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, 2008

You Could Beat Him With A Brick, Saul

Neil Gaiman - "Bloody Sunrise"

If the Magnetic Fields had been asked by Said the Gramophone to write a Hallowe'en song for us to post today, they would have written Neil Gaiman's "Bloody Sunrise". But Neil Gaiman would have already written it, and submitted it, pretending to be Magnetic Fields, but in that way that you have to start by looking up before you climb. In any case, it's here now, and it's for all of you who are just putting on a zombie movie and having a fire and handing out candy to lonely little happy kids in the evening. [off the new and wonderful Lifted Brow compilation (more below)]

Jumbling Towers - "Cowards"

I think it's always Hallowe'en in the Jumbling Towers mansion. It's such an endless supply of fantastic creeping and crawling and slinking and sliding music. With flashing-eye flourishes full of teeth and face paint. I wonder what the singer is going to be dressed as tonight. I would guess an animal, like a wolf or a pig, whose first conscious thought (before self-awareness) is performance art. Or some obscure real-life pirate who, if you knew the story, you'd look at him and say "yeah, that's exactly the right costume, and that's terrifying." [free incredible EP]


The Lifted Brow is a biannual magazine based in Melbourne. With their most recent issue comes a 2 CD set with some really great stuff on it, including the first CD kicked off by a gorgeous and haunting song by our own Jordan's band The Cay. Go see.

Posted by Dan at 5:33 PM | Comments (1)

October 30, 2008



Gossamer Albatross - "The Ground Will Take Us Down". Maybe this song is about dying, maybe it's about gettin' down. It's probably both. And while "the flesh from your thighs" sound like words Jeff Mangum would sing, Gossamer Albatross hide more jubilance in their rattle & strum. Neutral Milk Hotel have Death's hand on their shoulder, Death's lips at their ear; Lewis Gordon's just got his lover's hand, his lover's lips, the perfume of flowers everywhere. I love even more the way they've deployed their cello & two violins: not to make things pretty, placid, but to provide a hungry drone, the scrape of skin on skin, dirt in fingernails.

[MySpace 1 2 / buy]



I'm awed by the nerve of Chryde at the Blogotheque, charming a magical evening moment out of Bloc Party. Vincent Moon is missed behind the camera but there's something inarguable about a song sung under stars, everyone with toes crossed, wanting to be transported.

And a fellow called Cody has put together a terrific free compilation of many of Montreal's greatest emerging bands. Can't-miss for anyone who wants their finger to this city's pulse. And with great artwork from Tyler Rauman.

(image source)

Posted by Sean at 11:31 AM | Comments (3)

October 29, 2008

The Morphy of Music

Amédé Ardoin - "Tostape de Jennings"

Accordion is not the most popular musical instrument, nor waltz the best-loved musical form. People do like rhythmic rigour, but tend not to like temporal sloppiness. It's safe to say, therefore, that the introduction to this song, which sounds like a broken eighteenth-century Viennese musical box, will probably not please the majority of you, and may in fact deeply displease tout le monde. Stay with it, though, and you'll hear a voice that transcends time (historical and musical) and proves the Hapsburgs had no hand in it. In an obscure Creole, M. Ardoin wails blue notes that never quite coalesce into a coherent melody. What results is an implied blues more vivid than Muddy. I've read that this is music for parties, a theory I reject. Any party that ends with attendees stumbling away, emotional wrecks after a thorough gut-wrenching, is most assuredly a perverse failure.


