older chests reveal themselves
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.


Just got back from the Frames/Damien Rice concert at Theatre Outremont. It was strange seeing a performance from up in the balcony; with all the indie rock shows lately, I'm not used to being more than twenty feet from the stage. Still - twas lovely.

In the almost two years since I reviewed his record, Damien's become a star in North America. He's no U2, certainly, but he recently appeared on Letterman for the second time, the Short List Prize, yadda yadda yadda. There was definitely more adulation tonight - more unequivocal reverence - than at the show I saw in NYC last summer. It's understandable, really. The songs on O are remarkable, flush with feeling and musical sweetness. In person, he can sometimes do the same but better - freeer, braver, more playful. On the other hand, live, Damien can come off a bit precocious - and given my increasing impatience with big strummed acoustic guitar chords, there were moments when I couldn't help but wish he'd get on with it. (In addition, what's with his new material's fixation on, um, naughty words for 'penis'?) Nevertheless, Mr Rice brought with him the wonderful, plucky Vyvienne Long (on cello) and the incomparable Lisa Hannigan (on smoky vocals), and played some Leonard Cohen ("Hallelujah") in the man's hometown. There was a great deal to like, particularly the finale "Blower's Daughter," and a nearly drunk karaoke version of "Cheers, Darlin'," the high-point of which was Ms Long sawing on an imaginary cello.

The Frames opened, playing a short set. Which is a pity, because what they played was absolutely terrific. They are a band of such shining talent, so deserving of an audience. Quiet-to-loud with a sincere will to move; lyrics that rung out clear and sweet; rock'n'roll that reared and roared. I relished Glen Hansard's clumsybeautiful explanations between songs, the struggling to make poetry out of the rattling sounds of his heart.

Today, then, another installment in my diligent Frames advocacy. Two more songs that point to their poignancy and power. Dance the Devil and the Albini-produced For the Birds are records to buy.

The Frames - "What Happens When the Heart Just Stops". Introducing this song, Glen said something like this: "This is a song about letters... Because when you feel something it's important to write it down. To get it on paper. Because then it's physical and- and when something's physical you can hold it in your hands, and you can- you can burn it. Or tear it up. Or frame it and hang it on your wall and look at it every day." This song grows slowly, like moss over a grave, guitars tripping through and around the vocal melody, a synth tremble in the corner. When the horns rise up from the earth, wide and thick and blooming, it's enough to drown in. To dream in. And then it stops; cuts off; falls quiet. And you're left with grey. (Listen and listen loud!) From 2002's For the Birds.

The Frames - "Your Face". Something quieter: a beautiful and terrible lovesong. Such shining, languid loveliness, and yet that distance - that gap - that only the violin can cross. Electric guitar that mumbles like Julie Doiron (or, at 2:51, like Adam Sandler's character in Punch-Drunk Love), a melody that confesses like Jeff Buckley, and such confident use of stillness. It's a song about distance, about closeness, about "sending a tape" and remembering a face. "But if you wanna try again / I'll fall / ... / And all you have to do is give / Give me that look again." Off of 1996's Fitzcarraldo.

And finally, in the same spirit as The Frames' crashing live show -

Seachange - "Anglokana". Brought to my attention by James (many thanks!), here's a song from Matador's latest coup, Seachange. It's a breathtaking song, equally coarse and pretty, opening with a long stretch of seashore and then closing with a raucous mess of electric guitar, like The Wrens with a dose of English rain. The genius is in the way the different modes are two sounds of the same coin - the noise that roars under the melancholic drear, the hollow sadness that persists beneath the yells. This is what I daydreamed that British Sea Power sounded like - the reality's rather more boring.

Matthew's One-T and Cool-T song from a few days ago is wonderful, multicoloured pop.

Aaron pointed me to the quite likable sneak-peak of Royal City's upcoming record, Little Heart's Ease. It's a song called Bring My Father".

A day with Quentin Tarantino.

Posted by Sean at April 22, 2004 2:14 AM

The link to Your Face isn't working. Fix it mighty quick so I can listen to more Frames! Thanks for these - another post of great listening.

Posted by http://syntaxfree.org/blog at April 22, 2004 3:14 AM

Hey Sean - Looks like the Tofu Hut is out of bandwidth...

Any idea whats going on over there?

Posted by Keith at April 22, 2004 8:59 AM

Until sean fixes it.... the frames link should be...

Posted by Keith at April 22, 2004 9:00 AM

Yikes. Link fixed. Thanks, Keith.

Dunno about the bandwidth thing... Maybe I should call John...

Posted by Sean at April 22, 2004 11:07 AM

Cool stuff man. Actually I really got into the Frames after I downloaded Fitzcarraldo when you mentioned it in the recent Wilco post and put "Songs like this song at the end." It caught my eye as the movie Fitzcarraldo is one of my favorites (and not a common word you hear), so I found it on Limewire and thought it to be amazing. Anyways, so began my search to find cds by the Frames. So thanks so much for that exposure, because they're the band I've been listening to the most for the past month or so.

Then I found out they were opening for Damien Rice, but not on the West Coast. Meh...maybe some other time :/

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

Glad to hear that Damien Rice is cool in concert. I can't wait to see him at Bonnaroo this year. I really dig the O album. Thanks for the review.

Posted by Indigo at April 22, 2004 2:27 PM

I'm glad you like the track! For such an excellent album it isn't getting nearly the attention it deserves.

Posted by James at April 22, 2004 2:32 PM

Thanks for the heads up re: the new Royal City track. I'm very much looking forward to Little Heart's Ease, and this fine song definitely didn't disappoint. They're sounding a little less lo-fi these days, which is fine by me. The choral vocals and the bass are nice touches.

Posted by Paul at April 22, 2004 3:38 PM


Posted by Ronan at April 26, 2004 6:50 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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