Said the Gramophone - image by Keith Shore
by Dan

Michael Cera - "Clay Pigeons (Blaze Foley cover)"

This buzzes like sugar in evening heat. It turns the whole world to middle distance. It brings old photos to the surface of your skin. It travels, and flits its fingers through leaves. It dapples, sways, okay? okay.


by Sean

Photo by James Henkel

Greg Macpherson ft Hailey Primrose - "Tourists". A song like a hurled stone, ready to punch through paper. Primrose's dry voice levels over stripped, clipped drums, Macpherson's hot and ragged guitar. When the two sing together they're suddenly a team, a gang, a small army leaping over debris; you couldn't stop them if you tried. "Tourists" is not quite fighting but it's primed for a fight. It's been drinking. It's stared at the sun all day and now, under darkness, it's looking for any reason to turn off the lights; snap. [buy]

Tobias Jesso Jr - "True Love". I sure hope Vancouver's Tobias Jesso Jr is getting some money from Yamaha. He and his keyboard are a multi-million-dollar reminder of what a man can do with just a voice, a heart, an electric piano. A song's nothing more than some words and some notes, an arrangement of points. Yet pay attention to what it can do: to your room, your day, your poor spirit. Pay attention to the way these bare parts reshape a life, a few minutes at a time. Jesso wrote a great one, with the same old notes that all of us have, with the same stale alphabet. Sometimes a triumph is simple as sing. [more coming soon?]

(photo by James Henkel)

by Sean
From Old-Chum

NONI WO - "Solarstorm". An ice-bath of rainforest, an iceberg of hot shower; a hot-cold of thing. "Solarstorm" is texture and temperature, weight and heat. It's a pop-song all melting, freezing, evaporating on a horizontal plane. Folding patterns of synthesizers and a lone guitar, a man's bare voice, wistful woo. NONI WO is Rory Wolf Seyfel, who played with Shapes & Sizes and then Pat Jordache. "Solarstorm" is either a coming-apart or a coming together, I'm not sure. It's ecstatic soul and R&B with the R and B taken out: just ampersand, just &, quivering in the air.

[more / USB EP out in September with Summer Cool]

Rivver - "Lamu". Ch, sh, th, ng, these sounds that seem like visitors from other places, other languages. Blue trees, red seas. Every time I say a ch, a th, I am like an alien. I am like a shark in the water, showing his fin. Or maybe not. Maybe I am ordinary - another pal with a mouthful of digraphs; another buddy speaking the same language. I hear Rivver's chop-up of voice and synth and I can't decide if it's exotic or familiar, obvious or strange. I pour myself another cup of lamu and take a little sip. Do I recognize the taste? Do I like it? My eyes are slowly crossing and I still don't know.

[soundcloud download / watch the video]

(photo source)

by Sean
Cebu, Philippines: Children perform during a feast celebrating Jesus as a child Photograph: Jay Rommel LabraEPA

Cowbell and Friends - "Sunny (ft Dan Bejar)". Destroyer's Dan Bejar sings a song as light as cotton on a clothesline. It's a tribute to Sunny, one of the (almost literally) mop-topped kids in Windy & Friends. A children's song, strum and pluck, wafting. Its lyrics as genius as a caught ball: There is stop and there is go / There is mild versus mellow / Little birds turning yellow / in the sun. Anyone who has watched children play know that their games are not always harmless; it's not always strum and pluck, wafting. But that's what we hope to pump into their hyperkinetic brains: comfort, calm, that dream'll come easy. So even as Bejar's singing a terror - whistling wind, blowing wind, lost friends - he tells it as kind and safe, no-panic. Scares don't need to be scary. Existential crises don't need to be bummers. Children, pick up your swords / We are flowers at war with the city. Get up. Have an ice-cream.

