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.


Leonard Cohen and Taylor Swift

Austra - "Beat and the Pulse". I'd seen Toronto's Katie Stelmanis a couple of times. Didn't like her at all. Wailings without songs, atmosphere without substance. I felt bad thinking this, because Katie is a friend of friends; but sometimes you think what you think. When I heard she had changed her name to Austra, I rolled my eyes at least twice. An artist chasing the aesthetic of the instant, spraypainting CHILLWAVE on the side of her tour-van. But then I downloaded the MP3 and listened to "Beat and the Pulse", and it's excellent, and I feel guilty for having had such mean thoughts. This is propulsive, quietly thrilling, with arpeggiated beats and background ah-ah-ahs, and a singer who can really sing. It reminds me of the second half of that Tron 2 trailer (with music by Daft Punk), and of Zola Jesus, but I don't like Zola Jesus very much, so really the pull-quotes are: better than Zola Jesus and propulsive ... thrilling ... Daft Punk.

[buy / MySpace / Austra plays New York in December]

Junip - "Don't Let It Pass". Saw this band in Montreal about a week ago. Their new album, Fields, is very different from their first EP, 2005's exceptional Black Refuge. It's not as good. This is a band led by José González, the Swedish singer-songwriter most famous for his cover of the Knife's "Heartbeats". What I've always liked best about González is the heaviness of his soft, pretty music; his gentle folk-songs are also ominous. This was true of Black Refuge, too: folk-rock bathed in organ, fast forlorn strums, something almost drone-like in its spirit. Doom-folk, I guess - but cryptic, opaque, without the histrionics of Woven Hand. Fields is, well, a lot more stoned. The songs are jammy. They feel relaxed, instead of tense. "Don't Let It Pass" isn't really an exception, but it's great - there's the thrum of the bass string, the stacking of uneasy chords. There's a crispness to its melancholy - like ambiguities can be contained.

Anyhow, live, Junip were an amazing surprise. They were precise, uneasy, really tight. The drummer played so quietly while the rest of the band rose up. It was oddly exciting music, little twists of harmony and beat, repetition and change. The audience demanded an encore, and it was the most genuine demand-for-an-encore that I've heard all year. I was clapping too.

I had set Fields aside, but brought it back out after the show. It is what it is. Out of a good sound-system, it'll warm an afternoon.

[Junip are still on tour / buy]


I went to see Junip because they were - and still are - touring with Sharon Van Etten. Remember her? The one who sang the best song of 2009?

Posted by Sean at November 14, 2010 11:59 PM

Sean, you called it.

Posted by Taryn at November 15, 2010 1:48 AM

haha, ok, fair play but ouch!

Posted by sean at November 15, 2010 1:54 AM

that conversational style trumps, like, a million zillion times, that distant first-person-that-feels-like-third-person-random-authoritative-snooty style that others prefer. it's music for chrissakes. we like what we like.

Posted by lb at November 15, 2010 7:43 PM

Yeah, I love the title of this post.

Posted by Kevin at November 16, 2010 12:56 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.

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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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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