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.


So I leave later tonight for a week-long trip to see A in NJ. We'll probably be going into NYC most days - this means that I'll be happy. I really like New York City; it captures everything that's great about the Garamond font... It's old and proud and artsy and vast. Hopefully I'll be able to get in a proper visit at the St Mark's place record-shops, not to mention The Strand bookstore, Damien Rice at the Bowery Ballroom, maybe some Beethoven at the Town Hall, perhaps even a visit to see Conan O'Brien.

In honour of the flights I'll be taking to get there, as well as the new headphones I'll be picking up (Grado SR-80s, Sony Eggo D66s [more on that another time]), I made myself a couple of mix cds of proper-good listening music. Many of these songs are really long, and never made it onto other mixes because I simply couldn't spare the real-estate. They're great, great songs, though - the use every second of their six-to-fifteen minutes. Somehow I'm finding enough internal fortitude to hold off listening to them till I'm at the airport. I'm worried I'm going to crack.

01. The Velvet Underground - "Heroin"
The kick-drum continues to floor me. On a good pair of headphones/speakers, it's a thump stronger than your own heartbeat. The way this song rises and falls... the screech of viola... the sadhappy way the lyrics are sung. Hooboy. (I hear it's being used on a Nissan commercial. Ye gads!)
02. Radiohead - "There There"
What a fine first single this is. The drums pick up where Heroin left off, but they dive off the heat-blanched city streets and into the forest. A lullaby that turns loud.
03. Bedhead - "The Rest of the Day"
A blazing example of mellow guitar-playing that crescendos into hazy glockenspiel fireworks. I don't care about the lyrics: they're there to fill time until the seemingly-meandering guitar-line has worked its way into your bloodflow, your inner monologue. When it explodes, it's part of you.
04. Doves - "Pounding"
Trippy, bombastic, feel-good pop as only Doves do. Woo hoo!
05. Loose Fur - "Chinese Apples"
I didn't much like the noodling Loose Fur album. My sister heard this song on Ed, however, and asked me what it was. When I figured it out, what-do-ya-know, it was a lovely little folktune whose merits I had missed. The noodling is present, but harmless. Atmosphere atmosphere atmosphere. And Jeff Tweedy's brown voice.
06. The Microphones - "The Glow Pt. 2"
Noisy and grass-stained - out of disorder comes a clumsy beauty. I like the way the acoustic guitar strokes swing from speaker to speaker.
07. Kepler - "the changing light at sandover"
The Bedhead track's twin. This one changes on a dime, however - like Radiohead's "Creep" - the guitars suddenly thunderous bristling beasts (and the cymbals!). The murmured lyrics have that same irrelevance, though - they're sounds to coax you into the music.
08. Van Morrison - "Madame George"
As Michael Ondaatje recognized, this is one of the world's most marvellous songs, alongside "Sweet Thing" - both from Astral Weeks, and both beyond love, beyond memory, beyond passion and sorrow, well into the sublime.
09. The Dears - "We Can Have It"
It breaks like the sun over the horizon, red-purple. The drums and flute are Radiohead and The Delgados' bastard sons. The finale is huge.
10. New Order - "Temptation"
New Order's best song. Catchy and dancey and singy, with a guitar melody that drives you to grinning, and sillystupid lyrics that sound to me like poetry. The fade-to-snowfall ending sounds like something The Arcade Fire would do, but that's because Win likes New Order so much.
11. Elbow - "Newborn"
If this is prog, it's Dark Side of the Moon brit-prog, muscular and bold. This pop song visits a dozen different places, walks down a dozen different roads.
12. Iron & Wine - "Upward over the Mountain"
Live, from "Morning Becomes Eclectic". This is a song for fog in the streets.

01. Nina Nastasia - "Ocean"
With its peculiar, in-and-out strings, this song rises like the tide, and crashes against cliffs. that justifies the "alt": this is not honky tonk.
02. Sigur Ros - "Svefn-G-Englar"
A submarine that rises through the ice, mist rippling. It's a pop song for orchestras and angels and girls in comas.
03. Songs:Ohia - "The Tigress"
From the live record, mi sei apparso come un fantasma. The song is just as rich as on The Lioness, with the same lurches from angry-to-resigned, but stripped of the organ (replaced with a feral guitar), the track becomes direct, hard-eyed, fierce.
04. Wilco - "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"
A love-song scattered in the attic.
05. (Smog) - "Our Anniversary"
The best thing off Supper, this song is sentimental in the way that only Bill Callahan knows how to do. Deeply romantic, loving; it's also sad, funny, pure. It takes its time coming home. It looks at the sights.
06. Radiohead - "Paranoid Android"
The first Radiohead song I loved.
07. 16 Horsepower - "Horse Head Fiddle"
Churning, black-taffy atmosphere. Thick as dread.
08. Okkervil River - "West Falls"
A murder ballad that kicks its heels up half-way through, celebratory and unambiguously alive. (I get so much fucking joy out of this band. They are extraordinary. And soon - a split EP with Julie Doiron!!! !!!!!!!! !! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
09. Nina Nastasia - "Superstar"
Don't worry. I won't break my own rules. But this song - which you can download here - is too good to pass up. It's another that slow-blossoms, whose shuffle works its way into your breathing. Plaintive but free.
10. Aphex Twin - "Heroes"
Mad string cut-up of David Bowie's classic. Lush and strange, like Philip Glass on opium. Harrowing.
11. Gillian Welch - "I Dream a Highway"
A green crown. This fourteen minute epic is worth its seconds - it's a song worth living to, to put on repeat into forever. The sound of going home, and leaving it.

