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 30, 2008

My Mind's Meals and Snacks


Durrty Goodz - "The Youngers"

A dense piece, this. Swinging on vines through the halls of a haunted house, a young gang of kids are the protectors and destroyers of a certain code of conduct. A complicated hierarchy of seniority, catalogued first by age then success then bad-ass-ness then assets then physical strength then proficiency with weapons and vehicles then just plain looks. Snogging and shagging on kitchen floors and bathroom walls, every painting with moving eyes being a secret passage to one of their bedrooms, tallscreen tvs and videoblades aplenty, weird shoes that you can wear like gloves or like helmets if you need them. Plans of attack and sabotage are cockily put into freestyles that are performed nightly at the Salad Bowl Stage, thirty stories under the basement floor. Parents have long given up the idea of trying to get their kids back from this place, despite the weaker members in their weaker moments wishing beyond hope that they would. [Buy in the UK]

O.W.L. - "Be Alive"

O.W.L. are making something like what I can only think to describe as "elvin emo". Most of the tracks on the eponymously unabbreviated album Of Wondrous Legends are about things like Crimson Knights and the angel Gabriel and The Midnight Carnival, so this is the only one talking to the listener. And since the setting of the album is already heavily wooded and sun-dappled and cinched in leather with leather laces, this normally missable Yes b-side soundalike becomes for me a lovely strolling meander through the imaginary land of fantasy psychology. What does the advice "be alive" mean to a troll, to a guardbird, to a centaur prince? [Buy]

[photo source]

Posted by Dan at 2:11 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2008


Storm photo from The Big Picture

Adrian Crowley - "Electric Eels" [MySpace/buy]

Nick Drake - "Fruit Tree" [buy]

Does Crowley steal from Drake? I am still thinking about it. Besides, I haven't seen the full liner notes. But probably this falls somewhere between reincarnation, hômage and déjà vu. One song is dusky gold, the other undersea grey. One is a prophecy, the other a warning. One promises fruit, the other - flooding. Experimental data: in my fireplace, both songs take as long to burn.

(Thanks, Davin.)

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 11:29 AM | Comments (5)

December 26, 2008

A Second's Second "A"

Paul & Linda McCartney - "Ram On"

The year is rushing and draining quickly out of the bath. The water is dragging as much of the leftover filth as it can pull along with it, and I'm suddenly miniscule and standing fast at the edge of the drain, letting it rush all through my hair and around my tiny fingers or cilia or whatever. A thunderous torrent of other people's memories that greys the sky with their dirt. No, their stuff. This song plays for the final minutes. It's not of this year, but for some reason it stands for it. Or at least for the end of it. The way all colours make white or time passing makes light, it just feels like going up to Heaven, or at least to the next level. As in Level 3, World 4, Stage 1, Chapter 2009: Humility, Hope, and The Tippy-Toes of Justice. [Buy]

Posted by Dan at 3:37 AM | Comments (2)

December 23, 2008

Worlds of Anticipation

of Montreal - "Jimmy"

My quiet gaunt face, swaying eyes closed in the middle of a community dance, the room near empty save a few wallflowers, the shameless persistent disco ball and embarrassing light show. An old man with his older wife are trying to slow dance off to the side. My perfect hair and outstanding suit. My calm smooth motions belie the laboured organ, played a hair too slow by some crummy slickster in plaid. But that doesn't even register for me. Look at me. I'm fucking hot. [free]

Parvati Khan - "Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja"

My face is red isn't it I can feel it. I can't help it when I get excited I get like all beet red. It's cause I didn't think she'd agree to this and now she's supposed to be here any second and I haven't thought about at all what I'm gonna say or how I'm gonna act. I'm smiling too much, I know that for sure. She's like all over the place, you know, completely everywhere and we said we love each other the other day and I think I'll order pancakes for her while I'm waiting. God, I think if she looks as pretty as I think she will I'll just cry just bawl right here at the table. If we finish in time we can see the sun set! I think I'm crying now. damn that. [emusic]

Posted by Dan at 6:40 AM | Comments (2)

December 22, 2008


Take five

National Beekeepers Society - "Lazy". We don't call it lazy when a dune is all sanding in the sun, there, or when a tomato-plant bobs its furry leaves in the breeze. We don't call it lazy when oil slicks over the sea, when a cassette plays through in the Buick's tape-deck. So why does my mother call it lazy when I take the Greyhound for four days, cross-country; when I break into the art deco skyscraper and go down to the basement; when I plug in the fat cable of my amp & electric guitar; when I play with my rock band in the gold and steel; when I King Kong it to the top, dangle from the spire, and sand, bob, slick & play through. [buy this great fuzzy album here / MySpace]

Lake - "Heaven". Good morning, Montreal! It's a beautiful snow-soaked Monday in December. Looks good for a White Christmas, doesn't it folks? Later we're going to have local actor Dan Beirne in the studio talking about his new project but first we've got Billy Joel, the Divinyls and Mirah comin' up, not to mention the new track by Lake. Traffic's moving smoothly on the Decarie, the white stuff's getting cleared up, and you know that junk I said yesterday about wanting to kill myself? Well - forget about it. Thanks for all your letters. This morning I fell in love with the sticky handwriting of a girl called Katie, from Côte St-Luc. I gave her a call and we're meeting at 5:30 to have pretzels in the studio, listen to Laura, Buzz & the Shark - and then we're going for latkes. Yup, I feel things are a-changing. [buy]

