Posts Tagged ‘saint simon’


My first introduction to The Shins was through their sophomoric Oh Inverted World album. A friend of mine shared a few mp3s and well, I wasn’t too impressed with their cutesy, willfully ironic indie rock. It was almost as though Franz Ferdinand had been playing their brand of music for many years, but with a bit more bile in their balls and a penchant for experimental histrionics to boot; and who are those Ferdinand fellows really but Coldplay band members who bunked two decades of choir practice to drink coffee and beer at the local pub. Recently, after listening to their Chutes Too Narrow album, I have turned 360 degrees on these Portland lads. While the tracks maintain that grand mushrooming of gentle pop melodies into bursts of sunny, sometimes alarmingly pensive rock anthems, the ghostly rhythms that are gratuitously made to swim amidst them make all the difference.

chutes too narrow

Saint Simon is one those reasons why music remains as literature’s most cherished companion; some might have believe it’s a warm blanket or a mug of coffee, but to hell with them.  I can picture about seven hundred literary characters walk into the sunset with this track playing in the background. Kissing The Lipless could have so easily been that song, which Rent Boy heard before deciding to call it quits on drugs in Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. In fact, those precious seconds of psychedelic guitar noodling towards the end could have made him go running back to Mother Superior Swan. Oh indie music, you gloriously inverted, lovable nincompoop…you.



I’m pretty sure you have met Damon Gough. Maybe in the bar, gently mouthing the words to the songs playing in the jukebox or perhaps crossing the road, whistling an old folk tune…hell, you might have even seen him driving a car on the highway, unperturbed by everything but the music blasting from the stereo.  See, Damon Gough – also known as Badly Drawn Boy – is one of those kaleidoscopic glitches on the pop industry. He seems just like one of those blokes who couldn’t care less if VH1 wanted to do an episode of Cribs with him; he’d probably tell the host, “don’t touch anything and we’ll be ok”. Don’t we all know people like that?

hour of the bewilderbeast

He even strives to look like the average John despite his unkempt beard and trademark skullcap often threatening to make him a regular face on Billboard countdowns and other tripe endeavors orchestrated by bored marketing gurus at media and publishing companies. He refuses to let his music take its normal course into readily conformist U2-like landscapes of sound,  releases an album about once  every two years and promotes it with the enthusiasm of a goldfish fighting long-term cancer. Yet, he succeeds…as a musician making unique, pleasant alternative pop music and as an artist earning more than loaf of bread through his dedication to his art form. Pretty decent living, if you ask me. All Possibilities (Have You Fed The Fish?) is an ideal song to start with; funky, joyous and very aware of its distance from reality. Then you should immediately check out the tender and morose Stone In The Water or the gently alluring The Shining (of the fantastic The Hour Of Bewilderbeast). I swear, if I got paid for crafting something as exquisite as that, I would cry. Yup, me = man after all. You = will understand when you listen to it.



Mathew Stephen Ward (M Ward) makes music you can think about Leonard Cohen to. Matter of fact, at times he sounds remarkably like Adam Cohen – offspring of the man who made me forget every other interpretation of Hallelujah but his own (yes, even Jeff Buckley’s). He even channels the spirit of the late Nick Drake in Let’s Dance – the perfect song for the funeral of a lonely dancer.



I must admit that the Coldplay comparison was rather harsh. After all Franz Ferdinand have been known to put out some decent music out there. Some of them even great enough for us to erase the memory of the British pub rock scene getting fucked in the wrong places by Coldplay’s complete nonchalance towards all that is worthy of a second listen. Everybody say hello to the dark side of the manatee.


The Shins – Saint Simon

The Shins – Kissing The Lipless

Badly Drawn Boy – All Possibilities

Badly Drawn Boy – The Shining

Badly Drawn Boy – Stone In The Water

M Ward – Let’s Dance

Franz Ferdinand – The Dark of The Manatee


The Shins, Badly Drawn Boy, M Ward, my spleen

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