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.

November 28, 2008


Stetsasonic - "Stet Troop '88!"

"Stet Troop '88!" is a portrait of some pretty well-adjusted dudes. They're trying to cut meat out of their diet, they like staying at home with a nice girl, they remember fondly the days they used to build go-karts, and they break even at the casino. They spend maybe a little bit more than they should (we like cordless mics, we ride ninja bikes) but I get the feeling they're probably putting a bit away for savings too. [Buy]


please read Adam Waito's fantastic post from yesterday. Below!

Posted by Dan at 6:38 PM | Comments (2)

November 27, 2008

A Preliminary Guide to Vintage Canadian Psych Pop

I was sitting with Adam Waito several months ago, at a time when there was no ice on the ground and clear black night skies. He had probably just finished playing a killer set with his band, Adam & the Amethysts. Adam released one of our favourite albums of this year, a record that's handsewn folk and brash electric pop and with a faint psych corona skirting its choruses. You should buy it here (CD) or here (digitally).

Anyway, Adam had probably just finished playing a killer set, killer in the way it killed all my worries, slew all my fears. And we were sitting under black night skies and he started telling me about Canada's lost psych music. A hundred bands that did not gain repute, that disappeared into the sands of time, with only crazy collectors now digging these LPs out and going: "Holy bejewellings! Look what we missed!"

I was fascinated. The albums he talked about sounded like they ought to be my favourite albums in the world. Great, forgotten psych bands from Thunder Bay? From Winnipeg? From Montreal?

And so I convinced him to write this, a Preliminary Guide to Vintage Canadian Psych Pop. The music is killer, the curatorship sublime. Most of these albums are out of print. If you dig the post, please leave a comment! (We'll try to convince him to come back.) -- Sean

My preoccupation with Canadiana and with finding new music has led me to discover some rather incredible Canadian acts from the '60s and '70s that range from completely obscure to relatively unknown. Now, I'm no authority on psychedelic music. These are just some bands that have managed to find me (mostly through the Internet) and I've tried to include some tidbits about them.

With reverence for the naturally majestic and decidedly fucked-up colony of Canada, I would like to share a few choice unsung heroes of psychedelic pop from the land North of America with you, the readers of Said the Gramophone. These are some songs that in some way compel or inspire me.

The Rabble - "Candy" (1969)

The Rabble formed in 1965 in Pointe-Claire on Montreal's West Island, and their big break came when, in '68, they got to replace Cream at the last minute at The Paul Sauve Arena in Montreal. "Candy" is playful and irreverent and to my ears anticipates some of the poppier early punk bands that would emerge a decade later. You can party to this song in Montreal quite easily today, let me tell you.

Jarvis Street Revue - "Mr. Oil Man" (1970)

This is sprawling heavy-psych epic that, I'm proud to say, hails from my hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario. It's the flagship track from a rare environmentalist concept album of the same name, whose heavy-handed eco-message is only matched by its heavy-as-hell acid-guitar. Long before the corrupt oil industry was grim reaping the political consciousnesses of pretty much everyone, JSR was prophesying that there will be blood, and did so with creative, fuzzed-out - if a little long-winded - intensity. So damn cool. It's been bootlegged as well as officially reissued if you feel like grabbing it without paying close to a grand for a rare original LP on Ebay. Me, I've still got my fingers crossed for an original copy in a thrift store record bin when I'm home this Christmas holiday.

Christmas - "Something Borrowed" (1970)

Speaking of Christmas, that's what this next Oshawa, Ontario band was called, and if I do say so, it's one of the best band names ever. Christmas features ex-members of another great '60s band Reign Ghost (formerly of The Christopher Columbus Discovery of New Lands Band, another mind-blowing band name). This is a pretty straight-ahead folky pop rock song from their album Heritage that will stick to your ribs right near your heart.

A Passing Fancy - "Island" (1968)

This song is beautiful and amazing with its organ, church bells, and sad pop melody. A Passing Fancy were a Toronto band that emerged from the '60s Yorkville scene. A career highlight was playing Expo '67 in Montreal. Formed in '65, they released a number of 45s and one LP before disbanding in 1969. One of the members is now the president of a hockey card company. I have to say, this song just really does something special for me."