See why I'm excited?

Posted by Sean at June 6, 2003 2:11 PM

Thanks for posting your track listings. I go now to check out the songs that I haven't heard.

Also, the link to download Superstar is broken (it's an aref instead of an href).

Posted by dustin at June 10, 2003 11:51 AM

ah, man, i would have gone with you to that microphones show! but for some reason i can't check your blog from home because it crashes my computer (I'm at JP's lovely toronto home right now.) :(

Posted by rosemary at June 10, 2003 11:00 PM

Don't tell me you're turning into a Grado geek. Grados were made for Emo fans that want something to complain about - sore ears. I will be interested to 'hear' about them if you do get a pair. I think you might do better with a more proletarian choice like the Sony MDR-V600 (I've owned these for almost 10 years) or V700DJ (fold better for travelling + 50mm driver). The Sonys are the choice of most post-production engineers.

Posted by Andrew at June 11, 2003 9:28 AM

You're mixed up, Andrew. The Sony V6/506's are a studio monitor standard (they're what Howard Stern uses) - the V600s are a different beast altogether. I listened to them at the Sony Store, and they were terrible - whoofy bass, muddy mids. Blah blah blah. The V#00 line is there only to take advantage of kids who want to look hip.

I don't know what you're talking about, vis the emo stuff. I hardly ever see any grade of audiophile headphones on the street - PortaPros, let alone Senn 250s, Sony V6s. The indie rock kids I know tend to use the crappy cans that came with their walkmen. Check out - it's through there that I've developed my shallow headphone knowledge, bolstered by in-store listening.

Just received the Grados today. They sound *wonderful*. I've heard the criticisms about the pads, but they feel fine for now. The insane "your ears will hurt!" rhetoric is really overblown. Still, I'll likely invest $4 in a pair of Sennheiser comfies, mod them a bit, and use them instead.

(Are you Andrew Davidson?)

Posted by Sean at June 11, 2003 12:18 PM

Yes I am: Davidson. I suppose you're blissed out in headphone nirvana because the Grados are no doubt a very high quality headphone. I would even like to have a listen sometime if the opportunity arises. I had no intention of calling your new babies ugly. I have heard the same good things you have.

But, I think you are mistaken about the Sony V600s. The idea that they are a consumer model of the V6s is untrue as far as I can tell. The V600 replaced the V6 (quite a while ago), and the existing users of the V6 disliked the change that Sony made to 'their' headphone. I have never been dissapointed by the V600. The professional model of the V6/V600 is the MDR7506. I see no mention of the V6 on Sony's consumer or professional audio sites. I think the V6 is extinct. So there.

My guess is that the Grados provide a more enthusiastic mid to high end than the Sonys, but that the Sonys can dig deeper with less effort. I will have to go audition headphones for shits and giggles sometime.

Good audio equipment will sound like it over-accentuates the high and low end to people used to watching MuchMusic with the sound coming from the TV speaker(s). Plug in and drop out.

Posted by Andrew at June 11, 2003 9:23 PM

i have no idea what you guys are talking about because i'm a music snob not an electronics snob, but i have the v500 and they're good enough for me. there may be better out there, but i'm happy with what i got. i tend to be more excited by the fact that my sink can produce three different tones (which reminds me, i need to find some rubber mallets so that i can play it 'properly') than the fact that my head phones can produce spectacular lows and ear drum piercing highs.

Posted by smackmastah at June 12, 2003 1:21 PM

The important thing is that we're all snobs.

Posted by Andrew at June 13, 2003 8:53 AM

Have a great time in New York, Sean; I'm so jealous. And please tell A I said hello.

Posted by anne at June 13, 2003 2:08 PM

Three cheers for snobs!
Hip! Hip! Whore-ay!!!
Hip! Hip! Whore-ay!!!
Hip! Hip! Whore-ay!!!!!!

Posted by smackmastah at June 13, 2003 8:52 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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Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.

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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.

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.

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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.

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Back to the World
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