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.

February 27, 2009

The Size of a Ship

Swan Lake - "Spanish Gold, 2044"

At the entrance of the hall is a cracked and dusty arch. At the threshold of the hall, beneath the cracked and dusty arch, stands Mikaeus Andante, hero of his own story, and regrettably of ours. In his pockets a few coins, some matches and his cigarettes. On his face, a disgusting mustache. What a clever drunk girl from the night previous had called "a disgustache". He spreads it with his greasy fingers, he thinks of the soup he refused out of pride at the cafe and regrets not taking it. Looking into the hall, faced with huge sky ceiling, the walls windowed at their tops, facing what he knows is called an "Alma Muerte", but what he thinks of only as a monster. For Mikaeus is not clever like the drunk girl from the night previous. Now sleeping, the Alma Muerte has been terrorizing the town down in the valley below for a whole summer. Now here it lies, huge as a ship or a great house, surrounded by as much of its own shit as by its spoils. A pile of bodies, used up like rags, lies stacked in the corner, shiny objects of various sizes and values lie thrown in the corner, or hung from spikes on the walls. For all its baseness, the Alma Muerte is at least an organized thing. Lungs now unbearably filled with the smell of the giant thing, Mikaeus Andante takes a step inside. Dumbly, as if waiting for a friend to drink beer with, he lights up a cigarette while he thinks about his options. Before he can get through run away and never go back to the village start a new life, the smell of the smoke wakes the beast. Mikaeus Andante now faces the Alma Muerte, it poised to attack, and him struck agape at the sight of the huge thing.

Mikaeus Andante has never even been in a single real fight before. Growing up he would always sleaze and slime his way out of situations. When caught planting kisses on Joquita Jimenez behind the meat store, he claimed that she was to blame, that she had hypnotized him and brought him behind the store to take advantage of him. And when Nicota Valde, her boyfriend, took a swing at him anyway, Mikaeus pushed Joquita in front and she took the blow, knocking four of her teeth loose. When he got caught stealing whiskey during the distraction of the floor show one night at Toquito's, he claimed that he saw others do it, and ratted out half the bar for his own stealing.

And now, sleazy, slimy and disgustachioied, he faces his first unavoidable fight. Unwinnable, surely, but at least unavoidable. As Mikaeus is about to receive his comeuppance for a life poorly lead, a final justice for all the prejudiced jokes, the inappropriate slaps, the lascivious comments about the wives of his friends, he begins to scream. A scream so primal and desperate that the Alma Muerte gives something of a smile; finally, an opponent. And with this scream, his eyes beginning to redden and bulge, Mikaeus flicks his cigarette, as if it were the last step before rolling up his sleeves in some casual bar hall brawl. And the cigarette, what Mikaeus will call his "bravery" when he re-tells the story, flings and flips through the horrible shit-smelling air and lands, burning cherry directly on the right eye of the Alma Muerte. It rears up, seared, and stumbles backward, Mikaeus still screaming, his neck looking like it will near burst. The Alma Muerte takes a few blind steps, thrashing its head from side to side. It steps in the majestic pile of its own shit, clanks and clambers into the unhung golden treasures, and rips flesh as it lurches backwards onto the pile of bodies. As if trying to shake loose the pain, the Alma Muerte swings its head wildly around, and accidentally shoves its head sideways onto one of its trophy hangers, a spare spike that sticks right out of the wall and into its head, its body falling limp. Still screaming and turning blue from the stress of it, Mikaeus watches for nearly ten minutes the many death throes of the monster.

Finally, his throat raw, dizzy, Mikaeus heads down the hill. In a daze, he ends up at the cafe. "I just killed the monster. The Alma Muerte. I'll take that soup now." [Buy]


Elsewhere: Very good friend of the site Carl Wilson (guest post, week-long residency) has some exciting news. As you may or may not know, he wrote a fantastic book last year, an installment in the 33 1/3 series, called "Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste". It's about Celine Dion, and we wrote about it here, here, and here. Well, at the Oscars last Sunday, James Franco was interviewed about his "guilty pleasures" on the red carpet before going in and mentioned that he was reading Carl's book. Now Carl will be on the Colbert Report next Wednesday, March 4th, and we couldn't be happier for him. Buy the book, watch the clip, and watch next Wednesday.

Posted by Dan at 3:56 PM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2009

Said the Guests: Amber Albrecht

When I met Amber Albrecht, I was wearing my suit. I had just been at a job interview. I was visiting my friend Kit, who had an exhibition on, and as we were talking this small woman came in. She had brought fancy markers and, I think, her lunch. Somehow, just looking at her, she seemed like she had a forested spirit. (I don't really know what that means; think birch bark, poisonous berries, moss.) Kit said, Sean, Amber; Amber, Sean. She was there to do some drawing with Kit. And then I went Uhhhh... and asked if she was Amber Albrecht. Because I had just been wandering around the internet, looking upon the works of artists, and one of these artists was a remarkable Montrealer called Amber Albrecht, and Amber's work in particular I had been gawping at, dumbfounded. She made drawings & prints that were beautiful, elaborate, with extremely fierce, strong spirits. I guess that makes them sound like pretty pictures of lions or falcons but no, Amber's art recalled much more serious things. Half-a-Daguerreotype, maybe, of the witch that Hansel once met.

