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.


Up Helly Aa

So sometimes I feel like Said the Gramophone ought to act as a document, and so if I go with that for a sec I have to admit that basically I've been listening to nothing but this BARR record for the past week.* The song that Dan posted more than a year ago is something I've been returning to for months but finally I went out and got Summary and it's baffling me in the best kind of baffle; making me go wow holy whoa god, huh, he did that.

Because basically it's Arab Strap meets Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, which is to say that they're ripe-hearted soliloquies but instead of talking about his cock, Brendan Fowler sings about art & worry & kindness, candid and cadenced and clear. And these songs depend on listening - you need to hear the words, listen to them, to get it. So I've been discovering the tracks one by one, slow slow slow, digesting just two songs a day or so. Finding new truthfulnesses in each listen.

BARR - "Untitled". Here's a song about loving a friend, but also a song to a friend, an act of love to a friend. A request: come back, come back! You HAVE to make it OUT. And while Fowler is confused about many things he is certain about others, so certain, and you can hear it more than once, here, the clearest earnest things I've heard in a long time.

BARR - "Was I? Are You?". And this is a song about having a friend you "hang out" with, that is to say who you just have sex with, and it's a fug of bass guitar and hands fumbling at cigarette smoke. And it is special not just for the play & real of it, but for the way it shows this music isn't improvised bullshit - it isn't sloppy, it isn't frayed. BARR are precise with their punchlines.

[Buy this record right here, or follow that link to listen to the band's hottt single "The Song Is the Single".]

* There was a break on Sunday afternoon as I walked down the middle of the street - the sidewalks are all foot-high snow - listening to the African choir called ZCC Mukhukhu.


Basia Bulat did some great radio sessions with Radio K (at the University of Minnesota).

Yeasayer did a Take Away Show with Vincent Moon, Chryde & co, and it's so great, the band in the subway and then even moreso the band in an apartment, too late, making a racket and attracting the neighbours. My favourite part is the end of the second video, a new song called "Tightrope", with four hands on piano and twenty hands on kitchen-tile, and raised voices, and beerbottle clink, and when the video begins swiftly to reverse to beginning, our hearts running backwards to somewhere, somewhere. For those who do not understand French, the text above it says this: Chryde did not much like Yeasayer, and now oh well he does.

[photo is from during Up Helly-Aa, one of the Shetland fire festivals. Photographer unknown.]

Posted by Sean at March 10, 2008 12:01 AM

hi guys, just a quick word for those who do not understand french: we translate all the texts from the take away shows from french to english, and try to be the more accurate as possible. here's the page:

thanks !

Posted by Sskizo at March 10, 2008 6:17 AM

I believe that you've just won the Bloggie for Best Music Blog. In which case, many congratulations...

Posted by mike at March 10, 2008 2:22 PM

BARR - damn! thanks for pointing this out. One listen of "untitled" and i was off and buying the mp3s from amazon. Your description of it is perfect, and thank god he's not talking about his cock.

Posted by ben at March 10, 2008 3:39 PM

i was hoping the post would be about barr when i first glanced at the title. i love that record. and what you wrote.

Posted by bleep at March 10, 2008 5:19 PM

congrats on the bloggie, you three!!! You deserve it!

Posted by ru at March 10, 2008 9:44 PM

I agree about BARR - that album was terribly neglected/underrated.

Posted by Kyle at March 11, 2008 12:47 AM

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This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
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.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
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.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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