strip down to your underwear
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.


A long entry today, so skip ahead if you like. Please don't miss the film at the end, though!

The Arcade Fire [mp3] / PAS/CAL [mp3] / Jandek in Glasgow / The Diskettes / The New Humour [film]


The Arcade Fire - "Power Out (August Session)". Whereas the Funeral version of "Power Out" is a joyous suckerpunch, a glowing hailstorm, a prodigal song, this early studio recording of the song is full of play, hope, abandon. It's a sound not yet fully grown, streaking through the field. The song evokes a premonition - a child with some sense of the force it will carry, the troubles it will face, the battles it may wage as an adult. Everything's looser than the album version; wooden swords in place of knife-blades, early evening in place of night. The bass-line's still got baby teeth.

True, this August recording lacks the Funeral version's visceral impact. But if the final mix is a soundtrack to war, the disco-anthem for a crisis, "Power Out (August Session)" presents a world that need not be so dark. The narrator sounds desperate, sure; he's leading his force of kids, hunting, revealing, battling. But when Win sings, here, that "there's nothing hid / from us kids," it doesn't sound like such a hard-fought declaration. Maybe there's nothing revealed because there's not very much hidden. Maybe the world's not really that dark after all. Maybe these kids' games aren't necessary. Maybe things are okay.

The bass isn't so vicious. The blackbitingbird strings are nowhere to be heard. And there's this soft swell of horns, some reassuring choir - a far cry from the roaring, scouring blast of the live version. Perhaps the kids need to do this marching, this dancing. Fair enough. But the lights will be on when they get home.

The "August Session" is one of the b-sides for the new "Power Out" single, released in the UK this week. (The vinyl editions of the single include live recordings of "Power Out" and "Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)" [with David Byrne].) Different people than on Funeral are playing several of the parts (Will on bass, Tim on keyboard, etc.). [buy]

PAS/CAL - "Summer Is Almost Here". What a splendid and sensational pop song - what fun! Ho-lee cow! "The summer is almost here," yes! And if it's any help there are:

  • jingle bells;
  • hand-claps;
  • dun-dun-dundun-dut-dut-dut-d'dudda-dun-dun-dundun-dut-dut-dut;
  • farfisa;
  • stumbly drums;
  • The Beatles singing "And the summer is almost he-e-ere";
  • strings and a bare piano;
  • flower hats;
  • girls with daisies in their hair;
  • really good chewing gum;
  • a brush-shuffle thing;
  • Tullycraft, if Tullycraft went kind of prog after a Sunny D bender with Brian Wilson. uh.;
  • stomps!;
  • boings!;
  • a festival of the sort you have never experienced, and never will again. you must leave now - come on! we're going up to the Crags! we'll eat fruit taffy! there will be tulips, and grass!;
  • "grown men show a fatty bosom" / "short pants are a sign of weakness";
  • fin.

[The PAS/CAL/La Laque split single is available as a promotional download til' May 27. Order the 12" here.]


On Monday night I went to Glasgow and saw Jandek.

He didn't look at the audience when he came in, thin as a stick, with pleated pants and a collared shirt. He sat down straight at the piano, and when the bassist (Richard Youngs) and percussionist (Alex Neilson) were ready he played songs for ninety minutes. Meditative piano, notes tumbling away like clean water, a path through the bass' long bow strokes and the breaks of light cast by bowed cymbal, snare, by tibetan prayer bowls and chimes. "What do I have?" he asked in each song, speak-singing with a flat human breath. He answered in different ways - "Insight," he sang once. "Nothing," he answered later. He tried to work things out. He let his thoughts linger. There was an ache, an honesty, and a deep sadness. With each song the percussion became brighter still, more beautiful, as if lending Jandek more and more life. He took this, he held it, and so too did he resist in. There was resignation and struggle. It was powerful, captivating, sometimes boring. It was something else.


Said the Gramophone friends The Diskettes [website] are on tour in Europe.

If you don't know about The Diskettes, you should. They are rad and there are mp3s at their website. This is what I wrote about them for an as-yet-unpublished article:

The band was born when Barclay and Emily Beliveau started playing music on the Victoria beach, practicing doo-wop songs and Everly Brothers covers. Now based in Montreal, their second LP, Weekends at Islandview Beach, is handclap indie-pop, blue-sky folk, picnic blanket bossa. It’s beautiful, simple and glad.
When I interviewed Dave B, he said this:
"We played a few shows and accidentally put out a record. After puzzling over ... poorly attended shows, a friend of mine told me that people only like bands with drums and guitars. So we asked our friend Maggie to play percussion with us. Now we play whenever, where ever - no amps, no PA, no bars or clubs needed."

Tourdates (click for details):
May 28 - Edinburgh
May 29 - Glasgow
May 31 - London
June 1 - Lund, Sweden
May 2 - Kalmar
May 3 - Goethenberg
May 4 - Stockholm
May 5 - Eberswalde
May 6 - Wiemar
May 7 - Berlin (w/ Japanther)
May 8 - Exeter, England (w/ the Chinese Stars [!!!!])
May 9 - Leicester
May 10 - Northampton
May 11 - Nottingham
May 12 - London
May 13 - Brighton
May 14 - Bristol (w/ Mirah [!!!!!!!])
May 15 - London (Plan B Anniversary Party)


Finally, a few words on the short film, An Introduction to the New Humour.