Anyway it's now a long time later and Amber is about to open a solo show at Montreal's Division Gallery, 372 Ste-Catherine, Suite 311. The show is on from February 28-April 4, and the vernissage takes place 3pm-6pm on Saturday. (The gallery will also be open very late for Nuit Blanche.)

She made these pictures for Said the Gramophone, very specially, and it took her a very long time to make them what she wanted. They are illustrations of two songs she loves, by an artist called The Constellations. The Constellations is Jeremy Latta, and he lives in Ottawa, Amber says, and he has made "really nice album covers for his singles project that he's been working on for a while now which required that he make I think nineteen albums and now he's finished".

I hope you like them as much as I do. Please leave Amber your comments!

The Constellations - "Oh, Captive Princess!"

Oh, Captive Princess artwork by Amber Albrecht
Amber Albrecht - "Oh, Captive Princess" (click for full size)

The Constellations - "Spirit, Come Back!"
Spirit, Come Back artwork by Amber Albrecht
Amber Albrecht - "Spirit, Come Back!" (click for full size)

[Amber Albrecht lives in Montreal, inside a giant bee-hive. Demarcations is showing at the Division Gallery from this Saturday, February 28 until April 4.]

(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 10:41 AM | Comments (7)

February 25, 2009


Jackson C. Frank - "Just Like Anything"

If one can understand Jackson C. Frank at all, then one can understand him in two ways when he explains that he "speaks in answers only/to see them in my mind." Either a) he exclusively speaks in answers (and does so to see them in his mind), or b) when he speaks in answers, he does so for one purpose only: to see them in his mind. If the former, then he's like the television show Jeopardy in that his answers aren't solutions but questions, though Frank's (e.g. "Death has no season/so I know I'll never die"), unlike Trebek's (e.g. "The largest North American rodent"), are metaphysically puzzling and unGooglable. If the latter (or, for that matter, if the former -- and therefore, yes, necessarily), Frank is obviously in jeopardy of losing his grip on coherence and meaning and maybe even sanity -- the last being something that, when the singer was still a young man, would forever escape him. This fact casts an added bleakness on what is already an unrelentingly bleak folk song. The song's premise -- that, "just like anything, to sing is a state of mind" -- reminds us how sad was the fate of Frank's gifted mind, prematurely lost along with all its states. [Buy]

Shirley Collins - "Died for Love"

Jeopardy has a legal sense, too. It is the danger, posed to defendants in a criminal trial, of being found guilty and of consequent punishment. In most constitutional democracies, a defendant is prevented from facing jeopardy twice for the same crime. But as in law, not so in love. Just ask Shirley Collins, who has been losing trials of the heart related to the same misguided tryst since the beginning of time. Despite the song's title, Collins has not died for love. She wishes. [Buy]

Posted by Jordan at 4:34 PM | Comments (1)

February 24, 2009


There are at least two ways to be a curmudgeon.

  • Sole & the Skyrider Band - "A Sad Day For Investors (Astronautalis remix)". You can build a house out of cinders, chalk and dustbunnies. A perfect house, no one would ever know but you. Then you sit in your IKEA parlour with friends, all sipping Glenmorangie, and you're the only one who knows: this whole place is cinders, chalk and dustbunnies. You hold yr curmudgeonliness to your own chest and walk around town chewing on a piece of paper, a little slip that has the word SOURPUSS written in bitter ink. You glare at the news-agent. You shake your head when you see someone buy an extra-large ice-cream cone. If they only knew. You sit in your corner office and look onto the city and suspect, every day, that maybe this whole place is cinders, chalk and dustbunnies. [buy/MySpace]

  • Rihanna ft. the Dream - "Hatin' on the Club". You can wake up early and while the sun is low, start making jars of sky. Cover your kitchen table with mason jars and pour sky blue sky into every one of them, boiling & sealing & setting them near the patio door. When your boyfriend arrives, that asshole in sunglasses, you don't go with him. You don't go out. You fold your arms and mouth the words "No way." Instead, as he watches you through the patio doors, you drink that sky. One by one you twist open the lids of the jars, your hold them up to him, and then with the sun nooning through to you you drink that sky up, drink it in front of him, in glinting gulps; stand all alone in your apartment drinking a hundred jars of sky. [official website]


Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes, Blackout Beach, Swan Lake) has a blog and it's wonderful. (Years ago, we asked him to do a guest-post for Said the Gramophone. He never answered. Carey, if you're out there... please!)