Posted by Sean at 11:11 AM | Comments (2)

December 19, 2008

It Never Gets Old

Tokin' Black Guy - "Turn My Music High"

I'm scared to post this, because I don't know anything about it. Granted, I don't know anything about any of the stuff I post, but I can't find anything about this guy or this song. All I get is this strange email from someone named Ken Ken with this song attached, and the subject line "tip". I feel like I'm getting scammed, like this is just a joke to see how many bloggers they can get to post a song by an artist with as terrible a name as "tokin' black guy" (seriously, if you're for real, change your name NOW) and I'm the first and probably only one to fall for it. I mean, yeah, let's write a super-fun, completely danceable, by-all-rights grade-A song and then see how many people we can get to be fooled by it. Well, you did it, I'm dancing, I'm smiling, you win, I give in. [MySpace (nothing more mysterious than keeping Tom in your top friends)]

Mt. Cooper - "Lower Plenty Rd."

Again, nothing. I feel more at home feeling scared with this track, though. I recognize this alien metal factory, this gleaming alley at night, this strange cab ride through strange streets. I'm used to these wet shoes, these eyeless kisses, this stabbing painful breath on the back of my neck. Yes, those inkbled pages are mine, yes I'll keep them, thanks, I think I can still make out what it says. [MySpace]

Posted by Dan at 1:35 AM | Comments (3)

December 18, 2008


Girl with animal

Andreas Scholl - "Venus' Birds Whose Mournful Tunes". Countertenors are grown on farms. They are planted in fields of chamomile and sage, fed melted caramels. The most successful countertenors are grown on farms near the ocean, where the clouds will catch and carry some of the sea's salt, and the rain sprinkles it onto the growing countertenors' sand-blond hair. They are culled at the age of 18, evaluated for weight, colour, chest-, mouth- and throat-size. Those who are found suitable are sent to live in mansions atop Greek mountains, surrounded by holly and laurel, where they are trained by the eldest countertenors still living, men with lined faces and sand-blond hair. Good countertenors sing in voices the colour of spring. The best countertenors - well, they can whistle! [buy]

Twi The Humble Feather - "Finale". Listen If You Like: bicycling down canyons, drinking too much water, National Film Board soundtracks as composed by Philip Glass for Animal Collective, remembering that you're in love, little oranges. [buy]

[image source]

Posted by Sean at 10:33 AM | Comments (3)

December 16, 2008

Eternal Summers For Life


Eternal Summers - "Fall Straight Back"

--ever again. So now I can finally go home and clean my apartment. I'll make some soup, have a nice bun with it, make some ginger tea. Yeah, I can do all this stuff now. I'll read the last chapter of Tideland, I can finally write my brother back, it's a nice day. How many nice days like this have I missed? No more. Not one.

Eternal Summers - "I Must Winter"

There's a Stan Brakhage film about falling on the ice, and all the colours you see when you black out. There's also one about dead bodies, and one about a cat. Making a film the way Brakhage did was like building a house of cards out of the contents of a fine art museum's permanent collection. Like putting a computer in the oven to show how it affects the way it plays solitaire against itself. That is to say a magical brilliance, a dangerous surprising genius. I feel like the same kind of danger, the same kind of radiant freedom, is released with every crash, every stronk.


Posted by Dan at 3:20 AM | Comments (3)

December 15, 2008


Grizzly bear chairs - source unknown

Eagleowl - "Sleeptide". It's ten days until Christmas, and besides - maybe you don't celebrate the thing. So what to do when snow is already blanketing everything like- like- like a blanket? What to do when the stars already sparkle like- like- like sparkles? What to do when you want a song like- like- like a carol? You close your eyes & you listen to this & you imagine yourself strung up with tinsel, ornaments, popcorn garlands. You're welcome in any house; you can stay the season; you have no enemies, just gifts at your toes. A pretty, pretty song, from the little Scottish label that brought you Meursault. [buy]

Land of Talk - "The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle)". My favourite moment in this song comes at 1:17, when barely - just barely, - you hear Liz Powell say "Oh", or something like that. It's deep in the mix, down below the steel-stained, tea-stained, tear-stained guitars; down below the sound of the man who hits cymbals. It's a quiet thing, half-a-thing, but it's the thing that reminds me that there's life even in the moments when Powell's not singing anything. She hasn't left the studio; she isn't just standing watching other people strum guitar. She's living through every bar of this song, feeling every moment a clean drumstick hits a clean snare. [buy]


Inside the frozen mammoth

Together with my friends Amy, Julien and Kit, I've launched a new blog. It is called INSIDE THE FROZEN MAMMOTH, inspired by a quote by Leonard Cohen, and it is about visual arts in Montreal (and abroad!). It's way more about stuff that's great - artists, artworks, shows, things, - than about local events, so no matter where you live, I really hope you'll visit, read, bookmark and subscribe.

[source of grizzly chair photo]

Posted by Sean at 12:19 AM | Comments (4)

December 12, 2008


Here are my 50 favourite songs of 2008: the ones I really, really, really, really like.

I decided not to include any artist twice, nor any songs from albums I heard last year.

