Said the Gramophone - image by Keith Shore
by Jeff

a sign at the entry of Carlingwood mall, Ottawa

Liz Phair - "Help Me Mary"
Liz Phair - "Divorce Song"

My dad had to buy new razors for his electric shaver and return something at Sears so I tagged along to the Carlingwood Mall. It was the end of the year and I was flush with Christmas money, so while he ran errands I went into Sam the Record Man. I flipped through the rows of tapes in oversized plastic display cases, click-click, clickclickclick. I was over halfway through the alternative rock section when I found it: Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville. I picked it up, excited. In 1993 all I really had to go on was Spin magazine, which I bought at the strip mall near my house and read obsessively. This was their record of the year. Ahead of In Utero, ahead of Siamese Dream. The tape cost something ridiculous, like $13.99, but I held it tight. It was on an actual independent label! One of the song titles had a swear word! What was that photo on the cover? Even though I had no idea what this music sounded like I knew it was important. I bought the tape then found my dad, and we drove home through the dark winter afternoon. And then I listened to that tape for five months straight.


(image source)

by Sean

Danny L Harle - "Awake for Hours". I guess this song is fast. Sometimes when I listen to it I feel like I and my whole world have turned into hares and this song is only incrementally faster than us; that we're all speedy and "Awake for Hours" is nothing special, just that little bit ahead. Or else other times I feel like I am made of concrete and this song is the only thing not made of concrete; that it's not fast exactly but normal speed, and everything else is slow. I get turned-around and confused. I feel as if I have stayed up all night but I'm not tired, not exactly. I am headed toward a revelation. How could I be tired? There is a revelation coming. If I can just stay awake another few days. If I can just stay awake another few days. If I can just stay awake another few days. Why are you all moving so fast? Why am I moving so slow? If I can just stay awake another few days. [from the Broken Flowers EP]

by Emma

Grimes - "Kill v. Maim"

1. "Kill v Maim" is kind of weird. Like most of the things I end up loving the most, I didn't think much the first few times I encountered it. It sounded to me like just parts piled on parts; something about the pitched-up vocals, synths and skipping beat, metal on metal didn't quite click. The way Grimes' voice flips so fast between low hurl and scratched-out scream. The scorch-and-tatter speed of it.

2. I went to see Jessica Hopper give a reading on Wednesday and it was inspiring in the best way, smart, no side-steps. She talked about intersectionality, about who she writes for, about how early on in her career she wrote "SELF-DOUBT IS POISONOUS" on an index card in glitter glue and tacked it up beside her desk just so that she'd remember. It felt good to listen.

At the end of the talk there was a Q&A, and someone asked how she dealt with the problem of explaining misogyny in music to the men she met, what she'd recommend for someone trying to figure out the best way. She sighed real hard. After twenty years of trying, she said, she was becoming more and more convinced that the only way to communicate the truth of some of the most basic experiences women have in music - as fans, as writers, as artists - was to gather up a few smart straight white men who Get It, and ask them to explain it all to their peers. No one's listening to us, she said. We know no one listens.

3. In her review of Art Angels Hopper mentions this song in particular twice. At first it is blown-out, bright, anxious; later it has a fierce anger, a casual misandry. Reading through it the first time, I wrote those last two phrases on the notepad I keep on my desk without even thinking. A reflex. My joke is always, business card, author bio, tinder profile.

4. "Oblivion," Grimes's best-known song pre-Art Angels, is about an assault. In the lyrics she's neither the victim or the attacker, or maybe she's both - looming even as she checks over her shoulder, every line. Someone could break your neck, coming up behind you always coming and you'd never have a clue. Synths that are just lovely enough to be disturbing, just creepy enough to be comforting. See you on a dark night. When you feel trapped, there is a great deal of quiet, weird power in switching sides. Slipping between subject and object.

5. As for "Kill v. Maim," it finally clicked for me a few days ago. I was on the treadmill at the gym, and it came on, and suddenly I was running so fucking fast. No warning, no reason. I felt like I was trying to escape my own body, like the song was pulling me out of me. Bright and hot and furious.

6. The part of the song I love most isn't the hilarious, weird earworm/mantra are you going to the party are you going to the show?; it's not Boucher insisting she won't behave, nor is it the way her voice's rapidcycling speed and pitch add their own thesis-worthy set of subtextual meanings to the whole deal. It's not the cheerleader chorus. It's the cascade that comes after. 'Cause I'm only a man, and I do what I can. Half-mocking, half-earnest. Subject, object, all at once.

7. Hopper mentioned in her talk that she'd been proud of her Grimes review, which praises Claire Boucher highly for being a feminist pop auteur who does everything herself, until she realized something. After I wrote it, she said, I started thinking, well then what am I saying about women who don't do all of that stuff themselves?

One of the most difficult and necessary parts of becoming a good artist, writer or person, is learning to balance the belief that SELF-DOUBT IS POISON with the understanding that you are probably wrong about a lot of shit and that you need to be ready and willing to listen, to change your mind all the time.