This time-lapse video of a particular intersection on London's Abbey Road is getting a lot of play, but to be honest after about a minute and a half I was tired of tourists' hijinks. But I kept watching. Why? Because I was smitted by the song, Blame Ringo's "Garble Arch". (The band is not actually a Beatles cover band or anything - their name is revenge from a previous [and rather spurious] legal threat by Richard Starkey.) [buy]

Posted by Sean at 12:17 PM | Comments (6)

February 23, 2009

Plied With Plenty

Condo Fucks - "Dog Meat"

Rick leaned hard into the table and said, "This shit is awesome, it tastes like 1991," and then threw up hard across the table. He had on purple shoes with purple leopards, chocolate pants, a sweat shirt, as in "made of", and hair that fell limp like greasy knotted laces. He walked like a sinkhole when he was drunk, and he'd tell off his friends one by one, like he was checking items off his to-do's. Did you. Did you. You're done. Did you. Got what I wanted from you. You don't even like me. You fucker. He was the kind of guy that wore a spiked ring turned in most of the time, until he was dead done drunk, and he'd turn it out in case someone pissed him off. I know because one night I pissed him off. He was ranting on and on about parliament, or maybe it was Parliament, and I turned to him, cut him right off, "Good point." He knew he wasn't making shit sense, so he swung at me and got me right under the eye. I kicked him in the hip and he flew back into the bushes. Smelly bushes, on the garbage side of the park. As I walked away, half running, half looking back, I realized what he meant about 1991. Same on the way down as on the way back up.

Condo Fucks come from that illustrious dreamworld we know as the 90s. Obviously, their cult status needs no introduction from me. A trio of pretend musicians coming together to spurt and chuck out some of the most out-of-print EPs in existence. Now a new practice of theirs recorded and being released by none other than their brother, Matador. [pre-order]

Red Red Meat - "Gauze"

"We," in stunned whisper, hands propped like folding a thought out of the air. "Whee?" fake confused and confident, looking at light, looking suddenly at the same soft light. "We...get...great." A more reasonable piece of nonsense I'd never heard. Slow, those caveman words sunk in and rested embossed and gleaming, like an implant, a living tattoo. Like if you actually had another heart, with an arrow through it, on your shoulder. Or an actual bird down the middle of your back, its feathers and eyes dark and quiet. Sleeping hadn't been that easy before that was out there, said, hung on bending string from the corners of the ceiling. [pre-order]

Posted by Dan at 2:18 AM | Comments (6)

February 20, 2009

So Dramatic

Ganache - "In Pidgin"

The Grey Wizard is gonna start living his life & not worry about what anyone else thinks anymore cuz in the end it really doesn't matter. at 8:19pm Thursday

The Grey Wizard is sitting next to the weirdest guy on the bus right now. at 9:14am Friday from mobile

The Grey Wizard is text me, I'm going to Rise of the Lycans! at 7:16pm Friday

The Grey Wizard has a pretty great belly-button. at 12:33pm Saturday

The Grey Wizard just bought a sweet new couch! at 4:04pm Saturday

The Grey Wizard wants chocolate. at 7:41pm Saturday

The Grey Wizard is excited to see his friends tonight! at 5:04pm Sunday

The Grey Wizard is casting spells. at 10:10am Monday

The Grey Wizard is settling his debts. You know who you are. at 2:00pm Tuesday

The Grey Wizard looks good in a ball cap. at 4:46pm Tuesday

The Grey Wizard is jonesing for Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 6. at 8:12pm Wednesday

The Grey Wizard loves curling. at 7:34pm Thursday

The Grey Wizard is so sleepy, but yet here I am. about 14 hours

The Grey Wizard is watching wrestling. Randy Orton is EVIL. about 12 hours ago

The Grey Wizard is can't wait for a weekend in NYC!!!! about 5 mintues ago

[Ganache is Thom Stylinski of The Whiskers, and his record comes out in March]


Eternal Summers - "Able To"

Are you able to? Are you able too? Are you Abel II? Are you a bull too? Eternal Summers tune their guitars apparently using my heart, because I feel it every time they play. Even when they practice.

