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.


Monster - "Charlatan". Edward sent me this song. We don't know anything about her. She might be from NYC. She might not. She's unsigned. And her name's essentially un-googlable. So this is all we've got. Well, I've got two tracks and I think Edward's got more. But all we've got is the music, the song, minutes.

Monster is fascinating. I can't wrap my head around her. For the first time in my life I have encountered an artist who is almost entirely redundant. Monster doesn't imitate, she re-enacts. She doesn't cover, she manifests. If the songs felt more self-aware, I'd think of her as an impersonator.

Because, see, Monster sounds just like Cat Power.

I'm not talking in vague stylistic terms. She's not like Cat Power in the same way that Joanna Newsom or Scout Niblett are like Cat Power. No, this is on an entirely different level. Her voice is like Chan's, her lyrics are like Chan's, her instrumentation is like Chan's. On "Charlatan" she plays guitar like Chan, on "World Go" she plays piano like Chan. Her back-up vocals, "wee-oh-ooh", are like Chan's. Heck, even in my iTunes Library they overlap, Monster leading immediately into Moon Pix.

I imagine all sorts of weirdo scenarios. Maybe Monster's Chan's new monniker. Maybe she's Chan's sister. Maybe she's the original and Chan copied her. Maybe Monster's Paul Auster.

I wish I could say that Monster "is like a [blank] Cat Power". The rockin' Cat Power, say. The funky Cat Power. The Cat Power who doesn't break down at concerts. But no, no and who knows. She doesn't sound like a weird Cat Power, but like regular Cat Power.

There's no point arguing who's better, Cat Power or Monster. Cat Power obviously wins because she's got a whole buncha records, several of which are fucking astounding. And me, I've only heard two tracks by this Monster gal. But the remarkable thing is no matter how redundant Monster may be, this song's still good, maybe great even, the longer it lives in your coat the more you come to cherish it.* And it shows you that as you listen to a few minutes of singing and sighing, sad guitar and distracted tambourine, toms, nothing really matters except whether or not you've been brought into that moment, whether the song is singing some part of you that wanted a voice.

Lady, introduce yourself. Please!

Update 7:25pm 19/7: Edward tells me they're a band, not just one woman. And they're from LA.

* (This is in contrast to the new Flaming Lips version of "Bohemian Rhapsody, which has no point whatsoever except to give Stereogum something to write about!)

Soeza - "Brackish Waters". Okay so Soeza's from Bristol and their CD label is full of colour and their music's jazzy-glad with a krautrock bent. I feel like they're from an alternative universe, and they are. It's called the UK. The US was hit with a phase of arty emo some time in the late 90s, chugging guitars and surprising jerks of sound, soft harmonies and then the crush of a bellowed conviction. The UK doesn't know that, though. Soeza doesn't know that. So here they are, revisiting the land of Jimmy Eat World's Clarity, but since they don't know about some of the cheasier precedents they can pretend like their music is fresh and mind-blowing, and once you get caught in the spirit of things you might just get convinced.

There's a girl yelling over a storm, a storm of petals and airplane parts, clamouring guitars and wails of french horn. There's a funky bassline. And then they keep getting interrupted; some prog-listening dude and his girlfriend who insists on singing along. It'd be irritating, except that it gives us a pause when we can hear the guitar on its own and then drumsticks-and-bass and then everything rushes in and oh yay it's this again!

[buy Why Do You Do?]


Swedes Please introduced me to The Salty Pirates. "My Academic Beard", which is far too clever for its own good, is furry dashing fun, halfway between Herman Dune and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Dig.

Teaching the Indie Kids to Dance Again is back! Hooray! Welcome home, Keith!

Last month I wrote about a fantastic covers comp called Jeans Cover. Sweden's Groover Recordings is putting together its next release, the aptly named Gene & Cover, a tribute to Byrds co-founder Gene Clark. They're looking for artists who would like to contribute, so if you're interested, run-don't-walk to I guarantee it will be good.

All of you hopefully remember Flotation Toy Warning, a band I waxed lyrical about a few weeks ago. Despite their awful name, their songs are swimming and joyous, mixed-up pop, all soil and space-dust. In advance of their debut's US release, Songs:Illinois and Misra Records have teamed up to let mp3blog-readers buy the CD early, through that special URL. Songs:Illinois still has some sample mp3s, . Please consider picking up the album - it's great, and this experiment makes pudding-proof that audioblogs sell CDs.

Posted by Sean at July 19, 2005 4:00 AM

Lady, introduce yourself. Please !
Please !
Pleeeeeaaaaseeee !!!!!
I can't stop listening to this.
What about the other track ?

Posted by alex at July 19, 2005 10:48 AM

Edward's got it wrong. It looks like she's from Germany.

Posted by phil at July 19, 2005 8:08 PM

hahaha. i was about to praise your keen eye, but then i listened to the songs on that myspace page. :)

Posted by Sean at July 19, 2005 8:10 PM

thanks for the coupla mentions. And I'm glad you agreee on the Salty Pirates, particularly the Clap Your Hands reference...sometimes (oh alright all the time) I'm unsure if my comparisons have any basis in reality

Posted by craig at July 19, 2005 10:48 PM


I totally agree with your analysis. Monster really does sound like Cat Power. I thought I was listening to Cat Power the first time I put it on. Thanks for posting it. I really enjoyed it.

Posted by ryansenseless at July 20, 2005 8:41 PM

that academic beard song is great, but i think the band owes pavement royalties for nicking a broad swath of the key melody from 'here.'

also, i'll chime in my agreement about the mindbreaking properties of the conundrum that is monster.

Posted by erik at July 21, 2005 8:20 AM

Okay. So. I've been coveting Monster's "Charlatan" for five years now, along with two other songs that I somehow managed to ferret out on the interwebs.

I'm not sure if this is already old news, but tonight I had one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life. I found their MySpace. Since you guys were the ones who started me on this multi-year goose chase, I figured I'd share the wealth:

And yes. You can still get yer hands on their album.

Posted by Alie at November 6, 2010 12:30 AM

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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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