I made similar lists in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

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 complete zips of the fifty songs here, via Mediafire.

See also: Dan's favourite albums of the year.

Said the Gramophone's Best Songs of 2008. Original photo by lala ladcani.
(original photo by lala ladcani)

  1. Antony & the Johnsons - "Another World" [buy]
    2008 did not have a "Hey Ya!", a "Crazy in Love", a "1 Thing" - a song so essential that it felt like a new page ought to be added to the calendar. (If anything, it had "Paper Planes".) So my favourite song of the year is not a dancefloor-filler, not an anthem; it is just my favourite. I don't know why "Another World" seems so essential to me, this December... Whether it's Antony's moth- and butterfly-wing voice, the piano like first snow. Whether it's a response to the Year of Obama. "Hope" and "Change" seem like true and important things, this year, things we crave and wish to put in our briefcases, but I sense how fragile they are, and how dreamed. Of course maybe it's just that this is a pretty, sad song. Maybe it's Antony's microphone, full of tears.
  2. Lykke Li - "Dance Dance Dance" [buy]
    In February I wrote a premature valentine: Were you born in Sweden? Wait, what? A Portuguese mountaintop!? Was it cold? Sure, I'll hold on to it for you. What do you want me to do? Rattle it? And stamp my foot too? Are we recording a song? Who's that? That's a very large saxophone.
  3. Rye Rye with MIA - "Tic Toc" [MySpace]
    There is no single component that makes this song sing. It is, yes, like a clock. Rye Rye slow-loping, MIA tick-tocking, Busy Signal hey-heying, zither-thing glittering, and all of us setting our time to its diamond-hard 6-jewel movement. (Previously.)
  4. The Low Lows - "Modern Romance" [buy]
    There's no reason to put a cover-song so high on a list of the year's best except that the Low Lows' remaking of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is beautiful. Dan wrote about this song on New Year's Day. The Low Lows will shake me around in their cup, they'll keep me humble and working inside this sock-drawer winter apartment until something gives way, he wrote. I have to think that something gave way.
  5. tUnE-YaRdS - "FIYA" [buy]
    The same way that someone might use every part of a deer, Montreal's Merrill Garbus uses every part of her ukulele. It's a toy and a weapon, a calendar and an engine. And she uses every part of her voice, too: the high part, the low part, the pretty part, the roar. It's four seasons in five minutes and too thrilling to call just lo-fi "pop". No -- this is "bang", it's "boom", it's "kablooey". (Previously.)
  6. School of Seven Bells - "Half Asleep" [buy]
    Fly to Greenland in a twin-engine plane, your pockets filled with Jolly Ranchers and freshwater pearls. Set down on a flat of snow, like the back of some vast arctic hare. Leave the propeller going & dig. Put your back into it. Yes, the Northern Lights seethe, yes there's much to explore in Nuuk & Kangerlussuaq. But dig. After two long winters it's time to dig. The airplane's roaring beside you, the sky teeming above you, the sting of sweat in your eyes. But sooner or later you'll hit spring.

