my huckleberry friends
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.


Vincent Gallo, P.J. Harvey, John Frusciante, Jim O'Rourke - "Moon River" [live]. Last week, StG-reader Kieran attended Vincent Gallo's show at London's Royal Festival Hall, and then told me about this performance. I knew immediately that I would spend many hours hunting for it. Because I'm like that.

To my astonishment, I found the song. It's a beautiful duet - slow, tentative, vulnerable. Gallo sounds like Chet Baker, Harvey sounds like heartbreak, and Frusciante's solo is surprisingly (and quite beautifully) humble. Everything feels on the verge of breakdown, and yet it's ignoring this, it's trying hard not to care, it's floating with a peaceful smile. The harmony at the end - not right, and yet right - is why we listen to music.

In Kieran's words:
For a man unfairly known first as an egomaniac and second as an actor/model/director/artist/musician, Vincent Gallo makes surprisingly tender, quiet music, such that the cavernous RFH threatened to engulf it. As Gallo admitted, he was used to playing alone, and despite able support from Jim O'Rourke and Steve Shelley, the concert began nervously. ... As Gallo began to wind up the show he mentioned that he had tried to rehearse another song with PJ Harvey and John Frusciante, but that they had been more concerned with going to parties and so hadn't given him their undivided attention and so he was reluctant to perform it. Perhaps it was showmanship, but implored by the crowd's clamorous response, Gallo capitulated and PJ Harvey and John Frusciante made their way to the stage. ... [I]t was evident that the addition of Frusciante and Harvey had taken the focus taken off Gallo enough for him to relax to the immediate benefit of his vocals. Indeed, he even sat down mid-song to allow a kneeling Frusciante the spotlight for his obligatory guitar solo. It may sound under-rehearsed in places, but for a perfectionist such as Gallo this song is a rare unguarded moment, after which (like the best bits of Buffalo 66) you can't help but love him.

On a different note -

DJ Format - "The Hit Song". This was Andrew's favourite hip-hop song of 2003. It's a friendly, smirking track, word fun over a laid-back, Tribe-style groove. Andrew says, Everything just works so well; the effortless drumbeat, the lazy bassline, the careful samples, and most of all the lyrical gimmicks, performed by Abdominal with what can only be described as aplomb. Utterly, utterly brilliant; a dizzying high from a towering album. Me, I just like the part which goes: "once i hit my comfort level / hit record / soon enough we'll have another / hit record". Because it's mid-April and we all deserve to have some fun.

some other things i've been listening to:

Nirvana - In Utero. Is it bad that I keep skipping to the singles? There's such thick, resonating genius in "Pennyroyal Tea," "Rape Me," "Dumb," "All Apologies" and "Heart Shaped Box." The rest just feels like yelling. It makes me sad that someone who made such strong music disappeared the way he did. It's like a storm folding up and falling into a lake. (splash) Nirvana's guitars ring like church bells.

Of Montreal - Satanic Panic In The Attic. Yikes - why is this so whiny? People keep comparing them to The Kinks - but the Kinks would never make music so downright irritating. These are indie popsters who could use some Shins records to help them mellow down. Also, song-titles like "Vegan in Furs" make me want to kill someone (or else treat this like some unsolicited slush-pile crap). And I like Olivia Tremor Control.

Ghostface - Pretty Toney. On my first couple listens, I like "Love" and I love "Save Me Dear". But the rest simply burbles together and doesn't make an impact. (I need hooks in my hip-hop, dammit!) I'll do more listening, though, if only because Mark's so enthused... I'm getting a little tired of epic hip-hop records that have a fair bit of mediocrity (see: Madvillainy).

Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News. "Float On," "Bukowski," "World at Large," and "Blame It On the Tetons" are enough to make this very good. But it's too bad the band didn't cut out their hearts and brains and replace them with pieces of "Float On," because Modest Mouse would be way better if those guitar riffs zoomed down their veins, if those hooks were bouncing in their skulls - in short, if they took some disco dancing lessons.

Zero 7 - When It Falls. Don't look at me like that. This album is incredible, really. We tend to think of musical genres (at least sometimes) as slowly advancing, merging, perfecting older ideas and introducing new ones. Well, When It Falls is like the Omega Point for all downtempo-lounge-trip-hop. In terms of the genre, When It Falls is supreme, untoppable, as good as it gets. It's like some sort of astonishingly advanced weapon's grade technology, like the sort of album we'd be able to make after trading with an incredibly advanced alien civilization. "Warm Sound" makes everything else redundant. No one's going to record a better amalgam of Stereolab, neosoul and mid-90s electronics.

