what i'm gonna say is going to be important
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.


There's a pleasant symmetry to the two artists profiled today.

Ball Boy - "A Day In Space"
. Ball Boy's a UK oddity, always sounding too indie to make the mainstream, and yet successfully charting (at least to some degree), with the help of John Peel. For the most part, they sound like Belle & Sebastian playing proper rock instruments, but really the differences run deeper (in spite of the common Scottish heritage). Ball Boy is a much more forthright band, more confrontational, less sensitive. They have more in common with The Streets, in a way, than they do Stuart Murdoch.

All that aside, of course, it's impossible not to notice the similarities between "A Day In Space" and B&S's "Space Boy Dream," off of Boy With the Arab Strap. Or, if not that, to notice the connection to the Scottish monologues of the band Arab Strap. I assert, however, that this is something rather different, that there's something new in Ball Boy's sarcastic wit and dreamy sincerity. This is a nifty spoken-word song that opens with acoustic guitar and Elvis Presley lyrics, sliding soon into long stratospheric synths and Gordon McIntyre's clear-eyed monologue. It's inherently goofy - a man's desire to visit space - but the gravitas of McIntyre's delivery, the full sincerity of the emotions expressed, make me both laugh along and share the silly fantasy. (The bit at the end, the dialogue he narrates, when he tells them he's going to say something "important," is comedy and truth and dream. in short, it's quietly wonderful.)

Donkey Boy - "Upchuck". Donkey Boy's stuff was passed on to me by Dave, whom I assume is Donkey Boy himself, and it's fine, splintered alt.folk - like Sparklehorse with toy instruments and a lofi pop glimmer. I like the wryness that breathes within the dustiness, the way the singer has withdrawn slightly from the back-and-forth of synths and sound-effects. It's sweet and forlorn, but there's a grin behind all that - it's a heartfelt song that ends with someone smilingly talking shit.

Posted by Sean at April 19, 2004 12:34 AM

umm, the only chart Ballboy have ever had hits in is John Peel's Festive 50, which is voted by his listeners at the end of the year...

They are still very good though.

Posted by W.B. Swygart at April 20, 2004 3:13 PM

Eep! That'll show me for working on barely-remembered fragments of old Ballboy press releases. Thanks for the gentle chastisement, William!

Posted by Sean at April 20, 2004 5:36 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.

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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