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.


PAS/CAL - "Little Red Radio". The band's from Detroit and they sing of Christmas-time, so I can only assume that Detroit Christmases are full of blooming daisies, bounding ponies, picnics that turn into dance parties - everyone doing the twist on the red check blanket. "Little Red Radio" is a pop song of exquisite oomph, a dozen riffs arranged in starbursts on a plate. There's a touch of Of Montreal and mid-period Sloan, but mostly it's fuzz bass and organ, falsetto and overdubs, galloping drums. "Little Red Radio" is about as relentless as the New Pornographers, but whereas that band's like one long (glad) punch to the gut, Pas/Cal is more of a punch to the mouth: they'll make your flace flower.

If this song were a business card, then the person handing it out would be entitled a) to lots of dates; b) to lots of jobs. I know that business cards don't usually score you dates but usually business cards don't have sweet choruses that you can sing along to in the car.

[The Dear Sir EP is out on November 11 - pre-order / more info (and 2 earlier EPs to buy)]

Kocani Orkestar - "Mi bori sar Korani". This Macedonian brass band have influenced Balkans-come-lately like Beirut or Hawk and a Hacksaw, but I think it's more important to imagine the lovers they've inspired. Because while I can imagine a man sitting glumly and listening to "Mi bori sar Korani", nodding his head solemnly to the accordion solo, it seems much more likely that a girl with pepper curls might swing round on a clatter of horns, taking her cue from the four-tubas-and-drums to ask the fellow for a dance. This is gypsy wedding music. While you listen to the croon and the hard sparkle of horns, imagine the picture the liner-notes paint: "On the second day [of the three day wedding!], everyone gathers round the bride's house. Women are allowed to drink alcohol so they do drink a lot. Men paint patterns on their faces with lipstick and tear each other's shirts. The torn shirts are then arranged into a big pile which is set on fire. The band plays, everyone dance [sic]."

So don't be fooled. While there's something sensible in the croon of this song's singer, it's the madness of the trumpets that is most relevant. Because while the tubas tuba and the drums drum and the accordion accordions - with skill that could only be inebriated - the women are drunk, the men made-up, the shirts on fire, and everyone- well, everyone dance.



Some interesting discussion continues in the comments of Eef Barzelay's guestpost, mostly relating to gangsta rap and cute indiekid covers thereof.

Posted by Sean at October 17, 2006 4:20 AM

>> Pas/Cal : who's the singer ? He sounds very much like Brendan Benson.

>> Kocani : is it me or there's definitely a very oriental feel to this song ? is there an oud somewhere ?

Great writing, as always. I hope you are well.

Posted by garrincha at October 17, 2006 7:57 AM

Balkans-come-lately. That's a good label for the odd phenomenon of North American kids picking up trumpets & accordions & fiddles & such, forming massive balkan marching bands, and strutting off down the avenues playing variations on ancient gypsy wedding songs. It's an odd trend, and I hope it continues until midwestern suburbs everywhere are ringing with the sound of balkan brass.

Just wrote a piece for my new(ish) column in Alarm magazine about "balkan beat" music both here and in Europe, and should have a post up soonish that will reflect some of the more interesting oddments I turned up. Cheers, and thanks for the Kocani O!

Posted by morex at October 17, 2006 2:01 PM

Kocani Orkestar combines so many of my favourite sounds from Boban Markovic to Abdel Gadir Salim to Ahmad Zahir. What an amazing sound. I think it might have been here where I first heard them. Thanks.

Posted by Half at October 17, 2006 4:17 PM

Sean, you are indeed correct about Christmas in Detroit being full of blooming daisies, bounding ponies, etc...but you forgot the merry elves who throw candy and holiday's true!

Posted by wendy at October 18, 2006 12:09 PM

Actually not Macedonian (Macedonia is in Greece) but from F.Y.R.O.M.. Yet great tracks. Thank you very much

Posted by stefan at October 19, 2006 11:28 AM

I wasn't aware of the Macedonia/FYROM distinction - I was just using the terminology Crammed used here... But thank you for the clarification!

Garrincha - the singer's name is Casimer. Which is a cool name! And in terms of the Eastern feel - there's a great asiatic aspect to all sorts of eastern european (and adriatic/mediterranean) music.

Mr Rex - a column for Alarm! gosh! great! congratz!

Posted by Sean at October 19, 2006 11:36 AM

"Balkans-come-lately": Great!

Posted by Joel Taylor at October 19, 2006 4:39 PM

Ha I was just listening to this yesterday, found them from a previous Beirut guest post I believe, very good.

Posted by Dave at October 23, 2006 8:16 AM

Macedonia is Macedonia, but for clarification, there is an occupied part in Greece which is also called Macedonia(since the Balkan wars 100 years ago), i know this is not music related, but it's good to know.

Posted by Zarko, Macedonia at July 12, 2007 11:22 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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