  7. Carl Spidla - "Blackfly Rag" [MySpace]
    Too much to say about this track. "Blackfly Rag" is obviously one of the finest songs I've heard this year, and it's clearly the finest folk song. I mean here's just a dusty live recording of a guy with a guitar, mouthfuls of lyrics and a heart full of blackwing birds. Carl's not channelling Dylan so much as dream. He's planning a CD for next year.
  8. Chairlift - "Bruises" [buy]
    A song whose beauty is in the singing - part "Close To Me", part yodel, part spring, part summer, part six-month anniversary. Pop music.
  9. Baby Dee - "Safe Inside the Day (ft. Bonnie Prince Billy)" [buy]
    Eleven months ago I wrote, A song that is hurled with so much spirit that it could pin ... tomorrows to todays and wills to oughts. It's a manifesto and a prayer and an inflammatory writ ... the greatest utterance of the word "safe" that I've heard in my life. Dee's day will dim yours, cast yours into half-light and make you aspire to ... find a peace so gloriously hard-fought as this.
  10. White Hinterland - "Vessels" [buy]
    "Vessels" is my favourite song on Phylactery Factory and I keep it in a small pouch attached to my belt. I use it when I am lost in a forest, trapped on a glacier, or longing for home. ... I use it when I'm not so sure about myself, and when there's not much light on the water. ... It's always seemed wrong, to me, speaking of "hope" unbordered. Better to speak of enough hope; to stop there. Well there is enough hope here for me.
  11. Sister Suvi - "The Lot" [buy]
    People say: okay, Montreal, played out. You've indie-rocked yrself dry, right? Running on fumes? And then we say a lot of things back. We throw fruit; we whip bagels and lob pierogies; we have snowballs and ice-cream cones. We take you the fuck out, you mess with us. I could name a lot of bands, some of the reasons why this city keeps catching me by the throat. But tonight I will name just one: Sister Suvi. ... [Tune-Yards'] Merrill's got the big bad wolf in her gut, blow you down.
  12. Kanye West - "Say You Will" [buy]
    His line about "your neck" is one of the creepy-crawliest this year, but still I'm mesmerised by this. "Say You Will" is the opening track on the new album by one of the biggest artists in the world. And its last three minutes are just empty synths, barren drum loop, silence. It's a stupid one-liner, calling 808s & Heartbreak Kanye's Nebraska; but the loneliness here, the desolation, is just as potent as any 4-track-slinging singer-songwriter. Heartbreak has rarely filled so many Walmart shelves.
  13. Vampire Weekend - "Ottoman" [buy]
    Dan may not agree, but I love Vampire Weekend. I loved it last year, too, and so none of its tracks festoon this list. Happily, Vampire Weekend released a new one, and it's no less sweet; chamber pop with secret-weapon drums, a "Peter Gabriel" call-back, as wistful a fade-out as any I've heard.
  14. Frightened Rabbit - "Keep Yourself Warm" [buy]
    Still think Scott Hutchison's lyrics are turgid, but Frightened Rabbit nonetheless turn it into one of the year's best rock songs - desperate, melancholy, awesome. Scotsmen finding the middle ground between the Constantines and the Foo Fighters.
  15. Beyoncé - "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" [buy]
    A song with a thousand handclaps and a hundred bird-coo synth-squiggles. Oh, and some 8-carat "Whoa-oh oh oh oh ohh oh oh ohh oh oh oh." Never have I so wished to be a single lady. (As Tyler writes: It's fabulously easy, you just need to sing all the best notes in the best way.)
  16. Fleet Foxes - "White Winter Hymnal" [buy]
    Not a fan of the album, but still love this song as a warm keep-cosy ski-lodge thing, as a beautiful sleigh-ride of a song, a mulberry jingle-bell snowflake of a song. In other words, I like it quite a bit.
  17. Y'all is Fantasy Island - "With Handclaps" [buy]
    This song could be called "Mostly Without Handclaps", or "With Guitarline". The handclaps wait almost the entire song to appear, and it's the guitar-line that marks your brain, colours your day, sends you humming a scale to yourself while you wait in line at the fruit-stand. There are handclaps though, and a song worthy of carrying them.
  18. The Tough Alliance - "Taken Too Young" (a remix of Taken By Trees' "Too Young") [buy other things]
    The Tough Alliance rediscover "Too Young", by Victoria Bergsmann's Taken By Trees project (& which I wrote about last July). They make it one of the songs of the year. And when I say rediscover I mean they found it in among diamonds, saffron and milkweed pods; in with childhood, sex and distant waters; in with the way you feel, your eyes laying on hers, when all that's green in you curls.
  19. Forest Fire - "Slow Motion" [buy]
    I wrote a story about this song in July. It's a sort-of folk-song. "Sort-of" because there it is filled with slams, bangs, booms and howls; like a man falling down a lighthouse stairwell.
  20. Adam & the Amethysts - "Bumble Bee" [buy/MySpace]
    Civil and shaking, Dan wrote. It's true. Anchored by drummer-boy snare and a battered guitar riff, "Bumble Bee" pretends everything's cool as cuke, locked up in old diaries. But there under it all - under the friendly fanfare, the slacker doo d'doo, - there's something trembling, buzzing, shaking with black-&-ochre resolve.
  21. Elbow - "Starlings" [buy]
  22. Karl Blau - "Before Telling Dragons" [buy]
    Karl Blau's Nature's Got Away is a weird album, with teeth and feathers and amplifiers. Bits of Harry Nilsson, the Zombies, Spoon, Smog. "Before Telling Dragons" is a forest anthem, recorded in a basement. Girl-group drums buried six feet under and ... words of wisdom from a man who has eaten seventeen wild, unidentified red berries.
  23. Styx Tyger - "String Strikes" [MySpace]
    A pop-song from Sweden - but whereas usually that means shyness and shimmy, here it's gold, glitter, croon, and a copy of the Cure's Disintegration. (Previously.)
  24. Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire - "Voice in Headphones" [buy]
    This is my favourite song from Lost Wisdom, probably my favourite album of the year. It is Phil Elverum singing with Julie Doiron, one of my favourite singers. That is a lot of favourites, all together. "Voice in Headphones" is about how recorded music - particularly a song called "Undo", by Bjork, - makes Mount Eerie cry. Which is, all snarkiness aside, a good question. (Previously.)
  25. Shearwater - "Leviathan, Bound" [buy]
    Like when you're at your piano, scared, and every key turns to grey. Jonathan Meiburg sings about apocalypse, hard and loud, joined by dulcimer, strings and glockenspiel.
  26. Withered Hand - "New Dawn" [buy]
    You know how some people, especially old-fashioned people, hang their carpets on clotheslines and then beat all the dust out of them? Or how some people knock their snowy boots against the side of the car before getting in? Here's Edinburgh's Withered Hand using mandolin, guitar, cello and his voice to shake all the dust from him, all the stray feelings, all the loose longings; so that at end of song he'll be just a body and the light in his eyes.
