from the tower of evil
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.


Hello there! For those who have come to the blog since Jordan took over, I would like to bid you an eager hello. For those from way back - an even more eager howdy. It's been too long.

As Jordan and Dan have intimated, Said the Gramophone will shortly be the product of three authors, with occasional cameos. The three of us will trade up posting duties, guaranteeing that Gramophone will be updated every weekday (at the very least). Since this is an increasing rarity in the mp3blogging world, I hope you'll bear with us as we iron out the kinks and launch things properly. Which will be soon. I'll be blogging this week, we'll have a couple more weeks of surprises, and then, likely at toward the end of March, StG will be roaring, full-force, in its new mode.

For the next five days, though - me.

I do intend to go through the music I picked up when doing my Europe-hopping a few months ago, but that will be saved for later. This week will be dedicated to

Music That's Been Blowing My Mind, At Least A Little Bit [not literally]

Because I've been relatively offline for the past five months, I'd like to catch up and talk about some stuff that some of you may be sick of. But most, I hope, won't mind a few hundred words on some very worthy things.

I'm going to write about 4 or 5 things each day, albums and songs. Each day there will be at least a couple of mp3s to download. I'd share everything as mp3, but some of the stuff I downloaded from other mp3blogs anyway, and other things are major label - and I'm scared of them.

Enough prattle! Onward!


Music That's Been Blowing My Mind, At Least A Little Bit [not literally]:

Final Fantasy - Has a Good Home
--listen to "Please Please Please"
Final Fantasy sounds so fucking good that I can't believe there's not a slew of artists that are doing the same thing, carving out their own micro-genre. Singer-songwriter with violin and a smile. Joanna Newsom with the yawl turned down. I'm a long-documented fan of Les Mouches, but Owen Pallett's work here is much much more approachable, more friendly and catchy and plainly beautiful. It's not just that he sings with his sensitive everyboy's voice, or the elegance and restraint of those looped violins, the way the harmonies weave and curlecue into each-other: It's the simple loveliness of the songs. "Your Light Is Spent" is light and pizzicatto-jumpy, but then there's that groan of old wood, and toward the end that pastoral counterpoint... It sounds so effortless, but is of such a rare calibre. There's the Pärtesque close to "None Of You Will Ever See a Penny," the pluck (ha!) and pulse of "This Is the Dream of Win and Reg", the elegy of "Better Than Worse". And the album's only got one dud - the transitional "Learn To Keep Your Mouth Shut, Owen Pallett". Sixteen tracks and only one dud!

"Please Please Please" is the most riotous thing on the record - via Zoilus I saw that Owen plans to release "screamier" stuff on 7"s (which is irritating for those of us without turntables). But I love the way the way the cheery, Beach Boys-y middle tumbles into profane pleading, down-and-dirty yelling, men with clenched fists at the back of a room. I turn it up loud when the subway's coming, I let it toss me from murmur to shriek.

You can order the CD cheap-cheap-cheap from BlocksBlocksBlocks, and I can't understand why anyone wouldn't. Unless you're outside North America, and have noticed that it's still unlisted on the UK distributor's site. And Mr Kado isn't answering your email. sigh.


Kelly Clarkson - "Since U Been Gone"
While I was in Latvia, I was reading about "Since U Been Gone" at Clap Clap, but I was a long long way from hearing it. Maroon 5 was ubiquitous, Kelly Clarkson not. Eppy's got such a fantastic taste in singles, though, that it was one of the very first things I hunted down when I went to Canada. And hunting it down, as you all know, was not hard.

But I know I'm not alone on this one. On the Site Which Shall Not Be Named, I read a thread with indie kids asking "Is it ok if I like this?". The answer, of course, is yes, because "Since U Been Gone" is awesome.

I'm a total sucker for those pop-punky guitars, the buzz and vocal blast. I heard the line that Avril Lavigne wrote this (which is fine by me!), but I love the way that Kelly performs it, stripping any attitude from the lyrics, making the sassiness a weary pose. The "yeah yeah"s don't have any of the chorus' triumph - they're brittle shrugs. "No no, I don't really care. Course not." "Since U Been Gone" isn't about someone who's moved on - it's about someone stamping and shouting and dancing her way to the place where she's moved on. Someone who still can't talk about this stuff without a strained, flat-voiced (fake) non chalance.

