a bird killer and a hangman.

Fire On Fire - "Hangman". It's mandolin and stamp and big-mouth yell, jaws open wide as muppets'. WAAAA-OOO, they sing. It's a sound that reverberates in my skull as I sit in my office at work, with the Monday raw behind my eyes. It's the opposite of everything before me, or the tie round my neck. WAAA-OOO! What the hell am I doing - what the hell are we all doing, we toilers, we paper-pushers? Why aren't we with our friends, building our own cities, fixing our own feasts, finding our own kings & queens? On Mondays with our stacks of forms and flatscreen glow, it's easy to forget you have friends. That somewhere beyond these chipboard walls, beyond the place where you dwell for a time to bring that bi-weekly cheque, there are people who will clasp and hold you and raise you, when the time is right, onto their shoulders. But even the hangman has friends, my friends, even the hangman has friends.

[Fire On Fire's limited edition, silkscreened debut EP is now available from Young God. / Looking at the "Influences" on the Fire On Fire myspace is like a who's-who of interesting and favourite folk acts: "B. Dylan ... Sun City Girls, Sun Ra, Jolie Holland, Herman Dune ... Alex Lukashevsky ... Doc Boggs, ... Neil Young, Van Morrison, Skip James, John Hurt,... Arthur Russell, ... Gillian Welch, Tarif de Haidouks..."]

Beasts and Superbeasts - "Bird Killer". In a quiet voice - something of Smog, or the fellow British Columbians in P:ano, - Michael Baker tells us that he's a ladykiller. He's a bird-killer, a shark, a dog, a coyote. He licks his lips as his band plays their heavy folk-pop. He sits looking darkly at you from across the room, red kerchief in his upper pocket. He sings of sickle moons and slow-slain suns. He sings that he's a bird-killer, and that ultimately we are all like him, opening wide, teeth flashing like stars. "Sex is a sword / a smile is a wooden horse / we all fear exposing skin / we all sometimes take aim."

[Buy via Randy Bachman's homepage (?!) / MySpace]


Said the Gramophone will tomorrow be announcing the biggest contest we've ever held. Stop by.



Catbird Records is having a holiday sale.

In my Vampire Weekend post last week I forgot to mention this terrific, hilarious writeup at The Fader - Vampire Weekend's song "Ladies of Cambridge" explicated in a wry, printed-and-scanned bulleted list.

Everyone does end-of-year lists but my favourite are the ones that illuminate music I hadn't heard, or else comment on something in a new, right-on way. 2007's first two essential year-end best-of lists are at Skatterbrain and Motel de Moka. At Skatterbrain Matt rounds up a year's worth of under-the-radar indie-pop releases, whereas Moka's idiosyncratic list has a folktronica bent.

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 12:07 AM | Comments (5)

December 7, 2007

A Fine Black Powder

Sybris - "Oh Man"

Buildings are made of money, people are made of money just the same way. Animals, appliances, a forest, cars. You can sell them as one piece, you can get money that way, or you can break them into little pieces and sell them that way. It's difficult to tell what way will make you more money. Money is also made of money, you can keep it in a locked room and it will manage to attract other people's moneys to it. Food is made of money, decisions are made of money. A crack is made of money (as in a brick), and to fix it is made of money (as in a window, or a widow). Sybris might be the only thing that is not made of money. They are made of teeth, slippery and separated. And with a sneer, there is no tooth fairy. I want some change. [Buy old Sybris]


Elsewhere: Super Deluxe is apparently a nice place for interesting artists.

Posted by Dan at 3:17 AM | Comments (4)

December 6, 2007


Imperyul plum

The Speakers - "You'll Remember". The first two and a half minutes are about trying not to remember, and the last minute and a half are about nothing but remembering. There's an eternity between each resound of piano. Enough time to have a thought and then shove it away; enough time to be happy for a moment before there's that flicker of recall; enough time to imagine for a second that you could forget, that you could move on, that you could leave your sorrow with the water that spirals down the drain of the sink.