Borealis - "Old Age" (1972)

Borealis were a psych-pop band from the Maritimes (Newfoundland I think). "Old Age" is a really simple and lovely song from their Sons of the Sea record, with its spinning-speaker guitar, restrained rhythm section, and delightfully amateurish vocals. It's a heartbreaking and cute ode to the singer's deteriorating grandfather. At a time when not a lot of rock albums were being recorded in the Atlantic provinces, the album apparently wasn't too successful, although they supposedly had a track on the St. John's top 10 for a couple weeks. The full title was Sons of the Sea/Professor Fuddle's Fantastic Fairy Tale Machine.

Brazda Brothers - "Lonely Time" (1973)

As recent migrants from Europe (I'm not sure where), they were supposedly inspired by the natural beauty of their new home of Galt, Ontario, and recorded this LP in only six hours in Toronto. It's a really beautiful record, made special by their odd accents and slightly-off vocals, as well as brilliant bursts of organ.

Elyse Weinberg - "Deed I Do" (1968) [buy]

Finally, Elyse Weinberg is an amazing woman whom I had the privilege of meeting during Pop Montreal this year (we sat on a songwriter's panel together at the Symposium). She played this song with members of the Saffron Sect playing sitar and tanpura at her show at the Casa. She was amazed that there were young folks who knew how to play a song from an obscure album she made 40 years ago. Anyway, the live rendition was magnificent and that album is called Elyse and is really heartbreakingly awesome. Hopefully she won't find this and be mad that I posted her song online. She's from Toronto and used to hang out with folks like Neil Young, but who really cares, because she's amazing.

If you want to hear some other great Canadian bands from the late '60s/early '70s, check out Plastic Cloud, The Plague, The Poppy Family, Reign Ghost, Terence, It's All Meat, and duh, the Guess Who. Most of these bands have been reissued or bootlegged or posted online, so have fun!

[Adam Waito is from Thunder Bay and lives in Montreal. He has played in bands such as Telefauna and Miracle Fortress but now leads Adam & the Amethysts, whose Amethyst Amulet is one of the great undiscovered albums of 2008. (BUY: CD/MP3)]


(Previous guest-blogs: The Whiskers, Silver Jews, artist Ariel Kitch, artist Aaron Sewards, 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 12:14 PM | Comments (14)

November 25, 2008



Neil Young - "Guitar Solo 5"

Last opened: About A Year Ago
Duration: 14:41

First snowfall and a backpack. Caught in late November, hitchhiking is a lonely pursuit, like trying to win a game of chess against yourself, or even trying to lose. Darkness rests on your shoulders heavier than all your belongings put together, and I even own a car someplace. Impounded. I imagine it now, surrounded by pacing dogs, the windows blown out, or smashed in, and snow along the insides of the doors, sort of melting and dripping onto the seats and floor. I own a coffin too, that's something I don't tell many people. I came into a lot of money after an inheritance and I bought a coffin for myself. Can't quite remember what I was thinking, but now that I've done it, things feel a little more redundant, like I'm doing or saying all sorts of "extra" stuff. But everything I do feels very conscious, very much my own choice. I'm working for myself, in a way. So I can stay out here, my shoes getting a ring of wetness and my jacket shaking nervously like it's about to cry out of fear, and my hands cold and stoic at my side, too proud to set the pack down and get out their gloves, in the middle of the night, because my boss is making me.

Gillian Welch - "I Dream A Highway"

Last opened: --
Duration: --

First snowfall and a milkshake. 12-year-old Bridget leafs through the classifieds; houses, jobs, cars, furniture. Her first cell phone rings in her pocket, but it's her dad so she doesn't answer. A sip of the milkshake and a look out the window. People hugging themselves walk like they're always almost there. The phone rings the message ring and she starts the wordsearch. "Holiday", "gargoyle", "bun", "upstart", "lesson", "righteous", "gray", "theatre". Her boots swing and kick the side of the counter. The waitress smoking at the end looks up from her phone call. Looks away. Bridget goes over her homework in her head. Her cell phone rings again. It's not time yet, though. She'll wait the whole morning, and however many mornings it takes, until it's cold enough. Once it's cold enough, for the ice highway, then she's likely to believe a phone call. But not until then. Wouldn't believe a word.