[more music of Cowbell and Sunny /bandcamp for a previous compilation]

Alvvays - "Adult Diversion". I wrote the official band bio for Alvvays - lines about fuzzy songs "sun-spashed and twilit, glittering like a knife-blade". I fell for the band, hard, when I saw them at SappyFest 2013. But as the months have gone by, my sense of these tunes have changed. Like staring into the sun for too many seconds, like staring at a painting for years - senses blur, new details emerge. Listening to "Adult Diversion" now, or "Archie, Marry Me", I don't first hear the fizzing corona, the reverberating guitars - I hear the simple scamper of them, these songs like jungle-gyms for Molly Rankin's voice. Cartwheels of a singing singer, scaffolding and slides, places for Rankin to roam while she stares down her friends, stares down her enemies. A land of sour milk and burnt honey where Rankin is just telling her stories, and running, and running, never breathless, but breathing.


(photo by Jay Rommel / source)

by Dan

Naomi Punk - "Eon of Pain"

Mikey. A leather-wrapped shaven beanpole, with a smile like a bad carrot. Mikey walked in two halves, legs and shoulders, each on their own separate walk. He stooped like he was always in a low ceiling, perhaps as practice. His clothes were filthy, his bedroom floor looked covered in candy bar wrappers. Mikey ate three meals a day, all cigarettes. As a result, his voice seemed to be missing a few frequencies, he'd smoked them away, it sounded discordant, unbalanced, like a wobbly table in a diner. Mikey looked like God was sculpting kids to go to Lincoln Seconday, but had used all the clay by the time he got to Mikey, and all he had left were french fries and energy drinks.

He slumped typically into music class. Mr. Ferguson's General Music with the steps built into the floor and headed to his seat. "You can't wear that many rips in your pants," said Ferguson, in his standard fresco: Morning Fleece with Bagel. And I remember so clearly what Mikey turned to him and said. He turned his head like it were a UFO and shot back, "I'm not wearing the rips, the rips are empty space." I think it was 8:45 in the morning.


by Sean
Sappy Times VI

I'm bleary, blearish, bleared after finishing my US book tour and spending a blowout weekend at SappyFest 9 - the treasure of Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada and my favourite music festival in the world. It was an honour to return to Sappy for the sixth time - especially this year, as it passed from one set of hands to another. The kids are alright.

And for the sixth time, I penned Sappy's Sappy Times, a daily journal that is proudly printed on real paper, and distributed across the festival site. Every night, I looked back at the previous day's activities. The Times were penned between the hours of 1am and 5:57am. I got about 14 hours of sleep in the past three days. Concert highlights included Michael Feuerstack, Basia Bulat, Spencer Burton, Dusted, Weather Station, Freelove Fenner, Bry Webb, the Sackville scream choir, and the reunited Constantines.

As in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, for archival purposes, and for the interest of Said the Gramophone readers, I offer the digitized Sappy Times right here:

Saturday // Sunday // Monday (pdfs)

If you've never been to Sappy, I'll say it again: it's special and small and remarkable. If you enjoy the kind of music I do, and the songs we do, you owe it to yourself to book a trip to the Canadian maritime provinces. See some swans, some beautiful songs, then drive to the coast and swim in the sea.

And finally, a little awkwardly, if you run a festival or an event or a zeppelin race or anything like that, and you would like to bring me to where you are, to write something like the Sappy Times, I would always love to talk to you. Email me here.

(image source)

by Dan

(i'm abroad and can't upload, apologies for the stream)

I see a mini-skirt and hairy legs doing a lean-back creep.
I see the ground is lava.
I see a sewer grill smile with nothing to lose.
"Drugs, hugs, and giant bugs" sloppy rushed in paint.
Steam pillars and neon domino. Hard to see if this restaurant serves food, the menu looks like an airplane safety pamphlet.
In this place, there's no distinction between friend and enemy, it's the same damn word.

[Hani Zahra's 2013 album Along Those Lines is still available]

"A Malaise" is new Hani Zahra, we'll have more updates soon about an exciting new album from them.


And on the topic of makeup tests, friend of the blog Kayla Lorette is funding her short film on indiegogo. Normally, of course, I wouldn't trouble you with crowdfunding because it's the way we raise our site costs and it can be annoying as heck, but this has a great pitch video, and I trust the filmmakers fully to make a great piece, even if they're asking for quite a bit. Check out the project, if you like the makeup work, if you like Julian Richings, or if you like Kayla from Space Riders, maybe consider dropping a few dollars, the perks are pretty neat too! Tote!