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.


Whispertown 2000 - "Through a Hole". Some songs rely on the alchemy of voice & voice, or voice & guitar. Just the right emphasis, just the right drawl, just the right throat with just the right strings. "Through a Hole" is like this, but bolstered with other things that make a song good: boot-stamps, sing-along, glockenspiel, mild twang, lyrics fired like watergun sprays - quantity over quality, tossing rings to see what catches. It's really good!

[buy it at their MySpace]

Greg Peterson ft. Fiona Kelly - "How I Got To Memphis". I don't think Peterson ever actually got to Memphis - he lives in New York, far as I can tell. And if he did I don't think he started out in the Arctic. But that's how I hear this song, with its long, slow opening of snow-white noise, then the sunbaked arrival of guitar, voice, horsehairy fiddle. It's a song of slow progress, tortoise over hare, a spirit very different from the Tom T Hall original (or the Solomon Burke cover). A song not of going but of having-gone. A lovesong I'd love one day to hear about me.

(thanks Ben)

[many Greg Peterson recordings for sale here, all at $5, and mp3s too. This track appears on It's Hard to Die With The Piney Wood Blues]


Moka's Best of 2006 is a special list, and very different from most others that have appeared. Some very ghostly, potent post-rock and folktronica, much of which I haven't heard. The White Birch track she's posted is truly marvelous - sadly it's on Rune Grammofon, the (great) Norwegian label that charges a fucking fortune for its records. There is now a list as long as my arm of Grammofon records I want and have not mustered up the strength to order. I hope that you have hardier pocket-books! (I went to Norway hoping that their CDs would be more affordable there. Lest you follow the same tragic path: they are not.)

The always-worthy Nothing But Green Lights has released its Top British Acts of 2006, polling a small list of UK musicbloggers (myself included). Last year Girls Aloud won. This year the Top 10 is full of unsigned/small-time acts, which is really pretty cool. (I agree that it's not been a strong year for big-name British acts.) For those who are curious, my ballot's after the jump.

(drawing by Maxwell Loren Holyoke-Hirsch)

1. The Pendulums
This scampering Glasgow gang have gone tragically unrecognised, plowing a crooked furrow between freak-folk, childrens' music and Scottish sing-along. In songs about gnomes, witches and brand new Commodore 64s, The Pendulums make a sound that's at once kindly, daft and breathless. Their debut, Moon Mountain, was self-released this year and it's the absolute opposite of the hipster-folk that crowds most New York lofts.

2. Belle and Sebastian
Strange that this band makes my list this year, but I saw them perform twice - once at the ABC in Glasgow, at the beginning of their tour, and once at the end in an art-space at The Tramway. The first show was lacklustre, sort of soul-less, but the second was the best I've ever seen them. Utterly inhabiting their razzle-dazzle new sound, playing bright pop songs for all they're worth.

3. Las Campesinios!
Who are these people?! And how can I get them to write the new British national anthem?! Like some breathless mash-up of Ballboy, The Delgados and the Go Team!, "You! Me! Dancing!" is enough to make these Cardiff kids one of my brightest hopes for 2007.

4. Uncle John and Whitelock
UJ & W RIP. After storming Mono's "Get Off My Pavement" festival, second only to Herman Dune on a bill that included Arab Strap, The 1990s and a Delgados solo-project, it's been announced that these death-blues merchants are calling it quits. They were one of the most exciting bands in Scotland - despite a lackluste LP - and I look forward to one more blow to the head as they play their final gig at the end of December.

5. Lily Allen
"LDN" was enough to make me sew a little Lily Allen patch to my heart. There's something so lovely, sassy and British to the lilt of her voice; a chip-stain, crisp-crackle, horn-honking and willow-tree pop.

6. Chris Corsano
The gob-smacking American drummer has become a resident of Edinburgh. Free-jazz percussion that left my mind doing full orbits on itself.

7. Tap Tap
Finally a genuine UK take on the yelp rock that's saturated North America of late. And double bonus: it's great. Lanzafame is an album of spirit and bleat, discobeat drums as guitars ring and wrangle.

8. Loki
A rapper that glints with glassy Glasgow glaze: sharp, clever, and full of a Scottish greysky pathos. Fucking ace.

9. Sleeping States
A late arrival to this list, 'breaking' on the internet only at the close of November. He's already in the middle of a label bidding war and it's easy to see why: sleepy urban folk with just the right dose of beats and harmony. Belongs in a bag with Jens Lekman, Grizzly Bear, and Beirut's Zach Condon. A voice to stop sunsets.

10. Camera Obscura

Posted by Sean at December 18, 2006 3:00 AM

whispertown 2000 used to be "vagtown 2000," so i think whispertown is quite an improvement! i don't mind their studio stuff, but they were a miserable live show.

Posted by c at December 18, 2006 9:25 AM

I saw Whispertown 2000 opening for Margot & the Nuclear So-and-Sos and the Elected, and they sounded live almost exactly like they sound recorded. It was a fabulous show.

Posted by Kyree at December 18, 2006 10:56 AM

maybe they were having an off night or something. they were pretty much booed offstage. it was, uh, excruciating.

Posted by c at December 18, 2006 12:11 PM

Sean, thank you so much for the shoutout, I'm very glad you enjoyed the list. The White Birch on Rune Grammofon is in fact for the american release, you can get the original one at Glitterhouse records (http://www.glitterhouse.com/) for some 15 euros, i dont think it includes shipping though. A friend from Spain sent it to me and she refused to accept any money. I'll throw you an email tomorrow.

Great pick on pendulums and Tap tap on your top british acts. I really enjoyed their albums too.

Posted by Moka at December 18, 2006 6:49 PM

That Whispertown 2000 song is so fun!

Posted by Jamie at December 18, 2006 8:06 PM

It's great that your posting about a small band like whispertown but i must also admit that their live show was not so hot. They were out of tune and the guitaring wasn't all there. It was a disappointment because I was excited to hear them, maybe their just a little unexperienced and hopefully after a few more tours they can iron down a better performing sound.

Posted by mlkandthedreamers at December 18, 2006 11:04 PM

Solomon Burke yeah. You should drop "Sidewalks Fences and Walls" one of these days. Not only is it a brilliant sing, but it brings together two of my favorite not-quite-forgotten artists: Mr. Burke and his producer for that cut, Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams, Jr.

Whew. Punk rock.

This stuff was nice and all, but doesn't compare.

Posted by wcw at December 21, 2006 7:50 PM

i too loved Moka's list. a true breath of fresh air.

Posted by satisfied 75 at December 24, 2006 5:56 AM

i dont get any of this

Posted by me at January 3, 2007 2:41 PM

I LOVEEEEEE Whispertown2000! I always go to their live shows and i can't get enough of them and theyre great live and on the studio.. one amazing band.. and the coolest people i know! and i made good friends with them :)

Posted by Cheyenne at January 21, 2007 1:33 PM

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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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