Posted by Dan at 2:30 AM | Comments (8)

November 24, 2008


Gigantic Hand - "SuAnne Big Crow". I wonder if you know this feeling: You're like a building with the foundations blown out, still upright but all the struts and supports weakened, all the everything ready to go, ready to collapse. You feel like that; hollow. You go down to the subway and stand on the platform feeling grey and paper-thin. The ventilation shushes. And then suddenly, thwackkkkkkk, a subway-car slams into the station, slaps into the station, flies past you volatile & violent and it's like you've just been shoved. You rock back on your heels and realise: I'm still standing. You take a breath. I'm still standing. // Anyway I wonder if you know this feeling. (I haven't felt it in a long time.) Gigantic Hand do. "SuAnne Big Crow" is a song of a hundred station-slams, a hundred heel-rocks, four shoves per bar. But you're still standing. [MySpace/buy in February]

Bobby Digital ft. Thea & Monk - "Drama (Spoolwork remix)". Dave Fischoff releases electro-folk music on Secretly Canadian and remixes songs by Jens Lekman and Radiohead as Spoolwork. But I like him best when he takes off his indie duds and makes beats that are practical, just tomato-red rad. Here he recalls Jay-Z's "Hard Knock Life" (but happier) - transforming the RZA's "Drama" from classicism to hopscotch, cathedral to playgroup. [MySpace]


My newest music article for McSweeney's is now online: a piece on the 2008 Pop Montreal festival.

Posted by Sean at 10:09 AM | Comments (3)

November 21, 2008

Spanking New


White Denim - "Heart From All Of Us"

White Denim pap cloudly from the air around my notepad. They hup clicking and stup fupping in their sole-slapping leathers. Down dirt road microphones and smoke-tray dishrags. They clop together bent old drawn funnies and rock tunes, training them all the way to the station, cabbing it every day to the grocery store. They quit kissing and replaced it with hissing, humming, yelling, closed-eyed brelling, and tumbling til they turn it down, accidentally landing on the volume pump, pressing it deeply with their beer bellies, unugly but a bit uncute too. [Buy]

Crystal Stilts - "Crystal Stilts"

All Crystal Stilts songs take place in this hollow ice chamber, where you can see your breath but your voice is too echo-y to understand anything. Tonight in the ice chamber they're playing surf rock and showing road movies, apparently my two favourite things and a winning combination. But it's not until that little pipsqueak organ whines from the backseat about not enough legroom that I'm completely sold, I'll stay cold for this. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 3:29 PM | Comments (2)

November 20, 2008


Erin, by 'Ghost Daughter'

Mayo Thompson - "Dear Betty Baby".

Mayo Thompson grabbed his stetson, his ratty tweed jacket, and he headed to the library. "Hey kitty," he said to the first librarian he found. "Happy Tuesday."

"Can I help you?" she said.

"You know what it is: show me to the phonebooks."

It was 1970 and the librarian showed Mayo Thompson to the phonebooks. He hung up his stetson on the corner of a bookcase and draped his jacket over the back of a chair. He unfastened the top button of his shirt. "Ma'am," he said to the librarian, "I am thanking you." Then Mayo Thompson started hefting telephone directories from the shelves, stacking them on one of the broad tables. He chose the phonebooks for Glasgow, Istanbul, Cannes, Lisbon, Reykjavik, Alexandria, Sydney, Heraklion, Cape Town, Brasilia, Halifax. Set in a pillar on the table they reached to the ceiling. Then Mayo Thompson scratched his knee and sat down. He started going through the phonebooks, one after another, looking for something. He was looking for the mailing address of the dawn.

A little while later the librarian came back. She had fallen in love with Mayo Thompson during their brief encounter. "Hello," she said shyly.

"Yo bluefin," he said, not looking up. He closed one phonebook and extruded another from the stack.

The librarian waited for a while. She was wearing a serious felt dress, blue with faint polka-dots.