Wilco - A Ghost is Born. At first I loved this record, and then I thought it sucked, and now I'm back loving it again. What I like:

  • "At Least That's What You Said" remains utterly, blazingly brilliant. I feel like the guitar solo could go on even longer, could climb different ladders through breaks in the cloud, could get burned in different places. This song will be one of those few tracks (by any band) that I will seek out live versions of. (Especially with Nels Cline - sweet jesus!)
  • the way the guitar at the end of "Muzzle of Bees" sounds to me just like the horns on "Only a Northern Song," only better, truer, and more bravely foregrounded - and yet still far too short;
  • when Jeff Tweedy sings "and I felt / all right" on "Handshake Drugs";
  • the way that "Company in my Back" is basically about waiting for the guitar/mandola/thing to flutter in and strike you dumb with beauty;
  • the chorus of "Hummingbird," higher-pitched than anyone singing wants it to be, but which compels my girlfriend to sing along, full-voiced, joyous (and the fact that the chorus really only happens once, once!). Also, the guitar (?) which sounds like a kazoo;
  • the rhyme "One two three four five six seven eight nine / Once in Germany someone said 'Nein'";
  • the tumbling way that the chorus of "Wishful Thinking" appears - a happy inevitability.
  • Needless to say, there's also crap: I can't get over the deadness of "Spiders (Kidsmoke)," the dance-beat that's there only for artiness, whose aesthetic is one of stasis and aloofness, boredom and a hipper-than-thou yawn (for almost eleven minutes). the 90s britpop guitar bit doesn't save it. also: "late greats"... I appreciate Wilco's desire to do a back-to-basics roots-rock hidden track (and Glenn Kotsche's drums make me want to appreciate the way they do it), but to be honest, there's almost nothing here to care about. The only good bit is when the song suddenly goes away, collapses to dust ("he just looks a little too old"), and we hear the ringing, never-ending piano path into nothingness... (The band has made available a full album stream, here. If you've downloaded the album and want to thank the band, donate to their charity-of-choice here).

    holy crap it's almost five AM.

    Posted by Sean at April 12, 2004 4:34 AM

    That "Once in Germany somebody said Nein" is maybe the most wince inducing moment I have heard on a record this year. It completely ruins that song for me every time I hear it. I am trying, so very hard, to accept it, but it is going to take work. At Least That's What You Said and Company in My Back are the highlights for me.

    Posted by Scott CE at April 12, 2004 10:54 AM

    Gallo should stick to making music (although Buffalo '66 is a great movie). Everything he's released on Warp has been fantastic. "When" is one of my favorite records to fall asleep on a plane listening to...somehow it just fits. Thanks for posting that

    Posted by aaron at April 12, 2004 12:05 PM

    You can't give up "the good times are killing me" off Good news. Most of the album works for me but your choices + good times are definitely way above par for Modest Mouse.

    Posted by Jonathan at April 12, 2004 12:22 PM

    Fair enough, Jonathan - it is indeed a good song. I just wish it went whirring to slighly higher heights. Doesn't it sort of feel that as jam-party-songs go (see "Hey Jude," "Devil Will Ride"), it's treading water? Repetition, yells from the back, but it never really moves anywhere...

    Scott - you need to understand the "Nein" lyric as wholly silly self-mockery, as unadulterated fun. It's a *funny*, *stupid* lyric, and of course Tweedy knows that. He's caught up in something, in the song, and this goofiness just rolls (!) on out of him. It's almost brilliant.

    I'll have to hunt "Where" down, Aaron. Is there any particular track I should use as a barometer for if I'll like it?

    Posted by Sean at April 12, 2004 12:46 PM

    Sean, I thought about that, too, but the fact is, I can only hear it as being meant to be ironic, as in "Isn't this a corny joke," and it doesn't seem to me like it fits the enthusiasm of the rest of the song. We obviously have different takes on it, but it's precisely because I feel that Tweedy is NOT caught up in something, but self-conciously aware of the corniness of it, that derails the song for me. Because the rest of the song DOES feel like he is caught up in something.