  27. Ponytail - "Beg Waves" [buy]
    Ponytail get it exactly right in the opening track to Ice Cream Spiritual: electrically live and still marvellously composed, like a Duke Ellington suite for hoarse throats, scraped knees, joy. It's The Fall, not Deerhoof, I hear clearest in their song - but with fewer regrets, fewer chips-on-shoulder ... beautiful and squalid.
  28. Final Fantasy - "Blue Imelda" [buy]
    Final Fantasy released two albums this year. One was recorded at a CBC studio, and one - from which this song is taken, - was recorded at a forest in the fictional country of Spectrum. It was recorded in the 14th century. If this sounds far-fetched, you are not a student of history. "Blue Imelda" has all the hallmarks of Spectrum ca. 1360 - steel drums, tuba blasts, a melancholy to puff seafaring sails.
  29. Ne-Yo - "Mad" [buy]
    It's only in my twenties that I came to appreciate the slow-jam - the perfect catchy yes yes yes r&b form, the perfect thing for slow-dances and lip-sync and romantic montages. Though this one I mostly listen to as I tramp in the snow on the way to get some work done. (thank-you s1utsky)
  30. Meursault - "The Furnace" [buy]
  31. Sigur Rós - "Gobbledigook" [buy]
    A pity the Sigur Rós-meets-Animal Collective vibe didn't carry over to the rest of the album, but this is still great. Breathless dashing flashing dancing strum coo dive jump dive jump jump jump go go nightfall fire and dawn.
  32. Lord Dog Bird - "The Gift of Song in the Lion's Den" [buy]
    Here's a song for the day the river turned to wine, the city turned to chalk, your heart turned to tin. The same way that a lantern reminds me of a campfire, this reminds me of early Wolf Parade. And from a woefully ignored album!
  33. François Virot - "Say Fiesta" [buy]
    François 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 with violets in its mouth.
  34. John Maus - "Do Your Best" [buy]
    You swing through the hills with headlights silver, alone & the forests darkly. Dreams of stags and music-boxes. Down below are a thousand black Mercedes, men with watches, women in sequin dresses. A satellite passes over your head. The motels lie docile as you pass them, singing in low voices, trying to make sure you're ok.
  35. Kasai Allstars - "Quick as White" [buy]
    Thumb-pianos like light in lamps; bells, sticks, shakes, slips, a hundred kinds of glimmers. Though the Kasai Allstars are from Kinshasa, Congo, and this is the third in Crammed's Congotronics series, the Kasai Allstars are not some mere Konono no. 2. They are sorcerers, wonder-workers, enchanters pulling hopes from throats and making me wonder, here in Montreal sun, if maybe one day I will touch a magic sword.
  36. The Dodos - "Fools" [buy]
    This is what the Dodos do: strum hard at acoustic guitars, beat methodically at drumkits. But a little bit of horns, a little bit of shouting - they go a long way. Before you know it, you've signed on the dotted line.
  37. Weezer - "Pork and Beans" [buy]
    It doesn't matter that I am tired of Weezer, nor that Weezer (2008) is a piece of ess. It doesn't matter that "Pork and Beans"' lyrics are effing stultifying. What matters is that, well, [bass riff] this song is dumbly dee oh pee ee.
  38. Kleerup - "Until We Bleed (ft. Lykke Li)" [buy]
    Part dance track, part pop song; a soundtrack for dial-tone, brrrrrrr, Hello?, click. (Previously.)
  39. Lil' Wayne - "Mrs Officer (ft. Bobby Valentino" [buy]
    It's not so much Lil' Wayne's rhymes, nor even the Wee-oo-wee-oo-wee, that do it. It's the spectacular supple sing of his raps, the way he does whatever the hell he wants with his voice, whatever as old leather. (thanks, liz.)
  40. We/Or/Me - "Tell Sarah" [buy]
    This is a very careful song. "Tell Sarah" glows, just of itself, like fireflies in a jar.
  41. Pretend You're Happy - "The Other Side of the Earth" [buy]
    One of the last additions to this list - sprawling, messy and brilliant, like Handel's Requiem rearranged for lo-fi drums, whining violins, bullshit and whistles. Takes decades of practice to fuck-up this good. (Previously.)
  42. Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit - "Dinosaur on the Ark (ft. Ben Brewer)" [free album download]
    Mwamwaya is everything I used to love about "World Music", before my world got shaken by a thousand other sounds, before I learned that "World Music" is a fucking stupid term. But that's just to say he sounds eminent and good and warm, not unlike Phil Collins, the sort of man I would follow into a desert arena. Plus: it's the best song this year to feature MIA's fiancé! (Previously.)
  43. Beck - "Walls" [buy]
    Perhaps the best production of Danger Mouse's life, and one of the finest Beck tracks in years, this song has several interesting bits: Beck's half-a-melody, the drums that clatter like collapsing drywall, the way Cat Power's backing vocals have been sucked as thin as cassette-tape.
  44. Jib Kidder - "Windowdipper" [buy]
    Cyber-booty baby-crunk glimmer-bump ghetto-DOS. And genius. (Previously, in short story form.)
  45. ((Sounder)) - "Daily I Will Calculate the Distance" [buy]
    Another hardly-muttered-about band made one of the best indie rock albums of the year. It's ambitious, dusty, rumblingly rock - but not an album of singles. "Daily I Will Calculate the Distance" is as close as ((Sounder)) come. Brazen, yearning, crack-lipped, welcome.
  46. Ratatat - "Mirando" [buy]
    No idea what this song is for. It's not for dancing, moshing, kissing or meditating. It's not even for riding the bus. Maybe if you have a piano-playing robot to assemble, this is the splendid, somersaulting ticket. I envy you.
  47. Young Coyotes - "Momentary Drowning" [MySpace]
    A song that's yell and thump but is still brilliantly slow - relaxed as it booms, as it dings and claps and bobs. Young Coyotes play this music like they've figured it out, like they've solved it.
  48. Hologram - "Ghosties" [buy other things]
    Said the Gramophone loves this burgeoning band. One day Hologram are going to be a gigantic baby-blue chrysanthemum and everyone is going to stick their nose in, but in the meantime here we are with a ceramic chrysanthemum pinned to our lapels, the image of what we're dreaming, and we listen to the clanging, beautiful, clamoured song called "Ghosties", and we lug a busted amp waiting for a lover to hand it to.
  49. Helvetia - "Old New Bicycle" [buy]
    A ramshackle conversation between drumkit and electric guitar. Sure, vocals chime in at some point - slurring and murmurs, - but it's the guitar + drums that matter. They're the ones that'll figure this shit out, that'll solve all the ills that ail ya. (Previously.)
  50. Johnny Foreigner - "Cranes And Cranes And Cranes And Cranes" [buy]
    it'ssort of like Los Campesinos meets Avril Lavigne, but i mean tht in a totally gd way. call+answer+yells, but bttr dynamics, bttr places to sing alng, like instd of thnkng of witty twee songtitls they focusd on BEING AWSOME.