Mayo Thompson finally lifted his eyes. "Oh, hey," he said.

"What are you looking for?" she asked. "A long lost family member?"

"Need an address for the dawn," Mayo Thompson said. "Want 'em to play horns on my new album."

"Sorry?" said the librarian.

"It's a solo record," he explained. "Songs by me. Love songs and work songs and not-love songs. Poetry set swinging."

"No," said the librarian, "what do you mean 'the dawn'?"

"Mornings, roosters, light," Mayo Thompson said.

"Is Dawn your sweetheart?"

"Wish she was." He squinted at the librarian. "Oh," he said at last, seeing the lustre in her eyes. "No, not a bird called Dawn, some blondie. No. The dawn. Daybreak. Aurora. Sunrise. Sunup."

"Like, the sun?" she said.

"Yeah. Like the sun."

"I think it lives in California," she said.

"It's for a song called 'Dear Betty Baby,'" he explained.

They found dawn listed at a San Diego address. "Honey!" Mayo Thompson explained. He tore the page from the phonebook. The librarian didn't say anything, just squeezed her fists at her sides.

"I gotta go write a letter," he said.

"I'm about to go on break," she replied.

Mayo Thompson grabbed his hat and jacket and made his way from the reference section, phonebook-page held in his teeth. The librarian scampered after him, grabbing her clutch from behind the Returns desk. She had to run to keep up with his long jeaned legs. He crossed 4th and dashed across 9th and stopped traffic on 1st. She was at his heels. Finally Mayo Thompson headed into a typewriter store. He gave the librarian his hat and jacket to hold. He peered at the Smith Corona "Electra" demonstration typewriter and smoothed out the dawn's address. Then he started typing a letter, pecking each key with his right middle finger.

"What are you doing?" asked the librarian, her arms full of ratty tweed and stetson.

"Writing a letter to the dawn. Asking 'em if they want to play horns on my new album."


"That kind of thing. Trumpet, French horn, trombone."


"'s what the song needs," he said. "Shush a second." He stood staring at the keys. "What's another word for 'sweet'?"


"Sugared. Dig." He continued typing.

"Couldn't you just get some musicians to play the part?"

"Sure. Session musicians flockin'. But this is different. This needs sunrise on horns. Needs it." He typed a row of x's at the end, just to hear the typewriter go ding. "Sugared," he said. Mayo Thompson unscrolled the letter from the "Electra". He took his hat back from the librarian and tipped it to the typewriter salespeople. Then he winked at the librarian. "C'mon," he said.

"What next?" she asked as they crossed 15th.

"I need stamps."

"I got stamps."

He stopped in the middle of the street. "You do?"

"Yes," she said. "At my flat."

She took him back to her apartment. They rode the tiny elevator in silence. Mayo Thompson smelled of straw and tangerines. Her keys glinted when she lifted them to the lock.

Inside the apartment she pointed at a small armoire. "They're in there, at the top." Mayo Thompson opened the armoire, ran his hand along the smooth of the wood. Behind him the librarian slipped out of her dress.



Elsewhere: A long interview with Spike Jonze about his forthcoming Where the Wild Things Are film, scripted by Dave Eggers.

[photo source]

Posted by Sean at 10:55 AM | Comments (11)

November 19, 2008


Vester Jones - "Katy Cline"

So many songs so much like this one, so why does Vester Jones' "Katy Cline" stand out? The vocals are a less rich variation on the affable mode of Mississippi John Hurt, and the lyrics, while nice, don't stray far from well-worn formulae. What elevates "Katy Cline" to the sublime is the banjo playing -- that dense swirl of sound with an ache at its centre. In the midst of this syncopated flurry of notes -- its satisfying cadences and stuttering rapidity -- the song's cliches become unassailable insights, its prosaic form the Platonic form of good.


Posted by Jordan at 5:28 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2008

Brothers in Throat Trouble


PDF Format - "Wonderful Day"

Tonight, it's cold, I'm very sick, and there's nothing better than new PDF Format to warm me up. I was at the Pop Montreal show and had to leave early, but this was the show opener, and its honest beauty remains intact from that night. In a recent no-sided conversation I had with him, he's looking for money to record his rock opera (his incredible and sweeping and I've-no-doubt absolutely canonical rock opera) "properly". So if you run a studio and you've got like 3 weeks of unbooked time, let him know.