Posted by Jordan at 4:32 PM | Comments (3)

October 28, 2008

In Uniform Skies

Micah P. Hinson - "The Fire Came Up To My Knees"

I woke up covered in dust, inside but cold like I was outside. Micah Hinson was singing hymns, belting them and ripping them slowly, in the hallway just outside the door. And only the smallest accompaniment for his large animal voice, a little spinning wind of dust. One of those little tornadoes that spins up a couple of leaves and some dirt. But again, inside, windows shut. [Buy]

Red Army Choir - "The Sacred War"

For some people, it's hard to buy groceries. For some people, going into space is something they have already done. Some people live under leaky roofs, some people eat the same food every day. Some people don't think about recycling. There are some people who never feel like they're not working. Some people drink wine all the time. Some people give to charity every extra penny. Some people have large families to keep them company. Some people are alone but not lonely. Some people take trips just to see what's out there. For those of you who don't speak Russian, these are the lyrics, I'm sure of it. [MySpace!]

Posted by Dan at 3:16 PM | Comments (1)

October 27, 2008


David Shrigley's photograph

Maps & Atlases - "Artichokes". It's hanging autumns on your walls. It's cracking kaleidoscopes on the sidewalk, spilling colours over your shoes. It's listening to a trillion leaves changing colour, shuttling like the lenses in an optometrist's machine, green|red|yellow|brown. It's a bejewelled baseball game, batters swinging at sapphires. It's boiling your dreams on the stove, waiting for paper to unfurl from secrets. [buy]


Elsewhere, really enjoying Wavves at PopSheep and CatBirdSeat, and Conversion Party's "East River" at Bows + Arrows.

[photo by David Shrigley - source]

Posted by Sean at 11:14 AM | Comments (5)

October 24, 2008

Never Not Wanted

Les Troubadours du Roi Baudoin - "Sanctus"

The record of humanity I want sent out into space. The song of a world ruined by spirituality, saved in the nick of time by spirituality, raised up, lifted beyond the highest heights it ever knew by spirituality. Proof that God is really just a choir director, always has been. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 12:39 AM | Comments (3)

October 23, 2008


thing with sunglasses

Jib Kidder - "Windowdipper"

Danny said, "Don't worry, Mom. Your computer is just a computer. It's safe to go on the internet. It's not going to learn 'artificial intelligence.'"

I told him I had heard about it on 60 Minutes.

He said I must have heard wrong.

So I listened to Danny. Of course I listened to Danny. We paid all that money for him to know the computer stuff. I plugged the telephone wire into the back of my Dell and "surfed the web". Carrie says she doesn't have time for it - she laughs and asks if I'm surfing for porno, - but there's lots of good stuff. Danny helped and I figured it out pretty fast. I looked up Jodie Foster on WikiPedia, and found a good cruller recipe at All-Recipes and saw great clips of Johnny Depp on You-Tube. I "surfed" all around. You can get really lost on there.

Then one day, Danny got on there to fix something or other, or to check something or other, and he said, "Uh oh."

And I said, "What is it?"

And he said, "What's this?" He pointed at some squiggly on the screen.

"An icon," I said.

"What program is it for? I can't click on it."

"I don't know," I said. "It's been there for as long as I can remember."

Under the icon it said WINDOWDIPPER.

"I think it's a virus," he said.

This made me nervous but not too nervous, because Danny knows all about this stuff. He ran some programs. They took forever. I started making dinner. Then I heard screams and yells and I dropped the casserole and went running into the den. Danny was flat on his back, the office-chair knocked right over.

"What happened?" I asked. His nose was bleeding.

"The PC gave me a karate chop," he said.

"Oh," I said. I looked at the computer. It looked fine.

I helped Danny to his feet. He wiped his nose with his sleeve. "Stop that," I said. I went to get him some tissues. While I was in the bathroom there was another yelp. I trotted right back. Danny was on the floor and the computer was playing some rap stuff. Really loud. Clipped and repeated.

"Motherfucker!" Danny yelled.

"Danny!" I said.

The computer said, "Yeah!" in a voice like dolphinsplash.

"It karate-chopped me again!" he said. "How the hell does a computer karate-chop?"

The computer stopped rapping for a sec and instead it gurgled. It showed a YouTube clip of Captain Picard on Star Trek. It showed a clip of John McCain laughing all crazy, clapping his hands like a seal. It showed a clip of Michael Jordan doing a slam dunk. Then it crashed.

