Said the Gramophone - image by Kit Malo
by Sean
Hawks


Shura - "2Shy". The strange fragility of wishes: so fabulously powerful, transformative, and yet they must not be spoken aloud. A wish must remain behind closed lips, or if it is uttered it must at most be whispered. Before coins and fountains, before flagging candles, we think our wishes. And sometimes we sing them, in songs that pretend to be dreams.

It's not real, we pretend, lip-syncing into a microphone. Somehow a song can still be a thought, unspoken; somehow the sung wish retains its magic, its glamour; somehow it can still enchant. Shura never said her wish, never gave it away - she merely sang it out, aloud, onto tape.

[soundcloud]

(image source)

by Emma

Ginuwine - "So Anxious"
Drake - "Legend"

Here we have an object lesson in taking the things about you that you can't shake and spinning them into a superpower. Twice over.

So, pre- the new(ish) Drake tape, had you thought about this Ginuwine song since, like, 2000 if you'd thought about it at all? Right. Me neither. It's a jam, though - and also, at first, hilarious. This song is so blatantly, relentlessly, remorselessly thirsty that you have to laugh the first time you listen, the same way you would maybe laugh if you saw a tornado or an enormous ocean wave about to crash down and engulf you. Like, even that title - he's not fucking around. He's so anxious! It's nuts! It's 9pm and he knows you get off work at 11:30 and already he needs to see you so bad that he's actually dying. Over the course of this song, Ginuwine checks in with you at two different times even though he knows you're not off work yet; he wails and he rolls around on the floor and he sends you like thirty messages. While he's at home alone slowly dissolving into a pile of sparks and smouldering ash on the plush carpet in his beautiful empty sex palace, you're at work dealing with petty bullshit and trying not to think about how much your feet hurt, and when you get done you're going to look down at your phone (your pager!) and be like, jesus, wow, okay. This guy.

Now. There is nothing inherently sexy about this level of thirst. Technically, it's the opposite of attractive; common wisdom goes confidence, sure, yes, but desperation? Absolutely no.

But it's in the weird place where those two seeming opposites converge that you can catch the true genius of a song like this, of this song specifically, buried. There is no flinching in "So Anxious," no squinting or head-shake or shy laugh or "hey I know this might sound crazy, but like..." Nope. Ginuwine knows he's a sexaholic, and so do you. The power of this song, the thing that makes it an endeavour that walks a fine line but comes out successful , hot and weirdly kind of endearing, is that he takes the thing that he knows is most true about himself (not most attractive! Crucially! Just most true, most inherent, most core-connected) and uses that thing to power this song entirely. No holding back.

This is the extra-genius of "Legend," a song so perfect that I have listened to it like twenty times every single day since it came out. The other day, I was trying to explain why I love Drake to some guy, and when you do this to some guys they get weirdly nervous; usually they'll start making fun of you or Drake or both, because there is something that is both perplexing and unnerving about Drake's attractiveness that makes straight men feel as though someone's shifted the center of all things without asking their permission first. This guy was like "oh, is it 'cause he's sensitive? But he's tough? But he feels things?"

Which, yes, of course it is. But also. Drake is a man who has built a career (and ostensibly a love life?) out of being completely unapologetic about things that most of us would at the very least elide in order to make ourselves seem more attractive to others, and therein lies his power. Drake is a total dork - he's polite and obsessive and awkward and sentimental and thirsty as hell, for sex and love and women and fame. But he doesn't fuck around. "So Anxious" shows up a couple of times on If You're Reading This It's Too Late, weaving in and out, and I am convinced that its use, especially on this song, is one of the most brilliant and subtle displays of power I've seen in any kind of music in a long time. What is more needlessly melodramatic than saying - to yourself, to everyone - oh my god. Oh my god. If I die, I'm a legend, like you're so excited and so upset, and meaning it with all your heart? If you were out drinking with a friend and they started talking like this you would wrestle them into a cab and the slack in their face would haunt you for weeks.

But then the next day your friend would text you like hey, look, I'm so sorry about -. Not Drake. Drake gets it and he gets the game, too. He knows that the whole joke of him is how bad he wants everything, and he knows that his life is about how bad he wants everything, and instead of pushing back against it or trying to seem more chill than he is or letting everyone else's raised eyebrows stir him from his course he takes the thing that is most about him and doubles the fuck down. Takes another song whose perfection comes from its unapologetic thirst and uses it as the literal foundation for his own statement of purpose. It's genius. And then there's me, and everyone else in the city, walking around repeating it to ourselves on the walk to the streetcar. The whole 6 gets shot through with what's most Drake and loves it, loves him, just like that. Oh my god, oh my god.

[buy Greatest Hits / If You're Reading This It's Too Late]

by Mitz

Michael Hoenig - "Sun and Moon" [buy]

I am an artist who is just doing my artist residency on my bed today. just making this wonderful installation piece called, "too tired so lay in bed watching cute kittens on youtube" I think its a masterpiece.

(photo source)

by Jeff

Describe the image

Una Bestia Incontrolable "La primera foguera" [buy]

"Over here!" a hand emerged from the grove of shrubs on the embankment. He locked his bike and walked cautiously up to the bushes, body tense, ready to bolt at any moment. From a few feet away he saw that it was Ivy. She sat on a red milk crate and was inhaling from a thin cigarette. Holding her breath, she nodded at the teenager sitting across from her. In a strained voice she managed "Jonathan this is Emika, Emika Jonathan."

Emika was thin and despite the day's humidity wore a long sleeve plaid shirt and jeans tucked into army boots. Emika nodded at Jonathan before taking the cigarette from Ivy.

