you'll never know unless you go
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.


Music for Robots deals with a "hump day" by showcasing the dancey stuff (albeit with classic Belle & Sebastian); me, I turn to comfort music. Warm, fuzzy, close in your ear.

The Hotel Alexis - "OK". Brian very, very kindly introduced me to this record, The Shining Example is Lying On the Floor. It's a really beautiful piece of work, hazy afterflow and pedal steel sighs. Sidney Alexis is a member of Torrez, but where that band cherishes shadow, this record is about the candlelight that reveals faces. "The Season For Working" has got a hazy, almost drunken stumble - twang and a sing-song that reminds me of Yo La Tengo. "It's Obvious Now" nods to Neil Young, suns rising and falling behind the hills. But "OK" is my favourite - the chant of organ and drifting noise, the slow introduction of guitar. Alexis knows that his voice isn't anything special, but he uses as if it could be, as if he can say what he's saying better than anyone else. "Okay," he sings, loosely. "Ok." Then the dirge opens up even further, purples and pinks bleeding into the watercolour, the memory of a trumpet. Smoke, almost invisible on an empty street. [buy]

Iron and Wine - "He Lays in the Reins [live]". Recently, I've cooled a lot too Iron & Wine. The new record was ultimately a big disappointment: too clean, too rich. More than anything, though, it's the similarity of Sam Beam's songs that bothers me. A lot of his tracks are banal - rural images and yup his soft voice, - but banality is forgivable if it's one-of-a-kind. As it becomes clear, however, that Beam can crank these sort of songs out, it's harder to give him the benefit of the doubt. And while I still hold "Upward Over the Mountain" close to my heart, much of the rest has withered under the glare of longterm listening.

But Eric sent me this live recording of an unreleased tune, a song called "He Lays in the Reins." And even though it's that familiar old sound, this is one of those performances that justifies Beam's existence. There's something greater in his voice's ache, in the conversation of guitar and lap steel. It's like watching Chaplin walk, the weary shuffle that hides a dance, an individual spirit. The song's not just pretty, or sad - it's calling out to something, reaching, straining. The lyrics keep asking - "one more," "one more," - and while there's no exclamation mark I imagine the desperation behind that prayer, the desperation of someone who's tired of this world's absurdity, of empty pretty things.

(oh, and eric tells me that "the only version [of this song] that most people can locate is REALLY bad. And I mean, almost bad enough that you can't hear the vocals." so even if you know the tune it might be worth grabbing in case you don't know this recording.)


Mae-Shi will be releasing their first record on Kill Rock Stars/5rc, later this month. In the meantime, listen to their Supper 2004 Mix CD (95meg zipped mp3s). It's a giddy, electic, fantastic mashup, like Strictly Kev's 20th Century bootleg, but an even more furious mix of Magnetic Fields-to-Jay-Z-to-AC/DC. Mesmerizing - and a little overwhelming.

Posted by Sean at July 22, 2004 3:04 AM

Thanks, I needed some nice summer mixes!

Posted by Matthew at July 22, 2004 6:07 AM

glad you liked it Sean. i thought you might.....

now...have you ever heard "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight" by Richard and Linda Thompson? Look into it if you have not.....

Posted by bmr at July 22, 2004 9:58 AM

Wow, two beautiful songs. Especially, that The Hotel Alexis one. Just reaffirms why Said The Gramaphone has become my favourite music blog going.

Although, I'm kinda bummed to hear your Iron and Wine review, not b/c I'm in love with the album, but b/c everything I hear off of it seems to me like whispered goodness and I was actually becoming tempted to plunk down some of my meagre cash in order get it. I may have to rethink that now.

Posted by caley at July 22, 2004 2:00 PM

songs maybe?

Posted by judson at July 22, 2004 2:51 PM

was a bit upset at your iron and wine thoughts. i totally agreed that when i first heard the new album the production sucked . but after a couple of months the tunes seeped into my mind just as beautifully as the first album.
live too i thought he was just so on a level beyond most other contemporary folky types.
there's something in the combination of his harmonies and the way the guitars glide along that takes that shit to a higher level!

Posted by chimp at August 10, 2004 2:52 PM

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about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

To hear a song in your browser, click the and it will begin playing. All songs are also available to download: just right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'

All songs are removed within a few weeks of posting.

Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.

If you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
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Please don't send us emails with tons of huge attachments; if emailing a bunch of mp3s etc, send us a link to download them. We are not interested in streaming widgets like soundcloud: Said the Gramophone posts are always accompanied by MP3s.

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"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
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.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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our favourite blogs
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Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
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The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
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blue skies turn black
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