Finally - 50 is an arbitrary cut-off. There were way more great tracks in 2008. Said the Gramophone has written about 500 of them over the course of this year. If you're new to the site, please come again (or subscribe)! We update every weekday, writing about the songs we love. Thanks for reading.

Posted by Sean at 1:01 AM | Comments (50)

December 11, 2008

Best Albums of 2008

1. Born Ruffians - Red, Yellow, and Blue - "Foxes Mate For Life"
Somehow two things can sometimes come into existence at the same time. Like babies who look the same and also happen to be named the same name. But when this happens, one wins, right? VHS beat Beta, Madonna beat Cyndi Lauper, and unbelievably, Vampire Weekend beat Born Ruffians. Both their big debuts kind of offer to fill the same kind of role of "clear new vision and singular charming, moving new musical voice." But it's unfortunate that Vampire Weekend got all the credit, because Born Ruffians blow them out of the water, right out. So this is the best album of the year because it's flawless and fuck Vampire Weekend. [Buy]

2. Ladyhawk - Shots - "I Don't Always Know What You're Saying"
A forest at night. If you scrape the bark off the trees, you can hear songs that sound familiar, but drip with the dark fresh sap of the tree. Ladyhawk has made an album so vital I can't think of another way to describe it except for the blood of trees. It's not human blood, it's tougher, harder, ready for danger, it's more removed. It's familiar with humans, it's been watching them, harmed by them, but is not itself human. [Buy]

3. Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping - "Nonpareil of Favor"
Nothing has the shape you thought it would. Suitcases are used like life rafts, fruit like wall-hangings, windows like doors and vice-versa. But in this world where it feels like conversations happen with people talking at the same time, and every day has a different tempo, precarious, still there is magnetic, towering, thorny, blessed and bloody, truth. To hell and back with gender, sex, race, fame, subservience, control, and charm. [Buy]

4. Destroyer - Trouble in Dreams - "My Favorite Year"
Destroyer has sewn the clouds into the snow on the mountains. Every song seems to fade to white, after bursting with gold or red or blue flower and flame. Epic one step at a time. [Buy]

5. Wild Beasts - Limbo, Panto - "Brave, Bulging, Buoyant, Clairvoyants"
Limbo, Panto is hard to listen to all at once. It's kind of like a 10-course meal, just over the half-way mark you're kind of thinking, "okay, that much again?" But that's only a quirk and not a detriment, there's just too much to love here. A list of some of the things you can think of when you listen: ghosts, opera, Morissey, picnic with a stereo, socks dancing, bike riding, witches, fake women voices. [Buy]

6. Hologram - Summer Jammer - "Mommies"
This band doesn't even have an album yet, but I couldn't ignore them. Such promise I rarely see. Caroline's voice comes straight from out of the woods, full of spring water and hollow logs, and she always sings strange and swaying and moonlit. And the guitars are loud in just the right way, they really make it sound easy. They made the most consistent collection of 6 songs of anyone this year, and I'm told there's a full album coming out next year, and I've heard one song from it already, I can tell you we haven't heard the last at all. [Buy from Insound, with insane blurb written by me]

7. Lykke Li - Youth Novels - "Breaking it Up"
5 songs out of 12 isn't even half. One show on a whole tour is only a fraction. But these things are enough for me to consider Lykke Li, and her first album, a masterpiece. Every side of her is marvelous, rich, full, gorgeous. [Buy]

8. The Whiskers - Distorted Historian - "Heat Death"
Distorted Historian is kind of like the Synecdoche, New York of albums. It's cool and warm, it's completely touching and personal and affecting and true, but also horrifying, wrong, and made of parts that don't all fit together. It's marvelous, and I liked my time with it, but if I listen to it too much the goddamn winds of old age, sickness, forgetting, dreaming, wishing, disappointment, small victories, real-life love and all else starts to weigh a little heavy on my admittedly sensitive little shoulders. Here's to whiskers, and The Whiskers. [Free! / Buy]

9. Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea - "Party Barge"
I used to go to a cottage in the summer times, and on that lake there was an actual Party Barge. It was this floating deck covered in astroturf, with a tent and some lawn chairs and a cooler on it, with a little prop motor on the back, and it would pup-pup around the lake, slow as can be, and the people on it would turn and wave to every beach they passed. Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea is a beautiful and sincere Party Barge. Huge, friendly, calm, comforting and slow with still plenty of room to party. So much care and love and offered-up confession. [Buy]

10. Diamonds - Diamonds - "Diamonds"
This album is about one thing. I don't know what it is, I don't think they know what it is, but if you listen to this album, like if you listen to On Avery Island or Aw Come, Aw Wry, you start to see it reveal itself. Some kind of alive idea that goes beyond similar beats and chords, those are just the only ways of dealing with this same idea. [Get!]


tomorrow: Sean's Top Songs of the Year.

also: Shaq's twitter account

Posted by Dan at 12:35 AM | Comments (14)

December 9, 2008

Pooper Sours*

Nurses - "Apple's Acre"

We're getting buried in snow today. Everything outside is heavy, wet and soundless. Which means everything inside glows with a new warmth, somehow things find a heat they didn't know they had, and songs like this melt the inner layer and drain a full fresh glass. [Buy from the MySpace]
*credit for title goes to lead singer of Nurses


Also: go here

Posted by Dan at 6:23 PM | Comments (2)

December 8, 2008


Photo by Eden Veaudry

Young Marble Giants - "Brand - New - Life"
the thing i started noticing the week you left was the way the red light lifted right off the glass when i passed an item over it. i would stand at work for eight hours at a time and listen to the tick of my watch and the clucking of a hundred people buying frozen macaroni pie and porkchops and pepsi and i would watch the red light, the laser, lifting right off the glass. every time i passed through a tin of peas or a marsbar it was there like a lighthouse light or the gleam of a jewel. it lifted right off. i wondered if it flashed over my face, a red mask for a second. i imagined jackie coming down here in her skirtsuit saying something about my hair and me lifting right off the linoleum and flickering over your face, a lighthouse light, wherever you were, whether you were happy or sad, me suddenly there over your features the colour of rust and roses and rubies. [buy]

Hologram - "Goodnight pt 1".
Some nights, you fall asleep before me. I listen to the stereo with my head on the pillow and I try not to stare at you. You move in your sleep and every time it makes me smile. But I try not to stare at you. I rest my head on the pillow and I look out past your face to the wall and the curtains and the window. I imagine the stars in the sky, out past the corona of the city. Sometimes a song will come on and the song is so great, and I imagine how much you would love to be hearing this song right now, how much you would like to be here awake listening with me to this song, our eyes full of starlight. In bed I smile at the thought of how much you would love this song. But instead I let you rest and I close my eyes and I try to go to sleep and in my last moments before dreaming I squeeze my fists and I try to remember the song so that in the morning I can find it for you or maybe, if I'm feeling brave, sing it. A little.
[MySpace / buy]


I'm almost finished compiling my favourite songs of the year, and once again I regret how little I listen to the radio. But maybe you do. Are there any chartpop or hip-hop songs that you loved-loved-loved this year and want to pass on? Please email them to me! (I've already got Kanye and Ne-Yo covered.) Thanks!

(photo above is by eden veaudry)

Posted by Sean at 9:34 AM | Comments (7)

December 5, 2008

Things I Like

The Tallest Man on Earth - "A Field of Birds"

I put a letter on a kite for God to read out loud. I didn't hear anything, but I think I saw his lips move.



"A Field of Birds" is, strangely enough, the theme song to a charity organization. Yellow Bird Project is an organization that connects great bands with a charity of their choice. How it works is a band makes an unique t-shirt design especially to sell on Yellow Bird Project's store, and the proceeds from the t-shirt sales go to a charity that the band picks. For example, Bon Iver, who are from Wisconsin, are donating all the profits from the sale of their new shirt to Interval House, a woman's shelter in Toronto. So go check out the list of bands there, maybe someone on a gift list would love something from there.


Also: I've written about Henry Joost before, but things have changed since a year-and-a-half ago, so it's time for an update. Henry is working with Supermarché, production company in New York who are doing very special work. You should start by watching their work for GOOD magazine. A brilliant series of little documentaries on recent veterans, a story about a floating clinic, a piece on ideas for urban aquaculture, it's absolutely brilliant stuff. Next you should watch their PSAs for Kids with ADHD (Henry also works teaching "at risk" kids filmmaking at a summer camp). Then, yes, they have an ad for Nike, but it's brilliant too.

What interested me most was one of their feature documentaries called Opus Jazz. As of now they've cut a trailer for what the film could be if they got the money they need. And I was struck by how much it seems like a finished film, and how knowing that it wasn't finished made it feel like it ought to be finished, no matter what they needed. And I just got a very good lesson in new methods of fund-raising in the current filmmaking-financial world.

Posted by Dan at 5:18 PM | Comments (1)

December 4, 2008


Arthur Russell - "Close My Eyes". When I think about the special light of human beings, the angels' kiss-on-the-lips, the soul or spirit that probably-doesn't-but-maybe-does hide in our chests, I think of this. The way these modest parts - a song sung plainly, a strummed guitar, - can feel as lovely as dawn, as beautiful as night, as sensuous as laying in the fields with a lover, listening to the corn grow. Why are we so blessed that this unsophisticated, basic thing is able to touch us? I can think of no answer except that perhaps we were given a gift.

