Said the Gramophone - image by Ella Plevin
by Mitz

Mike Wallace - "Natural High" [Buy or here]

The Smoking Trees - "Trips" [Pre-order]-album will be out on July 10th on Ample Play

Once in a while, I meet people who are from a SNL skit or a B-comdey movie. This Asian guy asked me if I was Korean or Japanese at metro. I answered Im Japanese and he kept counting numbers in Japanese, "ichi, ni, san, shi..." Very friendly but super weird dude who was carrying spicey Chinese soup stock to his friend's restaurant downtown. I listened to count number in Japanese for about 4 minutes til the metro came. He is natural high all the time. Natural SNL skit guy who is always on a trip.

Do you remember the viral video of "What kind of Asian are you?" ? In fact, a lot of Asians ask each other that question all the time!!

I was in Chinatown cafe ordering some pastries and one waitress came up to me and asked me, "Are you Korean or Japanese?" I answered "Im Japanese." She went back to the counter and her co-worker was waiting. She told her and they giggled and one girl did a little gesture of "Yes!" and other waitress was "oh dang!" Then they noticed I was witnessing their "bet." They had "oh shit! he is looking at us! don't look now!" moment. I loled and they loled.

After that, I went home on my bike with a 20kg of rice bag on the back busket of my bike. When I got home, I noticed there was little rip in a rice bag and rice was coming out little by little. There was little trace of rice from Chinatown to my house, just in case, if I get lost. I loled alone and then I realized I was the SNL skit guy. LOL!

by Jeff

basket of mussels on the water

Grass Widow - "Shadow"

Picking wild mussels off the rocks is about touch. Go down when the tide is out and stick your hands under the water. Feel around the sides of the rocks crowned by strands of yellow seaweed. Think raccoon. As you rummage around you'll be able distinguish the sharp, curved edge of the shell from the smooth rock it's clinging to.

When you think you found one give it an exploratory tug; if it holds on to the rocks you've got one. If it's small just leave it to keep growing, but if it's a good size, tug it until it comes loose. Give it a quick look and if it isn't dead throw it in the bucket. Later, steam them and serve with melted butter, nothing else.

It takes a bit of courage to crouch down in the ocean and stick your hands somewhere you can't see them, to work by touch alone, unaided by sight. But after you find a few mussels you'll get into the calming rhythm of gathering. Your hands will feel the contours of the rocks and the cold weight of water while you gaze at the glittering shoreline and the birds in the sky.


(photo of mussel picking by Spike)

by Sean

The Winter Passing - "Fruits of Gloom". Sometimes I get a perverse pleasure out of listening to a song at the inopportune time. As you might infer from the performer's name, "Fruits of Gloom" is better suited to the North American months of November, December, January or February. It is a melancholy rock'n'roll of desolate pavement, bare trees, harsh winds. It is alone in a vast city, emo roaring in headphones. It is Pixies and Jimmy Eat World; it is the 90s, revived, and all of us are lonely 20-year-olds. So I listen to it in late June, in my thirties, in sunshine, and it becomes a source of such strength. Like being able to see the top and bottom of a waterfall from a single vantage point. Like touching the bottom of a lake. There are so many miles of minutes from winter to summer, from sorrow to joy, but in a way each slope is the same; travelling in either direction, you can feel the wind in your hair. [bandcamp / thanks hamza]

by Emma

Courtney Barnett - "Depreston"

Saturday hangover. Thick rain against the windows. Fuck up the coffee, it's fine. Bite your tongue and it's fine. Dryer doing its sputter, downstairs Sam plays some record, plugs the vacuum in and the pile of dishes slung together shudder, sings. You make some small, sad gesture; day leans out of reach like, hey, whoa. And can you blame it? You're lucky, but aren't you forgetting something? Isn't there somewhere you're supposed to be?

[buy Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit]

by Mitz

Douji Morita - "Bokutachi no Shippai"

Vivian Maier
Henry Darger
Nick Drake too.

well not really like them, in terms of posthumous fame, Morita is still alive but she never really performed or showed her face in public with her shades off. By the 80's, she retired from writing music. But there is something beautiful about it. Not like salmon, I burned this morning. I ate too much ice cream instead and I have a headache. Her voice will help me.

[Buy] I'm so sorry it's hard to get outside of Japan. I will update asap if I find somewhere you can buy her mp3's. or physical copies since amazon Japan doesn't ship outside of Japan.

by Jeff

June clouds in a blue sky

Needles//Pins - "Shamebirds"
Needles//Pins - "Out of This Place"
Needles//Pins - "Pulse"

I saw Needles//Pins play twice this past weekend, at Club SAW in Ottawa and Brasserie Beaubien in Montreal. Like most of the audience I sang along and threw my fist in the air. Bittersweet songs feel more potent when shouted to music that pumps blood through your veins. Needles//Pins will get your heart racing and then break it in two.

[buy Shamebirds, buy "Out of This Place" b/w "Date Night," buy 12:34]

(photo by Spike)

by Sean

Saad Lamjarred - "LM3ALLEM". Travelling in Morocco last week, I reflected on its pop music. A song like this, Lamjarred's juddering summer smash - what did it have to do with the terrasses of Taroudant or the alleys of Essaouira? What could it tell me about Tinghir's river valley? About the people sitting with me at tea? The answer, I think: it couldn't tell me much. In 2015, most commercial pop feels as if it is the product of a vast, musico-industrial machine. For the recording, mixing and mastering of "LM3ALLEM", I imagine a series of conveyor belts, turbines and control panels. I imagine plutonium rods. And a factory in Los Angeles or Nashville looks more or less like a factory in Shenzhen or Rabat. With a handful of major exceptions, what we mean when we say "radio pop" is "stuff that sounds like American radio pop". There's an erasure of the local (and, to some degree, a hybridization of what's American). "LM3ALLEM" is distinctly Moroccan in that it's sung in Arabic, with flourishes from traditional Middle Eastern music and dabke. But that's not actually very distinct: Arabic is an official language in 24 countries and among 200 million people.

I'm not sure that there's a point to my reflections here. I don't wish to fetishize some mythical past when Moroccan radio was full of "real", local Moroccan music. Nor do I wish to dismiss "LM3ALLEM" - as much as it's milled for mass consumption, it's still a rambunctious slab of 2010s dance-pop. But I suppose I'm reflecting on the way that non-commercial art has become a better site for the transmission of regional aesthetics. Gone are the days of Bob Marley or Amália Rodrigues, whose regional sounds became currency in the international mainstream. Now this exchange seems to happen only far away from radio or TV, via small labels, boutique festivals, and - if we're lucky - blogs.