Danny hit ctrl-alt-delete. We waited.

[All on Yall, Jib Kidder's delicious & dented album of, uh, gamelan crunk and betamax glitch, is out now.]

Posted by Sean at 5:29 PM | Comments (7)

October 22, 2008

Late October: Traditionally a Good Time for Witches

Witchies - "Royal Blood"

Among the potential pitfalls of privilege as enumerated by the Witchies are idleness, illness, death by murder. "Woe betide," the Witchies warn heirs and royal scions, though the same antiquated imperative might be directed at the band itself. Woe betide, Witchies, for your music is a disquieting combination of macabre and merry, of Goya and ABBA, and if you don't cut it out soon, I may not emerge psychologically unscathed from this uninterrupted weeks-long listening. Less desolation than chief Witchie Chad Jones' previous band, the fine Frankie Sparo, but even more twisted romance and a touch of pop, too, amid the ornate lyrics and snaking guitar.


Posted by Jordan at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2008

Held Up High

Pale Young Gentlemen - "Kettle Drum (I Left A Note)"

Where is it? Where is that damn thing? It must be here, amidst these thousand little drawers, I'll find it, give me a minute. Not here, nope, nor here. Not here. Oh my goodness, where is it? I don't mind saying I'm a bit embarrassed at this occurrence. I just cannot find it. Where is it? Here? Here? Hmm. I simply cannot express how sorry I am at how long this is taking. I think I might have gone and lost it. Is it in here? Oh no. Well, I think that I can't imagine many other places it could be. It's not like I always move these things around, it's all been the same for so long now, I don't think it grew legs and walked away, hardly. Is it in here? No. Here? Oh! Here it is! Yes, this is it! Oh, I really did think I had lost it, silly thing, I almost started sobbing right it front of you, I must be all red, I must. Yes, this is it. This is what I was talking about. This is what your grandfather looked like. In his uniform. Yes, this is how handsome he really was. Devilishly handsome, that's what my sister said. I never the saw the Devil for a day in him, but that's what people always said. I suppose his smile did have a bit of a curl to it, but I always thought it matched the curl in his hair. Yes, this is a good picture of him. His facebook profile picture doesn't do him justice. [buy]

Suicidal Birds - "Sensible Sinners"

Linda Evangelista, Laura Linney, Ben Mulroney, David Carradine, David Clayton Thomas, Joseph McCarthy, Michael J. Fox, French Stewart, Lord Byron, Mark Harmon, Leonard Cohen, Holly Hunter, Lauren Holly, Greg Kinnear, Tim Meadows, Nick Cassavetes, Vincent D'Onofrio, Paddy Chayevsky, Nora Dunn, Benny Hill, Trevor Matthews, Tex Avery, Brittany Murphy, Frank Lloyd Wright, Helen Mirren, OJ Simpson, Lance Bangs, Ted Knight, Marcus Aurelius, Benjamin Bratt, Peter O'Toole, Glen Danzig, Henry Fonda, Roy Scheider, Matt Stairs, Hercules, Madonna, Beck, Rick Springfield, Bootsy Collins, Rhianna, Gord Downie, Victor Hugo, Les Blank, Telly Savalas...complete the series. Come the clouds like soldiers, the future is loaded and cocked and ready as ever. It's not the rain I'm afraid of, it's all the people who aren't ready for it. [buy]


Contest: just go here and fill out an entry form. You could win a limited edition Beirut poster.

Posted by Dan at 1:33 AM | Comments (9)

October 20, 2008


Marilyn and the troops

Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire - "Voice in Headphones".
Bjork - "Undo".