[all mp3s on 8-bit collective]

(image made in MS Paint by Diamonster)

Posted by Dan at 9:18 AM | Comments (5)


Nike Air Max 90 Burger, by Olle Hemmendorff

Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit - "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" (Vampire Weekend cover).
Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit (with Ben Brewer) - "Dinosaur On The Ark".

For a long time I have had an eBay Alert set up for Esau Mwamwaya. So that when he finally releases something, I can buy it. He hasn't released anything, though. And I haven't posted about him. But I love this stuff. It's like the indie rock version of Juluka - joyous, rousing, easy. It's chewing on sugarcane and floating on your back. He sings with such unselfconscious glee, as only a furniture salesman can. But Radioclit's beats (or, Vampire Weekend's, or MIA's, as the case may be) are also responsible for the songs' sky-blue sweetness. Sunbeams bottled, rainclouds fizzed - clean and undistorted glitter, a hundred shades of shine.

"Dinosaur on the Ark"'s Ben Brewer - who was once best known as one of Canada's wealthiest heirs, and is now best known as MIA's fiancé, - sings with an earnesty that is sterling silver, okay maybe stainless steel. Like Phil Collins or Adam Levine it's uncoloured & true, a perfect partner for Mwamwaya's utopian cheer.

"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" has Mwamwaya taking on Vampire Weekend's melody and riff, saluting them at every opportunity, but whereas VW find their feeling in ambivalences, verses, nostalgia, Mwamwaya's version is straight gleeful - in love with life, with dancing, with the squeak yr sneakers make on the floor.

[MySpace/download the entire album]

(Thanks to the reliably keen ears & eyes at Gorilla vs Bear for catching the mixtape release!)

(photo is of Olle Hemmendorff's 'Nike Air Max 90 Burger')

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

November 14, 2008

Two On Work

Fewn - "Ten Times the Fun"

My first job was at a gas station. Full serve Sunoco. There were some pretty heavy fumes, and legally they had to post signs on the pumps saying "prolonged exposure to gas fumes has been known to cause cancer in rats". I mostly just asked for rewards cards and tried to sell carwashes as an add-on to whatever people were already buying.

Oh, a chocolate bar, would you like a carwash with that?

And cleaning things that were already clean.

I have to clean these fridge doors with windex?
But they're already clean.
You have to.

I think this would have been my favourite song while working there if I'd known it then. I would have ripped out the direct feed to Majic 100 and plugged this song in for all the gas-pumpers and mild shoplifters to listen to.

Is this Ween?
Fuck you.



Sergei Rachmaninoff - "Isle of the Dead"

Nothing ever scared me until I followed my father to work. I never thought the dark rings under his eyes were anything but natural, that the softening in his look when he would come home in the morning was anything but a tired happiness. I never thought it was relief. I followed him one night because I was supposed to do a project just like all the other kids called "take your kid to work day". I asked my father nicely, at dinner, and he barked something about this being his breakfast and told me to "read comics instead". I said I had to write about it, like homework, and my mother looked like she was going to scream, so I shut up. But then, that night, when I heard them saying goodbye in the foyer, I could hear my mom stifling tears because my mom always cried when my dad left for work, I left a pile of pillows in my bed and went down the fire escape which was out my baby sister's window. I followed about half a block behind, trying not to lose him, but also trying not to get noticed. He got on the 33rd train to G-line and Avenue Beta, so I did too. I almost lost him trying to find change, but I managed to catch the doors just as they were closing.

