one way or another
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.


Sons and Daughters - "Medicine". Boy oh boy! Tongues were wagging, sure, when Sons and Daughters released Love the Cup, a mini-album, last year. But would you listen to this! The lead off-track from their upcoming LP, "Medicine" is just over two minutes of stomp-kicking joy - well, joy in the musical sense. The bass drum is one neverending thump, a dancefloor heartbeat, the voice in your head that makes you want to throw yourself off that cliff. (And if you wait for the throaty bolt of guitar in the left channel, you'll get a glimpse of what happens if you do go head-over-heels off the edge.) Adele and Scott sing, they yell, and it's gloriously glaswegian - at last a band that sounds like the streets they trudge through. I could reach and make a reference to Johnny Cash, to old-fashioned country, but despite the mandolin I won't. I'll only say that there's danger here, the mild danger that leaves you breathless, that I want to get through that scary night and break into a hall full of people, this music in the speakers, all of us stamping and dancing and clapping and shouting, with all our hearts. I don't just want to be hearing this raucous melodious noise - I want to be making it. [pre-order The Repulsion Box (due in June) / buy other stuff]

Iron & Wine - "Evening on the Ground (Lilith's Song)". Hold your horses. First of all, Iron & Wine junkies (metallurgists and oenophiles, I guess), you needn't read this. You hold Mister Sam Beam in such high esteem that you heard this months ago. For the rest of us, however, - and I hold myself in this group, - don't go skipping off before you've listened to this song. I liked Creek Drank the Cradle well enough, I even loved it at first, but as time went on I stopped listening to it. Iron & Wine make warm and pretty music, but other than the KCRW recording of "Upward Over the Mountainside", or maybe those Flaming Lips/Postal Service covers, the hazy whispered folk never reached over and into my chest, really touching my heart. After sinking my teeth into last year's Our Endless Numbered Days, I gave up interest in the guy. His music seemed to be circling on itself, always the same thing, at the same level.

So I didn't listen to the Woman King EP till this past weekend, away in Glencoe, prompted by John's post at ILM.

But it's marvelous! Certainly the best thing that Beam has ever released. In beside his hushed vocals is a jittering array of percussion, the thrum and strain of piano, violin, electric (!) guitar, and other voices. More than any of this, however, what excites me is the feeling of menace on the recording. For the first time there's the tang of evil in Iron & Wine's songs.

"Evening on the Ground (Lilith's Song)" is brilliantly brief, a story compressed into a icy flashing question-mark. Beam says "fucking" within the first few lines, and then it's all about spider-bites, dying, a waterside... Something's approaching, or fleeing, or promising to return. The fiddle juts in before you're comfortable, then the bound thrash of the guitar. Beam's croon is suddenly scary, a fearful or fearsome whisper. It's rich, dark and full. It's a thicket. It's fine. [buy]



Stylus gets it exactly freakin' right on the new Magnolia Electric Co. It's a fantastic review.


Welcome to visitors from the Ottawa Citizen (especially anybody I know!). Please consider saying hello in the comments - and please do stick around. You'll hear from Jordan (and maybe Dan) later this week.

Posted by Sean at April 18, 2005 8:29 AM

Oh god- the Iron & Wine link appears broke. I really need to hear it. The Sons and Daughters one is good (and great). Congrats on the handsome Citizen photo!

Posted by Monica at April 18, 2005 9:15 AM

I think the Iron and Wine link should be working now. I'm having problems verifying this stuff. (Let me know if it's not.)

-Photo?- Oh god...

Posted by Sean at April 18, 2005 9:19 AM

My first visit to a music blog. I'm retired but not dead and love more kinds of music than most people who hate rap ( so my opinion should count for something, right? ). I've spent the last three months downloading my favs from the good old days.
Just back from a road trip with three friends my age who all placed orders for some of the cd's I'd made and brought along for the 10 hour drive.
My problem with the 'new music' is not getting enough exposure to the cream cuts, although attending Bluesfest does help (Xavier Rudd). And I'm a big fan of Matt Mays from my old home town.
Anyway, I loved the Iron and Wine download and will revisit the site to look and listen for more.
By the way Sean if you read this and you get to Ullapool or Skye while in Scotland try the Ferry Boat Inn or the Tongadale Tavern in Portree,Skye for a pint and a wee dram. Nice people at both.
All the best,
Scott (retired and loving it )in the West End.

