by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


The Radio Four - "How Much I Owe". The newest issue of the book-length journal known as Yeti has great drawings by Julianna Bright and Nicole J Georges, a collection of amazing pre-1950 photos (of Sydney, Australia crime-scenes and criminals), a conversation with Octavia Butler (rip), a suprisingly medicated tour-diary by Okkervil River's Will Sheff, and a hysterical, fascinating interview of Destroyer's Dan Bejar, by an 8 year old kid. It also has a free compilation CD with unreleased tracks by Page France, Okkervil River, We/Or/Me, The Blow -- and weirder things too. There's at least a couple of songs I'll probably end up sharing with you.

This is one of 'em.

As the liner-notes attest, these days "Radio 4" is likely to evoke either the BBC or a NY garage-rock band of the same name. But if we roll back to 1955, this was Radio Four: a "family quartet" about whom "not a whole heck of a lot" is known. I will infer what Mike McGonigal restrains himself from doing: if it was a family quartet, called the Radio Four, then clearly their last name must have been Radio. That's as far as I'm willing to extrapolate, so I'll turn to plain fiction as I name them, the Radio Four. Pop will be ole' Aloysius Radio, and maybe his younger brother Ishamael ("Ishkabibble") Radio. Aloysius' sons are both members of the Four: Marcus Radio later quits music to become an architect, specialising in steeples; Little Shelley Radio wins a trip to France when working as a refrigerator salesman and while there tries a truffle mushroom for the first time. He and his wife both decide that truffles are the truest signs of God they've ever seen, and devote the rest of their lives to the fungus.

And while Marcus' steeples still stand; while Ishkabibble's burbling laugh is still remembered by citizens of Cranberry, MS; while Aloysius' grave-stone sits in strange proximity to the oldest weeping willow in the United States; and while Michelin-starred chefs across the American south will tell you of the Mr Radio who taught them everything they know about the truffle... it's "How Much I Owe" that had the greatest lasting impression on the happiness of humanity. Because every time the song is played, a soul is saved, an angel born, a lame man lifted to his feet and a bird kissed by the gold hot sun.

[buy Yeti / try to buy the Radio Four on CD]

The Frames - "Bad Bone". This is a song laced with the full & terrible, wine-red and cocoa-black temptation of the downward spiral. When I listen to it: I sink.

It starts so simply, so dully twilit, Glen Hansard singing his silly lines about a "bad bone inside of [him]". Please. And yeah then the violin comes in, the bass and drums - but still, no, there's nothing to trap you. A few lines catch your (my) ear, things that hook parts of your minds' eye - "You were naked on the balcony"... But no it's not until the closing minute and a half when you realise that all that came before was promise; the muddy moody indie rock just a path to a starry, sick sweet blur. "To die with you upon the vine," Hansard sings, and it is so fucking enticing. The guitars bloom like nightshade and the strings coax you all the way to where you break your own red beating heart.

The new album by Ireland's The Frames is out now in Ireland. (Anti will be releasing it abroad in 2007.)

[buy / The Frames' Glen Hansard is on a semi-solo tour in the USA in October]



Tuwa's story about Shuggie Otis is absolutely one of my favourite posts of the year. Something that we struggle for on these very pages: a fiction about a song, saying more than the truth could. (If you like Said the Gramophone, I suspect you'll like this.)


By the by, I'm not in Montreal but these would be my Pop Montreal picks (oh, what a lineup!):

Wednesday, Oct 4. - Orillia Opry and Vashti Bunyan (Bunyan is really unexpectedly awesome, live); or else I'd do some hopping between Two Gallants, The Winks, and Damien Jurado

Thursday, Oct 5 - Under Byen and Joanna Newsom (obv, but seriously bust over to see Basia Bulat's set when it's done)

Friday, Oct 6 - Mocky and the Handsome Furs, but then def Islands in a hometown show

Saturday, Oct 6 - man! Beirut and Akron/Family!

Sunday, Oct 7 - Think it's possible to do The Acorn, Sunset Rubdown and The Constantines? Do try.

Oh, and you kids might also be into seeing our own Mr Dan Beirne in conversation with Matt Fluxblog, Carl Zoilus, Andrew Pop and some other luminaries at this panel at McGill on Thursday. I guarantee it will be better than the biggie. (Sorry, Frank!)

Posted by Sean at October 2, 2006 3:00 AM

If you like The Frames, you should also check out Glen's album from earlier this year with Czech singer Marketa Irglova. I'm not the band's biggest fan, but the solo/collaborative album - The Swell Season - is the best thing Hansard's ever done. It's really beautiful.

Posted by Sinéad at October 2, 2006 6:01 AM

Hi Sinead. Thanks for the suggestion. I've actually got The Swell Season and haven't been at all taken with it. Feels very conventional to me; a retreading of things I've heard before. What do you like about it so much?

Posted by Sean at October 2, 2006 6:10 AM

Hi Sean, I suppose it's something to do with the fact that every Frames album sounds like a variation on its predecessor and TSS offers something else. Maybe the balance that Marketa brings to the album too, but it sounds even more honest and raw than the Frames. Musically, I think it also takes more chances.

Me not being a Frames fan doesn't matter - they're HUGE in Ireland.

Also left you a comment on a post you had about Kelley Stoltz. Saw him in Dublin last week and he was amazing.

Posted by Sinéad at October 2, 2006 6:28 AM

Hi Sean, thanks for the mention. It means a lot; I love your work here.

That Radio Four song is something else; recording it was practically a humanitarian effort. I just picked up the last copy. ^_^

Posted by Tuwa at October 2, 2006 11:34 PM

It seems cruel to juxtapose these two songs. The Frames tune is overlong, overwrought and just plain dull about half the time. The Radio Four (Radio 4!) song starts with the refrain and never goes downhill from there. You can't put diffident work up against competition like this.

An atheist, I love that third "Jeeeeezus!" beyond rationality. Get back to us with the Frames when they match it.

Posted by wcw at October 4, 2006 9:01 PM

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

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Back to the World
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