Said the Gramophone - image by Daria Tessler
by Dan

Frog Eyes - "A Duration of Starts and Lines That Form Code"

Glue on the end of a domino. On the end of a postcard, on the tip of a chair, a standing leaf. Stacked diagonally, end to end, making a flight of misshapen stairs. Thousands of things stacked end to end, and climbing: a piece of broken sidewalk, a whole subway rail, a playing card, a floor lamp, a shoe. It makes one thin line stretching into the sky, and when it rains there is a speckled splatter beneath, it looks like a great weeping tree. It's unclear who built it (one wouldn't ask who built the rivers) or how it's supported (magnets?) but there it is, with a book in the middle, titled "The Explanation of the Staircase", pinched closed in such a way that to open it would make the stairs fall. There is often a man ascending and descending, counting the stairs as he goes. [Buy]

PS I Love You - "Bad Brain Day"

There is something floating outside my window and it could be a ghost or a hornet. It seems to tap its face against the glass, like it knows I'm in here. It doesn't give up, which could still either be a ghost or a hornet. A ghost is persistent, a hornet is dumb. It would be a mistake to fall in love with a hornet, and a mistake to still be in love with a ghost. In a world where everything is touch-sensitive, it would be a mistake either way to love a ghost or a hornet. [Buy]


Come with me to the Drake tonight to see Frog Eyes and PS I Love You. I'll be leaving in a few minutes.

by Sean

Spooky Black - "Idle".
Spooky Black - "Pull".

That thing where someone tells you all glass is still a liquid. It's not solid, it's liquid. It's slooooowly melting. You look at your window in a new way. Not a pane to look through, but a sheet of clear water. You consider the intersecting sunlight. You touch the glass with your fingers. Another thing, a different thing, when it is raining: the drops spatter your window and they are wet on wet, two likes coming together. You had never thought of this before. You had thought the outside was outside and the inside was inside and the window was your division. The division is not solid. It is slowly evaporating, liquid to gas. It is slowly piling at the bottom of your windowgrame, clear gorgeous sludge. You look into the world, sad-hearted, and wonder which other divisions could slowly spill away. What else out there is just like rain. [more from Minnesota's Spooky Black]


I have some upcoming readings in Toronto and Guelph, Ontario. Details at the Us Conductors website. Would love to see you there.

(photo by Paul Calver)

by Dan

Michael Cera - "Clay Pigeons (Blaze Foley cover)"

This buzzes like sugar in evening heat. It turns the whole world to middle distance. It brings old photos to the surface of your skin. It travels, and flits its fingers through leaves. It dapples, sways, okay? okay.


by Sean

Photo by James Henkel

Greg Macpherson ft Hailey Primrose - "Tourists". A song like a hurled stone, ready to punch through paper. Primrose's dry voice levels over stripped, clipped drums, Macpherson's hot and ragged guitar. When the two sing together they're suddenly a team, a gang, a small army leaping over debris; you couldn't stop them if you tried. "Tourists" is not quite fighting but it's primed for a fight. It's been drinking. It's stared at the sun all day and now, under darkness, it's looking for any reason to turn off the lights; snap. [buy]

Tobias Jesso Jr - "True Love". I sure hope Vancouver's Tobias Jesso Jr is getting some money from Yamaha. He and his keyboard are a multi-million-dollar reminder of what a man can do with just a voice, a heart, an electric piano. A song's nothing more than some words and some notes, an arrangement of points. Yet pay attention to what it can do: to your room, your day, your poor spirit. Pay attention to the way these bare parts reshape a life, a few minutes at a time. Jesso wrote a great one, with the same old notes that all of us have, with the same stale alphabet. Sometimes a triumph is simple as sing. [more coming soon?]

