Said the Gramophone - image by Kit Malo
by Emma


Jay Arner - "Surf Don't Sink"
Sylvan Esso - "Uncatena"

It's coming. I know it's cold now but it's coming, I swear. I've never been wrong before and I'm not about to start now. Soon, so soon, picture you: warm, free, on the island or out in the desert, in the passenger seat of a rusted-out something, cigarettes, phone-glow, your hair like the tape from an unwound cassette, your hair whole-city perfect in the porthole of a beached Airstream. So soon for the sun sinking into the tangle of trees and mountain, for the orange light melting into the lake, with the tire swing and tambourines and the slip of moon in the sinking blue dusk. All those shitty orange streetlights blinking at you like come on, come on. Right now it may feel like you're swallowing glass every time you breathe in, but soon you'll be wearing jean jackets every single day and laughing like a movie, with your head back, like you've never met a winter in your life. Someone will take a photo of you in shorts, holding a tall can of shitty beer in the city's dumbest park, and it will be so beautiful that somewhere deep uptown an office tower will collapse just from holding its breath about you. The green of things will be air to you, white noise, everywhere, nothing, and you will move through your days with an ease we don't yet have adverbs or units of measure for. How long is a month, a few months? An hour? A half-measure? It's nothing. Less-than. You've eaten breakfasts longer than it's going to take to get there. We're so close. Almost. Almost. I promise.

[buy Jay Arner / Sylvan Esso]

(image: the "slurpee waves of Nantucket")

by Sean
Many tables in the wood

Mount Eerie - "Books". There is nothing in the library. There are rivers, rapids, peregrine falcons. There is no one in the library. There are pilgrims, wrestlers, weavers. There is no when in the library. There are epochs, coronations, widowings. There is nowhere in the library. There is moon, Byzantium, Miami Beach, Florida. [buy]

(image source)

by Mitz

Miharu Koshi - "Scandal Night" [buy]
SAADA BONAIRE - "The Facts" [buy]

One Saturday, he was just strolling around St-Michel flee market(those of you who don't live in Montreal, it's an indoor flee market that has many vendors who sells anything from mid century modern furniture to complete obsolete junks like laser discs and fax machines). He was just looking for a VCR for his installation art piece. He finds a VCR and takes it to his studio which he shares with 13 other people in 900 sq ft space in this industrial "loft" with one working toilet for 46 people in the building. No one brings toilet papers ever. He often wonders about his studio-mates how they wipe their bums. But it's none of his business.

After he buys VCR from St-Michel flee market and gets back to his studio. He realizes there is a video tape already inside. He starts to watch it as he eats his bunner(breakfast/lunch/dinner combined) consists of 3 for $2.50 Samosas from his corner store and $1.25 chocolate muffin which is basically oil and butter, and fresh Arizona iced tea that has graphic design stuck in 1994 Space Jam-era.

The video tape seems like a blank one. He fast forwards for 10 minutes. Nothing. then all of sudden, someone vaguely appears. Soon he realizes it's David Suzuki. and he is naked and seems like he is working out alone in a room with nothing in it. Just him and his beautiful toned muscles. Then, the tape cuts out. He yelled in his mind, "David Suzuki Sex Tape!!!!!" even though he is not having sex in the video. He just called it Sex tape in his mind.

Next day, he goes back to where he bought his VCR and look through all the 231 VCR to see if there are any other ones with tapes in them. He finds another one. He bikes home like Lance Armstrong and press play on VCR like Jose Canseco. This time, it's in nudist beach with a lot of mid life crisis people. He recognize one person in it. It's Bob Ross. Again, naked and giving massages to fellow nudists. He was really shocked. "OMG! Bob Ross Sex Tape!!!!" even though he is not having sex.

Now he obtains two scandalous sex tapes.

I've been thinking about this story for late 5 years or so. I don't know why. Please help me.

by Jeff

Describe the image

Vivian Girls - "When I'm Gone"

In the summertime in Nova Scotia it's rare for us to leave the house without some kind of container to hold whatever berries we might come across. Writing now, in the middle of winter, it's difficult to remember the schedule of their arrival. But I know that after the solstice the berries start coming one at a time, a new variety appearing as the previous one starts to run out.

I only started picking berries a few years ago, so I'm still pretty slow. It took me a while to train my eyes to see them in the bogs and woods. But once I got a taste I became much more attentive to the wild and sweet things growing all around. Small flashes of colour mixed into the green and brown landscape.

Raspberries ripening on the side of the road, blackberry canes covered in spines, wild blueberries in a woodlot dense with mosquitos, cranberries near the beach. Gooseberries, foxberries, huckleberries, wild strawberries, even bakeapple in the bog, a rare treat that tastes like sweet apricot.

Picking is a nice way to pass the time, gathering berries from one patch and then moving along to the next. Some berries have already been pecked by birds while others have yet to ripen, and stay on the vine for whatever animal comes by at the right time. Hours pass quietly, looking down at the ground for brightly-coloured fruit, satisfying the ancient human urge to pay attention and collect. Time passes like this until buckets are filled, or the weather changes for the worse, or the bug bites become intolerable.

The berries grow for a short time and then they're gone, whether you pick them or not.


(photo of foxberry picking by Spike)

by Sean

José González - "Open Book". Ke'mar's grandfather used to tell him stories about the days before Bollo was a desert. Once, long ago, before even they had been born, Bollo was an island in the midst of a wide sea. Kwii's southern face was like the rest of the summer planet: sapphire water dotted with tiny islets, with darting finbacks and spiderweeds. Back then, Bollo wasn't a desert capital - it was known for its pearl-divers, for its sailboat engineers. And yet, over time, sand accumulates. There is a Bollonese proverb: Sand comes. It appears in the corners of rooms, at the bottoms of cliffs - bit by bit the islet of Bollo became an island, the island became a larger island, and the island became a small, complete continent. A landmass with its own dunes and oases, insects and mammals, scavenging birds. No one living remembered when Bollo was an island but they had all heard stories of it, passed down folktales of flying fish and shipwrecks.

