Said the Gramophone - image by Danny Zabbal
by Mitz

Tatsuro Yamashita - "Love Talkin'" [Buy]

Summer is almost over. I wish I was in a tropical climate like Indonesia. That brought back some memories with my friend, Mr. Warusu who is approx. 20 years older than me. I met him at Indonesian restaurant where I was washing dishes. Mr. Warusu came from Indonesia to work here, to give his family better life back home. He didn't speak English nor French but somehow we communicate with gestures.

Once, I asked him where I put some stuff. Mr.Warusu pointed downstairs with his index and middle finger but his thumb was out too so he looked like a gesture of holding a gun and pointing down, and he said, something like, "gangstas!" which translated to "downstairs." I miss him. hope he is well in Indonesia now.

by Mark Streeter

The Embarrassment

The Embarrassment - "Celebrity Art Party"

The Embarrassment - "Immigrant Song"

It's weird to think that nerds used to be outliers; that theirs was once an under-represented perspective, a different way of being in the world. Somehow it's not now; nerds have traded their Sweater Songs for Hash Pipes, become deadbeat dads in Wes Anderson movies, annexed huge swaths of the internet to create safe spaces for being mean, being right, taking revenge. It's depressing to think that those who once existed on the margins of popular culture now seem so keen on policing it. I wasted a lot of teenage years becoming intimately familiar with the Marvel Universe, not knowing this was the end game.

The Embarrassment are the kind of band made extinct by this shift, nerds who fashioned their own narrative and made their own fun, because no one was going to bring fun to Wichita for them. They toured a lot from 1980-1983 but released few recordings, just a couple of singles and an appearance on an early Sub Pop compilation (with Neo Boys and Jad Fair, among others). Of these, "Celebrity Art Party" is a breathtaking standout, bright and optimistic in its tone, with a manic, careening rhythm section that somehow never comes unglued, and lyrics that are sarcastic and critical without carrying any real menace (the dead-dumb rhyming of "Art Carney" with "Art Party" kills me every time).

The band was not long for this world, with two members departing for college in Boston (where they would form the more well-known Big Dipper, whose recent reunion was famously orchestrated by Tom Scharpling over a series of Best Show episodes). Their recordings, most of them unreleased, were finally compiled on CD in 1995, too soon to capitalize on the new wave revivalism of bands like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Arctic Monkeys, too late to grab the attention of bros who'd flipped out a year earlier to Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain even as it mocked them. One of the gems on the CD is a go-for-broke live version of "Immigrant Song," delivered with a goofy recklessness that acknowledges The Embarrassment couldn't possibly exist in the same realm as Zeppelin, while trashing the shit out of the song in a way that band never could. It's a window into a nerd-world we can't go back to, where irreverence did not seem so tyrannically cynical, and where freedom could be felt in not-belonging.

by Sean

MERNA - "The Calling". Can I get a volunteer? Can I get a volunteer? The role is a surprise but I can guarantee it will be worth it. I will guarantee you will not be disappointed. A volunteer! All I need is a volunteer! Are you out there? I'm looking for someone as ready as a dry match, as ready as a clear sheet of glass; ready to be broken, struck. Someone to start a fire, to cut someone up. But not literally. Not literally! Like I said - the role is a surprise. The role's a surprise, folks! I'm looking for a volunteer!

[executive produced by Ali Shaheed Muhammad / buy]

by Emma

Carly Rae Jepsen - "I Really Like You"

This post is late because I have been trying to figure out something halfway interesting to say about how this song makes me feel, and coming up consistently empty. The purest version of any colour; best of the teenage-downhill feelings, bright like the first internet, "pop" like "effervescent"- you'll listen and think these things without my input, which is why it's the most perfect version of itself. This song doesn't need anyone's dumb explanation; all it needs is a few minutes of your time, a second in the sunshine to show you what it's brighter than.

[buy E•MO•TION]

by Mitz

Suburban Lawns - "Janitor" [Pre-Order Reissue]

Continued from last week's post

So this song was written because when the members met, they misheard "Oh my genitals" instead of "I'm a janitor."

Here, in Canada, there is a bank called, CIBC. I don't know how long but how childish it is, (Im'm guessing) since I came to Canda, I often throw in "I see I be see" into small talks with friends. Most of the times, I say it fast and see if people catch it but barely people notice it. But it's totally fine with me. It's small simple pleasure I enjoy like clean fresh bed sheets. No one really need to know. It's my own thing I do in my head. Not "my own prison" by Creed.

So last a couple of years. I've been trying new one. I added new line. and also whenever people talk about job, or mortgage or whatever grown-ups talk about, I even ask them questions like "which bank do you use?" and they answer blah blah and I say quickly not too loud, "Oh I see I be see. I was just chekcing account." I get such a thrill saying it and wait til if they notice or not. It's such a thrill, I feel alive like "with arms wide open" by Creed video. the end.

by Jeff

three people and a dog playing in the surf at Clam Harbour Beach, Nova Scotia

Palace - "Gulf Shores"

Will Oldham illuminates a languid summer feeling on this gauzy 1994 Palace b-side. Using a loose melody, echoing drums, and ghostly barroom piano, "Gulf Shores" paints a landscape of the sandy meeting point of land and sea. This song shuffles along the beach, getting sand in its shoes.

On display are the long tan limbs, cold drinks, and ocean fauna of summer. This is the sun-drunk world where you endure the heat for as long as possible before returning to sea, and then repeat. Time melts like a popsicle, skin crinkles around the eyes and mouth, and hair gets lightened by several shades

Like every landscape artist worth his salt, Oldham creates drama by painting a few ominous clouds on the horizon. The narrator gives us vague hints of family drama, their companion's self-destructive urges, and a haunting desire for oblivion. But most concerns melt away when set against the blue sea on a hot day. Listening to the song, it feels like those off-shore clouds rimmed with darkness will never make landfall, and that life can remain forever suspended in the haze of seaside existence.


(photo by Spike)

by Sean
Cat, carpet

Mary Afi Usuah & the South Eastern State Cultural Band - "From Me To You". An experiment for you, a Monday afternoon challenge: don't hear this song as a plea, a calling "from me to you"; hear it as a ratification of feelings already foretold. Neither question nor answer but the thing that follows the answer, the rubber-stamp, the lock clicking shut. Hear the strength of it, the certainty, not any of the asking. Listen deep down past Usuah's voice and those pokes of brass, under the middle-certainty of the band singing "la-la, la-la, la": listen to the drums, djembe, snare and high-hat, the groove that's locked, that was living there even before we could hear it. [buy]



My friend the producer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Silver Mt Zion, Wolf Parade) reminisces upon the death of studio legend Bob Johnston.

(image source)