[their EP is cheap and Great]

Posted by Dan at 1:55 PM | Comments (4)

February 19, 2009


Tigers on exhibit

The Phantom Band - "Throwing Bones". Get in the car, son! We're going on a trip. Roll down the windows, choose a radio station, crack open the Glosette Raisins. That blue sky is the blue of your mother's eyes. Those green trees are the green of your grandfather's eyes. The world's the stuff of all your ancestors, son. Never glare at a rain-cloud, never curse a mudpuddle, never glower. Love, that's what I say. The trunk is full of skeletons and we're taking them to the sea. [buy]

Emmy the Great - "MIA". Don't listen to this song because the chorus talks about M.I.A. - listen to it for the weird little cuckoo pipes. I mean the "LOO-la, loo-LA" at the corners of the lines, notes whose instrument I can't trace, sounds that seem at first like sweet Hello!s, like signposts of twee, and then gradually change into something else. Because this gentle song is ultimately a song about things being wrong, wrong as in not-right, and the weird little cuckoo pipes are the only musical marker of this. They turn in place and become very mildly discordant, just one step off, and to me it's the perfect sound for nostalgia soured, & dreams' sudden sunset. [buy]


Thanks to, er, Jian Ghomeshi for the mention of Said the Gramophone on Q yesterday - if anyone from the show is out there, could they let us know how to hear it? It didn't make it into the podcast. Thank you! My mum was delighted.

SITE NEWS: I've taken the liberty today of introducing Said the Gramophone's NEW, FANCY comments widget ajax feature swish swish swish! Hopefully will encourage more commenting, conversations and talky-talky. Try clicking on 'Comments' and behold! (Will only work from proper.)

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at 11:37 AM | Comments (5)

February 18, 2009


birds in sky, via everyday marvels

Shelby Sifers - "Are You Devo? (The Spirituals remix)". If I had heard this remix last year, when it came out, it would have been on my Best Songs of the Year list (ps: this list is still online!). But no I just heard it last week, trollin' around after the Sarcastic Dharma Society. Shelby is a singer I know, but Tyler Tadlock & The Spirituals - they are new to me.

"Are You Devo?" is a song about loving someone as fiercely as you love a song. "Are you a man or are you Devo?", Shelby asks. "Because I get the same strange feeling next to you / as when I put my favourite record on." It's an odd thing to hear, coming from Shelby. Devo evokes blippy synthesisers, energy domes, "Whip It" - not the twisty earnestness of her songs. It's herky-jerk.

But what I later realise - and what the Spirituals understand from the beginning, - is that Sifers isn't saying that "my love feels like Devo". She's saying "my love feels like how Devo makes me feel". Which is to say, more herk- than -jerk, lunging and longing and lusting and leaping, breathing and dreaming, makes her feel alive and full of sparks. The Spirituals fill this beautiful song with bells, rings, swishes, claps, drums; they fill it with a lush pitterpat of glimmers, crashes, gleams. It's a remix that sounds like a kingdom falling down the stairs, a chandelier in the wind, a jazz combo at sea, a heart spun silver. It's the sound, I think, perhaps, of being in love.

Update: Mat from the Sarcastic Dharma Society in fact recorded the original "Are You Devo?", and played guitar. Also, I got the year wrong. Anyway - thanks, Mat! [and later, Shelby!]

[Shelby Sifers's MySpace/download her albums free, Creative Commons-licensed/The Spirituals' MySpace]


Marvel of marvels, no less than Bonnie Prince Billy is coming to Montreal in May - to play the Ukrainian Federation! Buy your tickets while you can.

Carrie Brownstein, on the dissolution of Touch & Go's distribution arm. I can't agree enough. If you care about music, please don't stop buying the records you love.

Being found is as splendid as the finding. Stumbling upon an MP3 or a blog or a Web site is only half the search. We seem to have forfeited our duties and become half-participants -- and at the cost of the creators. But we have to realize, and the Touch and Go announcement is a reminder, that in order for there to be anything left in which to participate, we have to show up. We have to show up with not just our half-selves, our virtual selves, our broke-ass selves, but with our whole selves, and in the spirit of giving. Mock participation is more than just an absence of real engagement; it is a falsehood that has allowed us to justify our apathy. When, exactly, did we stop showing up? And how long until there's not much left worth showing up for?

(photo via Everyday Marvels)

Posted by Sean at 12:24 PM | Comments (2)

February 17, 2009

Inglorious Cartel

The Meanest Boys - "I'll Take Whatever It Takes"

Smash my door in, burn my couch, take a crap in my sink. Break all my old VHSs, leave wet black ribbons of The Lion King and Velvet Goldmine all over my cracked and crushed tile floors. Put my books in the microwave, my CDs in the toilet, throw my stupid posters out the window. Sell all my clothes for a high-five, pawn my computer for the price of the plastic it's made of, get as much as you can for my tube tv, you can take it all. Just don't touch my skin, my body, don't look at me, I couldn't stand that. I don't know what I'd do. [MySpace] [via the surprising and oneiric No Pain in Pop]

Casy and Brian - "Rumble In The Jungle 1974"

This song has its shorts around its ankles, beer and a tambourine, trying to walk, screaming and spasming and bellyflopping. The most chaotic, spasmodic, endoscopic, gin-n'-tonic tribute to the most choreographic, naturopathic, calligraphic, stoppin'-traffic fighter in history. [Buy]


In today's Time Magazine, Said the Gramophone was named one of the Top 25 Blogs. If you're new, welcome. If you're already a reader, thank you.