We got out at a station that looked like it hadn't been cleaned since it opened probably a hundred years ago. Outside, the neighbourhood was even worse. It was like the buildings were crying these black tar tears, and everything was wet and dirty and looked sneezed on. My dad walked quickly with his hands deep in the pockets of his leather jacket, and he just stared at the ground when he walked, he wasn't acting at all like he did at home. He walked past a bunch of dry cleaning places, though I can't imagine anyone ever getting anything cleaned around there, and turned abruptly down a flight of stairs. On the walls of the stairwell someone had spraypainted "Satan's Pussy", and the door at the bottom of the stairs was heavy and the handle was greasy. It was dark inside, and I hurried to find a corner, a place against the wall so I wouldn't be seen. From there I watched it all happen. My father would make long speeches before a crowd of lowlifes who would cheer and boo him, and after he was done, the other disgusting lowlife he was talking about would either walk away and out the door, to much cheering, or through the back hall much to the crowd's dismay. My dad seemed to be some kind of defense lawyer for some underground court where the cases were too awful to be handled by regular courts. I couldn't understand the words a lot of the time, it was like they were speaking some other language, even though most of the words were English. But my dad seemed to be in charge of most of it, second only to the judge, who wore a long dark wig that hung over his eyes and face and only his pointy nose stuck out. There were times when my dad looked like he hated it, like he thought he might die if he said another word, but there were other times in the night when he looked like he loved it, like he never wanted to do anything else. The next day, tired and smelling like hand-rolled cigarettes, I told the class that my dad was a technical writer. I brought the instruction manual for my 8-speed and told them that he had written that. It didn't seem like anyone noticed.

[via (thanks, Evan!)]
[inspired by the song and from the painting below, from Sean's Monday post]

Posted by Dan at 1:11 AM | Comments (4)

November 13, 2008


François Virot - "Say Fiesta".
François Virot - "Cascade Kisses".

Can't get enough of Virot's Yes Or No. Whereas Animal Collective are at times too diffuse to soothe your heart, and the Dodos' steady lustre grows into something hard & grating, Virot's songs are both simple and crooked - like gnarled hooks you can hang your coat on. The way he sings radio on "Say Fiesta" - well it's silly, endearing and French but it lets the song's emotional oomph come out of nowhere, like an alleycat sprouting roses. Virot's looped-up strums, snaps, thumps and coos remind me of a paper model city - precisely folded, brightly scribbled, not meant to last.


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

November 11, 2008


[edit:] we're back!

Our mp3s are offline at the moment. Working on bringing them back.

Posted by Sean at 5:35 AM | Comments (4)

November 10, 2008


Arnold Bocklin's Isle of the Dead

Pretend You're Happy - "The Other Side of the Earth". Pretend You're Happy usher in the Messianic age with rattling drums, whining violins, trumpet, cello, a whack of distorted guitar. It's the sort of Ever After where people carry bouquets like torches, burn their houses down, and everyone's perished pets come blinking back from the dead. Marvelous. [buy]

Dirty Beaches - "In Dreams". Fifteen thousand years from now & every human being is dead. Waves play on an empty sand. Lizards lie on rocks, blinking. Dragonflies weave round raspberry brambles. A cocker spaniel stands knee-deep in saltwater and feels like she's forgotten something important. [buy Horror - $7 - the best dream instrumentals since William Basinski's Disintegration Loops and Vincent Gallo's When]

(painting is Arnold Böcklin's Die Toteninsel)

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

November 7, 2008

Knee Deep In Grant Park

Tony Randall - "Byrd"

A change has come to America. Election night was like some kind of real-world masterwork. I cried like a little baby during that speech, not ashamed to admit. [via the WFMU blog]

Beck - "Gamma Ray [Jay Reatard Version]"


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

November 6, 2008


Herman Dune - "Try to Think About Me (Don't You Worry A Bit)". Herman Dune are a band diminished by the departure of brother & co-songwriter André H-D from the group, diminished by the clean $ studio sound of their last two LPs, diminished by the disappearance of the umlaut from their name. But for all this they remain a great band - particularly so, now, live, - the beautiful lost link between Ivor Cutler, Bob Dylan and Motown. Whereas David-Ivar used to share songwriting (and singing, and lead guitar) duties 50/50, he's now totally in the lead - making Next Year in Zion consistently, disarmingly sentimental, for better or for worse. This is a better record than 2006's Giant (which isn't saying much), but lacks anything like the mixtape classic "I Wish That I Could See You Soon". It's also a far cry from the joyous, raging, fuzzed confusion of Not On Top - one of the greatest albums of all time.

