from room to room: The Constantines and The Tall Grass Captains Of Greater Chicago
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 Constantines - "Soon Enough". So the Constantines are hot and sweaty, sore-throated from the indie rock house-party of Shine A Light and The Constantines; they climb up the stairs from the basement and they nod at the girls in the shoulderless t-shirts and they put down their brownbottle beer on some stranger's settee and then they hike up the steps to the second floor, feeling cream carpet under their socks, and they go into the owner's kid's room, airplane wallpaper, and they go to the window and they heft it open and then they stick their shaggy heads outside into the starlit night, starspecked night, cold black night, they feel the cold on their face, the sky in their eyes, the wind - it's always the wind, isn't it? - and that's what the new album, that's what Tournament of Hearts sounds like. They haven't forgotten the cocksure rawk of earlier, no, but there are longer moments of concentration, dearer things held up to the light.

And this song, my my, it's of such unconfused sweetness, such plain sentiment. Bry Webb's voice is unwavering, Strummer and Springsteen and Garvey but without any hesitation: say the words and they'll mean what they'll mean, they'll say what they say. During the slow, starry guitar solo in the second minute, I imagine him standing and waiting, unbothered, unrushed, the words not going anywhere as they're there in his heart.

(Compare this with the fantastic Elevator to Hell cover by the Cons, on the new Believer comp. There, the lyrics are held back because at the chorus everything's gonna rush right out and everything'll be drained dry, nothing pent-up anymore: no! freedom!! And pop music!)

The drums sound like hope, oh hope!, the hope that's there if you want it. And the organ, buried deep back there, is a sympathetic resonance, the way you wish bones were, that you might find your true love by listening for a person who ringsringsrings with your dreams.

The album, which is out in October, is - like I said - called Tournament of Hearts. So when Webb sings "a tournament of hearts / somebody's gotta lose", suddenly the album title unfolds accordion-style, new facets catching the light, and I fall in love with it. Every time.

If you like rock music, I think you'll probably like this song.

[Tournament of Hearts is out in October. We'll give you a BUY link as soon as we can, as you really ought to buy this. And in the meantime, Canadian tourdates]


Tall Grass Captains Of Greater Chicago - "Countless Days On". Hopefully some of you heard TGCOGC over at Mystery & Misery, last week, but if not it's important that you swirl this ounce of song in your glass, breathe in and then take a nip. "Countless Days On" weaves through a forest of influences, Brendan Benson, Elliott Smith, mid-90s guitar pop, Crosby Stills Nash & Young ca. "Our House"... The critic's buzzword would be "AM radio", but there's also a hi-fi thickness to the production, a diffuse warmth. I can only imagine it as a swell of sound on a film-soundtrack, Almost Famous or something by David Gordon Green. Jangling guitars, thumping drums, vocals that fuzz into feeling - a kid seeing his girlfriend kissing someone else, a mother staring at birds through her window, a grandfather putting on his grandson's records, listening loud, trying to spark some life back into his chest.

[buy She Moved Through for $12]


Abby has posted a remarkably awesome song by Robyn, over at Poptext. It's insistent and catchy and leaves some of its cards unshown. I've since sought out the whole album and holy crow, folks, Robyn might be one of my favourite records of the year.


I just came back from a set by Eugene Mirman at the Edinburgh Fringe. It was fantastically funny, absurd and heartburning stand-up. Eugene's delivery was sharp as nutshell, his jokes like nuts thrown at my head. Don't stay home eating that bowl of tears, go see him.

In related news, although I had expected to be doing Fringe reviews with The Skinny, their press passes seem to have fallen into limbo. If anyone out there wants a writer, or has any shows they think I ought to see, please let me know.

Some of my recent reviews/features are online. The better ones: Architecture in Helsinki (AWESOME) and Smog. I'm also pretty happy with Devendra Banhart and Sir Richard Bishop reviews, from their gig last week, which should be up soon which are online now. I hated Devendra but loved Bishop.

Posted by Sean at August 7, 2005 6:44 PM

Do I even need to say how much I adore The Constantines? I think not. Implicit. Assumed. Self-expanatory.

Posted by Lindsay at August 7, 2005 9:03 PM

I swear, the descriptions of music you guys give sell it to me EVERY TIME. If you guys didn't post the tracks here, I would go to my closest illegal file-sharing source and search for it. and if that didn't exist, I would just have to go broke buying all the albums you guys recommend. Sweetness.

Posted by Jerimee at August 8, 2005 8:26 PM

I am so excited for the new Constantines disc. It should be the first one of theirs I own. Somehow, someway, I came across their mp3s before and didn't really dig them, but this year I saw them live, and it all kind of came together. I have yet to pick up the self-titled one or Shine A Light b/c they are cost prohibitive ($23? what?), but I would like to eventually, somehow. So, the way I figure it, Tournament of Hearts should be slightly cheaper when it first comes out, so it should be the first I own.

Posted by caley at August 9, 2005 3:54 AM

that tall grass song sounds just like mr. bojangles.

Posted by yoni at August 9, 2005 4:09 PM

Great Helsinki review! When I first heard the recent album, I said to myself: "self, I'll make you a bet that this is awesome and that sean recognizes and adores its awesomeness." And look! I was right!

Posted by amy at August 11, 2005 11:41 PM

that's the first time a constantine's song has excited me. really great. thanks sean!

Posted by justin whye at August 13, 2005 9:43 PM

Been out of town without personal computer for too too long, how could I have missed this song. And the part about resonating reminded me of this (recycled) quotation,
"I used to wonder why there were so many love songs...We need so many love songs because the imperative rituals of flirtation, courtship, and mate selection...are up for grabs...Out of necessity, we create the institution of love songs...Because it's hard to find someone you love, who loves you - but you can begin, at least, by finding someone who loves your love song."
Dave Hickey, Air Guitar
If that's true I fall in love with Sean every day. ;)

Posted by MK at August 18, 2005 2:33 PM

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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.

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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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