Click on the arrow beside any recent song to listen to the song while you read, or download it by right-clicking and choosing "Save as". We write about new songs every weekday.

You can subscribe to Said the Gramophone's RSS feed here or click here to bookmark the site.

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

February 16, 2009


The Cay - "Cachalot". I caught the fish the day I met you. Margaret introduced us on the road. "Alan, this is Harriet." Hello, I said. When I went down to the lake later I thought about you. Pretty, I thought. I cast my line and waited, and in time ate my lunch, and in time looked out over the lake to the sinking sun. That's when I caught the fish. He didn't even fight. He leapt right onto my hook. I took him home. I laid him on the stump outside to clean and gut, but I couldn't do it. He had such eyes. Cachalot have eyelids; they blink. The fish blinked and winked at me, kindly. I brought the fish inside and filled a fruit-bowl with water and put him inside. He swam. He didn't swim much but he swam. He swam in the middle of the bowl, big enough to fill the whole thing, just swimming in place. He was the colour of buried gold - black like the soil, gold like the gold. He blinked and winked at me.

I saw you again. At the bakery, once outside the church, once walking with Ferris. Then Margaret had everyone over for St. Stephen's Day and you passed me the sweet potatoes and I hope I thanked you. I was very busy looking into your eyes.

I don't know why I decided you had to see the fish. The cachalot. I'm not sure what he did or said that made me think you needed to see him. He was the colour of buried gold, big and soft and like a cat - a cat of the sea. He would have lazed in the sun if he weren't a fish. I sat one morning eating my oatmeal, the room dredged in sun, the fish swimming in place, and I decided that I needed to show him to you. That you would appreciate him. That if I could show you this fish then maybe you'd give the likes of me the time of day. You'd understand what I was about.

The cachalot blinked and winked at me.

The next time I saw you, walking home from Luce's, I made sure we talked a bit. And then the following week at the baker's. And then one day you were standing on the road near where I go fishing, almost waiting, and we talked again. I asked you out to supper. We went to Valentino's. You were beautiful, Harriet. You had the fettuccine in rosée sauce and I had the chicken. The next week we went to the cafĂ©, then to the Blue Moon for Allie's party, and then back to Valentino's again. We had a lovely time, every time. Things were going well. Still, I knew: I just need her to see the cachalot.

It happened one night. I invited you back to my cottage for tea. You say now that you were already in love with me, that the ship had already sailed. You say that, Harriet. But I saw the look on your face when you saw that fish. He blinked at you and you saw him blink and that buried gold cachalot, it did all the wooing.

["Cachalot" is the first song on the first CD that comes with The Lifted Brow 4. Dan talked about this anthology + CDs several months ago, concerning a song written by Neil Gaiman. "Cachalot" is however written and performed by The Cay, the band of our own Jordan Himelfarb & friends. And I bring it up again because now The Lifted Brow is shipping, and it has arrived at my house, and it is a wonderful thing. A little book packed so tight with content - so many dozens of stories and songs squeezed into those onion-skin pages, - and what it holds is so marvellous. Pictures and tales and lullabys. From the experimental fiction of Rick Moody to the eerie work of Frog Eyes' Carey Mercer; from Jordan & Joel's hilarious, absurdist cruise-ship jokes (particularly those concerning Abelard); a million poets and writers and, well, former McSweeney's contributors; and a story by me, too, about the girl who stole the moon. The whole thing is wonderful and I strongly encourage you to buy it.]

Posted by Sean at 12:15 PM | Comments (2)

February 13, 2009

Awake At Midnight, Asleep At Noon

Josephine Foster - "I love you & the Springtime Blues"

He always smelled like dried soup when he came in from outside. He would kick off one boot normally, and then flip the other one off against the wall, like an 8-year-old. And if it was wet outside, a little line of brown water would fling off the toe in a circle, or off the laces. He would take off his hat and run his fingers through his hair, and hang his hat on the hook before his jacket, so his jacket would cover the hat. He would smile, which I one day saw for the first time, realising he didn't have to smile, so I appreciated that.

He gets really jealous of me, but gets all quiet instead of speaking out. I knew when he used to show up to kiss me, he used to kiss me for hours at a time, sometimes while we were walking around or between the aisles at a general store or behind my step-mother's, and he would look down at the ground and frown, that he had seen something that he misunderstood. "What is it?" "You know." And I'd have to guess, going back through all the moments in the last day when I had talked to another boy, or looked happy with anyone else. It was tiring, but when I guessed it right, I always knew because he would look up at me, desperately, and I would tell him I only had fun when he was around. He would act like nothing had happened and he'd skip and pull my hand down the road in the sun.