It's very difficult to do this under any circumstances, but when the world reads you first and foremost as Not A Man, the prospect of trying to disentangle the mess of intent and implication that defines every single interaction you have with the outside world can be so exhausting that sometimes, instead of going to that show or talking to that stranger or pitching to that editor or putting that song up or answering that message you're just like, fuck it, where's my sound-proof chamber?

8. I have spent countless hours of my life in classrooms, offices, bars, beds, trying to describe this double bind to men who will never be interested in understanding it. The second you're aware of your difference, every interaction grows this new labyrinthine aspect: Am I being treated like this because this person doesn't like me, or because he doesn't like what I am? How do I sound out the difference? Double down or back off, lean into it or walk away? Do I believe myself? How angry do I need to be, or pretend I'm not, to get through this whole thing unscathed? To be okay? To be good?

When Hopper said that thing about how no one listens to women, you could hear this little shudder of disappointment and unhappiness shifting through the room. I felt those things too. But there was something else. The idea that I could be forgiven for turning away from the work of trying to make a certain type of man listen to me, for turning a little further toward other kinds of work, felt good. Like permission. A kind of relief I wish I didn't want.

[buy Art Angels + The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic]

by Mitz
(photo source) Pastels - "Nothing to be done" [Buy]

I just love imagining random things like

Steve Nash says, "Hi I'm Steve Nash" and start singing Johnny Cash song.

Muhammad Ali says "Float like a butterfly. Sting was a lead singer of the Police!"

also, Life Hack tip of the day for today.

If you don't have milk or cream, you can put yogurt in your coffee. It tastes like shit.

that's all for today. Have a great week!

by Jeff

scared people at a haunted house

Juanita y Los Feos - "Escupe en la Tumba"

No one knows why, but the weeks leading up to Hallowe'en are the most fertile time of the year for forming punk bands. Some suggest it's a response to the onset of cold weather and darkness; others believe it's the high intake of candy. Either way, that was when my band The Cryptkickers got together.

Spirits roam the earth in October. They leave their crypts, coffins, and mausoleums and find seasonal employment at haunted houses and hayrides. I was a ticket taker at the haunted house in the mall parking lot and after a few weeks of working with some ghouls I figured out most of them were into cool music. Turns out the undead and young punks have a lot in common.

The idea of starting a Hallowe'en cover band came up in the lunch room one day. We talked about it, quickly rejecting stand-bys like The Misfits and The Smiths, passing over The Cramps and Black Flag. When Melissa the wight admitted that she used to play the sax we settled on X-Ray Spex. We jammed in my parents' basement. A cool greaser ghost named Josiah was on bass, Tanya Tyrant on the skins, Danielle, a low-key banshee, was on the mic, Vincent Wolfman on keys, and I played guitar. After a few practices, we realized that, fuck it, it's way easier to write your own songs than learn covers.

We wrote five originals and got added to the bill at a Hallowe'en party. We played the show and everyone loved us, but come the stroke of midnight, just after our set, they started disappearing. Back to their crypts until next year. I had to pack up all the gear on my own.

[buy LP | bandcamp]

(image source)

by Sean
Carole Lombard

Quivers - "The Poltergeist". A love-song for a ghost, a serenade for a vanishing act. Tasmania's Quivers are maybe a pocket full of arrows, maybe a shaking at the knees. They sing of snowstorms and empty spaces, wistful. It's a song for slow-dancing, this one; like the slow-dance when a record's ended, needle bumping on the groove. A little harmony, brick by brick, building a lamplight. Shoot up a quiet firework, whisper a cannonade, break a heart.

Quivers - "Ridin' on the Hearses". But this one's less quiet. This one's got the soft-shoed swagger of The Go-Betweens. Commemorating a partnership with a noisiness that's defeated and celebrating at the same time. A chorus that splits open beautifully, You and I will go ridin' on the hearses / til we break down. And horns at the bridge, waiting for the guitars. What is love but a series of curses? / In the end it's always worth i-i-it. The slipperiness of the end of that line, the perilous slide. Jumping a fence, you sometimes get cut.

For some artists, band-names are like pass-phrases. In Quivers' first email to me, they wrote Nap Eyes, Karl Blau, Dick Diver. (I unlocked the door and let em in.)

[buy on bandcamp]

(photo is of Carole Lombard)

by Emma

Timmy Thomas - Why Can't We Live Together

A drug that pins you back against yourself. Wait, no - I mean a drug that works like déjà vu, but different - folds your memory forward and back, presses out in the centre and fans it, drags the characters and swims you through the still set all dim lights, museum hands. A drug that makes everything sound like something you've heard before, but sinister - wait, no, but comforting. That changes what it means to echo. A drug that reminds you of yourself. That takes you apart, wait, no, hang on. One that skips you entirely. Yes.