Bollo's sand gave it a special status on Kwii. Most of the planet was suffused with balmy saltwater, tropical groves; desolation was rare, and it attracted a special class of tourist. For two generations, Ke'mar's family had managed a guesthouse for these wilderness-seekers. They provided clean beds, fresh breakfasts, sonic showers to wash the sand from clothes and skin. They played quiet music during the evening meal, as all the visitors sat on carpets and ate. They provided long bouts of silence - their guests almost always preferred silence - as the house filled and emptied with wanderers, dreamers, lonely-hearts. Some mornings, when Ke'mar was toasting the cakebreads, he would stare out into the atrium and wonder if any of these travellers had ever met his sister.

All of this is because of me. This was one of the songs Ke'mar sang with his family, at dinner, as they sat in a circle before the visitors. It was an old song, maybe a prayer, but whenever Ke'mar sang these words he thought of Ki'ax. He imagined her singing this line, back when he was barely old enough to read. Did she hear it as reproach? As regret? Was she singing this line, one day, when she decided to leave Bollo?

She was out there somewhere, in the rainforests of Lama or Su, or off-planet, a trader on the autumn world. She was out there somewhere, miles or light-years from the desert, and she still hid this hot song in her heart. [buy Vestiges & Claws / it's just wonderful]


In case you didn't hear: I have begun writing a weekly music column for the Globe & Mail. Read the first one here (and see if you can find my mortifying typo :( ).

(Image is Robert Frank's Untitled (Children with Sparklers in Provincetown), from 1958. Thank you Alex.)

by Emma

The Mountain Goats - "No Children"
Johnny Cash & June Carter - "Jackson"
Rupert Holmes* - "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)"

Sometimes love is like this. Other times it's like a drunk fistfight with your best friend in a parking lot: locked together, aching and winded and so so so mad about anything. If you don't stop you'll die, but if you stop, you'll die. Some songs are about the eternal flame of your love burning its outline into the night sky; others are like that but it's a tire fire. This is next-level, black belt, white-knuckle being-with-others business, no doe-eyed beginners allowed.

It's hard to write a concise, catchy jam about how someone who once sucked the clouds out of the sky with just their look now seems to you like stripped wire, a loose jumble of stray flaws described by a narrative you can no longer see for its proximity or its distance or its both. It's tough to tell a story in three and a half minutes when that story is that you've worn through this one with your pacing - that you couldn't stop even if you wanted to, if you even knew what you wanted. These three are all kinda shambling, boozy, hilarious, a little anthemic - but with something way harder coiled tight under the surface. Sharp and sure and frantic and sweet and way lost, years past plain loving or angry or sad. The night air's like glass in your lungs, your wallet's long gone, some dude on the corner's squinting at you guys with his cellphone like should I call somebody or? Eventually you'll catch your breath, tomorrow you'll spend picking the gravel out of your elbows with shame and a pair of tweezers, but right now, what else are you going to do? Quitting's for suckers.

[buy Tallahassee / Duets / Partners in Crime]

*Look, I know you think I'm fucking with you, but when is the last time you really listened to it? Do this now, for me, just this once. Please? Look past the shag carpet, the hot tub, the swingy guitars, because all that stuff is masking a vocabulary and a narrative structure that reach near-Albee levels of intricate chaos and tension and self-contained, cracked logic. The world of this thing just drops into your lap, fully formed: Health food? Yoga? At a bar called O'Malley's? If you have half a brain? IN THE DUNES OF THE CAPE? Are you kidding me? This song is insane. The woman is so fed up with her bullshit life, with this flinchy man and their dumpy two-bit town, and meanwhile our narrator may be a perfect lens but he personally possesses zero chill. Like, oh, you know me so well I'm a "worn-out recording" but also you had no idea I enjoy the taste of champagne? Cool. Very cool. If you can't hear a chorus of pathos, of dropped shoulders and bitter cheap cigarette drags in the way Holmes and his beard intone that last "oh, it's you" then I don't know what to tell you, I truly don't.

by Sean
Astronaut and dogs

The Libertines - "The Good Old Days". The hotel bartender handed Lionel his drink and Lionel took a sip and he thought to himself, What is this sour concoction? He had asked for a "fernet lemon" - it was listed on the blackboard cocktail menu - and now he received this tall glass full of minty white fluid. It tasted sour. It tasted like a concoction. Lionel didn't really want to finish it but he kept drinking all the same, because the prime minister was at the other end of the room and he didn't want to do anything conspicuously odd, didn't want to give the bloody PM another reason to shuffle his cabinet rolodex and exile Lionel to the ministry of fisheries, the department of sport. So Lionel finished the concoction and as he took these sour, bitter, thin swallows, an idea came into his head. The idea was: "I should resign." Not just that: "I should resign, quit politics, move to the country." The idea had come straight from the fernet lemon, he was certain of it, but now that it had lifted from his tongue to his upper palate to the vulnerable under-surface of his brain it was lodged there like a squatter. Every changing expression on Lionel's face, every chuckle and glance - the beat beneath was one of resign, resign, resign. The pub was wooden and golden, the company was eminent, power flowed from the men in suits to the chandeliers and through the mirrors on the walls, but Lionel had the ticking sense that his time was up, or ought to be up, and at the other end of a train journey was a refuge and a home. [thanks marco / buy]

(photo source)