(photo by James Henkel)

by Sean
From Old-Chum

NONI WO - "Solarstorm". An ice-bath of rainforest, an iceberg of hot shower; a hot-cold of thing. "Solarstorm" is texture and temperature, weight and heat. It's a pop-song all melting, freezing, evaporating on a horizontal plane. Folding patterns of synthesizers and a lone guitar, a man's bare voice, wistful woo. NONI WO is Rory Wolf Seyfel, who played with Shapes & Sizes and then Pat Jordache. "Solarstorm" is either a coming-apart or a coming together, I'm not sure. It's ecstatic soul and R&B with the R and B taken out: just ampersand, just &, quivering in the air.

[more / USB EP out in September with Summer Cool]

Rivver - "Lamu". Ch, sh, th, ng, these sounds that seem like visitors from other places, other languages. Blue trees, red seas. Every time I say a ch, a th, I am like an alien. I am like a shark in the water, showing his fin. Or maybe not. Maybe I am ordinary - another pal with a mouthful of digraphs; another buddy speaking the same language. I hear Rivver's chop-up of voice and synth and I can't decide if it's exotic or familiar, obvious or strange. I pour myself another cup of lamu and take a little sip. Do I recognize the taste? Do I like it? My eyes are slowly crossing and I still don't know.

[soundcloud download / watch the video]

(photo source)

by Sean
Cebu, Philippines: Children perform during a feast celebrating Jesus as a child Photograph: Jay Rommel LabraEPA

Cowbell and Friends - "Sunny (ft Dan Bejar)". Destroyer's Dan Bejar sings a song as light as cotton on a clothesline. It's a tribute to Sunny, one of the (almost literally) mop-topped kids in Windy & Friends. A children's song, strum and pluck, wafting. Its lyrics as genius as a caught ball: There is stop and there is go / There is mild versus mellow / Little birds turning yellow / in the sun. Anyone who has watched children play know that their games are not always harmless; it's not always strum and pluck, wafting. But that's what we hope to pump into their hyperkinetic brains: comfort, calm, that dream'll come easy. So even as Bejar's singing a terror - whistling wind, blowing wind, lost friends - he tells it as kind and safe, no-panic. Scares don't need to be scary. Existential crises don't need to be bummers. Children, pick up your swords / We are flowers at war with the city. Get up. Have an ice-cream.

[more music of Cowbell and Sunny /bandcamp for a previous compilation]

Alvvays - "Adult Diversion". I wrote the official band bio for Alvvays - lines about fuzzy songs "sun-spashed and twilit, glittering like a knife-blade". I fell for the band, hard, when I saw them at SappyFest 2013. But as the months have gone by, my sense of these tunes have changed. Like staring into the sun for too many seconds, like staring at a painting for years - senses blur, new details emerge. Listening to "Adult Diversion" now, or "Archie, Marry Me", I don't first hear the fizzing corona, the reverberating guitars - I hear the simple scamper of them, these songs like jungle-gyms for Molly Rankin's voice. Cartwheels of a singing singer, scaffolding and slides, places for Rankin to roam while she stares down her friends, stares down her enemies. A land of sour milk and burnt honey where Rankin is just telling her stories, and running, and running, never breathless, but breathing.


(photo by Jay Rommel / source)

by Dan

Naomi Punk - "Eon of Pain"

Mikey. A leather-wrapped shaven beanpole, with a smile like a bad carrot. Mikey walked in two halves, legs and shoulders, each on their own separate walk. He stooped like he was always in a low ceiling, perhaps as practice. His clothes were filthy, his bedroom floor looked covered in candy bar wrappers. Mikey ate three meals a day, all cigarettes. As a result, his voice seemed to be missing a few frequencies, he'd smoked them away, it sounded discordant, unbalanced, like a wobbly table in a diner. Mikey looked like God was sculpting kids to go to Lincoln Seconday, but had used all the clay by the time he got to Mikey, and all he had left were french fries and energy drinks.

He slumped typically into music class. Mr. Ferguson's General Music with the steps built into the floor and headed to his seat. "You can't wear that many rips in your pants," said Ferguson, in his standard fresco: Morning Fleece with Bagel. And I remember so clearly what Mikey turned to him and said. He turned his head like it were a UFO and shot back, "I'm not wearing the rips, the rips are empty space." I think it was 8:45 in the morning.