Josh Rouse and Jim White
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.


Two dusty-voiced singer-songwriters to carry us into the weekend.

Josh Rouse - "1972". First off, the softglimmering title track from last year's 1972. It starts out with strums and piano and organ, but things rise out of the calm, a beautiful melody on worn voice and reined-in strings. "She was feeling 1972 / groovin' to a Carole King tune." This impresses me in much the same way as Is This It? impressed me. Such simple ingredients - Rouse playing with the conventions - and yet the songcraft carries it up and into the truly great. For all of us who wish there was more craft to MOR, richer stuff in the fabric of John Mayer or James Taylor's songs. (This is, after all, a tribute to the seventies' pop folk. But it's very, very good.)

Jim White - "Static on the Radio". Taken from Jim's new album, Drill A Hole In That Substrate And Tell Me What You See. Yes, that's a terrible title. And while the record is uneven, this opening track is dusted with genius. on a desolate midnight road, a wailing clutch of instruments (pedal steel, vibraphone, Your Blues-style synths,) that add mystery to the noir bassline. Aimee Mann's backup vocals make the song, really - it's the tickle of better things round the bend, or better things left behind. This song is the loneliness that comes from past fullness: better to have loved and lost, right? Right? "Ain?t praying for miracles, I?m just down on my knees. Listening for the song behind everything I think I know. ... Everything I think I know is just static on the radio."

Better Propaganda - like Epitonic only, uh, with better indie cred. (Free, legal mp3s by the guys who founded, then sold, Epitonic.) Via mefi.

Benjamen Walker, the man behind NPR's musicblogging story a couple of weeks ago, has edited and released a longer version of the piece. He digs deeper into the legal ramifications/possibilities for the movement, and it's quite well done indeed.

See you Monday!

Posted by Sean at May 14, 2004 2:31 AM

This is great. Static on the Radio is the most recent Song I Have Been Dying To Hear again. You know there is a Kanye song which is a bit like your Mastah Ace track - Track 12 from the cd - the one for the ladies

Posted by Annette at May 14, 2004 7:04 AM

do you think that Hayden counts as "dusty voiced"?
his new record is superb....

Posted by candle face at May 14, 2004 9:15 AM

softglimmering, silvergold... your fuse-two-adjectives-into-one trick has been run into the ground by this point, dummy.

Posted by The Glad Hand at May 14, 2004 10:19 AM

What is MOR?

Posted by Anonymous Guy at May 14, 2004 10:58 AM

MOR = M iddle O f the R oad

i think it refers to very traditional, well produced radio rock. oasis is an example commonly used. it's kind of a damning name for a genre that includes some very good records/artists (like oasis).

Posted by Greedy Phillip at May 14, 2004 12:11 PM

Like Greedy Phillip says, MOR is basically the radio format for middle-aged people who want "alternative" music. Groups like Counting Crows, Coldplay, and other 'nice' bands often get put in the ghetto.

cf - Believe it or not, I still haven't HEARD the new Hayden, but once I get my hands on in (within a week), I'll be doing a Hayden post, for sure!

oh, and glad hand - fuck you!

Posted by Sean at May 14, 2004 12:31 PM

these are both awesome. sometimes i think your taste might be too good.

Posted by Hillary at May 14, 2004 3:31 PM

I've always been of the impression that MOR is listened to by the majority of music consumers across the continent, (relatively) young and old alike. (Remember that survey of college kids' #1 bands you posted awhile back? Much of it was squarely MOR, as I recall.)

I guess I'm just bristling a bit at your characterization of MOR fans being "middle-aged"--though I will admit that most MOR listeners are probably over 21 (the shit's too damn slow for most kids). I'm not sure how to better define MOR. Safe songs for timid people? Yuppie fakerock? Or does "middle of the road" say it all?

Posted by moerex at May 14, 2004 3:41 PM

Ha! Thanks, Hillary!

I like "middle of the road" just because it's not too judgmental about the form of the music (unless, that is, you think that the monniker is referring to the [i]quality[/i], and not the genre/tempo/intensity). I think there's some variety to the way people use the term, moe, so your points are very well taken.

Posted by Sean at May 14, 2004 4:04 PM

Yeah, that's a position I try to take. There was a time when I was incredibly scornful of MOR and its listeners, but overall I've mellowed on that attitude a bit--life's too short, and good music can turn up everywhere. Every now and then the bad attitude resurfaces, though. :)

BTW, I've been a fan of Rouse for awhile now, but hadn't yet heard any of his latest. Thanks!

Posted by moerex at May 14, 2004 4:18 PM

It's funny, because among the internet music crits (ilm, etc), MOR is that last great pariah. Dance music's ok (obv.), pop music has finally been embraced, world music's fine, but Coldplay and Norah and Counting Crows seem most of all to be criticized for their radio format. "Why does Coldplay suck? Cause they're so middle of the road, so 'nice'! Old people listen to 'em!"

Which is stupid, because there are far worthier criticisms to make of Hard Candy or A Rush of Blood... - that the music's passion seems preplanned, the the lyrical content is the same as earlier songs, that the groups are using formulas they've already worn to rags. I'm one of the crazies who thinks that both the Counting Crows and Coldplay's first records were spectacular - but when we're having the argument, people are categorically dismissive. They don't want to like this sort of music, and have already closed their ears. Which is too bad.

Posted by Sean at May 14, 2004 4:38 PM

i've noticed and been "irked" by that a lot lately, the fact that pop music is finally being critically embraced, but MOR, and/or other radio music that has more in common with what they listen to than pop does, gets hammered.

for some reason people don't think i should be able to love dashboard confessional songs for the same reason i love "toxic" by britney spears. i always try the "repeat after me kids 'IT SOUNDS GOOD. I LIKE IT'" but, they never seem to get it.

and on the coldplay front, sometimes i think people should be worshipping them for making something so universally likeable. can't be an easy feat.

Posted by justin why at May 14, 2004 9:07 PM

Josh Rouse? Yes.

I wonder how I completely missed the existence of a new Jim White album. Ever since Handcuffed to a Fence in Mississippi I've been very much his bitch-- so the new one is uneven? Sounds fantastic.

Posted by mcf at May 15, 2004 7:14 PM

I heard "Static On The Radio" on an NPR show back in Feb. and had been waiting for the album to come out ever since, it has been so long I had forgotten. Good thing I came here.

Posted by [ 1una ] at May 16, 2004 11:55 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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