Writing about a song can make it less than it is. But I don't know a kinder way to explain the story of "Voice in Headphones". This is a song about how recorded music - particularly a song called "Undo", by Bjork, - makes Mount Eerie cry. He borrows "Undo"'s chorus, gathers friends to yearningly yell it. "Voice in Headphones" feels like two things: a why? and a thank-you. How does music have this power, every single time? "Who are you, voice in headphones?" And also, thank-you, voice in headphones. As with so many of Phil Elverum's songs, this song is an explanation, an explication, an articulation and working-through of a feeling. Elverum's gift is the way he makes these explorations beautiful. (As if Jacques Cartier or Ferdinand Magellan could move us to tears.) They are tender, wise, flickering. Mount Eerie's "Voice in Headphones" becomes its own object. We listen to this song, feel it move us, and we wonder - Who are you? We think - thank-you.

The album this song is taken from, Lost Wisdom, is by the way one of the best albums of the year.

[buy Lost Wisdom / buy Bjork's Vespertine]

Posted by Sean at 11:35 AM | Comments (1)

October 17, 2008

Complete Coverage


Ben Harper & Eddie Vedder - "Throw Your Arms Around Me"

Back in October of 2008, when I was just eleven years old, my parents took me and my younger brother Grayson out west in a camper van to be there in Calgary for when Stephen Harper won the election. I was such a big fan of him, I did my 5th grade speech on him, I even did my science reading report on some of his policies. I cut out every picture I saw of him, and added them to the collage I was making. We had travelled so far for that night, and we just cheered and cheered for hours. Then finally he came out, he had kids my age, and he started coming down the line shaking all the hands he could reach. And I remember I got so excited as he started getting close. My stomach felt like a pillow being fluffed, and my hands were sweaty. Grayson started screeching like I'd never seen him do before, it was kind of embarrassing. Grayson was not the Stephen Harper fan; I was. I was the one who taught Grayson everything he knew about Stephen Harper. But Suddenly Grayson acted like he was a bigger fan than I was. And as he got close, Grayson shoved his hand in his face and Stephen shook it and missed mine. Politicians don't like that, when you shove your hand in their face, they like people who are polite. What's worse he started kind of rubbing it in my face after. He said that Stephen Harper's handshake was warm, like a warm cloth, and he said his fingers sort of grazed his sleeve and that he had touched his suit. We went back to the campsite, it was getting colder and you could see your breath in the camper van. We had to share the little bed that hangs above the driver's seats, and before he went to sleep Grayson whispered to me that he got a boner when he shook Stephen Harper's hand. I didn't laugh and told him to go to sleep. But about half an hour later, I couldn't sleep I was so sad, I heard him masturbating in his sleeping bag. I fell asleep with the tears cold on my face. But in the middle of the night, Grayson woke me up and now he was crying, much more than I had been, and he said that he thought he was in love. He was probably crying because he was so young and he had never felt love in that way before.

Posted by Dan at 9:17 AM | Comments (10)

October 16, 2008


Photo by Will Govus
(photo by Will Govus)

Sol Seppy - "Enter One". I was flying back into Montreal, two months ago. It was night. Girls spoke in murmurs, boys dreamed. I heard the hushhhh of the engine and looked down onto dark fields, cloaked forests. There was no sky - just cloud, like fog, like the fog-wreathed edge of the sea, above us. Our craft was silver and in its way silent. I watched the clouds out the window and suddenly began to see these bright streaks of flash, these streak brights of flash. The mist was suddenly lit up, hotted and sparking. And still inside the airplane it was silent - murmurs, dreams, engine. I watched all these flashes, these lightnings, these bolts, and my heart jumped like a dial with each one. I ceased wondering about birdcalls, wind-whistle; I wondered just at the thunder I couldn't hear, the tiny thunders on the other side of the glass.

And then the craft turned and Montreal came into view, intricate as a coral reef, and a spotlight strafed the sky and I realised it wasn't lightning I was seeing, just the spotlight against the bottom of the clouds. A woman pointing a light at the stars & sketching accidental storms. One single person can do this, I thought to myself. From so far away, a person can touch another person, flash bright streaks across the clouds. Can send an incomprehensible message to a man in a flying-machine.

(Thank you, Marlisse.)