He never knew I existed when he was a little boy. He would scream and run around with other boys, and I would stand there, holding a flower or a mud cake, ready to have fun too, always turning to face whatever direction they were in, but never moving from my one spot. I saw him once get beaten badly by a teacher. Another kid watched it happen, and I suppose I did too, but I hit that other kid for snooping, and when he got free from the teacher, I could tell he was crying, but spoke so clearly like nothing was wrong, "Oh, my, seems there was quite a misunderstanding." And I thought, yes, forever, what a grown-up. [Buy]

Handsome Furs - "Evangeline"

I've started smoking my pencil stubs, snorting my hand sanitizer, shooting up my compost, and freebasing my wallet. I'm selling my collected works in a single bound volume, called "It Ends In A Tie", and I'm moving the fuck out of here. Nothing can grow when it's stuck in the same place. You don't see it, but even the trees in the forest take a step to the left every so often.

We have a drawing set up with Insound this week. You can go there, sign up for their mailing list, and get put in a drawing to win a digital version of the new Handsome Furs album Face Control and a t-shirt. It's Gramophone-specific, so you do have a chance of winning.

[live version of song]


Posted by Dan at 9:26 AM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2009


magicians at work

Travels - "My Funny Valentine". One of the first postings at Said the Gramophone to achieve any recognition was a contest we held for the song "My Funny Valentine". It is my favourite jazz standard and I asked for covers that rivaled Chet Baker's. Nobody really did. And so I am happy that in Travels' version of "My Funny Valentine", released special for Saint Valentine's Day, they take their inspiration from Baker. This is a song undersung, underplayed. It is not whispered, but there is a scared tremble in Mona Elliott and Anar Badalov's hearts. (I can't tell if this song is a cinder or a bud.)

Travels - "Dogs". On their 2nd album, Travels travel a little more widely. From noisy flare-ups to ticktock murmurs, it's a music that recalls Hood and Logh as much as it does the members' previous bands, Metal Hearts and Victory at Sea. There's something beautiful & familiar in a mutter that feels like a shout, a shove that feels like a kiss, and I like how "Dogs" reminds us of this. It's a photo raising papercuts.

[Travels launch their album in Somerville, MA on Saturday night. / MySpace/BUY!]


The Sarcastic Dharma Society - "You Swan Go On (by Mount Eerie)". I am usually hostile to covers, when those covers are close to the originals. And on Other People's Songs, a collection of covers, Mat Vuksinich does not diverge far from most of the originals. However he is redeemed by two things:

  1. He makes his songs sound really good.
  2. He covers some of my favourite songs: Clem Snide's "Find Love" (previously), Julie Doiron's "Untitled" (previously), Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Our House", Bright Eyes' "First Day Of My Life", and others.
So although the Sarcastic Dharma Society do not slough off the mantles & capes & hoods & crowns of the artists they are interpreting, they sing good songs well, and I like this. With "You Swan Go", Vuksinich goes further still - the hand-played drums are a small addition, barely there, but they make all the difference. The song's spirit resides in those drums, that not-quite-perfect pitter-pat, and it's something I am sure Phil Elverum himself would appreciate.

[download the Sarcastic Dharma Society's discography, and more, here]

(photo source and, related, best library internship ever [tuwa!])

Posted by Sean at 12:33 PM | Comments (4)

February 10, 2009

A Leader, A Captain, A Cross

Jumbling Towers - "The Kanetown City Rips"

We lived in the roof of a warehouse for four years. Thirty-seven of us, there was this door in the ceiling that lead to this extra space between the ceiling and the underside of the roof, and we would live up there. Everyone kept their stuff in their zipped and locked sleeping bags, jammed into the crevice at the edge of the room during the day, and you'd sleep with your legs around your comic books and preserved snacks at night. The steely streetlight would shoot up through the tops of the far windows and lay jagged across the bare roof for you to look at while you drifted off or sung to yourself. The only adult who knew we were there we called The Pig, and he made sure no one found out about us. Sometimes he would walk around the huge floor at midnight, and you could see his silhouette cast against that jagged light, and the way he walked made you want to throw up. He walked with his stomach, if you can imagine that. Like as if his legs came straight out of his stomach, the way he walked. It was disgusting. That's why we called him The Pig, I think.

Jumbling Towers - "Untitled"

Like I say, we lived like that for four years, but not all of it was hard. It was hard keeping quiet a lot, mostly I just longed to be able to scream and kick and laugh. But we had fun sometimes, we would play word tag, where you had to capture people with a word, and someone could set them free with another, or you could fight your way out with two words. It's hard to explain. Summer afternoons were the hardest. But it was in the summer when we left.

