clouds! (Akron/Family and The Softies)
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.


Akron/Family - "Dylan pt. 2". "Dylan", says the song title, but me I think of The Beatles' Abbey Road. Because this is an epic thuddering march, jousting electric guitars, a swinging swell of singing voices. "Something", "Because" or "The End". Repetition is one of this year's things. People are finding that a few lines, repeated, can be stronger than verses and verses and verses. See Micah P Hinson, Wolf Parade and Grizzly Bear. "You've found / what you're looking for," Akron/Family sing, and it's like Silver Mt Zion's Efrim, straining cry, but then it's a chorus, a choir. And I can't tell whether it's happy or desperate, taunting or elegiac. It's all of these. That's what the repetition's for. There are many meanings in the knit. And then the music: swirling blooming psychedelic rock, lonesome hearted, a clay man falling apart.

This is a marvellous band, and I can understand why Michael Gira is so excited about them. This track is from his upcoming Angels of Light & Akron/Family record, due October 31st. Their self-titled debut is out now (buy).

Softies - "Holiday in Rhode Island". It's raining in Scotland. I've already written about The Clientele, who I will see in concert tonight, so The Softies will have to fill in a rainyday song, a tune about Rhode Island, a song in watercolour, greys and pinks. A jangle guitar (the guitar sits by the fire at the end of the day and quietly glows, but no one notices except the mice). A xylophone or something (the xylophone is new, bought for this song, but then someone forgets it at a gig and they only get to use it those four times). And a band of friends, all of whom are in love (every one), not with each other. (Thanks to Kate.)



A farewell to Carl's overtones column.

I am fascinated by Ramono Cordova, over at Songs Illinois, but they won't send the CD to the UK (nor is it available on iTunes UK), so I know nothing beyond what's there. What's there is magic, Joanna Newsom on a motorcycle.

I am counting the hours till the pre-orders are available for Catbird Records' first release (or would be if they had announced when that would be).

Kelly's conversation about his name with an employee of Lick's Homeburgers is one of the funniest, most human things I've read this year. Do read.

On holiday I read (or finished) several books. AFTER THE JUMP (will this work?), a few brief words, for the benefit of those who know them (and for some reason care about my opinion) rather than those who don't.

Herman Melville's Moby Dick - Melville's a magnificent writer, and his story's a very good one. As famous as the novel is, I didn't expect the ending, and it gave me pause. I could have done without some of the digressions into biology, cetology and colour, but when ruminating on life, the sea, humanity or his tale, Melville's prose was often so daring and funny that it took my breath away.

Zadie Smith's Autograph Man - While I liked the sobriety in this, ultimately I don't think it played to Smith's strengths. Despite my problems with White Teeth, that book felt like she had a much, much better time writing it (and this showed).

Steven Sherill's The Minotaur Took a Cigarette Break - a remarkable, melancholy book, freshly magic realist. Part Prufrock, part Auster, American and hopeful and always a few steps away from brokenhearted.

Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake - Some neat ideas, but so clumsily assembled into a story, the book feeling extremely imbalanced and becoming even more flimsy upon reflection.

WG Sebald's The Rings of Saturn - A dreamlike book, a string of pearls, a foggy holiday. Long-resonating and absolutely unlike anything else (except perhaps the New Humour).

Philip Roth's The Plot Against America - Not the masterpiece that some hailed it as, but certainly chilling, certainly believable, certainly an alternate history that feels like a personal tale, a worried memoir. Somehow, despite its being a fiction, the book made me feel very sad about the mid-to-late Twentieth Century.

Peter Carey's My Life as a Fake - Carey makes everything seem so effortless, from the breadth of his tale to the depth of the characters. Brown and orange and a remarkable tale.

Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle - Certainly Vonnegut's best work that I've read to date. Peculiar and funny and indeed very wise.

And I'm now knee-deep in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which I'm hoping bursts into sudden colour.

Posted by Sean at September 9, 2005 2:04 PM

Can't get that Akron song to download. Is it just me? It keeps coming up as an "HTML Document"

Posted by The Fixin's Bar at September 9, 2005 2:15 PM

I have seen Akron/Family live and they are even better than their recorded material. As gira said (who saw every performance of the band during his tour with them), it's like witnessing early Pink Floyd. They are also incredibly young and still have a childlike approach to making music which is refreshing (and in constrast to Gira, although he's lightened up a bit from his SWANS days).

Posted by Jim H at September 9, 2005 2:21 PM

Fixin - you may have caught me while i was still uploading the file. should work now.

jim - i get that sense, yes. they slip so easily into fascinating ideas, like its totally natural, the most obvious thing in the world (see also Broken Social Scene). there's something naive in that, and prodigal. i'm jealous of the live experience!

Posted by Sean at September 9, 2005 2:32 PM

I absolutely loved Cat's Cradle. The last half of the book just sucked me in and I didn't want to stop reading; I wished that the book went on forever.

