in the hallowed ground
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.


After writing about Clem Snide yesterday, I was thinking about other "pet bands" of mine - acts that I, and only I, seem to get excited about. Foremost of these (apart from Gomez, I guess,) is Ireland's The Frames. They're one of the biggest bands of the Green Isle (second only, perhaps, to U2), and yet they're nobodies here, playing at half-empty CMJ shows. They opened for Calexico.

Anyway, the Frames are the milk that the now much-vaunted Damien Rice was weaned on, but for their part, Songs:Ohia and Will Oldham are more often cited as influences. Thing is, though they've gained the ability to hush, to soar, to bloom in soft, folk-rocky ways, they started out as something much closer to Pearl Jam - melodic alt-rock in the typical 90s style, passionate vocalist and all. Though the early records have definite stand-outs ("Revelate," "Fitzcarraldo," "Your Face"), it's only on the last two LPs that the band has become thoroughly mesmerising. They're honestly one of the finest rock bands currently operating.

The Frames - "Lay Me Down". Taken from the band's most recent album, the Albini-produced For the Birds, here's the Frames at their most lush. It's the drums that make it work - they shudder and thump like something live and kindly, something to be cherished. So many folk/sadcore artists get it wrong: it's not the guitar that's the most important instrument, it's the drums. The right brushed fills, the ting of a cymbal. I don't know my "drum theory" whatsoever, but I could hear what Dane and Brendan used to contribute to even the quietest of Arcade Fire songs, I felt the impact when Damien Jurado's drummer flickered to life at Casa on the 10th. Glen Hansard sings without bragadocchio, a fiddle plays careful accompaniment, harmonica - and banjo! And then the song ends - it ends! - it doesn't try to build to some artificial emotional climax, or shatter into fragments, it simply wraps things up and finishes. The drums patter into the evening.

The Frames have done lots more; their palette is full and varied. If there's any interest, I'll share some other highlights.

Posted by Sean at November 29, 2003 2:08 AM

me like that song muchly.

Posted by smackmaster at November 29, 2003 1:14 PM

Not sure if you didn't mention it because it's so obvious, or because you didn't know, but Glen Hansard played "Outspan" in the film The Commitments.

Posted by james at December 8, 2003 10:16 PM

Hey - just came across your site, and was scanning through the archives when I came across this post. Thank you. No really - thanks. I love this song; it's great to see some attention brought to it, and to the Frames. Really enjoyed your description, too!

Posted by Elaine at December 10, 2005 11:44 PM

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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.

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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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