    Posted by Scott at April 12, 2004 2:56 PM

    I heartily agree on Modest Mouse and Ghostface. People on the board I was one were hyping it as "Hip Hop Album of the Year", I still prefer Kanye, but there is some good on there. I just have to figure out which is bad b-boy posturing, and which is really fun and neat. I got through the first 3-4 tracks of Modest Mouse and was about to proclaim it Album of the Year...than the album kind of fell off for me. As much as I hate to agree with Pitchfork, I believe this is what they said about it. The Sigur Ros EP is pretty durned fine too. No singing, all instrumental, I really like the first 2 songs, the third is take it or leave it, I'll take it, but I'm not paying for it.

    Posted by caley at April 12, 2004 5:42 PM

    thanks for that ghostface drop, sean. I've been toying with finishing up all my winXP updates and setting up iTunes nice and proper, so I should have some stuff to impart soon enough.
    I'll email soon; I have a flavour to ask.

    Posted by forksclovetofu at April 12, 2004 6:17 PM

    I had almost the same reaction to the album you had. Liked it, then hated it and now love it. I also mostly agree with your assessment of the tracks. I can't stand Kidsmoke and Handshake Drugs doesn't do it for me (I seem to be alone on that one). Muzzle of Bees might be my favorite. Brilliant. Oddly enough, that?s where I hear O?Rourke?s influence the most.

    Posted by Neil at April 13, 2004 12:22 PM

    So, what do you think of Zero7 first LP, simple things ? It is such a great album, that When it falls disappointed me a little bit.

    Posted by Jamais Pareil at April 13, 2004 6:24 PM

    Sean - I couldn't agree more with your assessment of "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" as it appears on A Ghost Is Born, but while you're out there hunting down live versions of "At Least . . .," grab some live versions of "Spiders" as well, because it's a great song live, just poorly arranged and recorded on the studio record (for reasons I can't fathom -- for once I can't even figure out what Jeff was TRYING to pull off there).

    Posted by Frank at April 13, 2004 6:47 PM

    very beautiful, the V. Galo & PJ Harvey song. Thank's.

    Posted by rodrigo at April 18, 2004 4:34 PM

    Crap, the Gallo mp3 is gone... Could annyone "YouSendIt" to me? ( (email: shane at dosagedesign d0t com)

    Posted by shane at April 19, 2004 12:48 PM

    the link for MOON RIVER does not work.. OR the file is gone!

    Posted by mblind at April 19, 2004 2:17 PM

    I FOUND IT... It's at

    sounds awesome!!

    Posted by Anonymous at April 19, 2004 2:45 PM

    As you'll see if you look at the top of the page, all mp3s here are hosted for one week. So to stay current, visit regularly!

    Posted by Sean at April 19, 2004 4:33 PM

    Give up listening to rap and stick to indiecountry.

    Posted by liketotallyawesome at April 20, 2004 6:28 PM

    Man, this site is like listening to a group of freshman college kids attempting to participate in some type of substantive crit. -- and demonstrating their incredible naivete.

    Comments like ...the deadness of Spiders...the dancebeat etc.

    Grow up and realize that much of Tweedy's art is focused on the observation and disgust with people who are always looking for the familiar, immediate, and comfortable (this society's penchant for instant gratification-- quit looking for folk songs-- that's over) . The so called "dancebeat that's there only for artsiness", and the "90's britpop" bridge is played against the incredibley unique manner in which three alternately creepy and stingingly effusive guitar jams (AE gems) act as an auditory compliment to a lyric which describes the incidious but almost Stepfordlike manner in which most of this greedgut, capitalistic, singularly focused society thinks and operates. (That's why the mesmerizingly patterned "dancebeat" runs the entire gamut of the song -- it's also why the song is almost eleven minutes long--its so constructed as to challenge, not pacify you)

    Hey, maybe I didn't read enough bologna, but I'm really suprised that you're not crying the blues about the end of "Less Than You Think". Where's the screaming about all that Sonic Youth noise that builds and fades (more mindless artsiness--right?).

    Might do you guys some good to really read the lyric to "Hell Is Chrome". You seem really bent on a need to "belong", where you will get help in every way and have the familiar delivered in nice predictable little sound bites.

    It's art at its best dudes--- it is challenging you to think anew -outside what you already know and expect...but then...'s okay for you to say
    What you want from me
    I believe that's the only
    Way for me to be
    Exactly what you want me to be

    Exactly what do you want me to be?

    Posted by Halo Jones at April 24, 2004 4:48 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.

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