I keep forgetting to mention, but I will be in Ottawa tonight, Thursday, at a reading for The Art of Trespassing. It's an anthology of short stories by emerging Canadian writers, and it's good. I'll be reading from my story, "Bluebirds". If you can't make it to Octopus Books for 7pm, you can also buy the book here.

Unfortunately, the "economic climate" has also resulted in the end of my column at the National Post. If you are involved with a (paying) publication that might be interested in my work, I'd really appreciate it if you got in touch. Thanks!

Posted by Sean at 10:14 AM | Comments (1)

October 15, 2008

Judith Light, Move Over

I conducted a survey -- margin of error: 100 percent minus three over roughly seven billion -- and everyone agrees: The first song on the second side of Bruce Springsteen's first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., is one of only two missteps on an otherwise revelatory debut. A saccharine, meandering ballad, "The Angel" might have caused a few first-time Bruce listeners to question whether the profundity of the album's first side was merely a fluke -- a few good songs honed over a lifetime of otherwise mediocre music-making.

This kind of thinking, even if transient, is apostasy and leads over the short term to humiliation. The faithful, on the other hand, are rewarded; just seconds after the end of "The Angel", "For You" begins and the Boss's essential bossness is established once and for all.

1. Piano-led baroque pop is one thing. Virtuoso cymbal work and twangy acoustic guitar are two others. Interestingly, they can be combined for a powerful effect (cf. "For You").
2. Bruce sings that the titular "you" "did not need my urgency." Regardless, it's precisely that urgency that makes "For You" worth having. Each repetition of the chorus seems more rushed, each follows the last ever more quickly.
3. The literally breathtaking vocal crescendo arguably beginning at 3:35.

Job was rewarded modestly for his faith in the face of God's abandonment, but The Boss, more generous than even the almighty, pays for listeners' patience with riches beyond their imagining. Immediately following "For You": another work of genius.

Is "Spirit in the Night" my favourite Bruce Springsteen song?

1. Dry drums during the chest-wrenching soul of the "Spirit in the night"/"All night" back-and-forth.
2. "Me and Crazy Janey singing our birthday song ... felt so right ... together we moved like spirits in the night"
3. Listen to the saxophone here, a slyly syncopated interlocutor for Bruce's Van-like vocal, and receive an answer to a question that has haunted you since birth: Why was Clarence Clemons the only E-Streeter to appear on the cover of Born to Run alongside his boss, The Boss?

Anyway, it's nearly winter. Many of us will soon be without sunshine and without warmth; there's no reason for any of us to be without Bruce Springsteen.


Posted by Jordan at 6:49 PM | Comments (7)

October 13, 2008



Styx Tyger - "String Strikes". Styx Tyger found a synthesizer in the alley trash; couldn't get it to work. Then one spring afternoon they were doing an early BBQ on the back patio, listening to the Cute and chewing on fresh rhubarb and looking into the rainbows, using the synth as a rail for leaning - and oh oh oh, lookit that, found the thing ran on sunlight. Now that they had figured out the keyboard, Styx Tyger went back to the alleyway. They rummaged in shiny candy-wrappers for more stuff. They found a flower that flowered in sunlight. They found a caterpillar that wriggled in sunlight. And then they found a packet of guitar-strings, hard as steel and the colour of gold (i.e., gold). They strung their guitars and ring-ring-ring played them. Kids came from miles. Bluebirds and condors landed on their roof. Styx Tyger were no less melancholy but now they had sunshine. They threw away their Cure albums - they didn't need them any more.

Who are these marvelous Swedes!? (Thanks, Irre.)

[Styx Tyger MySpace / Song originally by Agent Side Grinder]


If you, like me, hadn't seen this video - "the 2008 'Where The Hell Is Matt' video", - you should. Internet silliness but its ambition is ceaseless.

Caff/Flick Records has redesigned its website, making the entire Freak Paeans catalogue (previously) available for free.