But still! When she does that stamping and shouting and dancing, that roar, it's just as potent as the Flirtations' "Nothing But A Heartache." Who knew that that little American Idol girl could flare so bright? But that's the point, isn't it? Look how strong she can be, how big, how loud, how inflamed.

Why don't guys do songs like this?


Stars - Set Yourself on Fire
--listen to "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead"
This is a band that had been passing me by, mostly because I was nonplussed by the very-well-received Heart. But oh my, this record's not one to skip. Set Yourself On Fire is energized and melodic, with glad-making boy-girl harmonies, razzle-dazzle climaxes. It's got peach-fuzz and christmas lights and strings and horns. Electric guitars! A singer called Torquil! Reminiscent of The Delgados, only much more intimate - sexy, personal. For fans of the Postal Service, of soft pop choruses, of love.

"Your Ex-Lover Is Dead" lacks the thick electric hooks of the rest of Set Yourself On Fire, but instead there's melodica [?], cello and french-horn - oh, and drums. DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM. And when those drums are beating towards the chorus, or when the girl vocals come in (whoosh!), when everything twinkles and swoops and soars, there's fewer things I'd rather be doing than listening, a-listening, a-listening. [buy]


Destroyer - "I Want This Cyclops"
This was one of the very first tracks Jordan posted, way back in September, as I was fleeing the country. It's an astounding piece of music. First of all, it makes no clear sense - at least not to me. This is Dan Bejar, though, so I don't much care. "Two French sisters / on a DC-10 / sped from Dallas / just imagine them / peppering / their respec- / tive speeches with commas / and cupids / and I don't wannas / I don't think sos." The play of the words, the click and slur and assonant blur. But it's not that which most dazzles, nor the simple acoustic guitar strum, nor the boozy blushed buzz of sax and clarinet, two minutes in. No, it's the remarkable, the plain but flowering drums. It's the ring of cymbal, the dance of tom and snare and bass drum, the conversation going on behind, the story-telling and humour, the grins and history. I don't know how I hear so much in those drums, that simple jazz beat, but I do, I do, I hear a life with all its sorrows and joys. I hear a friend, a good one, or maybe the promise of someone I've not yet met. [buy on City of Daughters]


The Cay - "Hey Lady"
And speaking of Jordan, the man posted this about a month ago - a bootleg of his band, The Cay, at a show at La Sala Rossa in Montreal. I was at that show. And when I heard this tune I was floored, smacked, blown near over. And though the recording lacks the volume of the real show, though you hear the read-of-the-crowd's murmur a lil' too loud, you can still feel the tearing in each mounting verse. The first minute's pretty, pale, but when the vocals rip something open, send stuffing flying, I feel something jerk in my chest. Feel it at 1:28, and then again at 1:57, when the bassist yells his monster yell. The song's being tugged, punched, bruised, burnt; vocal chords can barely express it, then barely pinch it out. And then it ends with that reassuring fugue, the drums falling over themselves, the push to forget.

Please record this in a studio.


Still to come this week: Amerie, Okkervil River, the Sugarcubes, and more.

Posted by Sean at February 28, 2005 9:13 AM

welcome back sean!

Posted by george at February 28, 2005 10:03 AM

Good to have you back, Sean.

Posted by Dave B at February 28, 2005 10:19 AM

Good to have you back, Sean.

Posted by Dave B at February 28, 2005 10:20 AM

In fact, doubly good to have you back, as you can see above. I was told there was a transmission error so posted again. Oh well, delete this if you can, and I look forward to the new triumvirate with this trio of comments!

Posted by Dave B at February 28, 2005 10:22 AM

Welcome back!

Posted by Adrian at February 28, 2005 10:51 AM

speaking of that kelly clarkson song and loving it, ted leo does. he covered it at his shows in LA and SF last week.

Posted by hallie at February 28, 2005 11:10 AM

i've been really enjoying that stars record, and the first track is a perfect choice. also slept on, in my opinion, is final fantasy. nobody really spoke up for him, and he certainly wasn't going to do it. sorry to say i haven't heard the clarkson song, sounds good though. this is why we have missed you, and why i am so glad to have you back.

