basslines are best friends
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.


Edith Frost - "What's The Use". "I gotta be a man / about it," Edith sings. She's not very happy about this. And while the song canters along, plum notes and a plum melody, like a plum all round, a plum a horse might eat, well Edith sings drily. She's so unamused that the only response is a joke. She's got a country blues but ain't gonna waste time thinking about it. No - here's the problem: You. Me. We.*

* Yes, that is a title of a movie. But it's also the name of the look Edith will give you if you try to do that again. Or the look she will give her horse, the one with the plum, when she's standing at the edge of town and a streetcar screetches past and she decides that She Must Go.

[pre-order, read edith's weblog, and/or grab more mp3s]

The Baptist Generals - "Diminished". I am tired and my head aches. Maybe it's a toothache, maybe it's dehydration. Maybe it's heartburn, or heartache, and I'm just confused. Maybe I grind my teeth when I sleep. Maybe I'm allergic to Martha Wainwright, even if I was just at the show to review it. I don't know. But in late 2005, on the nights when things are wrong, on the mornings when things are wrong, at dawn or dusk or the early afternoon, "Diminished" is the best song in the universe. I say this with only the tiniest flicker of exaggeration. I think the best thing about growing older is that you discover old songs and then realise the world is wider than you thought, that there was a song somewhere living in parallel with you.

While I sat waiting for the metro last winter, eyes closed, listening to Final Fantasy's "Please Please Please" because it was the best I could find, this song was weaving through cornfields on its way to me. On that afternoon six years ago when the sky was purple-pink and I yelled, just yelled at someone on the bus, this song hadn't been recorded yet - but in someone's mind's eye, in their sad-sack heart, it was pacing through an empty green village, looking at the old gravestones, the closed grocer's shop. It was there for me, had I but known it.

Of all the bands who I fell in love with for the first time this year, the Baptist Generals are the only ones who didn't release anything in 2005. Or in 2004. No Silver No Gold is from the heady days of 2003. (Popsheep introduced them to me in May.) You might hear Okkervil River or Neil Young, Herman Dune or Will Oldham. Or maybe a little Daniel Johnston. Or none of the above. The optimists can listen to "Going Back Song", but tonight I'm an acheing pessimist who wants to listen to "Diminished": to the bass-drum thump and the singer's humble words, to the organ's heartbreaking sigh, and yeah, to the bass. The upright bass that's got its heart broken and picked itself up, that's got its heart broken and picked itself up, that's got its heart broken and picked itself up and is now walking hand-in-hand with its pals, the ones who are still picking themselves up, because the upright bass is the kindest friend in the world.


Kathryn has promised me that they are working on an album - but can I believe her?!


Apparently Jordan's computer has died. We are all hoping that this will prove to be a mistake and not a calamity, but it may be a calamity. Pour out a drink for him, this evening.

Posted by Sean at November 8, 2005 3:01 AM

I'm relieved you decided to stick with the Baptist Generals' No Silver No Gold. Reading your comment on our old popsheep post, it seemed as though you'd decided to give up on it. I remember wanting to reply but feeling helpless in defending the album. I owned it for at least a few months before I really *listened* to it properly and, rather suddenly, it emerged fully formed as a great album where once it was just a loose collection of songs.

Posted by ian at November 8, 2005 9:02 AM

i saw them at SXSW in march, and a new album was what chris said was next. shortly afterwards, they did a tiny little tour with centro-matic, then fell off the face of the earth!

Posted by kathryn at November 8, 2005 2:08 PM

Strange that I stumbled upon this post while listening to Diminished and wondering if there is anything new in the works for the Baptist Generals. Synchronicity I suspect...

I believe the bass is actually a Spanish bass, not an upright. At least that's what they had with them on the 2003 tour. Good stuff.

Posted by Christopher at November 9, 2005 10:19 AM

Not even halfway through the Baptist Generals' song and I'm sold. But it doesn't make me want to hear what else they can do as much as make me want them to keep on making this exact song.

Posted by gooblar at November 9, 2005 7:24 PM

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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