And finally, friends in Scotland have just launched TEN TRACKS. A remarkable & awesome concept for exploring new bands and new songs. Each month, £1 gets you a bundle of 10 terrific tracks - Scottish indie/folk/pop or a set curated by the gurus at Optimo. Money goes to artists, songs go to you, and you can sample just in case, too. TERRIFIC.

Posted by Sean at 1:37 PM | Comments (4)

October 10, 2008

Another Dream About Writing

Henry's Dress - "Target Practice"

Eventually the space between buildings will get so small that you can walk from window to window like you would some kind of pair of high doors. But don't drop your keys down the crevice, then you'll find yourself flat against the wall, shimmying your way down three stories to the dirty soft ground, softened by rain. Searching with your hands in the mud, trying to find your stupid keys, it's a good idea to have a friend to pull you up after. It's a great way to get close with someone, having them pull you up three stories between the 8-inch crevice that will exist between all human structures. You're muddy, they're sweaty, you're both tired, think about it. [out of print, used copies on Amazon]

David Liebe Hart and Adam Papagan - "No More Blues"

I don't have any opinions on David Liebe Hart, so don't expect any. I don't have any opinions about this song, I really don't. I don't think about how it reminds me of Daniel Johnston with about a hundredth of the musical talent. I don't consider David's "beginnings" on the Tim and Eric show, nor do I think anything about his place in comedy. I don't even have any opinion on what Adam Papagan is getting out of this collaboration. Those things are too nebulous to me, they're hazy and full of "well, if he's this way then it means this" unsureness. The only clear thing is that this song contains beauty. I know that. And you know it too. [buy from CDBaby]


Elsewhere: Popsheep is having a funding drive. They are consistently incredible, and one of their contributors is in one 2008's best new bands, Diamonds. Go help them out with it, if you can.

Also: In the video contest earlier this year, one of the winners was Ninian Doff for his "Beast of Dance". Apparently he has a full version of this video in the works, which is very exciting, but in the meantime, he has hooked up with Fulton Lights through the Wonderful Video Contest to create a video for a song of theirs, and it's right here, and it's really great. We're charmed and delighted to have helped with this meeting, but we're downright proud as punch that it's produced something excellent.

Posted by Dan at 12:11 PM | Comments (6)

October 9, 2008


Buffalos placed
(image source)

The October issue of The Believer includes my second interview for the magazine, this one with the composer Nico Muhly. I wanted to talk to Nico not just because I like his music, not just because he's such a good, er, talker, and not even because I admire the people he's worked with, from Antony to Bonnie Prince Billy to Bjork. Mostly I wanted to talk to him because he is 26 - and I relished a conversation about classical music with someone whose background, and context, resembled by own. Someone who browses MySpace sites & watches dumb Youtube videos & gets Cam'ron mp3s emailed to him, just like me.

Anyway, the Believer has generously put the whole interview online here.

And here is part of the conversation that was left on the cutting-room floor.

Nico Muhly: If working with classical musicians is like with dressage ponies, then working with someone like Sam [Amidon] is like working with a zebra. What's so genius about Sam is that his musicianship is so formidable but his so path to expressing that is so completely Other to mine. His is unintentionally elaborate, almost Javanese thing about expression, how much you're going to get, where it's going to come from...

The way that he sings so flat, his eyes are always sort of dilated – black eyes in cartoon almost, the way he looks. So working with him feels like a totally different zoology. When I was doing his album, his technique informs the way that I make decisions. He has this affectless way of going about these songs that are very beautiful.

Sam Amidon - "Saro"
If you take a song like "Saro", I was like: okay, what am I going to do? I want to go with machines, like early choo-choo train Americana, and I want a really heart-rending but sort of corn tone and folky, almost inappropriate trombone solo.

You just think more iconically and more definitely. You can be more towards the front of the stage with what you're doing. Just three images: a trombone that is only playing the interval, countermelodies from "Sweet Caroline" [buh buh buh], this little machine string thing, and then Sam.