Arthur Russell - "What It's Like". And okay so let's fast-forward to the thousandth day that they lay in the fields. Let's fast-forward to a decade after they first rested in the tall grass. He calls her into the sanctuary. "Kate, I've been touched by the Lord," he says. "I don't need you anymore." This sounds like a horror but really it's just honesty. It's just the truth, grasped at. What follows is sloppy country blues, anguish and confusion, the Reverend rending his clothes and crying, "I didn't know that love would strike me blind". But I think Kate, his lover - she leaves long before the sax solo. She leaves before he begins to weep. Kate, she learned long ago. This is what it's like.

[buy Love Is Overtaking Me, a remarkable collection of songs by Arthur Russell]



Jez Burrows is now shipping screenprints of his beautiful Destroyer's Rubies "information graphic". But more beautiful still - and I'm very belated in writing about it, - is his and Lizzy Stewart's I Am The Friction. They are stories inspired by drawings & drawings inspired by stories, and while the works are funny and weird and melancholy, more than anything it feels like a love-letter from friend to friend, a shared smile, the kind of collaboration that comes from many hours by the same lamps. It's a handsome thing to hold in your hand, to read and enjoy, but it also makes you long to slip into the moments of its making; eyeglints, gifts, ink on fingers.

Rest in peace, Odetta.

Posted by Sean at 11:00 AM | Comments (2)

December 3, 2008

Kid Sis

Sarah Siskind - "Falling Stars"

It was through Bon Iver's self-damning love for "Lovin's For Fools," the heartbreaking, "You Are My Sunshine"-jacking ballad by Sarah Siskind, that I learned of this talented songwriter. Sad music and production this present usually go together like tea and poison, though succesful meetings of the two are not without precedent. When, as a child, I first heard James Taylor's "Fire and Rain", I fell into an insufferable weeks-long funk that persisted until my father's repeated pleas of "It's just a song" finally made an impact. The impassioned, highly melodious babble of Al Green's "Simply Beautiful" has always floored me, despite its proper production, as have countless other soul tear-jerkers. Sarah Siskind avoids perfection's pitfalls by sullying her antiseptic sonic space with distortion and density and counterintuitive musical lines, and thus creates an ideal showcase for her pure, falling country cadences.


Posted by Jordan at 9:18 PM | Comments (2)

December 2, 2008

Semiotic Rifle

CPC Gangbangs - "Teenage Crimewave"

My fucking fuck landlord slumlord fucker calls me downstairs for a meeting in his "office". It's an unfinished basement that looks like it has tar barf on all the stone walls, dark and runny and his big fat mug smoking cheap cigar after cheap cigar. "You haven't been paying your rent," he says, not looking at me. "I got your cheque right here," I say, and I throw a wet cheque at his combover. "This isn't enough!" he barks, "and you can't sign your cheques with a drawing of a gun!"

Later, picked up by fucking slug crewcut goose-stepping civil slave cops, they asked me my name and I gave them my fucking business card just like I did my fucking landlord. "This isn't a name! This is a drawing of a gun!" I swear, said just like a sample in front of a song, like a, "how dare you rotten kids!" or something. BANG BANG bitches.
[Buy the seminal Mutilation Nation]

Surf City - "Headin Inside"

NOTICE TO RESIDENTS: The city has decided to implement the much-discussed program of enlivening facades. Houses will stay as they are, at their core, but individual facades will be created to reflect the spirit of that house, however the community organizer sees that spirit. Some will look like a haunted mansion from a cartoon, some like an Arabian palace, others like a cloud city, some houses will just look like a giant vegetable. You can contact your community organizer if you wish to volunteer your time, but be aware that these facades will be implemented with or without your help. Some houses will be harder to get into, some will be near impossible, but the benefits will be apparent once the program has been fully implemented. Oh my goodness, yes, there will be so many interesting ones. A western saloon, a microwave, an Arthurian castle, a ski hill, a beautiful woman, a Korean flag, a bendy straw. Yes, this will be fun. [site]

Posted by Dan at 7:02 PM | Comments (4)

December 1, 2008


I'm happy to announce the launch of MBV, a new website bringing together Said the Gramophone, Fluxblog, Large Hearted Boy, Catbirdseat and Chromewaves - ie, five of the eldest, creakiest and most consistent musicblogs. All of our sites are syndicated there, but there will be additional content - including contributions from Matt LeMay. We're not entirely sure where MBV is headed, but we hope you'll head over there and help us turn it into a site for intelligent & passionate discussion.


It was nice to visit Edinburgh a few weeks ago and find that at last, hooray, a community has formed there that makes great, wild music. I'm still trying to learn all the groups' names, but alongside Withered Hand there's certainly Meursault - who despite a few middling acoustic jams have made one of my favourite albums this year.

I'm gonna get metaphorical in a sec but just to get two one-liners out of the way:

"The Furnace": It's M83 meets Phosphorescent!

"Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues": They borrowed the melody from Neutral Milk Hotel's "Song Against Sex"!





Posted by Sean at 1:12 PM | Comments (7)