Dan Beirne (yes, of this blog) has made a documentary about two of Montreal's most remarkable artists. They are Joel Taylor and Jordan Himelfarb (yes, of this blog), and they call themselves the New Humourists.

The New Humourists write and perform pieces which embody the freshest, strangest, densest, most poetic and absurd comedy I have ever heard. I described it once as Monty Python meets Michel Foucault, but I do not really think this does them sufficient justice.

Their narratives are weighted with an encyclopedic degree of allusions, references, diversions, distractions. More than that, though, they are mischievous, playful, punning, happy. They will make a joke about Jeremy Bentham's remains, then - for a giggle - turn around and say "balls!". They will contradict themselves, they will inflate themselves, they will wind themselves into knots of wit and language, then show the knot to be the braid in some cute girl's hair. They will amuse, flummox, alienate, inspire. They'll make you laugh.

It's not for everyone, but it ought to be. One of the things I love about the New Humourists is that different jokes reach different people. The Cultural Studies PhD will be guffawing at some throwaway mention of Deleuze & Guattari, then Jordan will say "plinkity-plonked the bass" and have the 14-year old in stitches. Joel will hold the syllable of a word for just a little too long, and I won't be able to help myself - even as my partner sits stony faced. It's diverse ,it's unexpected, it's weird, and it's glorious.

Dan's film, however, isn't just a showcase for the New Humour. It's much better than that. It's a documentary about the New Humour - of the New Humour, even, - but so too is it a documentary about the Humourists themselves. An Introduction to the New Humourists is essentially about friendship, great friendship. It's about private language. It's about the loneliness of individual (ie, non collaborative) art. It's about recognizing the splendid. It's about love and nonsense. It's really, really great - and I don't say that just because they're my friends.

If you have a Bit Torrent client, you can download the 12-minute film here. You can also download a teaser trailer. The torrent may be slow for a bit, but it'll pick up.

Please be sure to email Dan (or Jordan) - or leave a msg in the comments - to tell them what you think.

Posted by Sean at May 24, 2005 9:25 PM

Shouldn't the Kalmar Diskettes date and those below it be in June rather than May?

Posted by Michael Williams at May 25, 2005 8:41 AM

Oops - thanks Michael.

Posted by Sean at May 25, 2005 8:43 AM

Cheers for the fixage, and may God damn the Diskettes for not playing in Sheffield or Leeds. I shall have to go to Bristol to seem them, and then hurtle back to Leeds in time for the Smog show. The upside is that this involves guaranteed cans-of-beer fun on the train. Such is life.

Posted by Michael Williams at May 25, 2005 10:36 AM

Can't The Diskettes include São Paulo (Brazil) on their tour? Please.

Posted by rodrigo at May 25, 2005 4:03 PM

Have you heard the Diskettes' cover of Frankie Lymon and the Teenager's "ABCs of Love?" It's sooo good.

Posted by Shaliza at May 25, 2005 5:06 PM

PLEASE post the "Naive Melody" so those of us without turntables can hear it...!



Posted by Karen P. at May 25, 2005 5:26 PM

I sort of get why people like the Arcade Fire now. But still not entirely.

Posted by jakob at May 25, 2005 5:30 PM

Is that the old version of "power out" posted on ?
If yes then I totally agree with you, it's got a lovely extra dimension to it, complements the final version well. I love the extra-loud glockenspiel on this one, gives it a childish tone.

Posted by Matthew in London at May 26, 2005 3:45 AM

Hi Sean
Thanks for the Arcade Fire cut.
And your comments about it.
I first read STG back in sept 04,
and I think it was the day you
featured the Arcade Fire’s Funeral
release. Great music, great writing.
I managed to catch the band just a
few weeks later when they played a
small hot upstairs room in Ithaca,
with The Hidden Cameras opening for
them. (And ,Jakob, part of what makes
them a great band is that they sound
every bit as good and full and playful
and happymad live as recorded--always
a clean mix, always a good sound,
always a good show)
But I’m still reading STG as often
as possible, and consistently finding
music to explore upon your
(the collective you now)
recommendations, because not only are
your ears good, you write about the
music you hear in a way that truly
shows what you find to be interesting
in it; in comparison to many others
who observe contemporary music,
you don’t just say,
as the girl did last Sept,
“fucking epic, man”…

Posted by J at May 26, 2005 9:26 AM

too many adjectives

Posted by Anonymous at May 26, 2005 3:23 PM

You're probably right. I get pretty carried away. Did you feel what I was trying to say, though?

Posted by Sean at May 26, 2005 5:19 PM

Too many adjectives... that's ludicrous. Personally, I enjoy a lush description, especially one that uses wooden swords and baby teeth so adorably...

Posted by Jennifer Juniper at May 27, 2005 2:22 PM

Read your comments and dont like the swear words. I STILL dont understand 1/2 of what you'r saying, but forgive you.
Luv ya !!


Posted by Zaidie Ben at May 31, 2005 8:45 AM

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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.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

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