On what became the last night that we lived there, someone stabbed The Pig in the armpit with a piece of a mirror and he lay there squealing and trying to use his cell phone. It was the middle of the night, and windy because the smoke from the stacks was blowing in front of the windows. We just gathered up our sleeping bags and our extra shoes and headed out the door. All single file and orderly, as if we were going for a meal, and one of the youngers whispered, "I forgot my notebook," and everyone was sure he stayed there because he was afraid to leave. Sick.


Jumbling Towers, from when I first heard them back in May of last year, have been working themselves steadily into one of my favourite new bands. "The Kanetown City Rips" is from their forthcoming album, and was specially released to us, and you, in advance. Jumbling Towers are fiery, flourishing, fearless, and their weapons are many and strong.

[Buy via eMusic]
[free EP at their site]

Posted by Dan at 1:22 PM | Comments (2)

February 9, 2009


Mime in a paddy wagon

Window Twins - "Maybe It's Time". Window Twins' I'm This Tall City is a diffuse and yarny album - diffuse like stovesmoke, yarny like yarn. I've been listening to it off and on for weeks and now sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night hearing one of their half-melodies. At first I thought it was just an earworm, a song stuck in my head; but then I realised No, it's actually playing somehwere. Somewhere in the dustbunnies, there's a tiny gramophone. [MySpace]

Reefer - "Blue Moon". I know this song was actually recorded in Hawaii, and certainly it's got a recorded-in-Hawaii vibe, but in the messy croon of Nick "Unicorns/Islands" Thorburn's vocals I hear just someone wanting to be in Hawaii. Someone who isn't there and yet who hopes by force of ooooo-ooooh they might get there. As if a beachside beat and some tuneful strength of will could carry you wafting over the snowbanks and the conifers, up over to those sandy sunsets. [MySpace]



Have been really enjoying the curation at Sunday Is For Sounds, an mp3blog by Peter Bayne.

Marcello and Lena have finally offered up their Top (100!) Albums of 2008. And with, I'm surprised to report, Kanye and Coldplay tied for #1.

Finally, NICE SNACKS (aka THE COLD DRINK) is the new t-shirt & prints company by my friend Dave B (of The Diskettes, Popsheep, Endless Bummer and more). So far it's just t-shirts, but they are doozies! Shaq and Yao Ming holding Major League Baseball's greatest prize! Audrey Hepburn wearing a t-shirt of Al Pacino wearing a Los Angeles Raiders poncho! Oh man. Limited editions, affordably priced, and even the location-specific postage rates are hilarious.

[photo source]

Posted by Sean at 2:01 PM | Comments (1)

February 6, 2009

Hey Cream Beams, Nice Suit

Laura Gibson - "Spirited"

A cowboy listens to his monologuing horse, "...through the whole forest. But I don't think anyone heard. We all just pretended nothing had happened and went on about our business. If you ask me, that's what one ought to do, go about your business and focus on surviving, because freedom is a thing not to be mucked about with. I mean.." the horse pauses, realizing what he's said. "I mean freedom can kind of chain you down in a way, really, you hold onto it so fervently. It's not as if anyone really enjoys being free, they're always too concerned about losing it." The cowboy sips his water. "I guess it's like anything, I guess. You have to enjoy what you have, and you can't trouble your mind too much about circumstances, because if you could change them you would. Wouldn't you? I would." They saunter slowly, and it's dawn.

"You ever been to Montana?" says the horse, absently. "Gee, I'd love to go to Montana. A free and open land, totally free and untouched. And every year I hear it freezes over and all the horrible things that happened in the stench of the summer completely disappear for months. You get to start fresh, you know?"

And now the light is harsh as it is in the morning, and the horse and the cowboy have stopped to rest in the bright bright morning light. "I bet I would have invented the steam train if I'd been asked to. I simply didn't think there was a need for it, but if I'd been thinking about it in that way, I suppose I would have come up with the idea just as much as the next one. It seems pretty obvious to me, though I don't pretend to be an engineer, I certainly couldn't build a bridge, those things puzzle me. What puzzles me most is: why isn't everything a bridge? If a bridge is good to walk on, if it keeps you off the rocks and steep hills and dirt and water, why isn't it all bridges, everywhere? That's what really puzzles me."

"Horse," said the cowboy, finally, his first words in days. "Enough."

