Destroyer and José González: passionfruit and promise
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.


Destroyer - "Rubies". It took a very long time, and a lot of talkin'-it-over, for me to enjoy Your Blues. So many synths, so very many glossy synths. I struggled against the Verfremdungseffekt, a little irritated that Bejar wouldn't let me enjoy the thing. And then I got over myself - Destroyer did want me to enjoy it, in spite of its falseness. That was the point. Maybe. It was the point I got. And so I did.

Destroyer's Rubies is a very different thing; a move back towards This Night and the earlier records - it's indie rock at midnight, the concert-hall overrun by giddy rockers. Part of me had been hoping that Bejar would now leap from genre to genre, each album a new sonic experiment: What happens to my art when it becomes bluegrass? Or opera? When I let other people sing it? Instead, Destroyer's Rubies is a familiar sound with a more voracious flash - a record with a gemstone glitter, a lusty, luxurious, deep bloody scarlet.

And it's bloody great. It's catchy and fun, epic in form and humble in feel. Above all, what Destroyer's Rubies is is jubilant. Each song is so thoroughly enjoyed: sounds tumbling out of cracks in the wall, bursts of chorus, lyrics that jumble and jangle in your mind. Lyrical pointillism.

The title track is the album's first song: it opens with buzzing and a mutter, but then it's a story, wry smile on face, a story and then clink-bang-boom, a pop song. With Destroyer, every line is an aside; no line is an aside; we listen from all sides, and he knows it. There are jewels, there is Ruby, there is a drumkit that keeps throwing itself across the studio floor. Bejar's wistful and moony; he's a dandy; he's exact ("typical / rural / shit"), and abrupt ("I won't repeat them here"). He's a Bowie-like frontman and later just a man with an acoustic guitar - a guitar with a plaintive reaching theme. He's a mimic; he's a looter. And yet he rejoices in the artifice, he chews the scenery, he celebrates the pleasures of the song and the truths he hunts for in the wood.

I want desperately for someone to do a dance remix of this - please please oh please.

(Destroyer's Rubies is the first great album of 2006.)

(I was trying to hold this back so I'd have the chance to read Carl's promised treatise first, but the song is oh-so-great, and I can no longer bear to wait. Update -- op! he put it online as i slept.)

José González - "Hand On Your Heart". Are your best friends the ones that hold your hand? Or the ones who don't? Are they the ones who scamper on ahead, into the snow-covered field, and wait for you there?

José González takes a Kylie Minogue song - a song of demands, yeah of sadness, - and he makes a case for love using only the promise of his voice, the persistence of his gaze, the warmth you sense in the fingers that play the guitar. A shaker starts, he keeps playing, but he's got no more to say. He stares at you. And there - one two three four - you are standing in that snowfield, deciding whether or not to follow. Snowflakes? None. Just you and him and a still afternoon that's about to move.

(You should read, too, what Nicola Meighan writes about this song, heard live, at The Stypod)

[buy the Stay in the Shade single US/CA/UK]


SCTAS is holding a contest where lucky Americans can win a copy of the Chad Van Gaalen DVD - go enter, you sons-of-a-gun. (There's a cute mini interview with him, too.)


The End-of-Year BMR Haiku Contest is over. We received over a hundred haikus, each a three-line description of the poet's favourite album of the year. It was impossible to pick just one, and so with the consent of the contest's instigator, the submissions were whittled down to two.

Sam Solomon and Scott Wilson will be receiving a prize-pack from songwriter Brian Michael Roff, including the dust-and-sun full-length called Inventory, a copy of the ultra limited Pre-Inventory promo EP, and a BMR button.

Their submissions were as follows:

Sam on Sunset's Rubdown's Snake Got A Leg:

You're grey and green and
I'm the garden in the Fall
and your apple shines.

Scott on The Go-Betweens' Oceans Apart:

Find lost love not lost
again, again, pick up, pick
out new days for us

And here are some more of my other favourite submissions:

Justin on Jason Anderson's The Wreath:

just write 'i love you'
sideways on your wrist and you
will feel like i do.

Justin on Sleater Kinney's The Woods:

Wrestled to the ground
By well-timed solo freakout
It's the loud we need

Christopher on Thanksgiving:

"We listen slowly.
The steady love of our friends
punctuates all loss."

Cory, double-barrelled, on Wolf Parade's Apologies for the Queen Mary:

Snare your mirrors light
in corners of eyes tonight
and I will miss you

Dance a foolish dance
and when rain falls from your hand
Ill be jealous then

dekadetia on John Vanderslice's Pixel Revolt:

news, blood for paint, our
home flecked in a frame, a dance
dance revolution

garrincha, en français, on The National's Alligator:

En novembre - silence
En novembre - attendre
Sous les frondaisons bancales

Josh on Broken Social Scene's s/t:

White die in a cup
Rolled until the shore of waste
Each toss soaked with zeal

Chris on Sufjan Stevens's Illinoise:

tinge, pluck, finger snaps
ghosts from fall's Catholicism
all our psalms/kisses

marc on Peter Licht's 14 Lieder:

A moment of joy,
a bright light in the shadows
that guides you from here

Yoshi, also on Sufjan:

he states his wonder
in a State of wonderment
writing all alone

John on Devin Davis's Lonely People of the World Unite!:

White black bang hit crash
Blue red smoke-filled brush stroke strums
Color in my ears

Miranda on The Boy Least Likely To's The Best Party Ever:

Songs sweet and sad like
when I drop my birthday cake
off a paper plate.

Posted by Sean at December 15, 2005 3:03 AM

goodness. i hadn't visited in a while, but what a redesign. it's beautiful. very believer/mcsweeneys, but i can't think of anything like it in blogland. great job.

Posted by theghostrobot at December 15, 2005 5:47 AM

woah, hand on your heart is _amazing_, top review too.

Posted by Anonymous at December 15, 2005 8:19 AM

loved your description of "rubies", just as I loved zoilus'. this album will take up most of my winter break, I feel.

Posted by andrew at December 16, 2005 1:58 AM

Thank you, Sean (and thank you, Brian). I'm flattered to be named among this group--a number of the haikus would be fine stand-alone reviews. And thanks to the poems, I have a bunch of new albums to check into.

Posted by Scott Wilson at December 16, 2005 2:34 AM

i'm just getting around to listening to the jose gonzales song, and wanted to thank you for posting it--it is gorgeous and quietly devastating and i quite love it. i also enjoyed your v. apt description of the drumkit throwing itself across the floor. i've been listening to the new destroyer all weekend and can't get the line "hey your: friends are fucks!" out of my head.

Posted by erik at December 18, 2005 2:05 PM

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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.

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