Posted by scott at April 18, 2005 10:32 AM

is it wrong that 'evening on the ground' makes me think it should be the soundtrack to an exploration of voodoo spiritualism and the deep south? i loved the song, and its sound.

and congrats to sean, jordan and dan for the spread in the citizen - yay for well-deserved accolades!

Posted by Anonymous at April 18, 2005 10:37 AM

Hey guys, been reading the site for a few months now. I'm from Ottawa and just saw the Citizen article. Is it just me or is the Citizen actually pretty on top of things? Matt Mays and MIA have both graced the cover of Arts section in the past couple of weeks.

Anyways, keep up the good work.

Posted by Pat at April 18, 2005 11:43 AM

You are making me a blogging addict! Thanks for the great tunes. Much love from Ottawa.

Posted by matt vlahovic at April 18, 2005 12:05 PM

Hey Sean, saw the Citizen stuff... impressive. Shout-outs to all the robotics alumni. Still in Ottawa.

Nice music, too.

Posted by Pat Snider at April 18, 2005 12:30 PM

Hey Pat,
Check out hipster n poser.

Posted by Eugene at April 18, 2005 2:21 PM

hey sean, magnolia electric co. are touring the uk - being edinburgh based you might want to check out the glasgow gig on the 31st may, at stereo.

oh and check out edinburgh based band the magnificents.

keep up the good work;)

Posted by nat at April 18, 2005 3:40 PM

"The idea is to be kind of a cool older brother," says Keith Serry, an Ottawa PR consultant whose own MP3 blog, Pregnant Without Intercourse, is six months old.

-- But why are there so many cool older brothers out there, and relatively few cool older sisters? I've been trying to come up with a good explanation for months and have not, nor has anyone offered one. Not that it's very important, it's just that, as someone who once studied epidemiology, I keep wanting to understand the etiology of and risk factors for music blogging/music nerdhood.

Congrats on the OC article.

Posted by jennifer at April 18, 2005 3:41 PM

Thanks for the "Medicine." Any idea when the U.S. release date will be for "The Repulsion Box"? June seems so far away.

Posted by john at April 18, 2005 4:03 PM

Are they still producing Hipster and Poser? I read all 3 issues they put out last year, but I get the impression from the web site that they aren't doing any more of those.

Posted by Pat at April 18, 2005 4:27 PM

Re the Citizen, above:

The relevant article aside, the Citizen's music coverage has been terrible IMO since I moved back to town a couple of years ago.

Last summer I read a few front-page articles in their Arts section by critics who're grudgingly admitting that hiphop is moving past "bitches and hos" to show "real emotion", because they've just heard of Outkast and the last twenty years apparently never happened.

Their main concert critic just cheerleads for every single act that comes to town, with no interest in fact-checking or engaging with the music on any level.

Sorry for the rant, it's just something that's been bugging me for a while, and my wife's getting sick of hearing it every time I open a Saturday citizen.

Posted by Eoin at April 18, 2005 6:24 PM

Congratulations on the article, though, in all sincerity (I don't mean to be totally negative).

Posted by Eoin at April 18, 2005 6:27 PM

Well put.

Have to concur about that Iron & Wine tune, it's the best thing he's ever done. That serrated guitar that comes in around a minute and a half takes Mr Beam someplace else completely.

I'd go back and check out Endless Numbered Days too--I got that shortly after being underwhelmed by Creek Drank the Cradle, and it didn't stick out much. Then a year later, it opened up for me somewhere around "Free Until They Cut Me Down." Creek Drank the Cradle still doesn't hold up as well though. Not sure why not.