Nico Muhly - "The Only Tune (with Sam Amidon)"
When I have him play with me, we completely reverse it. We do this borrowed, weird fake soundscape minimalist genre. We wild out in early Americana sacred harp loud bellowing. And we have whale butchery, and knives, and all this crazy gothic over-the-top stuff. The complement is like the inverse from his album.


"The Only Tune" came to America from England. The fundamental narrative is that there are two sisters and for whatever reason, probably jealousy, one of them pushes the other one into the river that they’re walking alongside. And the one who is pushed into the river, her body floats downstream and she is washed up in a mill pond, a deep mill pond. Her body is fished out by a miller with a long, long hook and left on the bank to dry. And a fiddler comes walking down and sees the body and basically butchers it on the site, and turns it into a violin. And so the hair becomes the strings, the nose-bridge becomes the bridge, the finger-bones become the finger pegs, and it’s incredibly macabre – and the whole time, after every line, there’s this refrain: oh the wind and the rain, oh the wind and the rain. And of course when the fiddler finally makes the violin, the only song it can play is "Oh the Wind and the Rain". But the fiddler’s song "could melt the heart of stone". It’s this crazy line.

For me there are three icons in it, which are: the hook, the first image of the girl, and this last image of a completely desiccated, a pile of scraps, a field dressing of a girl – and a bone violin. It still gives me chills just to describe it.

And I was like: okay, I’m going to do three sections in this piece. And I want the first one to be very old timey, banjo, straightforward any old song about anything, and the second section – the butchery, wants to have actual sounds of butchery, wants to be aggressive, wants to be a psychopath. And then the third section I wanted to turn into this sort of Water Music. The scraps of the girl looking up at this violin being played, and it’s this very melancholy, straightforward guitar, all these different constant pitches, and behind it there’s a landscape of marimba, farfisa orange – like if you washed ashore in New York in the 60s. Glassy. All the comfort food of my vocabulary – celeste, bells, glockenspiel, and at the end it has the sound of a gentle rain in Iceland.

So I made this emotional plot of the three sections, I sent it to him and we figured out the relationship of the keys that I needed each one to be in. You start in A, then you get jacked up to B-flat and they you sink down to G in the end – it’s always the story. And then I had him sing it a couple of different times against nothing. I didn’t share with him anything of what I was planning. I gave him instructions and he was looking at the lyrics. And I had him put these irregular rests between all the phrases, so it always gives it this anxious feel – and once I had that I mapped it onto a grid and then I composed out all the accompanying figures and then he did some sort of background vocals, all those pulses, also raw in Iceland – so I had those separate and I knew they were going to fold in. And that for me is a great moment – when you just load it into ProTools and everything lines up.

Writing the song was the opposite of what happens to the girl’s body – you take these scraps and put her back together in a sort of resurrection. It’s very satisfying. And I have a real infanticide fetish, I guess.

[buy Sam Amidon's All Is Well (previously on StG) | buy Nico Muhly's Mothertongue]

Posted by Sean at 1:26 AM | Comments (3)

October 7, 2008

Young Today and Left


Burning Sensations - "Pablo Picasso"

There's no more perfect visual accompaniment to this song than the way it's used in Repo Man. A young angry punk fuck-off with the most brilliant impenetrable tunnel-vision, driving a fancy stolen car down a hot Texas street and picking up a girl hurrying down the sidewalk. What's most incredible about the format of this song, however, is how pointed it is. The song isn't talking about itself, like "man, I'm such an asshole", they way many songs are, but it's talking about the listener, like "man, you're such a creep". You never graduated high school, you can't understand women, everything you do is wrong. It's art functioning like a horrible parent. I quite like it. [Buy]

I Heart Hiroshima - "Wires"

The Kills and McLusky sharing the same oregano cigarette. Kids from Australia, suddenly on a different beach, very far from home, and convinced only of their own smiling grief. [Buy from the MySpace]

Posted by Dan at 12:30 PM | Comments (7)

October 6, 2008


Devendra Banhart - "At the Hop".