Posted by cody at February 28, 2005 12:18 PM

The Stars single "Ageless Beauty" is up on their website and it is pretty superb. No "Elevator Love Letter"s on the new album but its solid nonetheless, especially the first four tracks.

Posted by helen at February 28, 2005 12:59 PM

It is going to be good. Triply good.

Posted by Rbin M. at February 28, 2005 3:34 PM

we've been waiting for you Sean...
nice to have yer words again.

Posted by bmr at February 28, 2005 3:55 PM

It's very good to have you back, Sean. I've missed your writing.

Posted by Matthew at February 28, 2005 6:51 PM

Good to have you back.

I've been trying to get everyone on board for that Stars album, but people seem weary of it for some reason. If I had to go back and do my Best of 2004 again, I would be tempted to put it as my #1. And you picked the best song! I almost swoon every time I get to the part where she sings
"I'm not sorry I met you,
I'm not sorry it's over,
I'm not sorry there's nothing to say!"

Looking forward to the next week.

Posted by caley at February 28, 2005 7:32 PM

Nice to see you back, Sean!

Posted by erojas at February 28, 2005 8:32 PM

Welcome back Sean!

I know it's been partially blogged to death, but by crikey is Mr. Pallett's version of 'Peach, Plum, Pear' fantastic. As is his album.

Posted by Anonymous at February 28, 2005 11:08 PM

Welcome back, Sean. You've been missed. I'm with yas, that Stars record is pretty remarkable. Somewhere midway through the second track I was thinking "Eh, it's cute pop stuff and altogether not bad," but then their songs always move someplace unexpected. They've just got so much going on with the strings 'n blurps and goodies.

Looking forward to new Okkervil River too. I have a hunch they're going to steal the show from the Decemberists on their tour next month.

Posted by chris at February 28, 2005 11:42 PM

on the kelly clarkson thing--absolutely. dropping my indie pride was easy in this case. even more so after seeing the video.
rock on, charlie hahn (means nothing)

Posted by mike at March 1, 2005 12:48 AM


LARGO02 is a french artist whose inspirations are 80's electro pop music,some other massive attack, bjork, sakamoto, kraftwerk, and jazz stars like coltrane and so on.
why wouldn't you discover his work on his website?
have fun.

Posted by fred scellier at March 1, 2005 5:35 AM

my very sincere thank-you.

Posted by Sean at March 1, 2005 9:10 AM

took me 6 months to get an order filled from blocks... was worth the wait, but don't know that i'd order again.

Posted by nadav at March 1, 2005 1:45 PM

I loved that stars track, sean. If we can't have you in Montreal at least we can have the music.

Posted by stretch at March 1, 2005 9:31 PM

Yes, great to see you again, Sean. And, seriously, if you're currently loving Set Yourself on Fire, I urge you to revisit Heart. I think they're equally good, and if anything the latter slightly outweighs the former. But such strong pop. It has to make you happy.

Posted by David A. at March 3, 2005 3:56 AM

it's funny that you call "keep you mouth shut owen pallett" a dud... I thought it was hilarious!

Posted by andrew at March 3, 2005 5:52 PM

speaking of ms. clarkson and mr. leo, i just posted a desperate cry for help in regards to that cover here:

$10 for TL Covering Since U Been Gone! Really!

oh, internet, please come to my rescue.

Posted by kathryn at March 4, 2005 10:32 AM

Welcome back (sorta) Sean!
That Final Fantasy track is driving me Nuuuuuuuts (in the good way)! I literally just listened to it seven times in a row.
I've been digging Stars for a little while now, but there's something not quite there with them for me. Your Ex-Lover is Dead is my second-favourite song on SYOF, but bits of the lyrics are driving me nuts (in the bad way). It sometimes seems like the narrative is driven by whatever happens to rhyme (the awkward third and fourth lines) and the gal's lyrics sound like they're written by the dude...
Whatever... Welcome back!

Posted by JKelly at March 8, 2005 12:57 AM

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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.

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.
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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