Posted by chris at April 18, 2005 8:17 PM

I have a few possible answers for you (although I'm not super clear on what exactly you're asking, but hopefully this will help). I've been studying related stuff for a long time at school and so I have some ideas. First, there's the idea of popular music, which is traditionally considered to be masculine in North America (the majority of bands are made up of men, music critics tend to be male, music producers and fans are much more likely to be men, whole genres of music are considered masculine such as all hard rock, heavy metal- not that there aren't huge amounts of women doing all of these things, just that numerically they are considerably fewer). There are many possible reasons I have run into for this, including: music is considered to be rebellious, girls are not supposed to be as rebellious as boys, music venues can be dangerous to girls who might not feel as safe out on the street at night, girls might be less likely to learn to play instruments like the guitar or drums because they are coded as masculine already (try going into a guitar store and you'll see), etc.
Second, there is the idea of taste - there is a cultural disregard for women's taste (this is harder to talk about, but if you think about how girls are supposed to be into top 40 and pop music (more than boys are, anyway), or "music for the tasteless masses" while boys are more likely to be into rock music, and other kinds of music that is considered to be "better," it's easier to see).
Third, there is the problem of things that are technical: science, electronics, computers etc are also considered to be male domain, which explains why women do not populate engineering and math classes, why girls are less likely to learn to play electric guitars, to use ham radios, or to learn how to program websites. Finally, there is nerdiness, which is also considered masculine, particularly music nerddom. Men are more likely to know the names of obscure albums, to have extensive record collections, to be into dungeons and dragons, to have huge amounts of arcane knowledge about any given subject. Because nerdiness is sometimes just plain nerdy, but it is also what makes a person cool in music circles.
Anyways, that's a lot of stuff so sorry if I went on, this is something I'm pretty interested in and I hope I helped. Also, just to be clear, I'm not saying that any of these things have to be true, or that they always are, I just wanted to help you out by thinking up some answers and pointing out how the lack of these blogs might be related to a whole bunch of other things too. There are tons of women doing all of these things, playing and listening to all kinds of cool and not so cool music, building computers in their basements, whatever. So I'm definitely not saying that women in music don't exist cause obviously, obviously they do, en masse.
Anyways, all this to say, I am all for more cool older sister blogs, that would be amazing!

Posted by Christine at April 18, 2005 10:38 PM

Hey Sean! Where the hell is "Ottawa"? :)

Actually, how many cities have Henry Cow songs abut them? That's pretty cool. But you're probably wondering why I asked you here today... It's because I wonder if you would ever consider putting something ("stg" or "saidthegramophone") in the ID4 comments tag. It would be nice to just have an STG playlist without having to track everything down. I think all MP3 blogs should do a little brand-tagging like that.

Nothing about the music, sorry, haven't even listened to it yet. But it sounds like it sounds great.

Posted by rodii at April 18, 2005 10:49 PM

Christine - Thanks! I have to mull over everything a little more. I've thought about all those issues that you raise. The thing is, there are clearly women who blog (and blog and write well!), as evidenced by the high-quality lit blogs out there. But perhaps the ratio of male:female bloggers overall still favors men ... this I don't know. And it's true that maybe if I were able to survey the women I see at the shows I attend, I'd discover that many of them are accompanying men; and maybe my music tastes happen to coincide with those of boys, and not girls (quite possible, too). But as this is slightly off topic, I'll quit here. Again, thanks for all the grist for the mill.

Posted by jennifer at April 18, 2005 11:25 PM

Thanks for those sage observations, Christine, and to Jennifer for the question in the first place. It bothers me quite a lot, actually. I go to meetings for music-writers at the local paper, and there's maybe one girl; a journalist asks me to recommend female mp3bloggers and at the time I can think of only one...

Thanks for the warm words, Scott (I'll visit Skye and drink to your honour!), Eoin, Matt, Pat.

I'm probably going to go see Magnolia Electric Co in Glasgow, yeah. And I'll try to catch the magnificents some time; the buzz is certainly big. (This friday I'll be seeing My Latest Novel, who are also hot-to-trot right now.)

Rodii - for -my- posts, I try to add a "said the gramophone" tag in the "comments" id3 field.

Pat - hello!!!

Posted by Sean at April 19, 2005 8:05 AM

congrats on the article, guys. glad to see you're getting props for all of hard work you put into said the gramophone.

and fyi,, the sxsw mp3blog, was run by two women.

Posted by kathryn at April 20, 2005 4:47 PM

Hey Sean - congratulations on the Citizen article! I've linked to this post and Lilith's Song, if that's okay. As for girls blogging about music, I agree they're out there, but I find mostly the token categories like 'womenfolk' get linked, so they're harder to find. It's funny that this discussion is happening around Beam's Women King, though.

Posted by esmeseed at April 21, 2005 10:38 AM

If you think that Iron & Wine song is good, try to find "Trapeze Swinger." It's a mindblowing, phenomenal 9 and half minute track. Heartbreaking, beautfiul. Find the lyrics online. It's most impressive., and exactly why Sam Beam is a genius.

Posted by smallwonderrobot at April 21, 2005 10:42 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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