The Speakers haven't released anything official since the bloody marvelous Yeats is Greats (2005). (Though there's the Lightning Bug Situation side-project.) They have nevertheless got three whole unreleased albums, not to mention live cuts, odds 'n ends, and so on. So even if The Speakers have nothing new, they have something new: an extremely limited CD-R of their "best" unreleased material, including the above track. It's a very pretty record, perfectly suited to snowfall, with shades of Elliott Smith, Grizzly Bear, even Stars of the Lid. It won't be available in shops.

Said the Gramophone has three of these to give away. If you'd like the chance to win one, email me with the subject line "THE SPEAKERS", and include in your email the best thing anyone has ever whispered to you. Thanks to The Speakers for the invitation to do this.Speakers contest is over. Thanks for your remarkable entries. I'll email the winners. (There's still time to win tickets to Vampire Weekend's concert in Montreal, too.)

[buy other Speakers/Lightning Bug Situation things, or go to the LBS release party in San Fran on Saturday]

Freeway -"Take it to the Top (ft. 50 Cent)". A song borne entirely on the back of Mr Cent: forget Freeway's whingeing, even the cinema-carpet synth riff, we're here to hear Curtis sing the hook. His delivery is gentle, almost kind. "You gotta believe me," he sings, and when he says where he'll take you (to the top), the squeak in his voice is imbued with affection and play. "Shorty," he calls you, and for a moment you can imagine what it'd be like to actually be loved by this guy. [buy]

Broadcast 2000 - "Get Up And Go". A folk-pop song in the broken beat style, as if The Books gave Kings of Convenience the hiccups. Broadcast 2000 is Artisan's Joe Steer gone solo, but "Get Up And Go" is one of these songs that feels very much like it was made among friends. There's no loneliness in this - instead hope, pleasure, community. Light reflected off guitar-strings and onto faces.

[buy ('sanks Amy)]

(image from Tradescant's Musaeum Tradescantianum, via the great BibliOdyssey)

Posted by Sean at 8:38 AM | Comments (3)

December 5, 2007

The Unexpected Guest Stays Indefinitely

Metallic Falcons - "Airships"

Somewhere there’s a woman who carries a hand-held cassette recorder wherever she goes. She records ideas for songs as they come to her, fragments of melody with her voice. When I first met her, I thought this was an affectation and I didn’t like it; I wished that she’d stop. Later, I realized that she was more unselfconscious than I’d given her credit for, just her unembarrassed embarrassing self. And then I was glad for the tapes, for they document the seeds of a brilliant body of work - a million songs wide and as many good ideas deep. She called herself The Fresh Young Breath, maybe still does. Though, given that she never performed, and barely ever shared her work, a name was unnecessary.

There’s something of the disconcerting otherwoldliness of The Fresh Young Breath in the work of Metallic Falcons, something of the trudge and swamp and loneliness. “Airships” is isolation made musically manifest. “Come with me,” the singer beckons, “where rainbows die.” And she invites us to other liminal places, too, and paints them with the distorted, falling-apart notes of an electric guitar. How have we come to hear this, I wonder? This impossible summons. It calls to mind a girl singing tantalizing thoughts into a recording machine, the fruit of which will never reach our ears.


Posted by Jordan at 1:58 PM | Comments (0)

December 4, 2007

What Luck, A Tuesday!

Jeremy Jay - "Airwalker"

The ease with which this song is produced is completely infectious. If lyrics are this easy, if singing a languid tenor is this easy, if steppity-step drums and whistling organ lines are this easy, then maybe everything is just as easy. Maybe I can snap my fingers in time to the pace of my feet and everything will turn into this gray night cityscape fog. Everything will have the easy grace and breezy moves of an unexpected dancer, a stranger, hiply dressed with a gaunt face, who's suddenly got it goin' on. [Buy]

No Little Kindness - "I'll Try"

No Little Kindness have endeavored to produce a new song every week. Not like "until we have an album's worth" or "for 10 weeks straight" or even "until we're famous", they're just going, no end in sight. And this week's is so far the best. It's taken eight weeks to get here, but it was well worth it. "I'll Try" is a fervent and glowing cloudburst of a song, it's a smooth, blue, revolving, gem. It's, like most NLK songs, a series of thin layers, that first start by getting laid on top of each other, and then end by getting cut through, like chopped in half, to see everything at once, to suddenly see everything at once. And here it's as if this idea suddenly occurs to the singers at the end of song, when they hit "I'll drive in an ocean," (or is it "I'll drive in a notion"?) they almost seem to look at each other, to make sure they're right, that they can destroy everything with guitars and cymbals and that that will sound great. [Previously] [Site]


Elsewhere: unreleased Sunset Rubdown song in their new Daytrotter Session. "Idiot Heart" is quite nice, but their "tour version" of "Three Colours" is really fantastic.