[Pre-order and she'll autograph it]

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

February 5, 2009


Photo by Aino Kannisto

Martina Topley Bird - "Lying". If every affair was this perfect - if every philandering this slow-slinking handclap trumpet-to-organ perfect, - well then society would crumble. Skyscrapers would tumble in slow-motion as their employees streamed out on extended lunch-breaks; bushes would take over lawns and then curl like hands over houses; kettles would whistle forever on stoves; and we'd power our cars with cuckold's tears. Promises would be worthless in this world, and children would not understand. But affairs are not this perfect. Don't take my word for it - listen to Martina. She tells us right there. This song is a lie. [buy]

Denson-Parris Sacred Harp Singers - "The Good Old Way 213T". On Marc 8, 1934, the Denson-Parris Sacred Harp Singers got together in a room and prayed. But the place was bugged. A microphone was there, scooping up every prayer, and their fa-so-la was gulped up like goldwater. The Denson-Parris Sacred Harp Singers sang "hallelujah" and they meant it. There were no histrionics, no s-t-re-t-c-h-e-d-o-u-t ache, just the word "hally-hallelujah", voices chiming, the Denson-Parris Sacred Harp Singers reading their notes and singing it the right, honest way. // There is swing in this song; more than any other sacred harp song I've heard, there is swing. Something jazz in the sloop of vowels. As if it's a psalm for a nightclub on the morning after, pious & hungover & standing in the tinsel. [buy]


One last reminder - Montrealers, please come to this show on Friday - celebrating the launch of Inside the Frozen Mammoth. Tune-Yards, I hear, has a new rhythm section.

Just noticed that Skatterbrain has released its first compilation album! Silkscreened, handsome, and filled with the finest indie-pop. Also: the price is a steal.

And finally, the Burning Hearts song at Shake Your Fist is absolutely terrific. Finnish pop that swerves rose, and as Amy says, I don't even want to know you if you don't immediately love -- or can't come to love -- this song

[photograph by Aino Kannisto]

Posted by Sean at 10:46 AM | Comments (2)

February 3, 2009

I Go All The Way


Nobunny - "Nobunny Loves You"

This beach is so crowded! There's towels on every inch of sand, umbrellas covering every bit of sky, it's like this shoulder-to-shoulder tented towel-floored indoor pool. People are stepping on corn dogs and sharing candy apples, and only one person applied suntan lotion, but it's rubbed onto everyone else by now. There's 80 different stereos playing 80 different songs, but when this song comes on one of them, all the others turn their stations to this one. As it builds and bursts, the crowd begins to swell and sway and jive and break. The beach gives way, the bottom falls out, and everyone's left swimming, holding their shoes and their wallets over their head, grinning. [Buy]

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - "It's A Crime"

In anticipation of the new CFTPA album Vs. Children, here's a song from a split 7" in 2007. In the mystery world this song inhabits, it was actually originally written for Frank Sinatra, as a "traditional", that he could whip out at any given time. When the night was getting late, the glow of his stardom had worn off and people were looking into their ice for the words to follow along. When couples started sharing traffic looks and the wait staff stood at the back of the room with their arms crossed. He would take this one out, and break every heart in the room and remind them what they paid their money for, what they do anything for, why they don't need their coats or their cars or their kids or their computers 'cause they made it this far goddamnit and come the rain or the winds they'll kill whoever it is that's trying to close the door to tomorrow.

[Advance Base Battery Life, a singles and rarities compilation (which, if you haven't heard this stuff, makes an incredible collection) comes out March 10th, but until then, you can buy the soundtrack (as an EP called Town Topic) to a very intriguing film called Stay The Same Never Change which, having only seen the trailer and read a bit about the filmmaker, seems like Matthew Barney meets Harmony Korine, which I think I might love.]

(image source)

Posted by Dan at 1:30 AM | Comments (3)

February 2, 2009


by Mollie Goldstrom

Xylos - "This House We Built". Xylos advertise themselves as friends of Yeasayer and indeed it's easy to imagine that Xylos have a lot of friends; a lot of people who come over for bottles of beer and Settlers of Catan, listening to Yo La Tengo and Animal Collective, going out to the balcony for a smoke, leaving a sketch of a peacock on one of Aaron's rolling-papers. [more/free download]

Max Tundra - "Which Song". If true love were a game show, well, there'd be a lot of mystery doors and one really killer theme-song. You'd go and be "Uh, I'll take Door #17, Alec," and then if you were picking the wrong one, leading yourself to a six-year marriage and then a messy divorce, Alec'd force you to "Ask an Expert" or "Call your Dad" or "Sober Up". Or the producers would cut to a commercial break and lead you back over to Door #6, hinting strongly of a soulmate hiding right behind. In fact if true love were a game show, things'd be a lot simpler. Sponsors don't like unhappy endings, and there's always a right answer. [buy]


Today is the last day to vote for Said the Gramophone as "Best Weblog about Music" in the 2009 Bloggies. Please do!

Great concert in Montreal on Friday, as the official launch party for Inside the Frozen Mammoth (a visual arts blog I'm helping to write). Nut Brown, Shapes & Sizes, and Tune-Yards. Plus short films, DJ Khiasma, and art prints for the first 100 arrivals. At Il Motore! See you there!

[drawing by Mollie Goldstrom (it's for sale)]

Posted by Sean at 2:36 PM | Comments (4)