I guess someone cares about literary musings....

Posted by Jerimee at September 9, 2005 5:51 PM

sean, so now you finally like akron/family... all good things come to those who wait (and listen).


Posted by alan at September 9, 2005 6:48 PM

Welcome home grandson....Hope you had a great time !!
Luv ya !!

Posted by Zaidie Ben at September 9, 2005 9:04 PM

What were your problems with White Teeth, if I may ask?

Also, i'm about 100 pages into Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell and hoping the same thing. So far, it reads like an incredibly boring Jane Austen novel.

Posted by sara at September 9, 2005 9:48 PM

Hi Zaidie! Thank you!

alan - I've been fond of Akron/Family since first hearing "Running Returning" either at Six Eyes or Stereogum. (And thanks for sending me those early mp3s.) Unfortunately, I don't think that the album as a whole really holds up as well as the band - it's a little too loose. There are moments (or individual tracks) of such brilliance, though... They'll do something really marvellous, mark my (our?) words.

sara - To be honest it's been almost three years since I read White Teeth and I can't exactly remember! I do know that the hit-you-over-the-head with the "future" stuff really irritated me (as did Smith's uncited and direct-rip-off of Barthes on wrestling in Autograph Man). There was something smug about the book that ticked me off, like it was very proud of itself, and a little too sure of its own humour/depth/interestingness. It wasn't as hot shit as it acted, and consequently I started to resent the places where it WAS really fine. Did you like it?

I hadn't even realised that she had released ANOTHER book (Booker nominated!). I've yet to decide if I'll read it.

Posted by Sean at September 9, 2005 10:08 PM

My favourite Vonnegut would be Slaughterhouse 5, followed closely by Cat's Cradle. :)

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell surprised me actually, it started out REAAAALLY slow and boring but it's amazing how all those details really make you care about the characters and now I think it's one of the best books I read last year.

The first third of this very long book is an exercise in tedium, I'll give you that, but it's definitely worth it to stick with it to the end.

Posted by rosie at September 10, 2005 4:23 AM

I'm reading Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell also and feeling the same thing. It's diverting enough but it seems a bit dry and I'm in no hurry to finish it; I read a chapter a week or so; I guess I'm serializing it because it seems like something that should come in the Sunday papers. Certainly I'm not emotionally attached to the characters and I'd be surprised if, on finishing it, it moved me much or even was something I remembered with any particular warmth.

Posted by Tuwa at September 10, 2005 4:08 PM

Personally, I loved White Teeth - it's my favorite book. I can understand what you're saying about the smugness that comes across in her writing, though. I just loved/was horrified by the prospect that you can't get away from your past, no matter how hard you try.

Her new novel has been released already? The last I had heard, it was unreleased and already nominated for the Booker prize, which seems awfully presumptuous to me - sort of like the ridiculous advance she got for White Teeth.

Posted by sara at September 11, 2005 2:37 AM

Weird Sean, I read Cat's Cradle on my holiday to Sardinia this year. Loved it but not as much as either Slaughterhouse 5 or Breakfast of Champions.. to me, they were more mindblowing.

Posted by Milo at September 13, 2005 1:48 PM

As a pretty big fan of Slaughterhouse-Five, I wonder what's wrong with me for not really getting Cat's Cradle. It just seems obvious and dull and incredibly sexist.

Posted by Grace at September 14, 2005 6:27 AM

You might be interested in this new interview interview with Akron/Family at


Posted by amy at December 25, 2005 11:45 PM

Post a comment

(Please be patient, it can be slow.)
about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

To hear a song in your browser, click the and it will begin playing. All songs are also available to download: just right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'

All songs are removed within a few weeks of posting.

Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.

If you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
Montreal, Canada: Sean
Toronto, Canada: Emma
Montreal, Canada: Jeff
Montreal, Canada: Mitz

Please don't send us emails with tons of huge attachments; if emailing a bunch of mp3s etc, send us a link to download them. We are not interested in streaming widgets like soundcloud: Said the Gramophone posts are always accompanied by MP3s.

If you are the copyright holder of any song posted here, please contact us if you would like the song taken down early. Please do not direct link to any of these tracks. Please love and wonder.

"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.
our patrons
Said the Gramophone does not take advertising. We are supported by the incredible generosity of our readers. These were our donors in 2013.
watch StG's wonderful video contest winners

our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)

Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
WTF [podcast]
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

things we like in Montreal
st-viateur bagel
café olimpico
Euro-Deli Batory
le pick up
kem coba
le couteau
au pied de cochon
mamie clafoutis
tourtière australienne
chez boris
alati caserta
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, caffé italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c

drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c

casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
le cagibi
cinema du parc
pop pmontreal
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe

Cult Montreal
The Believer
The Morning News
The Skinny