Posted by Dan at 1:07 PM | Comments (5)

December 3, 2007


Municipal Bat Roost

Vampire Weekend - "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
Vampire Weekend - "Bryn"
Vampire Weekend - "A-Punk"

Never have I been so happy to have egg on my face. After months of ignoring the buzz around Vampire Weekend, contenting myself with the pretty-darn-good song called "Oxford Comma" and assuming all the rest to be blog hyperbole (hyperbloge?), I finally downloaded their "blue cd-r" a few of weeks ago. Other than singles it's their only release, at least until XL issues their debut next year. And you can't buy it anywhere any more - hence my willingness to share one, two, three songs with you today. My willingness, yes, and also my glee.

Because Vampire Weekend are terrific and these songs doubly so; a mess of glint, snap and bump that sends me happily huddled into my weekdays. It's indie pop informed by Spoon, Paul Simon's Graceland, Wes Anderson, and Baroque string quartets, and if this sounds good to you then THIS WILL PROBABLY SOUND GOOD TO YOU.

"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"'s named after a Congolese dancebeat but the song's not in fact a kwassa kwassa, nor is it a slow jam, although it's basically about making out, pale and collegiate, and wondering what the heck you're doing. The chorus ends, at least to my ears, like this: "Does it feel so unnatural / to Peter Gabriel too?" And while critics fall over this as a statement about "world music", appropriation, &c, to me it's just a kid's clumsy, loopy wonderin' about the having of sex. Fresh out of puberty, fresh into university, jostling shoulders and hopefully bumping boots with the rich-girl in the Benetton t-shirt and with the Louis Vuitton bag, reggaeton on the stereo like the spiced sound of i-can-do-what-i-want! And our hero, our nervy art student of a hero, thinking as he takes off his undershirt about the man who was all through his youth the paragon of funk, of musically getting down, the bootiest music that 9 year-old Ezra ever knew. Does Peter Gabriel, too, find sex so... unnatural? So happily weird? So happily, happily, happily weird?

"Do you want to fuck?" Koenig exclaims the first time round, the crowing of a lad who can't believe his luck. But he's still too shy to be so explicit more than once: "Do you want ta'?!" he sings every time after that, a lustful lamp in his eyes, "'cause you know I do." Ooo-oo ooh-ooo. And in the song's final moments, before harpsichord snaps into position to show that this era has a cadence, that this soft jersey time will end, we have the sweetest love-scene of any song this year: a scene of white sheets and pink lips and fingers slipping round the curve of an ear, a few bars where we hear just Hammond hum and hands on skin and the bluebird coos of a boy slipping out of one skin & into another. Out of the young and into the old. (Out of the heat and into the cold.)

"Bryn" is a handmade rocket, a skyward climb, the sweetest California sunrise of a sound. It's two minutes of sunkiss and the tumble of drums, it's longing and wishing and the knowledge of it-won't-be. And it's strings, wild and wheeling, the sound of the seagulls - free, certainly, but never ever home.

And "A-Punk", well, it makes Clap Your Hands Say Yeah feel defunct.


(Vampire Weekend do inspire a whole lot of chewy ideas around race, class, appropriation and so on. The best analysis of these is probably Eric's from last week - it certainly feels like the most honest one.)



Vampire Weekend are touring and they come to Montreal on December 14th. The show's at Club Lambi. Said the Gramophone has two pairs of passes to give away. To enter our sweepstakes email me with "VAMPIRE WEEKEND CONTEST" as the subject-line. And in the body of your email please suggest an alternate name for the band, cos seriously, "Vampire Weekend" is awful.


[Vampire Weekend's homepage]

(more about the site of the above photo, credit unknown)

Posted by Sean at 7:04 PM | Comments (14)


There is a lot of snow here. Today's post is going to be a little late.

[photo source]

Posted by Sean at 5:59 PM | Comments (1)