Posted by Sean at 12:13 PM | Comments (7)

October 3, 2008

All Told

The Donkeys - "Excelsior Lady"

This brings me back. I was a fur collar toddler, a brown corduroy kid, walking hippy and arms akimbo down a dirty ol' street. The sun started sitting down at 2 in the afternoon, and shot orange glances at us all day long in the city's pretend pond. Even those little stony fountain pools needed lifeguards, and ours was Dounia Harris. She was ten feet tall if she was an inch, smile like a home-cooked meal, with a laugh like the strike of a match. Not a beautiful girl by any means, but every day I played with the courage of kissing her on the hand as she helped me out of the kiddie pool. Like a goddamn knight I wanted to be, gallant as hell.

[Buy from Dead Oceans]

Posted by Dan at 5:16 PM | Comments (4)

October 2, 2008


photo source unknown

Passion Pit - "Cuddle Fuddle". Sometimes I think of hearts like gas-lamps. I don't understand how gas-lamps work, so bear with me. Anyway, you got a big container of ether & spirits & fumes, and then you got all these tubes and valves to manage the stuff. And if a valve blows out, well - uh, yikes. Suddenly there's glowing fiery gas just going everywhere, shooting you in different directions like an out-of-control hot-air balloon. And boy, it goes to your head.

Anyhow, I bring all this up because "Cuddle Fuddle" is that perfect example of a song about gas-lamp hearts going bust, of violet & rosy flares just gustin' all through your chest, perfumed breaths loosed into your lungs, and the poor sod in the middle getting heaved around lurching by the leaky heart-valve, different bits of his insides all lit up with ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥.

(Passion Pit play Pop Montreal tonight.)



Vampire Weekend - "Ottoman". I was talking to Steve R from Young Galaxy today about Chairlift's "Bruises", the really wonderful song that festoons Apple's new iPod commercials. "Bruises" doesn't rely on songcraft, on the songwriting structure & lessons & genius of Spector-Robinson-King-McCartney et al. It's not a brilliantly written song - it's just a beautifully, beautifully interpreted one. A song whose beauty is in the singing (particularly of the chorus). That's not something you can be taught - it's something you simply gotta do. The genius of McCartney/Lennon ooooohs, James Brown's uhs, Jonny Greenwood's guitar-fuckup on "Creep". And yet while these moments are stunning, more marvellous still are the acts who have these instincts for delivery & performance, as well as for songwriting. Who can, like the Beatles or Herman Dune or the Knife, play a solo that's just right and just rightly placed. Who can assemble a string of wonders into a single perfect whole. Who write song after masterpiecing song.

(Vampire Weekend wanted tens of thousands of dollars to play Pop Montreal, so they aren't.)



Lykke Li singing "Dance Dance Dance" together with Bon Iver: video.

[photo source unknown]

Posted by Sean at 10:52 AM | Comments (6)

October 1, 2008


The Soiree - "Perfect Crimes"
The Soiree - "Monsters"

In Ottawa, music sounds like this. A music writer from Ottawa engaged in the futile task of describing an abstract category so familiar to him, yet entirely foreign to - perhaps ungraspable by - the vast majority of others, might be tempted to toss around words or phrases like: 'leather chairs,' 'pipe smoke,' 'bay windows at night,' 'attic.' Ottawa-born writers, I think, understand that such words bear a very particular kind of relationship to the music itself. This writer's experience of leather chairs, for instance, of bay windows at night, is mostly limited to those Ottawa nights spent staring out of the latter while sitting on the former. It's true that nights like that were often accompanied by sounds like this, but true too that those who make sounds like this must have spent some nights like that. But, no, this music isn't just familiar or of a beloved type; it's more than that, but it's that too, and sweeter for it.


Posted by Jordan at 7:38 PM | Comments (1)