But while the above paragraph is weighed down by backhanded compliments, let me say it again - they remain a great band. They deploy a perfect quilt of sincerity and wryness, of sing-song and verse. Frenchmen singing in English, their songs have all the clumsy-perfect scansion of The Streets, a pronunciation that's hilarious and desperately endearing. Listen to the way Yaya says "croo-ked cop", here.

And they try so hard to write good songs, lyrics with rhyme & joke & that are true, with moments that glimmer.

"Try To Think About Me (Don't You Worry A Bit)" is one of the softest songs here, and is not particularly clever. But what it lacks in punchlines it makes up for with a perfect chorus - the sort of thing you can murmur on skateboard, airplane, bird-back, bed. Tender as a stamp set onto a postcard.


Posted by Sean at 10:03 AM | Comments (4)

November 5, 2008


Laura Barrett - "Chidiya"

Neatly divided into two equal halves, "Chidiya" begins like an operetta -- the music bent and stretched to the singer's words -- and ends like a particular nonexistent kind of film. To wit, I'm thinking of movies that end with - or, more accurately, do not continue beyond -- an infinite pan across a rich, miniature landscape. After two minutes of melodic restlessness, a brief, bewitching tune emerges and is endlessly repeated with only subtle variation. This might be boring, I know, but it's not: Everything is contained in that sad little riff and, for its duration, there is nothing outside of it.


Posted by Jordan at 9:36 PM | Comments (0)

November 4, 2008

What a Sure Prize

Gigi - "The Hundredth Time"
Gigi - "One Woman Show"

I'm looking over 3 years of doodles and drawings from a pad I keep near the phone. There's a dragon looking meanly at a fire hydrant with dog feet. There's about a hundred broken hearts, there's a bunch of testing-the-pen scribbles, a half-face that looks like a mix of Lenny Kravitz and Hunter Thompson. There's a coffee stain that's been outlined and turned into zero-gravity liquid that's flowing from some outer-space faucet. There's sign posts for made up destinations, phone numbers with no name, addresses for real but forgotten places. Some words that I think I was trying to write them out to test how the spelling looked. Like 'occurrence' and 'negligible' and 'hundredth'. Listening to this song, I'm suddenly walking in this weird world, looking up and around as the thoughts fall like half-formed flakes of snow, to be shoveled later into blue cracks, or just to melt away. [MySpace]
(thanks, Michelle)

Posted by Dan at 2:43 AM | Comments (7)

November 3, 2008


Buraka Som Sistema - "General". Each of us have busy days, today. I have to wake up, clouds greying through the window, and get out of bed, and write this post, and work, and have a coffee, and call my grandparents, and research lodging & eating in Porto and Lisbon, and go to a workshop, and go to J's goodbye dinner, and then walk home swinging someone's hand. A car's got to wake up, growl to life, get driven across town and home. A nightclub's got to lay swathed in dark, then flickflickflick each lightswitch turned on, and swept, and cleaned, and then songs will play. A calendar's got to get flipped, if everyone forgot to. Get Out Of Jail Free cards need to get written. &c. [MySpace]



Congratulations to the winner of our Insound Poster Contest, Emily Quinn. They shoudl be in touch with you.

As Dan advised, the Lifted Brow 4 is taking orders. The price ($25) is ridiculous, due to the Australian dollar and a pre-order discount. Also, the content is ridiculous: 2 CDs and a 300-page book, including original music and writing by Sheila Heti, Carey Mercer & Sydney Vermont, Wolf Parade's Spencer Krug, Tao Lin, Shearwater's Jonathan Meiburg, Rick Moody, the Wrens, No Kids, the Lucksmiths, Neil Gaiman, Dan Deacon, Sleeping States, Frightened Rabbit, Goblin Cock, the Wrens and about a hundred more. Oh yes - as well as writing by our Jordan Himelfarb (with Joel Taylor), a song by his band The Cay, and a short story I wrote that is about the girl who caught the Moon. It's maybe the greatest collectible known to man. Buy it.

Posted by Sean at 11:27 AM | Comments (4)