"Jonathan has an artificial hip," Ivy offered as an explanation for bringing a kid into their sanctuary. "He sets off shop-lift alarms and is a young music aficionado."

Emika, whose face was previously locked in a sullen gaze, cracked into a goofy grin "Oh shit! I've heard about you. The alarm kid, huh?" She paused in thought. "So what's it like having an artificial hip, man?"

"It's okay." he said "Metallic." He was out of his league here. "So you guys hang out here, huh?" he said, describing what was happening in front of him in the form of a question.

"Fuck yes, little man. I gotta get out of that mall sometime. Fucking assholes in there." Ivy extended her middle finger to the building sprawled out before them. Jonathan heard thunder echo in the distance, the sound reverberating through the loading docks at the back of the mall.

"What kind of music do you like?" Emika asked.

"I like, uh, everything," Jonathan lied. He did not like everything. He liked guitars. He liked the screaming guitars.

"Let him listen to the tape," Ivy commanded.

"It's secret!" Emika shrieked

"Jonathan can keep a secret," Ivy said solemnly. She grabbed the thin cigarette from Emika and held it out to him, asking "Jonathan, do you smoke?"

He was sure that he was in love with Ivy. This was all it took to derail years of programming by parents, teachers, and P.S.A.s insisting tobacco was a one way ride to hell. "Yes," he said, feeling goose bumps rise on his bare arms.

"Do you want to hear some music?" Ivy asked, grabbing Emika's walkman and handing him the headphones. "Like some real fucking music?"

"Yes."

Jonathan inhaled his first toke of weed just as the song on the headphones crashed into existence. The weed made his skin tingle and cushioned the intense blow to the brain of this insane music. It pummeled him; thunderous bass, screaming guitars, super fast drumming and soaring over it all was what sounded like the shrieks of a wounded prehistoric beast. The sound quality was so rough he imagined it had been recorded on a boombox.

He couldn't understand the lyrics but the sheets of noise undeniably told him "The suburbs suck. School sucks. This fucking mall where you hang out sucks. You suck - but you're just a kid and can change. Politicians suck. People are destroying the world!!!!!!"

The headphones were soon wrenched from his rapidly expanding head. "Let's go!" The sky was veined with lightning. He counted. "One Mississipp-- " was as far as he got before the boom of a mountain-collapsing avalanche was upon him. Every car alarm in the parking lot went off in response.

He sprang from the now muddy perch and ran with Ivy and Emika to the back doors of the mall. They stood under the overhang and watched the storm.

To Jonathan that was it; his first taste of drugs and punk rock in the same instant. It was hard to say which changed him more. He cut his shaggy hair and turned to a life of crime.

The summer was by now half over and when clerks heard the beep of the alarm and saw him waiting patiently to be frisked they waved him through.

"It's okay," they told him from behind their cash registers. Sometimes they would turn
to their co-workers and say "He's so brave, going through life with an artificial hip."

(This is an excerpt from my story "Artificial Hip Summer" from Negative Capability #1 published way back in 2009)

by Sean

Francis Bebey - "Binta madiallo". I keep returning to this song; as if it's a place, as if it's a beguiling place, somewhere impossible to resist. Every day I take a detour to visit "Binta madiallo". I ditch my friends, defer my lovers, feign illness so that I can take the shortcut back to Bebey's song. To spend some time here. To watch the plants grow. To watch the plants grow, the sky change, the sky change, the plants grow. I have yet to dance to it but I feel like I am always on the verge of dancing to it, microscopically close, held back just by the thinnest part of myself. Some cowardly part of my soul is still too frightened to slip under the curtain and into this song, a song which feels like a place, to move among its lights and darks, under all the leaves, where the nighttime is and isn't. [buy]

by Emma

Sheer Mag - "What You Want"

Q: Is this my new favourite song?

A: It is certainly the one that makes me feel most ready to make out with someone or to knee someone else in the chest, and then maybe go out dancing. If you took an x-ray of me listening to this song, you'd see spring coming up and through every single part of my body, its lush spreading across my whole nervous system, spring and summer and that guitar that sounds like a handful of sparklers being thrown into four lanes of traffic. This song sounds like it feels to wear your jean jacket and tough-guy sunglasses for the first time since the endless drag of winter; it sounds like you felt the first time some beautiful party genius taught you to call it a JJ instead of a jean jacket, to say "blaze a jang" instead of "smoke a joint." It sounds like my heart sounded the first time I ever played a plugged-in electric guitar, which was my boyfriend's and looked like this. This song tastes like a keyhole in the side of a tallcan; it feels like your best friend biting the grass stains off your knees. This song means business but it wants to fuck around a little, this song knows you'd get on your bike to just follow it anywhere, and it's cool with that. It's cool.

[buy buy buy 7" / thanks Alex]

by Sean
Clinton and Bush


Tom Rosenthal - "Don't You Know How Busy and Important I Am". Rosenthal writes a song for all those dumb bozos with "important" jobs, lacing his monologue with irony. "Don't you know how busy and important I am? / I've got soooooo much to do." He's too busy to know, too busy to see his son, to finish this song. But what Rosenthal gets most right is the song's jaunty pace. Jaunty is what capitalism pretends to be. Capitalism would have us think that its system is light and upbeat, full of forward momentum; that it will progress and progress, easy and trotting, with a grin on its face. Let's all jauntily repress ourselves, for the sake of an inflated mortgage. Let's smile as we're clobbered, dreaming of upward mobility. Let's drown out the gasps and shouts, the suffering shrieks, with a jaunty piano and oh god yet more cowbell. [buy / thanks jez!]