lonelily daffodily
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.


All right, let's begin.

On September 23rd of last year, my friend Julian and I embarked from Canada on a three (or was it four?) month transit across some of Europe. Along the way, I bought at least one CD in every country, trying to get a taste of some of the underexposed indigenous music.

For my next x posts (interrupted with Dan and Jordan's worthy contributions), I'm going to try to take you through the best of that music.


We landed in Brighton. We visited Cambridge and Oxford and London, where I was finally able to buy the Go! Team's fantastic Thunder Lightning Strike. But there's no point in trying to introduce you to that - doubtless, you've already been introduced.

In Scotland I didn't fare very well, in terms of buying 'Scottish music'. Instead, I bought a Mouse on Mars CD for £3 at Fopp.

My "British" selections are therefore taken from a comp I bought at Dublin's Road Records, but which is English in spirit.

Misplaced Pets is a CD compilation benefitting two Leeds animal charities, the Whitehall Dog Rescue and the Leeds Animal Rescue. It's a great record with a startlingly fine track-list, unreleased tracks by Hood, Martin Finke, Havergal, Adrian Crowley, and more. You can (and should) buy it here.

Sufjan Stevens - "Niagara Falls". This track from the Michigan sessions is also available at the Asthmatic Kitty website. It's an oddly imbalanced track, purposefully so, Sufjan's dulcet words set off balance by the thump and sigh of the instrumental bridge, the song's sudden end. Stevens' consistency is amazing to me - he manages to imbue song after song with some aspect of the transcendent, piano and mandolin beating angelwings in his urban stories' skies. This is a song that comes and then quickly leaves, almost unfairly so, like the jarring momentous sight of Niagara Falls out the window, massive and godly and then gone.

Alasdair Roberts - "Lullaby to Holly". There's been a lot of talk about Roberts' new record (and rightly so), in the Scottish press. His work (before and after Appendix Out) is fascinating; his pure-laine folk revivalism is beautifully sincere... No, it's just plain beautiful. He's been doing Iron & Wine longer than Iron & Wine has, striding the heather and murmuring the old songs. My dad called it "real hair-shirt music". Nevertheless, it's easy to get lost in Roberts' old ballads, for these glittering songs to fold into one-another, interchangeable. It's thus with great joy that I heard "Lullaby to Holly" - it's another Alasdair Roberts song, and yet not just another Alasdair Roberts song. There's something supple in the melody, in the right placement of words and rhyme, that make it among the best things he's ever recorded.

Charlie Parr - "Roses While I'm Living". Duluth, MN's Charlie Parr sounds, like Alastair Roberts, as if he's been snatched from another era. It's trad american folk with all the passion and resignation of the greats, powerful and ghostly. "Roses While I'm Living" is indeed not an upbeat song, but Parr performs it with just the right note of sadness, letting the fact of its statement buoy the listener. He does no disservice to the Dock Boggs original.

Tomorrow - Northern, and The Republic Of, Ireland.


It's with some amusement that I see that the Arcade Fire is this week's Time Canada cover story. The band wasn't interested in being indie-rock poster-boys (or poster-girls), and wouldn't do a photo, but I guess Time just grabbed something from the press file and did it anyway.


Matt Haughey's "Since U Been Gone" : Clarkson Industries Annual Report

Posted by Sean at March 29, 2005 8:54 AM

and here too doing more old-time covers. this time from the Harry Smith Anthology:


Posted by bmr at March 29, 2005 12:19 PM

Hey Sean,

if you want Scottish music, then you should check out Teenage Fanclub, especially their albums Grand Prix and Songs From Northern Britain.

Very good, poppy, hook-filled guitar music.

Nice one,


Posted by Ross at March 30, 2005 6:33 AM

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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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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.

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